"What the fuck ARE you?!?!?!" He shouted, holding his wrist in pain.
"I'm the last thing you'll ever see." I said, and charged towards him, using my enhanced speed to pounce on him before he could even react. I tried to bite at his throat, but he punched and kicked at me in a panic. Once I had gotten enough of him trying to defend himself, I backhanded him HARD across the face! Hard enough to send him spinning to the ground, face down in the dirt! It was so hard that I'm sure I had loosened a tooth or two, and as he looked back up at me...I licked his blood off of the back of my hand.
He thought about running...I could read is every thought. For once, he knew what it was like to be helpless. "I...I have money..." He stuttered.
"I KNOW you do, Johnny." I said, and he was shocked that I knew his name. Again...his mind was an open book.
"I'll give you all of it! My watch too!" He pleaded. "HERE! Take it!"
"I don't WANT your money, Johnny. And I don't want your watch." I said. "I want you to bleed for me until I'm full. And I want you to think about all of the people you've hurt for your own selfish needs, so you can attone for your sins just SECONDS before I send you straight to hell!" He cried out loud in front of me, hoping that his display would get me to change my mind and have some sort of mercy on him. But I couldn't. With his blood surging through me, filling my veins, I felt what he felt his entire life. Snotty, arrogant, pushy, aggressive, selfish, self indulgent...at that moment I didn't care about ANYBODY but me. Despite his pleas for help, this man was going to die tonight. And there wasn't a fucking thing he could do to stop it. "Who's the bitch NOW, Johnny?"
I felt his emotions tense up, he was ready to run for it. Reading that plan of desperation in his mind made me snicker to myself. "Don't make me chase you, asshole. Trust me...you won't make it." Still, he got up, and started to run carelessly through the park! I let him get about 20 feet away from me, and with a single step forward, I felt Chad's extra kick in like never before! I had complete control this time, without missing a thing. All I had to do was concentrate on where I wanted to stop, and my body took care of everything else. In a FLASH, I appeared right in front of him, and with a single punch....knocked him back the same 20 feet to land right in front of the boy he had just shamelessly violated. I marched back to greet him again, but this time, when he tried to get up, I used my brain geyser to knock him on his back. Then, without even thinking, several acid webs shot out of my right hand and wrapped around his legs. Burning and sizzling right through his pants, and holding him still. I could feel his fear, I could taste his desperation. And I didn't care. I now see the joy in being so heartless. It elevates you above the people around you, and exists as the only thing that can make you feel 'godlike' in the presence of others.
"No more, Johnny." I said. "The rest of us struggle and strain...TRYING to be decent human beings! And here you are, not giving a shit about ANYBODY but yourself...going out and taking whatever you want from innocent people! You sit back and 'coast' through your life not caring WHO you hurt! Well, guess what? THIS is what it feels like! This is what it feels like to have your whole life in somebody else's hands! This is what it feels like to be COMPLETELY fucking *ALONE* when you're helpless...and broken! Now you know!!!"
I gritted my teeth, disgusted at the snivelling piece of shit at my feet, and made my final assault. I kneeled over him, sat down on his stomach, and leaned forward to take another bite out of him. The man's arms began to flail wildly and he hit me in my chest. He tried to bring his chin down and his shoulder up to keep me from having access to his neck. But I was quickly getting tired of this stupid fucking game! I was HUNGRY! And I needed this NOW! So I pried his neck and shoulder apart with my bare hands, and when I got tired of struggling, I pulled his arm down brutally...dslocating his shoulder with a snap! He screamed out in pain, but I now had access to what I wanted. Fuck him! It's OVER!
I pulled his head to the side, and sank my fangs so deep into his throat that his whole body started to convulse and twitch beneath me. It hurt too much for him to even scream. My body began to fill itself up again, sucking hungrily at his flesh, making his life....OUR life...and soon...it'll just be MY life. He was still trying to fight back, even after I had dislocated his shoulder. And when he hit me in the head, I had had enough. I ripped my fangs from his neck, and sat up on his chest. I let my fist clench tightly, and I let it shoot downwards to hit him in the face! I drew back, and I hit him again! And again! And AGAIN!!! All the pain I've been through, all the years that I've suffered, all the times I've been destroyed inside so people like HIM could live comfortably with their selfish needs! All the times I sacrificed a piece of myself, of my dignity, of my heart, of my ability to care...for WHAT??? For HIM??? For people LIKE him??? That's IT!!! I'm not playing the town idiot anymore! You want problems with me motherfucker??? YOU'VE GOT EM!!!!
