Watching the Night

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sera has been a human ward in a vampire hive since she was a young child. With ever developing physic abilities, she has proved to be a valuable asset to the vampires in hunting down humans who would expose them. They won't be willing to keep a human as a companion forever, but can she secure a place in their hive as an immortal?

Submitted: February 12, 2017

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Submitted: February 12, 2017

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Vampires have claimed the right at any time to use humans at their discretion. Most interaction vampires have with humans is limited to nourishment, pleasure, or entertainment purposes. Without consequence, a human life may be taken by any vampire, at any time, for any reason. Vampires may claim one or multiple human companions. Companionship becomes an agreement between a vampire and his wards to exchange protections and rewards for various services. Sometimes a human companion serves as a personal feeding source. They provide a permanent, consistent supply of blood and energy that requires no deception and no hunting on the part of their vampire. It’s common for these relationships to result in death, if the vampire develops a habit to feeding too often or too deeply from their human. Some humans serve the role of a personal prostitute of sorts, playing out the sexual desires and carnal fantasies of their vampire. These companionships last until either the vampire tires of the relationship, or the human can no longer perform the task.

Properly marked companions may not be used by other vampires without express permission. A vampire’s mark is usually a brand or tattoo which is prominently displayed on the human’s forearm or shoulder. Many new vampires also bare a mark of their former vampire companions, as transformation is a customary form a payment for services rendered.  A mark on the body of a vampire generally suggests a line of lineage.

Vampires are naturally stronger than humans, and have lifetimes more of acquired knowledge and skills. Humans are weak of both mind and body. Having only one mortal lifetime, humans tend to be near-sighted in terms of their choices and actions. Upon gaining the knowledge of the existence of vampires, not all humans accept their natural place. Some have an ill-guided desire to eradicate their superiors.  They are rarely successful in their attempts. If they are caught, they are dealt with swiftly and harshly. In the world society of vampires, some have taken up the role of seeking out and eliminating groups of humans who pose a threat.

Vampires who work together, also usually choose to reside together in hives. Living together allows for added protection, the pooling of resources, and the added benefit of company. These groups tend to be small, and function in an accepted hierarchy of power. But vampires can be possessive, overly assertive, and tend to challenge authority after too long.

Malcolm Mason was an attractive man, by anyone’s standards. He was nearly two-hundred years old, but the grace of his condition left him perfectly etched in his prime. He had been thirty-two at the time of his transition, but could pass for a bit younger, or older, depending on his choice of clothing and company. He was generally an extremely calm and soft spoken individual, but everybody in his hive was careful to not anger him unnecessarily because he had been known to have a quick and unforgiveable temper. He mostly kept to himself, constantly reading, and teaching himself to speak foreign languages and play musical instruments.

He was the head of a small hive who resided together on the grounds of his old family estate; five acres of land concealed by a large privacy fence and only one gated entrance at the end of a long winding driveway. The small group of other vampires had tasked themselves with finding gangs of humans who meant harm to their kind. Some of the humans they found were computer-geek types, bent on exposing vampires with video evidence, or internet conspiracy theories. Other humans tried to be more militant, attempting to find ways to hunt down or trap vampires.

The second in command was a rather sadistic man named David Cole. Everybody simply called him ‘the lieutenant’. He was not very old as a vampire, only sixty or so. He had been a soldier in his human life, and never really desired to be anything else. He liked his battle scars, especially the ones on his face. David found a certain pleasure in torture, in rape, an in unnecessary murder. His lusts for blood and flesh and pain could be unnerving, and Malcolm had to spend a great deal of time keeping David in check. He was an extreme asset to the group in terms of eliminating threats, but sometimes he spend far too much time enjoying the spoils of battle.

Then there were the twins, Tamara and Marissa.  They were never apart; fighting side by side, sleeping in the same room, and usually pursuing the same man. They both had deep set emerald eyes, cat-like and flirtatious. They both had manes of fiery auburn hair, but they kept it at different lengths, which was the only feature that distinguished them from one another. They became vampire on their twenty-fourth birthday, and had spent the last ninety years seducing and bedding college students, sometimes feeding on four or more collected collegians for days at a time. They became bored rather easily.

The hive was having a particularly enjoyable night.  They had successfully captured an unusually large group of humans that had been torturing and starving a freshly made vampire in a nearby abandoned warehouse in a salvage yard. It had been much easier than expected to round them all up. They had anticipated quiet a standoff that night. When they stormed into the warehouse, they came prepared for a major fight. When the hive got inside, however, the humans were all quietly sitting around the floor, calmly waiting for them, ready to be taken away.  Every single one of them willingly left with the vampires. Their lack of resistance was almost a disappointment, especially for the lieutenant who had been looking forward to some violence. If truth be told, the raid had only been so successful because Malcolm had sent in his spy. She had subdued the entire group into a stupor shortly before the others arrived.

 Now that they had the rest of the night free, they had decided to celebrate by passing around a few of the detainees. They gathered around the sitting room outside the cellar door, settling themselves in among the overstuffed leather furniture. Throughout the night, the lieutenant had brought out three of the humans and handed them off. He passed them out like victory cigars. The twins took one larger male and sat him between them on the couch.  They had been teasing him and stroking him, biting him and draining him, for the past few hours.  He wasn’t staying conscious, and had almost expired. The girls were growing bored with their new toy.

