*Disclaimer: there will be some brutal scenes described in this post, also meaning it will obviously be less picture heavy than you are used to from me for the same reasons. As usual, nothing too descript, but not suitable for children under 13.*
Everett, Katie and Everleigh, now ten years old, were sitting snuggled up on the couch watching one of their favorite sitcoms when the show was suddenly interrupted by a banner proclaiming this to be “Breaking News” in bright, big letters.
A serious faced news anchor now came on the screen.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt your regularly scheduled program for a breaking news alert. The national security agency has called an extra-ordinary press conference and we will switch you over to our correspondent on site ….”
Everett and Katie exchanged glances, then decided to err on the side of caution.
“Evey, honey, looks like the show is over for tonight. Why don’t you run get ready for bed. Daddy and I will come up in a bit to tuck you in.” Katie smiled gently at her daughter.
“Mommy but I want to see that …” Everleigh pointed at the screen, where some reporter animatedly pointed to the assembly behind her, at several important looking people in dark suits with grim expressions on their faces waited to begin speaking to the public. Everett had muted the TV.
“Sweet pea, NOW.” he told his daughter.
“Maaaan, I never get to know anything really interesting.”
“Men and women in dark suits on TV never tell anything interesting, baby. Interesting only happens when it’s colorful.” Katie told her daughter.
“Ok …” Everleigh slid off the couch and went up the stairs, Everett had gotten up too and made sure he saw her disappear into the upstairs bathroom.
“We’re clear.” he said and unmuted right when they were beginning to speak.
“Ladies and gentlemen. We decided to share with you important findings. Please do NOT be frightened, your government has already put into place all necessary means of caution, but we need you, our citizens to be aware and inform a special unit put into place this morning about any unusual behavior in your neighborhoods and everywhere else. Several confirmed cases of vampire-induced deaths have lead to this. Please follow the instructions on the screen to vampire-proof your home at your very earliest convenience. Do not leave your premises after dusk and before dawn. Keep your children contained indoors, likewise your pets and livestock. There are special collars being developed to safeguard pets and livestock, should be available within the next few weeks. Until then we advise anybody to apply this lotion containing garlic essence …” the man rambled on, frequently interrupted by lists underlining his words and links to websites.
Everett and Katie sat there, mouths agape, when their cell phones rang. Liam called Everett and Natalie was on for Katie. Before a half hour was out, both had spoken to the entire adults of the Cameron clan, except Leonie who frantically kept trying to get a hold of Faith and Hope, who were teenagers now and out with friends. Both received a text at some point that they were home safe and grounded.
When it all calmed down, Rett turned down the volume, there would be nothing else on TV for the night, and it was at this point only repetition.
“Now what?” he asked Katie.
Shrugging, she just shook her head, her facial expression that of disbelief.
“My dad said that this is really not …” Everett tried to calm both of them down.
“Rett, turn it up again!” Katie interrupted him, pointing at the TV and he turned it up. A new man was introduced, an old one, and now took the podium.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Professor Doctor Caleb Vatore, and I am what they now deem a specialist in the matter of vampires. Those of you who have attended San Myshuno University within the past – oh – 25 years would likely know me as that is where I teach. But tonight I am here not to speak about world history, English literature or botany, but about another matter I happen to be rather well versed in. Vampirism. To cut through the chase, I will precursor this by saying that I have first hand knowledge, not only through books but also in a way of -shall we call it ‘applied science’ .. HAHAHAHA … apologies, some lame faculty humor here. What I am trying to say is that I once was one. A Grand Master and an Elder at that. But back when I was, all those years, decades, centuries, vampires where a very different kind. Certainly there were the black sheep, as you find everywhere. But for the most part, vampires where just very … dare I say ‘human’ … after all. Just wanted to live regular lives with a semblance of normality, as many of us had not willingly chosen eternal life, but were thrust into it by events out of our control. Many people did not even realize vampires lived peacefully among them, dining on plasma fruit and able to move in even the brightest daylight.
But not this new breed. The detrimental virus which forced us former vampires to either denounce our eternal lives by undergoing a dangerous and sometimes lethal procedure, or face certain death by the virus had long been thought to have cleared the entire globe of all traces of eternal, undead existence. As we now know, we were wrong. Those of you who think this is a hoax, let it be told I did not believe it at first myself. I am a man needing proof and I have seen it first hand, leaving not a shadow of doubt in my mind that they exist. The new kind, which I personally have reason to believe roots from a very old creed of vampires, is not at all kind and wishing to blend in. They are very much aware of their powers and seem to have lost all humanity. In other words, they are ruthless, without compassion. You cannot plea with them, beg for mercy.
