I can't say that I didn't really worry about Taryn as I traveled towards the outskirts of town to see if I could maybe make it to Jeremy's blood shack and stay for a while. I sometimes worry that leaving him alone without me there to protect him makes him vulnerable. Then again, I worry that taking him with me or having him follow me to places like the Jeweler's facility puts him in jeopardy. No matter what I do, I'm always afraid that I'm going to make the one big mistake that will cause me to lose him forever. It keeps me unbalanced sometimes. It makes me wish that i didn't have to think about the future at all. Just being blissfully happy with what I have right now. That's all I want. It's all I've ever wanted, to be honest.
I just needed some time to clear my head, I guess. Let the silence of the night just...embrace me for a while. So I could try to find a way to sort myself out. I think that would be for the best. Besides, it's not like the lot is 'going' anywhere. I just need to build up a little bit more courage before I decide that I can just stroll back through that front gate like nothing happened, and that I didn't have an entire mountain of bad shit to apologize for.
I really didn't want to make them hate me the way everyone else did when I was in daylight. The people around me...my classmates...my teachers...my parents...
I really bought into the whole idea that Taryn could save me, somehow. That he could give me enough love to cancel out everything that was wrong with me and get me to a point where everything would be ok. He really made me feel like it was possible, you know? Instead...all I do is move from curse to curse, rejection to rejection, until I find myself being crushed under the weight of it all over again. Until I found myself wanting to walk back out to the end of Navy Pier at night...and finally finish what I started.
Had it not been for Taryn's love, and my duty to keep him safe...I'm pretty sure that I'd be hanging from that railing again right now...looking down at the icy cold waters below...and wondering how long it would take for the Lake to swallow me whole, and put me out of my misery...once and for all.
When you grow up in pain...it never really goes away. You learn how to deal with it, and how to better manage your emotions...but it's during these quiet times that the abuse, the bullying, the neglect, the utter disappointment within you...pokes you directly in the center of your heart, and reminds you that it's still there. Still real. And that you simply can't be 'you' without it.
That's the sickest part of the whole mentality. You can't let go of your demons without your angels leaving you as well. Hell...I don't even know if I can tell which is which anymore.
I felt my thoughts going in circles again. Circles. Circles. It was so hard to get them to stop spinning sometimes. Such a strange feeling...knowing all the answers...but not having access to them. If that makes any sense. It's like...they're right there! I can FEEL the solution to all of this madness...I can sense my purpose in all this. And yet, it was just inches out of my reach. Maybe I wasn't mentally or emotionally mature enough to realize kit, too inexperienced to translate it into something that I could use. But I was completely aware of its presence. I just wish I know how to get to it. Crack it open. And finally figure out why some stupid vampire myth chose ME to carry its message to the next generation of our kind, when I've barely been here long enough to know anything about 'our kind' myself.
It wasn't until I was taking some of the dark back alleys that the others from the lot had told me about that I felt...something strange in the air around me. Something that I couldn't quite ignore once I tuned into it. I slowed my pace down at first...looking around the alley to see what was going on...if anything. And that's when I saw a teenage girl, about sixteen years old, step down from one of the fire escapes in the alley. Slowly. Confidently. Her eyes shining with a golden glow...no optics to hide her vampiric vision.
I came to a stop as she walked to the center of the alleyway, almost as if she knew that I was coming.
She stared into my eyes...but didn't say anything. Not a word.
Suddenly, a group of seven or eight other vampires came walking around the corner at the other end of the alley to join her. All of them were teens, but all a few years older than I was, some of them a bit bigger, too. However, their eyes weren't glowing with a friendly shade of gold for very long. In fact, as they all gathered into a menacing 'squad' in front of me, I watched as their eyes turned to a deep shade of crimson red...meaning that they were in hunting mode.
Scavengers, maybe? Who knows? I simply stood still and made sure to keep my eyes on them the entire time. "I'm just out for a walk." I told them. "Do you mind?"