~

For the newest vampire to arrive at the estate, the lieutenant had given two humans all to himself. They had put the fledgling alone in a small bedroom with no windows and an extremely heavy door.  The room was furnished with a simple bed, a nightstand, and a wardrobe stocked with men’s clothing.  Overall, it was a pretty dingy little room, but it was quiet. He was rather altered at the moment, and nobody had gotten the chance to speak with him much.

His name was Azil Hamar, a young man with dark golden skin, coal-colored hair and dark brown eyes. They had found him in the warehouse, bound and delirious. The humans had him tied up, had beaten him, starved him. It was still unclear how he’d even got there. He was freshly made, couldn’t have been vampire for more than just a few days. The mark of his maker was vivid on his shoulder.

He hadn’t looked around the room at all. He hadn’t notice the pack of cigarettes they left for him or the phone on the stand with a direct line to the other room. He was ravenous with hunger, and could think of nothing else but blood.  He took no time devouring the two humans given to him. The first one the lieutenant brought to him, Azil shoved immediately against the wall, all but tearing the carotid out of his throat. The man pushed and twisted briefly, trying to free himself from the weight, but Azil just leaned into him, pressed his face into the man’s neck and bit and tore at the flesh. The man sputtered and coughed, grew limp and stopped fighting as they slid down the wall to the floor. When the lieutenant brought him the second human, Azil tossed her to the ground, jumped down ontop of her, and drank until her heart gave out. He pinned her arms across her chest with one hand, and pushed her head to the side with his other, exposing the bare flesh of her neck where he could nestle his face. When he bit threw her thin skin, she screamed. She cried and writhed under him as he held her down. He gulped and swallowed mouthfuls of her blood until she had no more blood to give.

When he finally raised his head and stood up, he was feeling more like himself. He wiped the blood off his face with the sleeve of his tattered shirt and looked around the room for the first time since being put there. He honed in on the cigarette pack. “Oh, thank god!” It wasn’t until he lit it up and took a hard drag that he noticed the two bloody and lifeless bodies on the floor in the room. “Shit!” He exhaled slowly, and shook his head in a scolding way at himself. He took another couple of hits off the cigarette before dropping it to the floor and putting it out with the heel of his shoe. He picked up the phone but there was no dial tone. He heard a click on the line, “Hello?”

There was a woman’s voice on the phone. “So, are you feeling better now? Come on out here and join us.” He heard another click, and he hung up the phone.  He stripped off his current bloody top and looked around the room. He found a new clean white shirt and gray zip-up hoodie in the wardrobe. He quickly pulled them over his head and opened the door, exiting into the hall.

~

The walls around the cellar were damp and cold.  The low ceiling was soft with moist, thick layers of moss from years of neglect and darkness. The air was heavy with the feelings of dread, of sorrow, and anxious anticipation from the warm bodies huddled together against the back wall. At first they had sat there silent, not awake, not asleep, but somewhere in between. They came to their senses almost immediately after being put down in the cellar. This had been the largest round up in years.

Sera sat apart from the rest, nearest the door and closest to the one dim overhead light that barely cast enough glow to create a shadow. In the darkness, she listened to their hopeless, terrified, and exhausted sobs. Some muttered angry oaths of vengeance, while others chocked out pitiful prayers or pleas for escape. “Why did they have such an ignorant desire to destroy themselves?” she thought bitterly. “Is it really so hard for these people to just accept they are not the strongest and wisest creatures on earth? Why couldn’t they just have gone about their lives?” It never ended well for humans who knew too much, and especially for ones like these people who learned too much about vampires, then conspired to could kill them.

She could not have been more different than those with whom she shared the cellar. In fact, the others were only here because of her cunning betrayal. Sera was a marked domestic companion, a vampire loyalist. She was a ward to this hive of vampires who were charged with hunting down humans who sought to find, expose, or kill their kind. Sera had long found a strong comfort in knowing her life was tied to helping the vampires, that she lived at the will of her master and the hive. She was at ease in the knowledge that at any moment, if she became of no more use, that she too could be disposed of.

It was not likely her master or the hive would tire of her company, however. She was an extremely talented intuitive.  It was her gifts of perception that made her the perfect spy. She was able to hear the thoughts and feel the emotions of those around her as easily as most people could converse, which made it nearly impossible to deceive her. At her best, she could impose suggestive thoughts into the minds of other people. For this group now huddled here in the dark, she had expended a great deal of energy convincing them all to wait quietly for the vampires to come and take them away.  She had implanted them with the strong belief that they were, in fact, setting a trap for the vampires, and to bait that trap with the fledging vampire they were holding captive. The trap, in the end, was for the humans. They never had a chance. She had never compelled so many people at once before, or had held them in such a trance for so long.

Generally, she was strong enough that most young vampires could not psychically drain her, or read her mind. Her ability to resist suggestion of and to impose thoughts on vampires tended to make her rather unpopular outside the hive.

