Whitechapel High School bustled with activity as the school day began – students filled the hallways like worker bees, teachers did what they could to control the daily morning chaos. It was almost like normal.
Still mostly asleep from the previous night, Ethan found his locker, dialing in the combination and opening it to shove his book bag inside. He leaned into it, trying to catch as much rest as he could, even small moments like this.
"Hey, dude, you put a bed in there or something?" asked Benny, coming up next to him.
Ethan groaned. "Why did you have to animate that sponge and starfish for Jane? It took until four in the morning to finally catch them and clean up the mess they made in the garage."
Benny giggled. He recalled the events of last night, finding humor in the fact that a sponge and starfish he brought to life doodled all over the walls and almost brought the garage down. "Sorry. I wanted to try animation, and it seemed like a good idea at the time." His friend responded with another groan, prompting guilt from him. "Alright, how about we go check out that new sci-fi movie that came out yesterday? It's got that hot babe from Battlestar Galactica, and I hear she gets na—"
At this, Ethan perked up with a smile, revitalized. He couldn't pass up seeing his celebrity crush on the big screen. "What time is the movie?"
"Benny!" shouted Rory, jumping in between them.
Not startled by this predictable surprise anymore, Benny sighed, annoyed. "Hey, Rory."
"Guys, guess what? I've got awesome news!"
Ethan responded in suit, "What?"
"You know about those alien ninja games that were only released in Japan, right?"
Ethan and Benny lit up. As much as they liked sci-fi movies, they liked sci-fi video games even more. "Ultimate Alien Ninja Avenger Assassin 3?!" the two blurted out in unison, bubbling with excitement.
"Heck yeah! My older cousin managed to buy two copies. He said he'd let me have one! That means Ultimate Alien Ninja all-nighters!"
Erica approached the group as they all high-fived each other, dressed in black pants and a dark blue top with a gap leading down the middle of her chest that would leave any normal guy wanting more. "I don't even want to know," she said dryly.
Rory opened his mouth to talk, obviously ignoring her statement. "You know those alien ninja games that were—"
She held up her hand in his face. "Nope."
"Stth! Stop! Don't care."
"Where's Sarah?" Ethan wondered, searching the halls for his vampire mistress but coming up short. The halls were still pretty full, even though class was near to start. "And why are the hallways still this busy? Usually they're almost empty by now."
"You guys didn't hear?" Erica asked.
"Hear what?" Benny responded, gathering the things he needed for his next class.
Erica answered, "Four people were killed last night at the park. Sarah's talking to the Vampire Council about it now…at least, what's left of them." Her voice trailed lowly as she recalled how many vampires had been killed by the Lucifractor during Vice Principal Stern's assault.
"What?" Benny wheezed.
The three boys were dumbfounded for a moment.
Hearing news of Sarah, Ethan was able to ask, "A vampire killed them?" He leaned in and quieted his voice a bit. "After what happened with the Lucifractor, I thought the only vampires left in Whitechapel were you, Rory, Sarah, the council, and maybe Jesse."
Erica shrugged slightly. "Nobody's sure yet. I heard it was pretty gruesome, though."
As Ethan began to speak, the bell rang, the large mass of students beginning to disperse. Principal Hicks came out of his office, bellowing at the students to move faster to their classes.
"See you geeks later, then," Erica said, turning and smacking straight into a male student, knocking his books out of his hands and the glasses from his face. "Ugh, watch it, nerd!" She stomped off, taking no responsibility for the accident.
Shaking his head in disapproval, Ethan bent down to help the boy with his books. "Sorry about her. Here, let me help you with that." They both grasped the same book simultaneously, Ethan's body freezing. His eyes glazed over a misty white, a vision flashing before him.
A black sports car ripped out of the front driveway of the school, its loud engine roaring and its quad-exhaust screaming as it flew past students, narrowly dodging an oncoming minivan full of children.
Back in reality, the book was pulled from Ethan's grip. The boy picked his glasses up, giving him a strange look. "Um, thanks." Before Ethan could respond, the boy scurried away, turning the corner.
