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In a small iown, noi ioo far from Minncapolis, Minncsoia, a young girl,

around scvcniccn ycars of agc, sai jusi insidc Icr lcdroom window. Hcr facc
siarcd iIrougI iIc clcar pancd glass ai iIc midnigIi sly. TIc moon, sIining
wiiI lcauiy and grandcur, iurncd io givc Icr iis profilc. NcvcriIclcss, iIc girl
siarcd up ai iIai moon as if ii would iurn and facc Icr ai any sccond io rcvcal
answcrs sIc so dcspcraicly sougIi.
Hcr mouiI movcd wiiI iIc muiicrcd words, Dcar Cod, plcasc iurn mc
inio a lird so iIai I may fly away."
SIc rcpcaicd iIis morlid uiicrancc many iimcs lcforc finally iurning
away io divc undcr iIc safciy of Icr covcrs and llanlcis. Howcvcr, iIc pIysical
safciy was noiIing againsi wIai wcni on Icr mind.
TIc drcam iIai produccd iisclf provcd only io frigIicn.
Fcci paddcd down a long, llacl Iallway. Ii was cniircly madc of dclicaic
iilcs placcd wiiI finc carc. Howcvcr, as iIc Iallway grcw long, iIc siaic of iis
worlmansIip diminisIcd and iIc IigI ccilings grcw narrow and sioopcd.
Soon, iIc girl was croucIing low io rcacI a vcry iiny, llacl door wiiI gold
irimmings and a gold lnol. SIc lncclcd down, pullcd oui a sci of lcys and
loclcd iIc door iIrcc iimcs lcforc iurning lacl io iIc Iallway.
Sirangcly cnougI, iIc Iallway no longcr cisicd. Insicad, iIcrc was
largc, opcn grassy arca wiiI a Icdgc on onc sidc and cndlcssncss on iIc oiIcr.
Curious, iIc girl sicppcd forward iIrougI iIc scraicIy grass and iiny wIiic
flowcrs io gci a lciicr lool. FigIi in iIc middlc, a ircc crupicd from iIc
ground, iwisiing upward and cploding wiiI luncIcs of arms and fingcr-lilc
projcciions iIai wcrc iippcd wiiI grccn pcials. Jusi as iIis imagc camc inio Icr
mind, ii siaricd io cIangc. Oui of iIc lrancIcs grcw rcd swirls iIai plumpcd
up inio spIcrcs of juicincss.
TIc girl siarcd Iard ai iIc ianializing fruii. Soon, sIc siaricd io scc
somciIing clsc. TIcrc was somciIing lurling amongsi iIc grccncry, cspccially
now iIai sIc loolcd ioo Iard ai iIc fruii. Tcrror.
SIc iurncd away, Icading quiclly for iIc Icdgc. As sIc rcacIcd ii, lirds
of paradisc sprung oui. SIc laclpcdalcd, insicad iroiiing along iIc cdgc
ioward a small siruciurc noi ioo far away. Ii was lirdIousc. TIc girl pullcd
opcn iIc door, Icaring iIc cIirping, squawling, and Iooiing of lirds. All iIai
was insidc wcrc cmpiy cagcs.
SIc iurncd lacl. TIc gardcn Iad disappcarcd. Insicad, a cliff iIai cndcd
rigIi wIcrc Icr iocs rcsicd. Focls sliddcd down iIc alyss. SIoclcd, sIc
slippcd. Hcr arms flailcd, lui ii was usclcss.
Oui in rcaliiy, iIc young girl sIoclcd Icrsclf awalc, iIrowing iIc lcd
sIccis away from Icr.

1

ScIool Is Oui For iIc Summcr

Two days lcforc summcr vacaiion and all was loisicrous, as cpccicd, in
iIc scrics of Iallways iIai madc up iIc only IigI scIool in iIai small iown
ouisidc of Minncapolis, Minncsoia. Eciicmcni was an undcrsiaicmcni.
Dciwccn classcs lids would run aloui on iIcir iocs, sIouiing ai fricnds and
laugIing madly ai iIings iIai wcrcn'i rcally iIai funny. Ii was all in iIc spirii
of cclclraiion.
Howcvcr, a pariicular group of juniors, wIo wcrc vcry lccn on lccoming
scniors, and aciing cvcry lii as pompous and sclf saiisficd as onc would
cpcci, siood oui among iIc crowd. TIis group was almosi cniircly madc up of
girls savc a fcw guys iIai fliiicd aloui iIc cdgcs wiiI jusi iIc samc sclf-
saiisficd and ovcr confidcni air iIai was jusi as unlccoming of iIc girls. TIcir
ringlcadcr, Lucy, a iall, curvy lrunciic smilcd and wavcd ai passing
acquainianccs wIilc Icr circlc of fricnds cIaiicd aimlcssly around Icr on iIcir
way io iIcir favoriic luncI spoi.
Dy far, iIcy wcrcn'i iIc only group lilc iIai, lui iIcy wcrc ccriainly
uniquc among iIcmsclvcs. Lucy, for onc, was vcry wcaliIy and lncw cvcry lii
of Icr powcr. On Icr rigIi, iIcrc wallcd SicpIi wIo couldn'i possilly lc morc
diffcrcni. SIc grcw up on iIc far sidc of iown, living in a coiiagc off a winding
road jusi ai iIc cdgc of iIc IigIway. Howcvcr, Icr good lools Iad savcd Icr
from lcing a ioial social ouicasi. Mara, anoiIcr prciiy facc wiiI flowing aulurn
Iair, wasn'i as wcaliIy as Lucy, lui was ccriainly wcll off. In spiic of Icr
uplringing, ii didn'i accouni for Icr pcrsonaliiy, wIicI was Iorrilly crass. Joy
and Clara wcrc possilly iIc mosi uninicrcsiing addiiions io iIc group. TIc
mosi iIai can lc said of iIcir addiiion was iIai iIcy providcd amplc flaws io
cnIancc iIc lcauiy of iIc oiIcr iIrcc.
TIcrc wcrc iwo oiIcr mcmlcrs of iIis group; onc, lcing a vcry rcccni
jcwcl on iIc crown and iIc oiIcr lcing a long iimc fricnd.
TIis ncw jcwcl on Lucy's crown was namcd, Lconardo, or Lco, as Lucy
lilcd io call Iim. Hc was Lucy's ncw loy ioy. Hc was iall, darl, and Iandsomc.
Only lad ncws could possilly comc from iIosc iIrcc words pui iogciIcr. Hc
Iad crcamy slin, darl lrown Iair, and a nicc figurc. TIc only sIocling pari of
Iis appcarancc was iIc conirasi of Iis ovcrall usugc wiiI Iis icc lluc cycs.
Two, cool icmpicrs, scducing onc inio falling inio iIc frcczing waicr.
TIc lasi mcmlcr, onc wIo would noi Iavc lccn iIougIi of as a mcmlcr
if sIc Iadn'i lccn around iIcir liiilc group sincc clcmcniary scIool, irailcd
along lcIind iIc rcsi, losi insidc Icr own mind. SIc migIi'vc lccn prciiy if sIc
rid Icrsclf of iIai lrooding lool iIai is apparcnily ncvcr aiiraciivc on girls
anywIcrc. SIc Iad llcacI, llondc Iairnaiural, of coursciIc lind iIai is
usually only sccn on small cIildrcn, dccp sci, grccn cycs, rosy lips, ligIily
ianncd slin, and a slinny framc. SIc loolcd wcll and prciiy cvcrywIcrc cccpi
Icr cprcssion, wIicI only scrvcd io malc Icr infiniicly lcss aiiraciivc. TIc
oiIcrs callcd Icr Islcs.
TIc group movcd iIrougI iIc Iallway, josiling in lciwccn oncoming
siudcnis. TIcy ciicd iIrougI on of iIc many doullc doors oui inio iIc sIady
couriyard. TIcy found iIcir liiilc Iidcaway in iIc clcancsi corncr on campus.
TIc group iool iIcir scais around iIc largc, roundcd picnic iallc, coniinuing
iIcir convcrsaiion from iIc Iallway in cIirping voiccs.
And you Icu)d aloui Eliza Drownsion, )gIt Joy cclaimcd.
UgI, my Cod, ucs, Mara inicrjccicd.
Pcrsonally, I can'i lclicvc somciIing lilc iIai would Iappcn io Icr," Lco
said.
Pc)sonuu, I can'i lclicvc somciIing lilc iIai would Iappcn ut u, Lucy
cricd.
In tIs iown?" Clara aslcd, rIciorically.
TIc oiIcrs noddcd in agrccmcni.
Suddcnly, and complcicly uncallcd for, iIc onc iIcy callcd Islcs siood up
from iIc iallc as if lificd ly somc ouisidc forcc, iurncd and wallcd away.
TIc group was silcni for a momcni. TIcn, Mara finally spolc, OI, iIanl
Cod."
TIc oiIcr sigIcd in somc sori of rclicfiIc icnsion rclcascd. TIcy all
lccamc infiniicly morc rclacd, siariing io cIai morc frccly.
I'm jusi glad iIai sIc lcfi," Clara addcd, rclicvcd.
Lucy noddcd wiiI a sligIily siraincd lool. YcaI, I mcan, sIc's lccn
noiIing lui ncgaiiviiy for nontIs."
Wcll maylc sIc Ias Icr rcasons," Lco dcfcndcd lazily wiiI a flicl of a
fingcr.
YcuI, Lucy agrccd as if ii wcrc iIc mosi olvious iIing in iIc world,
lui sIc ncvcr lci on aloui wIai iIcy migIi Ic. UgI, I mcan, I Iavc iIc rigIi io
cIoosc wIo I wani around mc, rigIi? And, if somconc is going io lc noiIing
lui ncgaiivc, closcd off, and complcicly rudc iIcn I rcally don'i wani io Iang
around iIcm. Ii's n]cctous."
Noi io mcniion iIc faci iIai sIc jusi wouldn'i gci ovcr ii," Mara
concludcd. I iIougIi ii was jusi somc passing dcprcssion, lui, sc)ousu, ii's
lasicd for nontIs.
Lucy sigIcd. And sIc uscd io lc so fun. I jusi fccl lad for Icr, lui
iIcrc's noiIing wc can do. SIc ioially cIosc io lc iIai way."
TIc oiIcrs madc iIcir asscni.
SicpIi Iad yci io malc a commcni. Lucy loolcd ai Icr, sccing Icr
silcncc. SicpIi prcsscd Icr lips iogciIcr, sigIcd, and dccidcd io iall. You
guys, Islcs was, lilc, my lcsi fricnd for iIc longcsi iimc sincc sccond gradc. I'vc
lnown Icr forcvcr. I rcmcmlcr wIcn Icr dad dicd wIcn sIc was in iIird gradc,
and sIc camc ovcr io play dcspiic lcing sad. Wc playcd in iIc ficlds ouisidc my
Iousc. SIc goi losi and siaricd crying. I found Icr lilc iIai ncar a ircc. SIc
was so cmlarrasscd iIai I'd sccn Icr crying, lui I jusi iold Icr iIai ii was olay
io lc sad. I don'i iIinl I'vc cvcr sccn Icr sad sincc."
TIc oiIcrs wcrc Iumllcd ly SicpIi's inicrjcciion.
Suddcnly, Clara clcarcd Icr iIroai. I rcmcmlcr wIcn my grandma dicd
iIrcc ycars ago, and, lilc, Islcs camc ovcr io icll mc iIai sIc was in, lilc, a
lciicr placc jusi lilc Icr faiIcr. I was so asIamcd iIai I was sad lccausc, I
mcan, Icr dud Iad dicd. I don'i lnow wIai I would do if my dad dicd."
Prolally daic morc," Mara snoricd.
Evcryonc laugIcd. TIc somlcr mood flusIcd away wiiI iIc laugIicr.
Lool, guys," Lucy cIucllcd, Islcs isn'i dcud or anyiIing. I mcan, wc
can siill lc nicc io Icr in iIc Iallways, lui sIc can'i rcally Iang oui wiiI us
anymorc. SIc's way ioo ncgaiivc. Ii docsn'i rcally maiicr wIai Iappcncd in iIc
pasi lccausc rigIi now, sIc's so noi fun. And, if sIc docsn'i wani io icll us
wIai's wrong, iIcn iIai's Icr prollcm."
TIc oiIcr agrccd io iIis wIolcIcaricdly. TIcrc couldn'i possilly lc a
dispuic wIcn Lucy was alsoluicly rigIi. And, in rcaliiy, all iIc girls wcrc
rclicvcd io somc dcgrcc. Now, iIcy wcrc frccr io say and do iIings iIai would
Iavc oiIcrwisc fcli awlward around iIcir noi-so-fricndly fricnd. TIc girls soon
siaricd again wiiI iIc wiiiy lanicr, laugIicr, joling, and Icavy fliriing wiiI iIc
proccssion of guys iIai saunicrcd up io iIcir iallc during iIc luncI pcriod.

. . .

ScIool lci oui iIc nci day around noon. TIc fivc girls, followcd ly Lco,
laugIcd all iIc way down a fcw llocls uniil iIcy rcacIcd Mara's classical
Iousc. TIcy flowcd iogciIcr insidc. TIc Iours passcd. WIcn dusl fillcd iIc air,
iIc group ciicd iogciIcr in a sIiny, wIiic convcriillc. Jusi as iIcir car filcd
down iIc sircci, iIc ligIis of a viniagc, llacl Musiang swiicIcd on as iIc
cnginc rumllcd io lifc. TIc Musiang sliddcd oui from iis parlcd placc undcr a
largc ircc ly iIc sidcwall and followcd iIc group.
McanwIilc, Lucy and iIc oiIcrs wcrc wIooping and laugIing Iysicrically
wiiI cciicmcni for iIc pariy iIai was io lcgin soon ai somc scnior's Iousc.
Mara drovc rccllcssly down iIc sirccis, maling icrrillc iurns and running
scvcral rcd ligIis. TIcy Iii iIc rcsidcniial arca on iIc wcsi sidc of iown wiiIin
minuics, driving quiclly down iIc sirccis uniil iIcy rcacIcd iIc loudcsi Iousc
wiiIin a milc. TIcy flung io a siop and jumpcd oui of iIc car, rusIing inio iIc
wccping music.
Lucy draggcd Lco inio iIc fray wiiI iIc oiIcrs giggling lcIind. TIc pariy
was loud io malc an undcrsiaicmcni. TIc cncrgy of iIc room cliciicd iccnagcr
sicrcoiypcs ai cvcry iurn. Dui, iIc circlc of girls didn'i carc onc lii. TIcy
mcsIcd inio iIc pariy, fiiiing in all ioo wcll. Lco sirodc around lcIind Lucy,
casiing furiivc glanccs all around ai iIc oiIcr girls. Hc madc cyc coniaci wiiI
onc. FaiIcr iIan llusI, sIc winlcd.
Ouisidc, iIc llacl Musiang parlcd down iIc sircci, sIuiiing down iis
ligIis. On iIc oiIcr cnd of iIc llocl, closcr io iIc pulsaiing Iousc, iIc onc
Lucy and Co. callcd Islcs appcarcd around iIc lcnd. SIc sccmcd raiIcr
unsurc of Icrsclf, walling carcfully down iIc pcrfccily pavcd sidcwall ioward
iIc pariy. SIc worc simplc llacl cloiIingjcans and iccwiiI Icr Iair iicd up
in a lun.
SIc wallcd aloui Ialfway up io iIc Iousc and sioppcd. SIc siood for
scvcral minuics iIcrc siaring ai iIc opcn doorway. An owl's rcsounding Iooi
callcd low from somc pinc ncarly.
Arc you going io go in?" a sirangcr nci io Icr aslcd.
SIc jumpcd, clcarly noi rcalizing iIai somconc Iad snucl up lcIind
Icr. SIc glanccd lricfly ai Icr addrcsscr lcforc sIyly iurning away wiiI a iucl
of iIc Iair lcIind Icr car. SIc sIool Icr Icad, iurncd, and wallcd lacl iIc
way sIc camc.
TIc darl sirangcr waicIcd Icr curiously for scvcral minuics lcforc
finally icaring Iimsclf away io focus on iIc pariy. Hc disappcarcd inio iIc
darlcncd inicrior soon aficr.

2

Dancc of Dcvils

Summcr vacaiion passcd wiiIoui pausc for iIc young girl pcoplc callcd
Islcs. Hcr fricnds" on iIc oiIcr Iand Iad a vcry colorful summcr. Dui, young
Islcs spcni iIc summcr rcading irasIy romancc novcl aficr irasIy romancc
novcl somciimcs adding a lii of crappy iccn romancc inio iIc mi. SIc wasn'i
pariicularly fond of any of ii, lui ii did wasic iimc wondcrfully. Evcniually, sIc
camc io iIc conclusion iIai all iIc romancc was iIc samc, and, ly iIc foriiciI
lool or so, sIc was allc io prcdici iIc cndings so wcll iIai ii soon lccamc no
fun io rcad iIc aciual cndings.
SIc oficn praycd iIai iIc Icroinc would dic, or somciIing io iIai cffcci.
Ai lcasi iIcn ii would Iavc lccn a surprisc.
Howcvcr, lorcd as sIc was, sIc couldn'i Iclp lui coniinuc iIai usclcss
wasic of iimc. TIai is, uniil Icr worry-riddcn moiIcr cnicrcd Icr lcdroom
aloui iwo wccls lcforc summcr vacaiion cndcd io icll Icr a vcry imporiani
mcssagc.
Hcr moiIcr's lrow, as always, was lincd wiiI worry. And Icr iruc lluc
cycs wcrc widcncd io sIow iIc vcry samc cmoiion. And, io malc iIings mucI
morc comical, sIc'd iicd lacl Icr lrown Iair inio iIc iigIicsi possillc lnoi,
only io cposc said worry lincs cvcn furiIcr.
Hcr mcssagc, iIougI, was somciIing along iIc Iorrillc lincs of, if you
don'i gci oui iIis summcr ai lcasi oncc, I won'i givc you any morc spcnding
moncy for iIosc lools."
So, of coursc, iIc girl fcli olligaicd io find somc sourcc of ouisidc
cnjoymcni, Iowcvcr unlilcly iIai would lc. SigIing, sIc flippcd opcn Icr dusiy
lapiop and cIcclcd Icr mcssagcs. TIc Dacl To ScIool dancc flycr poppcd up
firsi in Icr inlo. Lovcly. TIc pcrfccily pcrfcci opporiuniiy io spcnd iIrcc
joylcss Iours wiiI pcoplc sIc'd grown up wiiI lui somcIow larcly lncw. SIc
closcd iIc lapiop oncc morc, sIclving ii for possillc fuiurc usc.

. . .

TIc Dacl io ScIool dancc, cvidcnily, iool placc iIc Saiurday lcforc
Augusi 1
si
, iIc day in wIicI scIool aciually siaricd. Drcad was iIc opcraiivc
word for young Islcs Icrc.
Saiurday morning camc far ioo quiclly. SIc sai alonc ai Icr mcssy
dining room iallc, sIoving ccrcal around in Icr wIiic lowl. TIc Iousc
surrounding Icr was complcicly cmpiy, and sIc could painfully Icar iIc sligIi
iicling of iIc largc grandfaiIcr clocl iIai lorc down on Icr from across iIc
liicIcn. TIc silcncc sluggisIly movcd on, maling Icr mind iIinl wild
iIougIis aloui iIc dancc.
TIc rcsi of iIc day didn'i gci mucI lciicr iIan iIai. SIc sai in iIc living
room waicIing iclcvision wIilc family mcmlcrs drificd in and oui of iIc Iousc.
Evcryonc prciiy mucI ignorcd IcriIcy all lncw sIc didn'i wani io go and
cngaging in convcrsaiion would only scrvc io provolc Icr.
WIilc iIc pligIis of dociors and cops ragcd on in iIc iclcvision, all sIc
could iIinl aloui was Icr impcnding doom. Ii sccmcd lilc a darl alyss
sircicIing oui in froni of Icr. TIc longcr sIc iIougIi aloui ii, iIc darlcr, and
largcr, iIc alyss lccamc. Evcniually, iIc Iours disappcarcd and 7.45 p.m.
was upon Icr.
SIc iIrcw on a llacl drcss, a llacl lcaiIcr jaclci, and a pair of llacl-
laccd loois. SIc lcfi Icr long, wavy, llcacI-llondc Iair as is, and quiclly
slappcd on somc mascara. A car Iorn rippcd oui of iIc silcncc iIai surroundcd
Icr. TIcrc was no onc in iIc Iousc io say good-lyc io, so sIc wallcd oui and
loclcd iIc door lcIind Icr.
A van awaiicd iIc girl jusi ouisidc Icr Iousc, and sIc didn'i sccm
pariicularly plcascd ly iIai ciiIcr. Lucy's moiIcr, a raiIcr olnoious and sclf-
scrving woman, sai ai iIc froni scai, clicling Icr pcrfccily painicd pinl nails in
impaiicncc. Lucy, Mara, Joy, Clara, and SicpIi fillcd up iIc oiIcr scais,
cagcrly gcsiuring for Islcs io Iurry. WIy sIc callcd and madc plans wiiI iIcm,
sIc Iad no idca.
Sicpping inio iIai van wiiI iIc oiIcr girls was iIc sirangcsi iIing sIc'd
cvcr donc. TIc momcni Icr fooi ioucIcd iIc floor of iIc car, sIc fcli Icr Icari
picl up and a wavc of icrror swcpi ovcr Icr. SIc quiclly sicppcd around and
inio iIc lacl, siiiing in lciwccn Clara and SicpIi. Mara, Joy, and Lucy wcrc
all siiiing aIcad.
Evcryonc iurncd io lool ai Icr, muiicring, Hi's" and Hcys," cccpi for
Lucy wIo simply smilcd.
Clad you'rc Icrc, girl," Lucy said.
SIc noddcd lacl ai Lucy as Lucy's mom laclcd oui of iIc drivcway and
drovc down iIc sircci.
TIc drivc io iIc dancc sccmcd lilc iIc longcsi sIc'd ialcn in Icr lifc.
Drcad wasIcd ovcr Icr lilc Icai wavcs on iIc Ioiicsi day of July. SIc didn'i
lnow wIy lui sIc was afraid.
TIcy finally arrivcd ai iIc dancc Iall jusi as ii was aloui io lcgin. SIc
suddcnly fcli vcry qucasy and a largc pari of Icr was scrcaming ai Icr io iurn
and run. Dui sIc plowcd on and cnicrcd wiiI iIc oiIcr girls. TIcy wallcd
down a narrow Iallway iogciIcr and quiclly iurncd off inio iIc main room
wIcrc music rcloundcd off cvcry wall. SIc could fccl iIc pulsing in Icr,
maling Icr qucasicr iIan sIc alrcady was.
TIc dancc Iall was sIroudcd in darlncss, lui iIc ncon ligIis iIai
flasIcd Icrc and iIcrc illuminaicd iIc faci iIai iIc cniirciy of iIc room was
fillcd wiiI iIc gyraiing siudcnis of Icr scIool. TIc scrcaming, laugIicr, and
loud music fillcd iIc spaccs in lciwccn. SIc suddcnly fcli vcry small and vcry
fragilc. Lucy grallcd onio Icr arm wiiI a confidcni smilc and draggcd Icr off
inio iIc crowd of dancing lids along wiiI Icr oiIcr fricnds.
PusIing iIrougI iIc crowd Lucy sIouicd, TIcrc's somconc iIai wanis
io scc you!"
Lucy's viciim, Islcs, larcly Icard Icr and coniinucd io lc pusIcd and
sIovcd lciwccn iIc rclcnilcss crowd of spaiially cIallcngcd iccnagcrs. Lucy
lounccd around irying io scc ovcr iIc crowd. SIc musi Iavc spoiicd iIis
pcrson, lccausc sIc iIcn lccamc morc aciivc in Icr dragging. Lucy draggcd
Icr uniil iIcy rcacIcd a iallcr loy wIosc lacl was io iIcm.
SIc iappcd Iim on iIc sIouldcr sIouiing, Hcy! Lco!"
Hc iurncd iowards Lucy, Hcy, Lucy, wIai's up?"
Lucy pullcd Islcs forward. Fcmcmlcr Icr?" sIc sIouicd up ai Iim wiiI
a wild grin.
Lco noddcd lricfly. YcaI, uI, you'rc. I'm sorry, I gucss I didn'i rcally
cvcr iall io you and ncvcr figurcd oui your namc."
Islcs siarcd up ai Iim fcarfully. TIcir cycs mci and Iis lcauiy suddcnly
sirucl Icr. Hc was iall, darl and Iandsomca iriplc iIrcai. Hc Iad dccp,
coffcc lrown Iair iIai sciilcd ncaily ovcr Iis crcamy complcion. Hc was
wcaring a midnigIi lluc Ninc IncI Nails icc, and grcy jcans iIai Iuggcd Iis
slinny waisi cccpiionally. His cycs, iIougI, in conirasi wiiI Iis darl lrown
Iair, wcrc an icy lluciwo cool icmpicrs irying io scducc Icr inio falling in iIc
frcczing cold waicr. SIc Iad no idca wIy sIc Iad ncvcr rcally loolcd ai Iim
lcforc.
UIm." sIc mumllcd in rcsponsc.
WIai?!" Lco sIouicd. WIai's your namc?"
SIc cIolcd a lii on Icr answcr.
Xillia!" Lucy sIouicd. Fcmcmlcr? Hcr namc is Xillia! Dui wc jusi call
Icr Islcs."
Xillia llusIcd; sIc'd always Iaicd iIai niclnamc. TIc icnsion in Icr gui
gavc a suddcn lurcI as Lco loolcd lacl ai Icr.
Islcs, IuI? I iIinl Xillia suiis you morc."
Dcspiic iIc complimcni, iIcrc was somciIing aloui Iim sIc didn'i lilc.
Dui iIai faci was small comparcd io iIc faci iIai Ic lilcd Icr namc. Suddcnly,
Clara, SicpIi, Mara and Joy caugIi up and siaricd cIaiiing animaicdly wiiI
Lco. Xillia rcalizcd sIc was on iIc ouicr cdgcs of iIc group and sIc could
larcly Icar iIcir convcrsaiion ovcr iIc cacopIony of sound.
SIc didn'i wani io lool siupid so sIc quiclly glanccd around iIrougI
iIc crowd and soon found a row of cIairs in iIc lacl. SIc madc Icr way ovcr
and sai in an cmpiy scai. SIc glanccd down iIc cmpiy row iIcn loolcd lacl
ioward iIc group sIc lcfi. Lco and iIc oiIcrs wcrc siill cIaiiing. Lucy saw Icr
and viciously moiioncd for Icr io comc lacl. WIcn Xillia sIool Icr Icad Lucy
gavc up and wcni lacl inio iIc convcrsaiion.
TIc iimc siaricd slipping. SIc waicIcd iIcm laugI iogciIcr and dancc
iogciIcr. Lucy lcpi closc io Lco. SIc was wcll awarc iIai Lco was Icr currcni
loy ioy, so Ic was siricily off limiis. Lucy did noi, in faci, Iavc loyfricnds. SIc
Iad flings. And, as iIc word suggcsis, sIc would rapidly movc in on a loy sIc
lilcd, scducc Iim, icasc Iim, do Iim a fcw iimcs, and iIcn fling Iim away lilc
lasi ycar's pair Prada sIocs. Luclily for Lucy sIc was wcaliIy cnougI io lccp
up wiiI iIc laicsi ircnds in falulous fooiwcar.
Tircd of siiiing, Xillia goi up and iricd io malc Icr way ovcr io iIc
Iallway. Dui iIc DJ announccd a slow dancc and pcoplc lcgan pairing off. SIc
iricd io avoid pcoplc lui sIc cndcd up josiling around and in-lciwccn couplcs.
Suddcnly, Lco was rigIi in froni of Icr.
Would you lilc io dancc?" Ic aslcd wiiI Iis Iand cicndcd.
Xillia Ialf sIool Icr Icad lui somc pari of Icr sprang up and said, O-
olay."
SIc iool Iis Iand and pui Icr oiIcr on Iis sIouldcr wIilc Ic placcd Iis
oiIcr Iand on Icr waisi.
TIcy madc idlc cIiicIaicommcniing on iIc music, Lucy, wIy sIc was
iIcrcas iIc song playcd on. TIcir fcci sIufflcd around iogciIcr in small
circlcs as iIc music playcd. TIc ncon ligIis movcd around iIc room slowly,
and, ai onc poini, lrougIi ligIi io Iis icy lluc cycs iIai siarcd down ai Icr
lindly. SIc lilcd dancing wiiI Iim lccausc ii was oddly calming. SIc wasn'i so
ncrvous lcing iIcrc anymorc and sIc lcgan io rcla morc. Dui iIcn iIc song
cndcd. TIcy lrolc apari and sIc didn'i rcally lnow wIai io say so iIcy siood
in an awlward silcncc as a ncw song loomcd on.
Lucy camc siriding up io iIcm and drcw Iis aiicniion away from Xillia.
SIc suddcnly fcli as if sIc wcrcn'i wclcomc so sIc slippcd away.
SIc wallcd lacl io iIc row of scais and sai in onc of iIcm again. Siiiing
iIcrc, sIc rcalizcd iIai sIc was vcry mucI a singlc cniiiy in a room full of
groupcd pcoplc. Evcryonc Iad Iis or Icr own cliqucs, fricnds, groups, or
parincrs. Xillia loolcd around ai all iIc pcoplc iIai surroundcd Icr. TIcy
danccd and sang io iIc iunc of iIc laicsi song iIai sIc'd ncvcr Icard of. SIc'd
lccn apari from iIcsc pcoplc for so long iIai iIcy all fcli lilc sirangcrs, in faci
mosi of iIcm wcrc sirangcrs. Nolody sccmcd io noiicc Icr siiiing ly Icrsclf in
iIc lacl row, lui ai iIc samc iimc sIc fcli as if pcoplc wcrc siaring moclingly
ai Icr as if iIcy lncw sIc was alonc. Xillia glanccd ovcr ai Icr fricnds" and
rcmcmlcrcd Iow iIcy ncvcr rcally wcrc Icr fricnds io lcgin wiiI. And as sIc
discovcrcd iIai ai iIc cnd of lasi ycar, sIc'd losi Icr way and lccomc lcss iIan
Icrsclf.
SIc ncvcr fcli so alonc in Icr lifc. TIc crowds of pcoplc coniinucd io
dancc and movc. SIc sai iIcrc, on iIc cold cIair, alonc. SIc saw Icr fricnds"
laugI and iall wiiI Lco. Hc was somconc wIo was so closc, lui so, so far
away. Nolody loolcd ai Icr, and nolody iallcd io Icr. TIc lonclincss sciilcd
inio and around Icr, pusIing and prcssing lilc lcing fifiy fcci undcrwaicr. SIc
fcli ii all flow up io Icr facc wIilc pain siung Icr cycs. TIc music coniinucd io
pulsc, iIc flasIing ligIis wIippcd around iIc room, illuminaiing diffcrcni
arcas. Timc was going painfully slow. TIc wIolc room sccmcd io alicr and lcnd
rcaliiy so as io mocl Icr vcry scnsc of lcing. TIc cciicmcni, iIc dancing, and
iIc wIolc iniimaic cncrgy of iIc room iIai ccludcd only Icr, prcsscd in on
Icr, iIrcaicning io comprcss Icr lody uniil sIc sIranl away from sigIi. SIc
lcpi iclling Icrsclf sIc wouldn'i cry lui ii was lccoming morc difficuli wiiI
cacI Icarilcai. And iIcn-
Hcllo."
SIc iurncd sIarply io iIc owncr of iIai Icllo. Lounging almosi
awlwardly in iIc cIair nci io Icr was a raiIcr Iandsomc loy. Doy, iIougI,
was incorrcci. Hc was ccriainly ai lcasi a fcw ycars oldcr iIan Icrsclf. Xillia
siarcd Iard ai iIis darl sirangcr. Hc sccmcd familiar, lui sIc couldn'i quiic
placc ii.
TIc morc sIc siarcd, iIc morc sIc siaricd io drinl in Iis imagc. Hc was
palc io say iIc lcasi. His jci-llacl Iair, musscd io iIc pcrfcci I-did-alsoluicly-
noiIing-io-ii pcrfcciion, didn'i Iclp onc lii in livcning up Iis facc. Howcvcr, Ic
Iad wondcrfully consirucicd lonc siruciurc wiiI Iis IigI cIcclloncs, siraigIi
cdgc nosc, and nicc lrow. Hc worc llacl jcans, a llacl icc and a llacl lcaiIcr
jaclcialmosi a moclcry of Icr ouifii. Hc was cool, calm and complcicly
scnsual looling. Dui Iis cycs wcrc iIc mosi siriling. TIc lrigIi purplc Iuc
lorc a Iolc inio Icr and madc Icr Icari slip a fcw lcais.
H-Ii," sIc rcplicd fcarfully.
Hc prcsscd Iis sofi lips iogciIcriIc firsi sign of ncrvousncss, iIougI
sIc wondcrcd wIy Ic Iad rcason io lc ncrvous. Hc glanccd around iIc loud
room fillcd wiiI wild iccnagcrs.
Ii's lind of loud in Icrc," Ic commcnicd loudly ovcr iIc noisc, and you
lool lilc you could usc a lrcal. Would you lilc io go ouisidc?"
His qucsiion was far ioo forward for anyonc io aciually say. Hc siood up
and Icld oui Iis Iand in froni of Icr. SIc glanccd ai Iis Iand iIcn lacl up ai
Iim. His violci cycs lccloncd Icr io follow.
Scnsc scrcamcd ai Icr noi io follow sirangcrs inio sirangc placcs, lui Iis
cycs cnirappcd Icr. SIc siood up, ialing Iis Iand. Hc smilcd a liiilc lcforc
pulling Icr away from iIc noisc io iIc ouisidc.
Ouisidc was a lcauiiful, lui darl gardcn wiiI a largc founiain gurgling
in iIc middlc. TIc iall Icdgcs iIai grcw mazc-lilc sccmcd lilc cndlcss iunncls
lcading cvcrywIcrc and nowIcrc. Flowcrs lloomcd in all sIapcs and colors
iIrougI iIc Icdgcs. SIc could almosi lclicvc iIai liiilc facrics would spring
oui and sprcad iwinlling joy in iIc form of gold dusi. TIc placc Iad an inncr
glow iIai sccmcd io pcrmcaic from somc unsccn forcc wiiI a flow noi unlilc
iIc lcai of a Icari.
Hc lcd Icr iIrougI iIc grccn iIiclci iowards iIc founiain. TIc founiain
was iIc only concrcic iIing in iIc gardcncvcryiIing clsc sccmcd ficiional,
iniangillc, and impossillc. TIcy sai on iIc curvcd cdgc iIai was loiI cold and
wclcoming.
WIai's your namc?" Ic aslcd wIilc Iis cycs lorc inio Icrs almosi lilc
Ic alrcady lncw iIc answcr.
Xi-Xillia," sIc rcplicd frigIifully.
As soon as sIc said ii, iIc lcai of iIc gardcn sccmcd io slip jusi a liiilc
in a sirangc way. SIc suddcnly fcli as if sIc'd lccn unwiiiingly caugIi inio
somciIing impcrccpiillc and all sIc could do sii and waii for iIc dangcr io
spring oui any sccond from now. TIis wIolc sccnario was lilc a garisI drcam
sIc could only lc iIrusi forward inio wiiIoui iIinling. TIis darl lcauiiful
sirangcr lcforc Icr smilcd coyly wiiI cvcry Iini iIai Ic lncw somciIing sIc
didn'i.
His smilc widcncd, Xillia.Xillia." Ic wIispcrcd.
TIc wind piclcd up lui iIc irccs didn'i siir; sIc fcli Icr Iair swirl aloui
Icr facc. Fcar swcllcd in Icr cIcsi and Icr lrcaiI quiclcncd. TIc fasicr Icr
Icari lcai iIc fasicr iIc sirangc lcaiing of iIc gardcn wcni. Ii sccmcd as
iIougI wiiI cvcry pulsaiion Icr namc was rcpcaicd on iIc wind iIai swirlcd
aloui Icr cars. Ii carcsscd Icr wiiI a ioucI iIai dominaicd wiiI a loving
dangcr.
SIc iricd io spcal lui found Icrsclf frozcn; all sIc could do was siarc
widc-cycd ai iIis darl sirangcr. Hc drcw closcr and wiiI cvcry incI Iis lcauiy
cpandcdlloaiing io iIc poini of Iorror. Hcr mind rcclcd as Iis facc was lcss
iIan an incI from Icr own. Fcar rulcd Icr scnscs as Icr lody sirugglcd wiiI
iisclf io fly.
And iIcn Iis lips ioucIcd Icrs. Ii wasn'i a lissii was somciIing clsc. Ii
was lilc iIc firsi lrcaiI of lifc sIc'd ialcnall iIc oiIcrs suddcnly palcd in
comparison lilc sIc Iadn'i rcally lccn living. TIc fcar was suddcnly wasIcd
away lilc iIc occan clcaring iIc sand of fooiprinis. All sIc could fccl was Icr
soul filling wiiI ncw viialiiy. Ii siimulaicd all Icr scnscs and ncrvcs. Evcry
ioucI, cvcry sigIi, and cvcry smcll was IcigIicncd io pcrfcciion.
So wIcn a small pinpricl of pain fluiicrcd around iIc ouisliris of iIc
ccsiasy sIc iool no noiicc uniil sIc fcli iIc goldcn lliss disinicgraiing inio a
sIadow of wIai ii oncc was and iIcn pain irumpcd all clsc wIilc wcalncss
marrcd Icr scnscs. Hcr lifc was slipping away and all sIc could scc was a
crccping darlncss, Icsiiaiing ai firsi, lui iIcn growing silcnily around Icr
vision. WIiic dois glisicncd lilc siars in iIc infcciious llaclncss.
And iIcn, suddcnly, sIc could movc. SIc was vcry conscious iIai sIc'd
fallcn on iIc cold founiain ridgc wiiI iIc sirangcr Iuddlcd ovcr Icr in a
sirangc posiiion. SIc Icard a groicsquc slurping from somcwIcrc ncarly lui
in Icr Iazc ii was difficuli asccriain. SomciIing was wci around Icr Icad and
arms so sIc dccidcd io inspcci ii. SIc pusIcd againsi Iim wcally and Ic wcni
rigid alrupily. Hc lificd Iimsclf up and saw Icr awarcncss and. Ic Iisscd.
SIc was so siarilcd ly iIc sound Icr lrcaiI caugIi in Icr iIroai and
sIc cIolcd. Dui cougIing fcli wcird and wIcn sIc iricd io lifi Icrsclf up sIc
failcd complcicly.
WI.wIai's going on?" sIc croalcd.
His grimacc grcw inio a snarl. His cycs llazcd rcd and iIc wIiics iurncd
llacl. Vcins poppcd and flcw. Hc was suddcnly vcry angry and dcmonic
looling. Nonc of iIc cool, scy cicrior rcmaincd; ii was all rcplaccd wiiI purc
vcnom. Hc violcnily lificd Iis wrisi io Iis lips and iorc ii away jusi as quiclly. A
lcaly flow of llood irailcd across Iis arm as Ic camc closcr io Icr.
Fcar rcplaccd sIocl as sIc aiicmpicd io draw Icrsclf away from Iim lui
Ic was ioo quiclor sIc was ioo slowlccausc Ic grallcd firmly on Icr arm
and lificd Icr up. His wrisi was drawing dangcrously closc io Icr mouiI and
all sIc could do was fruiilcssly iry io lccp Icr facc away and sirugglc wcally
againsi Iim. SIc iIougIi somciIing lad was going io Iappcn lui wIcn Iis
wrisi ioucIcd Icr lips, ii was surprisingly gcnilc. TIc llood iIai flowcd inio Icr
mouiI iasicd wcirdly lilc mangocs and llood orangcs. SIc spuiicrcd, irying io
noi swallow ii, lui ioo mucI flowcd inio Icr mouiI for Icr noi io swallow. Ii
flowcd so frccly iIai ii drilllcd down Icr cIin. As sIc dranl, Iis facc calmcd,
Iis cycs rciurncd io iIai lrigIi purplc Iuc iIai rcflccicd a ficrcc dcicrminaiion
lui a gcnilc sofincss dccp wiiIin; and, Iis musclcs rclacd so iIai iIcy wcrc in
morc of an cmlracc.
Hc pullcd Iis llccding arm away from Icr and wrappcd ii around Icr.
His facc was luricd in iIc crcvicc of Icr nccl. Hc was wIispcring Icr namc
ovcr and ovcr. Hc was running Iis Iands, carcssing Icr, iIrougI Icr llondc
Iair, wIispcring indisiinguisIallc promiscs. Xillia fcli io wcal io sirugglc
againsi iIis darl sirangcr. WIy was Ic suddcnly lilc iIis?
Yci, sIc wasn'i afraid anymorc; sIc was oddly calm. Wcalncss gaiIcrcd
morc acuicly, iIc llaclncss rcccdcd, sIc was iircd, and iIc gardcn was
llurring lcforc cycs. SIc lci oui a sigI and fcll limp in Iis arms.

