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It's really interesting how much a person can change in a short amount of time. Before my parents died I was a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of kid. I was friendly. I had my friends. I was a little on the shy side, but it never stopped me from meeting people. I had confidence and didn't care what people had to say about the way I looked or how I carried myself.
Now, a year and few pennies later, I was barely a shadow of my former self. With the death of my parents, the death of a best friend, and all the other shit in between, I couldn't be more opposite of happy-go-lucky. All the teasing at school had hardened my friendliness into icy coldness. More and more I distanced myself. More and more I shut out the world around me and the people in it. It was the only way to stay sane. It was like building a big house, locking myself somewhere inside it and leaving out pits and rots to protect the grounds around the house.
It had taken extreme measures on Michael's part, and an act of unexpected kindness on Faith's part to even get onto the front porch of my house. Michael was the only one who'd gotten his foot in the door, but he still had a ways to go before the door was fully opened to him. Not that I wasn't extremely thankful for everything he'd done so far. It was on an emotional level that I wasn't ready to let him in all the way.
I thought that maybe now my old ways might see fit to loosen up and at least allow me to try and recapture some of the person I used to be. As soon as Eze took his seat in the driver's side next to me, I knew that wasn't going to happen. Seconds after he sat down, it was like he no longer existed to me. I completely phased out his existence on instinct. Whatever happiness or joy that was inside me retreated back under the icy shell, and I became my high school persona.
Five minutes had passed since we'd left The Theatre.
Nobody'd said a word since, which was fine with me. My attention was on
the passenger window, looking out to see if I could get a fix on where
we might be and, or, if we were still in the same town.
"Okay, that's enough of this quiet bullshit. It's uncomfortable, and it's boring." Eze said all of a sudden, startling me, and probably Michael too. He looked over at me as best he could while keeping his eyes on the road. "Enjoyin' your first night up so far?"
I didn't know how to treat this. I mean did he honestly
care if I was enjoying my first night up, or was he just asking to be friendly
because he didn't want to be rude in front of Michael? My money was on
"It's okay." I answered, keeping conversation short and to the point. If a person is going to talk to me, they could at least do it because they really want to.
"Really?" he remarked, looking back fully at the road for a couple of seconds and then back at me as best he could again. "Just okay, huh?"
"Yeah." I said. He almost didn't get that.
Again his eyes went back to the road and he was quiet.
Obviously he'd gotten the point and saw that he'd get more conversation
out of a rancid glass of milk than with me. Of course now he was probably
thinking I was a dick for the way I was acting toward him. That was just
fine. He was entitled to his opinion.
"Evan, please let me make a request." the boy startled me for the second time by speaking completely out of the blue. He spoke this time without taking his eyes off the road. Luckily I didn't jump. At least I think I didn't. "If you're gonna roll with me, then you have got to loosen up dawg! Ain't no reason for somebody to be wound up so tight they might start tickin' at every second that goes by."
Is that true now? Well, if that's the
way he wanted it.
"Then I'll walk." I said flatly.
A smile spread slowly across Eze's face and
he shook his head.
"God-damn if this isn't deja-vu." He said, completely throwing me. That was not the reaction I was expecting.
"Sorry about this, Eze. Looks like he's still a little rough around the edges tonight." Michael apologized from the back seat.
"Don't apologize, Mike. I know where he's comin' from. I respect his wish."
And how could he possibly know where I was
coming from? Last I checked, he didn't know anything about me and I sure
didn't know anything about him. That was unless something had been said
to him by the only person in the car who did know what I'd been through.
"How do you know where I'm coming from?" I asked sharply.
"Let's just say that after my mother died while she was having my little sister, who also died shortly after birth, and my father decided he didn't want a kid anymore and split with some bitch who'd been suckin' his dick on the side...I was a pretty bitter and non-sociable person. So I'm assuming you've been through something similar or worse." he revealed, making me feel better in the belief that Michael had kept what I'd told him between us, but also making me feel like an ass for ridiculing him.
