It HAD to be inside of me somewhere! It just HAD to be! Somehow, some way, after spending this much time in the lot, I must have picked up at least a LITTLE bit of Dylan's invisibility extra. Especially after helping him practice and all. The only question is...how in the hell am I supposed to call it up so that I can make some use of it? I tried sifting through my mind, tried thinking of him and what he was doing, tried to concentrate over the constant pounding of the techno rave beats swirling around me, and just...looked for anything inside of myself that would help me figure things out. I could still feel Trevor, I could still feel Natpea, I could still sense Gyro at the bar, almost unconscious at this point. But out of all of those things, I couldn't find a trace of Dylan's extra insde of me anywhere. Arrrrgh! C'MON! I KNOW you're in there somewhere! WORK damn you! WORK!
I felt the presence of both of my followers move closer to me, hunting me in the craziness of the dance floor. So I moved around a bit, losing myself even deeper into the crowd so as to mask what I was doing. And once I got a certain distance away from them, I began to search again. This time, with better results.
It began with a tickle. Something I had never felt before. And I thought that must be it. I tried to focus on it, calling it to my rescue. It was much like trying to coax a small animal out from under the dresser, and I knew that any attempts to force it would shatter my chances of getting it to work. This particular extra was subtle. Just as shy and quiet as Dylan was. But with a little work, the tickle inside became more of a vibration, and I felt my body relax. Thaaaat's it...just let it happen. My limbs became extremely light, almost weightless, and I could feel myself sort of...'fading away'. The sound of the music didn't shake and bounce around inside of me as much all of the sudden. Like the vibrations didn't affect me anymore. Even the sound of the music itself began to sound muffled and undetailed. Was this it? Was I going to be able to sneak out of here afterall. My senses were too numb to really be able to tell. But soon, I reached a point where I felt like I wasn't there anymore. Like the light itself passed right through me, gone from the attention of everyone around me. Physically, I knew they could see me, but I was faceless to them. A nothing, a nobody, with no memorable or interesting features at all. To them...I was gone. I was a blurred part of their background as far as they were concerned.
It was at that time that I think I had reached the limit of what I could do as far as being undetectable, and I attempted to move through the crowd again. Hopefully making it to the back door before Natpea and Trevor realized that they had lost track of me. With my first step forward, someone stepped on my foot. Then another person nearly elbowed me in the face! A third was walking towards me without stopping and bumped me so hard that I nearly fell over. This was definitely going to take some getting used to. They really weren't even recognizing my existence....at ALL. I wonder if Dylan ever tried walking through these people like this. Shit, something like this could be downright dangerous if you're not careful.
I made sure to move carefully through the mass of dancers, and even though I got a few pushes and shoves in the beginning of my journy, I figured out a way to walk pretty steadily towards the exit. My footsteps felt so light, like I was hardly touching the ground at all. And everyone looked right through me. Even tried to move right through me, not even knowing I was standing in their way until the collision had already occurred and they mumbled a quick, "Sorry." before moving on. I was definitely enjoying this.
I walked carefully towards the back door of the club, but didn't turn Dylan's extra off. I knew that if I did, they'd find me. Looking back into the crowd, I could see Trevor searching through all of that insanity to see if he could get a glimpse of me. But he couldn't see me at all, meaning my little getaway was working fine. I didn't have anyway of finding Natpea, and I doubt he'd let himself be seen even if I could. But if Trevor was fooled, I'm sure that he was too. So I followed a group of partying vampires out of the back, and I was out on the streets again with no problem. No problem at all.
The night air hit me with such a gentle grace once I was outside. I still wasn't feeling everything at full blast like I normally do, and since I didn't quite know how to shut Dylan's extra off once I got it going, I guess I was going to have to walk around and let it wear off on its own. I'm HOPING it'll wear off on its own! I certainly can't go back to the lot like this. Anyway, to tell the truth, I kinda liked being this way. Being...you know...'separate'. Walking down the street, my footsteps barely audible at all, no one looked in my direction. There were no eyes on me, no one to overhear what I was saying if I had been talking to someone else, no one to 'straighten up' around. I never thought that blending into the background would make someone feel so...free.
