The Last Day my Life was Relatively Normal
The color of my blood.
The color of my enslavement.
It was also the name of a company that collected human blood and sold it to vampires - Vermilion Inc.
I was one of their blood cows; a human that had abnormally delicious blood. It was a combination of my blood type, my genetics, and what I ate. The customers who bought the red liquid in my veins preferred when I ate strawberries and pineapple.
I was a fruity cocktail brewed for immortal consumption.
At least, that’s what I did on the weekends.
I took off my white apron and laid it on the stool before unbuttoning my white dress in the front. During the week, I worked at a vampire’s castle as a maid. We wore white as a canvas, as it was illegal to paint it. The vampires heavily monitored the killing and feeding of humans, to control both the immortals and mortals alike. If a drop of blood stained our white wardrobes, then questions would be raised.
Although, I didn’t see what prevented a vampire from ordering me to strip off my clothes so they could feed from me as they pleased. They could tell me to clean up and put my clothes back on after, and no one would ever be the wiser.
Which led me to guess it was a part of their culture, and they loved tradition. I knew for a fact that those bloodsuckers didn’t follow all of their rules. I was pretty sure that their laws were more of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, and don’t be an idiot by making it obvious if you break them.’
Either way, white was my uniform, and I was happy to take it off for the day because that meant I got to leave and go home. I let my dress drop to the stone floor. The vampiric family that I worked for, the Dentons, lived in a modern, gothic castle. It was constructed in the last eighty years, and yet it felt like it had been aging for the last few millennia. Even the land felt old, despite it being a farm. And now, the immortals seeped their roots deep into these lands, burrowing through what came before.
While I peeled off the white hose from my right leg, Nara walked in. It was only then I realized it was getting late, noticing the sun was dulling in its vibrancy.
“How’s it going, Mel?” she asked me.
“Just wrapping up for the day. ’Bout to head to Vermilion to get my blood draining over with,” I said, pulling at the hose as I hopped around to keep my balance until Nara grabbed me by the shoulder.
“Sitting down helps when taking these off, you know,” she said sarcastically, tucking her straight black hair behind her ear, always starting at her bangs.
Finally, able to pull the stretchy thing off my legs, I sighed with relief. Smirking at Nara, I cocked a brow. “Nailed it,” I said, dangling the white fabric in her face.
“Did you nail your daily task, as well?” she asked as she began to unbutton her dress.
I sighed. She was referring to my alternative purpose for being employed with the Denton Family.
Nara was a member of ROTE - Removal Of The Elite, or an insurgency of vampire hunters looking to reclaim Earth. She and I were working undercover like we were in some kind of movie, although I felt more like the comic relief while Nara was James Bond.
Nara was going home too, as those that dressed in white all left before sundown. Those dressed in black took over to actively care for our masters.
Rinse and repeat.
“No,” I said with defeat. “I didn’t even try. When I got close to Maverick’s wing, I got really nervous and thought I heard someone moving, and then I just left. They freak me out. Especially him.”
“You’re going to have grow a pair of balls at some point, Melissa,” Nara said. She was smart enough to sit on a stool as she removed her hose.
“I can’t sneak around Maverick’s wing. I just can’t do it,” I said, taking my wild hair out from the band that miraculously kept it all together. I had dark blonde, wavy hair that liked to get kinky in a few spots. I tried to straighten it sometimes, but if moisture even looked my way, my hair would frizz. I was still learning to embrace the wild nature of the dead cells that grew from my head.
“Well, do you want to get to Empirium, or not?” Nara asked, narrowing her brown eyes.
I tossed my gray shirt in my hands as I mulled that over. “Yes.”
“You want to see your family?”
“Of course,” I said and looked to her.
“Then you have to do what we have set you out to do.”
“Why can’t I know more?” I asked, putting my shirt on. “I’ve been working for the Denton Family for six months, and it was only a week ago that I got my first order. And they’re vague too – go sneak around and see what I can find. What is that even about? I want real instructions.”
“You can’t have real instructions. Not yet. Vampires have been lurking about far longer than our parents have been alive. With age comes wisdom, and they know our tricks. Once you prove you can sneak around his wing, more than once, then you will get your next order.”
"More than once?” I asked, pulling up my jeans, doing a little jump to get them up all the way. I swear I didn’t have much of a gut. I was actually on a heavily regulated diet for Vermilion.
