** The following tale is fiction. It contains graphic descriptions, intense situations, and consenting sexual material involving
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Stages: Part Three

   The room I'd woken up in was mine, if I wanted it, and the building the room belonged to was called the Luis De Lorne Theatre, named after the man who came up with the design for the place.   It had been built in the early 1900's by Michael's grandfather as a gift to his wife, Michael's grandmother, because she had a mad love for the performing arts.  It became one of the town's hottest spots and saw thousands of performances and a variety of people.  Michael wouldn't tell me exactly why it was closed down, only that it happened during the 1950's, a long time before he was born.  It stood now as one of Michael's only memories of his family, and as a memento of that time period.  How it still stood in such good condition was beyond me.

    Michael gave me a tour of the Theatre as he told me its story.  No doubt it was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.  The Theatre's construction reminded me of the house from the movie The Haunting.  It was huge, extravagant, and gothic.  It had a mysterious, almost magical atmosphere to it, almost as if it were a living thing instead of a simple structure.

     We were on our way towards the auditorium, which was where the performances were held, when I decided to ask a couple of questions that were on my mind.
"So, um...are all the myths about vampires true? Do we have to be invited into places? Do we get burned by crosses?"

     Michael stopped walking, so I did to. He turned and looked at me.
"Sorry. Forgot to go over all of that with you. Well, let me answer your question with a question. What do you know about vampires?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"If this was a normal conversation being had under normal circumstances and I asked you `what do you know about vampires', what would you say?"

     I assumed he meant what kind of knowledge I had on vampires.  I wasn't sure if he wanted stuff I thought were facts, or things from fiction, so I figured I'd just say it all.
"I'd say that I know they can't go out into daylight, or they'll die.  I'd say vampires have super strength and senses, and that some can fly and some can't.  Some can turn into wolves, bats, and mist.  Some are repelled by crosses and can't eat garlic, or cross running water, but others can deal with some or all of those things without a problem.  I'd say some vampires cast a reflection, but others don't.  I don't know.  There's a lot of different ways that people perceive vampires and their abilities."
"Put your hand around your neck."

     The response caught me off guard and I gave him a weird look.
"Just do it." he said.

     I did.
"What do you feel?" he asked.
"Anything else?"

     Not that I could feel, unless he meant,
"My chain?"
"What's on that chain?"

     As soon as I thought it, my hands were grabbing my shirt and lifting it up to make sure I didn't have a huge scar on my chest.  I didn't.  Everything looked like it should've looked.  The cross on my chain was laying slightly off to the right in between my pecs.

     I looked up at Michael, who was watching me.
"Does it hurt?"

     I looked back down at the cross.
"...No." I shook my head.
"Looks like one rumor is out the window, then." he said.

     I put my shirt down and looked back at him.
"So, crosses can't hurt vampires?"
"Not unless its big enough to do real physical damage."

     Sighing in relief, I shook my head.
"Good thing.  This is the only thing physically I have to remember my parents by. It'd be a bitch if I couldn't keep the only thing I have left that was given to me by them."
"Mementos are good things to have." he said, giving a glance around the large hallway we were in. "Sometimes they help you remember who you are and were you come from."

    I knew that statement had struck a nerve with him. I could hear it in his voice, especially the way it dropped to just above a whisper when he said it. The Theatre must be his memento.

     Michael didn't let whatever stricken nerve he had last for more than four of five seconds, before he looked back at me and said,
"Anyway, those answers you gave me to my question earlier are the ones I expected from you.  What I want to say is throw all that out the window right now.  Let's start from square one like you've never heard of a vampire before, okay?"
"Okay." I nodded.
"I don't know every single detail myself, so I can't really say how long vampires have been around.  What I know for sure is that we've had to have been around for at least three of four hundred years.  That's how vampires like you are able to exist."