I could walk down this same street, when it was full of people, completely naked, holding hands with my boyfriend, and sporting the hardest most impressive erections of my young life...and NOBODY would notice! Nobody would frown their face up, nobody would care, nobody would take it upon themselves to step in and mind my business and tell me I was wrong. I could just...live. And not have to worry about them, because I knew that they weren't worried about me. If they can't see me, they can't judge me. They aren't able to make up these horrible possibilities for the worst case scenarios in their minds and apply them to who I am without even knowing me at all. There was no obligation to be 'normal', no obligation to hold a door open, or to say 'Bless You' to any stranger that sneezed in my presence, no obligation to make eye contact or smile at anyone. It was more solitude than I had ever known before, and it was comforting. I wish everyone could know what this feels like. Imagine, living where there was no need for secrets or lies or masks or ANY of that! Just 'you'...in your purest form, just the way God made you, and able to express who you are in any way you choose without some angry mob of 'other people' to savagely beat it out of you if they don't agree. How wild would that be?
I'm sure it was Dylan's intention to mentally remove himself from the world so he wouldn't feel the pressure of the people who would surely hate him for being homosexual. But now I wonder if being invisible, being totally removed from sight, is as comforting to him as it is to me right now.
As I walked down an alley between two streets to take a shortcut, my mind still fluttering with thoughts of how beautiful it would be to stay like this forever...a deep voice startled me as it came from the shadows to the right of me. "You know...it is your movements that keeps you from being completely invisible."
"What?" I asked.
"Your movements. Your footprints, the gravel beneath your feet, the way he wind has to bend in order to move around you...if you wanted to be entirely undetectable, you would have to be standing perfectly still." A dark form emerged seemingly from the wall, and I looked up as Comicality stepped forward. As always, the shadows themselves rose up to swirl around him in a cape of darkness, preventing me from seeing anything except for a pair of glowing eyes.
"Where the hell have YOU been?!?!?!" I shouted. "I've been looking all OVER for you! I need your help!"
"As did many others, young Mimic." He said as he stepped fully out of his dark corner and into the alley beside me.
"I don't care about 'many others'..."
"And they don't care about you, I assure you." He said, stopping me from finishing my sentence. "Do not assume that because I am not with you, that I am intentionally ignoring you. That is not the case."
"Well what the hell am I supposed to think when you ditch me like that?" I said, angry at all of the troublesome things that I've been going through while he lounged away in secret somewhere where I couldn't reach him.
"Perhaps you're not supposed to think anything at all." He said. "But to think the worst of me and my intentions is more self inflicted than you know."
"Look, whatever. All I know is that I have been on the edge with a lot of shit lately, and you were nowhere to be found. I thought you were supposed to help me?" I said. "You CAN'T be that busy where you can't find a few minutes to make sure I'm ok. What, have you just been laying around sleeping or something?"
"Answer me this...has your life completely stopped since our last encounter?" I paused for a moment, still angry, still confused..."Exactly." He said. "Remember, Justin, every moment that I spend with you...is a moment spent away from the rest. They don't want to be pushed aside anymore than you do. And when it's their turn, they are just as upset at the time I've given you."
I didn't answer. What he was saying wasn't helping me at all. And despite the fact that I was mad at him for not helping me when I needed it most, I still needed some questions answered. And soon. I needed his help. "Why are you here then? Why now?"
"Come....walk with me." He started walking down the alley, and I followed closely behind him. He moved forward in silence for a few moments, my eyes trying desperately to adjust to the sight of the shadowed figure beside me. But no matter how many times I tried to take a peek, or snatch a glance at his face, the darkness would swirl up to hide it from me.
"Why the big mystery?" I asked, unable to hold the question in any longer.
"What mystery is that?"
"I mean...who are you? You're like...a person, right? Or, at least you used to be."
"Yes." His voice was deep, the short answers seemed to rattle gently in my ears.
"Well....?" I asked, but he didn't offer any further information at all. Nor did he seem uncomfortable about it. "Do you have a name? I mean, I feel really stupid calling you 'Comicality' all the time."