However, her keeper was no fledging vampire. Her clairvoyant strength was of no consequence to him. He was one of a very few who could easily touch her mind. Being as she was marked by him, resisting his will in particular proved to be especially painful for her. Though, she had attempted to do so with much difficulty in the past. Over the years, he had found that it was much easier, and quicker, to compel her through the bite, and not suggestive thought. He kept her trust, and she very seldom felt the desire to defy him. She had been his since she was very young, and had no love for other humans.

When she was tired or ill, as she was at that moment, she found it extremely hard to keep clear-headed, and became easily overwhelmed by other peoples’ thoughts and feelings. She couldn’t remember ever feeling so tired, so drained. She regretted attempting such a massive hold on the groups’ minds, even if it had been so unexpectedly successful.  Being touched was unbearable, and she was avoiding physical contact with desperation.

Three times the cellar door had opened, and three times the lieutenant had entered only to pluck a person or two from the huddled mass ,drag them to their feet, and usher them, protesting, through the door.  Sera waited silently, her bare arms folded calmly around her knees and her head laid back against the damp brick. She had carefully covered the mark on her forearm earlier in the day, but the concealer had long since rubbed away. Her shoeless feet tapped mindlessly as she squinted up into the hanging light.

She had extremely mixed feelings about the day. She had successfully ushered in this entire group of humans and helped the vampires retrieve the stranger fledgling. But, in the process, she had accidently gotten too close to him. In her struggle to free herself from the grasp of crazed vampire the humans had been torturing, she got drug in with the rest of these humans by her own hive.

Though the people near her were quieting down, the noise inside her head was getting much louder, and much more desperate. She was far too tired to shut out the flood of thoughts beating against her in panic-stricken waves.  Her head was throbbing and her body ached. She could feel bruises forming under her skin, her left eye was swelling shut , and the blood trickling down her arms was drying in a crust. For the fourth time since she had been brought down into the cellar, the lieutenant came in. This time he was accompanied by another man.

The lieutenant, clad in an unkempt soldier’s uniform and steel toed combat boots, strode casually to the back of the cellar. His shoulders were broad and set. Though his features were hard to catch in the dark, she could see for just a moment, a wicked and cruel smile formed across his scarred face. He snickered to himself as the dwindling group squirmed as close to the corner as possible, each trying to burry themselves under the limbs of the others.

One man positioned himself in front; a useless, brave attempt to shield the rest. The guard kicked him away effortlessly, using way too much force than necessary to move him aside. Sera could hear the breath forced from his lungs and his ribs snap under the impact of the guard’s boot.  He rolled heavily out of the way, laid on the floor gasping for air and clutching his chest. The guard proceeded to yank up one of the girls from the floor. He grabbed a fist full of her dirty yellow hair and pushed her forward towards the door.

“You know Mr. Mason, we just thought this would go a lot faster if we took them more than just one or two at a time, you know? We were getting bored... and thirsty! Just blowing off some steam, right?” He nervously laughed, “Besides, you know how the twins get when they have nothing to do!” The Lieutenant mused casually to the other man, “and I haven’t had one yet. I was too busy setting up the new guy…” He pulled the girls’ hair back and brought her closer. She whimpered pathetically as he ran his other hand slowly over her throat.

“Do what you like with them, David. I don’t much care. I only came in here for this one.” The man looked down at Sera.  Her barely covered body shivered against the wall. His face furrowed as he examined how disheveled she was at the moment, hair matted, clothes filthy and torn; He could make out various bruises and other marks across her arms.  She did not look at him, keeping her eyes towards the floor. He held down a gloved hand towards her, while still speaking to the lieutenant. “She shouldn’t have ever been brought in here; she should have been brought straight to me!”

The lieutenant shrugged, “Hey boss, sorry but look… we got her mixed up with the rest, she was dressed just like them, and her mark was covered, it’s not our fault!” Sera winced as the struggling girl in the lieutenant’s grasp suddenly cried out.  She looked up from the floor towards the two, only able to make out their silhouette. The lieutenant’s face was already buried deep into the crevasse of the girl’s neck. He stood behind her, holding her tightly in front of him, and Sera could hear the unzipping of his pants. He kept his mouth on the girl’s throat as he lifted up her skirt and positioned himself. The girl’s breathe gave way to painful gurgles, as he thrust himself inside her from behind. He sucked at her neck, locking his teeth into her flesh as he pounded into her. He let out a satisfied growl as the girl slowly stopped struggling and went limp.

Mr. Mason stepped in front of Sera, blocking her view, still extending his hand. He bent down towards her slightly, this time catching her gaze. Quietly, but sternly, he said “Sera, you’ve done what I asked, you’ve done your job.  Now, it’s time for us to go.” Reluctantly she stood, swaying slightly as she took his extended hand. She felt completely nauseated and absolutely disgusted. He placed his overcoat around her shoulders. “Eternity is wasted on that one, Mal.” She whispered through clenched teeth.

~

From the young, ripe age of six, Sera had been a drug runner, carrying backpacks for her mother’s boyfriend from one block to another. If she wasn’t making a drop, she was trying to find creative ways to not go home. But staying out on the streets got her in trouble if its own.

The first time she had met Malcolm Mason, she was eight years old. It was late November and she had run past him on the street, trying to get away from a group of older neighborhood boys. This particular group of miscreants had decided tormenting Sera was an excellent way to spend a chilly fall evening.

