Netheniel let out a shallow breath and raked a hand through his hair. The light breeze swirled around him in the dark alley, and lights trickled in from the streets. A few minutes had passed since he settled against the brick wall.
His internal clock’s time guessed around twelve. He had the next five hours to figure out what he had to do next—yet he couldn’t. His mind drifted from what he really needed to think about.
His father forced him out of the one place he felt peace. This man had been the only person who stood for Netheniel in the end. Even through the times where he thought the burns, the inner churning, and the raging seizures would finally kill him, David was there for him.
Netheniel rubbed at his face and let out a deep sigh. His teeth dug into his lip as he thought on, drawing a slight string of blood from the tender tissue. It flooded into his mouth and immediately his mind went blank.
Blood—the taste didn’t cause the churning burn in his stomach. It was tasteless to him, but for the first time in forty years, he didn’t feel like vomiting from a taste.
It terrified him.
Netheniel swallowed down the tainted saliva and gasped. He wanted to get the faded taste out of his mouth, yet it almost seemed ingrained into his taste buds. It became more prominent to him, developing a taste.
“Shit,” he quickly stood and rubbed at his lips. A smear of dark liquid came off onto his hand, and with a panic sensation that took over him, Netheniel rubbed it onto his coat.
What am I?
In all his years, Netheniel had never figured out what he had become. David studied him and researched myths and lore, yet there wasn’t much about him. He hadn’t developed the features of a vampire, nor had he shifted into a beast and lost his humanity like a werewolf.
There were thousands of myths about immortals, from cursed to blessed, yet nothing truly matched exactly what he was.
Maybe we weren’t looking hard enough, he thought as his tongue darted out to feel the cut along his lip. It wasn’t there. Netheniel pursed his lips and looked down at his hands, turning them over. There wasn’t anything wrong with them. What about his teeth? His tongue slithered along his teeth, feeling the smoothness of the canines, but they weren’t any different.
A voice echoed through the streets. Netheniel ignored the noise as he continued to check himself, running his hands over his years, shoulders, before setting on his mouth. His fingers prodded his teeth once more. They hadn’t changed in the last few seconds.
Netheniel blinked and turned towards the street. The bartender had come out from the bar, swinging a familiar bag over her shoulder. Her gaze spanned out as she searched the area.
The woman was looking for him.
He stepped out from the darkness of the alley and started towards her. The woman’s back was toward Netheniel as he came up to her. Intelligible mutterings could be heard from under her breath.
She whirled around and gasped. “Frank!” She chuckled, “I’ve been looking for you.”
Netheniel flashed a weak smile and nodded. “Yes?”
The woman stuttered and stared for a moment, her gaze slightly unfocused. “Uh-eh-um, here,” she said after a long moment and clumsily stuck out her hand. “You forgot this.”
“Thanks,” he replied in politeness and grabbed the handle of the bag. Their hands brushed together, and a current struck through him. It was like a light switched on in his mind and Netheniel narrowed his eyes. In his ears, a pounding of a heart quickened under his stare as Netheniel yanked the bag from her hand.
There was something wrong. He had the urge to bite down on his lip in frustration as the woman slowly backed up, her eyes wide and hands shaking. Netheniel could tell she was nervous, but for what?
Netheniel nodded his head at her before turning on his heel. Flee, his instincts told him, run.
“Frank,” the woman called.
Netheniel halted in his footsteps and let out a short breath. With a small glance over his shoulder, he saw that the woman had slowly come up behind him and reached out to touch his arm. Netheniel shrunk back from her touch and turned towards her fully to glare. “Yes?”
“How long are you going to be in town?”
He blinked, surprised by the question. “Only tonight.”
“Why are you here?”
Netheniel loosened his posture and let out a disheveled sigh. With a shrug, he met her curious gaze. “I’m just passing through.”
The woman nodded slowly before reaching out her hand. “I’m Caroline,” she said before motioning towards the hand.
