It took us another forty five minutes before we were able to leave the club and return to the underground monorail platform. There were checkpoints to pass through, and guardians to watch us, even through the hidden passages...all we as we hurried to make that place a memory. Jarrod had given us the right directions, and Taryn and I hobbled our way up to the main greeting area. Bryson was, naturally worried, standing there waiting for us with the kind of facial expression that a panicked mother has when she's accidently lost her newborn baby in the grocery store. "What happened to you two! How the fuck did you get up here??? I was about to come back for you! Jesus! Are you alright?" He scolded us fiercely as he ran up to grab us up in his fatherly embrace. Taryn and I were literally crushed against his chest as he kissed the top of my head and thanked the stars above for bringing us back safely. I didn't even know if he had planned to let us go and let us breathe again until Doc reminded him that the next monorail would be coming in a minute. Bryson released us, and he saw the look in my eye, and the blood on my shirt. I can't imagine what the expression on my face must have looked like at that moment, but he knew something had gone terribly wrong. And he knew that Jarrod wasn't behind us anymore. I could see the realization in his stare, as I'm sure he could see it in mine. But there wasn't time to talk about it. Neither one of us would know what to say if there was. "Move it. You two, in front of me. I wanna keep my eyes on you."

We walked forward, with the others quickly forming a protective circle around us both and leading us to the edge of the platform. My body was fatigued, finally realizing the intense I had been putting on it recently, and soon it was hard to even stand. My knees burned and ached, my shoulders were overwhelmed with misery. Every cut, scrape, and bruise, I had acquired began to hurt, itch, and sting me with every drip of perspiration that washed over it. My shirt was cut and torn, stained with blood...and no one noticed. Not in this crowd. But we were 'safe'. Taryn was 'safe'. As long as my love stays with me, then no amount of pain is enough to shut me down. Nothing short of my untimely demise could ever keep me from protecting him. He's all I've got. All I've ever had.

I watched as the long white train finally arrived, and as the doors opened, I made my final steps towards the long trip back to reality. Back home. Our entire squad loaded into the fancy transport, and sat down on the lush crimson seats as the DJ kept the music going inside. We couldn't help staring out of the windows as we began to move, seeing thousands more still trying to get inside. Vampires still trying to get a taste of the 'ultimate party', and all the sinful treats that awaited them within the IceZone's protected walls. We made our way out of the station, and back into the dark tunnels of the underground subway. We hardly spoke a word to one another the entire time. The same energy flowed through the many platforms that we passed on our way back to the surface, decreasing in size as we got further and further from the main floor. The same vampires were dancing and screaming and twirling around with joy. The same music pulsed loudly through the cavernous area with a fury, causing the walls and the ground to vibrate with its every command. And yet, while it was overwhelming on my way into the was merely a muted annoyance on the way out. My senses became numb to everything around me. The people, the party, the very air that I was breathing. Even with Taryn holding my hand in a firm grip, his head leaning softly on my shoulder as he attempted to silently comfort me with a soothing telepathic message or two...I couldn't stand to lift my eyes from the carpeted floor beneath my feet. All I could see in my minds eye was the repeated horror of the piercing strike that took the life of my friend. All I could hear was his tear filled scream as that metal spike punctured his most precious vampire organ. His still beating heart. All I could feel was the rapidly drying mold of his bloody residue in between my fingers, the coagulated gum gelling faster than I could wipe it off on my shredded shirt tail. Occassionally I would notice the pain from the cuts I had taken battling the hunters inside, the sweat from my pours still stinging me as the salty liquid slid over my unhealed wounds. But more than was the look in Jarrod's eyes that I couldn't seem to shake. A boy who had once saved me from starving to death on the streets. A boy who I had just left bleeding alone in a dark alley, helpless, unconscious, with no choice but to wake up and wait to die from his own injuries. Nothing could save him now. Nothing.

