The fire was everywhere. Not just on the car and the surrounding road, but on myself and on my family. The fire burned bright orange and red, almost as bright as the sunset. I humored myself with this similarity and quickly scolded myself for thinking such things in this situation.
My dad had an outstretched hand reaching for me, but I knew that he was dead. My mother was talking to someone, begging him to protect us; not to let anything more come of this. A blurred face, which radiated beauty and benevolence, appeared in front of me. His cold fingers wiped my reckless tears off of my burned cheeks. Shh he had whispered.
I was just a kid.
I am suddenly awake.
I'm no Hollywood star so I don't gasp with breathless meaning when I am brought back into the real world. Instead I am lying, almost ironically, dead under the covers that hide me. My apartment has a mild stench and the sounds of the city are anything but fascinating.
My hair is oddly perfect as I stand up out of the safety of my covers and make my way quietly to the bathroom.
Looking at my reflection, I know that I am no longer me. Well, a living semblance of me anyway. My face appears to be paler and my lips are a rosy red. My eyes are striking as they reflect off of my non-breathing pallor and my hair appears to be the only source of life on me as it sits unharmed and without any visible knots on my head.
I guess I am in this for the long haul.
Someone knocks on my door and I am in a bathrobe within seconds, hardly registering that if my bathroom is at one end of my apartment it would have taken me more than just a few seconds to reach my bathrobe elsewhere in the room.
"Hello?" I answer the door, expecting some colleague warning me that I must not lose another day at work; or at least the mystery guy that had made a debut in Lucas's thoughts.
But it is just Lucas himself.
"Hi Carol Ann," He says in what he believes to be his most loving voice. "How did you find your first night of rest?"
"Restful." I humor him, my words are clipped and he looks slightly hurt. "I'm sorry; I am just trying to get a hold of everything right now. Last night was so interesting that I haven't grabbed a proper footing of my situation." That sounded right.
"Oh," he says in a quiet voice. "Well, it will become easier once you give it time, I assure you. But for today, you have work! I am curious as to how you will deal with your new life and this job you call so dreadful."
Well, I'm glad this is entertaining to someone. "It's nerve wracking, I won't lie, but I have to get it over with." I make a gesture towards the kitchen and explain when I have his attention, "Help yourself, I have much wine that we can share. I will buy some more today after work."
With a silent nod he follows me into the bathroom where I am preparing the water to fit my ideal temperature.
"After work, I would like to take you somewhere." He says calmly, his accent echoes smoothly off of my tiled walls.
I nod and start stripping; just because I felt no longer the same connection with Lucas (not that he knew any differences had happened between us as of late) I still feel the remaining confidence I had felt the day before in concerns with me going aux natural in front of him.
I can feel his eyes on my every crevice and I tell myself that he is simply enamored with a lie. He believes that we have a connection and though I had only established otherwise mere hours before I could not counter his thoughts with any less vigor. He could not read my mind and nor could I read his, but let's face it, do I want to read his mind when I know that he is hiding something?
"I will search out breakfast in your kitchen," he finally announces once I am under the abnormally hot shower.
Having him outside of the bathroom and my thoughts gives me an odd sense of freedom and I start to contemplate the dream that I had just bared witness to. It had been of the accident... could my mind slowly be remembering the forgotten events? The man with the blurry face had felt so familiar... like someone you are forced to forget, but your heart still holds onto for dear life. Weird.
My office is busy, as any other day, and the usual sounds of constant ringing of the phones and the chattering of my gossiping co-workers would have given any human a headache. But unfortunately for me, I'm not a human anymore. All that I can attain now is a bad attitude as an outcome of the annoyance of the noise. My boss, a pudgy over-indulger of a man, is making his way towards my desk after he spots me placing my handbag down. The old beaten wood of my work station would have fooled anyone into thinking that I was nothing more than a secretary. This had most likely been their aim; this nearly killed my self-esteem and had played a small, but important role, in my suicide plans.
