AN: I apologise for the sheer length of time I've kept you waiting for this. I've struggled with it though I won't lie and say I am not one to procrastinate, I really am. Well, without delaying this further, here you are: this is the second chapter which is completely different to the original one I had planned over a year ago. Enjoy x
I also dedicate this chapter to my Honna Bonana who I hope will continue smiling :)
Two hundred years. Gone.
Two hundred years. And I'm still here.
I took an unnecessary deep breath and picked up a stone by my foot, relishing the coolness that greeted my palm. My thumb caressed it as I allowed my mind to continue drifting in my memories, to wallow in self-pity and to cry out for something – anything – to alleviate the echoing loneliness of my existence. The lake before me was calming, beautiful and serene yet even this added to the sadness in my still human heart. The lake was lonely too; it reflected the dying sun, the darkening sky and the trees and pebbles which lined its borders. It was as if the water missed being in the clouds, being so high above everything and so in its mourning of a life it once had; it reflected the scene and created its own mirror world, still beautiful but not quite the same.
That was me. I was like the lake. I was still me but not quite the same.
I tossed the stone and it skipped along the surface of the lake all the way to the other side where it landed with a loud thud, embedded in the bark of a tree. I finally exhaled the breath I had held in a long sigh, wondering if I should attempt to drown myself in the lake. I'd tried it before many years ago, not long after I had first tasted human blood. I won't lie, it was delicious. Nothing sweeter would ever touch my lips. But I had taken a life to for selfish reasons and I still felt guilty for giving in to my darker nature. I sought to kill myself like my town had tried to kill me but I couldn't find anything that worked and I am ashamed to admit that I couldn't plunge a stake into my own heart.
It's been over one hundred and fifty years since I last sought out a human for sustenance, I made a vow that I would never taste it again. I yearned for it yes; I actually sort of missed what it could give me that animal blood could not. But I would not allow myself to fall into that pit of darkness again, to feel the consciousness of my victim running through my veins. I had passed that phase. That's all it would ever be; a phase.
I pulled my eyes from the depths of the lake and began scanning my surroundings, all my senses on high alert. I strained my ears and heard the dull heartbeat; I caught a hint of fear echoing in its chambers. I could sense it's excitement on the air. A branch snapped and leaves rustled. That sound came from another direction. Another heartbeat. This one was more erratic with its excitement.
Lillian. There are more coming.
The voice was right; heartbeats were streaming in from all directions. Four. Five. Seven. Twelve. I heard the sounds of vehicles, throbbing engines. There was fear among the ranks yes, but they all had one thing in common; a determination. I was being hunted.
The voice echoed in my ears though it never made a sound. My legs burst into action and I fled the clearing. They'd seen me and they too began running, their feet making much larger sounds than mine. Their vehicles roared as they accelerated. The chase had begun.
I dived to the left the instant I heard the voice, a long stake missed me by inches and I rolled along the ground before propelling myself easily to my feet and continuing my run. I was much faster than mere humans but I hadn't fed in days, my strength was weaning; I wouldn't keep this pace up much longer.
This time I had heard the sound of the weapon as the voice alerted me; again, I dropped to the ground as a second stake flew past me. I knew the weapon well; it had been used against me before. It was basically a 'stake-gun'; gas-propelled and could shoot stakes at over seventy miles an hour. More stakes were shot at me and I soon had to perform several moves in order to avoid being impaled. Over and over I dived and rolled and jumped, the vehicles following me alongside their human counterparts. I contemplated running directly into the forest about a mile away but the voice told me to carry straight on, following the shore of the lake towards the main road. I knew not to go against the advice of the voice in my mind; though I knew not its real origins or intentions, it had always kept me safe in times of trouble.
I leapt over the metal fence which lined the main road and landed right in front of a red pick-up truck. They came to an abrupt stop, the tires squealing in protest. A dark haired human was behind the wheel, most likely in shock at my sudden appearance. I paid them no attention; they were not important. I darted a look left and right; to my left was clear road and to the right was a very large van accompanied by two police cruisers painted black. These belonged to those who chased me. I stole a look behind me to see my pursuers; all wielded a weapon and ran as fast as they could towards the fence. Those on the quad-like vehicles span quickly to head towards a gap in the fence while those on foot seemed to have decided to take a chance at scaling the eight-foot high metal fence.
