I don't know...maybe NOBODY can help me. Maybe I NEED to be destroyed before it's too late. After all...how long could it possibly be before this evil takes over completely...and I end up hurting my family here at the lot? It's a hard thing to deal with, trying to figure out whether or not you can trust yourself to stay sane through the bad times. Because you never really know what's going to happen...when the storm comes down on you for real.
Doc was pleased to see me when he saw me approaching, and made sure to turn his laptop a bit so that I could see what was going on. "Justin...I really think that this guy is legit. I mean, he hasn't said a whole LOT yet, but he really seems to know what he's talking about! I mean, NOBODY discloses this kinda info on a whim! He's grade A, all the way!" Doc grinned happily, still typing away.
"You didn't tell him about Justin though, right?" Dion asked. And Doc blushed slightly as he gave an honest answer.
"Not...entirely." He said, and then cringed a bit as Dion looked to him for the truth. We all stared in his direction, and he gave in. "OK! So...I might have mentioned a few vague details in passing! But it was JUST to get him to talk some more. I was losing him!"
"Doc! Dude...we don't even KNOW this guy!" Dion scolded him.
"I tried to get him off the subject, but he kept coming back to Mimics and...it was like he KNEW already! If I hadn't at least kept his interest up, he would have vanished."
Jun stood up for Doc wholeheartedly. "I was here for the whole thing, Dion. Doc really did try to avoid his questions for as long as he could. But he kept asking."
Dion looked a bit disturbed about it all. "I don't like this. How does he know so much about 'us' already?"
"I don't know." Doc said, still typing away at the same time. "But this guy is tapped into literally everything. Even the underground stuff."
"Did he tell you how he got to know so much about Mimics?" Dion asked. "I thought those scriptures were all hidden in secrecy."
"I'm TELLING you, this 'Jeweler' guy has access to EVERYTHING! Data that has been covered up for HUNDREDS of years! Stuff even 'Pan' doesn't have access to. I'm thinking he might even be an Elder! Or at least sired by one." Doc said excitedly. "This is a rare find indeed! I've never seen anything like this! I doubt we'll be able to find a better lead than this one."
"Do you really think he can help me?" I asked softly, hoping that this Jeweler could assist in saving me from myself.
"If anybody can, Justin...this would be the guy." Doc replied. And at that moment, just as a slight sensation of relief washed over me...another feeling suddenly rose up to take hold instead. And without really knowing what was happening, a 'pulse' of energy came to the surface of my skin, and I felt it beginning to reach out in all directions. I couldn't even stop it. The extra acted all on its own.
Doc's eyes widened, and his face frowned up as, once again, my very presence caused his laptop screen to twist and flicker from the energy I was emitting. It buzzed and hummed a few times, and Doc warned me to back up and stay away. I did as he told me, now too far away to read the screen, and his laptop got back to working order. But...when he began to apologize for the weirdness, it became clear that there was something about my accidental energy surge that greatly excited the vampire he was talking to. It was like...he could sense it from his side of the screen. The vampire wrote, "He is close, isn't he?" The comment took us by surprise, and there was a hesitation among us all. The vampire asked, "Please...may I speak with him?"
And Doc...still trying to keep a bit of mystery about the whole thing, asked him, "Talk to who? I'm not sure what you mean."
But the vampire was not fooled. I doubt that he ever was. He wrote back quickly with a reply. "The Mimic. I know he is near. Please allow him to speak." He wrote, and Doc knew that the charade was over. The secret had been exposed. It couldn't have been anything that he said in their communications. But somehow...he knew. And....he wanted to talk. To ME!
Doc looked up at me with a sheepish grin, and said, "Well...what do we do? He wants to talk to you."
I looked over at Dion and Gyro, who both shrugged their shoulders. Unsure of how to even guide me on this one. And Jun finally said, "TALK to him! SAY something!"
"Like WHAT?" I asked.
"I don't know. Ask him a question or something!" Jun said, and I felt a chill run down my spine, wondering if I was ready for this.
I looked back at Doc, not knowing what the hell to do, and he offered to hand the conversation over to me. I took a step or two closer to him to take hold of the laptop, but the pulse inside of me got worse, and we almost lost the signal. "Ahhhh! Back up! Back up!" Doc yelled, and I stayed still. "Ummmm.....ok...hold on a sec..." He said.
