On the way back to the middle of the lot, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was Jun, and he looked as though he were in some kind of trance. He was standing in a small circle that he had drawn himself in the dirt, and was moving slowly. Like the movements of Tai Chi, but these looked a lot more complex somehow. It was smooth, balanced, graceful...almost unnaturally so. I stood and watched attentively for a moment. His control was waaay above normal, his muscles moving in the exact patterns that he willed them to, without any effort at all. There wasn't any trembling at all, like it didn't take anything more than concentration to get the movements perfectly stable. In a weird way...it was beautiful. "What's he doing?" I asked Dion.

"Practicing. He does it every night when he first wakes up. But he usually goes out to a dark corner around Buckingham Fountain to do it. He says the running water brings a certain extra level of peace to his soul. I guess he's staying homebound until he's sure his legs have healed completely." Dion could see me being drawn in by the display. "It's cool, isn't it? Almost hypnotic, the way he moves. He's teaching me how to do it, little by little, but until I get his extra down, there's no way I'll be able to do it as smoothly." He said.

"What's his extra?"

"That's not for me to tell. Why don't you ask him?" Dion gently pushed me in the right direction. "I'll go talk to Bryson and see if maybe I can work out a way to be with you tonight. Ok?"

"Yeah...sure." I said, not looking back, instead focused on Jun's motions.

Dion saw my fascination and smiled. "Take my advice...wait until he's finished. Ok? The LAST thing you want to do is catch him off guard. Believe me." I nodded my head, still completely involved with what Jun was doing, and I heard Dion chuckle a bit to himself. "Alright...don't say I didn't warn you." And he walked away.

I moved quietly over to sit on the crushed in hood of an old Cadillac, and sat down to observe him. It was amazing. His limbs were so flexible, his motions so soft and flawless, and yet it maintained this look of strength and power. He balanced on one leg easily as his other foot rose up over his head, and slowly back down to the ground. The wind blew through Jun's hair, but his focus remained unchanged. Remarkable. He was completely shirtless, his off white skin was as smooth as finely polished marble. I looked at his arms, thin and smooth, but strong and solid. His hips were serpentine, his stomach flat and tight, his legs demonstrating supernatural control as he continued to move in this graceful slow motion dance. It was the one time that I had seen him not tripping over his feet, being accident prone, or hurting himself in one way or another. I was seriously impressed.

I must have been sitting there for another five minutes or more when I saw him start to wind down a bit. I stood up and walked over to see him. He crossed his legs, and eased himself down to the ground to sit Indian style with his eyes closed. His hands were pressed together, almost as if in prayer, and he was breathing so softly that it hardly seemed like breathing at all. I spoke, "That was amazing, Jun." But he didn't say anything. "Jun?" I moved closer, and spoke a bit louder this time. "Dude...can you hear me?" Nothing. I hope I wasn't interrupting him or anything. He sat there in complete silence for a minute, and I walked over to put a hand on his shoulder. "Are you ok...?"

But before the words left my mouth, Jun suddenly sprang to life! Even from a sitting position, it only took a half second and a few lightning fast moves to flip me over on my back with him on top of me! It was so fast that my Mimic abilities weren't even able to react in time! I had the wind knocked out of me and coughed a little bit as the dust settled down around the place where I was laying. "Justin?" Jun said. "Shit dude...I'm sorry." He got off of me and helped me to my feet, dusting the dirt off of my back.

"Jesus, you're fast!" I said in disbelief.

"Yeah, well, it's your OWN fault for sneaking up on me. I don't really have my wits about me when I first come out of trance. It's just a reflex." I coughed a bit more, and he looked concerned. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"Cough...no...not really."

"Good. Like I said, it's a reflex. You should be more careful, man. I could have broken something important and not have even known it was you until it was time to apologize." Jun giggled.

"What was that? What were you doing?"

"Practicing. Stretching. Soul searching. All at once. It's a 'mind, body, and spirit' thing. Helps me to keep everything balanced emotionally." Jun picked up his shirt and put it back on, but his teenage six pack was already well formed, and the subtle ripples of it showed hints of its sleek build through the fabric easily. "This life can produce a lot of mental and emotional toxins, this helps to relieve a lot of them so I can think clearly."

"Well it's VERY cool to watch." I said. "So I take it that your 100% perfect and happy again now?"

