"We have a holiday?" I asked.

"We've got PLENTY of them. We ARE an actual 'culture' you know?" Max said, with a harmless scowl. Probably more from habit than actual offense. "Once Bryson starts setting you up with texts and history and scriptures to learn, you're gonna have to know all 28 vampire holidays by heart. So I suggest you keep tonight in mind."

"You mean like...school?" I asked, and Max nodded. "I became a vampire to get AWAY from school, dude!"

"Too bad, man. You've got about 5000 years or more of vampire culture to study and learn. Bryson, I'm sure is going to make sure that you know every single day of it." He said.

"Great...just great. More homework."

"See, the party tonight? Tonight is a celebration. It's the 'Eve of the Blood Countess'. Her name was Elizabeth Bathory. She lived in Transylvania way back in the late 16th century, I guess. Now...she was no vampire, but she was accused of being one. The legend says that she was suspected of killing over 650 people over a few decades, and bathed in their blood in order to stay young. She was so consumed by her own looks that she punished anyone who picked out even the smallest flaw. She'd probably kill you for picking a piece of lint off of her dress. It was like you were...insulting her beauty, or something." He looked over at my face. "Morbid, ain't it?"

"What happened to her?"

"Eventually the cops caught up to the crazy bitch, and confined her to a single room in her own home. No windows, no visitors, no nothing. Just a little slot in the door to push food and water through." Max said, and pointed up to a decoration in one of the balconies of the club. There was a made up doorway with the silhouette of a woman standing there in a dress, with a pair of glowing eyes. Obviously to represent the 'crazy bitch', as Max so nicely put it. "They say she lived for about three years confined to that one room, completely isolated from the whole world, before she died. The anniversary is tomorrow. So tonight...."

"...is the 'Eve of the Blood Countess'." I said, completing the sentence.

"Bingo. Look at that, the new kid on the block actually learned something." The drinks were set up on top of the bar and Max took them up on a tray, getting ready to bring back to his table. Just then, I 'felt' something odd. Very odd. Like I was being watched. My awareness heightened itself immediately, and I could feel my senses reaching out into the manic crowd around to find the source of my sudden discomfort. I looked around, when my focus led me to a dark corner of the room. Standing there, with a stone face and sunglasses, obscuring his eyes from me entirely...was Natpea. The same one from the fighting arena. Soren's right hand man. Even through the crowd of gyrating bodies, he kept his eyes fixed sternly on me, and I could feel him staring me down. Unmoving, unafraid, void of emotion. He was staking me out, I could feel it.

"You feel like coming over to join us?" Max said, but I didn't answer at first, looking back at my new shadow in the corner. I knew he could see me staring back at him, and yet, he never moved an inch. "Helllooooo? You gonna answer me or what?" Max repeated.

"Huh? Oh...yeah. You know, I think...I think I'm just gonna chill here for a little while." I said.

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." I said it to Max, looking up at him for just a quick second. And in that instant flash, that fraction of a moment that I turned away and turned back to find my 'follower' for the evening.....he was gone. And when I say gone, I mean completely. I couldn't even find him with my senses this time around. But I couldn't shake the feeling that he was still there somewhere. He HAD to be.

This didn't seem right. Not at all. But if my abilities had any way of finding him in the dizzying crowd, I wouldn't know how to use them. That was the most frustrating part of it all. All these powers at once, and I couldn't really claim to know ANY of them well enough to be useful when I needed them to be. If only finding answers wasn't such a difficult task with everybody I came across in this world. How can I find out what I am if I can't ask anybody? How can I discover what any of this means if the very people who might be able to help me the most are the ones I have to try hardest to keep my secret from? I mean, beyond the fact that Trevor was a pain and a brat....he did have that little advantage of knowing something about me that none of the others don't. And it's driving me CRAZY to know that he knows. Because it only drives me even deeper into hiding, hoping that no one finds out before I'm able to deal with the possible consequences of them knowing. Maybe I never will be, who knows? But Trevor knows, and he'll use it as leverage whenever he likes. It's the one thorn in my side that I can't seem to pluck free.

