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“I’m going to bed, Mom. Okay?”
As I crawl in under the warm sheets of my bed I can’t help thinking about and dreading tomorrow. It’s TAKS test time again. The State of Texas requires that students pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge & Skills test in order to graduate from high school. The thing is, we have to take one of these tests several times, starting in third grade, until we’re ready to get out of high school. I’m 17, a senior, and I’ve taken enough of these tests to graduate several times! After tomorrow…no more! As I snuggle down deeper into the bed, I try not to think and worry too much about the test, just hoping that I do well and the day goes by quickly. Luckily, within a few minutes I’m sound-asleep.
Something has suddenly awakened me. The read-out on the alarm tells me it’s just past midnight. “Why is it so cold in here?” I’ve kicked the covers off, but that’s not unusual. I tend to get too warm during the night. Pulling the covers up around me, I change my mind and decide I might as well go ahead and get up for a drink of water…now that I’m wide-awake.
Halfway to the kitchen, my mind triggers a thought that something is wrong. I hurry back to my bedroom and immediately stop inside the doorway. My bedroom window is open, the curtains billowing into the room. No wonder it’s so cold! I close the window, wondering how or why it was open. Just as I reach up to lock it, someone grabs my hand! I shriek and jump back, falling back against the bedside table, knocking over the lamp. There’s a loud shattering sound of glass breaking. I scramble quickly to my feet to only have someone grab me again around the waist. A hand over my mouth stops me from screaming, and I turn to see who is in the room with me.
“Zoey! Be quite. It’s me!”
Shocked, at once my fear turns to irritation. Although the room was dark, there was just enough light coming in from the window above the curtains, that I could easily make out his face. Jake.
Although a year older than me, Jake and I have been friends since middle school. He’s irresistibly sweet, with sandy-blonde hair, sea green eyes, and a smile that radiates through you. He also tries my patience, as at this moment!
“Jake! What are you doing here?”
“I came to see my favorite girl.”
“Don’t move Jake! There’s glass all over the floor.”
“No, you don’t move. I have shoes on.”
As he walked across the room, I heard the sound of glass crunching under his feet. He turned on the overhead light, making me squint as my eyes adjusted to the sudden light. I saw the lamp in pieces on the floor and shattered glass everywhere.
I carefully made my way across the room and then down the hall to the utility closet. I silently retrieved the broom and dustpan so as not to wake my mom. “I’m glad she’s a sound sleeper!” I thought.
“Gee, Zoey. I’m didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Scare me!? It’s a wonder all the noise didn’t wake up and scare my mom half to death!”
“Sorry, Zoe. Here, let me do that.”
“I got it. I….Ouuwww!” As careful as I tried to be, I managed to step on a piece of glass, which was now imbedded deep into my left foot. Jake rushed to me, catching me at my waist as I started to fall, dazed by the pain.
“Zoey, what’d you do?” His voice was filled with worry.
“My foot! I think I cut my foot!”
We set down on the bed and Jake examined my foot. “There’s a piece of glass stuck in your foot, Zoe.” He started to remove it, but when he touched it, a jolt of pain shot through my already aching foot. I cried out in pain, unconcerned about waking anyone up.
“Zoey!” All of a sudden, Jake jumped up from the bed, kissed me on the forehead and climbed out the window, whispering “I’ll be outside.”
Seconds later, my mom was in the room, holding a baseball bat. “Zoey, Baby, are you okay? “Oh my gosh! What happened?”
Tears were filling my eyes, rolling down my cheeks. “I’m sorry, Mom. I got up to get a drink and knocked over my lamp. I tried not to wake you, but I stepped on a piece of glass.” We both looked down and saw a lot of blood coming from the gash in my foot.
Mom got a towel to wrap my foot in, and then, before I knew it, we were in the car on the way to the hospital. Dizzy and disoriented from the pain and seeing the blood, I was unaware of her rushing around, wrapping my foot, and then helping me to the car and buckling me in. I thought of Jake and wondered where he was. I wish I had my cell phone.
When we arrived at the hospital emergency entrance, Mom pulled up to the door and helped me into the waiting area. After helping me to a chair, she spoke to the attendant at the front desk. Before long, a lady came with a wheelchair to take me back to one of the exam rooms.