We tried to tell someone as we hurried up the stairs, Taryn and I. We tried to get him some help. To get someone to pay attention. But no one listened. No one cared. With a million vampires in just one spot, who would notice just one lone soul in distress? Especially when it was someone who supposedly deserved it for defying the Elder's divine order. It took Taryn a lot to get me to leave that spot. To realize the hopelessness of the situation. But I felt like a bastard. A traitor to everything I believed in. And for a moment, when I looked at Jarrod's body, turning pale, and then blue, from his blood loss...I saw Xairen's body in his place. With no one to come for him. And only his faith to bring him back to a waking reality that now existed on borrowed time. I saw it all...and I didn't know how I could ever smile again without betraying their memory. And their sacrifice.

The monorail finally pulled into the final station, and the vampires it carried poured out into the waiting area, the widened eyes of uninitiated halflife's almost blinding us with their excitement. They had no idea what they would be walking into once they stepped on that train and entered the IceZone on their own. Neither did we, when we first approached this place. I didn't know whether to encourage them, ignore them, or warn them. Because I doubt any of them will be coming back the same person they were when they left. I just wish them better luck than we had.

We went back through the same complicated route that we used to get to the club in the first place, and when we got back to the Green Mill club and finally made it to the surface, the night sky looked almost alien to us. It had only been two days, but I hadn't seen a single star since we went underground. I hadn't felt a single midnight wind, or inhaled the bitter fragrance of the street. It felt good to be back in an environment that felt somewhat familar. We walked in a large group, seeing other vampires outside behind the building, waiting to get in. Still looking down on us halflife children with a snobbery that was difficult to hide. Not that they tried very hard. Bryson led the way, with the rest of us naturally following behind his confident stride. But as I looked down at my feet, I noticed something strange. There were little bits of street debris, dead leaves, cigarette butts, gum wrappers, ripped pieces of paper...they all seemed to move out of my way as I walked forward. It was as if a determined wind had blown them out and away from my every footstep, pushing the litter in every direction. I wasn't doing it on purpose, but somehow...I was responsible. I could feel it.

I stopped walking for a second, and Taryn stopped right along with me. His eyes met mine, and I thought for a moment that I might just be imagining things. With my head spinning like this, I doubt I could be much of a sane judge of my surroundings anyway. So I took his hand, and gave him a light smile as I leaned over to kiss his cheek and keep moving foward. We had successfully merged back in with the human populous. And you wanna know something? I've been missing it from the moment that it was removed from my life. The unsettling mix between man and vampire. Something about walking among them without their knowledge was so much more enchanting than what I experienced at the club.

We walked towards the public train, and the whole time, my senses felt so alive. It was like I was in tune with everything around me, but on a level that I had never experienced before. My footsteps felt heavy, my hands....strong. It felt as though I could effortlessly knock over a building if I had the impulse to do so. As if I could crack the sidewalk with every step, or push the winds aside if I felt any discomfort in their breeze. I couldn't understand what created this sudden spiritual ego inside of me, but it was real. I knew it was real. The only thing keeping me from demonstrating the surging power inside was my own restraint.

But it was there. I felt it. Growing. Pulsing. Changing me from the inside. It was an almost scary feeling...but...if it was terrifying....

...Why was I smiling?

szurp "Justin?" Bryson asked, putting his hand on my shoulder. It was the first time that any of us had spoken since we got on the train home. The first time that I had been able to lift my eyes from the ground. And when I did, tears began to silently drip from their corners automatically. I didn't even know they were there. Bryson looked at me tenderly, and it almost looked as though he wished he could take the tears from my eyes and cry them for me. I wish I could explain the warmth that it brought to my heart...just to know that he cared that much. "How you doin', kid?"

I felt Taryn hug me close, as the rest of my family turned around to see my pain as well. "I'm....I'm sorry....I just..." I began to sob, my voice cracking until I was almost choking on the emotion in my throat. "I can' this...anymore...."

"Justin..." Bryson started, but I stopped him.

"No! I don't know what I'm supposed to do! I don't know what I'm supposed to BE! All I do is hurt people, and KILL people, and...."

"No, Justin. You haven't hurt anybody. Ok? You did everything you could do."

"It wasn't enough!" I said louder.

"It was more than anyone else could have done. Justin, you put yourself on the line to help your friend, and that was all you could do. You tried."

