“Hey, are you with me?” He spoke again.
When I opened my eyes, it was dark outside. I hoped so much that I had escaped the darkness from my dream and it really felt different. The room was well lit and I wasn’t alone. I looked to my side where the chair stood next to the bed. There was the boy. I hadn’t been mistaken. He had a slim figure, not to thin, but well built and cute. He looked to be about fourteen years old, with cheek-long hazel brown hair… and emerald green eyes, like Aiden has had them. Had! This thought almost brought the tears back to me. It was a stab right through my heart. I tried to fight them back. It worked, for now.
“Finally!” The boy smiled at me. “I already thought, you’d sleep away another day.” His voice had something special in it. I couldn’t tell it for sure, but its tone was somehow soothing.
My attempt to sit up resulted in a soft groan coming over my lips. I could feel every muscle in my body. I think I have to get used to that. To be mortal again never had crossed my mind. This mere constraint.
“Hello” I said watching him.
“You’re thirsty?” To be honest, I didn’t know if I was. My needs had been quite different for a long time, but in his eyes I could read his ambition to be a good ‘nurse’. So I nodded, just to do him a favor.
He handed me the glass of water from the nightstand and I took a sip. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” I gave it back to him and he put the glass where it belonged. The sip of water actually felt quite good. My throat had been so dry and arid. Humans definitely needed a lot of water to keep their bodies working I remembered that. I cleared my throat.
“Who are you?” I had this question on the tip of my tongue since the first time I’ve been awake, when I confused him with Aiden. Ok, relax. Don’t cry!
“Shit, almost forgot that. My name’s Joshua. And yours?”
“Pleasure to meet you, Adrian.” He was excited, I could tell that. He must have been waiting for quite a long time. Finally being able to talk to me was giving him a heck of a time. And what did I do? The whole day I laid… in his bed? My eyes got wide when I realized that.
“Thank you, Joshua. That you took care of me, I mean.” I tried to get my legs out of the bed. He stood up and reached for my hand to help me. His touch was gentle.
“Don’t mention it!”
I was still a bit dizzy and had to blink to get rid of the stars before my eyes. Then I felt something’s being wrong with my clothes. They didn’t belong to me.
“Could you please tell me where my clothes are?” I looked at him, but didn’t get an answer. Apparently he hadn’t anticipated this question. His cheeks blushed.
“My mother had put them into the laundry. She said, there was too much blood and you couldn’t wear them any longer in that state.” He blushed even more. “Well, so my father and I put one of my pajamas on you.
They did see me half naked? What could be more embarrassing? They are strangers… Wait a minute, that was a thought a human would have. Great. Just great!
“Oh” I took a breath, “I understand.” Did I really?
“Maybe I should get rid of them anyway.” Yeah, that’s vampire thinking. “I’m gonna buy some new.”
This answer left him a bit irritated. He couldn’t know money was after all no matter for me. Although, there was plenty after all these centuries.
“If you like, you can have some of my clothes. I think I have the same size.” He said and then added quickly, “Just as long as yours are in the laundry, I mean” He blushed again. Cute.
“That would be nice.” I nodded.
He went to his closet and was searching through the whole mess in it that could be clearly seen from my position.
“Do you have a favorite color?” His voice was almost absorbed.
My instantaneous answer even surprised me, “Green!” Joshua appeared from the closet and gave me a puzzled grin, but then continued his search to find something suitable. He came back with blue jeans and, indeed, a green longsleeve.
“Here you go! I hope it fits.” He said while giving me the clothes he selected. I grinned. “What?” he gave me a look.
“Nothing, I just thought this green goes great with the color of your eyes.” That was a blush I had never seen before.
“I, um…, you said you liked green.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry. Thanks, though.”
“If you like you can use the bathroom to change. You still remember where it is, I hope. But, please, do my father the favor and don’t black out again.” Now he was grinning.
“What do you mean, do him a favor?” I raised one of my eyebrows, because I didn’t know why he said that.
“Well, he told me, if he had to carry you a third time, we would certainly prefer the hospital.” His response irritated me even more. Why third time?
