I sat in that empty part of the lot...and waited.

Waited for what? I don't know. Something. Anything. Answers. Questions. Perhaps more tears. But whatever it was that I was hoping to find in my solitude...it wasn't coming.

I stared up at the night time sky, the darkness brightening ever so slightly with the dawn only two or three hours away. The stars seemed so bright to me. Their twinkling clarity was almost a burden to my sensitive eyes. But I remember them. I remember them well. And the way they looked when Taryn first brought me out of that trailer after waking up from my crossover. I can still remember the smile on my face as I took my first few shakey steps on the ground, experiencing the beauty of the night in a way that I had never seen it before. The crispness of the air, the taste of it on my lips. The first few realizations that this was real, and this was love. My, how things have changed since then.

I rubbed my stomach as I felt another small tremor roll through it. It was hard to gauge how long it would be before the thirst began to take over. I'm sure that Bryson wouldn't let me go too much longer without hunting. Not now. I was much too powerful to be out of my rational mind. Soon my thoughts would be switching over to survival instincts...and I wouldn't have a choice. Kill...or starve. Who is ever ready to make that decision?

I looked down at the sand in front of me. Still, motionless, and yet...'alive' somehow. At least for me. I blinked a few times to see if I was seeing things, but the senses didn't lie. I slowly reached out my arm, and with my index finger stretched out...I made a small circle in the air. My eyes widened slowly as I saw the same circle being visibly drawn in the sand. I never touched it, but it moved as my finger moved, following my gesture, until I took in a deep breath from the subtle scare of it. Then, the entre pallette was wiped clean, as though a wind had come through and blown it away. What was I doing? What is happening to me?

It was maybe an hour that I sat there by myself. Just enjoying the quiet. Occassionally feeling some new ability 'attach' itself to me, and burrow in deeper to my subconscious for later use. It was like having worms beneath the surface of your skin...sliding back and forth through your veins, finding their place inside you....with no way for you to scratch them out. But I attempted to maintain some form of balance, mostly through ignoring the sensations crawling up my spine. If I can just make it to dawn....maybe this will stop. Maybe my body will fix itself, and I can be normal again. I just...I need to keep this contained for now.

A few seconds later, I felt a cold sensation attach itself to my arm. I looked down to see a shadow wrapping itself around me, like a small wisp of smoke. Its icy grip tightened on my arm, and I attempted to shake it loose. It began to crawl further up towards my shoulder, trying to bury itself in my sleeve, but I stopped it. I grabbed it with my other hand and literally pulled the shadow off with my fingers, throwing it to the ground in front of me. It felt like...'pain'. Like, 'insecurity', and 'shame', and 'shyness'. Fear. A feeling of being less than special. That small shadow didn't just appear here....it must have actually come from somewhere. From someone. And it was trying to attach itself to me...the same way Comicality's cloak of shadows attached itself to him. I watched the small dark form spasm a bit in the dirt, and then it swiftly hopped up to scamper off into a dark corner behind me.

It was then that I could feel a gentle pressure expanding wthin me. An almost inaudible high pitched ring in my senses. It only took a few seconds to put two and two together. "You've gotten a lot better, Dylan." I said. "You'd almost be completely invisible, but your movements give you away." Had I just repeated the same comment that Comicality told me once before, not long ago?

Saying it outloud, made Dylan shut his extra off, and he came out of the shadows to join me. "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to spy on you, or anything...I just..."

"...Wanted to make sure that I was alright?" I replied.

"Yeah....I suppose..." He nodded. How a vampire with such a finite blood supply could afford to blush so often was a complete mystery to me sometimes. Dylan timidly stepped closer to me, and instead of sitting down next to me, he knelt down in front of me and put his hands on my knees. "You don't look too good. I was worried. We all are...kinda."

"I'm fine. I'm just going through a few changes right now and...it's got me feeling like I don't fit in my own skin. That's all." I told him. "There's really nothing you could do to help me. You could only make it worse."

His eyes drooped a bit, and his thin lips frowned in the most subtle way. I had almost forgotten how fragile Dylan's feelings could be sometimes. "Oh....I see. That's ok. I guess....I guess I'll just....leave you alone then...."

