Colder Than Death – Jackson’s Story

I put my helmet on and straddled the bike’s seat, hindered only by the bag..

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Colder Than Death – Jackson’s Story

I put my helmet on and straddled the bike’s seat, hindered only by the bag on my back, which contained a sleeping bag and some food. I put the helmet on with a snap and kicked off from the dorm’s parking lot, careful to avoid any parked cars. I had no car, and therefore, the bike was all I had. It was a small town, and besides, biking was good exercise.

“Hey, Jack, don’t let the vampires get you!” I heard Mel call from our little window above the entryway. Her voice was syrupy with sleep. I waved behind me as I wobbled out of the cracked parking lot drive and onto the pavement.

Tonight will be fun. Different. I thought to myself. Even if it meant being in a graveyard all night. It would get me away from the endless cacophony of SpongeBob reruns and bad weed.  We had been in the midst of those exact activities when one of Mel’s friends had made me a bet. If I could stay in the graveyard for a full night without chickening out, he would lend me his car. Laughing, I told him yes, and we decided on Halloween Eve. Tonight.

But first, I was going to try to recruit some help. Mel’s friend hadn’t specified that I had to be alone. Just that I had to be physically in the graveyard.

I took a left and pulled into a concrete driveway. Unsnapping my helmet, I ditched my bike in the grass and jogged up the peeling wooden stairs to the front door. I picked up the cast iron knocker and dropped it on the wooden door. It sounded with a loud clang in the otherwise quiet neighborhood. After a minute, it cracked open.

An elderly woman peeked her head out. I cleared my throat, smiling pleasantly.

“I’m looking for Bill, is he around?”

“Oh, Willie? I’ll go get him. Who…?” She trailed off and squinted at my sweaty face.

“My name is Jack — uh, Jackson Whorley.” I stammered. I wasn’t sure why I felt compelled to give this old lady my full name, but whatever. She seemed nice enough.

“Ah, yes, nice to meet you, Jackson. Hold on a minute.” The door creaked shut and I heard the old lady’s voice screeching into the depths of the house. “Willie! Willie!! You’ve got a little friend here to see you!”

I heard a thudding down the stairs, and looked through one of the curtained windows to see Bill jumping off the stairs. I straightened as he opened the door, breathing heavily.

“Oh, Jackson! How did you know… ah, never mind. Hey, what do you need?”

“I’m heading over to the graveyard. I made a bet with one of Mel’s friends, Michael. I can have the use of his car whenever I want it if I win. And all I have to do is spend a night in the graveyard.”

He frowned, then shrugged to himself. “Strange things happen at that graveyard. Strange things happen around here.” He grinned sheepishly. “Just rumors, of course. But be careful, alright?”

“Okay. I just wanted to say hi.” I said, trying to conceal a blush. Why had I gone there at all?

“Ah. Well, I’m working on a job, if you want to come up and see?”

“I guess so. A job?”

“You’ll see.”

I stepped into the house, taking a quick assessment. The flowered curtains hung all around, creating a dim yet pleasant glow. The dark wooden floors absorbed light, making it even harder to see, yet the house smelled of fresh cut herbs, not dank or dusty at all. His mom, or so I assumed, was in a green rocking chair that matched the pale green walls, rocking back and forth. The architecture that lay on the ceiling was a complicated design of fruits and strangely intricate knots carved into the layered plaster. I took in a breath of surprise. He just smiled and motioned for me to follow him. I went with him up the winding, steep staircase that had finely polished railings.

He took me to the left and brought me into a surprisingly sunny room. He warned me to step over the wires. In this room lay a programmer’s heaven. There were tons of computer parts. One computer lay finished on a desk on the inside wall. He kneeled next to the keyboard and furiously started typing. I looked at the screen and saw several tracing programs on the screen, along with an email to what looked like a very important guy.

“Hacking then?” I said, laughing. He nodded, grinning.

“Yeah. Right now I’m destroying a child pornography site. Want to learn?”

“I’d love to. But I have to go…sun’s setting. You want to come?”

“I have to finish this off or he’ll get away. Sorry, but this is really important. Child porn is disgusting.”

He got off of his knees after a second, standing up and entangling himself in the cords. Carefully, as if they were disobedient children, he untangled them and stood straight.

“Well, I’ll be seeing you then. We should go out for coffee sometime.” He said quickly, shyly. Bill, shy?

“Yeah, I’d like that.” I smiled.

He saw me out the door, and sadly, regretfully, I got back onto my bike. I would have rather stayed with him all… never mind. But his house and the computers would certainly be more interesting than the graveyard.

The Graveyard

I was to sleep on the concrete center in the middle of the graveyard, the only place where I wouldn’t be sleeping “on” a dead body. On calm weekends, old people would come out to the concrete section of the graveyard with plastic flowers. They put them on all of the graves in their family plots, and occasionally a friend’s grave.

I took a left turn, peddling at a steady pace past one of the college housing establishments. Lilacs were just budding this time of year, and this particular building had shades of purple lilacs literally crawling up the walls. I saw no people emerge. They were probably off at some party. Mel would probably be going to a party around this time too. If she could make it down the stairs.

