A buzzing noise filled her sensitive ears. The alarm clock on the bed-side table showed the time to be seven in the morning. She rolled over, hoping to ignore it and fall back asleep, but the persistent buzz became too much. She grabbed one of the pillows beneath her head and threw at the clock. It fell of the stand and onto the floor with a crash. The buzzing noise continued. Sighing deeply, she pulled herself out of bed to turn off the alarm. ‘Why must I get up this early for school?’ she thought. ‘At least its Friday.’
After hopping into the shower quickly and dress in her staple black jeans and t-shirt, while reaching for the hairbrush, the rising sun caught her eye. The black sun was just above the horizon, a black balloon floating in a sea of blood. The zombies shambling along gave an added touch of surrealism, but Zephyair knew the zombies to be very real.
She lifted her hands to remove her glasses when she remembered she no longer had to wear them. She laughed quietly, turning to the mirror to brush her waist length, black hair. Her reflection stared back at her. Her dark red eyes stood out the most. Before August, she had been short and slightly plump, with brown eyes framed with glasses. She would never allow her hair to go past the nape of her neck, but here she was with waist length black hair, tall and thinner than she has ever been.
The changes that occurred to her and many others were still unexplained, but she didn’t mind. Never had she felt so good about herself. She smiled; small fangs peeked at the corners. To add to all the amazing changes, she was also a vampire, something she had only dreamed would happen.
She put down the brush and left the washroom, almost hitting her sister, Willow, with the door. Her sister was two years younger than her, making her thirteen. She glared up at her older sibling with the green eye that wasn’t covered by hair.
“Well, good morning Willow,” Zephyair said, slightly startled.
“Move...,” came the stingy reply.
“Sheesh! Who s**t in your corn flakes this morning?”
Willow rolled her eyes and pushed past her into the washroom. ‘Vampire, or not, I’m still kinda afraid of her...,’ she thought, whimpering to herself. ‘What older sibling is scared of the younger?!” She shook the thought away and walked over to the fridge where her breakfast awaited her.
She reached inside and grabbed the bag that contained her new favourite food, it also happened to be the only thing she could eat or drink. Blood: in O negative. The bag had been specially design so someone could open a hole and pour it into a glass or put a straw into it. Zephyair didn’t feel like getting a glass out of the cupboard on the other side of the room, so she went with the straw.
A single mouth full made her body sing with energy. She could almost feel life surging throughout her body, strengthening her muscles and replenishing her and lighting her blood on fire with raw power. To her it was near rapture, to her grandmother who had just entered the room, it was disgusting.
“How can you drink that?” she asked, eyeing the bag of blood. Being pulled from her moment in near nirvana annoyed her.
“Hey, at least it’s not yours,” she replied smugly.
“Zephyair!” Her grandmother was not happy with that comment.
She realized her mistake quickly and apologized, “Sorry....”
Her grandmother sighed and shook her head. “I’m getting tired of this, all these changes. I wish the sky was still blue and the sun was still yellow and bright. I wish the zombies never crawled out of their dirty, rotting graves. But most of all, I wish you hadn’t changed.”
“Well, I did change and I like the changes! I like being a vampire.”
“I know you do, and that’s what scares me. You used to read all sorts of vampire books and watch vampire movies and draw them. To tell you the truth, I was beginning to worry about you.”
Zephyair’s hands shook. She had known her grandmother had felt like that somewhat, but not so strongly. She gulped down the rest of the blood and threw away the bag. “I need to get ready for school,” she said, leaving her grandmother in the kitchen.
The next half hour was spent searching for rouge pencils and other supplies she would need for her classes at Shore Secondary School. Although it was the middle of October she had already be cought forgetting and misplacing things. Several rouge pencils and a bundle of blank papers were shoved into her back-pack before she headed out the door to wait for her bus.
Zephyair, Willow and their grandparents lived outside Shore City. Most people had moved into the city when the zombies and ghouls appeared, but their grandparents weren’t about to let a few zombies kick them out of their home. A few layers of chain link fence, a couple gates and several new shot guns had allowed them to stay put. She smiled to herself, remembering her grandfather reluctantly teaching her to use a gun, not that she really needed it.
