The Vampires of London

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Rosalind Cross has always considered herself different from the rest. No matter where she turned, she didn't connect, couldn't fit in with other people. Ever since she was young, her dreams were a collection of fantasies no one in their right mind would ever think of. With the chance to start anew far away from her New York metropolitan lifestyle, she packs up and is shipped thousands of miles away from home to Winchester Prep Academy, located in Northleach, England. With her sixteenth birthday arriving soon, Rose is more than happy to be getting away for a while. Just as she's beginning to get used to the unfamiliarity of a new city and home, she begins to notice strange occurrences around school. Like why are all the classes held at night rather than day, why does the nighttime atmosphere have traces of blood lingering in the air, and what is it that makes her weary yet drawn to the mysterious Cassian Stefka? Secrets she could never even dream of get revealed and Rosalind is slowly roped into a situation that may not be entirely coincidental.

Horror / Romance
Age Rating:

Night 1

Night One

IT WAS MY MOTHER who thought it was a good idea to show up at John F. Kennedy airport five hours before it was time for my plane to take off. Even after telling her, I knew my way through the lobby, the hall, the check-in station, and my flight door, she still insisted on waking me up at the crack of dawn to make sure I was all packed and ready to go for the journey ahead.

Even though it was late September, we were still in summer weather in New York. Eighty-five degrees outside, and I was suited up from head to toe in clothing that should never be worn in such dry weather. Underneath my red trench leather coat, a parting gift from Dad was my favorite dress---sleeveless, white with lace detail at the collar, and stopped just above my knees that were covered in thick stockings, layered right under black boots that stopped just below my knee.

Unlike New York, England was currently freezing in normal September weather fashion, my parents figured I dress for the occasion and not risk freezing my ass off before I get off the plane. Though it seems that it completely slipped their minds that I am exposed to hyperthermia instead by hanging around in a boiling hot airport for five hours straight.

In the small section right off the London coast exists a small town called Northleach, which is home to Winchester Prep Academy, or Wine Prep, for short. Surrounded by tall trees and forests, I recall nothing memorable about the school presented to me specifically on its repetitious admission letter sent to me a month ago. After fighting a constant battle of doubt on whether I could actually live thousands of miles from the only place I’ve ever known, I finally put my foot down and said all the goodbyes I could to McKinley High in favor of a perhaps better opportunity, one that could finally give me the proper help I needed for my “problem.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love New York. I loved the hustle and bustle of frantic city life. I loved high-rise buildings, I loved taxis and graffiti art, heck, I even loved the creepy homeless men in the subways after dark. New York was my home, no doubt the gloomy, ancient Britain territory was gonna take a lot to get used to.

“You got your passport?” Mom asked me for the umpteenth time.

“Yes,” I reply short-handedly, “And I got my medical letter for---what was his name again? Dr. Maverick Kelly?”

“Yes, he’s expecting your arrival. How about your shower bag? I packed everything you needed to keep up with good hygiene.” Her big, brown, doe-like eyes flashed a dozen layers of worry.

To ease her nerves, I pat my carry-on bag twice, “Yup, it’s all here.”

“How about your pajamas? Cause I can get your father on the phone right now to---”

I interrupt her by squeezing her pale hands in mine. “Mom, chill out a little, I packed like three pairs of pajamas. They’re all in my suitcase.”

Mom’s face morphs into a small pout and I gaze at her features that look identical to mine. We both share the same olive skin tone from our native side, big brown eyes, and thick long black raven hair that cascades pasts our chests down to our backs. I feel a strange sense of emptiness when it truly hits me that I won’t be in her protection anymore. And based on the way she gripped my fingers, she was sharing the same anguish.

Seriously, how out of this world is it for me, fifteen years old and never once stepped foot inside a grocery store without assistance, is about to take flight a fly over seven- thousand miles across the world. Who will help me cook chocolate chip pancakes in the morning? Who will help me tie my black locks into a high bun when I’m sick of its weight? Who will listen to me rant about how Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger were the perfect couples who deserved endgame? The list goes on and the feeling of being separated from my family made me feel “cut away.” Like my perfect family solar system, which consisted of just me, mom, and dad, was out of orbit.

Still, I can’t let this feeling prevent me from getting on that plane. Even though I detest this new normal of not waking up just across from Mom and Dad, I needed to get away with the suffocating education system we are stuck with in America.

Mom heaved a sigh of relief and blinked away a few tears, “I’m gonna miss you so much,” she lets go of my hands and wraps her arms around me. Without hesitation, I do the same, close my eyes, and imagine it’s just the two of us in the crowded airport. “I’m gonna miss you too Mom.”

Mom’s cell phone vibrates causing her to release me from her grasp and whip the device out her purse. “Oh, it’s your father, he’s gonna want to see you one more time before you go.” She answers the call and I’m introduced to Dad’s face on the tiny rectangular screen. Through the Facetime camera, Dad’s face brightens and waves from his dull PR office room. “Hey sweetie, you go to go for your big trip?”

I smile right back, “Yeah Dad, I’m all ready. How’s work at the office?” Dad works at an entrepreneur PR firm down on Wall Street and unfortunately, his busy schedule prevented him from seeing me off at the airport today.

Dad ran his fingers through his stringy aging blonde hair and drawled on, “Sooo boring, I’m stuck with loads of paperwork I got to get into the big boss by eight tonight and I don’t wanna do any of it.”

I giggle and point a stern finger his way, “You get your work done right this second mister.”

He gulped and mocked saluted, “Right away Ma’am!” He turned his attention to Mom, “See, I told ya we raised a feisty one.”

