It took us both all of five minutes to get to the area we were supposed to be in. Taryn had already begun to lose his footing a bit, yawning every few seconds as the sleep began to take hold of him. If it had been any further away, we might not have made it. The once unrestricted pandemonium of the club had dropped off immensely. Not even the humans were awake anymore, and the remaining vampires were scrambling to find a good place to sleep. There was no sunlight down here, so a few drunk ones found the floor just as safe as anywhere else, sprawled out among the party favors, confetti, and tossed flyers, that littered the ground. Even the music had mellowed out, playing much softer rhythms as everything began to wind down to a complete halt around us. By the time Taryn and I had made it to our zone, we had much more room to move around.
Basically the 'resident area' was just a rectangular 'catacomb' of sorts, with bunks lined up on the walls. I guess is was slightly bigger than sleeping in the back seat of a car, but considering where we live, it wasn't much of a difference anyway. When Taryn and I arrived, Bryson was helping Doc into his bed at the bottom bunk. As was to be expected, he had all of our sleeping arrangements carefully written down in a little notebook, making sure that we all stayed together as closely as possible. The whole gang seemed to be there waiting except for Rain, Dion, and Dylan. Max walked up to join us with Kid only a half step behind him, and when Jenna saw the young boy with chocolate all over his face, she flashed Max a dirty look.
"MAX??? What are you, crazy? LOOK at him! Look at his FACE!" She said, squatting down and mothering Kid as she always did, trying to wipe his spongy little lips clean again. This time he didn't struggle too much though. He seemed almost happy to be free of the sticky residue. I don't even know how he could GET that much chocolate on his face. "Didn't you see him getting all messy?"
"Of COURSE I did!" Max grumbled. "I wiped him clean, he got dirty again. I wiped him clean, he got dirty AGAIN. I got tired of trying to keep up with it. I figured I'd give up and just hose the little gremlin down tomorrow when he was finished."
"For goodness sakes. You're not fit to be in charge of a child, you know that?"
"I'm NOT 'in charge of a child'...I go my own way and he follows me!" Max protested, but it wasn't going to change her mind much.
Jenna sighed outloud. "Great, Max. Just great."
Jenna didn't say a word. She just pulled back the black curtain, helped Kid into his bunk, and closed the curtain back so he could get some sleep.
Trevor and Michael had evidently made some progress in getting back together, as they were kissing and holding each other affectionately off to the side. Well...a least it was affectionate for Michael. Trevor just seemed to follow his lead. But he never pulled away from him. Not once. In fact, Trevor seemed quite comfortable having Michael continuously fawn over him this way. But I knew something was missing. I knew he wasn't getting the full effect of their connection the way Michael was, and something about that imbalance was going to get to him sooner or later. As cute as Michael was, he just wasn't what Trevor wanted. And probably never would be.
Eternity is a long time to 'settle' for something lesser.
Jun approached from around the corner, and hardly said anything at all before he lazily rolled into a bunker of his own. Bryson asked him, "Jun, did you happen to catch Rain out there anywhere?" Jun just shook his head in a drowsy trance, his eyes almost closed all the way as he fought to stay conscious. "Fuck...I TOLD her to meet me here before dawn. I TOLD her!" Bryson's stress levels were building towards critical mass again, but Jenna was there to soothe him a bit by rubbing his back.
"She'll be looking for us tomorrow. Don't worry." She told him. "Besides, we've got her baby brother as our 'hostage'. If nothing else she'll be looking to give him more grief as soon as possible."
Gyro peeked his head out of one of the upper bunks. "I'm NOT a baby! And if I know, Rain, she's probably tied herself to the roller coaster tracks somewhere, waiting to freak everybody out as usual. Let's just go to sleep, alright?" He rubbed his eyes and looked at Taryn and me. "What took YOU guys so long? You didn't 'do it' on the dance floor, did you?"
"Not quite..." Taryn grinned, the both of us exchanging a wicked glance between us. "...Actually...we got to MEET her!"
Gyro rubbed his eyes again. "Meet who?"
"Maria." Taryn and I said in unison.
Gyro squinted his eyes a bit, sleepier than ever, rubbed his nose two or three times with the back of his hand, and lazily mumbled, "Yeah right..." And he let his head pop back behind the curtain to rest for the remainder of the day.
"I don't think he believed us." I said.
"*I* believe you. Now go to bed." Bryson demanded. "Max...when did you see Rain last?"
"I think she told me to kiss her ass about four hours ago by the horror film festival thingie. That was our last touching moment of the evening." He replied. Kid, really tired at this point, reached out a hand to shake Max's shoulder, telling him to come to bed. But he pushed it off of him like he was swatting a bug. "Look, she's probably just doing it to get under your skin. Let it go. She's fine." Kid opened the curtain and leaned out, almost ready to pass out, and desperately using both hands to get Max's attention. "WHAT??? Knock it off! Go! I'm coming! Gimme a minute!" But Kid only pouted for a second before tugging and pulling on his shirt again, his wiry arms stretching the fabric.
"You know he can't go to sleep without you, Max. Can you just play nice for once?" Jenna pleaded.
"Oh, for crying outloud!" Max huffed and puffed, and then climbed into the bunk with Kid. "Are you happy now?" Kid was behind him at first, but he instantly jumped up and started rustling around, awkwardly climbing over Max. His shoes kicked out, and his knees and elbows dug sharply into Max all over his body. "What the...AGH!!!...What are you doing....? OWWW!!! Shit! What the hell???" Finally, Kid had climbed over him completely to lay in front of him. He let a soft grunt escape his lips as he wiggled his tiny body into place, and with his eyes closed, he curled up into a little ball. Max just gave the boy the craziest look, almost making us laugh. Then, the boy gave a gentle 'puppy' whine as he shuffled himself back a bit more and boyishly snuggled up tight against Max's chest. His small hand reaching back to grab his arm and pull it over him like a safety blanket. Then he allowed the sleep to take him, turning cold immediately after finding his satisfaction in Max's embrace. I don't think he ever looked so comfortable, so content. And despite Max's attempts to remain grumpy, we could tell that he just melted inside whenever Kid showed him such unconditional love. Not that Max ever wanted US to know how touched he was. "Sighhhh...I SWEAR...it's like having a freakin' PET! This little brat needs a girlfriend." He growled, and pulled the curtain shut.