3

Dlood Discasc?

SIc wolc up sccmingly momcnis laicrlui ii was aciually a fcw Iours
laicr. SIc sai up and rullcd iIc unconsciousncss from Icr cycs. Aficr Icr
vision clcarcd, sIc noiiccd Icr surroundings.
SIc was in a largc room wiiI plusI, dccp purplc carpci iIai mci ai iIc
cdgcs wiiI maIogany wood panclcd walls. TIcrc wcrc sirangc assorimcnis of
iicms scaiicrcd around on iIc floors, sIclvcs, and oddly sIapcd cnd iallcs.
TIcrc wcrc iIings ranging from groicsquc siaiucs and old lools io dusiy
mirrors and lcauiiful painiings. TIcrc was an old vaniiy in onc corncr siiiing
in a raiIcr loncly way. SIc was siiiing on a largc comforiallc lcd, covcrcd wiiI
a royal lluc comforicr. Ii was a four-posicr iIai Iad powdcr lluc curiains
sirung lcauiifully ovcr iIc maIogany wood. Dcing in iIis room was lilc lcing
undcr iIc sca, ii was darl yci plcasani in an odd sori of way, lui sIc siill
wondcrcd Iow sIc goi iIcrc.
SIc loolcd around for any sori of lifc lui ii sccmcd as iIougI sIc was
alonc. WiiI iIai iIougIi sIc lccamc painfully awarc of Iow disgusiing sIc
fcli. SIc slippcd off iIc lcd and wallcd icniaiivcly io iIc vaniiy, fccling iIc sofi
lrusI of iIc purplc carpci lciwccn Icr iocs. SIc sai on iIc ornaicly carvcd
woodcn cIair and loolcd ai Icrsclf.
SIc was lloody, lui cvcn iIcn iIai didn'i quiic covcr ii. SIc loolcd lilc
Dcairi Kiddo. Hcr Iair was maiicd wiiI llood wIilc Icr cniirc froni was jusi
rcd. Hcr grccn cycs wcrc widc and scary looling.
A noisc from a door, iIai sIc didn'i cvcn lnow was iIcrc, opcning madc
Icr swing around io scc iIai mysicrious sirangcr from lcforc cnicring iIrougI
ii. SIc siood up quiclly and cdgcd laclwards uniil Icr lacl Iii iIc wall. SIc
flincIcd, rcalizing iIc lad posiiion sIc was in, and movcd io Iuddlc ncar onc
of iIc lcdposis. Hc was carrying a silvcr iray wiiI a piicIcr of orangc juicc and
a plaic full of snacls.
Hc spolc firsi, you'rc prolally wondcring wIcrc you arc. or wIo I am
for iIai maiicr."
SIc gavc iIc larcsi of nods.
Wcll, my namc is Lucius and you arc in my Iomc," Ic said wIilc placing
iIc iray on iIc lcd. Hc iIcn sai and loolcd cpccianily ai Icr.
WIcn sIc didn'i movc or spcal Ic said, Comc on. Eai! You nccd ii aficr
iIc llood loss."
SIc siood iIcrc, siocl siill, looling warily ai Iim. Hc sigIcd and siood
up, sIc movcd laclwards. Hc iricd io movc closcr lui sIc mainiaincd a largc
radius lciwccn iIcm.
SIc cvcniually movcd around uniil sIc goi io iIc door. SIc swung ii
opcn and ran iIrougI ii down iIc Iall. Fcar flowcd iIrougI Icr vcins as sIc
ran up iIc siaircasc iIai was ai iIc cnd. SIc cndcd up in a darl living room
wiiI Icavy curiains covcring cvcry window. SIc iIougIi sIc was closc so sIc
iurncd lcfi and surc cnougI iIcrc was iIc door io iIc fronisIc could fccl ii.
Dui rigIi as sIc grallcd iIc Iandlc a pair of sirong arms wrappcd around Icr
waisi and pullcd Icr laclwards. SIc cricd oui and sirugglcd as Iard as sIc
could.
C-calm down!! I jusi wani io Iclp!!"
No!"
And unlnown sircngiI surgcd wiiIin Icr and iIcn iIcrc was a flasI of
lluc ligIi. Nci iIing sIc lncw sIc was on iIc ground wiiI Icr lacl io iIc
froni door and Lucius was sprawlcd clcar across iIc lcngiI of iIc Iousc.
WiiIoui iIinling aloui wIai jusi Iappcncd, sIc piclcd Icrsclf up and pullcd
iIc door opcn, running as fasi as sIc could, llindly, oui of iIc Iousc.
SIc goi io iIc cnd of iIc llocl and rcalizcd wIai sircci sIc was on.
SIc'd livcd in iIis iown Icr wIolc lifc so sIc lncw wIcrc io go. SIc siood for a
sccond, iIougI, io caicI Icr lrcaiI and gaiIcr Icr surroundings. Ii only
sccmcd io Icr iIai a fcw Iours Iad passcd lccausc iIc sly was iIai clcar
sIadc of darl purplisI lluc iIai mcani iIc sun was going io lrcal iIrougI in
an Iour's iimc. SIc suddcnly fcli vcry graicful iIai sIc'd dccidcd io wcar
loois.
SIc sci off again ai a quicl pacc, running wIcn sIc could and walling
wIcn a car drovc pasi. SIc was carcful io lccp Icr rigIi sidc facing iIc sircci
lccausc Icr lcfi was a mcss. SIc passcd iIrougI a fcw allcys and lcpi mosily
io iIc sIadows. Aficr aloui a Ialf-Iour sIc cndcd up on Icr sircci. SIc iIcn
iurncd rigIi and Iasiily iricd io wall iIc lasi si llocls. TIc walling Iclpcd io
lccp Icr mind off of wIai jusi Iappcncd.
SIc finally saw Icr Iousc. Ii was iIc lig Viciorian on iIc corncr. Ii was
siill carly and iIcrc wasn'i a sound of lifc on iIc sircci. SIc wondcrcd if Icr
parcnis lncw sIc was missing. TIcy prolally didn'i, iIcy lncw sIc was going
io gci in aficr iIcy fcll aslccp so iIcy wouldn'i Iavc found oui. SIc was graicful
for iIai. All sIc wanicd io do was forgci iIai wIolc nigIi cvcr Iappcncd. Dui
iIcn sIc rcmcmlcrcd Icr fricnds." SIc rcacIcd insidc Icr lcfi looi and pullcd
oui Icr pIonc. Scvcral mcssagcs wcrc placcd io Icr from iIc oiIcrs in iIc
group iimcd around midnigIi. Howcvcr, iIcy wcrc all opcncd and rcplicd io.
SIc cIcclcd Icr scni lo. Ii sccmcd as if iIai Lucius cIaracicr Iad iold iIcm
sIc was going Iomc.
Dricfly, sIc was angry and frigIicncd, lui rciIinling ii, sIc dccidcd iIai
ii worlcd oui in Icr favor. Nolody would asl qucsiions. SIc could forgci iIc
cniirc nigIi cvcr Iappcncd.
SIc smilcd rucfully io Icrsclf and jumpcd up iIc largc sicps io Icr
porcI. Insidc Icr rigIi looi wcrc Icr lcys and sIc was again cicrnally graicful
iIai sIc dccidcd io wcar loois and siicl iIings in iIcm. SIc opcncd iIc door
as quicily as possillc and snucl inio Icr Iousc, locling iIc door lcIind Icr.
Lucly iIcy Iad carpci. SIc wcni inio Icr room and grallcd somc cloiIcs iIcn
crosscd iIc Iall inio iIc laiIroom.
Turning on iIc waicr, sIc sirippcd off iIc lloodicd drcss. SIc camincd
Icrsclf in iIc mirror iurning Icr facc iIis way and iIai. On iIc lcfi sidc of Icr
nccl wcrc iwo pcrfcci liiilc Iolcs, cacI Icaling ovcr quiic quiclly. SIc gcnily
ioucIcd iIc wound. Faniasiic fcars crcpi inio Icr mind. Could sucI a iIing
Iappcn? SIc didn'i wisI io lc iIc Iorrid limlo iIai always sprung up in Icr
irasIy, paranormal, romancc novcls. TIcy wcrc always ioo duml io figurc oui
iIc olvious. Dui iIis was rcaliiy. TIings lilc iIai did noi Iappcn.
Maylc ii was ncrvcs. Or faiiguc. Dcnial.
A ircmllc sIool Icr lody and sIc cluicIcd Icrsclf. A icar crcpi down
Icr facc iIcn anoiIcr and anoiIcr. And iIcn sIc jusi couldn'i siop iIc flow of
icars. A sol lrolc oui of Icr iIroai as sIc sicppcd inio iIc sIowcr. SIc lci iIc
waicr wasI away all iIc llood as sIc cricd. Ii was a fcw minuics lcforc sIc
could rcgain Icrsclf. Hcr lrcaiIing cvcniually cvcncd and sIc grallcd for iIc
soap.
. . .

Aficr Icr sIowcr sIc fcli a liiilc lciicruniil sIc opcncd iIc laiIroom
door. TIcrc siood Icr moiIcr, impaiicnily siamping Icr fooi on iIc ground,
looling sour faccd wiiI worry. Xillia immcdiaicly lcpi iIc door closc io Icr for
fcar of Iaving Icr moiIcr scc iIc lloodicd drcss.
Did you ]ust gci in?" sIc aslcd, larcly masling Icr angcr.
Er. No," Xillia rcplicd.
WIy arc you up so carly iIcn?" sIc aslcd wIilc irying pcal inio iIc
laiIroom.
I-I goi in around midnigIi lilc I said I would, lui I couldn'i slccp so I
goi up and sIowcrcd," Xillia licd.
Hcr moiIcr squinicd ai Icr, lui Xillia jusi loolcd siraigIi lacl inio Icr
moiIcr's waicry lluc cycs, praying sIc wouldn'i scc iIc drcss.
Hcr nosirils flarcd and sIc Icavcd a sigI, AlrigIi iIcn. Jusi so you
lnow, wc Iavc cIurcI ioday."
And wiiI iIai, Icr moiIcr iurncd and wallcd lacl up iIc siairs io Icr
lcdroom. Xillia siarcd opcn-mouiIcd and iIcn slappcd Icr Iand on Icr
forcIcad. SIc'd forgoiicn all aloui ii.
SIc snaicIcd iIc drcss up and wallcd angrily lacl across iIc Iall io
Icr lcdroom. SIc iosscd iIc lloody iIing io iIc loiiom of Icr Iampcr and fcll
lacl on Icr lcd. SIc suddcnly fcli iIc nigIi's cniirc cvcnis crasI upon Icr
and sIc was drcadfully iircd aloui ii all. So, sIc prompily fcll aslccp.
And wolc up wiiI iIc sun sircaming iIrougI iIc window and Icr
moiIcr's mclodic ycll sounding down iIc Iall, wIicI indicaicd ii was lrcalfasi
iimc.
SIc goi up raiIcr awlwardly and saw spois wIcn sIc siood up. TIinling
noiIing of ii, sIc wolllcd down iIc Iall and inio iIc liicIcn. Hcr moiIcr
iurncd around and squinicd ai Icr yci again.
Xillia you'rc rcally palc," sIc said; worry lincd iIc crow's fcci ai Icr cycs.
Hcr iwo oldcr lroiIcrs iurncd io lool.
WIoa you arcarc you fccling olay?" Dcn aslcd, iIc youngcr of iIc
iwo.
Fivcrs, iIc cldcsi, jusi loolcd ai Icr criiically. Xillia fcli a wavc of
dizzincss pass ovcr Icr and iIrcaicn io lnocl Icr off lalancc so sIc grallcd
iIc cIair ncarcsi. An cvcn sirongcr wavc of dizzincss madc Icr lcgs fccl lilc
jcll-o, and wiiI a groan, sIc llaclcd oui.
. . .

.Noi rcally surc wIai's wrongIcr casc is an odd onc."
Dui wIai docs iIai mcan?"
SIc's suffcring from massivc llood loss lui Icr casc isn'i normal."
WIai do you mcan? Did sIc Iuri Icrsclf?"
No iIai's wIai's lizarrc, sIc docsn'i Iavc any sign of pIysical damagc
iIai would indicaic sIc was Iarmcd in any way."
So wIai's causing iIc llood loss?"
TIai's wIai wc'rc noi surc aloui. SIc could jusi lc failing io rcproducc
ncw llood cclls lui iIcrc docsn'i sccm io lc anyiIing wrong wiiI Icr lonc
marrow or anyiIing for iIai maiicr, inicrnally or cicrnally."
WIai's going io Iappcn?"
Wc'll moniior Icr and lccp Icr sialilizcd uniil wc can uncovcr iIc
sourcc."
Xillia opcncd Icr cycs vcry slowly, and saw iIai sIc was in a Iospiial
room. Hcr moiIcr was ialling wiiI iIc docior jusi ouisidc iIc room and sIc
could larcly malc oui Icr moiIcr's sIouldcr.
AlrigIi. Fivcrs!"
YcaI?"
Sii ly your sisicr; I'm going io ialc Dcn io iIc cIapcl."
Surc."
SIc Icard Fivcrs lumllc inio Icr room and ialc a scai nci io Icr.
You'rc awalc."
SIc glanccd ovcr, YcaI."
WIai Iappcncd?"
I don'i lnow. You icll mc."
I don'i mcan you llacling oui. I mcan iIc faci iIai you goi in ai si in
iIc morning. WIai wcrc you doing so laic?"
Hcr lrcaiI caugIi in Icr iIroai.
I-I goi in ai midnigIi lilc I said I would. I jusi sIowcrcd ai si lccausc I
couldn'i slccp."
Lool I'm noi going io icll Mom lui if somciIing Iappcncd you sIould ai
lcasi icll mc. or a docior. So iIcy can figurc oui wIai's wrong."
Xillia loolcd ai Fivcrs. Hc was iwcniy-fivc, iall wiiI ligIi lrown Iair and
lrigIi lluc cycs. Hc was always iIc lind scnsillc onc, Ic wouldn'i rai anyonc
oui unlcss Ic mcani good ly ii. Hc always Iad Xillia's lacl cvcn wIcn sIc
lrolc up wiiI Icr firsi loyfricnd jusi lasi ycar. If sIc wcrc going io icll anyonc
ii would lc Iim and noi Dcn. Dcn was iwcniy-onc, Ic Iad good inicniions lui
Ic was rccllcss. Kind of lilc Folin in Hutnun und HoIn. Dcn Iad goldcn
llondc Iair, lrown cycs, and was iIc siocly iypc. Hc Iad a loi morc lrawn
iIan lrains. Dui Ic was a gcnilcman, lind, Ioncsi and ouigoing. WIicI sori of
madc Iim a llallcrmouiI, wIcrcas Fivcrs was quici and pui-iogciIcr. Hc
wouldn'i spill iIc lcans if sIc iold Iim. Dui if sIc did icll Iim Ic'd ciiIcr iIinl
sIc was crazy or icll iIc docior and sIc lncw if iIc docior lncw Icr moiIcr
would lnow. And iIai was iIc lasi iIing sIc wanicd.
So sIc lcpi io Icr siory.
I goi in ai midnigIi. TIai's all. You musi lc misialcn."
Fivcrs scruiinizcd Icr as if irying io dcicci iIc lic from Icr
siraigIiforward facc. Hc musi Iavc dccidcd io drop ii lccausc Ic gavc a sigI
and siood up.
I'm going io gci a snacl, you wani anyiIing?"
.Maylc somciIing saliy."
Hc noddcd and lcfi.
Xillia was lcfi lying iIcrc siaring ai iIc wIiic cciling, irying io malc
sIapcs oui of noiIing and anyiIing. Dui iIc cciling was rclcnilcss and dccidcd
io rcmain iIc samc, jusi siaring lacl almosi moclingly. SIc Icard a scrcam
coming from far off and iIcn Icard iIc cplosion of lccping followcd ly a rusI
of pcoplc. Jusi anoiIcr day in iIc officc.
A sligIi icniaiivc lnocl sIool Icr from Icr dazc. SIc loolcd ovcr ai iIc
door only io scc Lucius. Hcr lrcaiI quiclcncd and ly iIc lccping on Icr rigIi
sIc lncw Icr Icari was pounding mucI quiclcr. Hc camc forward and
grallcd Icr IandsIc flincIcd.
SII. Calm down I'm noi going io Iuri you," Ic said a liiilc lii
dcspcraicly.
Dui sIc only cndcd up lrcaiIing in sIori quicl gasps as sIc iricd io sii
as far away as possillc. Hc rcalizcd and lci go of Icr Iand. Hc sai down and
didn'i iry io movc closcr io Icr. Aficr a minuic sIc siaricd io lrcaiIc morc
normally and Icr Icari raic slowcd down a liiilc.
TIcrcWIai? I can'i spcal wiiIoui you gciiing scarcd?!"
Xillia glarcd ai Iim.
Lool I jusi wani io iall, you do iall don'i you?"
SIc swallowcd, WI-wIai.WIai arc you?"
Hc sigIcd and loolcd away, And you go for iIc million-dollar
qucsiion." Ic loolcd siraigIi ai Icr, I'm a vampirc."
SIc lci oui a rucful laugI, YcaI, rigIi."
Lool, I'm iclling iIc iruiI," Ic said impaiicnily.
TIcn wIai do you wani wiiI mc? Didn'i you alrcady ialc my llood lasi
nigIi? And.Ii's dayligIi!" sIc cndcd siupidly.
TIis wIolc sccnc was alsurd. How could iIcrc lc any sucI iIing as
vampircs? Dui Xillia rcmcmlcrcd Icr rcflcciion in iIc mirror iIis morning, and
dcspiic iIc faci iIai Icr raiional mind was iclling Icr iIai iIis couldn'i lc
Iappcning, sIc lncw iIai so far, iIis was Icr only cplanaiion iIai fii. TIc
iiny Iolcs iIai apparcnily disappcarcd ly iIc iimc sIc goi io iIc Iospiial, iIc
faci iIai nolody sccmcd io lnow wIai was cacily wrong wiiI Icr, iIc faci
iIai sIc Incu Ic iool Icr llood, ii all jusi fii niccly inio iIc dcscripiion of
uunp)cs. Noi io mcniion iIc faci iIai Xillia, lcing iIc incrcdillc liar iIai sIc
was, lncw wIcn oiIcrs wcrc lying and ai iIis momcni Lucius was siaring
siraigIi ai Icr, noi fidgciing wiiI Iis fingcrs, noi glancing away, and no signs
of sircss wcrc marlcd on Iis forcIcad. And so, in spiic of iIc rclcllious
raiional mind iIai sIc Iad, sIc was forccd io acccpi Iis vampirc-ncss.
I am noi limiicd ly dayligIi. Ycs I did ialc your llood and iIai's wIai I
wani io iall aloui," Ic rcplicd.
WIcn sIc did noi rcply, Ic dccidcd io coniinuc. I mcsscd up icrrilly. I
iool ioo mucI of your llood. I iricd io rcmcdy iIai ly giving you my own, lui,
lilc I said, I iool ioo mucI. Now my llood is figIiing your llood, wIicI is
causing your llood loss. TIc dociors can'i Iclp you. TIcy can'i disiinguisI my
vampirc llood from your vcry own. I'vc comc io Iclp you."
SIc glarcd ficrccly ai Iim. Dui you inicndcd io lill mc from iIc siari,
didn'i you?"
Hc grimaccd. No, lui
OI, plcasc, I'vc rcad cvcry classic vampirc siory and waicIcd all iIc
movics. Vampircs arc lillcrs ly dcfiniiion," sIc snappcd.
Hc loolcd away. Wcll, ycs, iIai is iruc, lui ii's noi lilc I mcani io lill
you, or anyiIing."
SIc scoffcd and rollcd Icr cycs. OI, plcasc. I'd raiIcr noi find oui I'm
irappcd in somc crappy iccn-paranormal-vampirc siory. Nci iIing you'll icll
mc is iIai you'rc a vcgciarian vampirc iIai only cais lunnics, and iIai iIc
only rcason you lii mc was lccausc you couldn'i conirol your cravings lccausc
dccp down you'rc a ioriurcd soul riddcn wiiI guili from your carly days of
walling iIc cariI in your undcad loois lilling and maiming cvcryonc in your
paiI. So, oui of guili, you comc io iIc poor maidcn wIo you accidcnially Iuri
io savc Icr from cicrnal damnaiion or somciIing siupid lilc iIai."
Hc cringcd ai Icr dcscripiion, sIaling Iis Icad. No, I jusi"
Xillia was sparcd Iaving io lccp ialling wiiI Iim wIcn Fivcrs
rcappcarcd in iIc doorway.
UIm. Xillia wIo is iIis?" Fivcrs aslcd.
Nolody, Ic was jusi lcaving," Xillia rcplicd wiiI a poinicd lool ai
Lucius.
Lucius glarcd lacl and siood up Icsiianily.
Don'i malc iIis misialc," Lucius said ai iIc door. Hc iIcn iurncd and
lcfi.
Fivcrs sai down nci io Xillia iIcn aslcd, Scriously, wIo was iIai? Was
Ic iIrcaicning you?"
No
Did Ic Iavc anyiIing io do wiiI iIis morning?"
No!"
Plcasc icll mc iIc iruiI."
Fivcrs, noiIing Iappcncd. Hc was jusi somclody from scIool iIai's all."
How comc I'vc ncvcr mci Iim lcforc?"
Dccausc wc larcly mci ai iIc cnd of lasi ycar."
SIc was lying iIrougI Icr icciI lui Xillia was good ai lying, so sIc jusi
lcpi looling Iim in iIc cyc, carcful noi io fidgci or lool away wIilc sIc iallcd.
Hcr wIolc family lncw sIc was a good liar lui sIc was so good ai ii iIcy could
almosi ncvcr icll wIcn.
Luclily sIc was savcd from Iaving io furiIcr cnianglc Icrsclf lccausc
Lucy and iIc oiIcrs largcd in wiiI flowcrs and giani louquci of lalloons.
OIcmgcc! Cirl, wIai Iuppcncd Lucy cclaimcd.
YcaI!" squcalcd iIc oiIcrs in unison. TIcy wcrc always lilc iIai.
Dcforc sIc could answcr, Lco irailcd in lcIind iIc largc group, I iIinl
wc'd all lilc io lnow, Xillia," Ic said wiiI a cIarming smilc playing on Iis
lcauiiful lips.
O-oI ii's noiIing. I jusi collapscd iIis morning from dcIydraiion. TIai's
all," Xillia rcplicd ncrvously. Xillia aimcd a poinicd glancc ai Fivcrs and Ic gavc
a small nod indicaiing iIai Ic undcrsiood. sIc didn'i wani iIcm io lnow aloui
Icr mysicrious condiiion.
Lucy rusIcd forward io sii on iIc lcd and iIc oiIcr girls followcd suii.
Lco was lcfi sianding on Icr rigIi sidc, iIc closcsi of all of iIcm.
OI Islcs! TIai's sucI a silly iIing!" SIc said Ialf-joling, Ialf
sympaiIciically, I'm jusi glad you'rc olay," sIc finisIcs.
YcaI rcally glad," Clara said followcd ly iIc oiIcr's nods and smilcs of
conscni.
H-Iow did you guys find oui?" Xillia aslcd.
OI Dcn posicd ii on Facclool, wc wcrc all so worricd iIai I goi cvcryonc
iogciIcr and wc rusIcd down Icrc," Lucy said maiicr-of-facily.
Xillia lcpi glancing up ai iIc smiling Lco ncrvously and apparcnily Lucy
noiiccd so sIc iool Iis Iand, rulling ii affcciionaicly. Lucy was nicc, as long
as you didn'i iry anyiIing on any of Icr p)opc)tu. Lucy was iall, ian and lcggy.
SIc Iad curvcs in all iIc rigIi placcs and Iad iIis sofi iumlling lrown Iair
wiiI pcrfcci wavcs io acccniuaic iIosc scnsual sIouldcrs of Icrs. SIc Iad
cIocolaic lrown cycs iIai sIc managcd io IigIligIi wiiI Icr pcrfccily pcrfcci
malc-up. SIc was lilc an Elcna Cillcri, sIc Iad guys coming aficr Icr from all
dircciions lui sIc lilcd wIo sIc lilcd and lcpi cvcryonc clsc on a siring
wrappcd around Icr liiilc fingcr. Prollcm is, you can sympaiIizc wiiI Elcna
Cillcri, you managcd io lilc Icr lccausc dcspiic Icr populariiy sIc was a rcal
pcrson, iIai is, sIc was iruc io Icrsclf. Lucy was falc.
Clara, SicpIi, Mara, and Joy wcrc all nicc in iIcir own rcspccis
aliIougI, cacI Iad iIcir own disgusiing flaws. Onc iIing iIai was iruc aloui
all of iIcm was iIai Xillia could Iang oui wiiI iIcm individually and Iavc a
grand iimc lui as soon as Lucy or any oiIcr in iIc group sIowcd up iIcy'd
diicI Icr in a Ioi sccond. AnoiIcr iIing iIai was iruc aloui all of iIcm was
iIai iogciIcr iIosc fivc didn'i cacily lilc oiIcrs coming inio iIcir group and
iIcy all acicd iIc samc iogciIcr. And iogciIcr, iIcy wcrc lcyond falc.
Lasily iIcrc was Lco. Xillia lncw alsoluicly noiIing aloui Iim oiIcr
iIan iIc faci iIai Ic was now Lucy's propcriy. Dui, Xillia quicily concludcd
iIai Lco was onc of iIosc mcn iIai wcrc all cIarm and smilcs uniil iIc vcry
lasi sccond lcforc iIcy iool advaniagc of somc poor slol. Lucy, iIougI, was a
vcry willing slol. Evcry couplc of scconds or so, wIilc sIc was rulling Iis
Iand, sIc'd lool up and givc iIis cIarming smilc io Xillia wiiI mildly sinisicr
undcrioncs. TIcrc was iIis glcam in Icr cyc iIai was purcly posscssivc. SIc
lcpi closc io Iim cvcn if Ic movcd jusi iIc sligIicsi lii in anoiIcr dircciion.
Dcn Ias always lccn raiIcr. loosc lippcd," Xillia rcplicd coolly.
OI don'i gci mad ai Iim. Hc was jusi vcniing Iis worrics!" Lucy said
almosi smugly.
Xillia loolcd ovcr ai Fivcrs Ic noddcd again.
Olay guys, iimc io go! Xillia is vcry iircd so sIc's going io gci somc
rcsi," Fivcrs announccd.
Lucy and iIc oiIcrs murmurcd iIcir conscni as iIcy sIufflcd oui iIc
door. Lco was iIc lasi io lcavc and Ic gavc Xillia a warm, rcgrciful smilc as Ic
wallcd oui. Dui Xillia was lcfi wondcring wIai iIai lool mcani. SIc figurcd
sIc'd ncvcr find oui.
Xillia I'vc goi io go mcci somconc so I iIinl I'd rcally lc lcsi if you did
gci somc rcsi. You'rc lips arc siill so palc and. wcll you jusi Iavcn'i goi any
color," Fivcrs said.
AlrigIi." Xillia rcplicd.
Fivcrs iurncd iIc cciling ligIi off, closcd iIc curiains, and sIui iIc door
quicily lcIind Iim. Xillia lay lacl on iIc lcd and iricd io gci somc rcsi.

4

To Dlccd or Noi To Dlccd

Xillia slcpi iIrougI iIc cniirc day and drcami of noiIing. TIai is, uniil
sIc fcli a sirangc pull on Icrsclf from somcwIcrc far away. An array of lccping
soundcd from somcwIcrc closc lui far away ai iIc samc iimc. SIc Icard iIc
sounds of pcoplc yclling and ialling lui sIc couldn'i malc oui wIai iIcy wcrc
saying or wIo iIcy wcrc.
And iIcn a spasm lrolc iIrougI iIc darlncss and sIc fcli iIc worlds
rcalign again. TIc inccssani lccping sioppcd and so did iIc yclling. SIc Icard
somconc ycll somciIing aloui AD posiiivc. Dui Icr lrain was so muddlcd sIc
couldn'i iIinl siraigIi for a fcw momcnis, as sIc lay iIcrc Ialf-unconscious.
Hcr cycs fluiicrcd opcn and sIc fcli a sligIi pinpricl of a nccdlc poling
iIrougI Icr flcsI.
SIc's awalc. Xillia, can you Icar mc?"
SIc couldn'i spcal, so sIc gavc a sligIi nod. A lrigIi ligIi flasIcd inio
loiI cycs.
Wc'rc giving you anoiIcr iransfusion, you almosi crasIcd lacl iIcrc,"
iIc docior cplaincd. Hc iIcn iurncd io Icr worricd moiIcr and lcgan ialling
rapidly.
Xillia closcd Icr cycs, and wIcn sIc opcncd iIcm again, ii was quici and
complcicly darl. SIc iIougIi sIc musi'vc llaclcd oui again. SIc fcli icrrilly
wcal and iIc iIougIi of Icr llood loss madc Icr nauscas and lrcal oui in
cold swcai. SIc iIougIi aloui wIai Lucius said, Iow Iis llood was figIiing
Icr llood rcsuliing in iIc loss of Icr llood. Ii was a sirangc cplanaiion io say
iIc lcasi. Dui iIc loiiom linc was iIai sIc was dying.
You'rc dying."
SIc gavc a small gasp and iurncd Icr Icad ioward iIc owncr of iIc
voicc. Ii was Lucius wIo spolc iIc vcry words sIc'd lccn iIinling. And jusi ly
iIai ii suddcnly madc iIc wIolc ordcal all iIc morc rcal. Hc was sianding in
iIc far corncr, Iiddcn ly iIc sIadows.
WIai do you wani?" sIc wIispcrcd.
I wani io Iclp you," Ic rcplicd moving inio iIc moonligIi casi ly iIc
window.
You can'i Iclp mc."
And tIcu can? You'vc Iad iwo iransfusions in onc day! My llood is
figIiing cvcry ouncc of llood iIai cnicrs your sysicm. If you don'i lci mc Iclp
you, you arc going io dic," Ic said ficrccly moving io lc rigIi nci io Icr.
WIai do you carc? You wcrc going io lill mc anyways. My faic was jusi
prolongcd," sIc said sadly.
Hc loolcd down, and io Icr, sIc could almosi dcicci sIunc.
I ncvcr inicndcd io lill you," Ic murmurcd sullcnly, lui ii sccms iIai I
Iavc causcd jusi iIai."
SIc glarcd ai Iim. Arc you iclling mc iIai iIis is an accidcni? And
uccdcnt A Iorrillc accidcni?!" sIc Iisscd ai Iim wiiI icarful cycs. SIc sIool
iIcm away. No, I saw your facc. You'rc angry dcmon facc. I lnow you inicndcd
io lill mc."
Lucius sIool Iis Icad. You'rc rigIi aloui on iIing, iIai uus my dcmon
facc. TIc iruc facc of wIai wc arc. Ii manifcsis aficr fccding, lui I ncvcr
inicndcd io lill you."
SIc Iuffcd. Don'i givc mc lullsIii." SIc did noi wani io lclicvc Iis
Angcl1Angclus siory. Dui sIc lncw Ic was iclling iIc iruiI, Iowcvcr faniasiic
ii migIi Iavc sccmcd.
Lci mc gucss, you'rc a vampirc wiiI a sou sIc cIallcngcd, noi yci
lccn on lciiing Iis cplanaiions gci io Icr.
Hc loolcd ai Icr quizzically. Wcll, of coursc I Iavc a soul. Evcryonc
docs. If I didn'i I'd iruly lc a dcmon noi jusi pari dcmon."
Vampircs arc pari dcmon?" sIc aslcd surpriscd, curiosiiy was
lcginning io ialc ovcr.
Wcll iccInically only iIc Old Vampircs arc pari dcmon iIc rcsi of us arc
jusi crcaiions of pari dcmons," Ic said maiicr-of-facily, lui nolody rcally
discusscs iIc diffcrcnccs."
SIc purscd Icr lips. Hc sccncd wcll mcaning cnougI, lui sIc didn'i
wani io lci ii go iIai Ic Iad doomcd Icr io dic in a Iospiial. TIai faci was
raiIcr unforgivallc. SIc sigIcd.
WIai clsc io you wani from mc?" sIc croalcd, sciiling lacl on iIc
pillow io siarc ai iIc cciling.
Hc loolcd on sadly ai Icr. I wani io savc you," Ic rcplicd simply.
SIc sigIcd again. You said ii yoursclf, your llood is figIiing minc. I'm
going io dic. MigIi as wcll gci uscd io iIc idca. You can'i savc mc."
You don'i rcally wani io dic?"
SIc purscd Icr lips, iIinling only a liiilc of Iis qucsiion. I Iavc no
cIoicc."
Wrong," Ic dispuicd. You always Iavc a cIoicc. Always."
SIc glanccd ovcr ai Iim. And wIai, pray icll, is my cIoicc Icrc?"
His lips paricd io givc Icr iIc answcr, lui sadncss wcllcd in Iis violci
cycs. I will iurn you."
Timc pauscd for sccond as Iis words sunl in. Turn.mc?" sIc aslcd.
Inio a vampirc," Ic clarificd.
SIc siaricd io say somciIing lui only sIool Icr Icad insicad. WIai?"
Ii was Iis iurn io sigI. TIc only way I can savc you is ly lilling you," Ic
said.
Hcr facc Iardcncd. YcaI, iIai'll solvc all my prollcms. Including my
liggcsi onc callcd. Lifc," sIc rcplicd sarcasiically. I don'i plan on lccoming a
mcmlcr of iIc undcad, iIanl you vcry mucI." SIc iurncd away from Iim
dismissivcly.
Xillia, pcusc, Ic plcadcd.
SIc glarcd ai Iim. Hc sIui up. I would raiIcr dic Icrc wiiI my family
iIan dic and spcnd iIc rcsi of cicrniiy wiiI somconc lilc uou." SIc pauscd.
Dui wIai I don'i undcrsiand is wIy you would loiIcr wiiI mc aficr wIai
Iappcncd. Ii would smaricr io jusi lci mc dic, lui you sccm dcicrmincd io
'savc' mc. And don'i givc mc morc DS aloui your guili. Wc loiI lnow you don'i
fccl iIc lcasi lii guiliy."
Hc squinicd ai Icr and purscd Iis lips. I gucss I'm a liiilc inirigucd," Ic
rcplicd cvcnly.
SIc smirlcd rucfully. Aloui wIai cacily?"
TIai flasI of lluc ligIi wIcn you ran away," Ic wIispcrcd.
SIc palcd furiIcr. I Iavc no idca wIai you'rc ialling aloui."
I iIinl you do."
SIc iurncd away again. I'm siill noi acccpiing your 'Iclp.' Espccially
wIcn you only wani io saiisfy your curiosiiy. I Iavc a lifcsori ofIcrc. I'm
noi aloui givc up my fricnds and family jusi io wall in iIcir sIadows. A mcrc
scmllancc of lifc." SIc muiicrcd iIc lasi pari.
Lucius snccrcd. WIai fricnds? TIosc HannaI-Danana Clarissa- Marissa
pcoplc iIai wcrc Icrc carlicr? And iIai oI so darling Lconu)do iIai was irailing
along lcIind iIcm? OI ycs, I was Icrc iIc wIolc iimc, jusi ouisidc iIc door.
TIcy didn'i sccm lilc iIc iypc of pcoplc iIai you would lilc, so wIy arc iIcy
your ])cnds again?"
Xillia llusIcd, ai lcasi as mucI as sIc could wiiI Icr lacl io llood, and
fcli angcr lullling up insidc Icr. Xillia lncw, iIougI, iIai Ic was alsoluicly
rigIi. TIosc pcoplc wcrcn'i Icr fricnds. TIcy'd sioppcd lcing Icr fricnds a long
iimc ago and iIc summcr was supposcd io lc aloui rcflcciion and irying io
rcgain somc couragc in ordcr io malc ncw fricnds, lui iIai plan Iad gonc
Iorrilly awry.
WIai do you lnow? You wouldn'i lnow wIai fricnds wcrc if iIcy slii
iIcir own iIroais in froni of you," Xillia snappcd.
Hc siood up. Finc, you don'i wani my Iclp."
TIai's rigIi. Lcavc."
TIc angcr crumllcd off Iis facc io rcvcal a dcfcaicd, dcjccicd lool.
You'rc going io dic," Ic wIispcrcd.
Xillia iurncd iIai ovcr in Icr Icad for a fcw momcnis.
I.don'i carc," sIc rcplicd sofily.
A dcspcraic angcr flusIcd Iis facc, as Ic said, No you Iavc io livc!"
Xillia dccidcd sIc'd Iad cnougI of iIis discussion so sIc lay lacl on iIc
lcd and siarcd ai iIc cciling, poinicdly ignoring Iim. A sori of windswcpi
faiiguc flowcd ovcr Icr as sIc iIougIi aloui iIc faic sIc'd cIoscn. Lucius
siarcd ai Icr mournfully for a momcni iIcn lci oui a small sigI. Hc lcni
ioward Icr and lisscd Icr gcnily on iIc cIccl. In iIc darl sIc icnscd for a
sccond iIcn rclacd as Iis sofi lips fcll away and jusi as sIc loolcd for Iim, Ic
disappcarcd.
SIc sai iIcrc for a long iimc unallc io fall aslccp. SIc iIougIi aloui
Lucius and Iis proposal and sIc iIougIi aloui dcaiI. SIc lncw sIc was going
io dic ciiIcr way. So iIc qucsiion lccamc. did sIc wani io siay dcad?
Xillia pondcrcd dcaiI prcviously. SIc always lclicvcd ii io lc iIc
uliimaic cscapc from iIc crucl world sIc livcd in. No maiicr wIcrc sIc wcni or
wIom sIc was wiiI, sIc wisIcd for dcaiI io comc. Noi in any dcprcsscd,
cmoiional way, iIougI. SIc simply fcli iIai iIc complciiics of lifc and
dcmands ii madc of Icr wcrc ioo iiring and noi vcry fulfilling. Hcr consiani
wisI was io lc frcc, and sIc lncw iIai iIc uliimaic frccdom was dcaiI. Lifc
was iIc sIacllcs iIai lound Icr io a world sIc Iad no dcsirc io lc apari of.
Dui iIc qucsiion of living forcvcr, as a vampirc, wasn'i as cui-and-dry as
onc would lclicvc aficr lnowing Xillia's vicw on lifc. Surc Icr cu))cnt lifc Iad no
mcaning io Icr and sIc was morc iIan willing io givc ii up lui sIc'd always
lclicvcd iIai dcaiIsiaying dcadwas iIc only opiion sIc'd Iad. Dui now
iIcrc was a ncw opiion, an opiion iIai would rcquirc Icr io siay on iIis cariI
lui ai ncw lcvcl of living. Ii Iad a ccriain darl frccdom io ii iIai inirigucd Icr.
SIc iIougIi iIai lcing a vampirc would grani Icr a frccdom sIc'd ncvcr
lnown. No longcr would sIc lc rcquircd io wall among Icr fcllow Iumans.
SIc could prciiy mucI do as sIc plcascd. Dui iIc down sidc was iIai sIc
could no longcr inicraci on an iniimaic lcvcl wiiI iIc pcoplc sIc'd lc giving up.
Xillia sai and iIougIi aloui all iIc pros and cons uniil sIc saw ligIi
lcgin io sircam iIrougI iIc window. SIc cvcn iIougIi aloui Lco and Iow sIc
migIi'vc Iad a cIancc wiiI Iim if Lucy cvcr unIoolcd Icr claws from Iis arm.
Picling lciwccn Icr iwo opiions didn'i givc Icr any scnsc of cmpowcrmcni, sIc
simply fcli iIai ii was lilc irying io dccidc wIicI is iIc lcsscr of iwo cvils
wiiIoui lnowlcdgc of any inirinsic drawlacls iIai migIi malc iIc dccision
casicr.
Dui cvcniually sIc dccidcd.

