Any and all comments welcome. This is my first use of first person in quite a while and first try at this genre ever, so any criticism you can offer would be appreciated.


Prologue: Summer Night

The first thing you should probably know is that our town is kind of a party town.

We're not really close to anything, but we're bigger than most of the tiny places around us in the hills, and we've got legal gambling and beer available, as well as a laid back police force, which is all it takes. They bring in money and usually stick to a few blocks in the middle of the town, and of course all our parents make it clear we'd better not be found anywhere near that area no matter what our excuse. And, really, it's not the kind of place to hang out, since fights break out regularly and people go missing now and then, so for the most part everyone does. But it creeps out a little to the rest of us, so a lot of the high schoolers tend to stay out, even if we're not mingling with the transient college students. There's an aura of cool at being out late, even if you're just doing otherwise lame things like taking a walk through town. Rose liked to take advantage of the time to smoke, and we were both night owls of a sort. Even late at night there'd still be a bit of activity around to liven things up, and there were plenty of bright lights about, so much that you could rarely see the stars.

It was late summer, and she was going to be moving before the start of school, so we were trying to spend more time together, and not-quite-midnight walks were part of that.

The second thing you should know is, Rose was obsessed with vampires and stuff like that, which was the other part.

We generally walked in a circuit around town, avoiding the party district in the center. That day we'd reached the richer section, starting at the new McMansions. Rose hated the newer stuff, though I, having less developed taste, thought they looked nice enough.

"That's because you don't know anything about architecture," Rose said authoritatively. "They're fake cookie-cutter imitations of real mansions for people with no taste who rely on corporate decorators to tell them what's popular at the moment and they are ruining society."

Once we reached the older section we slowed down. The bigger trees were found there, with a few of the trees already having tinges of color in their leaves from the cold, and the yards were far more diverse. Flowers of all sorts were everywhere, and overgrown rosebushes leaned onto the sidewalk in places.

A chunk of them were up for sale or just seemed uninhabited. "I wish we were moving into one of these," Rose said, eying a large three-story sprawling place with giant trees on either side that spread wide branches to block the sky.

"Me too," I said, though I meant her staying in town, and we walked silently for a bit. We passed another walker out like us but traveling on the opposite side of the street.

"Wonder who he is," I said then, and we started to make up a story for him when we reached the midpoint of a hill and were distracted by a mover's truck.

It was, as I said, not quite midnight, but still a good deal later and darker than movers are usually active. They had lit up the place somewhat but it still can't have been easy, especially with the big furniture they were unloading. A dark-haired guy, presumably the owner, was berating them to be careful as they moved what looked like a wooden dresser.

Rose's assessment was predictable: "Vampires!" she breathed.

She was more than half joking, but I said anyway, "Can't be. That guy's got his son with him." I was always like that, demanding flaws be reconciled even in things neither of us really believed. "A vampire wouldn't have a kid."

"Sure he could," she said. "Vampires can have kids now." Then she added, "Besides, what else could it be?"

The highlights were too bright, causing glare on any light surface and turning the whole thing into a badly contrasted black and white photo. I couldn't really make out any colors, and the man and his son, who looked tall enough to be our age, were standing a little off to the side, so only the front half of their faces were lit up.

The mansion they were moving into was another of the sprawling and leaf-covered gothic types, built on a raised area of the ground. One of the guys almost dropped another large piece of dark, unidentifiable furniture, and was immediately subject to a tirade on so much as scratching the wood by the man.

I conceded the point to Rose. "Vampires."

We hung out and watched for a little bit at Rose's insistence. We were standing in the middle of the sidewalk, not hiding or anything, but with the bright lights I don't think anyone would have been able to make us out in the darkness, even with the streetlights around. If they did see us, no one told us to stop staring, and if they didn't...well, it wasn't like we were doing anything wrong. After a bit, with nothing that we could really call a coffin for certain and the man, despite how bad-tempted he was, never turning into a bat or wolf and attacking people, we got bored and continued on our walk.

"I wonder if he's going to go to our school," Rose said thoughtfully. "You'll have to tell me, you know."

"I'm not asking him!"

"How can you pass up a chance like that?"

I rolled my eyes, a gesture lost in the night. "You could go back and ask them right now," I pointed out.

"Yeah, right, Eleanor," she said, and I could make out her tossing her head a bit in a way that typically accompanied her own rolling eyes.