"Hehehe, nobody's perfect OR happy. Not 100% anyway. That's what balance is all about. Persuit of the good, with knowledge and awareness of the bad. The further you go into your own faults, fears, and weaknesses...the less power they have over you. That, in effect, takes you one step closer to peace of mind. What I do is just a physical expression of my search for myself. That's all."

"That's beautiful." It was all I could say. It looks like I've still got tons of stuff to learn from everyone around me. They were still full of surprises. And yet they lived together without much conflict at all. So many different views of life, but they were all connected here, never trampling on one another's beliefs or creating a need to change them. I long for the day when I'm able to hear all of their experiences and personal philosophies, adopting them into whatever path I choose to take in the long run. With each point of view, I felt as though I understood the meaning of life itself a little bit better. And it suddenly became a reality that, in the long run....that was the whole point. "Can I ask you a personal question?" I asked.

Jun looked at me and said, "Yeah, I guess so."

"What's your extra? I mean...if you want to tell me that is..."

I saw his look drop down to his feet a little bit. "Um...I don't...I don't know if I can really share that with you, just yet."

"Oh...ok, that's cool."

"NO, it's not because of you! Really. It's just...Bryson told us that you're not to learn anything from us until your own extra comes in naturally. Uninspired by the rest of us, you know?" He assured me. "It's just something that we do to keep newbloods from getting confused."

"I understand. Just curious, that's all." I started to walk back to the center of the lot with him at my side, but he kept going.

"It's nothing big, really."


"My extra. So you're not missing much." He wanted to say something, I could tell.

"I guess I'll have to wait then." I grinned. And Jun put his hand out to stop me from walking.

"Fine, fine. If you're gonna twist my arm..." He pulled me over to the side. "Ok, I want you to try something, k? Take this." Jun picked up a rock, and put it in my hand. "Are you ready?"

"Ready for what?" I asked.

"Just look at the rock in your hand, ok? Concentrate on it, feel it's weight, it's texture, it's solid state." I did as he asked, and that's when he put his fingertips on one of my temples. "Now...keep concentrating on the rock, and prepare yourself...this is gonna be a trip." I didn't understand at first, but as I looked at the rock in my hand, I felt it suddenly begin to get more clear, more crisp, as though I could see all sides of it simultaneously at once, and yet through it at the same time. I blinked a few times to make sure I wasn't seeing things, and...without warning, a surge shot out of Jun's hand and the whole world went black! Everything vanished! And when I say everything, I don't just mean my vision. I mean everything. The taste in my mouth, my heartbeat, Jun, the ground beneath my feet, the sounds of the world around me, the air, my clothes, Jun...everything. It was like standing in a giant black void, a vaccuum where nothing else existed, nor did it EVER exist! It was terrifying, and yet, I didn't have enough 'substance' in this world to even feel the fear trembling inside of me. I would have cried out, but I knew that I would have no voice here.

Then...as if by magic, my conscious noticed something hovering in the blackness around me. A single, solid object.

A rock.

I then felt my body being sucked out of this abyss with a jolt, and reality came slamming back into my waking conscious so fast that I was thrown off of my feet and sent tumbling to the ground. My body had gone cold, and I was breathing so hard that I could hardly sit still. "What the FUCK?!?!?! What the hell was THAT?!?!?!" I shouted!

Jun was laughing at me, leaning forward with his hands on his knees to hold himself up. I looked down at the ground, and saw the rock that I was just holding in my hand. It became the same old dusty, three dimensional stone that it had been a minute ago, nothing more. But for those few brief seconds...it was the entire universe, and nothing existed outside of it. "Hehehe...I ASKED you if you were ready!" He said.

"What...what did you do to me?"

"It's a focus, Justin. A pure, unrestricted focus. You find an object, a person, a question, a piece of yourself if you want...and whether it's tangible or intangible...you see it in its truest form." Jun sat down beside me on the ground instead of helping me up this time, giving me a few minutes to regain my composure. "You see, when you cut out all of the excess noise and flashing lights and bells and whistles of the outside world, and focus on just ONE thing without the distortion of everything else going on...then you can observe everything about it all at once. Positive, negative, neutral. The point is, it's a trance like state that keeps the bullshit 'out' and the pure nature of what you want to know 'in'. That's all."