"Glad to have you back with us." He simply announces, gives me a look that says shouldn’t have come back, and walks back to whatever it was that he had been doing.
The rest of the day was tedious. I had a stack of memos on my desk and instead of asking what had been wrong; my co-workers stared me down and gossiped with each other. My enhanced hearing did not help matters in the least.
By the time that I was heading down in the elevator I was exhausted. Not physically, but mentally. I can only hope that I can outlive these emotions that I had been so weak to overcome as a human. Exhaustion turns to surprise as I see Lucas waiting for me by the large double doors leading into the building, then surprise turns into remembrance as I recall him wanting to take me somewhere. I barely flinch as some women from my office ogle at Lucas's more than fine form.
"Had a good day?" He asks, I note, with a slight false wonder; he clearly has to tell me something.
"Same as always," I don't give him anymore; something about his question unnerves me.
"It will get better," he concludes the topic with what I realize to be composure, as if he doesn't really care whether it indeed gets better or not. "Now, remember that I told you this morning that I want to take you somewhere?" I nod. "Okay good, because I know you must be curious about starting work again so soon, but we need to go somewhere important, and no is not an option since you are now one of us."
Might as well had said, you are a vampire, suck it up.
"I don't understand," I say, without giving the topic much thought. I am focusing more on the fact that I have just realized Lucas's emotionally lacking questions.
"We need to travel somewhere; you need to quit your job. It is holding you back." This all comes like daggers at me. The fact that I have to leave makes no difference, but the idea that I have just gone through torture in a place that had ultimately cost me my life for no apparent purpose makes me mad. If I am not going to work here much longer than why I am still living this lie?
"You encouraged me to work," I begin as we walk into the long tunnel that will lead to the subway lines on Spadina Street, the sound of our lone feet on the cement makes me uneasy... there are usually musicians around here. "And now you tell me that I have to leave, why all the excitement for nothing?"
He stops me suddenly and grabs my arm. Let me remind those of you new vampires out there of something I learned that instance: your vampire parent; your maker—is a hell of a lot stronger than you. So when Lucas grabs my arm I feel the need to collapse onto my knees in pain. He looks over me with a face full of concern, hurt, worry, and anger—the works."You need to come with me; with us."
That's when I hear the footsteps, almost like water at the beginning of all torrential downpours that promise nothing but floods. If my heart could beat it would be doing so right now. I am weak from lack of wine and any red meat that would strengthen me and I curse myself for not enjoying lunch.
Within seconds I am surrounded by shadows that indicate that we are not alone and I struggle, for once, against my captor. "What is going on? Lucas!" I whine as I feel his hold tighten.
"I loved you and I protected you; yet you..." His voice trails off and I catch a glimpse of madness in his eyes as I realize that he has left out the fact that he also made me. "I knew the moment that you glimpsed my thoughts of Patrick you were not entirely mine. When I could not hear you; sense you any longer, I knew the process was done."
"What are you saying?" I ask, feeling the hands of others as they begin to lift me off of the cold concrete floor.
"You have loved him before; loving him once more would not hurt you."
"I have never met him before!" I shout, dignified.
"Oh but you have, you just don't remember."
"What?" I ask, "The accident?"
"No," he answers wickedly, "the accident was only the beginning."
Meaning dawns on me and I finally look Lucas in the eye, "The beginning?"
"Yes," he acts out an artificial act that is no longer part of him, since he is undead—the act of taking in a heavy, preparatory breath. "The beginning of the biggest vampire connection that the underworld has ever witnessed."
I stare some more, confusion still clearly visible in my face, I am sure.
"Carol Ann, you're not as simple as you may have thought. My biting you was only a reminder of who you were, who you are." Before they carried me into any unknown territory in Toronto that lead me to a hidden airport, Lucas confides in me one last note; one last memory. "You are the only person to have ever been bitten by Patrick; the only person he has ever loved—that causes us some great difficulties."