But I stopped him before he vanished on me. "I DO like the company though." I said. "If for no other reason than to take my mind off of things for a while." His fawn-like hazel eyes peeked up at me for a moment, searching to see if I really wanted him to stay or if I was just being nice. Working up the energy to give him a slightly crooked smile seemed to give him his answer. He perked up instantly, and quickly scooted over to sit at my right side. I could feel his excitement, magnified. It was a serious rush that flooded my mind all at once and gave me a chill all over. I gasped from the sensation as he moved close enough to where our legs and shoulders touched. Geez, it certainly didn't take a whole lot to make HIM feel better, did it?

Dylan looked at me for a moment, and I looked back, and he suddenly realized that he had no idea what he wanted to say to me. He paused for a second, and then just smiled with a blush as he forgotten his entire reason for even coming over there. I couldn't help but to laugh, and he giggled playfully right beside me. It felt good to laugh. So good. Even though my head was spinning and my eyes were burning...Dylan's presence actually did make me feel a little bit better than I was sitting here alone. "Sorry...hehehe, I just..." He said softly.

"Don't worry about it. We can just sit here if you want."

"No...I wanna talk." He grinned. Looking at him closely...he was still so young. Hell, he had only been a vampire for a few months more than I have. He was just as much a newblood as I was. And yet, he seemed to have such a good handle on all of this darkness. Better than I did. Maybe another few months is all it takes? "I saw you fight." He said, almost laughing nervously at his own comment.

"Hehehe, you did?"

"Um...yeah. A little bit. Back at the club." He hid his face for a second, but then managed to look me in the eye. "You were...awesome, Justin."


"I never saw anybody fight like that before. I kinda wanted to stay and watch."

"Funny...I kinda wanted to run and hide." I told him. His face then melted into something a little bit more serious, and his smile began to dissolve as he looked back down at the ground. He didn't say what was on his mind, but I could feel him holding back. I gave him a second to build up the nerve, and he asked me, "Your friend...that Jarrod, guy?" He paused again, trying so hard not to offend me. "He didn't get out in time....did he?"

Now it was my turn to stare at the ground. Trying to dull the image of his final moments...while he was looking to me for help. I shook my head. "No. No, he didn't."

"Did he get hurt?"

"Yeah." I felt the sadness creeping back in. Cascading down on my shoulders like an ice cold shower. "He didn't make it. I mean....I tried, but...." I didn't even know how to finish that thought. I didn't know how to justify letting him down. "He was counting on me."

"I'm sure that...he couldn't have been helped. I mean, you fought those guys really hard..."

"Not hard enough." I said abruptly, cutting him off. "Trevor's right. I don't have any fucking idea what I'm doing. All this energy and it's useless because I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing with it."

"Maybe you're not supposed to do anything with it." Dylan said. "Maybe you're just supposed to...'understand' it or something." There was a silence, as the simplicity of his answer attempted to sink in through my armor of misery and regret. "I guess you just have to have a little bit of faith in God's plan for you."

"Psh...please, don't even get me started on that."


I wanted to stop myself before I said something to hurt his feelings, but he was waiting for an answer. "Dude...look, I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but so far God's plan for me has been one of the most sadistic and unforgiving conspiracies ever created. Frankly, I'm sick of it and wish he would go pick on somebody else for a change." I said "I TRIED to believe, you know? I did. It's not like I never went to church or celebrated the holidays or...absorbed whatever brainwashing they could give me at the door. But...I can't just give myself over to something that isn't there. I can't. Especially now."

"It's ok, Justin. You don't really have to believe the way they 'tell' you to. But you've got to believe in something, even if it's just...good old fashioned luck."

