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Starr was looking forward to spending the next couple of summer weeks with her cousin, Lita. She walked up to the plain white house at the end of the block. “Is she here yet?” she called aloud, as she walked through the front door and made her way into the kitchen. “AAAAghhhh!!” a girl screamed, and ran at her from beside the kitchen bar. “When did you get here?” “This afternoon. My parents dropped me off and I’ve been waiting for you to get home,” and she added, in a whisper, “what’s wrong with Meghan? She’s been acting strange all afternoon, didn’t want to talk to me, and barely said hi. I thought we were all buddies.” “That’s a long story and, to be honest, I don’t know all the details. She’s been really cold and distant with me, too, the last few months. I guess she’s just going through
something that she doesn’t want to tell anyone about.” “Okay, okay,” cut in Starr’s mother. “You guys go upstairs. Starr, you still need to pack. While you’re up there, make sure you both have everything you need. Once we get up to the cabin, there won’t be a store, for miles, around.” They walked up the stairs and down the hall, toward Starr’s room. She stopped, a moment, and knocked on the second door to her right. “Meghan?” she called through the door. “Do you want to hang out, with me and Lita, in my room?” “No thanks,” she called out. “I guess she doesn’t like me, anymore. We used to talk a ton, but today it was like she hardly knew me.” “It’s not you, trust me, it’s her. Lately, she doesn’t want to talk to anyone.” They closed the door to Starr’s room. She pulled out the large suitcase from under her bed and started packing clothes in.
“So what’s up? Tell me everything!” said Starr. “Well, Mark, the guy I was telling you about, last time we talked. He’s going out with the biggest slob in the world. This girl who wears sneakers and men’s tee shirts; you should see her, a fashion-don’t. I’m hanging with Maggie and Jessie, as usual. You met them last time you visited; they’re my friends from school. Next year, I start applying to colleges, but, other than those things, there’s nothing new in my life.” “Well, things have been boring, here; everyone seems to be in their own world. Mom’s gone back to work, and she loves long hours, so we don’t really see her. Dad has always been a quiet type, so he zones out, watching television. Meghan just sits in her room on her computer all night. I just come home, do schoolwork, eat, and then hang out up here, in my room, most nights.” Through the wall, they could, suddenly, hear Meghan shouting. “Sounds like your sister is having an argument?” “Yeah, she’s been fighting with someone, off and on, lately. It’s probably just a guy she’s dating.” “Sounds pretty serious,” said Lita sounding skeptical.
From downstairs, Starr’s mother called them down to dinner. After a good meal, they went to bed early. The next morning, they piled into the car and drove two hours until they got to the furthest end of Lake George. The cabin was dusty and dark, but it looked kind of cozy. Everyone went to unpack, and Starr’s parents to prepare for lunch. Down on the dock of the lake, they had a light lunch, and then went swimming. “Meghan, why don’t you have your bathing suit on?” “I don’t feel like swimming.” “Eat a sandwich.” “I’m not hungry, Mom,” she said annoyed. They talked and laughed, and swam, but Meghan sat there looking glum. When the sun started to set, they made their way back up to the cabin for grilled burgers. In the living room, after dinner, they watched a movie. From the corner of Starr’s eye, she noticed Meghan wiping her cheeks.