But...as my thoughts wandered further into my current dilemma...the room went black! Completely black! The music stopped all at once. The people stopped all at once. It was as if the whole placed had suddenly been shut down instantaneously. Almost like a sudden blown fuse or a power outtage...but...something like that wouldn't have affected the people too. Something....something was wrong.

Even my night vision couldn't pierce through the darkness around me, not even when I strained it to it's maximum potency. It was infinitely black. So black that it felt almost as though my eyes would implode from the darkness around them. And yet, the room seemed to stretch and change around me. The air itself warped into different undefinable shapes that I couldn't see, but was aware of nonetheless. "H-h-hello?" I said, but my voice echoed off of the no longer existent walls of the room. All I heard was silence. Dead silence.

I stood up from the barstool that I was sitting on, and it seemed to vanish from beneath me the second I lost contact with it. I tried to look around me, but since I was so blind here, I was disoriented beyond belief. I could barely tell up from down, left from right. And that's when I felt the temperature drop around me drastically. An ice cold shiver ran throughout my entire body, and shook me to the core. "Is anybody in here?" I said a bit louder this time. But my only answer was the sound of my own echo, seemingly being tossed into an endless abyss as it faded almost instantly once I had heard it. It was then that I became aware of movement. Actual movement. Movement....NOT my own. "HELLO???" My nerve was leaving me, and all at once, a grip of fear took hold of me. Seemingly out of nowhere. Not just fear of this particular situation...but everything that I had been afraid of in my whole life. Somehow, it all just jumped to the surface and collected itself on top of my growing goosebumps. The movement continued in the room around me....and then I heard this...breathing. Heavy breathing...almost beast-like. The sound of it seemed to envelope the entire room from all sides. The room got colder, my fear grew stronger, and I was too scared to move. Then, I could SEE it! This dark shape moving closer to me. Even in this unperceivable blackness, the darkness of this creature still managed to stand out. Blacker than black...a color not ever intended to be witnessed by human eyes or any other. It hovered ever closer in an erratic flight pattern. Slowly, like a helium balloon blown in a slight breeze. This thing came closer, and closer...it's breathing got heavier, and the temperature seemed to drop another ten degrees for every inch that was decreased between it and myself. Whatever it was...it was coming.

I stepped backwards, the first move that I was able to make, and it seemed to speed up in its forward motion. I felt more fear creep into my system. It was insane the way it felt. Like I was back on that lawn again, getting beaten up by those kids. Like I did on that bridge when Jun got pushed over the edge. Like I did when my father would come home drunk and find a reason to pound on me. All of those random feelings came rushing back to me simultaneously, creating this unexplainable sense of complete worthlessness. Complete shame. Hopelessness and helplessness to the Nth degree. It's like nothing I had ever felt before. Nothing I could ever put into words. It was the focus of every painful emotion known to me, intensified, almost doubled, and set to press down hard on my shoulders in one lump sum.

Then I heard a low grumble. Almost inaudible. But it grew in intensity fast. The grumble became more evident, the breathing was now over my shoulder, even with the dark silhouette of the creature sitting in front of me. And....without warning, a THUNDEROUS ROAR!!! My heart leapt up into my throat, and the darkness wrapped itself around me so tightly that I couldn't breathe! The roar got louder, enough to shake the walls, the floor, to vibrate my entire body from inside, my bones resonating with the horrific sound of it! I couldn't move, I couldn't scream, the dark swallowed me whole and the creature began forcing its way into my very soul. I could feel it pushing into me from all sides, exploiting my every painful memory, my every fear, my every insecurity. It ripped my secrets to shreds, it cracked open my subconscious thoughts....it was like having your life spill out of you by the gallon while you try your hardest to hold onto it. Another earsplitting roar escaped from it's powerful jaws, and I was unable to run from the terror consuming me, no matter how hard I struggled. The creature began to take shape in the darkness around me, and I recognized it's monsterous fangs, it's glowing eyes, it's earth shattering presence! The Beast, the entity invading my dreams, the shadow lurking in that dark room in the abandoned building by the lot...it was here! IT WAS HERE!!!

"Hey! Wake up already! Jesus! Quit spacing out tonight, you're getting freaky!" The sound of Max's voice was the swift slice of reality that cut me out of the shadows and brought me back to the loud, pulsating, flashy surroundings of the club again. It was as though 90% of what had just happened to me had been erased. I KNEW it was real...but...it didn't feel like it. Was I....hallucinating or something? Or...I mean....what happened to me? "JUSTIN!" Max yelled.

