Chapter 27: Angela & Rabid Arithmetic
As I dressed for school, Haru gave me the rest of the details of my father’s murder. After all, that’s what it was. Cold, calculated murder designed to send the message: Those who hunt vampires will die. They had strung up my father in his room, looped the rope up through the ceiling and wrapped it around the heating duct. According to Haru, they had also bit him in the neck and wrists in order to bleed him out, but they didn’t drink his blood. This made me think of my jigsaw man dream days ago with dad hanging on a cross in the school auditorium. In the vision, vampires had drunk from the students but wouldn’t touch his blood, as if it would leave a bad taste in their mouths. It was then I thought of Mom in a dead sleep having some of her blood sucked out by Jake.
“Where’s my mother?”
“She’s okay,” Haru replied. “Tomoko stitched her up. Told her she took a fall.”
“How do you pass off vampire bites as a fall?”
Haru grinned. “My uncle’s powers of persuasion are unmatched.”
He didn’t need to explain further. If Ryo could almost get into my head and make me do and feel things, then the older vampires probably had it honed to an art.
“She won’t become a vampire, will she?”
Haru raised an eyebrow, as if to say, what’s wrong with being a vampire, and then smiled. “No, she’ll still be human. They didn’t take enough blood from her. She might be physically weak for awhile, but it will pass. I can’t say the same for her attacker.”
I shuddered at the memory of Jake exploding when the vampire poison had passed to him through my mother’s blood.
“You should shudder for Ryo,” Haru said. “He’s the one who had to clean up the mess.”
“Not your fault, Nora. You’re not the one who sent them after you.”
“We don’t know yet. Finding the master of a vampire clan is not always easy.”
I looked at him. “Well, they found your uncle Tomoko easy enough.”
He smirked. “He’s not the master of our clan.”
I was surprised. “Can I ask who is?”
He hesitated a moment, as if weighing his options. “It’s best you don’t know. The name could be coaxed out of you by your father’s killers, and then we’d all be in jeopardy.”
I was disappointed he couldn’t trust me with this, but I understood. I sat on the edge of my bed and laced up my Chucks. I wondered what in the hell I was doing. I mean, dad had just been killed by vampires and I was getting ready to trudge off to school as if it were nothing. I wasn’t even sure if mother would let me out the door considering the circumstances. She wasn’t aware I had bad bloodsuckers after me, but despite that I needed time to mourn. Everyone who has ever lost someone knows it takes time before you can move beyond the death and carry on. Perhaps Haru had seen so much of it that it was just another day to him. Maybe death didn’t faze him or his kind for they had cheated it.
I tried to tell him how I was feeling. He seemed sympathetic to my feelings of loss, but he did take mild exception to how I perceived his family. “We didn’t cheat death. No one does. It catches up to us all one day.”
“Your vampirism doesn’t give you immortality?”
“It gives us the illusion of it. I will die someday, of this I’m sure. Perhaps it may be at the hands of enemies, or maybe even my own, but the truth is no one lives forever. Through our curse, death is held at bay, and we live longer than humanity should allow, but God will not be mocked. Our judgement will come eventually.”
I didn’t know what to say. I guess I assumed Haru, Ryo, and the others were eternal creatures. To know they would all die one day made me sadder than I had been before.
“Oh don’t fret for us, Nora. In this sense we are just like you and want to live life to the fullest.” He approached me on the bed and knelt in front of me. He took my hand in his. “I’d like to live mine with you , if you don’t mind.”
My breath caught in my throat. There’s a certain tone that overcomes his voice when he is talking of romantic things. I can’t explain it, but it sends a rush through me, a warmth that courses through my body, making me want his kisses more than anything.
“I want that, too,” I whispered. I closed my eyes and welcomed his gentle kiss. Going to school was forgotten. You see, time stands still for lovers, even if they are on the brink of their own destruction.
I did make it for the last day of school, but I was a little late. Time may stand still sometimes, but it speeds to catch up eventually. Because of that, I missed the bus. I probably could have gotten mom to take me, but Haru offered to give me a ride. I don’t think he was worried I would run into trouble on the way. I think he just thought it was the gentlemanly thing to do. He may have embraced a modern attitude about some things, but he still had this old world way of thought. I really liked that about him. It was a quality that no one else had, not even Ryo.