“Perhaps we did,” Mom agreed, “Now let’s see how mature she can be on her own.”

Before I boarded the plane, I hugged Mom goodbye one final time. “Remember, you can come home whenever you like. Just give me a ring and your father and I will be on the next flight to come and get you.” She whispered into my hair.

“Mom, I’ll be fine seriously, remember this will be good for me, it’s about time I get proper treatment and this school is offering it.” Turning to leave, Mom grabs my shoulders and turns my body right back to face her, “I almost forgot, I have a gift for you.”

I stood an inch away from her as she fished inside her purse. I turn my head to check if my flight hasn’t taken off without me yet. “Mom--” I rush, signaling her to hurry it up a little.

“Hold on, I know I had it in here somewhere---” She gasps, “There it is.” Mom pulls out a small rectangle black plastic box and holds it out to me. Dropping it into my hand, a smile graces her lovely features, “Just a little something from your father and me. Consider it a birthday present and a going-away gift.”

“Mom, I still have a few good weeks on me till my birthday arrives, you didn’t have to get me anything.” I say gratefully, flipping the top of the box off.

“With that enthusiasm, when would I never have to get you anything for your birthday?” Mom grinned.

My eyes scan over the gift in my palm with awe. What sat neatly in the small box was a silver rosary. It was silver and clear, so clear I could see my reflection on the cross. A crimson jewel sat right in the middle and what surrounded that jewel was a collection of four blue smaller jewels.

I was floored at how the rosary shined in the light, how much did Mom and Dad pay to buy this? The necklace looked brand new, but I found myself holding it so gently as it would just disintegrate by touch.

I gasp in delight, “Mom, this is too beautiful, I can’t accept this.”

She shook her head and held her hands in surrender, “You can and you will. I want you to have this necklace with you at all times Rosie.”

I know when Mom raises her hands like that the matter is settled and there was no changing her mind. A part of me was more than happy with this decision, I can already imagine how much cuter my boring academy uniform would look with this gift. I sigh, “Mom, thank you---so much, I love this. Tell Dad I said thank you too.”

She grinned, but it faded as quickly as it came, “We knew you’d love it, but Rosalind before you get on that plane, I need you to promise me something.”

Her change in tone was jarring, but I continued to listen, “What is it, Mom?”

She grabbed my shoulders gently, but I felt the tremble of her fingers on my leather jacket, “Promise me you’ll wear this necklace and keep it on. You’ve never been to this place before and I need you to be safe however you can.”

“Mom,” I laugh and shimmy from her grasp, “It’s a school, not a survival course, but of course I’m gonna wear it. Just like you said, I am a bit enthusiastic over this gift, I’m never taking off this necklace.”

“Good, keep that energy. Put it on as soon as you get on the plane.” She urged.

“Will do. Promise.” I hug her one final time and board the plane. I didn’t want to relish too much on what was with Mom’s strange change in tone, so I just settled on her just being nervous for me.

After fighting a battle trying to get my bag on the flight storage closet, I sink into my assigned seat. Based on the nasty scowl from my seat partner, I could tell he wasn’t open to conversation, so I prepare for the twelve-hour trip the only way I know how, I relax.

Once we’re in the air, I trace the platinum silver rosary already secured safely around my neck.

Why was my mother so adamant about me wearing this?

The rosary didn’t look any different from any other piece of jewelry you’d find on QBC, what made this so important? Maybe it belonged to Grandma or whatever.

Pushing the rosary under my dress, I decided to let myself forget about it and instead focus on my new life at Wine Prep. I’m not really sure what I’m expecting, but I really need whatever lies at the end of this path to be good. This Dr. Kelley was supposed to be “the cure” to this disorder that has stuck with me for as long as I can remember.

It was no secret, no really, everyone seems to find out sooner or later that I suffer from strange nightmares that follow me after I awake the following morning. I see--visions of things people would never dream of and no therapist in America could ever figure out the reason why.

The very first doctor I visited was when I was only six years old and the closest thing we could categorize my disease as is some warped form of schizophrenia. Except, while most schizo patients just hear voices, I can actually see mine. Like, actually see them in the people around me. Their faces---I see so many of them everyday sometimes I tend to forget what human features look like.

For example, Susie, my biology partner in my freshman year, on most days she looked like her normal self, stringy blonde hair knotted into a messy bun, cold blue eyes behind red rectangular glasses. On other days, her face morphed into some horrific-looking dog--type thing with slob and blood dripping from her razor-sharp teeth.

Or when I was grocery shopping with Dad, and I almost had a mental breakdown cause I swore that our cashier suddenly grew angel wings out of the blue while she was ringing up our two percent milk.

And let’s not forget that field trip I took to Lake Ontario in middle school, I was so excited to visit a new place and I ended up skipping out on sleep entirely. My teacher had to call my Mom to take me home early cause I wouldn’t stop weeping. I was labeled a cry baby all because our tour guide had ugly scales growing on her face and her eyes shined a sickly green yellow in the dark. They tried to blame exhaustion but I know what I saw, and it continues to haunt me.

As one can tell, this mental disorder of mine has stopped me from ever even wanting to leave the comfort of my home. Nothing prescribed to me has worked in the past, and I’ve tried everything. Pills, liquids, powders, eye drops, and long hours of therepy, nothing seems to work. I don’t have the slightest clue who this Dr. Kelly was, but I do know I might just be his wildest case yet.

I don’t know exactly when it was I started to drift from consciousness, but as soon as my body began to feel warm and toasty under the temperate flight condition, I was fast asleep and dreamt of those same chocolate pancakes Mom and I would bake every Sunday morning.

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