As I came upon the graveyard, a heavy breeze billowed against me, smelling sickly sweet of pollen. I slowed my bike down to get off and slowly look at the graveyard. I had trespassed into the realm of the dead.

The rusted iron was beautifully crafted, if almost crumbling with age. The flawless beauty of the carvings made up for the red rust and worn metal at the most touched and weather exposed parts. The iron gate was simple, but it had images of ivy vines etched along it. If they had been green, it would have been hard to believe that it was metal. And even now, it looked as though some idiot had long ago poured hot metal over the leaves, and instead of burning, they were preserved in an eternal state of beauty.

With a shiver, I biked off of the sidewalk and onto the concrete pathway, winding up a hill littered with buried bodies. Despite the calm, warm spring breeze, I zipped up my jacket. I dug into my pocket for my little flashlight. It was my only source of light after the shimmering sun had set behind the pine trees bordering the solemn site of so many tears.

The setting sun didn’t give me much light, and after I set up my little camp on the concrete, at the top of one of the many rolling hills, I turned on my flashlight and walked around, examining the gravestones. Some, I found were as old as the 1820’s. And some, I found, were as new as the late 1990’s. There were people of all ages, sexes and races, from four minutes of age to over one hundred.

I should have brought my notebook, I thought regretfully as I strolled along. Finally, I chose the grave plot I kept on coming back to.

“Rowan Lee Hunt. Born 1887, died 1903. Body never found. Goddess bless.”

“Brenden Samuel Hunt. Born 1886, died 1903. Goddess rest ye.”

Brothers? Mysterious…”Goddess”, not “God”. Pagan? I would have to check it out tomorrow, at the library, when I had time. Almost regretfully, I looked around to see where I had left my stuff. In the twilight’s eerie light, I couldn’t tell where I was. I was sure I had been so close! Betrayingly, I felt my heart speed up as I searched frantically. There was no way I was going to sleep over a dead body. Even if it was a hundred years old!

After minutes of searching, I managed to get to the top of one of the hills. Looking out, I could barely even see the street in the darkness, with occasional cars flicking by. I could still leave. No. All I needed to do was find the concrete path, and I was okay.

Capture

It must have been a half hour before I even saw the concrete path, not 6 feet in front of me. The graveyard had turned ominous with the night hours. I checked my watch. 11:00 o’clock. Well, almost there…7 more hours before sunrise.

I looked being me, on an impulse, perhaps to say “bye” to the brother’s graves. Involuntarily I jumped and yelped. There was a very pale, yet sturdy teenager standing behind me, leaning on a marble monument, not smiling. Beardless, his shiny blonde hair glittered and reflected the sliver of moonlight coming from the clouded sky. His eyes shown dark green, almost black. Yeah, they were glowing. He really didn’t look happy.

“What’re you doing here?” He said with an English accent, grabbing my arm with an iron hard grip. I tried to wrench it away.

“Why?”

“You don’t belong here.”

“What the hell are you, some kind of zombie? Get away!” I said as he moved closer to me. He shoved me and I went sprawling three feet back, thankfully onto the grass and not speared onto a gravestone.

“Okay, okay, I’ll leave, just get off of me!” I whimpered, scrambling back to a gravestone. He grinned, a sadistic smile. His teeth were just as shiny as his hair had been. But far more frightening. Two of those teeth were sharpened to a point.

His face serious, he stood over me, waiting. He wore torn jeans with chains loops all over them. He had a black shirt, or it was dark colored. His hair wasn’t dyed, and besides a single piercing on his left ear, he held no holes or tattoos in his body.

“You can’t leave now. Its too late.”

“What the hell are you?” I yelped, pressing myself further against the gravestone. He only moved closer. “Take a guess.”

I stayed silent.
“I used to be human,” he nodded thoughtfully to himself for a second. He brought handcuffs from one of his pockets.

“I’m a vampire.”

He grabbed my neck and forced my upper body down towards my legs. He put a foot on my back and twisted my arms around my back. I heard two clicks, and felt the handcuffs tighten uncomfortably around my wrists.

I almost screamed in frustration and fear. It was almost exactly like a movie. But this time, it was no movie. It was my life! I struggled back up, careful not to smack my head against the gravestone, if only so I could see more than my legs. Not that I wanted to see his face. He was still standing there.

“Vampire?”

“Yeah. Well, that’s what most call us. I just call myself immortal with a taste for blood, but whatever.”

“What are you going to do with me?”

“Eat you.” He paused. “Hey…you’re the kid who lives with the stoner girl, aren’t you.”

“I’m 20 years old; no kid. But yeah, my roommate is drugged up pretty well.”

He laughed, showing his teeth. Mentally, I squirmed, and tried to push the vision of those teeth drawing blood away.

“We have a meeting to go to; stay here.”

“I could run?”

“Well, no. Shut up.”

I was silent. He was trying to scare me. I leaned against the gravestone. Finally, he said, “I have to go do one more round to make sure no more humans are around, and then I will do the call.”

