The night holds many secrets. Secrets one can't even begin to comprehend. It holds the pain and suffering of some, the passion and lust of others, and the danger and excitement of the rest. It hides things others aren't meant to know, things others aren't meant to see. What lurks within its shadows is a danger more compelling than any mortal has ever lived to tell.
At her open window, Stella stood staring out into this dangerous night, just as she did every day after sundown. Allowing herself to become captivated by the beautiful and mysterious darkness she so loved and longed for. This night in particular seemed as if it were calling to her, pleading for her to become lost within its center to never return.
Stella rose from the floor of her bedroom and walked through the short hall with one too many picture frames to the front door. But before she could even get a foot out the door, a familiar voice called to her from the living room.
"Where are you going?" her mother asked impatiently with her hands on her hips. She wasn't one to ask questions, but she'd been having bad feelings all day at work as she sat at her desk. She knew something bad was going to happen that day. She knew it was only a matter of time. She usually never bothered her daughter when she wanted to leave the house, but she had to be sure she was safe.
"For a walk," Stella said, not even bothering to turn around. She opened the door, letting the cold wind whip her hair around into her face, then slammed it shut behind her. She pulled the jacket she wore tight around her and walked up the deserted street.
Like it's any of her business, Stella thought as she followed her drive way to the street. She laughed at herself. "Boy, am I hostile today," she mumbled with a grin and turned onto Baker's Street.
It was then she realized someone was following her. She didn't know how she knew; she could just feel it. Like you can feel it when someone is watching you, only you just brush it off, thinking it's only your imagination. She kept walking, praying the person was only coincidentally taking the same route. But she could feel his gaze burning into her skin and hear the bounce in his step as he closed in.
After a few turns down more empty streets she realized she was, in fact, being followed. Crazed thoughts raced through her mind.
Stella, she told herself. Pull yourself together. You're stronger than this, damn it.
Knowing how stupid it was, she turned around to face her stalker, giving him no time to run. The adrenaline coursing through her quickly dissipated and a blush of embarrassment touched her cheeks.
"Philip," she sighed, letting herself breathe again. Stella's best friend came out from within the shadows into the light of the full moon above. He was laughing at her, but trying to hide it while his bright blue eyes sparkled in the light.
"Got you," he whispered as he walked up to her. Philip put an arm around his friend as they began walking down the street.
"What are you doing out here?" Stella asked after her embarrassment withered away.
"What does it look like?" he asked, a smile of amusement resting peacefully on his face. "You know as well as anyone I'm no day person," he said laughing again.
Stella nodded and suddenly felt foolish for asking such a stupid question. Philip's skin was just as ghost-white as hers from the little sunlight it received. The two of them avoided the sun as much as possible. The dark was much more inviting to them; it always had been. Ever since they were little they'd only come out to play after dark. Their parents thought they were both insane. They'd even tried to send them to psychiatrists.
No one at their school really understood them, either. They all made jokes about them being allergic to sunlight. Stella didn't really care what they thought. For all she cared they could just go to hell. In fact, she'd really enjoy seeing that. Stella would give anything to see Silvia and the rest of her "gang" burn forever with a hot poker stuck up their asses.
"Aww, damn," Philip said. "Look who's outside. And I thought she was afraid of the dark." The last part came out as a mocking whine.
Stella's eyes followed Philip's finger and she saw Silvia. She sat on the front porch of her house, her face turned up toward the sky. Philip found a small rock and kicked it toward her, hoping to hit her in the face, but it only hit the sidewalk some feet away.
Silvia heard the sound of rock against cement and her face tilted back down. When she saw the two of them staring at her, she grinned. "You know," Silvia began with malice, "you two should really stick around until the sun comes up. I'd love to see the two of you burn to your death. It would just make my day." She laughed as the image played in her head.
"Yeah, and it'd just make my year to watch you burn in hell," Stella yelled back with an evil smile.
"Well well," Silvia retorted, "here come the fangs. Do the two of you enjoy sucking each others blood, or is it some kind of a hassle?" Silvia laughed again, causing the hair on the back of Stella's neck to stand on end. Philip decided to get in on the action and flipped Silvia off before they were out of site.
"Ugh," Stella growled out of frustration. "She's such a bitch. I hope she dies."
Philip laughed and agreed. He thought of some pretty decent ways of accomplishing just that, though, they'd never get put to use. Almost falling down with laughter, they went to Philip's house to sit out back and talk until it was so late that Stella had to go home.
"You sure you don't want me to walk you home?" Philip asked as Stella glided down his driveway and neared the street.
"Nah. I'll be fine. You should get inside anyway, it's getting late." After saying goodbye, Stella made her way back home. Once at the corner of the road parallel to hers, Stella sensed for the second time that night that she was being followed. Suspecting Philip, she turned around.
