“You know you don’t have to through with this?” My mom whispered in a desperate attempt to keep her only son in her arms.
“Ma, come on, we’ve talked about this for months now. This is a good opportunity, for you to go forth with your goals like you always wanted to and I can go live with my father in Chicago to get away from the demons that hold me here,” I reassured her. God, I swear that woman never could make up her mind. But, in a sense, I guess she’s worried about her 16 year old son moving to another city far from her protecting eye. I mean, after all, she gave birth to me; she’s been there for everything from the start of my martial arts training to coming out to her a month ago. She was still here, so when she was offered to a job that would better her success it was my turn to repay many favors.
“I know,Troy, I know. I’m going to miss you, that’s all,” she said while kissing my forehead.
The announcer’s voice rang through out the airport, “Now boarding Flight 3695 toChicago.”
“That’s me,” I said gripping her in a hug.
“Ok, I love you! And remember what I told you–don’t let anyone get you down about your eyes they’re beautiful!” she reminded me.
“Ah, yes that’s all in the past now, Ma,” I smiled, “I love you too.”
As I boarded the plane I turned around to give her one last wave goodbye and teary-eyed smile. On the plane ride I thought back to how I was constantly picked on because of my eyes. They used to harass and torment me because my eyes were completely white. It got to the point where I was beat up and bullied daily until the third grade. When my mom made me take some self-defense classes, then I began to act out seeking my revenge on those that tormented me before. I was getting in fights daily, but it never helped ease the mental pain of someone teasing me relentlessly. Sure, the physical pain and bruises eventually faded, but the emotional scars of the torment in some those hateful words tended to stick and latch on and never want to dissipate into the background. The self-defense classes helped in protecting my physical self but the inside was screaming and boiling to points of rage unheard of. Until I had a talk with my mother. She told me, “You shouldn’t let anger and pain cloud your better judgment. Those who do stay trapped in the same situation looking for a way out, but don’t realize that the way out is to move past the anger and pain. Besides, the ones that tease you 90% of the time are doing it to cover up their own misery. So just let it go,” She then took me to a mirror and made me repeat all those hateful things they called me. And she then complimented my eyes and pointed them out so I could see them and every day since she’s done that. And after that I started to take notice, just her little comments alone made me start complementing myself and everyone else’s negative comments just seemed to dissipate into the wind. I started to fall in love with myself, looking in the mirror daily just to see myself again. Once, I started to not care about the others opinions they started taking notice and complementing me. Let’s just say it did wonders for my ego and self-esteem and to say the least it has made me a little conceited.
The flight fromBaltimoretoChicagowas particularly long for being in the air. I was getting very irritable, so I tried to sleep but I was nervous. I never met my father before and the thoughts were brewing uncontrollably. Is he gonna recognize me? Would I recognize him? Will he like me? Is he gay? Straight? Does he have a boyfriend? Girlfriend? What if we don’t get along? Does he have other kids? What if he’s homophobic? What if…?
“No,” I whispered to myself, “concentrate,Troy, everything’s gonna be fine.” I did my best to concentrate so I thought about sand at the beach. How it has this timeless, adaptable nature. It kind of reminded me of myself and what I want to be as a person in life. Timeless, I wanted to make my mark, a lasting impression on whomever I met. I didn’t want someone to ever just remember me asTroythe short black kid with dreadlocks. No, never that. Some way, shape or form I was gonna hold a place in your memory forever. I am adaptable in the sense that I take to situations better than some people due to analyzing them from all angles, and choosing the one that helps ensure my survival.
The flight finally touched down and I was breathing very heavy. In thoughts of meeting my father, the walk from the plane to baggage claim was endless. “This is it,” I said breathlessly, as I came down the escalator.
The first thing I noticed was a tall, muscular man. At least in his mid 30’s, bald with bubbly brown eyes, he had a sign and a dazzling smile. I mean just showing all 32. But, this man looked just like me except for the hair, height and eyes. He was standing at a good 6’1″ tall, while I was down to a meager 5’5″. Before I read the sign our eyes connected. And his smile got brighter–blinding almost–and I started to get excited to meet my father.