Extreme caution is necessary. Please do take all the steps as described, do not slack or omit anything. And please, please, do take special care of your children, the younger the more vulnerable they are, as those vampires are unable to procreate without humans. I am not certain if they can father children with or be impregnated by humans, but I know that one major task of any vampire society is to grow it. The only certain way for them to do it will be by turning humans into their own. The younger, the easier to shape. Now, one more word of caution I want to speak about for my own sake. Throughout the centuries of my vampire existence there have always been some human enamored by the images and ideas of vampires, some sort of romanticized notion of a gallant gentleman to whisk you away into his lair to dote on you for eternity or the eternally beautiful, mysterious woman who will remain that way for all times and usually is rather promiscuous. Do away with all that. Vampires are cunning by nature, although most of it is purely instinctual behavior and not brilliance, but they figure what you want and will cater to your fantasies to lure you in. Life as a vampire – already a moniker to put it that way – is no life at all. The lower ranks are mere servants. You have few special powers, if any at all. And the higher ranking vampire can – and likely will – torture you as they please. For sport. Because you failed an assignment. Because it is Tuesday. Any reason. It will take decades if not many lifetimes to gain ranks. You will likely never reach the top. And the eternal life idea is also not the whole truth. I have have been a vampire for a very long time, and I have seen many vampires perish. Some even at my hand or by my decision. Even as a vampire, you will still answer to ‘the man’. Not a life I would strive for. I have been asked a few times, if I now am considering to become immortal again myself, to which my response has always been a hearty no. Knowing this life from both sides, I would only ever choose being a human myself. Never had that choice as I was born as an immortal, but I will tell you, nothing compares to this life where you feel so much. All those sensations make the ultimate price we all will pay worth it.
So please, you vampire aficionados – do indulge in your passion through movies and literature to your heart’s desire, but shield your homes and loved ones and do not fall for the life they may promise….”
He continued on in his elaborate ways, while Everett sat in awe lost in his thoughts. He had met Caleb Vatore many times, but was shocked when he saw him a few months ago at the cemetery. Rett was there to visit his grandparents, had been startled when Vatore addressed him while was bent over his grandfather’s grave to clean dead flowers off it.
He had not seen him many years, not since his grandparents funeral and was shocked how old he looked, but recognized the voice and odd way to speak right away, without it he never would have recognized him. He recalled the deep friendship Vatore once shared with his grandfather Blaine, two men who could not be more different, but it worked.
He had come to the funeral too, Everett recalled thinking that the great Caleb Vatore looked terrible and very sad watching his two old friends being lowered into the ground. Strange to think he once had been a dangerous, strong vampire, now reduced to tears over the passing of two who were not even his kin.
The day they happened upon each other at the cemetery Caleb’s eyes clouded up when they spoke about Everett’s grandparents, Caleb sung their praises of bravery and integrity – and then pointed sadly to a tombstone a few rows to the right.
“That’s my Grace over there. She left me a few years ago, yet here I still am. Ready to go, but death won’t come. How cruel. Gave up eternal life, yet still I am here watching everyone around me die while I prevail. Death will come one day, hopefully mercifully soon. Nothing left on this earth for me now.”
“But what about your friends, your kids, grand kids?” Everett said. The old man’s words sent shivers down his spine. Morbid.
“My family has their own lives now, I am merely a burden now. I have no friends. Someone like my could not afford the luxury of friends once upon a time and afterwards I found I am not someone people gravitate towards. But Blaine never cared. He decided he was going to be my friend and made it so. And I was glad for it. A man of many flaws, but loyalty was never one of them. I hated it when your father came to me to un-turn all of them. I knew the day would come that I would stand here in this spot looking onto their graves wishing they would not have turned their backs on life eternal . Come to find that your father was just way ahead of times. I know you were close with Blaine, rightfully so. A good man, all he needed was a chance. Well, maybe a few dozen chances, but in the end he prevailed and influenced so many lives for the better. Including my own. All I hope now, boy, is that if there is a heaven up there, and my Grace, and my friends are up there, they will let a flawed old fool like me in too. I would love nothing more than to listen to Blaine and Ezio bicker once more, Vik calling him to order only to find him chasing her around the home for naughty things not a thought wasted on the present company … my life seems to have lost all color without them all in it. I am glad to see so much of your grandparents lives on in you, your little daughter and son.”