I saw Doc typing on his keyboard, and he sent a message that said, "He can't communicate like this. The machinery won't let him."
We all waited for a reply, and the first thing that came back was a delighted response, followed by a smile. "Then he has already matured past his humanity. Excellent. EXCELLENT! He must be growing very powerful indeed."
Was this a good thing? I couldn't tell yet. But he instructed Doc to type what I said word for word, and said that we would communicate that way instead. The others just stood back and watched...as I tried to come up with something...'intelligent' to say.
"Hi...I'm....I'm Justin." I said, shrugging my shoulders and hoping that it would be enough as Doc typed in what I said.
We waited for a reply.
What I got in return made Doc wrinkle up his forehead a bit. "What's wrong?" I asked.
And he said, "Um...this is weird. He says...'Soló eum videreo, imitar deis iluminirae'..." Doc looked over at me and said, "Does that make any sense to you?"
It sounded like gibberish to me. So I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I don't know. Doesn't sound familiar. What does it mean?"
Doc typed back a response to find out what it meant, and the other vampire seemed surprised that I didn't know it. He asked, "Has he not been properly trained? If I may ask...how old is the Mimic before you?"
Doc paused for a moment, and then answered, "He is still very new in his crossover. Less than a year in darkness."
But the other vampire said, "I would assume so. But how old was he at the moment of crossover?" Doc looked up from his screen, and we all felt a moment of hesitation before telling him. But Doc knew that there wouldn't be many secrets to be kept for much longer. Not if we wanted his help. So he replied honestly.
"He is 14 years old."
We all waited with baited breath, hoping that he wouldn't terminate the connection and take us for a bunch of frauds. Even after the so-called 'proof' of my existence. The wait seemed eternal...but finally, we got a message back.
"The vampire Mimic you speak of....he is a 'halflife'?"
UGH! I had really grown to fucking HATE that word! Why does it MATTER? He better not write me off as some kind of 'baby', or I'm gonna be really PISSED OFF!
Doc answered back, "Yes. But he is WELL practiced in the art of battle He can fend for himself! We've all seen it." Doc was hoping to give me some level of credibility, but I don't think it was what this other vampire wanted to hear.
There was another long pause. So long that I was sure that he had shrugged me off of his shoulders like so much unwanted dust. And then...another response.
"This is truly unexpected. We are not prepared for such a deviation in the prophecy. But perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. The fates have always been careful in their design." Okaaay...what the hell was THAT supposed to mean. "It is a matter of urgency that we speak to the Imitar soon. He needs guidance immediately." Doc beamed with the success of making actual contact with someone who claimed to be able to help me. Even if it was in secret. I felt Dion's hand on my shoulder, as he surprisingly gave me a warm smile. Even after his earlier doubt.
"Who knows, Justin? This just might be the help you've been looking for after all." Dion grinned, and I reached up to hold his hand firmly, feeling a rush of joy run through me. Could this be a solution? Can this...'Jeweler' guy give me the guidance I needed to stabilize myself and avoid the madness and murder awaiting me at the end of this dark path I've been traveling so far? God, I hope so!
"So...what do I do?" I asked, but Doc took a moment to ask a few more questions. I watched him typing away, trying to make sure this other vampire was as legit as he claimed to be. "Don't scare him off. I need his help."
"I'm not gonna 'scare him off', Justin. I'm just...making sure he's not taking us for a ride on this. He's been quiet the last few times I talked to him. And now all of the sudden he seems rather anxious to meet you." Doc continued the communications, but he also was able to sneak in a few software traces as well. I don't know what he was doing, or how he was doing it, but considering that Doc could look at a hacker's website one time and then remember the info for the rest of his life...I'd have to assume he knew how to get away with secretly putting a few 'taps' on him without being detected. Just in case.
The other vampire wrote back again, even more insistent than before. "If the chosen one is truly among us, then we MUST prepare him for the Dawn."
Doc wrinkled up his forehead again as he conveyed the message to me. "The 'Dawn'? What is he talking about?"
It caught my attention, and I answered, "Tell me what you know...about the Dawn." Doc typed it in, and waited.
"It is not what I know, but what you are willing to 'accept', that is most important. You have lost SO much time already. You are not yet ready to receive the revelations of the prophecy. There is much work to be done."