"Yeah, well, I don't." I said. "You don't know what it's like, Dylan....to grow up in so much pain, with no way out. Nobody listens, nobody cares. And you spend your nights praying that things will get better. And they only get worse. I wasn't just some spoiled kid praying for a video game system, or a bunch of action figures, or some trivial yuppie trinket that I could do without. I just..." I paused for a moment, as a lump of emotion got caught up in the back of my throat. "...I just...wanted my dad to stop hitting me. I wanted my mom to stop drinking herself sick. I wanted my best friend to stop suffering all alone in the hospital." I sniffled. "I prayed...and I prayed...and I prayed again and again...and I never got my answer. I never even got a fucking solid rejection. So I just had to...turn it all off. I bottled it up, and I shut it down, and I learned that the only person I could ever depend on was me. Nobody else. Because nobody else was coming to save me. Nobody else was there." Dylan was silent, not even looking at me anymore. I felt my eyes beginning to water, but not a single tear dripped over the ledge. I reached into the collar of my shirt, and pulled out Xairen's cross that he had given me back at Dash's shelter. I lifted it over my head and held it in my hand. "I fight, and I cry, and I toil, and I sacrifice as much of myself as I CAN without losing my mind...and there's nobody out there keeping score. Nobody is willing to do a goddamn thing to help me or even support my efforts. After all that I've been through, do you want to know what my only link to a higher being is? Do you want to know what my experience with the concept of God and his 'plan' for me is? It's the fact that my whole life, shitty as it was, and all the unimaginable pain that I had to endure growing up....might have all been done to me on PURPOSE. Just so that I could come here, and fulfill some age old vampire prophecy...for you. That's all the proof I have. All I have to stand on. All I have to look forward to. You tell me why I should believe." As Dylan stared at his shoes, I reached out, and handed him the cross. "Here. Maybe this will do you more good than it did me. More good than it did the guy who wore it last, more good than it did the guy I tried to save tonight. Whoever it was up there that was supposed to respond to the call of this thing...he wasn't listening."

However, without accepting it, he pushed my hand away. And he told me, "Keep it. Maybe it'll remind you of something good...when you need it most."

He attempted to work up a somewhat genuine smile, those perfectly smooth cheeks of his lifted in the most adorable way. "Sighhhh...you're really sold on this stuff, aren't you?"

"Afraid so." He grinned. "I do know what it's like, Justin. My parents...they didn't understand me. They couldn't see that I was just...'different', you know? They wanted me to be better, they tried to teach me everything that they thought was right. But they got it wrong. They tried to force me, scare me, punish me. They said my belief wasn't strong enough, that's why I was so confused. They told me that I was...wicked. And for a long time, I was really hurt by that. I would have done anything to make the shame of it go away...but it didn't. And that only made the pain worse, because I was convinced that I was too weak to stop it." I had almost forgotten the vision that I saw in his mind a while back. The fury of a Bible thumping father, finding out his only son was gay. They practically tortured him with his own faith, locked him in the basement, in the dark...all alone. He seemed to recall it with a touch of sadness, but he refrained from going into too much detail about it. "But I'm not wicked, Justin. I never was. I know that now. I'm just the way God made me, flaws and all. I take comfort in that, even when it hurts."

I sighed, wondering if I wanted to see his point, or if I wanted him to see mine. Who knows? Maybe we're just locked in an eternal stalemate over this. "How do you do it, dude? What good is having faith when it can't help you avoid the pain?"

Dylan simply smiled and said, "Faith doesn't get you around the pain. It gets you through it. You just have to keep it in your heart."

I was quiet for a moment, and then asked him, "What if I can't do that?"

"Well, that's what faith is all about. Learning how." He didn't say anything for a minute or two after that. I don't know if his bashful nature had returned, or if he just needed me to meditate on his answer for a bit. But everytime I tried to challenge someone on the idea of faith, they offered me such a peaceful solution. Not the arguments, brainwashing, and textbook hysteria, I was used to...but a concept that truly let me make up my own mind on what it meant....to me. It wasn't what I expected. And, damn, if it wasn't effective in the most subtle of ways.

After our shared silence, Dylan regained his smile. "You know, one of my favorite authors of scripture was this vampire mistress named 'Velora'. She wrote this entire series of verses on life purpose and suffering, and her understanding of them. Oh man, she was so awesome." He said, the sparkle fully returning to his eyes. "She said that...when someone realizes their chosen path for greatness, it is fate's ultimate plan to blockade the road with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. That the pain, and the misery, and the struggle it takes to reach the goal at the end of the path, is in many ways a necessary part of every soul's journey."

He was smiling, but I didn't quite understand. "Why?"

"So that when you finally arrive at the very height of your ambition....you arrive lacking nothing." He told me. His eyes met mine with a grin all their own. "Her verses tell us that...the hard times aren't a sign of an irresistable force working 'against' us, but a powerful force working to prepare us for the greatness we were meant to achieve. If those scriptures were written for anybody, it would be you. The vampire 'Mimic'." He giggled. "Her writings are so real. Something about her words...they always make me feel so rewarded, you know?" Then his eyes widened a bit. "Hey! Do you wanna read some of her stuff? I've got all of her scriptures downloaded from Doc's laptop! I had to collect aluminum cans for THREE MONTHS to get money to print them all out! But I can let you read 'em if you want!" You know...out of the entire time that I've been in this lot, I don't think Dylan has ever shared such a long conversation with me. Hell, he was only a few sentences ahead of Kid as far as words spoken in my direction were concerned. He had been so 'cut and run' before, too timid to really say more than a few wise words and a friendly hello. Just to have him...I don't know...'open up' to me so easily all of the sudden...it made me feel good.