She watched as her sister waited for her own bus which would take her to a school in the opposite direction of the city. It was smaller, thus easier to defend and she had already been attending it so there was no point in switching schools and its population had been steadily increasing over the past couple months.
The yellow bus pulled up, stopping just in front of the gate where Willow stood. She hastily ran from the fence to the safety of the bus. Zephyair rolled her eyes; Willow had forgotten to lock the gate back up in her rush to safety. She walked up to the gate and held it shut, ‘No point in locking it if I’m just going to go through it in a minute.’
Her bus came only a few minutes after Willow’s had disappeared down the road. She stepped through the gate, turned and locked it, then headed on to the bus. An empty seat was left just for her as usual. She sighed and took it. Pulling her head phones over her ears, she waited for her iPod to start. Staring out the window as the song began to think on how everything had changed so much in such a short period of time. So quickly had walls been put up around the city, concrete walls almost two feet thick and gates, limiting access to the city to two areas. They also checked everyone that entered it, bite checks, smell tests (dogs could smell if a person was infected) and other various means to tell if a person had been bitten.
Then her thoughts moved to how people reacted to her, as a vampire. Yes, everyone had known she loved them and that she’d love to be one, but no one expected it to happen. At first they thought Zephyair had gone for a full body cosmetic procedure and started using coloured contacts instead of wearing her usual glasses. Leif had seen to ruining that.
While sitting in the cafeteria at the high school, Zephyair had been sipping at her covered bottle of blood. Leif, forever the lover of tomato juice, grabbed it and drank a mouth full, which resulted in a spray of it across the table when he realized it wasn’t his favourite drink. The whole fiasco ended with half the cafeteria moving away and the truth being revealed. Zephyair had enjoyed annoying people with stories of her “plastic surgery” were she had woken mid-procedure to find needles in her face and knifes under her skin. It had scared and disturbed several girls and had a couple guys in awe, that is, before everyone found out it was a lie. Her friend Aya had congratulated her on her creativity though.
She shook her head, making the memory fade. She stared out the window and watched as a zombie shambled into the center of the road and smashed against the bus’s modified front. She heard above her music, the “ewws” and “cools” from her fellow passengers. After that, the ride was uneventful. The bus went to the south gate, waited for clearance, then headed for the school.
Shore Secondary School was the second largest building in Shore City, the first being the hockey rink. Out of the two, the school had the best view of the lake, which looked red with the reflection of the sky.
The bus stopped at the front of the school. Zephyair pulled off her skull decorated headphones and placed them around her neck. When she stood to get off the bus, everyone seemed to make room for her. She rolled her eyes in response, growing weary of the everyday routine. Jumping the steps, she walked to the front doors and into the foyer of the school.
Aya greeted her with a smile and hug. Several people shuddered at the thought of hugging a vampire. Zephyair’s friend stuck her tongue out, flipping them off at the same time. She studied her childhood friend. Aya and her family had moved into the city the moment a rumour of danger swept through the area. She missed seeing her friend whenever she wanted. Recently she had dyed her bangs a bright, lime green which clashed against the sapphire blue of her eyes. She was dressed in a visual kei inspired outfit, in shades of green and black to match her hair.
“You know you could just wait for me in the caf right?” she asked.
Aya pouted, “But then I’d have to be near Aven all alone!”
“What about Leif?”
“He doesn’t count. His relationship advice sucks.”
Zephyair rolled her eyes. “Just ask him out and get it over with...”
“But we’re friends! What if he doesn’t like me that way?! What if it ruins our friendship?!” she ranted. “I don’t want to ruin it!”
“You won’t ruin it. And you complain too much. Just do it already,” Zephyair replied, jabbing her finger in Aya’s direction. “Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to wrestle with my locker and eventually get my stuff in it.”
“You’re just gonna leave me here with my Aven problem?”
“Basically.” She had already started walking toward the hall where her locker sat.
“Wait for me!”
The first two classes went by smoothly, then came lunch for the grade nines and tens. As usual Zephyair and Aya met up with Aven and Leif. They found a hallway where they could eat lunch without any worries. They would have gone outside if it hadn’t started raining. Sitting on the floor, they began to discuss plans for the weekend.