Why was she crying? As she lay in bed, Starr reflected on all the peculiar changes that had taken place in her, once, overly cheerful sister. It seemed like only six months before, they had a pretty good relationship, for siblings anyway, and, now, they were like strangers to each other. Well, she couldn’t take it anymore; she decided to go to her, that instant, and demand that Meghan talk to her, and she wouldn’t leave her room until she told Starr everything that was going on with her. She climbed out of bed and tip toed to her room. Gently, she knocked on the door, but Meghan didn’t reply. Starr opened the door, a crack, and looked inside. While she didn’t see Meghan in the room, she saw through the large window, a girl bent over, talking into a car with its lights turned off; she could just barely see the shadow of it, by the porch light. It occurred to Starr that, not only was it peculiar for Meghan to be down there at such a time, but who would drive all the way out to Lake George to see her? Wondering if she were in some kind of trouble, Starr snuck downstairs to try and eavesdrop. Instead of going toward the front of the house, where Meghan was, Starr crept
out of the back and inched along the walls of the house, staying in the shadow; she stopped just short of the porch light. From where she stood, she could see the man inside the car; he had a buzz cut and deep dark eyes. He was unshaven and dirty looking, and a cigarette hung from his mouth. They whispered to each other, ferociously; Starr couldn’t make out a word, with the engine of the car humming. Then, in a sudden movement, the man grabbed Meghan’s arms and she screamed. Starr ran up and grabbed her around the ankles, but he pulled her in and pried Starr’s hands off her. Starr fell, hard, onto the gravel; she felt jagged rock cut into her thighs and legs. The car slowly reversed, and Starr could hear Meghan screaming at the top of her lungs. “Shut up!” she heard the man shout. Starr ran down the driveway with the intention of jumping on the car, but it had already backed into the road where it turned and sped off. Starr ran down the road, trying to read the license plate but it was too dark. After hours of questioning by the sheriff’s department, they packed up and
went home, only to be questioned again by their own local police. Starr had never seen her parents look so sad. Weeks went by without word from Meghan, during which, they hounded, repeatedly, the school and friends who may have been in contact with her. The only time they went out of their way to talk to Starr was to snap at her, usually for bothering them or forgetting to do something. She used to be sad about having a boring home, and spending every night alone in her room; she never thought things could get even worse. Now, not only did they ignore her, but they seemed to be angry with her for letting Meghan get away; every time they looked at her, she could she disgust and loathing in their eyes. One day, Starr was sitting in Meghan’s room, feeling sad. Her mother, who had taken occasional opportunities to badger Starr to death about the night Meghan was kidnapped, had decided that Starr was a terrible sister. She told her, plain as day, that she wished it were her who had been kidnapped, instead of Meghan. As she sat on her sister’s bed, wiping tears from her eyes, she looked down and saw a little cord sticking out of the drawer of Meghan’s desk. She opened the drawer and
found her sister’s little Samsung. It dawned on Starr that Meghan had only stopped using the Samsung a few weeks before they left for Lake George. Immediately, she plugged in the cord and turned on the phone. Why didn’t she think of it before? All the messages she’d been texting, for the past three months, were stored on the phone’s memory: over 300 messages, incoming and out. Quickly, upon seeing all the messages, she unplugged the cord, and stowed away, back to her room and read through every single message. At first, it was just nonsense between her and Alison McComb; her best friend at school. They talked trash and uselessness, back and forth, but, then the tone changed. “Alison: Meghan, where were you today? You missed Sandra’s birthday party. Alison: Meghan, I haven’t heard from you in two days. Where are you? Alison: Are we no longer friends? Write back.” Starr knew, at that moment, that Alison was telling the truth, when she told her parents she knew nothing, for the message was dated to approximately six
months ago; about the same time Meghan became reclusive. She skipped along and that’s when messages from a stranger appeared: some guy named Frank. “Frank: Hi, Meghan, darling. You looked lovely today. Frank: Where are you? I’m here and waiting. Frank: So I don’t care; skip school and get your butt over here!” “Meghan: I can’t meet you. Meghan: We have to stop seeing each other; you’re too old for me. Meghan: You love me? Then who was that blonde on your arm, the other night? Meghan: STAY AWAY FROM ME!!!” Then there was one last group of messages from Frank. “Frank: I’m going to the city where my buddy and I plan to make a lot of money through some connections. Are you coming or what? Frank: Baby, I’m sorry… Please come. I won’t leave without you.