"Why would you feel stupid about it, when you don't know me by any other name?"
"Come on...what could it hurt? Tell me."
He stopped walking, "Would the ability to put a name with my presence give you any real insight into who I am?" He asked, and I guess I should take that to mean he's not going to tell me. "Precisely. Right now your main concern should be to listen to the words I'm telling you, instead of trying to label the source. Especially in this case. I'm afraid that I bring you some slightly disturbing news this time around."
"Disturbing news like what?"
"It appears that your current situation is rapidly escalating into a series of consequences that I will no longer be able to control." He said.
"Wait, wait...slow down! What's going on? WHAT consequences?"
"The ones you instantly set in motion the moment you broke our agreement, Justin." He reached into his cloak of shadows and pulled out a betting card. Handing it to me, I saw the name 'Renegade' posted on the top of it in big red letters, and my stats and odds down below it. "Renegade...an appropiate name, considering your recent actions." Comicality began to walk forward again, as I moved to keep up with him.
"I...I can explain..."
"You were supposed to be maintaining a low profile, Justin. It wasn't a mild request, it was for your protection."
"I needed, WE needed, the money...."
"And in order to get it you were willing to expose yourself to half the vampires in the area? The advanced ones, no less." His voice never truly raised in pitch, but the swirl of his eyes, the motion of the blackened mist around him, it conveyed his emotion quite clearly. And he wasn't too happy. "Justin...I don't think you truly understand exactly how dangerous your actions can be in this world. The vampire existence stretches far beyond you and your friends and the few extra entities you've happened tocross paths with since you've been one of us. There are others. Dangerous others. Vampires with abilities and extras that you can't even IMAGINE. Some of them with ulterior motives so dark that they wouldn't hesitate to slash your throat and the throats of all your friends in order to make their point. You MUST be more careful than this."
"I'm sorry, ok?" I said. "What was I gonna DO? I was backed into a corner. YOU weren't gonna help me!"
"I'm afraid that this has already gone beyond my 'help' at this point."
"What?" He looked away from me. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"I have been contacted by the elders. I, along with a few others, are to keep a very close eye on you and your progress. We are to report back with any behavior that would constitute a possible threat." Comicality bent down, almost to one knee, and put his hands on my shoulders. "Understand...they are watching you now. Anything you do that would make them think for even a second that your extra would make you dangerous...and they will send hunters to collect you. Once that happens, it is out of my hands." He said, with concern. "Please tell me that you understand?"
"Yeah....yeah, I...I guess I do." I mumbled quietly, his news causing an uncontrollable shiver to shoot through me. What did I do? Why am I being made out to be so awful all of the sudden? Because I can fight? Because I can actually defend myself for a change? "I just...why would I be a threat? I wouldn't hurt anybody."
"Sometimes, Justin...possessing the ability to hurt somebody, is more threatening than you know." He rose to his feet again and guided me further into the alley. "It was prophecized, long ago, that a Mimic would be born into darkness again someday. One that would eventually bring wisdom, and enlightenment. But you are not yet ready, and until you are, the probability of your new abilities spinning out of control is insanely high. Especially after your first and second feeding. When all of your original blood has left you, you will truly begin to live completely as one of us."
"You mean...I'm not, yet?"
"Not quite. You are still a newblood. That means, during this time, that your extras and senses are still growing into being a permanent part of you. When they begin to near their potential, that is when the rest of you will strengthen incredibly. You will run faster, fight harder, and heal much more rapidly, than ever before." He walked around me in a slow circle. "For the vast majority of vampire kind...it is at this point that they can begin learning how to better control and manipulate their own personal extras. As will you, when the time is right. However...it is the extras that you absorb, the ones not meant for you, that will be increasingly difficult. That is where your biggest trouble lies."
"But I...I can learn, right?" I asked.