“Am I allowed to go with her?” Mom asked.
“Of course,” the nurse replied “It looks like she’s going to need a few stitches. Hopefully, it won’t take long.” She then guided us to a small exam room and informed us that the doctor would be in “shortly”. After getting me situated in a room, Mom left to go park the car.
“Are you okay, Zoey?” Mom asked when she returned. “Is your foot still hurting a lot?” Yes. My foot hurt a lot. I tried not to cry, but the tears rolled down my cheeks anyway.
“Shortly” turned out to be about an hour later. Mom held my hand while the doctor sewed up the cut in my foot. After receiving a tetanus shot, an antibiotic prescription, and instructions for taking care of my foot, we were on our way back home.
After returning home, Mom helps me get comfortable on the couch while she cleans up the glass and blood in my room. I watch TV and doze off and on till she finishes.
The room smells like bleach, but I don’t care. Mom has changed the bedding and the clean sheets are inviting and feel good to nestle into once again. It’s late and I need to get to sleep in order to do well on the TAKS test later. But sleep does not come easy now.
My mind is racing, thinking about TAKS, Jake, and the pain in my foot. As tired as I am, I can’t sleep. Perhaps a little computer time will make me sleepy. Besides, I really want to talk to Jake. I get my laptop and log onto my chat room. Hopefully, he is still up and I can tell him I’m okay.
Unfortunately, Jake is not logged on. I end up leaving him a message that I am fine, just a few stitches.
Disappointed in not being able to talk to Jake, I go back to bed. I’ve heard that counting helps you fall asleep. I start counting and before reaching 200, I’m asleep.
In my dream, I’m in my room. I step on a piece of glass and am on the floor in pain. Towering over me, not bothering to help is my dad. He left my mom and me when I was twelve. “Help me! Help me!” My voice is faint and the floor begins to swallow me up. I scream and yell for help, but no one can hear me. I am seeping farther and farther into the floor until darkness swallows me up.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! I wake with a start and reach for the alarm. The beeping stops and I lie back on the pillow, drenched in sweat. Time to get up.
From my closet, I pick out a light green, button-up short-sleeve blouse and a pair of jeans to wear. I don’t realize I am shaking till I start to button my blouse. Taking a deep breath, I tell myself to calm down. It was just a dream…he would never come back. However, I can’t shake the feeling and am still trembling at breakfast. I spill orange juice but Mom is watching TV in the other room and doesn’t see.
Grabbing my backpack, I’m off to school. My dream car does not sit in my driveway. Instead, my mode of transportation is a 1997 Chrysler Concorde…a boat. I cross my fingers as I turn the key, hoping it only takes two tries to get it started. After the sixth try, I give up and call my friend, Emily.
Now Emily on the other hand drives my dream car. She pulls up to the curb in a 2007 red Mustang convertible.
“Hey, Zoey!” Emily is my best friend. We’re opposites. She has blue eyes, with shoulder-length curly hair. I’m brown-eyed with long black hair and a few red highlights here and there.
“Hey Em, what’s up?”
“Oh, nothing. Just picking up my best friend whose car broke down for the millionth time!”
Rolling my eyes, I limp to the car, throw my bag in next to hers, and fall into the front seat beside her.
“What happened to your foot?”
Following her gaze to my foot, I tell her about knocking over and breaking my lamp, cutting my foot on glass and having to get stitches. I leave out the part about Jake.
As we pull into the parking lot, we discuss how nervous we each are about the TAKS today.
“I’m afraid I may fail Physics and Calculus”, I tell her. She disagrees.
I jump in surprise when someone taps on my window. I turn to see Jake grinning at me. I roll down the window.
“Hey, Zoey. Everything OK?”
I nod, yes.
“Well, I’d like you to meet some friends of mine.”
Jake opens the door for me and helps me out of the car. He is wearing a black hoodie with gray pants. His “friends” behind him are dressed similarly.
“Zoey, this is Rubie, Sarah, Angelica, Gabrial, Nicholas, and Cyris.”
They all look pale; their faces, cold…even Jake. However, they are all good looking…beautiful. I’m guessing they’re new students; I’ve never seen them at this high school before today.