“Why third time?” Always speak your mind.
“When I found you in the park…”
“Wait a minute, you found me?” I didn’t know if I could trust my ears. Had this boy looked after me for the whole time now? Starting with the place I was left to die. If my death was in fact their intention after all.
“Yeah.” He was unsure, I could tell from the look on his face. “Well, you know, at first I just wanted to move on, it’s better to leave these people alone, coming down from a trip or sleeping of a drunk, but then when I saw you, I mean, who you were, I just couldn’t leave you behind. They did a hell of a job beating you up, didn’t they?” I was going to stick to that story. After all, he came up with it, assuming this outcome. I never told him what happened.
“I called my dad, ‘cause I didn’t know what to do. We brought you here with his car. At first, he didn’t want to, he said it would be better to take you to a hospital, you know he has his regulations…” No, I didn’t know, but I didn’t interrupt him, “but then I could change his mind.” So much for the question ‘how did I get here’.
“That was really kind of you.” I began to take off the pajamas. Joshua turned away. “Now, really?” I grinned, addressing him “You did see me half naked before when I was unconscious.”
He giggled. “Yeah, and I’m sorry for that.” He turned back and sat down on the chair, while I was trying to get into the jeans. They were pretty tight. I had to hold my breath to get the zipper closed.
“Does it fit?” I could see him staring at me.
“Yeah, as long as I don’t breathe”. Joshua began to laugh. I couldn’t help myself, it was funny though, and I started laughing as well. I tried to put on the green shirt he had chosen and looked at myself from top to bottom. “What do you think?” I stood before him.
“My honest opinion?”
“Of course.” I bit my bottom lip. Why am I doing that?
“Well, I think the green works fine with your blue eyes as well,” he grinned. I didn’t expect that. And now it was me who was blushing a bit. I could feel it. My cheeks were getting warm.
I tried to play it down. “As far as I’m concerned, I do look good in everything.” I smiled. But then it came to me again. Aiden used to say this little sentence and I always told him, that he really did. A tear was growing so fast in my eye that I couldn’t hold it back. It ran down my cheek and I hurried to wipe it off. But Joshua must have seen it. His mood set as did mine.
“Ok” he said scraping his neck. “Do you want to go downstairs and meet the family?” I just nodded. I knew he must have misspoken and actually meant ‘and meet my family.’ Because I didn’t have one anymore.
We went into the hall and used the staircase to get down to the first floor. On the last step I could here a television running.
“…While none of the media have been permitted inside the area, rumors of an alleged gambling racket have been reported by eye witness who arrived on the scene first. As you can see behind me, this warehouse on the northern outskirts of the Chicago area has been reduced to rubble in what looks to be a deliberate destruction of the facility…”
“Mom, dad? Look who’s up!” Joshua waved at his parents. “This is Adrian.”
These people were indeed related. In the living room were three people. There was a tall man about six feet, with straight brown hair and friendly looking brown eyes. Like a puppy, it came to me. Although he was far away from being such a ‘young one’. He must have been in the end of his thirties or beginning his forties. Next to him stood a chubby woman. Her curly brown hair had a shimmer of red in it and her green eyes were ‘smiling’. Yeah, like there was so much happiness inside her, that it couldn’t be restrained and tried to find a way out into the open. But there was someone else present. A young girl, about the same age as Joshua. No, it must be the exact age. She was the female version of Joshua, with the hazel brown hair, although hers was running down her shoulders, and the emerald green eyes. They have to be twins.
Joshua’s father came forward. He wanted to shake hands with me. A quite uncommon gesture among vampires, but I was used to it, so I did what was expected from me.
“Hello, Adrian, nice to meet you. My name is Mr. Michaels, well, Chris. This is my wife Michelle and our daughter Sarah.” He pointed the two women out. “And of course you have met Joshua. He’s someone of the lifesaver kind, you know.” Mr. Michaels – or Chris – smiled at me.
“Yeah, I heard about that and I appreciate what you did for me.” I tried to give them a warming smile as well. How could I not appreciate what they had done for me? From my point of view, they could as well have left me in the park to die alone. But they didn’t. Joshua didn’t.