Netheniel glanced between the hands and her watching eyes. Letting out a huff, he reached down and shook her hand, ignoring the strange tingles that spread out through his skin, generating from her touch. With a nod, he gave her a short smile before backing up once more. “Nice meeting you, Caroline, but I must get going.”
She frowned, but didn’t protest. “Good bye.”
Netheniel left the streets. He took the first route that came up in his mind, and in the next twenty minutes, he found himself standing in the small park before the City Hall. His muscles shook as exhaustion took over, and Netheniel settled himself against a bench.
“I’ve really got to get out of here,” he muttered to himself before covering his face with his hands.
The next moments were silent. Netheniel took deep breaths to calm his nerves and thought of different things to do. Now that he realized the danger of staying, he was ready to leave—though reluctant. His teeth dug into his lip in thought, and this time he didn’t take note when the tolerable taste filled his mouth.
Sighing, he sat back. His town of Bethrick settled in Maine.
I could go to New York, he thought before shaking his head. There were too many people in that state.
Leaves crunched. Netheniel’s head swiveled towards the sound, his plans forgotten. In the darkness, he could see the individuals leave on the ground, yet he couldn’t find where the sound came from. His nerves hadn’t settled before, and now he was more on the edge.
With a deep breath, he stood. Netheniel continued to look around in suspicion and raked his hand through his hair. Something moved and his gaze followed it. A few more leaves crunched under what Netheniel thought were feet, before something appeared into view.
Three pairs of eyes could be made out of the coverage of the trees.
Netheniel’s back stiffened as he clutched his fists.
The figures continued forward. As they stepped out of the coverage of the trees, Netheniel could make out one familiar person among the three. It was the fourth guy from the bar, the one who seemed ashamed of his friends.
Netheniel narrowed his eyes. The trio didn’t stop until they were barely yards away. The familiar man was the one who spoke up.
“I know your name’s not Frank.”
His words were the only thing that cut through the air. Netheniel bit into his lip and nodded. The atmosphere these three produced was threatening—he felt it was dangerous to deny them.
“You are Netheniel Bater?”
Netheniel gritted his teeth before letting out a withheld sigh. “Why does it matter who I am?”
The man grimaced and stepped forward. He straightened his shoulders, and snorted. “It matters because you look exactly like this young man.” He dug through his pocket and pulled out a picture, which contained a picture of David, his wife, and a slightly younger picture of Netheniel. The edges of the picture were tattered and the speckles on the surface could show how old it was. Forty five years, to be exact.
Netheniel glanced between the picture and the strangers, a slow sadness creeping into his chest.
“Who are you?” He questioned with a quirk of his eyebrows.
The man pursed his lips and nodded. Netheniel was confused for a moment about why he did that, until a hard object hit him square in the back.
Netheniel face met the soft, wet ground. He grunted as the object fell with him and hands gripped his wrists. His body was jostled, but only because of the person that held him down; Netheniel held no protest against his attacker.
He kept his face buried into the ground. There was no fight in him.
A warm breath caressed Netheniel’s neck as the man’s boots came into view. “You know about the murders, I’m guessing.” The man paced before Netheniel.
Netheniel bit into his lip and stared at the details of the ground. His captor shook him violently when he didn’t reply.
“Yes,” Netheniel replied after a moment.
“Is that why you’re leaving town?”
“My father suggested I left so I wouldn’t get caught in the storm,” Netheniel said in a calm tone. “Our church has had several funerals over the last few weeks.”
“Have you been involved?”
Netheniel pursed his lips, feeling the sting of the cut.
“He doesn’t breathe, Matt,” a feminine voice called from the figure on Netheniel. “Only when he talks.”
There was a pause as the woman pressed down on Netheniel’s back. He closed his eyes for a moment. Breathing wasn’t mandatory for him, which was true. He still had human instincts, besides the need for food and drink, so he barely noticed whether he breathed or not.
A hand slid into his hair and tightened. His head was lifted painfully so that Matt could meet his stare.
“Alright,” the man said. “Take him in.”