Not What It Seems

So you think you know Vampires? Blood-suckers, stakes, garlic, only come out at night, sleep in coffins...
I can tell you now, you have no idea. They live amongst us, almost always going unnoticed, and you wouldn’t believe them if they stood in front of you and confessed to being a vampire - and I would know, trust me. They don’t even drink blood, for heaven’s sake!
All it took was two of these ‘vampires’ to change my life - completely and forever.

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1. Prologue

Prologue

 

February 2000

“She has to out there somewhere.” A man leans over a large piece of thick paper, worn and stained from excessive use. “We just need to find the rest of prophecy.”

  Two men are sitting in a large office, pouring over the mind map of information in front of them. Three walls are covered completely in old and dusty volumes on even older bokshelves. Most of them remain untouched, but a few lie open on the desk that dominates the dark room, at which the pair are sitting. The moon brings in a little light from outside through a cracked window, just enough to read the cramped writing on the parchment.

  The second man, with an identical shock of dark-greying hair, dirty and un-kept, sighs, “We’ve been saying that for years now, and we still don’t know any more about her.” He pauses, reluctant to say the next words. “Maybe... maybe we should just admit that... well, that we probably will never find her.”

  The first man’s blue eyes harden, boring into his brother’s green ones; his eyes revealing his real age as his skin remains smooth, untouched by time. “Elliot, we have not gotten this far, just to give up.”

  “How far?” Elliot throws his hands up in the air in exasperation, “How far have we really gotten?” He doesn’t wait for an answer. “We’re just creating trouble for ourselves; you know Oleo is on to us. It’s only a matter of time before he finds us.”

  “Don’t be ridiculous,” Scoffs the first man. “He’s not going to find us here. Anyway, he hasn’t got proof of anything.”

  “He’s the president, Joaquin, he doesn’t need proof.”

  Joaquin is about to protest when the door to the office opens, revealing a tall, thin woman carrying a book, which she quickly drops onto the table in a cloud of dust. “I thought you could use this, dear.” The woman addresses Joaquin, referring to the book, setting herself down in a chair next to him, pulling out a chair and tugging back her long blond hair into a high pony tail.

  A boy follows her in, blond hair like his mother and blue eyes like his father. “Hey Dad, hey Uncle Elliot,” He smiles at the two men, taking a seat and leaning forward so his chin is resting in his hands, elbows on his knees. “Anything new?”

  Joaquin shakes his head rather stiffly, ashamed to admit it.

  Elliot picks up the book with a grunt and heaves it onto his lap. He opens the cover and flicks past the first few pages.

  Father and son watch Elliot’s face for any hint of a reaction, of anything new. The woman however, studies her husband. “You haven’t fed lately.” She states accusingly.

  Joaquin sighs, lowering his eyes from Elliot’s face, but refusing to look at her. “I’ve just been too busy Florence, work’s been hectic and when I’m not there, I’m in here...” He trails off and sighs again. “I’ve just not had the time.”

  Florence frowns, “You already look weak – you’re getting too old not to feed.”

  Joaquin shakes his head, “I’m fine, don’t worry about me.”

  “I’m your wife – it’s my job to worry about you.”

  “Look, I’ll go into town tomorrow if it makes you feel better.”

  “Yes it would.” But her dark, worried expression doesn’t match her satisfied words.

  “Anything new?” Asks her son again, interrupting in an attempt to avoid the looming argument between his parents.

  Elliot shakes his head with a grim expression. “No, it’s just all the same: ‘girl born to two human parents’; ‘powers beyond the common Vampire population’; ‘overthrows the existing government’; ‘brings back the royal rule’, nothing we haven’t heard before.”

  None of the party around the desk look particularly disappointed, just resigned. No one has much hope left anymore.

  The boy sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Why do we need this anyway? I still don’t understand why we can’t just leave it to work itself out. I mean, if the prophecy says she’s going to become queen, then why can’t we just leave her to become queen? Why do we need to find her?”

  “Because the prophecy might not come true. It’s a prediction, not the future set in stone. We need to find her to make sure she does become queen.”

  “Well how the hell are we meant to find her? All we’ve got is some flimsy information about her not being of Vampire descent. Oh, and she has ‘powers’ none of the rest of us have – what the heck is that meant to mean?”

  “I don’t know John, I really don’t know.” Whispers Joaquin, emotion clouding his voice.

  “Ergh,” John grunts in frustration. “Then all this is stupid, we’re just-”

  He’s cut off by a loud pounding on the door. Everyone’s heads shoot towards the sound in horror.

  Joaquin immediately gathers together the paper on the desk, stuffing it into a drawer, which he locks, slipping the key into his jacket pocket. Elliot slams shut the books and pushes them onto a bookshelf while Florence hurries downstairs, quickly followed by John.

  They arrive at the foot of the stairs just a voice on the other side of the front door shouts, “Open up! On order of the President, open up or we will knock down the door.”

  Florence exchanges a panicked look with John, edging away from the door.