The black police cruisers were suddenly on the move followed by the van which I knew was home to a vampire containment unit and various weapons of torture. My feet were once again moving, slapping hard on the tarmac which allowed me to run faster than the uneven ground near the lake. The police cruisers were quickly catching up to me in my unfed state and I knew I had to find a way off of the road.
I did as the voice asked and turned left at a fork in the road, keeping on the tarmac to keep my speed up as much as possible. The forest was a mile away but it didn't take long for me to reach it. I knew at once why the voice had told me to head toward the road and not the forest initially; it meant that I would put distance between my enemies on foot as they scaled a fence and that as I entered the trees, the police cruisers could no longer follow me. This small diversion gave me more time to get away and for them to lose my tail.
As I dashed through the trees, I heard their curses and their shouts to pursue me. They would follow me into this dark forest but here, this is where I held the advantage. With a leap, I launched myself into the air; my feet pounding off of tree trunks as I gained height and still continued moving forward. Soon I was in the canopy of the trees and it is here that I slowed my pace; now was a time for stealth over speed. I moved almost silently from branch to branch, tree to tree, taking random directions in hope that those below would be unable to determine a particular path to follow.
Minutes of this passed and I was soon in the very centre of the forest and I dropped down to the ground. My booted feet sank into the hard soil with the impact. It was cool in the darkness, it was calming and I soon felt at one in my surroundings. Shadows crept in every direction and as I strode over moss cover trunks, I felt comforted shrouded in their embrace.
You need to feed.
"I know," I replied, my eyes already searching for sustenance. I found it as it drank from a small stream. A deer. A doe barely four years old. She caught my scent on the air like all animals do and she bolted in the opposite direction. I gave chase but it was upsettingly too easy to catch her. Her face was in my hands, her strong jaw in my palms. "I'm sorry," I told her as soothingly as I could, looking her deep in the eye. Her heart rate was erratic but she couldn't run from me now, her eyes were fixated on me as I leant in. The vein in her throat pulsated, throbbing and I promised her I would be gentle as I sank my elongated incisors into her flesh.
A small whimper was all that escaped the beautiful creature as I drained her body, feeling my own become rejuvenated and strong once more. I lay the limp creature down on the ground, apologising for taking its life.
We don't have time for this; they're coming.
"I know, you're not the only one with senses," I retorted. I knew they were coming, that they were following my elusive tracks. They would find the deer, drained of its blood and know for sure I was here. They were fuelled by anger; their determination was so strong that I could feel it in waves as they neared. For a split second, I contemplated letting them capture me and killing me. But then, the deer's death would have been pointless and I didn't want to die at their hands. Again my feet were moving and I was flying over branches and rocks and fallen tree trunks.
I leapt into the air, scaling the tree and posing myself on a branch to look down at the ground some forty feet below. The branches and leaves of the tree hid me well from the ground though I had an almost perfect view. The sun had now left the sky as the moon held dominance of the sky. Barely any moonlight touched the ground bar a ghostly hue and I knew that the humans would find it damn near impossible to discover my location. With a blink and small shake of my head, my vision turned into a spectrum of blues. I spotted the deer I had slain, its body a bright red but it was cooling and changing colour in accordance with this. The heat signatures of the humans soon approached, reds and yellows, their metal weapons a mix of blue and greens.
I stayed quiet, watching as the humans pulsating with fresh hot blood grew ever closer to my location.
"The tracks, they've gone!" claimed one of the men, scanning everywhere for any sign of my whereabouts. He held a flashlight which he used to examine the ground.
"Look to the trees," came another voice and soon they all were looking up, some with flashlights shining into the branches. I held my breath.