Frank: I’ll be staying at the Froger Apartments on Eighty eighth and second, meet me there when you can.” Starr decided to go to the city, right then and right there. She pulled out her suitcase and dialed her best childhood friend, Michael, at the same time. “Hey, Starr!” “Michael, there’s not a lot of time for me to explain, but I need your help.” “Anything for my favorite girl in the world.” “My sister’s in trouble. I need a place to crash. I’m coming to the city, tonight. Do you think your parents would let me sleep on your couch? I don’t really have any money.” “I don’t see why not. Just come on by when you get here.” “Okay, I gotta hang up. I’ll call you when I get in.” She called the cab company, and left for the train station an hour later: her mother didn’t even flinch when she saw her leave, suitcase in hand. Michael surprised her at the station at seven ‘o’ clock that evening. Starr wanted to
go straight to the address, but when Michael realized what neighborhood the address was in, he insisted they go to the police, first. After waiting an hour and a half, they finally sat down with an officer who seemed to think Starr was as unimportant as the fly buzzing around his head. When she recounted the events of the night at the cabin, he looked more irritated, rather than concerned; almost as if the last thing he needed was Starr adding a load to his shoulders. They left feeling rejected; Starr furious and determined to get Meghan herself, but Michael wouldn’t let her, saying they’d be better off going in the daytime, as night time was extremely dangerous in that neighborhood. He forced her back to his place, where they ate dinner with his parents, and then went to bed. But Starr couldn’t sleep, nor could she wait until morning. She left the couch and the apartment, quietly. She walked half a mile or so, to the Froger Apartments and stood outside. Michael was right, the streets were dangerous. Women looked devious on every street corner, men looked slimy and slovenly. Starr, having spent a good life in the suburbs, had never seen such people, but she wasn’t afraid. When Starr was determined, there was
never any stopping her, and that night was no different. In contemplation of Michael’s word, and the visuals she was getting from the shady neighborhood, Starr decided it was best that she wait until daylight to approach the apartment that was labeled Frank Catrelli on the door buzzer. If he was as creepy as he looked, assuming it was he who took Meghan that night, it wasn’t hard to imagine that he could, easily, kill her and throw her body into the Hudson River. She walked around until dawn started to peak out from the sky, and that was when she saw Meghan. Starr recognized the black leather jacket with leather pieces cut into a flower, on the back. She was ordering something through the window of a bakery. At first she didn’t believe her eyes, but when she shouted “Meghan!” she knew she’d found her. She turned her head to see who’d called her name, then, seeing Starr, she took off running. Starr chased her down three blocks and into an alley. She caught her by the hem of her jacket as she tried to escaped up a fire ladder, but she yanked her back onto the ground and pinned her; Meghan struggled but
Starr, though younger, was too strong for Meghan. “What are you doing here? Why won’t you come home?” “Because I don’t want to! Get off me,” she tried to buck her with her hips but failed. “Stop fighting me and I’ll let you up!” “Fine!” Starr got off her, but as soon as Meghan stood up, she tried to run. Starr blocked her and Meghan tried to punch her, but Starr did a reverse roundhouse heel kick, landing her on the ground. “Look,” she said huffing, standing over her, “we can either do this the hard way, or the easy way. It’s your choice; we can do this all day, if you like.” Meghan stood up and Starr saw her, clearly, for the first time. Her right eye was healing from an injury, and the corners of her nose were red and agitated; she sniffled repeatedly and she looked thin. “Meghan, you look like crap. Come on,” she put her arm around her shoulders and guided her out to the street. “Try to run and I’ll thrash you, don’t test me.”
“Where are we going?” “You need to eat, Meghan.” They walked up the street to a diner. Over coffee and eggs, Starr tried to question Meghan but she was reluctant. “So are you gonna tell me what the hell you’re doing here?” “I’m in love with a guy, and I don’t want to be without him.” “Really?” said Starr disbelieving. “Is he really worth it? Because, Meghan, you look like hell.” “Money is tight, right now, but soon we’ll be rolling in it.” “How will you get this money that you’ll be rolling in?” Meghan looked away. “Thanks for the eggs, and thanks for visiting me. I know you’re worried, but I’m okay, really. Tell mom and dad not to worry. Now I’ve gotta go. I’m sorry.” Starr watched her walk out the door, and then hurried out the door herself. Keeping a hundred paces behind, she followed her up to the Froger apartments building.
