Sibling_Rivalry

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 22 (v.1) - Learning

Submitted: May 10, 2009

Reads: 301

Comments: 17

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Submitted: May 10, 2009

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First off, thanks for being so patient. I'm truly sorry I've taken so freakishly long to update. Second, this chapter is definitely not the best. It's more of another transition chapter, so don't harp on me too much for the monotony of it, please. Trust me, though, once this section of boringness gets out of the way, it will get interesting. But I'm not working on it so much right now, so don't get your hopes up too much for a speedy update. What I've posted, now, is as far as I've gotten. But, summer is definitely coming up (thank goodness), so who knows? I might go stir-crazy, end up pulling an all-nighter every night,and post another twenty chapterslike I did last summer. *shrug*

Lastly, here's your warning: There's some swearing in this chapter. Sorry if that offends anyone, but it's part of the character's personality. So, yeah, fair warning.

Okay, I lied, this is last: Thanks again to youALLfor being so loyal and patient. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, TRULYappreciate it.

21. LEARNING

“Okay, settle down, settle down.”

My Vampire Sociology teacher, who spoke with a slight, undefined accent, walked up the aisle to perch on the edge of his desk. He was tall with shiny dark hair—a few strands of which fell over his piercing green eyes that stood in contrast like moss on a stone to his olive skin. He had worried little creases in his broad forehead and wrinkles in his gray slacks and beige button-up shirt that he wore untucked over his average-size frame. He looked to be in his early thirties. Overall, he was mildly attractive for a man his age.

“Alright, so, I’m you’re Vamp. Soc. teacher…and you are my meal—I mean, students.” The class was silent. “Ha ha, hilarious,” he said sarcastically. “So,” he continued. “My name is Andrew, but you can call me Dr. Melek. Yes, that’s right, Melek, as in the Turkish word for angel. Yes, it’s ironic. Yes, I know you didn’t know that and probably don’t care.” He paused. “No, this is not a foreign language class, and yes, I even am Turkish.” That would explain the accent. “Well, half-Turkish, really—not that it matters.” He paused to take another breath as he stood up from his desk and began walking up and down the aisles. “Now, you probably noticed the “Dr.” in front of my very ironic name. I know what you’re thinking: this guy’s full of it.” He stopped, right as he got to a boy who was scowling, rolling his eyes under his long, curly, dark hair. “You’re right. I am—full of it, I mean. I graduated from Nuffield at Oxford with a PhD in Vampire Sociology.” That caught everyone’s attention. We all turned to look at Dr. Melek. “Good, now that I’ve got your attention…I was kidding, only sociology, but I like to keep the “Dr.” on there—it makes me seem smarter. Even though, now, you all probably think I’m a complete imbecile, but that’s okay. I made a bad first impression, but I can live with that. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, first impressions count, so make a good one. We’ll start with you.” He nodded towards the boy who had rolled his eyes.

“Umm, what?” he asked.

“That just made you look ignorant. Bad first impression. We’re introducing ourselves, obviously. This is a sociology class. Socialization is required.”

“Well, I, uh…”

Dr. Melek sighed. “What’s your name?”

“Jordan.”

“Alright, then, Jordan. Full name, please. First, middle, last.”

“Uh…what?”

Dr. Melek just raised his eyebrows at the boy, expectantly.

“Um,” he began hesitantly. “Jordan Aaron Osman.”

“Ah, so you’re Turkish, too, then?” Dr. Melek asked.

“Uh, yeah. My mom’s parents were from Turkey.”

“Nice, nice,” he murmured in approval. “Overall, C plus, for effort. Now, who’s next?”

“What? We’re being graded?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. How can you ever really be sure…of anything?”

Jordan was silent. He looked down and Dr. Melek moved on to a girl sitting in the desk behind him.

“You,” he said, sternly, looking at the girl.

She was silent as she hesitantly looked up and met his stare. “Lauren Elizabeth Carson,” she squeaked.

“Lauren Elizabeth Carson—C minus.”

Her stringy auburn hair fell over her shoulder as she looked down. I saw her cheeks flush bright pink as Dr. Melek continued down the aisle.

He continued interrogating the students, some of which surprised me and actually tried to do a good job. Personally, I wondered why it would matter what grades we got. It’s not like when we went to apply for college—if we made it out of this place—we would be able to put that we had a four-point-oh GPA at our Vampire training school on our application. Yeah, right.

When it came to be my turn, I felt more nervous than I thought I would have. Dr. Melek looked at me expectantly, his eyebrows raised.

I cleared my throat. “My name is Emma Abigail Garett,” said, my voice, surprisingly, not cracking.