"What?" I answered, still disoriented, trying to touch myself and my surroundings to make sure that they were still there. Still real.

"I SAID, do you want to come join us over at the table?" Was it a dream? While I was awake?

"Did....didn't you ask me that before? I mean...like...a few minutes ago?" I asked, wondering if the last few minutes in darkness had all been a part of my fucked up imagination.

"A few MINUTES? Justin, that was like over an hour ago! You've been over here staring off into space all night." He said, getting what must have been a third or fourth round of drinks by now. "Wake up, cupcake!" How....how did I lose an hour? What happened to me? This thing....it's never been able to get me when I was awake before. What's happening to me? GOD, what's happening to me? "Look, you're acting strange, even for YOU." Max said. "Why don't you let me take you over to the table? I've got something to show you. It might cheer you up a little bit."

My mind was still twisting itself around what was going on with me. It was an experience that was hard to let go of, to say the least. I knew he had to be able to see it in my face. "I think...I think I just need..." But he interrupted me.

"I know what you need, and it's over here with the rest of us. C'mon...it'll make you feel better."

I looked over and saw Trevor and Rain sitting over at the table that he was talking about, "Max...somehow I highly doubt that's going to make me feel any better." I answered, declining once again.

Just then, Max bent down to stare me directly in the eye, and spun me around on the barstool to make his point crystal clear for me. "LISTEN...I'm trying to cheer you up and keep you from beinga fucking space cadet all night. Now quit being a pussy, get up on your feet, and follow me over to the table before I have to DRAG you over there by your bottom lip!" Seeing the look on his face...I kinda figured he was being serious. Besides, Max was never really known for his sense of humor.

"Alright...fine. Whatever." I conceded.

"Good. Grab that tray and bring the drinks with you." And he walked away, leaving me with the task of manuevering back through the horde of people between the bar and the table. Great. Just wonderful.

Balancing as well as I could between dancers in the club, I followed Max back to the dysfunctional members of my new family. Trevor, well on his way to being beyond drunk, was sitting there with the most demonic smirk on his face. Across the table was Rain, who I'm surprised even bothered to come out to the club, considering she was pretty much anti-'everything social'. But even in this bright and flashy atmosphere, she managed to keep that imaginary storm cloud hovering over her head, casting a shadow over her usual apathetic frown. Then, I noticed a new face at the table that I had never seen before. He was cute, supposedly 21, but it looked more like he was able to 'slide by' with a fake ID. I'd say 18 at the most. And even THAT was being generous. He was dressed in all black from head to toe, shiny leather pants, black lipstick, and dyed black hair. His tongue was pierced as well as a variety of piercings crawling from the earlobe upwards in each ear. The funny thing is....he was human. Unmistakably human. I could smell it all over him the second that I approached the table, and he just looked so....out of place among the rest of us. It was strange...seeing my own 'species' as something so 'wrong' in a place like this.

Trevor was giggling wickedly to himself as I sat down. "Justin...so glad you could join us. We have a new friend with us tonight. This is a young man that I just met over by the bathroom not long ago." He grinned. "He's a very unique individual this guy. Why don't you tell them what you told me?"

Trevor was holding back a fit of intoxicated giggles, and Max leaned over to whisper, "You're never gonna believe this, kid."

Then, with a stone face, without cracking a single smile...the young man looked me in the eye and said, "I am a vampire."

It hadn't sunk in all the way at first. I mean, it was a bland punchline that I was waiting for him to add to. In fact, it took me a moment or two to realize that he was quite serious. I finally caught on to the joke when I heard Trevor burst out laughing next to me. Max couldn't help but snicker himself, and I just sat there confused as to what this supposed 'vampire' was saying to us. "You hear that, Justin?" Trevor smiled. "A real live vampire...sitting RIGHT here at our table! I tell ya, I never thought I'd see the day!" Max's snickers continued as Trevor secretly made fun of our new guest. Rain, on the other hand, saw nothing funny about it at all. She simply gave him a cold stare, as though she could burn a hole right through his face.

