Author's Note: Please review, whether is bood, bad or ugly! This is a first draft and all input it elcome, even if you hated it.
Chapter One: Halloween
"Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind." C.S. Lewis
I was supposed to be having the time of my life.
Unfortunately for me, I was stuck at an overcrowded club with dollar jello shots trying to corral my friend Chloe while wearing a Halloween costume that was way too short and unforgiving in all the wrong places. We had been separated from our other friends for what felt like hours.
"Charlotte," my friend Chloe pleaded. "Just one more song, please?"
Chloe was my roommate back at the Lennox College where I was attempting to study to become a doctor. Chloe was doing really well at studying the different types of boys in each of the fraternities. She was a model-like girl with short platinum blonde hair and a smile that belonged in a Colgate commercial. I, on the other hand, had long, auburn hair and could only reach five-foot-six with the aid of a tall pair of stilettos.
It was Halloween and we were out at one of the hottest spots in the city, Club V, packed in like sardines with all the other college students. The jostling from the crowd trying to move made it pretty difficult to enjoy my first weekend out since I came to Lennox College.
I rolled my eyes as Chloe pleaded with me with her sapphire blue eyes. I let out a sigh of desperation and exhaustion.
"Fine," I said. "But I'm finding somewhere to sit down. "
"Ugh, Charlotte sometimes you are such a Debby downer!" Chloe whined.
I felt like I was swimming through a rip current in a sea of people as I tried to force my way through the growing crowd. A stranger dressed as a pirate looped his arm around me and drew my closer to him, gyrating his hips in ways that were otherwise unnatural. I slammed my fists into his chest, pushing me away from him.
"Get away from me!" I exclaimed.
"Aw, baby, come on, it's Halloween," was all he responded.
I continued to push through the crowd until I found an empty table full of empty champagne bottles and glasses. I made one final push through the abundance of people and sat down quickly with a loud, exhausted thud. I rapidly freed my aching feet from the pair of heels I had borrowed from Chloe.
I glanced over at another nearby table to see a burly man looking right back at me. In a room full of drunken college students dressed in Halloween costumes, he didn't fit in very well. In fact, he stuck out like a sore thumb: he was only wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The most surprising thing, however, was his eyes. Even from so far away, his eyes were so entrancing, almost unearthly as they continued to stare right back at me. I felt paralyzed as he looked at me like a lion stalking his prey. I felt a shiver overcome me.
"Hey!" Chloe interrupted, stepping between me and the stranger's gaze.
Suddenly, I felt like I had been woken up from a deep sleep. Chloe as waving her hands in front of me, trying to get my attention.
"Earth to Charlotte!" Chloe said.
"What? Oh, sorry," I said.
"What has my friend Charlotte so entranced?" Chloe said, glancing over to the man.
"Don't look at him!" I said, feeling my cheeks grow red with embarrassment.
"Oh, well I understand why you were staring. What a hottie!" She said.
"Stop it," I urged.
"He's telling us to come over. "
"I don't think we should," I said, trying to pull her down in to the seat next to me.
"Charlotte, you need to live a little. You're the only girl in this entire club that won't take an invitation from a hunk like that!" Chloe said, pulling me to my feel. "C'mon."
Reluctantly, I followed her as she pulled me by my hand. As we grew closer to the stranger's table, he was joined by another man.
"Oh, good! One for me and one for you!" Chloe said.
I sighed. "This is a bad idea."
"Live a little, Charlotte!"
When we reached the table, we were greeted by the two men smiling widely. It kind of reminded me of the way a used car salesman smiled at you when you walked into a car dealership. It was so forced; even I could see through it.
"You ladies look bored," the second man said. He was much smaller than the man I had gazed at before, but seemed just as sinister.
"I would feel less bored if you bought me a drink," Chloe responded.
The two men looked at each other and only smiled.
"How about a dance first?" The first asked.
Chloe let a demure smile dance in the corner of her lips as her eyes began to twinkle in a familiar way. Unlike most hunters who go on safari for dangerous animals only seen hallway around the world, Chloe treated the club like her very own hunting ground as she looked for her own dangerous game. Even though she was only the age of eighteen, the thrill of the night was based solely on who she had managed to entangle this time.
Never once did Chloe ever consider the vulnerability of her actions. To be honest, she probably didn't care very much. I honestly can't even remember what her degree aspirations were-it was as if she only came to Lennox College to take Boy 101 or attain that highly coveted Lennox College degree in Mrs. Studies.