“We should go to my place!” Aven chimed.
“What happened to your anti-vamp parents?” asked Leif.
Aven hung his head in response. “Forgot about that.”
“Its okay. We can still go to my house and play Guitar Hero until our fingers fall off.”
“My pinky is incapable of reaching the orange key,” Zephyair replied. “And how many siblings do you have?”
“Too many!” Aya cried. “My house again!” She flailed her arms above her head in triumph.
“What about Zeph’s?” Aven asked.
“I’m not allowed anywhere outside the walls unless my parents are there, even if it is to Zeph’s house,” Aya replied, stopping her arm flailing. “And I’m sure your parents wouldn’t be too pleased to hear you went to a vampire’s house for several hours.”
He sighed, defeated. Zephyair gave him a look of sympathy. His parents had him in a strangle hold. They disapproved of him evening being near her at school and had threatened to home school him. But they didn’t want to appear out right racist, so they kept him where he was.
They sat in silence, eating their lunch or staring out the window and the rain that had begun to fall. A storm was coming, a sign of the changing weather. Winter was on its chilly way.
‘Three classes left, ‘she told herself, ‘Just three more classes.’ With her vampire speed, she quickly copied the notes off the black board and made a second copy for Aya, who would most likely be unable to read her own writing twenty minutes later.
Science ended and math began. Zephyair’s head spun with the numbers. Math had never been her strong point and high school seemed to emulate that fact, keeping her marks at a steady mid sixty or low seventy. An hour of pencil fiddling, sighs and confusion passed and she escaped to art class, where things weren’t much better.
Her art teacher didn’t approve of anime styled drawings, calling them too cartoony and childish. She breathed heavily, blowing the air up in an annoyed gesture. At least art class was tolerable. But the moment the bell rang, she was gone. Her locker wasn’t far and she stopped there to drop off her binder and pencil case. Then she headed to the cafeteria, where she’d meet up with the others to wait for the buses, even though she was the only one who had to take one.
Flopping into a chair, she rested her head on the table. She sat up when a pair of feet rested themselves next to her face. Aven had sat down in the chair opposite her and proceeded to put his feet on the table, leaning back on the chair so it rested on the back two legs. Aya sat down next to him, smiling. Leif was nowhere in sight, which made them worry.
“Where could Leif be?” Aya wondered aloud. “Normally he would’ve beaten us here.”
“I’m more worried for the fact its raining out and he’s probably bored out of his mind.” Zephyair replied. “A bored Leif is a dangerous Leif.”
Aven nodded his agreement. “I remember what happened last time. Still have the scar on my "“
“DON’T GO THERE!” Zephyair and Aya cried in unison. “We know where he got you with that stick,” Aya finished in a giggle.
Aven rolled his eyes. “I think it still smells of burnt marshmallow.”
Zephyair was about to ask how he could possible know how his backside could smell of burnt marshmallow, when Leif seemed to appear from thin air.
Zephyair raised an eyebrow in his direction and laughed, “Speak of the devil. We were just talking about you.”
Leif smiled and shrugged, “Well, I am a hot topic nowadays.” The statement caused simultaneous eye rolling. Zephyair shook her head and wondered where his bloated ego had come from. “So, why were you guys talking about me? Something good I hope.”
“Oh, just wondering where you had disappeared to and what village you went to pillage out of sheer boredom,” Aven said, crossing his arms behind his head, “Which brought up the topic of last summer’s bonfire fun.”
He laughed. “Hey its not my fault my ADD remains undiagnosed.”
“More like ADHD.”
“Oh, not this again,” Zephyair complained, placing a hand over her face. Aya just giggled as she watched the bickering between Aven and Leif increase. Suddenly a reverberating thud sounded throughout the cafeteria.
Leif had a deadly pension for poking people at the worst possible times. Shoving his fingers into Aven’s gut, while he was sitting in an already dangerous pose, was the worst set up yet. He had lost his balance and fallen backwards hitting the table behind him with the back of his head. He sat up slowly, giving a pained groan.
