“You lost him?!” Geoff shouted. “How could you fuck up this badly?”
Drew glared at him. Sometimes the old man seemed to forget who had the higher rank here. “I told you. They rescued him. There were ten of them, and a dog they had apparently Turned. The dog took out Niko and Mar with some kind of ‘super’ howl. Apparently animals get extras, too. And one of them had some kind of extra – he made Ted basically blow up. I think that was Josiah’s doing. His extra must be more than we imagined.”
“That’s all the more reason to work harder to keep him. Now we’ll have to track him down and get him back.” Geoff replied. “You tagged him, right?”
“Of course, old man,” Drew replied, the corner of his mouth turning up in a sneer. “And don’t overstep yourself. You still work under me, remember?”
“And I still have this,” Geoff answered, patting his breast pocket. “So don’t YOU overstep yourself.”
“Watch it,” Drew growled. “Accidents can happen, and that thing does you no good if you die.”
“Are you threatening me, boy?” The old man was technically younger than Drew, but Geoff had a tendency to let physical appearances dominate.
“Not at all. I’m just saying, be careful. We don’t want anything bad to happen to you, do we?”
“The same can be said for you.” Geoff grunted. “Bickering isn’t helping us. Let’s get a team ready.” He paused for a few moments. “We won’t deploy them yet, though. This may work out to our benefit. Let them train him as a vampire before we take him back. It will save us a few resources.”
Damn, that was tiring. Training with Jun always left me out of breath. I guess I had been in worse shape than I thought, but my vampire abilities were quickly adjusting to make up for it. He said I was learning fast, actually faster than almost anyone else he had ever trained. By now I probably would be about black-belt level, at least according to him. That far in only about two months! Only some boy he named as ‘Justin’ had been better, but Dion had trained him, and he had been a mimic. Could this be the same Justin that Drew was talking about? It had to be…
The last few weeks had seen me being trained in as a new vampire. I was the newest arrival, of course; only Dylan was anywhere as new to this as I was, and he had been here for over half a year! Dylan was about thirteen, or had been at the time of his crossing, really skinny with sandy blond locks and a pair of hazel eyes that he kept down at his feet. He was one of the shyest people I had ever met.
Pretty much everything I had been taught so far had to do with my physical abilities. Jun was training me how to defend myself with a variety of martial arts. He was Oriental, appearing about my age, with dark brown eyes and medium length black hair with splashes of neon orange/brown highlights in it. I was told that Dion used to do this, but obviously he couldn’t anymore. I tried not to dwell on that too much; most of the others seemed to be doing the same.
I was also being taught how to use my new physical enhancements – speed, reflexes, sight, sound, smell, all of it. I wasn’t just being told things, like Drew had; Bryson wanted me to have as much ‘hands-on’ experience as I could. So every night, a group of us would go out and do pretty much whatever; they’d explain things or show me things as we went along. My mental training, as it were, was already finished. At least, the part that they could help me with.
I was becoming very proficient at reading human minds. However, since every vampire’s extras were unique, nobody could really tell me how to work them. I’d just have to wait for them to begin to manifest themselves and figure them out as I went along. Of course, one of those abilities had already shown itself – my pyro show at the Hunters’ building was a surprise to everyone. Nobody had heard of anything like it before, and I could tell that most of the others were somewhat afraid of me, though they would never admit it. I suppose that might have something to do with why I got a cold shoulder from most of them. Bryson said that soon I would be taken to see someone who could help me determine my abilities, but he would not tell me when or even who I was going to see.
Of course, I was also being taught to hunt…which wasn’t the greatest experience, but I suppose it was necessary. My trainers for this were a couple of boys named Trevor and Michael. I instantly disliked Trevor the first time I talked to him. He just had this…feeling about him that made me uneasy. Physically, he was one of the most beautiful boys I’d ever seen in my life; his short blond hair, neatly tucked and cared for, looked as if it was made of pure silk, and it contrasted amazingly with his dark brown eyes. To top it all off, his body was so trim and fit, he was like a pin-up doll. Michael was Trevor’s boyfriend, though I think Michael saw more in the relationship than Trevor did. Michael had brown hair and dazzling blue eyes, and was just as attractive as Trevor, if not more so, as Michael seemed to be pretty nice.
Tonight, Trevor, Michael, and I were going to practice my tracking skills. I was supposed to follow Michael as he pretended to be human, and I was to chase him down and pretend to ‘feed’ from him. Bryson had told me that I wouldn’t actually have to do it for real until my thirst began. I was hoping it would be quite some time for now, as I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to go through with it yet. Bryson, of course, told me that I wouldn’t have a choice, and that when the hunger began, I’d probably be much more receptive to feeding.
“You ready to go, squirt?” Trevor asked me. I should never have said how much it bugged me when he called me that; he took every opportunity to do so now. “The night lasts only so long, after all.”
“Yeah, Trevvie, just a moment.” I replied. I had my own weapons to fight back with. “I gotta talk to Jun for a moment.”
I crossed theLot, as we called it, trying to find my ‘phys. ed.’ instructor. We were living in an abandoned car lot; it afforded us great privacy as well as numerous places to sleep during the day. Everyone had a particular vehicle in which to rest; the windows of each person’s vehicle were painted black so as to block any sunlight that would stream through. Jun had disappeared inside his car almost as soon as we finished practice earlier tonight. As I headed his way, I glanced around, watching the others doing their thing.
My gaze passed over Taryn, and I stopped in shock. Taryn was an incredibly beautiful boy, looking to be about fourteen (although he was, of course, much older). His reddish-brown hair hung down to his cheekbones on both sides and always seemed to shine with reflections of moonlight. His eyes were a blazing color of green, deep green, unlike any I had ever seen on anyone before, boy or girl. They looked almost artificial, which in fact they were, but Taryn had once mentioned that his eyes really were that color before he was turned. All vampires’ eyes change color when they cross over; they become a golden color and glow brightly, which forces us to wear contacts to blend in with the humans. Mine had just started a couple of weeks ago; boy, was that a surprise! However, water makes the light bend differently, and when we cry our eyes will grow so brightly that they’ll shine right through the contacts. I knew this because Taryn seemed to cry a great deal when he was by himself and thought no one was watching. I have no idea why, though. Also, I had been told, when we go into ‘hunting’ mode to feed, our eyes will glow a bright red color. It’s quite disturbing to see, even when it’s something you know will happen to you at some point.