Haru kissed me when we pulled up in front of school and told me I didn’t really have to be here if I didn’t want to. We could just as easily go back home. He seemed to understand the dilemma of going to classes the morning after a parent had died.
“No,” I told him. “I need to do this. Dad wouldn’t want me to be sitting around and moping. He’d want to me to be preparing for the invasion he was talking about. We need to know if anything else happened last night and if any of the others involved in the attack show up for school.”
He smiled and nodded. “You always impress me, Nora. Your resilience and strength is to be commended.”
“I wouldn’t be strong without you,” I replied, getting out of the car. I walked around to the driver’s side and leaned inside his window. “A kiss for luck, please.”
He obliged me, his lips full upon my own. With Haru’s kisses I felt like I could face anything. But it made me wonder what he was going to face.
“What are you going to do today?” I asked.
“Ryo and I are going grocery shopping.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Grocery shopping?”
“Yes. It’s time to find that Bram guy your dad was talking about. It all started with that confrontation. If we can find him, maybe we can find the one behind your father’s killing and the attack on you.”
“Please be careful.”
“I will. Say hello to Angela for me.”
Angela. In all the madness of last night, I had forgotten about her. Last time we had spoke it hadn’t ended on good terms. I hadn’t wanted her to go see Ryo, but she had misunderstood my reasons. Even now though, I thought my reasons had been stupid. I wanted to protect her, but I should have stayed out of her attempts at a love life. Maybe I was jealous in a way. Maybe for once I had wanted to be the one to have a boyfriend, and for her to be the loner. I needed to stop being selfish and let her do exactly as she wanted. She’d find out Ryo was a vampire soon enough. How she handled that when the time comes would be up to her.
I smiled at Haru. “I’ll tell her hi, but I don’t know if she’ll show up today. She’s notorious for skipping.”
“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that.” He turned his head towards the school and nodded.
I followed his gaze and saw Angela come out the front doors to stand at the top of the stairs, as if she had been waiting for me to arrive. I gave Haru a quick kiss and walked around the car to start up the walk towards her. She came down the steps, a sympathetic look on her face. At first there were no words, just a hug followed by tears. I cried in her long blond hair, and she in turn wet the side of my cheek.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “Mom saw it on the news this morning.”
I didn’t know what to say. “Thank you,” was all I could come up with.
“I should have been there for you,” she continued.
I pulled away from her. “I should have been there for you, too,” I replied, wiping my tears with the back of my hand. “I was a jerk to you the other day. I’m sorry.”
“I was a bigger jerk,” she replied. “Forgive me?”
“No, you forgive me first,” she insisted.
“Uh-uh, you first.”
She grinned. “No way, bitch. Forgive me first.”
We both laughed at our playful argument and knew there was no forgiveness necessary. We’d always be besties. Nothing was going to change that, not even boys.
Entering school together, we both noticed something was off. I mean we knew it was the last day of school, and some of our peers and classmates would be trying to start summer break early, but there was now a large number of students that were absent. I knew the most likely reason for this, but I couldn’t confide in Angela about it, bestie or not. I had promised Haru I’d keep their secrets.
The first ones we noticed missing were the football team. Of course, I knew that at least some of them had been part of last night’s attack on Haru’s house, but today the whole team was absent, including the coach and his assistant.
“That’s weird,” Angela said, and at first I thought she was talking about the jocks, but she pointed down the hall to Mr. Sharp’s math class. A bunch of students were standing out in the hall talking in curious, worried tones, strange bewildered looks on their faces. A few of them, girls mostly, looked like they would hurl up their breakfast any moment. We hurried down the hall to see what was happening.
Maneuvering through the crowd in the doorway, I managed to get a look inside the room. Mr. Sharp sat behind his desk. On your average day he was a well dressed, perfectly groomed kind of man. Suit, tie, clean shaven, not a hair out of place. Young and good looking, he was popular with the female students. Today however, he was different. He looked rough. Clothes disheveled, hair a mess as if he had pulled clumps of it out, unshaven beard with what looked to be bits of food clumped in it. But perhaps it wasn’t food in the normal sense, for he sat there with a half eaten rat hanging out of his mouth, gnawing on it like a ravenous, rabies infested dog.