"THAT'S your extra??? Frightening the HELL out of people?" I shouted, still breathless.

"Hehehehe, that's YOUR choice to be frightened by what you observe in a blissful state of mind. Not mine." He smiled down at me, maintaining this calm, almost monk like composure about himself. "When I was growing up, my parents were incredibly strict. They wanted me to be busy and productive every single second of the day. If it wasn't schoolwork, it was something artistic, an instrument, literature, cinema...and if it wasn't that it was math, history, science. My whole life was just scheduled around learning and them pressuring me into being some kind of learning machine with no real life of my own. They had every minute of my day planned out for me until I didn't even have the energy to have any FUN! So...when I crossed over, my extra manifested itself as the ONE thing in the whole world that I was good at...focus. A lot of people see it as an internal extra, but believe, it can be pretty helpful when you learn how to use it correctly. The only problem with it is that it tends to tucker itself out from time to time. And other times it becomes 'overly' active. So...some nights I'm too clumsy to stand up straight...and some nights I think so much that I can't even sleep. It's just a burden I've got to learn to either control, or live with."

"Yeah...well I think it's pretty damn SCARY, if you ask me!" I said, still in shock over what happened to me.

"Not once you get used to it. Understand it for what it is and learn how to use it to your advantage. It takes time...lots and lots of time. The hardest part was learning how to control the amount of time I remain in trance. When I first started my training, I was so screwed up. Sometimes I couldn't hold a trance for longer than a few seconds. Other times, I'd be in it for hours and not be able to find a way out of it so I could get back to reality again. If Bryson hadn't helped me out, I'd STILL be struggling with it. Still...like I said, it's not so bad when you learn how to balance and control it."

"I'll have to take your word on that, dude. Because it nearly gave ME a heart attack."

Jun patted me cheerfully on the knee, "Now you know why it's unwise to sneak up on me when I'm locked in."

Dion approached us while we were sitting on the ground. "Justin...we may have a slight problem. I need to talk to you." He said.

"Um...yeah. Ok." I got up and turned back to Jun. "Thanks...I think." I saw him smile, his brown eyes almost twinkling with a smile of their own, and I let Dion drag me away. "What is it? What's the matter?" I whispered.

"Trevor's chasing tonight." He said.

I felt my heart drop almost immediately. "Wait...are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Now...if it was Jenna, or Dylan, or anybody else...all it would take would be a few kind a words and they'd trade with me for sure. But Trevor seems to have this fascination with you, and I don't think he's going to give in so easy." He whispered back.

"Shit...there's nothing you can say to him to change his mind?"

"Not Trevor. As a matter of fact, if he even catches a HINT that I'm trying to keep him from chasing you tonight, chances are he'll be following us anyway without our knowledge." Dion looked around and sighed to himself, "Listen...I think you should do this another night. Let him follow you out, and I'll see if I can get Bryson to give me the green light tomorrow..."

"No, no...it CAN'T be tomorrow! I have to do this tonight!" The creature from my dreams was being held at bay for the time being, but it would be coming at me full force in another day or two. I could feel it.

"Well, unless you can find a way to keep Trevor occuppied and happy long enough to keep him from spying on you tonight...you're shit out of luck."

I thought about it, pressing my mind for an answer. And it came to me like a bolt of lightning. "Don't worry Dion. Not only do I know someone that can keep Trevor 'occuppied'...but I'll see to it that we don't even cross his mind for the rest of the night."

"And exactly how are you going to work THIS little divine miracle out, young vampire?" Dion said, and I simply smiled with an impish grin.

A few swift moments later..."UNH-UNH!!! NO WAY!!! Dude, are you sick in the head or something???" Gyro couldn't even believe that I was crazy enough to even approach him with such an idea. But it was the only thing that Trevor loved more than his own ambitions. It HAD to work!

"C'mon, Gyro! Trevor would follow you to the ends of the Earth if you asked him to."

"Yeah...to stab a KNIFE in my back, I'll bet! He can't STAND me, Justin! Or have you not been keeping score lately?"

"Dude, he doesn't hate you half as much as you think he does. He's just hurt because he likes you so much."

"Well, I can't do much about that either..." Gyro kept up his defenses, but I wasn't taking no for an answer. Not tonight.