The look the teacher gave me then, was horrifying. “Abigail Garett?” he choked out. His eyes were bulging out of his head and I was afraid he was about to have an aneurysm.

Mom. “Emma,” I repeated, watching his face carefully.

Dr. Melek said nothing. Finally, “Abigail,” he mouthed to himself.

I couldn’t speak.

“Ah,” he said, regaining his composure in half a second flat. “Well done, Miss Garett. A minus.” He continued down the aisle, just like before. He seemed to be perfectly fine as he asked the next student their name. Had I imagined Dr. Melek’s freak-out? Maybe I was being over-dramatic. He appeared fine now…

When he got done questioning the students, Dr. Melek went to the front of the room and plopped back down on his desk, facing the class. “So, students,” he began. “What’s my name, again?”

A murmured string of “Dr. Melek”s coiled through the classroom.

“What’s my first name?” he asked.

The class was silent.

“Anybody?” he asked again.

Come on, people, I thought. Don’t make me do this.

Andrew Melek raised his eyebrows at the roomful of students, but they all remained silent.

“Andrew,” a voice sounded from the middle right-hand side of the room. I realized it was mine. Crap.

“And where am I from?” he asked only me.

“You didn’t say.”

“Very good,” he said approvingly. “From what language is my last name derived?”

“Turkish.”

“Well done, Miss Garett.” He swept his eyes over the rest of the class then, and speaking to all of us said, “You know me, I know you. Now, get to know each other.”

No one moved, seemingly unsure as to whether or not he was being serious.

“Go ahead,” he said again. “Socialize.”

Everyone was still for a few seconds more, then simultaneously all stood up together. People were frozen in their spot for a second, but then began slowly spreading around and mingling with each other. I just fidgeted behind my desk, waiting to see if anyone would say something to me, or if I was going to be forced to make the first attempt at socialization. Luckily, the boy sitting behind me walked around his desk and took my hand.

“I’m Chad,” he said, shaking my hand.

“Emma.”

“Nice to meet you, Emma.”

“Nice to meet you, too.”

We broke the handshake and I looked into the boy—Chad’s—eyes. They were a light brown, almost the same color as the bark of a tree…

Tree….

Forest…

Hunt..

Goat.

Blood.

Run.

Lost.

Hopeless.

I swayed a little as visions from earlier today came flooding back into my mind. But I would have to release them, as least for now. Now, I was busy. No time for emotion. No time…no ti—

My vision tunneled and I swayed a little more.

Block it out, block it out.

“Emma?” I heard a boy’s voice from a hundred miles away. “Em…ma?” The sound waves seemed to be traveling particularly slow at the moment.

Get a grip, block it out!

A gasp. “Oh my gosh!”

Try as I might, I could not block out the images. Once they were back, they were back—I’d tried, but I should have known I couldn’t retain them for long. They didn’t leave.

The next thing I felt was cold stone under my back….

The next thing I heard were frenzied voices all around me. “What happened?”… “Is she alright?”… “Did she faint?”

Slowly, my senses returned to me. I felt the cold stone floor once again through my shirt. And felt the hot pain in the back of my head. And in my throat. My throat was burning. My mouth was watering. My senses turned to high.

Thump-thump.

Voices.

Thump-thump.

Panicked voices.

Thump-thump.

I gagged as a heavy flow of thick, acerbic venom ran down my throat.

Someone put their hand behind my back and propped me up into a sitting position. They held me up while I choked on the thick liquid, so potent in taste I swear I could smell it. While one stranger held me up, another person patted my back, attempting to calm my gagging.

Eventually I stopped choking on the venom. I swallowed reluctantly, trying to get the rest of it out of my mouth. But I still didn’t open my eyes.

“Are you okay, Emma?” I faintly recognized the strong, confident male voice coming at me from the right. Dr. Melek.

“What?”

“I said, are you okay?” He sounded concerned, almost worried.

Instead of replying, I just nodded.

“What happened?” he asked. However, I had the feeling he wasn’t talking to me anymore.

“We were just introducing ourselves.” Another vaguely familiar voice. “She swayed a little and fainted. I don’t know what happened.”

“It’s okay, Chad. She should probably go to the nurse.”

“The nurse?” I asked, deciding I was able to speak. I’d had no idea there was a school nurse.

“Yes,” said Dr. Melek.

I opened my eyes to see his worried face, a few strands of his longish black hair falling over his forehead. “What happened, Emma?” he asked.

“I—I don’t know.”

“Well…” He paused and his eyebrows scrunched together. “Well, whatever happened, you don’t need to be here anymore. Chad, take her to the nurse.”

“No. I—I’m fine,” I protested.

