The Missing Piece

March 31, 2008
By Victoria Eastham, Goodyear, AZ

The autumn breeze gently blew across Charlotte’s face as she strolled silently down the narrow street in a Chicago suburb, on her way to her best friend’s for the night. It was warm, but she knew that the little time she had left would just barely hold a hint of comfort. The cold would return once again as soon as the sun went down in to west, which was in an hour, maybe. At six o’clock, surprisingly, it was still warm enough to get a breath of air and not need a heavier jacket.
Unconsciously, Charlotte pulled the lapels of her cotton sweater tighter against her body, trying to shield herself against a sudden chill. The sun’s yellows and pinks and blues were fading by the seconds.
As the night grew stronger, Charlotte felt an uncomfortable dread wash over her. She closed her eyes and let her entire focus go to that one sensation. When her focus became clearer, she realized the extent of the emotion became stronger with each passing moment. Without thought, Charlotte slowly made her way toward the burden until it became hers entirely. She shuddered from the amount of horror she has come across.
When her green eyes finally fluttered open, she was able to encounter the reason for the sudden terror seeping into her mind. An elderly woman, maybe in her sixties, was lying on the cold, damp concrete in the ally of an aged brick building.
A sightless, fear-stricken glare of death was all that greeted Charlotte. The woman’s gray, salt and pepper hair tangled in knots around her pale face, soaked with blood along with the collar of her grungy, floor length trench coat. As quickly as she could, Charlotte rushed over to check the woman’s pulse, but instead, her fingertips encountered many pierced holes on the side of her neck; into her jugular. She wasn’t breathing.
Slowly extracting her hand away, she stared at the face of death. With her hand coated with blood, Charlotte stood and forced her eyes away from her face to her lifeless body. An odd ringing began in her head. As moment’s passed, she realized the ringing wasn’t in her head, but from her front pocket in her jeans. As quickly as she could, she used her clean hand to pull out her cell phone. Without looking at the caller ID, she flipped open the Razr.
“Hello?” her voice was shaking now.
“Charlotte? Where are you?” enjoyment and concern were both evident in the feminine voice.
“Raven? Oh my God, Rave. I found this w-woman. She’s d-dead.” Tears were falling, causing her to stutter. She started to ramble on, trying to explain how this all took place.
“What? Charlotte! Slow down.”
When she stopped talking, the sobbing began.
“Charlotte, hon, where are you?”
Charlotte tried to speak, but a cracked sob was all that escaped.
“Charlotte, are you near my house?”
“Y-yes, I’m behind the old Johnson b-building.” She replied still stuttering, almost whispering it.
“Okay. Good. I’ll be there in a few. Hang on.”
As the connection died, Charlotte shivered. Her jeans, tank top and sweater weren’t enough to stop the cold from getting to her skin. She started to pace, biting her nails, a habit she kicked years ago.
‘This is not something a sixteen year-old should go through!’ Charlotte thought. Why did she have to be the one to find her? Why couldn’t someone else walk by and see her?

It had to have been only a couple of minutes when Raven was close enough to the old building. She turned a corner when she ran face-first into a solid chest. It almost felt like a wall. When a tight grip snagged her upper arm, preventing her from moving anywhere, her vocal cords were raging at her to scream. But not much came out.
“Don’t scream” said a chilling voice. It reeked of danger and revenge. Raven was close to screaming, despite the warning from a silhouette of a man. The temptation was worse because she still couldn’t see the face to whom the voice belonged.
When the dark figure let go of her left arm, she was planning on striking, something the make him hurt, but it seemed as if her body was no longer in her control. She just stood there. The black outline held up something silvery in the middle of its palm. Gently, the wind picked up the crystal-like shapes and began to make them twirl around Raven. The last she remembered was watching in amazement at the sparkling crystals when a black void overtook her.

Still pacing, she felt an alarming jolt, like someone was startled, Charlotte thought about the turn of events for this night. It was supposed to be a night of excitement, not death. What else could go up in smoke?