“I can’t believe you’re finally here,” the man said, wrapping me up in a hug. His embrace captured me not just physically but emotionally. He is a very open person and I was beginning to see where pieces of my personality came from. Physically, his embrace made me feel whole in a parental sense. That this man was the missing piece to a puzzle.
“God I’ve waited forever for this day,” I cried.
“So you’re my younger half…Troy Gabriel, Jr.,” he smiled.
“Yeah, that’s me,” I sighed.
We got acquainted for a bit. And took off towards his apartment. Upon arriving he told me that there was this beautiful park not far from the penthouse, Grant Park. He said it would be a good place to check out while he was running some last minute errands and then we would hang out at Navy Pier.
The skyline was pretty dark as I reached Grant Park. I decided to stroll around the area to take in my surroundings. I let my mind wander while I strolled the park. There was only one topic that concerned me though. Coming out to my father–it had to be done. I was surprised that I cared so much about his opinion toward my sexual preference. I mean I just met him for the first time and, honestly, part of me says that he’d have to deal with it. Maybe I should wait a couple days and get settled first, then feel him out about how he’d digest the situation. Then break it down to him. Through my deep thought I must’ve done laps around the fountain.
“Are you lost sugar?” A voice called out to me. I looked around to see this drag queen sitting on the park bench looking at me.
“No, just in deep thought,” I replied, shuddering at the cold weather.
She chuckled at my shuddering and said, “Welcome toChicago.”
I laughed with her, “Is it that obvious?”
“Well most of us here in the ‘WindyCity’ wear jackets or are used to the cold weather,” she said. “So what seems to be troubling you?” she added, tapping the space next to her on the bench.
I contemplated for a minute sitting down with her. Something about her had my senses tingling. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something screamed danger in the back of my mind.
“Come on, Diva don’t bite on most nights,” she said while digging in her purse. I chuckled lightly at her comment but my senses went off again like she was being rather serious. But I brushed it off because she seemed like a genuine person and I could use someone to talk to right now.
“So, tell Diva what seems to be troubling you?” she repeated as I sat down on the bench.
“Oh, nothing really…I mean nothing that I want to bother you about,” I replied.
“Suit yourself, but let me say this if he loves you then it shouldn’t be a problem, he may be shocked but he’ll understand” she said looking me in the eyes.
“Oh, ok.” I said awkwardly.
“So…where you from?”
“Baltimore,” I said proudly.
“Oh, you traveled along way from home, honey,” she said.
“Yeah, but it was for the best,” I said, staring at the fountain.
“Well, I’m sure sugar,” she smiled at me looking me in the eyes, “Ah, your eyes…are giving me life.”
“Thank you, Ms….” I chuckled pointing out the fact we never officially introduced ourselves.
“Divinity James, but everyone calls me Diva,” she said.
“Troy Gabriel,” I chuckled, “Thank you for the advice.”
“No problem…besides it wasn’t troubling you,” she replied.
“I did say that didn’t I?” I sighed. Looking out at the park I saw my father walking towards the park.
“It was nice talking to you, Diva, but I gotta take that advice now,” I smiled.
“Alright my little Ken doll, don’t let Ms. Diva stop you,” she said, “come back and see me sometime.”
“Also, you should stop wandering around at nights, it’s not safe,” she said with a real serious tone.
The Pier is beautiful I love the way it mashed with theChicagoskyline. The people all came from all walks of life. I felt like I was back inBaltimorefor a minute.
“So what do you think so far?” my dad asked.
“This city’s beautiful, I think I might like it here.”
My hands started sweating, I was nervous at the words beginning to form in the back of my throat. My mind started bursting with ‘what ifs’. We continued walking and ended up at an area where we could look out at the water. ‘It’s now or never,’ I thought. But before I could speak he beat me to it.
“You know,Troy, this whole father-son thing is very new to me and I was hoping you could look past the fact that I haven’t been there. I know I should’ve been there and believe me, I wish I had been. But I want us to start fresh. What do you say?”
Damn, how do you move on from that. I couldn’t do it not tonight it just didn’t seem right for him to tell me what he really wants and then I come in and lower the boom. My father was really trying, he wanted to be there. So the least I could do was try.