"What the hell makes you think you can claim yourself to be a vampire?" She said, viciously readying herself to totally rip into this kid. But Trevor stopped her, obviously enjoying himself.

"Chill...I want to hear what he has to say." He said.

"I simply wanted to share a few moments with you. I do miss my life from time to time." He said, and then added, "I want you to know that I have no intentions of harming any of you. I only feed when necessary."

"Yeah...lucky us..." Rain mumbled under her breath.

Everything about him was screaming 'poser', from the cheap goth outfit, to the way he pretended to just be 'in tune' with everything. Superior. As though he were above us all. His mind betrayed his every thought to me almost instantly, and he was just making up this whole identity as he went along. I don't think he had any clue at ALL that he was standing in a room packed with the real thing. That the chances of him making it home tonight would be slim to none if any of them decided they wanted to make a late night snack of him. His poise, the way he tried to monitor the sound of his own voice, the way he attempted to make every word he spoke sound as though it was coming from some elevated ancient language or something...it was amusing. I usually don't share Trevor's sense of humor, but this? This combined with the small amount of alcahol in my system was actually enough to put a smile on my face. I guess Max had the right idea in terms of keeping my mind occupied for the time being. "A vampire?" I asked. "What makes you say that?"

"I merely...am." He said, with a dramatic pause for effect, and Trevor laughed even louder, causing me to giggle a bit myself. "You do not believe. I understand. It is the way of most of your kind. You may choose whether to believe me or not."

"How about NOT!" Rain snapped. But Trevor was having fun, and once again encouraged the boy to give us more entertainment.

"Well I don't know about YOU guys, but I, for one, believe him! I mean, just LOOK at him. Only a true vampire would wear...hehehe...black lipstick and...and eye shadow..." He was cracking up as he said it, barely able to get the words out. Then, Trevor pushed back his blond hair and set a shot down in front of our friend in black. "This man deserves a drink. Whaddya say?"

"I do not drink." He replied. "A vampire must keep his blood free of toxins at all times. Alcahol is a damaging narcotic to us."

"Oh yes, of course! Vampires can't drink alcahol, I should have known that." Trevor said, taking his shot down in one gulp. "So...what was your name again? 'Cause I wanna remember you, dude."

"Drax is my Earth name." EARTH name? What the hell is an EARTH name? We ARE from Earth! From what I read in his thoughts, his name was Kenny, and he was a bisexual with a budding fetish for women's clothing. Lace panties especially. In all black, of course.

"Ahhhh, yeah. 'Drax'....I like that. Hehehe, yeah, that's cool. That's original."

Max decided to partake in some of the fun too. "So...why are you here, Drax? You decide to mingle with us humans for a while, or what?"

"You fascinate me. I enjoy your company." He just kept sinking deeper and deeper with every ridiculous answer he provided us with. "Humans aren't just our food. We often come to study you. Your habits, your life, your pain. Over the centuries, I have documented quite a bit of your history."

"Centuries, huh? Wow..." Trevor added. "That's a long time to be avoiding 'garlic' and 'Holy water'! You must be very powerful indeed, Drax."

"I've had my share of battles, yes. But a vampire does not speak of such things." Oh come on, this guy isn't even interesting anymore! He's got the creativity of a freaking diet pill!

"Oh of course not. Please don't 'speak of such things' I don't think my stomach can handle it." Max giggled, and I snickered a bit myself until I looked over and saw a very unhappy Rain staring back at me for helping to further this moron's fantasy. I cleared my throat and straightened up almost immediately.

"As I said before...believe what you will. But I warn you not to mock me."

"No, no...no mocking at THIS table, man. I just think it's an honor to meet an actual vampire right here in the flesh in our own little vampire club. That's so amazing, dude! I'm impressed."

"Don't be. My life is not one of pleasure."

"Oh yes, I'm sure it isn't." Then, with a slight raise of his eyebrow to the rest of us, Trevor leaned a bit closer to the boy, and gave him a flirtatious look. "And that is such a shame. A boy with your looks..you shouldn't have to live your life without at least one night of pleasure." He said.

