A few days have passed since the incident with Chris, but the rumors haven't stopped. They get worse the longer I don't deal with them. Kissing, making out, touching, first base, second base; the list goes on and on. My fury escalates by the day and by the weeks. I don't know what to say to him. I don't want him to remember what happened. What really happened? But what if he does remember? Will he be freaked? Who wouldn't? I just hope, that if he is, he doesn't start some kind of hunt, then it would be vampire huntings all over again like in the movies.
"Does he really think you are stupid enough not to know that he must have started this whole thing?" Dean grabs a cherry from the jar he's holding and pops it in his mouth.
"Are you inciting my anger towards Chris?" I ask. He smiles guiltily and pops another cherry. "Maybe or maybe I just want to see him suffer a bit at the mercy of your rage. If I recall correctly, you were indeed all over him that evening." I give him the meanest look I can manage. It's not like I could control myself...or want it to for that matter.
Mia walks in. She drops on the couch beside Dean and grabs a cherry. The room is slightly full since is the weekend and we still need supervision to go out of school. They haven't caught the serial killer yet or whatever it is that is hunting in town.
"So, are you planning to do something about the rumors, Al?" Mia looks at me expectantly. A smile lies on her lips. Come on, not her too!
"You guys are just plain too mean. I don't know what to do apart from maybe talking to him."
"Or other interesting stuff." Dean snorts and Mia joins him. They are unbelievable. Mia should be more serious about the matter seeing that I almost drained him. But no. She is as annoying as Dean right now.
"You guys are never going to let that go, right? I'm fine now. I have a few blood bags in the black chest thanks to you, Mia. I have this under control."
"Right...of course." She says not convinced and serious all of a sudden. "Expecting that you don't have the slightest idea what your Blessed powers are yet."
"I may not know, Mia. I guess my change is slower than the rest of you guys. After all, I'm a new breed." Now I just sound like a street dog. Mia looks at me closely and with shock.
"I didn't say that out loud, Al... I thought about it."
"No, you didn't," I exclaim. Did she? No. I heard her words too clearly. I look at Dean. He just keeps eating his cherries and nods.
"You have telepathic powers," Mia says too excited for my liking. Relief washes over her. She was afraid that I would never develop my Blessed side, that the vampire in me was just too strong.
"You'll need to learn to control them or they will overwhelm you. You'll hear everybody's thoughts even if you don't want to." I nod. Telepathy? That isn't so bad. I have heard of normal people developing this through meditation or from smoking some junk. Maybe I'm not that much of a freak. But there is that vampire thing. Oh well!
"How do I do that?" I ask hesitantly.
"Just by focusing on it until it comes naturally. Maybe I should give you a few lessons. I've worked with telepathy before." Teach me? That wouldn't be so bad. I just hope it doesn't involve physical lessons. I have never been a workout type of girl. Not that I need it now with this new amazing body.
"Lessons? Like actual classes?" I don't sound that happy.
"Well, not exactly like actual classes, Al. Just to teach you how to control your telepathy, until you know how to do that yourself. What do you think? Hey, maybe even we can try and work with your eyes, although they are tied to your emotions." She looks so cheerful about this new discovery of hers. I know she's glad, so I don't refuse the idea. We agree to meet up at nightfall on the backgrounds of the academy. Dean hops in on the deal too, since he is all curious about what can I do besides biting.
In the afternoon I go up to my room for a quick refreshing shower. It was very hot today. We are in the middle of September. On my bed, I found a little note.
"Meet me in the school garden in one hour. We need to talk. Chris."
I'll have to deal with him now. No more waiting for the right moment. I just hope that he isn't with Megan. That'll make things a bit worse. I shower quickly and run off to meet him.
The garden is full of blooming flowers. We are close to Fall, but hasn't yet affected the beauty of the plants. Yellow, pink, purple, red; there are all kinds of flowers here like daffodils, roses, lavender, among others. All beautifully spread across the ground forming a path towards the mermaid fountain in the middle of the garden. On either side of the fountain, there are brown wooden benches for students to unwind or study outside. I walk around. Mostly I pace back and forth from the fountain to the near rose bush. Why am I so nervous to be about to speak with him?
"I thought you weren't going to show." Chris comes out from behind one of the trees. I jump. He's dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans. He is handsome and I can't stop myself from thinking back to the day in the kitchen. How he pulled me towards him. How he caressed my back with those perfect-for-my-body hands. I shake my head in an attempt to get rid of the thoughts. Nope. Don't think about that now.