“Hi. I’m Zody.”
Rubie has black hair, punk style, with blonde highlights. She is the first to step forward and shake my hand. She sniffs like she had a runny nose or cold or something, and smiles. Her smile grows wider and she looks friendlier than she did moments earlier. “Nice to meet you, Zoey. We’re looking forward to getting to know you.”
“Sure, me too,” I said. “NOT.” They are acting a little too weird…as though we have known each other for a long time. The others take a deep breath and smile at me.
Nicholas comes forward and shakes my hand. It is cold, but soft. He also seems to have the sniffles, because he sniffed as he walked toward me.
“Nice to meet you, Zoey. I hope you’ll be joining our group soon.”
“Uhhh, okay…sure,” I replied, a little confused.
Angelica pushes aside everyone and gives me a big smile. “Stop crowding her,” she tells the others. “We’re probably freaking her out.”
Cyris grins. He has long black hair and light green eyes. “She should be,” he said.
Sarah, the short, skinny one, giggled. She then gives me a cold look.
“Hey, Zoey. You left your bag in my car!” Emily walks up next to me.
Rubie introduces herself, and then the others do the same. They all sort of sniff at the air, just as they had with me. Their smiles grow wider.
“Zoey, we’re going to be late for class if we don’t hurry up,” Emily said.
I check my watch and see we only have five minutes to get to class.
“Uhhh…see you guys later,” I said. We say our good-byes and then we all go to class. Emily and I have first, third, and fourth period classes together. Spanish is first.
I wish for time to go by faster during the TAKS test. Finally, seventh period is here and before long, the bell rings. I run, that is, limp as fast as I can, to my locker, so glad that it’s Friday and I don’t have any homework. I put away my books into my locker and lock it. I go outside and inhale the fresh air.
Someone is honking their horn and I look around for the source. I see Jake sitting in his Honda, waving me over. I limp/run over, a big smile on my face, and fling myself into the passenger seat.
“Where do you want to eat, cheerful girl?” he asks.
I stick my tongue out at him and he laughs.
“Chile’s. But let me call my mom first and tell her where we’re going.” I searched for my cell but can’t find it. Then I remember my phone is in my purse, which I left in my locker. “I have to go get my phone out my locker. Wait for me.”
Again, I half walk/limp/run back to my locker. I check myself in the mirror, which I leave hanging on the inside of my locker door. A quick brush-through of my hair and some clear lip gloss and I close the locker and I’m ready. I lock my locker and walk just a few steps when I overhear someone say my name coming from the girl’s restroom.
At first I think someone has actually called out to me, but quickly realize that someone is using my name in a conversation. I have to wonder who is talking about me. I peek inside and to my surprise see Rubie and Sarah.
“Why can’t we just get this over with and stop waiting, Rubie? It’s driving me crazy. All of us know how Zoey and that girl Emily…”
Rubie cut her off by raising her hand. “Jake said he would tell her soon enough…when the time is right. After that, we agreed you could have Emily. You just have to wait, Sarah. Be patient.”
“Hmph!”, replies Sarah. She rummaged for something in her purse, and then pulled out a hairbrush and started brushing her hair.
I tiptoed out of the restroom and then hurried as fast as my sore foot would allow me back to Jake.
“What took you so long?” he asks.
“I had to do something. I’m going to call my mom now.” I dial the office where my mom works.
“Hello, this is Kathy speaking. How may I help you?”
“Hey, Mom. It’s Zoey.”
“Oh, hey, Zoey. How’d you do on the TAKS?”
“I don’t know. Not too, good. I didn’t understand a thing.”
“Hmmm. Okay, Why did you call?” “Honey?”
I took a deep breath. All that hurrying around, with on good foot, had exhausted me. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m going out to eat with Jake. Oh, and also…Is it all right if I ask Em to stay the night?”
“That’s fine with me, Zoey, but I’ll be home late, so you and Emily need to be home around…Oh…let’s say sevenish, okay?”
I smile. “Okay, Mom. Don’t worry, we won’t do anything silly.”
“I’ve got to go, Zoey. Bye. Love you.”