It was not Taryn’s beauty or his shining eyes that caused me to stop, however. It was the bluish-purple light that sparkled around him. It only lasted for a brief moment, flaring brightly and then vanishing without a trace. It was similar to what I had seen around Geoff back at the Hunters’ place, but the colors were different with Taryn. Was this something to do with my extra, or was this something all vampires could do? I figured I should ask Bryson, and decided to put off talking to Jun until I had spoken to our ‘leader’.
Bryson was the ‘father figure’ for our little group. He was the one who watched over us and protected us. In many ways he WAS a parent for us; he even waited up in the morning to make sure we had all gotten back OK before the sun came up. He was still distant towards me, though Jun told me that was just his way. He seemed more open to the others, but I suppose that since I’m still so new and with the whole deal with the Hunters, he probably isn’t quite ready to trust me, at least as much as some of the others.
“Hey, Jenna, have you seen Bryson anywhere?” I asked. Jenna was one of the only two girls in our group, and was by far one of the friendliest out of everyone. She was beautiful, as far as girls went, with shoulder-length blond hair, some of the bluest eyes I had ever seen, and a beauty mark on her cheek. The other girl, Rain, was a complete mystery to me, and to most of the others as well, it seemed. The two times I had tried to talk to her, she had looked ready to attack me, then gave me the finger and stormed away. Such a friendly group here…
“Yeah, I saw him over by…Dion’s old spot.” She choked slightly when saying her old friend’s name. I was sad for their loss, but couldn’t really shed any tears for him; even though he helped rescue me, I had barely known him. Some of the others were still grieving, though. “Why, what’s up, Siah?” That was one of the few nicknames I actually allowed people to use, though not many were allowed to. She was one of those who could, and did.
“Oh, nothing much. Just wanted to ask him something,” I answered. “Don’t worry about it, babe.” I gave her a quick, tight hug. “Thanks.”
She nodded at me as I turned towards the stack of cars where, I was told, Dion used to spend a lot of his time watching the night sky. I found Bryson sitting silently at the top of the stack, staring up at the stars. I wondered what he was thinking, and found myself trying to read his mind, just in case. Coming up blank, I called out, “Hey Bryson, got a moment?”
He seemed not to have heard me, and I was just about to call out again when he replied. “Yeah, Josiah, just a moment.” He finally turned to look down at me, and then hopped off the stack of cars, dropping about twenty feet to land effortlessly on both feet. “What’s up?”
I explained what I had seen around Taryn, and also mentioned that I had seen similar with Geoff. He took a moment to consider it.
“I think we’d better call off your little field trip tonight. Or rather, we’ll be making a different trip.” I glanced back at Trevor and Michael, and again saw a brief aura, this time around both of them. Trevor’s was dominated by red with a little green, while Michael’s was a golden color with only the barest hints of red and blue. What were these all about? I told Bryson what I had just seen, and he continued, “Yup. Definitely going to see Tim tonight.” Tim? Why did that name sound familiar?
“Who’s Tim? Why are we going to see him? Is this the guy who’ll help me with my extras?” I asked, sounding almost like an excited little kid.
“Heh, yeah, he’s the guy. Tim is one of the oldest vampires in the city, if not the oldest. There’s not a whole lot he doesn’t know or doesn’t have a way to find out.” Bryson answered. “If anyone can help us, he should be able to.”
“Great! Let’s get going!” Something clicked into place in my mind. Drew had mentioned Tim while giving his brief explanation about being a vampire.
“Whoa there, partner,” Bryson said. “Let me talk to Jenna and let her know what’s going on. I’ll inform Trevor and Michael for you, too. It’ll be just you and me tonight. Be ready to go in five minutes.”
“Alright, gotcha.” I said to Bryson’s back, as he was already heading toward Jenna.
Bryson and I stopped outside of a small residential area in the northern part of downtownChicago. I looked around the place; it seemed like a normal neighborhood, hardly the place you’d expect to find a vampire centuries old. I half expected for like, werewolves to jump out at me, or to see zombies roaming around looking for brains, or something.
“That’s the place,” Bryson said, pointing to a little house right in front of a park. Definitely not the place for a really old vampire. “Go down to the basement door and knock three times. Only three times.” I nodded. “Do you remember the way back?” I nodded again. “OK. Dawn is only a couple hours off, and I don’t know how long this will take. You may have the honor of staying the night at Tim’s place. If it’s too close to daylight, don’t risk trying to make it back; Tim won’t mind company for a night. I’ll expect to see you tomorrow probably. Have fun, kid.” With that, he left.
I drew a deep breath. I hadn’t been nervous at all up until this minute; now that I was actually here, things seemed much more daunting than they had. I slowly made my way down the steps to the basement level. I’m not sure exactly what I expected; maybe a fire-breathing dragon guarding the door. Instead, all I found was a plain wooden door, with a small brass knocker. I pounded it three times and waited. Nothing happened. I was about to knock again, even though I had been told not to. Just as my hand was about the grasp the knocker, I heard noises coming from the other side, and the door swung open.
“Hi. Josiah? Come on in, I’ve been expecting you.” Tim was not at all what I expected, assuming that this was Tim, of course. He appeared to be about 16, slim, cute, with rosy cheeks. Definitely not what you’d expect one of the oldest vampires in the city to look like.
“Um…I’m looking for Tim,” I stuttered. Great, I’m becoming even more nervous. “I…”
“Yeah, that’s me,” he said, grinning. “You newbloods are always so cute the first time. Hehe, like I said, come on in!” He waved me in, closing the door behind us.