Charlotte stood absolutely still. Something was wrong.

“Raven” she whispered. Something was seriously wrong. She could feel it in her very bones. Her blood began to pound in her head.

When she looked at the corpse, she felt a stirring in her stomach. Whoever is with Raven killed the woman on the ground. As soon as the realization came to Charlotte, she moved as fast as she could to get to her best friend before her worst fears became reality.

She wasn’t far, at first. In the blink of an eye, Raven was gone. She felt the shift in energy, but she could find her. She knew she could.

With her sneakers hitting the asphalt of the street, Charlotte ran as fast as her body could manage to take her, and she wasn’t a particularly bad runner. As she let her instinct guide her, she found herself getting closer and closer to the outskirts of the city. The lights and cars were blinding to Charlotte. The sounds of the city were even hitting her full on. The quiet of the small suburbs were soon becoming a paradise compared to the noise of the city life.

Raven was unconscious, how Charlotte knew, no one could explain, but she could tell. When she channeled herself purposely to others, she could tell you anything their feeling. Being an empath was hard at first, but soon she learned to choose when she wanted, or needed, to feel others, unless, of course, the emotions were too much against her mind barriers, like that older woman.

As Charlotte ran, she thought about how the woman’s emotions ended up breaking her strong barriers. The feelings were intense and chilling. Was the woman an empath as well? But she was dead. How could she have managed to have emotions after death?

The questions started to fade as she got nearer to Raven. Abruptly, Charlotte stopped; right where she was. Raven was in the building to her right. It was a run down, typical Chicago apartment complex. She was on the roof, the top floor maybe, but that’s where she was and Charlotte had to get to her.

Taking the stairs to the top floor didn’t take long. When she got there, she could feel the other being with Raven. The other’s emotions were intense with hurt, satisfaction and just a bit of left over rage. Confusion overtook Charlotte when she realized just how old the rage seemed. It seemed to be centuries old.

Impossible, thought Charlotte as she tried to read more into the other individual. Was he immortal, a creature of the night? She could only remember one time when she read someone so old, but she was around five and thought she just couldn’t control the knowledge seeping in.

Slowing down, she found the floor they were on. It was the sixth floor, the very top level of the apartments. Charlotte carefully walked down the hallway with rotting doors on either side of her until she found the right door to lead her right to Raven and this creature on the other side. It was to her right. Cautiously, she reached around for the knob, taking the metal into her palm and turning it as quietly as possible. When she pressed her weight slightly to the door, it creaked open. She felt the jerk the shock caused the creature on the inside.

Without warning, she felt a pull on her wrist. She was yanked inside the room, the door slammed shut and she was stood facing the man who snatched Raven. He grabbed her by her upper arms and shook her slightly, almost like he was begging.

“Who are you and what are you doing here? You have no right to be here.” His voice was hoarse. She really did surprise him with her being there. She thought vampires were always aware of their surroundings. Maybe he was shaken up already. Could it be because of the woman?

Even though she couldn’t see his face because of the shadows, she still replied with confidence. “You have my friend here. She is my responsibility. Why you have her, I can not tell, but I would like to take her home. She has nothing to do with that woman in the ally. If you want to take anyone for that, take me. I found her.” Charlotte surprised herself with how steady her voice was.

“You found her? How? I didn’t even sense you by. I only sensed her getting closer to that old hag. How could I have not felt you were there?” bewilderment and anger with himself began to surface the sternness in his voice.

Charlotte shrugged, trying to answer his question and trying to get him to loosen his grip. The more he talked, the tighter his grasp seemed to get. “I don’t know, but I do want my friend back and maybe you could tell me why you killed that woman. Was it because she was an empath?” her voice cracked a little at the possibility that he would kill her too if he could figure her out.
He was still for a moment, seeming to stare at her, as if trying to assess her with his eyes. Then she felt a stirring on the inside of her head. He was trying to read into her mind. Her barriers were strong, but he had to be at least a century old. That’s a lot of practice on his part.

