Authors Note: Welcome to my first story on fiction press! I thought this summer would be a good chance to start writing my own stories online instead of just fanfiction. Normally I don't write supernatural, but this is the secondary storyline of a graphic novel idea of mine, and I wanted the chance to get a feel for the characters before putting it into drive. Hope you all enjoy!
Extended Summary: The year is 2018, and people are beginning to speculate the existence of vampires and other unworldly monsters. While Vampires (a dying breed) do exist, they pose a relatively moderate threat compared to truer evils, the worst of which mankind has no knowledge of. A government sponsored "Cultural Belief Research Program" called Alliance is all too aware of the demonic buildup plaguing the planet, and is beginning to make an effort to control the worst of it. Two of their bounty hunters have found reason to believe a young dormant vampire may be intended for a puppet by one of their largest threats, Incarnate. And while Alliance rarely condones wasting their better bounty hunters on such trivial tasks like weening out a dormant vampire, the implications of this case are enough to spark their interests. However, once the boy was subdued, it became clear to the bounty hunters that his vampiric blood barely scratched the surface of what was wrong with him.
This is the story of a young musician who died trying to prove he wasn't a monster.
NIGHT CHILD: Ace's High
Chapter One: Fear of the Dark
"Have you run your fingers down the wall and have you felt your neck skin crawl, When you're searching for the light?" ~ Iron Maiden
December 1st, 2018
The light. Oh god, the light.....
It forces its way through my swollen eyelids, prying them open. Dear Christ, it feels like they've been sewn shut. I turn away from the light and onto my aching side. After shrugging off a sleep that beckons me back, I open my eyes to the floor.
Where am I?
And then it hits me.
The pain. The searing, white hot pain. When I first realize it, the intensity makes me convulse. It's coming from my head. I lift myself briefly from the ground to find a small spot of dried blood on the floor. I can't stay up to long.
Stay calm. Just think. Think of where you are....
I remember last night. I was leaving the restaurant after speaking with the representative from BloodWork Records. That's right....I had just signed the contract. He had paid for the meal. He laughed when I told him I didn't own a car, he offered me a ride home....I declined. I walked outside, down the street, and....
I try to move my hand up to push the hair from my face. At first, it feels as if my muscles are clenched, but as I tug, I realize my hands are bound behind my back.
Panic sweeps over me as I roll onto my stomach. I'm in a dark, cold room. Chains and garbage bags litter the sides, and bars are wielded on to the windows.
The light. I turn back to the light and face a door with a chain covered window at the top. Light seeps in, and I see bloodstains reflected on the floor. I open my mouth to find I can't make a sound.
God help me.
I slam my coke down on the table as Maxwell walks into the room. His hair's a fucking mess, and he's still wearing the same bloodstained Shabutie shirt as yesterday.
"Enjoy your beauty sleep?" I ask.
He yawns and stretches, revealing the cursive scroll of words tattooed around his neck. He sits down next to me and grabs my coke.
"How long you been up?" he asks.
"Since eight," I say. "About ten hours ago."
"Did we pick up any food after last night?" he asks.
I shoot him a dirty look, but there ain't any point to it. He's still half asleep.
"Take out in the fridge," I yawn.
"Mhhhm," he grunts.
"Were you drinking?" I ask.
"Kinda hard not to, night like last," he laughs sadly.
I shake my head.
"If you're gonna make it like this, you gotta toughen up. Been over a year now," I mumble.
Maxwell looks at me and I have to stop talking. Shit, I hate him like this. Maxwell is one of those people who uses humor as a defense, but every now and then, he gets shaken and you see how vulnerable he really is. It makes me uneasy. I hate vulnerability. Not on me, not on anyone.
He glances down at the bloodstains on hist shirt and pauses, mid bite.
"You don't think I hit him too hard, do you?" he asks.
"Mandalay checked on him this morning. She said he was moving," I say. "Other the the fang marks we confirmed, she said he seems pretty normal."
A conversation about the nineteen year old starving musician we attacked and locked up yesterday while Maxwell inhales stale fried rice is about as normal as it gets around here.
"I don't have a problem when they got it coming," Maxwell says. " I'd kill a vampire and look him right in the face laughing. I mean, I have. But sneaking up on a kid with no idea and slamming him over the head with a bat? Tell me it's not fucked up."
"Metal bat or wood?"
Maxwell and I turn as Mandalay walks back into the room.
"...Um, wood," Maxwell replies.
"He was moving around in there earlier. He opened his eyes. Not normal behavior for someone who should have a concussion." Mandalay reports.