“You fainted, Emma.” No, really.

“It’s okay. Really, I’m okay,” I insisted. “Please.”

“Maybe you should just rest up a bit,” Dr. Melek advised.

“Yeah, sure,” I agreed. “Can I just…um…”

“I’ll tell you what,” Melek said, lowering is voice almost to a whisper and leaning in so only I could hear. “Why don’t you just go rest up in your room for the rest of class? That way no one has to know you fainted. You just need to relax, Emma.”

Okay, how did this guy know I needed to relax? He didn’t know what I’d been through today. But if I didn’t have to go to the nurse, I’d take it. “Okay.”

“Good.” He nodded, then stood up to face the rest of the class. “Grace,” he called, then bent down to help me up. I was careful not to fall over as I stood.

When I was off the floor, I saw a girl walking towards Dr. Melek and I and the small crowd of students surrounding us. She had light brown hair, pale, blotchy skin and bifocal glasses that sat atop her slightly larger-than-average nose. “Yes?” she asked as she stopped in front of us. Her voice sounded like bells.

“Grace, I’d like you to take Emma to her room, please.”

“Okay, sure.” Grace walked over to me and grabbed my arm. I wasn’t quite sure if I’d be able to walk or not so I let her. She slowly turned me around and we set out for the door. The students around us cleared a path for us as we went, but soon I stumbled again, not quite back in-tune with my balance. Grace kept me afloat, however, and we finally made it out the door.

“So…” she began as we walked down the hall. Dr. Melek’s room was on the third floor, right above the library, about as far away as possible from the dorms. “You’re Emma?”

“Emma Garett.”

“I’m Grace Wall. Where are you from Emma Garett?”

“Gunnison, Colorado. Like, three hours away.”

“Hmm. That’s lucky for you. I’m from New Jersey.”

“Ah.” I nodded my head noncommittally, thinking back to the conversation I’d had with Julia yesterday about the bus ride. I suddenly felt a wave of sympathy for this Grace girl.

We were halfway to the stairway when Grace stopped. She still had a hold of my arm, so I stopped with her.

“What are we doing?” I asked.

She didn’t say anything, but looked around carefully.

“Grace?”

“Shh,” she commanded. “This way.” She dragged me over to the wall, then stopped.

“What exactly are we—”

“See the door?” she asked.

I didn’t. There was nothing but solid stone wall…

Wait! I did see it. There was a faint outline of a rectangle in the wall. It didn’t look like a door, and there was no knob or anything, so I wasn’t sure how we were planning to get in. Thinking of which… “Where are we going?”

“To the dorms...” She looked at me like I’d flipped my lid. “Where else?” She shrugged, then looked over her shoulder one more time before quietly pushing on the wall.

And it opened! The wall slid forward, stone on stone and Grace slid stealthily through it, pulling me with her.

It was pitch-black inside the little room. I couldn’t even see Grace standing right next to me. If she hadn’t been holding onto my arm still, I wouldn’t have known if she was there or not. I heard her shuffling around, then saw a bright light. She’d pulled out her cell phone and had the LCD screen on so we could see what was around us.

There was nothing. The secret door led to a small landing (we were standing on it) and below us was a spiral staircase. “Where are we?” I asked.

“Hello, a secret passage,” she said, as if it were obvious.

“Oh.” Who knew?

“I found it yesterday when I was”—she made little air quotes—“exploring.” She laughed. “Did they honestly think we’d just have a look-see around this charming, rustic, hundred-year-old campus without checking for shortcuts?”

“I…uh…Is it really one hundred years old?”

“Probably older.”—she shrugged—“And, of course not. Actually, I’ll bet plenty of other kids found this too. It wasn’t that difficult to locate. I couldn’t find any more, but I’ll be searching.”

“Huh. Good luck with that,” I said.

“Thanks,” she mumbled, turning towards the stairs. She led me down them (I wasn’t that dizzy anymore, but I guess she wanted to be sure I was okay).

Finally, I had to ask. “Uh. I know we’re going to the dorms, but where exactly does this passage lead to?”

“It leads to the basement. It’s shorter taking this way than walking around the side of the school and through the grounds.”

“Right.” The last part didn’t register. All that I absorbed was that we were in a secret passage leading from the girls’ dorms…

Soon we were off the staircase and walking through a long, dark tunnel. Grace’s light from her cell phone led us the whole way, but there wasn’t more than a two foot radius of light. Occasionally, though, Grace would comment about something. Judging by how the sound waves bounced off the walls and the fact that there was little echo, I guessed the tunnel was less than ten feet wide and probably made of solid stone or concrete. So if we somehow got trapped in here, no one would know.

