Nicole and Molly arrived at the bus station. They went to the ticket window. “Great, I don’t have any money on me. I must have lost my wallet while we ran out of the school.” Nicole said.
“Don’t worry about it. Here my treat.” Molly said. Nicole reached up to get the money. Molly noticed a tattoo on her right hand between the thumb and index finger. It looked like a black bird. “What is that tattoo?”
“It is a black swan. It means you support vampires.”
“Very funny.” Molly said.
“I am serious. Black swans support vampires and White Swans hate vampires.”
Molly laughed. “Yeah right. Vampires are not real. Even though she laughed, in the back of her mind; she knew they were real. Some of her dreams and nightmares about her family involved vampires. My grandparents were good friends with vampires named Claudette and Malcolm. Right then memories began to surface. Of her great-grandmother Maggie screeching, “Never, ever use that filthy word vampire in my presence again! Malcolm and Claudette just have an allergy to the sun! They are NOT monsters. There are no such things as vampires!” Molly’s mother would then say, “The poor girl is just a child. She heard talk in town and she repeated it.” Her grandmother glared and pointed at Molly. “She sounds just like her evil daddy. Her father must have been a black swan. No, that’s wrong. He was much worse. He was a hunter. Hunters killed vampires. Molly frequently heard “The only good vampire is a dead vampire.” Throughout her earliest childhood.
Molly heard Nicole yelling, “Hey wake up, Earth to Molly.”
Molly looked at Nicole. “Sorry I was thinking.”
“Looks like you were remembering. Digging into the past.”
“My family did not like that word my grandmother would say it was an awful word that got innocent people hurt. She said that only ignorant people would call someone that.”
“Your grandmother sounds like she was a black swan.”
Molly gaped at Nicole. “She had the same tattoo as you! My grandfather, uncle and aunt had them also.”
“I know what will help, get out the photo album. I can show your or family.”
Molly gets the album out. She opens it to the first page. She sees a wedding picture. “Who are they?”
Nicole looks. “Sean and Colleen Dillon.”
“My aunt and uncle?”
“Actually, they are your great-aunt and uncle. Sean and Colleen are my grandparents. My mother, Mary, is their daughter.” Nicole thought for a minute. “Seamus and Aileen were your grandparents. Nicole turns the page. She points to a family picture. Your mother, Kathleen was their daughter.”
“Sorry, I don’t remember much about our family.” Molly said. She wiped tears from her eyes.
Nicole hugged her. “That’s okay. I would not be surprised if your memories were altered. That is a favorite trick of Dr. Kerr.”
“Why would anybody want to make me forget about my family? Or fake my death?” Molly asked.
“I have no idea. Don’t worry, I will help you find out why. I will also find out about everyone responsible.” Nicole said.
“Huh, I thought it was only Mr. Stirling and Mr. Sinclair?” Molly said.
Nicole snorted and rolled her eyes. “Yeah right. Those assholes are too stupid to think of a plan like that all by themselves. Somebody with a lot of influence over both families did this. I think I know who it is.”
“I am shocked that my aunt and uncle were not scared of vampires. I always heard that vampires were evil and killed humans.” Molly said.
“First of all, vampires are human. Some vampires are born of a one human parent and one vampire parent. Also, not all vampires are evil. There are good and evil vampires. Just like human beings. Some vampire clans are more blood thirsty than others. Some clans, like the Stirling clan, believe that you can get people to be willing donors. That is the reason your aunt and uncle are so close to Claudette and Malcolm.” Nicole said.
Molly looked surprised and frightened at the same time. “You mean vampires bite and drink my aunt and uncles blood? That is so gross!”
“It really is not that morbid. There is no biting involved. Usually. Most times an IV or a syringe is used.”
“So vampires like Claudette and Malcolm never attack people?” Molly asked.
“If a person, like a hunter, threatens or harms a member of the clan, they will be dealt with. A vampire has to be in mortal danger for an attack to be allowed. There are certain rules to follow. Some vampire clans have strict codes of conduct. Others do not.”
Molly shook her head. “I do not know anything. When I get to Juliette, I will look so stupid. It will take me forever to learn everything!”
“I am sure if you need help understanding anything about vampires, Sean and Colleen will help you. I am sure Malcolm and Claudette will help you also. Once they get over the shock of you being alive. Malcolm may seem mean at first but--
A ringing sound interrupted the conservation. Nicole answered the phone. “Yes, I am with her. Did they call you to rat us out? Hey stop yelling!” Nicole held the phone away from her ear. “If you don’t stop yelling, I will hang up. I will leave this bus with her and you will never find us! “No I have not told everything.”
Nicole laughed. “He hung up on me. Guess he did not like my answer.”
Molly stared at Nicole. “Who was that?”