Malcolm was a tall man, slender, and looked strangely placed out of time. That particular evening, he had been wearing a long grey overcoat over a nicely tailored, simply colored suit. His hands we covered by a pair of satin white gloves. He held a closed umbrella at his side, though there was no call for rain. She tripped over the umbrella on the hurried way past him. She remembered looking back at him, and he was staring after her.  He lookd like he has stepped out of an old-time postcard. It was his eyes she remembered the most; almost glowing, icy blue, inquisitive, kind. His perfectly slicked brown hair hung around his shoulders and sat just over the top of a red woven scarf.  But it was his smile that was burned into her memory. An amused look crossed his parted lips, revealing vividly sharp teeth. He looked unworldly, and froze her in her tracks. They stared at each other for a moment, until the boys rushed from around the corner and sprinted up the street, bellowing and cursing. “catch her! Take her bag! She’s getting away!” Malcolm waved Sera away and she hid around the corner behind a dumpster pile.When she came back out onto the sidewalk a few minutes later, both Malcolm and the boys were gone.

It was only a few weeks later from their first encounter that Malcolm took Sera off the streets and claimed her. He came across her a few blocks from their first encounter, but this time she wasn’t running.  She wasn’t walking, or standing either. She was crouched down, clutching her gut, and bleeding.  The sweet, overwhelming smell of her blood was what drew Malcolm to her. The small child seemed practically doll-like, curled up on the ground, long thin hair dripping from the November rain. But it was her serene calm and her lack of fear that kept him from killing her that evening. That eight year old girl look up at him and smiled despite her obvious pain, beads of rain and sweat rolling down her tiny face. She asked “Hey, where is your umbrella?” Her voice was quiet, but even. Her voice was not shaky, not frightened, just sort of sad, and tired sounding. It was a defeated sound really.

He inhaled the scent of her blood as he knelt down beside her “well my dear, there was no call for rain!” He smiled kindly, his fangs showing slightly through his parted lips. He asked casually “what happened here, Cricket? You don’t look so good…” She shrugged uncomfortably “I just didn’t run fast enough this time, I guess.” He reached out and removed the child’s hand from her side, releasing a steady flow of red from the wound. He pressed his own fingers against the wound. “What did this here, love? Broken glass, a knife?” She watched him lick off his fingers without questioning his peculiar behavior. “I didn’t see.” She answered meekly.

She shivered and took a breath, closing her eyes. “I’m really tired, and my stomach hurts.” He had every intention of finishing her then, but then she put her small hand on his, grasping his fingers. Without opening her eyes she asked softly, “Can we go inside now, Malcolm? I’m really cold; I can’t… stay awake…” He stared down at her, slightly taken off-guard, “Do you know me?” he asked. “I… feel you…” She whispered just before she passed out into his arms, blood running onto the ground beside her.

~

Outside the cellar, the lights seemed overwhelmingly bright. Malcolm led Sera to a chair on the far end of the sitting room, and sat her down quietly, pulling his overcoat tightly around her shoulders. Her head was pounding. She pressed her hands against her temple. The other vampires were staring at her from around the room, The twins were sitting back casually on a couch with a man slumped over between them. The lieutenant had followed them out of the cellar and closed the door behind him. He was dapping off his now crimson- stained lips with a handkerchief. Hovering in the back was another man, just observing. Sera glanced around the room slowly, pausing to look at the man she didn’t know, donned in a drab oversized hoodie.

 “I am extremely displeased!” Malcolm hissed, turning to face the others. “I do not appreciate my property to be treated so poorly, especially after she has performed her tasks so well for you! I send her ahead to ferret out these human threats, threats that seem to persistently elude you, and you bring her back to me half broken!” He turned directly to the lieutenant, “And furthermore, when I find bites along with these bruises, I will be holding you personally responsible for every one! You, Sir, will be dealt with accordingly!”

The newest vampire, who lingered in the back, sort of squirmed uncomfortably. “Sir, um, Mr. Malcolm, is it? I think… I think that might have been me… I might have done that…”  Malcolm glared at him, but then just waved him off dismissively, turning his attention back to Sera.

In her head, the world was screaming. Spoken words and unspoken thoughts bled together, mixed with a raging storm of emotion. Any control she had a moment a go she had lost to the overwhelming flood of what everybody else was thinking and feeling.  She was no longer calm. Panicked and incoherently she rambled “You need to just sit down and wait here, they are coming! If you just sit here, you can destroy them! They know you have a vampire in the back, you can use him as leverage, go get him now, and bring him in here... I will help you…  They are here, they are here!” Malcolm bent low to meet her gaze, though her eyes were coming in and out of focus.  She squinted under the lights. She could still hear the people’s voices and thoughts from down in the cellar, and the thoughts from the vampires standing around her were getting much louder.  The noise was quickly becoming a hammering drum that she couldn’t shut out. She was exhausted, and the sounds inside her head were overbearing.