One of the older boys spoke up, "Our friend, Delilah, here...you know...she told us the craziest thing earlier tonight. I have to be honest, I didn't know whether to believe her or not. I should have learned my lesson by now, concerning her visions." He said, stepping closer in a menacing way. He definitely had me by about six inches. He towered over me, with muscles that I probably couldn't have achieved on my best day when I was still human. "I guess you could say that Delilah has a bit of a...psychic twinkle. She predicted that you'd be here...right in this very alley...right at this time of night. And lookee lookee...here you are."
"I don't want any trouble. Just...leave me alone, ok?" I warned him.
The boy looked back over his shoulder at his fellow vampires and chuckled to himself. "You're a very...VERY...special vampire. Aren't you...'Justin'?" He said. I looked over at Delilah, who had definitely used her extra of premonition to tell them a lot more about me than I would want any of them to know. "I'm thinking that this can go one of two ways..."
"Really? What two ways?" I asked, making sure to gain my footing...just in case.
"One...maybe you come with us...and you teach us as many tricks as you know so far. And you keep teaching us all until we know every last one of them. It can be dangerous out here on these streets for us V's. More extras means more power. More power means less threat. And if what Delilah says about you is true...then you are definitely an asset that we can make good use of."
Still staring him in the eye, I asked, "And the second option?"
His smile faded, and I noticed the rest of his gang taking a few more steps forward to crowd the alley to prevent me from leaving. "That second option...is we all beat the living SHIT out of you, right here, right now...and cash in on whatever ransom we can get from finding you out here. Because...I can guarantee that a vampire like you is going to be on somebody's radar. And they're going to pay us a pretty penny to hand you over...whether you're all busted up or not." He snarled at me, bearing his fangs as his eyes turned an even deeper shade of crimson red. "Frankly, I don't care which option we go with...but I suggest you go with the first one. My brothers and sisters here aren't known for their restraint when it comes to option two."
"Is that so?" I said...suddenly feeling the many energies that I had absorbed over time building up within me. My eyes turned just as red as his, my fangs shooting down from my gums as I made sure to let him see them as I sneered in his direction. And then, almost as if my mind was suddenly going blank, dipping into the desirable cache of madness that I enjoyed so much when it was needed...I felt a thick mass of ice cold shadows wrapping themselves around my arms. Then crawling up the sides of my neck to wrap tightly around my face...and my body began to slowly lift up off of the ground, my nails turning into claws...and I saw small pieces of trash and debris in the alley beginning to move and rise off of the concrete as well as they began to spin around me. A heated wind began to blow through the hair of the boys approaching me, and I could easily sense their fear increasing as they all took two or three steps back away from me. The dumpsters in the alley began to rattle, as well as the fire escapes above me. And as sharp bolts of electricity began to crackle and pop around my hands, and then spread to both sides of the alley, stretching out until the others jumped back and tried to avoid getting SHOCKED from the intense power that I was wielding in my fingertips alone...I felt my voice change into a deep, guttural, inhuman, growl...and I said, "I really don't have time for this right now! MY suggestion is that you find yourselves a third option! Or this isn't going to turn out well for either one of you!" And then I looked over at Delilah again, and I asked, "So...what is your friend's psychic twinkle telling you NOW???"
The rest of the gang turned to see what she'd say, all of them trembling before me. And with frightened eyes that were rapidly losing their red flare and returning to gold...she looked back at them to slightly shake her head. I'm not sure how far she could see into the near future, but the message was clear. Don't FUCK with the Vampire Mimic if you want to keep breathing!
All of them had nothing else to say to me. Some of them backed out of the alley without even alerting their fellow vamps. Delilah went back up the steps of the fire escape, and soon...the alley was empty again...
It took me a minute or two to 'power down'.
My adrenaline was racing. My fists were clenched.
Did you see how they cowered away from me? How they RAN once the knew what I was capable of?
