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The Half-Blood Heroine
The morning I met him started off like a few hundred other days that I could recall: I woke up on the floor of a cold room and fumbled around in my backpack until I found my thermos. I drank from it as slowly as I could, letting the mixture of blood and water run down my throat. As a half-breed, I could have drunk the blood without having to dilute the liquid. But I bought the blood from butchers that I passed throughout town. Watering it down made my breakfast more affordable.
Not that money was really a problem. Money was everywhere, if I was willing to take it. That morning, waking up in an abandoned basement, I won’t pretend as if it didn’t occur to me that I could have been waking up in a nice apartment somewhere. I could have a nice cozy bed and a regular roof over my head, but there were only two ways to get that. One would be for me to wake up comfortably, but in captivity. The other was the far less reprehensible idea of me simply stealing the money I wanted. But that would go against what I was trying to accomplish, and so I dealt with my discomfort.
I had woken up with the sunset, which had become my usual time. The vampires that had by now overrun the world naturally began their days then, so I would as well. Not that I was a vampire. I wasn’t. But I was a half-blood, and I considered that bad enough.
Half-bloods were still relatively new creatures when I was born. After the 2056 census proved to the world that humans were now a minority species, vampires became aware of a grave situation. If the vampire population continued to rise steadily, than the human population would continue steadily declining. Within decades, humans could die out, leaving the undead without a source for food.
Vampires found a solution to this, and that solution was half-bloods. Vampires began to mate with humans instead of simply draining them and moving on. They would stay with the human until their child was born, and then keep the child alive to use for its blood. The blood in a half-breed like this was quite diluted from pure human blood, so vampires had to drink twice as much. If a vampire needed a pint of human blood, they would have to drink two pints of a half breed’s blood.
My mother had been human, and my father was the vampire. They were different than most vampire-human couples though- they were in love. My father never drank from her during her pregnancy. He kept other vampires from getting to her, so that the child she bore would be in a state of perfect health. I met their expectations, and nineteen years ago they counted my ten fingers and ten toes and breathed a sigh of relief over their healthy child.
Their bliss was short-lived. A few days after this, my father had been out hunting for a regular human to drink from. He had stayed in the same area with my mother for almost a year now and after so much time in one place he was in danger. For as long as the world had known about vampires, there had been vigilante types who would try to kill them. But my mother watched her love die, and what she saw surprised her.
He’d been killed by the Cloak. The Cloak had already made a name for himself back them, some unknown hero who wore a black cloak and killed vampires. No one knew who he really was, despite the dozens or rumors and speculations that surrounded him. My mother raced outside with me in her arms to follow him, but he’d already disappeared.
After that, she raised me as well as she could. Without any job, she resorted to selling her blood to vampires that had known my father. It was the most dangerous job imaginable. If someone drank too much, you could die on the spot. Vampires could easily do this to avoid having to pay for their meal. My mother was smart, and kept a stake on her at all times. Whenever a vampire went past their allotted amount, she simply killed them.
But once I turned fifteen, I decided that I could provide for myself. I couldn’t let my mother keep putting herself in such a hazardous position just to pay for what I needed. I helped her move in with her parents, who lived in a quieter area outside of the city. By this time, there were vampires even in the most seemingly safe towns, but it’d still be safer. Then I left.
At first, I didn’t know what I would do with myself. If I tried to find a job, blood tests would reveal my half-blood status. No one would hire me once they found out that I was less than human. If I wanted money, then, I’d have to find some other way to get some. I did, by going the vigilante route that I had so often mocked in the past. I only went after pure-blooded vampires, the ones who lacked any humanity whatsoever. I’d take any money they had off of them, and that was how I paid for my morning blood.
I refused to take any drinks from humans, though. It was a sick thing to me, a violent intrusion on someone else. Maybe it was because I’d been fortunate, and had never had the vampire who created me even attempt to take a sip. Others had. There had been many times that I was following a vampire, they’d catch my half-human scent, and would try to taste my blood. Some were more successful than others, but I’d always escaped before they drank too much.
I put my now empty thermos back into my bag and stood up to stretch my legs. I ran through my usual morning workout as I thought. I’d heard of a nest of vampires a few blocks over, and had decided to check out the place today. The vampires living there would be weaker during the day, and if there were several it would be far safer to torch the place in daylight than actually fighting with each vampire.
The idea of individual combat made me flash back to the night before. I had gone after a vampire that was stalking a girl about my age. I could tell that he was antsy; it must have been a while since his last meal. His hunger made him careless, and that made him a pretty easy target. But right before I’d staked him, he’d told me that there wasn’t a point, and I knew what he meant.
There were so many vampires in the world by now that quite a few vigilantes had given up. For every vampire we killed there were thousands more out there, who would simply turn other humans or create half-bloods. But I couldn’t just give up. After all, I’d saved that girl last night. I never dreamt of eliminating vampires completely, but if I could just take down a few, and save a few humans this way, than it was worth it.
I finished my morning routine and threw my backpack over my shoulder before heading outside. The nest was a short walk away, and I peered into a window on the side of it. I counted five vampires sleeping downstairs and could only assume that there were more upstairs. One of the five was a girl who must have been my age, but I pushed that thought to the back of my head. I could smell her blood from where I stood, and she was definitely a vampire. Identifying her any further could lead to mercy, and that was out of the question.
I took a small bottle of gasoline out of my bag and emptied it around the building. Then I took my lighter out and finished the job. The flames leaped up and devoured the building quickly, and I watched from behind bushes a block away. I was focusing so much on the nest that I didn’t hear anyone come up behind me.