The table got quiet, and the boy looked back at Trevor, just as helpless against his soft brown eyes and angelic blond hair as any questioning boy would be. "It...it is...difficult at times, yes." He answered, now feeling a bit flustered by this new possibility. Trevor reached under the table to gently rub his upper thigh with his hand. The boy gasped outloud, and quickly tried to maintain his dark personality.

"Difficult...yeah. I imagine it would be." Trevor was flawless in his seduction, it was truly an art to watch him work this complete stranger into a frenzy. But I'm sure he could read the boy's mind just as easily as I could. And with his ability to read desires as well, Trevor could tap into whatever information he needed in order to get him hot and bothered at the drop of a hat. "Well, listen...I'd love to hear some more. You know...about your travels and experiences and all."

"Y-y-you would?"

Trevor's hand slid further up to caress the boys leg, Trevor's fingertips resting just underneath his balls. "Yeah. I would." Trevor looked up and sensually continued with, "We should get away from all this noise though. These lights and attention...and...people. I could meet you up in that balcony. Just the two of us? I'm sure that I could give you an intense release..." He smiled. "...from your life of pain, that is."

By now, the boy was so worked up that there was no way he was going to be able to hide his erection on the way up there. I could feel it inside of him. It was as though he had instantly fallen in love and packed that emotion with more adrenaline than he could handle physically. The feedback from him alone was enough to almost make ME explode from the rush. "Yes...yes I think we might be able to...trade experiences in a more private place." He replied, trying sooooo hard to keep a very excited 'Kenny' from ruining the mask that 'Drax' had worked so hard to build on.

"Ok...great. Well, why don't you go up first, and then I'll go meet you in about five minutes. Ok?"

"Um...yeah. Yes...I will do that. If the rest of you will excuse me, I will return shortly." He said, standing up from the table, a little hunched over to hide the tent pushing out from his groin. He must have been leaking already. I doubt he had ever even dreamed of scoring someone like Trevor in a club. Poor kid, his expectations were so high. I'm sure he was probably going to have to fix his dumbass 'make up' or something before meeting up with his blond lover for the night. He turned to go up the stairs, and bumped into no less than twelve people on his way over. To say that he was anxious would be an uderstatement. The table burst out laughing the second he was out of sight. Trevor and Max actually had to lay their heads down on the table as the laughter took a hold of them.

Rain looked disgusted. "This isn't FUNNY, Trevor. It's insulting. I say we take him out back and bleed him just for the hell of it."

Max put a hand on her shoulder, "C'mon now, little lady. Even YOU have got to see the humor in all this."

"You honestly don't realize that he's making fun of us, do you?" She asked. "It's two-bit posers like him that have been making a joke out of our whole existence since the very beginning. We'll never get any acceptance at ALL as long as this idiot and people like him are around."

"Hey, don't lecture me, Rain. Bryson made me study the same texts as you, I know all about it. But look at it this way...it's guys like THAT that are keeping us all safe by making a cheesy horror movie fairy tale out of the whole thing. As long as they exist, the true vampires get to rest easy. So loosen up, have some fun."

"And Trevor, you should KNOW better! I mean, what the hell are you doing?"

"Rain, relax! It's all for shits and giggles, hon. I'm gonna go up to the balcony, maybe get a quick blowjob, maybe give an even quicker blowjob, and then I'll return him to his 'life without pleasure'. See? Everybody leaves happy." Trevor smiled. "Gee, I just hope he doesn't 'bite' me. I'm OH so frightened of vampires." He giggled, and Max and I couldn't help but laugh a bit ourselves. It was SO bad to be making fun of the situation, but I couldn't stop. It was FUNNY to us!

"You fuckers are all sick in the head." She said, angrily pouting it over, but letting the argumet go anyway.

Trevor waited about five minutes and then went to go see his 'friend' in the balcony. Another testament to how close of a relationship he had with his apparent boyfriend, Michael back at the lot. I wonder exactly what it is between those two, other than what I assume to be the most explosive, mindblowing sex known to man. I hate to admit it, I hate to even THINK it, but judging from the kiss that I got from Trevor alone that night of my first feeding...his love making can't be anything short of a religious experience. I suppose that 'Drax' is finding that out for himself right about now.

"Heyyyyyyy....it looks like the gang's all here." Gyro came shuffling his drunken stupor our way and stood unbalanced at the side of the table. "Heya sis..." He said.