  A little head pokes out from around the door to the living room. A small boy, about the age of four, cowers in the doorway, clutching a teddy bear to his chest. His big blue eyes widen in fear. “Mummy, what’s going on? I’m scared.” He whimpers.

  Florence’s head snaps toward the child in the doorway. She rushes over to cradle him in her arms, “Xander, it’s okay darling, it’s okay.” Despite her obvious fear she comforts the child with empty words as she carries him through the living room to the back of the house. As she hurries into the kitchen, she stops short at the sight of the huge men standing outside the back door, preventing them from escape. They have their backs turned against the house, creating a solid wall of muscle.

  A boy of ten, almost identical to his younger brother, stands staring, transfixed, at the men, his cereal bowl lies smashed on the tiles. Florence hurries forward to grab his hand. “Oscar, come on.” She tugs at his hands until he reluctantly follows her into a cramped utility room. Florence places Xander back on the floor and starts pushing away baskets of unwashed clothes.

  Both boys look confused by their mother’s actions, but as she pushes the washing machine to the side with apparent ease, a look of realisation crosses Oscar’s face, although Xander stays as scared as before.

  “Mum, you said only in emergencies... what do the men want? Is this an emergency?”

  Florence shushes him, “I don’t know dear, but I need to go find Olivia, so you stay here and look after Xander I’ll be back as soon as I can.” She crouches down to Oscar’s height, putting her delicate hands on his shoulders. “Promise me that if I tell you to run, you will.”

  Oscar’s face screws up in confusion, laced with a renewed fear. “But Mum-”

  Florence shakes her head. “Promise me Oscar.”

  Slowly he nods his head in response, biting his lip. Florence kisses him swiftly on the head and repeats the same with Xander. “I love you both.” She says, before running out of the room in search of their sister, closing the door so only a fraction of light falls into the room.

  Just as she does so, I loud bang echoes through the house and the shouting of the men suddenly doubles in volume as the burst into the house. Above all of the voices comes a commanding officer, “Take them all.”

  “No!” Joaquin stands in the hall, his hands out in front of him, pleading with them to stop. “Please, you can’t do this – we have children in the house. Don’t hurt the children!”

  “Not likely Burton. You think we’re going to take the chance they’ll follow in your footsteps? Never!” The officer sneers. He addresses the men behind him, “You have authorisation to kill.” He shoots a malicious look at Joaquin.

  “NO! Take me, leave me family! Please no!”

  But his pleas are ignored. The soldiers try to pin him down but he resists. Florence’s screams ring through the air as they beat her husband into submission, more soldiers pour into the house, past Joaquin, now on the ground, struggling desperately. Elliot dives forward to pull Joaquin out of the bloody fray, but a soldier punches Elliot in the face, resulting in a loud crack and blood pouring from his nose. Elliot drops to the floor in agony. Both men, not having fed for days, are too weak to fight the bulky soldiers.

  In the utility room, Xander shakes uncontrollably tears streaming down his face. He clings tightly onto Oscar’s hand, who despite the fear coursing through his body, inches instinctively toward the crack in the door. His mother’s screams grow louder as she backs into the living room, towards the boys’ hiding place. As the soldiers advance, John makes to rush forward to protect his mother, but she holds him back, only because of her age is she strong enough to keep him behind her back.

  “Please, don’t do this!” Florence’s begging goes unheard beneath the sound of a sickening crack and a finally shriek issuing from beneath several soldiers. They stop wrestling Joaquin and step back to reveal a head lolling free from its body, blood splattering the carpet. One soldier steps back, wiping his bloody sword on his uniform, showing no remorse for the dead vampire in front of him.

  Oscar gasps at the sight of his dead father, stepping back from the door so he can no longer see the horror in front of him.

  He squeezes his eyes shut, trying to get rid of the image of his father burned into the back of his eyes. Oscar continues to retreat further into the shadows of the utility room, pulling a distressed Xander along with him, though Xander had his face buried so deep in his teddy, he hadn’t seen the body. Oscar zones out the screaming of his mother and brother, thinking of only one thing. He is so distracted that he trips over the heavy metal ring set into the floor. He looks down in surprise, as if suddenly realising where he is.

  Oscar’s bright blue eyes land on the ring and he realises what he’s meant to do. He steps back, grabbing the handle and tugging with all his might. Xander stops sobbing and looks up suddenly interested in his brother. After a few heaves, the floor where the washing machine had stood moves; the trap door springs open in a cloud of dust, revealing the gaping hole in the floor.

  Oscar glances back to the door, where the fighting can still be heard, before turning back to Xander, silently taking his hand. Without a word they lower themselves to the edge of the hole, unable to see the bottom. As the sounds of the soldiers approach, Xander whimpers.

  “It’s going to be okay.” The words mean even less than they did coming from his mother’s mouth, but now was when his brother needed him most.

  With a squeeze of the hand, Oscar pushes them both into the hole, disappearing into the darkness.

 

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