"But...I couldn't save him. I just...I couldn't save him." Bryson saw me getting weak in my very center, and reached out to hug me tight. Even though I resisted for a second or two, I eventually let go. And I cried deep into his shoulder, holding him with all the strength my tired arms had left. In all this madness, despite the comfort of Taryn's was so soothing to have a father figure that I could trust at that moment. Someone that I could depend on to bring me peace, if only for that one instant. "You're alright, Justin. We're....we're gonna get you through this, ok? I promise." He told me, his hands rubbing up and down my back. I had to get control of myself and stand upright on my own again. I wasn't strong, not by any means. But I wanted to go home. And just smelling the night air, tainted as it was with the smells of the city, I felt too close to home to stop now. Bryson gave me a look, letting me know that he would wait if I wanted to rest for a bit longer. But with a simple nod of my head, I let him know that it wasn't necessary. That's when he turned to the others and said, "Come on...let's go home." He said it so softly, and gently guided me in the right direction, his hand on the small of my back as Taryn took a hold of my hand again. So much love here. So much love.

As we sat down on the 'not so plush' seats of the public Chicago train and took off, I leaned my head against the window and just closed my eyes for a while. Wishing that I could sleep. Wishing that I could just...lose consciousness and put my thoughts in a state of paralysis for a while so that I could have a break from my guilt. No such luck. Vampires hibernate all day long....they don't 'nap'. So, even with eyes closed and my vision locked away in darkness...those nasty thoughts remained. Thoughts of that shiv piercing Jarrod's heart. The sound, the scream, the blood. It never stopped. The image was on an endless loop and I was helpless to block it out. Why bother? Maybe I deserved to see these things. Maybe it's my punishment for letting it happen so easily. Without being able to protect him. Without being able to stop his attacker. For all of my amazing abilities...when it came right down to defending the life of another...I failed. I FAILED. And because of that, he's gonna die. Alone. Some 'savior' I am.

I did my best to turn off the voices in my head for the duration of our trip back to the lot. Or at least to turn them down. The others could tell that I was upset, so most of them stayed pretty silent as well. Except for Gyro, of course, who seemed to have had the time of his life and then some. Looking at them, I wondered...would I be any more of a hero for them when the moment arrived? Or would they share the same fate? What if it had been Bryson in that alley? Or Jenna? Or Dion? What if they depended on me....and I let them down? A fearful shiver crawled over my shoulders, and I hid my face as I felt them water up again. It helped to have Taryn holding me so close as he sat beside me. He didn't push me to talk about it, didn't need me to smile for his benefit. He just held me, and understood. Sometimes, his grip on my arm could be so gentle...almost nonexistant. And yet it would provide me the strength and comfort that I needed when my mind wandered into such lonely territory. I looked down at him momentarily, seeing the same enchanting shade of green in his eyes that I saw that first night on the end of Navy Pier. The night when I chose him over death itself...and sacrificed the warmth of the sun's eternal light for the pleasure of his tender kiss. And when he looked back up at me, I briefly pressed my lips to his, hoping that it would somehow bring me some kind of counter for the pain and the fear that I was feeling inside. But for the first time since we had fallen in didn't help. It wasn't enough. The salvation that his kiss once brought to my life was powerless against what I was feeling now, and that frightened me even more. Because if the greatest love of all can't beat this, what can?

More time passed, and we were reaching the end of the line for this train ride before transferring to the train that would take us home. However, as we walked to the next area, I began to feel the effects of the IceZone's extra cancelling devices wearing off. Their advanced technology had been growing weak with every inch that we traveled in the other direction...and after the passage of about an hour, I felt myself 'filling up' again inside. many of them. All at once. The was...frightening. It was like having my veins filled with wet cement...slow and sluggish movement...full almost until bursting. I made it to the tracks with the others, but immediately found a place on the floor to sit down. I could feel the energies swirling and swimming inside of me. I brought my knees closer to my chest, my arms doubled across my stomach, and rocked back and forth slightly. It didn't really 'hurt' so much, but it felt so strange. So alien. It was like having something alive in the very core of my existence. And it was I had to close my eyes and lean even further forward as a bout of dizziness tilted and spun the whole world around me.