Malcolm put his hands firmly on her shoulders as he spoke, “Yes, we came, and we brought you home.  It’s all over. It’s time to come inside and get warm now, Cricket. You’re tired.  You’ve had an exhausting day. You are going to let me help you rest now, let me help you forget the noise...” She tried to protest, tried to turn away from him, to push him away.  She felt like she was drowning in his eyes. “You need some quiet to regain your strength, so I am going to help you now…”

Softly she pleaded, ‘Mal, no…don’t…I don’t need... I don’t want… ” But he was already pulling the coat down over her shoulder and moving her closer, “Hush Cricket, just relax now… let it all go, just sleep...” He lowered his lips towards her bruised neck and bit down, sharply.  She tensed, but didn’t pull away, leaning into his arms. Her eyes closed heavily and she finally felt like she could breathe. “Just make it warm, Mal. Make it quiet.” she thought desperately to him. He drank from her deeply and took her fully into his embrace. Though she was nearly 20 years old, Sera weighed no more than air in him arms. The noise in her head drifted away, her body relaxed, and she slept.

~

In the earliest few days he had first had her with him, she was barely awake. She fevered and chilled, and was restless in her sleep. He had sealed the wound that had been gashed into her side, but the infection had already set in. He wasn’t terribly attached to the child yet, and didn’t care much either way about her pulling through.  She was a project mostly, a curiosity that had peaked his interest for the moment.

One evening, while he sat in her room, reading, she roused.  He looked up to see her staring back at him, just staring, not speaking.  He closed his book and moved to the side of her bed.  He reached down and placed a hand across her forehead, then ran his fingers down her cheek. Without speaking, she reached up to meet his hand. “You’re feeling better, I think?” he asked her, smiling down at her coolly. His hand rested in her hair as she reached up to touch his face.  A puzzled look came over her face…“You’re thirsty,” she said, “you want me to make you feel better? You want to taste my… warm honey?” He met her confused gaze with a peeked curiosity.

“Warm honey…yes…” he had thought for days about how sweet her blood on the wet pavement had smelled, and how the taste of it on his fingers had been.  It was indeed like warm honey, sweet and sticky.  He had practically been dreaming about it for the past few days as she lied there in her fever-sleep. She brushed her small hand across his cold smooth cheek, and towards his lips.

“You want me to …bleed…” The closer he looked at her face, the more it looked like she was looking past him, or through him, into him. She pulled herself up, and he helped her to sit.  She leaned her back against him.  He listened intently to her steady, young heart beat.  He could feel her blood pulsing against her skin.  He brushed her hair aside. She took his arm and wrapped it around the front of herself, “its ok, Mal, you aren’t going to hurt me. I’m not like other kids…” He leaned his mouth close to her small neck, and whispered in her ear, “How do you know I won’t hurt you, child?” He tightened his hold around her, “Because, I just know” When he bit down into the nape of her neck, she didn’t pull away.  She didn’t cry.  She just closed her eyes and held tight to his arm, which was coiled around her thin frame. “I want to stay here.” Her voice was in his head. “You can stay with me, you can be mine and I’ll protect you.” he thought with a strange affection.

~

The vampires stood around impatiently while Mr. Mason’s attentions were focused on tending to Sera.  He lifted her up as she closed her eyes and after another brief moment, he lifted his head and turned to face them again. “I believe you can clean up… this mess” he irritatingly gestured towards the couch, and to the room Azil had been in “without my supervision.” He took Sera up into his arms and left them standing there without another word.

~

The room he had brought her to was one of only three suites on the estate that did not have frosted windows.  The sun could stream straight in during the day, if he didn’t pull the blackout curtains. He knew that she enjoyed sitting at the window when the others slept. It was a time she had to herself, without having to listen to the thoughts of others, when she could rest her mind. The room connected to another that he would sleep in, away from the daylight.  He straightened up the rooms and moved around some furniture. He settled into an armchair beside her bed. He dimmed the lamp and watched her sleep.

As she slept, Malcolm combed through her thoughts as if he were watching an out of focus picture show. She put up no guards, no filters in her sleep. But she wasn’t dreaming about the last few hours.  She wasn’t thinking about the people who had trapped and starved a fledging vampire. She wasn’t thinking about how she manipulated them, gained their trust, led them into the hive, and was ultimately responsible for their capture.  She wasn’t thinking about how she got too close to Azil, or how he had forcefully fed from her in his starving, delusional state. She wasn’t thinking about getting caught in the roundup and being held in the cellar before Malcolm was able to sort it out. She was thinking about her childhood, about Malcolm. He watched the memories play out like series of home-movies.

~

She was thirteen. The sun was just setting over the estate and the last rays of the day were falling through the window and across the floor. Malcolm was already awake. She sat across from him, her slender fingers wrapped around a hot tea mug. She watched him, examined his features intently; noticed how flawless his pale skin shown under the last traces of daylight that snuck in through the window, how his chocolate colored hair fell slightly into his eyes as he read, how his manicured fingers lingered over the passages as he scanned the page. He was an angel.  He was an ageless magical creature, with flawlessly perfect features, and endless knowledge. No fears, no weaknesses, no regrets. This was the first time she had looked at him this way. He was simply beautiful. She knew in that moment she didn’t want to be human. She knew she didn’t want to grow old and frail, or die.  She sipped from her mug as she stared at him, drinking him in with her eyes. He represented so much in her life, her father… her teacher… her friend…She knew she loved him then. She wanted to be just like him, to be with him. She never had admitted that.