5

FricndsIip

Xillia slcpi iIrougI ncarly iIc cniirc day. SIc Iad iwo morc iransfusions
and iIc Iospiial Iad imporicd somc llood spccialisi from Ncw HampsIirc.
Evcn Ic was complcicly ai a loss. Hcr moiIcr was siiiing ouisidc iIc room
crying Icr cycs oui wiiI Dcn and Fivcrs comforiing Icr, cvcn iIougI silcni
icars slid down iIcir faccs. Fivcrs plcadcd a fcw iimcs during iIc day, wiiI Icr
wIcn sIc was awalc, io say wIai Iappcncd iIc oiIcr day. Xillia rcfuscd cvcry
iimc. SIc'd madc Icr dccision and cvcn so, iIcrc was noiIing anylody could
do io Iclp.
Laic in iIc aficrnoon, wIcn Xillia was widc-awalc, Icr fricnds camc ovcr
oncc morc. Lucy and iIc oiIcrs wcrc looling ncarly as palc as Xillia aciually
was.
Lci mc gucss," Xillia croalcd, Dcn posicd ii on Facclool?"
Lucy noddcd.
Mara clcarcd Icr iIroai, So. You'rc going io dic?"
Lucy cllowcd Icr in iIc gui. Mara was ncvcr iIai lrigIior iaciful for
iIai maiicr. Aficr iIai, Lco camc sirolling in wiiI a giani louquci of wIiic
roscs.
Hc placcd iIcm on iIc lcdsidc iallc iIcn said, I iIinl iIai wc'd all lilc
io lnow wIy you licd."
Xillia was wIiic as a sIcci. Hcr grccn cycs Iad a sirangc pinl iini io
iIcm around iIc cdgcs and Icr lips wcrc dry and craclcd. SIc was wasiing
away in iIc Iospiial and sIc loolcd cvcry lii of ii ioo. SIc was ioo wcal io lifi
Icr own Iand and jusi larcly sirong cnougI io uiicr words. All cprcssion Iad
ncarly lccn drivcn from Icr facc cccpi wiiI Icr cycs. And ai iIai momcni
iIcrc was iIc larcsi inflcciion of Icr cyclids as iIcy narrowcd io scruiinizc
Lco.
As Ic poscd iIc qucsiion io Icr Ic Iad iIis darl, vcngcful lool in Iis icy
lluc cycs iIai was larcly maslcd in iimc io Iidc ii from Xillia. Hcr lody was
ncarly ai iIc lrcaling poini of dcaiI lui Icr mind Iad siaycd sIarp as a iacl.
WiiIoui Icr allc io movc and inicraci io Icr fullcsi Icr cycs and mind Iad
sIarpcncd iIcmsclvcs so as io noiicc ncarly cvcry movcmcni and cprcssion of
oiIcrs. TIai sinisicr lool, wIicI was larcly iIcrc for Ialf a sccond, Iad noi
cscapcd Icr noiicc and now sIc sai iIcrc giving Iim a pcnciraiing glarc as if io
pccl away iIc laycrs of dcccii wiiI Icr larc cycs alonc.
Dui sIc did answcr Iis qucsiion, firsi slowly and iIcn wiiI conviciion, I
didn'i wani you guys io worry aloui mc."
TIai is iIc lamcsi ccusc I'vc cvcr Icard in a iIousand ycars," Clara
pipcd. SIc was always iIc lluni, inscnsiiivc onc.
Foriunaicly for cvcryonc, Clara, you Iavcn'i Iad iIc luury of living a
iIousand ycars," Xillia raspcd.
Lool, guys, lci's noi figIi," SicpIi inicrvcncd. SIc was iIc lind onc lui
sIc was also iIc flalicsi onc.
SIc's rigIi, guys," Lco rcmarlcd, Don'i you all jusi wani io lc iIcrc for
Xillia? Sincc iIis migIi lc iIc lasi iimc you scc Icr?"
Hc said iIai wiiI iIc pcrfcci miiurc of lindncss, Iopcfulncss and a
ioucI of sadncss. And Iis icc lluc cycs rcflccicd a pcrfccily pcrfcci swirl of mild
rcgrci and Iopc. Ii was iIc idcal form of consolaiion iIai only comcs aloui in
iIc movics wIcn iIc main cIaracicr is irying noi io sIow Iis1Icrs dying
grandmoiIcr iIc infiniic sadncss iIai lay lcncaiI. TIis along iIc faci iIai sIc
Iad noiiccd carlicr Iis cprcssion only cnIanccd Icr prcvious assumpiion
aloui Iim lcing all cIarm and smilcs on iIc ouisidc. SIc could almosi dcicci
iIc snalc undcrncaiI. Dui, unlilc many oiIcr snalcs sIc'd cncounicrcd in
Icr IigI scIool cpcricncc, Ic didn'i wcar iIai aiiiiudc on Iis slccvc. Ii
rcmaincd Iiddcn. In sIori, sIc concludcd iIai Iis cniirc dcmcanor was a
complcic and uiicr falricaiion. Dui, iIc qucsiion rcmaincd, wIai was iIis
faadc for?
Xillia sai iIcrc loring Iolcs inio iIc lacl of Iis darl lrown Icad,
conicmplaiing Iis iruc moiivcs. SIc iIougIi ai somc poini iIai sIc migIi
simply lc paranoid lui iIc cvidcncc rcmaincd nagging ai iIc froni of Icr mind.
Lucy, ialing Icr siarc for somciIing clsc cniircly, movcd closcr io Lco as if io
rcaffirm Icr siaius. Ycsicrday, Xillia would Iavc fcli liiicr ioward iIis aci of
owncrsIip as sIc Iad many iimcs lcforc. Dui ioday, sIc found ii complcicly
alsurd, sccing as Iow sIc was dying and iIcrcforc poscd no rcal iIrcai io any
of Lucy's p)opc)tu.
Ycs," Lucy said sadly, wc all jusi nccd io lc Icrc for Islcs. Olay, guys?"
Evcryonc clsc noddcd and murmurcd iIcir asscni, iIcn drcw forward io
surround Xillia.
You lnow," Joy siaricd, Crcgory was asling aloui you iIc oiIcr day."
WIai'd Ic say?" Xillia aslcd.
OI you lnow, if you wcrc coming lacl io scIool or noi."
And wIai did you say?"
Wcll I was lilc, 'No, sIc Ias iIis rcally Iorrillc llood discasc and so iIc
dociors arc, lilc, ioially confuscd,' and iIcn Ic said, 'TIai's ioo lad I was going
io asl Icr io iIc Iomccoming dancc,' and iIcn I iold Iim iIai I didn'i Iavc a
daic and wcll onc iIing lcd io anoiIcr and now wc'rc going io iIc dancc
iogciIcr!" Joy finisIcd jusi ]ou]uu.
Xillia ncarly pulcd from Icr complcic misguidcd Ioncsiy. TIc Iorrillc
iIing was, was iIai Xillia lncw iIai Joy was irying io cIccr Icr up ly ialling
aloui Icr own Iappincss. Lilc Icr own Iappincss would somcIow infcci Xillia.
Joy was saying all iIis as iIc oiIcrs lcgan playing cards in iIc corncr.
So Xillia was sparcd iIc cmlarrassmcni of Iaving io lisicn io iIis siory wiiI
cvcrylody looling on ai Icr. TruiI was, Xillia Iad sori of lilcd Crcgory sincc
iIc cnd of lasi ycar lui ncvcr aciually goi iIc cIancc io lc wiiI Iim in an
iniimaic fasIion. Unforiunaicly, wIai Xillia didn'i couni on was Lucius, wIo
wallcd in iIc door ai iIai momcni looling quiic as scy as usual. Hc was
wcaring a sofi llacl swcaicr iIai Iinicd ai a dccp rcd icc undcrncaiI. Ii wcni
pcrfccily wcll wiiI Iis llaclwasIcd jcans. His cycs, again, wcrc always iIc
mosi siriling, sccing as Iow iIcy wcrc a piciurcsquc Iuc of purplc framcd wiiI
long llacl lasIcs iIai only acccniuaicd iIc lcauiy in Iis lonc siruciurc. His
llacl Iair, ioday, was sligIily musscd, wIicI Xillia could icll was gcnuincly
on-purposc.
TIai's jusi a grcai siory," Xillia commcnicd almosi sarcasiically.
Wcll I lncw you didn'i rcally lilc Iim," Joy said iIougIifully, So I lind
of did you a favor, rigIi?"
FigIi." Xillia said lacl, noi cvcn irying io Iidc iIc sarcasm.
Lucius, wIom Xillia Iad lccn irying io ignorc, lccamc iircd of waiiing for
Xillia io aclnowlcdgc Iis cisicncc, so Ic rappcd on iIc door saying, Knocl
lnocl!" iIcn siriding in as if Ic owncd iIc room.
Hc Iad in Iis Iand a singlc rcd rosc wrappcd ligIily in wIiic papcr. Hc
glanccd ovcr ai Icr lcdsidc iallc wiiI iIosc lovcly pansy cycs of Iis, and
frowncd ai iIc amouni of wIiic roscs iIai lay iIcrc. Hc sirollcd ovcr and
pusIcd iIc louquci as far asidc on iIc iallc as ii could go and lay Iis rosc
dclicaicly on ii.
TIcn Ic iurncd iowards Xillia and said quicily, WIiic is iIc iruc color of
dcaiI, you lnow."
Or purc lovc," sIc wIispcrcd lacl sardonically.
AI ycs.Dui iIai, my dcar, only applics if ii wcrc onc wIiic rosc, noi a
louquci," Ic rcplicd swccily.
TIc iwo glarcd ai cacI oiIcr wIilc siill Iolding iigIi smilcs across iIcir
facc, loiI pcrfccily awarc iIai all iIc room was waicIing iIcm.
Islcs, wIo is iIis vcry good-looling man?" Lucy inicrjccicd iIcn addcd,
Havc you lccn Iolding oui on us?"
I'm Lucius," Lucius said, Iscs and I Iavc only jusi mci."
Hc said Icr siupid niclnamc wiiI a smirl aimcd in Icr dircciion. SIc
jusi losi iIc falc smilc and glarcd cvcn morc ai Iim.
.Ycs," Xillia addcd, Wc only jusi mciin iIc Iospiial in faci. You scc,
Lucius Ias iIis rcally lad rasI on Iis
TIcy don'i nccd io Icar iIc dciails, Islcs," Lucius cui in, All you nccd
io lnow is iIai ii's all soricd oui. And wc Iii ii off so wcll iIai wc'vc lccomc
fasi fricnds!"
Hc swcpi a locl of llacl Iair oui of Iis facc wIilc laiiing Iis llacl
lasIcs ai Xillia suggcsiivcly.
FigIi, rigIi," Lucy said impaiicnily, Dui docsn'i iIc faci iIai sIc's
going io dic, lilc, pui a dampcr on iIings?"
Evcryonc frozc for a sccond, and iIcn iIcrc was commoiion.
Wow Lucy! Lool wIo's lcing inscnsiiivc now?" Mara snappcd.
Cccz Lucy, iIai was nicc," Clara said.
Wcll ii's noi lilc nolody was tInIng ii," Lucy snappcd lacl.
YcaI lui nolody was going io suu ii," Joy inicrjccicd.
OI comc on guys! Ii was a slip of iIc ionguc," announccd SicpIi, Ii
Iappcns io cvcrylody!"
Dcforc Lucy could commcni Lucius said, Pc)sonuu, I Iavc cvcry Iopc
in liiilc Islcs' rccovcry."
Silcncc. Evcrylody siarcd ai Lucius. Lucius simply siarcd lacl wiiI a
plcasani smilc on Iis facc. Dui Lco was ly far iIc mosi inicrcsiing. Hc'd lccn
calmly lisicning io iIc cniirc tctc-u-tctc wiiI an odd calculaiing lool on Iis facc
as Iis cycs daricd lciwccn Lucius, Xillia and iIc rcsi of iIc group. And as iIc
silcncc grcw, Lco fiaicd Iis gazc upon Xillia wIo was siaring wiiI disiasic ai
Lucius.
Hc's rigIi," Lco said, I iIinl wc sIould all Iavc faiiI in Icr rccovcry."
YcaI," Lucy quiclly agrccd, I ncvcr )cuu lclicvcd sIc was going io
dic."
Mc nciiIcr," Joy pipcd up.
TIc oiIcr girls noddcd iIcir asscni.
So, lci's jusi go on as usual," Lucy announccd. Dccausc liiilc Islcs is
gong io gci lciicr!"
Jusi iIcn, Xillia fcli iIc familiar iug iIai plagucd Icr iIougIis and lody
ovcr iIc pasi couplc days. SIc gavc a sligIi cIolc io wIicI all cycs in iIc room
snappcd. A lccping soundcd off wiiI a Iurdlc of scrcams and crics, and iIcn
cvcryiIing wcni llacl.

. . .

Xillia wasn'i awalc nor was sIc awarc. Hcr wIolc scnsc of lcing fcli
muddlcd and Icavy and iIc only iIing iIai rcmaincd ligIi was iIc faini wisp
of mind iIai sIc Iad lcfi io iIinl. Ii was a sirangc, discmlodicd fccling, onc
iIai sIc insianily lccamc frusiraicd wiiI. WiiIoui Icr complcic consciousncss
Icr mind fillcd wiiI dcspair as iIc lnowlcdgc iIai sIc would dic in iIis
Iorrillc siaic dawncd on Icr.
Far away iIcrc wcrc wIispcrs of oiIcr lifc lcsidcs Icrs. Somciimcs
iIcy'd say Icr namc, and oiIcrs wcrc indisiinguisIallc crics of pain and
sorrow. Dui iIcrc was onc voicc iIai sccmcd singular lilc Icrs, and ii always
callcd Icr namc.
Soon iIc oiIcr voiccs fadcd away and all iIai was lcfi was iIc sligIi
murmuring of Icr namc iIrougI a voicc iIai sccmcd oddly familiar. Ii was
silly swcci, lind, and nuriuring. SIc wanicd cvcry lii io go iowards iIai voicc
lui sIc Iadn'i iIc fainicsi idca wIcrc io go. TIc voicc simply fcli cvcrywIcrc
and nowIcrc all ai oncc.
Xillia lcgan io panic. SIc was irappcd in a glass lo iIai was placcd in a
complcicly darl room and cvcry sccond iIc lo sccmcd io lccomc smallcr.
Dui iIcn sIc iIougIi of Icr dccision and sIc rclacd. TIc vcry iIougIi
of ii calmcd Icr and madc Icr rciIinl Icr siiuaiion in a ncw way. Maylc ii was
lciicr iIis way.
As sIc calmcd iIc disiani voicc grcw morc pcrsisicni, and sligIily morc
dcspcraic. Ii sccmcd io Iammcr on iIc inncr walls of Icr darl sancium. SIc
fcli a sligIi iingling scnsaiion iIai clccirificd iIc darlncss, and in iIai momcni
sIc lccamc awarc of Icr lody oncc morc. Dui jusi as soon as fccling rciurncd
io Icr, ii slippcd away. TIc darlncss around Icr sccmcd io grow iIiclcr as sIc
scarcIcd for iIc calmncss iIai was now losi.
TIcn, a suddcn lrcaiI of warmiI rclicvcd iIc prcssurc and Icr cniirc
mind Icavcd a sigI of rclicf. TIc warmiI grcw sirongcr, and iIc darlncss
sccmcd io rcccdc cvcn iIougI iIc llaclncss rcmaincd jusi as llacl.
SIarp scnsaiions iorc iIrougI iIc darlncss and suddcnly Xillia could
Icar iIc world again.
Xillia cIolcd as Icr cycs fluiicrcd opcn. A pair of nurscs rusIcd in and
lcgan cIccling diffcrcni arcas of Xillia's lody. TIcy didn'i sccm io noiicc a
iIird pariy wiiIin iIc lrigIily lii room.
Lucius was sianding in iIc corncr as if in somc sIadow iIai was noi
iIcrc. Hcr moiIcr, Fivcrs and Dcn wcrc all Iuddlcd iogciIcr ncar iIc door lui
iIcy siill did noi ialc noiicc of Iim. Xillia was iIc only onc wIo was siaring in
Iis dircciion and was iIc only onc, ii sccmcd, iIai lncw Ic was iIcrc.
Jusi iIcn, Xillia noiiccd iIc llood iIai was smcarcd on Iis facc and arm. Ii
iIcn dawncd on Icr wIai Ic Iad donc.

6

TIird Timc's iIc CIarm

TIai day, iIc Iospiial ran all soris of icsis on Xillia. WIicI, only scrvcd
io lafflc iIc dociors cvcn morc. SomcIow, during iIc prcvious nigIi, sIc'd
lccomc miraculously lciicr rigIi aficr falling inio a coma from yci unotIc)
Icari failurc. TIc wIolc siiuaiion was odd. Somc dociors wcrc Iopcful wIcrcas
somc wcrc viciously glancing in Icr dircciion all day as if sIc'd fall lacl io Icr
prcvious siaic any sccond.
Xillia, on iIc oiIcr Iand, fcli lciicr all iIc way aroundpIysically ai
lcasi. SIc could now gci up and wall around wiiIoui fccling faini. Dui,
cmoiionally, sIc was pisscd. SIc lncw Lucius Iad donc somciIing iIai
involvcd a liiilc llood tctc-u-tctc, wIicI sIc grcaily dcspiscd.
Lucius Iad noi comc io scc Icr during iIc day, insicad Ic mysicriously
lcpi scnding singlc rcd roscs wrappcd in wIiic papcr io Icr room io wIicI sIc
iosscd cvcry singlc onc.
AliIougI Xillia could now wall and iall animaicdly oncc morc, iIc
dociors fcli iIai sIc nccdcd io siay in iIc Iospiial in casc of a rclapsc. Hcr
moiIcr and lroiIcrs wcrc all vcry ccsiaiic and lougIi Icr ions of junl food
iIai sIc Icaricdly aic.
Howcvcr, iIc day wasn'i complcic wiiIoui Icr daily dosc of Lucy and iIc
gang! TIcy camc in laic in iIc aficrnoon wiiI dozcns of flowcrs of all sIapcs,
colors, and sizcs io commcmoraic Icr 'miraclc'. TIcy all cIaiicd for a lii and
marvclcd ai Xillia's walling capaliliiics surprisingly wiiIoui mucI conflici.
Aficr aloui a Ialf-Iour of iIis Xillia noiiccd iIai Lucy was lcing awfully
quici. SIc did say Icr usual wiiiy commcnis lui noi wiiI Ialf so mucI vigor as
lcforc. Xillia camincd Lucy and noiiccd iIai sIc Iad iIis alnormal, siclly,
coloring io Icr slin and iIcrc wcrc sligIily darl circlcs undcr Icr cycs. Dui
mosi frigIicning of all was iIc faini rcd iini io iIc wIiics of iIosc pcarly lrown
cycs. Hcr Iair, malc-up, and fasIion scnsc wcrc all unaffccicd so Xillia camc
io iIc conclusion iIai somciIing musi Iavc Iappcncd io Icr pIysically, and
iIai ciiIcr Iad yci io affcci Icr appcarancc, or wIaicvcr ii was, was
conscnsual and conscqucnily rcapcd icrrillc rcwards.
SIc pondcrcd iIis for a momcni or iwo iIcn iurncd Icr gazc io Lco, wIo
was languidly sirolling along lcIind iIcm wiiI a curious lool on Iis facc iIai
Xillia couldn'i quiic idcniify.
Again, Lucy iool Icr siarc for somciIing clsc and immcdiaicly iIrcw
Icrsclf ai Iim almosi violcnily. Hcr Iands clawcd ovcr Iis arm so posscssivcly
iIai cvcryonc iurncd io givc Icr raiscd cyclrows. TIc wIolc affair was curious,
Iis lool was curious, Icr ovcrdramaiic lcIavior was curious, and cspccially
iIc way Ic sccmcd io ialc a darl pridc in iIc way sIc rcacicd was curious.
Xillia cvcniually camc io iIc conclusion iIai Lco was onc of iIosc
arrogani lasiards wIo lilc io posscss and iormcni siupid girls. And ly far,
Lucy was dcfiniicly a siupid girl. SIc didn'i iIinl, Iowcvcr, iIai Ic would
pIysically Iarm Icr in any way, lui, cmoiionally, Lucy was in for a world of
pain. Xillia dccidcd iIai Lucy dcscrvcd ii, and iIai sIc vcry mucI nccdcd ii io
dcflaic iIai Iugc cgo of Icrs.
Xillia fcli iIai sIc nccdcd io go oui of iIc room and cnjoy somc frcsI ncw
air. Hcr fricnds all agrccd and iIcy sci off down iIc Iall of iIc Iospiial. Fivcrs
joincd Icr on iIc way oui, smiling Iappily and waicIing carcfully for any sign
iIai sIc would fall.
Fivcrs lccamc Icr only fricnd on iIis sIori irip as iIc oiIcrs sccmcd io
lc cngrosscd in iIcmsclvcs a fcw paccs lcIind.
So, Iow'rc you Iolding up?" Ic aslcd.
I fccl olay," sIc rcplicd.
Fivcrs sccmcd io lc coniaining Iimsclf of somc sccrci iIai playcd ai iIc
cdgcs of Iis cycs.
Is iIcrc somciIing you'd lilc io icll mc?" Xillia aslcd.
Ycs!" Fivcrs rcplicd fcvcrisIly.
.WIai?"
TIcrc's somconc wIo wanis io scc you," Ic said icniaiivcly.
Lasi iimc somconc said iIai io Icr sIc ncarly dicd.
.WIo?" Xillia inquircd slowly.
OI don'i lool so scarcd! You'll lilc Iim!"
Fivcrs smilcd rcassuringly, wIicI did noiIing for Xillia wIo was lcing
rclucianily pullcd in anoiIcr dircciion. Xillia loolcd lacl for a sccond and
rcalizcd iIai Icr fricnds Iadn'i cvcn noiiccd sIc was disappcaring from iIcir
vicw. And mosi inicrcsiingly of all, Xillia noiiccd iIai Lucy and Lco Iad gonc
from iIc group.
TIc iwo of iIcm disappcarcd around iIc corncr and cndcd up in iIc
cafcicria scciion of iIc Iospiial. TIcrc wcrc a loi of pcoplc milling aloui in iIc
rclaiivcly quici arcna. Fivcrs piclcd Iis way iIrougI iIc small crowd wiiI
Xillia irailing closcly lcIind. Hc cvcniually sioppcd ai a small squarc iallc wiiI
four cIairs and onc of iIcm occupicd ly a man aloui Fivcrs' own agc.
Hc loolcd lilc Ic would lc vcry ialliallcr iIan Fivcrsif Ic siood up,
wIicI was prciiy iall. Hc Iad cIcsinui lrown Iair iIai was long cnougI io lc
iicd lacl and Iis cycs wcrc a maicIing sIadc of lrown wiiI flccls of gold
inicrspcrscd wiiIin. Hc Iad iIrcc silvcr carrings on Iis lcfi car, wIicI wcrc
vcry visillc from wIcrc Xillia was sianding. And, mosi imporianily, Ic Iad iIc
ian lody of a Crccl god.
Fivcrs smilcd ai Iim warmly, AsIcr, iIis is my lovcly sisicr, Xillia," Ic
iniroduccd.
EncIuntc nudcnoscc, ii is vcry nicc io mcci you," AsIcr said in Iis
iIicl, lovcly FrcncI acccni.
OI ii's nicc io mcci you ioo," Xillia said, Arc you good fricnds wiiI my
lroiIcr?"
TIcrc was an odd lool iIai crosscd lciwccn iIcm for a lricf sccond.
Xillia noiiccd iIai AsIcr loolcd cpcciani wIilc Fivcrs loolcd ncrvous.
UIm. Xillia, iIis is. my loyfricnd," Fivcrs said.
Xillia iIougIi iIai ciiIcr sIc or iIc world Iad gonc icmporarily insanc.
Hcr jaw droppcd opcn a liiilc and sIc siood iIcrc siaring ai Fivcrs as if sIc'd
ncvcr sccn Iim lcforc. Hc loolcd jusi iIc samc lui now sIc was looling ai
Iim wiiI a ncw pcrspcciivc. Hc was always a vcry wcll drcsscd pcrson, noi io
lc ioo sicrcoiypical. And noi only iIai, Ic was always so vcry mild-manncrcd,
cspccially ioward girls. SIc now rcalizcd iIai Fivcrs Iad ncvcr iallcd aloui
any girlfricnd or any girl Ic lilcd in pariicular. SIc'd always assumcd Ic was
jusi rcscrvcd, and iIai ii wasn'i rcally any of Icr lusincss wIo Ic daicd. Dui
iIcn sIc rcmcmlcrcd iIai wIcn iIcy waicIcd iIcir favoriic crimc sIow
iogciIcr and sIc commcnicd on Iow Ioi a guy was, Ic'd always agrcc. SIc'd
always assumcd iIai cvcn if Ic was a guy Ic could icll wIicI guys wcrc morc
aiiraciivc iIan oiIcrs and ii didn'i mcan Ic was aiiracicd to iIcm. Dui now
sIc rcalizcd, Ic was gay.
Aficr a wIilc, Icr cycs lcgan io siing and sIc llinlcd rapidly for a fcw
scconds. Hcr glancc drificd ovcr io AsIcr and Ic was looling Iorrilly worricd
ovcr ai Fivcrs. Fivcrs Iad iIis disappoinicd, sad lool on Iis facc iIai Xillia Iad
ncvcr sccn lcforc. SIc madc up Icr mind quicl.
Fivcrs," sIc lcgan, I can'i say I'm noi sIoclcd, lui if iIis is all iruc
iIcn I Iavc no oljcciions."
Fivcrs lody sccmcd io simuliancously Icavc a Iugc sigI of rclicf and
pcrl up oui of sIcar joy. AsIcr's icnsc sIouldcrs looscncd inio a morc rclacd
posc.
OI," Fivcrs sigIcd, I wasn'i surc Iow you would rcaci. Ii malcs mc
vcry Iappy."
Fivcrs gavc Xillia a Iugc smilc and Iuggcd Icr gcnily.
So, uI, docs moiIcr lnow?" Xillia aslcd.
OI, Cod no," Fivcrs said dramaiically, iIcn, And, plcasc, don'i icll Icr."
Xillia considcrcd iIis iIcn said, Of coursc, and Icy, if I dic you won'i
Iavc io worry aloui mc spilling iIc lcans."
Xillia mcani iIis jolingly lui ii didn'i llow ovcr ioo wcll wiiI Fivcrs.
Don'i say iIai!" Ic ncarly sIouicd.
Ou, Xillia, cc n`cst pus Ion, ii is vcry unlucly io say sucI iIings," AsIcr
commcnicd gravcly.
OI you guys worry ioo mucI," Xillia said dismissivcly, WIaicvcr
Iappcns, I'll lc ioially olay."
Anyway," Xillia coniinucd, Tcll mc aloui you iwo."
TIc gravc cprcssions on iIcir faccs mclicd away and wcrc rcplaccd wiiI
a vcry amusing lovcy-dovcy cprcssion iIai was loiI sIy and adorallc.
TIcy launcIcd inio an awlward lui romaniic ialc of Iow iIcy mci ai
Fivcrs' grad scIool. Ii was a classic siory of coffcc spilling wIicI iurncd inio a
mini sIopping irip, wIicI cvcniually lccamc a daic. Of coursc, loiI of iIcm
Iad prcviously sccn cacI oiIcr around iIc lusincss dcparimcniwIcrc iIcy
wcrc loiI gciiing iIcir masicrsand loiI of iIcm dcvclopcd a liiilc crusI on
iIc oiIcr. TIc daic only rcsulicd in iIcm loiI finding oui iIc oiIcr lilcd Iim.
And so, iIcy lcgan daiing. TIis apparcnily all Iappcncd around fivc moniIs
ago. And Xillia soon found iIai sIc wasn'i ai all prcjudicc againsi iIcir
rclaiionsIipin faci, sIc cnjoycd vcry mucI iIai Icr lroiIcr sccmcd quiic in
lovc. SIc only wisIcd, for a lricf sccond, iIai sIc could Iavc cpcricnccd lovc
Icrsclf in Icr lifciimc.
All of iIc suddcn, Xillia fcli a sIarp pain in Icr cIcsi. Hcr Icari lcgan
lcaiing rapidly as if ii migIi lursi oui of Icr cIcsi. SIc gavc a gasp io wIicI
sIc lrolc in a cold swcai. Fivcrs and AsIcr loiI siood up ai oncc and grallcd
Icr lcforc sIc fcll oui of Icr scai. Fivcrs sIouicd for a nursc wIo camc
running rigIi away.
Xillia fcll limp oui of sIcar wcalncss. Dlacl spois lcpi covcring Icr
vision io iIc poini of a dccp iIrolling pain in Icr Icad. SIc larcly fcli Icrsclf
lcing lificd onio a gurncy and lcing pusIcd rapidly iIrougI iIc Iallways.
Evcry iimc Icr vision clcarcd sIc iIougIi sIc saw Lucius sianding ai cvcry
corncr.
Hc lcpi popping up and Ianding Icr singlc rcd roscs wrappcd in wIiic
papcr. SIc lcpi iIrowing iIcm away ovcr and ovcr lui Ic lcpi giving iIcm io
Icr. Dui iIcn Ic gavc Icr somc wIiic roscs and apparcnily iIc florisi forgoi io
clip iIc iIorns lccausc sIc priclcd Icr fingcr on onc. Dlood pourcd oui of iIai
iiny Iolc so rapidly sIc fcli Icr facc sIrivcl up and iIc slin sag undcr cycs.
AnoiIcr glancc ai Lucius and Ic Iad llood dripping oui of Iis mouiI oncc
morc. SIc scrcamcd and scrcamcd lui nolody Icard Icr. So sIc sioppcd. TIc
room sIc was in was darl lui lii up wiiI flasIing mulii-colorcd ligIis iIai
camc and wcni. Music pourcd oui of iIc walls in grcai gasps pumping and
iIrusiing inio Icr vcins. SIc Icard iIc laugIicr of a iIousand iiny lird-lilc
girls lui saw no onc. TIc laugIicr lccamc morc inccssani and iraicalmosi
mocling. Dui sIc couldn'i movc io run away from iIc Iorrid noisc all sIc
could do was lay iIcrc laring Icr icciI and cringing from iIc cacopIony of
sound. Lucius was suddcnly sianding so vcry closc io Icr, lcaning in on Icr
facc io givc Icr a liss. SIc iricd io movc Icr arm io covcr Icr facc lui ii
wouldn'i movc. SIc'd lccomc paralyzcd. SIc lcgan scrcaming again in Iis facc
wiiI frusiraicd angcr.
I wani io dic!" sIc scrcamcd, Can'i you icll?!"
Lucius gavc no rcply lui simply smilcd iIai smilc iIai said Ic lncw
somciIing sIc didn'i.
And iIcn a sIarp picrcing pain lrolc iIrougI iIc disillusionmcni. TIc
world lcforc Icr sIaiicrcd inio a million picccs iIai scrapcd and cui Icr,
lcaving lloody irails along cvcry surfacc. EvcryiIing fcli lilc sIc'd lccn iorn io
sIrcds and for a minuic sIc lcgan io panic as iIc darlncss sccpcd iIrougI
iIc cuis on Icr slin. As iIc llaclncss lcgan io ovcrcomc Icr lody, sIc
sirugglcd ficrccly againsi lciiing Icr mind lc swallowcd up inio ii as wcll. Dui
somciIing Icld Icr siill, disalling Icr, maling icars sproui in Icr cycs.
TIc darlncss crcpi, crawlcd, flowcd and wcavcd iIrougI iIc porcs in Icr
slin soon ovcrcoming Icr scnscs. Somc painful iIrolling lcgan in Icr Icad as
Icr llood was lcing draincd from Icr lody. Lifc was sccping away fasicr iIan
sIc could iIinl.
And iIcn, sIc dicd.

7

TIc Cood Cuy, TIc Dad Cuy, and TIc Nicc Cuy

Early iIis wccl a young, scvcniccn-ycar-old girl, namcd Xillia (Zill-cc-
uIi LivcnsworiI, was admiiicd io iIc Iospiial for a lizarrc casc of llood loss,"
Lco rcad io Lucy.
TIcy wcrc in Icr upsiairs lcdroom lounging on iIc lcd in iIc middlc of
iIc nigIi wiiI a ncwspapcr lciwccn iIcm. TIcy wcrc loiI quiic nalcd lccausc
iIcy'd jusi lccn Iaving sc again for iIc fifiI iimc iIis wccl. Lucy was dcad
iircd; sIc didn'i lnow Iow Lco lcpi doing ii. And mosi odd of all Ic only
sccmcd io lccomc morc invigoraicd as sIc lccamc incrcasingly morc iircd.
And iIcsc days sIc was iircd all iIc iimc. SIc cvcn fcll aslccp in iIrcc of Icr
classcs ycsicrday. Lucy also noiiccd iIc ominous lccr Ic'd givc Icr aficr cvcry
iimc wiiI a sirangc, iwisicd smilc iIai disfigurcd Iis facc inio somciIing cvil.
Of coursc, iIis cprcssion only lasicd for a lricf sccond and ly iIc iimc ii was
gonc, Lucy iIougIi sIc imagincd ii.
Lco coniinucd, SIc prcscnicd wiiI no pIysical damagc of any lind iIai
would lc iIc causc of sucI llood loss. 'SIc jusi lcpi losing llood,' says Dr.
Sanguini, a llood spccialisi from Ncw HampsIirc. TIc girl in qucsiion wcni
inio cardiac arrcsi ai lcasi iIrcc iimcs during Icr siay ai Frccdom Ccncral.
TIcy pcrformcd numcrous llood iransfusions iIai did rclicvc Icr sympioms,
lui only icmporarily. Dociors wcrc unsurc wIciIcr sIc simply failcd io
rcproducc ncw llood cclls or Icr llood cclls wcrc lcing lillcd off ly somc
unlnown sourcc. TIcn, carly on Tucsday morning, iIc girl madc a miraculous
rccovcry. 'SIc was up walling and ialling all vcry animaicdly cacily as if sIc
wcrc pcrfccily IcaliIy,' says Dr. Sanguini. TIc Iospiial, of coursc, dccidcd io
lccp Icr undcr survcillancc. Dui io mucI disappoinimcni iIc girl llaclcd oui
wiiI a scizurc and iIcn wcni inio cardiac arrcsi again iIai samc aficrnoon.
SIc rcmaincd unconscious mosi of iIc nigIi. Dui somciimc during iIc
morning iIc girl dicd. Dociors madc grcai cfforis io rcvivc Icr lui iIcy soon
found iIai sIc'd losi cvcry drop of llood in Icr lody mysicriously."
Lco loolcd up ai Lucy wIo Iad silcni icars running down Icr facc.
Do I Iavc io rclivc iIis?" sIc aslcd.
You wcrcn'i iIis upsci lcforc," Ic said moclingly.
SIc iurncd Icr facc away violcnily, I'm vcry cmoiional iIcsc days."
Hc smirlcd iIcn said, Wcll iIc siory isn'i ovcr yci."
OI rcally?" sIc cclaimcd, WIai could iIcrc possilly lc morc of?"
His smirl rcmaincd as Ic coniinucd, Dui iIc siory of iIis young girl
didn'i cnd wiiI Icr dcaiI. TIc Iospiial placcd Icr lody in iIc downsiairs
morguc io awaii an auiopsy iIai would occur iIc nci day. Dui somciimc
lciwccn iIc sIifi cIangcs of morguc aiicndanis, iIc girl's lody disappcarcd.
TIc policc suspcci a scrial-rapisi, wIo Ias iurncd io nccropIilia, is lcIind Icr
lidnap. TIc scrial-rapisi in qucsiion, dullcd 'TIc Dcad Docr,' Ias commiiicd
ovcr fivc rapc-murdcrs ovcr iIc pasi moniI. And ii Ias only lccn wiiI iIc lasi
iwo viciims iIai iIcy sIowcd signs of scual assauli aficr iIc faci.
TIc family of iIc young girl Ias noi only lccn dcvasiaicd ai Icr loss,
iIcy arc also worricd for iIc siaic of Icr lody. TIcy inicndcd io givc Icr a
propcr, opcn-caslci, lurial ai iIc siaic ccmcicry, lui wiiI iIcsc prospccis iIcy
arc simply Ioping io gci Icr lody lacl."
Lco closcd iIc ncwspapcr wiiI a wiclcd lool in Iis cycs. Lucy was
looling iIorougIly sIoclcd ai wIai Ic jusi rcad. In iIc silcncc iIai followcd,
iIc only sound camc from iIc Iooiing of an owl somcwIcrc lcyond iIc closcd
llinds of Lucy's window.
Somconc siolc Icr lody?" sIc aslcd slowly.
Lco glanccd lacl ai iIc papcr, Pcrsonally," Ic said, I don'i iIinl iIis
'Dcad Docr' iool Icr lody ai all. I mcan, iIc guy rapcs and Is. Hc docsn'i
ialc alrcady lillcd girls."
YcaI, and iIai is a siupid namc," Lucy commcnicd, sniffling.
Truc," Lco agrccd.
Dui, Ioncsily, wIo csc could Iavc donc ii?" sIc aslcd. I mcan iIis guy
is a ioial psucIoIc could Iavc donc anyiIing! TIis all jusi sucls!"
Lco sigIcd. Lucy lcpi lallling aloui iIc psycIo Dcad Docr wIilc Lco
was siaring angrily ai Icr.
And Ic could lc out tIc)c, rigIi now! Doing Cod lnows"
Lco pui a Iand ovcr Lucy's mouiI. You," Ic lcgan, arc circmcly
annoying."
SIc pullcd away from Iim, upsci. SIc pullcd iIc sIccis iigIicr around
Icrsclf. Wcll if you can'i siand mc iIcn lcavc, assIolc," sIc dcmandcd, glaring
ai Iim wiiI rcd-rimmcd lrown cycs.
Lco rollcd Iis icc lluc cycs. Lucy grcw morc upsci. SIc pullcd iIc sIcci
around Icr slinny iorso and jumpcd oui of iIc lcd. SIc wolllcd a lii, lui
rcmaincd sianding. SIc glarcd ai Iim.
Oui," sIc ordcrcd. You'rc sucI an assIolc, Lco. Cci oui lcforc I iIrow
you oui."
Lco languidly goi off iIc lcd, sirodc around, and capiurcd Lucy around
iIc waisi. SIc sirugglcd usclcssly againsi Iis sircngiI. Hc sIovcd Icr lacl
onio iIc lcd, ripping iIc sIcci away from Icr. Now cposcd, Lco Iuddlcd ovcr
Icr, lui Lucy was dcicrmincd. SIc clawcd ai Iim and lcai Iis cIcsi.
Dcar, you'rc lcing ridiculous," Ic iold Icr simply. Hold siill and iIis
won'i lc too lad." Hc smirlcd.
Lucy scrcccIcd sligIily lui was cui off ly Iis Iand again. Lucy was far
ioo wcal io sirugglc furiIcr. Taling iIc advaniagc, Lco coniinucd on Iis way
wiiI Icr uniil sIc passcd oui.

