Clara walked outside with me, keeping a brisk pace that didn't quite match her grandmotherly appearance. She also kept a constant chatter that contradicted her normal demeanor. Usually she was friendly, but in a fairly professional manor; maybe it was the fact that she was getting out of that office-like building.
We walked to the edge of town, where a row of cars were parked, looking like they were driven quite frequently. Most of them were pretty low profile cars; there were two Jeep Wranglers, a Chevy Impala, a Chevy Trail Blazer, A Ford Focus, and several other common cars. There was only one car that stood out to me from all the rest: Max's Mustang. The one he had driven, when he had come to get me.
"So, my dear, which one should we take into town?" Clara asked, stopping in front of the line of cars.
"Umm... It doesn't really matter to me," I said, not wanting to decide which car this woman would be driving.
"Well, which do you like best?"
"Don't they belong to people? Why don't we just take whichever car belongs to you?"
She laughed, "Technically, all of these cars belong to me. I bought every one of them. Well... with the exception of that Mustang. That belongs to Max, but I'm sure you already figured that out."
"Yeah, I assumed Max owned this car, when he came to get me to join."
"He bought this car not too long ago. It's his pride and joy."
I smiled and followed Clara over to one of the Jeep Wranglers. It was green with black interior, pretty simple by looks. It was the perfect car to go off-roading in. We got into the car and I inhaled the sweet scent of a vanilla air freshener; it reminded me subtly of the way my mother’s car always used to smell. A wave of nostalgia hit me and I suddenly wished I could turn back time and be a little girl once more. I wanted to curl up on the couch beside my mom, in front of a roaring fire in the middle of winter, where she would tell Adam and me a story. That was back when life was simple.
"Are you okay?" Clara asked me, looking concerned, as she started the car.
"Wha- yeah. I'm great. Just... thinking." I hadn't realized so much of my conflicting emotions were showing on my face.
She nodded in understanding. We pulled away from the other parked cars and she drove into the trees. Just like when Max had brought me here, it looked as if the car would not fit between the small spaces, but it glided through as smoothly as if we were on a paved road in a Cadillac. I sighed and rested my head on the window.
"I'm sure it feels great to finally be out of the village," Clara said, as she drove out of the woods, into the big field, "I know one sometimes gets a claustrophobic feeling in there."
I nodded, "Just a little. I'm not used to feeling so confined. I used to go pretty much where I wanted, when I wanted. I used to love being with my friends, going shopping, seeing movies, going on dates... you know?"
She laughed a little, "Yes, I know that feeling. You know... you can still do all that. If you ever need a night out, just take one of the cars and go. I just need notification if you're taking one of them."
"Thanks. But really... I don't miss it as much as you might think. Since I lost Adam... I don't feel as if I need human contact as much as I did at one point."
"Don't turn yourself into an introvert, because of your loss. You need to be at your prime in all areas, if you're going to be one of us."
I smiled, "Yeah, if only I knew what exactly that entitles me to do..."
Clara sighed this time, "I'm not supposed to tell new members what we are doing, until they come close to figuring it out themselves..."
"I know. I was only saying it would make it easier to know what I had to do."
"Yes, and you seem like the type who isn't going to turn on us, if you found out sooner than others. Which is why I'm going to break the rules and tell you what we do."
"Yes. Only you have to promise me that you won't desert us, when you find out."
"Okay. As long as you're not, like, a group of assassins or something." I laughed a little nervously.
"Well... That's kind of what we do, really. We are set to kill our enemy at any cost. Your mother took great pride in her job."
My eyes widened and my breath caught in my throat, "My mother was some kind of... of killer?!"
"You must understand, she did not join for love of killing, but for the love of all that is good in the world."
"How could killing another human being be for the love of all that is good?!" I was starting to feel ill. What had I gotten myself into?
"You don't understand, my dear," She kept her voice calm and compassionate. She understood why I was upset, "We don't go around killing innocent people. The ones we are after are pure evil. They are out for blood. Blood of innocent people."
"What? I don't understand you. I'm starting to think you really are crazy, Clara,"
She kept her eyes on the road and I refused to look at her. Her voice seemed strained, as if she were trying to get a strong point across and trying not to scare me at the same time, "Amelia... the ones we are killing.. they aren't human. They used to be, but no longer. They are vampires."
I laughed humorlessly, my nervousness giving my laughter a little bit of a shaky sound, "You're kidding me, right? You expect me to believe that vampires exist? That we are trying to vanquish them back to Hell?"
I know it's a lot to think of, It really does sound insane. I remember when my mentor told me about it. The only difference was that I had done the meditation for a longer period of time and had come to sense the presence of evil in the beauty of the world. That's why we have you meditate. In some ways, we are also hoping you will find a place that our people will not see you, but will walk by often, therefore you will hear snippets of their conversation and maybe piece together what they are talking about."
"My meditation spot was in the woods, how do you figure a lot of people are going to walk by?"
"Max has informed me of this. That is one of the reasons I feel I need to tell you. You probably won't hear anyone else talking about it from there. He told me you hid yourself away to meditate."
"That's what I was always told meditation should be- a place where I can focus on internal things, not be disrupted by other people."
"I understand. Just most people do not go so far out of our sanctuary. Luckily for you, you meditate in the daylight,"
As her information began to sink in, my skepticism grew a little more pronounced, "Are you messing with me?"
She smiled sympathetically, "Unfortunately, no. I realize this information must be hard to take in, but I feel as though you should know now. I might not be around long enough for you to figure it out on your own...."
"What are you talking about?"
"They are getting stronger, my dear."
"What's that got to do with you being around? You're not saying..."
"To be almost unfairly blunt... I fear that I may be killed in the near future. They have come dangerously close in the recent months."
"Clara..." I was rendered speechless. Was this conversation really taking place? I had lost my mother, my father and, most recently, my brother. Clara was, with the exception of Max, the only person I felt close to and now she was saying our time would be cut short?
"This is a dangerous society. We are here to protect the others. Now, I'm not saying it's certain they will get me; I plan to fight to the death. It's only a precaution."
"I'm confused.... if it's not certain and you don't know what's going to happen, then why are we having this conversation?"
"Like I said, it's a dangerous lifestyle and we need to take precautions."
Still not feeling certain, I just nodded.
Finally, we reached the town where Clara liked to go shopping. I spent my day out of the village in a daze; vampires were supposed to be myths- Creatures made up by some guy with a twisted imagination... They couldn't possibly be real and yet here I was, thinking about a conversation I had just had with my mentor about them. About fighting them and helping to protect humankind. Clara spoke no more on the subject, after we pulled into the parking lot, filling up my void of silence with aimless chitchat. I tried to focus on her words, as I picked out and paid for the things I would need back in our village, but it was extremely difficult. After my longing for all that time to get out into the real world, I found myself yearning to be back in my little cottage in the forest. I needed to be alone to think.