Aya gasped and she moved quickly to his side to see if he was alright. He rubbed the back of his head and cringed. Pulling the hand away and bringing into sight showed that the skin had been broken and he was bleeding profusely from the back of the head. Leif had already started running to the office to get help as a couple teachers came into the cafeteria, having been alerted by another student. They helped him up and practically carried him from the room as quickly as they could, for good reason.
Zephyair gripped the table with both hands tightly. Her knuckles showed white beneath her fishnet gloves and her eyes widened. A shiver rippled through her as the scent of blood filled her senses. She could think of nothing but the sight and smell of Aven’s blood. Her mind seemed to pulse with the need to satisfy her thirst. Finally, she gained some self control, breaking free long enough to leave the cafeteria and go outside to clear her sense.
The rain, which had just stopped, filled the air with a strong, sweet smell and it quickly overpowered the smell of blood. Aya joined her outside. “Are you alright?” she asked, her worry evident.
“I am now,” Zephyair replied. Aya relaxed, slightly, as she mentally added, ‘I think.’
The buses were rolling up to their stops and Zephyair turned to Aya. “I’m gonna go now,” she said. “Get Aven to call me when he can.” She nodded her acknowledgment.
Zephyair quickly ran to her locker and grabbed her back pack. Within seconds she was on her bus, in the seat that was always left open to her and placing her headphones over her ears so as to ignore the newest piece of gossip. It didn’t a genius to know that it was about the accident with Aven and Leif, but more importantly left everyone wondering why she had left so quickly and more than a few people had drawn conclusions of their own. Most of which were right, but Zephyair would never admit to it, fearing panic and more hate towards her. She listened intently to the music, trying to keep from listening over it to the conversations in the background.
After a bus ride that seemed much longer than usual, she was home. Unlatching the gate, she noticed that a section of the chain link fence was sagging and bits of it were torn away. She wondered what could’ve done that. Jogging to the back door, she found it on swinging inward on one hinge and a putrid smell permeated the air. All of Zephyair’s sense where on alert as she cautiously entered her home. As the smell grew stronger, she slid her back off her shoulder and quietly placed it on the floor. Entering the living room, the smell of blood also became strong. It stirred the same feelings as earlier, but the heightened sense of danger kept it from taking over her mind.
On the floor, her grandmother lay, facedown, in a pool of her own blood. Zephyair looked away, a hand at her mouth, stifling a sob. She closed her eyes and forced herself to look again and check for a pulse. She couldn’t bear to lose her grandmother. Her parents were killed in a car accident when she was five and her grandma was the only one who would take Zephyair and Willow, not even their uncle would.
No pulse. A growl caused her to look up sharply. Across the room from her, not ten feet away, stood the cause of her death. A ghoul, that once must have been a beautiful black wolf, was now dirty, matted and rotting and standing in her living room, staring her in the face. Zephyair let out a low hiss, something she didn’t know she could do. It stepped forward as a blood curdling scream pierced the air. Willow had stopped in her tracks at the entrance to the living room, her eyes wide in terror and her face pale in horror. She turned and ran, grabbing the phone; she had enough sense so as to call someone.
The ghoul moved quickly, to give chase, but was caught by the tail by Zephyair and stopped. It turned its head around to growl loudly at her. She gave it a growl in reply as she yanked hard on the thing’s tail, ripping it off. She sneered, feeling more animal than human suddenly. The ghoul spun around completely, snapping its jaws just inched away from her face. She grabbed its jaws as it attempted to bite her arm. With strength she had only she had, she tore broke its lower jaw, dislocating it from the beast’s skull. It yelped, or tried to. She grabbed its head on either side and twisted it around three hundred and sixty degrees. It slumped to the floor, completely dead.
As Zephyair’s frenzy ended, she glanced down at her hands. They were covered in the ghoul’s blood and shook furiously, her whole body shook, with something that was a mixture of pure adrenaline, excitement and pure terror of what she had just done. She stumbled out of the living room and into the kitchen. It took several tries for her shaky hands to grasp and turn the taps at the sink. The water ran red as it washed away the blood as she scrubbed her hands until they were raw.