"In time, yes. But not as quickly as you develop the abilities inside you. A vampire's emotions, their background, the experiences from their life...that is what gives them their abilities. Without that past history and that particular frame of mind, all the training in the world won't help you perfect it. It would be as difficult as trying to speak flawlessly with someone else's voice." He saw my face drop, and said, "But...over time, your focus will be able to keep your talents under control. It will only take practice. Concentration. That part, I CAN help you with."
"Then you'll train me to fight?" I smiled.
"THEN....I train you to avoid the fight." He said, standing over me like a parent as he attempted to calm my anxiety to finally be the badass I was hoping I'd be.
"You sure? Because I've learned some new tricks, ya know?" I said, swinging my fists a little. "If you wait much longer, I might actually be even better than you, Oh Great One!" I teased.
"Is that so?"
"Damn straight! I mean, I don't know how I did it, but....well you saw my score card, dude. I was a superstar out there!"
Comicality turned to me, and suddenly, his fist shot out from his side, almost invisible to the human eye, and stopped half an inch in front of my nose! It took my body a second to react from the shock of it, and I jumped back a little bit in surprise. He let his arm fall back down to his side, and with a slight grin said, "A superstar indeed."
"So you got a lucky shot without warning. So what?" Who knows what it was that I felt? It was this playful energy that wanted to test it out, see if I had gotten any better. I was feeling stronger everyday. Maybe he'll be impressed. "C'mon...you chicken?"
"Your defenses are good, but they are only instinctual at this point. You are NOT a fighter yet. Not for a long while."
"Sure...you'll say anything to keep from getting your butt kicked. If I can do well in a professional arena, I can do well anywhere."
"Have you ever stopped to think WHY your fighting skills were so good, Justin?"
"Nope. How come?" I said, now taking little pokes and jabs at his darkened surface with my fists.
"Because it's what I taught you." He said, and I stopped for a moment.
"Taught me? What are you talking about, you didn't teach me anything."
"No?" He said, and his hand snapped out towards me again, TWICE as fast this time! But this time, my arm shot up to block it instantly. "High block..." He said. Then his other arm went to strike at my chest. "Middle block..." He looked in my eyes, and suddenly delivered what must have been five or six really fast punches to different parts of my body...all blocked or dodged in some way, without me even thinking about it. For the first time, I could see the beginnings of a smile beneath all of that shadow. "You have absolutely no idea what you're doing, do you?"
"Yes I do! I'm blocking everything that YOU seem to be throwing my way!" But by the time I had finished the sentence, his hand went out and lightly slapped me accross the face. "OW! What the hell?" His arms flshed forward in my direction, and I blocked, blocked, blocked...and he slapped me again.
"You can't seem to block THAT one, can you?" He said. "Do you want to know why?"
"Sure..." I said, faking an interest before leaping forward to attack him. My fists flew on their own, my feet were whipping around even faster. Then, after he had defended himself against every strike that I had given him...he slapped me AGAIN! Harder this time. "DAMMIT!!! Knock it off!" I shouted.
"Hehehe..." He laughed at me, and I readied myself for anything that might happen next. "...You can't block the slap, because it's not one of the arts I've taught you. Your body can only absorb and react, it is far from being untouchable."
"I don't understand." I said, holding my face and stepping back a bit in case he tried to ht me again.
"The first night that we met, the fight in the graveyard. Your body reacted exactly the way it was supposed to. It simply took the moves, forms, and positions that I was using against you, and reflected them. That night, I gave you every basic defense and attack method that you would need to defend yourself until we were able to meet again." He told me. "You picked up a few extra tricks from your friend Dion, and I noticed some new styles, emerging from your experience as 'Renegade' at the arena, no doubt. But you can still only mirror what I've already taught you. You're not a fighter, you're a copycat."
"Bullshit! You're making that up."
"Am I? So you are as strong as you say you are? Right?"
"Fine..." He took a stance in front of me and then, with that tutorial voice of his, he said, "....Show me."
I wasn't sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that he had one of his arms behind his back while he stood in front of me. Basically calling me out. "You're not gonna slap me again, are you?"
"Only one way to find out...'Renegade'."