“Sorry, I just…”
“It’s ok, I’m used to it, Josiah. I’ve been wondering for a while just when Bryson was going to send you here. I didn’t think it’d be tonight, but that’s ok, I can deal. Please, follow me.” As we walked through the house, I heard the faint sound of Sublime’s ‘Caress Me Down’ emanating from behind one of the doors; it opened just a crack and I caught the sight of an incredibly cute boy looking at me. He winked before shutting the door again. Wait a second, was he naked? I followed Tim down a set of stairs, through a dark basement to a room at the back, which he had set up like an office. “Okay, turn your head and cough.”
“Huh?” I frowned.
“It’s a joke, dude, relax!” Tim laughed. He began examining my arms, legs, and looking into my eyes. “Hmm…these babies just started glowing somewhat recently, am I right?” I nodded. “Interesting, interesting…so soon after your resurrection. I can only think of one other case like that…How old are you?”
He cut me off. “No, how long have you been a vampire?”
“Oh…um, about ten weeks, sir.”
“Yeah, ok, you’re about ready to bloom then.” He checked my teeth like I was a racehorse or something. “Yup…those fangs are about ready to break through. You should be ready to hunt very soon. In fact, I’m kinda surprised you haven’t had the urges already” I couldn’t help but shudder slightly; lately, the mention of that topic was having more of an effect on me. “Whoa, hey your hunger pangs aren’t starting now, are they?”
“Uh, no, I’m just not used to that whole idea yet. Am I gonna be ok, sir? Bryson seemed worried…”
“You’ll be fine, as long as you don’t call me ‘sir’! God, you’re so similar to him, in some ways, it’s not even funny!” Time grinned at me. “But yeah…well, Justin was okay physically, but…Well that’s neither here nor there. Forget I said anything.” What was the deal with this ‘Justin’ guy? Everyone mentions him but then doesn’t want to say a word more!
“So, uh, what do we do next?” I asked.
“Well, I can’t do much more without reading you.” Tim answered. He was a reader, too? “However I’m not really the one who is supposed to do it all. Char and Becca will see to determining just what is going on in that head of yours.”
“OK. So are you going to read me now?” I asked. Or was he already doing it? Drew had done it almost without thinking.
“Yeah, sure. Take a seat,” he said, motioning to a pair of chairs next to the wall. “This requires physical contact…well, it doesn’t require it but it sure makes it a lot easier.” He placed his hands on my temples. I felt something strange inside my head. I can’t really describe how it felt, sort of like having a huge magnet on either side of you, pulling on each other with you in the middle. A whirlpool of knowledge and memories being brought together all at once and filed through. This was nothing like my experience with Drew. It wasn’t at all painful, but it was quite unsettling.
After a few moments, Tim released me and sat back. “Interesting…” he said, more to himself than to me. “Quite interesting, indeed.”
“What? What is it?” I questioned. What was up with these people and their damn secrecy?
“You met Drew.” he answered, smiling. “Wow. That’s as rare as meeting the man himself.”
“‘The man?’ Who is that?”
“Only one of the oldest vampires in existence. Drew mentioned him to you – Comicality.” He knew all this just from those few seconds? “Now we really need to get you to Char and Becca. Wait here, I’m going to go get them.”
“Hang on, Tim. Just WHO IS this Comicality guy? What’s so special about him? And what’s so special about Drew?” I asked. I’m sick of all this hidden shit; time to get a few answers, at least.
Tim paused at the doorway, trying to collect his thoughts before he replied. “Nobody really knows who either of them really are. We know that “Drew Cameron” is a fictional name that he goes by, but we don’t know his true identity. He never stays in one area very long…well, as long as we reckon things, anyway. And he’s good at hiding – very good. What he would be doing with the Hunters…I can’t imagine. That signifies something more frightening than I really care to think about right now.”
“Um…ok,” Wow, I met something of a vampire legend, apparently. “What about Comicality?”
“Even less is known about him. Drew is much more public; many more vampires have met him than have met Comicality, but little is really known about either of them. As far as we know, ‘Comicality’ really is his name, at least as a vampire. Out of all the vampire scriptures…”
I cut him off. “Wait, vampire scriptures?”
“Yes, Josiah, vampire scriptures. Records of prophecies by vampire ‘prophets’ signifying events of the future. Some, we know, have actually come true.” Tim answered. “Others were either fake or their events have yet to take place. The funny thing about our scriptures, is that unlike human prophecies, most of the writers of our legends are still alive today. If we have a question about them, we don’t have to speculate on their meaning; we can actually go and ask the guy who made it! Anyway, that’s off topic…Out of all the vampire scriptures, Comicality is referred to specifically by that name in almost half of them. We suspect that his name as a human was something different, but we have no leads on what it could be or even how to go about finding it. ‘Drew Cameron’, however, is not referred to in any vampire scripture that we are aware of. Yet we know he must have some significant importance.”
He continued. “Both Comicality and ‘Drew’ are the closest things we know of to a ‘perfect’ vampire. I’m sure Bryson told you our philosophical goals – basically, the sharing of knowledge between ourselves. We strive to increase the knowledge of ourselves, in order to gain a more perfect existence.” I nodded in agreement. “A vampire who has had all the information out there would be a ‘perfect’ vampire. Like I said, both Comicality and Drew are the closest anyone has ever come to reaching that status. Of course, a ‘perfect’ vampire is really unattainable, as there’s always more information to find out there. But that’s beside the point…Let me put it this way, Josiah. If tomorrow you found out that your entire existence as a vampire, in fact your entire existence on this planet, the existences of everyone else on the planet, hell even the planet itself as it exists for us, was all just a fictionalized story on a computer screen somewhere, well Comicality and Drew would be the guys behind the keyboard.”