"Look...it's not like I'm asking you to give him a rim job in the bathroom at a McDonalds, for crying out loud! Just...just take him to the club tonight. Take him out, dance a little bit, tell him you want to talk things out...whatever....just keep him busy so I can get out of here undetected." I begged. Gyro looked over at Dion, who simply shrugged his shoulders to show that he was just as much in the dark as he was.

"What makes you think that I'm gonna be able to pull this off?" Gyro asked.

"Because...you're the 'adrenaline junkie'. You're the 'celebrity'. The most popular, most lovable, most irresistable personality to ever grace that club or any other. And if it's ONE thing you know how to do flawlessly, it's talk to people." I said. "And besides....you owe me." I gave him a look to remind him just what might have happened if I had let him get caught by those police officers the other night.

"Sigh..." He gave me a frustrated look of defeat, and gave in with a grunt. "You are REALLY going to kill my buzz tonight!"

"Is that a 'yes'?" I asked.

"It's a 'yes' mixed in with a heartfelt 'fuck you' for asking me to do it!" He pouted.

"Works for me. What do you think, Dion?"

"I don't see a downside." Looks like things will go on without a hitch tonight. All I need now is for Gyro to work his magic and capture Trevor's attention.

Dion and I watched as Gyro walked over to talk to him. It's hard to explain, but I had somehow found a way to take Jenna's extra and 'reach' it out to envelop the both of them while they talked, allowing me to monitor the situation from afar. As to be expected, the tension was the first thing that kicked in as soon as they started talking, and it was especially strong in Trevor, who was trying desperately to maintain his hate for his 'first love'. Feeling that anger, combined with the powerful longing that he had inside, made me wonder if I was really being fair in all of this. I mean, Trevor was far from being innocent, and even further from being nice...but I didn't want to hurt him. Not like that. Hopefully, this won't turn out as bad as the potential for 'bad things' would imply.

Once I felt the tension die down slightly, turning into a warm rush of what I guessed to be hope on Trevor's part, I knew that we'd be able to get away with it. Trevor eventually agreed, even saying that he would meet Gyro at the club. Meaning that he was going to find a way to get out of Michael's sight long enough to be alone. And when the transaction was completed, and plans were made, Dion made sure that he was the first person that Trevor laid eyes on...a replacement to chase me for the evening. Everything was falling into place, and the plan was set into motion. Let's just hope that this 'Zero' character can help me to find out what I need to know, and get rid of these bothersome nightmares once and for all.

Dion and I walked far enough East to catch the train towards our destination. No need to waste our energy running that far up north. Besides, the time it would take would be too much, both coming and going, and that would greatly limit the amount of time I'd get to stay there before dawn. The train car that we were on was surprisingly empty, with the exception of a drunk and a couple that was too busy making out to even notice we were there. It was still a strange feeling, being suddenly thrown into the mix with regular human beings again. And it was getting even stranger the longer I existed outside of their species. I suddenly began to notice the differences between them and us, and I hate to admit it, but it scared me. It can be a frightening experience for anyone, really...to suddenly realize that everything they've ever known, everything they've been taught since day one, was meant for a certain group that you're suddenly not a part of anymore. You've been exiled from your whole life, and the less you fit in, the less you WANT to fit in. The less you want to fit in, the harder it is to even consider going back to the way it was. With all of the problems, conflicts, and petty arguments that I had with my life...a giant part of me didn't want to let it go. To just let it 'drift away' from me as I adapted to a whole new set of rules and standards. So my mind stayed in a state of constant turmoil, trying desperately to live the life that this new realization has given me, and yet so attached to the way my life was 'supposed' to go that anything and everything new seemed...'wicked'. And wrong. And sick. I didn't want to admit. I didn't want to change the predictable choices of a future that was laid out for me by the 'well-meaning' members of society. No...I was something else now, something different. Something society had no tolerance for. And since they didn't even want to acknowledge my existence, they didn't care whether I had a future or not. Just so long as I didn't mingle in with their precious cattle and infect them with my rejected views and opinions. The more depth that you use to look at the world around, the more it makes you sick.

"You're thinking too much again." Dion said, waking me out of my daze. "You're glaring, dude. Don't let it make you bitter. In the beginning, you learn how lost a majority of the people are. But in time...you'll also learn to respect their decision to remain lost. It's as simple as that."

