I knew my dad and his girlfriend would be out at work when we arrived so I let us in and wasted no time creeping around the house. Instead, I raced upstairs and barged my bedroom door open. I left the floor as it was: it was only clothes, after all.
Fishing out a bag from under my mattress, I stuffed it solid with my favourite outfits. I made sure I was prepared for any type of weather since I had no idea where we were going.
'Is that enough clothes?' Jamie's was behind me but I could still tell he was smiling.
'Yeah, this is packing light.'
Jamie laughed, 'Don't forget your "sentimental things"…whatever they are.'
I nodded. 'I'll never forget them but don't you dare make fun of them.'
He smirked. Great, he was going to laugh.
Pouting, he put on his best puppy dog impression. I rolled my eyes and walked towards my bed without a word, lowering myself to the ground so I could extend an arm underneath. The tips of my fingers caught the edge of my memory box and I smiled. He didn't bother me: I'm a cat person.
Pulling the box out, I clutched it in my arms and hugged it. Covered in band stickers and bulging out from the centre, it wasn't the neatest of boxes but it suited me. I flipped the snap clasps with practiced ease and checked my treasures were still within.
Peeking over my shoulder, Jamie cracked up.
'A teddy? But it's brown and tatty! What could be so special about that? What else have you got in there?' he stuck his nose closer, almost within hitting distance, 'Ooh, two red ribbons. Yes, I'm sure they're very useful, must mean a lot, and what's that lumpy bag of rags that they're sitting on?'
'A jumper,' I spat through my teeth's gate.
'But it's the size of a large doll! Wow, just when I thought your stuff couldn't be anymore useless!'
I stood, inhaling deep, even breaths, and placed myself in his personal space. My hands were clenched and shaking, clasped tight to my sides.
'What did you say?' I asked, rage spilling off me in pulsating waves.
'I said your "sentimental" things are complete rubbish.'
Pulling my arm back, I whipped my fist through the air and slammed it into his nose before he could blink. I smirked like a cat with a fresh fish when I heard the satisfying crunch of cartilage. Blood streamed down his soft features in ribbons and I revelled in the beauty of ruby red on pale skin. It looked so out of place. Tilting my head, I licked my lips and drunk in the image before me.
'You bitch!' Jamie swiped at his mouth but this only smeared the it and a lone strand trickled down to his chin, spilling over onto his hand. I watched on in fascination as more blood poured out his nostrils to fuel the bloody fountain.
'What are you looking at?' he said, eyes glazed over as he swayed on his feet. 'Are you really that in love with blood?'
I nodded, slowly.
'Strange child.' He sniffed blood back inside his nose. 'It's supposed to be vampires that like blood, not necromancers. The dead are bloodless.'
I chuckled and bent down to fasten and pick up my box. Gesturing to Jamie, I told him to carry my clothes bag for me. It was far too heavy. Shaking his head in disbelief, he picked it up after wiping his nose free of blood. He did a better job of it this time. Together, we left the room and headed downstairs.
I locked the door behind us, checked everything was as it was and we were off. As the gravel crunched beneath my feet I allowed myself a silent wave to my old home. I might never see it again.
With a sudden flash of thought, I wondered if I should leave a note for my dad and then I decounted it: he was happy with his girlfriend now and it's better for him not to know where I am rather than worrying about animated corpses. Yes, it would be better for me just to quietly disappear.
'Where to now?'
'We're meeting Jasmine at the public toilets in town. From there, leave for the safe house.'
I nodded. 'Weird place to meet but I'll go along with it. I suppose the smell alone would keep the undesirables away.'
He stalked off and I watched from behind as be led the way. I could see his muscles move under his shirt as he walked and his baggy trousers didn't disguise his bum either. I found I was unable to wipe a smile from my face and was enjoying the view. That was, until he turned round and caught me staring.
He laughed, relieving the tension between us, and I couldn't help but smile.
'You're an unpredictable thing but, if you're going to play games like that, then I want my turn to.'
I blinked and screwed up my nose. 'You're going to hit me, too!'
'No, you idiot.' He laughed and stroked my arm, making me flinch. 'You just have to walk in front of me for the next five minutes.'
I flushed bright red but moved in front of him like he asked. What else could I do? It was a fair request, after all.
'Damn boys...' I made sure to swing my hips a little more than I needed to, just to get the satisfaction of making him drool. It wasn't often I was appreciated.