“Better late than never, right?” I said, pulling him in for a hug.
After our father-son moment we decided to head back to the car. And my senses were tingling and it was weirding me out. It was like we were being followed. I looked around and saw two guys staring at us. I made a mental note of the two faces as they weren’t moving, just glaring like they were taking mental pictures, too.
We made it to the car and went to a nearby diner to eat, and my senses started going off again. Upon leaving the diner I saw them, the two faces from the pier. Now I was on alert.
“I think we’re being followed,” I whispered.
“You noticed it too?” he replied. He then rolled up one of his sleeves and raised his arm that had some weird marking like a tattoo. And they stopped from the looks of it. We were good for a couple blocks with no sight of the two faces.
“Troy, listen to me, I want you to run,” my dad said.
“What?” I started and my senses went off stronger than before. These two faces were still coming for us.
“Go now!” he shouted. Like lightning, one of the guys was in front of us. It was unreal his eyes so dark and decrepit with purpose. My father shoved me out of the way and I started to high tail it down the street.
I didn’t stop, in fear of what was behind me. I kept moving…forward crossing streets, jumping fences. This shit wasn’t a joke like just simply losing the cops, no these bitches were after a nigga.
I ran into some abandoned car lot. My thoughts were in a frenzy I can’t run for too much longer. I used to much energy to try and fight whatever it is that was after me. And then I ran into a dead end. I turned around and the other guy was right there. His dark, crimson eyes feasting on me, I only had two choices die helplessly or go down swinging. Thinking of self defense class my teacher said this was only to be used in a life or death situation. This is definitely one of those situations. All I had to do was find his chakra flow and hit it hard enough to block it off completely.
“You really think that’s gonna work?” the guy hissed. I froze instantly, not because of the malice and venom in his voice, but he was reading my thoughts: that’s not possible.
“You know, your ‘father’ put up a good fight, too bad I wasn’t after him though. You know, if you weren’t on the bosses shit list I’d cross you over and keep you with me. But you know what they say, you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure,” he smiled.
Business? I don’t even know this dude to even establish myself on his bosses list. I still had one shot to possibly leave out of this alive. I found his chakra flow now I had to get a quick hit in his lungs to cut off all air and hit the pressure point in the heart to cut him off completely.
“Determination! I like that,” he said, “Still willing to try it, by all means, humor me,” he said, still approaching me. I analyzed him for any other opening that may help me. When something caught me by surprise, he had two fangs growing out of his mouth. He hissed at me and started charging.
This was it the final standoff and I had a clear shot. In a flash one hit to the left lung another to the right lung. He sunk his teeth into my neck as I hit the heart. “I missed,” I whispered as the realization of being bitten sunk in. I couldn’t have had a clear shot, there’s no way. And I was right, I felt the fangs dislodge from my neck and his body just collapsed.
I started hyperventilating as the pain kicked in. It felt like fire was shooting through my veins. I had to get help. I began to wander around this car lot, hoping to God there might be someone around. It hurt to move and the fire shooting through my veins was growing all over my body. But I couldn’t give up, I wouldn’t. I made it this far, there must be a reason. Faster and faster I was losing this battle, pieces of me dying with every step. I was ready to give up when I saw a boy who ran and hid as soon as he saw me. “Help me please?” I whispered, as I dropped on the sand and darkness set in.
I gasped in shock upon waking up. My hands went directly to my neck. Nothing there, but I know that bastard bit me.
“Where am I?” I said. Looking at my surroundings it looked as if I was in some car with painted black windows.
“Maybe somebody can help me find a way out of here,” I said while exiting the vehicle.
It was nighttime. I felt the cool breeze whip around my face. Something was off, I felt different, like there was something missing in me. I felt…empty. It soon vanished but it creeped me out. I began roaming around this old car lot, looking, searching for anybody when I heard a car door slam. It was some kid no older than 14 or 15 I’d say.
“Hey!” I yelled.
“Oh, dude, please don’t yell, it’s way too early.”
