“What happened to your face?” I exclaimed to Damon, who now bore wrinkles and other blemishes that aged him by at least fifty years! “You look terrible!”
“Hey! I think I look great considering I’m over a hundred years old!” Damon pouted. He glanced over to me and observed, “You don’t seem surprised to learn this!”
I couldn’t help but smile a bit when I perceived how much me witnessing this truth bothered him! I wished that the others could have been there right then because they would have gotten a kick out of this… Also, I would have had more people on my side to fight against these vampires! I knew at some point, our combat would resume, but for the time being, I deemed it best to have him continue talking until I could figure out a better way to battle them than merely running around the room! I responded to the topic he raised, “I’m not. We kinda assumed that you had to be from another century, but what does surprise me is that you went through so much trouble just to get some sort of vengeance against Ms. Bronagh! What did she do? Shut down your speakeasy and foil your illegal alcohol trade?”
If I had simply requested for him to explain his history with Ms. Bronagh, he probably would have taken that entity’s cue and zipped his lips about the affair, but I purposely made an incorrect guess to bait him into correcting me, and it worked! He angrily spat, “I didn’t know her during Prohibition! That would have been nice! Then she would have really gotten to know me and probably wouldn’t have dumped me!”
“Wait, you and Ms. Bronagh were an item?” I reacted in astonishment. I made a lot of predictions in my mind as to the reason he had a grudge against her, but that one never came up!
“What? You think she’s not good enough for me?” Damon snapped. “Well, I was! We were in love! I thought we could tell each other anything, so I told her the truth about when I was born. She laughed like I was kidding, so I showed her my fangs… She didn’t laugh anymore! She freaked out and didn’t want anything more to do with me, and when I begged her to reconsider, she refused! She said she couldn’t trust me anymore and that I broke her heart for lying to her. She kept clutching her chest as she was saying it; I believed she only did that to be dramatic, but apparently, she was having a heart attack! If I knew that, I may have called an ambulance…”
I questioned him, “So, she broke up with you, and you decided to come in here to get that demon to do a spell to make you appear younger in order to take out your hurt feelings on her students?”
Damon rebuked that, “He’s not a demon, he’s a guardian of the Netherworld! And I didn’t know the portal to his world was here! I heard rumors that evil spirits lived in this house, and I was convinced that if Martha heard that I died in such an unthinkably horrible way like that, she would be haunted by her decision for an eternity!”
“You were gonna give up your whole life just ‘cause a girl ended your relationship? Why would you…?” I realized midsentence that I had a very similar course of action when Lilith announced her intention of divorcing me! I didn’t have any desire to end my life like he did, but I did give up my entire lifestyle after she left me, so it was sort of the same premise, which made me feel wrong for mocking him for what he did! Instead, I brought up, “Sounds like you gave up hope of her ever taking you back! I mean, she was in the hospital for a while, you could have gone there and worked things out! It’s not like she could have run away from you!”
“No, I couldn’t have done that!” Damon bitterly disagreed. “Once he saw that she almost died, her husband decided to work it out with her!”
I had this perception of Ms. Bronagh as a sweet, old lady, so it never occurred to me that she may have done something as improper as having a relationship outside of her marriage! It made me wonder if she wasn’t the kindly grandmother that I pictured her as but rather a forecast of Lilith in the future! I had hoped that I could have convinced him to make an attempt to reconcile with his ex in lieu of hurting more innocent children, but obviously that was out the window now! I raced my mind to shell out a way to occupy him further, but I couldn’t manifest anything else to distract him from his desire to murder me and retrieve that key I swallowed, so I knew I couldn’t delay out fight any further! I mentally prepared myself to go head to head with him as I quipped, “Well, the bad news is that your plan at the high school didn’t pan out ,but the good news is that Roxy will probably leave you alone forever after seeing your real face!”
Damon seethed, “Shut up! I may not be allowed back on campus, but I will get those kids one way or another! As soon as I get the key out of you, I’ll have all of the assistance I need to carry out my plot! Speaking of which, dismember him and get it for me, won’t you?” He stared at the kids expectantly.