“The call?” And after a moment of silence, I tried again, “And you’ll tell them I’m here.”

“Yes.”

“And then you’ll all gain up on me and drink my blood.” I finished with a flat tone.

“Probably.” He said cheerfully.

“Why?” I said.

“Because that’s what we’re supposed to be. We wouldn’t be vampires if we didn’t drink your blood.”

I blinked, and he was gone. I hadn’t even seen him leave, being so wrapped up in my thoughts. Just like in the movies, I thought, as I tested my handcuffs. Alas, they were tight. And unlike the children’s ones that I used to have, they didn’t have a safety release. I backed up against the grave again and brought my knees to my chest. I rested my head on them, sighing. I would be sleeping on dead people. If I even lived by the morning.

It was too quiet. I was beginning to be even more paranoid. Hesitantly, afraid he would come back and yell at me for singing, I started a song, softly.

“Lost melody, I hear you softly, falling across my ears like stones upon water, a heavenly sound. Unchained melody, I feel you in me, my fingers twitch for the feel of an instrument. I sing your sad song of life, unknown melody, when will you come back to me? You left me with my innocence, abandoned, so alone. Lost tune, I beg of you, come back to me and fill my ears with your life.”

I sighed. I knew some people who had their teeth sharpened like that. But Goddess, no man could ever be that strong, to fling me 3 foot like nothing. I was not a little stick. And to manipulate my body as if I was clay…no, I believed him. He obviously took himself very seriously. And he had a nice body. Very pale, but nice. For midnight. In a graveyard. I felt goosebumps grow and I looked up to see him standing there, again.

“Cute song. You know it was written by a vampire, right?”

He said from behind me, and I jumped. If my hands had been free, and I hadn’t been so scared, and if he had been human and not some giant vampire, I would have slapped him.

“They’re here.”

Effortlessly, he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. He adjusted his grip a bit and started walking towards the concrete center of the graveyard. To my fate… Desperately, I saw my bike standing against an oak tree on the edge of the group of vampires. It was worth a shot. I tensed, and so did he, automatically tightening his grip.

“Don’t try it. They’ll kill you. And they’ll do it slowly. They like pain.”

Trials

“Welcome, fellow vampires.  On this night and in this hour, we call upon the powers that be to aid us in our search for revelation.”  He paused, savoring the effect of his voice.  I could not see who the speaker was.  “The Danes’ numbers grow larger each night, and we should not take too many at any given time.  Though we are saving them from ultimate slavery, they do not know and are ungrateful.  Do not take another besides those who are tonight.  Hear my words and know them as truth and the law.  Is there any who wish to bring issues before us, besides Rowan and his new one?”

A hush fell over the thirty or so vampires surrounding the concrete circle.  He was no taller than any of them, but you could pin point him out of anyone.  He had the palest face, with slicked down black hair.  His eyes were black, from what I could see.  His hands were thin, bone like, and he wore a black trench coat with a red silk shirt and dark pants.  His voice was loud and deep, and had a slight English accent, though barely noticeable.

My vampire had dropped me roughly onto my knees in front of everyone.  There were others like me, low to the ground towards the front edge of the circle.  We were pretty much ignored.  Some, however, weren’t human.  And some weren’t bound.  At this question, he raised his hand, along with two others.

“Hal, what have you to bring to our attention?” He pointed to a short, older man.

“One of the tenants in my area is getting suspicious.  He’s started putting up stuff like garlic.  He also sits out at night, watching the sky, with a knife in his hand.  It makes it harder for me to leave.”

“Kill him.” The master vampire said.

“Yes, Cian.”  Hal faded back into the crowd.

“And you, Daniel?” He pointed to a young man with a crisp voice.

“Cian, sir, I want to go back home to Scotland with my family.”

“Need I remind you, Daniel, your family is dead or will be soon enough?”

“I don’t care, Cian.”

“You should.  Fine, leave.  But don’t come back.  By midnight tomorrow, if you’re not gone, I will kill you.  Know that if you come back punishment shall be swift”

Daniel gave a curt, accepting nod and faded back into the crowd, a second later disappearing.  Cian turned to my vampire.

“Finally, our capturee.  Well, what’s gone and happened?”

My vampire pushed me into the center of the circle, and helplessly I lay there, head against cool concrete, listening.

“I found him here as I was securing the premises.”

“And?  Rowan, we’ve been over this before.  If you’ve no use for it, if no one else has use for it, kill it.”

“Hey!” I screamed, trying to get up.  I raised my head up about two inches before I felt a foot on my back, pressing me down onto the concrete.  I sighed angrily, still struggling.  The foot lifted and then slammed down firmly, hitting my forehead against the hard, white surface.  Ouch.

“I have no use for him, but I wish to keep him for a while.  It would be a waste of human to just kill it, am I right?” Rowan’s voice sounded above me.

“Yes.  Okay, Rowan, you’re so confident, you can do whatever you like with him.  But I suggest you turn him Dane before London next year.  If he escapes and tells a single soul, its on your head.”

