When Damon limped into the classroom, Roxy gasped, “Oh no! Damon, what happened?”
Pretending to have no clue how he sustained that injury, I repeated her question, “Yeah, Damon! What happened?”
As he glared at me, it was hard not to give him a cheeky grin in return. He eventually supplied a lame response, “I fell.”
In my head, I pointed out that he didn’t fall but did make a dog plummet to the ground as he fled his unsuccessful attempt to prey on a student, but out loud, I instructed the class, “Alright… Let’s discuss what you read over the weekend. Do you think the doctor can cure Lucy of her so-called health condition?” A couple of students raised their hands, but Roxy gestured so wildly that I had no choice but to call on her, “Yes, Roxy?”
“In my opinion, everyone should stop trying to cure her and let her go be with her vampire lover!” She gazed at Damon adoringly as she went on, “I worry about the vampire’s health and hope he can still go to the dance with Lucy…”
“Uh… It sounds like you’re writing your own story there! Did anyone see the symbolism in giving blood to her?” Normally, I would have enjoyed seeing Damon get annoyed by her pursuit of him, but I couldn’t let her alter the other kids’ understanding of the material! I didn’t want Ms. Branagh to come back and suffer another heart attack from how badly I messed up her lesson plan! I noted how officially teacher-like I had acted right then, which felt strange since a couple weeks ago, I had every intention of quitting this position to run back into the arms of my ex in Philadelphia, and now, not only was I learning towards staying put and staying away from her, but I actually started to really assume command of a role I never envisioned myself keeping! It really struck me how much I committed myself to getting this job done right, especially with a chancy arrangement looming over me once this shift was done! I sort of found it funny that, in that moment, I hoped we were successful in our goal so that tomorrow Damon wouldn’t show up and disrupt my next lesson!
I almost walked towards my car out of habit, but when I remembered the agenda for that evening, I recalled that my vehicle wasn’t waiting for me in the parking lot as usual. We planned on going straight to the estates after school, and I wasn’t comfortable leaving something so expensive on the street so late, so I rode in with Fletcher that day. The others were perfectly fine leaving their cars outside that territory as we worked in it, actually, it seemed like Aleck wanted someone to steal his clunker! With all of the luxurious rides so close to the neighborhood we would be leaving our wheels in, I doubted that a thief would choose to risk jailtime for that old thing, but I didn’t bring that up to him- I let him hold on to that faint hope of his insurance paying for a new one! Fletcher and I changed in the gym’s bathroom before we left, and based on our appearances, I began to have doubts about this idea of mine…
Evidently, the security guard in the booth guarding the property shared my impression of our outfits because he lowered his sunglasses to give us a second look. Fletcher and I strived to maintain a natural demeanor, but the super’s uniform that he wore was comfortably tight on him and extremely lose on me! I hid some of the slack against the seat behind me, but I doubted that I had any success in convincing the guard that my clothes were formfitting! The security guard certainly must have been suspicious, but he played it cool as he asked us, “How can I help you gentlemen?”
“We’re here to secure the statues in the area,” Fletcher answered him. “Apparently, they’re not on solid foundations, and one of the gargoyles was used to hurt somebody!”
“I don’t see any repairs scheduled for today…” He flipped through some papers on his clipboard, and I planted a fake smile on my face as I was inwardly panicking! The thorniest part of this ordeal was getting past the gatekeepers, and when I plotted all this out, I assumed that Fletcher’s truck and Ellie’s husband’s uniforms would give off enough of a professional impression that security would just wave us through. If we faltered here, it would have been nearly impossible for us to find another way inside, and another innocent student would succumb to Damon’s sinister scheme! Fortunately, the guard concluded, “You must be telling the truth though ‘cause I don’t know how you’d know about the gargoyle incident otherwise! Okay, well, welcome to Carpathian Manor!” We thanked him and waited until we were on the other side of the boom barrier to breath a sigh of relief!