"Nothing sir!" called another. "I can't see her,"
"Give me your hand," said the man addressed as sir. He slung the shotgun he held over his shoulder into a leather strap, to free his hands. He pulled a knife from his belt and sliced open the hand of one of his men. The man yelped in pain and examined his hand, blood pouring out of the wound and down his arm. "Blood lust gentlemen, this should lead the monster out,"
It was true, if I were any other vampire the likelihood of abandoning my hiding place to feast would be very high but I had the uncommon ability to resist. The scent greeted my nostrils and I could feel my mouth water with longing and my incisors burn with want but I was able to easily keep my position. They waited for an hour and I sat unmoving just as long. The man who bled was now bandaged up and feeling weak from loss of blood. Soon they decided that I had clearly left the area and so had not smelt the blood and suffered bloodlust. They could see no other explanation and I smiled as they began to leave. I waited several minutes longer until they were out of earshot before dropping to the ground and returning my vision to normal.
"I need to get out of Canada," I said to myself, realising that I couldn't keep evading the high population of vampire hunters here. I don't even know why I came to Canada; I knew how dangerous a place it was. But where could I go?
Here? Questioned the voice in my mind in one of the rare occasions it spoke when I was neither hungry or in danger.
"Yes," I responded almost dreamily as I found myself entranced by the sign before me. My feet had carried me thousands of miles with no real thought as to where I was going. I never expected to return here yet here I was and somehow, deep in my very being, I knew I was supposed to once again walk the streets of my old hometown. I had questions that needed answering and an old heart in need of healing.
It could have been hours that I stood there looking at the sign. It had been two hundred years since I last stood here but still, the sight of it shocked me. It was made of metal. Not the old wood I knew but of metal. And it welcomed me; welcomed! There were no warnings of danger and no big red 'beware' scrawled upon it. It was very plain; white with large black letters. Old Oak Falls. The remaining difference was that when I grew up here, it was just Oak Falls.
Hesitation and nerves suddenly prickled in my mind. What was here for me apart from painful memories? My heart was broken with the knowledge I had long outlived anyone I had ever known, that they lived and died believing I was a monster who had been killed by the very people they shared their town with. The memories of my abduction were also here... were there still vampires here? Could I find out if they had a purpose for me? Why they bit me over seventy times? And the question which often haunted my dreams and made me question everything about myself – did they still have a purpose for me?
Everything I ever thought of held origins here. Even if I discover nothing, I know that I still need to roam these streets once more.
And with that thought, I took that first step past the sign and along the road which would lead me right into the centre of town. It struck me odd that time had touched this town; electricity hummed in the streetlights and in homes. There was a road and sidewalks just like any other town I'd visited. I was no stranger to the modern world, I had often revelled in it but here... this was where I grew up and so much changed even with things as simple as streetlights.
The houses and buildings looked very much the same but I knew the interior would me much more modern with televisions, microwaves and broadband. The place looked like a town trying too hard to hold on to its history; keeping its architecture very much in tune with the old buildings I once knew.
My feet kept walking and I listened to the sounds of life dwelling within the various buildings. I spotted Mrs Gibson's house which was now a sweet shop, its many colourful jars lining the windows. I sighed remembering seeing Mrs Gibson in the crowd as I had a noose around my neck and wooden implements embedded in my flesh. She had been crying. I felt my own emotion begin to well up inside me as memories of her baby-sitting me flashed in my mind; she'd helped when my mom gave birth to Sarah too. Oh Sarah... my parents...
My feet picked up speed and I was now jogging through the streets, though at a human pace; I hurried along the path as though nothing had changed. I still knew this town like the back of my hand and was soon stood in front of my old home. The door was coated in plastic, the windows lined with ugly white PVC and a television was on in the front room. No window box like mom's which bloomed beautifully every spring with tulips and crocuses. No wooden fence hand-built by my father lining the small front yard. No doll left to fend for herself in the long grass as my sister stalked her like a lion would with its prey. Nothing but a cast iron sign by the door with ornate writing: 'The Johnsons'.
I choked back a sob as more and more memories flooded my mind. My family were long gone. I had known that but here, seeing our home so unrecognisable really emphasised that they hadn't walked this earth in a long long time. I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing. I knew I was being watched, I could feel several eyes on me; curiosity and anxiety poured off them in waves. I was a stranger stood in the middle of the road looking up at The Johnsons house for no apparent reason; I understood their reactions.