“I hope it’s ok, mom, I borrowed him some of my clothes until his are finished.”
“That’s pretty nice of you, honey.” His mother said. Joshua instead gave a crooked smile, but I didn’t understand why. His father laid his hand on my back and escorted me into the living room. The TV was still running, now, showing the news anchorman in the studio. Chris offered me to sit on the couch while sitting down in an armchair himself; Joshua sat down right next to me. Now, it was me who was giving him the puzzled smile. Ok, ‘nurse’, I’m feeling fine!
“And what’s your surname, Adrian?” Joshua’s father asked. “We can call your parents, then. Telling them, you’re alright. I asked my colleagues about a missing report for a boy with your description, but nothing came up. It hasn’t been twenty-four hours, though.” I looked at Joshua next to me, not understanding.
“Dad’s a cop.” He responded. Now, that gave an explanation to the ‘regulations-thing’, but the information gave me a shudder and I felt a bit concerned, because Cops work for the government. I looked back at Joshua’s father. He seemed nice, though. And he offered me to call him Chris. Who does that on the first meeting when he’s not a really nice person?
Maybe Chris felt my reluctance to not answer. “Ok… you don’t have to tell, if you’re scared. But you won’t get punished, if you ran away for example. I promise,” he said, giving me an encouraging nod.
Well, what should I tell him? That I never had a surname? I raised my arm to stroke my hair. That would give me another second to think. I never felt like it was necessary to have a surname. In my world, the first name was enough to be recognized… especially my name was enough. Then feeling my hair running through my fingers I said “Black. It’s Adrian Black.”
Not a very good name, but it was all I could come up with now.
“But you don’t have to call my parents,” I added, remembering his first intention. “You know,…” Come on, Adrian! “They died some years ago.” It’s not a lie. Well, Maybe the word ‘some’. “I live with my uncle now, but he’s out of town for a couple of days. I think he won’t be pleased, when he hears about what happened.” Now, that was a lie. I looked down to the floor. Could they tell I was lying? Normally, I had my emotions under control, but this fragile existence wasn’t as good in lying as I had been before.
“Oh honey, I’m sorry for your loss.” Joshua’s mother said standing next to her husband. I knew she was referring to my made up parents, but nevertheless it hurt, because I thought about Aiden.
“It’s ok.” I said, trying really hard to struggle back the tears.
“So, what happened to you exactly? You know, if you consider going to the police, I can help you.” Chris was indeed a nice person. I never encountered such altruism in my whole existence, well not from an immortal, that is. These people, these humans were just nice to me.
“I think I might have been a thorn in someone’s flesh, but I believe they will leave me alone now.”
“It’s your choice, son, but you will have those bruises for quite some days. Especially the one under your left eye.”
I didn’t know there was one. I had checked on my eyes in the mirror when I found out what they had done to me, but hadn’t paid attention to something like that. I raised my hand and touched the skin under my eye. It was swollen and hurt a bit. I had worse.
“Geez, is this the time? I’m gonna be late for Karen.” Sarah suddenly said and I turned my head. “I’ll call as soon as I get there, promise. It was nice to meet you, Adrian.” She jumped up from another armchair on the opposite side, hurried out of the living room and I could hear a door, probably the front door, open and close. Yeah, nice meeting you, too.
“I think I should go now as well. I thank you so much for taking care about me.” I stood up from the couch and turned to the entrance hall. I heard Joshua jump up immediately.
“Wait, you can’t go.” I turned my head and could see the tension in his expression. His parents looked irritated at him. “I mean…” He bit his bottom lip. “You’re hurt. We can’t let you go out by yourself. What if those people raid on you again?” He looked at his parents to get some support. “You said it yourself, Adrian, your uncle is out of town. Why don’t you stay with us until you are better? I think my parents wouldn’t mind.” Although I was a human I could read the look on his face targeted at his parents quite well ‘Don’t even think about it!’. I had to grin to myself. Now, he’s taking the ‘nursing’ a bit too far. But it’s cute.
