Chapter 26: The Poisoned & The Saved
Mom was lying on the bed sound asleep. My first instinct was to wake her and alert her to the fact the house was under attack. But Tomoko had warned me not to, so instead I closed and locked the door. Bracing my back against it, with dad’s wooden stake in hand, I listened for sounds of approaching attackers. I couldn’t believe they were vampires. My new next door neighbors were one thing, but these were kids I’d gone to school with for ages. My seventh grade crush was out there. So was Amanda Trump’s boyfriend. As I had watched them come across the yard minutes ago, I recognized a few of the other guys were from the football team. Not that I would ever have associated with them, but I knew who they were. And they weren’t vampires. They couldn’t be. But what had been the shadow figure Tomoko had fought at the bottom of the stairs? I couldn’t see any of the students at school, no matter how bad they were, breaking into someone’s house armed with baseball bats. Something certainly wasn’t right in Chelsea Valley.
From downstairs came the sound of breaking glass again. Indecipherable shouts echoed through the house. I didn’t know how many intruders were inside now, but Tomoko was alone against them all. I looked at my mother on the bed. She was curled up in a fetus position, sleeping more peacefully than she ever had before. One could never tell she’d just lost her husband. If only Tomoko and his clan could take her memories and wipe them clean so she would never know the pain of losing someone close. I took a deep breath, knowing what I had to do. Even if it caused mother to lose someone else, I couldn’t leave Tomoko alone to fight them all. I gripped my stake tight and threw open the bedroom door.
I stepped back in alarm. Two boys were in the hall, leaning against the doorframe. One of them was tall, lanky, with long blond hair. I didn’t recognize him as anyone from school. The other one I knew. His name was Jake, or maybe Alan, I couldn’t remember. He was in my History class. Sat in the back and was always making smart ass comments to the teacher and fellow students alike. None of the girls liked him. He had greasy dark hair, fierce acne, and bad breath. Except now, in the bedroom doorway, he had none of that. His hair was healthy and perfectly styled. Every trace of acne was gone. And his breath was…well, that hadn’t changed. It could still knock you down.
“Hi there, Nora,” he spoke, stepping towards me. “Something tells me you are going to miss the last day of school.”
The other guy laughed, tossing his blond hair back with his hand as if he wanted me to notice he was beautiful or something. He wasn’t.
Jake, Alan, whatever his name was, looked beyond me. “Oh wow, who’s bedroom is this?”
I didn’t hesitate. I brought the stake up and drove it into his flesh. He howled, but I had missed my mark. Instead of his heart, I’d gotten his shoulder. He shoved me with the flat of his hand. I stumbled backwards and tripped over my own feet. I broke my fall as best as I could, but I still landed with a thud on the hard floor. It almost knocked the wind out of me, but I rolled under the bed to get away from him, as he stalked into the room. He grasped the handle of the stake and pulled it out of his shoulder.
“Now that hurt, bitch,” he growled. “I’m going to show you how it feels.”
He knelt down and looked under the bed. With a grin he reached for me. Grasping the bottom of the box springs, I thrust myself towards him feet first. He wasn’t expecting me to come to him easy, so it was a surprise when I kicked him in the face.
“I’ll get her,” Blondie said, and came around the other side. He too knelt down to look under the bed, but I wasn’t in a position to defend myself on that side. He grabbed a handful of my hair and began to haul me out. I screamed.
The vampire with the now bruised face had gotten to his feet. He shut the bedroom door and locked it. Turning around to face me, he grinned and hefted the stake in his hand. Blondie had pulled me to my feet and held my arms behind my back.
“I could stake you in the shoulder too,” Jake hissed. “Or maybe my aim will be true and I’ll get your heart.” He walked towards us and stopped right in front of me. He put the point of the stake against my chest. “But it would be a waste not to take a taste first.”
I wasn’t sure if he meant my blood, or something else, but either way I struggled in the grip of Blondie, trying to break free. It was no use. These two had me where they wanted me. I looked at mom passed out on the bed and frowned.
The vampire noticed, and followed my eyes to rest on my mother’s prone form. “Or perhaps,“ he said, “I’ll take it from someone else.” He grinned. “Hello Mommy.”
“No, please don’t,” I begged. “You can have me, but leave her alone.”
He laughed in his throat and threw the stake down on the bed beside mom. Then, he knelt over her. He straddled her on the mattress. “A little old for me, but blood is blood they say.” He let out a triumphant howl and thrust his face against her neck. His teeth sunk into flesh, but she still did not wake from the assault. I hoped where he bit her it wouldn’t leave too big a scar.
He drank deep and Blondie let out a loud whooping yell as if his favorite team had just scored. I held my breath and eyed the stake on the bed. Even if I could break free, I’d never reach it before Jake did. Still, the triumphant vampire was distracted by the taste of fresh blood. He licked his lips and I could see Mother’s blood on his tongue. He attacked her neck again, and I could hear this horrible sucking sound as he indulged his uncontrollable blood lust.
I struggled in Blondie’s grip again, but he held me tight and laughed. “Maybe I will just take me a bite too,” he said. I could feel his hot, pungent breath on the back of my neck. “I bet you taste so…”
Just then, Jake began to gag. Blondie looked at him. “Slow down, dude,” he admonished, before realizing something was wrong. Blood dripped down Jake’s chin and he seemed to be trying to spit the rest out of his mouth.