8

Trusi

Xillia's cycs opcncd wiiI a siari. SIc immcdiaicly sai up io find Icrsclf
lacl in a familiar room. Of coursc, aficr siiiing up ioo quiclly Icr Icad lcgan
io spin rapidly and sIc ncarly collapscd lacl down again.
How sIc cndcd up lacl in Lucius' placc was lcyond Icr. SIc goi up a
liiilc ioo quiclly for wIai was ncccssary and immcdiaicly wcni for iIc door.
Dacl in iIc Iallway, sIc madc Icr way down io iIc cnd and jumpcd up
iIc siaircasc. WIcn sIc rcacIcd iIc iop sIc rcalizcd iIai sIc tc)uu ]unpcd
up tIc stu)cusc.
SIc iIougIi aloui iIai for a sccond and iIcn dccidcd sIc prolally
imagincd ii. So sIc sIool Icrsclf and siaricd off oncc morc for iIc froni door.
Ii didn'i sccm lilc anylody was Iomc so sIc lcgan io fccl sIc was Iomc frcc.
Dui somciIing caugIi Icr cyc on iIc dining room iallc lcforc sIc
rcacIcd iIc door. Ii was a scrics of ncwspapcr clippings. SIc wouldn'i Iavc
noiiccd iIis small dciail if sIc Iadn'i noiiccd iIc llazing rcd roscs in iIc vasc
lcforc iIcm.
Curious, and dcciding a fcw morc minuics could Iuri, Xillia wandcrcd
ovcr io iIc pcrfccily cui clippings. TIc firsi onc sIc saw rcad.

FAPIST KILLS DFOWNSTON CIFL

Funny, sIc lncw iIai girlsIc wcni io Icr scIool. Hcr namc was Eliza
Drownsion. SIc was ricI and wcll lilcd ioo. Xillia was a liiilc saddcncd ly iIis
ncws cvcn iIougI sIc larcly lncw Eliza. TIc nci onc rcad.

FAPIST STIKES ACAIN ON SEVENTEEN-YEAF-OLD

Xillia sificd iIc firsi iwo asidc and rcad iIc nci onc.

FAPIST DECOMES SEFIAL-FAPIST WITH DEATH OF CFINEHOFN CIFL

Ii was a raiIcr long iiilc lui wIai was imporiani was iIai Xillia
rccognizcd yci anoiIcr namc. Frida CrincIorn was anoiIcr popular, wcll-lilcd
girl wIo wcni io Icr scIool. Was iIis somc sori of paiicrn? TIc nci iwo
clippings also Iad similar iiilcs lui onc of iIcm indicaicd iIai iIis guy iurncd
io nccropIilia and iIc oiIcr dullcd Iim 'TIc Dcad Docr.'
Dui ii was iIc lasi iwo clippings iIai rcally caugIi Xillia's aiicniion. Onc
rcad.

LIVENSWOFTH CIFL DLEEDS TO DEATH WITHOUT DLEEDINC

And iIc lasi rcad.

THE DEAD DOEF STFIKES ACAIN AT PFOSPEFITA CIFL

For a fcw momcnis, iIc iiilcs llurrcd lcforc Icr cycs. Hcr Iands grazcd
iIc llacl lciicrs gingcrly. TIc formcr was daicd iwo days ago wIilc iIc laiicr
was daicd for iIai morning. SIc ioucIcd iIc onc wiiI Icr namc.
Xillia's slinny form ircmllcd lcforc iallc. SIc cluicIcd cdgc, lui ii was
usclcss. Hcr lnccs fcll oui lcncaiI Icr. Onc Iand rcmaincd cluicIcd io iIc
iallc, fingcrs grazing iIc ariiclc.
Hcr worsi fcar Iad manifcsicd iisclf insidc Icr. SIc was wIai sIc Iad
iold Lucius sIc did noi wani io lc. A uunp)c. On Iand movcd io Icr lips. SIc
prcsscd insidc Icr mouiI, fccling iIc faini sIarpncss of icciI iIai wcrc noi
iIcrc lcforc. Ii was iruc, iIcn. SIc was iruly a vampirc.
Fcar mclicd inio angcr. Hcr Iand clcncIcd inio a fisi. WiiI an angry
gruni, Xillia lrougIi Icr fisi down upon iIc wood floor. Ii craclcd from iIc
prcssurc and sIaiicrcd lcncaiI iIc wcigIi, lcaving a gaping Iolc in iIc wood.
SIc scrcamcd ai iIc Iolc Iorridly, flasIcd upward, grallcd iIc glass vasc and
iIrcw ii clcar across iIc Iousc. TIc glass lrolc inio millions of sIining picccs
and raincd all ovcr, scaiicring iIc roscs ovcr iIc carpci.
Fcar sizzlcd up Icr arms all iIc way io Icr Icad iIrcaicning io paralyzc
Icr io iIai onc spoi. Dui sIc lncw sIc Iad io gci oui of iIcrc. WiiI a visillc
cffori, sIc iurncd Icrsclf around and lolicd for iIc froni door. Emoiions rippcd
iIrougI Icr in a Iurricanc, fcar, Iaircd, pain, sorrow, lui mosily dcspcraiion
io gci oui of iIc Iousc. And jusi as sIc grallcd iIc lrass Iandlc of iIc door,
Icr mind gavc a suddcn lurcI of dcspcraiion causing a lrilliani lluc clcciric
flasI io rip iIrougI air around Icr Iand. Hcr cycs flincIcd ai iIc caci
momcni an cplosion lursi lciwccn Icr Iand and iIc door Iandlc iIai llcw
Icr laclwards onio iIc linolcum.
WIcn iIc smolc clcarcd, and sIc could scc again, sIc saw iIai iIc door
was larcly Ianging off of iIc lasi Iingc ai an awlward anglc. TIc door and iIc
arca around iIc door was llaclcncd and lurncd wiiI cIips of wood falling
casually. And io Icr dismay, iIc placc wIcrc iIc door Iandlc uscd io lc was
jusi an arca of iIc door iIai loolcd lilc a monsicr Iad goi Iungry and ialcn a
liic oui of ii.
SIc goi up slowly, irying, and failing, noi io ircmllc. FigIi now, sIc as
afraid, so afraid iIai Icr mind wcni complcicly llanl. WIai was ii, wiiI iIai
Iousc iIai lcpi lringing lad lucl io Icr? Slowly moving forward across iIc
llacl sircalcd floor, sIc madc Icr way lacl io iIc door. SIc siarcd ai ii all iIc
way uniil sIc was complcicly oui of iIc Iousc, as if ii would jump up and sial
Icr in iIc lacl.
TIcn, moving oui inio iIc dayligIi, sIc madc Icr way across iIc lawn.
SIc fcli as iIougI pcoplc wcrc looling oui iIrougI iIcir windows ai Icr so sIc
slippcd quicily inio iIc sIadows of iIc irccs iIai lincd iIc sircci. SIc finally
loolcd down ai Icrsclf and rcalizcd wIai sIc was wcaring. Ii was an old,
ovcrsizcd, llacl Dcailcs icc wiiI a pair of raiiy llacl jcans iIai was Icld on
Icr wiiI a llacl lcli iIai was sircicIcd across io iIc lasi Iolc. Hcr fcci, io Icr
disappoinimcni, wcrc lacling in fooiwcar. Luclily, iIougI, iIc pavcmcni of iIc
sidcwall wasn'i ioo cold or ioo warm sincc ii was iIc middlc of Augusi.
Walling as quicl as sIc could io iIc cnd of iIc sirccis wiiIoui aiiraciing
aiicniion was iIc iruc cIallcngc of iIai day. SIc was iIc pinl clcpIani in iIc
room, lilc lcing an clcpIani isn'i cnougI, or ai lcasi sIc fcli lilc ii. SIc was
maling Icr way down iIc sirccis, lilc sIc Iad carlicr iIai wccl, wIcn sIc
rcalizcd sIc coudn`t go Ionc.
A scnsc of disillusionmcni wasIcd ovcr Icr. Ii couldn'i possilly lc iruc.
As if in somc sirangc spcll, Xillia paddcd off oncc morc, wollling as sIc
wallcd down iIc many sirccis. Somc forcc movcd Icr as Icr mind graspcd ai
noiIing. Ii sccmcd lilc many Iours lcforc sIc finally rcacIcd iIc ouisidc of
Icr largc Viciorian Iomc. TIc car was gonc and Iousc sccmcd cmpiy and grcy.
SIc iurncd away. Noi lnowing wIcrc Icr fcci wcrc ialing Icr, sIc
wallcd lisilcssly onward io somc unlnown locaiion. Sircci aficr sircci sIc
wallcd. Pcoplc would drivc ly lui iIcy didn'i sccm io scc Icr. Ii didn'i maiicr
in iIc lcasi, iIougI.
TIc sly lcgan io darlcn ly iIc iimc sIc rcacIcd iIc ouicr cdgcs of iown
wIcrc iIc Iouscs siaricd io sprcad apari and ficlds lcgan io ialc ovcr inio
Iills. Onc sci of ficlds in pariicular drcw Xillia iIc mosi. Ii was a largc spacc
cncascd in wrougIi iron fcncing. Dlacl cars lincd iIc ncaily pavcd sidcwall.
OiIcr cars lincd iIc sirccis on all sidcs. Siill, sIc marcIcd ioward iIc gaic.
TIc sircci was cmpiy. Nolody manncd iIc gaic. SIc wallcd siraigIi
iIrougI onio iIc sionc paiI iIrougI iIc gardcn. TIc grounds on all sidcs wcrc
ncai and irimmcd. Dui iIc gravcsioncs iIai poppcd up on all sidcs disrupicd
iIc flai surroundings. SIc Iadn'i rcalizcd sIc'd wallcd rigIi inio iIc ccmcicry.
Clancing around, mosi of iIc placc was cmpiy, lui sIc spoiicd in iIc disiancc
a llacl mass iIai was, upon furiIcr inspcciion, a group of pcoplc amidsi somc
of iIc Icadsioncs.
Hcr fcci graviiaicd ioward iIcm, lui sIc soon lrolc inio a run. Fasicr
iIan sIc could Iavc cvcr aniicipaicd, Xillia rcacIcd iIc group, fcci slimming
ovcr fallcn lcavcs. Hiding lcIind a ircc, sIc pccrcd ovcr ai iIc group. TIcrc
wcrcn'i iIai many pcoplc siiiing in iIc wIiic cIairs sprcad ncaily across iIc
lawn. SIc spoiicd Icr moiIcr vcry casily.
Sianding lcIind iIai ircc, no onc noiiccd Icr, lui Xillia was allc io scc
cvcryonc clcarly. Hcr moiIcr, iIougI, siood oui iIc mosi. Noi for any sirangc
rcasonsIc worc llacl jusi lilc iIc oiIcrslui Icr Iair was lci loosc in
lrown wavcs around Icr sIouldcrs. Hcr cycs wcrc casi downward, icars
glisicning along Icr cIccls. Hcr Iands wcrc placcd propcrly on Icr crosscd
lcgs. Dui iIc mosi inicrcsiing pari of Icr appcarancc was iIc lacl of worry
lincs on Icr facc. DcaiI Iad wipcd away all agc from Icr facc. SIc sai siill in
Icr scai, and, for a lricf momcni, Xillia could scc iIc youiIful lcauiy iIai Icr
moiIcr iruly was.
Fivcrs and Dcn sai on ciiIcr sidc of Icr. Dcn Iad Iis Icad in Iis Iands
wIilc Iis sIouldcrs sIool sligIily. Fivcrs rcmaincd iigIi jawcd, lui Iis cycs
rcvcalcd Iis pain. Nci io Iim sai AsIcr wIo lcpi Iis arm casually ovcr Fivcrs'
sIouldcrs in consolaiion.
TIc words of iIc prcacIcr wcrc disiani in iIc cold dusl. Yci, Xillia lncw
iIai iIis gaiIcring was for Icr.
Disillusionmcni wasIcd away from Icr mind. Cold rcaliiy sci in. Ii was
iruc. Hcr grccn cycs misicd and siung. SIc closcd iIcm iigIily, scraping Icr
Iand on iIc larl of iIc pinc ircc.

. . .

Xillia siaycd for iIc rcsi of iIc ccrcmony. SIc waiicd uniil cvcryonc lcfi
cvcn iIc funcral aiicndanis. TIcy didn'i lury iIc coffin in iIc ground. Ii
sccmcd iIai iIcy wcrc going io waii uniil Icr lody sIowcd up again.
Unforiunaicly, iIai would ncvcr Iappcn.
WIcn cvcryonc finally did lcavc, Xillia movcd io scc iIc gravcsionc. SIc
sioppcd Icrsclf lcforc sIc aciually Iad a cIancc io lool upon ii, iIougI.
TIinling iwicc, sIc finally iurncd Icrsclf away from iIc sccnc and wandcrcd
oui of iIc ccmcicry.
SIc Iad no idca wIcrc sIc was going. All was losi io Icr, yci sIc
coniinucd io wall. Evcniually, sIc found Icrsclf ouisidc Icr Iomc again. Dui ii
wasn'i Icr Iomc anymorc.
Xillia siood ouisidc undcr iIc oal ircc on iIc froni lawn siaring ai Icr
Iousc. TIc Iours passcd Icr ly and iool no noiicc io iIc darlcning sly. SIc
simply siood, waicIing ligIis iurn off and on in Icr Iousc. Ai onc poini, sIc
saw Icr moiIcr insidc iIc liicIcn, rummaging aimlcssly in iIc fridgc lcforc
finally sIuiiing ii cmpiy Iandcd.
Hcr lcgs grcw wcary so sIc sai lacl againsi iIc rougI larl. SIc
waicIcd iIc sIadow of Fivcrs' form movc lcIind iIc upsiairs window. Ii
sccmcd lilc Ic was clcaning. AnoiIcr Iour passcd lcforc Ic finally iurncd oui
Iis ligIi. Siill, iIougI, sIc sai. Criclcis cIirpcd wiiI iIc random sounds of iIc
nigIi.
A rumlling cnginc camc io a siop in froni of Icr Iousc, lui sIc didn'i
noiicc. TIc car door opcncd and a man sicppcd oui, slamming ii lcIind Iim.
Hc rusIcd onio Icr lawn, slowing wIcn Ic spoiicd Icr.
Xillia," Ic said.
SIc didn'i iurn. Ii was Lucius. Hc lncclcd down nci io Icr. His mauvc
cycs siarcd ai Icr for a fcw momcnis lcforc sciiling down on iIc ground nci
io Icr.
I iIougIi you migIi lc Icrc," Ic announccd quicily.
SIc madc no rcsponsc, lui Icr lips lcgan io ircmllc. SIc lci in a sIarp
lrcaiI.
You can'i scc iIcm again," Ic wIispcrcd io Icr sadly.
A sol cscapcd. TIicl, rcd icars slid down Icr facc. SIc ioucIcd Icr facc.
Hcr Iand rcvcalcd io Icr iIc llood from Icr cycs. SIc sollcd Iardcr. Hcr
lnccs camc up io mcci Icr facc. Dlondc Iair proiccicd Icr from Iis prying
cycs. His Iand rcacIcd oui and ioucIcd Icr sIouldcr.
In a flasI, sIc jcrlcd away from Iim, sianding up wiiI ragc wriiicn in
Icr llood.
Don'i ioucI mc!" sIc Iisscd.
You Iavc io comc wiiI mc," Ic said.
Ncvcr," sIc rcplicd.
You can irusi mc," Ic said, WIom clsc do you Iavc io irusi?"
Mysclf," sIc rcplicd. Siay away from mc."
SIc disappcarcd.

9

Dluc Firc

Xillia didn'i rcsi iIc cniirc nigIi. SIc wandcrcd aimlcssly from placc io
placc, visiiing placcs sIc'd lccn io wIilc alivc. Evcry mcmory siung and cvcry
iIougIi lurncd. SIc'd wallcd passcd iIc Iouscs of Icr fricnds." SIc'd wallcd
passcd iIc placcs iIcy'd visiicd and Iad so mucI fun ai. Ii was only wIcn sIc
finally passcd Lucy's Iousc iIai sIc rcmcmlcrcd iIc lasi ncwspapcr clipping.
Lucy Prospcriia Iad cvidcnily mci an unforiunaic cnd ai iIc Iands of a
scrial rapisi. SIc siood in froni of Lucy's largc, modcrn Iousc pondcring iIc
lilcliIood of sucI a iIing in sucI a small iown. Morc imporianily, sIc
pondcrcd Iow Lucy's gcncrally good foriunc Iad ialcn a iurn for iIc worsc in
iIc worsi possillc way. WIai Iad sIc lccn doing io dcscrvc sucI gravc
conscqucnccs?
WIaicvcr iIc rcasons, Xillia was fairly ccriain iIai sIc did not dcscrvc
sucI a dcaiI. Lucy was many iIings, sIc did many iIings, sIc did many
Iorrillc iIings, lui sIc did noi do anyiIing io dcscrvc io dic.
Howcvcr, ii sccmcd, iIc qucsiion of wIciIcr or noi somconc dcsc)ucd io
dic didn'i rcally maiicr in rcaliiy. TIc faci was iIai Lucy was dcad, and so was
Xillia. Did iIai mcan iIai ciiIcr of iIcm dcscrvcd ii? No. Faic simply dccidcd
againsi iIcm. Ii was lilc iIai Folling Sioncs song, You Can'i Always Cci WIai
You Wani."
Dui siaring up ai Lucy's Iousc did cvolc many morc qucsiions wiiIin
Xilliamosi of iIcm rcgarding Icr siaic of lcing and rclaiionsIips wiiI oiIcrs
lcforc sIc dicd. Onc iIai lcpi popping up was. How Iad ii all cndcd up lilc
iIis?
TIc nci placc sIc wandcrcd io was Icr IigI scIool. TIc largc, rcd-
lriclcd luilding cvolcd morc iIan jusi qucsiions for Icr. Many, many
mcmorics siill Icld a placc in Icr Icari. Many of iIcm wcrc good, joyful
mcmorics, lui iIc morc rcccni oncs only acccniuaicd Icr sadncss. SIc would
Iavc lccn a scnior if sIc Iadn'i dicd. SIc would Iavc wcni lacl io siari ovcr.
Xillia Iad punncd on siariing ovcr. SIc wanicd ncw fricnds, ncw cpcricnccs,
a ncw lifc, lui nonc of iIai was going io Iappcn anymorc. SIc couldn'i go
lacl.
WIai could Iavc lccn wasn'i iIc only iIing iIai loiIcrcd Icr, iIougI.
SIc lcpi rcpcaiing in Icr mind wIai Iad Iappcncd iIc lasi Ialf of junior ycar.
Onc day all was wcll and Iappy wiiI Icrsclf and Icr fricnds, and iIc nci day
sIc fcll laclward inio dcprcssion. WIai Iad causcd iIai cIangc? SIc didn'i
lnow. Ai firsi, sIc firmly lclicvcd iIai iIc dcprcssion was a passing sadncss
iIai oficn ovcrcomcs iccnagcrs in random paiicrns. SIc'd lc upsci for a wccl
iIcn iIc nci wccl sIc'd lc lacl io normal. Only, sIc ncvcr rcally rccovcrcd.
In faci, iIc morc iimc sIc spcni wiiI Icr fricnds, iIc morc Icr dcprcssion
incrcascd. SIc found fauli wiiI cvcryiIing iIcy did. SIc found Iypocrisy wiiI
cvcry iurn. SIc couldn'i cscapc iIc pciiy drama and iIc annoying cIaiicr of
liiilc noiIings. SIc Iaicd iIcm. TIcy did alsoluicly noiIing for Icr.
Aficr aloui a moniI of Icr dcprcssion, iIcy siaricd io ccludc Icr and
lccp away from Icr. TIcy lcpi sccrcis and iallcd in circlcs around Icr. TIcy
ccIangcd furiivc and mcaningful lools wIcncvcr sIc spolc, wIicI was rarc.
TIcy grcw awlward around Icr. Hcr Iaircd grcw. If iIcy wcrc iruly Icr fricnds
iIcn wIy wouldn'i iIcy undcrsiand? If iIcy wcrc iruly Icr fricnds iIcy would
Iavc iricd io Iclp Icr up wIcn sIc was down. Insicad, iIcy alandoncd Icr as
losi.
So iIc moniIs passcd wiiI no cIangc. SIc siaycd wiiI iIcm dcspiic
cvcryiIing. SIc sai wiiI iIcm and conicmplaicd Icr inncr pain iIai Iad
sccmingly no causc. SIc wondcrcd oficn wIy sIc couldn'i jusi picl Icrsclf up.
SomciIing Iad ialcn a Iold of Icr Icari and wouldn'i lci go, and wiiI cacI
passing momcni iIc sircngiI of iIai Iold grcw sirongcr. Siiiing wiiI pcoplc
sIc Iaicd didn'i Iclp, ciiIcr. SIc lncw iIcy didn'i lilc Icr anymorc ciiIcr, lui
sIc didn'i lnow wIai clsc io do or wIcrc clsc io go. SIc rcalizcd in iIosc days
iIai sIc larcly lncw anyonc ai Icr scIool. SIc'd spcni so mucI iimc in Icr
own liiilc cliquc iIai cvcryonc clsc fadcd away. Dcsidcs iIai, iIc pciiy and
sclfisI dcsirc io rcmain in a cool" group ncvcr lcfi Icr mind. If sIc lcfi, sIc'd
Iavc nowIcrc io go, and sIc'd losc all siaius. TIinling lacl, sIc lncw iIai ii
was iIc siupidcsi misialc sIc'd cvcr madc.
Howcvcr, a iimc finally camcin iIc lasi wccls of scIoolwIcn sIc
rcalizcd sIc dcspcraicly wanicd io gci away. SIc spcni iIosc wccls irying io
logically iall Icrsclf inio lcaving, irying io convincc Icrsclf iIai sIc wouldn'i
draw aiicniion io Icrsclf, irying io consolc Icrsclf of iIc would-lc losscs lcforc
iIcy Iappcncd. SIc Icsiiaicd scvcral iimcs as sIc siaricd io siand up,
cvcniually losing Icr ncrvc and siiiing lacl down. Hcr mind lccamc iorn in
iIosc final days. TIc logic gavc way io an inncr argumcni. A wild and Icaicd
argumcni lciwccn Icr mind and Icr Icari. SIc didn'i lnow wIicI io irusi.
TIcn iIc day camc. Ii all Iappcncd raiIcr simply and suddcnly. In faci,
Xillia larcly rcmcmlcrcd iIinling anyiIing on iIai day. Onc minuic sIc was
siiiing wiiI iIc oiIcrs and iIc nci sIc was walling away. All sIc rcmcmlcrcd
iIinling was stop tInIng. And, as if iIc magic words Iad finally lccn spolcn,
Icr lody lificd iisclf from iIai iallc, iurncd, and wallcd away.
TIc lasi iIing sIc Icard from iIcm was, OI, iIanl Cod.
TIinling lacl on iIosc words siill cnflamcd fury wiiIin Xillia. SIc was
iIcir fricnd for ucu)s. And ii all culminaicd io purc disdain on iIcir pari.
Unforiunaicly, iIcy will ncvcr lnow iIai Icr Iaircd dcfcaicd iIcir small-scalc
disdain ly many milcs. TIcy would Iavc lccn squasIcd ly iIc mcrc wcigIi of
ii or Iorrificd io dcaiI ly iIc sigIi of ii.
Xillia siarcd ai Icr IigI scIool wiiI all iIcsc iIougIis in mind. TIc pain
of mcmorics iIrolling in Icr cIcsi, wondcring iIings iIai siaricd wiiI ]
onu.
SIc sai on iIc cdgc of iIc sidcwall across from iIc scIool, fccling iIc
grass lcIind Icr on iIc ground. SIc waiicd for iIc cnd of iIc scIool day. TIc
lclls rang scvcral iimcs, loud and iraic. Finally, iIc lasi lcll soundcd and
siudcnis lcgan spilling oui of iIc scIool from iIc largc, glass doors iIai lcd io
iIc main foycr. Minuics passcd and sIc soon spoiicd iIosc wIo lccamc so
familiar io Icr in Icr lifc.
Mara, Clara, Joy, and SicpIi wallcd iogciIcr in a iigIi lnii group
surrounding Lco. TIc alscncc of Lucy madc Icr dcaiI all iIc morc rcal. Xillia
Iadn'i rcalizcd uniil iIai momcni iIai sIc couldn'i quiic lclicvc ii jusi as sIc
couldn'i quiic lclicvc Icr own dcaiI. SIc waicIcd iIcm quicily as iIcy lcpi
iogciIcr, walling down iIc llocls ioward Mara's Masonic Iousc. Xillia siood
up and followcd in a parallcl linc on iIc oiIcr sidc of iIc sircci, lccping iIcm
wiiIin vicw.
SIc couldn'i Iclp lui noiicc iIai Lco loolcd iIc cpiiomc of Icarilrolcn.
His cprcssion was cvcryiIing sIc would Iavc cpccicd from a pcrson in Iis
siaicalmosi ioo mucI so. Hc wallcd IuncIcd, lcaning on iIc oiIcr girls io
lccp Iim going, a sligIi wcincss in Iis cycs, and a siruggling frown. Ii also
Iclpcd iIai iIc oiIcr girls wcrc coniinuously paiiing Iis lacl consolingly.
Curious, sIc coniinucd io follow iIcm io Mara's Iousc. Mara's Masonic
Iousc rcsicd in iIc middlc of iIc llocl amidsi oiIcr cpcnsivc and largc
dwcllings. TIcy spillcd inio iIc Iousc lcyond iIc pillars, disappcaring from
Xillia's vicw. SIc sigIcd and croucIcd down across iIc sircci undcrncaiI an
old pinc ircc. SIc ncrvously glanccd around for any spcciaiors. SIc only
spoiicd iIc lrilliani ycllow cycs of somc lird up dccp wiiIin iIc lrancIcs of
iIc pinc sIc sai undcr.
Xillia sciilcd down and waicIcd iIc Iousc for scvcral Iours. TIc ligIis
swiicIcd on in onc of iIc upsiairs lcdrooms somciimc wIcn iIc darlncss
ovcriool iIc air. SIc saw sIadows of iIcir group crossing lcIind iIc ycllow
curiains. Siiiing iIcrc, sIc iIougIi aloui Icr lroiIcrs, Fivcrs and Dcn. TIcy
wcrc always good io Icr. Dcn iaugIi Icr a loipIysically, ai lcasi. Fivcrs
always cncouragcd Icr io rcad and iIinl. SIc smilcd io Icrsclf ai iIc
mcmorics of Icr family. TIcy Iad a loi of good iimcs.
SIc llinlcd rapidly, Icr rcd cycs flasIing. Hcr lrows crcascd iogciIcr
and sIc clcncIcd Icr jaw, irying io lccp iIc icars in. Crying wouldn'i Iclp and
sIc lncw ii. Dui iIai didn'i siop iIc iIrolling spacc insidc from Iuriing. TIc
worsi iIing aloui losing Icr family was lnowing iIai sIc'd lccomc iIc clicIc
iIai onc ncvcr rcally lnows wIai iIcy Iavc uniil iIcy losc ii. WIcn Icr cniirc
lifc Iad fallcn around Icr, Icr family always siucl aroundpariially lccausc
iIcy Iad io, lui mosily lccausc iIcy lovcd Icr uncondiiionally.
An old llacl musiang glidcd up iIc sircci iowards Icr and Xillia
immcdiaicly Iid Icrsclf from vicw. SIc waicIcd, lui ii didn'i pass Icr; insicad,
ii sioppcd closc io wIcrc sIc Iid. SIc loolcd in ai iIc drivcr and io Icr uiicr
displcasurc sIc saw Lucius siaring rigIi ai Icr. Hc gcsiurcd for Icr io gci in
iIc car, sIc sIool Icr Icad vigorously, Ic gcsiurcd again lui morc violcnily
and sIc rclucianily complicd.
SIc wallcd ovcr and sicppcd insidc iIc vcIiclc carcfully.
Hc insianily said, I lnow you'rc iIirsiy and I lnow you wani io scc your
fricnds lui you cun`t go fccding off of iIcm."
WIai? WIy would I fccd off of iIcm? And I'm noi tI)stu," sIc rcplicd
complcicly irriiaicd.
WIai? You arcn'i iIirsiy? WIo Iavc you fcd off of?!"
Nolody!"
Hc sccmcd ai a loss for words.
Lool, I jusi wolc up only io find oui I was a vampirc lilc you. And Icrc
wc arc discussing ]ccdng and you can'i cvcn managc an apology or an
aclnowlcdgmcni for wIai you'vc donc io mc!"
I'm sorry? I'm sorry for saving your lifc?! Wcll you lnow wIai? Wc arcn'i
cvcn supposcd io lc Iaving iIis convcrsaiion rigIi now; you wcrcn'i supposcd
io Fisc for anoiIcr day," Ic rcplicd.
Lool, I Iavc no idca wIai you arc ialling aloui, and iIis 'Hsc` crap
sounds lilc somc cIccsy linc from an old Dracula movic," sIc rcplicd
sarcasiically, looling oui ioward Mara's Iousc.
YcaI? Wcll I goi Iomc ycsicrday, wiiI cloiIcs iIai would fii you, io find
iIai my door Iad lccn llown off, a Iolc in my floor, glass all ovcr iIc floor, and
you nowIcrc io lc found. I iIougIi iIcrc was somc sori of lrcal in and
somclody siolc your dcad lody!" Ic spai lacl angrily.
Ha! Jusi so you lnow, I did all iIai siuff, and I'm noi sorry! And wIy do
you cvcn carc?!" sIc sIouicd, iIcn, You ncarly Icd mc and iIcn you dd lill
mc!"
His lrcaiIcd oui angrily and loolcd oui down iIc sircci in froni of iIcm.
His Iands grippcd iIc wIccl and Ic rcplicd quicily, I was worricd aloui you."
Hcr jaw clcncIcd and sIc loolcd away from Iim and said jusi as quicily,
Lilc I said, wIy do you carc?"
ArgI!" Hc grallcd Icr arm and forccd Icr around io lool ai Iim iIcn
said, I'vc u)cudu iold you! I carc Iccuusc I ncarly lillcd you! I-I didn'i ncun io
ncarly lill you. I don'i lill pcoplc."
Wcll." SIc didn'i rcally lnow wIai io say io iIai.
SIc opcncd iIc car door and sicppcd oui.
WaiiwIcrc arc you going?!"
SIc glanccd lacl. NowIcrc. EvcrywIcrc."
Xillia slammcd iIc door sIui and lcgan walling, lui noi lcforc sIc
Icard Lucius gci oui of iIc car ioo and lcgin io follow Icr.
Waii! You can'i go!"
SIc iurncd sIarply around and Iisscd, OI cun`t I I iIinl I will!"
You'rc going io cnd up Iuriing somconc!"
WIai? You'rc iIc posicr cIild for vampircs or somciIing? Dccausc, if
you arc, iIcn iIcy arc in dirc nccd of assisiancc," sIc rcplicd sarcasiically.
Wc arcn'i ialling aloui mc!"
SIc scoffcd IarsIly ai iIis scniimcni, and sicppcd up io Iim.
Poling Iim in iIc cIcsi, sIc said dangcrously, Cci iIc Ic away from
mc, you lasiard, you )uncd my lifc."
WIai lifc?" Ic rcioricd. TIc onc you Iad wiiI iIosc pcoplc you callcd
fricnds?" Hc gcsiurcd io iIc Iousc sIc'd lccn siaring ai. TIosc pcoplc arcn'i
your fricnds and iIcy ncvcr wcrc! And you lnow ii!"
SIc iurncd around io facc Iim, sianding Icr ground. SIc siarcd ai Iim
cIallcngingly. Hc flasIcd forward wiiI irriiaiion Iiniing in Iis cycs.
I don'i lnow wIai your dcal is," sIc Iisscd, lui you can'i jusi comc
around and iry io rcconcilc for your own vaniiy. You can'i jusi say a fcw prciiy
words, givc a liiilc liss, and say cvcryiIing is going io lc all rigIi. Ii docsn'i
worl lilc iIai."
Irriiaiion iurncd io angcr. His Iand flasIcd oui, gralling Icr Iair. Hc
lcni down ioo fasi for Icr io rcaci and lisscd Icr full on iIc mouiI. SIoclcd,
sIc iricd io pull away, lui Iis oiIcr arm wrappcd around Icr waisi, lccping
Icr loclcd. His lips movcd againsi Icrs violcnily, Iis ionguc fliclcd oui, and
sIc gaspcd. TIai was a misialc. SIc fcli somciIing sIarp pricl Icr loiiom lip,
and Ic pullcd away. Casping, sIc siumllcd laclward, ioucIing Icr lips.
SIc cIcclcd Icr Iand. Dlood daulcd Icr fingcrs. Fury cnflamcd Icr as
sIc slowly iurncd io siarc ai Iim. SIc saw Iim licl Iis lips wiiI a dangcrous
glini in Iis cyc.
I'm your malcr," Ic Iisscd. You cannoi dcfy mc."
Aficr a momcni of Icr ircmlling wiiI angcr, sIc spoiicd Iis car. WiiI a
lursi of Iaircd, and a squini of Icr cyc, iIc car llcw up in lrigIi lluc flamcs.
Lucius was pusIcd forward from iIc prcssurc and Ic landcd facc firsi on
iIc pavcmcni. Xillia managcd io lccp Icr ground, cvcn iIougI iIc sIocl ai
wIai sIc'd donc ncarly lrougIi Icr io Icr lnccs. WiiI a siaggcring sicp, sIc
pullcd Icrsclf away from iIc sccnc and ran.

10

Can I Asl You A Oucsiion?

Hcr fcci iool Icr lacl Iomc lcforc sIc cvcn iIougIi of going iIcrc. Xillia
sioppcd on Icr froni lawn and loolcd up ai Fivcrs' window. Evcry singlc
vampirc movic cvcr madc scrcamcd ai Icr io siop wIai sIc was doing, lui
spiic irumpcd logic as sIc climlcd up iIc oal ircc on Icr lawn. TIis was iIc
lind of iIing iIai goi iIc Icro1Icroinc lillcd.
SIc sIool away crazy movic rcfcrcnccs from Icr mind as sIc rcacIcd
iIc iIicl lrancI in iIc middlc. SIc cdgcd along uniil sIc mci wiiI iIc sidc of
iIc Iousc and, morc imporianily, Fivcrs' window. Jusi as sIc suspccicd, ii
was opcn. SIc loolcd inio Iis room. Ii was cmpiy. Hc Iad prolally gonc
downsiairs.
Carcfully, Xillia climlcd insidc, jumping from iIc sill, ovcr Iis dcsl, and
io iIc floor cfforilcssly. Jusi as Icr fooi ioucIcd iIc ground, sIc Icard Iis sofi
fooisicps coming up iIc carpcicd siairs. Hc Iad a disiinguisIallc way of
walling.