“You see, Adrian,” his father began to speak, “if you would like to stay, you’re welcomed.”
What could I say? I didn’t want to endanger them. Although I felt helpless for the first time in five thousand years, I didn’t want them to get hurt because of me.
“I appreciate your offer, but I don’t wanna put you out.”
“Come on, Adrian. It’s ok. Tomorrow is Sunday, so no school. And I think it will be cool to have another boy in the house,” Joshua answered. How was I to understand that comment? I could have discussed with him the whole evening he wouldn’t have stepped down. So I gave in.
“If it means so much to you,” I grinned at Joshua, “I stay. At least may I catch some things from my home?”
Joshua was excited when he heard my decision. “Of course. We can go together and I help you out.” He gave me an angelic smile. Tricky little brat! He knows I was going to dump him. Joshua went into the entrance hall with me on his heals. Maybe he cared for me a bit too much. Soon I will have to go and leave him and his family to their normal life.
“Take your cell with you, honey, would you?” I heard his mother calling from the living room.
Joshua rolled his eyes, now I was sure because of being called ‘honey’… again. I had to giggle. I didn’t want to, but his face was too sweet. Like a real ‘honey-cake’. He tried to knock it off and keep cool. He gave me a fast smirk and hurried back upstairs, probably to get his cell phone. Actually, I thought teenagers go to sleep with their cell phones these days. I was proven wrong.
There was a bunch of people in the streets. I had never wasted a real thought on them before. I had listened to their thinking, yes. There was worry, pain, love, lust, envy and anger, even hatred. You could find everything, but it wasn’t worth a second look. They were so ‘imprisoned’ in their small heads. Not able to see their great potential. Now, I was one of them. One among many. Like the cattle, my parents had to nourish our community, they were just following their normal routine. Walking in groups to feel safe and comfortable. Such a waste!
I self-pitied my current existence. It was like you were to stop breathing. I was used to my immortality. I hadn’t embraced it with open arms, though, but I learned to deal with it and I also had the power to do everything I wanted. No one was allowed to command me. I was the one who did that. Well, I thought I did. But Lucas showed me how wrong I was. He must have convinced the others that it would be necessary to get rid of me. What he was up to I could only guess. I knew, whatever it was that he was planning, I wouldn’t have agreed to it. So, now I was off the game and he could act. I have to stop him, before something bad happens.
Someone bumped into me and just moved on without an apology. I felt anger rising inside of me. What was he thinking to just walk away on me? The day before I could have ripped off his head for this insult. I never would have done it, though, but just to know that I could if I wanted to was a powerful feeling in itself. Maybe I was too used to that superiority. Actually, perhaps it’s a good thing to start all over again. To live a life. A real life. But there was someone missing in the picture. And I wanted to know.
“Joshua?” I asked.
“S’up,” he looked at me giving me his sweet smile again.
“Do you mind showing me the place you found me?” I didn’t know what he was going to say, but I hoped he would give in to my request.
“Why’d you wanna go there? There’s nothing important.” He knit his eyebrows.
“Please, I just… I would like to take a look. Is that ok?”
He must have been irritated, but he agreed. We crossed some streets and went through a side road until we reached the park. I took a deep breath when we entered it. We went on for some more minutes until he said “There!” He raised his arm and held out his index finger to point out nothing special. I couldn’t tell, but he seemed to feel confident about this.
We reached the spot he had shown me; I looked around and began to remember. It was definitely the right place. I saw the van before my inner eye and the man carrying Aiden. I followed him. I walked past a lantern that illuminated the ground and the surrounding area. I stopped and stared ahead. This was it.
I knelt down on my knees. I reached out with my hand to touch the ground. The grass was wet but I didn’t care. This was the place where the man had put him. And I felt nothing. I could always feel Aiden’s presence, but in this moment, in this shell there was nothing I could feel. I knew he was dead. I knew they had dealt with him like they would deal with every corpse with the slightest vampire sign on it. A drop fell on the back of my hand. It wasn’t rain. I didn’t try to hold my tears back. Nothing did matter anymore. Now I knew for sure that he was gone. Forever. I sank down onto the small place that was his ‘rest in peace’ for me. I was ready to die as well.