"Why wouldn't I come? You know we needed to talk. Why have you been telling lies all around the school?" He feints innocence.
"Lies? What are you talking about?" He asks like he doesn't know.
"You know what I'm talking about. The kitchen..." His eyes get darker with...lust?
"Oh that. Well, I haven't said anything. Nothing came out of my mouth to anybody, anybody except Megan. After, what I have no idea about, happened between us I told her that I was talking with you before one of her little followers told her about us talking. I guess she blew it out of proportion. She hasn't talked to me for a while. I guess she might be a little possessive towards me. Or maybe we are over. Who knows?" He doesn't even care. What kind of boyfriend is he? Jerk.
He gets a bit closer to me. I take a step back. I hug my body with my hands. I squeeze hard on my arms trying not to touch his body again. That perfectly golden body.
"I know that I was hitting on you."- I roll my eyes and he smiles mischievously-"Then you were on me, on my neck. I think you...I felt pain but then desire. The pain turned to pleasure. It felt good, Alice. I wanted more, more of you. I didn't want you to stop. And then came Mia and yanked you away from me." He frowns and paces. "I remember your eyes when you looked at me from the ground. You desired me too, you also didn't want- whatever you were doing- to stop. They were red." He stops pacing, glances at my eyes, and walks over to me. We are face to face and I don't back away. My throat runs dry and I struggle to get the words out of my mouth. "And you are not afraid of me, of what you saw...my eyes?" He puts his arms on my hips and before I do something I regret I push him away. I push him with more force than I thought I'm capable of, and he falls on his bottom. I don't look at him. Turning around I start running. As I do that I understand that I pushed him away not because I didn't want the events to happen again, but because I did.
I run and look behind me to see if he's following me when I crash into someone. I fall to the ground on top of the person. My head is in his shoulder. I bring my head up. I'm face to face with William. I'm on top of him, on the floor in the middle of the academy hallway. He looks at me, our eyes meet and we don't look away.
Heat spreads in my cheeks and he blushes as well. I get off of him and he gets up and helps me get on my feet. I start to apologize.
"Why were you running? Did something happen?" He looks at me puzzled. I shake my head and he understands that I don't wish to talk about it.
"At least let me accompany you to wherever is you are going."
"I- I'm going to the dorms."
"Alright then, to the dorms it is." We walk together. Our arms brush slightly from time to time and each time they do, I feel myself blush. His skin is hot over mine, even though his touch doesn't linger. There's an awkward silence between us since I stumbled and ended on top of him. We were so close. I could feel his breath on me. Warm. Inviting. He smelled like woods and books. He interrupts my thoughts by talking.
"I've noticed that you seem distracted during my lessons lately. This is slightly affecting your performance. Your grades." I knew that I was distracted with everything that has happened, but I hadn't noticed my grades were being affected. I give him an apologetic smile. "Since you are a great student, I could tutor you and give you extra assignments to fix your grades." Tutoring? I've never been to that before. I like doing things alone, in my own way. But I guess I do need it now with everything that has been going on. Besides, it would be with him.
"Yes, that would be helpful." I can never hold his gaze without getting lost. I look down at my hands.
"I'll let you know when we'll meet." With this, he drops me off at the door to the dorms and leaves.
Twilight makes the backyard look like a magical forest. The sun's almost unseen behind tall trees and grass. There are fireflies roaming around and the sing of crickets and grasshoppers fills the cool night air. I walk around and find Mia leaning on to one tall tree. There's a cool breeze around, but she doesn't seem bothered by it. She's the dress too casually for a supposed lesson. Dean follows me and until we stand facing Mia.
"Why do we have to be so far out of school? What if a professor comes around asking questions?" Dean says looking around nervously.
"That's why we are so far out, to not get caught," Mia explains. She moves to be exactly in front of me. "Now, the first time you read my thoughts was unintentional, now I want you to do it on purpose. First I won't try to resist, then I will give you, let's say a little push. People are not fond of having their deepest thoughts read." Figures, I think. I wouldn't like my own mind to be read either.
She stands still, looking directly into my eyes. I concentrate and do the same.
"You are trying too hard, but you are doing well." I start to see flashes of pictures. Colors. Red, gold, and green. I see grass and a little girl running around. She's not alone, she has others with her. Girls and boys, all the same age. Running, in the tall green grass of a valley. Their clothes look antique, not from this time.
I encounter a wall. Tall, red bricks block my path. I push, but the wall doesn't give in, doesn't fall. My brains start to feel hot, on fire. I push no more.