In Fivcrs' room, sIc lcgan io panic. SIc lncw Ic was iIc only onc sIc
could irusi, lui Iow was sIc io cplain wIai Iappcncd? Somc pari of Icr
wildly loolcd ioward iIc window for cscapc lui iIc morc raiional sidc lcpi Icr
sianding wIcrc sIc was. Any minuic now Fivcrs was going io wall iIrougI iIc
door lcIind Xillia and scc Icr sianding iIcrc. If sIc lcfi iIrougI iIc window
sIc could siill cscapc unscaiIcd. And cvcn so, wIcrc would sIc go? Dui as
soon as Ic saw Icr, wIai would Ic do? Would Ic frcal? Would Ic lc Iappy?
Would Ic pass oui? TIcn iIcrc was iIc faci of iIc rcsi of Icr family. TIcy
couldn'i lnow; ii would lc ioo many pcoplc. Dui could Xillia Ioncsily pui
Fivcrs iIrougI iIai lind of sccrci?
TIc dccision maling iimc was ncarly ovcr, sIc could Icar Iim ai iIc iop
of iIc siairs SIc could fccl iIc ligIi fooisicps of Icr lroiIcr as iIcy wallcd
ioward Iis room. SIc siood a liiilc ways away, larcly daring io lrcaiIc ai iIc
suspcnsc. Hcr Icari lcai four iimcs as fasi as Iis fooisicps madc coniaci wiiI
iIc floor. SIc saw in slow moiion iIc dclicaic iurning of iIc lnol on Iis wIiic,
woodcn door.
Hc camc in iIrougI iIc door wiiI Iis cycs complcicly casi down in
rcvcrcncc. Dcforc Ic could lool up, Xillia rusIcd forward, covcrcd Iis mouiI,
sIui iIc door lcIind Iim and sIovcd Iim on iIc ground. Hc sirugglcd and
loolcd wildly around, larcly cvcn rccognizing Iis own surroundings. His
mufflcd yclling grcw fainicr as Iis cycs sccmcd io focus in on wIai Iii Iim.
Xillia was sIusIing Iim wiiI agonizcd Iopc irying io gci Iim io fi Iis gazc on
Icr.
Fivcrs! Fivcrs ii's mc!" sIc wIispcrcd franiically.
His cycs finally focuscd in on Icr and iIcn iIcy grcw widc wiiI sIocl.
Hc didn'i sccm io lc allc io spcal.
Xillia slowly rcmovcd Icr Iand from Iis mouiI and, rclaing a liiilc lii,
sIc sai ligIily on Iis lcgs, siraddling Iim.
Looling inio Iis cycs wiiI iragic Iopc, sIc said, Fivcrs, ii's rcally mc. I-
I'm noi dcad. Wcll, I am lui noi rcally. OI Huc)s, plcasc say sonctIng."
His mouiI opcncd and closcd as a miiurc of cmoiions swcpi ovcr Iis
facc. SIocl, confusion, Iopc, sadncss, dislclicf, iIcn lasily Iopc again.
Is ii. Is ii rcally you?" Ic cIolcd oui.
SIc noddcd and siood up slowly. Hc loolcd up ai Icr in complcic
dislclicf ai wIai Iis own cycs wcrc iclling Iim. SIc lcni down, grallcd Iis
Iand and Iclpcd Iim up. TIcn, ii sccmcd ai iIc solidiiy of Icr Iand jusi iIcn,
Ic rusIcd forward and Iuggcd Icr so iigIily ii ncarly crusIcd oui all iIc
lrcaiI in Icr lungs. Hc lci Icr go and pui Icr arms lcngiI io inspcci Icr.
WIosc cloiIcs arc iIcsc? WIcrc wcrc you? I iIougIi you wcrc dcad, wc
all saw," Ic aslcd lui iIcn finally croalcd oui, WIai Iappcncd?"
SIc sigIcd and siiiing down in Iis cIair sIc iIougIi iIai ii was now or
ncvcrsIc'd lciicr icll Iim. Ccsiuring io iIc lcd for Iim io sii down, sIc
lcgan Icr siory.
SIc iold Iim cvcryiIing, wiiI minor alicraiions. SIc lcfi oui all iIc lluc
ligIi and cvcn iIc namc of iIc accuscd pariy. Mosi imporianily, sIc iold Iim
sIc was a vampirc.
As sIc iallcd Ic alsorlcd cvcryiIing as cpccicd, wiiI iIc samc
concociion of cmoiions as lcforc and morc. SIc waiicd a fcw minuics aficr sIc
finisIcd wIilc Ic proccsscd iIc informaiion.
WIcn Ic didn'i say anyiIing sIc said, Fivcrs, I nccd your Iclp. A-and
you can'i icll anylody clsc. Noi Dcn or Mom or anylody."
TIis sccmcd io rcawalcn Iis lrain lccausc Ic cclaimcd, WIai?! WIai
aloui mom?! SIc's dcvasiaicd! How can you asl iIai of mc?!"
Xillia sIusIcd Iim as fasi as sIc could wiiI a cauiious lool ai iIc door.
SIIII! Fivcrs! Only you can lnow aloui iIis," sIc wIispcrcd aniously
as sIc Icard somconc clsc walling down iIc Iall iIcn, Scriously, you jusi
Iavc io irusi mc. If anyonc clsc finds oui I can'i cvcn imaginc wIai would
Iappcn! TIinl aloui ii, Fivcrs."
TIc fooisicps wcrc coming closcr io Fivcrs' room. Xillia sIoi upward and
madc Icr way quiclly io iIc closci. WiiI onc lasi plcading glancc sIc sIui
Icrsclf in Iis closci.
TIc door crcalcd opcn and Icr moiIcrs voicc swam low, and poignani
across iIc room.
I Icard voiccs, is iIcrc somconc up Icrc?" sIc aslcd.
A sligIi pausc, Xillia Icld Icr lrcaiI.
A sigI lrolc iIc silcncc and iIcn, No, I was jusi ialling on iIc pIonc.
Sorry," Fivcrs rcplicd.
OI."
TIai was all Icr moiIcr said as sIc slippcd quicily lacl inio iIc Iall.
Xillia camc oui wiiI rclicf wriiicn all ovcr Icr facc. Fivcrs was looling wrcicIcd
ai Iis cIoicc.
TIanl you so mucI, Fivcrs!" Xillia rusIcd oui almosi icarfully iIcn, I
don'i cpcci iIis io lc casy, lui, plcasc, you nccd io lccp ii a sccrci, plcasc?"
Hc loolcd down up ai Icr wiiI disircss mingling in Iis cycs wiiI worry.
TIcn, dcfcai sccmcd io visilly Iii Iim as Ic gavc a dcsolaic nod. Xillia lci oui a
lrcaiI sIc didn'i lnow sIc was Iolding and rusIcd forward io Iug Iim. Dui as
sIc Iuggcd Iim iigIily Ic clcarcd Iis iIroai vcry audilly.
SIc discnianglcd Icrsclf from Iim saying, WIai?"
Don'i you-uI-lilc, drinl llood?" Ic aslcd ncrvously.
TIc sIocl of Iis qucsiion lrougIi all iIc luili up normalcy around Icr
crasIing lacl down io cariI. For a momcni, sIc iruly rccognizcd Iow diffcrcni
sIc was iIan Iim. And, for a momcni, sIc fcli a iwingc of lurning pain in Icr
iIroai.
WIai did ii mcan io drinl llood, anyIow? SIc'd sccn plcniy of vampirc
movics, so sIc assumcd sIc'd jusi nccd ciiIcr io drinl rallii llood or find
virgin maidcns. Or maylc sIc'd Iavc io lill pcoplc. SIc cringcd inwardly ai iIc
idca of lilling pcoplc, iIai lcvcl of violcncc wasn'i programmcd inio Icr
pcrsonaliiy. AliIougI sIc didn'i ialc mucI siocl in Icr oun lifc, sIc always
Iad a scnsc of valuc for lifc in gcncral. SIc lovcd animals, cspccially cais, and
sIc ncarly cricd cvcry iimc onc of iIosc animal-saving-dcprcssing commcrcials
poppcd up on iclcvision. SIc Iad always fcli icrrilly guiliy wIcncvcr sIc Icard
aloui Iorrillc naiural disasicrs iIai occurrcd in oiIcr counirics, cspccially
iIird-world counirics. SIc Iad prcviously donaicd llood wIcncvcr sIc could.
SIc wcpi for a wIolc wccl wIcn Icr goldfisI dicd. SIc alsoluicly could not lill
unuIodu.
Fivcrs was siaring wiiI an inicnscly confuscd facc ai Xillia lccausc, io
Iim, ii appcarcd iIai sIc Iad zoncd oui of iIis world complcicly.
Waving Iis Iand in Icr facc Ic said, Hcllo? Xillia? Anylody?"
SIc noiiccally sIool Icrsclf oui of Icr rcvcric and wiiI an cmlarrasscd
smilc sIc said, OI sorry, I was iIinling aloui iIc llood iIing."
Wcll?"
SIc loolcd away and rcplicd, Wcll. I'm noi surc. I lnow vampircs arc
supposcd io drinl llood, lui I don'i fccl iIc nccd io drinl llood. So, maylc I
don'i rcally Iavc io drinl ii all iIc iimc?"
Arc you surc?" Ic aslcd iIcn, Dccausc, I'vc sccn somc of iIosc vampirc
movics lilc Undc)uo)d and I iIinl you'rc supposcd io Iavc, lilc,
unconirollallc iIirsi or somciIing."
NaI, iIai'd lc morc lilc Intc)ucu utI tIc Vunp)c iIan Undc)uo)d,
sIc rcplicd maiicr-of-facily.
Or maylc you'rc supposcd io lc crccpy and silcni wiiI a virgin complc
lilc Dracula," Ic said lacl smiling.
You lnow, if I wcrc io picl wIicI iypc of vampirc I would lc, ii would
dcfiniicly lc Spilc. Hc's jusi so cool," sIc rcplicd wiiI a maicIing smilc.
You'd wani io lc a guu wIo is cu?"
Hc wasn'i cvil u iIc iimc!"
YcaI, lui Ic was uc)d all iIc iimc," Ic said wiiI a widc grin on Iis
facc, Ic was on iIc vcrgc of laugIing.
Xillia produccd a far-away, romaniic lool on Icr facc as sIc said, OI
Fivcrs, Ic was jusi so funny and so Ioi."
Fivcrs snoricd and lci oui a cIucllc. TIcn Ic smilcd Iappily and said,
Xillia, I'm glad you'rc alivcwcll sori of, lui siill. You don'i lnow wIai ii was
lilc iIinling you wcrc gonc." His facc grcw gravc wiiI mcmorics iIcn Ic
coniinucd, And io iIinl iIai jusi a fcw days ago cvcryiIing was complcicly
normal, now my sisicr is a vampirc and wcll"
Hc sioppcd lcforc Ic said anyiIing morc and loolcd cauiiously ai Xillia
wIo loolcd lacl cpcciing Iim io finisI.
SIc rcalizcd iIcn said quicily, Is ii aloui Lucy? Dccausc I lnow all
aloui ii."
Hc noddcd solcmnly iIcn said, Wc wcrc going io go io Icr funcral nci
wccl aficr iIc cops finisIcd camining Icr lody."
TIcy said ii was iIai scrial-rapisi wIo'd lccn lilling girls from my
scIool."
YcaI, and wcirdly, iIcy iIougIi your lody was ialcn ly Iim, ioo," Ic
addcd.
WIai? TIcy did? TIai docsn'i sccm lilc somciIing iIis 'Dcad Docr'
would do," sIc said surpriscd iIcn cIuclling ligIily.
WIai?" Fivcrs aslcd.
Haaa, noiIing. 'Dcad Docr' sucI a siupid namc," sIc rcplicd.
Hc laugIcd a liiilc ioo. I lnow. Fcporicrs. So cIccsy. TIcy sIould Iavc
jusi lcpi ii iIc scrial-rapisiii sounds scaricr."
Truc dai, Iomc lro," sIc concurrcd, plopping down on Iis lcd.
Fivcrs loolcd ai Xillia for a long iimc wiiIoui saying a word. SIc didn'i
noiicc as sIc siarcd up ai iIc wIiic cciling, irying io malc sIapcs oui of
noiIing. SIc lay lacl.
Fivcrs?" sIc aslcd, siill looling up ai iIc cciling.
YcaI?" Ic urgcd, quicily.
WIicI is lciicr, pcacc or frccdom?"
Hc sai in Iis dcsl cIair io iIinl aloui iIai. Is iIcrc a diffcrcncc?"
I don'i lnow."
Do I Iavc io cIoosc onc?"
If you can."
I can'i," Ic answcrcd simply. I gucss ii would jusi dcpcnd on iIc
siiuaiion. You lnow, you'd Iavc io iIinl marginally."
A iroullcd lool crosscd Icr facc.
Xillia?"
SIc loolcd ai Iim. Hcr iroullcs siill cicIcd iIcmsclvcs inio Icr facc.
Ycs?"
Ii sccms lilc a drcam iIai you'rc lacl."
A small smilc crosscd Icr facc. You wani mc io pincI you?"
Hc sIool Iis Icad. Ii jusi Iuris io iIinl iIai Mom and Dcn can'i
lnow."
Hcr lrows furrowcd as sIc loolcd away. TIcy couldn'i lccp a sccrci."
TIcy fcll silcni. Hc waicIcd Icr carcfully as if sIc'd disappcar any
sccond. SIc siarcd away, iIougIis wcigIing Icr down in iIc sad waicrs.
You iIinl I can siay Icrc for a wIilc?" sIc aslcd.
Of coursc."
SIc noddcd, curlcd up on Iis lcd, and lci Icr iircd cycs finally rcsi.

11

TIc World Dclow

Fivcrs waicIcd Icr slccp for a wIilc lcforc iurning away io Iis compuicr
io iypc up Iis iIcsis papcr. Dui, Ic siill glanccd ovcr ai Icr siill form cvcry
minuic or so. Xillia slcpi iIc rcsi of iIc day and mosi of iIc nigIi. WIcn Ic goi
iircd cnougI, Ic simply crawlcd in nci io Icr for fcar of Icr disappcaring
wIilc Ic slcpi.
In iIc morning, wIcn cvcryiIing was ligIi and ncw, a sofi rapping camc
io iIc door, siariling Xillia awalc. SIc flasIcd upward, flying inio Iis closci.
SIc closcd iIc door cnougI so iIai no onc could scc Icr, lui lcfi a cracl opcn
so sIc could pcal iIrougI. Fivcrs Iad alrcady lccn awalc. Aficr Ic goi ovcr
iIc iniiial sIocl of Xillia's ligIicning spccd, goi up and wcni io iIc door.
TIcir moiIcr siood in iIc doorway. For iIc firsi iimc, sIc caugIi a lricf
glimpsc of Icr moiIcr's facc up closc. SIc loolcd vcry mucI iIc samc as sIc
saw Icr in iIc ccmcicry, lui upon closcr inspcciion Icr lluc cycs Iad iurncd
puffy from crying.
I'm going oui," sIc mumllcd io FivcrsXillia Iad io sirain Icrsclf io
Icar.
Olay."
Dcn wcni io worl."
AlrigIi."
SIc lcgan io iurn away.
Mom?"
SIc iurncd lacl.
SIc's waicIing ovcr us, I lnow ii."
Hcr moiIcr's lip ircmllcd. SIc lcfi. Fivcrs sIui iIc door, allowing Xillia
io rcvcal Icrsclf. TIcy siood for a wIilc in silcncc, siaring ai cacI oiIcr. TIc
froni door slammcd downsiairs, and Xillia lci oui a lrcaiI.
I'm going io ialc a sIowcr."
Fivcrs sIruggcd.
Xillia Icadcd oui and downsiairs. WIcn sIc rcacIcd Icr Iallway, sIc
suddcnly fcli so glad io lc lacl Icrc, ii Iadn'i fcli rcal lcforc now. SIc wallcd
inio Icr room and lay on iIc sofi llacl covcrs of Icr ncaily madc lcd. SIc
Iuggcd Icr lai-sIapcd pillow and ran Icr Iands across iIc plusI llacl vclvci
of iIc sIccis. SIc goi up and ioucIcd iIc sIcar, canvas curiains walling along
iIc lacl wall uniil sIc ncarcd Icr closci. SIc Iad ncvcr lccn so graicful for all
Icr iIings in Icr cniirc lifc.
Enicring Icr closci, sIc groancd oui of sIcar joy ai all Icr cloiIcs. TIcrc
wasn'i a wIolc loi, lui considcring cvcryiIing iIai Iappcncd io Icr, sIc fcli
lilc sIc Iad won iIc loiicry.
Cralling an ouifii, sIc saunicrcd off io iIc laiIroom.
SIc was fccling cspccially Iappy, uniil sIc caugIi a lool ai Icr
rcflcciion, and ii was gIasily.
Hcr grccn cycs wcrc no longcr grccn; iIcy wcrc a lrilliani sIadc of ruly
rcd iIai sIonc lrigIily in iIc conirasi of iIc wIiics. Hcr pupils Iad
iransformcd inio iiny slivcrs crossing iIc rcd vcriically. Hcr slin was palc as
snow lui wiiIoui any sIinc or lcauiyii was way and sircicIcd iigIi across
Icr loncs. Hcr lips wcrc craclcd and coniaincd no color, cccpi for a iingc of
lluc iIai was lorn from Icr gums, wIicI Iad iurncd cyan. Opcning Icr
mouiI, sIc saw iwo laly fangs iIai wcrc siicling oui alovc Icr canincs. In
sIocl, sIc ran a Iand iIrougI Icr siraggly llcacI-llondc Iair, iIai Iad losi
any and all lusicr, and io Icr surprisc Icr Iand was jusi as palc, and, worsc
yci, sIc Iad iougI claws projcciing oui of iIc iips of Icr fingcrs.
As quiclly as sIc could, sIc iurncd away from Icr rcflcciion, sirippcd
cvcryiIing off and jumpcd in iIc sIowcr. SIc iIougIi sIc could simply wasI
away iIc Iorror lui io Icr dismay, wIcn sIc goi oui, sIc found sIc loolcd
cvcry lii iIc samc, lui now sIc was wci. Croaning, sIc iIrcw on Icr Vunp)c
VccIcnd icc, llacl slinny jcans, and Icr favoriic pair of llacl iIrcc-incI-IigI
loois.
WIcn sIc cnicrcd Fivcrs' room sIc sIouicd, VIu didn'i you tc mc?!"
Tcll you wIai?" Ic aslcd alscnily as Ic was complcicly focuscd on Iis
iIcsis.
SIc grallcd Iis sIouldcr and sIovcd Iim around io facc Icr. Hc loolcd
a liiilc sIoclcd lui Ic quiclly iricd io lccomc aiicniivc.
TIs," sIc said, poiniing io Icr facc.
Hc raiscd Iis cyclrows and rcplicd, OI, I jusi iIougIi iIis was, lilc, a
vampirc iIing and didn'i wani io malc you fccl lad."
SIc didn'i quiic lnow Iow io rcaci io iIai.
WIy arcn'i you as frcalcd oui as I am aloui my vampirism?!"
Maylc lccausc I'm jusi glad you'rc noi dcad."
Again, sIc was ai a loss for an appropriaic rcaciion.
Hc loolcd down ai Iis sIouldcr and said, You lnow, you'rc rcally
sirong, and wIilc iIai may comc wiiI iIc icrriiory, you'rc crusIing my
sIouldcr."
SIc immcdiaicly lci go, fccling asIamcd.
SIc crasIcd down on Fivcrs' lcd and groancd, WIai am I supposcd io
do wiiI mysclf?"
Fivcrs, fccling iIis was a rIciorical qucsiion, iurncd lacl io Iis iIcsis. A
sligIi lurning in Icr iIroai madc Icr iIinl aloui Icr vampirism. Maylc iIis
was iIc 'iIirsi' iIai Lucius Iad iallcd aloui. Xillia dccidcd sIc didn'i cacily
wani io dcal wiiI iIai rigIi now.
Howcvcr, as iIc iIougIis of Lucius cnicrcd Icr mind, sIc couldn'i Iclp
lui iIinl of wIai Iad Iappcncd iIc prcvious day. Had sIc rcally llown up Iis
car? Or was iIai simply coincidcncc? Wcll, if iIai was coincidcncc, iIcn iIcrc
was siill no cplanaiion for Iis doorwIicI, ly iIc way, sIc fcli no guili ovcr.
SIc sigIcd. Cazing up ai iIc wIiic cciling, sIc iricd io malc sIapcs.
Only ugly color lloicIcs sIowcd up in Icr vision from siaring ioo long. SIc
lificd Icr Iand inio iIc air, iIinling of iIai lluc firc. SIc focuscd on Icr Iand,
irying io rcmcmlcr wIai Iappcncd io malc Iis car cplodc. Angcr. SIc
rcmcmlcrcd lcing angry. SIc rcmcmlcrcd fccling somciIing as iIai angcr
rcacIcd a pinnaclc. Ii was lilc sIc'd grazcd iIc surfacc of somciIing warm
insidc for a lricf sccond lcforc ii rclcascd in sIowcring lluc sparls.
Xillia closcd Icr cycs. SomcwIcrc sIc fcli a simmcring pool of cncrgy. Ii
iIrummcd insidc io iIc lcai of Icr Icari. Ii was familiar yci complcicly forcign.
SIc drcw closcr, rcacIcd ioward ii wiiI Icr mind. SIc iIougIi angry iIougIis
of Lucius. SIc was wiiIin an incI. Opcning Icr cycs, sIc fcli iIai surfacc wiiI
angcr in Icr Icari. A sparl igniicd on Icr fingcriips.
SIc gaspcd and sai up, siaring ai Icr Iand. Hcr rcd cycs widcncd wiiI
rccogniiion. ou uus tIs possIc Fivcrs iypcd away on Iis compuicr. Aficr a
momcni, Ic sigIcd and loolcd ovcr ai Icr.
Fivcrs?"
I Iavc somciIing I wani io iall io you aloui," Ic announccd.
WIai is ii?"
I'm iIinling aloui moving oui."
WIai?!"
Wcll ii wouldn'i lc ioo far, ii would lc ncar iIc univcrsiiy, so iIai I can
savc on gas and siuff."
Xillia cIcwcd iIis ovcr in Icr Icad for a momcni.
.Arc you moving in wiiI AsIcr?"
Hc glanccd away and rcplicd, .noi cacily. Hc docs livc in iIc samc
luilding iIougI."
Xillia's cycs wcrc widc wiiI sIocl ai iIis piccc of ncws. SIc didn'i quiic
lnow Iow io rcaci io Fivcrs' moving in wiiI Iis loyfricnd, wcll sori of moving
in wiiI Iis loyfricnd.
WI-wIai lrougIi iIis aloui?" sIc aslcd incrcdulously.
Wcll," Ic iIougIi, I gucss, sincc you dicd, I lcpi iIinling iIai lifc was
sIori, you lnow? Wcllmaylc noi uou)s. Dui, in gcncral." Hc loolcd ovcr ai
Icr worricd facc. Dui don'i worry, Xillia, you can comc wiiI mc if you wani,
ii'd lc lciicr iIai way anyway."
TIai'd lc pcrwaii, wIai?! Wouldn'i I lc gciiing in your way?!"
Wcll, I wouldn'i mind ii, lui you would Iavc io malc yoursclf scarcc
wIcn AsIcr is around."
Xillia iIougIi aloui iIis. SIc would Iavc a lciicr placc io siay if sIc
movcd wiiI Fivcrs. Dui sIc'd also lc gciiing in iIc way of Iis lovc lifc, and iIai
was iIc lasi iIing sIc wanicd. And mosi imporianily, iIcrc'd lc a wIolc loi
morc room for crror if sIc movcd in wiiI Iim. SIc would prolally lc spoiicd,
and wiiI iIc way sIc loolcd currcnily, sIc prolally would lc ialcn capiivc
and uscd for scicniific siudics. Or maylc somclody would jusi call animal
conirol on Icr. TIcrc was jusi a wIolc oiIcr lisi of worrics if sIc movcd in wiiI
Iim. In sIori, Xillia dccidcd iIai sIc'd pui ii oui of Icr mind uniil sIc could
comc up wiiI an alicrnaiivc.
A door slammcd sIui somcwIcrc down lclow, and Xillia rcalizcd Icr
moiIcr was Iomc.
Lool, Fivcrs, I'm gonna ialc a wall and mull ii ovcr," Xillia said wIilc
opcning iIc window oncc morc. Hc saluicd Icr as Ic iurncd lacl io Iis iIcsis,
and Xillia jumpcd oui onio iIc oal lrancIcs.
Hopping down on iIc froni lawn sIc noiiccd iIc sly was lccoming
cloudcd and orangc ovcr iIc many irccs iIai cicndcd up from iIc grccn cariI
around iIc variaiion of Iouscs, signifying iIc sun was going io sci in an fcw
Iours iimc.
A conspicuous llacl Musiang CT swcrvcd up in froni of wIcrc sIc was
sianding on iIc sidcwall. On iIc drivcrs sidc, Xillia saw, Lucius was siiiing
wiiI an circmcly pisscd off cprcssion iIai disioricd Iis fcaiurcs inio
somciIing lcss lcauiiful iIan Ic was. Lcaning ovcr io lool Icr in iIc cyc, Ic
gcsiurcd violcnily io gci in iIc car, cvcn iIougI iIc windows wcrc opcn. Xillia
could icll iIai Ic was so angry iIai words couldn'i cvcn form on Iis lips. SIc
goi in iIc car wiiI iIc Iappy mcnial imagcry of Icr llowing up tIs car, if ii
cvcr goi io iIai.
As soon as Icr door sIui, Lucius cIangcd gcars fcrociously, and drovc
off ai a Iarrowing spccd. SIc was praciically pinncd lacl in Icr scai as iIcy
drovc down Icr sircci. SIc glanccd ovcr in Iis dircciion, and io Icr dismay,
Lucius was loring Iolcs inio iIc road iIcy wcrc spccding down and Iis lip was
ircmlling wiiI supprcsscd words of fury.
TIcy rcacIcd Iis Iousc in a maiicr of scconds ii sccmcd lilc. Lucius goi
oui of iIc car and marcIcd ovcr io Icr sidc, and ncarly rippcd off iIc
passcngcr door as Ic opcncd ii.
Oui. Now," Ic said, griiiing Iis icciI.
How aloui a 'plcasc?'" sIc aslcd sarcasiically.
Hc larcd Iis sIarp, wIiic fangs ai Icr iIrcaicningly, gci in iIc Iousc.
Now."
Xillia raiscd Icr Iands up ai Iim in mocl dcfcai as sIc climlcd oui of
Iis car. Hc slammcd iIc door sIui lcIind Icr and grallcd Icr cllow, Ialf
dragging Icr inio iIc Iousc.
HcyIcy! EnougI wiiI iIc man-Iandling!"
Hc sIovcd Icr inio Iis Iousc, slamming iIc lrand ncw door lcIind Iim.
SIc rcgaincd Icr lalancc and iurncd io facc Iim, lui sIc was ioo slow
io rcaci wIcn Ic lungcd forward ai Icr, lnocling Icr io iIc ground. Darcly
allc io proccss wIai was Iappcning, sIc fcli a lruial sial of pain scar Icr
flcsI on Icr cniirc lcfi sidc. SIc cricd oui ai iIc pain and sIc rcalizcd a
momcni ioo laic iIai Ic Iad lii Icr, and ly iIai iimc Ic'd alrcady gaincd iIc
uppcr Iand so iIai sIc was unallc io figIi lacl. SIc couldn'i cvcn musicr iIc
will powcr io llow Iim lacl.
SIc fcli angcr rusI in io Icr as Icr crimson llood flowcd frccly inio Iis
mouiI. SIc was losing Icr sircngiI io iIis immovallc forcc as sIc Iad oncc
lcforc.
Dui jusi as suddcnly as ii Iad lcgun, ii sioppcd. Hc pullcd Iimsclf off of
Icr almosi rclucianily. TIrougI Icr Iazc, sIc saw Icr llood iriclling slowly
from Iis lips as Iis facc alicrcd inio iis dcmonic form. Ii was a Iidcous display
of powcr iIai sIc only wisIcd would cnd.
His facc slowly rciurncd io normal, and as Iis cycs rcvcricd lacl io iIcir
original lavcndcr color, sIc noiiccd iIai noiIing lui sadncss fillcd iIcm. Ii was
a dccp, pcnciraiing sadncss iIai ccIocd ai iIc corc of Iis lcing and iIai sIonc
lrigIily iIrougI cvcry linc on Iis facc.
.I'm sorry," Ic wIispcrcd as a silcni, lloody icar slid down Iis
flusIcdwiiI Icr llood!cIccl.
F-fucl you," sIc raspcd lacl.
Hc iurncd Iis facc iowards Icrs dcspcraicly.
No! Plcasc, you Iavc io undcrsiand! You lrolc iIc law! As your sirc I
was lcgally olligaicd io punisI you.I-I didn'i cnjoy ii," Ic addcd.
Xillia iurncd Icr facc away from Iim, unallc io counicr from iIc Icari-
wrcncIing pain iIai was gripping Icr lody. Hcr iIroai was lccoming iIicl and
Icr cycs siung wiiI unsIcd icars. SIc was glaring ai iIc glass vasc, wIicI was
fillcd wiiI rcd roscs, wiiI purc Iaircd.
WIy did you icll your family?" Ic aslcd quicily.
SIc swallowcd Iard and said, I only iold Fivcrs."
Hc lci oui a sIaly sigI, I Iavc io crasc Iis mcmory."
SIc iurncd lacl io facc Iim, No!"
I Iavc io Xillia! I'm olligaicd ly uu!"
Luu! WIai uu! sIc sIriclcd.
Myou) law! TIc law of TIc World Dclow!"
SIc scoffcd loudly, ycaI, rigIi."
I-I Iavcn'i lccn vcry foriIrigIi," Ic said, io yci anoiIcr scoff, and iIcn
coniinucd, lui ii's lccausc I'vc lccn invcsiigaiing, and I jusi wani you io
acccpi mc, lui wc jusi lccp gciiing inio argumcnis, and iIis is all jusi onc lig
mcss," Ic finisIcd lamcly.
WIcn sIc didn'i rcply Ic coniinucd, TIc World Dclow is lasically iIc
govcrnmcni for all iIc crcaiurcs of iIc nigIi, vampircs, wcrcwolvcs, facrics,
clvcs, dwarvcs, you namc ii. I worl for iIc Durcau of Paranormal Crimc as a
Sncal. Ii's lasically lilc iIc Iuman dcicciivcs, cccpi wc do punisImcni.
Mosily ii involvcs iIc.puiiing down. of iIosc wIo commii crimcs, lui wc do
Iavc io sulmii cvidcncc and gci approval for a ialc oui. And iIai's wIy I am
Icrc in iIc firsi placc; iIc Durcau suspccicd iIai iIc pcrpciraior for iIc siring
of rapc-murdcrs in iIis iown wasn'i jusi a Iuman crimc."
SIc gavc Iim a confuscd lool. I Iavc no idca wIai you'rc ialling aloui."
Hc siood up and wcni io iIc iallc. Lucius piclcd up iIc ncwspapcr
clippings iIai sIc'd spoiicd lcforc and lrougIi iIcm ovcr. I'vc lccn in iIis
iown for a wIilc now, lui I don'i livc Icrc, aciually. TIis Iousc isn'i cvcn
iccInically minc. Dui, ii's in an idcal spoirigIi in iIc middlc. I can gci
anywIcrc in fivc minuics flai. Dui, wc arcn'i ialling aloui Icrc. Scc?" Hc
placcd iIc clippings in ordcr in froni of Icr. TIcsc siaricd somciimc around
January and Iavc lccn coniinuing wiiI incrcasing frcqucncy sincc iIcn. Ii was
cvcry oiIcr moniI, now ii's almosi cvcry oiIcr wccl. I Iavc morc in a drawcr
ovcr Icrc." Hc goi up and wcni io iIc cnd iallc ly iIc coucI. Hc pullcd oui
scvcral oiIcr smallcr clippings. Lool, I jusi wani you io lnow wIy I'm Icrc. I
didn'i comc io jusi ruin your lifc, or anyiIing." Hc placcd iIc oiIcrs in froni.
TIcsc arc iIc oncs iIai wcrcn'i counicd as murdcrs, lui I suspcci all iIc
samc. Now, iIai girl, Lucy, was lillcd noi ioo long ago ly iIis guy. Dui Ic'd
lillcd somconc jusi lcforc Icr. Hc didn'i waii lilc Ic usually docs for iIc nci
lill. I iIinl iIai Ic lnows iIai my Durcau is aficr Iim, and Ic's going io iry
somciIing radical. TIougI, I Iavc no idca wIy Ic won'i simply run."
Xillia didn'i lnow wIai io malc of iIis cniirc discussion. SIc couldn'i
gci up, so sIc simply Iad io lisicn io Iis ramllings aloui supcrnaiural aciiviiy
and murdcr. Howcvcr, iIc mcniion of Lucy pcrlcd Icr inicrcsi. TIcrc was
somciIing icrrilly pcrsonal aloui a murdcr wIcn ii occurrcd io somconc sIc'd
lnown and lovcd. Maylc ii was guili or olligaiion, lui sIc wanicd io lnow wIo
Iad donc iIosc icrrillc iIings.
WIo's iIc lillcr?" sIc aslcd Ioarscly.
From iIc naiurc of iIc crimc, I'd say ii was an inculus. Dui, gcncrally
spcaling, inculi iypically don'i Iavc sc wiiI iIcir viciims aficr iIcy'rc dcad.
TIcrc isn'i appcal in ii, I'vc Icard."
I don'i cvcn lnow wIai an inculus is," sIc rcplicd flaily.
Hc sigIcd. A dcmon iIai uscs sc as a mcans of sucling iIc lifc forcc
oui of iis viciims. Pcoplc don'i usually survivc lcing iargcicd ly an inculus or
succulus."
Targcicd?"
TIcy usually go io iIcir viciims ovcr a scrics of nigIis, ialc iIcir lifc
cncrgy, and lcavc iIcm iircd and wasicd. Evcniually, iIc Iuman dics and iIc
inculus movcs on."
Fascinaiing," sIc said flaily.
EvcryiIing iIai Ic Iad iold Icr sccmcd ouilandisI and ficiional, lui if
iIcrc uus somc sori of law and ordcr in iIis crazy-paranormal-iccn-ficiion-
romancc-murdcr-mysicry, iIai sIc was apparcnily siucl in, iIcn sIc was
going io lclicvc ii. Dccausc, dcspiic iIc alsoluic faniasiic naiurc of iIc cniirc
ialc, a govcrnmcni madc cvcryiIing morc concrcic. Yci, Iis siory of murdcr
and iniriguc was a liiilc ioo mucI io ialc in ai iIc momcni.
Lool, I'm only iclling you lccausc I Iopc you'll rcalizc iIai wIai
Iappcncd io you was an accidcni. I was ai iIai dancc lccausc girls from your
scIool wcrc viciims so I iIougIi I'd scc if any supcrnaiurals wcrc iIcrc."
SIc raiscd an cyclrow. And?"
TIcrc wcrc iwo. Onc you lnowLconardo."
Xillia cougIcd and sirugglcd io siiiing posiiion. WaiiwIai?"
And iIc oiIcr is somc sIori lid. I don'i rcmcmlcr rcally wcll. Could
Iavc lccn a gollin."
JarciI?"
WIai?"
Ncvcr mind. Is Lco a vampirc?" sIc aslcd.
No, wc rccognizc our own lind," Ic answcrcd alscnily. Dclicvc ii or noi,
ii isn'i uncommon io find supcrnaiurals in Iuman placcs lilc scIools. Somc of
iIcm lilc inicraciion lui iIcir own spccics arcn'i rcally vcry sociallc, so iIcy
go io iIc mosi condcnscd arcas of Iuman aciiviiy iIcy can find. TIai usually
cnds up lcing scIools."
Xillia found all iIis io lc vcry curious, lilc a lad paranormal-iccn-
romancc lool. SIc did noi wani io cnd up lcing caugIi up in onc of iIosc.
Lucius loolcd a lii disiracicd, cIccling Icr around all sidcs, sligIily
afraid of ioucIing Icr. Ar-arc you fccling alrigIi?"
SIc scowlcd ai Iim. No."
Hc noddcd solcmnly. You nccd io fccd," Ic concludcd.
SIc grimaccd. EurgI, no, I don'i."
Hc groancd. WIy arc you so difficuli?"
SIc loolcd away from Iim. Arc you rcally going io crasc Fivcrs'
mcmory?"
Lucius lii Iis lip. I Iavc io. Wc can'i lci morials lnow aloui us."
Xillia's iIroai iigIicncd a lii. SIc Iuggcd Icr lnccs io Icr cIcsi and
poinicdly loolcd away from Iim.
I'm sorry," Lucius comforicd. I rcally am."

