“Hey babe! Sorry I didn’t call yesterday!” I spoke into my cellphone as I speedily tried to find the cat food aisle in the grocery store in my neighborhood. “I just…” I found the right spot, but since someone was stocking a nearby shelf, I didn’t want to mention my vampire encounter. Frankly, even though I tended to tell Lilith everything, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to share that with her! I guessed that she wouldn’t come back to me if she thought I was losing my mind, so even though it felt weird to lie to her, I decided to keep that a secret from her. “… I just fell asleep early last night.” That wasn’t a completely fib, I did fall asleep in the living room for a while! “Work is going well, the kids are really into the subject now! Oh, I…” The voicemail cut me off, so I redialed and continued to leave a message as soon as I reached her voicemail again, “… I decided to store all of our old furniture at my house instead of paying for storage, so if you want any of it, you can come get it. Or if you’d like to stay, it’ll look familiar! Well, I gotta run an errand before work, so I better go! I love-.” It cut me off again, so I just shrugged it off as I put my phone away.
The stocker had been giving me a peculiar stare, but as soon as he noticed that I saw him, he quickly returned to his work. I turned my attention to the wall of cat food in front of me, and my brain went blank! I had no clue that they made so many different kinds of it! I had no idea what the best brand was! I know my mom had a kitty when I was young, but I didn’t see it on there, so I was pretty sure it got discontinued. The stocker could probably sense my confusion since he asked me, “Can I help you find something?”
“Yeah, I don’t usually buy this stuff, so I’m a little lost on what to get right now,” I answered him.
He inquired, “What did you feed your cat before?”
I replied, “Chinese food.” He gave me another funny look, and between that and the phone call, he probably thought I was totally demented! I’m really glad I didn’t mention the vampire thing! I clarified for him, “She’s a stray, I just adopted her last night.”
“Oh, okay!” He seemed a lot more agreeable after I disclosed that detail. “Well, if she was living outside, you might wanna get this outdoor formula one for now. When you take her to the vet, you can always get their recommendation for what to use in the future.”
“She’s not sick, so that probably won’t be anytime soon,” I stated as I picked up the twenty pound bag.
The stocker grew alarmed by that. “You have to get her checked out! Outside cats often carry diseases like mange, worms, or-.”
I’m not sure why he wanted to give me a long-winded explanation when I was carrying something heavy! Plus, I didn’t need the mental picture of Jett with worms inside of her! I didn’t mean to be rude, but I just had to interrupt him, “Great! I’ll get right on that!”
I could tell he had more to discuss with me, but I turned around and headed towards the registers. I ran into the produce section first, and there just happened to be a display of garlic nearby. In my head, I joked that I should get one to keep Damon away from me, but within seconds I no longer found that funny! Even though he hadn’t shown any signs of aggression towards me, I knew it wouldn’t take long until he realized that my knowledge of the situation was detrimental towards his plans. Eventually, I felt sure that he would come after me, but not if I had a vampire repellant with me! I grabbed a clove, and I wished I had gotten a shopping cart as I headed towards the check-out stands.
As I headed out of the house, I put a bowl of food on the front porch, and by bowl, I mean a small storage container. As Jett happily ate her food, I made an internal note to buy her a real kitty bowl. A part of me felt uncomfortable sending her outside again since I feared what could have been lurking in that house across the street, but she was very persistent. I reasoned that Damon would be at school, so she’d probably be fine. As I went to my car, something sprang out of that abandoned house, and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest! For a minute, I worried that he had sprung out for an attack, but then I saw a bat flying in the direction of the school. It never occurred to me as to how he got to campus before, but if I had tried to predict it, I wouldn’t have put my money on him flying there! I found it bizarre that he flew to get to class, and as I got into my vehicle, I wondered something… If he could still make it there, why couldn’t his victims also go back?
Another student went missing from my first period class. I was glad that the class had their Hamlet test that day because I could hardly concentrate! Every day, more and more kids were disappearing, and I knew I had to do something about it, but I didn’t have the foggiest notion on any actions I could take to stop Damon! During third period, I watched him fill out his responses, and I didn’t see any hints as to how he communicated with his victims. As far as I could tell, he pretty much kept to himself. I saw him talk to a student for the first time that day, but he just requested that they hand in his paper since he could smell garlic on me and he was “allergic.” I supposed that was technically true, but it didn’t seem like a totally fitting description of garlic’s effect on vampires! As he headed to lunch, a part of me wished I could have held him back. I felt uneasy with him going out there and possibly recruiting his next victim, and it bugged me that I felt so helpless to block him from committing those atrocities!
I heated up my leftover Chinese food (not anything that Jett touched), and I could hear the eclectic teachers chatting behind me. I didn’t pay much attention to them, I had too much to think about to care about what they were saying, but that changed when Phoebe walked in! She had that same warm aura around her, and her perfume smelled so good! But she looked so sad, and it greatly concerned me that something had hurt her! I had hoped that she still didn’t feel upset about our little spat, and as I sat down, I listened in and prayed that wasn’t the case. The girly girl queried to her, “What’s wrong?”
“Steve is missing!” she revealed. “He’s the fourth one to disappear in the last few days! I’m used to kids being absent from time to time, but these children are just gone! I’m not used to so many police officers coming by trying to find our students! Something scary is going on here! Someone is going after them! I just wish I knew why so I could end this horrible thing!”
“I know what to do!” I abruptly put in. They all seemed that I had so unexpectedly joined their conversation, and given my prior history with them all, I wouldn’t have normally bothered, but I couldn’t help myself this time! I couldn’t listen to the pain in Phoebe’s voice and do nothing! “Well, that’s a lie. I have no idea what to do, but I know where to look!”