"God, what the fuck have you been drinking?" She said, holding her nose.

"I dunno, but it keeps getting better with every glass." He said, raising what looked to be a fresh, full glass of the stuff to his lips.

Rain grabbed his arm, causing him to spill of it over the lip of the glass, and took his drink away. "You've had enough tonight."

"Not if I'm still standing, I haven't. When gravity comes to claim me, THEN I'll know that I had enough." Gyro kept a playful grin on his face, but as he lifted the glass again, Rain became more determined and slammed the drink down on the table.

"I MEAN it! Knock it off!" She said.

"Hey! What is this?" Gyro's brow tightened up a bit, and he had to put a hand on the table to steady himself.

"You're body doesn't CHANGE dumbass! Your liquor tolerance is still locked at the level that it SHOULD be for a 13 year old boy!"

"Well, I'm NOT a 13 year old boy, anymore Rain! Or have you forgotten that?"

"I'm sick of seeing you out partying night after night, EUGENE!" Rain snarled.

"I'll party when I feel like it! And the name is GYRO now! Got it? G-Y-R-O! Gyro! YOU got to pick a name, so did I!"

"Whatever, just...STOP. Alright. Put this down." She said, struggling with him for the drink.

"NO! Leave me alone!" Max and I watched as the glass slipped from his hand spilled all over our table. "GODAMMIT!!! Look what you DID!"

"That's it, you're going back to the lot!" Rain shouted.

"You're NOT my mother! So quit acting like it!"

"Are we gonna take it back to THAT now? Are we? I never told you to leave home! YOU chose to leave home!"

"You're damn right I did! And I'm living with my decision just fine, thank you!" Gyro backed away from the table, ready to merge back into the crowd again. "If you don't have anything better to do, why don't you try swinging lifelessly from another tree, suicide girl? Let the rest of us have some fun!"

With that, he gave her the finger and stormed off. Rain sat in an enraged silence for a moment, with Max and I afraid to speak at all. Then, Max cleared his throat..."You know, he's just..."

"Fuck you, Max. I don't wanna hear it." She said, and she shot up from the table. "I'm outta here. Later." And in a flash, she was gone.

Despite the conflict, we were able to breathe a bit easier once she was gone. "I guess things are even worse than I thought." I said.

"Nah, don't sweat it, kid. They go through this a lot. But they're TALKING. Well...SHOUTING, but that does constitute an actual conversation. It's better than silence any day." Max took the last few sips of his drink and put his glass down on the table. "Don't worry. You'll get used to it." And he got up to leave. "I'll meet you back at the lot. I'm gonna make sure our princess gets home ok."

It was then that I felt that....'presence' again. That I was being watched. That Natpea was still hidden somewhere in that crowd, keeping a very close watchful eye on me. But everytime my feelings would lock on to where he might be in the room, he was gone again. Popping up somewhere else in the room a few minutes later. He must have known that I was trying to track him. This was no coincidence. But, to keep Max from seeing me 'space out' again, I made sure to answer him without too long of a pause. "Yeah, sure. I'll be back in a few hours or so."


I waited for Max to walk out through the back door, and got up from the table. Walking in and out through the ocean of people celebrating the night away, I attempted to seek out the person stalking me. I thought I had left my experience at the arena behind me, but evidently Soren was looking to keep me in his stable for a little bit longer. Everytime I got a lock on where he was, he would seemingly vanish. Dammit! I couldn't hold onto the 'sense' of him for more than a few seconds. Then...as I reached out even further with my abilities, I was able to pick up vbes from Trevor, who evidently had come back from his 'interlude' in the balcony. He was relaxed, sexually satisfied, and still aroused. It was like his afterglow was living inside of me at the moment, and it was incredible. Still, he was searching for me. And I was pretty certain that he had found me. As my chaser for the evening, and now a determined party as far as figuring out what I've been up to lately, he wasn't about to give me any space. Even if I had seemingly left him behind, I'm sure he would be following in secret. I moved to the center of the dance floor, hoping to blend in a bit more, but deep down, I knew that it wouldn't do any good. They were much better at tracking than I was. I'm sure of it. I had to get out of here. I had to find a way to slip under their radar somehow.

And to do that...I'd have to practically be...