“If you can’t sneak into a hall, then you can’t kill a vampire,” Nara said, putting on her clothes as well.
“Shh,” I said, smacking at the air. “If they hear us-”
“Oh, it’s fine. There is a reason I like to get undressed in the conservatory. They’re not coming near this area. Too many windows.”
I looked up to the glass ceiling, seeing the puffy clouds in the sky that were turning red and purple. Yes, but the sun is setting. I quickly put on the rest of my clothes as I looked around the giant room full of plants, confident I’d see red eyes among the green.
Vampire’s eyes turned red when they were hunting, and then black when they fed. The unnaturalness about it all was just another reason I both feared and respected them. Then again, it made sense they were different from us.
They weren’t from this realm, but rather one called Empirium.
“Well, let’s walk to the front,” Nara said, smiling at me.
Nara and I walked through the conservatory, dumping our dirty clothes in a bin for the blackdresses to clean. We paused to regard each other when we stood before a large ornate door. Then, Nara opened the door, revealing the darkness that seemed to eat at the light.
I could almost hear the walls hiss as what little sunlight remained broached the darkened hall. We stepped in and the doors shut with a slow, low groan, trapping us in its shadows.
Flickering candles were perched throughout the halls. The candles were from the Empirium and burned ten times as long, with no wax that dripped, which meant they easy to manage. There was also some kind of incense laced in the air, but I never quite figured out what it was or where it came from.
The walls were made of stone and wood, but the decorations were modern, some with ornate, gothic touches. Paintings lined the hall that were of scenes from Empirium, and sometimes I liked to gaze at them while on my shift. Maybe I’ll see those scenes in person one day. They had dragons, giant mountains, witches, fantastical forests — everything we didn’t have here.
We rounded a corner, and at the end of the hall were two enormous wooden doors that were still open, when they shouldn’t have been.
A pinkdress walked out of the room.
Blood cleaners wore pink.
“They’re not done in the feeding room?” I asked as we walked forward, trying to get a peek into the room. I wasn’t able to see much, but I could see that blood was still on the walls.
“Nope. Maverick had a dreadful week, apparently, and sort of slaughtered his food last night.”
“Fuck me,” I said. That’s the fucker I had to kill. I’d have a better chance of convincing Vermillion to nominate me as CEO at this rate.
“He had quite the struggle too. Death row inmates. If I ever get sent to prison, I am killing myself first. The last thing I need is to be picked as dinner,” Nara said.
“I don’t blame you. I lost five friends that way,” I said, shrugging my shoulders when he gave me a questioning gaze. “From the orphanage that I grew up in.”
“That would have been terrifying to grow up there.”
I chuckled. “One time, they gave me a second bath in a week. So I ran away. I thought a vampire had selected to slaughter me, and they were cleaning me, like polishing an apple,” I snickered. “Turns out a family just wanted to look at adopting me. They said no, of course, once they found out I was flighty.”
“Anyone with a brain would be flighty in an orphanage.”
“Always surprised me that those parents didn’t get that,” I said, and we were quiet once again. We didn’t like to chat much inside the halls.
Despite the strict rules that vampires imposed, they managed to write in ways around everything. They lined up the whores, the orphans, the prisoners, the drug abusers, and whoever else people in society wouldn’t miss. They’d sometimes let them loose in their woods, hunting them like wild cats, as they were too agile to be compared to wolves.
And when they wanted dinner at home, they’d hunt them in the feeding room, which was a labyrinth of stone walls and drains. I didn’t know what else was in there, as I had never been.
Either way, I had to get over how uncomfortable this place made me. If the information I received nearly a year ago were accurate, then my parents were from Empirium. How I ended up on Earth was still a mystery to me, but if I could cross over, I could potentially find my true family.
So, I worked for the Denton Family on the weekdays and let Vermilion have my blood on the weekends, with the hope that one day I’d escape. I could prove my worth as a vampire hunter, kill Maverick, and join the humans of Empirium and then leave this place behind.
I smiled to myself. Who would have ever thought that I’d be here, working undercover to undermine the very immortals that I feared my entire life? It honestly was a bit insane to consider.
Which is funny to look back on now, because I had no idea that when I walked out of the castle on that day, the madness of my life would begin.