Lovisa Jiae; Vampire Hunter

Slowly going to be re-uploading this a chapter a week, as I'm editing it.
A story about an Atheist daughter of two extreme Christians, and what would happen if the real, old-school vampires returned. Violence in later chapters.

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3. One Moment Can Change Your Life.

 

I had been friends with Tania for three weeks when I found out.

 

 It was a fair evening, with clouds so crudely shaped that a child could have drawn them. The sun was just setting, leaving the sky with a golden glow that lit up the entire area. It was the final day of Summer, and we were giving it a proper “send-off”, as Tania’s parents put it. I was the only one from my family who was attending, as my parents didn’t exactly get on with Tania’s.

I was sat beneath a tree with her, throwing early acorns at Luca, who was hidden behind a bench a little way away. We could just see his blonde tufts of hair from behind the mahogany, and their parents were laughing. Everything seemed so calm and serene.

Suddenly Tania’s chocolate brown eyes seemed to darken, her eyebrows nearing each other in thought, as if she wanted to say something, but was hesitant. Then her mouth opened, and no noise came out. I cocked my head to one side and gave her a questioning look.

‘Tan?’I asked her, concerned.

‘Look, Vis, I need to tell you something, but I don’t exactly know how.’

I gave her an encouraging look, begging her silently to continue. Curiosity killed the cat.

‘I.. I.. I have Leukemia.’

That single second seemed to last forever as my breath caught in my throat. I remember closing my eyes and just trying to breathe. The ground felt unsteady, as if it was falling from underneath me. This can’t be happening, I had thought as I shook my head in disbelief.

‘You’re joking, aren’t you?’ I asked her, looking for a slight glimmer of hope in the darkness of my mind. ‘You don’t really have cancer, do you?’

Her reply was a quick shake of her head, and a single tear rolling down her cheek.

Then my world began to fall apart. All I remember was her holding me as I choked out sobs softly, unsure what to feel. My best friend had blood cancer, and I had no idea what to think or do.

Curiosity killed the cat, and satisfaction never brought him back.

 

That picture had been taken minutes after, the ghosts of tears still visible on my cheeks. Her arms were wrapped around my shoulders protectively, and the smile on her face warmed my heart even now. I felt a tear roll down my cheek, and I watched as it fell onto the picture, clearing away some of the dust and seeping through the cracks in the glass.

I know I should have realised that something was strange; she hadn’t seemed the type to have short hair. She explained to me later on that she had had chemotherapy, and her hair was slowly growing back. We went out and bought her some brightly coloured wigs to wear, which began to help her to always stand out from the crowd. Her positivity began to radiate from her, her smile infectious, and everyone around her never stopped smiling.

I learnt one thing from finding out about Tania. Curiosity is never followed by satisfaction.

 

 

I used something extremely distracting to keep Tania off of my mind; looking for Lucky, my cat. The cheeky black and white feline always hid in the most awkward places, waiting for me to walk past so she can pounce on my slippers and make me jump. I looked into Jamie’s old room, which was empty and familiar, but there was no sign of her, unless you classed the large canvas photo of the black cat, with her single white sock. Cautiously, I poked my head around the door into my parent’s bedroom (as clean as it was when I left), and saw Lucky sitting in front of their wardrobe, mewing softly and pawing at the oak.

I sighed softly, only slightly concerned as to why she was trying to get into the wardrobe. I opened it slightly, and she shot into it, mewing louder and louder. She made her way towards the back of it, but then stopped to look back at me, as if she was beckoning me to follow her.

 

What is she doing? I thought. Is she taking me to Narnia? I laughed at my own slight idiocy, then stopped when I realised how ridiculous it was to laugh at oneself, especially when I was alone. I followed, shoving dully fragrant coats and cardboard-stiff shirts out of my way as I attempted to watch where she was going.

We came to the back of the wardrobe, my hand meeting to smooth oak with a thump. I heard a scratching noise again, and glanced down to see Lucky pawing at a small gap in the bottom, where the panels met. I crouched down beside her, and dug my fingers into the hole, pulling gently. A crack met my ears. The wood gave way, and a stream of light filtered through. As I made a gap large enough to crawl through, Lucky darted into the light, mewing impatiently for me to hurry up.