Jenna was ready to go to sleep too, yawning and stretching as her body began to shut down. So naturally, Bryson continued to get us all settled in for the day. "Alright Taryn, you and Justin got one of the double compartments, of course. So let's see..." He looked down at his little notebook. "Ah, ok, here, you two can take this one...." He pulled back the curtain, and all of our eyes nearly popped out of our heads! Taryn, Jenna...even Trevor and Michael had to gasp in shock! Laying down in the bunk that was supposed to be ours...was Dion and Dylan...and they were completely NAKED!!! Dylan laying warm and cozy on top, his smooth creamy skin such a contrast to Dion's slick dark chestnut complexion. They were intertwined in such an erotic tangle, with Dion gripping two handfuls of Dylan's soft bubbled cheeks, just below his cute little birthmark. They fit together so beautifully, you couldn't help but notice their combined beauty. Still...we REALLY hadn't expected this at all! "Oh my God!" Bryson said suddenly, and the both of them were caught by surprise. Dylan nearly jumped out of his skin, wiggling around on top of Dion like a wet baby seal as he struggled to hide his nudity from us. Dion squirmed around as well, their only solution being to have Dion turn his backside to us while Dylan hid behind him against the wall.
"Holy shit! They did it!" Trevor said out loud.
"Can you, maybe, CLOSE THE DAMN CURTAIN PLEASE???" Dion squealed.
"Omigod..." Bryson shut the curtain, and we heard some rummaging around inside the tiny bunk as they attempted to carefuly reposition themselves to peek their heads out without revealing the rest of their bodies. I don't think I had ever seen Dylan turn so red as he had at that particular moment. "I thought...that is...this is supposed to be Taryn and Justin's bunk..." Bryson stumbled for words, trying not to look, but smiling just the same.
"You SAID we could have '202-left', remember?" Dion said, doing all the talking while Dylan's eyes stayed focused on the floor.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO remember. But this is '202-RIGHT' that you're...uhhh...'using'...Dion." He said.
".....Oh...." Dion replied bashfully. Bryson snickered a bit under his breath, and Trevor couldn't help but laugh himself. Taryn and I giggled to ourselves, trying to hold it in. It wasn't so much that Dylan and Dion were together...it's just, we never expected them to suddenly get quite this 'comfortable' with one another. And in a CLUB of all places. But whatever...I thought it was heart warming. Not that the kid in me was above a little teasing when given the opportunity.
"So...was it good?" I giggled, feeling Taryn slap my arm for making him laugh outloud.
While Dylan pulled his head back behind the curtain, hiding out from the rest of us, Dion just smiled, and he whispered, "The best. Even more than what I hoped for." He then moved behind the curtain to give his lover a sweet kiss on his lips, giggling tenderly as their lips connected.
Jenna's waterworks began to drip from her eyes, her extra obviously a bit out of control again, and she ran up to the bunker to give Dion a huge hug. Opening the curtain again and nearly dragging his naked body out in front of all of us! Him holding on to the sides of the bunk was the only thing keeping him from giving us an eyeful. "That's SO awesome! You found each other! You're HAPPY! Oh wow, babe! This is incredible! I'm SO proud of you! You two are SO cute together! Dylan??? Dylan, where are you? Give me a hug!" She was sobbing and sniffling and reaching behind the curtain, hoping to drag Dylan out from hiding as well. He avoided her grasp, tucking himself away behind Dion's protection with a grin. "Dylan??? Come out, hon!"
"Jenna...Jenna, sweetheart...get your balance back, ok?" Dion felt her hands still searching for Dylan, and she must have touched something...sensitive back there, because Dion's eyes bulged out. "OWW!!! Whoah! That's DEFINITELY not, Dylan! And your hands are FREEZING!!!"
"Ok hon, we'll give them their praises tomorrow..." Bryson said, calmly pulling her away from their bunk. "...It's ok, Jenna. Pull it back. Find your balance....that's it." He tried to coach her, but I think it was more her need for sleep than emotional self control that got her to mellow out. "...For now, let's just find our right places and get some sleep. Alright?" Jenna gave Bryson a tearful hug, and then waved to me and Taryn before slipping into a bunk of her own. "Well...I guess you guys can take the other bunk then." He told us. "Trevor, you and Michael take the one over here. Ok?"
Bryson looked soooo exhausted, and the sleep was hammering him down as hard as it could. But much like Kid was with Max...we knew he wouldn't allow himself to doze off until we were safe. It was his duty afterall. The same here as it was back at the lot. And I could tell that Rain's absence bothered him immensely, as he kept an eye out for her the entire time. But she didn't show up, and he suppressed the feeling long enough to get us settled. I never got the pleasure of meeting his girlfriend Amanda in the past, nor did he ever really go into detail about what she was like before...what happened to her. But I often imagine that she would be the nurturing 'mother' entity to his protective 'father' persona. And even though she was gone, he never once waivered from his promise to keep us all secure and well guarded. It was a virtue that I had truly come to respect in him.
Just then, Trevor walked past me to climb a small stepladder leading to his two-man bunk above ours. He hardly paid me any mind, both him and Michael were too busy softly giggling at one another. As Trevor went first, Michael took the opportunity to grab his ass and get a smile out of the love of his life. But before Michael climbed up completely, he bumped my arm on purpose, and looked down at me with a smug sense of superiority. And he said, "Guess who's mine again, freak?" And he lifted his nose in the air slightly as he finished his climb, laying down with his boyfriend for the rest of the day.
I looked over at Taryn and just shook my head. "Come on. I'm tired."
"Right behind you." Taryn replied. "G'night Bryson." There was no answer. "Bryson?" He was basically sleeping standing up at this point, still searching to see if Rain would come bolting around some random corner at the last minute. Taryn had to shake him gently to get him focused again. "Bryson?"