Tim left the room, and I sat contemplating what he had just said and what had happened before that. Wow, I mean Comicality and Drew were apparently like some sort of vampire gods, and I had actually met one of them! Not only that, but I had sat and talked about being a vampire with him! But then again, he was with the Hunters, helping to destroy us…What did that signify? And Tim had been rooting around in my head…What all did he know? He must have been able to find out everything that happened while I was with the Hunters; hopefully he didn’t think I was actually going to join those freaks! True, I wasn’t happy about being forced into this life, but aside from the whole ‘drinking human blood’ thing, I was actually kinda starting to like it all. Sure, some of the others at theLotwere kinda…weird…but then again, I was the newest member, and besides that, I had been captured by the Hunters. They probably weren’t sure just what had been done to me there, and I was willing to give them time to learn that they could trust me. And I also missed my old life, but there were still a lot of good points to this…
Oh my God. My old life…I hadn’t thought about it at all since I had been bitten all those weeks ago. I wonder how my dad is doing? He must be driving himself crazy. I need to try to find a way to reach him and let him know that I’m alright…well, relatively alright. I’ll have to talk to Bryson about it when I get back to theLot.
I was cut off from that train of thought when Tim returned, bringing with him two young women, about 18 or 19, wearing lab coats and carrying small clipboards. “Josiah, this is Char and Becca,” Tim said, nodding to each respectively.
“Hi, nice to meet you,” I said, offering my hand.
“Nice to meet you too, Josiah,” Char replied, shaking my hand lightly.
Becca said much the same, but did not take my hand when I extended it to her as well. “Not yet, Josiah, but it’s nice to meet you as well.”
“Please, call me Siah,” I said. I didn’t let many people use that nickname. My mom was the one who gave it to me, and any use of it normally brought a tinge of sadness as I thought of her. Yet somehow I thought it seemed only fitting for these two.
“OK.” Char smiled. “You must excuse Becca, her extra works with physical contact, Siah. She’ll need her strength for the exam.” She sat in the chair across from me, where Tim had been. “Are you ready?”
“To be honest, probably not, but let’s get on with it anyway.” I answered.
“Good, honesty is exactly what we are looking for.” Char told me. “Don’t worry, Siah. I want you to relax, and try not to analyze, object to, explain, or mask, anything that I say while we’re in this room. Trust me, your physical properties won’t lie. And we have no secrets here. No judgments. Understand?” That whole speech had the sound of rote to it. I nodded. “Good, then let us begin.”
Becca grabbed a pen and one of the clipboards to take notes, and Char signaled for me to remove my shirt. As I did so, I saw her eyes begin to glow. Not the golden color that all vampires possess, but a bright white, almost bright enough to make me squint. Just for a brief moment, I saw an aura around her, an almost equal mix of gold and white, which flashed into view and disappeared just as suddenly.
Before I had time to think about it, she placed her hands on either side of my face. A slight shudder ran through my body, and Char told me to relax. The room was silent except for our breathing. I felt a slight sensation of heat emanating from her fingertips, a gentle vibration that seemed to seep through my skin and go all the way to the bone. Her hands moved from my face to my neck, then over my chest, around to my back, up to my shoulders, down my arms, and hands, between my fingers. Then, she began to speak.
“Ok…subject has only recently crossed over. Blood flow is normal, though there are signs of stress and anxiety, possibly due to adjusting to the change. Also there are signs of increased pressure, indicating repressed anger. Subject has not yet performed his initial feeding, although there are signs of foreign blood, indicating that he has still received the blood of a living donor, possibly through an intravenous infusion.” Just by touching me, she could tell all of this? “Subject is approximately seventeen years of age, average height, average weight. Dark brown hair, originally hazel eyes, though extra pigments in the irises indicate they may change to blue or green during certain emotional moods.” Her fingers moved back up to my face, and she peered into my eyes. “Slight grooves under the eyes point to traces of sleep deprivation in life. Tear ducts, well active. Wrinkle traces in the rest of the face match use of tear ducts; tears were caused by emotional turmoil, most probably the death of a loved one. However, facial strain does not exactly match tear activity, meaning frequent tears without emotional cause; possibly due to inflicted bodily harm.” My surprise must have shown, because Char again told me to relax.
Her hands continued down my body, pausing to move over my ribs. “Signs of repair to sixth and seventh ribs, fractured approximately one year ago. Healed skin abrasions and slight stretches in the flesh indicate bruising over much of the subject’s chest. Size and shape of these wounds indicate that they are man-made. Delivered intentionally by four human teenagers. Frequency of the markings on the skin indicates frequent beatings, possibly as much as once or twice a week.” I was starting to become uncomfortable. She could tell all of this about me just by running her hands across my skin?! These were things that I had tried to push out of my memory; thinking about them only caused my pent-up anger to begin to show itself. “Subject’s blood pressure and temperature have just now begun to rise. Relax, Josiah. No one is going to judge you here. Everything I said will stay in this room, OK?” I nodded and took a deep breathe, trying to cool myself down. Char’s hands moved down to examine my own again. “Bone strain and light skin abrasion indicate subject fought back on at least one occurrence of the beatings, though probably more. Subject also caused severe bodily harm to one of his tormenters, although the ages of the two sets of markings show that this happened at a recent date, and while the other teenager was alone.” Char moved around to feel my back. “Markings continue on subject’s lower back. Bruises and possibly light organ damage at one time from kicks delivered by the same individuals as the other wounds. Hospitalization for three weeks due to these wounds.” She then walked around and began to unbutton my pants. I squirmed and instinctively used my hands to cover myself. Char smiled, “Don’t worry, I’ll be quick, I promise.” I tried to relax, and moved my hands away as she reached in and touched my most private places. “Subject is not a virgin, though there has been a great deal of time since his last sexual encounter. All encounters were with teenage males. Homosexual tendencies but no anal penetration. Subject has been active with three partners during his lifetime.”