Taryn was quick to sit down beside me, and reached a hand up to lovingly smooth out the blond locks on my head, moving lower to stroke my backside. "Baby? Are you ok?"

"Ugh....I.....I don't know..." I said, my spirit inflating wth more than it could handle. "I think....I think something's wrong with me." I held my breath in an attempt to keep from moaning out loud and alerting everyone else to my predicament. As though they weren't already watching. My body felt like a crowded elevator, with no room to move. No room to even breathe. With more and more passengers squeezing their way in with every minute that ticked by on the clock. I had to fight to keep my eyes from rolling back into my head.

Gyro was still bouncing around, full of his usual limitless energy. I saw him pretending to do these crazy kung fu moves, complete with sound effects, once again admiring my abilities with a playful level of idolatry. He went from Jun, to Doc, to Jenna, landing fake punches and kicks while they flashed him a smile. However, when he got to his sister, Rain was quick to push him away, almost making him fall flat on his ass. Not that it stopped his fun really.

Trevor and Michael stood off by themselves, but weren't really talking to one another. Michael attempted to get close and take Trevor's hand, much like Taryn would grab mine...but it was too rehearsed. Too artificial. I think Trevor let Michael do it just to keep him quiet. Nothing about the affection was real, not on his end. If anything, he seemed more attracted to Gyro's antics than Michael's display of emotion. Trevor even grinned a bit as he saw Gyro flailing his arms around Kid, who playfully hid behind Max with a smile. Kid doesn't smile much, hardly ever. But when he does, he seems like he's just a baby, caught out here in all this darkness. It was fun to see him peek out from behind Max, on one side, then the other, avoiding Gyro's fury. He needs to 'play' every now and then. It's the only thing that keeps us sane.

Just then, another flare up of energy ran through me, and I was forced to moan out a little, as it caught me by surprise. Taryn jumped, and rubbed circles on my back. "Omigod, you want me to..." He began, but I cut him off.

"No! Don't. It's ok. Just....just let me rest here for a minute, ok?" I said. And leaned my head against the stone wall behind me. I'm alright. The train will come, and we'll get home. Once I get some sleep...this will all even out somehow. It has to.

When it was time to get on the last public train and make our way back into the city, I noticed that the rest of our troop had pretty much gone back to being themselves again. Their personalities had settled back into routine, with Gyro bobbing his head to whatever music he had playing in his head, a boyish smirk on his young face. Rain was snapping at her wrist continuously with a rubber band. Max was trying to adjust his position in his seat to keep Kid from poking him in the ribs with his elbow while snuggling up so close. Trevor and Michael kissed slowly in their seat, evidently finding a comfortable medium between Michael's desire to be needed and Trevor's need to be desired. However, Dylan was content to just lay back with Dion's arm over his shoulder, absorbing the wamrth of his embrace. And Doc was rummaging through his collection of vampire museum memoribillia and brochures, absorbing all that he could to remember for later use. They all had this uncanny ability to just go on as though nothing had happened. Shutting it all out. Feeding without remorse, fighting without they could maintain their sanity in all this, I'll never know. Maybe it was an act of normality, put together so that no one else could see their true feelings. Or maybe, just maybe...they've been living this way for so long, that it just doesn't matter anymore.

I felt a slight fever growing inside of me, and yet, I was shivering at the same time. I couldn't really do much about it, so I jut st there and attempted to ride it out without alerting anyone else to my sickness. I felt 'displaced' somehow. As though...I wasn't really here. Like everything was a dream. My very identity seemed to fade into this grand scheme of some unknown higher purpose all of the sudden. And I didn't like it. In fact, I rejected it completely. It was as f I was slowly ceasing to only here to carry out the duties for which I was meant to complete. I was becoming faceless. Meaningless. A 'tool' for others to use and discard as they walked past me...not noticing....not caring....not remembering. I don't know why my thoughts drifted in such erratic patterns, but...I knew that I had somehow accepted the burden of carrying a substantial piece of the pain and suffering around me. I knew that I was moving myself into a position that would bring a great responsibility, misery, worry, and scrifice. I felt like a chess piece in someone else's game...and I hated it. I hated the idea that my fate was beng played to perfection without my consent, and I wondered...just how locked in I ws when it came to this vampire prophecy.