"HUH???" He gasped.
"I said g'night. Hehehe! Go to bed. We're all straightened out now. Go."
"Right. Sleep. G'night."
"G'night, pops!" I shouted out at the last minute.
"Don't go anywhere if you wake up before the rest of us, you hear me?" Bryson warned, and then slumped down into his own bunk for the night. I heard the rest of the club go almost silent as the first rays of sunlight brought a peaceful and undisturbed hibernation to the rest of us.
As Taryn and I cuddled up together in that small compartment, just big enough for the two of us to stretch out, head to toe, and no further...I took my last looks at his angelic face for the evening. Not even the sleep could keep my eyes from drinking in his beauty. I fought with everything that I had to stay awake for just a few moments longer. And even though he was fading fast, his sweet gaze stayed with me for as long as it could. With a sensual haze in his voice, Taryn reached a soft hand up to tenderly caress my cheek, and said, "I love you, Justin. I always have. And I always will."
I turned to kiss his palm, my eyes still focused on his. "I love you...because you saved me." I said, repeating the first message he ever sent me, and he rewarded me with a smile. "When I first crossed over, and my eyes opened for the first time again...the first thing I saw in all this darkness was your face...sleeping peacefully beside me. I'll never forget that moment. The moment where I knew that no sacrifice would ever be too great, not ever again...as long as it meant having you by my side." Taryn got misty from the comment, but could no longer hold on to consciousness. His eyes slowly closed, and his body heat began to lose its soothing temperature. So I just hugged him close and kissed his lips once more. "Just thought you should know, hon. Just thought you should know." I felt my arms and legs stiffen, the numbness working its way up from my toes and spreading out to the rest of my body. It was almost like turning into a statue, the loss of feeling you experienced during the big sleep. But holding my boyfriend close always kept me from being afraid. His love was a shield that protected me at all times from any conflict that the world could ever throw our way. And I'd do everything in my power to offer him that same protection. No matter what the cost. I would live for him. I would kill for him. I would die for him. Without hesitation. Forever and ever. Believe it.
I awoke with a loud gasp! And when my eyes opened, I was almost blinded by the bright rays of sunlight pouring into my retinas. It was the first time I had even thought about the sun in weeks. So to suddenly see it blazing brightly above me was a shock. Although I had only been a vampire for a little over six months now...my first instincts told me to cringe at the daylight. To roll into the fetal position and hide from its destructive brightness. But surprisingly...it did no damage. None at all. And once my eyes adjusted to it, I found myself laying on my back alone, in a large parking lot that seemed to go off into the distance as far as I could see in all directions. Was this a dream? Could any of this possibly be real. No...no this isn't real. The feeling is different. My connection to this reality was too easily fabricated to be real. It was just a ghostly carbon copy of memories long gone.
I sat up, and looked around me for some kind of mental balance, and then stood up on my feet. Everything was silent in here, and my mind was being tugged in opposite directions. One where I tried to remember that this was a fantasy, and one where the dream itself demanded total belief. It was an illusion that reached beyond your realm of rationality and used every trick in the book to convince you of its authenticity. It seemed to be getting better at fooling me, and I was almost lost in the world I was locked into.
Looking around me, I attempted to get my barrings in order, my feet feeling almost weightless on the ground beneath me. And it was then that I heard it. A very low, very deep growl...coming from off in the distance. A growl that I, luckily, haven't heard for some time now...but realized that I had no protection against. I spun around, seeing nothing but cars around me. Then I heard it again...louder this time. The grumble of a giant, nearly rattling the concrete, causing my bnes to vibrate with its tone. I atempted to clear my mind of everything. This was MY dream afterall, right? It was MY mind. I should be able to control what's going on here.
The grumble turned into a roar, and I saw the sky above me getting dark, as a dark cloud began to expand and roll in from the horizon. I shut my eyes tightly, whispering to myself, "It isn't real, Justin. None of this real. Get control. Get control...." But when I opened my eyes again, the cloud had blacked out half the sky, the sun disappearing swiftly behind its obsidian fog. I could clearly see the Beast's eyes form in the thick cloud above me, and I shut my eyes even tighter as I did my best to wish it away. "Go away. Go away! I don't want you here! you're not real! You're NOT real!!!" But it was no use. My eyes shot open as a thunderous howl shattered my defenses and my whole world was covered in shadow. Frightened, I quickly moved to duck down behind one of the cars in the lot. It can't hurt me. If it was going to hurt me, it would have already. It's powerless. Just a nightmarish illusion conjured up by a stressful mind. And yet, this world's strong influence on my senses kept me terrified.
Even in darkness, I could see the Beast's demonic shadow fly overhead. It passed over me, it's powerful wings propelling its heavy mass at a high speed. I moved swiftly, ducking behind another car instead. And felt my heart racing as it passed over again. Another roar escaped its monsterous gut as it fully entered my dream world, unrestricted by the frequencies under which I slept, and its power, once again, became absolute. It shook the car I was leaning against. In fact, it felt like it shook the whole world. Then....silence.
I waited. And waited. And waited. And suddenly, the creature swooped down upon me, and effortlessly LIFTED the car behind me, carrying it high into the air! I was left completely unprotected, and scrambled to hide behind another car. Looking up, I couldn't see the Beast at all, just the shadow it cast on the ground below, and a car that looked as though it were floating all on its own. It dropped the giant metal object off somewhere in the distance, and I took the opportunity to run forward a bit further. The crash of the car on the concrete below helped to mask the sound of my footsteps a litle bit, but as soon as the wreckage had settled, I ducked down again and stopped moving. I could hear the huge leathery wings of the Beast above me...and it was coming my way again. Fast! Come on, Justin! Wake up! Wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!!! How far from sunset could I be?
Then, just as I heard another bellow from the creature above...I prepared myself to fight. I was able to fend this thing off once before...I hope I'm able to do it again.