“Understood, sir.” He said stiffly.

“Wait a second!  What if one of us want it?” A nasal voice said from the crowd.

“Sir, I believe first come, first serve.  Also, don’t you remember what George did to the last one he had? ” Rowan interjected, and the nasal voice muttered something.

“You are right, Rowan.  So it will be.  Boy, your name?”

The foot on my back lifted, and chills replaced it, running up my spine.  I said nothing, not sure if he was talking to me.  Suddenly, I saw Cian’s feet, black polished boots in front of me.  He grabbed my shirt and lifted me up 3, maybe even 4, feet from the ground.

“I said, boy, what is your name?”

“John.”  I blurted out.

“He is lying, Rowan.  See that is dealt with.  So be it.  Meeting dismissed.”

He dropped me.  I fell hard against the concrete, hitting my nose painfully against it.  I heard him dismiss the meeting, and felt the deathly coldness that had been around disappear.  I lay on the concrete for I don’t know how long.  I felt the blood dripping out of my nose, but only numbly, as the thought of “See that it is dealt with” echoed through my head.

“Come on, John, get up, we’ve got a ways to go yet.  Everyone else is gone.”  Rowan’s voice sounded from behind me, sarcastic.  My arms felt cramped.  I refused to answer.  Finally, he grabbed my hair and held my head up a bit, looking disapprovingly at the blood on the white concrete.

“Blood?  Tsk tsk, Cian should know better by now.  He always lets his anger get the best of him.  That’s the problem with the older ones.”

Vampire?  He had a warm presence.  Cian, whoever he was, had been deathly cold.   I felt Rowan’s hands on mine. I heard two clicks from the handcuffs, and groaned as my arms fell uselessly to my side.  My elbows let out loud cracks, and I slowly, painfully moved my arms to get the cramps out.  I pushed myself up, and rummaged in my pocket for a tissue to stop the blood dripping from my nose.  I looked up at Rowan, my lip trembling so much that several droplets of blood fell into my mouth.  I spit out the coppery taste and coughed up a bit of blood.

Finding a tissue, I held it to my nose and shakily got up.  I stumbled, but wrenched my arm away from his helpful hand.  He grabbed my arm more firmly.

“That needs real medical attention.  Come on, I’ll take you to the hospital.”

He picked me up, cradling my legs and back in his arms.  My body was pressed firmly against his chest.  He walked across the deserted circle.  Behind a mausoleum lay a motor cycle.  He mounted it and so did I, one handed.

“Hang on!” He said, starting up the engine.  It let out a low growl, surprisingly quiet.  I wrapped one arm around him reluctantly and was nearly jerked off the bike as it started forward with and incredible lurch of speed.

We sped out of the graveyard and down the road, disrupting the night’s silence.  Not 3 minutes later, we arrived at the college’s very own treatment center, the white lights shining bright on the white painted sign.

“Go get it fixed.  I’ll find you, once you come out.  And if you don’t come out, I’ll still find you.  And that wont be good, not for you.”

I nodded and, still stumbling, I dragged past the bush he had dropped me near and pushed against the clear glass door into the medical center.

I’m almost positively sure that I must have looked terrible.  Maybe even drunk.  A nurse ushered me into a room after a very short wait.  Strangely, they never took any personal information of mine.  I just told them that I fell while biking.  They didn’t even question why I was biking at 1 o’clock in the morning.

“Its not broken, but close.  Wait until it stops bleeding then get yourself home.  Do you need a ride?”

“No, no, I’m fine.  I’ll have my friend pick me up.”

“How did you say you injured it?”

“I…fell, off of my bike, sir.”

“I’ve never seen…never mind, I’m sure you’re telling the truth.  Our bodies work in strange ways.”

I waited a few more minutes, checking my nose, and finally dumped the paper towel he had given me and went into the bathroom.  I straightened my hair a bit, and washed my face, careful around my stinging nose.  I nodded my thanks to the nurse and walked out of the center.  The clock read 2:11 am.

I guess I expected him to be waiting outside for me or something.  But I saw no one, and I stuck my hands in my pockets, and started back to my dorm.  I may have lost the bet, but there was no way in hell that I was going to go back to the graveyard.  Even though it was summer, the New York air was biting.

The way the college was set up, the college and the dorms were pretty far apart,  2, 3 miles.  That was because in between was tons of old Victorian houses that the owners had refused to vanquish.  And the state wouldn’t let the college destroy the houses, anyway.  Then there was the old, old, trees, some over 80 feet, in little groves. All of it was historical landmarks or something.  Usually I wouldn’t care, but I certainly cared now.

At least my captor had a name.  But the best thing now was to go home and go to bed.  Screw my bike.  I walked down the sidewalk, my head practically down my shirt, trying to be inconspicuous.  I hunched and walked quickly and hopefully quietly.

“Well, well, what do we have here.  The little bitch that Rowan wanted seems to be without protections.  No one knows what could happen to hiim now.”  A high nasal voice said from the shadows.  I continued walking, even faster.  Finally, he stepped out of the shadows.

