“Lauren, where were you?” My mom asked the moment I stepped through the doorway. Her voice was laced with an equal mix of worry and reproach that seemed to be an innate skills moms had.
My mother was the antithesis of everything I was. She was small (I was tall), sort of stocky (I was just lanky), a frizzy brunette (My hair had always been flat and a dull black) and generally optimistic (I was a teenager). Above all; She was normal and I wasn’t...
“I was on the boardwalk.” I grumbled more than answered.
“Why did you skip class? Your Principal called me at work, Lauren, saying you’d left the building without informing anyone.”
“Someone decided soak me in grape juice during lunch.” I replied. “I came home to change and couldn’t bring myself to go back… I kind of left in a panic…”
I only had two modes of communication when it came to any discussions with my mom, the trademarked teenage apathy and tearing up and babbling, that time, I went for the latter. Instead of scolding me or trying to make me feel guilty, she came close and embraced me with her big, powerful arms and I lost my mascara for the second time of the day.
“Do I really have to keep on pretending?” I paused. “I wanted to hurt them so badly, show them I’m not… Weak… It’s… so hard… keeping it inside, letting them spit on me… I know I could hurt them, make them afraid and they’d stop… I could… break them.” My hands were balled into fists and I felt my blood burning, pumping stronger than ever, every cell in my body catching fire.
She squeezed me stronger, taking my breath away and slowly, I calmed down.
“I feel sick…” I said once I felt better. “You always told me I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am, I’ve accepted not being cis, but I can’t help to feel like I’m a monster…”
She dragged me to the couch, it was an old beaten up thing we’d found in the trash, I’d gotten it up by myself four stories before deciding to repair it, sewing new cloth into the cushions that had fallen prey to cats.
“You’re a good person Lauren, I know that. But what you are, it’s addictive. It’s why it’s important to keep it under control… Plus your father would often tell me stories of his kind...”
“It’s rare you talk about dad…”
“In a way, he was a nice person, he did some bad things, but he never was anything but sweet toward me and our friends. In my sixteen years old heart, I loved him. He’d often tell me stories of his life and his kind, those like you were part of it. You were ill omens, dangers to them and people around you… Which is why, when I found I was pregnant, I was scared of what would happen, I considered abortion but couldn’t bring myself to go through it… So I fled, I went to my aunt and uncle’s and they let me stay for a while. Then you were born, the most beautiful little baby a mother could hope for.”
I snuggled against my mom.
“I wish you could have grown up normally, without having to abstain from sports or avoid conflict, without having to move around. But I’m scared for you, Lauren, that they’ll find you…”
“Mom? I think I’ll be okay now. I know what to do. Can I go to my room? I need to relax...”
“Dinner will be ready in twenty.” She said, giving me one last squeeze.
Unless you’ve actually done it, you have no idea how hard it is to make stakes that looks good and can be used. Especially when your only tools are kitchen and pocket knives. I could have probably asked to borrow Jeb’s, the building’s handyman, toolbox but I didn’t want to risk raising any suspicions.
I didn’t rush into it. It took me awhile to get what I needed. I’d cannibalized the legs of a beaten up chair I’d found in the trash for the stakes, then I’d snuck up into the corner chapel to get some holy water in a plastic bottle, although I didn’t believe in God I had some crosses as it was a mandatory part of the cliché goth outfits --I hadn’t gone for pentacles as I didn’t want people to think I was a satanist or anything, as that would have made things worse-- add in a couple of garlic bulbs, some silver bands as an improvised brass knuckle and last part of my toolkit was a crowbar I’d stolen at the back of a store in the boardwalk after someone had left it there.
I have to admit that I had no earthly clue to what I was doing. My mother had ever only accepted to talk to me about my own heritage, something that I’d gotten from the father I’d never met, and never about what else there was. I didn’t know if she knew anything either. So I had no idea what could kill a vampire. So I packed anything I could.
When I wasn’t working on it or in class, I spent my time looking up anything I could find about Sebastian Coil. I’d crossed sunlight out of the list, there were videos of him during the day; at court, at a fundraiser and the opening of the Greenway bridge. Which meant that vampires were either immune or he had some form of acquired immunity, sort of like the daylight rings in vampire diaries (Sue me, I like the show.) The other thing I knew was that vampires did have a reflection.
Looking into Mr Coil’s life, I found something about my inhuman detector, whenever I saw videos of the man, I could feel that nudging in my guts, but the same wasn’t true for pictures. Which gave me more questions than anything. Maybe I needed to see the mannerism, expression or how their body reacted to stimuli? I had no idea, but at least I understood one of my limit.