Again, the car I was leaning against was rapidly SNATCHED up into the air by the invisible monster, and carried off into the dark sky above! I fell backwards a bit, and looked upwards to see the giant metal slab being dropped down right on TOP of me! I quickly rolled to the side...once, twice, three times...feeling my heart race as the car fell upside down, missing me by inches! Debris and dust fell over my shoulders, and with a cough, I stumbled to my feet to look for more cover.
Like a dark winged predator, the Beast flew overhead. Searching the skies did me no good. I kept my eyes focused on the ground instead...seeing only brief glimpses of its shadow as it screamed past me. There was another silence. And I scanned the area around me. A dark shape slid by me on the ground beneath my feet, and I snapped my neck to the right trying to follow its flight pattern. But it was gone before I could even focus on it. Again, I heard the flapping of wings, and felt the breeze as it flew past me. I knew that I wouldn't be able to hide. I couldn't. So I tried a different approach.
I stood up on my feet, climbing onto the hood of the car next to me, and I shouted up at the sky. "I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE!!! I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU!!!" There was a loud rumble of thunder, and flashes of lightning that blazed through the murky clouds above. "DO YOU HEAR ME??? I SAID, I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU!!!" Then a sonic BOOM of a demonic roar scared the living shit out of me, vibrating in the pit of my stomach, and startling me so badly that I lost my balance and fell off of the car! My hands were shaking, my pulse pounding so hard that I could hear it in my ears. Whatever this thing was, it knew what my fears were...and it obviously wasn't fooled.
I scrambled to my feet, and brushed myself off, my senses trying to lock in on everything around me. My fists were tightened, almost to the point where my knuckles were white with fear. But I attempted to hold my ground. Even if it was on shaky legs.
"Mmph!!! Mmph!!!" I heard a muffled sound behind me, and turned to see what it was. Inside one of the cars in the parking lot, there was movement. Like...like someone tied up and gagged in the front seat. I moved closer to investigate, still looking above me, just in case. And as I got closer, I saw...Dion? Dion had been bound with wire so tightly that it was cutting his wrists. Blood trickled down onto his lap from his sliced wrists, and his eyes pleaded for me to help him. "MMPHH!!!!!" His cries got more desperate, and all of the sudden...that car, too, was catapaulted from its sitting position, and thrust far off into the distance with Dion inside! I watched as the car landed nearly 100 yards away from me, crashing down hard and bursting into flames on contact!
It's not REAL, dammit!!! It's a fucking trick! He's using your pain against you, Justin! Fight it! Stay focused! But the harder I tried to concentrate, the harder the power of this dream world pulled at my reality. MAKING me see what it wanted me to see. FEEL what it wanted me to feel. It was like being sucked into a cyclone with only loose blades of grass to anchor you to the ground. The Beast was much stronger now. There was no hiding from its influence anymore, t had found me completely unprotected now...and it was taking full use of that opportunity. Another loud shriek pierced the sky, and I heard muffled cries coming from a number of other cars around me as well. In the front seat of every car was a friend, a relative, someone who was a part of my life at one time or the other. Bryson, Jenna, Trevor, Richie, Xairen, Gyro, Dizz...and they were all in pain. Crying out for me to help them while the tightly wrapped wire on their wrists and ankles cut deep into them with every struggle. Their screams of agony began to weaken me from the inside. I spun around in slow circles...not knowing what to do. I couldn't save them all. I couldn't. They battled for my attention, needing me, begging me, and it overwhelmed me to the point where I was paralyzed from moving at all. The creature's shadow covered me as it swooped down once again, and snatched up a car with Jeremy, the blood dealer, inside. It flung it as far off into the distance as it could, and I heard him shout as it flipped over and exploded in a fiery wreck. I had to do something! I had to move...before I lost ALL of my friends to this menacing darkness!
I tried to run forward, but the once solid concrete beneath my feet became soft like gelatin. I felt my feet sink into this coagulated mass of burning hot tar, wisps of smoke rising up around me as I struggled to move against it. Then...I saw a car with Gyro inside, and another one with his sister Rain, get swept up into the air as well, colliding in mid air and falling to the ground in pieces. I shouted outloud, still fighting to move forward one step at a time. The dream had it's claws deep in my mentality now, and the pain I felt was getting worse. More muffled cries forced me to look behind me, and I saw my mother trying to push her way out of the car door. She was rocking back and forth, cutting herself up horribly while trying to escape her fate. "MOM!!!!" I screamed, now having to turn back the way I came in the muck and push my way over to see if I could save her. I heard the screams of others behind me, and Bryson's car was suddenly lifted and tossed as well. Then Jenna's. Then Dash's. I heard them slam into the ground and explode, the screams of my friends slowly murdering me inside. The fire and smoke from all the destruction began to pollute the air around me with the pungent aroma of burnt tires and roasted flesh, quickly turning to ash. It choked me, clouding my vision, and the heat from the toxic mud surrounding my feet began to burn and sting with an even greater fury. But I kept moving towards my mother. I HAD to reach her! I HAD to! I'm almost there! ALMOST.... "Mom! Mom...I'm coming!!!"
But it was too late. The Beast waited for me to get almost close enough to touch the side door...and then lifted it up right in front of me. The shadow carried it so high in the air that it was almost out of sight, and then let it come crashing to the ground...upside down...with her arms still hanging out of the window.
I fell to my knees, my heart collapsing in on itself. The pain was so harsh that the tears wouldn't even come at first. I just stared at her hands...crushed...burning...broken. I felt the tar burning my legs, but was numb to the sensation. All time stopped at once, and I could see faint flashes of my mother and I, sharing lost moments in daylight. I remembered her smile, her laugh, her warm caress. Despite all of her troubles and all of her flaws, her love for me was infinite. Even though I never gave her the credit she deserved for it. And now? She was gone. Just...gone. The flames of the car heated my face, a soft wind blowing the dark smoke in my face, and I rocked back and forth slightly on my knees. The tears came freely once I was able to mentally process what had just happened, and my vision left me as they poured out in buckets. I couldn't save her. I couldn't save anybody. They were all gonna die, and it was MY fault. I brought them into this. I hurt them! I didn't MEAN to, but I did!