I felt the shadows peeling back from me, and retreating into those dark places in my mind where I dare not go...but I looked down at my hands, and I felt...strong. So strong. There is a certain level of madness in realizing the kind of power that you hold. And I can't really say that it was a bad thing. I could...I could do such terrible things if I wanted to. Who could stop me? Who would I be if all of life's possible consequences were suddenly removed? As always...it made me wonder...
Is this what my father felt when he used to hurt me the way he did? Knowing that I was so helpless...so powerless? Is this the madness that he had so willingly tapped into when he beat me without mercy? Did he...enjoy it?
And...would I enjoy it just as much...if I were to ever cross paths with him again? Imagine, having him see me now. Crying, sniveling, begging at my feet for compassion! For pity...or for some form of forgiveness. Would I be able to grant him that after all he's done to me? Or would I take this power in the palm of my hands and tear him to pieces to forever PUNISH him for what he's done to me? To my life! For who he is! He'll get no such mercy from me. Not ever. He deserves worse. Worse than the vampires in this alley tonight. Worse than the security guards trying to keep me and Taryn locked up in the Jewelers building tonight. Worse than ANYONE who would dare to harm a single hair on my boyfriend's head!
I could do it. I know I could. I could tear the whole fucking city down around me if I thought it was justified! And anyone who had a problem with it...I could get them to turn tail and run away like those fucking COWARDS!!! Approaching me in a dark alley? Were they INSANE! Do they have any IDEA who they're fucking with???
Perhaps it was a residual effect of the energies that I had summoned to scare them off...but as much as I wanted to regain my focus and get back to normal...the dark energy didn't want to go away. I didn't...I didn't WANT it to go away! It felt so good. I was, literally, shaking...my hands...the tremors in my hands wouldn't stop. My breathing wouldn't slow down. My muscles wouldn't relax. My other 'half' seemed to be taking me over again, and fighting it was getting more and more exhausting every time I brought it to the surface.
I heard my knuckles crack loudly as the shadows returned to me. They were swirling around me, the screams of inner turmoil overwhelming me as I tried to fight off their painful influence. My legs became weak, and as the anger rose up within me to dangerous levels, I tried to find an outlet. Any outlet!
There was a metal dumpster next to me...and as my vision began to blaze red, I turned towards it and just...I had to let it out. I couldn't help myself. I balled up my fists and saw them suddenly catch fire! Maintain the fire, Justin...maintain the...maintain...hold it together...
"AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" I suddenly lashed out and began PUNCHING the dumpster the dumpster with all of my might! Screaming with hatred, denting the metal and leaving black marks from the flames blazing against it. I didn't know what was happening to me...but if I didn't get this out now, I felt like I would explode! I was ramming my fists so hard into the side of that dumpster that it began to fly up with every strike and crack the bricks in the wall behind it. Sparks of electricity shot out all around me, and the random paper that was lying on the ground began to catch fire as I furiously pounded the metal until it folded in on itself and nearly fell apart. But it wasn't enough! The rage hadn't been satisfied yet! I needed more! There was a desperate need to see how much destruction I could cause once I slipped over into that 'other' frame of mind. All power! All anger! All abuse! All....RAGE!
It felt so good to get the poison out of my system. To let my anger find a target worth fighting like it never could have before. Back when I was so weak. So vulnerable. So alone.
I had found my strength...and my abilities let me know that they were all here for me any time that I needed them.
"Lose the anger, Justin. It won't help you in any fight that really matters." Was the voice that I remembered as I wore myself out and fell to my knees with tears of vengeance clouding my vision. The voice of Comicality...trying to calm me down. Trying to teach me how to keep from going over the edge.
I felt those heated tears running out of my eyes as I struggled to reclaim my grace and balance. I was trying soooo hard to force myself to keep from losing control, rocking back and forth for a few tortured moments before feeling that destructive halo of raw emotion swirling around my head again. I suppressed it as much as I could...but it was too much for me to hold in anymore. I had to let it go. I had to.
