Selina hissed quietly as she glanced through the second story window. She floated in midair, her legs tucked neatly under herself as she bobbed gently in the evening's chilly air. Her normally vibrant blue eyes were now darkened into a shade of maroon, outlining her pale face, which was now twisted into a horrible snarl.
From through the window, she had the perfect view of Gregg's living room and of the new girl lounged on the crimson leather couch. She was a rather pretty girl, with neck-length, wavy brown hair that shimmered in the nearby lamp's light. Her warm, peach-coloured skin only proved to enhance the freckles spotted across her dainty nose, which led up to her soft green eyes that studied the room set before her. Selina hissed once more, suddenly hating this girl she had never seen before; this Rebekkah, Gregg's lover. The nightwalker's pointed ears twitched slightly. From her position, Selina could hear everything happening in the room.
"I hope you don't mind earl gray," said Gregg from beyond the corner, obviously in the kitchen, "I've run out of chai."
"Oh, it's no problem," Rebekkah replied in a sort of Eastern European accent Selina was unfamiliar with, "I always like the tea you make, no matter what type."
From outside, Selina gagged comically, if only to entertain herself.
Gregg laughed warm-heartedly from the kitchen.
"You always know how to make me feel appreciated."
"Well," Rebekkah smiled, biting her knuckle and stifling a giggle, "I've honestly been kicking myself for not noticing how great you were earlier."
There was an awkward silence from the other room as Gregg attempted to recover from Rebekkah's sudden comment. He coughed and shuffled around a bit.
"W-what do you mean?" he asked, trying to cover up his growing anxiety at the situation.
"Well, up until this summer, I had not realized how great you were," Rebekkah said, her voice gently lifting and falling, as if she were singing, "The feelings justcame out of nowhere. One day I got bored, and I started looking around your Facebook postings."
"Oh?" answered Gregg nervously, poking his head around the corner at his lovely guest who gave a small wave at him.
"Yeah, and I hate to sound like a stalker, but you were really adorable. In your dorky way, you know?"
Gregg sighed briefly, nodding his head to himself. In an instant, he was back in the kitchen, attempting to make the water on the stove boil over by sheer willpower alone.
"Adorkable, I call it," Rebekkah laughed aloud, much to Gregg's chagrin. "But I really have to kick myself. Why hadn't I seen how wonderful you were before?"
In the kitchen, Gregg shook his head, suddenly very ashamed of himself. Selina's words bounced around in his head. Immoral. Brainwashing. His temples began to throb in pain, and he doubled over onto the counter, rubbing his index finger and thumb into his eyes to soothe the pain. Selina was right. It was immensely wrong, but with nothing left to lose, Gregg had made the best decision for himself. The only problem, he thought, is that he had done just that: thought only of himself.
Pulling his fingers from his eyes, Gregg glanced out the window above the sink. The sun had set nearly an hour prior, and the moon was letting off a beautiful glow that illuminated the entire backyard. There was a sort of comfort in the moment, holding off the bitter dread of epiphany. But Gregg had to come to his senses. He sighed.
That night, Ganton slept. But unbeknownst to many, there were still a few souls left awake in the wee hours of the morning. Events were unfolding right under the noses of the unconscious suburbanite. Beyond the cover of normalcy lived a world unknown.
Deep in the woods behind the very house a disaffected youth had stared out of mere hours earlier, a lone figure trekked through the brush, pushing aside the still-green leaves of vegetation. From his hip, a dirty leather holster bounced in time with his steps, the shiny silver revolver clanging in equal rhythm. A grease-spattered hand reached down near the holster, digging into the figure's filthy jeans pocket, retrieving a chrome Zippo lighter. With a flick of the wrist, the man lit the menthol cigarette between his cracked lips.
Coming to a clearing, the man beheld a sight not unfamiliar to him: a series of bodies littering the leaf-covered ground, unmoving. Between the three or four lumps of what had once been human flesh stood another figure, bent over at an unnatural angle. Suddenly, the form lurched, returning to a more natural stance. A few cracks broke the midnight silence, and the man with the cigarette smirked.
"I thought you'd be sending someone better than some stupid kiddy gangbangers," said the figure standing amongst the bodies. He stepped forward into the light of the full moon, illuminating his mouth, which was covered in crimson. The figure smirked, revealing his equally bloodstained teeth, sharp as knives.
"Not much to offer in a sh*tty town like this," replied the gun-toting man, taking a huge puff on his cigarette. "It's not like anyone will miss em anyway. Those kids were trash. No families, no friends."
"Still pathetic on your part," snarled the bloodstained figure. "I don't like unnecessary deaths, Solomon."
"Don't worry," replied Solomon, the man with the cigarette. "You won't need to after we're done here."