“In me? I am nothing like granpa. I wished I were … and Evey never even met them…” Everett got sad at the last words. His biggest regret.
“Trust me, it is there. I can see it. And I am not the only one. I must go now, son. That old body of mine is failing, even though the mind is still sharp as it ever was. You are a good kid. Blaine knew that from the first moment. I got tired of hearing about you, we all did, but he loved you very much, boy.” Caleb patted Everett on the back, then turned and staggered away, leaving a young man fighting the tears.
He was pulled back to reality when he realized Katie was trying to get his attention.
“Did you hear that?” she asked, looking at him, alarmed pointing at the TV.
“The description of what to look for.”
“No, I …”
“Evey’s imaginary friend from a few years back. Do you think he wasn’t imaginary after all? Maybe he was a vampire in child form or something? Ugh, creepy.” Katie shuddered at the thought.
“I need to go see my dad!” Everett stated.
“You will not! Not now! Were you not paying attention? They said not to go outside after dark! Your butt is staying in!” Katie told him firmly.
Two men, the resemblance undeniable as they were father and son, climbed up the stairs to the old house, which looked exactly how Liam, the older of the two, remembered it from many decades ago.
He knocked, after a few moments a dark haired woman opened. This was different. No longer the sweet Southern twang of Caleb’s wife, her gentle smile and always perfectly styled blonde hair. His daughter, Caitlyn, was much more reserved.
Polite greetings were exchanged and they were lead into the same living room – or parlor as the residents liked to call it – and seated. Just like it always had been. In some aspects, time did seem to have stood still. Every little thing had remained the same. Liam was overwhelmed with memories. He had called his sister Vivian to come along, but she and her husband Vitto wanted no piece of this. Head in the sand and proud of it, is what she called it.
“Ah, young Mr. Cameron. Well, I suppose now you are the old Mr. Cameron and you are the young one …” Caleb appeared, Liam rose to hug him. Everett just sat there and smiled up at him.
“Not a social call, I presume. You are here to speak about the news.” Caleb gestured at the seats.
“Sharp as ever, Caleb. Yes. I want to know what this means for us. What should we do?” Liam came straight to it.
“All that you can do they listed on the TV. I can give you the internet address if ..”
“Caleb, you know what I am really asking.” Liam interrupted the old man.
“Indeed. I wasn’t certain you remembered that. Back when you were taught that you were a bit rambunctious, head in the clouds, if not up some girl’s skirt.”
Liam grinned, while Everett blushed, and was immediately addressed by the old Vatore.
“Apologies young one. I forgot for a moment that he is your father, unforgivable, especially considering that you Cameron men always look like clones. Have you ever noticed this, Liam?”
“Caleb, you are trailing off topic again. Please, this is important.” Liam told him.
“Does he … know?”
“No. I wasn’t sure if I remembered it right, but he is my oldest, I was still a vampire when he was conceived and I needed him to be here for this.”
“Dad, I thought we were just here for more security advice! Do I know WHAT? Talk to me guys!” Everett protested. Something was not right.
“We are … in a way.”
“Your father remembered that while it has always been possible for a vampire to get un-turned, it was not only risky, but also very much frowned upon. More so in past centuries than among the more modern vampire crowd, but there were enough old vampires and those with deep convictions to keep that school of thought alive. It is very much looked at as desertion in the military during war times, a matter of committing high treason.”
“…punishable by death.” Liam added, Everett’s eyes widened then found Caleb’s again.
“That is correct. So your father is here to find out the repercussions of being un-turned not only for him, but his offspring. Well, Liam, it would appear you already have your answers.”
“What about him. My other children. Vivian’s kids? What about Silas?”
“Everett has never been a vampire, neither have any of your children. Likewise for your sister’s youngest. Silas – ah Silas. I spoke to him yesterday about just this. But you know Silas. He is up in arms about it, yet refused to change. Elizabeth, his darling wife, is frightened. So he struts around like peacock to impress her. I warned him to just do what everybody else is advised to. Let’s hope he took heed.”
“I don’t give a shit about Silas. He was an ass to Vivian.”
“Even an ass deserves a chance …”
“Your sister seems to disagree. You know she meets with him for coffee on occasion.”
“No! Vivian hates his guts. She would never. Vitto would be hurt.”
“Not if he was sitting right there with them.”
“No! You are wrong. They would have said something. I was just over there.”
“Of course, Liam. Maybe it was merely my old eyes betraying my mind.”
“I am going to talk to that girl! WTH?”