“My father, I mean step-father. Sorry, complicated story. Anyway, he wants me to get off the bus before Juliette. I have to meet him in a town called Lafitte.”
“You mean more complicated than mine?” Molly asked.
Nicole grinned and nodded her head. “Actually, yes. I would tell it to you, but we don’t have that much time.”
“You never tell me anything! I am sick of it.” Molly yelled.
. Nicole patted her on the back. “Look, I know you are going through some overwhelming things right now. I am sure once you get there, things will make sense.”
Molly shoved Nicole. “Stop patronizing me! I need you to tell me information so I can get along with everybody. I don’t want to look like a total idiot.”
“Don’t worry, I am sure everyone will understand. They won’t mind explaining things. Colleen and Sean will be glad to see you. Once they get over the shock of you being alive.”
Molly laughed. “I hope they will like me. I have changed a lot since I last saw them. I was only five. Now I am 13, almost 14.”
“It is not your aunt and uncle I am worried about. It is the people they live with.” Nicole said. “I am not how Malcolm and Claudette will react.”
“My grandparents always talked about them. Malcolm and Claudette always came to visit. They were always very nice to me. Why would they be upset about me being there?”
Nicole sighed. “It Malcolm that will be shocked and upset. Your father’s family and his family are bitter enemies.”
“I am NOTHING like my father! I could never hurt people the way he did.” Molly said.
“The problem will be convincing Malcolm you are not a hunter.”
“I don’t understand any of this. I don’t know who to trust.” Molly put her head down in her hands.
Nicole gave her a hug. “You can trust me. You always had my back and now it is my turn to have yours. Don’t worry, I will get away from Fred and help you out. Hey I am exhausted. Do you mind if I take a nap?”
“No, I am also tired. We got almost two hours before the next stop. Sleep is a good idea.”
Molly agreed with Nicole. She needed sleep very badly. She dozed off. As Molly drifted off to deep sleep, memories came flooding back. She usually repressed her memories, Dr. Kerr taught her how to do this. He told her to imagine a chalk board with writing about her past. He then her to imagine erasing the unpleasant memories. Dr. Kerr also hypnotized her. Molly also found that when she stared into his eyes, her memories would float away. In addition to these techniques, she took medication. She had not taken her meds in almost 3 days. She often “forgot” to take her meds on a regular basis. Dr. Kerr always noticed and she would get an injection. Now there was no stopping the endless stream of horrible memories. Meeting Nicole must have flipped a switch in her brain. Her worst memory, the day of the massacre, came flooding back. She remembers:
It was a hot day in July. Hundreds of people were gathered for the Stirling family reunion at Oak View Park in Juliette PA. It was also the company picnic for Juliette Glass Co. Molly and Nicole stood beside the grill. It was their job to take the hamburgers to the table. “I wish we could go play softball like the boys, no fair we have to cook.” Nicole said. She was 9 years old. She was tall and thin. Her hair was brown with blond streaks that were dyed by the sun. It was in a ponytail. Molly was five years old and had read hair and green-brown eyes. Her hair was in pig tails. She also had freckles, which she hated. “You know the girls get to play after we eat.” Molly said. “It is still not fair. We should have boys vs. girls. Girls should can’t even watch the boys play.” Nicole grinned. “You know what, we should sneak away and watch.”
“What if we get caught?” Molly asked. “So what?” Nicole said. “It is not a crime to watch.” Molly glared at Nicole. “I think we should ask first, so somebody knows where we are.” Nicole stamped her foot. “You’re no fun.” Molly stuck out her tongue. She walked over to her grandma Aileen. She tugged on her skirt. “Can Nicole and me go watch the boys play soft ball?” Aileen sighed. “I guess. At least it will keep you girls from being under foot.” Nicole and Molly laughed and ran off. Going to watch the softball game is what saved then from being killed. It also saved Molly from being kidnapped by her father.
Molly and Nicole sat on the bleachers and watched the game. They sat and yelled and laughed at the players. Suddenly loud popping sounds could be heard down the hill from the ball field. It sounded like fire crackers. All the men stopped playing. Fred Norwich, Nicole’s stepfather yelled “Ambush” and ran toward the bleachers. “You girls run out into the woods, hurry up!” Nicole gaped at him. “Why, what is going on?” Fred shoved Nicole. “Just get! Hold Molly’s hand and run. Don’t stop until you are far away on the highway. Try to make it to Molly’s grandparents’ house!” Nicole and Molly ran in the direction Fred pointed.