He slowly reached down to his beltline and withdrew the silver revolver. Raising his arm for a proper aim, Solomon pulled back the hammer and stared down the sights, aimed right at the figure's head.
"You were a b*tch to track down, Will," added Solomon, sneering ruefully. "Your kind always is."
"My kind. Yeah," Will muttered, picking a piece of viscus from between his teeth. "Tell me, SolAfter me, how much you got left?"
"Just one more and he'll let me go," Solomon answered, a look of pure determination spreading across his rat-like face. "Five kids from the town. Real rock band style soul selling. I take out at least three of them, and I'm free to go."
"Won't matter anyway," Will grumbled, "you'll never get allowed in."
Solomon's eyes narrowed; his rage was building. All according to plan. Will smirked, knowing Solomon was about to make a false move. He had seen the gun-toting fool make many a wrong move before. He was a flincher, and Will knew it. Just as Solomon pulled the trigger, Will leapt into action. The bullet moved just off-target, ripping through will's bulky shoulder instead of his skull. A splatter of blood fell onto the leaves behind him.
But the pain was unnoticeable. Will's bloodrage had already been triggered. He moved with impossible speed, rushing just past Solomon. With one hand, Will managed to swipe the silver gun right out of Solomon's grasp. The dirty man gasped, but Will was already gone, trotting away from the clearing on all fours, galloping like an animal, the silver gun in his left hand.
Left dumbstruck, the ratlike Solomon let his arm fall back to his side. His now empty holster stood still, a feeling of loss adorning its leathery curves.
Bobby stared down at the medical bill before him, sighing softly to himself. Opposite him, Stephen understood his pain. Quite a bit of an expense when you have no insurance. But it didn't really concern himself with such things. He had his own solution. Without a word, Stephen dug through the pockets of Bobby's jeans, which had been discarded in the ugly blue chair top the right of Bobby's hospital bed. Withdrawing the wallet, Stephen silently tossed it to Bobby, who immediately opened it.
"Shouldn't be too much of an issue," said Bobby, pulling a wad of one hundred dollar bills from the leather confines of the wallet. Closing it, he smiled sadly to himself, and then reopened it to find several brand new hundred dollar bills in the place of the missing ones. "Beautiful."
"Do hospitals allow you to pay in cash anymore?" asked Stephen with a laugh, eyeing the money in Bobby's hands.
"Do they accept blood money?" Bobby corrected, flipping through the pile of hundreds. His soul had certainly gone to good use.
"You know what I never understood?" asked Stephen, helping Bobby into the nearby wheelchair. Bobby didn't really need it, as his legs were relatively unaffected by Todd Langley's attack, but the wheelchair's use was at the insistence of the hospital staff, much to Bobby's chagrin.
"What's that?" Bobby asked, closing and opening his wallet once more. A new stack of fresh hundreds flopped out lazily onto his lap.
"Why'd you go for infinite wealth when your foster fam-fam's loaded?"
There was an awkward pause as Bobby began wheeling himself out of his room and into the hallway, with Stephen hot on his trails. For a moment, the two traveled in silence, each too confused to actually speak up. Finally, upon reaching the elevator, Bobby pressed the button and turned his head to Stephen.
"You know, money doesn't buy happiness," he said as the doors slid open. The two quickly stepped and wheeled in, with no one following them. An empty elevator was a rare occurrence in Ganton's local hospital, so Stephen took advantage of the moment, facing Bobby with crossed arms.
"So what's your opinion on this Selina girl?" asked Stephen, his face tinged with worry. There was a particular V-shaped line that appeared on Stephen's forehead whenever he was worried, stemming from an incident in his childhood when he ran face-first into the sharp corner of his father's desk, leaving the infamous scar/worry line.
"She seems nice enough," answered Bobby, keeping his eyes forward to avoid confrontation.
"Nice enough?" laughed Stephen. "That's a vague answer."
"You ask a vague question, you'll get a vague answer."
Bobby furrowed his brow, but kept looking straight ahead at the closed elevator doors. The two soon felt the odd shift in momentum as the elevator plummeted downward, somewhat shaky in its descent. Stephen grumbled, looking over at the control panel, which had begun shaking in coordination with the elevator. It didn't take long for Bobby and Stephen to realize something was wrong. Feeling the ground approaching fast, Stephen took the only action he knew could help in this situation. With the floor shaking beneath him, he quickly jabbed the emergency stop button. At once, a horrible shrieking sounds emerged as the emergency brakes skidded the elevator to a stop. Bobby, having fallen out of his chair, quickly leapt to his feet and joined Stephen as the two pried open the elevator doors, only to find themselves facing three-quarters of an opening to the first floor. Desperately, Stephen crawled under the awning of the top of the elevator door and out into the hospital lobby, followed closely by a seething Bobby, who immediately grasped at his still-open rib wounds upon hitting solid ground. But just as their collective breaths subsided, there came the sudden crash of the heavy elevator cord smashing through the roof of the elevator where the duo had been standing mere seconds earlier. Recovering his composure, Stephen took a step forward to survey the scene. The elevator cord appeared frayed, as if it had been very crudely cut with a very sharp instrument. He held his breath.