“Now, I do not wish to add insult to injury, but there is one possibility that worries me a little that may deserve some extra attention. I will have to find it, it is written in an ancient text, and as you see, I have a lot of literature, but it was once written that – how shall I put this – sometimes a tiny grain of vampirism survives in the first offspring. They may not be vampires, but other vampire can possibly pick up on the fact that there is – or once was – a connection.”
“Huh?” Liam made.
“You mean me?” Everett asked.
“You and your daughter.”
“My daughter was not his first grandchild. Cameron was. So this affects Natty and him too?” Everett asked Caleb.
“No. The first offspring of the one carrying the ‘grain’. Bad term, I need to find what they called it, but I think it was not written in English .. maybe it was Hindi?”
“What? Evey!? My god, Katie was right … maybe that imaginary friend was a … how long have they been around. The new ones? Vamps.”
“What imaginary friend?” Liam asked.
“Nobody knows. Possibly for many years, laying dormant. If I were to guess, they live underground. Special forces are searching residences, abandoned buildings, even though I told them, they are wrong. Tell me about that imaginary friend.” Caleb asked calmly.
“I don’t know. Evey was still little, it was years ago. She never wanted to speak about it and Katie and I asked her doctor, who brushed it off. I think she was about to start school and one night I found her outside, in her nightgown, nearly frozen blue, claiming she had been talking to her friend. There was nobody. She asked weird questions about a boy that people thought was bad, but she didn’t. She had not said anything for a while. But it just felt weird. We heard her talking to someone at night once, but when I entered her room, nobody was there, she was standing by the window.”
“Why did you not tell your mother and me about that?”
“About what, dad? That your granddaughter may have psychological issues? No thanks.”
“Oh, but imaginary people are not always a sign or mental issues, in fact, most often they are a coping mechanism…”
“Caleb, no lectures now. I know my granddaughter is a solid human with a brilliant mind. She feeds some homeless kid or kid with issues at home. Did you know that, Rett? Maybe all that is connected to this homeless boy, not vampires. Let’s not blow this thing more out of proportion as it already became on its own!”
The two men began to argue about the secrets kept, when Caleb complimented them outside. Family quarrels had never been his domain.
“Daddy, I can’t. Please, don’t make me break my promise.” Everleigh begged, her eyes welling up.
“Honey, daddy is not trying to be mean. We want to help that boy. And you have to help us help him. What is his name?” Katie urged.
“But … I promised. Please mommy!”
“Enough! Everleigh you will tell us what is going on NOW. Every detail. That boy needs help. Do you not see that?” Everett told his daughter. It broke his heart, but he felt this was important.
After the visit at Caleb’s Everett had told Katie and they had searched Evey’s room and found a selfie of her and KC at his hiding spot. While both kids seemed happy, grinning big, the boy had bruises and injuries on his face. When Evey came home from school, they immediately sat her down.
“You see him in school?” Katie inquired carefully.
“Have you met with him outside of school?” Everett followed up.
She looked around the room, trying hard to neither lie to her parents nor break her promise, when Rett held up the photo. She closed her eyes and nodded.
“He is the reason why you skipped school when you were 6?”
“His name, Evey.” Katie urged again.
“What is his last name, baby?”
“McCoy. I think his real name is Kieran, but he hates that, prefers KC.”
“Ok, so where does KC live?”
“I don’t know.”
“Daddy, I really do not know. He never told me. I think it is bad and he is ashamed. I think his family is not nice to him. I think they may be really mean.”
“Where was this picture taken?”
“Some … house. In Oasis Springs somewhere. I forgot where.” Evey could not tell them about that secret. No. Not that one.
“What house? Where is this?”
“I don’t remember. Please daddy, I can’t.”
“OK, I am going to call child services now. And you will not go anywhere near that KC unless it is in school, you hear?”
“But daddy, he is my friend! Please!”
“Evey, your daddy is right. Now, homework, I need to get dinner started. Go.”
Everyleigh cried in her room. She felt horrible.
In school the next day everything was normal. KC was his usual self, mean when others were around, but sweet and funny when she was alone with him. The week passed like this.
Wednesday the next week, the kids were racking their brains over some pop up quiz when the school secretary walked in with a stout woman and a police officer. They spoke to the teacher who pointed at KC, next to Evey.
The stout woman came over, bend down to KC and told he she was with CPS and that he was supposed to go with her now. KC refused, she pulled him, he broke free until the police officer corralled him in, holding him in a tight grip. Evey screamed and begged to let him go, crying to no avail.
The teacher called her to order, kept her from running after them, then addressed the class not to worry, KC was being helped now.