We parked at the pool house, and once we could guarantee that the coast was clear, we lifted the tarp so that the other four could get out. I envied how close Ellie got to Phoebe, and obviously she had grown jealous of my position too since she muttered, “I should’ve just put on one of Victor’s uniforms! Tight clothes would have been so much better than tight spaces!”
Ginger remarked, “I can’t believe we’re really gonna fix these statues!”
“We have to have a good reason for hanging around here all day so no one reports us,” Phoebe reminded her. “Plus, security wouldn’t have let them in if they claimed they were gonna do repairs after dark!”
“Where did this crap go?” Fletcher queried while he grabbed a pool net to retrieve the statue at the bottom of the pool.
Aleck showed him where he got it from, and we took our sweet time putting on industrial glue at the bottom of the gargoyle. We inched our way around the vicinity and slowly fixed the gargoyles as we saw them. I found myself tugging at my jumper as it exposed my shoulders, and I could tell that Fletcher had tough time trying to breathe in his! Sunset didn’t seem so far away from our arrival until we had to endure such ill-fitting garments! I sincerely hoped that Damon wouldn’t wait too long after twilight to get here! We reasoned that it was a school night, so he wouldn’t want to go out too late. As the hours crept by though, I wondered about that! Damon did get good grades, but did he actually go to bed at a typical time that other children would? Did he even require sleep to function? I didn’t feel so confident about his sleep schedule considering that vampires were typically nocturnal…
When the sun began to go down, we started to run out of statues to fix. We wound up back by the pool again, and Aleck suggested, “We could go back to just hiding from the guards again.”
“We should forget the statues!” Ginger seconded that notion. “We need to focus on doing what we came here for and protect our student from the monsters who are after him! I think we should try hanging around his house. I doubt if he’ll wanna go swimming after what he went through last night!”
“Oh, hey Ms. Ziven!” a teenage boy pulled up to us in a golf cart and a fluffy white robe. “Are you guys out here tutoring again?”
Ginger echoed, “Again?”
The boy shrugged. “Yeah, I figured that’s why you came here.”
We all silently admonished ourselves for not coming up with that line before we went through all this trouble! That just seemed so much simpler than all of the effort we put into this escapade, and we all could have worn more desirable outfits too! We didn’t dwell on that too much though- now that Damon’s target arrived, we had a job to do! The boy headed towards the pool, and Aleck inquired, “Peter, you’re seriously going in there after what happened yesterday?”
“Well, yeah! It’s not like those thugs would strike in the same place twice!” Peter rationalized. We didn’t say it out loud, but we were sure he would love to have another go at an attack in this spot! He probably went over the incident with Corvina and deciphered a better strategy to capture his prey! He saw the worrisome expressions on our faces, and he interpreted it in a very different way than we would have expected, “Wait, is it my turn to get tutored?”
“Uh… Yeah… We were just heading your way…” Phoebe fibbed.
Peter circled back to his golf cart and invited us, “Come on over! Oh, are you all walking? Does anyone wanna hop on board with me?”
He only had one extra seat, and we all were so weary from the back and forth we did with the statues that we all scrambled for it! Ginger beat us to it, so the rest of us resigned ourselves to following his vehicle to his house. I was glad that he was impervious to Fletcher and me wearing mis-sized uniforms, and I was tempted to query if his father possibly had clothing in my size that I could borrow. All of a sudden, I knew I would not get the chance to find out- we all saw bats heading in the direction of his house! Ginger proposed, “You know, it’s such a nice day, we could tutor you out by the pool…”
“I don’t have any of my papers with me though,” Peter countered. “And neither do you, so don’t we kinda have to go to my house?”
“Nah, we have everything we need memorized!” I lied. I had my doubts about this ploy working, but it was worth a shot! If we could keep Peter away from danger, our jobs would become so much easier!
Peter considered my argument, but then he declined, “We’re almost at my house anyways. Maybe next time.”