“You told us if we don’t help you, the Netherworld guardian would have us killed! But he can’t touch us right now! So, why should we listen to you anymore?” Corvina challenged him. ‘We’re not gonna kill our teachers and classmates just ‘cause your girlfriend broke up with you for another dude!” Her peers nodded in agreement.
“Okay, I lied!” Damon admitted. “But so what! You’re all stuck as vampires! It doesn’t benefit you to show humans any kindness! Trust me, no one will accept you for what you are!”
I cheekily mentioned, “Roxy was willing to date you even though you’re a monster…”
Damon glared at me, and when he gazed back at the teens, he beheld his allies preparing to flee and hollered, “Fine! If you little assholes won’t assist me, I’ll do the job myself!”
He lunged at me, but I shifted to the right, so he missed and tumbled face first into the floor! I smirked and went to pin him down, but he kicked his leg out, and if I didn’t move quickly enough, he would have gotten my groin! He missed me, thank goodness, but while swerving away, I lost my grip on the stake and it flew out of my hand! “Oh crap!” I groaned.
After he tackled me, Damon sneered, “Nice try!” His fangs elongated, and the image of him sucking my blood made my stomach turn! I projectile-vomited into his face, and while he cringed, I threw him off of me and dove for my weapon. He slammed himself onto me and went for my neck, so I rolled over and knocked him off. I went for the spike again, and he grabbed my arm to hold me back. We tugged back and forth for a minute, and then…
The six teenagers picked him, up, and Corvina commented, “Ugh! You’re both so bad at this!” They positioned him in a way that made his chest exposed, and Corvina let me know, “He’s all yours, Mister Fenmore!”
For a second, I worried that this was some kind of trap. I mean, it just seemed too easy! But as Damon struggled and shouted obscenities at them, Corvina gazed at me with pleading eyes, and I knew she desperately wanted out of this situation! I grabbed my stake, and Damon bellowed, “You think death will stop me? I’ll find a way to return, and then I’ll make you all pay for this!” I considered his ally from the Netherworld, and I pondered if this threat had any merit. He never fully went into detail about what the Netherworld was or how it worked, and I highly doubted that he would educate me on the subject in his current state! Damon spitefully promised me, “I’m coming for you first! No, your cat! That little piece of shit stole from me and continually defiled my property with her droppings! You want that to happen, huh? I mean me killing you, not the droppings. You know what, I mean both! Both are pretty terrible!”
“I’ll take my chances!” I didn’t know if he had the ability to follow through with any of that, but I was definitely ready for him to finish talking! I held up my arm, ready to strike, but I hesitated slightly. I was partly trying to recall how I slayed that other vampire, but I started to grow nervous. What if I messed up? I probably would have emboldened him with a victory like that…
“He can’t do it! He’s too weak!” Damon spoke to the children that held him captive, but he meant to taunt me. “Once he fails, you’ll all be sorry that you-!”
Phoebe’s voice called out, “Connor? Are you okay?”
Her mere presence roused all of the courage I needed to do this! I called back to her, “I am now!” I faced my adversary and leered at him. “Goodbye, you undead jagoff!”
His eyes grew wide as I plunged the spike straight into his chest! He tried to deliver a snappy comeback, but he disintegrated before he could utter another word! For a moment, it didn’t quite feel real, and we stared at the pile of dust where he once stood in disbelief. After a bout of stunned silence, one boy inquired, “Are you gonna barf again?”
“No, I-.” As I gave my reply, I noticed that all of heir skin had color again! “Hey, you’re cured!”
“We are?” one girl studied herself in amazement. They attempted to transform into bats and sprout large teeth again, but they couldn’t! “O-M-G! We really are!”
Corvina gratefully addressed me, “Thank you so much! I’m so sorry we tried to kill you!”
That’s not something I ever thought I would forgive a person for, but in this circumstance, I made an exception. “It wasn’t your fault! Besides, I couldn’t have stopped him without you guys! I’m glad you were here!”