"I...I'm sorry." I told him, meaning it for the ridicule and especially for his mother and sister. At least my parents had been taken from me by an uncontrollable circumstance. Eze's mother had been taken by the same means, but his father had flat out abandoned him. I can't imagine what its like to have a parent do that.
Eze cleared his throat and adjusted the rear
"So am I, dawg." he said. He must've thought I was only apologizing for his mother and sister.
Eze had pulled a complete mind scramble on
me by telling me what he'd told me. I expected him to be offended, not
able to almost relate. It was almost because my parents were only part
of the reason why I was behaving the way I was. The majority was because
of the kids at school.
"Evan, you realize this isn't high school, right? Nobody is here to fuck with you. You're a part of something completely different now. You're among friends." Michael came along and hit the nail that Eze had grazed right on the head.
He obviously didn't know how hard it was re-adapting
to that concept. He was talking to somebody who was so used to the opposite
that he almost didn't know what "friendly" was anymore. Instead of seeing
people my age as potential friends, I saw them as potential enemies.
"I almost forgot there was such a thing." I said, looking back out the passenger window.
"Been there, done that. That was until I met Jade. She was the one who broke me down and told me that I couldn't hold on to all the shit I was holding on to forever and that I was going to have to let it go, get over it, and move on with my life. She told me that if I didn't it would eat me up from the inside out until there was nothing left." Eze was doing he relating thing again.
That was a good point but it was easier said
than done, especially because I hadn't had a whole lot of time to get used
to the concept again. I honestly didn't want to keep being the person I'd
been made into. It wasn't me...or at least what I thought "me" should be.
Well, at least I realized my issue and at least I wanted to change it.
"Jade your girlfriend?" I decided to try my hand at a conversation. Might as well start trying to re-adapt now.
"Psshhh! Yeah, right! Even if I was on the muff diver team, she probably wouldn't get with me if it rained fire and brimstone and left me and her the only two existing people in the world and the only hope for the survival of the human race. Plus me and her are like brother and sister, so thinking about each other that way feels a little nasty."
That was the same relationship I had back home
with a girl named Tanya. Me and her had known each other since kindergarten
and over time we'd gotten close, but both of us couldn't see ourselves
together in a relationship for nothing...wait a second. Did Eze just say...
"And before you ask, yes I am." he interrupted me asking myself the question in my head.
My head turned from the passenger window and
directly toward Eze.
"You're kidding." I said.
"Do you see a smile on my face?" he answered without turning.
No. He looked pretty damn serious as far as
I could see. Gee. This was going pretty well so far. Barely five minutes
into a conversation and already my foot had found its way into my mouth.
"I'm sorry. I...I just...I mean...I never would've thought. You...you don't look the part at all." I tried to recover.
"Well, I left my lisp and my limp wrist in my other pants." Eze smiled a bit, but still didn't turn.
Okay. I was just going to sit here and shut up for
the rest of the ride. Earlier I'd been trying to keep him from talking
to me and that was my only intention. I was not trying to insult
him. I felt like I'd just done that.
"Don't worry, dawg, I ain't gonna jump your bones or nothin'. Not to say that you're ugly or anything though, because I'm diggin' the whole black skater boy thing you got goin' on." Eze said, reminding me about something.
Looking down I saw that I had on a pair of dark blue jeans. From the look alone I could tell they were one size too big. I always brought them like that because one: that way I had a reason to put on a belt instead of buying a pair that fit and then putting it on just because, and two: they were a lot easier to skate around in. Moving upward I had on a light gray shirt that had the words "Black Magic" stenciled in white across the upper middle portion of the shirt with the outline of a red star between black and magic. It was fitting me the way the majority of my shirts did, comfortable, but not baggy. Going back down my shoes they were a pair of Vans. They were completely black, even when it came to the shoe laces. Making another trip back up, I lifted my shirt a bit and saw the belt on them was black, leather, and had a skull buckle on it. Even my boxers were gray and they were boxer briefs. I didn't like regular ones because my dick always seemed to find the hole and went leaping out every chance it got.
