Would You Like Brains With That?

Currently re-writing.

Portal Keepers Book 1.
A job at a café for the Undead, a ghost best friend, and an annoying handsome vampire protector. Danira has it all.

Danira isn't your average girl. For generations her family has looked after the portal that links the Realm of the Undead to the Realm of the Living, by running a cafe for the Undead that are travelling through the portal. Then news reaches Danira and her parents that the Vampire Lords want to take over control of the portal and wreak havock amoung the Realm of the Living.
An adventure of hot vampires, zombies, ghosts, mummies, and life-threatening danger is thrust upon Danira, and she must try her best to protect the Realm of the Living, by preventing the Vampire Lords from obtaining the Infinity Blade, which has the power to change the portal. As well as saving her world can Danira resist the dashing vampires that cross her path? Some are more dangerous than others.

Cover by Zillah Designs.

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2. Maths Homework and Hints of Trouble

 

      My  alarm  was  cut  off  mid  shriek  when  my  fingers  finally  encountered  the  correct  button on  my  clock.  It  took  several  attempts  since  my  eyes  were  closed  and  I  sighed,  glad  for  the silence  that  descended.  Rolling  over  I  slowly  opened  my  eyes,  waiting  for  my  sight  to  adjust  to  the  light  filled  room.  I  gasped  at  the  sight  of  a  black,  man  shaped  mass  beside me.  Frowning  I  edged  away  from  it,  ending  up  on  the  floor  and  grabbed  a  stake  from  my dressing  gown  pocket,  which  I  had  forgotten  to  take  off  before  getting  into  bed.  I  warily walked  around  my  bed  and  when  I  was  stood  next  to  the  mass  I  prodded  it  with  a  finger but  it  didn’t  move.  Whatever  it  was  it  seemed  to  be  covered  with  a  cape.  Gingerly  I  peeled back  the  cape  to  find  a  body.

      It  was  Ridge.

      Disbelief  bloomed  in  my  chest.  Ridge  must  have  snuck  back  inside  my  room  when  I  had  fallen  asleep,  the  bastard.  The  sun  was  rising  so  he  had  fallen  into  a  coma  that  would  last  until  the  sun  set.  Covering  himself  with  his  cape  had  been  to  protect  himself from  the  sunlight.

      Angry  at  Ridge’s  actions  I  considered  getting  payback  but  I  shook  my  head.  I  couldn’t be  bothered.  It  was  too  early  to  be  concocting  plans  of  revenge.  I  would  just  have  to  make his  life  a  living  hell,  which  would  be  rather  enjoyable.

      I  was  wary  of  Ridge  as  I  went  about  my  morning  routine  even  though  I  knew  that  he wouldn’t  wake  until  the  sun  had  set.  How  well  did  I  actually  know  him?  I  wondered  as  I dressed.  I  glanced  at  my  bed  and  at  Ridge.  All  I  really  knew  was  that  he  had  been  the son  of  a  rich  Baron  before  he  had  turned,  and  that  he  enjoyed  irritating  me.  He  often visited  the  café,  but  I  didn’t  know  if  it  was  because  he  was  using  the  portal  or  just  liked the  café,  not  that  he  drank  anything  except  blood  and  he  didn’t  eat  of  course.

      “Hurry  up,  Danira!”  Mum  called  from  downstairs.

      I  checked  my  wrists  and  neck,  which  were  vampires  favourite  feeding  places,  for  bite marks  when  I  realised  that  Ridge  could  have  gotten  thirsty  during  the  night.  I  was extremely  relieved  when  I  didn’t  find  fang  marks.

      “Is  Ridge  even  your  real  name?”  I  asked  the  silent  blob  of  black  as  I  picked  up  my bag.

      There  was  no  answer  and  I  ran  downstairs  to  get  breakfast,  closing  my  door  behind  me.  I  hoped  that  Mum  wasn’t  going  to  go  in  while  I  was  at  college,  as  I  didn’t  know  how  I  would  explain  having  a  comatose  vampire  on  my  bed.