"But WHY? Why should I sit back and let people rot like this? If nothing else, we should be helping these people."

"Despite their appearance, Justin, they aren't all that miserable. Just because they don't see things the way you do, don't ever assume that they are beneath you. Nor is it right to assume that they are any less capable of being happy and fulfilled as you are." As Dion spoke, his eyes gazed into mine with a clarity that no one else had ever shown me. He had a bad habit of doing that without any effort at all. "Had you never crossedover into our world, had you not found the answer you have achieved by being one of us, you still would have had the ability to live a happy existence." With that he smiled. "Just remember, it's always easier for a fish to go from a small fishbowl to an ocean...than it is for one to come from a vast ocean and then try to fit back in the fishbowl."

"It still..." I held back a bit of my frustration, but grinded my teeth together slightly and shortened my breath. "It still seems like such a waste to me..."

"As does YOUR life, to a vampire far more advanced than you are. Remember that. The only answer is in the eternal search for more questions." He saw me look out the window, to silently, stubbornly, accept the idea. He leaned over to nudge me into smiling. "Mellow out, will you? You're starting to sound like a crabby old man already."

"Shut up." I grinned.

The train ride went pretty smoothly, with only a few people getting on and off at certain stops. It was a slow night. We finally made it to our stop and stepped off of the train to follow the instructions Tiana had given me. Even AFTER the long train ride, there was a pretty lengthy walk to find the residence that she depicted on the map. It was an older looking house, dark, with a single lightbulb that could be seen clearly in the attic window three stories up. It was one of those houses that looked like it could have been a mansion at one time, but now resembled the ghost of a house no longer taken care of. The plantlife had scaled its way up the walls of the building, creating an even darker appearance. And when the wind blew through the leaves of the snake-like foliage, it gave the house a certain eerie movement. A life, through motion, and a voice, through the rustling plantlife. This was the place.

We walked up to the front door, and noticed that the single light upstairs, the only illumination in this dark spot of the neighborhood, had extinguished itself. The door opened, and two husky men stood there to greet us. Large men, their arms swollen to the point of bursting it seemed, and a musculature that looked as though it were made of stone. The inside of the house was just as dark as the outside. The lights were all a dark shade of blue, so dark that they almost defeated their own purpose. Had it not been for my extra sensitive eyesight, I would have been walking in blind. The two men closed the door behind us, and took positions on either side of us in the case that we would try anything funny. The guards were stone faced, with an FBI level of seriousness. Strange. But the strangest thing of all was...they were human. I could sense it easily, in their scent, in the simplicity of their thought patterns, in the very aura that surrounded them. That seemed a bit odd to me. Why would this vampire have 'human' bodyguards? "You are Justin, correct?" One of the men grumbled solemly.

"How did you know my...?"

"Are you Justin, or not?" He repeated, his already hoarse tone taking on a deeper, more agitated effect.

"Uh...yeah. Yeah, I am." I answered. The men at the door nodded to a third who was standing at the top of a large, winding staircase. He had a small laptop balanced on the railing, and began to type in the details of the situation to someone who was obviously somewhere else in the same house. He awaited a reply, and typed in more data as Dion and I waited to see exactly what was going to happen next.

The man on the stairs nodded his confirmation, and the two men returned their attention to us. "You may go. Straight ahead, down the steps, and turn right at the end of the hall." He said, and we began to walk forward. But the man reached out one of his monsterous arms immediately, stopping Dion's movemnt. "JUST the kid!" He said.

"No, you don't understand...this is my friend..." I said, but the man's firm demands were unshakeable.

"JUST you, or it's nothing at all." He grunted. "He will not see more than one entity at a time." He continued. Did he say...'entity'?

"It's ok, Justin. Go...find your answers. I'll...stay out here and keep these warm and friendly gentlemen company." I nodded, and decided to go ahead without him. Too bad. Having Dion at my side was one of the only things that was keeping me from shaking.