"I'd like that." I told him. "Maybe you and I can go over them together."

"Yeah??? Sweet! I'll show you all of her BEST stuff! She's amazing! You'll see! I'd love to actually meet her someday! I hear she's almost 99 years old now! She's been hiding underground, but one day, if she ever resurfaces, I'd travel ANY distance to go see her. She's like my idol." I think Dylan suddely realized that he was being a groupie, and his blush returned. "Hehehe, sorry. I get carried away sometimes."

"Don't be. I like it." I smiled.

"You know...I was always the 'new kid' before you came along. Everybody was already kinda paired up and they had known each other for so long. Nobody ever really made it easy for me to talk to them like this before. Except for you." He said. "Oh....and Dion." He peeked at me out of the corner of his eye, and giggled a little to himself as he practically fell in love all over again with the mere mention of him. "He's the one who talked to me most of the time. He taught me how to hunt, how to pick a place to sleep...hehehe, he was so sweet to me. Just being around him made me sooooo nervous, Justin. You have no idea. Everything about him is beautiful. And he just...he shared it with me, you know? He made me feel...like I mattered. For the first time ever."

"You really love him, don't you?" I said, seeing Dylan practically floating away from me on a cloud of joy.

"Yeah, I think I do."

"And the sex is good, right?" Hahaha! I think that just about shocked the hell out of him, and Dylan gave me the weirdest look before he burst out laughing.

Then, he ran his fingers through his soft sandy blond hair, and sheepishly bit the corner of his bottom lip. "Um...hehehe...yeah.....I guess so." He said under his breath. He might not have wanted to say it out loud, but I could practically feel the heat of his blush emanating from his cheeks. He giggled nervously again as I looked at him from the side, and he said, "Yeah, that part is good too."

"Really good?" How far could I push this exactly?

Dylan looked over his shoulder to see if anyone else was around, and then whispered, "EXTREMELY good."

"Hehehe, thatta boy." I said. I looked up and saw Doc wheeling himself around the corner, and it was then that I noticed the brightening sky above us. I didn't think it was that late.

"You done partying over here yet, Dylan? Or are you looking to stay out and get a tan?" He smiled.

Dylan looked at me as though I were responsible for his answer. I gave him a nod, and he stood up on his feet. "Yeah...I'm coming."

"Good. Because I think your boyfriend back there was looking for a little loving before sleepy time." Doc teased.

"Oh...he just...um...." Dylan swallowed hard, that adorable shade of fear sparkling in his eyes as he never wanted to disappoint. "I've gotta go." He started to walk off, but then he stopped suddenly, turned around, and gave me a tight hug around the neck.

"Hehehe, well....thank you! I think." I told him.

"You're welcome. Um...you didn't, like, 'absorb' anything, did you?" He asked.

"Dude, I have no idea how this thing works. So your guess is as good as mine." He stood there for a second or two, not knowing whether it was polite to 'run off' yet or not. But just seeing him standing there stalling when his favorite boy was waiting to give him some more of that EXTREMELY good sex was breaking my heart. "GO already! Hehehe! Get outta here!"

"Thanks! Bye!" He said, and I swear, he was practically skipping his way back to the center of that lot. Leaving me and Doc behind.

Now Doc was a real pro when it came to diguising his feelings, but I could tell from the look in his eyes that he had something to tell me. And it wasn't going to be anything good.

I stood up on my feet and dusted myself off, stretching my legs and arms as I tried to adjust again. "So Bryson sent you over to make sure I got to bed on time, huh?"

"Yeah. That....and something else." He said. I walked closer, and Doc's face got more serious. Even though he tried to keep a bit of that adorable smile.

"I take it that it's not good news."

"Well, it's not bad news." I had to smile at his lame attempt to sugarcoat the situation.

"Bryson and I need to see you tomorrow night when you wake up. Ok? There are some important things we need to discuss. It's nothing to be worried about, really...but...you might need to know about it."

"I doubt that you guys could surprise me with anything at this point." I told him. "Whatever it is...I'll just deal with it. What other choice do I have?"