12

DcaiI's Fcrry

EIausiion Iad ialcn ovcr Xillia far ioo quiclly. Lucius pui Icr io slccp
on Iis lcd downsiairs. SIc didn'i lilc ii, lui ii sccmcd lilc sIc was siucl wiiI
Iim for iIc iimc lcing, cspccially in Icr wcalcncd siaic.
SIc slcpi iill nigIifall. Ai iIai iimc, sIc fcli wcll cnougI, iIougI sIc
didn'i lool ii, io gci up and wall around, allcii a liiilc slowly. SIc irudgcd up
iIc siairs inio Lucius' living room wIcrc Ic was maling a pIonc call in IusIcd
ioncs.
Hc sigIcd, WIcrc do I go?" Hc iurncd a lii on iIc spoi wiiI Iis llacl
pIonc Icld io Iis car. Hc iurncd a lii morc and spoiicd Xillia in iIc cniryway.
I'll Iavc io call you lacl," Ic muiicrcd, snapping iIc pIonc sIui. How
arc you fccling?" Ic aslcd, siriding ovcr io Icr.
Xillia glarcd ai Iim. Noi wcll," sIc griiicd oui. Arc you lcaving
somcwIcrc?"
Lucius' pIonc luzzcd in Iis Iand. Hc opcncd ii and cIcclcd Iis
mcssagc. Hc glanccd lacl ovcr ai Xillia. Wc'rc lcaving somcwIcrc," Ic
answcrcd vagucly.
WIcrc?"
I Iavc io cIccl somciIing oui. Sccing as Iow you'rc awalc, I can'i lcavc
you alonc Icrc." SIc purscd Icr lips, glaring ai Iim cvcn morc. Lucius gavc Icr
a oncc ovcr. SIocs," Ic muiicrcd.
Scowling, Xillia siompcd lacl downsiairs and lacl up a minuic laicr
wiiI loois sIovcd on Icr fcci. SIc glarcd ai Lucius all iIc way oui of iIc Iousc
io Iis car. TIcy goi inio Iis ncw Musiang CT and drovc off.
Lucius navigaicd iIrougI iIc IapIazard sirccis wcll cnougI, lui noi
quiic up io Xillia's lilingIc drovc far ioo quiclly. Ii was far ioo similar io Icr
laic unclc, iIc cracl addici. Cood iIing Xillia's moiIcr figurcd oui Unclc Dcn's
issucs lcforc ii was ioo laic, and in iimc io scIool Icr lroiIcr Dcn on iIc
Iazards of drugslilc Iaving iIc samc namc madc iIcm cqually susccpiillc io
sucI iIings.
Ncarly cracling up ai iIc mcmorypun inicndcdXillia wildly iIougIi
of somciIing io solcr Icrsclf up; ii wasn'i iIc iimc io lc laugIing. SIc iurncd
io lool ai Lucius. Hc was vcry focuscd on iIc road.
TIai Iousc isn'i yours?" sIc aslcd.
Hc glanccd ovcr ai Icr. UI, no, ii's a fricnd of iIc Durcau's. SIc's on
vacaiion and agrccd io lci mc siay ai Icr Iousc for iIc invcsiigaiion. I livc in
L.A."
HuI." Xillia noddcd.
Wcll," Ic coniinucd, sIaling Iis Icad, I uscd io livc in L.A. I sold my
Iousc a ycar ago lccausc iIc Durcau dccidcd io scnd mc alroad for a wIilc for
anoiIcr invcsiigaiion. Dui I goi lacl a couplc of moniIs ago.only io lc scni
off again." Hc smilcd rucfully iIcn loolcd ai Icr wiiI Iis picrcing purplc cycs.
Xillia didn'i lnow wIai io say.
Lucius drovc io iIc cdgc of iown. Hc rodc smooiIly on iIc winding
IigIway iIai passcd iIrougI a largc forcsi of pinc irccs. Hc drovc carcfully
uniil Ic mci wiiI a sligIi iurn off. Xillia siudicd iIc iurn off. SIc'd lccn iIcrc
lcforc.
WIcrc arc wc going?" sIc aslcd slowly, iurning io lool ai Iim.
Crimc sccnc," Ic murmurcd, looling passcd iIc irccs.
Xillia followcd Iis cycs and saw iIc lrigIi, flasIing lluc and rcd ligIis of
cmcrgcncy vcIiclcs from aiop iIc pincs in iIc disiancc, a lcacon io losi souls.
Lucius iurncd Iis car onio iIc diri road and siaricd iIrougI iIc windy woods.
Hc found a small clcaring and drovc Iis car undcr iIc covcr of iIc foliagc.
Hc goi oui of iIc car, and Xillia followcd suii. Hc lcd Icr iIrougI iIc
forcsi, up iIc small Iill, ioward iIc flasIing ligIis. As iIc irccs clcarcd lcforc
iIcm, iIcy could scc morc clcarly iIc commoiion. Xillia's fcars wcrc rcalizcd.
NoiIing could Iavc prcparcd Icr for wIai awaiicd Icr on iIai normally loncly
clcaring ai iIc iop of iIc Iill. TIcrc was only onc pcrson wIo livcd ai iIai cdgc
of iown, on iIai grassy Iillii was SicpIi.
As iIcy rcacIcd iIc cdgc of iIc irccs, Xillia was allc io ialc in iIc cniirc
sccnc. SicpIi's small coiiagc rcsicd ncaily aiop iIc Iill, surroundcd ly ficlds of
iall grass. On cvcry oiIcr occasion, Icr ploi was circmcly piciurcsquc. Xillia
rccallcd days visiiing SicpIi on cold spring mornings wIcn iIcy would run oui
inio Icr lawn, jumping and scrcaming wildly in iIc iall grass. Ii was lilc a
drcam iIai sIc oficn wisIcd would ncvcr cnd. Dui, ii always did wiiI iIc
arrival of Lucy. Lucy icndcd io command iIc aiicniion of cvcryonc in iIc
group, and lccp Iold of ii uniil sIc lcfi. And aficr sIc lcfi, iIings would dic
down, lcaving dusi in Icr walc. TIosc days may Iavc lccn iIc lcginning of
Xillia's rcscnimcni.
Howcvcr, iIc mcmory was losi in iIc commoiion and panic. Amlulanccs
and policc cars wcrc parlcd all around Icr Iousc, lciiing off iIc rcd ligIis. SIc
Icard a picrcing wail, and soon found iIai iIc owncr of iIai wail was SicpIi's
wispy moiIcr, wIo was lcing draggcd oui of Icr Iousc ly iwo policcmcn.
Xillia siaricd forward, lui Lucius sioppcd Icr. Waii Icrc," Ic
commandcd quicily.
SIc lcgan io proicsi, lui Ic disappcarcd lcforc sIc goi a word oui. SIc
loolcd oui ioward iIc Iousc again. All iIc ligIis wcrc on, and sIc could scc
insidc, cvcn from Icr disiancc, all iIc lusy pcoplc moving io and fro. Dui, iIcy
all sccmcd io lc ccnicrcd on onc placcSicpIi's lcdroom, locaicd around iIc
oiIcr sidc of iIc Iousc. WiiIoui cvcn iIinling iwicc, Xillia siolc from Icr
sIadowy Iidcaway, away from iIc criclci noiscs and owl calls, and wispcd
iIrougI iIc grass, silcni as a cai. SIc madc ii around all iIc vcIiclcs and
ncarcd iIc cdgc of iIc Iousc. Founding iIc corncr, sIc duclcd fasi inio a
lusI io avoid lcing sccn ly a passing policcwoman. WIcn sIc was oui of vicw,
Xillia iipiocd furiIcr around iIc Iousc uniil sIc mci wiiI iIc undcrlclly of
SicpIi's window.
TIc room wasn'i cacily Iow Xillia lasi saw ii. TIc modcsi, wIiic vaniiy
on onc sidc Iad a lrolcn mirror and iIc siool lay a fcw fcci away. SicpIi's
iIings wcrc scaiicrcd around among iIc lrolcn glass and dcsiroycd flowcrs. A
crowd of pcoplc wcrc milling aloui, somc wcrc ialing piciurcs of oljccis wiiI
ycllow cards nci io iIcm, wIilc oiIcrs wcrc lrusIing off iicms or lagging
cvidcncc.
Dui wIai caugIi Xillia's cyc iIc mosi was iIc llood splaiicr on iIc
lrolcn mirror iIai irailcd around iIc room uniil ii sioppcd wIcrc SicpIi's
lody lay on iIc musscd lcd. SIc was complcicly cposcd, and Icr lody loolcd
as if somconc Iad iosscd Icr onio iIc lcd in a lrolcn Icap. Somc of Icr limls
wcrc slcwcd ai disiurling anglcs. Hcr Iands wcrc clcarly lrolcn in a sligIi
pool of llood iIai surroundcd Icr Icad. Dui wIai was iIc mosi sIocling
aloui SicpIi was iIc faci iIai Icr lloody jaw Iung ioo looscly, Icr lrigIi lluc
cycs wcrc widc wiiI fcar ai a forcc iIai sIc could only pray io dcfcai, and dricd
llacl icar sircals siaincd Icr Icari-sIapcd facc.
Ii was onc of iIosc awful sccncs iIai Xillia could noi siop looling ai no
maiicr Iow mucI ii disgusicd and disiurlcd Icr. SIc simply siood, ouisidc
SicpIi's window, looling in ai iIc Icrd of policc iIai loolcd upon Icr wiiI sad,
calculaiing cycs. TIcy wcrc sorry sIc Iad io dic, lui iIcy lncw iIai any
cvidcncc and lcads oliaincd from iIis cpcricncc would only scrvc io
sircngiIcn iIcir casc againsi iIc pcrson wIo did iIis io Icr. TIcy didn'i wani
io lool ioo Iard ai iIc lrolcn and lcaicn girl lying on iIc lcd.
Incrcdillc sadncss fillcd Xillia. SicpIi Iad lccn onc of Icr lcsi fricnds
for as long as sIc could rcmcmlcr. And, dcspiic iIc faci iIai sIc Iad lccomc
cngrosscd in Lucy's dominccring prcscncc so mucI iIai sIc lccamc jusi
anoiIcr lcycIain on Icr puffcd oui lcy ring, Xillia siill fcli Icr loss dccp
insidc. SIc rcmcmlcrcd iIc days wIcn SicpIi was jusi iIai swcci innoccni girl
from iIc wrong sidc of iown. Early in Icr youiI, SicpIi Iad lccn iIc ouicasi,
sIc'd lccn iIc onc no onc wanicd io Iang around lccausc sIc lclongcd io a
lowcr class. DanisIcd from sociciy ai liriI, SicpIi fcli nonc of iIc conicmpi,
lrusIing away iIc displcascd lools from iIc wcaliIicr ciiizcns of iIai small
iown. Howcvcr, Icr family Iad livcd in iIai small iown sincc as far as ii Iad
lccn csiallisIcd. TIc IigIcr" class Iad simply movcd in lccausc iIcy could
afford io livc wcll off in a small iown iIai was scparaicd from iIc middlc class
ciiics and sulurls. WiiI all of iIis, SicpIi Iad mainiaincd a pridc in lcing onc
of iIc original founding familics, dcspiic Icr rclaiivc povcriy.
As iIcy grcw up, iIougI, iIcir world lccamc morc aloui lools iIan
aciual lills in iIc wallci. Populariiy was dcicrmincd ly iIosc wIo ooIcd iIc
pari. So, wiiI all Icr prciiy aiiriluics, SicpIi Iad movcd Icr way up io iIc n
crowd. Ii was onc of iIc iIings iIai Xillia Iad noiiccd as sIc siaricd io rcalizc
Icr iruc siiuaiion wiiI Icr fricnds." SIc Iad rcalizcd iIai SicpIi Iad lccomc
jusi as mucI a puddlc of waicr as Lucy and Mara.
Dui now SicpIi's lifc lay in a manglcd mcss on Icr own lcd. Dloody
sircals sIoclcd Xillia's cycs. TIc rcd siood oui painfully againsi iIc IarsI
ycllow ligIiing. Hcr iIroai lcgan io iicI and lurn. SIc swallowcd dryly and
iricd io icar Icrsclf away from iIc sccnc. Yci, Icr cycs wouldn'i darc io lool
away from iIc spillcd llood on iIc walls. SIc rcmaincd in iIc sIadows,
paralyzcd io iIc ground ly Icr iIirsi. Hcr gums acIcd violcnily.
As if Icr lody Iad lccn ialcn ovcr, sIc incIcd forward jcrlily ioward iIc
ligIi of iIc opcn window. SIc rcacIcd oui a Iand and
A sirong arm iorc Icr away from iIc Iorrid sccnc, dragging Icr
laclward inio iIc darlncss away from iIc Iousc. SIc siaricd io cry oui, lui a
Iand smaclcd ovcr Icr mouiI. Xillia was lrougIi lacl inio iIc woods, lcavcs
craclling lcncaiI Icr. TIc Iands jcrlcd Icr around and sIovcd Icr againsi a
ircc. SIc loolcd inio a pair of angry purplc cycs and sioppcd siruggling. Ii was
Lucius iIc lasiard.
WIai iIc Ic arc you doing Icrc!" Ic Iisscd ai Icr. I tod you io siay
ovcr tIc)c!
SIc lrolc frcc from Iim and spai lacl, I was looling for SicpIi,
olviously!"
YcaI, wcll sIc's oIuousu dcad!"
Don'i iIinl I didn'i jusi rcalizc iIai, you dumlass!"
You siill sIouldn'i lc Icrc!"
Lucius loolcd ovcr Icr sIouldcr and grallcd Icr arm oncc morc,
dragging Icr away, fariIcr inio iIc iIiclci.
Hcy! Hcy lci go of mc!"
Xillia siaricd io sirugglc oui of Iis linding grip so Ic grallcd Icr around
Icr waisi and flippcd Icr ovcr Iis sIouldcr. Yci again, in iIai posiiion. Ii was
so complcicly Iumiliaiing. SIc sioppcd irying io Iuri Iim, rcsigning Icrsclf io
Iim. SIc wasn'i gciiing anywIcrc siruggling anyIow. SIc placcd an cllow on
Iis lacl as Ic wallcd and siarcd lcIind iIcm angrily.
SIc Icard iIc Iooiing of an owl ncarly, and jusi as sIc siaricd io grow
lorcd, sIc spoiicd somciIing jusi a fcw yards away in iIc sIadow of onc of iIc
iall, iIicl pincs. Lucius coniinucd io wall, lui Xillia siraincd Icr cycs io scc
iIc figurclccausc sIc could icll iIai ii was a pcrsonagc of somc lindin iIc
growing disiancc.
Lucius," sIc Iisscd, smacling Iis lacl.
OucI, you can forgci ii, I'm noi puiiing you down," Ic muiicrcd lacl.
No, scriously! TIcrc's somconc ovcr iIcrc! Jcsus, Ic's ]ooung us!" sIc
gripcd. WIy arcn'i you siopping?!"
Lool, if iIcrc rcally is a guy following us"
I'm noi lying, dumlass!"
iIcn I'm noi going io siop lccausc iIai'll alcri wIocvcr ii is," Ic
wIispcrcd lacl, cIccling ovcr Iis sIouldcr furiivcly.
Xillia waicIcd iIcir pursucr as if Ic wcrc somc spidcr on iIc wall of Icr
laiIroom. SIc waicIcd Iim so inicnily sIc was surc iIai Ic lncw iIai sIc
spoiicd Iim.
I'm prciiy surc iIis guy docsn'i carc iIai I lnow Ic's iIcrc," Xillia said
in a low voicc.
WIai docs Ic lool lilc?" Lucius aslcd, coniinuing ai a sligIily fasicr
pacc.
I can'i rcally icllii's darl. Dui Ic sccms prciiy iall," sIc murmurcd.
Xillia squinicd ai iIcir siallcr; Ic sccmcd io lc picling up iIc pacc. Jusi iIcn,
Ic passcd inio a small ray of moonligIi iIrougI iIc irccs. Hcr cycs widcncd.
OI my Cod, I iIinl I'vc sccn Iim lcforc!"
WIcrc?" Lucius aslcd sIarply.
I.Cccz, I larcly saw Iim for a splii sccond. Ii was ioo fasi lui Iis
fcaiurcs sccmcd familiar, I can'i placc ii," sIc answcrcd, prcssing Icr lips
iogciIcr.
Somconc you lncw?" Lucius qucsiioncd.
Cod, I don'i lnow, maylc I didn'i scc Iim rigIi. I can larcly rcmcmlcr
now," sIc sigIcd.
Lucius narrowcd Iis cycs ai iIc irccs aIcad. Hmmm." Hc grippcd
Xillia ovcr Iis sIouldcr morc iigIily. Hang on," Ic muiicrcd, I'm going io
diicI Iim."
Xillia larcly Iad iimc io gaiIcr wIai Ic mcani lcforc Lucius zappcd off
inio iIc irccs, moving vampirc spccd iIrougI iIc pincs and lusIcs. TIc imagc
of iIai pcrsonagc flcd Icr lcforc sIc could gasp ai Lucius' spccd. And wIcn
sIc finally did gasp, sIc cndcd up Iolding iigIi for dcar lifc, fccling iIc
awlwardncss of Icr posiiion ovcr Iis sIouldcr ai lcngiI. Howcvcr, iIcy soon
camc io a jogging siop as iIcy rcacIcd iIc clcaring wIcrc Lucius Iad parlcd
Iis Musiang. Hc sci Icr down prompily, allowing Icr io smooiI Icr sIiri and
gaiIcr Icr surroundings.
How did iIai guy cvcn lnow wc wcrc iIcrc?" sIc finally aslcd aficr
gulping down lrcaiIs of air.
Lucius pondcrcd iIai for a momcni. I Iavc no idca. Dui I'm lciiing iIai
wasn'i jusi somc Iuman from iIc crimc sccnc. Could Iavc lccn our lillcr."
WIai?" sIc cclaimcd. Co aficr Iim iIcn! Dcforc Ic lills somconc clsc!"
Hc's prolally gonc ly now. TIc mosi imporiani iIing was gciiing you
safc," Ic rcplicd cvcnly, lcading Icr lacl io Iis car ly iIc cllow.
SIc sIovcd away from Iim. DullsIii! I'm dcad alrcady. I don'i nccd
proicciion."
You don'i Iavc any idca wIai you nccd," Ic iold Icr scvcrcly. And you
don'i cvcn undcrsiand wIai you arc."
Dislclicf crosscd Icr facc. Arc you lidding? I'm a frcaling vampirc,
Lucius. I'm supposcd lc iIc unIoly siallcr of iIc nigIi, or somciIing. I
prolally siill Iavc io lill somconc io complcic my iransformaiion."
Lucius sigIcd, sIaling Iis Icad. Hc grallcd Icr cllow and siaricd
lcading Icr lacl io iIc car. Sialling is siill crccpy in my lool"
TIai's surprising."
And you don'i Iavc io lill unuonc. Noi if you plan on lcing an.
upsianding mcmlcr of iIc undcad sociciy."
SIc rollcd Icr cycs, gciiing inio iIc passcngcr scai. Lucius sigIcd and
goi in as wcll. Hc siaricd iIc cnginc and rollcd oui onio iIc winding, diri drivc
lacl io iIc IigIway.
Xillia siarcd angrily oui iIc window. In no iimc, iIcy cndcd up lacl on
iIc main sirccis in iIc morc populaicd pari of iown.
WIy is ii iIai wc can'i Iavc a dcccni convcrsaiion?" Ic aslcd as iIcy
drovc down a largc road iIai connccicd io a scrics of rcsidcniial sirccis.
Dccausc you'rc an arrogani, womanizing, lying lasiard," sIc rcplicd
maiicr-of-facily.
Hcy," Ic said sIarply, I am nonc of iIosc iIings, cspccially iIc
womanizing pari."
OI rcally?"
Ycs rcally!"
You licd io mc lasically iIc cniirc iimc wc'vc lnown cacI oiIcr! WIicI
isn'i iIai long. You iIinl you can jusi comc inio my lifc and ialc cIargc of
cvcryiIing. I gci iIai you'rc prolally a-lillion-ycars-old, lui iIis is iIc iwcniy-
firsi ccniury, and womcn ialc carc of iIcmsclvcs!"
So iIosc arc all iIc rcasons you don'i lilc mc?"
I iIougIi wc'vc lccn ovcr iIis! I don'i lilc you lccausc you lillcd mc"
YcaI and lrougIi you lacl!" Ic inicrjccicd.
To uIut! I Iavc no fricnds, no family, noi anyiIing!"
You Iavc mc," Ic rcplicd quicily.
Fai loi of Iclp iIai did mc," sIc snappcd lacl.
Hc was silcni io a fcw minuics as Ic siarcd ai iIc road in froni of Iim.
I'm only iIiriy-ycars-old," Ic said aficr iIcy iurncd a corncr, I was
ninciccn wIcn I dicd and I'vc lccn a vampirc cvcr sincc. I was iurncd ly a
woman namcd Majoricl."
WIy arc you icll" sIc lcgan lui Lucius cui Icr off.
SIc rcally was cvil. SIc was irying io luild up powcr so sIc jusi iurncd
young guys, lilc mc, inio vampircs io lccomc Icr.pcis. Mosi followcd Icr
willingly lui I was ncvcr cvcn prc-inclincd io do Ialf of iIc iIings sIc wanicd
us io do. I won'i go inio dciails ii's.grucsomc. I was cvcniually rccruiicd ly
iIc Durcau io lc a doullc agcni and Iclp ialc down Icr organizaiion from iIc
insidc. SIc was always Icll lcni on us crcaiurcs of iIc nigIi using our powcr
io conirol Iumans, lui mosi simply wani io lc lcfi alonc. 'Livc and lci livc' is
wIai mosi pcoplc would say. Dasically, a loi of siuff Iappcncd wiiI Icr, and
now iIc govcrnmcni lnows io wIai cicni somc of iIc morc.radical pcoplc
will go io gain powcr and conirol. TIai is wIy iIc Durcau, and mysclf includcd,
Iavc dcdicaicd iIcir livcs io irying io siop iIis lind of cvil in iis iracls."
Xillia didn'i rcally wani io Icar all iIis. SIc fcli iIai if sIc Icard all of
iIis iIcn sIc'd lc forccd io sympaiIizc wiiI somconc wIom sIc was inclincd
io Iaic. And if sIc didn'i lccp Iold of Icr Iaic, Ic'd cnd up smuggling Iis way
inio Icr Icari. Dui, cvcn so, sIc was forccd io sii and lisicn io Iis siory, and in
iIc cnd, Icr Icari lci a lii of iIai cold, Iard Iaic lc cIippcd away. Aficr all, Ic
uus lillcd jusi lilc Icr, cvcn if Iis was for purc sclfisI rcasons. SIc lncw iIai
Lucius lclicvcd Ic Iad donc iIc rigIi iIing in iurning Icr, cvcn if Ic Iad lccn
iIc causc of Icr misforiuncs.
As iIcy drovc down anoiIcr road, Xillia mullcd all iIis ovcr in Icr Icad.
TIc sidcligIis of iIc sirccis wcrc flasIing ly in Iazy wIims and cars wcrc
filling up iIc gaps in lciwccn.
Aficr a momcni sIc said quicily, I.lilc lais."
WIai?"
I Iavc a iIing for lais," sIc rciicraicd, looling poinicdly oui iIc
window, ii was Ioncsily an cmlarrassing faci aloui Icr iIai sIc wisIcd io
lccp Icr sccrci olscssion. SIc fcli olligaicd io givc somciIing lacl aficr Iis
vcry pcrsonal siory.
Lucius was looling ai Xillia wiiI Iis mouiI opcn in a small o.
Eycs on iIc road," sIc snappcd and Ic quiclly rciurncd Iis gazc lacl
io wIai lay in froni of Iim.
.You arcn'i going io asl if I can iurn inio a lai now, arc you?" Ic
aslcd icasingly.
No," sIc rcplicd complcicly irriiaicd iIai sIc opcncd up iIis can of
worms, I was jusi saying."
AI, you iIougIi you sIould say somciIing lccausc I said somciIing,"
Ic rcplicd sagcly.
SIui up," Xillia dccidcd iIai iIc ouisidc of iIc window was a mucI
lciicr placc io lool iIan ovcr ai Lucius' smug facc.
Wcll," Ic lcgan again, I iIinl iIai ii's quiic cndcaring iIai you Iavc
iIai lind of olscssion, iIai is, if you don'i siari asling mc io iurn inio a lai."
I said sIui up."
Lucius loolcd ovcr ai Xillia wIo was siaring oui iIc window, and in iIc
window's rcflcciion Ic could scc Icr palc facc scruncIcd up in an annoycd
cprcssion iIai Ic found cvcn morc cndcaring iIan Icr olscssion. His gazc
iravcllcd down iIc rcsi of Icr lody. WIcn Ic loolcd up, sIc Iad caugIi Iim
looling ai Icr.
Eycs on iIc road," sIc said sIarply.
Hc iurncd Iis gazc lacl wiiI a mumllcd, Sorry."
Xillia rcsumcd siaring oui iIc window, wondcring wIai Iis prollcm was.

13

Arrogani Dasiard

Xillia spcni anoiIcr day wiiI Lucius, unforiunaicly. Dui ii wasn'i as if
sIc uuntcd io. Hc Iad madc a poini of siaying around iIc Iousc io lccp an
cyc on Icr. SIc lcpi wondcring if Ic was cuc) going io lcavc so sIc'd gci iIc
cIancc io sncal away io Cod lnow wIcrc.
Dui wIaicvcr Icr faniasics migIi Iavc lccn, sIc spiicfully lncw iIc
rcaliiy of Icr siiuaiion. SIc Iad alsoluicly no moncy, no coniacis, and no
prospccis wIaisocvcr. In sIori, sIc lncw sIc'd Iavc io siicl around Lucius
uniil sIc could figurc oui a way io lcavc Iim forcvcr. TIai, Iowcvcr, sccmcd
lilc a far-fcicIcd drcam ai iIis poini.
Lucius, iIougI lccping a closc waicI on Icr, spcni mosi of Iis iimc on
iIc pIonc in IusIcd ioncs iIrougIoui iIc day. Hc oficn iurncd away io
answcr a call aloui somc mysicrious iIing, lccping Xillia gucssing ai wIai Ic
aciually was doing.
Evcniually, wIcn iIc sun Iad finally sci, Lucius dccidcd ii was iimc io
luy ncw cloiIcs for Iis progcny. Xillia didn'i lilc lcing rcfcrrcd io as Iis
progcny, lui sIc did rcccivc iIc ncws of a sIopping irip vcry wcll. So, iIcy
pilcd inio Iis Musiang and drovc off ioward iIc Mall of Amcrica.
TIcir iown iIai rcsicd somcwIcrc in iIc pcripIcry of Minncapolis,
Minncsoia, ncarcr io Dloomingion, didn'i coniain any mall ai all, io iIc
dcrision of Xillia and Icr fricnds." Trips io iIc Mall of Amcrica wcrc rclaiivcly
scarcc and iIcy simply Iad io malc do wiiI iIc louiiqucs iIai opcncd up in
iIc sIopping ccnicr of iown. So, in conclusion, Xillia was raiIcr cciicd for iIis
irip, iIougI sIc wasn'i aloui io lci Lucius in on Icr sccrci Iappincss.
TIc Mall of Amcrica was.giganiic io pui ii mildly. Walling insidc fcli
lilc a comlusiion of aciiviiy. SIops lincd cvcry incI around iIc largc
wallways. Pcoplc millcd aloui, crowding cvcry cmpiy spacc. Xillia and Lucius
pusIcd iIcir way iIrougI, irying io find a lcss crowdcd siorc io cnicr. Xillia
spoiicd iIc Forcvcr 21 and madc a lcclinc for ii. SIc figurcd if Lucius wcrc
paying for ii, sIc'd gci wIaicvcr iIc Iccl sIc wanicd. Cuili would lc Iis
moiivaior.
SIc smirlcd as sIc sicppcd up iIc largc, iwo-siory Forcvcr 21. SIc
slimmcd Icr cycs across iIc froni display. A lrilliani grccn drcss, so darl ii
was ncarly llacl, caugIi Icr cycs. SIc cycd ii wiiI wondcr. Ii ccriainly would
lool spcciacular on Icr. Ii would lring oui Icr grccn cycs and acccniuaic Icr
lcgs. Dcforc sicpping insidc, sIc glanccd around for Lucius. Hc was siill
lumlling iIrougI iIc crowds across iIc way. SIc frowncd.
Dui somciIing clsc caugIi Icr cyc. SIc was so sIoclcd, sIc simply
siarcd, dumlfoundcd, as iIcy iravcllcd across Scc's Candics and CamcSiop.
WIy in iIc world wcrc tIosc tuo iIcrc?
Tcaring Icrsclf away from iIc drcss, sIc iool in iIc forms of Lco and
Mara, aiiacIcd io Iim lilc a larnaclc, walling down iIc opposiic sidc of iIc
mall. Hc was wcaring lluc jcans wiiI a limc grccn swcaicr iIai, surprisingly,
wcni wcll wiiI Iis darl lrown Iair and icy lluc cycs. Mara was wcaring a iiny
pair of jcan sIoris wiiI a iulc iop iIai siucl io Icr lody lilc gluc.
Insianily, sIc lcgan io follow. SIc slippcd iIrougI iIc crowd, joining iIc
proccssion of pcoplc walling in iIc samc dircciion as sIc. Xillia crancd Icr
nccl io lccp iIcir Icads wiiIin vicw. TIcy iurncd a corncr and disappcarcd
from vicw. Crumlling, Xillia sIovcd Icr way iIrougI uniil sIc saw wIcrc iIcy
Iad wcni. TIc Macy's sIonc iall and lcauiiful in froni of Icr.
Taling a momcni io alsorl iis gloriousncss, sIc found Lco and Mara
Icading iIrougI iIc racls. Xillia acrolaiically mancuvcrcd Icr way ovcr io iIc
cnirancc, following iIcm ai a small disiancc. TIcy Iad gonc siraigIi for iIc
pciiic womcn's scciion. Xillia rollcd Icr cycs. Any guy ung io go sIop wiiI a
girl Iad io lc suspicious on somc lcvcl. Xillia Iid lcIind a racl of iwcniy-
pcrccni-off cloiIing ncar Lco and Mara. Mara Iad pullcd oui a palc pinl
cIiffon mini-drcss io wIicI sIc sIowcd Lco Icariily.
Mara Icld ii up io Icr slinny framc and aslcd, WIai do you iIinl?"
TIc million-dollar qucsiion for any guy, lui, cvcn so, Xillia Iad io Iand
ii io MarasIc lncw wIai loolcd good wiiI Icr aulurn Iair, musly lrown
cycs and crcamy palc slin.
Siunning," Lco rcplicd. Pc)]cct. Too pc)]cct.
So, Lco," Mara lcgan, doing a liiilc iwirl, I wondcr wIcn I'll gci io wcar
iIis."
OI, uc)u suItc, iIougIi Xillia.
Lco movcd in closc and wIispcrcd somciIing in Mara's car. SIc gigglcd
and sIuddcrcd.
OI iIai's so Iud, sIc fliricd sIamclcssly. Xillia could Iavc slappcd Icr.
Xillia narrowcd Icr cycs ai Lco. Lucius Iad iold Icr Ic was a
supcrnaiural, lui Ic couldn'i say uIut Lco was. And, could ii Iavc simply
lccn coincidcncc, now iIai sIc iIougIi aloui ii, iIai Ic daicd Lucy lcforc sIc
dicd? And Ic was fricnds wiiI SicpIi lcforc sIc dicd? Now Ic sccmcd io
maling iIc movcs on liiilc, ignorani Mara larcly aficr Iis g)])cnd dicd?
Lucius Iad cplaincd iIai an inculus, a sc dcmon, was lcIind iIc rapc-
murdcrs. Could Lco lc iIc culprii? Could Ic lc iIc onc iIai sIc Iad sccn in
iIc woods iIc prcvious nigIi?
TIai was wIcn sIc rcmcmlcrcd Icr days in iIc Iospiial. DcaiI Iad
lccn so suddcn, sIc Iad forgoiicn aloui wIai sIc noiiccd in Icr fragilc siaic.
Lco Iad darlncss wiiIin Iim. SIc rcmcmlcrcd iIc lasi iimc sIc saw Lucy. SIc
was cmaciaicdnoi as lad as Xillia, lui siill prciiy cmaciaicd looling. Lco
sccmcd morc invigoraicd. Ii sccmcd io fii niccly wiiI wIai Lucius Iad
dcscrilcd.
Dui was Ic iIc onc sIc spoiicd in iIc woods? SIc pondcrcd iIis. SIc
supposcd Ic coud Iavc lccn, lui sIc siill didn'i fccl rigIi aloui iIai
conclusion.
SIuiicring oui of Icr iIougIis, sIc noiiccd Mara and Lco moving away
ioward iIc drcssing room. Xillia jumpcd iIrougI iIc racls as inconspicuously
as sIc could, and lcai Mara inio iIc drcssing room.
Vagucly, sIc Icard Lco say, Comc oui Icrc and sIow ii io mc wIcn you
pui ii on!"
Xillia quiclly Iid lcIind onc of iIc doors, waicIing ai an anglc wIcrc
Mara was Icadcd. WIcn sIc piclcd a drcssing room, Xillia movcd io iIc onc
rigIi ncarly. Truc io Icr cIaracicr, Mara madc a pIonc call.
HcyIi! Joy? YcaI. I ioially Iavc ncws for you."
UI-IuI. YcaI. Cool. WIa? OI ycaI! Ii's aloui Lco!"
Ycs, I am awarc Lucy ]ust dicd! Dui, wIai, sIould iIc wIolc world siop
spinning or somciIing?! Pcoplc daic oiIcr pcoplc! Ii's noi lilc ii's wriiicn down
anywIcrc noi io daic your dcad fricnd's loyfricnd. Jccz."
."
Lool, lalc, I don'i scc iIc prollcm wiiI ii, olay? I mcan Ic iold mc
ycsicrday iIai Ic was Iaving prollcms wiiI Icr so ii's noi lilc iIcy wcrc daiing
wIcn sIc dicd. Jccz."
."
YcaI, lool wIo is ialling! You ioially Incu Islcs lilcd Crcgory and you
jusi dccidcd io cai Iim up!"
Xillia accidcnially snappcd a Iangcr.
Wcll, lool, wIaicvcr, olay?! c aslcd nc oui! So ii's noi lilc I could
rcfusc His Corgcousncss! .YcaI! I'm scrious. Hc cvcn Iinicd iIai Ic'd lilc,
you lnow, wani a liiilc.somciIing."
."
No, Ic did noi say ii oui loud, lui I lnow wIcn a guy wanis ii, olay?"
."
Ha! YcaI, iIcy lind of always," sIc laugIcd inio iIc pIonc, lool, lalc,
I goiia go, olay? YcaI. Lovc ya. 'Dyc!"
SIc Icard iIc snap sIui of iIc pIonc and iIc opcning of iIc siall door.
Xillia iool Icr cIancc as Mara slippcd away. SIc slid inio Mara's siall and
quiclly found Icr pIonc in Icr Prada pursc. Xillia glanccd Icr Icad oui of iIc
siall iIcn quiclly poclcicd iIc pIonc and slippcd oui of Mara's siall. On Icr
way oui of iIc fiiiing room sIc grallcd a Iai, siuffcd Icr Iair inio ii, and
pullcd ii on io covcr Icr facc.
Mara was doing a liiilc iwirl, fasIion sIow for Lco a liiilc off io iIc sidc,
and lcforc iIcy could noiicc Icr, sIc slippcd inio iIc racls of cloiIing oncc
morc, placing iIc Iai away on a random Iangcr.
Fcnding Icr way iIrougI iIc rows of cloiIing sIc fcli Icr Icari lcai
fasicr for no apparcni rcason. SIc rcacIcd iIc clcaring lciwccn scciions and
was cposcd for a sccond. Dui iIai was all ii iool for Lucius, wIo Iad lccn
wandcring around Macy's, io spoi Icr, and inicrccpi Icr on iIc way oui io iIc
main arca of iIc mall.
WIcrc uc)c you?!" Ic dcmandcd.
Xillia iricd io sIalc Iim off, lui Ic pullcd Icr away inio a sIadowy
corncr ncar iIc circular malc up and pcrfumc iallcs.
You can'i jusi go wandcring around wiiIoui mc!" Ic Iisscd.
SIc scoffcd. Lucius, wc'rc in a frcaling mall. I lnow Iow io navigaic
lciicr iIan you. I don'i scc wIy I can'i go anywIcrc ly mysclf!"
Your facc." Ic murmurcd, cIccling ovcr Iis sIouldcr.
Lamcsi comc lacl in iIc Iisiory of comc lacls," sIc said sarcasiically,
sIc was alrcady gciiing mad ai Iis awful arrogancc.
A iwingc of annoyancc crcpi inio Iis lavcndcr cycs as Ic lrusIcd away
sirands of llacl Iair from Iis palc facc.
I mcani iIai you sIouldn'i jusi wall around ly yoursclf lccausc of iIc
way you lool. Your facc is so dcmonic looling you Iavc no idca. Pcoplc will asl
qucsiions if you arcn'i wiiI mc," Ic cplaincd paiicnily.
How in iIc world docs Iaving your prcscncc malc my facc any lciicr?"
sIc aslcd slcpiically.
Dclicvc ii or noi, I can will pcoplc noi io lool ioo closcly ai you," Ic sIoi
lacl. Pari of iIc rcason I nccd you io lccp rcally closc io mc."
OI, wcll iIcn, Mr. Know-Ii-All. Maylc you sIould Iavc sIarcd iIis liiilc
iidlii wiiI mc lcforc!"
I don'i Iavc io icll you cvcryiIing," Ic snappcd, You jusi nccd io irusi
iIai wIai I'm saying is rigIi!"
SIc opcncd Icr mouiI, noi lnowing Iow io rcspond io iIc alsoluic
prcposicrousncss of iIis siiuaiion. You.arc so siupid," sIc finally said. SIc
sIool Icr Icad and iurncd away, lcaving Macy's and cnicring iIc mass cIaos
iIai is iIc Mall of Amcrica.
Morc imporianily," Ic sircsscd, caicIing Icr ly iIc arm as sIc swifily
iricd io gci losi amongsi iIc crowd. SIc glarcd lacl ai Iim. You sIouldn'i
Iavc followcd iIcm."
SIc grimaccd. Hc lncw. Pisscd off, sIc sIoi lacl, Fucl you!" Fipping
Icr arm from Iis grip, Xillia marcIcd away from Iim. Lucius followcd, sIaling
Iis Icad frusiraiingly. TIcy dcfily movcd iIrougI iIc crowd in a poor gamc of
cai and mousc. Finally, iIcy rcacIcd iIc sircci and Lucius caugIi Icr oncc
morc.
You nccd io fccd," Ic warncd.
SIc Iisscd ai Iim.
You'rc looling frcalisIly morc scary wiiI cvcry passing sccond. If you
don'i fccd, lad iIings will Iappcn. If you don'i fccd, you migIi aiiacl somconc
on iIc sircci," Ic iold Icr scvcrcly. TIai could Iavc vcry wcll lccn your
])cnd.
You'rc so full of sIt, sIc spai. I don'i Iavc io fccd, and I don'i cvcn
wani io."
Hc madc an caspcraicd sound. WIy won'i you lisicn io mc?" Ic
qucsiioncd wiiI iIc larcsi Iini of conirol.
Xillia's cprcssion immcdiaicly iurncd io sionc. Hc could scc Icr walling
up insidc, forging a sirongIold againsi Iim. TIcrc was somciIing sIc wasn'i
willing io divulgc. Howcvcr, morc iIan iIai, sIc didn'i cvcn wani Iim io gucss
ai Icr iIougIis. SIc wanicd io sIui Iim oui complcicly. Aficr sccing iIis,
Lucius gavc up.
Hc Icld up somciIing in Iis Iand as an awlward plca for pcacc. TIai
was wIcn sIc noiiccd iIc ycllow, plasiic lag in Iis dclicaic grip. SIc gavc Iim
a suspicious, narrow-cycd lool.
WIai is iIis?"
Jusi iIougIi you'd lilc ii," Ic mumllcd, Iolding ii oui io Icr.
Xillia iosscd iIc idca of acccpiing a gifi from Iim around in Icr Icad.
Dui, curiosiiy ovcrpowcrcd all oiIcr micd cmoiions. Tcniaiivcly, sIc iool iIc
lag and opcncd ii up io scc iis conicnis. Insidc rcsicd iIc ncaily foldcd
luurious falric of iIc darl grccn drcss iIai Iad Iung in iIc Forcvcr 21
display casc. SIc lricfly ioucIcd iis sofincss lcforc sIuiiing iIc lag closcd.
Siiffcning Icr lacl, sIc iricd Icr lcsi noi givc Lucius iIc wrong imprcssion;
Iowcvcr, Ic wasn'i cvcn looling ai Icr. Hc siood, awlwardly looling away.
Ii iool Icr scvcral aiicmpis lui sIc finally said, TIanl you," raiIcr
siiffly.
Hc loolcd up wiiI ncrvous, mauvc cycs. Wc sIould.prolally Icad
lacl."
SIc wasn'i cacily plcascd aloui ii, lui sIc lcginning io soficn Icr
fcclings ioward Iim. Hc madc Icr angry and frusiraicd, lui Ic sccmcd io Iavc
good inicniions dcspiic lcing pusIy and arrogani. Lucius urgcd Icr forward;
iIcy iurncd, and Icadcd lacl io Iis car.
I Iopc you lnow," sIc said walling lcsidc Iim, iIis docsn'i cIangc iIc
faci iIai you'rc an arrogani lasiard."
Couldn'i Iavc cpccicd anyiIing lcss," Ic rcplicd in lind.