‘I’m glad you’re my teacher!” Corvina complimented me. “No other teacher would have done this for us!”
“I know a few teachers that would, but you saying that… I…” Tears nearly formed from how warm that gesture made me feel! They seemed to understand why I couldn’t articulate this emotion right then, so they all joyfully gave me a hug. As I hugged them back, I knew without a doubt that I had made the right decision in staying in Terra Belle!
I heard Phoebe speak again, “Connor! Are you sure you’re okay?”
It sounded as though she were approaching the building, which would have been harmless but completely pointless. I advised my students, “Let’s get out of here!” They heartily concurred with me, and we rapidly exited that place!
The kids ran out first, and the police officers who had gathered around the vicinity’s jaws dropped to see the missing children’s arrival at that juncture! When I emerged, I saw Phoebe on the driveway, and as I headed to her, she hurriedly filled me in, “You butt dialed me! I could tell you were confronting Damon, but when I went to your house, your neighbor said you went into the abandoned house, so I-!”
I cut her off by pulling her up to me and giving her a passionate kiss! She seemed too stunned to kiss me back, so when I unlocked my lips from hers, I apologized, “Sorry! I just wanted to do that before anything else freaky interrupted us again!”
She grinned broadly at me and retorted, “Okay, but I hope a couple of freaky things still happen!” She winked at me as she conveyed this.
That wink she did, ooh! I can’t tell you how excited that made me! Prior to me expressing how much I appreciated this, Fletcher complained, “Ugh! It’s great you two finally got together, but could you not put any pictures like that into our heads!”
“Sorry!” Phoebe giggled.
“Would you be cool if I said ‘I love you’ to her?” I beseeched my colleagues.
Ellie asserted, “Yeah, but how ‘bout you get away from the haunted house first!”
I obliged, “Okay!” I held Phoebe’s soft, warm hand, and we scurried off of that property. I then told Phoebe, “I love you!”
“I love you too!” She wrapped her arms around me, and we ardently embraced each other! The feel of her lips against mine sent electricity through my veins! Seriously, it felt like heaven! I never experienced a sensation like that, not even with my ex (who I definitely did not want to envision in this instance), and I felt like the luckiest guy in the world in that moment! Can you blame me? I beat the bad guy and got the woman of my dreams, I was incredibly fortunate! I would have liked to get even luckier if there weren’t so many people around…
“Ah-hem!” Arnold cleared his throat, so I unwillingly halted my romantic efforts and paid attention to the law enforcement in the area. “So… what happened in there?”
“Our captor’s dead!” Corvina notified him. “His body’s inside that house. You wanna see it?”
Bill and Arnold eyed the structure apprehensively, and Bill simply decided, “We’ll take you word on it!”
Once we gave the authorities our story (minus the vampiric parts), a bunch of reporters came to interview us too. I never expected to make national headlines, but with all those vanishing kids reappearing like that, I supposed that it made sense. When the sun came up, the teens all hissed at it out of habit, but thankfully, the bystanders around us didn’t judge them too harshly for it! On the contrary, they reckoned that the poor things had been through a lot, and their amount of exhaustion merited them some immediate sleep! Ginger, Aleck, Fletcher, Ellie, Phoebe, and I all intended to celebrate our win with each other, but we were up all night, so we high fived each other and rain-checked the festivities until we got some rest. Ginger, Aleck, Fletcher, and Ellie all headed back to their abodes to lie down, and Phoebe and I went to my home to lie down in an entirely different way…
We had a glorious Sunday, but we hardly made it to work on Monday! She gave me a quick peck before darting into her classroom as the bell rang, and I practically floated into my room after that! I sank back down to Earth again pretty fast though! I nearly had a cardiac arrest when I someone else sitting at the teacher’s desk! “Ms. Bronagh?” I queried.
“You must be my substitute!” she merrily chimed. She had the exact grandmotherly appearance that I imagined she would, so it sort of flabbergasted me that she had such a salacious history in the love department! She suspended that train of thought with, “Didn’t you get the message? My doctors approved me for desk work!”