I blushed as she revealed some of my most personal details. Tim was grinning at me like a possum eating shit; I wonder if he had to go through this at some point with Char, and how well he took it. Char zipped me back up. “Genitalia size, slightly below average.” HEY! That’s not cool! “Don’t worry, Josiah. I said slightly. Only someone else with my abilities would be able to notice.” I rolled my eyes as she made her final statements. “Conclusive evidence shows the subject experienced four years of physical abuse from peers, probably during school. The sudden halt of this abuse during the last six months indicate that he fought back and seriously injured one of his peers, causing the others to avoid him. Homosexual tendencies occur but without the usual depression signs, indicating the subject understood his sexuality and was able to come to grips with it much faster than most others. Adrenaline traces show that subject was bitten during a battle, against his will. They also indicate that subject had been moving quickly for a good length of time; however they do not tell whether subject was fleeing or chasing. Suppressed memories and uncomfortable reactions to my exam, especially on the subject of physical abuse. Vampire thirst has not been quenched since shortly after his crossing, and will need to be done again within the next three weeks. Some of his newfound capabilities have already begun to manifest, and the others are expected to show themselves within the first few days after initial feeding.” And with that, it was over. “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Char grinned. God, if the physical exam was that bad, who KNOWS what Becca is going to do to me mentally!
“Josiah, it’s getting close to daybreak.” Tim said. “We’ll be passing out during your exams if we continue with Becca tonight. Let’s all go get some rest and we’ll continue this when the sun goes down, OK?”
Great, more time to dread what’s going to happen to me. I nodded my assent, though, and Becca and Char left. I followed Tim upstairs, where he led me to a room where I could sleep for the day. We nodded to each other as Tim closed the door behind me. I didn’t realize how close to daytime it was, as I barely had time to pull of my clothes before I collapsed on the bed.
Bryson quickly made his way around theLot, checking to make sure everyone was holed up for the day. He was about to climb into his own vehicle when Jenna came running up.
“Where’s Siah? I thought you two went to see Tim!”
“He’s probably still there. I told him to stay the day at Tim’s if they didn’t finish before sunrise. I hope that kid isn’t trying to get back now, but he knows better than that.” Bryson replied. He actually wasn’t sure he still wanted Josiah to return; he wasn’t sure about trusting him after they pulled him from the Hunters, and was liking even less how Josiah’s extras seemed to be developing, or how quickly the kid seemed to pick up on some things, almost like he already knew them. But he couldn’t just turn his back on someone, either. “We’ll see him tonight, I’m sure.”
“I’m worried about him, Bryson. I know the others are having difficulty accepting him, especially after the whole thing with Justin. And Taryn…well that’s unrelated I guess. But I feel his emotions every time I walk by him, whether or not I try to, it’s that powerful. And I can sense the distrust in everyone else,” Jenna said, concern tinging her voice.. “Even in you.”
“…Yeah, I guess,” Bryson answered. “Well, the Hunters had him for quite a while, and who knows what they did to him? It might not even be his fault, but I won’t let him hurt anyone here. Sometimes I see that light in his eyes…”
“I know what you mean,” Jenna replied. “I can sense the anger in him all the time. He thinks he keeps it hidden away, pressed down, but he doesn’t do it as well as he thinks. Still, I think we need to give him a chance.”
“We’ll see, Jenna, we’ll see. Now get going, daybreak’s going to hit soon.” Bryson said as he opened the door to the old car he slept in. “I’ll see you tonight and we can talk more then, alright?”
“OK, sleep well,” she replied, bending down to plant a light kiss on his cheek before he entered the car.
“You too, babe.” Bryson slammed the door shut as Jenna ran back to her own shelter.
I awoke shortly after sunset, and jumped out of the bed, unsure of where I was. I nearly ran out the door in terror before I remembered that I was at Tim’s. I calmed down some, until I remember why I was still at Tim’s. I had yet to be examined by Becca. I crept quietly to the door and began to open it slowly, careful so as not to wake the others if they were still sleeping. Turning the knob, I silently pulled the door open…and nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw Tim, looking as surprised as I was, about to knock on the door.
“Morning, sunshine,” he greeted me. “Ready to get back to it?”
I nodded, truthfully not wanting to have to return to that room downstairs, but followed Tim anyway as we walked through the basement and entered the office. Char and Becca were already waiting for us, and I collapsed in the same chair as yesterday. Becca handed Char the clipboard as the latter went to the corner of the room. Tim was looking on with great interest as Becca approached me. I began to worry about exactly what she was going to find inside of my mind, what she was going to bring to the surface in front of these other people. But I attempted to relax anyway. The quicker I get this over with, the better.
Becca put her hands on either side of my head, her middle fingers resting lightly on my temples, her thumbs closing my eyes for me. “Okay Josiah, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to keep your eyes closed, and I want you to picture something for me, ok?”
“I want you to imagine that you are looking in a mirror. Nothing else exists. Just you…and the mirror. I want you to look at your reflection, and I want you to hold that image as long as you possibly can. If it begins to change, I want you to focus, and try to change it back. Can you do that for me?” I nodded yes, and did as she asked. I imagined myself standing in a totally dark room, with just a full length mirror in front of me, and I looked at my reflection. I stared at it, and the image started to change right away. Features began to alter, slightly at first, but becoming more and more how I wish I looked. I brought it back, trying hard to concentrate, but it kept slipping. I hated looking at myself the way I actually was; there were a lot of things I wish I could change. Lose a bit of fat here, flatten my ears some so they didn’t stick out so much, add a little muscle…I kept fighting with the image, trying to keep it how I actually looked. It was more difficult than it sounds.
“I can’t….It’s hard, I can’t keep it.” I sighed, becoming frustrated.
“It’s ok, Josiah. You don’t HAVE to hold it exactly, just try. Changing the image or losing it will tell me just as much as keeping it the same. There is no pass or fail here, only the truth. Don’t get discouraged and don’t get frustrated. Relax and keep trying.” I relaxed a bit and started over. There was the dark room, and the full mirror…My image popped up in it, and I focused, trying to keep each little detail the same. It was a little bit easier this time, but things kept wanting to change. Becca began to speak, and Char wrote down what she said. “OK. Subject displays low self-esteem, possibly sprouting from teasing and abuse from classmates, which he feels as totally unjustified, without reason…and also the loss of his mother. Odd…he wants to see himself how he thinks is best, to please her even though she’s no longer around. Many symptoms of suppressing massive amounts of anger and hatred, mostly directed at the classmates who were teasing him, but some of it points back to himself. There is much emotional turmoil, as well as a fear of death. There is conflict between this fear and his understanding of death; he is not really certain what it holds in store for him even though he tells himself what he thinks will happen. There are no prevalent signs of closeness with other humans his own age, indicating no real close friends. Faint traces of emotional attachment indicate that there was at least one close friend a long time ago, however.” I didn’t like this. How could these two know so much about me? It was very unsettling and I began to lose the image in my mind. I was sick of this; how could these two embarrassing me help me figure out what was going on with me? I was almost ready to just get up and leave, and figure this shit out on my own. “Please, Siah, relax. We’re only trying to help. Concentrate, please.”