"Your choices are endless, dude. That's why you need guidance. There are too many bad ones out there for you to make." He rolled closer and looked into my eyes. "How are you feeling?"

"Weird. And a little dizzy." I said. "Talking to Dylan helped a little bit though."

"Head hurt?"

"Kinda. It's more like...my eyes. My skin. I feel so mixed up. But...maybe it'll be better when I sleep."

By the concerned look in his eyes, he didn't seem convinced. "Yeah. Maybe." He paused for a second, and told me to, "Lean down." I did as he asked, and he put the back of his hand against my forehead. "You've got a little bit of a fever for a vampire. But it's not too bad."

"I don't think what I'm feeling right now has anything to do with me physically. I mean, everything works alright. If anything, I healed up so fast that most of my wounds are already gone. But...." I stopped talking, not knowing where my conversation could possibly go from there.

"But what?" He asked me.

"I dunno, Doc. Something's wrong. I don't know what I picked up in that place, but I've got this unsettling feeling that something is 'coming'. Something bad. And I'm not going to be able to do anything about it."

I don't think even Doc knew what to say about that. He didn't have an answer. And Doc was the undisputed king of answers when it came to most things vampire related. Instead, he told me, "I talked to Pan for a bit and tried to find out some more information on Mimics...but we may have to shut that plan down pretty soon. It seems that the rumors have gotten around, and the Elders are getting a bit itchy about it. Pan can't snoop too far or for too long, because they'll be checking to see where the info is being downloaded to. And who he's supplying with it. He doesn't wanna take the risk and neither do I."

"I understand. Tell him thanks for me, ok?"

"I would have found out more at the Ice Zone club if I could have gotten into the Nifty archive on the second night we were there. Seems some fucking punks went in there and tore up the place something awful."

"Oh....oh yeah...? Imagine that." I said softly, looking down at the ground, knowing that I was responsible.

"That's just stupid! I mean, who vandalizes a library of scriptures?"

"Yeah....stupid punks."

"Well, at any rate, I'll find out what I can and get back to you. Ok?" He started to roll away, but he turned and said, "It's really important for you to see Bryson and me tomorrow night, ok? No waking up early and sneaking off without talking to us first."

I raised my right hand. "I'll stay. Promise."

"Good. Now get back to camp. And talk to Taryn! Please? He's been a basket case ever since you came over here. He's driving the rest of us crazy."

"Hehehe, sure thing."

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my place. It looks like Dion is sticking me with Napolean tonight while he gets freaky with his teenage twinkie. Wow...lucky me." He said, and turned to roll himself back to the others.

I stayed there for a moment, looking upwards and still seeing the faded glimmer of the stars as they were slowly beginning to be drowned out by the sun's approaching brilliance. I wasn't that far from the dawn, and I needed to get back. But that 'feeling'...that dark, foreboding feeling...it wouldn't leave me. It felt as though I could see a giant tidal wave of pain and misery in the distance, heading towards me and everyone I love at the speed of sound. Waiting to crash up against us and leave nothing but destruction in its wake. It was like a beacon of pure hatred....out 'there' somewhere. And it was waiting. Waiting for me. Biding its time. And sharpening its blade for the day that we finally get to meet face to face.

I walked back through the maze-like paths of the old junkyard, and was able to catch some movement as everybody started going to bed for the day. Kid was already using his head to butt his way past Max and force himself into his truck to sleep. Max groaned as usual, but I knew that deep down he wouldn't have it any other way. Bryson was taking the last count to make sure everyone was where they should be. And Rain made sure to lock Jun in for the night before shouting for Gyro to get to sleep as well. But as I came around the corner, I saw Jenna talking to Taryn, who was sitting outside...waiting for me to come home. It looked as though she was trying to get him to go inside, but he pushed her hand away, standing his ground. He wasn't moving an inch until he saw me again, and that was that. I moved closer, and they both looked up at the same time.

I don't think either one of them knew what to say to me. But they stood up just the same. Jenna was the first to speak, "You ok?"

"I'm fine. I'm just not...used to this yet. That's all." I said, and I saw Taryn's eyes filled with so much stress. It hurt to make him worry so much, it really did. "But...I'll be fine tomorrow night. I'll be a whole new boy." Taryn looked up at me when I said it. "And I'll still be in love...with the most amazing boy on Earth." I gave him a sly smile, and he walked over to give me a tender hug around my shoulders. He closed his eyes, and sighed with relief as I held him close.