I charged, my body flying towards him as quickly as I could. The tension in my arms was intense, my legs almost cramping with the amount of power that was building in them. It felt like I was in control, like every strike was well thought out and planned to perfection, but Comicality blocked every blow. One handed! He moved so easily out of the way, so effortlessly maneuvering between every hit. I tried harder to break through, and harder, and HARDER! But I couldn't even come close. It was like he knew everything I was going to do before I did. Then, he caught my fist in mid air to stop me. "Predictable." He said. I snatched my hand away, and felt my arms flurry towards him while the rest of my body tried to propel itself forward fast enough to make the punches connect. They didn't. My body spun around low, and my hand lashed out to try to hit him in the legs. But he brought his legs together, trapping my wrist between his knees in a vice like grip. "Mantis...not bad. But not really a style for someone of your build, Justin."
"ARRRGH!!!" I pulled my wrist out of his hold, and began to kick at him wildly, using every combination I could think of to penetrate his defenses. But he only caught my leg and spun me to the ground.
"Tae Kwon Do...better. But you'll have to build up more of your leg strength for it to be really effective." He was taunting me the whole time. The harder I fought, the easier it became for him to break me down to the ground again. Shouting out, "Karate!" and "Akido!" and "Tai Chi!" for what I assumed was whatever style I had been using at the time. "Ninjitsu, you'll have to learn more. Your stance is the poorest I've seen."
"Shut up already and fight!" I said, now getting aggravated. And then...'SLAP!' I got another shot in the face. I pounded my fist on the ground in anger, "FUCK!!!!!"
"Anger clouds judgement, Justin. Strategy without judgement is useless." He said calmly. I jumped up to my feet to rush him again, but at this point he stopped the fight. "Enough."
"It's NOT enough! Come on!" I said, breathing hard in frustrated huffs. "COME ON!!!"
"This is your downfall, Justin. It is your uncontrolled bursts of emotion that will cause you to act irrationally. You carry too much baggage with you from your human life. Eventually you will have to drop some of that weight in order to move forward."
I tried to calm down a bit, and with an angry look, I slowly unballed my fists. I felt the tension inside of me slowly fade away from my limbs. My adrenaline rush began to mellow out, and my breathing was trying to return to normal.
"We have a lot of work to do. I want to see you. Soon." He said, and he helped me forward to the middle of the alley. "This time, when you go back home, try to stay out of trouble. No more fighting rings. No matter what they promise you in glitter and gold, it is not a safe place for one so early in his crossover to be spending his nights."
I nodded. "So...where do I find you when I need you."
"Don't worry, I'll find you. I know where you are." He asked, "Do you remember a piece of paper that Tim had given you a while back? There were directions to a hidden sanctuary on the back of it."
"Yeah. Yeah, I remember."
"Good. Memorize those directions, thoroughly. You may be needing them soon." He saw that he had my attention with that particular statement, and put his hand on my shoulder. "For now, the Elders have included me in watching your progress. Because of that, I will be able to hide certain details from them until you have learned balance and focus. But this deception is only temporary, Justin. If they're plans ever stretch beyond what they tell me...I'm afraid you may be on your own. You'll need a place to go. To be safe." He ruffled my hair a bit before leaving. "And for the record...I am indeed impressed." And he began to walk away from me.
It was then that I felt a stirring in my mind. Like the sensation of an electrical surge that had been muffled somehow. I thought about it, concentrated on what it might be, and the burning question started to get a bit more vivid in my conscious mind. Beast! THE BEAST! I HAVE TO ASK COMICALITY ABOUT THE BEAST!!! "COM?????????" I shouted, but he was gone. As usual, he had vanished as quickly and as quietly as he had originally appeared to me. That son of a BITCH! He blocked me! I don't know how I knew it, but I did! Somehow, he had blocked the question from me until he was gone, channeled my every thought away from it without me even knowing the question existed in my mind. It was as though he didn't want me to ask. As though he was...scared of the idea or something. Why? Why would Comicality keep me from asking the one question that I really needed to inquire about in order to keep my sanity? Is this another test? A lesson? A TRICK, maybe? Shit! There's something he's not telling me about this thing who is seemingly chasing the both of us at the moment. And whatever it is, it's going to be much harder to get out of him than a name, that's for sure.