Lying there, crying, I remembered, how Aiden actually asked me once, if we could buy a Christmas tree. He said everybody had one except us. We did buy one though and I also bought him a present, but didn’t admit it until he was so excited that there was a present under the tree for me. A present he had bought and put there when I wasn’t around.
Stupid memory. The tears continued to run. Someone stood behind me, but I didn’t care.
“Adrian, are you ok?” Joshua’s voice sounded caring, although he couldn’t know why I was crying. I didn’t answer. Maybe if I just stay here, he will get bored and leaves.
Then he said something else. “Who is that?” I didn’t want to, but I looked up at him. He wasn’t staring at me. There was something else that got his attention. I turned my head, my vision still blurred by my tears. I blinked several times to free my eyes from it and looked again into the dark. There was a figure. I tried to stand up and steady my position, wiping the tears from my wet face. I hold my breath when I saw the figure moving closer. I could see a pair of eyes looking in our direction. But it was the color that made me get scared. I new that glowing crimson color well. It was a vampire on the hunt.
It was a man. From his physical appearance in his early twenties, but I couldn’t tell how long he had been in darkness. He moved even closer and the small hairs on my neck were rising. Both of us were no match for him. I walked a step to my right to stand before Joshua and the vampire stopped. He cocked his head and then began to grin. I build a wall in my head, brick by brick and then I created an ocean behind it. I could see the vampire’s face now. His grin vanished. I wasn’t sure, but I believed he hadn’t expected this. You won’t get into my head this easy, my friend. He knit his brows. Yes, I know what you are and what you want. But you won’t get it from us. So leave us in peace and look for someone else.
He began to grin again and then he was… gone.
“What the…” Joshua’s mouth fell open. “Where is he? He was just there and…”
I looked around. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. He’s playing, I thought.
“That’s creepy, Adrian. Please let’s go.” Joshua took my hand and I looked down at it. He still cared for me, but I should have been the one to protect him. And this vampire was threatening him. I felt a rush of anger inside of me. Then, out of nowhere, I was thrown to the ground. I lost the contact with Joshua’s hand and landed on the same grass I had lain on some moments ago. The fall made the air leave my lungs. I heard Joshua’s screams. Then I saw his face in front of me.
“Joshua, RUN!” I screamed at him. I didn’t want him to get hurt. He was too nice to die here with me. I saw the dark figure approaching.
“So good. Your smell is so irresistible.” I heard his voice hissing.
“How dare you!” I said and looked at him angrily.
“I love a good hunt, it makes the blood even more delicious.”
Someone hit him.
“Leave him alone, you monster.” Joshua shouted. Oh no, why in the name of my lost immortality does he have to be so stubborn? The vampire grinned at him.
“Joshua, I said ‘run’. Go! Leave! NOW!” I screamed the last word in panic. But he didn’t move.
“I’m not leaving you alone. I haven’t done the first time and I’m not gonna do that now.” He’s crazy! He will be dead, if he doesn’t leave.
The vampire still grinned at him and then looked at me. Oh, damn, the wall!
He took a step forward and then pushed Joshua away with his right hand. My mortal friend was carried away by the push and landed several feet away on the ground. I could hear him cough after landing hard on the gravel walk next to the grass line.
Suddenly my mouth was covered with a hand and my breathing was going really fast. I could see his eyes, illuminating my face with their crimson glow. Then I felt pain. It hurt so much when his fangs pierced through my skin and entered my main artery. I tried to fight him off, but I was too weak. So I gave in; I wanted to embrace the death and not fear it.
But I didn’t die. Instead something else happened. I heard the slurping sounds from his fangs but it weren’t the ones I remembered from myself. No, actually suddenly the sounds stopped and my tormentor retreated. What’s happening? Why did he do that?