She was sixteen. She had been spending the recent nights walking the same streets she had roamed all her childhood.  Only now, instead of running away from people who enjoyed roughing her up, she sought them out. She dressed just provocative enough to be noticed; a low-cut sleeveless top and open denim jacket, a simple black skirt that hugged her hips and ended just above the knee. Her hair hung loosely down her back as she walked, waiting for the cat calls. “Ohh yeah… hey baby, walk it this way… oooh...” She made her way up the street, slowing down slightly as she passed a rather drunk and thuggish group. They reeked of booze and testosterone. She walked just slow enough to be followed. Of course, one stumbling fool took her bait.  He walked behind her, tossing his bottle aside, shattering it on the curb. She led that nameless man into a quiet alley behind some nondescript building. She paused against the wall, away from the streetlamps, and casually lit a cigarette. She carried a small blade that she had tucked into the palm of her hand.  When he got close enough, he tried to press her against the wall and slip a hand up her skirt. She let out a slow stream of smoke as he leaned in towards her face, the overwhelming stench of liquor on his breathe. She pushed the blade quietly into his neck, into just the perfect place that cut off his airway.  He didn’t scream. He didn’t fight. He just sort of stumbled back, shocked that his conquest didn’t go how he’d expected.

She left him there dying.  She walked out from the alley just as Malcolm followed them into the shadows. They might have exchanged a glance, or he might have brushed her shoulder as he walked past. They didn’t share words. She turned the corner of the building just as she could hear a brief final struggle, but she didn’t stay. They had never really spoken about that night. Sera had wanted to feel like she had some control over dying. She harbored a childish desire to make sure that only those who deserved it would meet a tragic end. Malcolm didn’t mind helping her carry out this fantasy. He didn’t find the prospect of letting her bait men for him to feed from at all problematic. But she didn’t do it again.

She was eighteen. On this night, the air was filled with a burning electric rage that made the whole study smell strongly of ozone. Inside, Sera was fuming, overturning furniture and launching everything from books to vases across the room. “Stay out, stay away from me!” Malcolm could hear her yelling from the other side of the door. The twins, looking a bit distraught, had locked her in and were waiting for Malcolm to somehow diffuse the situation. He approached the room briskly, shaking his head in annoyance.  “What is this about?! We have three humans here, waiting to be dealt with!” Marissa responded, “Apparently that’s the problem, Mr. Mason! Your pet has lost her mind! She’s been ranting about the humans… being too loud... something about she can’t listen to them scream anymore...” Tamara interjected, “There has been no screaming, Mr. Mason! The humans have been mostly unconscious for hours.  Your pet has gone insane!”  He opened the door and waved the others away. They huffed exasperated and walked off. He stood in the doorway, and casually watched Sera tear apart the room.

It was the first time she had been this upset. He did not understand then the full extent how deeply she could experience the emotions projected by others. He did not know how strongly she could make a link between their minds, or that she hadn’t yet honed the ability to sever that link.  The hive had just recently recruited her into their efforts of threat eradication. Her talent for mental manipulation and her ability to get into another’s head made her quiet the unexpected asset. This was the very first time Malcolm had witnessed the effects of her over stimulated senses.

She tossed objects across the study, hurling them at Malcolm, screaming “Shut them up! Shut up! Just make them stop! Do your damn jobs and stop dragging out this madness! You’re all completely useless! Immortality is wasted on the lot of you!” She grabbed at her head trying desperately to block out the noise. He was more amused than he should have been, as she looked quiet delusional. “You’re throwing a tantrum, Cricket, it does not become you.” Every step he took towards her, she tossed another possession. “You don’t give a shit about me, Mal!  You don’t care that I can hear them all dying, that I can feel them all dying! I’m done! I’m never helping you bring them here again!”

“Is that so?” He purred. He leaned back against the doorframe calmly with his hands in his pockets.

“I have done everything you wanted me to do!  I don’t ask questions!  I’ve betrayed the trust of more than a dozen humans for you, in the name of protecting this hive! I’ve been obedient, loyal, and I’ve never asked you for anything! But I’m done!” She stepped towards him, her face seething, “I’m not helping you find them just so you can torture me, Mal! If you won’t protect me, than I will protect myself!”

“I think… you need to calm down…” he wasn’t even looking up at her as he removed the gloves from his hands and laid them on the mantle. “You forget yourself, Child!” He pushed into her mind, attempting to pull out the anger and give her calm. It would be so much easier if he could cool her down without further escalation.

She growled at him, throwing the last thing in reach. “Stay. Out. Of. My. Head!” He was genuinely surprised at how hard she pushed back. He sighed calmly, ducking sideways ever so slightly, to avoid being struck. “You promised to protect me, but you’re killing me, Mal!”

“Well, I think you’re being alittle over dramatic!” she growled “Look, I get it! You are tired, overwhelmed. I apologize that you’re too involved.  But, I think you might be being slightly over reactive! This…” he gestured around the room, “This behavior is unacceptable, Cricket.  You have made the others very nervous; they think you may be becoming uncontrollable”

“I’m not your puppet, Mal!  I’m not your dog that you can make fetch and stay and roll over!” He snickered, which only further enraged her. She lunged at him and he all but laughed out loud. She clawed at his face as he caught her wrists. “I hate you! I hate you! I’m sure as hell never opening up my mind or my veins for you again!” It didn’t take much effort to spin her around and push her to her knees.  “Don’t touch me! Get off me, Mal!”