I hit him again! My punches landing in his face with such a fury that he wasn't even recognizable as the same man I had seen before! I could feel his whole life swimming around inside me, and I hated it! I hated HIM! I hated the whole FUCKING world!!!!! I kept hitting him, beating him unconscious and THEN some! I'm sure that I had broken his jaw, and my fist was covered in blood. When I finally regained some of my senses, I stopped punching him, wondering if I had beaten him to death. I could still sense a bit of life in him...and bent forward to finish draining him before the son of a bitch passed away on me. I bit into him again....and by the time he had stopped spasming...I was full again. My body felt like it was on fire, and from the feeling in my boxers, I believe I had achieved an orgasm somewhere in between.
It took a minute or two for my body to settle down, and my senses were completely electric. I was more energized than I could even explain. But when I looked over to see the young 12 year old boy laying petrified next to me...some of my 'logic' returned to me. The moment, as satisfying as it was, had caused me to forget my humanity. This wasn't like last time at all. This was different. Looking down at the body I was sitting on, its face battered and bruised beyond belief, drained of its blood...a sickening feeling washed over me. It was that easy. To extinguish a human life and walk away from it. It was actually THAT easy.
I stood up, and the boy hurriedly scattered to his feet! "No! No, it's ok!" I said. "I promise...I'm not gona hurt you." The boy just stared at me from a safe distance. "Are you ok?"
He didn't say a word. Not one. He looked down at my shirt and I noticed that it was covered in blood. I didn't want him to panic. That's the WORST thing that could happen. But when I stepped closer to try and let him know it was ok, he took off running as fast as he could! He was screaming at first, but then just saved his breath for running. I could have followed him. Of course. But I didn't. I let him go. Chasing him down would have only caused him to panic more. I looked around the park, and then rolled the dead body down a shallow flight of steps. And I left him there. Slag Hunters would be there to pick him up in no time. I'm not sure how they knew where and when to find somebody, but they always did.
I think I stayed out for hours after that. Not knowing where to go. Not knowing if I even belonged anywhere. I went to a park bathroom, using Dylan's extra to mask me as much as possible from the many people around me, and washed the many splashes of blood off of my face. I took my shirt off and washed as much of the thick substance out of the material as I could. It was still stained pretty bad, but at least it didn't look like 'blood' to anyone who might catch a quick glimpse of me. As I dried off my face with a handful of paper towels...my eyes connected with those in my reflection. I had to ask myself...what led me here? How did I go from being a troubled 14 year old boy, to....THIS? I was slipping further and further into darkness. Every day it became a little more acceptable, a little bit easier. I wondered if I was well on my way to not caring anymore. What I once thought was so wrong, is now a way of life. And I was only a few murders away from sitting around in a bar, drinking 'sunburn' shots and laughing over tales of the many people I've killed. Can this possibly be me?
As I walked home, my shirt soaked through, I felt this strange, full-body nausea. Like this new blood type was adjusting to its new home, and my body was doing its best to fit it in. I could vaguely see flashes of his life pass before my eyes as I walked, small memories, a few muscle spasms. He was 'inside' me. My soul somehow felt 'infected' by his very presence. But I carried on anyway. I didn't feel guilty, not for him. I doubt there are many people out there who would miss him.
When I got back to the lot, Gyro was bouncing around happily, even moreso than usual. "TWO MORE DAYS!!! TWO MORE DAYS!!!" He was trying to shout it out loud, but he was moving around so much that he was almost out of breath. I swear that boy was on a constant sugar rush. He had rolled himself over onto Max's lap, who quickly pushed him off and onto the ground!
"I'm NOT your furniture!" He said.