Everyone but Phoebe had an expression of mistrust on their faces, and the man in the gym clothes grilled me, “And why should we listen to you? Would saving these kids win back your ex? What made you suddenly start caring?”
The girly girl crinkled her nose at me. “And why do you smell like garlic?”
“Hey, I know we got off on the wrong foot,” I tried to entreat them, “but I think-.”
“You think?” the short guy sneered. “We need facts in this scenario, not just random opinions!”
The older lady challenged me, “What makes you believe we’d even want your help after how you treated Phoebe? Just go back and eat your lunch! We’ll figure this out ourselves!”
I knew I created some hard feelings with those teachers, but I was a little surprised by their aggressive reaction! It also really hurt that they weren’t willing to hear me out when I only meant to help them! “Okay, fine! Sorry I tried to lend a hand! I just thought you cared about the safety of your students!”
I had already mentally prepared myself to deal with it on my own when Phoebe grabbed my arm, prompting me to freeze. Despite my wounded emotions, I got a thrill from her touch! Her warmth and softness almost made me forget my troubles until she started talking and brought me back to Earth again, “Wait! Shouldn’t we at least hear what he has to say?”
A rush of gratitude swept through me when she said that! She should have been the angriest of all, but she stuck up for me! I thought that if she could forgive me, they should too since they were outraged on her behalf. Evidently, they saw it that way too because they reluctantly allowed me to join them. “Go ahead,” the girly girl bade me.
“Well…” I considered blurting out that this haunted house held a growing number of vampires, but I realized how insane that would have sounded to them, so, to earn their trust, I needed to slowly easy into it. “A few days ago, I saw Corvina walking around my neighborhood, and Damon attacked her! She fell to the ground all limp, so I called the police.” I left out the part where I threw up and fainted. I mean, if I could pretend that didn’t occur, then why not? “When the police came, she acted like she was fine and nothing went on, but then, the next day, she didn’t show up to class! Then more and more kids started going missing too, and I’m sure Damon did the same thing to them!”
“How do you know?” the short guy probed. “Maybe it was just a coincidence.”
This is the part I felt sure I’d lose them! It was the truth, but I had trouble buying into still, so why wouldn’t’ they all feel the same way? Still, I had to tell them sometime, so I forced myself to get it over with, “Damon’s fangs grew, and he sucked a bunch of blood out of Corvina’s neck! But he’s not just some kind of weird cannibal! When she reemerged, her mouth had grown bigger! Then, I know this’ll sound wild, but I saw them turn into bats! Yes, it’s an absolutely crazy thing to hear, but I swear, I’m being honest! Damon is turning our students into vampires!” They all gawked at me in total disbelief, and after a moment of stunned silence, I questioned them, “You all wanna have me committed, don’t you?”
The older lady commented, “Actually, I was gonna say I want whatever you’re smoking!”
“I wish I was high!” When those words came out of my mouth, I immediately corrected myself, “That’s not what I meant! I don’t want drugs; I just wish I had hallucinated that whole situation! I denied it for so long! Everyone tried to warn me about that creepy house across the street, but I wouldn’t listen! Now that that all this happened, I-.”
“Wait, is this creepy house on the cul-du-sac on Dusk Lily Lane?” the guy in gym shorts wanted to know.
I confirmed, “Yeah. Does everyone in Terrible, I mean, Terra Belle know about that house?” The guy in gym shorts nodded with wide eyes, and everyone else looked disturbed at that concept, so I threw in another detail for them, “Damon came out of that house. Wait, do you all have Damon in your class? I just assumed that everyone knew about him since he’s so strange…”
The girly girl remarked, “Yeah, we have him in our classes too.”
“I have to cover a poster of the circulatory system before fifth period ‘cause he’s always drooling over it,” the short man let me know.
“He refuses to put on his P.E. uniform,” the guy in gym shorts recalled. “He goes through a lot of trouble to act like a vampire, but I never thought he was a real one!”
He didn’t seem totally convinced, but I felt relieved that they were at least considering my claims! I hoped that I could get them completely on board so that we could come up with a plan since I think I made it pretty clear that I was clueless on what to do. The older lady turned to Phoebe with an overly skeptical tone, and she posed to her, “What do you think?”
Phoebe mulled the issue over, and my body got filled with apprehension! The fact that she hadn’t dismissed my story right away bode well for me, so I just crossed my fingers that she would come to my side on this! My anticipation had mounted at its highest when she finally spoke up, “You called the police?” I nodded. It wasn’t the reply I had been expecting, but I held my breath that perhaps this acknowledgement would lead to something positive for my cause.! “So, there’s a record out there that she got attacked before she disappeared! Connor may have been the last one to see her again!”
The short man asked Phoebe, “So, you’re saying you buy into this whole vampire theory?”
Phoebe answered him, “I’m saying that whatever happened to Corvina started out there! Have you talked to any detectives about this?”
“No. The police thought I lost my mind before they dismissed me, so I doubt any detectives would wanna talk to me,” I relayed to her.
“If no one heard from Corvina again after that incident, then the detectives should be searching there for clues!” the girly girl conjectured.
I denied that, “They’re not! Everyone refused to set foot on that property!”
The man in gym shorts opined, “I don’t blame them! I wouldn’t touch that place with a ten foot pole!”
Phoebe asserted, “I’m sorry to hear you say that! ‘Cause if the police aren’t looking there, then we’ll have to do it ourselves!”