Straight ahead to a small door, that led down a flight of musty old steps, and down a long dark hallway that was lit only by dark blue streaming lights on the floor. Finally, I came to a large door that automatically rolled to the side to allow me entrance. It was like a giant stone, being rolled away from the front of a large cave. I stepped inside, and what I found, surprised me. It was a circular room, with thick black carpeting covering the floor and ceiling. And the walls...the walls were huge floor to ceiling aquariums filled with fish. The whole room felt like it was alive, submerged underwater and moving. It was dead silent, and I walked forward to examine the thick glass of the fish tanks. I put my hand against it, feeling the gentle warmth, and suddenly I watched as all of the fish rapidly retreated to the other side of the room from me. All at once. "You like the fish?" Came a deep voice from behind me. I was startled and spun around to see a pair of glowing eyes emerge from the darkness. "They are more than just pets, you understand? They are the only ones that I talk to anymore. With the exception of those late nights when one of you coming to seek me out." He said.

"Are...are you...'Zero'?" I asked, still a bit shaken by the helplessness of being completely alone in a room, a pitch black room at that, with another vampire who may or may not be totally insane! From the eccentric greeting I've had so far, I wasn't so willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"That is the name I have chosen, yes." He said, his voice retreating into a serpentine whisper. I was able to make out a few details of his face, but not many. He looked about 30 years old, I suppose, give or take a few years. Short hair, turned silver, probably at a young age from the looks of it. Well built, but not overly athletic, and a stare that stabbed through you with its unrelenting intensity. "And you are the Mimic. The one who has come to bring new light to our soon-to-be ailing world." He had a demonic smile that could be seen, even in the dark.

"So you know about me?"

"I know a lot of things." He hissed.

"You were expecting me then?"

"Not until you crossed the gateway and stepped onto my territory. As you can probably guess...I don't get out very much." He walked slowly over to the center of the room, and sat down on a large chair, covered in black velvet. "But once you were in the vicinity, you became an open book."

"You're a reader..."

"I am THE reader. Perfection doubled and tripled on a scale that you can not even imagine. I know everything about you, from your crossover, to Comicality, to your attempts a suicide. Everything that is a part of you, is now a part of me. I know you so well, in fact, that I can practically finish out the rest of our conversation word for word without your participation." Ok...it's settled then. He's insane. "Insane?" He said, already aware of my thoughts before I could think them. "It is always insane to feel the friction between your own beliefs and the beliefs of someone that you don't understand. Ask yourself, what is insanity, other than an idea that has yet to be explored or proven by a majority of 'well' people? Hmmm?"

"Sir..." I could see his eyes, clearly. It was like they had no color at all. And they were blazing a hole right in the center of my head. It was BEYOND frightening! "I...I wanted to ask a few questions..."

"Do you know why I chose the name Zero, Justin?" He blurted out, and it caught me off guard. "People...they believe that infinity goes on forever in one direction. But in relaity, it goes on forever on BOTH sides of Zero. Into the positive AND the negative. It was one of the first things I realized once my level of thinking elevated past that of my sire."


"The one that turned me. The loving young man that I once called my equal. He met his end quite some years ago. And yet...he's not dead, not even born, but still not alive." I could see his mind cracking more and more right in front of my eyes, and if I thought I could sneak away without him knowing, I would have. "Zero...the starting point, and the ending point, of all time. It is incredible, Justin, being here...in the center of it all. It is exhilirating and maddening at the same time. But you have to watch out for the circles. The circles...the circles...they come for you eventually. LOOPs in the way you think. Inescapable loops. The constant repetition of events, of emotions, of actions...as your knowledge increases, the circles...they get smaller. The repetitions become more and more frequent, until you find yourself stuck inside a single moment of time. You could be there for days, months, years. And never know it. Then, when you finally find your way out again...you fall into another circle. They keep coming for you. Over and over again. The threat of the circles is a circle itself, you understand. Over and over, over and over, over and over." I was speechless at this point, wondering if he was going to suddenly float away on a cloud of fairy dust or something.

"Zero..I need your help..." I whispered, trying to ignore his ramblings long enough to get a straight answer.

"I know you do. Circles...you see? I know what you think, you think it, then you tell me, I think it, and go back to knowing what you think again before you think it. In essence, a future time, I've already answered your question. We've already had this conversation. But it hasn't happened yet...nooo...not yet. Not in this part of the circle."

"Zero please..." I said, trying to get his focus back, but he actually said the words at the same time that I did. In MY voice, with the same tone and everything. He really DID know.

"You see? Already happened. Not to you, but not without your mind's process, from which I had to get the answer. Circles."