“Early?” I repeated, “look, I’m lost, I need to find a way outta here. Can you help me?” I asked, and another boy stepped out of another vehicle, noticing me right away.
“I see someone’s finally awake,” the boy smiled.
“Oh, is that the kid Dylan found?” the other boy said, “I’ll get Bryson.”
“Can you guys please help me?” I said as calmly as possible.
“Listen, take a deep breath, there’s a lot you have to digest tonight.” the two boys chimed in unison. There it was again, that feeling of emptiness, it hit harder this time. I felt my stomach grumble, loudly. And my legs gave out as I hit the dirt.
“Where is Bryson?” one said, as they helped me to stand up.
“What is wrong with me?” I said, feeling lightheaded.
“Your body’s still adjusting to the changes.”
“Changes? What the fuck are you talking about?” I asked. They both led me over to another vehicle and profusely began to bang on the door.
“Look, who are you guys and what is going on?” I asked.
“I’m Gyro and this is Justin, now do you remember anything that happened to you recently?”
I had to think back, my memory started clicking. “Uh…yeah, I was attacked by–you’ll never believe this–a vampire, and my dad…” I started, “My dad!” I screamed. He’s got to be looking for me, did he make it to safety? The other face appeared in the back of my head.
“Chances are, your dad didn’t make it. Sorry, dude.” Gyro explained.
“We were quite surprised you made it.” A guy my age said stepping out of the truck. My head started spinning with all these teens popping out of different vehicles. Gyro saying my father is dead, but I wasn’t, but I was bitten in the process.
“So are you all vampires, and am I?” I asked, looking at the sudden crowd growing around me.
“Yes. Now we need to get you fed, immediately, before that pain you’re feeling gets worse,” the older boy said, helping me to my feet.
“Ok, wait slow down. One life-changing decision at a time,” I said, “Now how long have I been out?”
“Honestly? You’ve been out for several weeks, dude,” Justin said.
“Weeks? Are you serious?” I said. Where did the time go? I thought I was out a mere day or two, but weeks? I need to calm down, there’s no reason to panic at least your alive, somewhat. The pain came shooting back through me as I stumbled a little bit. But this was different the air around me began to bubble with scents of possible prey. My body hissed automatically and I felt a numbing tingle from my gums. I touched my teeth and tasted blood. I savored it as it slowly trickled down my throat. It was my own, but it was delicious, sweet and tangy.
“I’m going crazy,” I said as the pain started to dissipate and I was beginning to feel normal again.
“Walk with me,” the guy they called Bryson said. I followed hoping to find some way out of this pain.
“Look, kid, I’m gonna ask you to do something that you may not want to do, but I need you to trust me.”
“Ok…Troy,” he said, leading me out of the lot. We were walking briskly down streets, parks and alleyways.
“I know this is a lot of me to ask of you right now,Troy,” he said, studying me.
“You care to elaborate?” I said.
“You need to eat or your body is going to die of starvation, and I’m afraid it won’t wait any longer.”
“You mean like hunt, take down some innocent person?”
“Yes,” he sighed, “I know it sounds gruesome, and you may not think you can do it but I assure you, you will die if you don’t,” he said .
Damn that’s tough, kill somebody? Could I do that? Could I be the person that kills someone who could possibly do the world some good? In that same instant images of the night my life ended flashed through my thoughts. I already had blood on my hands from my father’s supposed death. Not to mention I already had one body under my belt and the taste of blood I was craving for more. I came to the realization there’s no way around this, this is a new world with a new set of rules, and whether I like it or not the game is going to remain the same. The only question is, do I play this game or do I wait until I receive the big GAME OVER. I nodded in agreement with myself.
“I got you,” I said softly. “We kill for the basic need of survival, it’s no different than a tiger stalking a gazelle or a shark eating a seal, versus society’s ‘just because’ killings, like gang shootings, rapings and murders. And whether I like it or not, there’s no guarantee that some other vampire won’t come right behind me. So when inRome,” I added.
“Alright, let me tell you the basics first,” he said with concerned eyes.
“Honestly, dude, I just wanna get this over with ASAP to get rid of these hunger…” I gasped as I started to feel another rumble low in my stomach, making my knees buckle, “…pains,” I whispered, gripping my stomach.