Chloe was the irrational to my rational. She preferred to act first, and then think later. Sometimes, I thought this was going to be her downfall. Her bubbly, wild personality made me jealous some days. My most wild moment entailed wearing a pair of neon pink socks under my jeans once in eleventh grade. Chloe's wildest moment probably involved something I couldn't even fathom to think.
Even now, I didn't want to discern how this wild moment was going to turn out. I continued to stare at the man with his strange, almost synthetic face. It was smooth, like alabaster, but moved so naturally with his smile. As his eyes studied me, they looked much older than his age as though they had seen more than I could possibly imagine. I found myself entranced with his dramatic green eyes as the crowd seemed to almost fade from around us like it was only him and I standing in the entire club.
Oddly, it felt like he was fabricating this entire thing.
"Charlotte," I heard Chloe hiss, freeing me from my trance.
"What?" I responded.
"You're embarrassing me!" She said through her teeth, pulling me with her towards the dance floor. "You need to live a little!"
"I don't want to 'live a little.' I'd very much like to go home right now," I replied, pulling her my side.
"What's the matter?" The skinnier stranger asked.
"Nothing, Sergei," she giggled before turning back to me.
The great thing about our friendship was that we could almost have an entire conversation with our eyes with the simple raising of a few eyebrows, gestures with our heads and the narrowing of our eyelids.
Chloe grabbed me by the forearm, thrusting me into the chest of the larger man.
"Dance," she demanded.
With a reluctant sigh, I complied. I looked up to him and was met with the same dramatic green eyes that had put me in a trance only moments earlier. This time, however, I was met with a glimmer of something in his eyes that made a cold shiver slowly run up my spine. There was a hunger in his eyes. It was not the kind of "I want you now" hunger that I would have expected. Instead, it was the kind of hunger you might see in a lion before he pounced on an unsuspecting gazelle in the plains of the Serengeti.
I started to pull myself away from him as my mind began to scream at me to grab Chloe and run. However, I felt his cold hand quickly loop around me, pulling me closer to him with a vigor that almost knocked the air out of my lungs.
"What's your name?" He asked.
I couldn't help but roll my eyes. It felt ridiculous that even now he was asking my name.
"Abigail," I said quickly. It was my sister's name, but how would he know?
"Didn't I hear your friend call you Charlotte earlier?" He asked, suspicious.
"Oh," I faked a laugh. I felt my mind racing to come up with a quick excuse. "Charlotte is my middle name. I go by it a lot. "
"Right," was all he responded.
The song changed to a much more upbeat sound as we continued to dance. In my head all I could think of was escape plans amid the alarms that were going off in my head. He held me so tightly to him the thought of a quick escape seemed almost impossible.
"Where are the rest of your friends you came with?" He asked.
My heart almost skipped a beat. "How did you know we came with friends?"
"Lucky guess," was all he responded.
His grip around me grew even stronger as I felt the harkening of my heart's beat in my ear like a percussion group had moved into my ears permanently. I could no longer hear the beat of the music we had been dancing too. My eyes raced around the room, trying not to catch the eye of my captor as his grip grew tighter and tighter around me like a snake coiling its victim, suffocating it before it was going to be consumed.
My rescue came in the form of a drunken frat boy that bumped in the back of my captor pouring a cup of beer over him, forcing him to release me. I quickly turned around to face Chloe, who lulled behind me with Sergei like she was one of those cobras they put to sleep with a flute.
"Come on, we're going!" I said as I grabbed Chloe's arm forcefully and began dragging her to the entrance of the club.
"You're hurting my arm!" Chloe exclaimed. "What's the rush? I was having fun. "
"There was something wrong with that guy," I said. "They knew we came here with friends and that we were separated. We need to go now. "
I could almost hear Chloe rolling her eyes at me. I continued to tug on her arm and finally she gave in, although reluctantly.
Club V was located down a dark alley way that shied away from the bustling lights and traffic of South Street. If it wasn't for the long lines that wrapped around the corner of people anxious to get in, most people wouldn't even know it was there. It was known to be very exclusive-only certain people got in and I had been amazed that they had let me in at all. Chloe was a shoe-in, but I was much less demure than Chloe.
The alley way was now completely abandoned. It was almost 2 in the morning and most people had headed to other clubs or simply gone home.