Mandalay is our assigned representative from Alliance, the closest thing to a government sponsored program with the intent of studying and defending against the supernatural we'll ever get. Nine times out of ten, Alliance outsources to bounty hunters like Maxwell and me. Also, nine times out of ten, they are a monster pain in the ass.
At least Mandalay is our representative. She's barely older than 18, one of those romantic goth types with long blonde and beaded dreads and big, black eyes. Alliance pulled strings for her because they think she may be related to one of the Hellsings. Her job is to make sure the monsters we kill are a threat, and makes sure we do things as...humanely as possible. Girl's impossible not to get along with. She gives you the facts and doesn't bother sugar coating them. I like that.
"I have to ask you guys," Mandalay says. "Why him?"
"The list of names that Incarnate had." Maxwell says. "There were three names, this kid is the last. Last two before him were both dormant vampires, so says the guys who had that case. One was in jail for manslaughter, the other was already drinking from people. "
"Did you read this boy's file?" Mandalay asks. "He seems harmless. Sad, even. His parents abused him into his early teens and then abandoned him. Still, no criminal record or need for psychological evaluation, even gradated high school with a 3.5. He's been out of the foster care system for about three years, and he's actually done quite well playing guitar. He's acquired a very large cult fan base."
"An Indy vampire rock star. Incarnate goes for the really obvious jokes. Let's hope no one at the club misses him." Maxwell says. "Could spell trouble."
"Are you certain you want to go through with the treatment, Heidi?" Mandalay asks. "Once we start, we have to stick it out. Even if he is a Stage A, it could mean nothing. He could regress and then just go right back to being a dormant. You know as well as I do that not all vampire's are evil."
She makes a valid point. There are less than three hundred full vampires kicking in the United States, and barely half of those come biting. Hell, even I've formed some nearly solid connections with a choice handful. The word Vampire doesn't hold nearly as much fatality as it may have twenty years ago. But if the Vampires that turned Ace had their orders from Incarnate like the others on the list, then something far more intricate is at play.
As it always is with Incarnate.
"I'm certain," I say.
Mandalay nods and gestures to the hall.
"Let's begin," she says.
I jolt to the flutter of a plastic, instantly regretting it. It hurts. Everything hurts. I hear whispers, but I cannot possibly focus. I pray they mean me well.
Suddenly, my head is lifted. I gasp as fingers skim the tender spot on my head, but they relocate in response. Something is pushed to my lips. Something cold.
I drink deep, tilting my head back and savoring as I do. The bottle is removed momentarily and I whimper for it—someone's putting something in my mouth. A pill. Before I can think to question it, the water is back and I can drink again.
When I finish, the hands replace my head down on the ground, this time on something soft. Someone's put down a pillow or blanket for me.
I swallow my pain and part my eyes to see a girl. She's petite and curvy, with dark highlighted hair that is parted in two strands and gets shorter near the back of her head. Next to her is a young man, maybe mid twenties, with shaggy dark hair and words tattooed around his neck. They mumble to each other, a sound my ringing ears can barley make out. The girl looks down at me, aware my eyes are open. She stops talking.
I open my mouth to speak. It takes me a moment to summon my voice.
"What…what am I doing here?" I whisper.
"We brought you here." the girl says.
"I think…I think I need to go to a hospital." I cough. "My... head is bleeding."
"The bloods stopped, the cuts already healing," she says.
"That he is even aware of his surrounding while he's in so much pain suggest something unworldly..." someone mumbles from behind me.
A few yards away there's another girl, this one with long blonde dreadlocks and feathers in her hair. She's taping garbage bags over the window. As I watch, the other girl pulls down my shirt collar and tilts my neck to the others.
"Someone's definitely drank from him, we'll find out if he was injected later. We'll wait till morning to check his body for other marks..."
Fang marks? My scars?
I tilt my head back, trying to show her I want to rest again. She jerks me back up, and I cry out in pain.
"That hurts..." I mumble.
"Heidi," the blonde girl warns from the corner. "Be gentle with him."
"You want us to be gentle before or after the cut test SLASH blood sample?" The boy asks.
"I want you to follow the rules and treat him humanely. He's done nothing wrong to warrant forceful treatment...."
Forceful treatment? Blood sample?
"Please..." I whisper, suddenly finding my voice. "Where am I? How did I get here? Who...who are you? "
Heidi exchanges glances with the man, who up until now has been relatively silent. He sticks his hands up as if to signify he wants no part in this explanation. The girl sighs and sinks back down to my level.