There was something inside of me, a small voice in the back of my mind, that didn't like the fact that this vampire was so demanding in wanting to talk to me, wanting to meet me, wanting to teach me. A faceless phantom that, for all I know, was waiting to shove a tire iron through my heart the moment he discovered my location. Help or no help...after so much danger, so many deceptions, we all knew better than to really trust anybody out there. No matter WHAT they told us. And yet...out of all of my choices, he might be the only lead I have to any kind of real information The others in the lot couldn't help me. Zero was gone. Comicality basically abandoned me. There was no one else. And it was the only thing that made me even consider taking such a big risk.
Doc looked closer at the screen, and I saw him reach into a small pouch on the side of his wheelchair to pull out a small wiry pair of earphones. He plugged them into the laptop and turned his volume up. Jun gave him a look. "What are you doing?"
"Shhh! Hold on..." Doc said, and listened closer. "There's another frequency crossing this one. It's faint, but I can sorta hear the buzz of interference in the background. It's like...on some kind of hidden extra signal or something."
"Are you sure it's not just feedback from one of Justin's extras?" Dion asked.
Doc considered it, but then he shook his head. "Hmmmm...no, it can't be. This is directly interwoven into the special signal he's communicating with. It's like...there on purpose."
"He said that I wasn't ready to receive the revelation yet..." I said. "..Ask him what he means by that."
Doc typed it in, and he answered, "The concepts and realities built into the design of the Vampire Dawn are too much for the mind to take all at once. They must be brought in gradually, and set on a steady foundation of spiritual teachings. To attempt to approach the concept without it is sure to lead to a systematic breakdown of your conscious mind. You will most certainly go mad without it." Doc's voice seemed to shake slightly as he read me the message. He hadn't realized just how much of a serious problem this was. I don't think any of them did. All eyes were on me as I thought back to Zero...sitting in the darkness of that one room, his head almost ready to 'crack' with the knowledge he had received about the Dawn in the short time that I had known him. Would that be me...in the end? Or will the dark shadow of the Beast come to consume me first? Just then, the Jeweler wrote back with another message to lure me in. "Let me guess, Justin...your sleeping patterns are off. Becoming more and more erratic, correct?"
Doc's eyes met mine, and my curiosity was fully activated. "Go on..."
"And you were born out of love? An eternity band on your arm is proof of that." He knew. Or...at least he knew what the scriptures had said about me so far.
"Ask him...about my extras. What about them?" I asked.
"I imagine that they are very rapidly becoming self aware. Perhaps even unstable. You may think that you are gaining control, but I assure you, that is an illusion. Without proper guidance, they will continue to spin out of control. The power will drive you mad. We can't allow that to happen. We need you." He said.
I kept trying to tell myself that I could control it on my own. That I wanted to find my own way. But....he seemed to know so much more than I did More than I ever expected him to. Even more than Comicality. It felt as though he had a real 'answer' for me. "What else can he tell me?"
"I assume you had a long and painful hesitation before your first feeding? Yes?" I told Doc that I agreed, getting drawn in even more. "Yes...the traditional period of 'fasting' before the first kill. It is a part of every Mimic's journey. The struggle to hold on to your humanity is a sign of true virtue. But what the scriptures *don't* tell you is that this fasting period was instrumental in cleansing your spirit, and thus preparing you for the collection of other abilities you were sure to gain from your first kill forward. It made it possible for your extras to grow and evolve so rapidly." He said, and thinking back to the stomach pains I went through, almost to the point of starvation...I wondered if that really was a part of the process. If maybe...this 'prophecy' business was more intricately planned out than I thought. After all, that was when my extras started to activate themselves. "You should be coming out of a majority of the stages from the prophecy now. The training from a master, the battle with a horde of thieves, the great underground celebration, the war to protect a sanctuary of children...all should have come to pass, just as predicted in the scriptures. You will soon bear witness to the final stages of enlightenment needed to embrace the Dawn and bring it to the world. Time is short, Justin. We MUST begin preparations now. We need to prime you for the coming of the new age."
Gyro looked up at my face, and could clearly see the distress in my eyes. "What's the matter?" He asked me, alerting Doc and Dion to my change in attitude.