* * * * *
It took longer than it should have done for us to reach the public restroom. The jokes we'd exchanged as we swapped positions made the journey twice as long but it did allow us to arrive in good spirits, if nothing else.
'After you,' he said, flirtatiously holding the women's room door open and gesturing with his eyes for me to walk under his arm.
I looked down and blushed, shuffling past him, feeling his body heat as it hit my cooled skin. I shivered.
'Ah, so you two finally arrive…' Jasmine checked her watch, 'You are fifteen minutes late. I don't even want to know what held the two of you up. Those flushed cheeks tell more than any story you could weave…though the blood does stump me, I'll admit.'
If it's possible, I think I turned an even deeper shade of red.
'Sorry. We some fun, is that a crime?'
'It can be,' she said, straight faced.
My eyes widened and I clenched my teeth together to keep my temper: this woman stomped on my good intentions like they were rats in a restaurant.
'So…' She turned away from me and smiled so wide her teeth glistened in the dull light. I was glad Jamie wasn't looking: that was freaky. He wasn't maintaining eye contact with either of us and was instead staring at his feet. This didn't strike a harmonious chord in me and, suddenly, I felt like I should run out that room and not stop. That flinty glint in Jasmine's eyes didn't fill me with confidence and the way Jamie tried his hardest not to look me in the eye, even when I waved a hand to get his attention, really set me on edge.
'Are you ready?'
Jamie nodded and motioned for Jasmine to step towards me. I felt like yelling "traitor" at the top of my lungs but I stopped myself. There was no point in yelling, for help or otherwise: these two were part of a "clean up crew" and had already shown me they held no qualms about murder. I didn't want to be the cause of a bystander's death.
Instead, I crossed my arms and glared knives at my so-called friends. Jasmine ignored it and advanced with a predatory pounce in her stride. I promptly lost all dignity I had left and backed up until I hit the wall.
'Don't be scared,' Jamie said. 'I won't hurt you.'
'You're not the one backing me up against the wall!'
He shut his mouth after that.
Jasmine provided her own answer to her threat level, undermining any argument he could have made. Her lips thinned away from her teeth and she snapped at me, like the lethal strike of a snake. I shivered and shook in fear. This wasn't a joke anymore. These people, this whole situation, was real.
I heard Jamie sigh by the door but I didn't take the time to look his way: I didn't dare take my eyes off Jasmine. She was feral.
'It's okay April...I'm not going to mess up your pretty little face…if you hold still.'
I bit down on my lip, drawing blood. She reached into her pocket and took out a roll of tape. Pulling my hair out of the way with one hand, she wrapped the duct tape around my head with the other. There was no way I could talk now and my lip was smarting. Next she took rope from her other pocket and tied my hands behind me. I tried to flex them and found I could but not enough to get free.
I must have shown my frustration because Jasmine laughed.
'Don't worry. It will all be over soon.'
That's what I was afraid of.
The lights went out and she produced a fabric blindfold from nowhere. Disorientated, I slumped towards her, my balance messed up beyond the ability to stand. My chronic shakes couldn't have helped.
'I'm really sorry,' Jamie said, 'but we have to do this. You'll understand when we get there, I promise.'
I shut my eyes behind my blindfold, not that it made much difference, and hoped to god that he wasn't lying. I couldn't cope with the concept that this was the end of everything.
I had no idea who held which end but the next thing I felt was four hands lifting me from the ground and carrying me as if I weighed no more than a feather. Cold air soon hit my skin, attacking it until I broke out in goosebumps, and then I felt the warm, squishy comfort of a car.
Thoughts raced through my mind. Where was I going? Why were they taking me? Was I truly going to the safe house? Could I really trust them? All I could do was hope for the best because if they meant business there wasn't much I could do about it.
A seatbelt was fastened over my stomach where I lay. I knew what it was by its distinctive click. Then my head was placed in someone's lap. I felt them stroke my hair and I made the intuitive leap to Jamie. He was the only one to treat me with kindness so far, bar the little girl.
'It's okay,' he said. 'I promise.'
A/N: Sorry this one took so long guys!! I hope you're still sticking with me. Exams are coming up and I'm getting a little distracted. Be sure to poke me, hard, if I'm taking too long to update. Hope you're all well and hope to see you next chapter.