Travis jogged briskly to the front of the house and hopped up onto the porch. He took a moment to straighten out his sweater, double-check to make sure his jeans were on straight, and made certain his tattered shoes looked presentable at the very least.
He had managed to convince Rachel that there was something fishy going on at the very least. She was a smart girl and she already knew that something was up with her Uncle and that something was up with Travis himself as well. Since his hands were cold like death, it did not take a genius to determine that something was ‘off’ about him.
In the end, he said that they should simply talk to her Aunt Mae together, and possibly get her to spill the beans. Travis promised that if they talked to her together and tried to ascertain the whereabouts of Rachel’s Uncle, he would explain to her why his skin was so cold.
I just hope this goes well, he thought. He waited for a few moments, giving her a chance to come downstairs to answer the door when he knocked. That was part of the plan because he did not want to risk Mae Green turning him away at the door, considering the fact that he did not look quite normal. Plus it will give her a chance to learn her way around a bit more, he thought. A blind person truly needed to practice if they were going to be independent and maneuver a home on their own.
He glanced over his shoulder in the direction of the rose bushes, approximately ten yards away. His keen eye could make out Melissa hiding in those bushes; her nose and ears were visible through the leafy branches. It was good that she was staying put; she could stay there and keep a lookout while he continued to investigate.
The funny thing was that he had not expected to find a friend in this place. Then again, his friendship with Rachel was still in its early stages and could still be shattered very easily, especially when he told her that he was a vampire. He already knew that he would tell her; she deserved to know that just as much as she deserved to know that her Uncle was a werewolf. She now knew the latter even if she did not fully believe it, but she deserved to know about him as well for her own sake if nothing else.
It would all depend on whether or not they could get Mae Green to talk, that was all.
After waiting for about five minutes, Travis finally rapped his knuckles on the door and hoped that Rachel would be the one to answer.
Two minutes passed. He waited an additional thirty seconds and then knocked again. Another minute and a half passed; he knocked one more time.
Finally, the door opened. Sure enough, it was Rachel who stood there. “Travis?” she asked, leaning through the open door a little. Her eyes had an unfocused quality as always.
Travis nodded, then felt like kicking himself. “It’s me,” he said quietly. “Thanks for opening the door.”
Rachel stepped back carefully, minding her step as she opened the door all the way. Travis stepped inside and then shut it for her. “Where’s your Aunt?” he asked softly.
“I… don’t really know,” Rachel admitted. “I’d assume she’s in bed or something.”
Travis made a mental note to check there. “Come on,” he said, touching her arm gently.
“I think I’m supposed to move around myself,” she reminded him, “but… I don’t want to lose track of where you are.” She grasped his forearm. “Aunt Mae doesn’t need to think you’re a prowler or that you let yourself in or something.”
Travis smirked, knowing that he had already ‘let himself in’ two nights in a row. They made their way toward the living room, where Travis then saw the older woman sprawled in front of the TV on the couch.
“I guess she left the TV on,” Rachel commented. “Either that or the radio, it sounds like a music concert.”
“Your Aunt is in here,” Travis informed her.
“Oh,” Rachel said, instantly lowering her voice. “Is she asleep?” she whispered.
“Looks like it.”
“Wow, I didn’t know she did this. I mean, she’s always watching TV in the evening, I guess to relax or take her mind off stuff, but I always assumed she went up to bed after a while.” Rachel’s lips twisted into something like a frown. “Then again… I’ve been kind of self-absorbed since I got here, so I haven’t noticed what she’s been doing.”
“Or maybe you haven’t noticed because you can’t see,” Travis offered diplomatically.
“You’re just being nice. You know I locked myself in my room until now.”
“Well, the important thing is that you’re making an attempt now.” Travis moved toward the TV with Rachel and tow and shut it off. Aunt Mae snored softly, yet she did not stir.
“I’ll wake her up,” Rachel suggested. Travis gently guided her in the right direction and then she did the rest, feeling the edge of the couch and then finding her Aunt’s shoulder to give it a gentle shake. “Aunt Mae?” she said.
Mae stirred and glanced around, as if trying to remember who and where she was. When she realized it was Rachel standing over her she jumped. “Oh my! Rachel, is everything okay?” she demanded, sounding alarmed.
“Everything’s okay,” Rachel assured her quickly. “There was just somebody at the door.”
Mae looked past Rachel and then noticed the figure standing a few feet from the couch. “Oh, my,” she exclaimed, balking a little. “Is he okay? Is he contagious? Or is that some kind of makeup? Was he at a costume party?”
“Um, I don’t think so,” Rachel said, sounding perplexed. “Why, what does he look like?”
“Well his skin is just kind of… pale,” Mae answered, sounding as if she was trying to be diplomatic.
“There’s a reason for that,” Travis offered.