I crouched down and forced myself through the small gap, breathing inwards in a futile attempt to make myself smaller. The sharp spikes of broken wood caught my hair and grazed the back of my neck, and I hoped that I wouldn’t get any splinters there, as it would be a difficult task extracting them.

The light was blinding at first, and I began to worry that I was crawling through some hole into heaven, and that my parents had been right all along. But then I saw Lucky standing there, with her head cocked to one side, and realised that there being a heaven was a ridiculous thought.  She knocked her head against my cheek in a well deserved ‘hello’, before wandering off. It was only then did I get the chance to look upwards and gaze at my horrifying surroundings. 

 

The walls were all made from the same pale oak as the wardrobe, but you could barely see it for the shelves plastering them intricately. Opposite sides were symmetrical, apart from the contents of the shelves, and the floor was coated in a flurry of red fur and tools scattered perfectly across it like sick little flowers. The carpet was soft beneath my feet, cushioning my every step. In the corner were some books; dusty journals piled dangerously high towards the ceiling. Lucky was stood on a low shelf, nuzzling against a mahogany box with detailed with intricate carvings. As I stood up, I gasped. It was identical to the one that my grandmother had left me in her will, although her one was layered with secret compartments in to hide the instruments for hundreds of death rituals. The star carved on the top was exactly the same, with a ring around it and small 3D stars were dotted across with glitter streamed across it like dust. The box was the only object in my line of vision that wasn’t caked in dust, even the shelf space around it was covered. To me, it suggested that someone had been using it recently, but I couldn’t be sure.

 

I reached out hesitantly. When my hand came into contact with the wood, I felt a strange spark in my skin, and I pulled back instinctively. Lucky looked at me with her head tilting to the right side again, before pawing the box until it fell. I reacted instantly, catching the box inches above the ground, ignoring the instant searing pain in my hand. It calmed after a second, and some glitter fell to the floor. I sighed with relief, but gave a look of daggers at the black cat who was staring at me with such a bemused look that I abandoned my glare.

 

Breathing in slowly, I opened the box. The hinges creaked, causing Lucky’s ears to twitch slightly as she watched me intently, mewing softly. I glanced up at her but quickly turned my attention back to the object in my hand, the cool wood warming beneath my fingertips.  There were no flowing strokes from the familiar stain they usually put on wood, suggesting to me that this box is older than the one that sat up in my room. I gasped as I saw the content, and another gust of fine, silver glitter scattered on the floor. Lucky pounced on the floor, causing glitter to rise up like small puffs of smoke that then fluttered downwards and covered her ebony fur. She looked like a disco ball.

 

 

The first thing I saw was a journal, then below it was some snow-white linen, two crimson candles and a box of matches. The journal was battered brown leather; scratches and rips in the worn, musty smelling covers. A broken lock held the covers together, rusty and scraped with age. I picked it up, feeling the battered leather beneath my fingertips, the cool material warming under every touch. I could smell the age of the paper, the musty scent mingling with the refreshing aroma of the pure linen. I slowly opened the journal, and on the front page was the name ‘Raye Jiae’ scrawled messily but beautifully in black ink on the stained parchment, the name of my rarely-spoken-of great-aunt. Ink was dotted across it messily. The next few pages were blank, like they were in my grandmother’s journal, but the writing continued three pages later, filling the book with words and life. Drawings, which looked at a first glance like doodles, were pasted intricately around the writing. Flowers coloured in with smudged pastels, open mouths painted delicately with blood-red watercolours. As I slowly focused on each picture, labelled with scrawls that could have only been my great-aunt’s writing, they seem to move, flowing across the page.

