"Follow him! Follow him!"
"Remember, don't be too close."
"Ugh, I said I got it!"
Dan's voice started to annoy me. I had understood everything he had told me. I had to coordinate with Sheryl, watch the target leave, follow him to his apartment, and then kill him before he entered his room. "Well, in case you forgot," he lightly added. I could hear a smirk in his words.
"I won't," I insisted, keeping my voice low that only the microphone stuck to my jacket could catch it.
I could see the target—Evan Hammilton, according to the data—started to get out of his car. He was an owner of a massive drug factory located in New York and a client of his wanted us to kill him, saying that this Evans had manipulated him, taking one million dollars from him or something, I didn't care. Well, I thought that was what people do, especially business people.
The target seemed drunk. His steps were unstable and he kept mumbling something about payment. He even dropped his keys twice. The drug Sheryl had given him was working. I almost scoffed at the irony. A drug dealer didn't even know that his drink had been drugged.
This mission would be far easier if I just did it my way. Well, if only I hadn't had this microphone on my jacket, I could've just flashed and broke this person's neck. But if I did, Dan would yell, "What the hell is going on?" because he'd hear heavy noise from my microphone that would be actually just the air I passed. And here I was, being obedient to Dan's perfect plan, getting bored as I was waiting for this target to open his apartment door so I could silently shoot him from where I was standing.
"I'm gonna shoot him now," I whispered. There was no reply, except a sound of clinking. I wonder what Dan was doing right now. I thought they were just waiting for me to execute the killing. I then aimed the target, right in the middle of his head, and pulled the trigger.
The target fell down. I could see the bullet had planted to his skull.
"Dan, I've shot him," I said as I was walking to check the corpse. When there was no response again, I started to think that there was something unusual this time. "Dan?" I slowed my pace.
I heard nothing from the headset I was wearing. It was dead silent here, so if there was any sound on the other side, I was sure I could hear it. "Dan?" I stopped my feet now. Still no response. I threw a glance to the man I'd shot to make sure that he was dead. Deciding that it might be just a connection error, I continued. The corpse's back was facing me.
I was about a feet from the dead body when the realization hit me.
Oh, please, no.
I started to connect the situation. There was suddenly no reply at all since I'd shot the man.
I bent down and it was all becoming clear. The corpse in front of me wasn't Evan Hammilton, it was Daniel Grant. I had killed Dan.
Sunshine came through the space between my curtains. The light touched my bare chest as I stared at my ceiling. My whole body felt heavy, so did my heart. I was on my bed, totally awake now. I finally ended my restless sleep—thanks to the climax of my dream. The scent of blood filled the air. I wasn't sure what time I had fallen asleep. Blood stains were on my bed, some drops were even on my body. Dried blood covered my lips. Blood bags sprawled around my now-messed-up-room. I had tried so hard to not destroy everything in my room—or my house, or simply everything I met, including people.
I barely noticed that I still held an empty O negative blood bag on my right hand. My phone suddenly buzzed. One… Two... Three times. A text message. I tossed the empty blood bag to the floor, and flashed a glance to my hand, checking if there was any blood stain on it, because I didn't want any blood stain on my white phone. I grabbed my phone from the nightstand beside my bed without looking. When I read the sender's name, a little spark of hope appeared.
Rachel. Finally. I quickly opened it.
What's up? J
I almost smiled at that emoticon, something I didn't find really useful in my phone. I sighed. I tapped the blank white box, ready to type something, but then my thumbs froze. It would be somehow awkward to tell her everything through a text message anyway. I thought I would just try my luck. I tapped the number on the screen and hit 'Call'.
I waited, getting ready to be disappointed if she didn't answer my call, again. Not that she didn't want to, sometimes she left her phone somewhere while she was busy doing something else. But then I guessed I was just lucky. She picked up at the fourth ring.
That was our usual greeting on the phone. There was a long pause. It felt like I didn't want to say anything. Sometimes we didn't need words, we just needed someone's presence. But in this case, since it was a phone call, I couldn't just make her hold her phone for nothing. Fortunately, she started.
"Clay? What's up?"
I sighed. "Rachel, I... You know... Uh...," I stammered.
I rubbed my eyes, trying to think properly. As I realized that I didn't think I could tell the whole story exactly, I groaned, defeated.