     And that was still a trip to me! Knowing now that all this time the vampire had been inside of me, sleeping. Not only that, but there was also the fact that all this time I'd thought I was a regular human being...and never was. I'd been able to experience things as though I'd had a human life, but I turned out to be just a visitor. As Michael had said earlier, once it was dominant again it was that way until death. I was never going to be able to go back to what my life was like before.
"Like I touched on before, we are similar, but very different from human beings. Their classification is Homosapien, and ours is Homonocturnus. We're two completely separate species of life. And yes, I did say life, meaning we are just as alive as any other living thing in this world. Vampires are not dead, undead, or living dead." he continued.
"So then what was up with me waking up in the coroners? Faith said I was in some kind of stage and that if a person didn't know what they were looking for, they would've thought I was dead." I wondered, seeing now that my original idea had been contradicted.
"That's an early stage that Sleepers go through. The vampire side is becoming dominant again and it temporarily shuts the body down and sends it, and the mind, through a rebuilding phase. The brain is the only thing active at this point, so brain activity is what a person would have to look for. The body doesn't move at all and you don't breathe during that stage. The reason why The Lust takes as strong a hold over a Sleeper is because all their blood is used as an energy source to fuel the change. By the time its to the end of the stage, the body realizes it needs a fresh supply of blood in order to make it to the final stage and...well, you know the rest."
"Yeah." I nodded. "Unfortunately."
"So, no, we're not dead, and we aren't demons. We won't explode if we step into a church or onto hallowed ground, or look at a religious symbol. We've got no problems with crossing running water, and unless you're just allergic to it or don't like it, garlic isn't an issue either. As for a stake through the heart, well, think about it. A stake through the heart is going to seriously damage any living thing it's done to. It doesn't paralyze, though, and a vampire can walk away from it, unless the body has been starved or has taken a lot of damage and/or lost a lot of blood."
"What's up with our senses then? How come they're all super charged?"
"Just like humans, vampires are predators. We're just built for the kill differently. So there's the enhanced sight, hearing, and smelling ability and strength. We also have the ability to move faster."

     So those stereotypes were true.
"Like how much faster?" I asked.
"Like this much faster." Michael answered, but somehow his voice was coming from behind me.

     Glancing over my shoulder I saw why it sounded like his voice was coming from behind me. Because that's where he was standing. I looked back in front of me to where he'd been standing just a second ago and saw nothing. Again I looked behind me to where he was at now, to the front at where he used to be, then back to where he was now.
"Whoa." was the most intelligent thing I could think to say.
"Your brain is still getting a grip on how to use your new senses. Pretty soon..."
"It'll look like I'm moving at regular speed to you." his voice came from behind me again, making me jump.

    He was now back where he originally was when we'd started the conversation. My eyes blinked a couple of times like even they didn't believe what they'd just seen. Literally he was there one second and the next he was behind me. There was no gap were I saw him move or anything. It just happened.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" I had to tease him.

     That hint of a smile came to his lips.
"Well, stop it before I nail your feet to the floor, speedy" I kept on.
"Okay, okay."

    We started walking again and came to the doors that led into the auditorium.  They were massive and intricately designed with large handles that had to be pulled with a little force in order to get the door open.

    The auditorium itself was designed to look like the audience was sitting outside under the vast starry night sky. The stage was built to look like it was situated on the back of a massive bird that was in flight. Real fuckin' tight. I know if this place were still open to the public everybody would be trying to build a stage like this one.

     When we got to the auditorium doors, I started to hear something. It sounded like singing.  When we stepped into the auditorium, I found out where the singing was coming from.  Someone was standing on the stage.  A girl the same color as me.  She had silky shoulder length black hair and wore the same kind of choker around her neck that Faith did, only the band was brown instead of black.  She had on a black tank top that fitted every curve of her body perfectly and left just enough exposed between its bottom and the top of her pants that it didn't make her look like all ho'ed out like a lot of the other girls who abused the mess out of that style.  Her pants looked like they were a dark brown colored leather and fitted her just as well as the top.  And whatever it was she was singing, she was singing the hell out of it.

    It was probably a good couple of minutes before it finally clicked in how well I could see.  The only light that was in the room was the candlelight coming from a few candles located in different spots around the auditorium.  I figured there was enough light that should've allowed me to make the place out, but only see the shadow of the person who was up on the stage.  I was seeing like the entire room was lit up from front to back with the appropriate lighting.  Nice! It looks like my eyes are already starting to adapt.

