Back in the Real World

Three days later, Dr. Drake Daniels was nearing the end of his lecture on myth and legend at the local university.

"…and that is how the stories and legends of the vampire began here in the United States," he said. "They are a nightmare, a punishment for those that do not live and, quite often, die the way that society deems they should. Oh, and rest assured, New Orleans is not filled with the undead, Cleveland is." As he made that last statement, a smirk came to his face. Most of the class actually understood the joke he had made.

"But professor," began an eager young student in the front row. "What makes the vampire such a popular figure?"

"That's a very good question," said Drake. "However, there is no one answer to that question. Why? Everyone is different. Everyone has different thoughts and feelings. Maybe it's the thought of never dying, eternal vanity. Or, for those students that arrived late, and you know who I mean, it's the notion that you'll be able to party all night long and then get to skip this class by sleeping in the next morning." Some of the students in the room laughed.

"Well," continued Drake. "Since the bell is about to ring, I'm going to call today's class here and let you all go a few minutes early. Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone!"

As the class filed out, Drake calmly collected his notes and answered a few last minute one-on-one questions that some of the students had. Richard and Santana walked about the room, straightening it up for the next class. Onyx stood at the door, handing out copies of the syllabus to everyone as they rushed out. Aurora remained in her seat, putting away the film slides that had been shown during the lecture.

When at last all the students were gone the five of them assembled around the table Drake used as a desk during the lecture. "Big class this semester," Drake said as he put the last of his notes away.

"Yes," agreed Onyx. "Bigger than when we offered it at Princeton. More bright young faces eager to learn what this class can offer. Pity they don't know that most of what they think is fantasy is actually a very grim reality." As she finished her statement, Onyx looked to Drake for some sort of approving glance to say that he agreed with her. Understanding what she was looking for from him, Drake nodded his head in approval. Onyx, despite being the youngest of the group at 24, was the most academically inclined, even when it came to Drake. In terms of physical size, she was also the smallest of the group. She stood at about 5'3" and weighed about 115 pounds. As for her appearance, her shoulder-length wavy hair had been lightened to a milk chocolate brown rather than the jet back she had in reality. She wore colored contacts to change the color of her eyes to a light blue. When they were on campus she wore a pair of stage glasses so as to make herself look more scholarly and professional. Regardless of whether or not she was trying to look professional, it was undeniable that she was also a fairly attractive young woman. Richard especially thought so, as they had been in a relationship together for almost as long as they had known one another. Richard himself was a year older than her. He stood at an intimidating 6'5" and was 285 pounds of pure muscle. He had long straight black hair that reached to the middle of his back, though he normally kept it pulled back into a ponytail when he was working. Their relationship often elicited bewildered looks from others, not because of the difference in their ethnicity, but because Onyx was somewhat small and almost fragile in appearance while Richard looked like he could have had a career as either a football player or a professional wrestler. Despite his big size and ominous appearance, Richard was a teddy bear with Onyx.

"Let's head to Jezael's," said Drake as he picked up his satchel. "It's time to celebrate the start of a new semester."

"I hear that," said Richard, who then picked up Onyx, slung her over his shoulder, and walked out the door ahead of the others.

Santana followed right behind them. He was the second oldest of the group at 30 years of age. He was six feet even and weighed close to 200 pounds. When looking at him, every detail about him, the way he walked, the way he carried himself, and even the way he looked around, made people think he was a police officer instead of an academic TA. Additionally, if one had a trained eye, they could spot the pair of automatic pistols he carried in shoulder holsters inside his suit jacket. As he walked behind Richard and Onyx, he ran his hand through his short light brown hair. A thought then entered his mind and an impish thought crossed his mind. Silently, he waited for the three of them to exit the building. Just as both he and Richard came down off of the stoop, he smiled. Onyx noticed his smile and opened her mouth to warn Richard, but before she could even get a single word out he tackled the both of them down onto the lawn.

A few moments later, Drake emerged from the building, took one look at the to-do, and stopped in his tracks with a look of agape confusion. "I'm not sure I even want to know," he said aloud, but at a volume really meant for only him to hear.

"If you ask me," Santana said to everyone as he sat on Richard's back and put on Onyx's glasses. "I think that we've all earned a small vacation from the land of vampires until, at least, midterms. I, for one, take full credit for a job most well done."

Drake said nothing and just shook his head ever so slightly as he stood by the door and waited for Aurora catch up with the rest of them. Drake, himself, was the oldest of the group at 42. He stood at 5'9" and had a modest build at 175 pounds. Despite his age, he could still more than keep up with the others physically. The only true sign of his age was the slight graying of his hair at the temples. Other than that, his hair remained dark brown. He maintained a scholarly and distinguished look about him, accentuated by a pair of glasses with gold frames. Unlike Onyx, his were not for show.

"Have you all forgotten the third one that escaped us?" Aurora said aloud as she emerged from the doorway and stepped out into the sun. "If we let our guard down for an instant he might take that as an opportunity to strike at us."

"I don't think that one'll be back given what we did to the rest of his group," responded Santana as he got off of Richard and handed Onyx back her glasses.

"Don't be too sure about that," retorted Aurora as she reached out her hand, searching for Drake's arm. In any other life, she would easily have had a career as a model. She was the same height as Drake at 5'9" and weighed around 130 pounds. She had long blonde hair that reached to her waist that she preferred to keep loose and flowing when she wasn't hunting down vampires. Today, like most days, she was dressed from head-to-toe in white with a long white trench coat. Her color choice of outfits, combined with the contrasting sunglasses with very dark lenses and black frames that she wore at all times lent to the illusion that she was actually a model. Though she was only 27, she was wise beyond her years. While she looked harmless, almost helpless, at times given her blindness, the truth was the exact opposite. In fact, she usually played up her handicap. Truth be told, Drake considered her his secret weapon. She was deadly in a fight and everyone in the group knew that she could take any one of them down without the slightest effort. "The thirst for revenge is often more powerful than the need for self-preservation."

"You worry too much," said Santana derisively.

"And you don't worry enough," warned Aurora as she found Drake's arm and moved down the steps with him.

The vampire awoke inside of his body bag with a great hunger. However, it was not his thirst that needed to be sated, but his soul. Hunters had killed his friends and followers. Slowly he unzipped his body bag and writhed out of it like a butterfly from a cocoon. Once he was out of his body bag and on his feet, he shook off the day's sleep. Now alert, he was aware of the scent of a nearby mortal and his mind turned to thoughts of blood. As he took in the smell, his need to satisfy his thirst returned. Stepping out into the night to find the mortal, he promised himself that once he'd fed he'd find the Hunters and make them pay.

To be continued…