We came to a stop, and some humans got on the train with us, a small college crowd, coming back from a party. Loud, obnoxious, drunk. But having a good time. I made sure to lower my head a bit, and sunk down in my seat to hide my bloodstained shirt. Being in society's presence caused all of us to suddenly correct our natural posture. No more held hands and kisses between boys, no more ease of conversation. Just the knowledge that we weren't alone, and the desire to maskor true selves for their benefit. Maybe it's human nature to want to blend in with the majority. To be seen as 'normal'. Then again...maybe human nature's got it all backwards.

We sat in silence as the college kids screamed at the top of their lungs, laughing at jokes that weren't funny, kissing girls they barely loved, apparently wearing a slightly different mask of normality from the ones we adopted when the set foot on the train. They seemed happy enough, but their thoughts...their desires...their emotions...they were so different. Being able to mind read is one thing, but combined with Jenna's empath abilities and Trevor's sensitivity to their hidden wants and got a much clearer picture. Maybe too clear. Each of them wanting to stand out, wanting to be that shining individual in a group of so many people. Wanting to be loved, appreciated, remembered...but never once believing that they're good enough to achieve it. Self confident and self conscious at the same time. Putting on a show for an invisible audience, never knowing that they are their own judge of worth and value. What message could I bring to those with so much doubt? I rubbed my eyes, trying to keep my wandering thoughts straight, but the very presence of them flooded my senses. And when I looked at them again, I saw a shining light surrounding everyone on the train. Even the others with me. It was faint, but it was there. This strange aura, radiating so brightly from the inside that it covered their outer shell with the glow. Each one a different color and intensity. Some of them containing sparkles and twinkles of their own, shining with such brilliance that I could hardly see them through it. I tried to rub the image out of my eyes, but it wouldn't go away. It remained. And all I could do was close my burning eyes again to block it out. I'm not feeling well. Too full. So out of balance. There was all of this....mental 'noise' around me. People's constantly spinning thoughts and insecurities overwhelming my own. Their inner conversations rattling on about pointless things, rapidly babbling with no breaks, no breaths. Overlapping thoughts of the mysterious and the mundane, confusing dialogue that only they could speak or understand. I felt myself taking it all into me at once. Uncontrollably. Unable to turn it off. I closed my eyes tighter, hoping that the physical action would somehow block out the nonsensical ramblings. But the voices got louder. And I almost felt compelled to scream out loud myself to silence them all. I wondered how long I was in contact with Zero before his final moments. I wondered if maybe I had picked up some of his mental habits.

The ride home was long. So long. Too long for my tastes. And the final walk from the train seemed almost eternal. But I felt a wave of relief wash over me as we approached the front gate of our abandoned lot once again. I never thought an old auto junkyard could feel so much like home. As soon as we stepped into the center of the lot, we heard the frantic sound of claws scratching at the window from inside Dion's truck. He hurried over to open it up, and Napolean burst out of the front seat, his tail wagging madly as he turned himself around in circles trying to greet us all at the same time and welcome us back from our vacation. He must have missed us something awful, especially Dion, completely bathing his face in dog saliva as Dion tried to fight him off with a grin. "Easy, boy! Hehehe, geez, you got lonely without us, huh? Yeah? Good boy!"

Everyone kinda made a quick retreat to their self made habitats, to either change their clothes or just to check to make sure that everything was in order. The old place seemed so quiet after the many hours of high energy celebration that we had just been through. I think we were glad to have things slow down again. Settle in. Reach a comfortable level of calm. I know that I was. It felt good to not have my body 'vibrating' to a rave beat every few seconds.