“Bye, Mom. Love you, too.”
I put away my cell phone.
“Chili’s? Jake asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, to Chili’s.”
“Are you ready to order?” the waitress asks.
“Yes, I would like the mini cheeseburgers and a Sprite.” I love cheeseburgers, and Sprite is way better than Dr. Pepper or Coke.
“Mini cheeseburgers……..aaannnd Sprite,” and the waitress mumbles something else, as she writes my order down on her pad. I swear I see something else out of the corner of my eye and notice Jake gives her a cold look.
“Okay…anything for you, Honey?” she asks Jake in a syrupy sweet voice.
“Hmmm…I’d like what she’s having…but with a coke. That’s all.”
She mumbles again to herself. Jake grinned at me and winked. “I’ll be right back with your drinks.” She walks away, still mumbling.
“What’s wrong with her?” I ask.
Pausing, he thinks for a moment. “Probably jealous that I have the prettiest girl in the whole world sitting here instead of her.”
I smile at that. He called me the prettiest girl in the world. I feel my cheeks getting hot and know I am blushing. He laughs.
“Why, Zoey. Don’t be embarrassed. You already knew that. Why, I even…” he stops talking and his eyes get huge. I can tell he’s not staring at me.
“What, Jake? What is it?”
He is staring past my shoulder. I turn around searching for the source of his interest. Then I see them. Six people with black hoodies, at the entrance of the restaurant…looking our way.
They walked toward us, but before they reach our table, Jake takes my arm and leads me in the other direction. Our waitress spots us and rushes over.
“Your drinks haven’t been served yet. Are you sure you want to leave?” she asks, anxious no doubt about losing her tip.
Jake gives her three tens. “Sorry, we have to leave.” He pushes by her and pulls me along.
“Jake, what’s wrong?!” No answer. “Jake, please tell me what’s going on!”
His grip gets tighter, starting to hurt me. We burst through the back door and into the parking lot. His grip is now so tight that I want to pull away from him for the first time.
“Jake, let go. You’re hurting me! Let go, please!”
He suddenly lets go of my arm. I rub it, seeing that it is already turning red where he had held me. We walk to his car and stop there.
“Jake, what’s going on? Why did we have to leave like that?”
He looks at me with pleading eyes, asking for no more questions. “Zoey, I’ll tell you later. Right now, I….” Stopping in mid-sentence, he thinks, “am I going to tell her the truth?”
There they were again. Rubie has a very cold look on her face, and so does Angelica. Rubie walks toward Jake with an unhappy expression.
“Jake!” she snarls, “you promised you would tell her.”
The others nod in agreement. Sarah and Cyris give Jake angry looks. The others edge closer.
“Now isn’t the best time, Rubie!” he angrily replies.
I am starting to get scared. “What’s going on and what’s up with the snarling and cold looks?” My mistake was backing away. As soon as I step toward the car door, all eyes are on me.
“Get her!” Rubie yells. “Don’t let her get away!”
I turn around to run, but before I can move an inch, there’s a Whoosh! and Sarah is in front of me. She grins a devilish grin and steps toward me. Jake steps in between us and pushes me against the car. He bares his teeth at Rubie.
“Back off!” he orders. “Back off, now!” to the rest of them. His voice is powerful and they all do as he says.
Sarah stomps in frustration. “I hate it! I hate it!” she screamed. She looks like she wants to smack him across the face and stands her ground. “Tell her, Jake! Tell her now!”
There is a long, uncomfortable silence. Finally, Jake sighs and turns toward me. He puts both hands on my shoulders and grips me tight. He starts to say something, but is quickly interrupted by Cyris, the muscular one.
“Not here, Jake. We should go somewhere more private.” He motions his head sideways and I turn to see where he is motioning. A couple is walking in our direction, hand in hand, to their car. They haven’t seen us, as they are involved in talking and laughing with each other.
Jake releases his grip on my shoulders, taking me by the arm to gently help me into the car. Within seconds, he is in the driver’s seat and has the car started and in gear. I hear car doors slamming behind us. I look back and see Rubie and the rest of them already in their cars, ready to go.