Sebastian Coil’s life seemed odd if you looked at it. He was the adopted son of a wealthy but elusive industrialist around the town who had died and left him his empire. There weren’t any pictures of the old man. If I had to guess, Sebastian Coil was his own father. The media were endeared to him, they were one step away from heralding him as the next Jesus.
Last thing I prepared, was a game plan. It wasn’t hard to find Mr Coil’s estate, there were no bigger ones in the whole of Mountainside, the big, posh neighborhood for those with as much money as mortgage on their soul. A quick check on google maps and I could see a rough outline of how the place was arranged. The Mansion formed a U with a pool arranged in the center of the building. Not too far was the guest house, a smaller, more restrained construction and at the far end of the area with it’s own entrance from the streets was his own personal orphanage. The whole place was surrounded by a tall brick fence which by the street view I estimated that it stood at maybe eight feet. There were three entrance through the fence; one for the Mansion, one for the Orphanage and a last one on the side only big enough for pedestrians to enter.
My knowledge of the building’s floor plan was extremely limited, but from reading interviews, I knew his office was somewhere on the left wing’s second floor and that he confessed to spending most of his time there.
All in all, it had taken me maybe a week to plan this. Although I’d been bullied and insulted just like usual, I hadn’t given it any thought or feelings, I’d instead focused all my drive into this. Now I was ready…
I’d been born for this. I wasn’t going to be ashamed and scared of what I was anymore. It wasn’t a curse.
I’m a Dhampir. I was made to be a hunter. It was time I acted like it.
It doesn’t matter how much you’ve thought about what will happen. How you imagine your big damn hero moment. You’d never think that an assassination attempt would be preceded by an hour long bus ride to Mountainside in the middle of the night.
But there I was. Seated on the uncomfortable plastic bench at the back of a bus going painfully slowly to city’s posh uphill neighborhood. I wasn’t even quite sure why the place had a public transit, if you could afford a lot here, you could afford half of Oceanside, Greenbank or Bayview. I doubted anyone needed to take a bus. Maybe it was for the groundskeeper, security guard and other lackey rich people liked to employ. That made sense, so I went with that explanation. And I shouldn’t complain, without it, I’d never have had the chance to attempt this monumental idiotic idea, it wasn’t like I could afford a taxi.
I got off not too far from the side entrance and saw that the top of the top of the fence was topped by barbed wires, that hadn’t been on the street view, maybe they’d been put after the street view pictures had been taken. That put a damper in my plans, but I didn’t let it get to me. Instead I walked to the side entrance, the gate was a simple wrought-iron one with an electronic lock, the nearby sidewalk had an indent, probably for the groundskeeper to park, In the shades of naked trees I could see what looked like a garage.
As I got closer, I heard talking.
“Baby, baby, Please, stop talking for a moment.” It was a man’s voice, probably in his thirties. By how he talked he seemed to be on the phone “I know that, I wish I could be with you and Emily, but if I lose this job, we won’t be able to aff--” He stopped to listen. “Okay, I’ll talk to Mr Coil later, can you please put Emily on?”
He kept talking and I took a moment to listen, I was always more perceptive than others, and so I stopped to listen for any sign of someone else, all I heard was one man; his excited breathing and the words he said on the phone.
I took the opportunity and jumping over the gate. There weren’t any footholds one could use to climb and it was fairly tall. It’d have kept a human out, but it hadn’t been designed to keep me out. I landed on the other side fairly quietly and the man hadn’t seemed to hear. I had thankfully had the good idea to pad my bag with the old scraps of a blanket to prevent the stakes and weapons from making noise as I moved.
“Hey kitten? How are you feeling?” The man said. “You know I love you, don’t you? I’ll be home later tonight, I’ve even brought a gift for you --” He continued to speak like that and I moved away, keeping out of the little paved pathway that lead to the door and instead hopping from tree trunk to tree trunk to minimize how visible I was. Thankfully I could see well in the darkness, so I avoided the occasional dead branch.
Thankfully there were plenty of picture of Coil’s house on the internet, he was apparently a big socialite, hosting events every now and then. So I had a half-baked idea of the floor plan. I knew there was the Foyer, with the staircase, One side had the service areas while the other the entertainment ones. I knew Coil’s office was somewhere on the left wing’s second floor. In retrospect, I had no earthly clue as to what I was doing…
I prowled around the mansion for a while, looking for signs of activity. There were about five guards outside, two at the main entrance, one at the side entrance and two that seemed to patrol around. One of them passed unnervingly near, but he passed by without noticing. I kept this for maybe twenty minutes until I found something promising:
An open window.