      “Morning  kiddo.”  Dad’s  deep  voice  cut  through  my  thoughts  as  I  met  him  at  the  bottom of  the  stairs.

      I  hugged  him  careful  of  the  strap  of  stakes  that  were  slung  across  his  shoulder.     “Expecting  trouble?”  I  asked  gesturing  to  the  stakes.

      He  nodded  grimly.  “There’s  been  talk  of  the  Vampire  Lords  holding  meetings  in  the Realm  of  the  Undead,  and  you  know  what  that  means.”

      It  was  my  turn  to  nod.  “Trouble.”

      I  bit  my  lip  wondering  if  Ridge  knew  anything  about  these  meetings.  Probably,  he  was  a  vampire  after  all.

      Dad  ruffled  my  hair  and  I  swatted  his  hand  away  with  a  glare.  “Hey,  I  just  brushed  my hair.”

      “You  wouldn’t  be  able  to  tell.”  he  chuckled.  “Your  mum’s  in  the  kitchen  with  your breakfast.  You’d  better  get  a  move  on.  By  the  way,  I  heard  a  thud  before,  what  happened?”

      I  gave  a  sheepish  smile.  “I  fell  out  of  bed.”

      “Alright,  go  on  then.  Have  a  good  day  at  college.”

      Dad  walked  off  toward  the  back  garden  and  I  stared  after  him  wondering  if  he  was going  to  check  the  portal.

      “Danira!”  Mum  called  again  sounding  exasperated.

      I  ran  into  the  kitchen  and  sat  down  at  the  table  where  a  cooked  breakfast  was  waiting for  me.

      “Hurry  up.  You’re  going  to  be  late.”  Mum  told  me.  She  was  beside  the  oven  stirring something  foul  smelling  in  a  huge  saucepan.

      I  wolfed  down  my  breakfast  and  gave  Mum  a  quick  kiss  on  the  cheek.  “Thanks  for  the breakfast.  See  you  later.”  striding  out  of  the  kitchen  I  swung  my  bag  onto  my  shoulder  and walked  through  the  café.  I  opened  the  front  door  and  paused  before  turning  around.  “King Alandros,  will  you  be  here  later?  I’ve  got  some  Maths  homework  that  I’m  stuck  on.”

      “Yes  I  will  child.  Have  a  good  day.”  the  King’s  voice  was  bottomless  and  for  the millionth  time  I  wondered  how  old  he  was.  He  looked  like  he  was  in  his  late  sixties,  but  I knew  that  he  had  been  alive  for  at  least  a  thousand  years.

      The  door  shut  silently  behind  me  as  I  hurried  away  from  the  front  door  of  the  café.

 

      I  was  smiling  as  I  walked  back  home  to  the  café  that  afternoon.

      My  friends  had  been  shocked  when  I  had  asked  if  they  had  any  plans  for  the  weekend and  if  they  wanted  to  do  something  together.  But  they  had  soon  recovered  and  we  had organised  a  trip  to  the  cinema.  I  frowned  as  I  tried  to  recall  the  last  time  I  had  been  to the  cinema  and  was  unable  to  remember.  I  knew  I  had  only  ever  been  to  the  cinema  two times  though.

      “I’m  looking  forward  to  this  weekend.”  Debbie  said  as  we  crossed  the  street.

      She  lived  near  me  so  we  always  walked  home  together.

      “Me  too,”  I  grinned.  “It  should  be  fun  as  long  as  we  can  decide  on  a  film.”

      Debbie  laughed.  “Yeah,  but  you  know  that  we  will  probably  just  end  up  seeing  whatever film  Gina  wants  to  see.”

      Gina  was  the  loud  one  in  our  small  group.  She  had  an  opinion  on  everything  and  always  had  to  be  right.  We  didn’t  really  get  on  that  well.