Jake backs out swiftly and speeds off, almost hitting the couple that had just walked past us in the parking lot. I look at the clock on the dashboard. 6:00. Suddenly, I remember promising my mom I’d be home early…and nothing silly.
“Stop!” I tell Jake. “You have to take me home, Jake.” He keeps driving…speeding is a better word. “You heard me tell my mom I’d be home early.” Jake ignores me; however, he is slowing down because of the red light ahead.
I unbuckle my seatbelt, pretending to reach for my purse in the floor. When the car comes to a complete stop, I plan to make a run for it. My house is just a few blocks away. I keep as calm as possible, trying not to give anything away. I get my purse and start looking through it. When we finally stop, I immediately open the door and take off. Cars are honking at me and drivers are yelling. Some how I am able to dodge cars and avoid getting run over, making it to the sidewalk, running as fast as I can, not looking back, till I reach my house.
Luckily, my house key is in my pocket and I quickly unlock the front door and burst in, all but falling down in exhaustion. My foot is throbbing and I am out of breath. I pick up the phone and dial Emily’s number. It rings three times before Emily’s mom answers it.
Emily’s mom is a plump woman, with a round face. She is the opposite of Emily. “Hello, Mrs. Ward?” (pant, pant) I try to slow my breathing. “This is Zoey.” (still breathing hard) “Will you tell Emily it’s not a good night to come over?” “Calm down, Zoey. Get your breathing under control for gosh sakes!”
There’s a pause on the other end of the line. Then…
“Oh, I’m sorry, Zoey” replies Mrs. Ward. “We didn’t know. She’s already on her way. I can call her on her cell if I need to.”
A car door slams outside. My heart is pounding. What if it’s Jake? I hear the front door open.
“Zoey?” It’s Emily. A big sigh of relief.
“Never mind, Mrs. Ward. She’s here.” I hang up the phone, and go to the hallway to greet Emily.
When Emily sees me, her smile fades. “Oh my gosh, Zo! What’s happened?”
I grabbed Emily by the arm and gripped it tight.
“Zoey! Let go…let go!” Her eyes are wide and confused. She knows me well enough to know I’ve never acted this way before.
With a deep breath I tell her that we need to go. “It’s not safe here. Jake could be here any minute!”
Emily looked confused and annoyed. “Calm down, Zoey. Slow down and explain to me what’s going on. Stop gripping my arm!”
I let go of her and she rubs her arm just as I had earlier when Jake had gripped mine so hard. We walk into the living room and sit down on the couch. “Now tell me everything…from the top” she orders. I start from the top.
I tell her about Jake showing up in my room the night before, meeting his “friends”, and later overhearing Rubie and Sarah talking about us in the restroom. Then I tell her about the events that have just happened at the restaurant and me running home.
Her face remains blank throughout my story. We sit in silence for a moment, waiting for her to respond. I fidget with my fingers and finally sigh just to break the silence.
“So, what do you want to do?” she finally asks. She turns toward me and we sit face-to-face.
I tell her, “The two of us should get a room somewhere and stay tonight. The conversation between Rubie and Sarah is freaking me out! Let’s lock all the windows and doors. Pull the shades down over the windows, and…” Emily is just sitting there. “Emily! Go pull the shades down! I’ll get the doors.”
Emily jumps up from the couch, almost knocking over another lamp, and runs upstairs to start on the windows. I run to lock the back door after making sure the windows downstairs are locked, thinking to myself…one more door, one more door…the front door. I calmly start towards the front door, believing that we will be safe, knowing that Mom would probably be home late.
As I reach for the lock on the door, the knob jiggles. I put my hands on it, but it bursts open with such force that I am knocked off my feet. I fall against a table and knock over a glass vase, cutting my hands as I fall to the floor. Emily runs down the stairs at the sound of my cry. She stops, frozen at the foot of the stairs. I look towards the front door, damaged and hanging on one hinge. Jake is standing in the doorway with…..Them.
I feel something warm and sticky on my hands…blood. I had wiped my hands on my shirt and blood seems to be everywhere…even on my pants. I feel dizzy. “Stop it!” I tell myself. “Get up.” Slowly, I stand up, trembling with fear. Emily rushes to my side and grabs my arm to pull me back.