What I had on now was the exact same thing I was
wearing before what had happened in the park.
"Did you guys get me clothes or are these my same ones?" I asked, remembering I was quite naked while I was at the morgue.
"Got you new ones. Thought you'd feel a little awkward if you woke up buttnaked in a place you didn't know around people you didn't know."
They did a damn good job! I wasn't able to
tell the difference at all.
"Thanks. I have no idea why I didn't notice that until now." I said.
"No problem." Michael accepted.
I stared at my clothes for a minute, still
trippin' over how exact they were, before I looked over at Eze and responded
to what he'd said,
"You actually don't have a problem with the way I look?"
"Well...no, but...I guess I'm just used to people trippin' off it." I replied.
"People like who?"
"Like the kids at my high school."
"Let me guess. Too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids?"
"Almost. The white kids thought I was more of a poser than anything else."
Eze laughed to himself and shook his head.
"It's a good thing they never met me then. `Cause I woulda had `em all twisted!"
"Assuming you could've told them the truth." Michael joined in, getting my attention.
"Which is?" I asked, not sure what Michael met by "the truth". If he meant telling them he was a vampire then that wouldn't really screw with them, unless he showed them.
"The fact that I'm mixed." Eze responded.
I really could've heard that wrong, but I could
swear Eze just said he was mixed.
"Really?" I said it more to see if I'd heard him correctly.
Okay mixed with what? Because Eze looked straight
white to me.
"Really? You're mixed?" I wanted to be SURE we were on the same page.
Again he nodded.
"Yup. Black and white. Kinda hard to tell with this straight brown hair and these blue ass eyes, huh?"
All right. We were definitely on the same page
and I was totally confused about how.
"Okay, you lost me." I said.
"I'll let Mike explain it `cause I'll only fuck it up if I do." Eze passed the torch to him.
"Eze is what you call a Dark Blinder. It's a type of glitch that happens during the conception phase of pregnancy. Eze's mother was black and his father was white. Instead of those colors being combined to make Eze the color he is, the black color was seen as white. So when he was born it was like he came from two white people. He acquired all the traits from his mother like he should've, except for that one regarding color." Michael explained.
Now I could see why it would leave the kids
at school twisted because I was twisted.
"That is crazy." was all I could say.
"Yup. I guess it's like the vampire form of an albino. Trip is, though, that it could've gone the other way too. It could've taken all the black instead of the white and I could've come out like both my parents were black. That's called a Light Blinder." Eze said.
"Do they know what causes it to happen?"
"The only thing that seems to matter is that it happens to children born of parents who've both got vampiric blood in their bloodlines. And then it's like a one in a million occurrence." Michael answered.
"So yeah. Ima freak!" Eze remarked, making me smile a little.
We talked more about Dark and Light Blinders and that led into a conversation about vampire culture in general. Come to find out vampires weren't as black and white as I was starting to think they were. From what Eze understood vampires evolved over time just like human beings had, and according to sporadic conversations he'd pick up here and there, there were even different "types" of vampires. There were vampires like us with the super strength, super senses, ability to fly, and the ability to mesmerize. There were vampires that had the super strength and super senses, but for some reason they didn't have the natural ability to fly or mesmerize. What they got in place of that was some kind of special ability that was unique to each specific vampire of their kind. He wasn't sure what the third type was because he hadn't heard anything about them. Just that they existed.
With us having plenty to talk about I didn't have time to really focus on Miss E and why she wanted to see me. All of that didn't start coming back to me until we pulled into an alley, turned right at the third building and were face to face with an iron gate that was blocking entry into an underground carport.
On Eze's side was what I thought was the thing where the numbers got put in in order to open the gate, only where the number buttons should've been there was just a black panel. I found out it was really a finger print reader when Eze rolled down his window and pressed his right thumb against the panel. A few seconds later, the gate activated and began to open.