“But how can…”
“We can’t know anything about your extras and how to help you without knowing as much as possible about you, Josiah.” Tim said from the corner. I took a deep breath, slumped down in the chair, and let Becca continue. “Lots of the anger, hatred, and an intense amount of grief originate at home. Subject’s mother died of cancer approximately five years ago. Subject blames himself, even though he knows he had nothing to do with it. Josiah began to distance himself from others, thinking that anyone he became close to would ultimately be hurt. Homosexual urges increased this feeling of rejection, causing him to distance himself further from those around him. Subject feels that most of the world is ‘evil’ and that life only ends up bringing pain. He has transferred much of his self-hate to those who would perpetuate that hate in others, but still continues to repress any and all feelings of hatred and anger. An attack on a peer a few months ago began this cycle of repression; he feels that he was inherently wrong in seeking revenge and that in order to prevent ever hurting anyone again, he must hold everything back, causing him to unleash his fury in massive amounts when it becomes too much. He associates his feelings of helplessness in controlling himself with others with the helplessness of being unable to help his mother.”
“SO THE HELL WHAT?!” I shouted.
“Josiah! Please!” Tim snapped back.
“This is NOT about explanations, Siah. Your mind already has all the answers you need. Don’t shut them out. Let them come to the surface so we can help you find them.” Becca said calmly. “Now please, Josiah…the mirror. Concentrate on the mirror.” I tried, but this time it was even more difficult than the first. The image did not want to hold itself for more than a few seconds before everything began to change. I was more disturbed by what she had said than even I thought. Tears began to leak from my eyes as the long-repressed memories of my mother’s last few months returned. “There is a level of frustration that has led to a cut-off or finalized vision of what life is, a point where there is nothing left to gain from this world. This, as well as his mother’s tragic death, has led to a loss of belief; there can be no God when these things are allowed to happen. He believes himself changed, that his old ‘vengeful’ self is no longer there, but as a punishment or means of redemption, he has made himself a pariah, someone who must take all the blame and guilt upon himself because there can be no other to whom to give it. However, the repressed anger and hatred will cause him to continuously slip and ‘let go’ with his rage; this creates an endless cycle, where each outburst leads to more self-blaming and guilt, which in turn creates more repression of his emotions, and that again causes another outbreak, and the cycle repeats. His need to hide these emotions, and to put all blame upon himself, prevents him from dealing with them, and therefore stops him from moving on.” Becca let go of me, and backed up to give her final analysis. I could feel my cheeks wet with tears, my heart sinking lower, as I realized that everything she said was right; yet I already knew these things to be true, but could not make myself believe them to be true. “My theory is that the subject suffers from lingering feelings of self-blame and repression of emotion, originating from feelings of guilt for ‘causing’ his mother’s illness and from frustration for not being able to stop her from dying. A large amount of it also comes from the physical abuse from peers at school and his lashing back at them. He does not want to cause others pain, even if he feels as if it is deserved, and therefore only makes things worse for himself when he blames himself. I suggest he try to work through his issues with a therapist.”
Tim spoke up, “And his extras?”
“Not knowing the reasoning behind his peers’ abuse, as well as not knowing what was wrong with his mother and how to stop it, have given him two extras. One is a partial mind-reading ability; he is unable to fully read conscious thought or to sift through a target’s memories, as you can Tim, but he can feel a large amount of emotional data by being in close proximity with another. He can read conscious thought if the target has it at the forefront of his mind; however, the target would have to be basically shouting the thoughts inside his own skull for Josiah to completely read them. Otherwise, the best he can accomplish is to receive flashes of a person’s thoughts or memories. This ability is also strengthened while he is asleep; if both Josiah and a target are both in a state of unconsciousness, he may actually be able to read more than even you can while conscious, Tim.”
“That is quite odd. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything quite like that.” Tim replied, puzzled.
“I do not recall encountering another individual with this exact ability, either; however I have met a few with similar restraints to their extras, and I believe I’ve read a bit about things of this nature.” Becca said, moving back to the corner to read over the notes Char had made.
“OK. What was the second extra you mentioned?” Tim asked.
“This is another relatively unique ability. He can see an…aura…around individuals. Not constantly, or even very often, although I believe that with some training, the ability will become more frequent. These auras can apparently determine a number of things; personality traits about another individual or even indicating what a particular vampire’s extra might be. The most astounding feature of these abilities is that apparently these auras may actually have some relevance to the future of the individual.” Wait, she could tell what these auras were supposed to mean, when I didn’t even know? “Josiah is not consciously aware of the meanings, at least not yet; again, this will require training to improve, though how we can train him on either of these abilities is beyond me.”
“Hmm…Well, I’ll look through my records and see what I can find,” Tim said, beginning to move out of the corner. “Thank you ladies for…”
“Wait, I’m not done yet, Tim. Josiah has two more extras that I was able to discern. The first stems also stems from his need to know why others have treated him the way they do; however, it is also equally due to his need to blend in with others, to make them see him as part of the crowd, just like everyone else, so he can more easily distance himself from those around him. These two traits have given him a small ‘mimic’ ability.” What? I’m a mimic too? I thought that was one of the rarest of our abilities! “He is not a full mimic; it seems to be limited only to physical abilities. For example, learning martial arts at a rate far faster than that of any normal human or vampire. The ability is not as strong as it should be, so he will not instantly learn things as Justin did.” There was that name again! What was up with this ‘Justin’ guy?!