“Yes, well,” Mae stammered, and then she swung her legs off the couch as she sat up, placing her feet on the floor. She took Rachel by the shoulders and sat her niece down next to her on the couch, as if wanting to put some space between Rachel and something that might be contagious. Travis smiled slightly in spite of himself, knowing that he was contagious in a manner of speaking.
“Mrs. Green, your niece was kind enough to let me inside,” the vampire began. “My name is Travis Jordan, and I need to speak with your husband. Is Richard Green available?”
His eyes locked onto Mae’s face and he saw her blanch. “You’re the one that Rachel was talking to last night, weren’t you?” she breathed.
Travis raised an eyebrow and shot Rachel a questioning glance, once again reminding himself after the fact that she could not see it.
“Yes I talked to her,” Travis supplied, deciding it would be best to be up front and honest. “Her window was open.”
“Yes, because I was asleep and didn’t hear the door knock,” Aunt Mae interjected. “What do you want with my husband?”
“I just want to talk.”
“What do you know about him?”
“Aunt Mae,” Rachel cut in, “Travis said that Uncle Richard is a werewolf. Do you believe that?”
“A w-werewolf?” Mae practically squeaked. “A werewolf? T-that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!”
“Come on, Aunt Mae,” Rachel said, touching her Aunt’s arm. “What’s going on? What aren’t you telling me?”
For a long moment, Mae simply sat there stoically, biting her lower lip. Travis did not think that she was going to say anything, until Rachel leaned over and whispered something into her Aunt’s ear. A moment later Mae burst into tears, breaking down completely as Rachel put an arm around her Aunt’s shoulders, hugging her.
Travis was not sure what was said, though he had a feeling it was something private. He shifted his weight and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans, waiting for one of them to speak.
“I’m so sorry,” Mae said when she was finally able to speak. “I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry.” She hugged Rachel, burying her face into her niece’s shoulder.
“Sorry for what?” Rachel asked. “Aunt Mae, what’s wrong?”
Mae sniffled. “Travis is right, your Uncle is a werewolf and it’s all my fault!”
Travis did a double take. That was not exactly what he was expecting to hear. “How is it your fault, Mrs. Green?” he asked, bewildered.
“Because I’m a witch,” she said. “I’m the one who turned him into a werewolf.”
If Rachel had been able to see, she and Travis might have exchanged glances at that revelation.
Melissa was getting sick and tired of waiting. Travis had been inside for several minutes and it seemed he was not coming out anytime soon. She sighed and decided to move in closer and see what was going on.
She peered in through the living room window and saw the three figures inside; two women were sitting on the couch, one older and one younger. One of them was probably that blind girl that Travis seemed so keen on. And of course, the vampire himself was there too, standing near the couch.
She quickly ducked out of sight, not wanting to draw attention to herself. The window was open a few inches, with the obvious purpose of letting some fresh air inside. She took advantage of this in order to listen in.
“So you know about the spell that started this werewolf curse?” Travis was asking. Melissa’s ears perked up with interest at that.
“Yes, and I know that the person who started the curse has to be killed to end it,” an older woman, presumably Mrs. Green, whimpered.
“We’re not gonna let anything happen to you, Aunt Mae,” said the voice of a younger girl, probably the blind one that Travis had spoken of.
Melissa narrowed her eyes. What exactly was going on? It sounded like Mrs. Green feared for her life. Then again, the woman was married to a werewolf and probably feared that he might hurt her or her niece. Then again, if that was the case, why hadn’t she left the house with the younger girl and moved somewhere safer?
On the other hand, it was possible that the witch had something on one or both of them, perhaps even the whole family for that matter. Was the witch blackmailing them, or did they fear that the witch might do something terrible to them as well? Anything was possible at this point.
“Why was the spell cast on your husband?” Travis asked in a diplomatic tone.
“Because we needed protection,” Mrs. Green replied solemnly. “I was going to let it be done on myself, but he volunteered. He even insisted that it be done to him.”
“What did you need protection from?” Travis inquired.
“There is a creature that has been hurting our family and the people of this city for a long time,” Mae told him. “It killed Rachel’s parents when she was young and it left their bodies empty of blood. We were so afraid it would come after us next, and we knew it would continue to hurt people in the city. That is why… the spell was cast.”
“So your husband has been going out at night as a wolf… for how long?” Travis asked. The girl had not said anything yet; perhaps she was speechless.
“Ever since Rachel’s parents died when she was five years old,” Mae answered. “She was raised by my older sister and her husband. They’ve recently moved to Texas, which is why Rachel has been staying with Richard and me since she had her accident.”
“My parents were killed by a… by a what?” Rachel demanded.
“A v-vampire,” Mae stammered.
“A vampire? And my Uncle is a werewolf?” Melissa heard the disbelief and outrage in the girl’s voice. “But those things aren’t real! They only exist in horror stories and movies!”