My voice cracked as I shrieked in pain, and my brain geyser extra spread out all around me all at once...putting cracks in the walls, wrecking the fire escapes, even rupturing the concrete beneath me. It was an explosion of epic proportions! It weakened me to the point where I fell over to the side and held both sides of my head...almost passing out from the combination of pain and exhaustion. I don't...I don't think it's ever been that bad before. What did that to me? Why am I like this?
Is there something wrong with my extra? Why was this one so intense as opposed to the others? I'm still learning this stuff, but that was something that I thought I had a pretty good handle on before tonight.
There really is another side of me that is dying to get out. I've been ducking and dodging it and doing my best to deny its existence...but there's another 'me' in there somewhere. A rotting piece of me that my father placed in the center of my heart before I was old enough to defend myself. The Beast knew it. In fact, it was one of the first things that it latched on to when it found me. But...I'm not the bad guy. That's not me. I'm better than that, right? I mean, I'm not crazy! I'm just...I'm me. Aren't I? I'm in control. There's know way that I'm going to lose it, because I know who I am.
Thoughts of Taryn's sad eyes when I unleashed my full fury on Natpea that night when I fought my way in to save him from Soren's club flooded my mind. It was like he didn't know me at all. He couldn't recognize a single part of the boy that he once fell so deeply in love with...not when I was like that. Out of control. Sooooo much power. Almost infinite power. Addictive power.
I took a few minutes to just lay there and breathe. Lose the anger, Justin. Lose...just...just lose it. As much of it as you can. Calm down. You can do it. Breathe. Just...breathe...
There is a frightening level of untold power inside of me...and the deeper I indulge in that power, the harder it is for me to come back to reality once the threat is gone. The madness entices you to push harder, to go further...and I'm afraid that if I go too far, then I'll begin to lose parts of myself that I'll never get back again. Or that I'll even want back again.
What do I do if any other vampires decide to challenge me while I'm out here tonight? Vampires who won't run away with their tails between their legs like the last bunch? What happens if the Jeweler tries to tell me that I can't leave the building next time? What happens if I meet more scavengers in the subway, or another vampire hunter, or any other raiders who are foolish enough to try to come to the lot looking for trouble? Exactly how much power can I use to fight for what I believe in and want to protect at all costs...before I lose what's left of my rational mind?
All I did tonight was tap into enough of my extras to keep myself out of a conflict that I didn't want to be a part of...and that was enough to push me into a full blown vampire tantrum that I couldn't contain. Will this get worse? Am I sacrificing my sanity for the illusion of control?
How far am I from becoming just as lost and consumed by darkness and hatred as Taryn's brother, Alec? I have to wonder...because I'd be lying if I said that it didn't feel good to finally let out some of the fury. I looked at the dumpster next to me, and I had completely obliterated it with my bare hands. Dents and bent metal, holes and burn marks...it barely even resembled the shape of a dumpster anymore. And there was a part of me that was taken over by a sense of shame for my loss of self awareness...but there was another part of me that looked down at my hands again...free from any bruises or scars...and I felt emboldened to see what else I was capable of. Because if it ever comes down to me and some other powerhouse vampire fighting over Taryn's safety or the family that I've come to love at the lot...this is exactly what they've got to look forward to.
I'm not that scared little boy anymore. I haven't been 'bully bait' for months now. Anyone who wants some...they can come get some. Because, for the first time in my life...I'm beginning to realize that I have the strength and the skills to make them regret it. ALL of them. This isn't just me reacting to a certain need or conflict...this is me asserting myself and preparing to let the worlds of daylight and darkness know that I'm going to be a force to be reckoned with from now on. So watch what you say to me. And be careful when it comes to my friends.
Your very lives depend on it...
For once...your well being is MY choice! NOT yours!