"Hey, hey. What happened? Are you okay?" she sounded worried. I got her attention now. I could hear a creak. Maybe she had jumped on her feet, alarmed if I was hurt or something.
"I...," I tried to start but the words wouldn't come out. "Humanity... sucks," I choked. That was the only thing came out from my mouth. I covered my face with my free hand.
"Dan? Your partner in crime? What's wrong with him?"
"Yeah. I... nearly killed him. But that's not the problem. I should have killed him," I whispered on the last sentence.
"Why? I thought you liked him," she said, confusion was clear in her voice. I could hear another creak. She probably sat back.
"I did," I stated. "And he betrayed me."
There was a pause again. I guessed Rachel was thinking, forming words for me. She just knew me too well. She knew almost my entire undead life, at least half of it. And she had been there when I had been betrayed, all over again, years ago. And she had been there too when I had destroyed a whole bar, including every single person in it, in a single hour. In fact, if she hadn't showed up and stopped me, I might have sucked dry everyone in the whole block in a killing spree. Now I knew she was trying to find the right words for me. I remembered telling Rachel about Dan several months ago, when we had met in London. I had told her how I had found a friend. I had told her how Dan had taught me many things. Rachel knew Dan wasn't a good person, but she never judged. She had been happy to hear that I had gotten a friend.
As I recalled it, feelings emerged to the surface. Anger. Sadness. Tiredness. Upset. Regret. Disgust. But worst of all, hurt. I felt my breath became heavier.
When the pause became too long and suffocating, I interrupted, "This is why I don't want to feel in the first place, Rachel. It's easier that way."
She didn't say anything, probably didn't know what to say, so I continued, "I... I should've killed him. I hesitated, no, I still hesitate—until now, since I can just hunt him down and kill him. Maybe I shouldn't have compelled him. No. I shouldn't have told him what I am. I shouldn't have trusted him—anyone. I...," I stammered. "Damn...," I heaved now. "I don't understand, Rachel. I can't understand." I closed my eyes and run my free hand through my hair. I sighed again, still heaving.
"Then don't. You don't have to understand everything in this world. Maybe that's the one you…," she stopped.
"What?" I snapped, my voice high. If she hadn't known me for decades, she would've thought that I was angry. At that moment, I didn't realized that she might have noticed my heaving. I almost forgot that she could hear it.
"Clay? Are you crying?" A stupid question, actually. There was a hint of surprise in her voice, but she was always careful.
"No," I groaned. But I did feel a single tear kept forcing to come out from the corner of my eyes.
"Can you give me some details? What did you compel him to do?" she started again after an awkward two-second pause.
"I had compelled him to kill himself, but then I cancelled it. I compelled him again to forget me and have a... better life. That was... stupid." I didn't know what better word could describe what I had done. It was kind of weird to admit this.
"No, it was not. That was care, Clay. You care about him. And maybe that's just who you are," she calmly said. I closed my eyes, listening to her words, breathing. "I know you well enough. And that's something you would do, at least for me, for a friend. Well, you can't prevent yourself from feeling, you know. And you can't choose what to feel."
"I hate this, Rachel," I whispered. "I hate being not able to be one-hundred-percent evil. Aren't we monsters?"
"Nobody is," she quickly stated, ignoring my sarcastical question. "Nothing is one-hundred-percent, Clay. You should know that. And don't be."
Damn it, I know that. I knew that nothing was perfect in this world. Sometimes we just needed someone to say it, though deep inside, we had already known it. I didn't say anything. I just closed my eyes and listened to my slowing down breathing. So did Rachel. After a couple of minutes, after my breathing had calmed down, I finally started again. "Rachel? You still there?"
"Yup, I'm here."
"I'm sorry," I admitted.
"It's okay." I could hear that she was smiling now.
I sighed. "Where are you now?"
"Paris." Her voice was lighter now.
I remembered our visit to Paris together in 1997. Great views, great food, and lots of shopping. I had learned how to speak French long ago before that, so it hadn't been a problem to stay there for a while.
"Good, as usual. I got a nice hotel. I'm just staying here for 2 months anyway."
"Hotel?" I remembered that she'd already owned an apartment—or flat, as she always said—there, even more than one.
"Yeah. It's having a fashion show week, so I'm staying here for a while."
"Oh. The best hotel in the city, huh?"
"Sort of," she chuckled.
