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Strange Enough For You?
I scanned the crowd for a face like the description. Black hair, strange eyes. Those were the only clues I was given.
As it happened, there were several people with black hair and strange eyes that stood in the rest stop. I was thoroughly amazed at the number of bleary-eyed hairballs who had managed to find themselves in a rest stop at two in the morning. Truck drivers, travelers, hungry locals, even some idiot dressed like a clown, face painted and everything, sitting in a corner and looking very unhappily into his coffee. I didn't blame him in the slightest. What a situation.
Anyway, the funny thing about the crowd is that the people seemed to have gravitated towards the people who looked most like themselves. Must be some psychology thing about comfort levels or some such crap. Whatever it was, it was useful. A group of black haired people were standing farthest from the clown's corner, near the window. There were three likely-looking people among this group. One had no left eye, but I suppose that was only one strange eye (or lack thereof). The other two were more decisively strange. They both had eyes that seemed to shift color as I watched, like oil refracting a rainbow. It was quite entrancing. The first was a woman, the other a man who could could have been a stock broker. Both were staring at me, though not in a rude way. But........there was something about the way they were looking. As if I was one of the Jonas brothers, and they were thirteen year old girls. Like I was a lifelong dream come true, in other words.
And suddenly, the man began to maneuver through the crowd to me. It was only then when I noticed how unruffled they looked about the fact that they were in a rest stop at two in the morning. Wide awake, the both of them. And exceptionally well-kept.
He arrived rather quicker than I thought he would, and quietly asked me to step aside with his partner. I went. I was half curious, half skeptical. All this searching, endless searching for a glimmer of something more than the mundane, and it seemed that it had come to me. Or had it? One way to find out.
“You're a Seeker.” he said flatly.
He sensed my incomprehension and took pity on me. “You have, for your entire life, looked for magic.”
I felt suddenly sheepish. I knew how stupid it sounded, but that was it, said as simply as it possibly could be. I had, indeed, bought a trailer as soon as I had turned eighteen, and run off in search of 'magic'. I had always desperately hoped, for a reason I could not possibly name, that magic existed.
There was an awkward pause while I tried to formulate a reply.
“You have found it.”
I suddenly realized something I hadn't noticed before. “Your voice. You who called me and gave me those dumb clues.”
“You could say that.”
“As a matter of fact, I did not strictly say that I-”
“Yeeeeeesss, yoouuuuuu did! And don't try to worm out of-”
“You lured me here, and now let's see some-”
He placed his hand gently on my shoulder. I was surprised enough to stop talking.
“I am really, really sorry for what I am about to do.”
And then I blacked out.
When I woke up, I was presented with five things, the first two of which were highly unpleasant.
One, a crick in my neck.
Two, a plastic molded chair that pained me in places were a man shouldn't be pained.
Three, a small gauze pad on the back of my hand.
Four, a white room devoid of color, except my clothes, a table, two chairs, and
Five, the two strange-eyed people, the woman occupying the chair in front of me, and the man standing.
I was immediately rather mad at these two dunces, who had obviously just left me in this chair the whole time I had been asleep, or knocked out, or whatever. This indignation quickly melted away to reveal both confusion and excitement.
Magic. That was the crux of it all. I wanted magic, I wanted, needed, hoped beyond where reasonable hope should go, that there was magic, somewhere. And I acted on that hope. And after twenty years of looking, the hope had managed to stick around, so that I still looked in every crevice, followed every stupid lead, and it had led me here.
I was interrupted in my semi-deep thinking by the man speaking.
“I have magic.”
My heart raced every time I heard someone say that, even with all the dead ends and false leads. Call me gullible.
“I am a vampire.”
Hmm. That's a new one.
“What, you mean like Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, undead, blood-sucking supermodels? You aren't that pale.”
The guy glanced at the woman like, Told you so, and then elaborated. “The symptoms of a vampire show themselves once every ten years or so. And even then, the visible element only includes the colored eyes and jet black hair.” The man began rummaging in his pocket.
I now realized a little late that his eyes were no longer oddly colored. They were light blue. The woman's eyes had also become a delicate brown.
Now that was weird.
The man suddenly withdrew from his pocket a mirror, of all things. “And now I will prove to you all I say.” He said ominously, bending over and sliding the mirror so accurately that the end of the handle lined up with my side of the table.
My reflection showed a strange individual sitting in my chair. He had long, jet black hair, oddly reflective eyes, and a bewildered look that was worthy of Hollywood. It was a completely different person
looking back at me. His nose was mine, but his mouth was longer, his face thinner and far more angular. I was much taller, whereupon I had previously been five-eight, I easily topped seven. It was a wonder I hadn't noticed it yet.
“You were a very, very powerful seeker.”
“I want an explanation. Now.” Even my voice was somehow different. Both vampires flinched.
The woman spoke for the first time. “There are thirteen kinds of vampiric being, Minor, Stage two through Stage twelve, and Major. Stages ten and above have no permanent form, but shift with their will. Beyond that point, they are no longer technically vampires, but demons. Minor vampires have only one change after ten years, stage two has two, and so on, and after their specified number of changes, return to a human form. During the change we experience a thirst for the blood of seekers. Only Major level vampires retain their power permanently. Oh, and a seeker is a human with magical potential. ”
I thought she sounded like an encyclopedia. I asked, “Is there any way to tell what level a vampire is?”
“Yes. Certain …. signs are available.”
The man spoke again. “For one, you began shifting shape as soon as I bit you. That puts you above level ten. The higher demons all do that. Next, the eyes of a level twelve and a Major both resist change for exactly two days after the transformation, which is in exactly........” he glanced at his watch, “Thirty seconds.”
“Wait a moment. I was out for two days?”
“Three. We transported you here before we began the transformation. And a major demon's eyes turn red rather than black.”
I wished at this point I hadn't gotten into this mess.
“Look, you knocked me out and brought me here, without my permission. You claim that I am what you call a 'vampire', and this is plausible how?”
“Think about it for a minute.” The two of them started toward the door. The man, who held open the door to let through the woman, turned his face to mine. “When you're ready, my assistant is in the house.”
And I was alone.
Oddly enough, I already knew, subconsciously, that there was another person in the building. It was as if someone had flicked on a sixth sense in my head, less than five seconds ago. This was mainly why I didn't give a smart alack comment back to the two vampires.
I knew exactly where everything was, all at once. I could have found the box of matches buried under ten inches of insulation in the attic. I could have found a set of old keys in the upholstery of the couch directly outside the door. Needless to say, I was quite overwhelmed.
I was especially aware of the fact that there were thousands of bugs crawling around the place. But I don't want to talk about that.
I burst out of the white room, eyes wild, seeing if my new sense was accurate. It was unerringly so. I already knew that the room outside the door was a rather barren room with industrial carpeting. I already knew there was a human, for I now had no doubt whatsoever of their story, sitting at a desk with her laptop. I already knew there was a mirror on the floor, face down.
The woman screamed and ran from the room, and I now saw why. In my shock I had failed to take in all the in information that was provided to me by the sixth sense. I saw myself, and what a sight I was. I was now nine feet tall, thin as a stick, ghastly, with burning red eyes as hot and powerful as a star, though much closer, and far, far deadlier.
I sank to my knees. With shaking fingers my hand reached to my neck feeling for some sort of pulse.
I felt none.