When I opened my eyes I found myself by the church gate, my feet having brought me here without any real thought of my own. I knew instantly that this is where I had wanted to visit, that it had been in my subconscious for a very long time. I wanted to see the graves of my family; to say a long overdue goodbye.
I walked very slowly into the churchyard, the peculiar yet comforting sensation of being among the dead creeping into my mind. My eyes looked from grave stone to grave stone, some were recent and some were here when I was a girl. I eventually found them by the fence of the far side. I could no longer rein in my emotion and I sank heavily to the ground, no concern whatsoever about being careful and my knees sank several inches into the ground. Tears poured down my face as I knelt before my parents' graves.
Through my tears I noted the dates of their deaths. My mother died a year after I last saw her and it pulled at my heart as I wondered if my fate had contributed to her early death. I reached out and ran my hand over the cool rough stone, clearing some of the moss which grew in abundance. By her side lay my father, outliving his wife by twenty-two years. Twenty-two years with his wife dead and believing his eldest to have been murdered. My heart ached at the thought of my gentle-souled father having to live through that and I placed my hand softly on the ground where he lay. I wiped my eyes and turned to the next grave but was shocked to find it wasn't Sarah's. Surely they would bury my sister by my parents.
I roamed the entire churchyard twice. There was no sign of her. I thought maybe she had married and was buried with his family though there was no other Sarah born the same year. She wasn't here. I sank once more before my parents' graves. "Where is she?" I asked, wondering if she had left Oak Falls – now Old Oak Falls – and was buried in another town. How would I ever find her?
Someone is nearing.
I ignored the voice as my stomach filled with dread. What if they had taken her? What if she was like me? No. Not my sister, my sister was not a monster like me. My sister is dead. We both are.
"What?" I yelled, frustrated at the intrusion.
I span and found myself faced with a young-looking man; his hair was a dark blond and relatively unkempt though the sides were neatly shaven. His face looked very young, almost baby faced though I could tell from the scent of his blood that he was around his mid-twenties. "Sorry," I said, dropping my gaze from his curious stare. A small dog was at his feet, eagerly sniffing the air, curiosity in its eyes as if it couldn't quite understand what I was. I feared the reaction the dog would have when it finally figured it out so I stood, hoping to end this meeting as soon as possible. "I didn't mean to shout; I thought you were someone else," I told the stranger.
"It's quite alright," he said politely with a smile. I noticed he had very white straight teeth which gave him a wonderful smile. "Now, are you alright?" his smile turned into concern and I realised quite how strange I must look kneeling before centuries old graves and crying.
"Would you believe me if I said I just had something in my eye?" I ventured, knowing very well that he wouldn't. His heart rate was a smooth pace but my senses prickled as he let out a chuckle; emotions were stirring within him. I also sensed his dog realising what I was. I took a few steps away after hastily brushing dirt from my jeans. "I have to go,"
"So soon?" was his quick reply and I sensed the embarrassment long before the blush touched his cheeks. He didn't mean to say that; he feared that he'd just let his attraction slip. But I'd already realised from the subtle changes to his heartbeat, the miniscule change in the scent of him and the slight dilation of his pupils.
The fur along the dog's back rose and he began viciously barking at me. The stranger tugged on its leash, clearly startled at this absurd behaviour. "What's wrong, boy?" he asked, crouching as he tried to calm his pet. "I'm so sorry; I don't know what's got into him." When the stranger looked up, I was gone. I left him confused with a very agitated dog who continued barking in the direction I had fled.
I warned you someone was nearing.
"I know," I replied as I broke several thick branches. "I was just distracted; my parents are lying dead and decomposed in the ground and my sister... well, I don't know where she is,"
I understand. What do you plan to do now?
"I honestly don't know," I admitted and sank to the ground, my back sliding down a tree. The ground was cool and the forest was relatively dark. I had travelled so far in so little time; I was physically drained and now I was emotionally drained and I was quickly becoming hungry once more. "I need to feed and then curl up somewhere."
AN: I wholeheartedly promise I won't make you make wait over a year for the next chapter.
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