 

I gaped at one specific drawing that took up a whole page of parchment; a tall, pale woman with flowing black hair that was the exact same colour as Lucky’s fur. She wore a thin, skin tight dress, the same red as her full, pouting lips. The details were extraordinary. Her hands were positioned gracefully, yet her stance suggested power and danger. The darkness of her fully-lashed eyes looked menacing, and the single ring of such a vibrant blue just added to her stature. But it wasn’t just the blue in her eyes that astounded me. It was what lay just between her lips, which were just slightly parted. Two ivory fangs, each maybe two millimetres long in the picture, pierced the darkness of her mouth. It intrigued me, and allowed me to wonder massively about why my great-aunt Reye would draw such a thing. I remember my grandmother telling me that Reye had slowly descended into madness, but in her youth she was lively and enjoyed drawing. Apart from that, grandmother never spoke of her.

 

I flicked through the thick pages until I came to the middle, which consisted of several pictures; a box of matches, a piece of linen and two candles. I suddenly realised that the carefully painted pictures were identical to the other objects within the box, so I start to read.

 

“There are many customs when it comes to death rituals, and those customs must be perfected with years and years of practice before a person can be allowed to even help a body pass from this life happily. The spirit has to be respected, not ignored. Consequences of not respecting a spirit hanging between life and death could result in being punished by other, local spirits, and the punishment would only ever be thought of on the spot, and never planned. This is because spirits tend to be spontaneous, especially when it comes to contact with human-kind.

When it comes to death rituals, nothing must be skipped, and no corners must be cut. It has to be completed properly. A person must be sterilised by having their fingers burnt, and only then are they to be allowed to handle the special linen and candles.”

From there onwards, towards the end of the page, the writing became indiscernible. I guessed that this was both because she had begun to run out of space on the page, and because of her ‘decent into madness’. I placed a finger over her scrawls, feeling the etches on the parchment moving carefully across the page. They seemed delicate, but rushed.

Sighing, I closed the book slowly, placing it back in the box but dropping it slightly to avoid my fingers touching the linen. The box closed with a soft bang, to which Lucky pricked her ears forward. I knew that my parents would be home soon, which meant that I had to be acting as normal as possible, as if I didn’t have any clue that they had a secret room behind my mother’s walk-in wardrobe. I stood up slowly, turning on my heel. Lucky scampered ahead of me, leading the way as I crawled back through the hole, which I then patched up badly with splintered wood and covered with a rack of expensive, multi-coloured high-heels that were obviously for show. I picked up one, running my fingers over the smooth satin and the rough gemstones, and chuckled. My mother never wore anything less than her cheap black shoes, an array of worn suits and her usual ‘less is more’ make-up over the ever-increasing lines on her face. I was once surprised that a year ago she had decided to buy a new shirt for work. The shoe found its place back on the rack, and the room was then bathed in darkness as I switched the light off.

 

By the time my mother had returned from work, it was past eight o’clock. I had vacuumed, washed the dishes that had clearly been left from a rushed breakfast that morning, and a saucepan of pasta was boiling slowly on the cooker. The steam from the pan was quickly becoming condensation on the window. I was sat, tracing patterns on the window, at the mahogany table that I had sat at three years ago when we had had the extremely heated conversation about what school I was to go to, and a year before that when they broke the news to me that my grandmother had died. It was probably the worst day of my life. My heart had dropped down to my stomach, and a lump had formed in my throat, although I wasn’t ever sure if it was because of tears or because I was about to be sick. How could I not have been upset; it was my grandmother. She was the single member of my family who cared for how I felt and for what I did, instead of constantly attempting to change me into an ideal human. I had longed for some sort of comfort, a hug, a reassuring hand on my back, but they had no feelings towards her. They didn’t care. I remembered sobbing, leaning my head on the cool surface of the wood and watching the tears pool beneath my face.

By eight o’clock, I was restless. Thoughts of my grandmother shot through my head every so often, and my feet were shifting constantly, slippers tapping on the tiled floor in an unknown rhythm. The trails my finger had left on the window started dripping small droplets of water, resting only when they reached the window-sill of cracked and peeling paint. I didn’t hear the door creak open, then the click of the ancient lock that meant it had closed. Nor did I hear the strangely familiar footsteps on the linoleum floor of the front hallway. What I did hear, however, was a slight squeal that really didn’t watch the aged face that appeared in the steamy window of the kitchen.

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