My parents worked odd hours and always left me with babysitters when they were called at 1:00 am or some other weird hour.
I was used to my parents not being around, it was even normal by the time I was eight. At twelve they trusted me to stay home alone and the babysitters disappeared altogether, despite liking the independence it was lonely, dark and scary.
I might as well have been an abandoned child left to fend for himself, my parents spent less and less time in the family home.
One night, I noticed a figure out on the street, I watched it assuming it would start to move on its way down the street soon but it stayed there. Watching, and waiting.
It knew I could see it, I checked the doors to make sure they were locked and bolted all the windows, he had probably picked up my parents’ odd hours and planned to break in once I was asleep.
I didn’t sleep that night, I kept the TV on till morning when it would be too bright for the robber.
That was the first night my parents didn’t come home before sunrise.
A knock came at 9:00 am, I looked through the window and saw a boy a few years older than me. I didn’t recognize him. I ignored him at first but he knocked a second time. I got up and answered the door.
“What?” I ask.
“Hi, I’m Vinnie, I’m new in the neighborhood. My mom wanted me to introduce myself to the neighbors,” he shrugged annoyed.
“Jess,” I replied. “My parents are busy right now, maybe you could come back.”
“They’re not around much, eh? Yeah. I know what that’s like, always working, gets boring being in the house by yourself,” he hints.
“Yeah,” I reply.
“Do you want to play some video games together?” he asks looking around the interior of the front door.
I hesitate. Being homeschooled I’d never had many friends and never invited any of them over. My parents didn’t even have a policy set in place for if I did either.
I was bored though and wanted to do something.
“Sure,” I reply.
I let him in, shut and lock the door behind him. I turn on the Xbox and he picks out a multiplayer game. We sit and play it, for hours. He makes jokes and the loneliness seeps away. I feel normal for once. I feel like a kid in the movies.
My parents still weren’t home by three, it was odd, they usually came home when it was still dark.
“Jess, where are your parents?” Vinnie asks.
I guess he found it weird he hadn’t seen them or heard any noises to indicate other people were in the house.
“At work,” I reply.
“It’s not work,” he replies quietly.
I look at him confused, how would he know? He’d just met me and never even seen them.
“Jess, believe me when I say your parents are not who you think they are. They’re monsters, Jess,” he continues setting the Xbox controller down.
I stand up and back away, Xbox controller still in hand in case he came at me.
“Jess, please they’re hurting people. I’ll show you proof if you want proof, just please,” he pleads.
Why was he telling me this? If he thought, they were monsters why didn’t he just turn them into the police?
“If they’re doing bad things why don’t we just call the police?” I ask.
“The police aren’t equipped to deal with this, they’re vampires,” he replies.
“Are you crazy?” I question.
“I know I sound insane but you got to believe me, I’ll show you, just please,” he exclaims.
He was insane, but he sounded certain and he said he’d show me, if they were vampires, why wasn’t I one?
“Am I one?” I ask scared.
Had they been slipping blood into my diet?
“Children vampires usually don’t have control; I highly doubt it. I think you would have attacked me by now if you were and the sun would give you headaches and sunburns, you seem to be fine when you answered the door,” he replies.
“What are we going to do if they are?” I ask nervous and scared.
“We have to kill them,” he informs me quietly.
I stare at him.
Kill them? They were my parents; I didn’t know if I could do that. I step back from him scared.
“They’re my parents,” I whisper.
“They’re also monsters,” he replies.
Was that why they always went out at night? Were they hunting, drinking the blood of humans and killing them? Were they going to turn me into a vampire, like them?
I was conflicted.
“Jess, I know what it’s like to lose your parents but it’ll save lives, please just listen,” he tries again.
He had proof and if the proof was valid, killing them would be the right thing. Right?
“Show me,” I hiss nervously.
“Come on,” he says nodding towards the front door.
He leads me through the streets of my hometown, Somerville, MA, to a house, it looked like a normal house, my parents’ car was parked in the driveway.
Why did they need two houses?
We quietly opened a side gate. He went to the nearest window and opened it, I slowly approach the window and peek inside. The floor was blood-stained and covered with bodies that had bite marks on their necks. If my parents weren’t vampires, they were some messed up people.
“My parents did this?” I ask.
“Yeah, sorry,” he replies.
“Where are they?” I question.
“Somewhere here,” he replies quietly.
“What happens to me after this?” I ask.
“You can go into the foster care system or you can come with me,” he replies.
“With you?” I inquire.
“You can live with me and help me hunt monsters or have nothing to do with it, I won’t force you to be involved if you don’t want to,” he replies.
Foster care wasn’t a pleasant place.
“How do we kill them?” I ask nervously.
“Stake to the heart,” he replies.
Stake to the heart? I didn’t know if I had the will to drive a stake through their hearts much less the strength.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers quietly. “But if we don’t do this the bodies will keep piling up, they’ll probably turn you eventually, I don’t want to have to kill you, too.”
