One for sorrow,
Two for joy.
Three for a girl.
Four for a boy.
Five for silver.
Six for gold.
Seven for secrets
That mustn't be told.
Two for joy.
Three for a girl.
Four for a boy.
Five for silver.
Six for gold.
Seven for secrets
That mustn't be told.
A soft, calming voice crooning out the lyrics of a nursery rhyme is the earliest memory I have. It's just about the only memory of my life I still have, too, ever since the event that changed me into a monster. I don't mean a metaphorical monster; I've literally changed into a vampire, fangs and all. But what really bothers me more than knowing I used to be a normal human is knowing that, until I come to the end of a messy trail leading to my sister, Sarah, I'll always have a mental block that prevents me from remembering much more than my name and the crooning voice of my mother as she attempted to soothe me when I was a child.
The only other pieces of my identity I can remember with any clarity at all is what I was like when I first reawakened as a newly minted member of the undead. It all started on a clear, balmy evening, in a house over in Barton.
My new life started at roughly six-thirty, when my eyes flickered open. My room had been a fairly plainly decorated piece of space my family had given over to me. The walls were painted, not papered over, and in such drab colors that I find it a bit shocking to this day. The droll color palate of the walls was especially jarring compared with the overall state of the room.
The furniture wasn't anything special, on its own. There was a simple bed with a wooden frame, situated next to a nightstand, which I found myself tucked into neatly; along the east wall was a rather simple yet cutesy chest of drawers made of pink vinyl, which was, strangely, the only untouched piece of furniture in the room, besides the nightstand. Apart from a toppled lampstand with a broken lamp still screwed into the socket and a shredded beanbag chair resting against the same wall as the chest of drawers, the only thing in the room was a simple wooden desk along the north wall, next to where the bedroom door was. Papers were scattered haphazardly about the desktop, with the matching drawers thrown open and across the floor.
I felt compelled to clear up the desk and make sure everything was set into a proper place, like it was an open door just waiting for somebody to close it. I groaned at the prospect of searching the room for papers and such, but at least it gave me an excuse to explore my surroundings and get my bearings.
I started to suspect something was wrong right away when I threw the sheets back from my body and noticed the small pool of blood next to where I had been sleeping. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the top sheet and bedcover were still a bit damp with fairly fresh blood. In fact, so was the white nightshirt I found myself wearing. This is also when I started to suspect someone may have been inside the house with me, since I heard what sounded like slow, deliberate footsteps coming from downstairs. It was a brief sensation, lasting only one, maybe two seconds. On its own, hearing the footsteps probably could have just been written off as a figment of my imagination, which is what I'd thought it was, at first.
The footsteps picked up again when I was going through the papers, all of which contained very poorly written messages that I found hard to make out. I gave up trying to decipher the mysterious papers when I heard what could only be booming laughter and jeers coming from downstairs now, too. There was no doubt about it now. Somebody was definitely inside the house with me when they definitely shouldn't have been. Several somebodies, from the sound of it. And they sounded like they were making their way closer and closer to where I was.
The voices and footsteps kept getting closer, and I was running out of time. I forced myself to abandon the task of reorganizing the desk and hurried over to the pink chest of drawers. My best hope was finding a cell phone so I could call the police, providing I remembered how to reach them, and, hopefully, board myself up in my room long enough for help to arrive. The footsteps were now on the landing just yards from my bedroom door. I wouldn't have time to call emergency services before the intruders would come into the room and find me.
The multitude of footsteps stopped as someone new called out, "Hello?" A sense of apprehension came over me as I realized a neighbor must have noticed something was amiss. The intruders took note of her, too, and I heard a two sets of footsteps leading away from the bedroom door.
The distraction my neighbor had provided was enough to buy me a few precious seconds of time. I bolted for the bedroom door and locked it faster than you could imagine, and just as I turned around to return to the vinyl dresser, I heard the same neighbor let out an anguished, bloodcurdling scream. She ran, and while she was fast enough to make it outside before they caught up to her, her pursuers were evidently faster.
The only window in my fort was a somewhat small, square four-panel window along the south wall. But, as my room turned out to be just above the entrance, I had a clear view of my neighbor being forcibly dragged back into the house, screaming and with tears streaming down her face as she pleaded for mercy. There were sounds of a struggle from downstairs, but I knew, when I managed to hear the tell-tale crackling sound of breaking bones, that her assailants had snapped her neck, and that she'd never get to see her family or friends again.
It was more important for me to search those pink vinyl dressers than ever, since I now knew the intruders to be openly homicidal. I walked over to the chest of drawers and rifled through them again with all the speed I could muster, but there was no cell phone to be found in the drawers.
The two members of the group who had broken off soon returned, and it was only now that it registered I shouldn't have been able to hear any of these sounds as clearly as I was hearing them. "She's dead, boss." said a man with a deep, rumbling voice. "We managed to stop her from getting far, Gavin and I did."
"Very good, Roald." Said the clear, crisp voice of a woman who sounded a bit familiar. "Rhodes." She said, addressing another man. "Did you hear any signs of movement from her room? If she's walking, we have to make sure she's thoroughly toast, or we'll be in real trouble when the police inevitably find the place."
"Yeah, unfortunately." A man with a softer, crisper tenor to Roald said. "She's not that dumb, you know; she can hear us, too, and she's locked her door."
"I know, I heard the lock clicking from over here." Said the woman. "Just break down the damned door and kill her already; we're on a tight schedule."
"Aren't we supposed to be worried?" I heard Roald ask. "I mean, what if she had access to a phone in there? We'd be boned faster than you can say Red Bino."
"Do you really think I'd be scared by a frightened girl who doesn't even know what she is yet?" Asked the woman. "Even if she had time to call for backup, they'd never arrive in time to save her sorry a**." She said.
