'Beautiful.'

That was the first coherent word that was translated from her senses to her muddled mind.

'Bright and beautiful.'

She had a vague inkling of something beyond all this, the pristine blueness above her.

There was grief, and there was darkness, endless darkness and then…hope.

She couldn't remember who or what but she'd known it from the sharp change it brought to her world for a while.

Then there came the hazy feel of fears for the unknowns. Not so much her fear, for some reason she had been beyond it,

no, this had been someone else's.

For her.

And pain so similar to what she had remembered suffering before she hardly noticed it and yet it was completely different.

Burning.

But not jagged.

Not the mind-numbing, ripping jaggedness.

Remembered…memories… 'Alice' her mind sputtered out. That was her memory, her identity…

Alice slowly, carefully sat up from the cold wet cement she was lying on and looked around. She was on a narrow, shadowed, damp little stretch of pavement surrounded by brick on three sides.

An alley then.

There was a faint stirring of unease with the realization of enclosure. But this was different.

Freedom was in reach.

Bright and sunny freedom just a few feet away.

The peace that transcended from the thought allowed her to assemble further.

'Alone' her mind whispered.

'No' said another part of her.

Not alone.

Someone had been there.

A little while before.

Someone who had cared…the hope.

Vague shadows of a face, so dear, so familiar, a guardian, softly spoken words that couldn't quiet hide the regret, the relief, the fear. "It'll be okay now Mary Alice…nothing can get to you now…you'll be fine…Alice… and then nothing but warm blackness that was nearly stifling"

But they had gone and the voices whispered that they would never return…

She wondered at the strange bubble of sorrow that took hold. She let it linger for a moment as if by chance it would pop and somehow everything would make sense. But then she pushed it back into the blank corner of her mind. Already the half sought memories were fading…fading into the darkness she failed to understand yet knew so well.

For the first time she started concentrating on the world beyond the little passageway of her surroundings and her mind. It was early, just past dawn, so there wasn't much human noise to speak of. Funny though how much louder what very little traffic there was seemed to be, how much further the call of birds seem to carry and echo and likewise be answered. Somehow this struck Alice as odd as she stood up and walked slowly but steadily to the alley's entrance where instinct halted her just at shadows edge. Like some disconcerted thought had finally gotten the nerve to tell her such precise hearing was not possible, not humanly possible…what had happened to her anyway? It was as if she had lived her entire life in a bubble that had inexplicably popped. Now her senses were being flooded like a balloon in a breeze. Tentivly, almost fearfully, she gave into impulse and stretched her delicate fingers to the light. She heard the half a second it took to utter the startled cry that came from her and when she looked around again she found herself pressed to the far wall. She had moved even before she realized it. But so quickly…? The alley had to have been 15 feet at the least; yet somehow it'd taken her less then a breath to dart the length of it. She looked down at her hands as if suddenly unsure if they really belonged to her. They looked normal. Pale and flexible, five fingers on each, ten in all and three knuckles per digit. She never had gotten much sun, not that she could remember not getting much sun, or anything at all for that matter, but then why else would the sun seem so new, freedom so dear and sweet. Gathering her resolve she walked again to the edge and reached out. Her skin glowed, glittering like crystal, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface.

And all that once that cease to matter.

A small breeze ruffled her ebony tresses bringing with it a world such as she had never known. In a split second she was no longer a lost and bewildered being piecing together a tiny space in the vast world.

She was a goddess.

Born to prowl the shadows.

Born to dominate.

To hunt.

That intoxicating scent that overrode all others.

Her stomach tightened, her mouth seemed overflowing and dry as sandpaper all at the same time.

Hollow.

She was hollow.

To be filled only with one thing, one need.

There.

Just a few blocks away.

Once again she was moving before conscious thought.

There was no thought.

No semblance of reason could chain the vast being that was now bound and irrevocably part of her.

He was her age, brown hair and brown eyes with a charcoal grey shirt and black slacks, tiered looking.

Irrelevant.

Prey.

He was so close to her.

So close to his end.

How blissful.

She would take him.

Take him under and tap the warm rich fountain that pulsed within him, ending that maddening scent…and suddenly, as if an eye had opened with in an eye in her mind, there was vision.

The boy in front of her. Stark terror in his eyes. Being held, pinned by the epitome of evil. A monster. A monster that looked like…no…NO! that COULDN'T be her! That WASN'T her!

All at once she looked down to the puddle at her feet and beheld the face that was herself, that was a monster. Eyes that burned with ruby fire, fangs pearl white and sickeningly sharp. All at once fear, sharp and cold rose in a tide that swept her body into trembling.

She couldn't, wouldn't let it happen. She ran. And gradually, bit by bit peace filled her. Filled the pattern of her steps. She ran as far, as fast as she possibly could. Half listening for her breath to turn ragged and her heart and blood to sing in her ears, to distract her. But there was nothing. She was flying; her muscles no longer bound to gravity. Her breath moved in and out from nothing more that the habit, the simple pleasure of inhaling the myriad of scents…her heart…so that too had passed from her…she slowed to a stop with the overwhelming loneliness; what was happening?

Alice pulled her knees to her chin and hid her face. An outcast, somehow, she knew, again. Loathing, rage and despair rose to choke her, even as she closed her eyes to somehow stop the flood. The vision blurred into focus, coming to her need.

Something that existed, but was not there. Soon to be there. Three people; a man, a woman and a boy. All beautiful, all honey blonde but for the latter. Their eyes were yellow, not the red hers had become. 'Animal blood' popped the thought. The color came from animal blood, not human blood. 'Find them' a voice commanded.

Help, understanding, all would be there. Alice cautiously began to climb the ladder at the rear of the ally she had finally stopped in. as clearly as if she were running again solace took over.

Animal blood it was then.

It was more than balking at the mere thought of taking human life. Alice knew somewhere in the back of her mind that first impressions were everything and her coming into the world needed to be something good for once. So that she could be herself and be happy with it, whatever her self was, she had a feeling she would find out soon.

So she could be accepted.

Accepted.

O how she desperately needed acceptance.

'Find them' the instinct said once more.

Yes, she would find them; she would do whatever it took.

But there was something else first…

reaching the roof top she let the warm breeze blow back her long hair, closed her eyes and let the sun soak into her iridescent skin…trusting her feelings. And the vision fluttered open again:

strong jaw, lean, tall frame and blonde hair her fingers itched to bury themselves in. from him emininated loathing, anger, despair, lonely, searching for a purpose.

"Huh", she thought, "De ja vu." Right now she would find him. She felt the others could wait. He needed her more…she would find him first. Alice grimaced as the wind blew again. Tendrils of black cascaded into her mouth and eyes. "Well maybe second," she amended, "after a hair cut."