"STOP!" I shouted, and he seemed to bring himself back to his quiet pesonality almost instantly. As though the last few minutes hadn't even happened. "If you know what I'm going to ask, then why don't you just tell me already?"

"Do you know what it's like? Hm?" He said, his eyes leaving mine for the first time since I had seen him. "To truly...TRULY...look inside the human mind?" He leaned forward in his seat a bit, his hand reaching up to his forehead as though he had a migraine. "I practiced, trained myself, to develop my reading ability. Tried to perfect. But it became self aware over time. Involuntary. That's when I secluded myself here...in this place. Can't go out, not anymore. I pick up everything from everyone around me. Had both you and your friend walked in at the same time, your thoughts would have broken me down into seizures after a few minutes."

"So...so you can't help it? Can you?" I asked, almost sympathizing.

"No." He turned the chair around, swiveling to face in the other direction, as he continued to speak. "Individuality is a beautiful thing, boy. Until it is taken to the level of insanity. To suddenly realize, how very alone you are. Seeing into the minds of people...you get to experience the worst, most horrific images, known to man or God. Men who judge you for being gay, then go home and rape their wives. Priests who judge you for not being Christian, and then beating the lessons into their kids against their will. That's when the circles begin. You can be straight, but can't have sex. You can be 'helpless against your emotions' and have sex, but not if you're gay. You can be 'helpless against your emotions' and be gay, but not if you love someone under 18. You can be 'helpless against your emotions' and love someone under 18, but only if you're straight. Many many levels that always end up in the same spot. All with the sole purpose of causing us to feel better than the person standing beside us, and allowing them to feel better than us at the same time. The double standards exist in everything, nothing can exist without them. And yet, it is our pompus attitudes, our blissful ability to ignore who we truly are while engaged in the process of judging those around us, that allows us to so easily blind one eye and only see one side of the coin while denying our own hipocrisy. When you master the art of putting prejudice over acceptance...you can justify almost anything. Murder, lust, greed, jealousy, deceit...and yet, when seeing it through their eyes, it all seems so reasonable. To them...it's no different than any of your average mundane tasks." Zero swiveled back around to stare me in the eyes again. "You have no idea what it's like, to look through the eyes of a murderer...and see how 'logical' the act itself is in his mind. How...completely uninspired it is."

He wasn't CONCENTRATING! I needed HELP! Not this weird psychobabble about his decent into madness! "If you're not going to help me..."

"No, no, no." He said, interrupting me as though I had disrupted the teacher while he was talking. "Young, impatient, unfocused, eager...this, does NOT, a good Mimic make. The Elders will not approve of that at all when they find you." Zero's smile widened at the corners, his gremlin like grin giving way to a set of gleaming white fangs. "I can see why Comicality told you to stay in hiding. You are far from ready, young one." He giggled, then stood up from his chair to pace casually across the room to the fish tank. "There were many that thought that I was to be the chosen soul to lead the others to Vampire Dawn. But, due to my deteriorating thought proccesses...it appears they were mistaken." His permanent grin, mixed with his fixed stare was making me incredibly uneasy. It was hard to think straight. "Do you want to know what it is, Justin? The Dawn?"

It wasn't what I had come for, and I ddn't want to spend more time in this room than I had to. But the chance to get even a hint of what this Vampire Dawn was all about, was a temptation that I couldn't turn down. "You know what it is?"

"Yes....most certainly." He whispered. "It takes you directly back to zero, Justin...just like everything else. It is the one point, so crisp, so clear, that it simply cannot exist. But...it DOES."

"Ok....thanks." What the HELL was that supposed to mean???

"Imagine yourself, standing on a beach of sand. Now...I want you to mentally draw a straight line in the sand, reaching out in front of you. Picture it."

I did as he asked, hoping to get some deeper meaning out of it. "Ok..."

"Consider that straight line, reaching out into infinity and beyond. Understood? Now, without leaving that spot, draw another line out behind you. Then continue to draw lines out from the point at which you are standing. Each one straight, each one leading into infinity."

"I don't understand." I said, and Zero walked a close circle around me, his smile sending a chill throughout my body.

"Each line is a path, Justin. A direction for your life and the lives of everyone else around you to take. It is the choices we make that create our existence. Our purpose. So we each have to choose a path to follow. Some will take the line in front of you, some will take the one behind, some will take the ones to the left of you, some will take the ones to the right. And then there are millions upon millions of paths in between. But...what happens when you follow a single path away from the center?"