The vampire stumbled back as though as if he was drunk. But that was not possible. He held his chest and I could hear his breathing coming irregularly, almost stertorously. His eyes lost their glow and he looked at me in fear. I was stunned and noticed that my mouth was open. How was that possible? I remembered what one of the men in the van had said, ‘That would be a surprise to the wingless bat that feeds on him. I would like to see that’. I now knew what he referred to. But again, how? If I was mortal again, how could my blood be poisonous? Because what was happening, it was just that. The vampire, now lying at my feet, was dying.
I saw his eyes closing. I could hear Joshua behind me and turned my head in his direction. I saw him holding his side. He was limping a bit as well, but otherwise seemed to be ok. I looked back at our attacker. He didn’t breathe anymore. They took my immortality from me, but I took more from him. I felt sad and I pitied him. After all, he had been one of our children and I couldn’t deny him his survival instincts.
Joshua came to me catching his breath, when he saw the young man on the ground. “Is it dead?”
“Yeah, he is.”
Two headlights were coming around a corner. I didn’t think this park was cleared for traffic, though. It was a black van with darkened windows and when I saw it I felt my heart sink again. No, not this as well. The van stopped and to men got off.
I looked down again at the dead vampire and then over to Joshua. We had to leave immediately. I took him by his hand and hurried away.
I saw him still staring at the creature of his nightmares, but let me carry him with me anyway. I increased the pace, walking straight to the park’s exit. Then I turned right and hurried forward. Joshua still behind me, holding my hand.
“Wait, this isn’t the way home.” He said coming out of his numbness.
“No, we can’t lead them to your house. I know a place where we might be safe.”
I started running. Not looking back. There weren’t as many people in the streets as there’ve been during our walk to the park. I didn’t look into the few faces. All I could think about was getting away from these men as far as possible. Never had I imagined to do something like that. Running away. Joshua tried to keep up with me, but his right leg didn’t allow this pace, so I slowed down.
“Who were these men? And what was that… thing?”
“Slag-what?” He gave me a puzzled look. We were still walking fast down the streets, turning right or left until I was sure there was no one on our heals. Coming to a full stop in a side street we tried to breathe regularly. I saw Joshua’s chest rising up and down and he was holding his side again.
Then, about a minute later I continued. “Slaghunters. They’re humans, working for the government to make sure there are no human witnesses to a vampire feeding and to get rid of the leftovers.
Joshua’s eyes got wide. “That thing… was a vampire?”
“Yes, he was.” I said, using again the ‘he’ instead of Joshua’s ‘it’.
“But there’s no such thing! Vampires are a myth. They can’t exist. That would be…”
“What? You saw his eyes, you saw him move. You even must have seen what he did to me. I don’t know what happened, though, why he died, I mean, but you need to understand he was a real vampire.” I gave him a serious look.
“And these slaghunters? How did they know he was there? I mean, well… that he was going to…”
“Feed on us?” He nodded. “Well, when a vampire feeds and only then, he emits specific ultrasonic waves. Even the really sensitive ears of a vampire can’t hear them. But believe me, they’re there. So, you just have to use a tracking device calibrated on this special frequency and you can get a lock on the position.”
“That sounds a bit too Star Trek to me. Chicago is a big city.” Joshua said in disbelief and knit his brows.
I grinned at him. “You don’t think all those cell phone masts are only being used for mobile communication, do you?”
“But how did the government know what to look for in the first place?”
“Because we told them.” I gave him the serious look again.
“The elders. Well, actually, I did. I told them how to track the feeding ground and I made the treaties with the human governments. All of them.”
“Who are these elders? And how the hell do you know all this stuff? I mean… you’re just a boy like me.”
“Listen Joshua, I promise I will tell you everything, but right now, we have to get off the streets.” I began to walk. I could feel the dry blood on my neck and the wounds where it came from, these small holes ached terribly. I looked back and saw Joshua hesitating. He was irritated from what I had told him so far. I didn’t know if he was ready for more.
“Come on! It’s ok.”
We arrived at an apartment complex in a neat area. This was the place I had called ‘home’ for several years. Joshua followed me inside. I recalled the day and knew that Frank the doorman would be there at the counter. He looked up from his magazine and when he recognized me a wide smile came to his face.