"Ok. It looks like you two are about ready for the big sleep. I'll see ya soon." Jenna said, and she gave me a pat on the shoulder as she left. I could see Bryson in the background, and he gave me a parental nod, letting me know that he trusted me to take it from here. And he closed himself up in his truck for the night.

God....Taryn felt so good. So warm. So soft. His embrace was a thousand lullabyes, gently rocking my every pain and worry to sleep in his arms. The smell of his hair still maintained that amazing scent of perfection. His slim frame still trembled with waves of affection, never wanting to let me go. To just stand there and hold him...just hold him...it was enough to satisfy me for the rest of eternity. I'll never be more in love than I am right now.

Taryn's body began to lose some of its warmth, and he yawned a bit as his limbs began to stiffen around me. The sleep was taking him fast, and I was forced to release him so we could go inside. But not before he graced my lips with a kiss, and smiled lovingly in my direction.

I changed out of my shredded clothes and was finally able to lay down at my lover's side. We got in as many kisses as we could, not saying a word between us, before he went completely cold...and lost consciousness. I stared at his angelic face for a few minutes more, slowly submitting to the call of sleep myself. And what I saw both enchanted me...and frightened me. He was just as beautiful as he ever was, the delicate strands of reddish brown silk cascading lightly over his eyes, his kissable rose colored lips parted slightly, the fragility of his boyish features screaming with a passionate innocence that he couldn't hide. But...even with all his beauty...there was 'death' in his appearance. Lifeless...cold...pale skin, smooth as porcelain, and just as white. He had stopped breathing, his body shutting down for the day. For all intents and purposes...I was laying next to a corpse. And I was soon to be one myself in a moment or two. I just remember seeing Taryn's body being so ghastly, so spiritless....as though the very soul had been snatched right out of him. And that vision terrified me. If it weren't for the demands of my daily hibernation...I wouldn't have been able to sleep a wink that night.

There's no way to protect him when I'm sleeping.

As I slept...I felt myself being...'moved'. Not physically moved...but moved, just the same. It was something that I couldn't explain. It was as if a piece of me was gently tapping into the minds of all the others around me in that lot. A virtual cluster or random dreamscapes that weren't my own. Invaded and interrupted by my presence there. My awareness. I felt so displaced. So....rejected by the big picture. I had never felt anything like it before. And it was hard to tell if I was even supposed to be there.

The images were too blurry for me to really see them. But I could tell whose dream it was just from the 'feel' of their content. The emotional vibrations that they gave me made them as separate and unique as they slept as they were when they were awake. Dion, Bryson, Max, Taryn, even Kid...I was...'with' them. I don't know how or why, but I was actually there. Connected. Tuned into their frequency. There was no doubt about it, this was real. I felt as though I were trapped behind a curtain, but given the ability to peer through it. Perhaps even penetrate it. But then how would I get home? Maybe it was something I had picked up in the Ice Zone. Maybe it was some vampire extra of my own that I hadn't known about before now. Or maybe it was my extended battles with the Beast that somehow transferred this energy onto me. Who knows? I was too dizzy to really think straight.

And then...I saw a bright light before me. A light that reflected so divinely in my eyes that my sight was both blinded and enriched by it simultaneously. It wasn't in any of the other dreams, or even in my own for that matter. It was.....someplace in between them all. Stronger. Brighter. More focused. I gazed into the swirling light as it grew in its intensity, and it silently beckoned me closer. Directly into its center. Its nexus. I was being pulled in, absorbed, nearly overwhelmed by its radiance. I could feel this incredible sense of peace inside of it. My body, my mind, my very soul relaxed inside its center, and my every transgression was instantly taken away from me. I felt so....pure. So complete. It was a level of freedom that I had never known. The beginning and the end, the end and the beginning...a complete circle.

A circle.

A circle.

I had to concentrate to try to pull myself away from it. To walk throuh it and not let it take me over completely. But as I found myself enveloped in the center of it all, I noticed that I, myself, was glowing with the same divine light. That I, myself, had actually taken the place of the light in the center of the circle. I had assumed its purpose. And I had also assumed its burden. I could see my friends' sleeping shadows in the distance, lost, hurting, needing a release from their personal agony. I wondered what it was that was hurting them so, and tried to call out to them, but they would not listen. They would not respond. I was forced to bear witness to their emotional torture, and thought...if only I could bring them into this light. If only I could reach out far enough to touch just a FEW of them with this sensation...then they would find peace. And others would soon follow. If only they could hear my voice. If only they could see.