"Sorry! Geez!" Not that Gyro didn't just rush himself off and keep bouncing. He was really determined to make all of us as excited for this as he was. That's when he bounced over towards me and took a closer look. "Two more days, Justin! Two more, and we get to the IceZone party and...." He stopped in mid sentence, his eyes popped open. "...Omigod...you hunted!" He said, and that got the attention of all the others in the lot, who lifted their heads to look at me.
"What are you all looking at?" I asked. Rather nastily, I might add.
"Did you...have any problems with it?" Gyro asked, with everyone else seemingly wondering the same thing.
I was suddenly the center of attention, my audience all well aware of my crime and waiting to see whether or not I liked it the second time around. It was enough to make you sick inside. "No...no, it went fine." I said, and walked around Gyro to try to get back to my 'home' before I got any more questions asked. I didn't feel good. My mind and body were having some kind of weird reaction to my last feeding, and as strange as it sounds...I almost felt like I had been raped or something. Like I needed a shower to get this man's stench off of me. To get his thoughts out of my head. My body suddenly didn't feel like it was MINE at that moment. What was wrong with me? I couldn't understand what was going on.
As I walked towards the trailer, Bryson put a hand on my shoulder. "Justin?"
"What???" I snapped. I wasn't upset, really. I guess it was just a subconscious reaction to being prevented from going back to the trailer.
He stopped for a minute, looking into my eyes as though he could see this pervert rattling around inside of me. "Are you gonna be ok?"
"I'm fine. I just...I wanna lay down for a bit. Alright?"
He paused for a moment, but something about what had happened tonight...he understood. I guess it was just another part of the growing process or something. "If you need to talk...I'll be here. We'll all be here. You remember that."
I nodded. "Have you seen Taryn?"
"Him and Rain went off to talk somewhere else in the lot tonight. But he's not far away. We can get him if you like."
"No...no that's ok. It's not important." No reason for me to step further between those two anyway. They needed that quality time. Until I felt like myself again, it's proably best that I spent some time alone.
"Alright then. Go get yourself some rest. Ok? Get out of these wet clothes and put them in for tonight's laundry." He said, and with a brotherly pat on the shoulder, he stepped aside and let me walk back to my part of the lot.
I could feel their eyes on me. Jenna, Dylan, Dion, Jun, Max....all of them. They'd be whispering by the time I got inside. But so what? I didn't wanna think about it, I didn't wanna talk about it...I just....I just wanted to lay down.
I went inside the trailer and closed the door behind me. I kicked my shoes off, peeled myself out of that wet shirt, and laid down on the mattress, staring at the ceiling. It was about 11:30, and I had hours before I was going to go to sleep. I rolled over on my side, pulling the sheet with me to cover up my chest and shoulders. I was so cold, almost trembling, from walking around in that wet tshirt. I could still feel him...I could still 'taste' him...that man...that awful man...his spirit felt like it was squirming its way through my veins. God...it was such a sickening feeling. I rolled onto my other side, uncomfortable, unable to sit still. And when I did, I thought back to the time when I had left a few hours ago. And the folder that was hiding underneath the mattress. I laid there for a few moments in silence, contemplating whetheror not I even wanted to know. If I was going to be able to handle what was going on in the pages of that 'file'. But I'm sure Max will have fixed Bryson's lock by tomorrow night if he hasn't already. Taryn was spending quality time with Rain, and the others have basically been nice enough to back off while I was recovering from tonight's actions. So there was no better time to do this than right now.
I sat up in the bed, and lifted my butt up just enough to slide the folder from underneath me, before plopping back down again. I let the papers sit in my lap for a moment, just staring at the folder and my name at the top of it. I was too scared to open it, too scared NOT to open it. But after a few deep breaths, I let my fingertips turn the first page. The first few pages were notes from the chasers that I had for the first month or so. From Jenna, from Dion, from Max...even some from Taryn. They were detailed accounts of where I was going, what I talked about, how I reacted to certain things. Trevor even made some comments on my reluctance to hunt, detailing the events of the night when he first took me to Jeremy's blood shack. Surprisingly...Trevor seemed to have nothing but good things to say about me except for not wanting to kill. He said that I was 'much too soft hearted to be able to hunt on my own just yet.' Psh! If he had seen me tonight, he would have been much more impressed. I saw information of the night when Jun saw me chasing Chad, and lost me as I ran beyond his ability to keep up. And from Dion, the night he supposedly smuggled me out of the lot to see the city. It was all right there in that folder, followed by some training notes and makeshift grades from Doc on my performance with blood testing, vampire history, and my extra.