There was a pause again. I guessed I was never getting better on the phone.
"Sorry, uh... I just... I don't know how to..." I let a heavy sigh. "I guess I miss you, Rachel."
She chuckled. "Me too. I'm sorry that I don't call you regularly."
"It's always me who need you," I chuckled dryly, letting the words came out though it could be a little rude. Well,but that was true.
"Don't say that." She sounded serious now.
"That's true. You're the one who always helps."
"That's what friends are for, right?"
I smiled. Seriously smiled. "Well, thanks, mate." I tried to copy her British accent. It made me sounded like that deception expert on the TV show I had watched.
"Not again, Clay," she laughed. "You're welcome."
"So, see you around?"
"Yeah. I'll give you a visit soon. Will you be okay?"
"I guess. Thanks, Rachel."
"Sure. Just don't push yourself too hard. Okay?"
"I hope so."
"Just try." She added some additional unnecessary stress on the verb.
"Bye, Clay." I could hear the smile in her voice.
"Yeah, au revoir." Then I could hear her laughing and muttering 'bloody-something' before the line cut.
I sighed. I did that a lot lately. Then before I realized that I was still holding my phone, a smile appeared on my face. That's what friends are supposed to do, huh?
I glanced at my phone screen to see what time it was. The digital clock showed '9:34'. Well, I was still definetely not okay. But I was good enough to get up and out of my bed. I looked around and groaned at my chaotic room, silently cursing myself. I picked every blood bags in 30 seconds and then quickly throw them up to the big trash can in the kitchen downstairs. Then I noticed that I had some blood stains on my hands and then quickly cleaned it. I had just realized that my throat felt heavy and my gums still tasted like blood. It would be delicious, but now I was just too full and the taste was nauseous. I grabbed a glass, filled it with cold water from the fridge and drank all of it.
I leaned on the counter and put the glass down. As I stared at my empty house, I wondered what I was going to do now that I had no job. Of course it wasn't about the money, but finding something exciting was somehow difficult for me, since I had tried so many "hobbies". Thinking about jobs made my mind drifted into the people who knew me. Sheryl, Barrett, Edgar, Samuel, Boss… I had compelled Dan, but what if they asked Dan about me and found that he had no memories of me? The impact of one person being compelled could be like a domino. I had to compel them all. Maybe this was why Edna had told me to not use compulsion too much.
I decided to take a shower before doing anything. I went back upstairs and found that I had to change the sheets on my bed too. I took the dirty sheets with a sigh and dumped it in the basket downstairs before finally went back and reached my bathroom using my vampire speed. I wondered why I didn't use my normal speed just to waste the time since I had plenty of it.
I saw my reflection at the mirror and realized that I was a mess. If it hadn't been because of the bags of blood I had drunk, I would look even more terrible. I stared at the mirror for minutes before finally brushed my teeth. The taste of blood finally left my mouth. I put off my jeans and took a shower.
I let the hot water soaked myself. I recalled the event of yesterday and the words Rachel had said. "Don't push yourself too hard," she said. But with all of these feelings, how could I not? Sometimes I wondered how she could deal with them. Rachel accepted every part of humanity and never seemed having a problem with it. In fact, she was the one pushing me to embrace mine. And she seemed successful. Sometimes I just wanted to blame her, but I never could. I owed her too much. If there was really something called 'best friend forever', she would be the one, though we never knew what would happen in a few decades, or years, or months, or even days. Even when you stopped being human, your human qualities never left you. Damn it, that was even Rachel's words. Oh, scratch that. That was something I had realized myself, my own words that she often used to convince me.
I only needed five minutes to clean myself up, but instead, I spent about twenty minutes under the shower. Fortunately, it wasn't for nothing. I felt refreshed after the shower. I opened my wardrobe and decided to wear a simple white T-shirt and a pair of dark jeans. I didn't have much color in my wardrobe. Most of my clothes were black or white, with some touch of navy, grey, and some other dark colors. It wasn't for the sake of completing the image of a vampire, I just never liked bright colors.
I put on my boots and went downstairs, but not before I grabbed a fresh jacket from my wardrobe. I took my abandoned watch on the small table beside the couch and quickly wore it. It showed '10:12'. As I grabbed my car keys from the same table, I rearraged a what-to-do list in my head. With another sigh, I guessed I was ready to face today.