That was the last time Evey saw him for a long time. When he still had not come back, not come to see her after four weeks, she told her parents she was going over to see a friend after school, but instead paid for the bus fare to Oasis Springs, then searched for hours to find that abandoned house KC had taken her to many times. When she finally did, she knocked, calling for KC, then eventually climbed the fence like he usually would to unlock the door from inside. He was not here. Had not been for a while. The patio doors would not close, allowing the wind to blow in loads of sand. KC had been adamant about cleaning that up. The sand was nearly ankle deep in the living room, so she knelt down and with her finger drew her cell phone number into the sand and wrote “Pls. call Barbie”. One of his nicknames for her. Her least favorite, but he would get it.
Two more weeks passed until she was able to sneak away again, skipping ballet class this time pretending she was sick. She took the bus to Oasis Springs again and climbed into the house. No new footprints and her number was almost covered by new sand. This was not working. Maybe he was grounded. He had never told her where exactly, but she knew he lived in Oasis Springs and it was not a huge town. She left the house and walked down the street. Everywhere only businesses or very nice homes. No way that one of them was his. Unsure where to go next, she stood in a parking lot of a burger place, looking around when a grimy middle aged man addressed her.
“You lost, young lady?”
“No. I am looking for someone, but … forgot .. the address.” Evey claimed.
“Maybe I can help. Grew up in this dustbowl. I know everyone here. Who you lookin’ for, kiddo?”
“KC. McCoy. Do you know him?”
“The McCoys? Ha ha ha, oh yeah, everybody knows THEM. But that is not a place where you should go. KC, isn’t that their brat. Thieving, rude bigmouth. Yeah, you should not hang around him or his family.”
“Please Sir, do you know where they live?”
“You know where the waste station is? If you came by bus, you must have seen it. Where the bus takes a left, you want to go right and follow the street down. When you see a titti bar … sorry .. I mean a …. bar for grown ups, you turn left. You can’t miss it. It’s a shit hole.”
“Ok, thank you. I’ll be sure to stop by for a burger soon…” Everleigh said trying to be polite, which the made the man laugh loudly as he walked back inside.
Evey followed the directions. It was really not hard, once you knew where to look. Then she saw the bar the man spoke of. When she reached it she thought she would fall over.
Three trailers, run down, barely holding together, windows nailed shut. Piles of trash and broken rusty cars in what would normally be a front yard. There was some sort of crater in the middle and a pile of wood for a fire. Now she realized why he never wanted her to come here. If her parents knew she was here. Oh boy. She would be grounded until she was 50.
She swallowed hard, then crossed the street.
It looked even worse up close. And smelled. Worse than the dump she passed.
Which trailer to try?
One of them, the one on the right, looked less bad then the others so she would start there. The weird gate right in front of it, which made no sense, squealed pitifully when she opened in, then inhaled deeply before knocking. Nothing. She knocked again, harder.
“Dafuq do you want?! PISS THE FUCK OFF!” she heard from inside. Definitely KC’s voice.
“KC? It’s me.” she asked, her voice slightly shaky.
She heard noises from the inside, then the door opened.
“What the fuck are YOU doing here Evey? Did anyone see you?”
“I don’t think so …”
He quickly pulled her inside, looking around, then locked the door from inside.
“How did you find me?!”
“I asked someone…”
“I TOLD you not to come here. And keep your voice down. The walls are paper thin in this fucking thing.” he whispered sharply.
“KC, don’t say such words. And you were gone. For weeks. You didn’t come to school anymore after they took you. I was worried.” Evey lowered her voice.
“I am worried too. They are still trying to take me. My parents are fighting it. For whatever reason, cos they sure as fuck don’t want me.”
She looked him over. He was dirty, reeked worse then usual and was bloody and obviously had been beaten. It was horrible. And he did not even try to censor his cursing at all anymore, like he usually attempted when she was around.
“KC, just come with me. My parents will take care of you. I swear. If they see this, they will do anything to help.” she whispered.
“This is what happens when someone tries to help. You cannot help me. Don’t you think this was tried before? Many times. Always ends the same way. Right back here and then THIS.” he pointed to his bruises, scratches and gashes.
“KC, who does that to you? Adults are not supposed to hit children!”
“Yeah, and how is that working out for me?”
“If you come with me now …”
“…then I end up right back here and beaten worse. Maybe this time to death. Might be best.”
“KC! Don’t say stuff like that!”