“Rachel,” Travis said, “touch my hand again.”
“It still feels so cold,” Rachel said.
“Because he’s a vampire!” Mae cried, as if making the connection for herself. “I should have recognized what you were when you first came in! You stay away from my niece, monster!”
“You don’t need to worry about me,” Travis spoke with an assuring tone. “I don’t like to hurt people and I’m not here to hurt you or Rachel.”
“I’m sure that’s what that vampire said to my baby brother and his wife when it killed them and left my niece an orphan!” Mae snapped. “You get out of this house right now and don’t come back, or I swear that my husband will hunt you down and-”
“Mrs. Green,” Travis interjected, “you won’t have to worry about that vampire anymore. I killed him.”
“You… killed him?” Mae asked after a moment of stunned silence.
“Yes. He attacked me, intending me to be his next meal but ended up getting distracted. As a result, I was left with enough venom flowing through my veins to change me. I killed him, and I had my revenge for what he did to me.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Mae spoke with astonishment. “My husband searched for that vampire for such a long time, yet never found him.”
“Perhaps it is because he knew your husband was after him and took steps to avoid him,” Travis suggested. “I’m assuming an experienced vampire would know how to lay low. But he was curious about me, and worse he didn’t like the idea of having another vampire around. So he searched for me and found me. We then fought, and… I won. Now…” Travis sighed. “As far as I know, I’m the only vampire around in this town.”
“Still one vampire too many,” Mae spat.
“Aunt Mae,” Rachel said, “if he’s telling the truth… then he avenged Mom and Dad, and he saved a lot of other people.”
“But he’s still a killer,” Mae spat. “Can you honestly say that you haven’t killed anyone innocent, vampire?”
Travis hesitated. “I have killed,” he said.
“There,” Mae said, as if that proved her case and point. “Now get out and don’t ever come around here again.”
“No, wait!” Rachel exclaimed. “This is all just too much, too fast. I don’t want anyone to go away yet!”
“He is a danger to this family!” Mae snapped.
“I would like to try and help you,” Travis said with firm sincerity. “Hopefully no one else will have to die. Mrs. Green, is there any way to break the curse or end it?”
“The only way to end the curse is to end the life of the spell-caster; it is designed to last as long as the caster’s life lasts,” Mae said. “I am not--”
“Mrs. Green,” Travis interrupted, “where is your husband now?”
Mae sighed. “I honestly don’t know. He’s never given up on the idea of killing the creature that killed so many innocent people.”
Melissa took a moment to process all of this new information. So apparently, from what she had gathered, the witch was someone that the Green family knew (with the exception of the niece) and had apparently cast a spell on Richard Green so that he could hunt down a vampire that Travis already killed.
That meant that Richard’s purpose for existing had already ended. They needed either to kill Richard, or kill the witch that started this curse. Yet, why hadn’t Travis asked where the witch was? That was a vital piece of information they needed in order to consider that option.
The spell-caster is the one to blame anyway, she thought to herself. Then again, Richard is also to blame for biting me. He did not have to do that. Whatever happens, somebody is going to have to die to turn me back to normal.
Right there and then, she made a decision; she would do whatever it took to return to normal. It was not her fault that she was bitten by a werewolf and changed into one. She refused to go through the rest of her life suffering from a curse that was somebody else’s fault. One of them was going to have to pay and as long as she became a regular human again in the end, she did not care whom.
“I don’t want to die,” Mae was saying. It sounded like she was crying softly.
“I can see that your part in this was unintentional,” Travis was saying. “I will make sure no harm will come to you.” He sighed. “Since we cannot rid ourselves of the witch responsible, we will have to consider… other options.”
Melissa blinked. Why couldn’t they go after the witch responsible? Had she missed something?
“What are you talking about?” Rachel demanded. “You can’t hurt my family!”
“I don’t want to hurt anybody,” Travis said. “But there is someone else we have to think about. Your husband, Mrs. Green, bit a girl named Melissa. She and I discovered that there are only two ways to end the curse; either kill the person responsible for the curse, or I drink the blood of your husband and kill him.”
A chilly silence followed.
“Oh… oh my God,” Mae said.
“But that’s just terrible,” Rachel breathed. “What… what are we going to do?”
“I don’t know. I just know that if I drink the blood of your husband it will kill me. That is how the spell would be broken; my immortal existence would take on the taint of the curse and vanquish it through my sacrifice.”
“So you would die,” Rachel concluded.
“Yes, I would. But… the world might be better for it, having one less vampire around.” Travis’s voice was thick with reluctant acceptance, though it held a trace of sadness.
“But you’re a good person, I know you are,” Rachel protested. “You shouldn’t throw your life away like this.”
“Rachel, I’m a vampire. There are no good vampires.”