Sirens sounded from outside the house and red and blue lights flashed through the windows. Zephyair could only guess that Willow had called the police. Hands grabbed her shoulders roughly and led her out the door to a waiting paramedic. They obviously didn’t have any experience with vampires in shock. Unbidden tears streaked her cheeks. When the paramedic, a woman probably in her early thirties, noticed the blood that clung to Zephyair’s gloves, she called for an officer to take a look.
The officer strolled over at a leisurely pace, as if nothing were wrong. He had given her enough time to shake herself from her shell shocked state and become ever so aware of the happenings around her. The officer was a short, fat man with a balding head and a sandy coloured moustache. He scowled slightly when he noticed her red eyes and recognized her for being a vampire, then looked down at her hands to notice the blood that refused to wash away in the sink.
“So,” he started a gruffness to his voice, “Explain to me what happened here.” She could tell from his voice he had already drawn his own conclusions.
“Well, I had just gotten off the bus from school and went to go in the house, when I got the sense that something was wrong,” she replied, as calmly as she could manage. “I could smell that there was something in the house that wasn’t right.” The police officer raised an eyebrow, but stayed quiet. She continued. “I walked into the living room, because that’s where the smell was stronger. I saw my grandmother dead on the floor.” She paused and wiped a few tears that threatened to fall. “Then the ghoul growled. I hadn’t seen it when I entered the room. Then Willow came in and screamed. She turned and ran and the ghoul went to chase her. I stopped it by grabbing it’s tail. I’m sure you can figure out what happened next.”
The man nodded, the corners of his moustache bounced. “You tore the damn thing apart.” She cringed at how blatantly he said the statement. “Just to be sure I’m going to have to get a sample of blood from your hands. If you’d just take off your gloves, the blood that soaked into them should be sufficient for the CSIs.” Zephyair didn’t care; she took them off and handed them to the officer. He nodded than left her sitting in the back of the ambulance.
It wasn’t long before their grandfather drove into the yard. He ushered Zephyair and Willow into the pickup truck as soon as he could and drove away. There was no way any of them were staying that house that night.
Several hours later, night fell and the moon rose to find Zephyair standing alone on the balcony to the hotel room her grandfather had rented for the night, or how ever many nights as they would stay. Down below, the streets were still busy with people heading home from work, or going to work the graveyard shift. She looked up, away from the hustle and bustle, to the sky were things looked peaceful.
The night sky was one of the few things that had remained the same. The sky was still black with tiny pinpricks of light and then the moon which remained its usual shining silver. It was full this night, casting a strong illumination on the tops of buildings and lighting the outskirts of the city, which she could see dimly with her newly discovered low light vision. Zephyair turned and went back into the hotel room as the wind picked up and sent chills through her already cooler than average body. Winter was coming and fast.
Inside the small room, two bed room, her sister sprawled herself over one bed while her grandfather slept fitfully on the small couch. She couldn’t sleep, not after the day’s events. She may not dream, but that’s what she hated about sleep. She had always believed that dreams contained messages and could sometimes subconsciously answer life’s little questions. She had made it a habit to attempt to interpret her dreams to find their secret meanings. But, she no longer dreamed and thus saw no point to sleep besides a way to pass time without having to drudge through it in boredom.
She sighed and sat on the edge of her bed, kicking off her shoes. She looked around the room, rubbed her face, and then resigned to sleep. Lying in the center of the bed on her back, she clasped her hands over her stomach and closed her eyes. She waited for the darkness of sleep to take her.
Zephyair came to consciousness slowly. It started with whispering voices, than grew to accumulate the sound hum of the refrigerator and a sharp knock on the door. She opened her eyes and was blinded by the lights above her. She blinked several times to drive away the light spots. Sitting up, she saw that the hotel had sent up a complimentary fruit tray, more than likely they had heard what had happened and sent it to show condolences. Willow picked at it, dipping the strawberries in the marshmallow dip.
Her grandfather was on the other side of the room talking on the phone in a hushed tone. He was talking too, an officer, a mortician, or a funeral home operator. Whoever it was, it was defiantly about her grandmother’s death and no matter how secretive he was about it, she knew.