However, as the fire blazed in front of me, my mothers once soft hands turning to blistered flesh in front of my very eyes, her hair almost completely gone, I felt a bubble building in the center of my chest. An incredible pressure that could be held back no longer. I found myself experiencing a level of rage that threatened to tear a whole in the whole world around me. My teeth gnashed together, my fists tightened up, and I was instantly swept with an uncontrollable fever. I was nearly blind with anger, and as my muscles tensed tightly around my emotions, I knew I was on the a verge of a tantrum so severe that no creature living would be able to escape my wrath.
I jumped up to my feet, and started to walk forward. Pushing so hard with every psychotic step that the unstable surface beneah me couldn't hold me back any longer. It couldn't even slow me down. As the creature grabbed up a car with Kid inside of it, I sprung into the air and grabbed hold of it, pulling it out of the Beast's grasp and bringing it back to the ground in one piece. It landed with a loud crash, but even though two of the tires popped and the windshield cracked, at least Kid was safe. It roared again, diving down to snatch a car with Richie inside....and I sped over to pull that one from its grasp as well, landing with the same result. No more of this 'slaughter of the innocent' bullshit! If this thing wants a piece of me, let him come TAKE it! It tried its best to reach for more cars, its amazing speed and strength nearly beating me to the punch every time. But I was STRONGER, FASTER, than it ever could be! Not for myself, but for them. For ALL of them!
It was then that I saw Taryn in the car in front of me, with the Beast soaring towards it at top speed. For this bastard to even bring Taryn into this horror...was a MISTAKE! It's LAST mistake!!! Before the creature could even get its claws sunken into the twisted metal enough to lift it, I soared over the roof of the car and brutally tackled the invisible creature to the ground on its back! The both of us fell into a deep puddle of molten concrete, and I felt the burn of it as it splashed up around us! I held the monster down, pounding it as hard as I could with both fists as it growled and roared beneath me. Every emotion I had was on fire, and it flared ferociously with every punch. I hit it so hard that I thought my fist would go right through it and into the ground below. It spread its gigantic wings, splashing up hot tar and concrete onto my back and face, but I kept it pinned down and struck out with all the fury I had. I was hitting it soooo hard! Crying, shouting, feeling my only release from the pain in the constant battering of its dark form. I saw some of the creatures face become visible to my eyes. A small patch on its cheek, with dark obsidian flesh, crawling with maggots. I reached my fingers into that spot, digging into the sickening mush with a disgustingly wet 'squish', and the monster howled as I began to tear away at its organic disguise. More of its demonic face became visible as I ripped the invisible mask away with my bare hands, peeling it off of its face and neck like strips of raw meat! The Beast clawed at my eyes, its muscular tail attempting to curl up and whip me on the back of my shoulders, its fangs trying to bite off my fingers as I tore its second flesh away. But I held it down! I held that son of a bitch DOWN, and I kept BEATING on it until my fists were covered in blood and maggots! I wouldn't stop! My tears began to burn hot and bleed from my eyes as my anger grew more and more severe....and I completely lost control! My body went on autopilot and refused to stop. "DIE!!! DIE!!! YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!! DIE!!!" I screamed, my arms sore from the exertion. And then...just as I felt that I had enough rage in me to finally finish the job and murder this vile creature once and for all...it laughed at me! I saw the Beasts eyes glowing bright red, and it grumbled with a deep growl in the center of its chest, becoming completely visible for the first time since our battle at the hospital. Thunder and lightning crashed overhead in the sky, and the clouds swirled up tightly...and upside down whirlpool of infinite darkness.
I looked down at the twisted grin of this creature, and it seemed completely satisfied with what it had just accomplished. I looked down at my hands, covered in blood, insect parts, and torn flesh, my arms still trembling from the impact. And my eyes burned with the same crimson glare that the beast had. My control had been lost. Gone. Erased entirely from my actions. I had completely given myself over to the dream, and the Beast had finally gotten all the power it needed. It had used my friends, my failures, my pains, my fears, my regrets, and every lost hope and broken dream that I had ever had, to break me down. It knew my weaknesses and vulnerabilities from the very beginning...it only needed to find the right combination of buttons to press in order to get me to give up my will to fight it anymore. Funny, out of all those painful memories...it was my love for Taryn that had become its greatest weapon against me. As I became aware of my outburst, my adrenaline still running hot from the fury of my attack, the Beast found its opening, and all of that emotional hatred seemed to pour out of the bottomless pit of its eyes, and into my heart endlessly. The darkness spread, and my body and soul inhaled deeply of its black plague. It was as if my spirit were sinking in quicksand, with no one there to save it. I could feel it. My heart growing colder by the second, my despair becoming so strong that I had no way to defend against it. I felt what I felt that last night on the end of that Pier...ready to let the ice cold waves of the lake swallow me whole, never to touch the surface or see the light of day ever again. The night when death was my only solution, and I welcomed it with open arms. My heart was breaking in two, and the illusion that it had blinded me with became more real, more sane, than my will to survive. I must admit, it was a rather intricate design that the Beast had woven out of my pain, and it orchestrated a symphony of lost emotions that left me dead inside. Zero tried to warn me that the Beast would use my own fears against me, and it was too late to regain my composure now. It was over. This world...this hellish fantasy...it was all his now.
Then, in a flash, the giant creature became aware of another presence in the world around us. Its focus left me for a brief moment, and suddenly I was yanked backwards with great force! I was thrown back almost 20 feet, and slid across the ground on my side for a moment before coming to a stop. I was badly hurt, but the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional damage that the Beast had done to me. That painful icy grip, that unavoidable sorrow, it began to fade slowly as the Beast had lost contact with me. I could feel myself feeling better little by little, my senses returning, my mind regaining its sanity. What the hell happened? I rolled over onto my back, and sat up. The Beast was on its feet again, its monsterous wings spread out to capacity, its roar reaching its maximum volume. And standing directly between the creature and me...was Comicality.