She was like holding onto a broken fuse. She pulsed with static under his hands “Yes, Very good! Go ahead then, show me how you won’t be controlled. Fight me off! Prove to me how much stronger you are than those other humans. That you aren’t weak, aren’t scared!” She twisted and bucked her head back. “You are not in control here, Sera! You belong to me, and you seem to have forgotten that! You don’t demand things from me, or give me ultimatums! You don’t get to lash out like a spoiled child!” He held so tightly onto her wrist that his fingers bruised her skin. She pushed fiercely against him, but he hardly noticed. “Now, in all your life, I have never caused you harm. I’ve never struck you, beat you. I’ve never neglected you or abandoned you.  But now Cricket, now you need a well-earned lesson in manners!” He grabbed her hair, and pulled it back hard, “If I want you blood, you will give it to me freely, If I want your body, its mine. If I want in your mind, I will be. Now, tell me you’re mine.”

“Fuck you, Mal!” He tried again to push into her mind, wanting to calm her, but it was like pushing against a locked door. He shook his head, tsk tsk He knelt down slightly and hovered next to her ear, “Is this really how we are going to do this? You really want to continue with this outburst? To prove what, that you can protect yourself from all that noise in your head without my help? That you don’t need me? I’m giving you one more chance to calm the hell down!” She glared up at him “Ok, you’re in control here, right? …As you wish…” and without anymore words or hesitation, he tore into her throat, keeping a harshly tight grip on her hair and her wrists. She let out a sudden gasp for air. She clenched her fists so tightly that her nails cut into her own palms. “This, Sera,” he thought to her “this is how it would be if you were not mine, if I thought you were only just another human, if I didn’t care about you, if I meant you harm…”

He was trying to hurt her, to scare her, to make her submit.  But mostly he was trying to break through. He was trying to tear down her mental walls to catch a glimpse of what tortured her so. The hot tears that escaped her eyes were as much from anger as pain. He spoke in her mind, “I will let go, as soon as you stop resisting.  Now, tell me you’re mine… and let me in!” Her thoughts were stubbornly silent in response.

Their standoff lasted much longer than he had anticipated. She was so physically and mentally drained by time he could finally hear the deafening noise in her head. His grip on her loosened as soon as he could finally feel the drowning tidal waves of fear and anguish that did not belong to her. He released her, simply from fear of accidentally killing her. She blacked in and out, curled up on the floor by his feet. He felt a sort of pride at her surprising, stubborn resilience. She was bleeding more than he meant her to from the wound he had torn across her neck, but he didn’t yet move to stop it. He stood over her with his arms crossed, trying not to enjoy the taste of her in his mouth too much. “I don’t enjoy hurting you.” She turned her glazed eyes up to him slowly, ‘Then… don’t…” she whispered hoarsely. “Just…stop…”

He sighed, “I won’t let the others kill inside these rooms. Is that what you want?  I will make sure the detained are removed before we deal with them, to the cellar where you won’t have to listen.” Relief replaced her anger, and the tenseness in the room lifted.  He cut open his hand with a shard of glass from a vase she had thrown. He bent down and cupped his hand across her throat. He never said it, but he was sorry for not knowing what she had been going though.  He didn’t apologize, but he felt responsible, and deeply guilty for not having understood the depths of her sensitivity, or appreciating her complete willingness to participate in the round-ups despite it all. That was the last time she ever challenged him.

~

Her memory-dreams ended after a few hours. Then she roused for awhile. He stroked her hair as he looked down at her. He didn’t want her to be awake for too long. A few days of sleep was what she really needed. She wouldn’t be of any use to the hive until she was able to focus her mind. The vampires had found that it was much easier to get information from the detainees when Sera simply extracted it. She could compel them to share what they knew by linking minds with them. Even with methods like torture, which was the preferred route for the lieutenant, Sera always gathered more reliable information for the hive.

Malcolm used that bit of time to help her get cleaned up. She was extremely lethargic, acting almost drugged as she went through the motions of removing her tattered clothes and stepping into the warm tub. Her naked body seemed so small. He had never really gotten used to seeing her as a woman, with curves and breasts and a small mound of hair where her legs came together bellow her hips. To him, she was still just a child, though he had watched her grow up for almost twelve years.  

They did not speak as he washed and combed out her hair.  She curled her knees up under her chin and crossed her arms around her legs. He spoke slowly, softly. “I’m going to put my hands on you now, Cricket… this might be uncomfortable… just relax” He bit into the flesh of his palms and washed his blood slowly over her bruises. He rubbed his hands across her back, her arms, around her neck.  He lifted her face and brushed over her swollen eyes. He slowly made his way down her legs, over her knees and up her thighs.  He moved his hands carefully over her entire body. Her skin glistened with a thin layer of wet red. Her scratches and marks seemed to wash away under his hands, but the sensation of her healing skin felt like scrapes of sandpaper and needles. She waited for him to finish before she stood. He rinsed away his blood from her skin then wrapped her in a soft towel. He helped her back into a fresh nightdress, and back into bed.