Bobby, shocked by the moment, suddenly noticed Stephen's terrified gaze, and followed the boy's eyes to his own wrist, to discover his numbered tattoo gently leaking blood all over the floor of the tiled lobby.
"They found us," Stephen muttered in horror. "Oh, god"
"Thanks for letting me stay here tonight, Coop." sighed Selina's lilting voice in the tiny room. She had made herself at home on Cooper's ugly pull-out sofa, which creaked oddly with each move she made in her efforts to be comfortable.
"It's no problem," Cooper replied, glancing over his shoulder at his nightwalker houseguest. "You're a strange one, you know?"
"Really?" Selina asked, pushing herself up on her elbows to observe Cooper, much like a teenage girl might do. Cooper was a boy of average height, albeit with a notable muscle tone throughout his upper and middle body. He was by no means a body-builder, but he certainly took very good care of himself. His wardrobe often included sleeveless shirts; not because he was a show off, but merely because it helped with his constant perspiration issue. And indeed, Selina had to note something about Cooper: as much as he exhibited a sexy Nordic warrior vibe, he smelled the part, too. It was the mixture of animal, sweat, and dirt. But she didn't mind. He was cute enough to pass by with his sharp blue eyes and buzzed short blonde hair.
"Yeah," Cooper replied, watching as his brown and black cat curled its way around his legs before leaping effortlessly onto the windowsill of the guest room, where it began to meow mercilessly, knowing Cooper would give in soon. Cooper obliged, opening the window.
"Stay out of trouble, Toki," ordered Cooper as the cat disappeared into the inky dark of the night.
Turning back to Selina, Cooper took a seat on the edge of the sofa bed and stretched a bit before continuing his earlier thought.
"Yeah, you're a strange nightwalker. You sleep all night and hang out all day. Not the norm, I think."
"Not exactly, no," Selina admitted, blushing slightly. "What's your point?"
"Nothin'," Cooper laughed, standing once more. "Just curious as to why."
"I guess I never grew up. I was bitten at nineteen, and I guess a thousand years can't change who you are at that age. You knowdreamy, dramatic, horny, rebellious"
"I hear ya," replied Cooper, walking for the door.
"Where's your dad?" asked Selina, just prior to Cooper reaching the room's entrance.
"Hunting trip," Cooper said curtly, looking back at her, his vibrant blue eyes lighting up the room. "Won't be back all weekend."
"Cool," Selina added, falling back into a sleeping position. "Thanks for letting me stay here. Damn Gregg said his skanky Russian-type lie of a lover would be staying over."
"Essentially kicked you out for the night?"
"Yup," Selina sighed, rolling over under the covers. "It's just frustrating. It used to be my house. MY HOUSE!"
"I wouldn't worry too much about it," Cooper assured his nightwalker guest. "Hey, Selina?"
"Yeah?" came Selina's sad reply.
"I know not everyone fully trusts you, but I wanted to let you knowI do."
"You're being selfless helping us like this," Cooper said calmly, leaning on the doorframe. "You don't need to, so why are you?"
"I want to," Selina replied with a slight upward inflection, "you guys deserve to live."
"That's awful charitable of you," Cooper commented.
`"I just want to prevent bad things from happening. My nightwalking was a tragedy. I like to avoid those nowadays."
"thanks, Selina." Cooper said quietly, turning away from the door. "Goodnight."
And with one word, the entire room's light disappeared. Cooper's voice erupted from the ether.
"Nox," he said, and the lamp next to Selina's sofa bed went out, as if by magic.
"Good night, Coop."
"Damn it!" Will swore under his breath, glancing down at the little window that led to the basement apartment he knew so well. Nonchalantly, he gave it a little kick, and when there came no answer, he gave another, albeit this time much more powerful. There was the sound of rustling inside, and then there appeared the face he was hoping to see.
The girl's face was agape, staring at the dark blood seeping out from between Will's fingers, which were clenched around the gunshot wound he had received less than ten minutes prior. The girl's face disappeared from the window for a moment, but the ensuing click informed Will that she was letting him in. The basement window slid upward, and Will wasted no time in sliding into the dark room.
The girl, hair pale as wheat, began scouring her room for what Will knew would be necessary supplies.
"Will," the girl said plainly, her lilting semi-Irish brogue dancing through the dark air. "I thought I wouldn't have to see you again."