We all covertly gave each other grim looks as we headed towards his abode. We secretly held on to our stakes in case Damon decided to ambush us on the way there, and each step we took made us more and more on edge of that being a real possibility! I prayed that we could hurry and shoo Peter inside prior to Damon’s siege, but considering this was his last chance to nab a student until he concocted a new scheme, I believed that this ambush would be more brazen than the rest. We peered at each tree, hoping to thwart him as soon as possible, and it frightened us when we got to his address and didn’t see him anywhere! I was highly skeptical that a pack of bats would show up in a ritzy area like this under regular circumstances, so I was fairly certain he was around, but where was the question! Was he hiding inside of his home already? Was there a way to precede Peter into his home without it being too weird?
To our shock, Damon and his cronies (minus Corvina) were waiting for him by the front door! We stood ready for battle, but Peter didn’t seem at all worried by this visit! “Oh, hi! Are you guys here for the tutoring session too?”
“Uh… Definitely! Let’s go inside and learn!” Damon urged.
“Nope! We’re gonna teach outside today!” I redirected Peter to sit on his front lawn. I thought that Peter was the only kid I knew who would buy the concept of a group of educators showing up to his home at nightfall to tutor kids outside, but, for now, I was grateful of his trusting naivete!
I expected Damon to argue, but instead, he asserted, “Yes, this is perfect! We can reenact the sleepwalking scene from Dracula! Peter, you can play Lucy!”
Peter obliged, “Okay!”
“No, I’ll be Lucy!” Phoebe planted Peter back on the ground and strolled over to where the vampire pack stood. Phoebe held out her arms, closed her eyes, and chanted, “I’m Lucy! Look at me, walking in my sleep…” As an English teacher, I knew she knew the actual text, and it made me admire her even more for daring to tempt our formidable foes to reveal their true motives!
“Which one of you is gonna attack her?” Peter amusedly probed.
All of the vampires held back, clearly not buying into the ease of which a potential victim present herself as, so I volunteered, “I’ll be the vampire!”
Damon threatened, “Oh, we can arrange that!”
“Oh, this is gonna be a great show! I can feel it!” Peter clapped in delight. Damon and I squared off with each other like two melodramatic actors in a western, and for a minute, we simply glared at each other… The tension between us got abruptly broken when Peter exclaimed, “Wait, I don’t remember any vampire fight happening in the book!”
“You’re right! Allow me to mend it!” The drooling vampire lunged towards Phoebe, and my heart almost froze in sheer terror! I would have died if I lost Phoebe like that! Luckily, Phoebe had fast reflexes and impaled him before he could touch her!
Usually, that sight would have made me nauseous, but seeing how bold she acted was just too hot to make me sick! Damon used my momentary distraction to push past me and dive after Peter! Ginger, Aleck, Fletcher, and Ellie were close to Peter, so they tried to pull Damon off of him, but they struggled to keep him at bay! Meanwhile, Peter puzzled, “Guys, calm down! It’s only pretend!”
During the course of the tousle, Peter’s robe loosened up, and all of a sudden, Damon jumped away from him as if he touched a scalding surface! He then shrieked, “He has a crucifix!”
We all turned towards Peter, who gazed at his necklace and stated, “My cross, you mean? Do you like it? My dad got if for me in Romania! I wear it all the time!”
Damon’s face soured, and after taking a second to soak in his defeat, he ordered to his surviving members, “Let’s go!” He faced me and seethed, “This isn’t over!”
Peter agreed, “Yeah, we barely got started! Can we act out the empty ship scene? That one’s my favorite!”
My fellow teachers and I gave each other a shrug, and as Phoebe and I assigned parts, our adversaries left and I wondered what hairbrained maneuver Damon would dream up next! After our evening was through, I wished that I had been able to slay him that night because, for sure, we all could have used a break from impeding his demonic whims!