I didn't move much. Not once I had gotten into the center of the lot. While my mind was thankful for a return to familiar surroundings, nothing about me felt the same. Making me a stranger all over again. I felt a pair of eyes on me, and saw Bryson watching from his truck. Studying me. Analyzing my abnormal behavior. So I turned my back on him and hid the disturbed expression on my face, walking over to another part of the lot, where I could silent for a few minutes.

"Hey, Justin? I was..." I heard Jenna's voice behind me, and she reached out a hand to touch my shoulder. But, without warning, my body defended itself wih a bright spark of electricity that shocked her hand and nearly left her fingers numb. She jumped back, and my eyes opened wide.

"Omigod...Jenna, I'm...I'm sorry" I don't know what happened!" I reached out to look at her hand, but she pulled it back from me. "Are...are you ok?"

She winced a bit, but answered, "Yeah. I think so." She gave me a sideways look before continuing. "A couple of us are going down to the old church to shower some of that 'party life' off of us. Did you wanna come?"

"I..." I paused for a moment as I looked down and saw my shadow seemingly move without me. It quickly snapped back into place, but it was a startling thing to see. "...No, I think I'm just gonna...stay here for a bit. Get my head straight."

"Suit yourself. But when you wake up tomorrow, you're gonna wish you had." She attempted to smile, still shaking the bzzing sensatin out of her hand. And that's when I saw her bright blue eyes stare into mine. It was quick, and not really invasive...but I felt her scanning me. Searching my emotions. Prying inward to keep me from hiding them from her. With a single thought, I could feel myself building an instant shield around myself, and it shut her out completely. I shoved her extra off of me, and she took a step back in surprise as she found herself staring at a 'locked door'.

She didn't say anything about scanning me. She was probably shocked that I even noticed her doing it. And I didn't mention anything about blocking her from seeing my emotional state. I just told her, "I just need some time to think. That's all. K?"

This time, her smile was weak. Her gaze, suspicious. But she didn't press it any further. "Ok. That's cool." She said softly. "Maybe...tomorrow, you'll feel better."

"Yeah. Maybe." I kept my eyes on her, ready just in case she tried to probe my emotions again. She backed away from me, and then left to join a few others to get cleaned up.

"Dude...your shirt." Taryn approached me with something else to wear, his smile attempting to bring me back to normal. But I wasn't sure how far away from normal that I was at that moment. "Here, put this on..." Taryn touched me, and I felt my stomach tighten up. My arms tensed, my toes curled up in my was almost like a fighting stance. He playfully rubbed my flat stomach as he lifted the torn and stained shirt up to my nipples. I almost made an involuntary move to stop him, but I caught myself in time, and lifted my arms. "Aww, well you're not cut too bad. You're hardly bleeding at all."

"Oh...he's cut bad, alright. But you're right, he's hardly bleeding at all." Trevor sneered walked up behind me, a crooked smile crossing his lips. He had Michael faithfully at his side, both of them keeping a very watchful eye on me. "You don't look so good there, cowboy. In seem a little pale to me."

"Don't you have somewhere to be?" I said softly. I was strong...unbelievably strong. I felt as though my voice would crack the sky apart if I spoke in my normal tone. The power was soooo delicious. I could feel it. I could feel it all around me. Waiting. Anticipating the moment when I would call upon it. You have no idea how something like that affects your behavior.

"C'mon. Let's just go." Taryn whispered, taking a hold of my arm. But the more Trevor stared at me, the more I stared right back at him.

"I don't think your boyfriend here wants to go anywhere, Taryn. It looks like he's got something to say." Trevor grinned, with Michael's smile accompanying his sadistic little game. "How should we serve thee, oh great vampire mimic? I'd sacrifice a virgin, but except for Kid, I doubt we could find one in this place."

"Not now, Trevor. I really don't have the patience to deal with your bullshit tonight." I said in response to his taunting. But as usual, Trevor fed off of my frustration.

"Too bad. I was looking for a challenge this time around. You're nowhere near as fun as you used to be before that first feeding, rookie." Michael leaned his head on Trevor's shoulder, and Trevor gave his knuckles a brief kiss. Then he winked at me and started to walk back to his habitat for the night. But he stopped after only a few steps. "Oh...and by the long as we're talking about feeding and long has it been for you, Justin? Two weeks? Three, perhaps?"