"Justin?" Doc asked, waiting for me to send back another question. But I couldn't speak. My throat tightened until I almost couldn't breathe.
"Tell him...tell him I don't want to talk to him anymore." I said, my eyes beginning to water up as an ice cold sensation of fear began to wrap its clutches around my heart.
"WHAT? What are you TALKING about?" Doc asked in surprise.
"I don't want to TALK anymore!" I said again, the first tear sliding down my cheek.
Dion reached out to console me, but I backed away from his touch. "Justin..he might be able to actually help you get some of your abilities under control..."
"I don't WANT his help! Do you understand? He can't help me!" I shouted, much to their confusion. "I don't want to hear anything about any 'prophecies' or 'Dawns' or ANY of that bullshit! It's all a fucking LIE!" I yelled, and as I felt the anger welling up inside me, I noticed some of the loose metal parts on the ground around us began to rise up off of the ground, bending and twisting as my panicked emotions started to bleed into the air around me. The metal objects crumbled up into tight little balls, and I literally had to focus hard on not making it any worse. I was able to eventually release my hold on them, but the others were silent. They're starting to fear me aren't they? I KNOW they are! I looked back at Doc with angry eyes, and shouted, "TELL HIM!!!" He hesitated at first, but once Dion gave him the nod, Doc did exactly as he was told. And they waited for another response.
It was a solemn one, but the Jeweler didn't push too hard. Not this time. "The path of the Vampire Mimic was given to you and your predecessors as a divine gift, Justin. Not just for you, but for us all. We are ready to give you the guidance you need when you feel you are up to the task, but you MUST hurry. There is a deadly storm brewing in you, and make no mistake, without our help...it WILL corrupt you. The scriptures have foreseen both outcomes, and we cannot afford any further mistakes." He said, but I didn't want to listen. I REFUSED. "We can give you access to knowledge that you won't find in the scriptures. Even the hidden ones. We have dedicated our entire existence to studying the path of the chosen one. I ask you to please reconsider."
Doc looked up for my reaction, but as I wiped my eyes free of tears, I turned around, and I walked away. "He has my answer."
I watched as Dion put an arm out to stop Jun and Gyro from following me. He knew me well enough by now to know that asking for an explanation would on drive me deeper into withdrawal. I just...I walked away from it all, speeding up my pace as though I could actually outrun the truth. As though I could somehow stop it from being real. But as I went back to a quiet section of the lot, and sat down on the hood of a wreck...my mind began to echo with the Jeweler's words. Those three unmerciful words, spoken calmly as though they didn't matter. 'Time is short'.
'Time is short'.
My chest felt as though it was burdened with a huge weight, and it getting heavier by the second. I felt my stomach begin to heave slightly as I attempted to hold the emotion inside. But my tears fell anyway, and a few sniffles only helped to make them worse. I sorted through my extras, desperately looking for Dion's, trying to shut my emotions down and just stop it from hurting so much. I tried. Dammit I TRIED! Why won't it work??? Why can't I shut it off??? The ache began to spread to every part of me, and I had to gnash my teeth together to keep from breaking down into a fit of sobs.
Losing Taryn...is a level of suffering that I'm not prepared to deal with Not for any reason. Not with any amount of training. He doesn't deserve to be a part of this horror. He's the only person I've ever been able to trust with my heart. The only one who ever accepted the responsibility, and treated me with the love and the care that I never thought possible. He brought a beauty to my life that no other angel ever could. I can't be expected to simply sacrifice his life and all that we've built together for some musty old book and some worldly message that people are too stupid to figure out for themselves. If I can...if I can just hold on for a little while longer...I can BREAK this chain! BOTH of them! I KNOW I can!
But the words echoed again...'time is short'...and the fear returned as I realized that it may be out of my hands entirely.
I was lost to my thoughts for a while as many of my other 'family' members returned to their lives in the lot. I could catch one of them occasionally giving me a secretive stare, and I was sure that word of my interaction with the Jeweler was getting around to some of them. It was like they were confused by me, but pitied me at the same time. Especially Jenna, who I had to try to block from my thoughts completely. I couldn't seem to get Dion's extra to shut the emotion off, it was way too strong. But at least Kid's static kept some of her empathic abilities guessing. It wouldn't be long before she figured it out though. I was sure of that.