But there were more than just notes in there.
It was then that I saw a flyer, with big printing at the top...that said simply..."Missing".
I felt myself freeze up as I saw my face under the word. MINE. It was a picture from about a year and a half ago, a school picture. And it was blown up to fit the poster. That was me...I was 'the kid on the side of the milk carton'. Missing. It hurt to see. You never think that you're gonna be THAT kid, you know? You spend your whole life thinking that kidnappings and runaways and parental abuse are all a part of some 'other' reality that we won't ever have to deal with. Until the day you're seeing it right in front of you, and you realize that each one of these cases has a face and a name. This time..the face and the name were mine.
I read the info at the bottom. It was dated months ago. My mom....my mom was searching for me. I thought back to a vampire dream that I had had weeks ago. With my mother tossing these same missing flyers out of the window...how did I know about them? How could I have known if I had never seen them until just now? And then, as though I could read the very essence off of some hidden imprint in the paper itself...I got a rush of 'history' from the page that I was touching. I could SEE it...a street corner at night, a bunch of people walking past a woman on the sidewalk. The woman was my mom, and she was handing these papers out. In fact, she had handed out this VERY paper. She had touched it with her own hand...I could read her essence still on it. It was the most comfortable thing in the world. Then...I saw Bryson. Walking past....he takes one from her. He deliberately takes one from her when she approaches him. And when she asks if he had seen me...he LIED! He lied and told her that he hadn't seen me at all! He KNEW she was looking for me! He KNEW she was hurt, and crying, and searching for her little boy....and he left her to go on believing that I was dead in some gutter somewhere! Omigod!
The vision came to an end abruptly, and tears were falling down my cheeks. I couldn't believe this was happening. I couldn't believe he could do something like that and not even TELL me!!! That night...over a month back...I came home one night and read an image of my mother imprinted on Bryson's mind. That must have been when he had done it. That must have been we he betrayed both my mother AND me!
Turning the page, I saw some newspaper articles on me. All of them saying 'Local Boy Missing' in one way or the other. No wonder Bryson was so determined to pick up local newspapers. Probably helps him to keep track of us better. I saw my name in print, and it said 'Fourteen year old, Justin Bower, was declared missing on June 19th and has not been seen since. It is still unclear whether this is an act of foul play, or simply another runaway teen.' I read on, and the paper, much like Bryson's chaser notes, put my life out there for everyone to see. It was humiliating to read, to be honest. They told the whole damn world everything they knew about me. They talked about my problems in school, they talked about my abusive father, they talked about my mother's drinking habits...not only did they tell everyone my most private secrets...but they exaggerated some of the facts to make it a juicier story! They made it look like I had every reason to run away from home, and now everybody that I had ever known in my fucking LIFE knew about the shit I was going through all that time! I wonder what they thought of me now? I wonder what they said to each other at my school when they realized that my life was such a horrible experience for me. Were they sorry? Can I be stupid enough to believe that maybe now they regret making me feel this way? That maybe now they can see how much they hurt me, and that it's partially THEY'RE fault that I might be lying dead somewhere? I honestly wonder if they have any clue what they did to me...and if they can't sleep at night...GOOD! I don't care if they never sleep again.
The article ended with a quote from my mom, saying, 'I miss him. God, I miss him. I just want to hold my little boy one last time.' My heart felt like it was collapsing...and tears rolled non stop down my cheeks. She was looking for me. She DID care about me. Behind that article was another, and another...but the dates got further apart as time went on, and the last one was dated about three weeks ago. Either they had given up hope of finding me, or I just became 'old news'. There were even a few blurbs stating that my mother was under investigation for my disappearance. That she was a suspect in my possible 'murder'. Oh God...they must have put her through so much pain.