"They're behind us," I heard Chloe utter.
"Hey, where are you going?" I heard one of the men call out. The other laughed like he had had way too much to drink.
"Keep walking," I commanded Chloe, holding onto her more tightly than ever.
A sudden rush of wind blew past us and we walked straight into the rock-solid chest of the man who had been dancing with Chloe just minutes before.
"I asked you a question," was all he said.
"Out of our way," I demanded with much more gusto than I felt inside.
It only made the men laugh more.
"We've got a feisty one over here, Luca," Sergei said as he slowly stroked Chloe's hair.
"Charlotte," Chloe said murmured. I could see her chest rise more quickly now than ever, her eyes pleading with me.
Luca, the one that stood in front of me, was so broad I almost couldn't see the end of the alley way that was bathed in light as if to show us our only escape. He grabbed me tightly around the shoulder.
I pleaded in my mind for some miracle, whether it be a police officer passing by or some club-goers eager for last call at one of Philadelphia's hottest clubs.
Suddenly, as if my prayers had been answered, we heard the front door of the club swing open and a lanky man began to briskly jog down the steps whistling a tune that sounded oddly like "Camptown Races."
"Help us!" I exclaimed in desperation.
The man only glanced at us and then our captures.
"There are rooms in the back for that, idiots! You're risking exposure," he exclaimed, almost hissing.
Suddenly, Luca's eyes grew narrow as he looked at the man. Two sharp canines began to descend from his gums as he hissed like a cat.
Chloe screamed. Sergei tightly gripped his hand around her mouth, silencing her, as he quickly sank his teeth into her neck. I let out a whimper as I tried to swallow my scream, my heart racing so fast that I could hear it in my ears again. Slowly, Chloe's eyes began to flutter as I saw the very life drain out of her. As quickly as he had begun to drain her, he dropped her to the ground like a rag doll.
The other man hissed back, baring his own teeth at Luca.
My heart began to pound louder and louder until it was the only thing I could hear. I had to do something. I had to run. I had to get him to let me go.
In desperation, I did the only thing I could do. I bit down on his muscular arm as hard as I could until I felt the metallic taste of blood in my mouth. Luca let out a growl in anger, releasing me from his grip, blood gushing down his forearm.
I ran before I even had a chance to look back. I ran like I had never run before in my life. I felt the muscles in my legs begin to burn and beg me to stop. I heard the echo of the footsteps behind me, louder and closer than before. Before I knew it, someone had gripped me by the shoulder so roughly it felt as though they were crushing my very bones. I let out a cry of pain and he threw me to the ground.
"Just like the old days," Sergei said, gleefully.
"Please," I pleaded. I felt like I was begging God himself for my life.
I was only met with a macabre laugh.
"Please, God, please don't hurt me," I continued as the tears welled up and suddenly poured over my cheeks like an over flown river.
"Shut her up, will you? People are going to start noticing," said Sergei. '
"Gladly," my attacker said loosening his hold on me as he lifted me from the ground. I felt his fingers dig into my skin painfully.
As I winced in pain, I saw a smile begin to curl in the edges of his lips.
"Now, I'm really going to enjoy this," he said.
He sank his fangs into my neck with such force it knocked the breath right out of me. I couldn't scream, I couldn't move. I felt a warmness course over me as the world around me became fuzzy. Everything around me became silent; I could only hear the pace of my heartbeat begin to beat slower and slower. It became hard to breathe as I desperately gasped for breath. It felt like my lungs themselves were screaming for air.
I fell to the ground like a bag of bones, almost like I was a shell and contained nothing else. My hands grasped at the ground around me, unable to grab hold of anything but the concrete below me. My sight grew fuzzier as my lungs continued to hold onto the last remnants of air that lingered within.
I began to think of my life, my parents and everything else. This was the way I was going to die; everything I had lived for seemed to be pointless. I would give back everything just for one single breath of air; one more chance to live. A sob couldn't have even escaped me. Trying to grasp to the life I was losing seemed so much more important.
Far off in the distance, I heard a scream break the silence of the night. Surely, someone had just found Chloe's lifeless body near the steps of Club V.
"Damn, she's still alive!" Sergei exclaimed in amazement.
Luca bent down to my level, cupping my face in his cold hands.
"What are you?" I managed to murmur.
"The swift wings of death, my dear, here to end your suffering," he said as he lay my head gently back to the ground. For the first time I began to notice the small red pool that began to grow around me. I finally let a small sob escape me, my mind finally weighed down with the gravity of everything that had transpired this evening.