"Leave him alone!" Taryn protested.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"The cuts on your arms, your legs....that pretty little face of yours...didn't you notice how 'clean' they were? Some of those cuts are pretty deep, but they didn't stain your shirt too badly. They certainly aren't bleeding now."

"Some of them healed in the club, that's all. A couple of different extras...they made them better." I told him, but it only made Trevor's smile more wicked in its presentation.

"Nice try, boy scout. But you're not quite that advanced yet. If you ask me, I'd say you were running on a somewhat 'limited' supply." He looked over at Michael. "Wouldn't you agree?"

"He's definitely on borrowed time." Michael hugged his prize possession around the waist, so happy to be included in his lover's joyful moment.

"You'd better check with Doc and see if he altered your regular feeding chart to compensate for the massive amounts of blood you lost in the club." He said. And when he saw the look on my face, his smile widened with delight. "It's almost 'hunting season' again, cutie pie. I can feel the desire reaching out for that flavor. I can sense the hunger in you. It won't be long before you feel the trembles. It won't be long before you have to satsfy your thirst. Tick, tock, tick, tock...who will it be, who will it be? Hehehe!"

I clenched Taryn's hand tightly as I fought to restrain myself. Trevor was searching. He wasn't as subtle about his extra as Jenna was. He had no shame in pushing forward, ripping the required data from my mind without mercy. He knew how to push buttons. How to guide me into certain reactions that would break down my defenses and give him exactly what he was looking for. But I won't do it. I refuse.

" wanna hurt me, don't you, Justin?" He kept egging me on, stepping closer.

"Justin, let's just go." Taryn whispered again.

"Don't cut him off at the knees now, Taryn. He's finally showing some spirit in this place."

"FUCK YOU, TREVOR!" Taryn shouted. "Come on, baby...just walk away. This is what he wants. He's just being an asshole. Let it go."

"No, don't let it go. Embrace it. Stand up and take your shot, playboy." He said, and I felt the very air around me get thin. My temperature started to rise, and my breathing became heavy as the limitless energies at my command began to slowly bubble up towards the surface. It was an intense rush of godlike abilities....more than I could even comprehend all at once. Trevor may have been pushing just enough to see what I was feeling, but he had no idea what kind of fire he was playing with now.

"This isn't a game you want to play." I said, and I turned slightly to kiss Taryn deeply on the lips, creating a jealousy in them both. Then I gave him a wink in return. I could feel the burning sensation rise up inside them, wanting what we had. Wishing they could even come close. "Besides, we have better things to do with our time."

I turned my back on Trevor to leave them behind. And it was then that I heard him say. "Taryn is still 'mine', you know?" I stopped walking, and look back over my shoulder. "He will always be mine. And when I first bit him....he was 'begging' for release." Something about it twisted my guts into a tight knot, and I turned to face him. "Begging, Justin. Tear filled cries of helplessness....needing me to be his savior. You remember that the next time you two decide to get cuddly with one another. the end of all things....I'M the one who popped his fucking cherry, geek!"

It began as a pressure...deep in the center of my soul. But it grew too fast for me to stop it. It exploded! I could feel Taryn's pain from the comment, I could feel Trevor's ill intent, and there was a sudden rage that rose up inside of me that refused to be contained for one moment longer. The energy literally LEAPT forward, and suddenly all of the windows on the surrounding car wrecks blew out simultaneously! Showering the ground with glass, and causing Taryn to jump in shock. The air warped in front of me as waves of heat rose from the ground, and small pieces of litter from around the lot were suddenly drawn into a circle at my feet. The pressure around us actually crushed the frames of the cars on either side of us, the sound of old rusted metal bending and folding as the wind blew up the sides of my blond hair and my eyes turned the darkest shade of crimson that they had ever been before.