I didn't quite understand at first. Was this a part of the dream? Was I doing this? I scooted my feet up underneath me, and slowly tried to rise to my feet. "No, Justin...stay down." He told me, and I became still. There was something entirely different about his presence there. Something that stuck out, just as boldly as that of the Beast. And I knew that this was no fabrication of my own making. He was really HERE. I watched as he stood between us, the Beast appearing to be both enraged and delighted to see him standing before him at long last. It roared fiercely, the strength of its voice nearly causing Com's shadows to blow away from his body...but he stood his ground. "No more...." He said quietly. Calmly. The thick leathery wings of the monster spread out, nearly blocking out my vision of everything behind it. It's tail rose up in attack, its heaving chest expanding with every giant inhalation of this smokey air. But despite its thunderous barking and bellowing, Comicality remained unmoved. And then, as I watched...Com's arms stretched out slowly from his sides...and I saw his body darken right in front of my eyes. Even though he was already wrapped in shadows, the darkness that consumed him now seemed to be even more absent of light than my mind could conceive. I watched as wisps of shadows began to leave the Beast, sucked into this void in the center of Comicality's cloak. It shrieked, stomping its monsterous foot forward, hoping that its horror could frighten Com into losing his concentration, but he didn't. More of the Beast was being pulled into him, and the vaccuum got stronger. I felt my own pains and fears being sucked into it as well. My rage, my sadness, my doubt...they were somehow being sucked into the void, no longer weighing heavy on my mind. And the screams inside my head shot forward, wrapping themselves around him to become a part of his mask of shadows. He was taking it. He was taking it ALL!
As the Beast felt its energy slipping away, it howled one last time, and with a mighty push of its muscular legs...it leapt up into the air, and screamed its way into the dark storm cloud above. The lightning and thunder both blinding and deafening at the same time. It had shot up so fast that it nearly sucked up the entire scenery with it...but thankfully, it was gone.
I sat there amazed on the concrete. The burning wreckage of automobiles still crackling in the distance all around me. And I saw Comicality trembling slightly, as though he were trying to regain some level of stability. And after a moment or two of silence, his shadows brightened slightly, and he turned to face me. His eyes swirled in turmoil, the shadows surrounding him appearing almost chaotic this time. They didn't stand still. He had to fight just to keep them from constricting around his throat. But somehow, with some concentrated effort, he got them to calm down again. And he walked over to offer me a hand.
I took his hand, and he lightly pulled me to my feet. "Are you alright?"
"Y-y-yeah...I think." I said, almost dizzy from the spinning vortex in his eyes. "Is it...is it really you? How are you doing this?"
"The Beast has been searching through your mind in order to find me. It was getting too close to finding the right frequency. So I had to make sure that I found it first. I opened the gateway by giving it what it wanted all along...I allowed it to pull me in."
"But...you're really 'here'?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes." He said, and he brushed some of the dust off of my shoulders. I heard a crack of thunder overhead, and fearfully looked up to the sky. "It won't be back, Justin. I'm the one its looking for. And now that its found me...it will use everything its got to come after me."
"Why? Why does it want you?" I asked, and Com didn't answer me at first. "Com? What is it?"
"It is the demon in our world...the demon in ourselves...and the horror of the contradiction." He told me. "You felt it tonight, did you not? When the shadows attacked you?" I nodded. "It is the pain in the hearts of souls of others. The misery that feeds their fears, their doubts, their inability to ever change. That pain is constantly looking for someone to carry it. Those souls are constantly looking for someone to release them from that awful agony. For a long time now...I have been that person."
"I don't understand." I said. "Those screams...that pain...that cold...is that what it feels like to you too?"
I saw the shadows wrapping themselves around him, obscuring him from my sight completely, constantly moving and churning like a thick black soup. And I wondered if he was hearing those screams now. If they were clawing at him at this very moment the way they were clawing at me in the club. "Does it hurt?" I asked.
He looked me in the eye, and whispered, "Always...." He walked past me, looking at the wreckage around us. "The collected pain of others was my only way to help them. In some cases, to save them. But there is always a limit to how much one person can take. So I did the only thing I could. I supressed my own pains and fears, and I attempted to store them elsewhere. Hoping to keep them locked in the back of my mind. In my dreams." He turned to face me again. "I had always planned to come back and deal with those ordeals myself later...but the shadows demanded my attention. Those lost vampires grew in number, their problems more severe, until I was completely outnumbered and overwhelmed. I suppressed more of my memories, more of my own suffering, constantly tucking it away wherever I could." There was another strike of lightning from above, followed by a low rumble in the clouds. "Eventually...that pain became self aware. And it grew. It grew beyond my control, and it began to hunt me. Forcing me to see it. Forcing me to deal with it."
"The Beast...you mean it's...."
"It's me, Justin. It is the horror that I have been hiding from myself since I crossed over into this world of darkness. The pain that I pushed aside to deal with the pain of others." He said. "It has been hunting me for a long time now. Growing stronger with every disappointment, every heartbreak, every insult. And for the vampires I couldn't save...that pain increases tenfold. I knew that it would find me one day. And it would finish what it started years ago. It will consume all of the light that I have left, and it will find its peace at last. As will I."
"What do you mean, find your peace?" I asked, hoping he didn't mean what I thought he meant.
He looked at me for a sight pause, and told me, "Justin, we have dark work ahead of us. And until that work is finished, I will be here for you. You have my word."
"That doesn't answer my question!" I said louder. "What do you MEAN by 'finding your peace'!"
"Justin..." He began, putting a hand on my shoulder. "...While being a vampire might stop you from aging, it does not stop you from getting 'old'." He said. "My life has been giving a purpose. Through the writing of scriptures, to the training of vampires, to aiding those who were lost. And I have no regrets in that regard. But as that purpose is now reaching its end, I am ready to face my demons once and for all. And my demons have grown very powerful indeed in my absence."
"What does THAT matter? You're stronger than that, remember?"
"Not strong enough, I'm afraid."
"Of COURSE you are! You're Comicality! You're like the big...super...vampire 'prophet'! Right?"
"Fiction." He answered calmly. "I am no more, and no less, than any others. And when the time comes, and that last heartbreak finally swallows me whole...my demons won't let me live. They can't. And I am prepared to deal with that fate when it comes for me."