It was then that I saw Rain and Taryn come walking back into the center of the lot, and my heart longed for him even more. His eyes were red and swollen, his cheeks stained with salted tear tracks, his bottom lip still turned downward in such a hurtful expression. I had to believe that Rain's conversations with him were making the kind of progress that she implied they would. I prayed that her role in his healing process was a positive one. But most of all...I was hoping that the worst part of it would be over soon. Because if we truly had only a few short moments left to share between one another...I wanted to make the most of them. I wanted us to be together.
I saw Rain sit up on the trunk of another car, and brought Taryn close to hug him lovingly from behind as he leaned back against her, her arms draped over his shoulders. Even in pain, he was more beautiful than my eyes could bear. His soft locks would hang down into his eyes as he lowered his head, and even from a distance, our heartbeat remained in sync with one another. Bryson walked over to console him, surprisingly without any further friction from Rain. And together, they did their best to relieve some of the intense guilt and misery that was emotionally crippling him from the inside out. If only I could cry for him, I would.
"You know...if you're trying not to look worried, you're not very good at it." Came a voice from behind me. Funny thing, my heightened senses didn't even pick up his presence until he was right up on me this time. I turned around, and saw Trevor looking back at me, a mischievous smirk on his lips.
"If you've come to make trouble, I'm not in the mood. Ok? So...please....just go." I mumbled softly.
"Make trouble? Me? Now what would give you that idea?" He walked around the car to look me in the eye, but I never raised my gaze from the ground. He could clearly see that he wasn't get a rise out of me tonight, not even a little conflict to satisfy him. And yet, as he turned around to hop up on the hood and sit beside me, I wondered if he maybe had better intentions this time around. "We've been through hard times before, you know? We all have. It comes, it goes...comes back to visit every once in a while. Life in darkness is like that. Hell, life anywhere is like that"
"I don't feel like...'thinking' about anything right now. Ok? I mean it. Just leave me alone."
"You know...we might be able to help you if you actually talked to us once in a while..."
"You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, Trevor." I told him.
"I know that you're hiding something about Taryn from the rest of us. I know that he's in danger." He said, and as another stray tear fell from my eye, I looked over at Trevor, wondering just how much he supposedly knew about any of this. Seeing the question in my eyes, he said, "I told you..seeing desires is my specialty. And your desperate need to protect Taryn has been on 'red alert' ever since we left the IceZone club. And it's getting worse. Like now." He looked over at my angel, and smiled. "He is a sweetheart, there's no doubt about it." He then turned his eyes back to me. "I loved him too at one time, you know?" I still didn't say anything. I just looked away from Trevor's gaze as he continued. "The first time I laid eyes on him...I knew that he was something special. And despite all he's been through, that awe inspiring light is still in there somewhere. Shining right through all of that suffering and glowing brightly in those big green eyes. It's hard to find that spark. In anybody. And when you do, it's even harder to keep it. So you're lucky on both counts."
"A lot of good it's doing me now." I sulked. Still feeling light years away from his touch.
Trevor paused for a moment, and then asked me, "Why don't you tell me what's on your mind? Talk to me. What's going on with this Taryn business?"
"It's nothing. Forget it."
"Is it his brother? Does he have something to do with this?"
"It's NOTHING! Forget it!" I said a bit louder.
Trevor shook his head. "Still keeping secrets, huh? It's been almost a year out here in darkness and you still haven't learned a damn thing. There's going to come a time when you have to figure out that you can't do everything all by yourself."
"I'm not trying to do everything all by myself..."
"Yes you ARE. You're holding it all in, and sulking in a corner, trying to work everything out on your own. Hoping that you come up with the right answer before the 'wrong' answer presents itself. What good is it to have us offer you help if you won't take it? You CAN'T carry the whole world on your shoulders."
"Funny...that seems to be my only 'purpose' according to the scriptures."
"Why? Because somebody else told you so?" Trevor said. "Don't you remember what I told you a long time back? Standing up on that rooftop? I said that you should give up everything that you were 'taught' and just live on your own terms for once. Why is this any different?"
"You don't understand."
"I don't NEED to understand, because it's not my problem. It's yours. I mean, honestly...who are you holding all those secrets in for, anyway? For us...or for you?"