"That was…odd." Ethan closed his locker, looking to Benny and Rory, who were just as confused as him.
"Well?" Benny urged.
"I'll tell you about it after class. Come on, I don't want Principal Hicks giving me detention again."
As the first class of the day was winding down, Principal Hicks began his normal route, scouting for students who thought bowing out early was a good idea, his signature coffee mug cupped in both hands. The older Hispanic man looked in on each class as he passed by, making sure everything was orderly. One classroom was laughing and enjoying themselves a little too much for his taste, but one look from him through the glass pane on the door quickly shut them down.
Papers rustled at the end of the hallway, catching his attention.
"Who's there? Classes are in session. You better have a good reason for being out here!" he said loudly, approaching the end of the hall.
He ended up at a staircase, though no one was there. He furrowed his brow, then took a sip from his mug before turning—
Was it really him?
"What—How—Vice Principal Stern? Where on Earth have you been?" the older gentleman inquired, startled by the sudden appearance of this person that had been missing for a week.
In a formal business suit, Vice Principal Stern just stood quietly, his lips curling slightly at the ends.
"Well? Answer me, Stern!" Principal Hicks demanded.
Stern slowly shook his head. "Let's just say I've been very busy."
Principal Hicks raised an eyebrow, puzzled by his coworker's vague response. "Let's take a trip to my office. You've got a lot of explaining to do."
"Yeah, about that," Stern replied as Principal Hicks walked past him. He put a heavy hand on Hicks' shoulder, spinning him back around.
A thin silver object slid out from the sleeve of the man's suit and into his hand.
As Hicks' face dropped instantly and his lower jaw almost fell off, the silver weapon was forced into his gut, being twisted counter-clockwise.
"I'll have to take a rain check," murmured Stern, pulling the dagger out slowly, taking joy in his dying superior's agonized countenance.
Blood trickled from Hicks' wound. The old man dropped his coffee mug, falling forward onto his attacker, who held him up for a moment, tilting his head to the left. Hicks gripped Stern's tie, pulling it as he was dragged down the stairs toward the basement, his blood dripping out behind him.
"Just two more minutes, just two more minutes," Benny whispered to himself, tapping his pencil lightly on his desk. Two more minutes until class was over and he could finally hear what Ethan's vision was about. Calculus wasn't his favorite class to start the day with either. He sat in front of Rory, and next to Ethan, but even with them, the teacher made the class incredibly straight-forward and boring. There was no room for fun.
Peering up at the clock above the door, his tapping increased. Two minutes felt like it had turned into another full hour.
A ghostly image appeared in the window pane of the door, staring fixedly at him, causing him to drop his pencil in surprise. When he returned from picking it up, the image of Vice Principal Stern was gone. But was it him actually outside the door, or was it just his boredom-fueled imagination?
The bell rang. Unlike most days, he was the first one out of the room, hurriedly trying to survey the hallways before they became too crowded.
"Whoa, Benny, what's the rush?" Ethan asked, catching up to his friend.
"Stern! I saw Vice Principal Stern out here!" He looked at his friend, exasperated. He could tell Ethan wasn't buying into his story, prompting a heavy sigh from him. "Oh, come on, dude!"
"No way. He died when the Lucifractor blew up. I saw it." Ethan exchanged books for his next class, facing Benny, who didn't bother to get his books. "I don't think anybody could be resurrected from that. Not even him."
"I don't know. Maybe I really did imagine it. I was bored out of my mind in that class." Benny paused, trying to convince himself of this. "So tell me about that vision you had earlier."
"I saw this car—a sports car—and it was going really fast, like, just tearing out of here."
"Here?" Benny pointed to the ground. "As in, the school?"
Ethan nodded. "Yeah. It was really random. More random than usual. I don't think anybody here owns a black sports car like that."
"Hey, guys!" Sarah exclaimed, making her way to the boys with Erica at her side.
"Hey, Sarah," Ethan said, smiling delightedly at his crush's arrival. "We heard you talked to the Vamp Council. So what's the news? Was it a vampire?"