It frightened me...and it strengthened me. I wanted to weep for the massive amounts of pain that I had seen, and I wanted to weep from the joy of knowing that it would not have to last forever. These feelings, while presented in a confusing bluster of conflict and opposition...seemed to 'balance' me. It made me whole. Brought me comfort. And in the face of infinite misery and intense suffering...I stood calm. Alone. But feeling the entire whole of humanity right beside me. Connected as one...in every imaginble way.

Lost.....yes. But connected.

What was this? Was this a dream? Was it a side effect of Jun's focus training, locking me into this depth of thinking? Was it an imprint left on me from my visits with Zero before his passing? Perhaps it was a sign. An omen. Perhaps it was the streaking comet across the night sky that was going to allow me to bring this level of calm to the people. I wondered if their shadows would come to me. If I could collect them, much like Comicality did...but instead of hording them and taking them into myself...maybe I could 'cure' them. Maybe the light could extinguish the shadows forever, and allow them to start all over again. I could save them! If they'll listen!

But something changed. My entire life came rushing back at me full speed, all at once, and I felt saturated by it. I was suddenly overcome with images of my father's abuse, of Richie's sickness, of the teasing in school, of Taryn being in danger, of failing Jarrod in the club...the feeling nearly suffocated me. And this angry sensation began to creep into all of the little 'pockets' I still had left open in the center of my spirit. My mood began to darken, and I fought to find some sense of harsh reality in this vision. There had to be a catch. Some strings to be pulled, a trap door at the bottom of the magician's stage. Desperation crept in. I fought for some kind of mental clarity, and waited for the false sense of joy to fade so that I could see things as they really are. This is not reality. I know what reality is like...and it has never been this kind to me for very long. Sadness crept in.

As I looked around me, above me, and beneath me, I found myself with no foundation to stand on. Nothing to grab onto if gravity suddenly kicked back into full gear and I began to fall. Nothing to catch me, no one to help me, no support of my own. Not of any kind. Fear crept in. This...'vision'...this...'illusion'...felt so tainted in my young hands. It seemed like a blasphemy to even be allowed to witness it. Doubt crept in. I could literally see the brightness of my own light fading away as I realized my place in all this. And I denied fate's ability to choose its warriors wisely.

How am I going to bring a message like this to...the world? Are you fucking KIDDING me? Talking about it, reading about it, it's all been fun and games so far. An interesting story to keep me entertained while my mind shriveled away from such luxuries as prime time television, cd players, and expensive video game systems. But now...as the light begged for me to pay attention...as it pleaded with me to take notice, and take my place among the tragedy stricken cases that came before me...the enormity of the entire process began to weigh heavy on my shoulders. So heavy that it nearly brought me to my knees. I felt my spirit struggling to understand, to have faith, but it wasn't there. None of it. I'm fourteen years old. I've been a vampire for all of six months, maybe seven. I don't even know if I had what it took to graduate high school...how am I going to mentally process what it takes to explain something with this level of importance? Where do I even begin? Who do I tell? And who do they tell? Am I supposed to start today? Next week? Next millenium? Or am I already too late? Being a vampire prophet doesn't exactly come with instructions, you know?

And what about Taryn? What about......my beautiful Taryn? Is it true? Is it his early demise that begins the change? Is that the only thing that will make me see? Because I will never reach a point where I'm ready to make that sacrifice. Not ever. I'd let the whole world burn to ashes and gladly die from the chaos to follow....as long as I could die with that boy in my arms. It may be selfish, but HE is my only light. My only love. Not to be replaced with any mission or mythology. Taryn has singlehandedly given me a purpose and a pride that goes way beyond any 'Vampire Dawn', any prophecy, and any hired hitman that would dare to cross our path. He has given my own life back to me in ways that I never thought possible. A life I never could have HAD without him. He is the golden truth of my perspective, and he will NOT be sacrificed for some philosophical ideal that I am not worthy of carrying on my shoulders.