Joy.

After a couple minutes, we emerged from the darkness and found ourselves in another room—full of more darkness. I heard Grace click a button on her phone to keep the light on and then felt her tug me behind her as she made her way through the room. The dorm basement, I guessed.

“Ouch,” she hissed.

“What?”

“I ran into something, genius.”
“Sni-ppy…” I muttered.

She heard me. “Sorry,” she said. “I’m kind of cranky today, I guess. What happened to Vampires not getting PMS-y? Stupid myths.” She paused. “And…like…fuck. We’re Vampires. I mean, what the hell is that?”

I didn’t know how to respond.

“I mean, it’s freaky as hell, you know?”

“Yeah,” I half-whispered.

Grace sighed and then turned and continued on, being more careful as to where she was walking. Soon we made it to a doorway and another staircase.

When we climbed out of the stairway, we were in the foyer of the girls’ dormitories. “Hey, this is pretty cool,” I said. “The secret passage, and all. Good for, uh, creeping.” Creeping? I raised my eyebrow at my own lameness. Maybe I shook something around in my head when I fell…

“Uh, yeah,” Grace said, raising her eyebrow at my raised eyebrow. “But don’t go spreading its location around or anything. I mean, like I said, some people might have found it already, but I don’t need large masses down there when I’m trying to…um…creep.” She snickered a little.

“Right. Uh, no problem.”

“Okay, so where’s your dorm, Emma-rado?” She began up the stairs and I followed quickly behind her.

“Fifth floor,” I said, and sighed.

“Damn, why so high up?” she asked, but continued climbing.

“I was one of the last ones off the bus.”

“Man, that sucks. I thought it was bad that my room’s on third floor.”

I shrugged.

A few minutes later we walked through the door to the fifth level girls’ dorms.

“Geez, so they all look exactly the same,” Grace said. “The common rooms,” she added, shooting me a glance.

“Oh,” was all I said.

“So do you want me to drop you off here or escort you to your room?”

“Um, here’s fine,” I replied. I stopped and waited for her to leave.

“Okay…” She began to turn her back to me, but then spun around and faced me again. She walked over to the couch and plopped down. It looked like she was waiting for me to do the same, so I followed in her footsteps and sat on the loveseat across from her. Once I was sitting, she straightened up and leaned forward, crossing her arms and placing her elbows on her knees. She just looked at me for a minute, all humor and sarcasm wiped clean from her face, then spoke:

“Okay, so in all seriousness, are you not completely freaked out by this?”

“Um.”

“I mean, we’re fucking”—she uncrossed her arms briefly to make air quotes—“Vampires. That doesn’t creep you out in the slightest? This is like fiction. It’s not supposed to be real.”

“But it is,” I said.

“It can’t be. I can’t even believe this. I mean…” She shook her head. “This is so screwed up and…and no one seems to care or to be doing anything about it. Why is everyone so weird? Doesn’t anyone see how absolutely insane this all is?

“I mean, heaven, hell, I didn’t even believe in any of it and now I’m becoming some creature of the flames? This is beyond messed-up.”

“Well, I guess it’s kind of hard to wrap your mind around.”

“Just a little, yeah,” she said bitterly.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault, Colorado, it’s the fault of all these idiots in this cult. Or whatever this is. I mean, this can’t be real.”

“It is real,” I said. “It’s hard to believe, but it’s real.”

“How can it be?” she whimpered. Oh, no, don’t cry.

“It just is, I guess.” I sighed. What was I supposed to say? Was I supposed to present her with proof? Oh, yeah, well, why else was I puking up blood and getting acid pumped into my veins from some random guy’s mouth and running faster than a car and feeding off goat blood? Maybe the “venom” was really toxic waste and we were all morphing into some sort of freaky mutant things. Huh.

“Yeah. I know.” She covered her face with her hands and bent over. “I know, I just…Everything I’ve believed my whole life…it all seems so…wrong, now. Don’t you feel like everything was a lie?”

“I don’t know. This is all definitely hard to take in, but…” I sighed in frustration. “I just don’t know.”

“I feel like I don’t know anything.”

“Me too,” I agreed.

I did know more about what was happening here than Grace did, but I still felt like I knew absolutely nothing. And, deep down, I knew I was right about that: about knowing nothing. God, I really…didn’t…know…anything.

But I definitely wanted to find out more about what was happening here—about Vampires, Caduto Angelos, this school, the battle, the war—but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know it all. No, I was positive I just wanted to—at least for the time being—curl up in a corner and cry. Then scream. Then cry some more.


© Copyright 2018 Catherine . All rights reserved.

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