      I  said  bye  to  Debbie  when  we  reached  the  road  that  led  to  the  café  and  I  waited  until she  had  disappeared  from  view  before  heading  home.  She  would  find  it  odd  that  a ‘warehouse’  was  where  I  lived.  Reaching  the  chained  gate  that  posed  as  the  entrance  to the  café,  I  pulled  out  my  silver  necklace  which  was  a  small  key  on  a  chain.  It started  to glow  faintly  and  soon  standing  in  place  of  the  gate  and  warehouse  was  the  café.  Home.  As  a  human  I  would  only  see  the  warehouse,  but  with  my  key  necklace  I  could  see  the café  as  the  Undead  did.  Unfortunately  that  also  meant  I  could  smell  it  and  opening  the front  door  I  winced  at  the  stench  that  was  coming  from  the  kitchen.  My  ears  were  filled with  the  sizzling  of  ‘food’.  The  café  had  a  sort  of  timeless  quality  about  it.  It  all  looked brand  new  even  though  it  was  seriously  old.

      “King  Alandros.”  beaming  I  walked  over  and  sat  opposite  my  favourite  lich.

      He  smiled  at  me.  “How  was  your  day,  Danira?”

      I  should  probably  explain  that  a  lich  is  immortal,  and  the  result  of  a  powerful  king  or magician  wanting  eternal  life.  So  while  still  mortal,  they  use  rituals  or  spells  to  bind  their intellect  to  their  animated  corpse,  therefore  making  themselves  immortal.  They  were  very intelligent,  which  was  why  King  Alandros  often  helped  me  with  my  homework.  Since  he  had  been  around  for  thousands  of  years  he  had  kept  up  with  the  changing  technologies,  so knew  everything  about  Science,  as  well  as  Geography,  History  and  any  other  subject  you could  possibly  learn  about.  I  was  sure  he  once  told  me  that  he  knew  over  thirty  languages.    As  I  was  at  college  now  and  not  school,  I  would  only  need  his  help  with  English  and Biology,  French  and  Maths.  People  thought  that  my  subject  choices  were  odd,  wondering why  I  had  chosen  such  a  variety  of  areas.  I  told  them  that  I  still  didn’t  know  what  I  wanted  to  do  when  I  was  older,  but  in  reality  I  wouldn’t  even  be  going  to  university.  After  I finished  college  I  would  be  working  in  the  café  all  day.  I  couldn’t  say  that  I  was  looking forward  to  that.

      “It  was  ok,  your  Majesty.”  I  pulled  out  my  Maths  book  and  opened  it  to  the  right  page. I  slid  the  book  over  to  him.  “Can  you  help  me  with  my  Maths?  I’m  stuck  on  question nine.”

      King  Alandros  ran  a  hand  through  his  long,  white  beard  as  he  read  the  question.  He  had  a  kind  face  with  a  pointed  nose,  a  wrinkly  forehead,  bright  blue  eyes  and  bushy eyebrows.  He  always  wore  a  pale  tunic  and  sandals.

      While  he  was  preoccupied  I  glanced  around  the  room.  The  café  wasn’t  too  busy.  There were  two  zombies,  a  mummy,  and  some  ghosts,  but  they  didn’t  eat  or  drink,  they  just floated  above  the  seats,  unless  they  were  old  enough  to  have  powers  that  allowed  them  to become  solid.  I  was  glad  the  café  was  quiet  as  it  meant  that  I  would  be  able  to  have  a short  rest  and  get  my  homework  done  before  I  would  need  to  help  out.

      My thoughts suddenly went to Ridge who would still be in my room and I glanced over at the kitchen window/ serving hatch, worried that I would glimpse Mum looking furious.    However when she saw me she waved and grinned.

      King Alandros coughed, demanding my attention. “It is quite simple, Danira...” he continued his explanation but had to repeat it another time before I fully understood it. I didn’t really like Maths but Dad had insisted that I study it for my A-Levels. I had no idea why.

 

      Ditching my bag in my room I was relieved when I saw Ridge still resting under his cape on my bed. I had been sure that I would see a pile of ashes and Dad stood by them holding a stake. If he had at least I would have been free from a menace. My relief lessened at that realisation.

      I begrudgingly placed a fresh bag of blood on my bedside table because Ridge would be famished when he woke, and I didn’t want him to attack some poor unsuspecting human. I knew that Ridge wouldn’t have done the same if he was in my place, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t like him at all.

