The snow was falling heavily across the city when I finally managed to get free from school. It was already after five and the sky was cloudy and dark, and the streetlights were casting an eerie orange glow over the snow-covered ground. I sat in my car as it struggled against the bitter cold temperatures to produce any kind of heat and swore that the weatherman needed to be fired. The snowstorm wasn’t supposed to move in until the weekend, but it had moved in faster than the models predicted.
I glanced over to my right and I saw my World History teacher Mr. Hunter in the process of clearing the snow off of his truck. He was a huge – muscular man that could make anybody cower in fear with just a single look. I had made it my personal mission to never cross him throughout my high school career. I also passed the warning along to my little brother. I grabbed my ice-scraper and climbed out of my car to clear off my own windshield. I was focused on the task of trying to get as much of the snow off of my car as possible that I didn’t even notice that Mr. Hunter had walked over to me.
“Are you sure you don’t need a ride home, Evan?” I jumped at the sound of his deep voice and nearly dropped the scraper. He chuckled lightly and apologized. “Sorry about that, Evan. My mother always told me that I was too light on my feet.”
“It makes it easier to sneak up on your enemies,” I said with a smile as I recovered from the scare.
“Indeed, it does.” He added in an amused tone before he changed the subject. “So, about that ride? The roads are a lot worse than what you would think.”
I glanced behind me as a snowplow drove past pushing a wave of snow in front of it.
“Nah,” I said with a shrug. “It’s only a few miles. I should be alright.”
Mr. Hunter flashed his smile at me before he nodded his head.
“Just be careful, Evan. The roads are treacherous tonight.” He said before he handed me a business card that I didn’t even see him pull out of his pocket. “Call me if you ever run into any trouble.”
I took the card and thanked him before he returned to his truck. I watched as his truck rumbled to life and he backed out of the parking spot. Mr. Hunter waved at me as he drove past and left the school behind. I glanced around to see that my car was the last one in the lot and quickly got back inside to find that the heat was finally beginning to work.
It’s now or never, I thought bitterly.
I threw my car into reverse and spun the tires as it struggled to get a grip in the snow. Once I had managed to back out of my spot, I began my journey home. My tires slid as I pulled out onto the main road and I could barely make out any of the streetlights through the snowfall. I grabbed my cell phone out of the cupholder and called home really quick to let my mom know I was on my way. The phone rang several times before I heard my mother’s soft voice on the other end of the line.
“Hey, mom!” I tried to make myself sound as calm as possible when I spoke so she wouldn’t freak out over the fact that I had declined Mr. Hunter’s invitation for a ride home. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m on my way home.”
“You really shouldn’t be driving in this weather, Evan.” She chided me. “We had to cancel Ethan’s party.”
“I bet he’s disappointed,” I said.
“That’s beside the point,” she replied with a giggle. “I think he’s more worried about you making it home. Do you want me to send your father to get you?”
“No,” I replied. “I’ll be fine, mom. Besides, you know that if you send dad to get me, then you’d just be worried about both of us.”
My mom giggled again.
“You know me all too well, Evan.” She said. “Just be very careful!”
“I will! I promise!” I said to appease her concerns. “Tell Ethan I said, ‘Happy Birthday’!”
“I will,” she said. “I love you, Evan.”
“I love you too, mom.” I said before I ended the call and dropped the phone back into the cupholder.
I made it to the edge of town and turned onto the backroad that would take me to my house. My car slid around the turn and I did my best to keep myself moving forward. My hands were trembling as I gripped the wheel tighter and pressed down on the accelerator. The curves in the road were getting sharper as it wound through the countryside headed away from town, and it was evident that the snowplows had not done more than a cursory pass over the side roads. I reached down and flipped on my radio hoping that the music would help calm my nerves. When I glanced back up at the road, there was a young man with shaggy blonde hair standing in the light from my headlights. My heart immediately jumped into my throat as I slammed on the brake pedal.
Wrong move, I thought with dread as I suddenly lost control of the car.
My car slid straight at the teen whom was only dressed in blue jeans and a blood-stained t-shirt. There was nothing I could do to stop the car and I knew that I was going to run him over.