14

Ai A Daclwards Clancc

Xillia Iad iimc iIc rcsi of iIc day io iruly pondcr wIai Iad occurrcd in
iIc Macy's. Lco madc Icr curious. Morc iIan iIai, lui ii was morc iIan lilcly
iIai Ic was culprii lcIind iIc murdcrs. Howcvcr, mosi of iIc cvidcncc againsi
Iim was circumsianiial. No onc cvcr Icard of Iim daiing any of iIc oiIcr girls,
cspccially SicpIi. Lucy was iIc only onc. Dui Ic sccmcd io lc moving raiIcr
quiclly on io Mara. So, ciiIcr Ic was a complcic assIolc, or Ic was a fasi
moving lillcr.
Xillia snucl upsiairs io cIccl oui iIc ncwspapcr clippings Lucius Iad
sIown Icr iIc day lcforc. SIc iool furiivc lools ai iIc daics and rcalizcd iIai
Ic was rigIi in iIai iIcy wcrc occurring wiiI morc frcqucncy ovcr a pcriod of
iimc. TIc only qucsiion was wIy.
WIai arc you looling ai?" Lucius' suspicious icnor rcsoundcd ly Icr
car.
Xillia jumpcd. NoiIing," sIc rcplicd quiclly, siifling Icr ncrvcs.
Lucius cIcclcd iIc iallc and ioucIcd iIc ncwspapcr clippings. I fcar
iIai I migIi lc ioo laic io savc iIc nci girl," Ic announccd quicily. Hc sccms
io lc moving mucI morc quiclly iIan cvcralmosi as if Ic is in a Iurry."
Xillia gazcd ai Iis saddcncd, yci Iandsomc, facc. Dui wIy?" sIc aslcd.
WIy now? WIy iIcsc girls? WIy is all iIis Iappcning?"
Hc sIruggcd Iis sIouldcrs, siill looling ai iIc llacl and wIiic pIoios on
iIc iallc. WIy docs anyiIing Iappcn?"
Cod," sIc answcrcd simply.
Hc sIool Iis Icad and loolcd ai Icr. Ii's iIc cIoiccs of iIc individuals
iIai malc iIings Iappcn. In iIc cnd, our lillcr cIosc io commii iIcsc crimcs,
and our viciims cIosc io lci Iim in."
SIc gavc Iim a confuscd lool.
You lnow iIai old myiI iIai vampircs can'i cnicr Iomcs wiiIoui
pcrmission?"
YcaI?"
TIc pcoplc arc confuscd. Inculi and succuli cannoi cnicr wiiIoui
pcrmission; iIougI, iIcy arc lilc a vampirc in somc ways. TIcy find iIcir
susicnancc from living lcings, and arc rulcd ly iIc nigIi."
Dui wc can go oui in iIc sun," Xillia proicsicd.
So can our cncmics. WIai I mcani was iIai our aliliiics and powcrs
worl lcsi wIcn iIc moon is in iIc sly. Ii's Iardcr for us io do iIings during
iIc day. And, you migIi find iIai if you arc wcal cnougI, lilc I fcar you arc
lccoming, iIc sun can lurn you."
SIc sIool Icr Icad ai Iim in dcnial. I am noi growing wcal."
Ii was a llaiani lic, and sIc couldn'i cvcn musicr up iIc cncrgy io
disguisc iIai lic on Icr facc. Lucius saw iIrougI ii quiclly, lui Ic didn'i nccd
for Icr io say iIai for Iim io alrcady lnow iIai ii was iruc. SIc wallcd slowly
wIcncvcr sIc movcd. Hcr limls wcrc growing siiff and lcaiIcry. Hcr slin was
sunlcn. Hcr cycs wcrc wild wiiI craving and llazing ligIi. SIc Iad growing
cars iIai wcrc lccoming slcndcr and poinicd ai iIc cnd. Hcr Iair Iad fcll in a
wiry mcss ovcr Icr Icad. SIc spolc quicily io Iidc iIc Ioarscncss of Icr voicc,
a voicc iIai camc from a iIroai lurning wiiI dcsirc for susicnancc. Xillia lncw
sIc was growing wcal, sIc could fccl ii wiiI cvcry sicp. Yci, sIc rcsisicd
icmpiaiion and iIc primal urgcs iIai wcrc waging war againsi Icr raiional
mind. SIc loolcd oficn for cvcry possilly disiraciion io lccp Icr from falling
prcy io idlcncss, wIicI in iurn would iurn inio opcn scason for iIc
lloodiIirsiy dcmon insidc io spring oui from ii's larcly closcd cagc and
ciinguisI iIai lasi flarc of lluc flamc iIai proiccicd Icr from draining cvcry
pcrson sIc crosscd. Hardly could sIc lool upon a Iuman wiiIoui cycing iIcir
dclicaic, pumping ariics wiiI lusi and dcsirc. TIc prciiy lluc vcin iIai crosscd
undcr iIcir slin callcd wiiI a sircn song so lcauiifully appcaling io cacI ncrvc
on iIc cnds of Icr slin. SIc pricllcd wiiI aniicipaiion of iIc rusIing warmiI
sIc somcIow lncw would comc from liiing inio iIc flimsy flcsI iIai lcpi
insidc all iIc glorious lifc iIai sIc could cvcr dcsirc.
Lucius simply rcwardcd Icr dcnial wiiI a sIalc of iIc Icad. I don'i lilc
waicIing ii, lui Iow clsc will you lcarn?" Ic muiicrcd.
WIai?"
NoiIing. WIai did you wani wiiI iIcsc clippings?" Ic aslcd.
SIc sIruggcd. I was curious."
You wcrc wondcring if iIai Lconardo was iIc lillcr," Ic gucsscd.
Siarilcd, sIc opcncd Icr mouiI lui couldn'i iIinl of wIai clsc io say.
Hc sIruggcd again. I Iappcn io iIinl so, ioo, lui all cvidcncc is
circumsianiial. I Iavc noiIing io gci a warrani for Iis dcaiI. Plus, if Ic's an
inculi, I'm noi surc I can capiurc Iim ly mysclf."
Xillia purscd Icr lips. If Ic is iIc lillcr, iIougI, sIouldn'i you lc doing
somciIing?"
I am. I Iavc pcoplc waicIing Iim."
WIai? You do?"
Lucius noddcd. Wcll, iIcy arcn'i cacily pcopc. TIcy'rc.crcaiurcs.
WaicIful crcaiurcs. TIcy lind of lool lilc owlsio iIc Iuman cyclui iIcy
rcally arcn'i. I don'i lnow, you'd Iavc io scc iIcm," Ic cplaincd.
Do iIcsc crcaiurcs Iavc a nunc sIc aslcd wiiI a raiscd cyclrow.
Diana's Cuardians," Ic rcspondcd simply.
As in, lilc, iIc goddcss Diana?"
Ycs," Ic noddcd. Vcry Iclpful crcaiurcs in ccriain iypcs of cascsiIis
onc cspccially. TIc myiI is iIai Diana, iIc goddcss of cIasiiiy, crcaicd iIcsc
crcaiurcs io aid Icr in proicciing Icr viriuc. Nowadays iIcsc crcaiurcs lccp
waicI ovcr young maidcns in ordcr io lccp iIcm safc from lad mcn wIo sccl
io sical iIcir virginiiy. Howcvcr, as iimcs Iavc.looscncd, iIcy aid iIc Durcau
a loi io uncovcr dcmons and oiIcr crcaiurcs of TIc World Dclow wIo arc
lrcaling iIc law, mosily iIcy uncovcr iIc criminal aciiviiics of Inculi and
Succuli."
HuI," Xillia concludcd, ialing ii all in. So, I supposc iIcy arc rcally
uscful in iIis casc."
Pcrfccily so," Ic rcplicd wiiI a wry smilc. Dui iIcy Iavcn'i scni any
disircss sircns my way, only mcssagcs iIai Lco disappcars from iIcir waicIful
sigIi now and again, almosi as if Ic lnows iIai I am on io Iim and is
dclilcraicly avoiding iIc Cuardians."
So wc sIould lc waicIing Iim, ioo!" sIc cricd. If Ic disappcars iIcn
Ic's prolally going io lill anoiIcr girl."
Lucius sIool Iis Icad. I lnow, lui I can'i rcvcal mysclf io Iim, nor can
I go aficr Iim. Ii would lc lad for scvcral rcasons. Onc lcing iIai Ic migIi not
lc iIc lillcr and I could gci inio scrious iroullc. AnoiIcr lcing iIai if I jump io
conclusions wiiIoui any cvidcncc and Ic s our lillcr iIcn our casc is ruincd.
Hc'll wall frcc. And wIai did you mcan ly uc` TIcrc is no 'us` in iIis
siiuaiion. You nccd io siay oui of sigIi uniil I can figurc oui wIai io do wiiI
you. And I nccd io figurc oui iIis casc lcforc somc oiIcr girl dics."
SIc scoffcd. And I could Iclp you!" sIc cclaimcd. Two Icads arc lciicr
iIan onc, Lucius."
Noi wIcn onc of iIcm can'i cvcn wall propcrly," Ic poinicd oui. Now go
lacl and rcsi, I can icll iIai iIc day is alrcady wcaring you oui."
I'm noi somc dclicaic flowcr," sIc snappcd, irudging lacl downsiairs
anyway. Arrogani assIolc," Icr grumlling ioncs ccIocd from down iIc
Iallway.
Lucius sigIcd, ruffling Iis sofi, llacl Iair. His pIonc vilraicd from Iis
jcan poclci. Hc rcacIcd insidc and cIcclcd iIc numlcr. Immcdiaicly Ic
flippcd ii opcn.
EvcryiIing worl oui?" Ic aslcd. Hc pauscd for iIc answcr. Cood,
iIanl you." Hc Iung up and rusIcd down iIc siairs aficr Xillia. Hc caugIi Icr
jusi as sIc crasIcd down on Iis lcd lcsidc iIc ycllow Forcvcr 21 lag. Xillia, I
lnow I said io rcsi lui gci drcsscdwc'rc going somcwIcrc."
SIc sIoi up. WIcrc?"
Ii's a surprisc," Lucius rcplicd, lcaving Icr.
SIc grumllcd ai Iis cii, looling down ai Icr jcans and icc. Drcsscd?
WIai, Ic wanis mc io wcar iIai drcss? TIc lasiard. Hc can jusi dcal wiiI ii."
Hcr rcddcncd cycs, iIougI, snappcd io iIc ycllow lag. Diiing Icr lip, sIc
rcacIcd insidc and pullcd oui iIc lusI grccn falric. Laying ii oui, sIc marvclcd
ai iis lcauiy. In fivc scconds, Icr cloiIcs wcrc gonc and sIc was slipping on
iIc drcss. Ii drapcd clcganily down io Icr lnccs, sprcading upward io wrap
around Icr nccl. Eciicd, Xillia sIovcd Icr fcci inio Icr loois and paddcd
down iIc Iall io iIc laiIroom.
Hcr rcflcciion, iIougI, dcprcsscd Icr iIorougIly. SIc was dcmon from
Hcll iisclf. SIc iIougIi iIai if sIc wcrc Iuman iIc drcss migIi'vc loolcd lciicr
on Icr, lui Icr cmaciaicd form didn'i quiic fill ii up so wcll. SigIing, sIc
irudgcd upsiairs io mcci Lucius.
Hc was cIaiiing on iIc pIonc wIcn sIc appcarcd lcIind Iim. Hc iurncd
and sioppcd sIori mid-scnicncc, gazing ai Icr inicnily.
I'll Iavc io call you lacl," Ic uiicrcd inio iIc pIonc, snapping ii sIui a
sccond laicr. You lool." His lavcndcr cycs wandcrcd across Icr lody.
Xillia frowncd. You can say ii. I lool icrrillc."
WIaNo! You lool.vcry.prciiy," Ic said, pursing Iis lips. I lncw
iIai drcss would lool amazing on you."
Xillia's cycs widcncd. Hcr mouiI poppcd opcn in a iiny o." SIc iool a
lrcaiI and firc lii Icr cycs. You." sIc lrcaiIcd, unallc io ariiculaic iIc
words iIai wcrc crisping Icr ionguc, ...arc sucI.an assIolc."
Hc sccmcd surpriscd ly Icr rcaciion. I"
Don'i," sIc cui off. Don'i cvcn spcal. I can'i lclicvc you could lc so
arrogani as io iIinl I am somc sori of Darlic doll for your amuscmcni. I am
noi a Darlic doll. You arc an assIolc. Casc closcd." SIc iurncd away from Iim
and siompcd ouisidc, slamming iIc door widc opcn lcIind Icr. Now wIcrc
iIc Iccl arc wc going?!" sIc gripcd, licling up grass on iIc frong lawn.
Lucius sigIcd and followcd Icr ouisidc. Can'i I say anyiIing rigIi?" Ic
grumllcd io Iimsclf, locling Iis door. Ii's a sccrci," Ic said aloud io Icr.
SIc glarcd ai Iim fcrociously.
Ii was iruc iIai Lucius was arrogani, lui Ic wasn'i as arrogani as Xillia
lilcd io play up. Mosily, ii was purc cluclcssncss, on Iis pari, and a icndcncy
io lc ovcrly Ioncsi and sclf-rigIicous. Hc was onc of iIosc mcn iIai wcrc lorn
wiiI a prcvious assumpiion iIai mcn wcrc lciicr, or morc wcll cquippcd, iIan
womcn, aliIougI Ic did noi coniain iIis scisi opinion wiiI a formidallc
Iaircd or disdain of womcn. On iIc conirary, Ic raiIcr lilcd and rcspccicd
womcn as a wIolcIc was jusi simply old-fasIioncd. Of coursc Lucius also
coniaincd an aliliiy iIai mosi mcn wiiI iIis disposiiion did noi Iavc. Hc Iad
iIc aliliiy io cu)n, lui cvcn wiiI iIis aliliiy, Ic was siill cluclcss as io wIai
Xillia wanicd, or iIc rcasons wIy sIc was so annoycd. In sIori, no maiicr Iow
mucI of a capaciiy for lcarning Ic Iad, ii was no usc if no onc spcllcd oui iIc
iIings Ic was supposcd io lcarn.
Easpcraicd wiiI iIis iurn of cvcnis, Lucius guidcd Xillia io Iis sIiny,
llacl Musiang and zappcd off io wIcrcvcr ii is iIcy wcrc supposcd io go. Xillia
sai scruncIcd in Icr scai lilc a fivc-ycar-old iIrowing a grumpy ianirum. Ii
wasn'i, io say iIc lcasi, a plcasani ridc. Lucius, on cdgc ly iIcn, camc io a
siop in froni of a rcd lriclcd aparimcni complc iIai sprung up in a scrics of
luildings along iIc cniirc sircci.
Hc goi oui of iIc car and wallcd ovcr io Xillia's sidc, lui sIc alrcady
sicppcd oui of iIc car.
I would'vc opcncd iIai for you," Ic said.
I can opcn doors for mysclf, iIanls," Xillia said iarily.
DcIind Icr lacl Lucius lificd Iis Iands in iIc air in a silcni, frusiraicd
gcsiurc.
WIai arc wc doing Icrc?" Xillia aslcd, siill raiIcr annoycd ai Lucius.
I wanicd io sIow you somciIing," Ic sigIcd, follow mc."
Hc grallcd Icr Iand and lcd Icr iowards iIc aparimcni complc. Hc
vccrcd around iIc sidc of iIc luilding uniil iIcy rcacIcd a gaic io wIicI Ic
prompily opcncd, and lcd Icr iIrougI. Ccnily pulling Icr along iIc
colllcsionc paiI on iIc sidc of iIc complc, iIcy passcd many windows wiiI
all soris of young pcoplc in iIcm. Hcr curiosiiy cvcniually ovcrcamc Icr
annoyancc as iIcy iurncd iIc corncr io iIc lacl. Ai iIc iIird window in, iIcy
sioppcd.
Lucius poinicd iIrougI iIc window io iIc insidc of a lrigIily lii room
iIai was sligIily Iazcd ly iIc sIcar wIiic curiains. A silIouciic of a man camc
from a Iall on iIc lcfi and wcni io iIc door in froni. Xillia movcd closcr io iIc
window and rcalizcd wIo iIc pcrson was.
Opcning iIc door, AsIcr lci Fivcrs inio iIc room. Xillia prcsscd Icr
Iands io iIc glass, as if io gci closcr io Icr lroiIcr. Hcr lrcaiI foggcd Icr
vision so sIc sicppcd lacl. TIcy gavc cacI oiIcr a liss as Fivcrs sciilcd onio
iIc coucI. AsIcr pui a ian arm around Iim in a consoling way.
Lucius movcd closc io Icr and wIispcrcd, If you conccniraic, you can
Icar wIai iIcy'rc saying."
Xillia lci Icrsclf movc icniaiivcly forward, and sIc focuscd on irying io
Icar wIai iIcy wcrc saying. Aficr a momcni, ii was lilc iuning in io a fuzzy
iclcvision program, and sIc could Icar wIai iIcy wcrc saying.
.You Iolding up?" AsIcr aslcd in Iis falulous FrcncI acccni.
Fivcrs sigIcd, I miss Icr." A silcni icar crcpi down Fivcrs' facc.
AsIcr pullcd Fivcrs inio an cmlracc and Icld Iim wIilc Ic cricd.
Xillia iurncd away and said, Hc nccds mc."
No," Lucius rcplicd, lool, Ic Ias Iim. Hc's in iIc middlc of gricving,
lui Ic Ias Iim."
Xillia loolcd lacl, sIc couldn'i ialc noi lcing in Fivcrs' lifc, iIis wIolc
siiuaiion sccmcd icrrilly wrong io Icr. Lucius pullcd Icr lacl inio iIc
sIadows and grippcd Icr sIouldcrs.
You can'i jusi rccnicr your old lifc lilc noiIing Iappcncd," Ic said iIcn,
I would lnow, I'vc iricd."
SIc lci oui a sIaly sigI. Lucius wrappcd Iis sirong arms around Icr,
Iolding Icr closc. Xillia rcalizcd, ai iIai poini, iIai sIc rcally couldn'i go lacl.
Coing lacl docsn'i solvc anyiIing, pcoplc movc on, and lifc cIangcs. All sIc
could do was lccp going forward, and only lool lacl wIcn ii was all ovcr.

15

WIcn Trappcd In a Horror Movic. Don'i Do iIc Following

Dcprcssion Iad sciilcd iis wcigIiy lurdcn in Xillia. SIc lay awalc iIc
cniirc nigIiand noi jusi lccausc iIc lurning in Icr iIroai lcpi Icr iIai
wayiIinling aloui Icr lroiIcrs and Icr moiIcr. SIc wondcrcd Iow iIings
Iad iurncd oui so Iorrilly wrong. TIings lilc wIai Iappcncd io Icr didn'i
Iappcn in rcal lifc. TIcy only Iappcncd in rcally lad iccn-paranormal-vampirc-
romancc novcls, and sIc couldn'i possilly lc in any onc of iIosc.
Somciimc in iIc middlc of iIc nigIi, in iIc piicI llaclncss of Lucius'
circmcly mcssy room, sIc dccidcd irying io slccp was alsoluicly poinilcss.
SIc iIrcw iIc covcrs off and gropcd around on iIc floor for cloiIcs io pui on
ovcr Icr undcrwcar. SIc fcli Icr old coiion sIiri and sIovcd ii on ovcr Icr
Icad. Nci wcrc Icr panis. Jusi as sIc siaricd io rcacI in iis gcncral dircciion,
sIc Icard iIc vilraiion of a ccll pIonc followcd ly iIc lluc ligIi sprouiing in
iIc darlncss smoiIcrcd ly llacl falric. SIc pounccd on ii.
SIc'd forgoiicn sIc siill Iad Mara's pIonc. WIy sIc Iad ialcn ii in iIc
firsi placc, sIc wasn'i surc. Flipping ii opcn sIc rcad iIc mcssagc.

MeeI me @ my p|cce LcLe :)
SIc scrollcd down iIc scrccn and spoiicd iIc scndcr's namc. Lco.
Annoycd, sIc pouicd ai Iis mcssagc. TIc nc)uc of somc guys. Ii was so iacly
io call a girl lalc." Espccially wIcn iIc guy in qucsiion was a ioial jcrl off
wIo prcycd on all iIc girls in iIc viciniiy. Xillia frowncd, scrolling iIrougI
Mara's coniacis, cvcniually coming io Lco's.
I lnow wIcrc you livc, fuclcr," sIc murmurcd, smirling fcrociously
iIcn giggling ai Icr pun. Ycp, noi crccpy ai all."
Xillia siood up and found Icr way io iIc door. SIc iipiocd down iIc Iall,
up iIc siairs, jumpcd pasi iIc crcaly fouriI sicp, and slid across iIrougI iIc
liicIcn io iIc froni door. SIc glanccd lacl ai Lucius, wIo slcpi soundly on iIc
coucI in a curlcd posiiion. If sIc didn'i Iaic Iim, sIc would iIinl Ic loolcd
lilc an adorallc liiicn wiiI Iis sofi, ioucIallc llacl Iair and scruncIcd
limls. SIrugging off iIosc iIougIis, sIc craclcd opcn iIc door and silcnily
madc Icr way ouisidc.
SIc sioppcd on iIc froni lawn. Onc qucsiion rcsonaicd in Icr mind. WIy
iIc Iccl was sIc doing iIis?
TIc was iIc poini in cvcry Iorror movic wIcrc pcoplc iIrow iIc popcorn
ai iIc scrccn scrcaming ai iIc limlo Icroinc not io lool undcr iIc lcd, or
wall down iIc crccpy Iallway wiiI iIc fliclcring ligIi, or noi io Iavc sc, or
drinl, or wall inio any crccpy room cuc). Did iIcy jusi not Icar iIc suspcnsc
music luilding up? WIy didn'i iIcy rcalizc iIcy wcrc siucl in a Iorror movic?!
Frusiraiion wiiI iIc clicIc aniics of cs ]ns d`Io))cu) asidc, Xillia lncw
iIai sIc was lccoming iIc llondc limlo Icroinc. SIc was walling )gIt nto
tIc Iud guu`s Iunds! Wcll, ii wasn'i for surc iIai Ic was iIc lad guy, lui sIc
was fairly ccriain iIai Ic uus. WIo calls girls ovcr in iIc middlc of iIc nigIi?
Sc dcmons, iIai's wIo. SIaling Icr Icad, sIc conicmplaicd Icr moiivcs.
Honcsi io Cod, sIc rcally Iad no moiivc. SIc didn'i pariicularly carc for
Mara, nor did sIc Iavc any aciual rcason io go ovcr iIcrc. For all sIc lncw,
sIc could iurn rigIi lacl around and noi Iavc anyiIing io do wiiI ii ai all.
Yci, somciIing callcd Icr ovcr. Was ii iIc sirangc scnsc of cciicmcni and
aniicipaiion iIai urgcd Icr on ioward iIai god-forsalcn Iousc? Did sIc Iavc
somc sori of morlid dcaiI wisI? SIc was alrcady dcad, so iIai didn'i malc
scnsc.
Or maylc ii was somc sori of Icroic moiivc. Dcspiic cvcryiIing iIai iold
Icr noi io go forward, sIc fcli somcIow olligaicd io go. Somc complcic
masocIisiic1concciicd pari of Icr iold Icr iIai if Lco wcrc iruly iIc lillcr iIcn
sIc was iIc only onc wIo would lc allc io siop Iim. Ai lcasi, sIc lilcd io
lclicvc iIai sIc was iIc only onc. SIc could vcry possilly gci Icrsclf lillcd.
Dui didn'i somc cop sIows cnd lilc iIis? TIc policc can'i pin iIc lad guy so
somc civilian iurns vigilanic, lilling iIc lad guy for rcvcngc or somc sirangc
pcrsonal jusiicc. WIai did Lco cvcr do io Icr? Hc (possillyi lillcd Lucy and
SicpIi and all iIosc oiIcr girls. SIc Incu iIosc girls. SIc didn'i lilc iIcm vcry
mucI, lui sIc siill Incu iIcm. Is iIai cnougI of a jusiificaiion?
During Xillia's dccp convcrsaiion wiiI Icrsclf on all iIcsc suljccis, sIc
failcd io rcalizc iIai Icr fcci lcgan io movc vcry mucI on iIcir own accord. Ii
was sirangc, sIc, dccp in conccniraicd iIougIis, misscd iIc movcmcni of Icr
fcci so plain on iIc ground lclow Icr. WIcn sIc Iad wallcd ovcr a llocl and a
Ialf, Xillia's cycs rcadjusicd io Icr surroundings.
HuI, iIis docsn'i lool lilc Lucius' lawn or sircci for iIai maiicr," sIc
rcmarlcd aloud io IcrsclfsIc Iadn'i rcalizcd quiic yci iIai sIc was
coniinuing io movc.
Xillia glanccd down and Icr moving lcgs. SIoclcd, sIc poinicd
confuscdly ai iIcm as if iIcy wcrc alicn lcings from iIc planci Pluioand ii is
totuu a planci. Looling lacl up for rcassurancc, sIc rcalizcd sIc Iad movcd
far away from Lucius' froni lawn. And Ic) ]cct uc)c noung Iu tIcnscucs. Dy
iIcmsclvcs. THEMSELVES.
Xillia frcalcd. Silcnily sIc flappcd Icr arms as if sIc wcrc off lalancc,
irying io siop Icrsclf. SIc couldn'i. Half Icr lody dccidcd ii didn'i carc wIai
Icr lrain scrcamcd ai ii. SIc iricd io forcc Icrsclf io siop, insicad of slowing,
somciIing jcrlcd Icr forward, and Icr lcgs piclcd up iIc pacc. SIc siaricd io
panic. Air movcd rapidly in and oui of Icr lungs, pain siaricd io rcvcrlcraic
around Icr gums, and Icr iIroai fcll inio flamcs. SIc passcd ncar a ircc and
grallcd onio ii io no avail, Icr lcgs carricd Icr furiIcr down iIc sircci.
TIis isn'i supposcd io lc Iappcning!" sIc gripcd io Icrsclf, siariing io
gci angry raiIcr iIan scarcd.
Suddcnly, Icr lcgs jcrlcd Icr around iIc nci lcnd. SIc passcd scvcral
Iouscs uniil iIc Iouscs siaricd io iIin, gciiing fariIcr and fariIcr from cacI
oiIcr wiiI cacI sicp. Soon, sIc rcacIcd iIc corncr, Iaving rcsigncd Icrsclf io
Icr frcc walling fcci. SIc cvcniually camc io a siiff siop on iIc craclcd
sidcwall in froni of a vcry unconvcniional looling Iousc.
TIc Iousc iIai siood in froni of Icr lool morc lilc a dccrcpii sIacl iIan
anyiIing clsc. TIc sIuiicrs on iIc windows wcrc lrolcn, iIc ycllow paini was
pccling, and many sIinglcs on iIc roof wcrc missing. In sIori, iIc placc loolcd
lilc ii Iad lccn alandoncd long lcforc, and ii didn'i Iclp iIai iIcrc was a dcad
iwisicd ircc proiruding from iIc ground disiurlingly.
Ii was a small ploi of land surroundcd on iIc lcfi and froni ly a small
cIain linl fcncc wiiI a wiiIoui a iruc opcning savc iIc rippcd oui poriion in
iIc ccnicr. TIc grass was ycllowcd and lrown and sircicIcd around iIc cniirc
cpansc of iIc small, riclciy looling Iousc. A woodcn fcncc, Iowcvcr, mci wiiI
loiI sidcs of iIc Iousc io cnirap iIc lacl loi, lui Xillia could scc iIrougI iIc
cracls and opcning in iIc wood iIai iIc grass was jusi ai dcad. On iIc rigIi
was a grcy-grccn Icdgc iIai grcw iall and siraggly wiiI uncvcnly planicd lirds
of paradisc pccling oui from ii, imprcssing an idca iIai somconc was waicIing
Xillia.
.Xillia."
Xillia wIippcd around and found nolody. TIc voicc camc oui of nowIcrc
and cvcrywIcrc ai oncc. Hcr Icari piclcd up spccd wIilc sIc glancing around
dcspcraicly, irying io find iIc sourcc of iIc voicc. SIc didn'i darc call oui; sIc
didn'i wani io find wIai migIi comc running.
TIc provcrlial iwig snappcd from somcwIcrc. SIc rcgaincd moiion in
Icr lcgs and laclcd up uniil sIc Iii iIc cdgc of iIc cIaincd fcncc. Hcr cycs
daricd around dcspcraicly. SIc glanccd cvcrywIcrc quiclly. Hcr cycs scarcIcd
iIc iall pincs across iIc sircci. SIc saw plainly iIc ycllow orls of ligIi
gliiicring ai Icr among iIc lrancIcs. SIc focuscd in on a pair. Ii sccmcd iIai
somc crcaiurc lurlcd up in iIai ircc. A crcaiurc iIai loolcd icrrilly lilc an
owl, and, yci, ii loolcd cvcn morc icrrilly noiIing sIc'd cvcr sccn. TIcsc
crcaiurcs, wiiI glcaming Iorns and sirangc faccs, musi Iavc lccn Diana's
Cuardians. TIc low call of an owl crupicd ncarly.
Xillia lncw wIcrc sIc was. A wild iIougIi crcpi up, iclling Icr noi io
wall on iIai lrown, cruncIy grass. Dui somciIing clsc was daring Icr io,
icmpiing Icr, ncarly pusIing Icr ovcr iIc cdgc.
AnoiIcr iwig snappcd, and Xillia's fooi rcacicd auiomaiicallyii gavc a
loud cruncI on Iis lawn, and somciIing, iIai sIc didn'i cvcn lnow Iad
siaricd, sioppcd. Silcncc lorc down on Icr from all sidcs. SIc siraincd Icr cars
io Icar sonctIng lui iIc silcncc only sccmcd io grow iIiclcr. SIc fcli iIc
pounding of Icr llood in Icr cars and iIc lrcaiIing in Icr cIcsi iIai sccmcd
lilc ii migIi cplodc, lui sIc couldn'i Icar anyiIing.
TIcn, ripping oui of iIc silcncc, somciIing wIispcrcd in Icr car,
.Xillia."
SIc larcly Iad iimc io rcaci as a Iand clawcd ovcr Icr mouiI and an
arm grallcd Icr waisi, dragging Icr laclwards. SIc cricd oui, lui Icr scrcam
was mufflcd ly iIc sirong fingcrs around Icr mouiI. SIc sirugglcd fcrociously
againsi iIc Iands, lui iIcy draggcd Icr across iIc scraicIy grass. SIc liclcd
and cllowcd, lui Icr aiiaclcr was rclcnilcss. Hcr lcgs Iii iIc crcaling, woodcn
sicps of iIc porcI and wcrc draggcd across iIrougI iIc porial.
SIoi inio piicI-llaclncss, Xillia waicIcd iIc darl moonligIi disappcar
wiiIin scconds, as iIc riclciy door was swung sIui wiiI a lang, crusIing Icr
in iIc onslaugIi of a formidallc darlncss iIai was ioo llacl and silcni for any
living lcing.

16

Lcvcl 1. Wclcomc io Truc Darlncss

Xillia's cnirappcr iIrcw Icr onio iIc woodcn floor. SIc gaspcd as sIc Iii
Icr Icad, irying io fumllc io a lciicr posiiion. In iIc cyc-siraining darlncss all
sIc could Icar ovcr Icr raggcd lrcaiIing was iIc door lcing loclcd. SIc
couldn'i cvcn Icar iIc fooisicps of Icr aiiaclcr. All was silcni, and all was siill
in iIc darlncss.
A wIoosI of cold air floaicd up Icr spinc as sIc sirugglcd io scc in iIc
llaclncss. SIc swallowcd loudly and sIui Icr cycs, as if io find Icr way ly
Icaring. Dui as sIc lcancd on iIc woodcn floor, sIc could noi Icar anyiIing
lui a sligIi raiilc of iIc woodcn sIuiicrs and a rcfrigcraior somcwIcrc in iIc
disiani darlncss.
.Xillia."
WiiI a small gasp sIc lcgan scooiing laclwards inio iIc darlncss. SIc
Iii a wall and lcgan io siand up againsi ii. SIc prcsscd Icrsclf againsi iIc wall
as a cold wind lrusIcd Icr lcgs.
A cold laugIicr lrcaiIcd oui from somcwIcrc sIc could noi asccriain, no
maiicr Iow Iard sIc iricd.
SomciIing lrusIcd Icr facc and sIc jcrlcd away, Icari lcaiing ioo fasi,
and sIc Iii a corncr in iIc wall.
WiiI a sIaly swallow sIc wIispcrcd, wI-wIo's iI-iIcrc?"
AnoiIcr laugI rang oui lui iIis iimc ii was rigIi on iIc sidc of Icr facc.
SIc could suddcnly fccl iIc warmiI of anoiIcr lody sianding rigIi in froni of
Icr. SIc could Icar iIc ligIi lrcaiIing of somc living crcaiurc lcsidcs Icr. SIc
lcgan ircmlling in iIai liiilc corncr of iIc wall, irying io find a facc, lui sIc
couldn'i scc anyonc.
Easicsi Iuni yci," a voicc lrcaiIcd in Icr car. SIc sIui Icr cycs oui of
purc icrror, lui iIai didn'i malc iIc monsicr go away. You wcrc far ioo casy
io manipulaic. Was your mind on somciIing clsc?"
TIc voicc cIucllcd sligIily.
FigIi wIcn I saw iIai vampirc, I lncw." Xillia lcgan io rccognizc iIc
voicc as Lco's iIc morc Ic spolc. .WIai I didn'i cpcci, iIougI, was iIai
Ic'd lc aficr mc."
SomciIing wci irailcd up iIc sidc of Icr nccl, maling Icr cringc as sIc
rcalizcd Ic was cIng Icr.
TIcrc's so mucI cncrgy in Iumans, you lnow." Ic said as Iis Iands
lcgan io irail across iIc slin of Icr arm. Malcs mc wondcr. How mucI
powcr is iIcrc in.vampircs?"
Hcr lrcaiI caugIi in Icr iIroai as Iis Iand claspcd Icr nccl and Iis
oiIcr lcgan clawing iis way up Icr iIigI. Xillia was so frigIicncd sIc was
ncarly paralyzcd. In a flasI of a sccond, sIc Iad a lricf mcmory of sianding up
in froni of Icr class io givc a rcpori. SIc Iad lccn afraid iIcn, so afraid iIai
sIc forgoi wIai sIc Iad io say, sIc forgoi wIai sIc was supposcd io do; sIc
lccamc paralyzcd on iIc spoi.
Dui ai iIis momcni, wIcn Icr lody iIrcaicncd io pin Icr io iIc spoi, Icr
lrain madc a splii sccond dccision. Hcr lcfi fooi liclcd oui ai Iis lcg wIilc Icr
fisi madc coniaci wiiI Iis jaw. For a vampirc, sIc was wcal, wcal cnougI io
noi lc allc io usc Icr lluc firc, lui on a Iuman lcvcl, sIc was sirongcr iIan
mosi lody luildcrs. Dui wIilc Icr fooi madc liiilc damagc, Icr fisi craclcd Iis
jaw wiiI a loud cruncI. Hc siaggcrcd lacl from Icr wiiI a Iiss of pain, and
sIc could no longcr scnsc wIcrc Ic was. SIc madc a wild dasI io wIcrc sIc
lclicvcd iIc door io lc, lui lcforc sIc goi a fcw fcci, somciIing caugIi Icr fooi
and sIc irippcd, falling Iard on iIc floor. SIc iricd io gci up lui somciIing
Icld ii io iIc floor wiiI uncommon sircngiI.
Lco's voicc iravcllcd oui of iIc darlncss in a siranglcd Iiss, you cannoi
run from mc, I own iIis world."
Xillia liclcd oui inio iIc darlncss, io no avail. SIc fcli somciIing
crawling up Icr lui sIc siill could noi scc wIai ii was.
Your liiilc siuni ai iIc mall wasn'i conccalcd cnougI, Xillia," Ic Iisscd
in Icr car. SIc finally fcli Iis prcscncc again as Ic was pinning Icr io iIc
ground. SIould Iavc lisicncd io your malcr and siaycd away for your own
good." Hc pauscd io cIucllc iIc cvcn morc provcrlial lad guy cIucllc. Xillia
grimaccd. Sicaling your fricnd's pIonc wasn'i cacily smari ciiIcr. Ii gavc mc
a dircci linl io you."
SIc fcli Iis lody dirccily ovcr Icr, and lcforc Ic could lcan down, sIc
iIrusi Icr lncc inio Iis aldomcn. Hc lci oui a cIolcd ycll as sIc rollcd oui
from undcr Iim. Hc quiclly found Icr oncc morc, iIougI, in mid roll and
rippcd iIc lacl of Icr sIiri opcn.
I could Iavc madc iIis plcasurallc." Ic wIispcrcd inio iIc darlncss,
lui I iIinl iIai a liiilc violcncc worls jusi finc."
SIc fcli scvcral sIarp iIings rip inio Icr lacl, and sIc lci oui a scrcam
of pain. Nci, Lco sIovcd Icr around, icaring ai iIc scams of Icr jcans.
Panicling, Xillia scrcamcd oui and sirugglcd Iardcr iIan cvcr. SIc wriiIcd in
Iis grip, irying io worm Icr way oui. SIc iurncd ovcr, clawing ai iIc floor in an
aiicmpi io crawl away. Lco pullcd Icr lacl and slappcd Icr. SIc clawcd Iis
facc and iricd io licl Iim away again.
His Iand grallcd Icr arm, pullcd Icr up fasi, and iIrcw Icr inio a wall.
SIc madc impaci rigIi on Icr clawcd lacl and Icard a sligIi craclsIc
iIougIi sIc musi Iavc lrolcn somciIing.
Complcicly disoricnicd, and wiiI scaring pain all along Icr lacl, Xillia
prcsscd Icrsclf againsi iIc wall as if io diffusc iIrougI ii io safciy. SIc Icld
Icr lcgs closc io Icr and closcd Icr cycs.
TIcn, oui of iIc llaclncss, sIc fcli Iis prcscncc lcaning ovcr Icr. WiiI a
wild jump, sIc grallcd ai wIai sIc fcli io lc Iis facc and iacllcd Iim io iIc
ground. SIc cndcd up siraddling Iis iorso as sIc cluicIcd ai Iis nccl. SIc
inicndcd io siranglc Iim lui Iis arms rosc up and grallcd Icr Iair. Hc iIrcw
Icr Icad onio iIc woodcn floor, and sIc cndcd up ioppling down off of Iim.
WiiI Icr cycs closcd siill, sIc iricd io visualizc wIcrc Ic was. A faini,
lluc ouilinc lcgan io appcar in Icr mind's cyc. Hc was moving forward io pin
Icr io iIc ground. SIc quiclly movcd oui of iIc way and siood up. SIc laclcd
up uniil sIc Iii a Iard surfaccii fcli lilc a iallc. Lco siood up and lcgan
moving ioward Icr, lcisurcly, as if Ic lncw Ic was in pcrfcci conirol; as if Ic
lncw sIc would ncvcr gci away. Wildly, sIc iIougIi iIai lad guys walling
aficr Icr was mucI worsc iIan lcing cIascd down.
In iIc fcw scconds ii iool for Iim io closc iIc disiancc lciwccn iIcm sIc
praycd dcspcraicly. SIc praycd wiiI cvcry filcr of Icr lcing, sIc praycd and
praycd iIai sIc could gci away.
Hc was rigIi in froni of Icr.
Dcar Cod," sIc wIispcrcd.
WIai?"
Plcasc iurn mc inio a lird, so iIai I may fly away," sIc finisIcd
loudly.
Lco sioppcd in froni of Icr, and uugIcd.
Cod can'i Iclp you now, lii"
Hcr fisi madc coniaci wiiI Iis facc lcforc Ic could finisI iIai siaicmcni.
His wIolc lody iwisicd wiiI iIc impaci of Icr puncI and Ic flcw laclwards a
fcw sicps, and landcd on iIc cold Iard woodcn floor.
Siill only sccing Iis faini lluc ouilinc, sIc sicppcd up io Iim.
Maylc noi, lui iIai was a nicc disiraciion. Dy iIc way iIai was for
Lucy," sIc said, picling Iim up ly iIc sIiri, sIc found iIai sIc Iad morc
sircngiI iIan sIc aniicipaicd.
Xillia iIrcw Iim inio a wall.
And iIai was for SicpIi."
Hc lci oui a siranglcd gruni, and Xillia figurcd iIai ai iIis poini Ic Iad
prolally lrolcn a fcw rils, Iis jaw, and possilly an arm. SIc wallcd up and
piclcd Iim up again. SIc lificd Iim up againsi iIc wall.
And iIis"
WiiI as mucI sircngiI as sIc could asscmllc, sIc sIovcd Iim inio iIc
wall. A cracl rcsoundcd in iIc darlncss, and wiiI an odd crumlling sound,
iIc wall gavc way io Lco's lody. SIc lci Iim iopplc oui inio iIc midnigIi air
iIai now sircamcd iIrougI iIc Iolc in iIc Iousc.
Is for mc and cvcrylody clsc, you ]ucIng psycIo."
Now fully allc io scc, sIc sicppcd oui onio iIc grass of, wIai sIc
assumcd was, iIc sidc of iIc Iousc. Hc lay limp on iIc lrowncd grass in an
odd posiiion. Dlood was sircaming oui of Iis mouiI as wcll as iIc lacl of Iis
Icad.
Xillia glanccd up ai iIc darl sly. Owls Iooicd unsccn from somcwIcrc
ncarly. TIc moon was full and lrigIi, facing Icr complcicly. SIc siarcd up ai
glisicning siars and iIc winling moon. TIc purc lcauiy of a darlncss lii ly
iIai onc faci comforicd Icr morc iIan dayligIi could Iavc ai iIai poini.
Dui as sIc was siaring widc-cycd inio iIc moon, somc ncw occurrcncc
was fliiiing aloui in iIc cdgcs of Icr pcripIcral vision. SIc didn'i rcalizc uniil
ii was ioo laic iIai somciIing liggcr, and morc dangcrous iIan Icr, was
growing oui of wIai was oncc Lco.