I stumble back gasping for air. I'm out of Mia's head and cold air invades my lungs. It scratches my throat and I feel it running down to my lungs. Dean grabs me from behind as I struggle to breathe. I can hear Dean screaming at Mia. She's trying to explain something. Everything sounds so far away. I feel Dean's right arm on my neck supporting my head. I pull it and drag it to my mouth. My fangs- that I feel elongate for the first time- dig into his flesh. The sweet heavenly blood fills my mouth. This one tastes different, not like Chris's. It is sweet and clean. It gives me the sensation of playfulness and childish wonder. My senses return gradually to normal and I let go of his arm.
"Wh- What happen?" I look at Dean. He looks back at me. His eyes a mixture of horror and shock. He holds his hand over where I bit him. Blood keeps slowly coming out of his wound. Thankfully I didn't bite close to his wrist.
Mia runs to his side and removes his hand from the wound. All traces from the discussion they were having before gone. She replaces his hand with her own. I hear her speak some words that are followed by the faint glimmer I saw before when she was healing Chris. I do not understand them. It's a different language. I have never heard it before. When she removes her hand, the wound it's healed. I look at her, looking for answers, but she doesn't say a word. I feel something running down from my face. I touch my nose. I'm bleeding.
"Care to explain?" I look at Mia and she just looks to the ground. I feel mad and confused and the feeling is very clearly exposed in my blazing orange eyes. I have already grown familiar with each color my eyes take when I'm feeling certain emotions. When I am extremely annoyed and confused they look as they do now.
"It's my fault...you were in one of my memories, from childhood. I wanted to just block you a little, but I used too much force. I didn't actually want you to pry. You are very good at your gift. You are improving quickly." She says in almost a whisper.
"The wall?" I ask and frown in thought. She nods.
"It was just supposed to stop you, but you kept pushing and so did I. I haven't done this for quite a long time." She explains, turns, and leaves us alone in the backyard far away from the school.
I walk towards Dean. He had stood up and was slightly far away from where we were. When he sees that I'm walking towards him he steps back. I freeze where I'm standing.
"Don't, just don't. Not right now." He walks away too. I'm left alone, in the woods.
I walk back to the school. The feeling of loneliness slowly creeps into my thoughts and my heart. I did this. Me and this stupidity of what I am. Ever since I found out what the hell I am, everything has become more complicated. I have mixed feelings about Chris, Megan grows every day more hostile towards me, I have hurt my friends and one of them physically. It would be so much easier if I was just me. Alice Thompson, a normal 18-year-old student.
I open the door to my room and see Penelope sitting in my bed. In her hands, she's holding the black chest. It's open and from where I'm standing I can see its contents messed around inside. The athame was in full sight, as well as some of the blood bags Mia has been supplying me. I look at her face, but can't figure out what she might be feeling. Her face's neutral. There's no anger or horror. Nothing. I tentatively walk towards her and place my hand on her shoulder. "Penelope?" She looks up at me. I still can't read her expression. She speaks, "Are you the serial killer the whole town has been worried about?" Then I see it in her eyes. Fear. She tries to hide it from me but is there, it's almost tangible in her and in the room. "No, no." I quickly say and sit beside her grabbing her hands in mine. She's shaking. She's afraid of me, but she doesn't pull away from my touch.
"I came in to borrow some clothes and found this. The lid was half open. I thought that maybe you were hiding your good clothes here like you always try to do. You know it's futile...but instead, I find all this crazy shit in here." She gestures to the chest. I don't know what to say. I have no choice. I have to come clean and hope she understands just like Dean did.
Dean, I must set things straight after what happened. After what I did.
I hold her hands again and start explaining. How I found out I'm Blessed. How I found out I'm a vampire. What really happened with Chris. What I can do, about what I saw back in Chicago and how I still don't know if it's related to what I am.
After I stopped talking she just stared at me blankly. "This type of thing doesn't exist, Alice. There are just fantasies of people. From people with big stupid imaginations." She laughs nervously. Her laugh is dry, unsure, scared. "I promise that I won't tell anybody, even though I have a tendency to do that, but then again I don't want to be treated like a loony." She gets up and leaves my bedroom.