I looked around the blood-stained room that was full of my parents’ victims. They did this, they killed people, they were going to turn me into a monster, like them, that was a blood-thirsty, hungry and a killer.
There was guilt on either side but the guilt would be stronger if I let them go on killing people.
“I’ll do it,” I reply quietly wiping away a tear.
He places a hand on my shoulder to reassure me.
We hear a creek from the basement. My parents.
We hid around the corner from the basement door. Vinnie slips me a wooden stake; my hands are shaking as they grip the wooden object. My father emerges from the basement, bloody with blood-shot eyes.
“Lia? You smell that?” he calls down to my mother who then emerges from the basement as well, bloody.
“Smells human,” she growls. “Somebody has found us.”
We watch them silently as they pick their way through the bodies to the corner we’re hiding behind.
Vinnie strikes first, taking my father to the ground. His stake is through his heart in seconds and whatever life he had left disappears from his eyes.
“Jess,” my mom squeaks when she sees me. “We didn’t do this, we’re victims.”
But I can see her teeth, they are pointed and bloody, I could’ve believed her if it wasn’t for her teeth.
How could they have lied to me and killed these people? How long had they been doing this for? How many people had they secretly killed well I sat at home with babysitters learning my numbers and ABCs?
“It’s a lie,” I stutter feeling tears slip from my eyes.
I step towards her with the stake in a steadier hand than before. I leaped on her with the anger of all the people she’d killed to feed her hunger over the years since she’d been turned and my anger for wanting to turn me into the same thing she was.
I stabbed the stake into her heart and watched the metaphoric life she’d lived for the last how many ever years slip out, away to wherever her monstrous soul went when it died.
I sat back on my heels and felt the tears rain down from my eyes. Vinnie took the stake from my hand and hugged my shaking form.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized again. But no amount of apologizing would take away my guilt or anger. Guilt that my parents had taken these people’s lives and anger that I didn’t stop them or pick up on it, anger that now they were gone and I was all alone.
“We should go,” Vinnie whispers.
I stand, still shaking. Vinnie tries to help but I push him away. We leave out the window, Vinnie erases our prints from the scene with a cloth.
The police, when they finally would get called because of the smell would probably think I was dead, too. I wonder what long lie they would make up to the media to hide what had actually happened.
Vinnie led me to the hotel he was staying in.
I sat on the couch and let the guilt and anger fester inside me.
“Jess, I had to kill my parents, they were turned by werewolves, I know what it’s like, you can talk to me, please,” he speaks sympathetically.
I didn’t really know what to say to him, was it harder? Did he actually know them as people? Mine were turned before I knew it and they were never around. Did he feel guilty about killing them? Did he feel responsible for the lives they took?
“Jess?” he whispered sitting down beside me.
I didn’t speak at first.
“I’d like to get some sleep,” I murmur.
“We leave tomorrow, we don’t want to be anywhere near here when they discover the scene,” he tells me.
I laid down on the couch and he retreated to the hotel bedroom but I knew he was watching me. He felt guilty about taking my family from me, but in reality, I’d never had them to begin with, they’d never been around for me. They weren’t the ones who comforted me when I woke up from a nightmare or checked my closet for monsters, if I ever had they’d probably would have laughed because they were the monsters.
My sleep was restless and filled with my mother’s and father’s faces begging me to join them, to be a vampire. A monster. Become blood-thirsty and hungry.
Vinnie shook me from the nightmare. He looked apologetic; like he understood.
“You okay?” he asks.
“Do you want to go back to sleep?” he asks.
I could see it was still dark outside.
I shake my head to clear the thoughts of the monsters coming back.
“Do you want to go now?” he questions.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“I have to find another case, another monster, help people,” he replies quietly. “You don’t have to hunt you can stay in the next hotel we stop at if there’s a case in the area.”
“No, I want to help, my parents killed innocent people and I was oblivious to it for years, I knew something was up, I just didn’t know what it’s…my fault, I should have called someone, told someone,” I exclaim.
“You were a kid, you didn’t know and if you’d gone to the wrong people they’d think you were insane, it’s not your fault,” he reassures me.
“You were a kid, you knew, you did something,” I whisper staring at the floor.
“Werewolves turned my parents well they were hunting, they begged me to kill them, I grew up knowing about monsters, no kid should be raised in that life, I didn’t have a choice, your parents made their choice, you had your own choice when I asked if you wanted to come with me or go into foster care, you still have that choice, you can stay here,” he replies.
I didn’t completely agree with Vinnie and I still felt guilty. I regretted letting him kill my father but they were monsters, they deserved it.
“I’m coming, foster care isn’t a pleasant place, and I don’t know of any relatives that I might have had, none of them would understand and they’d all think I was crazy anyway,” I mumble.
“Come on,” he replied quietly placing a hand on my shoulder and guiding me to the door of the hotel, his bags were already packed and ready to go.