In the Middle

April 3, 2009

“Yeah, so I’ll see you later then.” Lionel Covington said on his cell phone. He was a junior at MLK who lived in Brooklyn with his mother, and his sister Terri. He had light brown skin with curly hair, and hazel eyes. He was pretty tall for his age, but he didn’t stand out if he didn’t want to. At the moment, he didn’t, in his black and white stripped hoodie, black jeans and black and white Air Maxes. Often, when people are on their phones, they become dense and non-attentive, a fatal flaw. So was the case of Lionel as he stepped from the side walk on the way to the train station. Unfortunately for him, the light was in the process of changing, and an impatient cabbie decided to take a risk and beat the light. As Lionel saw the cab, seconds before it slammed into him, he silently mourned for himself. As the car slammed into him, a century old curse came into effect. So instead of the car killing him, it merely knocked him to the floor. Lionel got up, dazed, but otherwise intact. People were yelling at him to stay down, drivers were yelling at him to stand up. Hey, it is New York. Lionel in all the confusion ran away up the block and into the nearest alley. He leaned against the wall, and breathed deeply.

Lionel wasn’t stupid. He was a whiz in Biology in school. He knew that at the speed that cab was going, he should’ve died. He checked himself over. Aside from dirt and grime on his hoodie and sneakers, he was fine and well. “Well, boys, what do we got here?” Lionel turned to see four men walking up the alley towards him. They all wore black leather jackets and blue jeans. “It seems like the initiation begins today.” The one in front said. This isn’t my day, Lionel thought as he backed away from them.


Lionel turned to the other end of the alley, but stopped, for at the other end of the alley was another one of the thugs. “Where you goin, man? This is an honor that you would be chosen”. Lionel somehow imagined that not to be true. “Look, I have no money or anything of value.” Lionel said to them. They guy in front smiled. “No? Too bad, cuz now you gotta die.” Then he pulled out a serrated hunting knife, off of which the sunlight glinted. Lionel kept his eyes on that knife, which turned out to be a mistake. The guy behind him grabbed him and pinned his arms over his head. “Check him” Knife Guy said to his boys, to which two of them began to search his pockets. As one of them went down to check his jean pocket, Lionel brought his knee up, slamming it into the guy’s face. The other guy punched Lionel in the gut, knocking the air out of him. “Kid’s got fight in him.” Knife Guy stepped forward, with the knife raised and said “Not enough fight, however.” Then he plunged the knife into Lionel’s stomach, then pulled it out and did it again and again. The guy holding Lionel said “Enough, Spiral” and dropped Lionel to the floor.

Lionel was on the edge of unconsciousness, pain ripping through his abdomen. He saw his blood everywhere he looked. He was aware of the thugs running out of the alley. He was also aware of someone leaning over him, a muttered curse, and then strong arms wrapping around him, lifting him off the floor. There was a whoosh, and then Lionel faded.

Lionel woke up in a flash, his mind alert, he was ready to fight. However, instead of waking in a hospital, he awoke in… his room. What in the world? He thought. Then in a flash, he remembered the events in the alley, and clutched his stomach. Where there should have been pain, he felt nothing. He arose and went to the full length mirror he had on his closet and lifted his shirt. Nothing, no scar, no blood, nothing that proved the events in the alley transpired. He lowered his shirt, puzzled and a bit afraid, and heard people talking downstairs and headed down. He found his mom and sister in the kitchen, along with an old man. His mom was dark skinned with straight black hair, and attractive features. His sister was a stunner, with wavy hair, moca latte colored skin, and shapely figure. The old guy wasn’t old at all; in fact, he looked to be about around 40. He was white, with hair tied into a pony tail, and underneath the t-shirt he wore; Lionel could see he was muscular and fit. They all looked up when Lionel came down the stairs. “Thank God!” his mother exclaimed throwing her arms around him. Lionel hugged her back a little, and then gently pushed her away. Terri walked to him, and smiled.”How are you feeling?” she asked him leaning against the wall. “I feel… pretty good considering I was stabbed four times with a knife 12 inches long”. Terri winced and said “He didn’t tell us that”, just as his mom turned on the stranger and said “He was stabbed?!?” The man rose and said “Does it matter? Look at him Lynette, he’s alive, and that’s all that matters.” His mom couldn’t argue with that.”Yes, but, why? I mean I felt myself fade away, but yet I’m still here. "How?” Terri said to him. “That’s what he’s here for”, nodding at the stranger. “Who are you?” Lionel said walking to the man, noticing he was pretty tall. “Well, since you asked so nicely, I’m your grandfather”.