"Philip, stop-" but she didn't finish. Stella was shocked still to see not Philip, but someone else. The boy before her couldn't have been older than twenty. He was tall, about six foot, with hair as dark as the sky and skin the exact opposite in color. Dressed in nothing but black, his face stood out like a sore thumb. His eyes were the brightest blue she'd ever seen. In fact, they were too blue. Too blue to be human.
He was staring at her.
She wanted to run, she needed to run, but her legs weren't listening. Instead, they were moving towards him. Her mind eventually caved in to the outside-influence that was persuading her legs to move. Then, suddenly, a garbage can toppled over in the wind and his gaze left hers to investigate the distraction. Stella ran, as fast as her legs would allow her to, back to her house. She craved the safety of her room, the knowing that no one could harm her once she was there. With four walls around her and a locked window, she'd be safe. Stella ran inside her house, slammed the door shut, and leaned up against it, trying to catch her breath. She let her body sink to the floor.
After her breathing returned to normal, she went to her room, then gasped and struggled to breath once more. She nearly screamed when she saw him standing outside her window in the street, staring in at her. Stella turned away quickly, praying it was just an illusion, then turned back to convince herself he wasn't real. A sigh of relief came when she found the street empty.
What the hell's wrong with me? Stella asked herself. Was he real?
The next day at school, as soon as Stella saw Philip, she ran up to him to tell him what happened after they'd parted ways the night before.
"Philip," Stella said as she glared at him. He was staring off into space as usual. "Philip!" she shouted in his face. She waved her hand in front of his face and followed his gaze to see one of the most popular girls in school with her group of never cared enough to find out the girl's name. She was one of the few popular people in school that didn't bother Philip and Stella. Stella shoved Philip not so gently causing him to finally come back to reality.
"You're never going to get her you know," Stella said, gesturing to the girl he was looking at.
"I know, but I wish I could," he said and looked down at the floor.
It wasn't that Stella was being mean by say what she did. It was just, Philip had liked this girl for years. Ever since sixth grade when he'd sat next to her in class. She never even looked at him. Stella didn't even think she knew who Phil was. Philip had tried and tried to get her to notice him, but it never worked. He finally accepted that he'd always be invisible to her. They walked over to a table in the cafeteria and sat down.
"I need to tell you something," Stella said, seriously. Philip kept his eyes on her. "Yesterday, after I left your house there was some creepy guy following me."
"What? He didn't hurt you or anything did he?" he asked, looking her over for signs of some sort of abuse.
"No," she responded.
Stella was a touched by the amount of alarm in his eyes. Phil was like her brother, and he'd protect her like a brother would. She'd do the same for him. "He was just really creepy. Kinda hott, but creepy. I mean, he was wearing all black and his eyes were... looked... not human. And the really strange thing was that when I looked into them I couldn't seem to make myself run away like I wanted to. I started walking towards him, but then he looked away and I ran. When I looked out my bedroom window he was there staring in at me, so I looked away and then he was gone. I'm afraid I might have imagined him."
Stella looked at him and noticed he was staring off in the direction of that girl again. "Philip!"
He jerked back into reality. "What? What did you say?"
"Ugh... never mind." She got up and walked down the hall to her next class without saying 'bye. Annoyance flooded her thoughts and made her angry with her friend. He hadnt even listened to her! He'd been so interested in that girl that he'd completely blocked her out.
Maybe I just shouldn't tell him, she thought. He'll probably just yell at me for being so stupid as to walk towards the guy. The bell rang and she walked into her Accelerated English class. She really hated English; it was just so boring. Really, what's the point of an English class when you already know the language and how to use the words correctly?

* * *
After Stella finally got home from an agonzing day of school, she threw her backpack onto her bedroom floor and jumped onto her full size bed. Because of her weight, she sank in a few inches, but she didn't care. Just as she'd reached for her bag and was about to pull out a textbook to complete her homework with, Stella's mother entered the room with tears streaming down her delicate face and sobs jerking her shoulders forward as she tried to breathe.
"Mom, what's wrong?" she asked when her mother dabbed at her eyes with a white handkerchief and sat at the end of her bed.
She was speechless for a moment, her sobs silencing her. Finally, she got control over her emotions and attempted to speak. "Yurew bungle hjunst hadida," she said through her tears.
Stella caught herself before she made a sarcastic remark, realizing it wasn't the right time to do such a thing. "What?" she asked as kindly as she could manage. "I couldn't understand you."
It took her mother a while to stop crying. "Your uncle John died." Tears poured out from her mother's eyes once again and she stood up to leave.
Stella sat there, silent. Who's uncle John? I didn't know I had an Uncle John, Stella thought. Stella looked back up at her mother, needing to say something.
"Are ... are you sure?" she asked and her mother nodded.
"He was in a car crash, earlier today."