For a moment, I felt exactly like I did, back in that classroom...pummeling that fucking bully with everything that I had. Unloading years worth of pent up frustration, all in that one moment. But this time...there would be no retaliation. There would be nothing left. With the slightest impulse, I could burn Trevor alive. I could turn him to ash where he stood. Him and Michael both. My extras were ready. Untold power, waiting at the gates! Under MY command! The kind of power I never had before. Not in this lot, not in life, not in school, not with my power. No....this time, the tide was in my favor, and my favor alone. I could 'end' it right now. I could be done with this game, once and for all...and once they've been eliminated...I could be happy again. I could do it. For me. For Taryn. And if anyone else stood in the way...I could get rid of them too. I have the ability to cut down every weed in our garden of Eden if need be. Who could stop me? At any time, I could just...just...

It wasn't until then that I noticed what I was doing. That I noticed the silence around me.

The whole lot looked as though it had been dyed a shade of red, my hunting eyes so intently focused on Trevor and Michael that I couldn't turn them off. The bright glow reflected off of my face, and I felt myself affecting everything around me. Charging it with this murderous energy that threatened to destroy everything around it in the blink of an eye. It patiently waited for my thoughts to shoot it out in any given direction, and when I looked away from my 'targets', I noticed a small cut on Taryn's cheek from a shard of glass that had scraped it as it flew past.

I did what I could to pull it back. All of it. Relax, Justin. Relax. I tried to return my breathing to normal, and looked around me to see the rest of the lot watching me in horror. Unsure of what to do.


Of me?

I felt the energy calming itself down, and when I looked forward again, Michael had taken a concerned hold of Trevor's arm, gently pulling him away from me. I couldn't explain the look on Trevor's face at that moment. He's never been one to really back down from much of anything, but there was something in my eyes, in my expression, something that he must have read in my emotions...that let him know that he was a single brain impulse away from being eliminated. He 'allowed' Michael to pull him away. And they didn't take their eyes off of me until they were off at a safe distance.

Everyone was watching me. The cars, thankfully just empty wreckage, had been compacted and twisted into another form entirely. And even Taryn kept a few steps back from me...his eyes tearing up as he witnessed me losing my control.

Was it shame that I felt? I don't know. Even though Trevor deserved the scare, I couldn't be sure whether or not I would have really 'hurt' him or not. It was a tough call. I felt a headache begin to settle in behind my eyes, and I turned to walk away from the center of the lot where everyone could see me. I don't want them staring at me! I DON'T LIKE IT! I'm 'NOT' different!!! I'm...I'm one of THEM! They're supposed to be my fucking FAMILY! They're supposed to understand!

I stomped away from them all, and they didn't follow. Knowing Bryson, he'll give me a few minutes to cool off before coming over to give me his fatherly 'guidance'. But I don't need it. Not tonight. What I NEED is....what I need is....

My legs began to weaken as I got a short distance away from the others and reached a secluded part of the lot. What I need is...time to work thing out. This doesn't feel right. Something is going haywire inside of me, and I can't figure out what it is.

I sat down in an old minivan seat, and held my head in my hands as the headache throbbed a little bit more intensely. I couldn't even sit still. No position would bring me any comfort. Ugh...what's happening to me. It was like my senses were screaming from overload, like my brain was trying to absorb too much, too fast. But the power was still their, flooding my insides with a nauseating level of abundance. Voices. Images. Thoughts. Does this feeling go away? Does it? The other mimics....the other mimics went mad. They....they went MAD because of this! What chance do I have of keeping control? Huh? What chance?

And then...just as I thought things couldn't get any worse...I felt it.

That rumble. That physical shiver that let me know that I was running low. Just as Trevor predicted. My battles in the club had taken their toll on me...the blood loss wasn't severe, but it had been weeks since I had fed that child molester in the park. Whatever supplies I had left to last me the next week or two was gone. The thirst was returning. And I wouldn't have much time left before my instincts began to take over once again.

As I sat there in the dark, all alone...I felt a tear drip from my eye. Followed by another, and another. And with the first sniffle, the waterworks rained down without end. I curled myself up into a ball, holding onto both knees in that seat as I rocked back and forth, hoping...praying...that I would find a way out....

...While I still had what was left of my sanity in tact.