“Stay away! I’m warning you!” she yells.
Sarah and Rubie’s faces light up with devilish smiles. They’re both gone from the others’ sides in a flash. Emily gasps and a cold, strong hand replaces hers on my arm. It’s Rubie’s. Sarah has Emily wrapped up in an iron grip. Then Cyris and Gabrial are there beside Sarah in a flash.
“Let go of me!” Emily cries. “Get away from me you hag!”
I’ve never seen Emily so terrified as she is yelling at the top of her lungs. Sarah finally lets go and backs off, but Gabrial and Cyris are crouched, teeth bared. Sarah is snarling, her scary…no, hostile…eyes fixed on Emily. I grit my teeth and glare at Rubie.
In the meanest voice I can summon up, I shout, “Rubie!…LET…ME… GO…NOW!”
Rubie paused for a moment, then hissed, “Fine!” She lets go and backs off just as Sarah has also. Looking at them, I can see their eyes have changed.
Sarah, Cyris, and Gabrial’s eyes are light red and when they look at me, nothing is more frightening. Nicholas and Rubie’s eyes are sort of deep, dark, violet. Purple. Jake’s are the brightest of them all, though. Bright. Brighter than Sarah’s or Gabrial’s or Cyris’s. Bright red.
I back up and Emily’s and my arms rub against each other. Sarah and Cyris straighten up and move around so that they are behind us. Jake comes toward me, ignoring Emily when she once again yells at them to back off. “Zoey” he whispers.
His voice is filled with pain. I want to hug him…some how make him feel better. I can’t bear to hear and see him like this. He lifts up his hand for me to take. I edge mine closer to his.
“No!” Angelica’s cold hand has pushed mine away. A second later, Angelica is between Jake and me, her long, blonde hair whipping me in the face. She has pushed me into Emily and the two of us are up against a table in the hall. I look past Angelica and see Jake.
“Angelica.” His voice is calm. “Please move. I don’t want to hurt you. You’re a good source for us. Please, don’t make me kill you.”
Angelica growls and opens her mouth. Two fangs are growing from her top row of teeth, barely touching her bottom lip. She hisses. “Bring it on, Jake!”
I push past her and step in front of them. “No!” I look at Angelica, then Jake. “Don’t, Jake. Please, don’t.” I place my hand on his chest and try to feel his heart beating, but there is no beat. My hands are still bleeding and blood gets on his shirt. Emily screams behind me. I turn around.
To my relief, Emily is still standing where she was a moment ago. However, Angelica is in the grasps of Sarah and Gabrial. I stare at her and she meets my gaze. I turn back to Jake and set the full force of my eyes on him.
“You need to tell me the truth, Jake!” It wasn’t a request. He nodded.
“I’m not human,” he said. “I’m something more.”
“What are you?” My voice cracks. I already knew the answer but needed to hear him say it.
He grins, fangs forming as Angelica’s had. He leans down and whispers in my ear, “Vampire.” He lifts his head and the fangs are gone. “Zoey,” he says softly, “I want you to live with me. Forever.” He takes one of my hands and squeezes a cut on my finger. The blood oozes out. Then, he bends down and presses his lips to my finger, licks the blood, moaning with pleasure. He smiles at me.
I don’t want to live forever. I have everything I need. And one more thing…Mom. What would she do if I run away and don’t come back? What would she do? She would be heart-broken. I’m her only child. Her daughter.
I push away from Jake. He looks confused. I back up and Emily grabs me, holding me close to her. I shake my head, my eyes wide open. “No,” I whisper. “No, I can’t, Jake. I just can’t…my mom.”
He comes to me quickly. “Forget about her. Forget about everyone.” Then he brushes my cheek with the back of his hand. I cringe.
“No!” I said louder, shaking my head.
Then, in a swift movement, he pulls me away from Emily. “I won’t live without you, Zoey!” he growls. He puts his arm around my waist and pulls me closer. I try to push away, but he is too strong. His other hand is suddenly on my neck, tilting it sideways.
I see Angelica and Emily struggling against Sarah’s grip. Sarah is smiling. “No hope now, Zoey”, she chuckles. She looks at Emily. “I hope you know we can’t change everybody.” Emily looks at her in horror. She gets the message.
