One Saturday afternoon after lunchtime Steven Rinehart, a high school student gets the shock of his life. Prior to this, the night of the previous Friday was pretty unusual. He couldn't get some sleep because of his neighbor, Matt Mackenzie, an old man that lived next door. Rinehart's room was just a few feet away from that of Matt's so Rinehart can't get some sleep each night.
"Good morning Mum," he said when he got downstairs to his Mum, Mrs Rinehart.
"Hope you had a nice night?," She said caringly.
"No Maa, I couldn't sleep cuz Matt kept on snoring," He said. She chuckled a bit and says,
"Get ready for school dear, I'll talk to him later, okay?".
"Okay," He said then went into the bathroom.
It wasn't just the snoring or the fact that he thought he kept seeing Meowy, their cat digging the ground from his window that got him worked up but also, the dream he had. He had a dream when he entered a large but empty castle and was bitten by a bat and he gradually became one himself.The castle was so large, but no one inhabited it, except for the bats.
He was so disturbed that he left his Science project on his study desk and went downstairs.
"Mum, do you believe in vampires?," He asked Mary( her preferred first name), his Mum.Mary, almost frightened to death shrieked as she replied,
"What?, why?, Forget that! There are no such things as vampires, Bram Stocker just filled his book with vampire nonsense and drinking blood to scare people and get famous. Don't let it bother you.
"O-okay, I'll try, it's just that…," Steve tried to say but was cut short by his Mum,
"Steve, you'll be late, we'll discuss this later, okay. Now, go to school and don't you use that downtown road, use the country road".
"Okay Mum, bye," He said as he left her.
"Protect my son, Lord," She made a short prayer then went to get ready for work.
Mary worked as a clerk in the Town Hall and though her salary wasn't enough to sustain her and her 14-year-old son.
She also did some patch work for some people and sewed clothes to earn extra pounds.
As the popular saying in the town was that, "A pound a day is a food a day," which in its local use meant if you earn a pound in a day, it can get you food for that day. So you can live on one pound a day.
Not much was known about MR. Rinehart as she deliberately kept it a closely guarded secret from Steve. She'd always tell Steve and anyone who asked that MR. Rinehart died from a heart attack before Steve was born.
Ms Raleigh, one of the worst teachers ever was in a terrible mood that morning. "Where are your assignments?!," She screeched from a corner of the science class. That was when Steve remembered that he forgot his project.
"Where's your assignment, Steve?," Amelia Robinson, one of Steve's closest friends.
"I think I forgot it," He said.
"Well, you better do something quick else, you'll get detention and an "F"!," Amelia Robinson said.
"What should I do?," He ask passionately.
"I don't know…," Amelia Robinson said.
"Pretend you're sick and take a hall pass to the nurse's office," Adam Tyson, another close friend of his suggested.
"Quick thinking Adam," Rinehart commended Tyson as he gave him a high-five.
"Hey!,...," Ms Raleigh rebuked.
"Ohooooo," the trio exclaimed. Ms Raleigh walks to them.
"Rinehart!, Maybe you want to go first!, Where's your assignment?," She asked authoritatively. Poor Steve was short of words. He took a gulp of spit in. He remembered how his Mum would always warn him that liars will go to this place where fire burns them, hell. At a tender age, he developed fear for sin and anything that'll lead to an eventual sin. He was now contemplating in his poor mind,
"If I tell a lie, I'll disobey Mum and God but if I tell the truth, I'll risk getting an "F"and detention," he thought.
Just as he stood there, motionless, he was called back to consciousness by Ms Raleigh'S yell,
"Rinehart!," "To the Headmistress' office now!". It wasn't what he expected but he was at least happy he didn't have to lie. Rinehart walked triumphantly to the Headmistress's office. He knocked at the door.
"Come in," Mrs Hart, the Headmistress said from her office. Ms Raleigh opened the door and led Rinehart into the office.
"Young Rinehart, what brings you to my office?," Mrs Hart said so softly to Rinehart.