He reminded me of a thin and scrawny half starved rat, and I almost had sympathy for him.  His red hair was disfigured and hardly there, his face lined with scars.  He was only my height.  He stood in my path.  I ignored him and tried to walk around him, twisting away when he reached out to grab me.

“I don’t know who the hell you are, but you better get away.”  I said anxiously, starting to run.

I heard his voice behind me, changing more into a growl.  “A challenge.  I like the feisty ones.”

His footsteps matched mine, two of his for every one of mine and soon I heard him not paces away.  “Why me!”  I muttered in exhaustion.  I stopped, watching in amusement as he flew by me, stopping after realizing I was no longer running.  He walked back.

“Screw you.  Just for the record, whoever you are. Hell with you, and everything you stand for.  I’m sick and tired of all this shit!”

I ran towards him, and he just stood there as I tackled him and started smashing my fists into his vampiric face.  Then he stood up.  With me still kneeling on him until I slid off, he stood up, just as easily as if I was air.  He brushed hair back from his face and grinned, his teeth shining all too fiercely in the waning moonlight.

Suddenly a keening noise hit my ears and I covered them with my hands, shutting my eyes.  When I looked up, I saw a heap on the sidewalk, with a dark shape standing over it.  I stayed still.

“You should have just waited at the medical center, you moronic little maggot.  Georg could have, would have, raped you if I hadn’t come like I did.” Rowan’s voice came from the figure.  Hastily, I got up, brushing myself off.  He reached over and clamped a hand on my shoulder, not too gently.  “Even if you did manage to beat him, which I highly doubt, I would have had no end to being harassed.”

“I care?  I just want to sleep!” I spit out a new batch of blood, this time from when he had stood up.  He appraised me slowly, looking up and down with distaste.  Finally, he nodded.

“You do need sleep.  Come on, let’s get you out of here. You almost have my sympathy, what with all you’ve been through tonight.”

He loosened his grip on my shoulder, but did not let go as we walked silently down the street.  After an awkward moment, I said, “What did you do to that guy back there?”

“I stunned him.  He’ll lay there until sunrise.  Then he’ll either get up and walk away or die.”

“Oh.  So when are you going to try sucking my blood or whatever it is you do to your victims?”

He laughed a low chuckle as we made our way along the sidewalk.  “Honestly, don’t you believe that if I wanted to, I could have raped, killed, beaten, sucked your blood, I would have done it by now?  For example…”

He stepped in front of me and grabbed my under my arms and lifted me up until I was his height.  Dangling like a toy from his grasp, I glared at him, surprised and annoyed and just like every other minute of the night, scared for my life.  I tried to be careful of my nose.

“You never did tell me your real name.” He hissed, showing his teeth.  They had razor sharp.

I said nothing.  What did he want my name for anyway?  He brought me closer, I was almost touching him.  His eyes caught mine.  They were unnaturally pale green in the street lamp’s light and I lost myself in his eyes.  I felt so dizzy and sick, like he was going to drop me into a vortex at any moment.  I felt like answering was the only way to save myself.

“Jackson,” I heard myself answering.  Finally, I found my way out of his eyes and I looked away.  The world, though strange it may be from 2 foot off the ground, was back to normal.

“As I was saying,” He continued, walking on, not letting me back on the ground, “I can do anything I want with you do.”

I kept my eyes away from him.  “You like to intimidate people, don’t you?  You’re such a bully.  Put me down!”

“I can’t.  But don’t worry, we’ll be where we need to be soon enough.  You’re lucky, I live in the same complex as you, you can get all your stuff.  And it won’t be an unfamiliar setting.  Isn’t that wonderful?”  He laughed, finally setting me down.  It was the best I had been treated all night.

“Mel won’t miss you, will she?  Still, you better tell her you’re leaving.  Say you got a girlfriend or something.  Or hell, she’s so stoned you could probably tell her the truth…”

“Hey, that’s my roommate you’re talking about!  Leave her alone!”

“Ah, but I’m your roommate now, and I’m pretty sure I’m more interesting than her.”

“Please, Goddess, deliver me from the nightmare of my life…” I muttered.

“What courses are you taking?”

“Well, I was taking Greek Mythology, Sociology, Psychology, and Computer Programming.”

“I see no reason why you can’t continue at college as long as you don’t talk about me.”

“And if I do?”

“Remember when I said I can do anything?  I meant it.”

“Threat.” I said, dully.  “I’m kind of used to them by now.”

“You learn fast.”

Painful Occurrences

I felt a sharp nudge on my shoulder and woke up, still balled in a sleeping bag. I looked around the interior of my new home. It was a bare little habitat, consisting of a bathroom, a small living room, where I was, a bedroom and a kitchen. A little apartment, on the first floor of my dorm. No one even knew it existed.

“Come on, you may be stuck with me but you still need to go off to college. You need to borrow my bike?”

“No. I can walk. What time is it?” I mumbled.

“Umm, I believe it’s, ah, yes, it is eight in the morning.”

“Eight?!” I moaned. “We got here at three! My class isn’t until 1!”