“Adrian. I haven’t seen you in some days.” His smile vanished and he gave me a puzzled look. “What happened to your face? To your neck? And your eyes, they don’t…” The ones he was talking about gave him a serious look, then, looking in Joshua’s direction, he understood. Frank was a nice guy with a caring wife and a six-year-old daughter. He knew about our little secret and always kept his mouth shut. For him I was just another occupant, well, not quite the ordinary one, but we had a good understanding.
“It’s ok, Frank. It’s nothing. Just had some problems with some ‘friends’.” I almost spit out the last word, but he didn’t continue to ask. “Do you mind borrowing me the spare key to our apartment? I forgot mine.” I didn’t know if the key was still in the pocket of my own jeans, but I was sure Joshua’s mother would have found it before she put my clothes into the laundry and would have mentioned it. So I assumed it was gone. And the money with it.
“No problem.” He reached under the counter. “You know, it will be quiet without you, Adrian. Actually, you didn’t tell me you were moving.”
“Moving?” Now it was me who looked irritated.
“Yes, they were already here to get your things. I will miss our talks.” He handed me the small key and I hurried upstairs, Joshua on my heals. I was in panic now. His words were irritating and I couldn’t understand the full meaning of it. When we reached my apartment door my hands were shaking. I had to steady myself to be able to use the key on the lock. The familiar sight was not what welcomed us. I held my breath. There was nothing. The whole apartment was empty. The entrance hall greeted us with its vacancy. I looked into the adjoining rooms… same picture. I ran upstairs to the second floor… same again. Joshua had waited in the entrance and when I came back downstairs I just could shake my head. “Now they really took everything from me.”
Joshua looked around and was a bit irritated; I could see the expression in his face. “What is this?”
“Well,” I said sadly, “we wanted to go to my home in the first place. This it is.”
“This? Ok, so you’re not living with your uncle, are you?”
“To be honest, no.”
“And who is Aiden?”
I gave him a puzzled look. I never mentioned this name in front of him, did I. “How do you know about him?”
“Well, …” He was scratching his head. “You called me by this name when you woke up for the first time. And I could hear you saying it… you know… in the park when you were…” He didn’t go on. He didn’t need to.
“Oh.” Now it’s out. “He was my… boyfriend.” I looked at him, worrying he could run away. But he didn’t so I continued. “The men who hurt me, who left me in the park killed him. I saw them leaving his body behind before I blacked out.”
It was hard to tell if he would freak out. But he just said, “So, you’re like… gay, I mean?” and gave me an irritating look. I couldn’t completely decipher his expression. I didn’t expect that. Damn, what would I give to be able to read his thoughts!
“Well, when you find your true love, you don’t care whether it’s a boy or a girl. You’ll just embrace it. It’s this feeling of belonging to each other, completing each other, bringing each other to ‘perfection’.” I sighed, “You’ll know it, Joshua, when you feel it!”
“And with him it was special?”
“Yeah it really was.”
I sat down on the floor, leaning against the wooden staircase of my former apartment. Joshua joined me, taking my hand.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know him, but from what you tell, I think he was a good guy. And the men we saw in the park killed him?”
“No, those were others. The slaghunters might even have thought we were the vampires and the man on the ground our victim.” This brought the fear back to his face.
“I still can’t believe this! If he really was a vampire… oh man, that’s too big for me right now. I enjoyed those stories about vampires and werewolves, but I always knew they don’t exist. My parents told me that and now? How do you know about all of this?” I hesitated. I wanted to answer his question, but I didn’t know where to start. “Adrian, you promised to tell.” Damn, he’s good.
I knew this boy for just a couple of hours, not counting the time period I had been unconscious. Oh wow, am I actually keeping track of time, now? Joshua was a nice boy, for a mortal that is. I wanted to trust him. I had trusted humans before, like Frank, but with Joshua it was somehow special. It felt as though as if I could share my feelings with him. The pain inside of me.