"There are forces at work here that are beyond my control. Beyond your ability to help...." I told him.
"That's an 'illusion', Justin. It's bullshit. All your doing is holding on to the pain in your life. I feel it every time I look you in the eye. You hold it, and you guard it, and you protect it...for WHAT? You're not saving any of us by keeping it all bottled up inside. So why do it?" He said. I rolled my eyes, wishing that I had some way to make him understand without telling him...that the boy close to both our hearts was destined to fall. But he put a hand on my shoulder and said, "You know...sometimes, when you put a big padlock on your heart and emotions...you're not just keeping your friends out. You're also locking the demons 'in'. And you're gonna have to deal with them sooner or later, dude. You HAVE to. Otherwise, you'll be a slave to them forever." He slid down off the hood to stand on his feet. "As much as you whine and complain, I thought you would have figured that out by now."
"You act like I can just magically change the course of the whole world and make it all sunny and bright for everybody."
"Why not? I mean, God knows you've punished yourself a hell of a lot more than I ever would. You fight, you bleed, you nearly starve yourself to death, you cry yourself to sleep every time Taryn is more than five feet away from you, you try to 'drown' yourself off the edge of Navy Pier....but go figure, you're still here. You must have found a FEW lucky alternatives in there somewhere, right? So just...find a few more. You're a fucking vampire 'deity', Justin. Act like one. Stop worrying about what you're supposed to do...and just do what you can. It'll be enough."
Trevor's eyes met mine for a moment, but the conversation was quickly interrupted as my mind suddenly found itself jumping into a part of a circle that I didn't quite understand. It only jumped me a few seconds ahead...but...no...that couldn't be real. That's...that's just silly and weird.
But, sure enough, it was real.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything important." Trevor turned around, and we both looked on in surprise as we saw Jeremy, the blood dealer, standing before us. Same black lab coat, same wicked smirk...and three big suitcases that looked full to capacity. "Hiya, boy scout." He said to me. It looked as if he had been bruised and beaten up something fierce, wiping a loose stream of blood from his right nostril with a tissue as he spoke
"Jeremy?" Trevor asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Guess what? I'm moving in." He said, and as I saw those two monstrous wolves step up behind him, carrying even more of his stuff on their backs...we realized that he really wasn't kidding.
I saw Bryson look over from where he was standing, and the others definitely stared on with the same level of shock as Trevor and I did. "Moving in? What are you talking about?" Trevor asked.
"YOU said, that if I ever got into trouble, I was always welcome to come and stay here with you in your little junkyard 'clubhouse'. Well, I've run into some issues recently, so...here I am."
"Jeremy, that was eleven YEARS ago!"
"Twelve and a half, to be exact." Jeremy said, putting his bags down. "You didn't mention an 'expiration date', so I'm guessing that the offer still stands."
"Didn't you try to KILL me?" I asked.
"Ancient history." He grinned. "You're looking good though. Glad you got over your whole...'death'...'blood'...phobia, thing. That wasn't a good look on you at all, from what I remember."
"Jeremy..." Trevor started. "...I don't know if we can just...invite you in. I mean.."
"Ohhhh, I think you can. In fact, you're really going to want me around for a while to answer some questions. Especially since my issues at the blood bank are directly linked to you."
"To ME?" Trevor was confused, but Jeremy enjoyed that.
"Yes, indeed. It seems that you've SERIOUSLY pissed somebody off around this city. Cute kid, by the way. NOT very friendly though. He came looking for you at my shop." He said. "And when he didn't find you...he got VERRRRRY angry. Tore my place to pieces. The basement, the lab, everything. And somehow, I don't think he plans to stop there. Let's just say that he seemed...rather 'focused' on finding you and Taryn. Very 'focused' indeed." Jeremy snapped his fingers, and his wolves, Torsten and Grim, put his bags down on the ground as well, standing at attention. "I don't know why this teeny bopper son of a bitch came knocking at MY door, but I figured I should give you a little piece of advice. If you've got any other friends in the city, you might wanna send them a little 'heads up'. Because this kid is making himself one HELL of a shitlist. And he's going door to door like some kinda psycho postman." Trevor and I saw Bryson walking over to see what the hell was going on, and Jeremy simply widened his grin. "So...where do I sleep?"