"I don't know?"

"THINK! The lines stretch out into infinity, in every direction. They all come together at some point, so they cannot be parallel to each other. What happens when you follow a single solitary path further out from the center?" He said.

"The...the other paths get further and further away from each other."

"PRECISELY!" Zero whispered in my ear from behind me, extremely happy with my answer. "The further you go down one path, the further you get away from all the others. Until, eventually, you can no longer even SEE the other paths. They become so far out of your range of understanding, that you become stuck, stranded on one lone path that you've chosen for yourself. A single straight line that you can never waiver from. For you, it is the ONLY answer you will allow yourself to accept...even if it's the WRONG answer. Even if there is a better answer waiting for you out there. It doesn't matter, because once you've fixed yourself in the limited confines of a single line for a long enough period of time, it becomes impossible to see anything else from where you are standing. You begin to follow universal truths and believing in a single reality that your mind can never shake, not for any reason." Zero walked in front of me, and whispered, "But...what if you wanted to be in a position to see ALL of the answers at once? What if, the REAL truth didn't lie in the following of a single choice, but the study and acceptance of the very choices that are presented to us? Without judgement, without bias, without prejudice. In order to visualize the answer, the TRUE answer, we'd have to be able to see ALL of the questions, not just the ones we choose to recognize. So, to do this...where would you have to be standing?"

I gave it a little thought, and replied, "The center."

Zero closed his eyes, as though he had gotten a spiritual rush from my answer. "Ahhhh....please...say it again."

"The center. I'd have to go back to where I started."

"Yes. The one focal point of all conscious thought, the one place where all of the paths intersect and exist in their purest form, before losing sight of the others. That, my friend...is the Vampire Dawn." He said proudly. "It is a nexus of understanding, where you can learn from every facet of life, and understand it. Where you never develop the need to see someone elses choices as wrong, or evil, or insane. Where white and black, gay and straight, young and old, male and female, all connect and coexist in a single moment of complete awareness. No judgements...no labels...no lies...just the beautiful view of what life is, and how each path is chosen with the best of intentions."

"But..." I started, but he already knew what I was going to say.

"You're wondering why, if this point exists, the world can contain such horrors. Such harsh complications. It comes from a power struggle that wants to force everyone to go down the same path. To limit the people's view so that they will only see the paths they WANT them to see. For exmple, you are a boy. Therefore, you are supposed to grow up, go to school, go to college, date girls, marry, have kids, work a 9 to 5 job, stay faithful, and grow old with your wife until you eventually die. That, my friend, is the path they want you to see. They want you to believe that it is the only 'right' path for you to take, so that nothing else looks sane. They control your choices until you find yourself denying everything that you are, everything that you want, everything that you feel...all just to follow the rules that they have laid out for you. Not only that, but you teach others to do the same. You keep the machine well oiled and running smoothly without even knowing it."

"But why THAT path? Why does that have to be the one everyone is suposed to follow?"

"Simple...it's the most beneficial for the species. You remain a consumer from the day you're born until the day you die, therefore keeping the government and the cities running smoothly. You further the race through procreation. You cultivate the youth the sharing of like ideas and family values. You create goals of wealth and motivate the population to work harder, that is what they want. Everything that they have set out for you, isn't about YOU at all. It is about furthering the prosperity, the culture, and the survival of this 'tribe' that we call humanity." I saw Zero lean up against one of the aquariums, and all of the fish swam up to surround him from the other side of the glass. "However...if you take a different path, you threaten the credibility of the one they want you to follow. You have the opportunity to disrupt their control. Afterall, if you can pick a different path and still be happy, then why can't I? And if WE can do it and be happy, why can't someone else? Soon, you have everyone making their decisios based on who they are and what they believe in...and the powers that be simply can't have that. No no no...we all have to march to ONE beat, follow ONE law, believe in ONE God, have ONE type of sexuality, ONE set of politics...and keep the machine running. That is why the Vampire Dawn is so beautiful...and yet...extremely dangerous."

"They don't want anyone to know, do they?" I asked.

"No. And not only that, but there are many people who would rather march along blindly in a straight line, than stand in a position where they would have to make up their own minds. Sometimes, the predictable outcome can be so much more comforting."