KC was older than Evey, she was 10 he was 13 but his rough life had in a way matured him before his years. The reason he was in her class was that he had never been enrolled in school and missed it all. Being the oldest by far of all the kids was not pleasant and fed his anger.
The gate squeaked, someone tried to open the trailer door, then beat hard against it.
“Hey fuckface, told ya not to lock yer shit up. Open the fuck up!” a man’s voice clearly intoxicated.
“Under the bed NOW!”
“No, eeeww..” Evey protested.
“GET! NOW!” KC grabbed Evey and pulled her onto the floor then rolled her under the bed, right as the door was pulled from the hinges.
It was dirty under the bed, which was no bed at all but a piece of plywood atop cinder stones with a dirty old mattress atop. There was dirt. Smell of mold. Evey frowned. She could not see what was happening, but heard the man yell at KC and hitting him. At some point he fell down, right next to where she was, she could see his face all bloody when he gestured her to be quiet with his finger to his lips. He was roughly pulled up again and evidently pulled away. Evey pressed her hands on her face to keep from making any noises, while tears streamed down her face.
Evey stayed in hiding, it was quiet now. After a while she quietly called his name.
“KC? KC are you there?” Nothing.
After a few minutes she peeked out from underneath. The trailer was empty. She came out and peeked out the windows. Emptiness. Only trash.
Should she run away?
No. She could not leave him now. He needed her. He protected her, no way she would just abandon him now.
She ran over to another trailer, and peeked into one of the windows, which were broken and had been boarded up, but so badly that you could easily look inside. TV was on loud, people were talking roughly with each other, all grown up and all men, all filthy and probably all drunk. And there was KC, slumped over on a chair surrounded while the men took turns in yelling at him. Now one of them hit him so hard that he fell off the chair.
“No!” Evey said. Her eyes filled with tears.
She pulled out her cell phone and dialed, her hands shaking, spoke for a moment than just hung up, turned off the sounds on her phone and stuffed it back into her pocket
Taking a deep breath she pryed open the door and went in.
“Leave him alone!” she yelled.
“Fuck! GO! Run away!” KC screamed at her from the floor, scrambling up.
“Who the heck are you now?” the man who had hit KC addressed her, while the others only stared at her.
“I am … your worst nightmare!” Evey wasn’t going to tell them her name but said something she felt could impress them. Worked in movies.
Silence fell for a second, then roaring laughter. One man got up, pushed passed Evey and yelled out the door
“HEY BITCHES, GET YOUR FAT ASSES OVER HERE. WE GOT A GUEST … A REAL CLOWN!”
He walked by her again.
“Where did you come from?” the younger man asked.
“The door.” Evey snapped back. She was scared out of her mind, but also upset that they hurt KC so.
More laughter, when KC had managed to get up, trying to push her out the door.
This is when the door opened and three women entered. All female matches of the filthy men already in the trailer.
“Don’t let them by!” one man ordered and the women blocked the door.
“Please, she is some idiot off the street. We need to get rid of her. I’ll get rid of her. I’ll take her to the gas station and beat some sense into her. She won’t come back!” KC offered, but Evey knew he was just trying to protect her. He would never hit her.
He stood in front of her to shield her.
“Nah, I think we’ll keep her. Looks like you got yerself a lil sister now. What did you say your name was?”
“Ha, feisty one. What’s her name kid?”
“How the fuck should I know?”
“You think I am an idiot, boy? You know her. So what is her name, last time?!”
The man had gotten up and stood before KC now, who spit at the man, and Evey could almost feel the impact of the slap he received, sending him against the women and away from Evey, the women stumbled, evidently also drunk, screaming complaints, then shoved the boy back against Evey, sending both kids to the floor from the impact.
One woman cursed and said something about ice cream trucks and everybody rushed out.
KC scrambled off Evey.
“You okay?” he asked her concerned as he offered her his hand.
“Uh huh? Does it hurt badly?”
“I am used to it. Why did you not leave? This is too dangerous! How dumb can you be?!”
“We can leave now. You heard them, they are getting ice cream.”
“That’s no ice cream truck, dummy! They don’t come out here. It’s code for coppers.”
“Police. Gawd Barbie you really know nothing.”
“Oh good! I called them. And my daddy. Come on!”
Evey pulled KC with her and saw her parents and grandfather, ran towards them pulling KC along.
“Evey baby! Why are you so dirty! But thank god you are all right!” Katie snuggled her daughter.
“This is KC. Please help him. KC, this is my mommy, daddy and granpa.”
“They beat you! Did THEY do that to you kid?!” Liam’s face was an angry grimace as he roared his question at KC, who nodded, shocked at the unexpected reaction.