     Michael stopped walking, so I stopped to, and listened to the girl as she sang.  Her voice wasn't like a soprano voice, all high-pitched and able to hit notes that could shatter glasses.  It was more of an alto sound.  Really smooth and mellow sounding, with enough bass so that it gave her voice a kick, but not so much that she didn't sound like a woman.

     We stood there for close to five minutes, before the song was over.  After the first minute, Michael and me sat down and took in the show.  When she finished, we stood up and he clapped.
"Looks like the girl's still got it." he said to her.

    Faith had a nice smile, Michael had a nice smile, and so did this girl.  She gave one to Michael and took a short bow.
"Nice to see I've still got my fans out there." she spoke with what had to be one of the coolest British accents I've ever heard, even though that's not saying much because the only British accents I've heard were on television, but it was still cool.

     She was going to say something else when she noticed me.  I could see her eyes looking right at me.
"Is this our new boy?" she asked.
"Yep.  Back with us from the big sleep." Michael responded.

     She was already coming down off the stage after Michael said: "yep".  Making her way up the aisle as he answered her question, she reached us a couple of seconds after Michael was done talking.
"Good to see." she said, then extended her hand out to me. "I'm Ava-Marie."

     I stuck mine out and shook hers.
"Evan, unless you already knew that." I wasn't sure.  Faith had known my name without me telling her.  Maybe she did too.
"I did, but it sounds a lot better when you get to meet the person themselves." she said, smiling again. "And it's nice to finally meet you."
"Nice to meet you too." I said, then a second later I added, "You've got a killer singing voice. I don't think I've ever heard anyone sing that well in person before."
"Well, it looks like this one knows the right way into a girl's heart!" she said, her smile turning into a giggle.  "Thank you."

     I had to smile too.
"You're welcome."
"So has he met everyone else, or do I have the pleasure of being the first?" she asked.
"Faith already got that pleasure.  I asked her to keep an eye on him while I made a run, and he woke up before I got back." Michael answered.

     She nodded.
"Ah.  Well then, guess you'd better meet the rest of the bunch before they all go their separate ways for the night."
"How many others are there?" I was curious to know.
"Three.  Actually, two now." responded a new voice from behind us and over toward the left, causing us to turn and look.

    It was another male.  I could tell by the voice.  As for what he looked like, it took a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust to the darkness that was surrounding the seats he was standing in front of.  He was almost as tall as Michael, which made him at least an inch taller than me, with black hair that was cut closer than Michael's and was styled differently by being combed back, but not slicked back.  He nationality appeared to be Mexican, and his eyes...wow.  I had never seen a person with gray eyes before.  They looked really good on him.  I bet he had all kinds of girls on his nuts because of them.  Probably even had a few guys to be real about it.  They were probably contact lenses.  They had to be.  Nobody could have real eyes that looked that good.

    A sparkling in his ear called my attention to a stud in his left lobe.  It was just like the one Michael had in his ear, and the same colored jewel that Michael, Faith, and Ava-Marie had.  I was starting to sense some kind of significance with this particular jewel.

     Him suddenly speaking up like that startled all of us a little bit (I'm glad I wasn't the only one), and Ava-Marie let him know it.
"Why can't you just enter a room like a normal person?  Always with the lurking." she said to him.
"I don't lurk.  I just observe." he stated simply.

    I noticed this time that he spoke with a Spanish accent.  Not so deep that it made whatever he was saying sound like a completely different language.  Just enough so that it gave the words he said a kind of flair.
"Well, stop it please.  It freaks me out when you just "appear" like that."

     He nodded.
"Sorry.  I'll try."
"Evan, this is our resident phantom, Jake.  Jake, the man you've all been waiting to meet." Michael introduced us.

     Jake walked over toward us, eyes on me the entire time.
"Nice to see you up and about finally." he said when he made it to where we were.  He put out his hand in friendship.
"Yeah. Glad to be I guess." I put my own hand out in friendship.