The light faded from me, dimming quickly as my thoughts clouded its once spectacular glow. And I was able to see the world beneath me again. The world as I remembered it. Unforgiving. Corrupt. Greedy. Apathetic to everything but their own selfish needs. Sacrifice my love for THEM? WHY??? They wouldn't appreciate it if I did. They'd applaud, smile, give thanks and praise...but not for my sacrifice. They'd be applauding the chance to live another day as mindless cattle. They'd smile over the fact that someone else took the initiative to rescue them without them having to do it for anybody else. They'd give thanks and praise for being granted their sick need to go back to whining, complaining, feeling as though they 'deserve' something out of life just because they want it. And then...as soon as they replanted themselves comfortably back into the illusion that they can live happily without giving anything to anyone else....they'd forget. They'd forget me, they'd forget the Dawn, and they'd forget the painful sacrifice of the one boy in existence who meant everything to me.

This was no dream. I felt the anger. The disgust. The rage. A population of people, mankind AND vampire kind, sitting on their hands.....waiting. Waiting to be delivered, waiting to be saved. Surrounded by a buffet of cooked food, but pounding their greedy hands and stomping their feet until someone comes by and SPOONFEEDS it them like a fucking baby! Never ONCE offering a single crumb off of their table to the starving man next to them. Never ONCE offering to HELP me feed this massive army of sloths who have given nothing of themselves. Never ONCE taking it upon themselves to satisfy their own apettites instead waiting for me to do it for them, cracking the whip to tell me I'm not doing it fast enough. They don't know what it's like to have these thoughts. They don't know what it's like to survive what I've been through and still be asked to give more. They don't know what it's like to have an angel come down from Heaven itself and offer you the salvation you've been praying for your whole life...only to have it snatched away by selfish hands.

The more I floated there, the more it hurt. It ached. It burned inside of me. I had no revelations to give these people. They are too far gone for anything that I have to say to even matter anymore. If I took the next ten years out of my life to write it all down for them...to pour my soul out over page after page of heartfelt text...if I dedicated ALL of my time, and my heart, and my energy...if an ocean's worth my life's blood were to spill from my pen and out onto scriptures for the whole world to see......

...Which of those people would stand up and work to make a difference? Who among them would do the same, and extend a hand to those in need? How many people....would read those words and actually give a damn? Not PRETEND to give a damn for a day or two, but would be willing to give a fraction of what I'm being asked to sacrifice for their enjoyment?

How many?

If they are out there...I am blind to their position. Their shouts of allegience are being muffled by the cries of thousands who are looking for a great messiah to bring them the answer. The kind of savior that I'm afraid...

....I can never be.

But then...as I felt the suffering of all those around me...as their cries melted away, and twisted into the warped sound of static behind me.....I noticed the glow of....


It was faint at first, but it stood out among the others. It was dark...nearly consuming the light of everything around it. His presence was strong...fully aware. And he was here, in this city. Not far away from where we slept. Did he feel my presence as well? Did he sense me? Did he know?

Above all others, his pain was the greatest. It swirled around him like an angry cyclone, spinning so fast that it nearly lost its control and drunkenly wrecked everything in its path. Even while sleeping...this entity had a fury that bubbled and boiled and spilled out of him in buckets. Seeking out the suffering in everything and everyone around him. A burning frenzy whose depths were beyond reason. Beyond sanity. I couldn't help but to lock onto it. It was like trying to ignore a raging bonfire to look at a set of birthday candles. And I think...somehow...he locked on to me as well. It was a hatred that I had never before witnessed. A level of suffering so intense that to contain it would be more harmful to the host than it would be to release it in a tantrum of torn flesh and broken bones. It was a highly suppresed frustration. It was limitless regret. It was.....


And he was searching. Seeking out another target. Looking for salvation in a turbulent river of freshly spilled blood. Vengence for an unspeakable crime. Punishment for an unforgivable offense. He is coming. He brings with him a storm of violence and pain to all who stand in his way. Much like me....his suffering has given him purpose. Focus. But there was no angel to cool his fire. No love to soothe his misery. No light to assist him in carrying the burden his experience placed upon him. Where I had swallowed my demons whole...where Comicality had pushed his demons aside for the greater good....Rage had embraced his. He allowed them to corrupt him entirely until there was nothing human left to speak of. And it has made him strong. His anger knows no boundaries...he is literally bursting at the seams. A controlled panic that will destroy everything it touches once it has realized its full effect. He is coming. And something tells me...that our paths are not only going to cross...

...They are going to collide.

And only one path...will continue on from there.

Only one.