Liam stomped over to the men arguing with police.
“Which one of you wastes of skin is that poor boy’s father?” he growled.
“Sir, please step aside this is a ..” the police officer tried.
“Okay, I’ll take you all then. I’ll teach you to not beat kids!” Liam just threw punches hard, before the police could detain him, all men were knocked out cold, bleeding into the sand, the women screaming.
“DAD what the …!” Everett ran over trying to keep his father from being arrested while Katie and Evey stood with their mouths agape.
KC nudged Evey and said “I really like your grandfather!”
Liam smirked when he walked over to hug the strawberry blonde with the kind eyes and sweet smile waiting for him.
“I really thought I would never have to do this again, Liam.” she smiled.
“Trying to keep it interesting for ya.” He embraced her and they kissed.
“We have two teen girls at home going through their first broken hearts. I really do not need to bail my husband out of jail for excitement.” Leonie smiled at Liam.
“I’ll try to remember that. But maybe we can keep this between us?”
“Good luck, babe. It’s been all over the news. ‘Liam Cameron engages in fight at trailer park’ You still got it, honey.” she giggled.
“Dang it!” he chuckled.
The happy ending was none.
KC stayed with them one night, then CPS took him and after that, Everleigh and her parents were kept in the dark.
They were told that to protect the child, the location of his foster home would not be disclosed. Whatever they tried, it did not work. Her friend was gone without a trace. At least he was not hurting anymore. Hopefully. It would be great to be able to make sure he was ok. They would not even relay a letter. Nothing. Gone.
People were on edge about the vampire news, still. Terribly butchered people and livestock had been found, adding fuel to the mania. Once more the world was changing, for everyone.
Evey had not seen Heath in months. It was hard for him with everyone on edge about vampires, as it was really not hard to tell that he was one. Evey trusted him. Still.
One night Evey awoke. She did not know why. A feeling. The same feeling that drew her to get up and look out the window, she already knew what she would see there. Heath. She waved at him and ran downstairs.
“Heath! Finally!” she hugged him, he responded in kind.
“Run back upstairs and dress, warmly. I want to show you something.”
“I am not cold.”
“Please, Little Leigh.” his eyes melted her heart. She nodded and ran upstairs, put on what she could find quickly and ran back to him.
“Where is it?”
“A ways away. Do you trust me, Little Leigh?”
“You know I do.”
“OK, hold on to me. Just like that.” He folded his arms around her. This would be weird with any other boy their age, but with Heath, weird was the new normal. Nothing ever felt weird with him, even though everything was weird. Especially for a ten year old girl.
Evey felt a cold breeze, heard strange humming and saw nothing but blurs, until it all suddenly stopped. He let go and she looked around.
“Is this … Windenburg?”
“It is. The outskirts. Far out. Come.”
He took her hand and she followed him to some grassy place by a lake.
“This is beautiful! I have never been here. So pretty!”
“I thought you may like it. Sit with me, we have to speak.”
He sounded different. Normally he sounded a bit strange for a child, but now he sounded like someone from a movie about the Renaissance or something. Definitely like an adult, even though he looked like about her age.
“You know about the choice I am facing. Do you remember that?”
“I do not know what will happen afterwards. But I need you to know two things, very important things. One is that if I disappear and never come back, know it is not by choice or that I forgot about you. I never will. But circumstances may be keeping me from you. Do you understand this, Little Leigh?”
“The other thing is I need you to understand not to come looking for me, like you did with that other boy. It could have ended badly in his case, but it WILL end badly in mine. I need to know you are safe and you will not try anything foolish on my behalf. If you do, nobody can save you, not even me. Understood?”
She nodded and took his hand into hers. It was so pale, so cold, so different, but still kind of like hers. She played with his fingers when she spoke
“Yes. But .. I have questions, Heath. What do you mean dangerous. Are your parents hitting you too? And how do you know about KC?”
“I keep an eye on you. Always. I also know that your parents are about to take you far away, to keep you safe. We will not see each other again, not for a very long time. I hope you will not forget me. KC is fine, by the way. I know you are wondering. He is also far away, sad, lonely, angry, but getting better. Healing. At least the exterior scars. That boy is long gone, Little Leigh. You cannot do more for him. No one can. Just like me. Lost cause.”
“Don’t say that, Heath. KC will be fine. Just like you. So you are a vampire. Whoop-dee-doo. I don’t have a problem with that, and I am sure I am not the only one. You know my grandpa once was a vampire…”
“STOP! Never ever speak about that in public again.” he told her sharply.