"What do you want to do with her?" Sergei asked.
"Nothing," he replied shortly.
"Is that wise?"
"If I didn't just kill her, my blood will," was all Luca said.
The last sound I heard was the soft fall of footsteps and the sound of a gust of wind before the world went dark.
"Jane Doe," I heard. The voice was fuzzy, and far off. There was a pounding in my head like it was going to explode. I tried to lift my arm, but it refused to move. My body refused to move. I lay paralyzed in the darkness like I had just woken from a dream. I tried to remember the dream, but it felt like a wall had been built in my mind, not allowing me to remember even my name.
I dug into my mind. My name... my name... it wasn't Jane. It was something else. The more will I put into remembering even my name the more the wall in my mind began to give way and suddenly, it appeared.
"Charlotte," I heard a terrified voice murmur from a memory that I couldn't materialize in my mind. The wall grew stronger once more.
"Put her over there for now, we don't have much space," I heard another voice say.
Slowly, I felt myself drift back into the blackness like this was all some horrible dream.
When I woke up again, I woke up to a small ray of light in my eyes. It was like a lighthouse in a sea of darkness. I attempted to lift my arm, this time more successful, and began to feel around the bag I had been placed in. I poked my finger through the source of the light to discover a zipper.
A zipper? My mind began to race around. A zipper? What could I be in that would have a zipper?
Suddenly, I realized. A body bag has a zipper.
I tried my best to widen the gap in the bag to fit my hand through. Slowly, I began to free myself from the darkness.
I heard a monstrous clatter from outside the bag as I had widened the bag enough to finally sit up.
"Oh my god," the voice whispered.
I looked over, but was quickly blinded by the bright white light. I heard a hiss escape my lips.
The figure began to scurry towards the door. I tried to say something, but I couldn't find my voice. It was like I couldn't speak at all. The door slammed quickly and I heard it lock.
I looked down at my hands, notice how much more smooth they seemed. It was almost like they had been carved out of marble. What had remained of my tan from the summer was now gone and replaced by an unattractive paleness.
I looked down at my chest, noticing a lack of the normal rise and fall of my breathing. As if something suddenly clicked in my mind, I took in a deep breath of air as if I had been drowning in water and finally reached the surface, greedily taking in as much as I could. However, this time, I didn't feel my lungs desperately cling to the air. There was no normal feeling of breathing. I almost didn't feel anything; in reality, it was kind of uncomfortable.
I was still in my Halloween costume. I guess it could have been worse, even though it was covered in dried blood and dirt. I could have woken up completely naked.
I looked around the room, finally coming to terms with where I was: the morgue. My memories seemed fuzzy, but came back quickly. I remembered walking to the club with our friends, but being separating and begging to go home. I remembered the two men. I remembered... Chloe .
As I thought about the sight of Chloe's eye's fluttering as the life quickly drained from her, dropped to the ground, lifeless I let my eyes fall onto the body that lay next to me.
The face was all too familiar. There she was, just as lifeless in my memory as she was now, her skin considerably paler than I remember.
I swung my legs over the table I lay on trying to hoist myself off of the cold metal. My first attempt at walking ended horribly as I quickly fell to the ground. Clearly, the rest of my body had not woken up as quickly as the rest. My legs lay lifeless behind me as I crawled towards the other table, using my arms to climb up one of its legs so that I could take one last look at the girl who had died with me what felt like only moments before. As I reached the top of the table, my legs suddenly sprung to life like someone had flipped a switch, allowing me to finally stand.
I looked at her in awe; even in death she was beautiful. I began to stroke her blonde hair, arranging it around her like she would have liked. I felt tears begin to roll down my cheeks. Drops of blood began to drop onto Chloe's arms and the table. Quickly, I wiped my face to see that my tears had turned to blood.
I let out a whimper unsure of whether this was a dream or if I really was sitting in the morgue, undead.
"They're this way," I heard a man say from right outside the door.
I felt panic set in me as I began to look wildly around the find a hiding spot. My body was uncooperative and it felt like I had two left feet. I blundered over to a large cabinet that stood in the corner of the room towards the door.
The door to the morgue opened to reveal a stumpy younger man with dark bags under his eyes. He was accompanied by a tall, slender woman with dark-hair and piercing blue eyes that almost looked violet. She was so beautiful and model-like she could have given any of the models at Fashion Week a run for their money.