"Yeah, me neither," came Will's gruff reply, his voice sounding as though Johnny Cash's vocal cords had deteriorated. "But let's say something came up."
The blood seeping between his fingers had slowed, but something else had begun to bother him. There was a spreading feeling of weakness throughout his body, numbing his extremities. He already knew what it was, but didn't want to say it. Wordlessly, he joined the pale girl at her nearby workdesk, which she quickly illuminated with a desk lamp. With his good arm, Will dropped Solomon's pilfered revolver onto the desk, and the girl gasped.
"Tell me you didn't," she begged, holding one hand to her mouth.
"He's back in town," replied Will curtly, rolling up his gray sleeve to reveal the gunshot wound. The girl quickly opened up the revolver and removed the single shell casing still lodged inside. For a moment, she studied it under her the magnifying glass hanging over the desk. The girl sighed and pulled Will's arm down onto her work station. A few drops of blood seeped down onto the white of the desk, but the girl remained undeterred. She reached under the desk, returning with two small vials and a needle and thread of catgut.
"Ouch!" Will growled, squirming slightly. "I doubt your mother was this rough."
"My mother died a long time ago, Will," the girl replied cold-heartedly. "I wouldn't know much of her procedures."
"What're you doing," asked Will, looking over the girl's work.
"I haven't really had to deal with silver poisoning before," she replied meekly, pulling the lids off the two vials she had retrieved from under her desk. "I know you don't like it, but some nightwalker blood, combined with a transmutated wolfsbane that resulted in limane should prevent any further spreading. You'll feel a slight sting."
Will winced as the girl allowed a few drops of her concoction to fall into the bullet wound. At once, the silver shards left in the wound were illuminated. Pulling her hanging magnifying glass closer, the girl pulled a set of tweezers from the bottom of the left-hand drawer of the desk. She immediately took to digging out the bits of silver.
"Ouch, Christ!" cried Will, followed by a calming feeling. "Nice feeling when the silver gets out."
"Enough chit chat," the girl ordered, not taking her eyes off her work. "Who got you?"
"Solomon." Will replied simply, gritting his sharp teeth. "I was on his list."
"Poor fool thinks Mephisto will let him off the hook if he kills a few key people."
"Only problem," Will laughed, "despite my escape, Sol's got himself a contract right here in town."
The girl paused for a moment, as if listening intensely. Her seafoam eyes grew wider as he worked on tearing out the shards of silver remaining. "Oh yeah?" she asked, intrigued, "who?"
"Five kids in town," Will continued, biting his own tongue for fun, "some freaks in a band, I think he said."
The girl paused, tweezers still buried in Will's arm. She calmly pushed the magnifying glass away and removed the tweezers from Will's arm. "Loveless?"
"If that's what they're called, yeah," Will replied in monotone. The girl's demeanor changed at once, and her deep blue eyes turned to glance into Will's yellowed, sick-looking ones. Her pale face was illuminated in the dull light of the desk lamp, and Will could see genuine worry on her face.
"Gregg Collins, Bobby McEyre, Benjamin Cooper, Alex Borsten, and Stephen Meyer."
"You know em?" asked Will with a slight snicker.
"You could say," the girl replied, getting back to work. She moved deftly with the needle and catgut, quickly sealing up Will's horrible wound. At once, Will felt the weakness he had felt moments before lift from his muscles. He flexed in the darkness, feeling his strength returning.
"Wonderful," Will snarled happily. "How can I repay you?"
"There's one thing," the girl said, standing up from her work station and moving to the window Will had entered through. "I need your protection services."
"Alright, sounds easy enough," Will laughed, following her to the window. "Hope I was quiet enough not to wake your auntie."
"You were fine," the girl whispered, looking a bit sad. But her sadness was immediately replaced with determination.
"What were you doing in Ganton, anyway?" asked the girl, to which Will shrugged. "Can't go back to Michigan. Too many hunters. Ganton seemed like a nice change of scenery. Maybe I'll check into the high school. Assimilate a little."
"I recommend it," said the girl, a sly smile spreading across her face. "I want you to repay me by protecting those band kids."
"Are you kidding?" asked Will, shrugging angrily. "From what?"
"There's a storm coming, Will. My mom's pendulum's have been moving. That haven't done that since"
"since Bael." The girl finished. "They need your help. I know something bad's going to happen soon. I want you to promise me you'll look after them. Especially Stephen."
"Sh*t," Will cried, his eyes now crazed. "Where can I even find them?"
"They have shows every Friday at the Garden in Harmony Hill. I recommend you start there."
"Fine by me," Will muttered, slipping up and out of the basement window onto the dewy grass above. But before departing, he stuck his long face back in, and stared the girl in the eyes.
"Keep yourself safe, Victoria."