“What?” Evey was startled. Heath had never raised his voice to her before.
“Others like me, they will kill vampires that chose the human life. Traitors, as they say. Never tell anyone about this. I move about undetected. Most of the time you do not know I am there. What makes you think there are not others too?”
“What if they are … here…. now?”
“Nobody is here. Just us. I can tell. Being a vampire is not all bad. Most of it, but not all.” he smiled, careful to hide his teeth.
“You know about my grandpa. Does that mean others know too?”
“I don’t think so. If they did, he would already be dead. Just like Caleb Vatore, for helping the humans.”
“Mr. Vatore isn’t dead, silly. I just saw him last week.”
Heath gave her a look, that sent chills down his spine.
“If he wasn’t then, it does not mean he is not now. Trust me Little Leigh. His clock ran out when he helped you all. And I am sure he knew it.”
“Heath, how old are you?” Evey tried again. He sounded like a wise old man today.
“Who knows? In a few more years I will quit aging altogether anyway. If I make it that far.” he smirked at Evey’s face.
“You are scaring me, Heath. What does that mean?”
“Means my family may not like my decision and choose to get rid of me and start over with a new heir.”
Evey’s eyes grew big.
“I am sorry Little Leigh. I forgot that human children are different. Really sorry. But it is the truth. I really do not know. Which is why I brought you here. My favorite place in the whole world. Nobody ever comes here, including other vampires. Nothing is here, too far from shelter and the sun rises over there first so if you are too slow you will die. Or not, seeing I am still here.”
The mind of a ten year old was not made for such horrors as Everleigh had witnessed in the past months. First KC, now this. She was a smart girl, but still a child. Talk about vampires being real, seeing her friend being beaten, blood, then her grandpa beat other men, now hearing her other friend speak so much about death.
She began to cry.
“Oh, please don’t. I did not mean to scare you. But I wanted you to know that I always kept my word to keep you save and always will be there for you. When I can. I just may not be able to after tonight. The rite will be soon. I do not know when, but I won’t be able to let you know. If I disappear, don’t forget me, Little Leigh. Promise me, you won’t.”
She offered her little finger, he understood and hooked his into hers, smiling.
Soon it was time to return her home. She waved at him from her window.
That was the last time she ever saw him.
Two days later her parents called Evey to the dining room table, it wasn’t meal time, so she knew they wanted to talk to her.
She sat down, across from her parents.
“Am I in trouble?”
“Oh no honey. We have news. Good news.”
“KC! You found him!” Everleigh beamed.
“Umm, no honey. Not that. Daddy and I have accepted a great deal, a new project. Gigantic, especially for such a small firm and we have Corbin Bjergsen and his connections to thank for it.” Katie told her little girl.
“Oh, cool.” Everleigh said politely. The business was important to her parents and sometimes they would share news with her too, but this was not worth all this ado to her.
“Cool is right. The project is not local. It is in Europe. We will be designing and building a new business park and we will be the lead architectural firm. Can you imagine!? Little EC Architects. This is BIG news.” Everett was animated and excited. Maybe it was big news to adults, but not to Evey.
“Europe? So you will travel a lot, daddy?” KC gone, Heath gone, her cousins all had after school things, and now her daddy would be gone a lot too. How was any of that good?
“Oh, babydoll, that was the initial plan. But instead we will be moving over there. The three of us. Just for two years, three tops. Family will look after the house, Corbin will look in on the business. Your school is getting the transfer ready.”
“School? 2 or 3 YEARS? But I only know English!” … and just like Heath predicted, she thought to herself.
“You will be attending an international school, but I am sure you will pick up some German and French while there.”
“WHAT? What about my friends! My cousins! Everything!” and Heath and KC she thought to herself, still hoping they would show up again. Somehow.
“Baby, they will all be here when we come back, family will come visit us during the school breaks, we can Skype. Plus, they do not have a vampire problem over there for some reason. Safer there. Especially since …” Everett stopped talking, when Katie nudged him.
“Since what, daddy?”
“Nothing honey.” Katie answered for him.
“Something with Mr. Vatore?” Evey fished for a reaction, remembering Heath’ words.
“How do YOU know about that? Did you sneak on the computer again?! Evey, that is not stuff you should see or hear about!”
So Heath had been right. Oh man! Evey shook her head
“I heard someone outside talk about it…” What was one more lie?, Evey thought.
“Horrible. That sweet old man, butchered so brutally. He did not deserve that!”