Quietly, Starr pressed the button that said Frank Catrelli. A muffled voice came through the little metal box. “What? I can’t understand you,” said Starr, then someone buzzed her. Up the stairs, she went until she got to the seventh floor. She walked to the door at the end of the hall. Standing in the doorway, an overweight, bald guy asked, “Can I help you?” From behind the guy, she saw a man who had Meghan by the hair. It was the guy who pulled her into the car, that night at the cabin: Frank. Without a moments delay, Starr kicked in the door. The guy tried to push her out, but Starr landed an axe kick that sent him down to the floor, squirming. “Let go of my sister,” she shouted at the guy. He released her hair and backed away, slowly. Meghan looked pathetic, to Starr, standing there allowing herself to be treated in such a way. Starr was caught between pity and disgust, as she looked at her. Grabbing her by the elbow, she attempted to guide her out of the apartment, but when she resisted,
Starr put her in a chokehold and forced her out of the apartment, down the stairs, and out into the street. Not wanting to take Meghan back to Michael’s, in her condition – plus his parents would have called the police - , they walked the streets for hours, until they found an old abandoned clinic in a fenced off area. It had two boards nailed across a short walkway. When Starr pulled back the glass door, a cold draft blew back her hair, freezing her nose and stinging her eyes. Inside, she sat Meghan down on and old couch. “We have to stay here for a few hours. I can’t take you back to Michael’s, looking the way you do. His parents would not approve. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of cash, so we’ll just have to crash here until evening, which is when the train, to take us home, is scheduled arrive.” Starr sat down next to Meghan. She put her arms around her and said, “It’s gonna be alright, you’ll see: as long as we stick together, everything will be fine. You don’t need that jerk.” They fell asleep, together, on the couch.
Several hours later, she woke to find that Meghan had gone. Immediately, Starr went back to Frank’s apartment, but no one answered her when she pressed the button, so she waited for someone who could buzz her in. About five ‘o’ clock, she decided she could wait no longer. She’d asked several people to let her in, but they all refused. Looking at her watch, she only had two hours until their train was due to arrive, so she snuck up the side of the building by climbing the fire escape stairs. When she reached the seventh level, she peered through the window, into the living room of Frank’s apartment. Although she saw no one, she wasn’t convinced. As quietly as she could, she busted her fist through the glass. Then she kicked in all the jagged shards so she could crawl through the window without cutting herself. Slowly, with eyes wide open, she walked through the living room and turned right, into a hall. Someone coughed. How could someone not hear her break the window?
There was a large gurgling noise that came from down the hall. Slowly, she walked toward where the noise came from. She looked in the first bedroom and, there, a man sat on a bed with blood shot eyes: it was Frank, again, and he was high as a kite. “What the hell are you doing here?” he asked. “Where’s my sister?” “You’re dead,” he yelled as he walked, slowly, toward her. She froze as he reached behind his back and pulled out a gun. “If you shoot me, everyone around here will hear it. I broke the window and there are cops downstairs busting some druggy; they saw me break in and called on their radio.” He looked at her with wonderment, no doubt asking himself if she were bluffing. As if making up his mind not to take a chance, he raised his hand with the gun and struck down at Starr’s head, which burst open and bled immediately like a water fount. Then he put his hands around her throat and started choking her. Starr was too dizzy, from being stricken, to react quickly. Stars danced in
front of her eyes, and as she lost the ability to breathe, she became dizzier. Although she felt too weak to continue, her dojo master told her never to give up; that she’d be surprised at how much strength a person could muster, and even at the end of a weakened life force. With that thought, she pulled back her arm and punched him in the crotch. As he struggled against the pain to keep his grip on her neck, she took the minute opportunity to nail him in the esophagus which sent him down to the ground. As she made to leave the room, he grabbed her by the hair and yanked her back. Starr swung her head back and butted in his nose, feeling it crunch against her skull. Next, she sent a roundhouse to his face that knocked him out cold. She turned around and ran through the other rooms. When she didn’t find Meghan, she felt relief. Maybe she’d simply left the clinic to get some food, or something, but, when she walked into the last room in the back, her heart sank fast and all went silent, except a loud ringing in her ears. Under the glaring light of shade-less lamp, laid a dark haired girl. She walked up to the figure, tears already welling up in her eyes, and looked down. The bed was blood
soaked, and her lips no longer the healthy pink they once were. Someone was in the room with her, likely Frank, but she was too stunned to move; she couldn’t even defend herself. Her sister was dead and she didn’t know what she was going to do. How was she gonna tell her parents? What would they say? They already hated her for letting Meghan get away. Despair was sinking her like a ship. Then something whooshed around the room. Starr turned around to try and see what it was, but all went black. Present Day She stood under the street lamp, head tilted back, watching the window of the apartment on the seventh floor, just like she’d done nearly every night, since she got back from Boston. Using her mind, she’d sense the inhabitants and what they were doing; an advantage of being what she was, extra sensory perception or ESP. She could sense the presence of other people and see, in her mind’s eye, what they were doing. For example, in her mind, she could see the residents in the apartment were sitting down to dinner. Frank Catrelli was no longer a resident, there.