I feel a stabbing pain in my neck. For a moment, nothing happens. No sound, but the sucking sound beside my ear. The pain gets worse. Someone is stabbing me over and over again in the neck! “Jake, stop! Stop! Please! Nooo!” Then Jake is trying to calm and soothe me.
“It’s okay, Zoey. The pain will be gone in a few minutes.” He has stopped biting me. But why am I still in pain? Jake is holding my wrist, trying to hang on to me. I am shaking my head madly, my own hair whipping me in the face.
I can feel myself getting stronger and I know it is getting harder for Jake to hold on to me. The worst of it happens next. As the pain in my neck begins to dull, I suddenly feel like I’ve been stabbed in the heart. I freeze. Emily is crying, trying to grab my hands, but cannot reach them. She’s no longer in Sarah’s grasp. Now Angelica has her and she is saying something to Emily. “There’s nothing we can do for…” My hand is at my side, moving to the last beats of my heart.
“It’ll be over soon, Zoey,” Jake is saying, but I barely hear because of the ringing in my ears. “Just a few more seconds, Zoey.”
The ringing in my ears has stopped and the pain in my neck is gone. As I listen to the last beat of my heart, I know….it’s over. Thud, thud, thud….thud.
“Zoey, it’s okay now. There won’t be anymore pain. We’ll be together now…forever.” Jake bends down and presses his lips to mine, then down on my neck. I blink and realize that the pain is gone…I can move my whole body now without pain. Jake smiles at me and I return the smile.
Something’s wrong, though. If all the pain is to be gone as Jake said, why is there a burning in the pit of my stomach? Then, I smell it. A mouth-watering aroma. I turn around to see what is giving off this delicious smell. Emily. Emily is causing the smell. Duh. Vampires drink blood and I’m craving it. I see her pulse beating through the vein in her neck. I can hear her heartbeat. Without thinking, I go to her. Suddenly, Angelica is in front of me.
“Zoey! Step back”, she snarls. “I know you don’t want to hurt your best friend, do you?”
Jake wraps his arms around my waist and I can feel his cold breath on my neck. He whispers in my ear, “Don’t worry, Zoe, I’ll distract Angelica while you have your first meal in your new life.”
An alarm in my brain goes off. Ding, ding, ding…. “Hello!” “NO!” I growled.
Jake is telling me to attack my life-long friend. The burning in my stomach is getting worse, making it harder for me to think straight. “Emily, you smell so good!” I tell her. She stares back at me with blood-shot eyes from crying.
“No,” she whispers.
I turn to Jake. I need information. A lot of it. “Jake.” Hesitating, I know I have to ask this question just right. Whispering, I ask, “How do you kill a vampire?”
He smiles and glances at Angelica. He believes I am thinking about her. He looks back at me and says, “You must rip out the jugular vein and throw it into the fire. You have to be fast. The vampire is weakened at first, but then regains strength quickly.” He glances at Angelica again.
I crush my lips against his. I hate the decision I have made, but know it is the only one I can make. I turn and crouch, baring my teeth at Angelica. Fangs grow from my top teeth, touching my lower lip. From my mouth comes a hissing sound like a snake, about to strike. Then I turn and with lightening speed I’m behind Jake in an instant. I jump on his back and sink my teeth deep into his throat. A blood-curdling scream escapes his mouth.
“No! No!” “Get off me, Zoey!” “No!” He flings us against walls, mad with rage, doing anything he can to free himself from me. I hold on.
I can feel and taste the vein in his throat, now between my teeth. I pin him against the wall and rip open his throat. Then with all my strength, I grab the large black vein and let go of him. He falls to the floor and looks up at me. “No,” he whispers. “No, Zoey. Please.”
I bent down and kissed him on the forehead. “I’m sorry,” I softly tell him.
There is a fire already roaring in the living room fireplace. I see why. The bodies of the others lie on the floor. Rubie, Nicholas, Cyris, Gabrial, and Sarah…all of their throats ripped open, their glassy eyes seeing nothing. The strange colors are gone, replaced by black. I quickly walk to the fire and throw Jake’s vein into it. Jake screams behind me. I grip the mantle above the fireplace, not wanting to turn and see the pain in his face. The scream fades into a gurgling sound. Jake is barely breathing when I turn around…then he isn’t here…no longer with me.