“That was a nice job,” said a male voice. I spun around as quickly as I could without the bushes scratching my face, and pulled a stake out from my jacket pocket.
The man behind me put his hands up, and stepped back. “I’m not here to hurt you, I promise,” he said, but I was more interested in his clothing than his words.
He was wearing the hood I’d heard about from my mother.
“Are you the Black Cloak?” I asked suspiciously, still holding my stake and standing in a fighting stance.
He said yes before reaching for my arm. “We have to go,” he said as he started to walk off.
I pulled my arm back and stepped away from him. “Why would I go anywhere with you?” I sounded fairly calm, but my head was spinning. This was the man who had killed my father, who had killed more vampires than I could imagine. Could I trust him?
“I’ll explain later,” he said briskly, as he tried to grab my arm again. He stopped when he saw how disdainfully I looked at him.
“Here, would this make you feel better?”
As he spoke, he opened his long jacket and pulled out a stake, a knife, and a lighter.
“That’s everything I have on me. You’re in control here, but can you please just follow me?”
I took his weapons, nodded, and followed him as he raced off. We ran for blocks before he stopped suddenly and opened a door that appeared to lead into a basement. He motioned for me to enter first, but after seeing the look on my face he sighed and went in front of me. I followed unapologetically. I figured it was far better to be careful than to be reckless and get myself killed.
We walked down a long unlit hallway before he turned sharply to the right. This hallway had a few dim lights hanging overhead, and I could hear voices coming from somewhere in front of us. I decided to stop him then before we got any further. If this was some kind of trap, I’d rather find that out when we were alone in the hallway than when I was in a room surrounded by people he knew.
I stepped in front of Black Cloak and pinned him to the wall with his knife at his throat. He didn’t seem as surprised as I had thought he would be, which made me think he’d never thought I would trust him from the beginning. He actually looked a bit tired, as if he didn’t want to waste his time being threatened at knifepoint.
“Where are you taking me, why are you taking me there, and who’s already in that room?” I spoke quickly, thinking that if he didn’t want to waste time than I might as well ask everything all at once.
“A safe place. This is a hideout for half-bloods, and there are about twenty of them already in that room. The room everyone is in right now is basically a game room, and there are a few bedrooms around here. We use the bathrooms in the houses above this. There’s a strict “no human blood” policy, but I’ve seen you at the butcher’s before, so I’m guessing that that won’t be a problem with you.”
I kept my weapon in its place while I tried to hide my surprise. A home for half-bloods? I’d never heard of that before. Most of us had been brought into the world to give blood to our parents and were forced into a life of doing so. Anyone who escaped generally fended for themselves. But the idea of banding together didn’t sound too bad to me.
“Why me?” I asked again, realizing he still hadn’t mentioned why he was taking me specifically.
“Because I’ve been tracking you the last few nights and I’ve seen what you can do. We could use more fighters around. It keeps us safe, and gives you some extra hands to go slaying with.”
His answer made sense to me, and I put the knife back. I wouldn’t mind the company that the others here could provide, if they were all nice enough. But there was one thing I couldn’t ignore. This was the vigilante who had killed my father. He’d taken my father’s life, my hopes of a happy childhood, and someone who could support my mother and me.
The Black Cloak was still standing against the wall, waiting for me to react before we continued walking.
I said my father’s name and stared at him. “You killed him. Nineteen years ago, you killed him. Why?” I asked, realizing that if he answered he would do so freely. Nothing was keeping him from simply continuing to walk down the hall.
He stood still for a moment, and the silence between us seemed larger than the hallway we stood in. “That was my father. Why do you know that name?”
I blinked in surprise. “Because that was my father.”
He suddenly turned cold when I said that. “So you were the other one,” he said scornfully.
“Other one? What’s that supposed to mean?” I didn’t get what he meant, but could tell it wasn’t a compliment.
“I was fourteen when he got the woman who I suppose was your mother pregnant. He told us about her, you know. He said he was in love, that he wouldn’t ruin this woman or this child. He had taken my mother for her blood, and had been drinking mine for as long as I could remember. He kept us locked in an apartment, but would tell us all about the perfect life he had dreamed up for your little family. We were his way to get the drinks he needed, and you were what he actually wanted.”
I slid to the floor and sat down when he finished. Whenever my mother had spoken of my father, it was with stars in her eyes and love in her voice. They had meant the world to each other. How could the romantic, loving father I’d heard stories of be the same cruel monster who had kept the Black Cloak captive?
But even as I thought it, I knew it was possible. My father had needed blood, just as every vampire did. When he went out at night, my mother knew why. Only instead of attacking random strangers for their blood, he’d been taking the blood of his son and that son’s mother. It made sense in the sickest way possible.
I stood back up, and grabbed the hood the Black Cloak was famous for. He was clearly surprised, but didn’t stop me. With his hood removed, I could see his face. I was staring into the same gold-green eyes that I myself had. Vampires had gold eyes, so half-bloods had the original eye color of their father mixed with that gold. My father had green eyes, and his father had as well. He wasn’t lying, then.
We looked at each other for a moment and let what was just said register. I now had a half-brother who was also a half-blood. I’d also have as friends whoever was behind those two doors. He flipped his hood back on and looked at me from underneath it. I looped my arm through his and started walking forward. We’d missed out on a lot because of each other, but suddenly that didn’t matter. What did matter was that whatever we walked towards now, we could face together. Vampires included.