“Whats the matter?” I asked. “Get some bad blood?”
Jake looked up, a look of alarm in his eyes. “What did you do?” he hissed, still trying to rid himself of mother’s blood.
Blondie shoved me and pushed me towards the bed. Jake rose up, reaching for me, and then the first convulsion hit, twisting and contorting his body like he was a gymnast in the Cirque du Soleil. He fell back on the bed screaming, and with his hands tried to wipe the blood from his lips. He put his fingers inside his mouth trying to get it off his tongue but the convulsions were so bad he bit off his own fingers. He retched and gagged, rolling off the bed and onto the floor where his body spasmed, legs and arms flailing about.
Blondie let me go and ran to his friend. That was the only break I needed. I jumped on the bed and grabbed the stake. Blondie, who was kneeling at his friend’s side, was busy trying to hold him down. He didn’t notice when I launched myself from the bed. Jake exploded.
It’s not just a figure of speech to say it was like a bomb going off inside him. Perhaps the poison Tomoko had spoken of reacted that way. All I know was I was leaping over Jake towards Blondie when it happened. The force blew us in opposite directions, and we were followed by body parts and blood. I was colored crimson and the stench of Jake’s insides filled the room.
Blondie was too stunned to do anything but to try and back pedal away from his friend’s putrid remains. His eyes darted in my direction and a newfound fury crossed his face. He started to get to his feet when the bedroom door burst open behind him. Haru’s other uncle, The jigsaw puzzle man, entered the room. His once dark eyes were now aflame, his pale, unnatural skin contrasting against the blood that dripped from his lips and chin to paint his once white shirt. He opened his mouth and an unholy moan escaped his throat. The only teeth he had were his fangs, but it was enough. Before any of us could react he grabbed Blondie and bit down into the top of his head. There was a sickening crunch and I too screamed, as Jigsaw clutched Blondie with fingernails and fangs. Blondie screamed and tried to get away, but it was no use. His struggles were a futile attempt. Blood seemed to rush through his horrified eyes on its way to the the top of his head. But the puzzle man wasn’t just taking his blood; he seemed to be taking everything, draining Blondie to an empty husk.
I couldn’t look anymore and did the only thing I could to escape the horror. I passed out.
I don’t know how long I was out but when I awoke, I was naked and back home under the covers in my own bed. At first I thought I had been dreaming the whole thing, for when I opened my eyes I saw that Haru was straddling the chair at my desk watching me. He smiled.
“Welcome back,” he said. “I thought I was going to have to wake you. It’s only a couple more hours until school.”
I raised a hand to my head. I had something of a migraine with the smell of blood still in my nostrils. “It’s the last day. I could skip.”
He nodded. “Yes, you could.” He got up and walked over to the bed. “But it might be a good idea to go. Keep up appearances and maybe see who is who. I’m curious to know if anyone knows what happened last night.”
“I’m not sure myself.”
He sat down on the bed beside me. “Nora, I am sorry.”
“Sorry for what?”
“I wasn’t here to protect you as promised. They split us up on purpose, hoping my uncles were too weak to defend anyone.”
I had to laugh. I didn’t think his uncles were weak in any shape or form. If anything, they were downright terrifying.
“What do you mean split us up?”
“The trail of victims was designed to lead us out of town, all the way to the asylum. They knew we’d never get back in time when we realized it had been a ruse.”
“A ruse? Do you mean there wasn’t a trail of dead victims?”
He shook his head. “No, there was. But there was no reason for it, other than to lure us away. Well, except for the last victim.”
He didn’t have to say who that was. The bodies had led them all the way to the asylum. And to my father.
Haru hung his head. “I am sorry. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”
“To die like what?”
He looked away. “Never mind that. Chi will accompany you to school. Luhan will be there too. They won’t let anything happen.”
“Tell me, Haru.”
“Tell you what?”
“How my father died. The hospital said he hung himself. What really happened?”
He hesitated a moment and then kissed my cheek. Perhaps he thought it would bring comfort.
“Please,” I pleaded. “I have to know.”
Haru looked like he was about to cry. He barely knew my father. The tears he was fighting wasn’t for him though. They were for me. He took a deep breath and then told me the truth.
“He was hung. But he didn’t do it himself. They strung him up.”
“Unfortunately yes. I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t you or your family,” I replied. I moved closer to him on the bed and the covers fell away. My nakedness didn’t bother me. “I guess dad was right. They were coming for him.”
Haru took me in his arms and I lay my head on his shoulder. The closeness cried for his comfort and I let the tears come.
“It’s okay,” he whispered, and his voice was soothing and resolute. I knew he was right. It would be okay. Maybe not right now, but soon. “We’ll find them,” he promised.
“What happened to the ones who attacked your house?”
“Most of them fled. Probably back to their master. There were a few casualties, but you already know that.”
“Yes,” I agreed, remembering the vampires in my room and their horrible fates.
“My uncles held their own. I knew they would.”
“I hope they weren’t the ones who brought me home and got me naked.”
I could feel his smile against my cheek. “No, that was me. Sorry, but I had to burn your clothes. They were covered in blood and stuff.”
I closed my eyes on the thought of exploding Jake and Blondie with fangs crunching through his skull. I shivered and Haru’s lips kissed my neck. It calmed my nerves and relaxed me to the point where he too could have bit and drank from me. But he didn’t. He just held me close and rocked me in his arms until it was time for school.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson.