Blood Rose: The Short Story

Saturday, May 24, 2014




Blood Rose: The Short Story

It started out as any other winter-break family vacation in Paris, the destination that had been decided upon in family-wide consensus during Thanksgiving dinner a month earlier. My grandfather was in possession of the world’s real life superpower: extreme wealth. Which, of course, he used twice a year (once during winter break and again during summer) to take his entire family on a dream vacation to every culture-rich destination imaginable.
“The best experience is travel experience.” He often said, and I couldn’t agree more.
This particular vacation, though, was even more of an experience for me since I was also seriously involved with my boyfriend, Adam, who had generously been invited along. Of course, the thing about being in a serious relationship is that the relationship often extends to the family of your significant other. Adam’s family had been all too eager to join us on our trip to Paris which split our time together in halves: half the time was spent with my family and the other half with his. At the moment, that time was being shared as his cousins and siblings had decided to join my own in a friendly game of soccer in the courtyard outside our hotel.
“Who’s going to referee?” Derek, my sixteen year-old brother, asked.
“I will.” I volunteered.
“Actually, Grace, maybe you should let me handle this. No offense, but I think the referee should be someone a little more objective.” My cousin and family rival, Brooke, said.
Brooke was a year older than me, but hadn’t been introduced to the family until I was five when her mother married my uncle. Technically that made me the first grandchild, but since she was older than me, we were constantly at war with one another. Neither one of us was willing to give up our sense of entitlement and power.
“Objective? What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
Adam, sensing the fight in my tone, placed his strong arm around my shoulder.
“Stay cool.” He whispered in my ear, his breath tickling my blonde hair and the fair skin on my neck.
“It means that Derek is the only one here who actually plays soccer, and as his sister, you can’t possibly be trusted to ensure a fair game for everyone playing.” Brooke said.
Ordinarily, I would have fought her on this, but I was all too aware of Adam’s arm around my shoulder (and his whispered words of encouragement) as well as the impatient stares of everyone waiting to play. I decided to let this one slide.
“Fine.” I said.
I tried to ignore the smirk I knew Brooke would have plastered on her face by quickly turning away and walking onto the field to stand next to my brother.
“You’re not going to referee?” Derek asked.
“Apparently, I can’t be trusted to ensure a fair game since you’re my brother.” I answered.
“What? That’s ridiculous! I’m going to talk to her.” 
Before I could protest, Derek was marching over to Brooke and demanding her replacement.  Once again, Adam diffused the fight by stepping in and volunteering to referee. With such natural referee skills, how could anyone disagree? The only drawback to this arrangement was that Adam was too kind to allow Brooke and I to be on separate teams, knowing I wouldn’t play nicely. I didn’t mind, though. We still won just in time to arrive for dinner with grins of victory. 
“Good game?” Grandfather asked me when I took the seat next to him at the restaurant table.
Oui.” I answered, and Grandfather grinned.
He was always proud when, during family vacations, we made an effort to learn the language of the country we were vacationing in. Of course, I had an unfair advantage since I’d taken French since the fifth grade, but Grandfather didn’t count it as cheating. I just wasn’t allowed to help anyone out when he announced he expected us all to order our meals in French. I especially wasn’t allowed to offer any pronunciation help to Adam.
While Adam was a great guy, Grandfather wasn’t too fond of him. In essence, though, I don’t think anyone would have been able to pass Grandfather’s inspection. As the first grandchild, I was given high expectations, and whomever I was involved with was therefore extended expectations that were practically unattainable. Not that Adam was discouraged, of course. His unfailing perseverance was how we had ended up in a relationship in the first place, and I had no doubt that our relationship would flourish forever because of it. Of course, it also helped that Adam had taken French with me the past three years, and could pass the test of the hour flawlessly, no help necessary.
That night, we ate and had fun. The laughter never seemed to stop. It was one of those priceless, picture-perfect nights that you never want to end. It was one of those nights you wish you could freeze time, and the morning would never come. We never thought once during that night that something horrible would happen the next day. We never even thought something horrible could happen the next day.
We were such fools.

***

I’d never given much thought to the apocalypse, but whenever I did, I always imagined the world would end with water. We already had one city (possibly more, but who could tell?) completely submerged. I figured it wasn’t too far-fetched to believe in a flood that not even Noah’s ark could survive. But I was wrong. As I found out the very next day in Paris, the world would end in a way nobody expected: vampires.
Since I didn’t believe in vampires, I refused to admit what I was seeing as real when a hoard of superhuman bloodsuckers crashed through the walls of the hotel lobby and drained the life out of my family as I cowered behind the grand staircase in fear. I might have done something if I had been able to find the strength to move or even think, but fear has always had a way of paralyzing me. Normally, I could count on Adam to come to my rescue, but Adam was spending the day with his family. I was all alone behind the stairwell. Until I wasn’t.
“Well, what do we have here?” A tall, wild-eyed woman asked.
She had blood dribbling down her chin, and when she smiled, I could see it was also staining her crooked teeth. I didn’t see this ending well for me at all, but at least I knew I wouldn’t be alone. I’d watched my family die.
I closed my eyes and accepted my fate, expecting my world to end in a flash of ripped flesh and gushing gore. Instead, I felt a sudden swoosh of air and then a flying sensation. When I dared to open my eyes, I realized I was flying. Or at least it seemed like it from my perch in the protective arms of another superhuman. This vampire was different, though, I could tell. Kinder somehow. I found him to be less threatening even before he spoke in a perfect British accent.
“You’re alright, love. I won’t hurt you. I’ll keep you safe.” He said.
“Am I dreaming?” I asked.
“No, but you will, love.” 
And just like that, I was asleep.

***

He took me to the underground cave that doubled as his secret and most treasured lair, and waited for me to wake up before explaining my new reality. He said his name was Jay, and he was part of the vampire race that was actually good to humanity. Like humans separated themselves into class, the vampires also had a class system, although instead of rich or poor they were classified as good or evil and instead of money being the determining factor of status, it was superpowers. Jay’s superpower (besides being a vampire, of course) was his ability to control emotions. That was how he was able to put me to sleep when he rescued me. 
But the good vampires weren’t limited in their superpowers. Every good vampire (as I learned when he introduced me to everyone else who lived in his underground cave) possessed something different. Iris, the California-born wild-child (frozen at 22 since the late sixties), could manipulate water; Kiera, the English Puritan from the seventeenth century, could literally open up the Earth and sprout trees with the flick of her wrist; and Leah, the British fashion model from the generation before me, could control the wind and even create it if she so wished. They were all the breathtaking kind of beautiful typically only seen on highly photoshopped magazine covers with the kind of strength and confidence usually reserved for comic books. They also took an immediate hatred toward me. 
        Apparently, Iris and Leah were both clinging to a passing fling they’d had with Jay, and therefore found Jay’s sudden interest in me less than pleasing. Not that I blamed them. If I had given up my life (literally) to be a vampire with the guy I was madly in love with, I wouldn’t be too happy to have to spend the rest of eternity being ignored by him either. Kiera’s displeasure was less personal as she had never developed an interest in Jay, but since Iris and Leah had been her best friends longer than my great-grandparents had been alive, she naturally expressed a dislike for me as well.
However, my entire family had died (except Derek, who as I learned shortly after my introduction to the vampire hideout, had been rescued by Iris during the evil vampire raid), and Jay’s interest in me seemed to be nothing more than a military strategy. The evil vampires had built quite an army over the years, and Jay knew it would only be a matter of time before he would have to retaliate. Berlin and Paris had already fallen to the rampage of evil, and it looked like the next attack would devastate the U.K.. Unless Jay and the other leaders of the good vampires could find a way to stop it. Thankfully, he already had a plan to build an army of his own. The problem was that it wasn't so simple.
“What distinguishes a good vampire from an evil vampire is the blood one possesses when human.” Jay explained to me. “Those who become good vampires are called Blood Roses, and they’ll possess the special powers when they transform. However, it’s possible for Blood Roses to become evil as well. Nobody is ever entirely a victim of their genes, love. The environment matters too. And if a Blood Rose is transformed by evil, it’s highly likely they’ll learn to become evil themselves.”
“Am I a Blood Rose?” I asked.
“Yes, love.”
“And what does that mean for me?”
“It means I must keep you safe, love, and as far away from the evil vampires as possible.”
“Will I have to become a vampire?”
“Perhaps, love. It might be necessary.”
I didn’t want to become a vampire. Nothing I had seen about the life of a vampire was particularly appealing to me. Iris, Kiera, and Leah made my every waking moment as frustrating and miserable as possible, and Jay wasn’t much help. He was constantly strategizing for the inevitable war, and had been using his emotional manipulation on me since the moment we’d met. He’d coerced me into letting him drink my blood by manipulating my emotions to feel desire for him and feigning the act as nothing more than a lustful kiss on the neck, and used his ability to put me to sleep every time he was too busy to talk to me. For good vampires, they certainly weren’t very kind, and so I was hardly eager to join them. I was, however, indebted to them. Iris, Kiera, and Leah may not have liked me, but they still did their best to protect me (under Jay’s orders, but still), and no matter how much I wished I could forget, the memory of Jay’s rescue was never far from my mind.
“You know he’s only using you for your blood, right?” Iris asked me when she was put in charge of taking care of Derek and I while Jay worked on developing a battle plan.
“Did you give him your blood, Grace?” Derek questioned, his face contorted in equal parts concern and disgust.
He didn’t approve of the vampire life either, and had already gotten over his feeling of indebtedness for being rescued. He was plotting his escape…as soon as he could figure out how to get out of the ground without the help of a vampire.
“Well, yes.” I admitted, and Derek took a step away from me, the concern vanishing in a flash. “It’s actually not that bad, Derek. Jay made sure it was really…intimate.”
Intimate?” Derek said. “What about Adam? Huh, Grace? Is it really so easy for you to forget about him and hop into bed with the first pretty-boy vampire who shows up?” 
“He saved my life, Derek. My blood is the least I could give him. Besides, Adam is dead. We’re the only ones left.”
“Are you sure about that?” Iris asked, a devilish smirk on her face. “Jay keeps a lot of secrets.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Why don’t you ask Jay since you’re so intimate now?” Derek asked.
“Maybe I will.”
And I did. But the conversation didn’t go as well as I had hoped. In fact, it was downright fatal. Literally.
“Jay, we need to talk.” I said when Jay and I were alone again.
I should have known better than to begin a conversation with the dreaded phrase we need to talk, but Adam had been my first and only boyfriend, and he had never minded the phrase, so I wasn’t exactly aware of it’s detrimental effect. Jay, however, was all too familiar with the types of conversations that occur following the ambiguous opening, and was therefore adamant about ending the conversation before it started.
“Not now.” He said. “I have a meeting with Berlin.”
“Jay, please, it’s important. Berlin can wait.”
“I can’t right now, love. We’ll talk later.”
I was persistent, and eventually Jay agreed to hear what I had to say. I was expecting him to assure me that he would never keep secrets from me, but instead he fled, outraged, to confront Iris. Knowing I would feel guilty for saying anything if something bad happened, I chased after him.
“How dare you!” He yelled at Iris, corning her against the wall of the room Iris and Derek were in. “I gave you an order!”
“I told her the truth, Jay! You asked me to protect her. I was only doing my job!” Iris argued.
“Poppy cock! You know that’s not the order I’m talking about!”
He was so mad, I thought he might kill her. So I did what any irrational, grieving eighteen year old girl would do, and I intervened. I grabbed a hold of Jay’s arm and began tugging him away.
“Jay, stop! You’re scaring me! Just stop!” I cried.
“Let go, love. Let me handle this.” Jay said.
All it took was a simple shrug of his arm to send me flying into the wall on the opposite side of the room. Apparently, Jay wasn’t used to dealing with the fragility of humans. I hit the wall so hard, my ribs cracked and punctured a lung. I was dead within minutes.

***

In my death, I was reunited with my family. It was peaceful in the afterlife, and I wanted to stay. Jay, however, had different plans for me. Upon my death, he immediately rushed me to the neighboring base where Maddy, the fifteen year old vampire with healing powers, was able to revive me. Once again, I was taken from my family and thrust into a harsh reality where evil vampires were ending humanity and the nice ones weren’t much better. 
“I’m so sorry, love.” Jay apologized. “Please forgive me.”
Under ordinary circumstances, I would have told him to go to hell. But there was nothing ordinary about these circumstances, and it seemed to me that we were both already in hell anyway. So I forgave him. The way I saw it, I was going to be killed by vampires either way, and I would at least prefer to be killed by vampires who were actually sorry about it. I think I may have been a little depressed about my situation, but I was glad to have met Maddy, who quickly became a good friend of mine. Even Derek seemed to bond with her, though he was still much too angry to admit it. Any post-death bliss I might have experienced, though, was quickly cut short when Jay finally admitted to me a secret he had been keeping from me.
“Adam is alive, love, but he's evil.” He said.
I was conflicted about the news. I was overjoyed to find that Adam was alive because it meant another person I loved hadn’t perished in evil destruction, and I didn’t believe Adam could ever be truly evil. I would have to see him for myself to determine the truth, and as it would turn out I wouldn’t have to wait long for that to happen.