"Have there been any signs?" The woman asked.
"No, I don't think so," he responded.
"Show them to me," she said curtly.
He gestured towards Chloe who still lay lifeless on the slab. The click of the woman's heels echoed in the room almost painfully as she glided over to Chloe. The man followed her like a lost puppy, hunched over and cowering at her every move. She stopped by Chloe's arm where I had been standing only moments before. She ran her finger along Chloe's arm, the blood smearing on her finger. Fangs descended slightly from her gum line. I felt myself suck in air, hoping she hadn't heard.
"Don't you clean these bodies before autopsy?" The woman asked.
"Yes, generally we do," he responded.
"Then how do you explain this?" She asked, showing the smear of blood on her finger.
"I-I don't know," he replied.
A brief moment of silence engulfed the two before she flashed towards the attendant, her hands grabbing his jacket tightly.
"Where is the other girl?" She demanded, the anger rising in her voice.
"What other girl?" He asked, laughing nervously.
The attendant then remained quiet, as if unable to grip the fact that where my body once lay there was no longer a body. The woman grasped him by the throat and held him in the air.
"Don't lie to me. Where is the other girl? I won't ask so nicely again," she said.
"I-I-I don't know, Violette. She was right here, I swear," the attendant begged.
She dropped him to the ground with a loud thud. "You're lucky we still need you around because if it was up to me, I would be using your intestines as a belt," she sighed, fixing the sleeves of her shirt.
She glanced once more of the body of Chloe as if she was contemplating something. Quickly, she pulled out a checkbook like a gunslinger and began to write fervently. With as quickly as she had pulled the checkbook out she tore a fresh check and threw it onto the attendant.
"As always, Renaud thanks you for your service," she smiled.
The attendant groaned as he tried to pick himself off the ground. She stepped over him with her stiletto heels as if he were a piece of trash.
"Oh, and David? You know where to call when she turns up," she said, gliding out the door of the morgue.
The woman paused as she reached the cabinets I was hiding in. She glanced at them only momentarily before she began to sniff slightly at the air and sigh.
"I hate that smell," she said in disgust as she pulled open the wide metal door and ushered herself out.
I felt myself expel all of the air I had sucked into my lungs in relief once she had left, almost forgetting that the man, David, still remained in the room. He stood up from the ground and looked at the cabinet that encased me with curiosity. My mouth fell agape, realizing that by some sheer amount of magic, David had heard me gasp. I kept trying to will him away with my mind, in case I had actually developed some sort of magical ability in addition to defying death, but to no avail. He grew closer and closer to the cabinet until I could hear his heartbeat.
It was so loud it sounded like it was my own heart beating in my chest. It was all I could hear. Slowly, I felt a thirst grow in myself. At first, it was a slight thirst that went away quickly. The closer he came to the cabinet, the more and more my thirst became like a longing that I couldn't understand. His heartbeat made it worse. With each beat, my thirst grew stronger until it felt like I had been walking in the desert for six months.
Swiftly, he threw open the cabinet doors, exposing me.
At first, I stood dumbfounded as we stared at each other. I felt the urge overtake me almost uncontrollably as I tried to reign myself in. Pain burned in my mouth as I became entranced by a vein that became more noticeable in his neck as the seconds passed. Reluctantly, I traced the teeth in my mouth until I found two budding canines attempting to descend.
I clapped my hand across my mouth in horror, fighting back the fearful tears that were growing.. Unstable and turning into an emotional wreck I felt an overwhelming need to run. Wildly, I shoved David sending him flying clear across the room into a wall of doors. I watched him slump to the ground unconscious in a panic, realizing that I had been the one to send him sailing across the room.
"Oh my God, oh my God, please don't be dead!" I cried, fumbling across the room towards him.
I nudged him eagerly with my foot, trying to elicit some kind of response from him. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard him groan in pain before passing out once more at my feet. I took a quick look around the room before deciding it was most definitely time to leave.
Taking another glance at my attire, I knew that I wouldn't get very far wearing a Halloween costume covered in blood. I remembered that the cabinet I had been hiding in was full of aprons and lab coats and quickly threw one over me before I headed to the door.
I put my hand on the door handle, but before I knew it I had broken it off. I stared at the broken handle gripped by my fingers, in disbelief.
This was going to take a lot of getting used to.