The car was moments from striking him, when the blonde-haired teen stepped to the side and seemed to hit my car with his arm. I wanted to scream but my voice caught in my throat as my car started spinning wildly towards the guardrail on the left side of the road. My car hit the guardrail with a jolt that slammed me into the driver’s door. I screamed out as my car flipped over the railing and continued to barrel roll down the steep hill on the other side of the guardrail. The car crashed through trees and the windows shattered around me showering the inside of the car with broken glass. The passenger headlight exploded with a pop that left only one solitary beam illuminating the shrubbery and snow as my car continued to barrel roll down the hill before it finally slammed into a large tree on the driver’s side of the car. I cried out in pain when my head struck the trunk of the same tree. Then, there was darkness…
There were strange voices nearby as I struggled to regain consciousness. My head was throbbing, and I felt something warm running down the side of my face.
“We have to protect the boy from the newborn!” An old man’s baritone voice called out. “No matter what!”
“Of course, Marcel!” A younger male voice called back.
“Leslie, see to the boy!” The older man ordered someone else around. “The agents should be here soon!”
“I hope they hurry, Marcel.” The young male called out again. “I don’t think I can handle a newborn on my own!”
“You won’t be alone, Nikolas.” The old man stated firmly. “The agents will make it in time.”
I felt lightheaded and risked glancing down to see my abdomen covered in blood. My stomach turned at the sight and I fought the urge to vomit as the darkness began to push down on me again. I gazed out through the shattered windshield to see snowflakes drifting lazily down in front of my headlight. In the distance I heard an animalistic growl that made me confused. Then, I saw a blonde-haired woman wearing jeans and a blue blouse step into the beam of my headlight. Her eyes were blood red and she gazed at me in concern. She grimaced before she stepped forward towards the car.
I really should have taken up Mr. Hunter’s offer on a ride home, I thought miserably before the darkness closed in around me again. Then, I thought about my little brother, and about how I was never going to be able to give him the journal that I got him. This is all that blonde fuck’s fault!
I awoke again to find the blonde-haired woman leaning over me with an expression of concern on her unblemished face. Her thin lips were pressed together tightly as she seemed to asses my situation. I couldn’t help but admire how beautiful she was until I saw the red of her eyes. A part of my mind told me that I should have been afraid, but that part of me was slowly dying. All I could do was sit there and smile at the young woman in a dreamy haze.
“Are you an angel?” I struggled to ask her. Her skin was flawless except for the light bruises under her almond shaped eyes. She looked at me and frowned.
“No, child.” She said quietly. Her voice seemed to ring as she spoke, and it sent chills up my spine. I shivered under her touch as she placed the palm of her hand against my cheek. “I’m going to get you out of here, young one. Just relax and try not to scream.”
Then, there was an animalistic roar of anger that echoed off the trees around us and my car was suddenly jolted violently. I couldn’t stop the scream of agony that escaped from my lips. The woman frowned.
“Let me kill him!” I heard another male voice scream out in anguish.
“No, Dylan!” The old man replied flatly.
Why not? I thought in confusion. I’m dying anyways.
“The agents are coming!” I heard the other young man call out with relief in his voice. “I don’t think I can hold him off much longer!”
“Let me have him!” The other teen bellowed with a rage that was inhuman. “He’s mine!”
“No, he’s not, Dylan!” The old man replied. “Evan is meant for something much greater than to be your meal!”
I didn’t have time to consider the man’s words as the woman pushed her back against the dashboard of my car. There was a loud crunching sound of metal and metal as the woman forced the dashboard and steering wheel off of my legs. The rush of feeling into my lower extremities was instantaneous, and I screamed out weakly as all of the pain returned at once. The world spun around me and I sank gratefully into the darkness.
I’m sorry, baby brother. I thought grimly as the cold embrace of the darkness attempted to swallow my entire being. Please, don’t let me die…
I faded in and out of the darkness after that. I glanced up to see the woman carrying me in her arms with a small smile on her face. She touched the palm of her hand to my cheek again after she placed me gently into the snow on my back. I stared past her at the snowflakes swirling through the air.