      “Hey Dad. ” I said surprised to see him when I strolled into the kitchen. The portal and garage were more his territory, though he liked to make his presence known in the café too, to make sure that nobody, as in the vampires, did anything they weren’t supposed to.

      “Good day?” he asked distractedly. His brows were furrowed which hinted that something was wrong.

      “Yeah it was ok. King Alandros helped me with my Maths.” I sat down at the table so that I could observe any secret conversations going on between Mum and Dad. They thought I hadn’t noticed they did that, but I had realised at a young age that their stares were more than they seemed.

      “We’re lucky he doesn’t demand payment for helping you.” Mum muttered. The kitchen was hot, and her cheeks were flushed as a result.

      I laughed. “Mum, he’s not a vampire.”

      My thoughts instantly flickered to Ridge.

      Dad gave a weak smile and then peered out to the café when the bell on top of the front door tinkled indicating that there was a new customer. “Off you go.” he handed me my apron. “Go and take their order.”

      I put the apron on and grabbed my order book and a pen from the pocket. I could hear Mum and Dad’s hushed tones as I stood in the café next to the new customer who was a mummy.

      “What can I get you sir?” I asked, still trying to hear what my parents were talking about. Their voices were quiet though, so I couldn’t hear a word they were saying.

      The mummy had obviously been dead for a long time as he couldn’t talk and had to point at what he wanted on the menu. I didn’t think that mummies actually had to eat, seeing as their organs had been taken out and stuffed in vases or whatever. They probably just ate out of habit. I tried not to think about what actually happened to the food and drink they swallowed.

      “It won’t be long.” I said smiling.

      I walked back to the kitchen careful not to tread on any of the mummy’s loose wrappings, grimacing as I recalled the one time I had accidentally unwrapped a mummy when its wrappings had got stuck to the bottom of my shoe. The wrappings had been all that had been holding the mummy together and when they had unravelled the mummy had burst into a puff of ash. That had been one of my worst accidents but it hadn’t been as bad as when I had accidentally given a vampire some garlic. He had been mean to me though, so it wasn’t like he hadn’t deserved it.

      Mum and Dad stopped talking the moment I set foot into the kitchen.

      “One rat and parsnip stew.” I said, putting the order down on the counter.

      Mum nodded absent-mindedly, while pulling ingredients from the fridge and cupboards.

      “What’s going on?” I asked, narrowing my eyes when neither of them spoke.

      There were bags under Dad’s usually mischievous eyes, and I noticed that streaks of grey littered his otherwise dark hair.

      When neither of them spoke I stood up tall. “I’m not a child.”

      Dad’s expression gave nothing away as he said. “Danira, there is nothing going on.”

      Mum sent Dad a questioning look but he ignored her.

      “Just worry about doing your homework and serving the Undead in the café.” Dad replied.

      I gazed after him as he slipped out of the kitchen. Mum silently chopped up some parsnip, avoiding my gaze.

      “Mum,” I moved to stand next to her. “Please tell me what’s happening.”

      Her answer was to hand me a dead rat.

 

      I worked late that night. The café was unusually busy, with cheery vampires and a group of ghosts.

      The mummy that had ordered the rat and parsnip soup several hours before was still sitting at his table. I sauntered over to him. When I reached out to grab his empty bowl his hand snapped out, surprisingly fast, and stopped me. A ripple of fear passed through me as his beady black eyes fixed on me. He seemed to be trying to tell me something, but his words were barely formed and didn’t make sense. Then seeing that I didn’t understand him, he took my free hand and pushed something into it. At first I thought it was a tip, my first in weeks, but it was a bracelet made of brown leather and with a golden ankh charm.  My eyes widened and I tried to give it back, but the mummy wouldn’t let me. He kept shaking his head and pushing my hand away. His behaviour was strange, but I thanked him and returned to the kitchen with his bowl.

      “Time for bed now, Danira.” Mum told me, not even glancing over her shoulder to look at me.

      Dad traipsed into the room then, eyes darting this way and that. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

      “I was just going.” I scowled, more determined than ever to find out what they were keeping from me.

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