“Oh My God,” Angela whispered under her breath, coming up alongside me. “What the hell is wrong with him?”
“I don’t know,” I muttered in reply, but all I could think of was Renfield in Dracula. Had Mr. Sharp been turned into a vampire’s servant? Or was this the ugly process of turning into a bloodsucker? First rats, then humans?
As if he knew my thoughts, the math teacher looked up and made eye contact. His pupils clouded over and a slow grin began to spread across his face. “Nora,” he garbled, his voice sounding like he was drowning in water.
“Uh oh,” I said and backed out of the doorway, just as he leaped on top of his desk. With a big gulp, he swallowed the rest of the rat and jumped off the desktop, heading for me. Students screamed and bolted in every direction. He came out into the hallway, snarling and foaming at the mouth. Angela shoved me out of the way and snarled back at him, like you would a dog that had run out of its yard to chase you on your bike. He was distracted long enough for me to get my back pack off and swing it at him. Laden with books, it connected with his head. The force was enough to knock him off his feet. He nearly did a somersault on his way to the floor. Angela took several steps towards him, her short black skirt swirling about her legs. She put a well placed kick right in his groin, and while it may have slowed him down, he soon recovered and was getting to his feet again.
“Icarus,” he growled in a tone of contempt, pushing her to the side and launching himself towards me again. This time however, he was taken down by two teachers who had come running up the hallway. They tackled him and pinned him to the floor. He writhed and squirmed in their grasp, snapping his teeth at them. I figured it wouldn’t be long before he was up again and coming for me. The teachers were strong, but there was no holding a madman. He needed a sedative and I didn’t think the school nurse had anything like that. Still, she came running, along with our guidance counselor, Miss Thomas.
“What is going on here?!”
I turned to answer Miss Thomas, and the rabid math teacher broke free. Flinging the other teachers from him as if they were fifty pound weaklings, he was at me before I even knew it. He grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me. “Soon it will be your turn,” he snarled in a low voice only I could hear. “You will be the slave, groveling at the feet of my master.”
“Your master is a coward,” a voice said from behind him. Before anybody knew what was happening, the speaker wrapped their arms around Sharp’s head and squeezed. His eyes started to roll up in his head and he let me go. Chi tightened her grip, enfolding him within her arms so much you could barely see his face. You could almost hear the air escaping his body in a gasp for breath. Within seconds his body went limp and he collapsed in her arms. She eased him to the ground where he lay still and unconscious. Chi wiped her hands on her skin tight leather pants and with a toss of her long shimmering tresses said, “You’re getting to be high maintenance, Nora.”
Everyone in the hallway was stunned. Rendered mute, they all just stared at Chinatsu, until finally she shrugged and explained with a playful smirk, “I watch wrestling on the weekends.”
Miss Thomas regained her composure and began to take charge, telling the students to go on to their classes, now that the excitement was over. Then she approached us, her eyes taking in Chi in a suspicious manner.
“Thank you, young lady,” she said. “That was some quick thinking and a very brave thing to do. I don’t believe I have seen you here before. What’s your name?”
The Japanese vampire put on her most gracious smile without showing her fangs. “I just started last week. I’m Chinatsu, but my friends call me Chi. You can call me Chi, too.”
I didn’t know if she used some kind of vampiric hypnosis, but her response and tone seemed to take the suspicion right out of the guidance counselor.
“Oh well, thank you for your assistance in handling….” She looked at the unconscious Mr. Sharp, who was now being lifted from the ground by the two teachers, and didn’t know how to finish her sentence.
“No problem,” Chi replied. “It’s surprising what you pick up after eight hundred years of high school.”
I didn’t know if she was making a crack at the middle aged Miss Thomas or poking fun at her own experience as one of the undead, but either way, everyone couldn’t help but laugh. It was especially good for me having feared for my life just minutes ago.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2016, 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.