Perhaps it seemed pointless to go back every night and watch them, but it was all she could do, in the hopes that someone familiar would happen by, thus leading Starr to the man who killed her sister. Sure, she could have gone to the police, but after the way they treated her, last time, Starr decided not to waste her time. Besides, she wanted revenge; the kind that the judicial system was unable to provide, so, like she’d done a hundred times that month, already, she walked the neighborhood. She turned and walked up the street a bit. Over and over again, she thought about the last day they had together, at the clinic. Up until a few weeks ago, Starr could only remember flashes of what happened that night in the apartment where she found her sister. It was only when her friend, Michael, confessed to having been there, that it all came back to her. The jerk, Frank, stabbed her in the back, cutting her spinal cord clean in half, and that was when and why Michael turned her. “Starr.” She didn’t have to turn around to see that it was Marla walking behind her, calling her name.
“Hey” she said without looking back. Since she’d been back, Marla had been, in a sense, trying to talk her down from a proverbial ledge. “It’s 3am. I’m just getting off work. Want to get a drink at The Gaul?” The Gaul was a club where her other friend, and fellow vampire, Mica, worked. “No, thanks,” said Starr sourly, as she had still not entirely forgiven either of them for trying to kill her a while back. “Starr, you can’t spend your life walking these streets. What happened is terrible, but now you got to worry about Lily. We need to get her back, and we need you to do that.” Starr stopped and, for the first time since being turned, felt like blood was circulating in her veins. Her face heated up and the hair on her scalp rose up. Lily was a girl who was abandoned by her mother. Starr had taken it upon herself to look after her, but, while they were in Boston, a group of old vampires abducted her. “Look, I know I seem callous but she’s okay. In fact, she’s probably getting all the luxury she’s never had.” “How do you know that?”
“Because I met them; they’re a couple old, bored vamps with nothing better to do. If anything, they’re treating her like a doll.” “What if they turn her, Starr? She’s so young, still.” “They won’t. They’re adamant that she needs a few more years. Look, I know what I sensed and, what I sensed is they won’t hurt her. They continued to compare her to their own kids, and looked at her with adoring eyes. She’s fine, for now. Besides, I don’t need to go after them, they are coming for me, remember?” “Look, I don’t want to make light of you avenging your sister’s death, but if they come here, and you are not ready for them, we can’t help you. We aren’t strong enough.” “I know, Marla. I just can’t, right now. I have to find Frank Catrelli, first.”
Questions Chapter 2 The sun glared down upon her face; a burning smell of trash worked its way up her nose. She’d fallen asleep against the wall in the alley of the Froger Apartment building, behind the trash dumpster. She stood up and walked, fast, to the pharmacy drugstore, several blocks down. Inside, she hurried, with her head hung down, to the section with hand mirrors; whereupon, she saw a large black splotch burned on her forehead; though it was painless, it smelled awful and looked grotesque. Although the legends say that sunlight killed their kind, it was really the ultra violet radiation. Nowadays, it was common that vampires should live by day, given all the SPF lotions on the market. Starr grabbed the first bottle within reach and immediately wiped it all over her face and hands. Next, she walked to aisle of cheap clothes and chose a black and white bandana, which she wrapped around her head, covering the black spot.