As soon as the gate started opening, Eze reached
into his coat pocked and took out his phone. He pressed a couple
of buttons and put it to his ear.
"Hey, it's Eze. I'm comin' down with the two people Miss E wanted to see."
I couldn't hear what was being said on the
other end, but whatever it was, Eze nodded his head and said,
"Yeah, them." Again silence for a moment as he listened. "All right. See you in a minute."
He took the phone away from his ear, pressed
the button to end the call, and put it back into his pocket. By this
time the gate was fully open, so he drove inside, and the gate began to
close the second his car had cleared it.
"Comin' in through the back way like we're doing, you always gotta give security the heads up unless we wanna end up jacked up." Eze said to me, guessing probably that I was wondering what the phone call was all about.
At first I wondered why that kind of security
would be needed at a club. Then I remembered Michael saying that
Miss E was like the governor of the vampires for this town. A human
governor would have their security hooked up to the "T". No reason
why a vampire governor should be any different.
"Speaking of, did they ever track down or find out who that was that tried to get in here a couple of weeks ago?" Michael asked. Eze shook his head.
"Nope on both those. Whoever it was, though, the son of a bitch was like a ghost. I heard that security emptied like two or three clips per man on it and they never hit it."
"How many people shot at it?"
"Ten. And I'm talking about ten highly trained personnel. Not no flashlight totin', mace carrying rent-a-cops."
Ten? That meant at the lowest twenty
clips had been emptied on whatever it was security was shooting at.
I don't know much about guns, so I don't know how many bullets are in a
clip, but I figured there was enough so that whatever was being shot at
should've been hit at least ten or more times. Even if they were
aiming at another vampire, it was hard to imagine something fast enough
to dodge a butt-load of bullets coming from every which way.
"Was it one of us?" Michael asked.
"That's the trip. I heard talk that it was, and talk that it wasn't. Of course I'm not gonna ask, `cause its not supposed to be any of my business no way. But rumors are flyin' between the security people, and they've been doing everything to try and keep it quiet."
Eze looked back at Michael and then over at
me, and said quietly,
"So don't either of you say shit about this. I didn't say nothin' ya'll didn't hear nothin'. K?"
I nodded yes in reply.
"I wont say anything."
"Lips are sealed." Michael added to that.
"Cool." Eze accepted our pledge.
The underground carport was built from cinderblock,
painted white, and was well lit, but it wasn't all that big. There
were nine cars already in there, and there was only one space open.
Eze went for that one and parked the car. After he'd turned off the
car, he turned to me and said,
"This F.Y.I is for you, since you ain't never been here before. Stay with me at all times. Wherever I go, you go, unless I say something different. Security is real tight and if you step outta line, they'll trip, and you don't want that headache."
"Okay." I said, unable to help feeling a little paranoid now.
"All right. Let's go."
We started walking off toward the right from where Eze had parked. After hearing about the shooting, and getting Eze's warning to stay close to him, my eyes were looking all around the place for anything that might even resemble security or a secure device. I was afraid to turn my head and actively look around because I didn't know if that could be taken as me possibly scoping the place out. Michael and Eze had been here before, so security knew them. They didn't know anything about me and would probably shoot first and ask questions later. Okay. I'm officially paranoid now. Just keep walking. Do what Eze said and everything'll be okay.
We walked across the small parking lot toward a regular sized black door. Without telling them to do it, my eyes analyzed it. It wasn't a regular door. It was probably reinforced because the surface looked smooth and like it was made out of some type of metal. In front of the door were two men who could've easily passed for statues. They were still. Really still. It didn't even look like their chests were rising and falling to show that they were even breathing to me. Their eyes were covered by dark colored glasses, and they wore dark blue suits. One had dark colored hair and was pretty built up muscularly. The other one had blond colored hair and was definitely female, but she had good enough size on her and could probably throw down pretty well.
Eze stopped a couple of feet away from them.
Michael and me stopped right behind him.
"These guys are Miss E's appointment." he said to them.