I don’t even feel cold anymore, I thought before I faded out again.
Then, my Uncle Mason was hovering over me with a long needle in his hand. I could see his lips moving as he seemed to be speaking to someone, but I couldn’t make out anything of what he was saying at the time. All that mattered to me was the darkness on the edge of my mind that kept trying to escort me onto the plains of Death. The fluid in the needle was silver in color and almost glowed. Then, my uncle glanced down at me and I could hear his voice clear as day.
“Please forgive me, Evan.” He said softly. There were tears in his blue eyes. “I’m only doing this to save your life.”
I gasped slightly as he stabbed the needle into my chest. My heart was filled with a burning sensation as my uncle’s thumb pushed down on the plunger of the needle until it was empty. I could only stare at him in confusion as the beating of my heart began to grow stronger. With each beat the fire only continued to grow within my chest and spread throughout my body. I blacked out again when the fire began to fill my mind. It was like I was being burned from the inside out with no escape except the sweet embrace of death.
I cried out as I faded back to consciousness only to realize that I still felt as if I was being burned alive. My heart was beating so fast that I thought at any moment it might rip itself free from my chest. With every beat of my heart the fire just continued to course through my veins. There was no escape from the burning sensation and even screaming wasn’t bring me any relief. The only option I had was to suffer.
I tried to open my eyes, but everything around me was blurry as if my eyes were filled with tears. It hurt to even try to see beyond the tears, so I just shut my eyes and tried to disconnect from my body. I tried to picture Ethan’s face just so I would have something to focus on, but even that simple task was painful. I cried and screamed but nobody cared enough to listen. I begged for death, but nobody would answer that request either. Then, I could barely make out a conversation over the ringing in my ears.
“It had to be done, Doctor Mason.” I heard someone growl in an annoyed tone.
“I know, Agent Wells.” It was my uncle’s voice and it was filled with regret and sadness. The same hint of sadness that his voice had taken on when his son was diagnosed with cancer. Tatum was the same age as Ethan, and the duo were near inseparable until Uncle Mason had to take Tatum away to get special treatments for his disease. The last time my little brother or I saw Tatum was nearly six months prior when the chemo treatments had just started to make his black hair fall out. “Could you take it a little easier, Jon? Some of us are human after all.”
“That can be changed, Doctor Bentley.” The other man laughed in his deep-raspy voice.
Then, the fire seemed to intensify as if I wasn’t permitted to hear any more of the conversation. The fire burned everything, and I imagined that there were great clouds of steam rolling off of my body as I lay in the back of the moving vehicle. Something cold touched my forehead and I forced my eyes open enough to see that my head was resting in a boy’s lap that appeared to be the same age as me. His eyes were the red in color, but his smile was almost peaceful as he rubbed his hand across my forehead. Then, I faded back into the darkness.
The vision that came to my mind was vivid as if I was living through the experience. I could see the inside of a mud hut, and I could hear a woman’s heart felt cries of agony filling the hut. Lying on the dirt floor was a boy with charcoal black hair and his tan skin was covered in a layer of sweat. His breaths were shallow, and the boy grimaced as if he was in pain. Two hands reached out and touched the boy’s chest as the woman continued to sob.
“Please, don’t take my son away from me!” The woman pleaded repeatedly. Dark locks of hair fell into my vision until she took one of her hands to brush the loose strands back. “Please, don’t let Orthis die! He’s all I have!”
She continued to cry, and I could feel the level of pain that she was feeling as if it was my own life experience. I was just beginning to think that all of her tears were in vain when a white light appeared across from the woman. We glanced up to see the light fade away and a man remained. He had a glowing nimbus around him, and all he wore was the gentle smile upon his face. His hair was blonde, and his skin was completely blemish free as if he had never been injured in his life. He continued to smile as I felt a wave of confusion sweep through the woman.
“You heard my cries?” She asked softly before directing her gaze back to her son.
“Aye, Lady Arella.” The Angel replied in a voice that filled the hut with a ringing sound. “The Gods have decided to grant you their favor, but you must know that it comes at a great price.”