Her stomach growled. She glanced down at it and gave a half hearted glare. Getting up from the bed she went to the washroom. After spending several minutes in search of a brush, she gave up and raked her finger through it. Her stomach gave another roar. She frowned, knowing it wasn’t the best decision to ignore it. She wandered over to the fridge to see if, by chance, there was something for her in it because she could no longer digest normal foods. To her luck, someone had bought tomato juice. For some reason it was the only that could fool her stomach into thinking it was blood, but she certainly couldn’t survive off it. She took a bottle of the horrible smelling stuff and sat next to the window the overlooked Shore Lake.
From where she was, she couldn’t see the city, it was all behind her. She couldn’t stand the city for too long. School was enough. The city smelled of garbage, gasoline, smoke and exhaust, which bothered her nose and made her feel almost sick if she was in it for too long. She also found it very noisy. Car, trucks, transports, the constant rumble of the city itself bothered her ears. She’d never mention to it to anyone though. She also found the city to be a labyrinth of streets and alleys. Luckily, she stayed close to specific routes to get from the school to the city’s library and several stores on the main street.
The sound of a throat clearing brought her attention to her grandfather. “They’re nearly finished cleaning up the place,” he said, referring to the industrial cleaners who started working the moment the crime investigators left. “We’ll be able to go back by tomorrow.”
Willow whined. “I don’t want to go back. I don’t ever want to go back there.”
“Don’t worry,” he replied, “I’m searching for a place to live here in the city.”
That caused Zephyair to complain. “I don’t like the city.”
“I know. You never really have, but you’re just going to have to deal with it.”
Two days passed since the accident. The old house had been sold and a new one bought within the boundaries of Shore City. It was smaller and better suited to a smaller family. The old furniture had been packed up and moved or sold to buy new ones. But this house would never end up a home.
Tuesday arrived to find the two sisters walking to school, not waiting for a bus as usual. Besides a few condolences from teacher and other students, nothing had changed, not that Zephyair had really expected any. She was getting sick of receiving them actually. Two days of sympathies, a funeral the day before and she was getting really tired of the whole thing in general.
Aven accompanied her home that night. She asked,” Since I missed yesterday, you wanna help me with that math that I couldn’t get done...and can’t understand?”
“It’s really easy! I can’t believe you don’t get it?!” he relied surprised.
She sighed, “You obviously haven’t seen my atrocious math skills than. I’ve been failing the course since the beginning of the semester.”
His eyes bugled. “You’ve got to be kidding me right? But you’re in the middle stream right? Collage level? How can you be failing that?”
“One word: Fractions,” she replied in a very serious tone. And she was very serious, fractions made absolutely no sense to her, at least when there is more than one in an equation with a whole bunch of other numbers. “I only live a block away now, so it shouldn’t be that much of a problem.”
He nodded. “Okay. I have nothing better to do.” She smiled her thanks and left for home.
Half an hour later, Aven finally managed to sneak away from his overprotective parents and walk the block to Zephyair’s new place. Zephyair ran to beat Willow to the door, attempting to save Aven from an awkward conversation, but of course she squeezed in a few words anyways. “Oooooo...Zephyair, has a boyfriend,” she said in a sing song voice.
The older sister rolled her eyes. “He’s just a friend and he’s just helping with homework.”
“Helping you with chemistry?!” she laughed.
“Ew, no. How ‘bout you just go back to watching whatever stupid show you happen to be watching.” While walking past her, Zephyair pushed her into the living room, but Willow wasn’t that wasn’t that easily defeated and gave her a kick in the shin, which was barely felt.
Zephyair reached behind her and grabbed Aven’s hand. He had stopped just inside the entrance to watch the two sisters fight. She lead him downstairs too her basement bedroom, where he promptly asked, “Ew? I’m not gross, or anything, am I?”
She laughed, “No, but I needed to say something. Now, can we get this stupid math over and done with.”
He nodded while laughing. “Of course.”
Again and again, he explained it too her. Finally after an hour or so had passed she began to properly understand it. She would’ve been able to understand it even better if there had been more time, but Aven’s parents finally caught on that he had left. With enough practice sneaking out of the house, Aven should’ve learned to leave his cell phone at home, but he brought it with him and answered it the moment it rang with his very annoying ringtone. After a scolding and much held back laughter and mocking, he left for home.