The woman nodded and reached toward the door. Why I didn't notice this before is beyond me, but I realized at that second that the door had no handle. Instead there was this small panel where the doorknob should've been. It was the same kind of panel that Eze had put his thumb on in order to get the gate to open to the carport earlier. The woman didn't press her thumb onto this panel, though. She just moved her hand past it slowly and a couple of seconds later, the sound of something unlocking was heard and the door started to open.
Once the door was fully open the woman indicated with her hand for us to enter. Eze went first, with me going next, and Michael going after me. As I passed the two people I didn't even look at them. I kept my eyes forward the whole time. Damn both of them were scary! There's was just something about them not talking and the way they moved and the way they acted that gave me chills. If they were security, I feel sorry for anybody who has to cross paths with them.
The door led us into a hallway that was medium in length. I almost jumped when we first walked in because I wasn't expecting there to be two more people standing by the door. Both of them were just as creepy as the two outside and it didn't even seem like they knew we were walking past them. But I knew they did. I couldn't see them watching me, but I could feel it. Yeah. These people had to be security.
The hallway was dimly lit and had nothing really special about it. It just led to another door, which was already open, and had two more security personnel standing guard at it. The second door had a walled in stairway that led up. The walls were painted in a dark red color and there were these little lights on the walls that looked almost like lanterns. Not like camping lanterns, but Japanese lanterns. Like the ones they put candles and stuff in. These had electric lights in them instead of candles, but they gave off low enough light that together they lit the place up, but sort of gave it this...I don't know. If there's a word that means both beautiful and unnatural, then that's the kind of feeling the hallway gave off.
We were about halfway up the stairs when I started
hearing sounds. My ears went to work, breaking down the sound, and
a split second later I knew what the sound was. Music. A very
light rhythmic thumping beat.
"We must be about to enter the club." I thought to myself, feeling a little curiosity rising up inside myself. If this was how the hallway looked, I wondered what the rest of the place looked like.
The closer we got to the top of the stairs, the louder
the music got. There was yet another door and this one had a man
in front of it who didn't look like the Security personnel we'd seen on
the way up. This was a black guy. He had some size on him right
to the point of being husky, but it was probably little fat and all muscle.
He had a face that looked sort of young with a trimmed mustache, and a
beard that began at the bottom left and right sides of his jaw as a thin
trail of hair that went along the bottom of his jaw line, thickening out
the closer it got to his chin. The two sides came together in the
center of his chin and went up to join the small amount of hair that was
in that spot beneath the bottom lip. His hair was cut low, but not
short, on all sides and he had on a black pair of slacks, a black button
up shirt and a black trench coat. The only thing that wasn't black
was his glasses (the lenses had a purple look to them) and his necktie.
It was a bright color green that should've jacked the whole look up, but
instead made it look even better.
"This is Miss E's appointment I'm presuming?" he spoke once we were almost to him. His voice had deep, mellow tone.
"Yes. These are the guys she wanted to see by the end of the night." Eze answered him.
Eze looked back at us, but it seemed like he
was looking more towards my direction.
"Evan this is Miss E's second in command, Tim. Tim, Evan." he introduced us.
Tim took off his glasses and put them into
an interior pocket of his coat. His eyes were a harsh colored light
brown. He extended his hand out toward me and smiled just a bit.
"So, you're our new Sleeper, huh?"
I put my hand out and shook his, nodding as
"Yes." I answered a little weakly, as he gave my hand a firm shake. I was still plenty paranoid about this place and the people in it.
Tim's smile widened as our handshake ended.
"You don't have to be scared, little man. You're with friends here. The men and women downstairs are paid to look like they do. They're only here for everyone's protection."
"Okay." I tried to sound a little less weak, but I probably sounded worse if anything.
Tim looked over at Michael, his smile still
on his face.
"Sorry about making you have to do two trips tonight."
"It's no problem at all." Michael told him.
"Well, let's get you upstairs to see the woman you came to see."