***

It only took one battle for me to realize that Jay was right: Adam was evil. In his transformation from human to evil vampire, he had lost his ability to compromise fairly, but had kept his perseverance, especially in terms of continuing our relationship. Once he found out I was alive, he had made it his mission to reunite us.
“We can destroy the human race together, Grace. It’s not as bad as it sounds, I promise. Humans are at the top of the food chain because they’re the strongest, right? But they’re not anymore. We are. It’s our world. Not theirs.” Adam said.
“Don’t you realize how crazy that sounds? I’m still human, you know!” I said.
“But you won’t be for long. Come with me, Grace. I can change you tonight if you just come with me.”
I refused, and so a battle was waged. Though Adam managed to escape before Jay and his loyal minions could kill him, I knew he would keep coming back until he got what he wanted. I decided my safest option was to return home. I was convinced Adam’s detachment from humanity (as well as Jay’s obvious overprotection of me), would keep him from ever finding me home sweet home in Prescott, Arizona. Maddy and Derek immediately agreed to escort me back home, but Jay was more reluctant. When he realized I was going to go with or without him, though, he decided to join. He wasn’t going to get much work done with Adam constantly waging attacks against him anyway. A little escape would probably be more productive to planning.
However, the intimacy of being in my childhood home wasn’t very productive to planning either. For the first time, Jay and I were able to experience true privacy and vulnerability with each other.  After my first shower in too long, both of us curled up in my warm, familiar bed, as he told me his life story. I learned why he kept himself so guarded: his fiancé had left him at the alter for the vampire who changed her, though he was led to believe she had died until she showed up at his door heartbroken and deceived. 
Her name was Paris, though that wasn’t her real name. It was the name that had been given to her by the vampire who had changed her, the former leader of the Paris station. When Paris caught him in bed with another girl he called Paris, she snapped off his head in a vampire rage, and was given a choice: step up as leader or find someone else who can. Naturally, she thought of Jay, and that was how Jay became both a vampire and the current leader of the Paris station. Still scorned by the betrayal, Jay used his newfound power to banish Paris from Paris. And he hadn’t seen her since.
I was touched by his honesty and willingness to share his story with me, but our special night took a sudden turn when we heard a shrilling scream coming from my brother’s room down the hall. Apparently, Derek and Maddy had created an intimate night of their own with a plan I would never have expected: Derek had asked Maddy to change him. By morning, Derek was a vampire.

***

Derek wasn’t the only one who was experiencing a sudden change, though. My near death experience had left me with the shocking ability to see the future, and it didn’t take long for me to see something that wasn’t good. While Jay was out teaching Derek how to hunt, I was struck with the alarming vision that they weren’t alone. Adam had found them, and he was planning to attack. I alerted Maddy, and we rushed to alert the boys. Another battle was fought, and Adam escaped yet again. This time, though, there was no safe haven we could escape to. We decided it was best that we return to the Paris station. We didn’t want to endanger any nearby humans. Even so, I was reluctant to leave. I convinced Jay and the others to stay in the house one more night. We could always leave in the morning.
Perhaps it was because it was my last night in the home I loved, or perhaps I was just grateful that Jay and I were both safe despite Adam’s attempts at destruction, but that night, Jay and I made love. I let go of any remaining resentment and anger toward him for the life and reality he’d introduced me to. I wasn’t sure if it was love I felt or just gratitude (I mean, I’d pretty much lost count of how many times he had saved my life at this point), but I didn’t care. The night, and the moment was absolutely magical.
In the morning, Jay made a delicious breakfast for me, and proved his age when he dropped down on one knee and proposed to me. In his time, a man only made love to the woman he called his wife (at least in theory). But I neither agreed with that sentiment nor was ready psychically or emotionally for marriage.
“When will you be ready, love?” Jay asked me.
“I don’t know, but I promise you’ll be the first to know when I am, and I’ll marry you that very second.”
“Will you wear the ring then, love? It will make me feel better.”
I agreed. The ring was actually decent, an ancient relic from his grandmother that he’d kept through the generations that had passed since the death of his family. We had that in common, but while he had already lived through a couple generations without his family, I was barely being given the chance to grieve over my loss. I knew I would need that time to grieve before I could be ready for any future happiness. However, as long as Adam was still intent on destruction, I wasn’t going to get the time I needed. Adam would have to go.