     He was about to say something else when Michael's eyes look up at the ceiling and his head lift, almost like he was noticing something.  Before I could ask what was up he said,
"Someone's here."
"Who?  How can you tell?" I asked, looking up and seeing nothing that looked like a person there.
"Just stand there for a moment, completely quiet, and don't move."

     I did.  We all did.  A couple of moments into it, I started feeling something.  It was like the same feeling a person gets when they enter a house and a television is on somewhere in the house, but the volume isn't up.  Without hearing or seeing it, it can somehow be sensed that its there and that its on. Wait a second...I felt this before.
"You feel that?" Michael asked me.
"Yeah..." I started to answer, before it got stronger, feeling almost like a physical punch to my chest.  "Whoa!  Yeah, I do.  Is that it?"
"That's it.  You're sensing another vampire."
 And I wasn't even trying to do it.  I was just standing there and it was happening.  That was one more thing I'd forgot to ask about, if a vampire could sense another vampire. Looks like the answer was yes.
 "That's crazy." I said.

     Ava-Marie and Jake could sense it too. They turned to look at the door of the auditorium. That's where the feeling felt like it was coming from.  The looks on theirs and Michael's faces didn't put a good feeling into me.  It made me wonder if we were sensing friend, or foe.
"But it's okay, right?  You said there were two others here, right?" I inquired.
"Yes.  But who we're sensing doesn't feel like our two." Jake answered, sending things more toward foe than friend for me.
"So then its someone else?"
"A familiar someone else." Ava-Marie said.
"I think it's..." Michael started to say before the right-sided door came open and someone stepped inside.

    It was another dude.  He looked like he was just a little bit shorter than me, but I couldn't really tell the build of his body.  He was wearing one of those bulked out South Pole style coats and black dress pants that fitted him loosely.  His black hat was on backward and, like Faith and Michael, he was white.  He had a sort of young looking face that was hairless around the mustache area, but he had the goat tee going on his chin.  It was just enough so that you could tell it was there, the hairs were the same shade of brown as the ones on his head.  On some people that style looks tore up, but they still try and bump it like it looks good on them.  On him, it looked fitting.  He had some of the deepest, bluest eyes I'd ever seen on a person.  Again I was thinking contacts.
"Hey.  Here you all are.  Thought y'all was gone already." he had a mellow voice that spoke in an accent that totally contradicted his skin color.

    I saw the looks change on Michael, Ava-Marie, and Jake's faces when they saw who'd walked in. Their looks changed to one of realization and familiarity. I have to admit my look changed too, but mine was into one of comfort.
"That's why they invented telephones, love.  You could've either called on that, or just said something when you first walked in." Ava-Marie said to him, making him nod.
"Yeah, and I would've did that, but I was told to come here personally and deliver this message.  Miss E is already pissed off, and I ain't lookin' to get on her bad side." he explained.
"What's going on?" Michael asked.
"Gotta be pretty important if she sent you personally." Jake added.
"Yeah, it is." the new guy said, before looking over at me and nodding his head in my direction. "It's about him."

     Did NOT like the sound of the way that came out of his mouth.
"Me?" I acted like there was another me standing close by.
"Yeah...oh, shit!  Sorry.  Forgot my manners.  You the new boy, right?  I'm Eze." he introduced himself, holding out his hand.

    I probably would've been okay meeting him if he hadn't already said what he'd said.  Now I was uneasy as hell, as I reached out and met his with a handshake.
"I'm Evan." I introduced myself. "Uh, nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too, dawg.  Anyway, Miss E wants you and Mike to come to the club tonight."
"She say why?" Michael asked.
"Uh-uh.  Just that she needed to see you both tonight.  So ya'll are welcome to roll out with me, or drop by before the club closes tonight.  Your call."

     I didn't know what to say.  Well, honestly, I wanted to roll with Eze and find out right now what this Miss E wanted with me.  I just didn't know whether or not it would be a good idea to speak up with my opinion.  Luckily, Michael spoke for me.
"We'll go with you." he said to Eze, and then said to me.  "We'll get back to meeting the other two later."
"All right, then.  Let's roll." Eze said.