He turned to the door he was standing in front of and opened it. The second he did, the music came through full blast. It had changed up from what I'd heard earlier. The beat will still hard and rhythmic, but it was a lot faster. I never really listened to house style music before, but knew what it was when I heard it. This was it. It was a house style beat with an Asian style tune mixed together. I never would've thought of doing it, but it sounded pretty good.
Eze followed Tim, Michael followed Eze, and I followed Michael out of the stairway and into the club. We'd come in back by where the entrance to the restrooms were. This hallway was a lot wider and more brightly lit, but by the same style lights that were in the stairway. Another security guard stood against the right wall, doing his best impression of a statue. A couple of feet from him was another stairway and on down toward the opposite end of the hallway was what I figured was the way into the main area of the club. I thought that's where we were going, until Tim turned and went up the stairs. I was a little disappointed. I kind of wanted to see how the club looked. I'd never been in one before. Speaking of which, were we even old enough to be in a club?
The second stairway was wider than the last
one and led to another hallway that had a door on the left side, right
side, and straight ahead. Two more security guards were posted in
the hall. They didn't even look our way as we passed them.
Midway down the hallway, Tim reached into his coat and took out a cell
phone. It looked like he only pressed two buttons and put it to his ear.
Speed dial, or memory probably.
"Hey, it's Tim. We're almost at the door." Tim spoke a few seconds later.
He was quiet, listening, then said,
"Okay, no problem." and ended the call and put the phone back into his pocket.
"Eze, Jade needs you on the floor. Miss said thank you for getting Michael and Evan here as fast as you did." Tim said to Eze without turning.
"Tell her no problem. Right place. Right time. "Eze said, stopping, and turning around to head back down the hallway. On his way he turned to me and stopped.
"It was nice to meet you, Evan. Hopefully you'll come through and chill sometime."
"Yeah, we'll see. It was nice to meet you too." I responded, feeling like I'd made another friend that night, despite inserting foot into mouth earlier. Damn. That made four people in one night. I wasn't counting Ava-Marie, Jake, or Josh, because I really hadn't gotten much time to be around them. And as far as things were looking with Mac, it might be awhile before I could even call him associate. I didn't really know Tim either, but so far, just like the others I didn't consider friend yet, he seemed cool.
Eze went on to wherever it was he had to go
and me and Michael followed Tim the rest of the way down the hall to the
door at the end. He knocked on it a couple of times.
"Come on in, Tim." a woman's voice from the other end said.
Tim opened the door and stepped in. Michael kept walking, so I kept going to. We stepped into a very nice looking office. Nothing super extravagant, but nothing ghetto looking either.
Against the walls on the left and right side of the door were black leather sofas. Directly across from us was a large desk made out of something that looked black, shiny, and smooth. Normal office type stuff was on it. A computer monitor on the left side, a telephone on the right, a day planner and some other papers in the center. A holder for pens and pencils. A pencil sharpener. Things like that.
To the left, it started off as a regular wall, but in the middle of it the wall turned to glass. As soon as I looked at it I knew what it was. I'd seen the same thing in the movie Rush Hour. It was the dark colored one-way glass that allowed a person to look out, but nobody could see in. Since I'd never been in a club before I guessed at the time that most club owners had them so that they could keep an eye on their business without having to necessarily be out there on the floor.
The person who the office belong to was standing
near the one way glass looking out at the club as we walked in. It
was a black woman. She looked like she was a little shorter than
Tim, and not quite his body size, but not quite skinny either. She
had a pretty, well rounded, young looking face. Her eyes were light
brown and her brownish-reddish looking hair was cut short and done in this
style to where it looked like it was spiked up. It was the same kind
of style that a white or Mexican boy (or girl) might wear there hair.
It came down in the front over her forehead, but was short enough so that
it didn't cover her eyes. It was a style I'd never seen on a black
woman before and it was definitely working for the positive. She was dressed
for business, but casually. This had to be Miss E, the woman I was
there to see.
* * * * * *