A half hour later, they were deep in the woods. Gunshots could still be heard. Loud screams could be heard also. “Let’s stop” Nicole said. “I think we made a wrong turn. We should be at the highway by now.” Nicole grabbed Molly. “Shh, I hear something.” There was a rustling of leaves and a twig snapped. “Molly, honey come here.” A man’s voice boomed from behind a bush. Molly screamed, “Go away! Go away!” Nicole grabbed onto Molly’s arm, come on, we need to get away.” Another voice came from behind a tree. “Girls run.” It was Molly’s mother, Kathleen. She came out from behind a tree. She was holding her stomach. She pulled her hand away and blood gushed from the wound. Eddie Jones said, “Shit, I thought I killed you back there with your parents.” The girl tried to run, but Eddie shot at them. A bullet grazed Nicole’s arm. She cried out. Molly turned and a bullet went through her cheeks. She fell down. “Alright girls, those were just warning shots. Try to run again, I will shoot to kill.”
Molly shrieked, “Mommy!” Blood poured down her face and neck. You bastard!” said Kathleen. She pulled out a gun and shot him in the leg. Then she shot him in his stomach. He pulled his gun out and shot Kathleen again and it hit her in the neck. He shot her a second time and the shot hit her in the upper chest. Kathleen fell down. Eddie laughed and grabbed Molly’s arm. Kathleen sat up and shot him in the back. Eddie fell down and laid on the ground. Molly ran to her mother. “Go get help, Nicole.” Kathleen began to make gurgling noises, blood poured out of her mouth. Then she was still. Molly stared at her mother. She crawled to where her mother laid. She sat there and cried. Just then Fred Norwich ran towards them. He stared at the bodies on the ground. He shook his head and began to cry.
Molly woke up screaming. Nicole hugged Molly. “Shh, you are safe. You are on a bus. You are going to see your family.” Molly looked at Nicole. “What were you dreaming about?” Nicole asked. “I don’t want to talk about it,” Molly said. “Fine, if you don’t want to talk, then I will go back to sleep.”
A half hour later the bus pulled into a rest stop. Molly and Nicole sat at a table eating lunch. Molly put down her burger only after a few bites.
“Come on, tell me what got you so upset. What was the dream about?” Nicole asked.
“I remembered what happened in the woods. My dad shot my mom. Then my mom shot my dad.” Molly whispered.
Nicole shook her head. “Sorry, but that is not what happened.”
Molly pounded the table. “It is what my dream said happened. I know what I saw.” Nicole continued to shake her head. “Fine.” Molly said, “Tell me what really happened.”
“I don’t think that is something you should hear from me. It would be better if Aunt Colleen or Uncle Sean told you.”
Molly slapped Nicole. “Whatever.” She then shoved Nicole and ran away from the table. Nicole got up and chased Molly out the door and into the rest stop bathrooms. Molly stopped and tackled her. She slammed Nicole’s head into a wall over and over again. Molly got up and walked away. A few minutes later she got on the bus. Molly told the bus drive that Nicole decided to stay at the rest stop. The driver shrugged and closed the door. Then he drove away from the rest stop.
Andrew Stirling woke with a nasty headache. He felt his nose and knew it was broken. There was blood all over his hands and on his clothes. He looked down and saw Allen Sinclair. Allen was beginning to wake up. He grabbed his shoulder. “That bitch broke it.” Andrew shook his head, “We got bigger problems than your shoulder. We have to stop Molly before she finds her family. All hell will break loose if she does.”
“I can’t believe this. What a mess! All of our careful planning and then to have it unravel by a pure chance meeting.” Allen said.
"HA! If I know Nicole, she somehow planned this whole "chance meaning." That girl never believed Molly was dead." Andrew said.
"Hopefully, they can find Nicole and teach her a lesson for sticking her nose in other people's business," Andrew said.
"Stop it. What's done is done, can't be undone." Allen said. ““Before we do anything, I need to go to the emergency room before I die of pain,” Allen said.
“Fine, since you are such a baby, we will go. Besides, I want to delay my father finding out how we screwed up!” Andrew said.
Allen just laughed.
Allen and Andrew sat in the waiting room of the city hospital emergency room. The doctor had already treated them. Andrew had a splint on his nose. Allen had his right arm in a sling. They decided to tell the emergency room doctor that they got mugged. Two men attacked them with baseball bats. Allen said, “We need to make a phone call,” Andrew sighed, then took his phone out of his pocket. He dialed a number. He spoke into the phone. “We have a problem. She knows everything. She left to find her family.” Andrew pulled the phone away from his ear. Loud shouting could be heard from the speaker. Allen threw back his head and laughed. Andrew put the phone back to his ear. “Yes sir, we will be on our way after we go the emergency room.” He hung up the phone. He looked at Allen and said, “Father will deal with us when we get there.” Allen smiled, “I hope he calls Malcolm,”
Andrew shook his head, “Father said that he will not call him; since he lives with Sean and Colleen. He does not want them to think Malcolm was in on the plot. I am worried how he will react. I am sure he has not forgotten the pain the Jones family caused him and Claudette. If he flips, there will be trouble.”
“You mean more trouble than we already have?” Allen said.