     Michael and me started following Eze out of the auditorium.  Jake and Ava-Marie looked like they wanted to know what was up too, but they stayed where they were and didn't say anything.

     Eze was a good four feet in front of me and Michael, and when he went to open the auditorium door, I whispered to Michael,
"Who is Miss E?  Am I in trouble?" because that's what it sounded like to me.
"She's this town's main contact with The Council.  I guess you can look at her as a sort of governor for our society here.  As far as being in trouble, if you were, she would've sent a lot more than Eze to take you back." Michael put my mind at ease about being in trouble with this woman. But if I wasn't in trouble, what did she want to see me for?

     I wanted to ask that question next, but by that time we were out of the auditorium and back into the lobby. It was a medium sized square room that connected two hallways. One went the exit of the Theatre and the other went to where the bathrooms were.  There was a hidden doorway at the end of the hallway where the bathrooms were, and one somewhere in the lobby. The one near the bathrooms was where the hallway that led to everyone's rooms was located. The one in the lobby, Michael hadn't gotten a chance to show me yet, so I didn't know what was behind it.

     When we walked out into the lobby there were two other people there, looking like they were headed in the direction of the auditorium.  Both of them were boys and looked like they were around twelve or thirteen years old.  One was Mexican, and if I didn't know any better I'd swear he was Jake, only shorter, not as built up, and younger looking in the face.  His black hair was short and in the spiked style you either see white, Mexican, or Asian boys with and his eyes were just like Jake's.  That wicked gray color.  Maybe Jake wasn't wearing contact lenses after all, and I was now figuring this boy to be some kind of kin to him, because they looked too much alike to not be.

     The other boy was a combination of skater and old school white boy.  He had the blond mop top hair, the khaki colored dickies pants that looked like they fitted him well, but could've been looser than they appeared, and a black shirt with a white skull on it.  He even had a bit of the goth touch on him by having his fingernails painted black.  His light brown eyes went well with the rest of his face, one that screamed INNOCENT!  A light trail of freckles that started around his left cheek, went across his nose and ended on his right cheek, were the only things on an otherwise clean and clear face.

     The one who looked like Jake noticed Eze first and waved at him.
"Hey, Eze.  What's up?" he even sounded like Jake, just younger and with the same accent.  Yeah.  No doubt these two were kin.  Probably brothers.
"Hi Eze." the other boy added quietly.
"Hey, what's up little man, and little man deuce?" Eze greeted both of them, hi-fiving them both.
"Nothin'.  `Bout to get out of here for the night, but I was looking for my brother." the Mexican boy said, letting me know I was right about him and Jake.
"He's in the auditorium." Michael said.

     Michael speaking called the boy's attention over to him, and since I was standing near him, over to me.  Immediately his attention went to me, as he stopped walking and gave me a slow once over.
"Is that the new guy?" he asked.
"Yes it is.  Evan these are the other two members of the Family.  That's Mac and this is Jake's little brother Josh." Michael introduced us.

     Josh came directly over to me, hand out for me to shake.
"It's about time you woke up.  Thought you were going to sleep forever."
"Nice to meet you too." I smiled a bit, shaking his hand.

     I expected the other one, Mac to follow.  He didn't.  He just stood there where he was, watching me.  The second I looked at him, though, his eyes darted away and down toward his feet.
"Well, come over here and shake his hand and stop being rude." Josh said to him.

     It took a few seconds before he made a move.  When he did, it was obvious he was forcing himself to.  He kept his eyes off me the whole time and the closer he got to me the redder his face seemed to get. When he finally was near enough to me his face was completely flushed, and he slowly stuck out his...index finger.

     I waited for a moment, seeing if he might extend the other fingers.  When he didn't, I laughed to myself and reached out to shake his finger with my hand.  I barely even touched his finger before he snatched his hand back, moved past me, and went on to the auditorium.

     Josh shook his head and rolled his eyes, before he went on after Mac.
"Okay, that was a little strange." I thought to myself as I watched them go.