***

Though I knew Adam’s existence was destructive to my own (as well as everyone around me), it was still hard for me to accept that he would eventually cease to exist, especially once it became clear that I would be the one to kill him. As Adam’s attack strategies progressed, so too did my prophetic visions. It was the secret weapon that was keeping us alive. Adam was clever, but he couldn’t make a plan that I didn’t know about. I was able to counteract his attack and send him running for cover long before the attack began. Even when he tracked down the Paris from Jay’s past (who was, unsurprisingly, still bitter about the banishment), Adam was still unable to surprise us enough to defeat us. He was, however, able to keep Jay preoccupied enough fighting Paris to leave me unprotected for the only amount of time he needed to kidnap me. Thankfully, my premonitions allowed me the perfect strategy to keep him occupied until Jay could rescue me yet again. 
“Let me change you, Grace. We can be together forever if you just let me change you.” Adam pleaded as we wandered the abandoned and bloody musee du louvre. 
Despite the circumstances, I was touched that Adam was still connected to his romantic side enough to think to take me here. However, his evil side was made present every time we passed a particularly gory area.
“Humans are so weak. They think they’re so strong, but look at them now! We’re at the top of the food chain, Grace. We hold all the power.” 
I was trying really hard to hide my disgust, and I wasn’t sure how long I could keep up the act. When Adam led me to a sitting area in the museum, I knew my time was running out. But I also knew something Adam didn’t: Jay was on his way to win this fight. Sure enough, moments before Adam could sink his teeth into my neck, Jay appeared for another rescue attempt. This time, Adam was just barely able to escape with his head in tact. The wounds he suffered would give us more time, but we didn’t need my visions to know that his wounds would heal…and he’d be back to fight. What Adam couldn’t know, though, was that the next fight would be his last. It had now proven necessary for Jay to change me into a vampire. By the time Adam attacked again, I’d have the strength to walk away with his head. But after everything I’d been through, it wasn’t something I was particularly proud of.
Jay had trouble understanding why my premonition of victory would be so distressing, but he still tried hard to ease my pain. The night we planned for my transformation, he made particularly special. He cleared out any trace of destruction from the Eiffel Tower restaurant, and cooked me my last meal that I’d get to enjoy as a human. Then, we made love on the unsullied mattress he’d resurrected from a nearby hotel and set up in the dining area. I had the most perfect post-coital glow when his vampire teeth sank into my flesh to begin the transformation process. He held me as I screamed and writhed in pain. It felt like every cell in my body was exploding into flames at once. It was enough agony to knock me out. When I woke up, I was no longer human. 

***

My life as a vampire began with an abundance of training, for the war that was still a looming possibility as much as for the approaching final battle with Adam. There were certain moves I needed to perfect, moves I had seen enacted in my fight with Adam yet had no clue how to even attempt. Since my transformation was so new, it was also unclear what my superpower was. I was still having visions, but since I had also possessed that ability as a human, Maddy (ever the expert on everything vampire) wasn’t convinced that was the only ability I possessed. I practiced with Iris, Kiera, and Leah until it was clear I didn’t share any of their powers with them. I did, however, share an intense infatuation with Jay and a desire to defeat each and every one of the evil vampires, including Adam. Though we were still far from being friends, our common interests had established an alliance that would ensure Adam’s defeat. By the time Adam was ready to attack, we were more than prepared. Adam, however, was temporarily thrown by my sudden transformation.
“You’re not human.” He said.
We were standing in the middle of a soccer field. It was almost heartbreaking to remember that a disagreement on a soccer field was where our tragic story had begun. But this time, Adam wasn’t willing to compromise, and he was far from being in control. 
“Neither are you.” I said.
“Touche.”
As planned, my army of support took that moment to leap out of hiding and begin the attack. Adam had expected as much, though, and had brought an army of his own. As the battle waged, the moment I had been dreading crept closer and closer. I stayed out of the fight by trying to keep Adam distracted. 
“Remember when we first met that day in French class?” I asked him. “You didn’t speak any French at all so you asked me to tutor you.”
“I didn’t think you’d say yes.” He said.
“But I did, and after I helped you pass the French test, do you remember what you asked me?”
“I asked you if you wanted to practice our French over dinner sometime.”
“And after we had dinner?”
“I asked if we could practice another type of French.”
“And then you kissed me.”
We had slowly been moving toward each other during this conversation, and now we were close enough to kiss. I placed my hands on his face. He leaned in close. It was time.
“I’m sorry, Adam.” I said.
Then, I ripped his head right off his body. 

***

We had won the battle, but we were far from winning the war. Adam was dead, but he had only been one of thousands who were still alive with evil intent. When Adam’s detached head dropped from my hands, it wasn’t the end of this story. It was only the end of my life as I had once known it. I could no longer cling to the past where I was human, pure and innocent. I was a killer, and I would kill again. This wasn’t the end.
It was only the beginning.





You Might Also Like

0 comments

Featured Post

Intermission