"Well, Ms Rinehart has blatantly refused to turn in the project I gave him and when I asked him why, he felt too big to answer," Ms Raleigh explained.
"I understand Beatrice but Rinehart has never committed a crime since he was enrolled in this school and I can successfully vouch that he had a good reason for it," Mrs Hart explained.
"Say something!," Ms Raleigh turned to Rinehart.
"I forgot my homework on my study desk because I was a bit stressed out because of a dream I had," Rinehart explained.
"I suggest he has after-school detention," Ms Raleigh said.
"Thanks Beatrice, you may go, I'll handle this," Mrs Hart concluded. Ms Raleigh. exited. Mrs Hart asked Rinehart to sit.
"Steven, would you like to talk about your problem?," Mrs Hart asked. Rinehart hesitated because his Mom was a bit weird in the morning.
"Well, it's okay if you don't want to talk about it now, but always remember that I'm always here anytime you need someone to talk to. I'll let this go because this is this first time I'm getting a bad report against you. Be more careful, okay?," Mrs Hart explained.
"Thanks Ma'am, I'll never forget this," Rinehart said.
"You're always welcome," Mrs Hart said.
"Tea?," Mrs Hart asked.
"Hi," one of Mary Rinehart's colleagues said to her. She was a bit busy but when she turned and saw his face, she smiled. He was Henry Johan. Henry was a widower whose wife died some ten years back. He had two kids, Jack and Victoria, they lived with their Grandma though. Mary had a crush on him from the very first day she saw him at work but has never actually spoken to him about it. He also never said he liked her but occasionally flirted with her maybe just to have fun. On seeing Henry's face, Mary's initially troubled face lightened up and gave a huge smile, revealing her beautiful smile. She had never spoken to anyone about Mr Rinehart though, but she was often a sad woman.
" Hello, there," she replied with a smiling face.
" I know you are a bit busy but I was wondering if you could join me for lunch," he said as he put on a smile. Mary hesitates a bit then she thought of the possibilities of her eventual marriage to him if she went out with him, who knew? It could be intimate.
" Okay, I will," she concluded.
" Awesome," he said very happily.
Mary tidied up the paperwork she was handling, applied powder and he offered her his hand and they walked towards the door.
They walked to a nearby café, where she had some snacks and he had a drink.
" So, how's your son, Steve?," Henry asked politely.
"He's good," Mary answered. She felt weird because she did not like discussing her son with Henry. It made her appear "used," according to her.
" He should be in High school, right?," He asked.
" Yes, you're right, how are the kids?," Mary asked.
" They're doing okay, thanks for asking," He said.
" So, why did you ask me to lunch?," Mary asked.
" Well, I have something really important to ask you," Henry said.
It was just as if the world was coming to an end.
" Wow, is he going to propose? I think he's going to do it. Yes, this all makes sense now," Mary wondered to herself. She soon becomes cold. She sips a bit of his drink and says,
" Sorry... I got nervous, what did you want to ask?," Mary recovered.
" I was asked to make a report on the incident that took place in the Gothic Castle and since you live close to the Castle, I was wondering if you know anything about it?," He asked politely. The disappointed Mary looked on with sadness in her eyes.
" Sure, I'll help you with it," She said.
" Thanks a lot," He said.
They did not speak to each other till they returned to the Town Hall.
On getting home from work, Mary Rinehart discovers that her son, Steve, had not yet returned from school. Alarmed, she threw her things on the floor and ran out. She went to her neighbor's place, Mrs Neil, but he wasn't there.
"Where could my son be Lord?," She wondered till she sited him from afar coming from the downtown road with Amelia Robinson and Adam Tyson. The specific path she forbade him from using.
Already scared of losing her son, she decided not to punish him. She sits by a fountain, awaiting her derailed son.
" What's wrong with you?," She asked him as her got to her.
" I specifically told you not you use the downtown road but you just ignored me didn't ya?," She asked.
" I'm sorry Mom," Steve replied.
"Yes, Mrs Rinehart, we're sorry.," Amelia said.
" You better be!" Mary replied and took Steve home with her.