I began my long walk back to the lot after that. Strolling in silence as I thought about what he told me. Wondering if people were watching. If they knew about me and were getting ready to pounce on me from the bushes on either side of me. Or drag me kicking and screaming into some dark alley and steal it from me. There are times when a power like this makes you feel like you can do almost anything. And other times when it makes you even more helpless than you would ever imagine possible. This was one of those 'helpless' times.
I don't understand what it is that I'm actually supposed to do with the abilities that I have been given. Or why they're so important to other vampires when they are obviously a hell of a lot stronger and wiser than I'll ever be. I mean...what SANE prophecy would have ME as the chosen one? Are they CRAZY? If this is another one of God's sick jokes, I can see why I stopped going to church so long ago. This is ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous.
"You KNOW I can't go by myself, Trevor!"
It was the first exchange that I had heard when I approached the gates of the lot. Evidently, the blond wonder had made it back from the club after losing me in the crowd. He was being a jerk, as was to be expected. But what was different this time, was that Doc was the target this time around. As I moved in closer, the fighting continued. "All I'm asking is that you come with me for an hour so I can feed. Who knows, you might find yourself a treat?" He was still trying to smile through it all, Doc, always the cheerful one. But Trevor already had some drinks in him, and was probably upset a the fact that he wasn't able to track me as closely as he had been planning to that night. The grin on Doc's face wasn't returned to him.
"What did I tell you, huh? I'm NOT doing it!" Trevor's eyes met mine, and his anger burned even hotter. Doc pleaded a bit more, but messed up when he tugged on Trevor's shirt to get his attention. Trevor angrily smacked his hand away and pushed him and his wheelchair back a ways. "Don't fucking touch me! You wanna hunt, get Dion to take you! Get Jenna, get Rain, get the fucking TOOTH FAIRY if you want! But I'm not doing it, not tonight, not EVER! Got it?" Why the hell was he being so mean? "GOT IT???" Trevor kicked the side of his chair, and stormed off to sit by himself in a small corner of the lot. What came next, intrigued me.
Doc straightened his glasses, and wiped his eyes a bit, and his smile returned to his face as though nothing had happened at all. He started to roll over to his 'home', and passed me on the way. "Well, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the stick shift this evening." He grinned.
"Doc...dude, if you need some help with anything..."
"Nah, I'm fine. It's no biggie. I've got about a week and a half to find a way out to feed. I'll be ok. Just need to learn how to put a pair of wings on this baby, that's all." He said, patting the wheels of his chair. But through our exchange, I could feel how labored his smile was. Sensing this....pressure. He had swallowed it whole, pushed it way waaaay down deep inside himself, and covered it with a smile to hide it from me. But it was still there, my senses detected it and then imitated it inside myself. Making his emotions my own. There were heavy thick layers of rage, pain, sadness, compressed over time. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. And here I thought that I was the master of hiding my emotions. Doc's pattented smile never left him, and instead of allowing his feelings to spill out of him, he continued to push, and suppress, and swallow them all.
I don't know if it was Jenna's extra intensifying the emotions inside, but I if that is how Doc really felt behind that cheerful exterior that I had grown to know and love about him...I felt bad for him. I don't see how he can stand it.
Doc rolled away, not saying another word, and remained flawless in his performance. One, I assume, that he's been practicing all his life. If it weren't for my senses, I never would have known.
When I turned to walk back to the van, I nearly bumped into someone. It was Michael, blocking my path. "Sorry." I said, and moved to walk around him.
"Do you think we can talk for a second?" He asked. And I'll be honest, it kinda took me by surprise. Michael had never spoken much more than three or four sentences to me in a single evening. Other than that, I got nthing more than a push or a shove or a dirty look from him.
"Talk? Talk about what?" I asked, confused.
"Come on. We need a little privacy." He said. I gave him a sideways look. "Don't worry, we've still got like three hours until daylight. Come on." He walked back towards the gate as my mind twisted itself around what this could all be about. But, after a few hesitated moments....I followed him out.