Outside, she started all over, combing the neighborhood, block for block. After hours went by, she decided to grab a coffee. The fables would have you believe that their kind could only drink blood, but it just wasn’t so. Not only did they enjoy other food and drink, but they could go days, and sometimes weeks, without blood; although this wasn’t true for everyone because no two vampires were the same. She made to cross the street, but something caught her attention, a loud smacking noise, followed by a groan. In the alley to her left, there was a group of guys who were beating someone they pinned to the wall. Starr didn’t think twice about helping the guy. “Hey,” she yelled, “what are you guys doing?” “None of your business. You’d better just turn around and walk away,” said a guy with a backwards cap. “I don’t think so,” she looked him straight in the eyes. He walked, fast, at her and tried to push her back out onto the street, but he might as well have pushed a brick wall. Since being turned, Starr had incurred the strength of twenty men; there weren’t many vampires,
let alone humans, who could give her a run for her money. Taken aback, the guy tried to shove her again, but she was immovable. The guy pulled back his arm and then extended it into her stomach, but he might as well have hit her with a pillow. From his pores, she could smell sour, like lemon, notes coming from his pores: pheromones indicating his irritation with her. When she picked him up, singlehanded, and tossed him at the wall like a dodge ball, the other guys tried to grab her, but she was too fast, side stepping with her preternatural speed. One guy, who kept coming at her like a fly, she punched in the face; she felt his nose and teeth smash in as she drew back a fist covered in blood. At that point, all the guys circled her, and a few even took out knives. Starr, however, was distracted by the sight of the blood on her fist; it had been weeks since she’d had a taste. Although they didn’t have to drink it, they did crave it, frequently, and, on a few occasions, Starr vamped out at the sight of it; this usually happened when she didn’t have blood, regularly. Vamped out was a term coined by an infamous author, L. S. Credenza, on the
subject of her kind. Essentially, a vampire could turn into a mindless zombie, at times. This was the result of the virus, within, becoming stronger than the workings of the human mind; under which, one would become unable to control his or her actions, unable to mimic human behavior, and with the absence of human conscience, only an animal, like the Dracula’s minions depicted in the twentieth century, was left behind. If Starr were alive, she would have been scared by the threat of being surrounded, but since being turned, she’d become more ‘animal.’ According to Credenza, once a person is turned, he or she automatically lost a bit of their humanity. So, for example, while Starr could feel love and hate, she could only feel these things in extreme situations; and never at the same time like humans could. Additionally, the rainbow of complex emotions were closed off to her; she couldn’t feel, anymore, what it was like to find something humorous, yet disgusting, to want something, yet have fear or anxiety hold her back; even in her situation, she could feel nothing for herself, or the men who threatened her very life. Perhaps that’s why she continued to seek revenge; it was for the rage she felt, and for the death of Meghan. Rage was the only real
feeling she’d had, consistently, since being turned. A short guy with a bald head, wearing a black and grey plaid shirt, punched Starr in the face. Like a dog, it was hard to distract a vamped out vampire from a meal; it usually took a jolt of some sort to, in a sense, wake them up. The punch provided the jolt needed to bring Starr back to reality; however, the guy who’d struck her recoiled in pain, screaming like a little girl. Another, in a white tee shirt, tried to punch her, too, but she side stepped, looking at him calmly; he tried again and missed. After a third miss, someone grabbed her by her long black hair, with the intention of holding her in place. When he felt she was solid as a stone statue bolted to the ground, he attempted a choke hold and yelled, “Get her, now!” Once again, the guy pulled back his fist and swung wildly. Starr ducked; leaving the one who held her to get a full four, square in the face. Then, all at once they came at her, hitting and kicking every square inch of her body, like a hundred flies napping at her, leaving their annoying red itchy pock marks behind.
It wasn’t that Starr didn’t feel pain anymore; it’s just she only felt severe pain and injury, like when she was shot many weeks back. Starr caught a fist that was meant for her face, and felt it break into pieces; she grabbed the foot meant to cripple her kidney, and raised it skyward, and watched the owner tumble back; she stepped aside, grabbed a jabber by the elbow and tossed him into the wall, and watched him bounce back, trip on himself and fall to the ground; then she ducked a side kick, and returned with a punch to the stomach that, likely, stopped him from ever breathing again. The remaining guys, realizing they weren’t hurting Starr began to stand off as they saw, one by one, their comrades’ fall. Then, from the other side of the alley came the guy they were beating up, moments ago, and he’d brought back up. A dozen guys ran at them; they all exploded into fist fights all around Starr. From down the street, Starr heard the cops coming from a few blocks down. Her hearing wasn’t superhuman, like Mica’s, but it was still better than the average human’s. “The cops are coming, guys, so you’d better run!” and she took off herself.