My nose caught a scent, dull at first but which started to get stronger. The smell was irresistable and strong enough for my senses, I don’t know how, to lock on and track this scent automatically. I licked my lips hungrily as I picked up the pace to reach my prey. Bryson followed me and that scent continued to grow stronger as I got closer to my first meal. I came to a dark alleyway where I came across the pull on my senses from this human. My eyes started to churn into that dark crimson as my mind crept into bloodlust. I was ready to make my move when doubt showed itself. Prying and trying to convince me that this was wrong and unethical. “Come off it,” I silently said, “this is only done as a means to keep us alive.” With that, doubt no longer existed in my mind.
I glanced at the human that I was shortly gonna make a meal out of and felt my gums tingle as my fangs began to drop. This human was so unsuspecting and unaware as I crept behind him deeper into the shadows of the alleyway. With one pounce it was over, my fangs slid into his neck like it was made of butter. The reward was well worth it, the blood was utterly delicious as it ran thick down my throat. His struggles were effortless as I got a hold of him, it was just a matter of when he let that realization set in. I was done draining this poor human in a matter of minutes, and belched out of satisfaction.
Then something else hit me while I was over this corpse. My clothes were all dirty and bloody from the feast. I realized I had no clothes, I was stuck with these dirty clothes so I figured, glancing down at the lifeless corpse, he’s got to have something useful on him that I can use. I proceeded to run his pockets for cash or anything that can get me what I was in desperate need of. I ran across a cell phone and a good $150 cash.
“Wow…dude really that’s cold-blooded,” Bryson said walking up to me.
“What do you mean?” I said innocently pocketing the goods.
“Honestly, first, before I could attempt to teach you the basics, you split completely into this other person, and I must say dude you’re a natural, but then you go through his pockets, that’s fucked up.”
“Well, the human’s dead. What’s he gonna do with it, spend it in heaven?” I snapped.
“I guess you make a good point,” he said, putting his arm over my shoulder. “Come on lets head back to the lot, we have much to talk about.”
“Thanks for the offer, but I have to head home…whichever way that is?” I said, looking around. Bryson locked eyes with me and said, “Troyyou can’t go back to wherever you came from, it’s now in the past. Your human life ceases to exist.”
That stung a bit and I swear the words kept echoing in my head, ‘YOUR…HUMAN…LIFE… CEASES…TO…EXIST.’ Words have never pierced my soul so hard in my life, or should I say ‘existence’ since my life was already over. Over, but how? I mean, I know how but I had so many goals, dreams and ideas. Not to mention the one person I left behind, my mom. Oh, God! She’s got to be going crazy. They said I’ve been out for weeks and she hasn’t heard from my father or me. Wait, what if he made it, I know its highly unlikely but there’s always hope right? He’s got to be worried, too. And my friend back home that I would never see again. My heart hardened and words left my mouth that I couldn’t believe I was saying.
“Hmm…so I guess this starts a new chapter of my existence.” and as soon as I finished speaking I could feel my body locking away the thoughts and the pain and just…brushing it off.
“Okay, lets head back, then,” Bryson said as shocked as I was.
Meanwhile across the street hiding in the shadows…
“Hey, Boss, I spotted the kid who got away…bad news though,” the man spoke.
“What bad news?” the boss yelled through the phone.
“He’s crossed over and not alone.”
“Well, I want you to wait ’til he is alone and then you take him out.”
“I don’t know why we have to take out such a sexy specimen,” the man mumbled obviously interested in his bosses target.
“If he isn’t killed we will have a war on our hands which could potentially lead to exposure of our world,” he said growing angry.
“But, what if we have the wrong guy?”
“One life won’t be missed,” he spat, “Now you have your orders. Report back to me when you have followed through,” then he hung up.
The voice behind the phone was very displeased that the target crossed over. Which means he’ll be coming into his extras soon. And that could possibly bring Comicality back out of hiding. Hmm…but that necessarily could be hit or miss, he could see the threat the kid possesses. There will be no uprising, I shall see to that. As an elder, I will kill him myself before that happens.