“True, but you have a social life to endure, right? Why were you in the graveyard last night anyway?”

“A bet. That I lost, obviously.”

“Not really. Mel and the rest are still asleep. Technically, you could get back there and wait for them to come get you. You certainly need more sleep.”

“Dude, you’re insane. Who the hell are you anyway?” I glared at him. He smiled, a genuine smile.

“Let’s see. I am…” He ticked off his fingers, “Your new, mysterious boyfriend; your savior; your worst nightmare; your overseer, and maybe a friend. Oh and my name is Rowan.”

“New, mysterious boyfriend? What the hell, no way!”

He continued grinning, “Well, why else would you move out of the dorm and into here? Its obvious you now have a love life.”

“You’re a bastard.”

“I’m aware. I like truth in a man, makes for an easy relationship.”

“Screw you!” I screamed.

“You wish. Oh, your breakfast is done. I hope you like scrambled eggs. Its all I could find on a short basis. I don’t normally host humans up, but now that I’m living with one…well, I could still eat you…”

I walked into his kitchen. Though I hadn’t seen much of it in the daytime, it was reasonably clean. The table was a glass top table with four chairs surrounding its circumference. The chairs were, as you can guess, made of red leather. I sat down in one and seconds later he brought over a steaming mass of scrambled eggs. It actually looked good. I glanced at him.

“Got any ketchup?”

“Fresh out.” He said firmly.

After I had eaten, I looked around. For something, anything to clean up. I felt so dirty. I glared at his back.

“Rowan, I need clothes…”

“I know you do. That’s why I’m leading you up to your place to get some. Right now, if you want.”

“Leading me? I think I know the way.”

“And I think you know the way out as well. So yes, I am leading you to your old apartment to get some clothes.”

As he walked to the door, I realized how clean and bare his room was. It was exactly as though he had just moved in. Or as though he was ready to move out on a very short notice. Shaking my head to clear that feeling, I walked next to him and waited as he opened the door.

As he opened the door, I looked longingly at the front door, wide open. He looked at it, and it slammed shut, making me jump.

“That’s better.”

We walked to the end of the hall to the back staircase, right next to the elevator. He skipped steps up, almost falling when he slipped on a gum wrapper. Hiding a smirk, I made my way up more carefully than he had, aware of such obstacles. I had taken a tumble more than once because of the complex’s messy inhabitants.

As I walked in, the dim hallway light reflected against the pizza boxes strewn across the room, and was absorbed by the clothes hanging off of everything. We didn’t even care what belonged to whom anymore… it’s not like we could tell. I closed the door in his face and bent over to pick up my clothes.

On the floor, along with some dirty socks, lay Mel, knocked out. By her lay a case of beer. Well, that was an underestimate. There were about six cases of beer on the floor. With empty cans all over the place. So that’s what she had done all night. I kneeled down by her, grabbing her shoulder and shaking her. She didn’t move.

It was really cold in the room. Extremely cold. I got up and backed away, tripping over clothes as I waded my way back to the door. Opening it, he still stood there. He tried to poke his head around mine, and I moved my head with his. Annoyed, he refrained from ordering me to move.

“Done already? You’re not carrying anything. She must be out partying, right?”

“Why do you say that?” I said tensely.

“I don’t feel the presence of another life force besides you and my own faint one.”

“Dude, Rowan, she’s in there, and she’s not moving.”

“Let me in.” He said, frowning.

I opened the door all the way and let him in. He slid effortlessly over the piles of clothes and unfinished homework, right to her. He knelt down and put his hand on her neck.

“She’s dead. Probably drank too much, by the look of those beer cans. You better call someone.”

“But, she was fine yesterday!” I stayed at the door. “Isn’t she just asleep?”

“No, she’s rather dead. Call someone, report it, and stay here. They’ll probably ask you questions. Say you were in my dorm. I’ll be in there. It’s obvious that she died because of too much beer. What a waste.”

“Rowan… can you stay with me? Just until they get here.”

He laughed, showing his teeth. They were normal in the daylight. “Well, they’d ask me questions too. Are you scared?”

“No! But…”

“You’ll be fine. I’ll stay here until you call them. And I’ll take your stuff down.”

“Alright.”

I picked up the phone and dialed 911. I realized my hands were shaking.

“I went to my boyfriend’s dorm last night and I just got back to mine and I found my roommate on the floor. I think she’s dead. There are beer cans everywhere.”

I gave her the information and she told me to stay in the room until the ambulance came. She said to hang tight and to try not to touch the beer cans. She suggested I might call one of my friends and ask them if I could stay with them for a while. I said that I was going to stay with my boyfriend. It was already planned. Rowan grinned at me when I said that. I kicked his shin and his gaze darkened. I stuck my tongue out, just as if I was 8, and went back to the phone.

It wasn’t as if I had actually cared about Mel. I had only known her for a few months anyway, because it was my freshman year in college. She was just…there. We didn’t really talk either. I stayed away from her drugs and she stayed away from my various CDs, my computer and my little work area.   We had barely said more than a hundred words in the entire time we had been roommates. I hadn’t cared about her. But still, it shocked me to see a dead body. And it reminded of finding my brother.