"You're talking crazy!" I yelled. "Why are you doing this? Why are you constantly pushing away all the hands that are trying to help you? Do you WANNA die? Is that it? Huh?"
He stopped, trying to give me the chance to understand. But I didn't. I refused. "Some of us do great things, Justin. And I believe that you, my friend, will work miracles when it's your turn to share the light you have inside of you." He raised my chin to look him in the eye. "But for those of us who have 'sacrificed' that light, that companionship, and that spirit, for the greater good...all we have is the lone footprint that we leave behind. You are the last part of that circle, Justin. You are the living blueprint for the future. And that future doesn't involve me. Not for you, not for anyone."
I felt emotion well up in my throat, seeing the dead look in his eyes. I don't think I had seen that look since those dark days before the end of my human life. In the reflection of the bathroom mirror, while tears stained my face, and my soul tumbled about in the pit of my stomach. And even though Com seemed to carry it with a certain sense of silent grace, I could recognize that pain anywhere. I had lived with it for too long not to. "You don't have to do this. Any of this." He let his hand drop from my shoulder. "I mean it. You could just...you could walk away from all of this anytime that you wanted to. You could LEAVE!"
"No, Justin. I can't."
"Yes, you CAN! What the fuck??? Just STOP already!"
"I no longer have the choices you do. The shadows are a part of me now. Without them, I would no longer exist."
I thought about it for a moment. "Are you...'real' under there?" I said, trying to peer through the cloak to see if I could find the person underneath.
"Has anybody ever...'seen' you?" I asked.
"A few." He answered softly.
"Where are they?"
"No....just gone." He said. "The mystery had been solved, the challenge was gone. They decided to go with it. I trust there was no more use for the 'chase' anymore." He looked up at the dark sky, the clouds rolling back and forth with a growl. "What good is it to be an angel...when they think you're a god?"
"Do you miss them?"
"I try not to."
"But do you miss them?" I asked again.
He looked back down at me, and said, "I try not to."
I thought for a second, and told him, "I saw Maria. She knows you."
"Yes, I know. I can sense her essence on you. I find it soothing."
"She told me to tell you she misses you." I hoped it would make a difference, but as usual, Com was cold to anything remotely affectionate from me. Or from anyone.
"Strange. I would have expected her to tell you to run from me as fast as you can." I almost saw a smile on his face. But I couldn't tell if it was genuine, or a sarcastic carbon copy.
"I saw Chad too. And HE misses you."
"No...he doesn't." He replied, seeing right through me. Then, he looked at me sideways, "Is that all that Maria told you?"
"No...actually." I said, my stomach tightening up from the inside. It was as if Comicality could tell what was wrong. It was in the air around us. My dream world stretched and distorted sightly from the pain of it. "I read the Mimic prophecy. I saw it." I said, watching Com as he slowly turned his back to me, staring off into the distance. I waited in silence for a second or two, but I wasn't going to let him avoid me this time. Not THIS time. "Why did you hide it from me? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I assume for the same reasons you didn't divulge that particular information to Taryn before kissing him goodnight."
I stomped my way up behind him and grabbed a hold of his cloak. "Don't you DARE bring him into this! Don't you give me that prophecy bullshit either! It's NOT gonna happen! Do you hear me?"
"NO!!! YOU LISTEN TO ME!!!" I shouted as I felt some of the shadows ripped away from his body, and had to reach back to get a hold on another. "I won't let him die. There is no force on Earth that can keep me from protecting him. I don't wanna hear anything about the Vampire Dawn or giving my happiness away to save some drowning soul that probably doesn't even deserve it!" I said.
"I'm sorry, Justin. The scriptures are quite clear. I'm afraid that you don't have a choice."
"Don't fucking tell me that! I DO have a choice! And it's NOT gonna happen!"
"There is an entire age of enlightenment that is depending on your sacrifice..." He said, but I grabbed two handfulls of his cape and held it tight in my clenched fists.
"FUCK THEM!!! FUCK THEM ALL!!! Where the hell were 'THEY' when I was getting battered, abused, and beaten to the floor every damn day as a child??? HUH??? Where were 'THEY' when my mother was so drunk that I had to undress her and put her to bed??? Where the FUCK were 'THEY' when I was walking to the end of that Pier, night after night, with nothing but heartbreak and despair in my soul, wondering if I'd finally have the guts to drown myself??? I don't know, Com...but 'THEY' sure as fuck weren't thinking about ME!!! And you want me to give up the *ONLY* thing left that matters to me in the whole world...just to bring THEM salvation??? FORGET IT!!!" I screamed. Com didn't answer, he didn't fight back, he just allowed me to hold onto his cloak of shadows in anger. "Is THIS what you like??? Huh??? You LIKE having all this pain and suffering wrapped around you all the time??? Is that it??? The SCREAMS...and the CRYING...and the PAIN!!! You WELCOME that shit on PURPOSE, DON'T YOU!!! HUH???" I yanked another shadow from his body, and heard it scream in agony as it fought to hold on. "ANSWER ME!!!" I pulled another one away from him, and another, and another, ripping his cloak to dark spiritual shreds. Hearing their cries, feeling that ice cold desperation, as the dark spirits were torn free...only to fall to the ground and scamper towards him again to rejoin the mass of others. "I LOVE TARYN!!! AND HE LOVES ME!!! AND WE'RE GONNA FUCKING BE TOGETHER!!! I'm NOT just gonna sit back and let you or anyone else just TAKE him from me! I'm NOT gonna end up ALONE like you!!! Do you hear me???" I kept ripping, kept tearing, kept fighting, as tears poured out of my eyes and the angry shouts began to turn into sobs of hopelessness. "I'm not going to lose him! I'm not gonna turn into a lonely old friendless BASTARD like you who doesn't give a shit about ANYBODY!!! You're NOTHING!!! FUCKING ASSHOLE!!! You're NOTHING!!!" He never once raised his hand against me. Instead, he bared the pain, and waited for me to let it all out. When my arms were exhausted, and the emotion became too overwhelming for me to stand, I felt my knees go weak, and I plummeted to the ground.