“What do you mean?” Arella glanced back up at the Angel again. He had a serious look in his eyes even though he continued to smile in her direction.
“The only way for you to save your son is for you to give him the Kiss of Eternal Life, Arella.” The Angel explained patiently. “With this curse comes a terrible hunger, though. One that can only be satisfied by blood.” His words sent a chill down my spine as he let them hang in the air for a moment before he continued. “You must choose wisely, Arella. Your decision is going to having lasting effects on billions of people.”
Arella glances down at her son before looking back up at the Angel. There was no longer fear in her emotions. It had changed into determination. She slowly stood to her feet.
“What do I have to do to save my son’s life?”
The Angel extended his hand to her.
“All you have to do is take my hand, Arella.” He told her calmly. “And I will give you the Kiss of Eternal Life so that you may save your son and countless others from the cold embrace of Death. You will forever be known as The Mother of Vampires.”
Arella glanced down one last time at her son before she took the Angel’s hand in her own. She nodded in acceptance before the Angle pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her tightly. He smiled calmly at her before he leaned in close and brushed his lips against her throat. Then, I felt something sharp pierce the side of the woman’s neck and she screamed in pain. Suddenly, the vision is pulled away from me and I was surrounded once again by nothing but darkness and the sensation of burning alive.
How long does this last? I asked myself. Is this what it feels like to die?
Ethan was sitting across from me on my bed. He was wearing a white t-shirt and his boxer briefs as he sat crossed legged with a hesitant look in his blue eyes. He was wringing his hands together nervously, something he had always done whenever he needed to tell me something that he wasn’t sure how I was going to take. I reached out and squeezed his hands with my own to reassure my little brother. He was only twelve at the time and the look of fear in his eyes had worried me to no end. I had forced him to come tell me what was wrong before he took too much time overthinking the problem.
“I can’t tell you this, Evan.” He said softly. I could hear the tremble in his voice. “You’ll hate me forever.”
“Nothing would ever make me hate you, Ethan.” I reassured him quickly.
Ethan fumbled for words before he sighed deeply.
“I… I’m gay…” At first, I was slightly stunned by his words, not truly expecting to hear that from my little brother, but I was quick to recover and pulled him into my arms.
“Good,” I told him just as softly. “Now, I don’t have to worry about you ever going out in public in horrible outfits.”
He giggled lightly as a strange haze seemed to wash over the memory before it faded back to darkness.
The next vision was one of Ethan sitting with me in the living room of our house as he gave me a gift for my seventeenth birthday. I glanced down at the wrapped package and smiled at my little brother.
“What is it?” I heard myself ask. The box wasn’t very large and fit in the palm of my hand. There was a tiny blue bow sitting on top of the white wrapped box and I smiled.
“It’s a birthday present! Duh!” Ethan said with a roll of his eyes. He giggled and bumped me with his shoulder. “Open it!”
“Okay, okay!” I said to appease him.
I slid my finger under the wrapping and pulled it off to reveal a small jewelry box inside. Ethan was smiling broadly as I opened the lid on the black box and pulled out the necklace from inside. It was a silver chain with a white shark’s tooth hanging from it and I quickly slipped it on. I hugged my baby brother and thanked him for the gift before he bounced off to finish his homework. His fifteenth birthday was exactly one week later, and I was never able to give him the leather-bound diary I had bought him. The memory faded away like the others – leaving me with nothing but fire and darkness.
I continued to slip in and out of consciousness and the only thing that helped me take my mind off of the fire burning through my veins was the thought of my little brother. I couldn’t believe how much I had let him down by not being there on his fifteenth birthday. I had promised him that I would be there. He had planned to come out to our mom and dad, and he had wanted me by his side when he did. We knew that our parents loved us, and nothing would ever change that, but Ethan needed me for moral support more than anything else. Now, he was going to be going through all of that alone. He would be going through everything alone for the remainder of his days. At least, he would be doing them without me.
I’ll always love you, Ethan. I thought before I succumbed to the darkness again. How long does it really take to die?