“Congratulations!” I hoped I had relayed that with at least some enthusiasm. The truth was that it crushed me to learn this! I had grown such an affection for this school that it pained me to have to leave!
When I turned to go, she remarked, “Huh? You had a student named Damon Karro?” I paused- for many reasons, this was so awkward, and I didn’t know how to respond! “I used to know a man with that name!”
I nervously chuckled, “No kidding!” I couldn’t help but stare at her. She had no clue the impact she had by one bad decision in her dating life! When she gave me a quizzical look, I excused myself, “I better go talk to Manuel!”
Manuel gazed at me with pity. “What’s wrong? You seem so sad!”
‘I don’t wanna leave!” I honestly stated. “I like it here!”
“Wow, really? Even after one of my students tried to kill you, you still feel this way?” he posed to me. I nodded, which delighted him. “Excellent! Oh, I was so worried you would say no to my offer…” My curiosity peaked, and then he announced, “Some of the staff here has recommended you to be a permanent teacher here for a new program we’re starting in the business realm. How does that sound to you?”
My spirits soared to hear this! “Yes! Thank you so much!” I hugged him tightly, but when it occurred to me that I may have acted improperly, I let go and mumbled, “Sorry!”
Manuel didn’t seem upset by that uncouth behavior! He tittered, “Now worries! Once we get you certified, we’ll have your classroom ready for you! Welcome to the team!” He smiled at me, and we hugged again.
As I left his office, I almost literally ran into Roxy! “Oh, hi there!” I uncomfortably greeted her.
“Oh, Mister Fenmore! Is Damon really gone forever?” she wailed.
“Well, he did vow to haunt us, so maybe you’ll see him again as a ghost!” I know that might have come across as mean to anyone who heard me say that, but I figured that she was strange enough to get comforted by a concept like that. She did, and she went into the principal’s office all happy again! As I walked away, I prayed that scenario would never come to pass!
That Saturday, I threw a barbecue at my house to properly celebrate all of our recent victories. I invited my parents since I hadn’t seen them in a while, and when I introduced them to Phoebe, they clearly adored her. Well, they could hardly accuse her of being a gold digger with my meager salary! I got to meet Rowan’s wife at last, and she could have passed as his twin! No wonder I never noticed her before! They were both very nice though, so I didn’t mention that observance to either of them. Ellie, Ginger, Fletcher, and Aleck brought their families too, and combining pleasant conversations we had with my favorite classic rock tunes blasting in the background just made for too much fun! I found it hard to talk to the vampire league in private though. I wanted to thank them for their services in that endeavor, and I made it happen one by one. They thanked me too, and I knew we would be close with each other on a permanent basis! It finally felt as though I was where I was meant to be!
I wrote this book partly to pay tribute for my crew’s valiant work in stopping a great evil, but I also learned a lesson. My feelings mattered, and I would never put myself in conundrum like my marriage to Lilith again! I deserved to be surrounded by people who valued me no matter what! This whole thing also taught me that constantly trying to be fine all the time was toxic! I defeated Damon because I acknowledged how awful I felt, and that prompted me to do something about it! That action made everything better in the end! But honestly, the main reason I wrote this account was… well… I dealt with f’ing vampires! It was a weird experience, and I can hardly ever talk about it out loud. It was too strange to keep it to myself, so I had to tell my story in this way!
I’ll end with this epilogue: Recently, Phoebe spent the night at my place, and when I got up to go use the toilet, I could hear that she wasn’t lying about the snoring! I thought it was cute! Just as I was counting my blessings, I happened to glance out the window located right outside the master bathroom. I realized I hadn’t closed the curtains for our time together… oops! As I shut the drapes, I got filled with dread when I saw a group of bats flying into that abandoned house! I reassured myself that I had defeated Damon without a doubt, I had witnesses who could verify that too, so those creatures hadn’t come there for the same reason! It was just a coincidence… right?