The sadness was sooo deep. It rotted everything inside of me, and my whole world turned black again. I sobbed quietly, unable to do anything more, and all of the shadows were magnetized right back to Com where they were before. It was like my tantrum had no effect at all. Just like it never did in my past life. Just like it wouldn't in the dismal future ahead of me. It felt as if I had lost everything already. Comicality then walked over to stand above me, offering a hand to help me to my feet again. But this time, I didn't take it. I couldn't stand. Not anymore. I just didn't have the heart. So instead, he squatted down in front of me. "I'm sorry, Justin. I realize that this part of the process is a merciless one. The path of the vampire mimic is one of great struggle, suffering, and sacrifice. Nothing about this will be easy, and the path does not lead to a city of gold...not for you. But you are the one chosen to bear the burden."
"I didn't ask for this! I didn't ask for ANY of this!" I sniffled, the tears rolling down my cheeks non stop.
"Out of all the painful sacrifices made in history for the greater good...who would?" He asked me. "Justin...with all that you have been through, all the hard times that you have faced, I regret that I cannot spare you this tragedy. But you can use that pain to make you strong. It will prepare you for the change. What you experience right here, right now, will allow you to realize the message that you must bring to the whole world. A belief, and a faith, that will spare COUNTLESS others the horrors you've been through." He said softly. "It is you...a lone child...who is carrying the guiding light for us all."
"I...I can't." I sobbed. "Please...take this pain away. I can't lose anyone else. I just...I won't survive having my heart broken. I won't survive having my world fall apart again." I sniffled and cried until my stomach was weak from it. But Com offered me no further comfort. Other than to say...
"The answers you need are already inside your heart. They've been there all along. You've been nurturing them with every experience you've had in darkness. Every one. And it is there...in that hidden message, that you will find your greatest strength. I cannot give it to you. It would do you no good to hear it from me anyway. But it is the treasure buried in your very spirit, Justin. It will comfort you when the time comes. And it will bring you peace in the dark days ahead. Right now, just make the that time you two have left is spent gracefully. Enjoy it for what it is...for as long as you can." It hurt. GOD, it hurt. It turned me inside out to think that there may come a time when Taryn's kiss was no longer there to soothe my soul. When his smile was gone from me, and his embrace had gone cold. It created such a pain in me that it was hard to breathe, and my tears came out with a series of heaves. There I sit...locked in 'checkmate'...and lost in confusion. "I must go. But remember what I told you." He said, and he put his hand on my back to rub it in small circles. "To be reborn through suffering is a difficult transformation, but in the end...it will mold you into the warrior both worlds need you to be." I don't think Com was ready for it, but I leaned to the side, and rested my head on his shoulder. It caught him off guard at first, but he awkwardly attempted to accept the sentiment. I wrapped my arms around him and felt myself sink into the cold shadows of his disguise. I cried softly, burying my face into his chest, and after an uncomfortable moment, I felt Comicality's arms slowly rise up to embrace me. Softly at first, then tenderly. And as I wept openly, asking him why it had to be me, begging him to tell me that there was another way out of this...he grasped me tightly. "Shhhhh...I know. I know. Shhh..." He whispered, and for a moment, I could have sworn that I felt the shadows melt away momentarily. Like a gentle fog, they rolled away from me, and I could almost see a small glimpse of the man underneath. I couldn't explain it, but it was almost as if...some of my inner light had inspired a light inside of him as well. And together, we were able to push the pain and the sorrow away from him...if only for a few seconds.
He held me close, a boy of 14, bawling on his shoulder. Never once giving me the indication that he wanted to let go. For the first time ever...he felt my tears...and received my affection. He didn't hide or back away from it. He didn't retreat into the shadows, or attempt to change the subject. For once, he just sat there with me, and held me in silence. Hoping to somehow give me the strength to go on.
"GASP!!!" I suddenly woke up in the bunker at the IceZone, my face still covered with tears, and Taryn sleeping peacefully at my side. I peeked out of the curtain, and saw that the entire club had gone dead except for a few spinning lights and automated machines. I was early again. Extremely early from the looks and sounds of it. So I closed the curtain back, and looked down at the love of my life. The one entty that had been the center of my universe for the past few months. And yet, it seemed like an entire lifetime.
I let my eyes trace the smooth creamy skin of his cheek, and gazed at the natural cherry colored sweetness of his lips. With a tear, I let my hand brush back a few locks of his reddish brown hair, and leaned down to kiss him softly on his cheek. The pain fought to resurface, and I sat holding my breath to keep from crying out loud. But with a sniffle, I cuddled myself up against him, and just held him in my arms. "Oh Taryn..." I whispered to myself, my tears wetting his cheek. I kissed him again, his body still cold and motionless from the sleep. What key could I possibly hold that would bring me comfort in the wake of losing my only angel? What answer could I have that would make life worth anything ever again after he was gone? Maybe Com was wrong. Maybe there isn't one. And if insanity doesn't come to claim me as the prophecy predicted it would...then death was my only other option. It always has been. Perhaps that's just the way it was supposed to be from the very begining.
I love you, Taryn. I love you with every inch of my being. And I am going to keep you with me for as long as I can. We WILL be together forever, no matter what. Even if I have to follow you into the afterlife to do it. I can't be alone.
No....I can't be alone.
Also, if you like the "Gone From Daylight" series...make sure to check out "Taryn's Song" (The Prequel! Chapter 4 COMING SOON!!!), and the brand new 'round robin' spin-off "Lost In Shadow"!!!
And if you have any pics, photos, drawings, stories, poems, video clips, or anything else concerning "Gone From Daylight" or gay vampire fiction, look for the new "GFD: Blood Bank"!!! We're collecting all of the incredible artifacts that this story's cult following has brought to us! So if you have a submission, or just want to know more about the project...send your stuff to email@example.com and show us what ya got! :)
Thanks again! For all of your love and support for this series! And look for more in the near future! Seezya soon!