“I don’t believe that! Look buster, you were the one who told me that I should stop feeling sorry for myself and start living life again. If I can accept what happened to me, so can you.”
“You’re still human, Rachel. What I am… I am a disease and a menace. I’m a monster.”
“He’s right! It would be best if he drove a stake through his own heart!” Mae exclaimed. “Vampire, you get out of here. Rachel, I am going to find your Uncle and tell him that the vampire is dead. If he still needs his precious revenge, perhaps he can claim Travis. But after that, we are going to bury all of this under the rug and pretend it never happened. I just want my husband back!”
“What about the werewolf curse?” Rachel asked. “He’ll still be a werewolf.”
“And what about Melissa?” Travis asked.
Yeah, what about me? Melissa thought silently.
“I suppose she could come live with us if she wants to,” Mae said. “It’s the one place where she’d be accepted, and we would be able to help her.”
Melissa let out a very low growl. There was no way in hell that she would live in the same house with the person who did this to her.
“I don’t know if she’d like that,” Travis said on her behalf. “She seemed adamant on getting her life back.” He paused. “Why would your husband bite her anyway?” he mused.
“I honestly don’t know. He would never hurt anyone,” Mae stated. “He always promised he would never bite anyone else.”
“He’s been under the influence of the curse for a long time,” Travis said. “It might be catching up with him, turning him into more a feral beast.”
“No! Don’t say that!” Mae cried. “He’s still a man--my husband.”
“Just how many lonely nights have you had in this house?” Travis asked. “Rachel must be about eighteen, so that’s… what, thirteen years that your husband has been running rampant as a wild animal at night?”
“No, he’s not wild. He is devoted to his purpose.”
“But… but where is he during the day?” Rachel wanted to know. “I know I haven’t paid much attention to what you guys do or when he’s around, but… I don’t hear his voice much.”
“He comes in about once or twice a week,” Mae replied. “The rest of the time he stays away because he doesn’t want to risk hurting you, Rachel.”
“Or perhaps you both just didn’t want her to find out,” Travis implemented.
“What’s done is done,” Mae stated firmly. “We’re only trying to make the best of the situation.”
Travis sighed. “Where exactly is your husband, Mrs. Green?”
“No.” Mae’s voice was stubborn and adamant. “I will not tell you because you might kill him.”
Melissa let out another low growl. Each time she made a noise it was never loud enough for the engaged occupants to hear her, especially since they were too busy talking anyway.
“I’m not going to kill him,” Travis declared.
“You’re not?” Rachel and Mrs. Green exclaimed in unison.
Melissa’s head shot up and she peered through the window, forgetting to stay out of sight. You’re not? she thought in outrage, letting out another low growl.
“No,” Travis confirmed, his tone firm. “When I came here, I thought I was looking for someone evil, lost to a curse… and I figured it was done by an evil witch. I see now that the situation is far more complicated than I originally suspected.”
Melissa snarled, overcome with rage. So that was how it was going to be? The vampire was going to go back on his word, just because it turned out everything wasn’t quite as black and white as they had thought?
“What was that?” one of the women inside exclaimed; Melissa did not know which, nor did she care. She turned and began to run from the house, feeling a deep sense of betrayal. She had no idea where the witch responsible for the curse was, but it appeared she would not be finding out anytime soon. It was also clear that Travis would not be going after Mr. Green because he was now a fan of that blind girl and her Aunt.
Looks like I might have to take matters into my own hands, somehow, she thought as she ran down the street on all fours, feeling the gravel and blacktop beneath her paws as her claws ripped across it. The night air was mildly humid, though it had a slightly cooling effect as she ran with it passing through her thick fur.
She either had to get that vampire to cooperate with her or find the witch herself. There was no other way around it, considering her options were considerably limited.
The werewolf woman continued to run through the night, slowly burning off her anger until it cooled to simmering coals. By that point it was already nearing dawn; she knew she did not have much time left in her wolf mode.
Taking a deep breath, she took off toward the dorms. One of the advantages of being a werewolf was that she had limitless energy.
“What was that?” Mae demanded.
“Was it an animal?” Rachel asked. Obviously, she was beginning to pay more attention to her sense of hearing, using it to pick out and identify sounds.
“I have a feeling it was Melissa,” Travis supplied. “Unless your husband is stopping by to visit, Mrs. Green.”
Mae shook her head. “No, he wouldn’t come by this late.”
“Then it seems that Melissa was listening in.” Travis walked over to the window and peered out, only to find his suspicions confirmed; the werewolf was running off. It was too late to catch her now or try to talk to her. He sighed and moved away from the window, returning to the center of the living room between the television set and the couch.
“What will she do?” Mae asked quietly. Her expression was concerned and wary.
“I’m not sure,” Travis replied. “I don’t even know how much she heard.”