“OK. Well that’s good to know, I guess. What’s the last extra?” Tim asked.
“This one is assuredly the most astounding ability I have seen in a great while, except for maybe…Justin’s mental blast.” What? “The intense anger and hatred welled deep down aside him has been, essentially, burning for years. At times of great distress, where in his human life he would have lost control and physically lashed out, this burning anger manifests itself as actual physical fire.”
“What? He can just…start things on fire?” Tim nearly shouted.
“Yes. The anger manifests itself physically as flame. Depending on the level of anger, he can start things on fire, or even cause them to explode.” Becca continued. “He could also, in essence, throw fireballs; the fire is not actually leaving his hand, but due to the focusing necessary to create such a weapon, they appear as small flaming projectiles that seem to be ‘thrown’ from either hand.”
“Wait, wait, how can you know all this?” I asked incredulously. “I don’t even know any of this stuff myself! How could you pull it out of my mind?!”
“Josiah, my extra works by reading your subconscious as well as your conscious mind. Your conscious mind may not be aware of some things, but oftentimes the subconscious knows in full what the conscious mind doesn’t even know exists.” Becca answered. “So while you don’t know it yet, eventually you will become aware of everything I’ve told you and more. You just need to wait for your mind to express itself, and to listen when it does.” Great, a fat lot of help that was.
Becca and Char stood up, and handed their notes to Tim. “We’ll continue checking our own records for the next few days, and see if anything similar between Josiah and any of our other subjects. He has a TON of similarities to…Justin,” she tried to make it a whisper, but I was still able to hear, “but we’ll see if we find anything else.”
“Thanks again you two,” Tim said, giving Char a kiss on the cheek and pretending to kiss Becca; he didn’t want to accidentally trigger her extra. “You’ve helped out immensely.”
Tim and I followed them on their way to the door. He opened the door to let them out, then turned to me. “Don’t be frightened, Josiah. We’re here to help you, all of us. All you need to do is ask, and be willing to let us help. Now go on, get back to theLot. Bryson’s probably having a holy fit about where you are.” I laughed; Tim was probably dead-on with that assumption. “I’ll check my own records and keep in touch with Char and Becca; we’ll let you know if anything turns up. Have a safe trip back, ok?” He ushered me through the doorway and closed it behind me. He could certainly be blunt when he wanted to…Realization dawned on me. He probably wanted some ‘alone’ time with that boy I saw in that one room…
I laughed to myself as I headed back to theLot. What a world this was.
“Drew, send a message out on the system, I need a group organized by ten tomorrow night. We’re going to attack their hideout.” Geoff said as he entered the computer lab, stopping at the entrance. “No vampires. Only Class III agents and lower.”
“What? Are you kidding me? They’ll be eaten alive…literally!” Drew replied. “You don’t seriously think you’ll be able to kill any of them or capture Josiah back, do you?”
“Of course not,” Geoff answered. “This is a test…I want them to think they can trust Josiah. Your Implant will do the rest of the work for us.”
Drew scowled. He hated this treason against his brethren, but he really had no choice, as long as this mummified old relic still had any means of control over him. “Fine. I’ll send it out. Everyone will be ordered to meet at loading bay seven. That ok with you?”
“That’s fine. Just make sure they’re all ready to go when I give the order.” Geoff said, turning to leave. “Give them the new ERP-37’s. Maybe we’ll get to take out one or two of them anyway.”
“Bah, you know those prototypes are barely ready,” Drew scoffed. “Your group will have little chance without one of the HNMC-14’s and a Class IV-Symbiote or higher to command.”
“That may be, but killing vamps is only a tertiary objective in this mission.” Geoff replied, irritation thick in his voice. “Remember, briefing at ten. I want this mission underway bymidnight, no later.” With a final nod, the old man exited.
Drew paused before sending the message. He hated the Hunters, yet he could not so easily send a group of men to their almost certain deaths, even men who probably deserved it and much worse. Sighing, he turned back to his workstation and brought up the console to send a new message to the personal communication device each Hunter carried.
It was no more than an hour before dawn when I straggled back to theLot. Funny, I don’t seem to recall it taking that long to go to Tim’s…in fact when Bryson and I left yesterday, more than three-quarters of the night had already passed! That was really odd…
I walked past the main gate entering into theLot, and much to my surprise was actually welcomed with a warm greeting! Well, warm for these guys, anyway. Of course, Jenna came running up to wrap me up in a hug, nearly shouting a “Siah! Welcome back, hun!” in my ear; she was always incredibly kind, and I loved her for it. When nobody else was willing to show even the slightest bit of trust or friendship toward me, Jenna was right there offering a hug and someone to talk to.
However, I was surprised when Dylan walked up to mumble a shy hello. He was really an incredibly cute kid; I had always wondered what made him so scared of people. I almost thought he might have had a crush on me, the way he kept glancing in my direction when he thought I wasn’t looking, and instantly turning away when I looked back, so pointedly not looking at me that he might as well have been staring outright.
I decided to try to test out my new abilities and see if I could read any kind of thoughts from Dylan. He had already turned away, his shyness getting the best of him, and I concentrated on his retreating figure, trying my damnedest to sense anything from him. I was about to give up when there was a brief flash of an orange aura around him; at the same time, my head spun as a sudden influx of thoughts that were not my own flew into my mind. I caught glimpses of pieces of Dylan’s life; his father beating him, shouting out Biblical verses, shouting that he would not have a faggot for a son; the images skipped around…a basement room, dark as night; a mouse, roaches, some food being shoved under a door – just wafers and juice – a bible passage being read to him every single night before he went to bed. Suddenly my extra ‘clicked’ off, and I nearly stumbled and fell. Dylan is afraid, afraid of his life, his sexuality, and because of the basement…He was afraid of the dark. Ouch, that must have made for an extremely difficult crossover. I looked at him as he continued to walk away, and he appeared to stumble himself, his shoulders sagging. I instantly regretted trying this; reading those memories probably brought them back out of whatever hole in his mind he had forced them into.