There was no time to lose. Picking up the nightstand, I noted it hardly felt its weight at all. This, in spite of it being somewhat bulky, and made of pressed wood. In fact, it felt as if it could have weighed as much as the pillow on the bed. With moments to spare, and a very much solid wooden door steadily giving way under the weight of someone ramming it, I grunted and hefted the nearly weightless-seeming nightstand at the window to shatter the fragile panes and frame.
The crash of shattering glass and the sound of a falling nightstand caused the murderous invaders to pause for a moment while the reality of what happened sunk in, before more shoulders crashed against the door. Soon, the boot-clad feet of men stormed in triumphantly, followed by the calm saunter of a woman in heels.
Only, by the time they made ingress into my bedroom, I was nowhere to be found.
Even one of the men who had ran to the window couldn't see me. The real brilliance behind tossing the nightstand out is that I had used it as a distraction, not as a means of escaping. I knew, from how they caught up with my neighbor, that these people would have no problem catching up to me if I tried to run. In the brief span it took them to redouble their efforts, I managed to duck underneath the bed.
"Search the room." Said the young woman breathlessly. "She can't have gotten far enough to escape. She's got to be hiding in here somewhere."
It was at that moment that a siren sounded, and I dared to peek out at the window. Sure enough, the cavalry had arrived. How or why they knew what was happening was a question for another time, as the eyes of a particular man among the band's numbers found mine.
"There she is!" He shouted - it was the one they called Rhodes, judging from the sound of his voice. "Under the bed!"
The small crowd of ne'er-do-wells occupying my room screamed in exultation. A commanding officer of the police force screamed out orders to storm the house and find the home invaders. I simply screamed, in fear, as I was dragged from under the bed by numerous hands, deathly pale and cold as ice.
I finally found out what I was up against. I could see it in the hungry, maniacal glint to their eyes, and in their victorious grins, each lined with a set of large, catlike fangs where their canine teeth ought to have been. I saw it in the lean bodies and hollowed cheeks. These people, if they could be called that, weren't human, they were monsters, and I immediately knew the name for their kind.
"Vampires." I was quaking with fear at the murderous looks on each of their faces as they advanced upon me, seemingly from all directions.
A thick, noxious odor permeated through the room as something akin to a pepper spray grenade was thrown in by two advancing police officers, but the scent smelled nothing like how I believed pepper spray smells. I choked and retched from how toxic it smelled to me, and it was evidently having much the same effect on my assailants, seeing as their efforts to remain composed in the face of the deterrent were failing. I heard the woman call out, "Fall back, everyone!"
While my assailants and I were near-incapacitated, the smell didn't seem to bother the officers storming into the room, pistols blazing at targets the bullets stubbornly refused to wound for longer than two seconds. Knowing they were cornered and outmaneuvered seemed to be enough for the monsters, and all but one, Rhodes, left promptly. I briefly locked burning, tear-soaked eyes with him, and even though I knew both of our eyes must be reddening from the irritation and that both of our nostrils were burning up, he managed to shoot me a glance I immediately knew well enough.
It was a daring, angry glare, the kind of look that made it clear he had no intention of letting this drop. I was sure, in the brief moment before he gave in and retreated under the burning sensation caused by what I now understood to be a garlic oil bomb, that I hadn't seen the last of Rhodes or his enigmatic leader.
"Langdon, over here!" one of the officers, a man, called out. My eyes were closed too tightly for me to see who, among them, were talking, and I could only make out voices. "Langdon, I found one of them!" The sound of footsteps clattering around me was the last I heard before I passed out.
I was breathing fresh air again the next time I dared to open my eyes, and I could see it was considerably later in the evening now. I found a group of officers watching me as I lay on an EMT gurney. I could breathe without my eyes and respiratory tract being irritated, for which I was tremendously grateful, but I was unsure of what would happen to me. I didn't know if they were about to arrest me, or what. I didn't know when I would run into Rhodes and his employer, or any of her other flunkies, and I certainly didn't know what happened that lead to the series of events that took place that day.
One of the police officials came forward, dressed in a suit instead of a uniform. "I know you're probably worried, Miss Clay," he said. "But I've done what I can to inspect the scene, and you're not a high priority suspect at this time. I'm Jake Roswell, chief inspector for Barton Police, and I just want to ask some questions, see if you know anything about the people who broke into your family's house today or why they were there."
I sighed and laid my head down on the gurney. "It's not going to be that simple, Inspector." I said. "I wish there was something I could do to help with the investigation, really. But I don't remember anything about what happened, or who I was before..." I trailed off. "Before tonight, sir."
"Can you recall your first name, Miss Clay?" Inspector Roswell asked me.
"Yes. I can remember my first name clearly, but I couldn't tell you anything else about my identity; my name is Avarice." I said.
"That's all I need to know for now." Inspector Roswell said with a kind grin. "I'll have the EMTs check you out to see if you're in stable condition and then have them send you to the station for more intensive questioning. Don't worry. I know some people who will be able to help you manage your new lifestyle."
"Alright." I said. "I'll trust you on that, Inspector."
I knew I was left profoundly changed, damaged by the experience for the rest of my existence. I also knew that what I had become had to be tamed and trained, and that I wanted to keep the monster inside of me closely guarded so I wouldn't venture down the same path my would-be assailants traveled.
But most importantly of all, I knew I was saying goodbye to my family, and the life I used to live, whatever else happened after.
(That concludes the prologue. Please tell me what you think by sending me journal or profile comments, or by blowing up my Private Messages inbox. Do you have any questions you want answers to? Well, don't be a stranger, I want to hear from you. If you like what you just read, and would like to see more, consider subscribing to my journal and sharing links to it with your friends, to make the audience grow. See you next week, with the first part of chapter one, One for Sorrow!)