Sunday. Nothing more important to do than clean my disaster of a room. There are papers scattered on the floor, under the bed, on my desk. Dust on the curtains, the lamps, my scented candles. Even my bathroom has been neglected. I grab a broom, duster, and cloth and start cleaning. My mind wanders off to Dean, to Penelope, to Mia. I bit Dean, I took his blood for my own personal gain. It was instinctively, but still wrong. Penelope had her new open eyes to my world. I hope she accepts it and doesn't divulge my dark secret. And Mia, the girl I entered her thoughts and saw memories that don't make that much sense to me. Then off it goes to my dreams. The dreams that feel more real than not. Soon enough I finish cleaning and sit on the bed. Everything looks so much better now. I wonder if I can try out again this power. Closing my eyes, taking a deep breath I forget my surroundings. Everything slips away and I'm left with sounds. Common people sound. They're my roommates. Girls upon girls thinking, talking. I isolate the sounds of speech and concentrate on thought.
"My hair is so dull today".
"Why hasn't he called me back? Does he have another?"
"Megan is so full of shit. No wonder Chris left her ass." Well, that's a first!
Thoughts upon thoughts invade my head. No one put up restraints or a fight to my disrespectful-respectful intruding. This could be handy with grades. Nonsense! I would never do that.
I hear a knock on the door and lose my concentration. Odd, I didn't hear anyone come. Opening the door I see Dean standing before me. He looks bad like a car ran him over. Dark shadows under his eyes and he's still wearing his nightclothes. He didn't get any sleep.
"Can I come in?" He asks. I gesture him in. He takes a few steps and stops. He plays with his fingernails. His eyes are cast down away from me, away from my stare. How do I start? I should have been the one to go to his room, not the other way around. He did nothing wrong. All it's my fault.
"Dean...I'm so sorry that I hurt you. I never meant to. I was so weak, and in pain that the first thought was survival. I went for the blood. I am so sorry. You have no idea..."
He speaks before I can finish.
"I know, Al. I know that you are sorry, but it's the fact that you had to turn on me for survival that scares me." He says. "What if you do that more often? Not just on me, on other people? What if you are evil?" He looks at me with concern. I hug him. For a second he doesn't hug me back, but then I feel his arms circling me into his embrace. I cry. I don't know what else to do. I push him and look at him at arm's length.
"I'll try my best not to. I would never forgive myself if I harm a living thing. I promise I'm not evil. I promise." He hugs me tightly again and I feel him relax under my arms. We walk to the bed and sit.
"I know you are not. I was just scared for you. I don't want you to lose yourself in your change. Also, the pain of your bite was quite bad."
"Yes, the pain of your fangs breaking my skin. Felt like fire cutting through my flesh." I frown.
"What?" He asks.
"When I bit Chris he felt pleasure, not pain," I answer. He shrugs.
"Maybe it's different with different people. Hell, maybe it's because I'm gay." He laughs and the tension between us slowly vanishes. I remember about Penelope.
"Penelope knows, Dean. I found her here yesterday and she had the chest on her hands. I had to explain. I guess karma it's in order here. She thought that I was the killer on the streets." I tell him.
"Why would she think that?" He's appalled.
"The bags of blood that Mia gives me are in there," I explain.
"Only her overdramatic self would not see that the bags are labeled. Clearly they come from a hospital."
"Don't be hard on her. You know how she is." I say and he sighs.
"I know, I know." Penelope has always been overly dramatic and a little too realistic for fictional stuff. I guess that would have to change now.
While talking I start to daydream. No, not daydream, a vision assaults me. I was in the same forest again, the same forest from my dreams. It was noon. The sun came pouring from the sky with intense heat. The trees no longer looked like menacing giants in the night, they were just beautiful. Mountain green color poured from their leaves. On the ground, there were herbs and flowers of all kinds. The forest didn't look scary anymore. The same wooden house was there. I already had seen what was inside so I didn't get near. Instead, I walked around it. Watching, looking to find the man. Someone was coming out of it last time, maybe they are still around.
Nothing. Not even footsteps. I start my way back when I hear the crackling noise of a branch. I sense eyes behind my back. The heat of the eyes scanning my body. A cold drop of sweat runs along my spine. I run and run. Heavy footsteps follow me in unison with the heated eyes. I feel a hand on my wrist. I try to lose the hold, but it just becomes stronger.
I gather the courage to see my captor. I turned my head quickly. No one. When I turn, there is no one there. I'm free. My hand is free, but there is a sharp pain where I was held. In my wrist, there are three distinctly red fingers marked. They cut deep into my skin. Vividly red, but no blood. It's a burn. My mouth opens and lets out a scream. The forest vanishes and my room comes back into view.