     I waited until they were both in the auditorium before I looked over at Michael and asked,
"What's up with him?"
"Mac has got a severe case of shyness, so he doesn't do too well with meeting new people. I'm honestly surprised he reacted to you the way he did by getting that close to you and letting you touch him. I think we went a whole month before anyone but Josh actually heard what his voice sounded like, or caught more than a glimpse of him." Michael told me.
"All right, boys, we better get goin'." Eze reminded us that we did have a place to go.

     We all went down the hallway that led out of the theatre.  When it was time to be in for the night, Michael had told me that there was a huge metal bar that went into slots that were in the door to lock it securely.  Once that was in place, it would take the force of a speeding train to break down the door.  It was currently without that bar, as Eze opened the door and we followed him outside.

     I'd forgotten about my new senses.  So when I stepped outside everything hit me so fast I didn't know which way to look first.  Smells.  Sounds.  Sights.  Man, this is probably what its like for a newborn baby experiencing the world for the first time.  The sky looked so beautiful.  I'd heard stars twinkled, but I've only actually seen one do it twice in life.  I could see them twinkling now.  All of them.  The bright moon in the sky illuminated everything with a silver glow, working exactly like sunlight, only half as bright.

     A light breeze was blowing and I could feel it on every pore in my face.  It even had a smell to it. Crisp and a little rusty.  Hearing was definitely sharper than ever before.  I could hear traffic on a freeway I know that had to be about half away.  Grant it it was faint, but I could hear it.

     I could've spent the entire night just standing there trying to see what I could see, smell what I could smell, and hear what I could hear.  In reality I spent maybe a couple of seconds before I started walked again to keep up with Michael and Eze.

     Now that we were outside, I tried to figure out what side of town we were on.  A few seconds later, I started wondering if we were even in the same town.  Were we were had a real rural feel to it.  Like what's seen while driving down a two lane freeway and there's nothing but fruit trees, a couple of ranches, and spaces of nothing but dirt.  That's what it reminded me of.

    A car was parked not too far away on the dirt path.  I didn't see any others and started to wonder if we were closer to civilization than I thought we were.  I assumed nobody was old enough to drive, or that if they were they didn't have cars.  That meant walking was probably done to get from place to place. Walking is going to officially suck if we're far away from town.
"It's probably a good thing I brought the car, huh?  I'm guessing our new boy hasn't learned how to fly yet." Eze said as we got to the car.

     Michael shook his head.
"No.  Not yet."

    Um...fly?  Vampires could fly?  I could fly!?  The only reason why I didn't ask Michael that earlier was because he'd said we weren't demons or undead. I automatically assumed that meant no supernatural abilities. Wait. Maybe I hadn't heard him right.  Maybe he just meant that a vampire could run real fast. Michael had moved pretty fast back in the Theatre.
"When you say fly, do you mean as in running real fast, or do you mean like flying.  Like Peter Pan flying?"  I asked.
"I mean like Peter Pan flying." Eze answered, sticking the key into the door and unlocking it.

     All right.  If somebody tells a person they can fly, like REALLY fly, do they: A. Remain calm and act like it's no big deal, or  B. Lose COMPLETE self control and immediately ask how it's done?  I believe B is the correct answer and that's exactly what I was about to do.  I caught myself though...barely, trying to act like I hadn't just been told that I could actually fly, and asked,
"Oh.  When do I get to learn?" in a calm, casual sort of way.
"Once your body has fully adapted to itself and its abilities. So roughly, in about two or three days." Michael replied.

     I almost couldn't deal with that answer.  I felt like a little kid who'd just found out that something really cool was just around the corner, but that first he had to actually get around the corner to get to it.  I wanted to go straight through the wall and straight to the thing.  But my curiosity about why Miss E wanted to see me kept me in check.  So I said "okay", and Eze told us the doors were unlocked and that we could get in.  Michael gave me shotgun and he took the back seat.  Once we were in Eze started up the car and we left.  Time to find out what was wanted with me, and why it was so urgent.

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