When I was 5. I didn’t understand then, what dead was, why Alex wasn’t moving. At first, my parents just told me he was asleep. But he didn’t wake up. Ever. And then one day, they dressed me in black and took me to a graveyard. I saw Alex again. Except he was sleeping in a different place. In a wooden box. I didn’t want my brother to be stuck in that box. I remember crying, when my parents said I wouldn’t see him again. That he was in a better place.

I remember that day. It’s the only childhood memory that has stayed with me for over 15 years. I was playing in our woods. We had a sprawling backyard then. It had over endless forest, and dad used to take Alex and I back there. Alex was 14 years old, and I was 5. Alex always played with me when I asked him to, that year. He used to help me climb up the tall trees and he would help me down them too. He would never tease me when we were in the woods.

Mom couldn’t find Alex one day, so she sent me out in the woods to look for him. I found him in our favorite tree, laying face up with his arms hanging off of the plywood platform we had put up there. I shook him, but he wouldn’t wake up. I saw a knife laying near by, one of the hunting knives that dad had when skinning deer. I paid no attention to it, because Alex always carried a knife with him. It was not until much later that I realized, that knife had dried blood on it.

His arms were hanging off the platform, and my parents are very closed up about the topic, but I’m pretty sure he cut his wrists. I’m still baffled as to the reason he committed suicide. I thought we mattered.

Sighing, I pushed the flashback away and bent to pick up clothes from the floor. I handed them to him quickly, roughly, and not a minute later he grabbed my hand along with the clothes, pulling me up to look into his worried green eyes. So pale, they could have been transparent.

“What’s wrong, Jackson.” He said. It wasn’t a question. It was an order.

“Nothing.” I said, turning and trying to bend to pick up more clothes. His grip changed and he twisted me back up to face him.

“There’s something wrong. You’re crying.”

I pushed him away, wiping the tears from my face. “I don’t want to talk about it, alright?”

“I guess. You gonna be okay?”

“I’m always ok.” And he let go of me. I handed him more clothes. I frowned at the computer.

“What about my computer?”

“I’ll carry it down, don’t worry. Take these clothes down to the room, and I’ll bring the computer in just a second.”

“Its heavy.”

“And I’m a vampire. I’ll be fine.”

I shrugged and walked out, struggling with the blue and purple tees and jeans that lay in my arms. I made my way slowly down the stairs. When I got to his room, he was standing there, with the door open.

“What took you so long?”

I looked in the room. My computer, desk and all, was set up down there. My eyes widened. “Holy crap! What’d you do, magic it down here?”

“No. I carried it. Got in the elevator. Why?”

“You’re weird. Really weird. Just to let you know.”

“Yeah. You better get back up there. They may be looking for you.”

“Oh yeah.”

I walked up the stairs. No one was in the dorm room. I collapsed in one of our ragged arm chairs, closing my eyes. I opened them to a hurried knocking at the door. I stepped over the crushed beer cans, and opened it to find two police officers and a paramedic standing at the door. I opened it up.

“You need me at all? If not, I’d much rather get out of here.”

“We should be fine. Where will you be?” The older one looked solemnly at me.

“Room 17 downstairs. I should be there. If I’m not, I’m probably being bitten by a vampire. Later.”

I walked past them, and instead of going back to his room, I went outside and sat down on the wooden stairs. I pulled my knees up to my chest, attempting not to rock back and forth. The early morning sunlight beat down, and the birds chirping all around me, their beautiful songs only made me feel more alone, more doomed. The breeze came to me and like a pillow, surrounded me, offering me company and a chance to escape for a bit.

Sighing, I closed my eyes and started breathing deeply, taking the chance to get all the fresh spring air I could. I lost myself in the breeze, the birds, the sounds of excited college students. I felt only dimly the paramedics go by me, carrying Melynda.

“Jack? Come on, you still have a class to go to.” Rowan’s harsh voice called out from behind me. I hadn’t even heard him come.

“You’re not mad at me, Rowan? For disobeying you?” I rolled my eyes. He knelt down, and I opened my eyes to meet his own deep green ones. They betrayed no emotion, his face stern.

“You’re trying to get yourself killed. Stop it. Do you want to go to your class or no?”

“Well, let’s see. Stay with you or go to my class. What a big array of choices.”

“Stop being a sarcastic douche and decide, or you can stay with me all day and I’ll show you that there’s much worse things than death.”

“Sorry. But, you know, I have been through a lot. I think I just need more sleep.”

“Coming right up. Come on, let’s get you inside. I don’t like the sun that much anyway. The night is so beautiful.”

“Aren’t you allergic to the sun?”

“Kind of,” He said as he helped me up. “We have an aversion to it because we are, by nature,” He paused, reaching to open the door and hold it for me, “creatures of the night. But we can stand it, I guess.”

“Cool.” I said, walking the short distance to his apartment like room. “What’s today?”

“It’s Friday. Why?”