“Joshua,” he listened, “how old do you think I am?” He didn’t expect that one. I turned my head and saw him knitting his eyebrows. Maybe he wasn’t sure if I was kidding. He opened his mouth and I waited. Then he finally said, “Well, I think you’re as old as I am. Maybe fourteen? Or fourteen and a half?”
I smiled. “You got my physical age quite good. But I’m much older than that.” I took a breath. “Actually, I’m five thousand years old.”
I could officially see his mouth drop open. “You’re kidding,” he said when he got himself back together, “and I thought you wanted to tell me the truth.” He moved a bit and released my hand. I knew he was going to stand up and maybe even walk away from me, so I added quickly, “No, it’s true. Honestly! Please don’t freak out on me, ok?” He didn’t stand up, so I knew he wanted to hear my story. “Before you found me I was one of the four. My brothers, my sister and me we were the first ones. The first vampires.” Joshua’s eyes got wide again. “I’m not kidding, so please don’t ask that again.” I grinned at him. “I lived my first life as a mortal about five thousand years ago, give or take.
“So you’re a real vampire?”
“I was. I don’t know how they managed it, but somehow I’m mortal again. With they I mean the elders. I told you about them.” He nodded. “Because of my age, you know, my real age, and my meaning as something like the father of them all I was one of these elders. There is one vampire among them however, Lucas, who was plotting against me, I know that now. He wanted to get rid of me, why I don’t know. I have to figure it out. Because, whatever it is that he is up to, it might be dangerous… for both our species.”
“Figure it out? Maybe I can help you. We can ask my father…”
“No! No one is allowed to know about this. You need to understand this Joshua. Our world is a secret to humans. You said it yourself; you thought vampires were a myth. These slaghunters we encountered, as I said, they make sure there are no witnesses. And if we hadn’t run away we would be dead now. It’s their job. And they get paid by the government, the same government that also pays your father.”
“You don’t think he would tell, do you. I know we could trust my father.” He sounded a bit hurt.
“I know. You cared for me although you didn’t know who I was. I could have been a drug dealer from what you could tell, but you took me home anyway. I just don’t want your family to get hurt because of me. These people are not some normal criminals your father is used to. They would kill everybody who is a thread to them. Just with the blink of an eye. Can you understand that? Can you understand why I need you to keep this a secret?”
He just sighed. “So, a real vampire. May I ask you some questions then?” I never thought he would leave the other topic alone.
“They say vampires don’t have a reflection in a mirror. Is that true?”
“It’s a myth. I certainly did have a reflection.”
“Myth. Actually, I like garlic. And the ‘cucina italiana’ for using it.” I grinned.
“You eat? I mean, normal stuff?” His eyes were round and big as saucers.
“Yeah, from time to time.”
“And what about the bloodsucking part? Isn’t that true?”
“Yeah, it‘s true. But it’s different for me than for other vampires. I did feed on humans, though. Many times. But…” I didn’t want to scare him; after all I was something like a monster in human mythology. So I opened my mouth to give him a peek, “there’re no fangs left, you see?”
“That would have been a cool thing to see.” He smiled at me. “What’s with never going out during daylight?”
“Actually… that is true. Normal vampires sleep during the day. Call it a hibernation cycle, if you want. Their skin gets cold as well. And when they get in contact with the sun… puff. My brothers, my sister an me, however, we’re different as I said.”
“That’s awesome. And where’s your family now?”
“Aiden was my family. I haven’t spoken to the others in a long time. And I mean long.” I sighed, scratching my nose.
“When we were ‘created’ I was as old as I am now, about fourteen and a half. My brother, back then his name was Jabal, was almost sixteen. I always wanted to be like him. My younger half-sister, Na’amah was about my age and her brother Tubal-cain was twelve.” Joshua was following every word that I said. “It was a hard time and they did some terrible things when we first realized what we were. Well, and I left. I didn’t see them for several hundred years, but when they found me, you know… Jabal could never allow his little brother to outshine his glory.”
“What did he do?” Joshua asked. “I think I never read about someone with that name.”
“No, he was known by another name, then. We all were. I called myself…”