The Hardest Talk Ever

“What? No, my grandfather is dead” Lionel said, looking at him strangely. ”On your maternal side yes, but I’m your paternal grandfather”. Lionel leaned against the wall, just as the clock struck midnight on the wall. The man looked at the clock with a stricken expression, and grabbed Lionel. “Come”, he said, “let’s take a walk. I’ll explain everything”. Lionel looked at his mom to get confirmation, but then his sister walked past him to her room. As she walked past him, he caught her smell. She smelled…good. Fried Chicken good. He turned and leapt at her, all thoughts that she was his sister gone. He would have got her too, had not his grandfather caught him by the waist. He held him tightly and dragged him out the door. “We won’t be back tonight.” His grandfather ran to the elevator, and hopped inside.

All this time, Lionel was struggling to get out of the iron grip of his grandfather’s grasp, but to no avail. Part of him, the now dormant side of him, wondered how he was so strong. His sister’s smell was still in his nostrils, he couldn’t shake his hunger for her. It wasn’t a sexual hunger; it was a primal hunger, like a lion attacking his prey. “Hold on, Lionel” his grandfather said to him, as the elevators reached the 1st floor. He ran out of the lobby, into the streets. Lionel lived in East New York, so there were plenty of places to hide. His grandfather didn’t want to hide, however. He did something many would find incredible. He bent his knees, and then jumped to the roof of the building opposite Lionel’s. Lionel stopped his struggling slightly. His sister’s smell was out of his system a little, but also, he just realized that his grandfather just jumped onto a 6 story building, from the street.

His grandfather didn’t stop there. He leapt from building to building, sometimes jumping over them to another. He stopped when they were far enough for him to set Lionel down without fear. “Wow, you are a persistent person.” His grandfather said to him, sitting on a smoke exhaust pipe, looking at Lionel. Lionel stood up and backed away from his grandfather. “What the heck are you?!?” he screamed, and then he ran to the roof and was about to scream for help, but then realized how senseless it was. “I was waiting for that”, His grandfather shifted his feet and said, “You may want to find a seat, because this is going to be a bit of a shock”. He waited until Lionel sat down on another smoke exhaust pipe a few feet opposite him, then, he began. “First of all, let’s get the intros out of the way. I’m your paternal grandfather, but you can call me Mitch. I was born on May 5 1874. Please, don’t interrupt. In the year of 1694, our ancestor was a part of a witch trial. Yes, the Salem witches trials themselves, in which he was a juror. It was the trial of a woman called Marissa Clarence, a nanny accused of witchcraft. Well, long story short, they convicted her of witchcraft, and she was sentenced to drowning. Our ancestor was one of the poor men who had no choice but to judge her.

However, our ancestor, who was named Henry Carson Williamson, had a special relationship with her. They were lovers, and yet, he was forced to cause her death. She was a witch, he knew, but he loved her still. When it was time for her to be drowned, she pronounced a curse on every male in the village she lived, saying that their sons would have horrible lives. For Henry, she laid a different curse, saying that his sons, one of which she was carrying, would be “diners of men”. She was drowned. Henry had sons, all of which were “diners of men”. It went further, though. All the male descendants of Henry Carson Williamson would be “diners of men”. They would live with the curse the rest of their lives.” Lionel interrupted with a question “What is a diner of men?”. His grandfather stood up and looked out over the neighborhood. “A diner of men. Think about it boy. You are a smart kid.” Lionel thought about it. A diner of men, diner of men, diner of fish, he knew, meant you ate fish, so a diner of meant you ate… Lionel opened his mouth and almost vomited, he barely held it in. “I see you figured it out. Yes we eat humans for food. Long ago, we were called ghouls. Now I think the term is zombies.”

Lionel found that he accepted this information, with little doubt. He’d always been a special kid, especially in school. He rarely studied for quizzes and tests, the information just somehow came to him when he needed it. One time in the 9th grade, he had told his teacher the whole history of France, and that was a 10th grade topic. Not only that, but he was also a little stronger and faster than boys his age, which always astounded his physician (who would probably die of surprise at this). Lionel walked to Mitch, who was watching something in the street. “Do we have to eat humans?” he asked him. Mitch turned to him “I won’t lie to you, but yes, for the most part. Sure we can dine on regular food, but only meat gives us the energy to survive. Humans give us a lot of energy. By the way you don’t have to actual eat an organism. Hey I’ll show you.” With blinding speed, he grabbed a bird that was on the roof. He broke its neck, and then, before Lionel’s eyes, the bird began to disappear. It was as though the bird was made of sand, and Mitch was sucking it in. When the whole bird was gone, Mitch’s face seemed less tired, and color came to his skin. “Ahhh, now that feels better!”then he turned to Lionel, “Now it’s your turn”.

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