Yet I was even MORE surprised when Max looked up to shout a greeting. Max looked to be about sixteen, with long dark hair. He always presented a cold shoulder to me. His attitude was always a ‘rough-around-the-edges, don’t-bother-me-with-your-shit, anything-you-say-means-nothing-to-me type of deal, but I could sense that deep down he really had a heart of gold.
I had been told by Bryson that the kid who had bitten me, who coincidentally was called ‘The Kid’ as they didn’t know his real name, had been almost like a brother to Max. The Kid had never spoken a word the entire time he had been with the group, but he had apparently taken a liking to Max; the only time he ever smiled, or showed any emotion for that matter, had been when he was in the company of the older boy. I knew Max had to have taken The Kid’s death very badly, and I had always figured that he partially blamed me, and I felt that he was right in that matter. So I nearly fainted, figuratively-speaking, when he actually showed signs of missing my presence.
I had not taken five more steps when Bryson showed up. “And just WHERE the hell have you been all night?” He inquired, frowning.
“I was at Tim’s, Bryson. After that…I was just walking around the city. Trying to familiarize myself with this area; you know I had never been around here before I was bitten.” That was partially true. I was at Tim’s while Becca examined me, and I hadn’t been here before my crossing. However, the part about walking around the city was largely bullshit; for some reason I could not honestly remember where I had been the last few hours. I didn’t want to tell Bryson, though, as that would just upset him further. Besides, it would come back to me soon, right?
“Fine. But don’t do it again, Josiah,” Bryson replied. “You haven’t been around long enough to know all the dangers you need to watch for.” Yeah, that’s ’cause you won’t tell me about them! “From now on, whenever you go anywhere I want you to make sure one of the others is with you.” Sure, Bryson, except that I always have had someone with me; this was the first time I was allowed to be on my own for even an hour, let alone the whole night. “Now get inside, daylight’s coming up soon.”
I nodded back at him, keeping silent. I understood his reasons, but his approach was horrible. Telling me to watch out for dangers he didn’t make me aware of…all this secrecy was a whole load of bullshit. I headed back to my vehicle, shoulders slumped, ready for another night of dreamless, deathlike sleep.
“Hey baby boy, get lost somewhere tonight?” Trevor called from behind me. God I hated him sometimes…most of the time, actually. “Don’t forget, you owe Michael and me a hunting night.” I heard him laugh from wherever he was; he really liked teasing me about my apprehension.
Throwing him the finger over my shoulder, and assuming he saw it from his shelter, I opened the door to my own car and climbed in. Here goes another boring night…I had not dreamt once since I had been bitten. Bryson said that vampires do not normally dream, but when we do, it’s extremely vivid and there was no way I’d ever not remember it. I expected this to be another night of the same empty blackness…I was wrong.
Almost as soon as I fell asleep, the dreams began…well, not quite dreams, more like nightmares. Apparently the whole thing was too much for me to handle, as my mind never allowed me more than a glimpse of each situation as it occurred, but what I saw would have been enough to make me sick if I had been conscious.
I was standing in the middle of a large warehouse. It was vast; I could not see any of the walls, yet I knew they were out there somewhere. The warehouse was also empty of the things you’d normally expect to find; there were no crates, nothing stored here anywhere. To my left was an area that appeared to be some type of living quarters; there was a bunk bed with a few personal items strewn about. I looked around but saw nobody else there. I began walking forward, and heard sounds to my right. I followed them, trying in vain to determine their source. I could barely even hear them, and could not even distinguish what exactly they were, let alone what could be causing them. I broke into a run, moving faster and faster through the warehouse, passing more living quarters, as well as what looked like a kitchen and a recreational room. All of a sudden, the sounds I was hearing increased tenfold, and I could tell what they were. I also knew what was causing them, as their sources appeared in front of me.
I stood staring in shock at the sight before me. There was a young man, appearing to be in his early twenties or so, and I somehow knew that he was a vampire. He was moaning in pain fitfully, which was the sound I had been hearing when I first appeared here. The reason for his pain was obvious – approximately half of his body was thoroughly burnt, charred to a crisp blackness, as if he had had gasoline poured over him and a match lit and dropped on his body. He looked up at me out of his one remaining eye, seeming to plead with me as a single tear leaked from it. He tried to say something, but his mouth had been burnt nearly shut; moaning was about the only form of verbal communication he had left. A small trickle of blood began to come from the open portion, and I turned away. It was too much for me, and I could do nothing anyway.
I turned to try to find an exit, and behind me were more bodies. Most appeared to be dead already; some appeared to have had their heads torn off, and others looked as though their heads had been BLOWN off. The horror of it was almost too much to bear. More bodies were appearing all around me, and I noticed that they seemed to be the same twenty or so people, just repeated, piling on top of each other, surrounding me. There was a teenage girl with her arms and legs torn off; over there was a middle-aged man with only empty blackened holes for eyes. Next to him was a teen boy who looked as though he, too, had been burned alive. I turned and ran, fleeing the horrors behind me, yet more started to appear in front of me!
They began to crowd around me, some that still seemed alive moaning in agony, those that were dead lying lifeless. Pools of blood began to form around the piles, bodies heaped on bodies, and more and more were appearing every second. Apparently there was no room left in this warehouse, as the bodies began to crowd inward toward me, tumbling over each other as they were pushed in my direction. I no longer had anywhere to run; all around me where the still forms of the dead. The arm of an old woman fell against my hand, and I screamed. They were almost on top of me now…any second they would close over my head, and that would be the end of my existence.
The first young man I had seen, his one good eye now glazed over lifelessly, appeared on top of the mass in front of me, and slid down towards my head. Three more copies of his form fell from the sides and behind me, collapsing in a heap in top of me. The last body I saw was that of my mother! She opened her mouth to try to speak to me, but stopped as one of the other still forms nearby came to life, stabbing her mercilessly in the stomach. I screamed again, and her dead, stale blood dripped from the new wound into my mouth, choking me. I blacked out just as their moans echoed in my head, forming one single understandable word.