"Ace, my name is Heidi Black," she says. "This is Owen Maxwell, and over there is Mandalay. Right now you're in the basement of a house Mandalay provided us with."
"How do you know my name?" I ask.
She ignores me. She keeps talking.
"You are here because last night after you left the restaurant, Maxwell hit you, knocked you out, and tied you up. We brought you here."
It takes a moment to register. I stare at her and see the poison behind her eyes. She reaches out a hand and I shrivel back.
I open my mouth, but only a whimper escapes. They stare at me, broken and bloody on the floor.
"I...I have no money." I whisper. "I don't have any family or friends who could pay you ransom..."
"We know all about you, Ace Jayson. We know you've got no family, at least that you're on speaking terms with. We don't want money," she says coldly.
Her words send a shiver down my spine, throwing their intentions into the light.
"Dear God, what is it you want from me?"I whisper.
I force my aching eyes onto hers.
"You believe in God, Ace?" she asks.
I close my eyes. It hurts too much to look at her. To keep my eyes open.
"I'd like to," I whisper. "It's nice believing there's someone...watching over me..."
I feel a sharp sting cut into my wrist. I open my eyes. She's got a knife....a silver dagger. There's blood on it. She's cut me. Heidi turns to the blonde girl and nods.
"Cut's been placed, we see how it heals within the week."
I begin to shake as Heidi looks back down to me. She meets my eyes, locking onto them.
"What else would you like to believe in?" She asks.
It was not a good thing to say, it really wasn't. Either he misunderstood me or the shallow cut put some fear into him. Fear, while ugly, is actually good. It can help bring the beast out. But I don't like scaring the shit out of this kid. He's had such a messed up life, and now this.
Ace is somewhere between muscular and skinny, as if he's lost a lot of weight recently. His dirty blonde hair is died black in chunks. It's styled so one side is long and the other is short, but it must have been done a while ago. It's growing out.
It's also caked in blood.
"You don't have to do this." he whispers. "Please. You can blindfold me and leave me in front of a hospital. I won't tell anyone. Please... don't do this...."
"Ace, you're hyperventilating," I say. "Stop talking. Breathe. Listen."
He trails off into a whimper and sucks in a jagged breath of air. He's convulsing and if he gets too excited, he could vomit.
"have you been keeping up with these vampire theories online these days?"
He opens his eyes, staring at me. He shakes his head.
"Interesting stuff. There's this theory that Vampires spread their virus through two stages. The first is transmitted when they take blood from you and inject a certain type of venom from their fangs. The second is when they transfer blood into you. That's how you become full vampire. However, in the first stages when you've had only the venom, you can become sort of a hybrid. You can have strength, agility. You can heal. You can also have clouded judgment. You can get angry and hurt someone. You can be manipulated by the vampire that bit you."
His eyes are widening. I pause, turn to Maxwell. He shrugs.
Pffftttt. Some help he is.
"This theory...it says that sometimes, a person who's been bitten may not know they're a hybrid. They call it a dormant vampire. It means that it's just waiting bellow the surface until you get angry, scared, excited....hungry." I say.
"Are you saying....you....you believe that?" he asks.
"Seeing is believing," Maxwell says from behind me.
Stole that line right out of Sleepy Hallow, cheap bastard. At least I made up that line about God.
I look back down at Ace. His eyes are paralyzed....giant pools of terror. He shakes his head.
"Do you remember how you got that scar on your neck?" I ask. "The two little puncture wounds? How long have you had them?"
He closes his eyes.
"Since....m-maybe five or so years ago. I can't remember...," he stutters.
"Does the word "Incarnate" mean anything to you? Anything at all?" I ask him.
"...Reincarnation, is that what you mean?" Ace asks.
Good. That's a good sign.
"No, that's not it," I say.
"Please...what are you going to do to me, Heidi?" he asks.
"We want to see if you're a hybrid vampire. In order to do that, we need to lock you up in a dark place, feed you a...somewhat strict diet, and....see what that triggers in you. We don't want to hurt you, Ace. If it's any consolation, I can't see you as a threat even if you are a hybrid vampire. But someone else, they've got plans for you. And if they see potential for you to harm someone...we need to monitor that."
"....Are you going to kill me?" He whispers.
I turn to Mandalay, to see if she wants to cut in. She doesn't. Maxwell's already inching to the door. Guess it's on me.
"We hope it doesn't have to come to that, Ace," I say in return.
I stand up.
"We'll be back in the morning."
Well, that was the first chapter. If you read, please don't hesitate to leave a review! If there are any mistakes, I'll come back and correct them. The next chapter will be out soon.