“Hey,” the guy, who was ganged up on, called to Starr. “Come on,” he waved at her. She followed them down another alley, two blocks over, and into an abandoned warehouse of some sort. “Hey, thanks,” he said, holding out his hand to shake. “Not a problem. To tell the truth, I needed that,” she replied with a note of pleasure in her voice. “Well you’re a bad ass. I can’t believe how you fought. We watched you for a moment, not that we’d let them hurt a girl but we got all kinds of respect for you, girl. I’m Bali,” he said enthusiastically. “This is my crew.” A dozen heads nodded at Starr, who nodded back. “We run the Eastside,” Bali continued, “and we are in your debt. Anything you need, anybody bothers, you, you come to us, just tell them my name.” “Well, I do have a little something, but I don’t know if you can help me. How long have you all been in this neighborhood?” “Most of us grew up here.” “Well, my sister was killed by a street lord. All I know is his name is Frank Catrelli
and he lived on the seventh floor of the Froger building on the eightieth. I’m sure he had several businesses operating from his apartment, if you know what I mean, and I got an unfinished score to settle.” “What did this guy look like?” “He was about 6 foot, skinny with large dark eyes, unshaven face, short buzz cut, looked like he was on something all the time.” The men mumbled amongst themselves. “We know what building you mean. It was a bad place, made us look like angels. The place got busted, though, when they found a dead girl, your sister? Maybe?” Starr flinched at his words. “Sorry,” he said regretfully, “I meant no disrespect. All I can tell you is the place is clean now. No more business.” “Have you heard anything else? Like maybe they moved, started anew somewhere else?” “You might want to check with Loco Poco, on the upper East Side.” “Who?” “Loco Poco, Little Crazy, I’ll take you because he might not talk to a white girl, and he ain’t scared of no fists either.”
Starr followed Bali out of the door and up the street. “So where did you learn to fight like that?” “Uh… years of practice.” “So how did your sister get mixed up with those guys? Was she into partying?” “She thought she was in love with that guy, Frank, but he treated her bad and she didn’t walk away, like she should have.” “How come the police don’t go after him?” “I don’t know. When I reported her abduction, the officer just looked at me like I was just another cockroach from the sewer. After that, I was determined to get her myself, but I was too late.” “I’m sorry for your loss, really I am. I know where you’re coming from, though. I lost my little cousin in a similar way: hanging out with the wrong people. The cops don’t care around here; everybody is scum here, and they figure if we cancel each other out, it’s less work for them. Here’s the place.” They walked up to a dirty white house with weeds growing up its side as well as sticking out of the cracks of cement. Bali knocked on the door, and a fat, middle aged tattooed man answered.
“Hardly Poco,” whispered Starr. “Callate,” he said. “Man, who is this puta?” They talked in Spanish but Starr was able to catch some of what they were saying. After a moment, Bali looked back at her and said, “Well, my friend used to go to that apartment, occasionally, to pick stuff up but they moved to Brooklyn, nearly a year ago. Unfortunately, I can’t come with you because I gotta be at work. If you can wait, and I strongly advise you do because those guys don’t play; if you wait, me and some of my boys will go with you.” “No,” said Starr. “Just give me the address or the neighborhood,” but as he was about to protest, she added, “Look, I’m going for blood. You and your boys don’t want to be anywhere near me right now, unless you want to go to jail for the rest of your lives.” “Oh and you do? Want to go to jail? Maybe you need to see a psychiatrist, my friend. Vengeance is not always the answer, your sister made her choice to be with a bad man, to risk her life.” “Maybe,” she said. “But I’ve been waiting to have my revenge for too long. I rip his heart from his chest and make him look at it while he dies.”
“Yeah, okay girl. You know, I actually kind of believe you; you’re one scary puta.”