“You’re an empath? You’re a lot more then an empath. My entire race has the ability, so it seems as if you’re half of us maybe more. Congratulations.”

Misunderstanding caught Charlotte in its vicious clutch. “Huh? I don’t get what you’re saying? I’m one of… you? That doesn’t make sense.”

“You’re a half breed. You probably had one parent who was a human and the other… you know. It’s not that hard to comprehend, but you still shouldn’t be involved in this world. You’re too young.”

Speechless, Charlotte did the only thing she could do, she talked too much. “What? You’re telling me I am a vampire! They are myths! They can’t be real. You must be insane. You can’t just tell people that. I just found that old woman, dead by the way, and you’re telling me I’m a vampire!” Even though she thought she was crazy, she somewhat felt as if she knew why this was happening. So she could find the missing piece from her life. Explaining why she was so different. Why she didn’t have a father.

“Shut up.” The command in his voice made her almost violent.

“Excuse me?” she was beyond sanity now. She just wanted to wake up and leave this all behind. She needed to leave all of this. None of this could be true.

“You heard me. Now, I need you to forget everything that happened. The old woman wasn’t just a gentle, homeless woman. She knew things. She knew how to kill my race, painfully, and I couldn’t let her do it. I killed her to keep us alive. She was over five-hundred years old. She was past her due date anyways. You have to just go home, think of this as a dream or whatever you call them, and just leave this alone. Don’t instigate into this. I need you to leave and not say a word.”

“I can’t just let this go. You killed someone.”

“She wasn’t innocent Charlotte. Way beyond that. You have to understand that. I had no choice. She was a conniving woman who would have killed most of the population.”

“And I should believe you why?”

“Because there are things you don’t understand. She would have killed me, you, and most likely your parents.”

“How do you know that?” she asked in a whisper. The thought of her mother dying making her stomach churn.

“Because I know your parents. Whether you believe me or not, they are the leaders of our people. They need to stay alive.”

“The leaders of vampires? Are you serious? You can’t be serious.” Humor was creeping in, and she couldn’t stop it from getting into her voice.

“I don’t expect you to get it now, but you will know. You will become one of us. You’re only sixteen and you only have to wait about ten years. I’ll see you then.”

Unexpectedly, Charlotte felt the blood beginning to pound dangerously in her head. A migraine you would never want to have overtook her senses. Falling into the darkness, she found herself losing control of her every thought. Without warning, she fell under completely.

With a sudden jerk, she woke to find herself in Raven’s bedroom, staring into the grayness to see Raven sleeping on the bed, sheets rumpled with her flailing, like she had a nightmare. Maybe the entire encounter was a dream. Perhaps all of this was just a nightmare she just woke from, her imagination running away from her.
Dawn was rising outside the window. Charlotte stood up from the spot on the floor to look out the paned glass. The sun was rising, blinding her eyes, but she didn’t care. She stared until the entire room lit up with the warmth from the sun. A feeling she will spend the rest of her life not wanting to forget.

The Missing Piece: Alternate Ending

Unexpectedly, Charlotte felt the blood pound dangerously in her head. As she comes to the realization of the power she could have, she begins to feel the adrenaline rush through her body. How much power could she end up with if all of this is true? Could this be the beginning of a promising new life? Questions flowed treacherously through her head as her senses began failing her, causing her to lose consciousness.

Cautiously opening her eyes, she sat up from the floor in Raven’s bedroom. Glancing over at Raven, she began to realize how much this could change her life. What’s going to happen when she lives for centuries after all her friends have died. Realizing the room was getting brighter; Charlotte then got up and walked over to the window. The sun was dazzling and was slowly filling the room with the warm glow of the morning sun rise. Staring, she realized she would be missing the feel of the sun on her skin, the warmth surrounding her. She smiled, looking forward to the future.

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