The tears I cry are not clear. They are violet. I wipe them away and look around to see who is in the room with me. No one. Then, Angelica comes through the door, Emily close behind her. She stops a few feet away from me.
I run to her and fall into her arms, sobbing. She holds me, patting me on the back. “Shhhh. It’s okay, Zoey. Don’t worry. It’s over.” I have soaked Angelica’s shirt with my tears. I let go to wipe the tears from my face again.
“Zoey?” Emily speaks in a soft, timid voice. She is standing beside Angelica, the two of them holding hands. “Zoey!…You’re so….beautiful!” she gasped. I frown.
“Haven’t I always been beautiful?”
Emily blinks, then smiles at me. Right. “Zoey, you’re a mess!” She takes my hand, which is very warm and bloody, and leads me down a very torn up and damaged hallway to the bathroom. She stands me in front of the mirror. She’s right. I am a mess! My hair, clothes…everything…a tangled, bloody, mess! But through the mess, I see why Emily said what she did about me being beautiful. My face has no flaws and my eyes are bright red. My lips…just right. I am slim with a flawless figure.
“Zoey,” Emily said. “It’s going to be hard to get all that blood out of your clothes..”
“I’m stronger, Emily,” I replied. “I’ll wash and clean it all up. You have to go home….Emily. I’m dangerous. You’re not safe.
A tear rolls down her cheek. “But we’re best friends! You won’t hurt me.”
I can smell her breath. If my heart could beat, it would be pounding out of my chest. She smells so good. Angelica comes into the bathroom.
“All done. Everything is fixed. You probably want to wash up and go change now,” she tells me.
I can barely move my lips to ask Angelica, “Help me…please. I can’t move.” She understands. My eyes are locked on Emily’s neck. Angelica grabs my arm and pulls be back. I run upstairs to the bathroom, run water in the sink, and begin washing the blood from my face…hands…everywhere. When I look into the mirror, I see that my eyes are changing color to a dull dark red. “What’s wrong with me?” I change into a sweat shirt and shorts, and put socks on my feet so Mom won’t see that the cut has healed.
I glide down the stairs. The burning in my stomach is getting worse. The hallway is perfect. Nothing seems to be out of place. There is a note on the table where the broken vase used to be.
“Zoey, Emily and I have gone to a hotel. If you need anything, call me on my cell phone, 555-1653.
I fold the note and put it in my pocket. I go up to my room and get my MP3 player and put on my headphones. “Heartbreaker” is playing. I turn down the volume very low because my hearing is much better now that I’ve “changed.” It’s late, and I’ve been listening to my music for several hours now. I hear a car pull up outside. I go to the window and look out to see my mom wearily walking to the front door. I turn, and within seconds and only a couple of giant steps, I am in the living room, sitting on the couch.
I hear Mom in the hallway, setting her things down and then she steps through the living room doorway and looks at me in surprise. “Oh…I figured you would be asleep by now.”
I shrug. “I guess I’m just not very tired.”
“Zoey, it’s 1:00 a.m.! You’re always knocked out by now.”
“I know, it’s just that I’m not tired tonight.”
Mom sat on the couch beside me to take off her shoes. I keep my distance. I don’t know how strong my resistance is. She goes upstairs and I can hear how slow she is walking. A few minutes later, she trudges downstairs with her pajamas and robe on.
“I’m going to bed, Honey. Sleep well.” She kisses me on the forehead. I sit very still, clenching my fists. She shivers. I know my skin is cool to her touch. I want to tell her what has happened, but know that I can’t.
“Night, Mom.” She walks upstairs and I hear her door close. I go to my room and get my cell phone and call Angelica.
She answers after the first ring. “Hello”, she says sweetly.
“Angelica,” I breathed heavily. “Can you help me?” The burning in my stomach has moved up to my throat. “Come to my house. I need you.”
“Okay, Zoey. I’m coming.”
I hang up and lay the phone on my bed. I stare out the window and wait for the white van that is soon to come.
To be continued......