I couldn't read on. I closed the folder and crossed my arms across my chest, rocking back and forth as more tears poured from my eyes. I was alone again...and no matter what I did to escape the pain, it followed right behind me. It was then that I heard Taryn walking up to the trailer door. My initial instinct was to hurry up and hide the folder....but I couldn't move. The emotions inside all came bubbling up to a boiling point, and I felt paralyzed by them. Taryn opened the door, and I spun around to keep my back to him. "Hey.." I said with a sniffle, trying to hold the misery back for a bit.
"Hi..." He could instantly tell something was wrong. I know he could.
"So, how is Rain? Is she feeling better?" Hold it in, Justin. Don't crumble now. If you let go, you won't be able to stop crying ever again.
"Yeah...yeah, she's doing much better." He said, tryng to avoid coming right out and asking me what's wrong. "I heard...that you...um...'fed' tonight." I lowered my head, just holding my breath. But the more I tried to block the thoughts of my Mom from my mind, the stronger they got. I thought of her suffering without me, I thought of Richie dying alone, and the pressure inside was building to levels like I had never known. "Are you ok?" Taryn asked, still referringto the hunting.
I took in a deep breath so I'd be able to talk without sobbing. "Yes...I'm fine." A tear ran down my cheek, and crawled down to the side of my lips, where I licked it away. "I feel....kinda weird inside though. It's not like last time."
"Well...that'll balance out in a week or so. Give or take a few days. You always take on a few characteristics of your donors for a while when you feed. You don't have much of your original blood cells left anymore...so it gets a bit more of a potent transfer. It won't last long though."
I was almost happy to talk about the hunt, because it was helping to keep my mind off of my mom. Not MUCH, but a little. "I feel like he's inside of me, Taryn. I already snapped at Bryson, I'm moody, I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm not myself."
"Remember, Justin, the last donor you preyed upon was...technically a nice guy. All the donors you choose aren't gonna be 'nice guys'. So you've gotta adjust a little bit, you know?"
I felt Taryn move closer to me on the bed, and I still had the folder sitting in my lap. I should have tossed it away, should have tucked it back under the mattress, I should have done SOMETHING! But it was the last traces of life that I had left. The last bits and pieces of my human existence, and the only proof positive that I had to know how much my mom loved me and truly missed me once I disappeared....and my hands REFUSED to let go of it. They clamped down tight on the edges, and the tears began to rain down again as Taryn crawled up behind me and kissed me on the cheek. I couldn't hold it in any longer. The folder, the hunting, Rain, Dion's regrets, the Beast and my torturous nightmares, my mother, Richie, my life, my death, my rebirth into this eternally black world...everything came crashing down on me all at once. And when the smoke cleared...I looked at myself, and hated everything I saw in my soul's reflection. I hated every decision I had ever made, and I knew that I probably deserved the agony I was going through. As the tears got worse, and my sniffling was too noticeable to hide anymore, the floodgates opened wide, and the emotions inside came rushing out of me in a storm of depression and despair.
That's when Taryn saw the folder in my lap....
"Where did you get that?" He said softly, knowing that I had already been through it. I didn't answer. I couldn't. "You weren't supposed to see that." He told me. But after a short pause, he snaked his arms around my neck and hugged me tight. I didn't want to cry outloud, I didn't want to humiliate myself any more than I already had. But I hated myself sooooo much at that moment. I couldn't stop. My father wouldn't let me cry when he was around. I always had to suck it up, I always had to try and be strong. But this new information weakened me from the inside, and I burst. I turned to hug Taryn back, and spent the next two or three minutes sobbing almost hysterically on his shoulder.
The emotion got so jammed up in my throat that I could hardly breathe through it. It was like all of the human feelings that I had ben supressing since I first woke up from one life's nightmare and into another, all came gushing out of me at once. And I couldn't get a hold of it. I TRIED....but I just couldn't. I'm surprised that anything I had to say was even understandable once Taryn got me to talk again, as I was crying uncontrollably. Sobbing to the point where my eyes were running out of tears, and my cheeks burned from attempting to hold it all in....for just a LITTLE bit longer. Taryn scooted closer to me immediately, feeling just as lost and as helpless as I did at that moment. He wanted to comfort me, help me, provide for me. But he knew as well as I did that there was no comfort involved with what I was going through now that I knew the truth. That my life, everything that I am, everything that I ever WAS....it's over. Just....'over'. And there was nothing we could do about that now.