“Okay, since you aren’t allergic to sunlight, tomorrow, we are going to get this place refurbished a bit. Its not a mess, but its kind of bare. It needs decoration.”

“You giving me orders?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah. For now, at least. You have absolutely no taste.”

“Maybe. Oh, Jack, you can sleep in my bed if you want. I prefer the coffin anyway.”

I stared at him. He grinned. “Just kidding! My god, don’t be so jumpy. If I’m not here when you wake up, stick around the dorm. It makes you easier to find when I’m hungry.”

“Hungry?”

He sighed, grinned and walked away, making me follow. He led me to his room. Just like the living room and kitchen, the walls were bare white. But the bed was something else. Its was an antique 4 post bed, I whistled my approval.

“Have a nice sleep, kid.” He smiled, and walked out, shutting the door behind him. My clothes were already in a semi neat pile in the corner. Sighing, not even bothering to change into a night shirt, I collapsed on his bed, knowing no more.

Secrets

I woke seven hours later, to the sounds of my stomach rumbling. I rolled out of his bed, almost bumping my head on one of the uniquely carved posts. Groaning, I went over to the corner where my clothes had been. There was a single blue t-shirt and some cutoff jeans, neatly folded. On top, was a note. It read:

I went to wash your clothes. In case you wake up, you can wear these. I should be back at 6.

I sighed, and shut the door all the way. I stripped off my wrinkled black shirt and jeans, and slipped on the other clothes. I threw the old ones in the same corner. I opened the door to the darkened living room. There was no light besides a red digital clock that read 5:45 – he had no windows in his apartment. I fumbled around for the light switch, and eventually found it, a small one on the side of the living room wall. With one light on, I went into the kitchen and found that light.

Yawning, I opened his refrigerator and grabbed some leftover pizza, one of the only things left in the fridge. I stuck it in his microwave for a minute, and started ransacking his cupboards, looking for glasses. Only my luck, I had to climb on the counter to get them, he had put them so high up. With nothing in the fridge except milk, I filled my glass with water and set it on his glass table. I waited for the microwave to finish, and sat lonely at the table, nibbling on leftover pizza.

Walking over to the computer desk, sitting in the right corner of his living room, I turned my computer on. “Welcome!” it said on the screen, and I smiled. Just as it finished loading fully, Rowan came through the door, my lone basket of laundry in his arms. He stared at me uncomprehending, and then shook his head and gave a small smile.

“So you’re up finally?”

I nodded, and without another word, he put the basket next to the couch. He shrugged, and looked at me. His white…silk?, unbuttoned shirt matched his pale white skin and the jeans he wore were faded and torn.

“You can share the bed with me, or you can take the couch.”

“Couch.” I said immediately, and we both grinned, familiar now with my rebellion to living with him. It loosened the tension between us. It was the first time I felt anything for this strange, disturbing super-human.

“So what am I expected to do here, as your… what’d that ass call it… Dane?”

Rowan’s look sharpened. “One. You’re not a Dane. You don’t want to be a Dane. Ever. Two, I don’t expect anything of you except what I need and to keep your mouth shut. If not, as always, I have the choice of killing you. And you know as well as I do that I can do that. Easily.”

“What’s a Dane anyway?” I murmured, ignoring his outburst.

His gaze took on a frown, and he said slowly, “Remember how I found out your name?”

I nodded. “Yeah. You caught me in your eyes.”

“Well, that’s what we do. But instead, we make them… they can’t resist anything that we do to them or order them to do. They’re mindless slaves.”

“Why did… Cian… say that the Danes were better off than humans?”

“That’s nothing of your concern.” He paused. “Did you care for Mel at all?”

“Not really. But it still disturbs me… seeing my roommate dead, on the floor. She wasn’t even 22!”

“Why were you crying then?”

“Not answering. And if you have any morals whatsoever, you wont do the eye thing and ask me.”

“You’re right. It is not my problem. Want to play cards?”

We settled down, forgetting our conversation and secrets, playing Go Fish civilly. As we played, the silence comforted us unlike the stillness frightens some children. I looked at the clock, and it read 7pm. I sighed, and we put the card game down.

“What do you want to do?” He asked, stretching out. His shirt hung off to either side of him, exposing a pale yet muscular midsection. I swallowed. What I wanted to do wasn’t possible.

“I don’t know. You need some food in here though.”

“Well I happen to like pizza…but if you’d like, you can go get the food and stuff you had up in your dorm.”

I nodded, standing up. He stood also. I looked at him. “What? You’re coming?”

“Yeah… Georg will be up by now. I don’t need a repeat of the other night happening, especially not in my territory.”

“And I’m your territory?”

“No, you’re my property. This dorm building is my territory.”

“I see.” Holding back a sarcastic comment, I opened the door and walked into the dimly lit hallway. I ascended the flight of stairs, and walked into my now darkened room after unlocking the door. I flipped on the light. The stench of beer was gone and there were no cans or body on the floor. It was so…empty. I skirted around the area that Melynda had been lying in and walked into our little kitchen. I opened a cupboard, taking out the boxes of pasta and some of the fruit in our little cooler.