Over the Bridge Chapter 3 The train rattled all the way to Brooklyn; a dark woman with a bandana on her head gave her a dirty look. Starr stared back, unblinkingly, until she looked away. As she got up, she caught her reflection and realized that she was still wearing the bandana from earlier. Perhaps the lady thought she was a gangster. After making sure the black spot, on her forehead, had healed, she stuffed the bandana in her pocket and she walked off the platform and into the neighborhood. The smell of cars and factory fumes made her nose twitch and her stomach convulse, so she scanned, with her mind, the presence of all the people around her but found nothing familiar; just a bunch of people wanting to get places quickly. As she walked to the address Poco had given her, Starr became exuberant at the thought of finally getting her revenge. She wondered if she would feel good while eating his kidneys because, despite her kind’s limited emotional range, there were still things that excited her, like the scent of fear.
When people feared her, it was like catnip to a feline; her senses became peaked and she instinctively wanted to pursue them. Like a mate arousing lust, so did the scent of fear, in her. What went so wrong? She asked herself as she walked. Why didn’t Meghan want to come home? She’d had the best of everything, just like me. Although trashy, Starr liked that particular neighborhood because it had some of the best butchers for a vampire’s appetite. Seeing as she’d had a mild vamp out earlier, Starr figured she’d better stop and eat so that she could keep her focus while killing Frank. She walked to Bustley Deli and ordered an uncooked, uncongealed goat blood pudding, and then she sat on the wall outside, dipping her bread in the pudding and drinking a coffee. She thought about Levi and the other vampires. They told her, a few weeks ago, that they’d be coming for her; that she’d started a war, because she nearly killed him,
but that was after he tried to kill her friend, Antony. Grant it, he was killing and stealing out of control, and Starr wound up putting him down, herself, but she had every right to protect her friends. She sucked some of her pudding from the casing, and a couple bits of black chunks and sauce dribbled down her chin. Two kids walking passed looked at her and ran, screaming at the top of their lungs. Confused, Starr turned to look in the window behind her. Normally the color of silver, her eyes were iridescent, with specks of blue, green, yellow, and even bits of red here and there, like a kaleidoscope. She opened her mouth and saw that her teeth had extended, too; they were smeared black with blood. Taking a swig of her coffee, she swooshed it around, rinsing most of it away. No wonder those kids were scared, I turned while eating. The only thing that prevents this is eating blood, regularly. She pulled out her sunglasses and put them on. When done, she continued toward the address. Starr was sure glad she didn’t live in
that neighborhood. As she passed by one house, she heard a girl getting beat by her guy. Starr didn’t know if she should go in and stop him, or walk away. After stopping a moment, she decided to mind her business. Then, in a brown house on the corner, the smell of death hung omnipotent in the air. Using her inner eye, she saw there was a man inside the house. He was a drug dealer who’d killed someone, fairly recently, and buried the body in his basement. No matter. I’m here for Frank, and Frank only. Her phone rang. “Starr,” said Marla. “Yeah.” “I got a call from Lily, just now. She says they’re coming for you; that you should get out of the city, now. Also, don’t worry about her; she’s fine.” “What? I’m not going anywhere. I can’t! I haven’t got Frank yet. I’m so close.” “Starr. We don’t know anything about these people, except that they’re old and very strong. Do you want to die?” “I’m sorry, but I gotta go,” and she closed her phone.
She made it to the address that Poco had given her, but no one was home, so she trolled the neighborhood for a few hours, hoping that Frank would return. For many hours, nothing happened inside the house, and no one came by. She was getting more and more anxious; all she wanted was to hurt Frank to death. Finally, she rested on a wall across the street from the house and stared. A couple police cars drove past her, each slowing and looking at Starr through their driver’s side window. After the third one passed, she considered breaking into the house and waiting, so that the cops would stop noticing her. Besides, it would be like just out of a movie: he opens the door, turns on the light, and see me sitting there on the couch. She laughed to herself at the sight, she imagined, of his face when he saw that she had not died that night. As she made to cross the street, she got it: a scent, a something familiar to her, a presence. But no one was in the house! She spun around, sniffing the air in, deeply
inhaling and urging her inner eye to work harder. She sensed the something familiar a few blocks up the street: she walked fast toward it. Turning left into an alley, she immediately knew she’d made a mistake: it was a trap. “Hello Starr.” It was Levi and several others who she’d never met before.
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