Erica and Sarah gave each other tentative looks, like they were having their own telepathic conversation.
"Benny!" shouted Rory, breaking through the group to stand in the middle.
"Now's not the time, Rory," Ethan said, refocusing on Sarah.
"What's going on, guys and gals?" Rory asked playfully, wondering what the seriousness was all about. "Did you all get detention?"
"It's worse than that."
Sarah took a deep breath in and exhaled quickly. "According to the Council, it was definitely a vampire that killed those people at the park."
"Do they know who it was?" Benny asked.
"No, but I'm guessing he's from out of town."
"Should we go after him?"
"Erica and I are on it. You guys don't have to get involved."
"Why not?" Rory asked in a disappointed tone. "We could be like the Scooby Gang, solving mysteries and eating Scooby Snacks! Those are delicious!"
Erica sneered. "Um, no, thank you." She faced Sarah. "Call me tonight?"
"Yeah," replied Sarah, nodding as Erica left the group. "I should probably get going, what with the whole 'vampire on the loose' thing."
Ethan grew concerned. "Shouldn't you wait for Erica? I mean, this guy sounds pretty dangerous."
Sarah smiled, admiring his regard for her safety even after their less than pleasant first date. "Thanks, but I think I can handle this until Erica's free. I'll talk to you guys later."
Sarah parted ways from the group as Ethan, Benny and Rory pondered their situation.
"I know what'll cheer you guys up. Ultimate Alien Ninja Avenger Assassin 3!" He stopped himself short of excitement, taking out his phone. "Only my cousin hasn't texted me since seven last night. Hm."
"Maybe he's busy with the game," Ethan guessed.
"Or a girl," Benny slipped in quickly.
With her vampire super speed, Sarah made it to the park where the incident had happened in minutes; any normal person would have taken at least fifteen. The area was taped off by the authorities, and two squad cars were stationed in opposite directions near the large archway that marked the beginning of the recreational zone. She took to the air, completely avoiding the detection of the cops, and hovered along the trail of blatant dried blood and body parts that went from the parking lot to the middle of the park, where a team of forensic detectives were still conducting their work.
She noticed a tent set up a few yards from where the detectives had assigned themselves. Evading their line of sight, she swooped in, stopping just outside of it to make sure there was no one inside. Seeing it was empty, she slipped in, finding herself standing feet away from two closed body bags that were opposite a table with three laptops on it. The smell of the bodies drenched her senses, and she was pulled toward them, uneasily lifting the flap from one.
Even as a vampire, the sight of such a mangled body forced her away, though she noticed a marking on the flesh of what she assumed was the chest. She reluctantly leaned in to study it - a swastika?
The smell of the body began to get to her, and she twisted, almost retching as she quickly moved toward the laptops. Still covering her mouth with one arm, her free hand brought one of the machines out of its standby mode, a data sheet sprawling across the screen, displaying information from the horrific event. She skimmed several lines until she came upon the names of the victims, storing them in her memory as she heard footsteps outside.
By the time the detective entered the tent, the body bag had been covered and the laptop put back to sleep.
Sarah was far away, speculating on the whole scene. Did a vampire really cause so much carnage? Though she had only been one herself for around three years, she had never heard of a vampire with such a violent method of feeding, if that's even really what it was. The swastika was especially perplexing. She'd never heard of a Nazi vampire outside of fiction. The Council had warned her that he was vicious, but she never imagined they meant it like what she'd seen. Did she want to take on this task anymore after seeing that? Did she want to risk Erica's life as well? But if she didn't act, would anybody stop this seemingly rogue monster? All of her friends would be in potential danger if she did nothing. Ethan would especially be at risk, given last time there was an incident similar to this, the Council threatened to hurt him if she didn't act.
Maybe Jesse knew something, but he was gone. After helping fight Vice Principal Stern and the Lucifractor, he took off in his usual bleary way, leaving her uncertain of his whereabouts or future motives.
Whatever she was going to do, she needed to do it soon. There was no telling when the sinister demon would attack again.