Her Keeper

Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I just like to play with the characters. My thanks to Jaspersdoll for coming up with the title.

This is a Jasper-Bella fiction. It takes place in current time. Vampires are in hiding but have a more structured society. They take human "pets" for food, and some humans are held in captivity to be bled for vampires. They bottle blood much like humans bottle beer, and this product is sold in the underground vampire clubs and bars. There are a number of "designer" blood labels. Bella's blood has been featured in a blend called "LaGuerra" and is the most popular designer bottled blood of this vampire black market.

Humans who have been claimed by vampires have a small tattoo on their wrists to mark them as vampire property. The marks are usually a series of dots forming a small triangle or rectangle. The colors and pattern identify both the vampire territory and individual owner claiming the person.

Chapter 1 – Blood Trials, Life on a Vampire Farm

(Bella's POV)

Another day inside these four walls. I've grown up trapped in this room, having spent the last 15 years here. Three sides of the room consist of concrete walls painted Navajo white, with small slit windows about five feet from the floor. The fourth wall is just an opening covered with bars. The floor is concrete with a drain in the center. There is a large bathroom/shower room on the south wall, which is unlocked once in the morning and once again in the evening. If you have needs at other times during the day, there are a few buckets left in the room. While we're in the bathroom in the morning, the floor gets hosed down. There is no furniture in the room, though cots are brought in at night for us to sleep on. We have to fold them up, along with the blankets, and take them to the front bars every morning.

There are chairs in the hallway on the other side of the bars. One of those chairs is brought into our room every other week.

There are guards at the barred wall at all times. They sit on chairs or lean against the opposite wall while they're on duty, staring in at us. Their blood-red eyes barely move, and sometimes they barely move themselves. They carry cattle-prods, as apparently they are so strong there is concern that they might kill us with casual contract. Any attempt to talk to them is met with a poke from the cattle-prod.

Every other week, the doctor enters with the blood drawing equipment: needles, tubes, rubber hosing. That's when we get to sit in a chair. One by one, we go take our place in that chair, and he draws blood until we start to pass out. Afterwards, one of the guards passes us small bottles of orange juice, and it's over for another two weeks. That's what they are keeping us for: the blood they draw.

The guards wear tan or gray uniforms; we wear colorful smocks and pants. The color of our outfits seems to vary by week. Today they are pink, but at other times they have been green or blue. Mother says they are hospital scrubs. The vampires are probably able to buy them cheaply, and it identifies us to them quickly.

As if they need visual identification. They can smell us. And apparently they can hear our hearts beat.

I don't get to go out, but Mother does.

Most of the adults leave to go to work each day. There are twenty of us in the cell block, and twelve are adults. Those who work are led out in small groups in the morning and return in the evening. They either labor in the fields, growing the food we eat, or in the vampire houses, cleaning. While the women tell me the work is very hard, I'm sure it beats staying in here all the time, staring at these walls. Maybe when I grow up, I'll get to work and find some relief from this boredom.

Sometimes other vampires come to the bars and look at us, motioning a woman to come forward. If they like what they see, they will ask her to turn around, then open the front gate and take her out. Those girls never come back.

These girls are soon replaced by others. Some are young women who bring children. Other times, the vampires enter with a child, hand it to a woman, and leave. Mother says that the vampires encourage children as it gives them leverage over the parents. They know the mothers won't run and leave their children behind.

And if you run and are caught…it's over. If you are lucky, death is instantaneous. If you are unlucky, they can make it last a while. We've heard the screams coming from the main house and watched the vampire guards' eyes darken while they lick their lips as they listen. As their hearing is more acute, they are hearing more than we do.

Mother says when she was growing up that she lived like most humans do, inside her normal, sunny world, not knowing of this vampire world where we now exist as slaves. She had gone to school, had pets, had birthday parties, and gotten married.

And that's when the trouble started for her: when she got married. It turned out she had a rival. This girl had been changed into a vampire and came back for Mother's husband. At his new mate's request, he sold Mother. He could have just asked for a divorce, but the vampire mate wanted to hurt her. So he sold her to one of the vampire farm owners, and here we are. Wherever we are.

There is a lot of noise outside today. I hear trucks and cars coming in and out of the main driveway, and lots of shouting. According to what we've been able to pick up from the house workers, there's some kind of a big party planned for the evening. There will be new humans there. And we may see a few of them in here tomorrow. Those who survive the evening will never be allowed to leave.

It's happened before. Although we don't get newspapers, those publications which have been described to me in wistful terms by everyone who comes from the outside world, the new humans who arrive every month or so bring us the news of the "normal" human world. As to why they are here, they never know. Someone saw something they weren't supposed to, and the vampires shipped them down to wherever we are. Nobody's exactly sure of our location. It looks desolate outside and gets cold. Mother says one of the men thinks we are in Montana, because he's seen a number of Montana license plates.

That evening, though, there is a change to the routine. When it's time for bed, Mother signals me not to change clothes. We get under the covers on our cots fully dressed, including shoes. I know something's up. I notice that the guards leave their usual places in the hallway. Mother lips to me that they are going out in the driveway helping with the party, so this could be our chance to leave. I try to stay awake but eventually fall asleep.

Sometime later that night, there's a tap on my shoulder, and a hand goes over my mouth as I start to sit up. The hand is warm, meaning it's a human hand, so I relax. There have been enough vampire attacks on the women in my barrack at night that I worry every time I fall asleep. But this hand belongs to Mother.

It's pitch dark in the room, but there are a lot of sounds still coming from the main house.

I get up quietly when she signals me, and I start walking next to her in the dark. Ahead, a door must be open, as I can see a sliver of light. I try to keep my heart from pounding. The guards in the driveway might hear that, and we're supposed to be asleep.

The light is coming from an open door in the bathroom. This door is on one of the exterior walls, and I've never seen it ajar before. Within a few minutes, we're outside, which is someplace I've never been before. Looking around, I count five of us. The sky is lit by the moon overhead. The ground is hard, dry, and flat, and covered by some small, scraggly plants that have roots that threaten to trip us in the dim light. The man directs us to split into two groups with his gestures. Mother and I head for some trees, as the other three head to a gully.

I sense rather than see our pursuers. I hear a horrible scream from the other group, followed by a low vampire laugh. No mistaking that sound. After hearing a few more screams, I break into a run. No reason to hide now. Mother quits trying to shush me and runs too.

Ahead of us we see a figure backlit by the moon. Is it human, or one of them? We slow down, waiting to see. No movement, then the moonlight flashes against red eyes. It's one of them.

When we stop completely, he flashes to stand in front of us. Mother appears to recognize him and bows her head. He grabs her and sinks his teeth into her neck. Death, of course, is the penalty for an escape attempt. I start to hit him, but he grabs both my hands in one of his, holding me in a brutal grip, forcing me to watch as he drains her.

He drops her body then lifts me into his arms and carries me away.

I stop caring what is going to happen to me. As he moves me swiftly to an unknown destination, I see the moon overhead. I've never actually seen the moon in the center of the sky before tonight, I think to myself dully. I've only seen it through the little slits in the window.

Soon we enter a small building, one like I've seen through the window but never entered. It's a clearly a house, though, as I recognize it from Mother's descriptions. The vampire sets me on a chair in the entry hallway. It's really too much trouble to move, so I just stare. The pain of watching that terrible death is overwhelming me. I can barely breathe.

I hear him talking to two other vampires who are already in the house in a detached way, as if it is happening to someone else. I cannot understand what they are saying, and I struggle to just stop breathing. The pain overwhelms me, and soon I slide down in the chair and slip into a dreamless sleep.