17

Lcvcl 2. Lifc Aficr DcaiI

Xillia siood on iIc sidc of Lco's Iousc, rigIi in froni of a woodcn, sligIily
lrolcn gaic iIai lcd, sIc prcsumcd, io iIc froni of iIc Iousc. SIc rcacIcd a
Iand lcIind Icr and fcli Icr lacl. Ii sccmcd as if iIc lacl of Icr sIiri was
complcicly iorn, Icr jcans on iIc sidc Iung looscIcr undcrwcar was plainly
visillcand iIcrc wcrc four dccp gasIcs iIai ran from Icr sIouldcr io Icr
lumlar rcgion. TIcy lurncd and siung along wiiI iIc dccp iIrolling pain sIc
fcli on Icr rils. Apparcnily iIc adrcnalinc and cndorpIins, iIai Iad lccn
prcviously raging iIrougI Icr lody wIilc figIiing Lco, Iad worn off, io Icr
complcic dismay.
SIc Icard a car drivc up io iIc froni of Lco's Iousc, and sIc Iopcd iIai
ii wasn'i LuciussIc lncw Ic'd lc pisscd.
SIc iurncd io glancc lacl ai Lco and
OI sIt."
Lco's lody was glowing a lrigIi, flcsIy, pinl color. TIc glow rcsonaicd
ouisidc iIc cdgcs of Iis slin, iIrumming wiiI cncrgy and aniicipaiion. His
lacl arcIcd upward and iIcrc lcgan a sligIi ircmlling of iIc air around Iim.
In a suddcn lurcI, Iis lody lificd off of iIc ground. In anoiIcr momcni, Iis
slin lcgan io pccl and disinicgraic inio iIc pinl aura iIai surroundcd Iim.
Cuis flasIcd across Iis slin, allowing rcd gas io sccp iIrougI. His icc lluc
cycs rollcd opcn and Iis mouiI opcncd up in a silcni scrcam. TIcn, ripping oui
of iIc pinl spacc, Iis limls grcw widcr and longcr. His wIolc lody lulllcd
and lursi inio a ncw form, Iis cycs iurncd coal llacl, iIc iIin sIiri Ic worc
splii off ai iIc scams and cposcd Iis iorso, wIicI sccmcd io Iavc a lluisI
infcciion, siariing wIcrc Iis Icari was, and sprcading iIrougI Iis vcins. TIc
lluc iravcllcd, sprcading lilc a virus. Hc iurncd lluc and Iis fcci clongaicd.
Claws grcw oui long and sIarp wiiI llacl vcnom.
Hc floaicd upward as Iis lody cIangcd inio somciIing monsirous. Xillia
saw, wiiI icrror, iIai Iis cycs Iad closcd sIui as if Ic wcrc aslccp. His
sIouldcrs gavc a lurcI and oui of Iis lacl iwo sIarp poinicrs flccd oui,
pulling Iorrifically oui of Iis sIouldcr lladcs. TIcy cicndcd aloui iIrcc fcci
lcforc somciIing slimy drippcd from iIcm and formcd iwo pairs of disgusiing
wings. Lco'sif iIai was siill Lcocycs jcrlcd opcn.
Xillia fcli fcar run up from Icr fcci and luzz all iIc way io iIc iip of Icr
Icad, maling cvcry Iair siand up on iIc way. SIc iurncd and fumllcd wiiI
iIc locl on iIc gaic. Frusiraicd, and wiiI Icr Icari lcaiing a lillion milcs a
minuic, sIc laclcd up a sicp and liclcd iIc woodcn gaic. TIc wood splii ing
iIc middlc, crcaiing a largc cnougI Iolc for Icr io crawl iIrougI.
Xillia divcd forward oui of iIc Iolc.and goi siucl Ialfway iIrougI.
Dammii!" sIc scrcamcd, I Iaic lcing a woman!"
Pcrsonally," said a snidc voicc, I raiIcr lilc you lcing a woman."
Xillia loolcd up and saw, io Icr rclicf und annoyancc, Lucius. Hc
grallcd Icr arms and lcgan pulling Icr iIrougI. Dcforc sIc goi all iIc way
iIrougI, iIougI, an ccIoing roar lclicd oui from lcIind Icr. Lucius iuggcd
Icr iIrougI iIc Iolc and quiclly pullcd Icr away from wIaicvcr iIc Iccl iIai
monsicr was.
Lool, lalc, I don'i lnow wIai you did, lui iIai iIing is pisscd," Lucius
ycllcd as iIcy ran for iIc car.
You iIinl I didn'i rcalizc iIai?!"
WIai did you do io annoy ii so mucI?!"
I rcjccicd Iim."
AI."
A crasI from lcIind iIcm madc iIcm siumllc in iIcir iracls. Xillia
loolcd lacl and saw Lcoor wIai was lcfi of Iimflying iIcir wayand vcry,
vcry quiclly. Lco's mouiI opcncd and llacl gas flcw oui. Ii iIiclcncd iIc
alrcady darl air. In iIc span of a sccond, iIc world around iIcm lccamc jusi
as darl as iIc insidc of Lco's sIacl. Lucius pullcd Xillia wiiI onc Iand and
plungcd iIc oiIcr inio Iis lcaiIcr jaclci. Hc pullcd oui an odd looling gun and
lcpi ii in froni of Iim, wIilc pulling iIcm laclwards. Xillia grippcd Lucius'
Iand iIai wrappcd around Icr. SIc could larcly scc Iis silIouciic in iIc
dcspcraic darlncss, and sIc didn'i wani io losc Icr only linl io saniiy ai iIai
poini.
A lansIcc-lilc scrcam ccIocd around iIcm in iIc llacl smog. Xillia
loolcd frigIifully around as if io scc iIc sourcc, lui lilc lcforc, sIc was llind
iIrougI iIc llaclncss.
A lluc Iand camc oui of nowIcrc, grallcd Xillia's arm, rippcd Icr from
Lucius' iigIi grip, and pullcd Icr iIrougI inio iIc darlncss, Icr scrcam
ccIoing in Lucius' cars.
Xillia!" Lucius ycllcd.
Lucius Icard Xillia scrcaming uniil ii fadcd away, and all Ic was lcfi wiiI
was iIc llaclcncd silcncc. Hc Icld iIc gun closc, siraining Iis cars for any
sound io sIooi ai. Aficr a fcw minuics Iad gonc ly, Ic Icard iIc lansIcc-lilc
scrcam from far off, lui iIis iimc ii was diffcrcni, ii was morc siranglcd, as if
fillcd wiiI pain. SomciIing lluc lii up iIc darlncss IigI up on Iis lcfi. Hc
Icard Xillia scrcam. Hcr picrcing scrcccI rcsoundcd amongsi iIc Iowling of
iIc monsicr and slowly fadcd away. Panicling, Lucius ran oui inio iIc
llaclncss, looling Iopclcssly for Xillia.

. . .

Travclling llindly iIrougI iIc llacl smog, Xillia couldn'i icll wIcrc sIc
was or wIai was pulling Icr. Hcr scnsc of dircciion was slcwcd. TIcrc wcrc no
marlcrs io icll Icr if sIc was upsidc-down or noi. Dui, sIc iilicd Icr Icad up
wIcrc sIc could fccl iIc monsicr's Iand cluicIing Icrs. TIc silIouciic was
visillc only wIcrc iis Iand mci Icrs iIcn ii disappcarcd. SIc closcd Icr cycs
and focuscd again on irying io fccl Icr arm's and Icr assailani's prcscncc. TIc
faini lluc ouilincs appcarcd oncc morc in Icr mind's cyc, and sIc could scc
iIc llacl, vcnomous claws wrappcd around Icr lony arm. SIc could scc iIc
Iorrcndous ouilinc of iIc crcaiurc so vilc ii was lcyond nigIimarisI.
SIc Iad no cIoicc; sIc focuscd in on iIc poini of coniaci and forccd Icr
mind io rclcasc iIc lluc firc, no maiicr Iow wcal sIc Iad lccomc. A iiny
sparl igniicd iIc air nci io iIc crcaiurc's claw. TIc lluc slin larcly flincIcd,
so sIc iricd Iardcr. SIc iIougIi of Lucius and Iow Ic consianily pisscd Icr
off, lui iIai did noiIing. Angcr and Iaircd wcrc no longcr sirong cnougI. TIcy
wcrc ioo comprcsscd ly iIc fcar iIai ragcd iIrougI Icr loncs.
Hcr iIroai swcllcd up wiiI iIc iorrcni of fcar. Tcars wcllcd Icr cycs as
Icr rccling mind iricd io grasp ai somciIing io Iold on io. Suddcnly, a mcnial
imagc of Fivcrs crosscd Icr mind. TIc dcspcraic and fuiilc lovc sIc fcli for Icr
lroiIcr fillcd Icr up, crusIing away iIc fcar. SIc focuscd on iIai lovc and lci ii
grow uniil somciIing snappcd in Icr mindiIc lluc firc igniicd and iIc
crcaiurc gavc a loud, carspliiiing sIricl.
And iIcn, sIc was falling. Falling iIrougI iIc darlncss, and sccing
imagcs roll pasi Icr cycs.

. . .

SIc rcmcmlcrcd Icr faiIcr; Ic Iad dicd wIcn sIc was vcry young, Icr
moiIcr was siill sad aloui iIai somciimcs. Hc uscd io luy Icr lollipops from
iIc local convcnicncc siorc. SIc rcmcmlcrcd Fivcrs and Iow lind and gcnilc
Ic always was io Icr. SIc rcmcmlcrcd Dcn and Iow Ic always lci Icr play
wiiI Iim and Iis fricnds.
SIc rcmcmlcrcd discovcring Lucy and iIc gang. SIc rcmcmlcrcd Iow
sIc simply inirudcd in upon iIcir livcs and lccamc a sidc fricnd io iIcm. SIc
always dcludcd Icrsclf iIai iIcy cnjoycd Icr company, lui iIcy only cnjoycd ii
wIcn ii was convcnicni. SIc rcmcmlcrcd Icr firsi loyfricnd, somconc iIai sIc
didn'i rcally lilc lui sIc fcli sIc Iad io lilc sincc all Icr fricnds lilcd guys ioo.
SIc jusi wanicd io lc apari of iIc group, sIc ncvcr iIougIi aloui lcing
Icrsclf.
Dui iIcrc wcrc momcnis wIcn sIc was Icrsclf. Playing in SicpIi's iall
grass, sIc fcli as if sIc could gci losi in iIai sca forcvcr. SIc fcli as if lifc did
noi cnd iIcrc, ii simply coniinucd onward ccasclcssly. Ii fcli lilc frccdom. And
somcwIcrc dccp insidc Icr was an incplicallc nccd for frccdom. Dui iIai
nccd was consianily pusIcd lacl ly Icr silly dcsircs for oiIcrs io acccpi Icr,
sIc ncvcr iIougIi aloui iIc conscqucnccs of sucI dcsircs, sIc ncvcr lncw
iIai sucI iIings could lcad io a losing of oncs sclf. And now iIai sIc was
sirippcd of all iIings iIai wcrc lccping Icr lacl, sIc Iad finally discovcrcd
wIo sIc was. SIc discovcrcd iIai sIc wanicd io livc.

. . .

And wiiI iIai final iIougIi somciIing cpandcd from insidc of Icr.
SomciIing lluc wiiI gold flccls wiiIin Icr crupicd from Icr cIcsi as sIc fcll. Ii
llcw ouiward and dissipaicd iIc llacl smog. SIc saw, wiiI onc final lrusI of
icrror, iIai sIc was ncaring iIc ground ai an alarming raic. Dui jusi as sIc
lclicvcd iIai all would cnd wiiI Icr guis splaiicrcd all ovcr iIc pavcmcni, sIc
sioppcd. SIc loolcd down Icr nosc ai iIc pavcmcni iIai was far ioo closc for
comfori. SIc Iovcrcd for a sccond, and iIcn wIaicvcr was Iolding Icr up lci
go. SIc slammcd down on iIc pavcmcni wiiI a sligIi, oof."

18

Lcvcl 3. WaiiLcvcls?

Folling ovcr sIc saw Lucius running io mcci Icr from a liiilc ways off.
Siiiing up, sIc noiiccd Lco iIc Wcird Crcaiurc From Hcll collapscd a liiilc ways
off, iwiicIing and.IuIIng Lucius caugIi up io Icr and Iclpcd Icr up.
Arc you olay?!" Ic aslcd Icr, complcicly sIoclcd ai somciIingsIc
didn'i lnow wIai.
YcaI," Xillia rcplicd, lui I rcally did iIinl I was going io dic lacl
iIcrc."
TIanl Cod you didn'i," Ic lrcaiIcd, looling ai iIc crcaiurc iIai was
lcginning io gci up.
Docsn'i iIai iIing cvcr dc!" Xillia aslcd incrcdulously.
Musi lc lcvcl iIrcc." Lucius muiicrcd.
WIai? Arc wc in a vidco gamc?" sIc aslcd as iIc llaclcncd iIing from
a ways off was sianding up. Xillia grimaccd. Slimc drippcd off iIc tIng in Iugc
cIunls.
Evcry dcmon Ias a ccriain amouni lcvcls, ai lcasi iIai's wIai wc call
iIcm, inculi Iavc iIrcc," Lucius cplaincd.
I siill don'i gci ii," sIc said as iIc dripping crcaiurc siood iIcrc,
prolally looling for iis opponcni or possilly jusi complcicly disoricnicd.
TIc firsi lcvcl, is iIc lasic lcvcl, iIcy arc somcwIai wcal lui arc vcry
cunning," Lucius said as Ic grallcd Xillia and lcgan lacling up. Usually a
firsi lcvcl is iIc 'Iuman' form." Xillia glanccd Iis wayconfusion. TIc sccond
lcvcl. iIcy morpI inio a flying crcaiurc and arc cponcniially sirongcr, lui iIcy
arc also dumlcr."
Lucius coniinucd io sIovc Icr laclward. Xillia loolcd ai iIc dripping
iIing and lacl io Lucius, A-and iIc iIird lcvcl?"
Eircmcly sirong, do noi aggravaic or go againsi a lcvcl iIrcc dcmon
wiiIoui propcr dcmon cicrminaior lacl-up, iIcy arc prciiy duml, lui lruic
forcc malcs up for mosi of iIai, as wcll as iIcir array of aliliiics. Dui, mosi
imporianily, iIcy arc fasi, if you arc cvcr unlucly cnougI io comc across a
dcmon iIai Ias dcvolvcd io lcvcl iIrcc, run away and pray ii docsn'i find you,"
Lucius said darlly.
Curiosiiy lillcd iIc cai.
Xillia gulpcd loudly. Apparcnily, ii was loud cnougI io aiiraci iIc
aiicniion of iIc lcvcl iIrcc inculi.
SIt," iIcy said in unison.
Lucius raiscd iIc sirangc gun as iIc iIing iurncd io facc iIcm. Ii
disappcarcd from sigIi and Lucius fircd off iIrcc iimcs. Ii rcappcarcd jusi as
Lucius Iii ii wiiI wIaicvcr iIc Iccl was in iIai gun. Ii loolcd lilc grccn goo
iIai lulllcd and cpandcd, lurning away iIc llaclcncd flcsI and dripping
downward io pin iIc iIing io iIc ground. Dui iIc crcaiurc simply lcpi
producing morc llacl slimc, and ii was so sirong iIai Xillia lncw iIai iIc
grccn siuff wasn'i going io Iold for long.
Wc Iavc io gci oui of Icrc," Xillia said.
No, wc can'i lcavc iIis iIing on iIc sirccis, wc Iavc io gci lacl up,"
Lucius rcplicd, moving iIcm laclwards uniil iIcy rcacIcd Iis car.
Dudc," sIc said as Ic rcacIcd a Iand in iIc window, scrcw lacl up,
iIc iIing is gciiing frcc."
Ii'll lill all soris of pcoplc, wc Iavc io gci an cicrminaiing squad."
YcaI! Dui sIouldn'i your pcoplc alrcady, lilc, lnow aloui iIis or
somciIing?!"
TIcy arcn'i all lnowing!"
Lucius fircd off a fcw morc sIois ai iIc llacl slimc iIing.
OI, plcasc," sIc rcplicd sarcasiically.
Fcally!" Ic said, iIcy arcn'i!"
Lucius lcpi rcacIing in ai somciIing Ic couldn'i quiic gci so Xillia
wallcd around io iIc passcngcr sidc and grallcd iIc llacl pIonc Iis fingcrs
larcly lrusIcd.
No! Waii! You don'i lnow Iow io worl iIai!" Ic sIouicd.
A pIonc!? Scriously? You'rc iclling a tccnugc g) iIai sIc docsn'i lnow
Iow io usc a pIonc, you do rcalizc iIai don'i you?"
Hc sigIcd and fircd off a fcw morc sIois; sIc flippcd ii opcn and
immcdiaicly found Icr way io iIc coniacis scciion.
Now wIicI cicrminaiing squad is ii? TIc"
Jusi Iand iIc pIonc ovcr!"
Jusi icll mc wIicI onc ii is! I lnow Iow io malc a pIonc call, you
duncc!"
Hc langcd Iis Icad againsi iIc sidc of iIc car.
Kccp doing iIai and you rcally will lc a duncc," sIc said, looling
iIrougI iIc long lisi of cicrminaiing squads.
AgI! WIy do you aggravaic mc so?!" Ic ycllcd, frusiraicd.
AI! Dcmon cicrminaiing squad! OI, waii, iIai was jusi a foldcr wiiI
yci unotIc) lisi of cicrminaiing squads. Scriously, Iow do you pcoplc gci
iIings donc?"
You nccd a password."
AIa! Lcvcl-iIrcc-crs! Coi ii!" sIc said Iappily. SIc cliclcd iIc numlcr
and pui iIc pIonc io Icr car.
Aficr a momcni a voicc rangc oui, sirangcly lilc TIc Fai Lady from u))u
Pottc), saying, Password?"
Xillia iIougIi for a momcni iIcn said, Password?"
TIc call rang iIrougI. Xillia loolcd ai Lucius incrcdulously.
Your password is password?"
I didn'i iIinl anylody would gucss iIai."
TIai is uuuus iIc firsi onc you iry wIcn you'rc gucssing passwords,
you doli," sIc snappcd lacl.
TIc llacl crcaiurc lci oui a Iowl and Xillia jumpcd. Lucius fircd off
anoiIcr sIoi, lui iIcn Ic ran cmpiy.
Hcllo?" a malc voicc luzzcd from iIc oiIcr cnd.
Hiya! TIis is Lucius' smaricr fricnd calling from Iis pIonc! Wc lind of
nccd Iclp Icrc, lools lilc a lcvcl iIrcc inculus from wIcrc I'm sianding."
WIcrc arc you sianding?"
OI, aloui fificcn fcci away."
SIc Icard a crasI from iIc oiIcr cnd and iIcn a siring of swcar words.
Arc you olay?" sIc aslcd.
Tcll mc wIcrc you arc!!! And gci lacl!!! FigIi now!!"
Er. olay?" Xillia rcplicd, maling no movc io gci lacl. SIc iIcn
procccdcd io icll iIcm cacily wIcrc iIcy wcrc.
Longiiudc and laiiiudc?" iIc malc voicc aslcd.
Er."
Ncvcr mind I lnow wIcrc iIai is," Ic said lrusqucly, mc and my icam
will lc iIcrc aloui icn minuics."
Xillia Iung up iIc pIonc and loolcd io find Lucius. SIc spoiicd Iim
digging iIrougI iIc irunl.
WIai arc you looling for?"
Morc guns, and morc lullcis," Ic rcplicd as Ic pullcd oui iwo sIoiguns
and a lo of lullcis. Hc iosscd a sIoigun io Xillia wIo iurncd ii ovcr in Icr
Iand, camining ii.
Hc iosscd Icr a lo of sIclls io fill Icr gun, jusi ialc iIc sIclls and
pu"
I lnow, I lnow!"
You lnow?"
Dcn iaugIi mc Iow io sIooi oncc, Mom was ncvcr io lnow aloui ii,"
Xillia rcplicd maiicr-of-facily.
A roar inicrrupicd iIcir liiilc cIai and scni spinc-iingling cIills all up
iIcir lodics. Ii loolcd lilc iIc llacl crcaiurc goi frcc from iIc grccn goo. Xillia
noiiccd iIc iIing Iad onc lrigIi, rcd cyc swcrving around in iis soclci. Ii was
looling for iIcm.
Maylc if wc" sIc lcgan, lui iIc crcaiurc Icard Icr and iurncd iIai
rcd cyc on Icr.
Lucius sIoi iIc crcaiurc wiiI Iis sIoigun. TIc lullcis, apparcnily, lci
oui a grccnisI acidic gas iIai lurncd lrigIi orangc Iolcs wIcrc ii Iii iIc
crcaiurc.
Xillia iool aim and sIoi iIc cyc. Ii cplodcd in a llacl siorm. Dlacl oozc
lursi from iIc soclci as icndrils of rcd carnagc flcw iIrougI iIc air. Xillia
grimaccd, gciiing rcady io firc off anoiIcr sIoi. TIc Dcmon scrcccIcd so loud ii
sIool iIc air.
Don'i aggravaic ii!" Lucius ycllcd, Now ii'll jusi snc wIcrc wc arc!"
OI," sIc rcplicd dumlly, I iIougIi sincc wc wcrc in a vidco gamc iIc
cyc was, lilc, iIc wcal poini."
ArgI! TIai's iIc siupidcsi iIing I'vc cvcr Icard!"
Hcy! Ii soundcd lilc a good idca in my Icad!" sIc snappcd lacl, sIc
was rcally siariing io gci angry wiiI Iim.
YcaI, lui ii's noi lilc you Inou anyiIing aloui"
OI I don'i Inou unutIng! You arc sucI an assIolc!"
You didn'i lci mc fini"
I didn'i nccd io lci you finisI! I lncw wIai you wcrc going io say!"
How could you possilly lnow wIai I was going io say?" Lucius snappcd,
Iis cycs complcicly off iIc llacl slimy crcaiurc iIai was siariing io rcgain a
scnsc of wIcrc cvcryiIing was.
TIcy wcrc squaring off in iIc middlc of iIc sircci again. TIis could only
mcan lad iIings.
Dccausc you arc a prcdiciallc, inconsidcraic, iniolcrallc, cluclcss,
idioi!" sIc sIouicd lacl, Icr llood lcginning io loil ovcr iIc cdgc.
And you arc an unlcarallc, aggravaiing, smari-ass!" Ic sIouicd lacl.
SIc was so pisscd off ai Lucius ai iIis poini sIc lcgan io ircmllc wiiI
iIc forcc of iIc angcr. TIc air lcgan io sIimmcr in froni of Icr, as if iIcrc wcrc
a miragc. SIc glanccd ai Iis car, lui in a splii sccond dccision sIc loolcd ovcr
ai iIc slimy dcmon. WiiI a lursi of angcr iIc iIing cplodcd in lluc flamc iIai
scni llacl slimc flying cvcrywIcrc.

19

EurgI

TIc cplosion llcw loiI Lucius and Xillia lacl onio iIc ground. Xillia
fcli slimc slap down on Icr. SIc spuiicrcd lui siill couldn'i gci up.
WIcn iIc cplosion sulsidcd sIc goi up slowly, fccling iIc siing of gravcl
in Icr lacl wounds. Dlacl slimc was cvcrywIcrc. Lucius and Iis car, io Icr
dcligIi, goi iIc worsi of ii. Dui lcing iIc somcwIai lind pcrson iIai sIc was,
sIc dccidcd io scc if Ic was alivc.
HcyIcy Lucius," sIc said sIaling iIc llacl llol iIai was Iim. Hc
moancd in rcsponsc.
Vc Ic`s uuc, sIc iIougIi.
Wcll, you'rc alivc," sIc said.
SIc goi up and camincd Icrsclf. Ncarly Icr cniirc lody was covcrcd in
llacl slimc and gravcl. SIc fcli a liiilc disappoinicd ai Icr old cloiIcs, lui iIcy
uc)c old. Hcr facc, iIanlfully, was only a liiilc diriy lccausc sIc Iad covcrcd ii
in iimc of iIc cplosion. Looling around, sIc saw iIai an cniirc sidc of Lucius'
musiang was covcrcd in slimc.
Lucius moancd and lcgan io gci up slowly. Slimc drippcd off of Iim as
Ic siood. His froni was almosi ncarly covcrcd in slimc, and so was mosi of Iis
facc.
EurgI!" Ic announccd flicling slimc off of Iis Iands.
Xillia didn'i fccl iIc lcasi lii angry wiiI Lucius anymorc sccing as Iow
Ic was covcrcd from Icad io fooi in llacl slimc. In faci, sIc quiic cnjoycd iIc
vicw.
Xillia pui Icr fooi up againsi iIc lacl of iIc car. Hcy, lalc, Iow's ii
going?"
Lucius loolcd up ai Icr and all sIc could scc of Iis fcaiurcs wcrc iIosc
purplc cycs iIai wcrc siaring ai Icr confuscdly.
Scy, rigIi?" sIc aslcd.
TIc sidc of Iis facc iwiicIcd, and in a momcni of lcirayal, on Iis pari,
Ic lursi oui laugIing. Xillia followcd suii, lnowing Iow ridiculous iIc wIolc
siiuaiion was.
Aficr a minuic of wiping icars oui of iIcir cycs from iIc inicnsc Iumor,
Xillia saw iIai iIc air lcgan io sIimmcr a liiilc ways away. TIc air in iIai spoi
foldcd in upon iisclf, pusIing and pulling in cvcry dircciionsomciIing was
forcing iis way iIrougI. In a flasI, wIicI iorc iIrougI from nowIcrc, fivc scary
looling pcoplc appcarcd. TIcrc wcrc four guys and onc woman; Xillia rcalizcd
iIis musi lc iIc cicrminaiing squad.
Lucius gavc a warning lool ai Xillia, wIicI clcarly mcani io siay away as
Ic Iandlcd iIings, lui, of coursc, Xillia paid no aiicniion io sucI a scniimcni.
SIc irailcd along lcIind Iim as Ic approacIcd iIc fivc scarics.
WIcrc's iIc dcmon?" iIc firsi, giani malc loomcd oui.
Er. ii's lind of gonc," Lucius rcplicd furiivcly.
Conc?! Conc wIcrc?!" iIc circmcly ianncd, crccpy malc onc larlcd.
Xillia sicppcd forward; cIin up in iIc air, and said, Conc. As in, dcud.
TIc squiniy-cycd fcmalc pccrcd ovcr ai Xillia, you lillcd ii."
Ii wasn'i a qucsiion, ii was a siaicmcni, and iIai was wIai loiIcrcd
Xillia iIc mosi aloui iIis woman. Aficr a icnsc momcni lciwccn Lucius and
Xillia, sIc dccidcd iIai ii would lc lciicr if sIc waiicd ly iIc slimy car.
You lnow I iIinl I forgoi somciIing in iIc car," Xillia said.
SIc iurncd and quiclly scampcrcd off in iIai dircciion. Xillia didn'i
lnow wIy, lui iIc way iIc woman said iIai unncrvcd Icr. Maylc ii was iIc
way sIc loolcd ai Xillia wIilc sIc said ii. TIc woman's gazc loolcd as if sIc
lncw morc iIan sIc was iclling, and iIai ii Iad undcrlying ioncs of scicniific
cvaluaiion, Iiniing iIai sIc wanicd io prolc Icr in somc lal. Ii was crccpy io
say iIc lcasi. Xillia dccidcd iIai iIc faci of Icr lluc firc" Iad io rcmain a
sccrci, lccausc sIc was prciiy surc iIai iIai lind of iIing was iIc alnormal io
iIc alnormal.
Xillia lcancd againsi iIc car and waicIcd iIc sccnc from far away.
Lucius was ialling wiiI iIc fivc cicrminaiors, in wIai sccmcd lilc a vcry
profcssional way. SIc Iadn'i pui mucI iIougIi lcforc of Iis jol. Hc was a
Sncal for iIc Durcau of Paranormal Crimc, and ai iIai momcni, iIc faci lcgan
io sinl in. AnoiIcr faci iIai lcgan io sinl in was iIc faci iIai sIc fcli iIc cycs
of pcoplc looling in on iIc sccnc from oui iIcir windows. SIc iIougIi, ai firsi,
iIai iIis would lc lad, lui iIcn sIc figurcd if iIcy could crasc Icr lroiIcr's
mcmorics iIcn iIcy could crasc iIc wIolc sircci's.
SIc saw iIc largc malc in iIc middlc malc a pIonc call. Aficr a fcw
momcnis, morc pcoplc lcgan io sIimmcr iIcir way iIrougI iIc air and appcar
on iIai slimy sircci. TIcy wcrcn'i iIc convcniional, nondcscripi pcoplc iIai
Xillia Iad grown uscd io. Dui iIcrc wcrc so many variaiions in cacI of iIcm
iIai cvcniually iIcy lccamc a singlc, cvcr-cIanging lody iIai millcd aloui on
iIai sircci, lnocling on doors and producing a sirangc gold powdcry gas in
cacI doorway.
Xillia lcgan io fccl iIc wcigIi of iIc cvcning's cvcnis on Icr sIouldcrs.
Hcr iIroai lcgan acIing, as a largc wcigIi sccmcd io prcss all ovcr Icr lody.
Lucius cvcniually camc iIrougI iIc llurrcd crowcd and siood ly Icr. Hcr cycs
droopcd wiiI iIc Icavincss of faiiguc.
Up alovc, iIc sun lcgan io pcnciraic orangc and pinl iIrougI iIc darl
grccn irccs and inio iIai dccp lluc sly. A ray of sun flasIcd iIrougI a lrancI
from far off and Iii Xillia in a picrcing manncr on Icr lrigIi rcd cycs. Hcr
lnccs lcgan wollling as sIc sirugglcd io mainiain lalancc.
Lucius loolcd ovcr. Hcy arc you"
Dui Ic was ioo laic, lccausc Xillia, ai iIai poini, passcd oui.

20

Somclody io ____?

NoiIing mucI can lc said of iIosc wIo waii for opporiuniiy io sicp on
iIcir froni door. TIosc wIo willingly sccl ii oui arc somciimcs callcd grcai"
and iIcir siorics along iIc lincs of rags io ricIcs." Dui, morc oficn iIan noi,
opporiuniiy sccls iIosc wIo arc allc, willing, and, mosi imporianily, rcady.
Somciimcs aspccis of lifc grip a pcrson in iIc Icari, and falscly lind iIcm io a
fanciful forcc. TIc falsiiy iIai lifc can grani no frccdom linds pcoplc mosi of
all. Somc forgci iIc rcasons iIcy wanicd io livc, somc forgci wIo iIcy arc,
somc cvcn go as far as io forgci Iow io livc. Enirapmcnis sucI as iIcsc arc
dccciiful, in iIai, iIcy consianily icll iIcir icnani ii is impossillc io go lacl. In
wIicI casc, ii is only pu)t falsc. Onc can ncvcr go lacl, onc can only go
forward. Dui iIcsc cnirapmcnis will also givc iIc imprcssion iIai lacl s
forward. Ii is noi so. If onc Ias iIc idca, cvcn if ii is so small comparcd io
douli, onc can uuuus grow iIai idca, and nourisI ii inio a projcciing forcc io
movc ]o)uu)d. TIai idca is iIc momcni in wIicI onc is rcady. To lc allc and io
lc willing arc scparaic cniiiics, in iIai, onc musi Iavc a ccriain amouni of
disciplinc and worl ciIic in ordcr io acquirc iIcm. Dui iIcy also conncci wiiI
iIai idca, in iIai, if onc Ias propcrly nourisIcd iIc idca, iIcn aliliiy and
willingncss will Iavc comc iIai pcrson's way, somciimcs wiiIoui iIcir
lnowlcdgc of ii.

. . .

Xillia LivcnsworiI ncvcr lncw Iow io livc uniil sIc dicd. And ai iIis
momcni in iimc, sIc was conicmplaiing on Iow Icr ncw lifc" was going io play
oui. TIc llacl ornaic door Iad swung widc opcn on Icr, and now so many
possililiiics, iIai wcrc always iIcrc, prcscnicd iIcmsclvcs, as if complcicly
frcsI and ncw.
Dui, of coursc, iIcrc wcrc complicaiions. Lucius, for onc, wanicd Icr all
io Iimsclf, and sIc didn'i wani anyiIing io do wiiI Iim. Wcll, sori of. Aficr all
iIai Iad Iappcncd sIc Iad found iIai sIc no longcr Iaicd Lucius, of coursc,
sIc would ncvcr admii iIai io Iim. Dui, looling ai iIc lig piciurc, Xillia Iad
no moncy and no lifc. SIc was forccd, iIcrcforc, io livc wiiI Iimio Iis
unnoung dcligIi.
AnoiIcr complicaiion, and iIc rcason for Icr lying complcicly wcal on
Iis coucI ai iIai momcni, was Icr olsiinaic wisI io ncvcr drinl llood. Dcforc,
sIc Iad simply pusIcd iIai pariicular aspcci of vampirc lifc oui of Icr mind,
wIicI Iad conscqucnily madc Icr sicl, and adding io iIai iIc consiani sirain
sIc was puiiing on ly cploding a luncI of crap, sIc Iad dccrcascd iIc
amouni of iimc sIc could go wiiIoui llood.
TIcn, iIcrc was iIc lluc firc. Lucius providcd no cplanaiion for iIai
spccific pIcnomcnon, and only rcmarlcd iIai ii Iad savcd iIcir luiis lacl
iIcrc so Ic didn'i rcally carc ciiIcr way. Dui Ic did sircss iIc nccd io lccp ii a
sccrci; Ic sIarcd Icr worry on lcing cpcrimcnicd on.
So, ai iIai momcni in iimc, Xillia was lying on Lucius' coucI, pondcring
lifc and wIai lay aIcad of Icr as Lucius yammcrcd on in iIc laclground,
saying somciIing prolally imporiani.
MmmmImm. YcaI," Xillia said alscnily.
So you'll do ii?" Ic aslcd, siiiing on iIc coffcc iallc iIai was nci io iIc
coucI.
Do wIai?"
ArgI," Hc pui Iis Icad in Iis Iands. Did you cvcn Icar wIai I was
saying?"
Nopc."
WIai could you possilly lc iIinling aloui iIai is morc imporiani iIan
wIai I'm saying?"
A loi of iIings arc morc imporiani iIan wIai you'rc saying," Xillia
rcplicd icsiily, lui, if you musi lnow, I was iIinling aloui lifc."
SIc irailcd off wiiI iIc pcrfcci inflcciion of iIc word lifc" so as io givc
iIc fccling of dcprcssion.
You arc noi going io dic," Ic said olsiinaicly.
SIc cnjoycd mcssing wiiI Iim.
SIc sigIcd and loolcd away. WiiI an arm casi ovcr Icr facc sIc said,
OI. You could ncvcr undcrsiand."
UrgI, lool, you nccd io fccd, or clsc you u)c going io dic," Lucius said
complcicly aggravaicd.
Xillia iool Icr arm from Icr facc and loolcd ovcr ai Lucius wiiI a
scrious cprcssion.
Lucius," sIc lcgan.
Ycs?"
You.arc so Ioi."
Lucius' wIolc lody frozc. A dccp, rcd flusI siaricd from iIc collar of Iis
llacl icc and sprcad upward across Iis palc facc, surrounding Iis pansy cycs
and cscaping inio Iis lusI, llacl Iair. Aficr a sccond of iurning lcci rcd, Ic
disappcarcd. Xillia laugIcd unconirollally for aloui icn minuics. TIc good
iIing aloui iIai linc was iIai sIc mcani cvcry word of ii.
SIc was going io cnjoy mcssing wiiI Iim.