“Did they find the young one, Mal? He couldn’t have been days old… Did they bring him home?” she asked, her eyes growing heavy.

“Yes. He is here now, and safe.  You did well.” He brushed a lock of hair from her face, and gently tucked the blanket over her arms.

“No, I messed up out there…I shouldn’t have gotten so close to him…he didn’t know what he was doing, I should have known better!” Malcolm was about to tell her that everything was fine, but she fell asleep again.

~

The atmosphere in the sitting room had change dramatically since Malcolm left. The lieutenant busied himself with this or that, and didn’t talk to the others. The twins were bantering back and forth while trying to move the man on the couch. Azil hesitantly interrupted, “Um, hey… I seem to have collected two others of, um, these guys, in the other room… what do you want me to do with them?”

Tamara looked at him and giggled. “Drop them down the laundry chute to the grinder so we can make meat pies!”

Marissa laughed, “No! She’s kidding! We dismember them and feed the bits to the dogs!”

“Oh.My.God. What? I can’t… that’s not...I mean…” The lieutenant shook his head at the twins, who were now laughing. He put a heavy hand on Azil’s back “Come on, man, they’re just fucking with ya! If you help me put the bodies in the truck, I’ll drive them out and dump them around the city. Bodies always just pass for drunken accidents, or gang turf stuff. We will drain out the others and take them too, no need to keep them around. We only need to talk to like, one or two, just to see if holding you like they did was a onetime thing, or if they had other plans, or know people…”

He turned to follow the lieutenant back to his room, but stopped to ask the twins another question first, “Um, is that girl ok? I mean, Mr. Mason seemed really upset and stuff, and I think it’s kind of my fault… What’s her deal anyway, who is she?”

The twins both answered together in a strange, siren-like, sing-song way, “Oh, Sera? Yeah, that’s Mr Mason’s pet witch!”… “She’s really super powerful, with like, alchemy and stuff!”… “And Mr. Mason is super possessive, and like wicked protective”… “He’d probably just kill anybody he found out laid a hand on her”… “But, I mean, it’s not like you fed on her or anything, right?”… ”Oh wait, you did! Oh that’s not good!” They cackled at themselves and turned away from Azil, both tossing their hair back as they moved.

“Ladies, that’s enough!” the lieutenant bellowed, “give the poor guy a break, huh?  He just got here and you just can’t wait to bust his balls! Go find some other shit to do, yeah?”

He looked at Azil, who now had a rather sick hue about him. “Man, calm down! They’re just being cunts, trying to see how far than can bend your dick and what not!” Azil looked at him, raising his eyebrows. “The truth is, man, Mr. Mason has had that girl trailing his coat tails since she was just a little brat. He sort of picked her up off the streets like a stray cat or what not. I always thought he would get tired of her, have his way with her maybe, but I never thought he’d keep her this long. She’s not actually a witch, but she does have this uncanny way about her, sort of really does put people under a spell, I guess.  She knows things too, sees things, and hears things or whatever. Personally, I don’t think humans are good for much else other than fucking or feeding from, but hey…” He patted Azil on the shoulder again. “I don’t think Mr. Mason would hold you responsible for roughing up his girl in a blood-frenzy! It’s not like you really knew what was up!”

~

After two days of mostly sleeping, Sera woke up feeling much more like herself. Malcolm was asleep in the other room and the house was still. She quietly put on clothes. Given the choice, she liked to dress well and modestly. She usually wore black or brown slacks that hugged her hips and a simple sweater top or button down shirt that fit her well, showing off her simple curves, but mostly covering her skin. She usually wore her hair down, but sometimes twisted it up with a pencil, elegantly exposing her neck and collarbone. Today she donned a pair of charcoal grey dress pants with matching jacket, stylish black shoes with a slight heel, and a fashionable printed scarf in place of a necklace. She slipped on her glasses and twisted her hair up. After peeking into the other room to glance in on Malcolm, she quietly slipped out the door.

As the sun set slowly over the estate, a slight chilly wind filled the evening air. The breeze carried the light scent of lavender and the smell of an impending rain. Sera walked by herself through the garden which was in desperate need of weeding. She plucked some chamomile and catnip from the herb bed to make a tea later. Clouds were rolling in over the sky as she made her way back inside and headed towards the kitchen.

Azil woke to the setting sun as rain dropped softly outside his window. He sat on the edge of his bed and lit another cigarette. He had spent most of the previous night helping David, Marissa, and Tamara exsanguinate the rest humans from the cellar. He took a long slow drag and exhaled heavily. He thought about how they had hung their mortal, almost lifeless, bodies upside down from abrasive ropes attached to the ceiling. He thought about how the vampires sliced into their throats and wrists with razors and watched their blood pour out into buckets which they later siphoned into glass bottles. He remembered how they cut down those lifeless, drained bodies, rolled them up in tarps, and shoved them like luggage into the back end of a truck. He thought about how they drove around the city for hours and, one by one, emptied the contents of the back end of the truck like so many bags of garbage. He pinched out the end of the cigarette and tossed the filter across the floor.

 

 

 

 


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