Tags: #vampire, #anne rice, #vampire books, #vampire action, #vampire science fiction, #vampire academy, #vampire women, #vampire action adventure
Who was she?
Ms. Crystobal appeared
behind me. I hadn’t heard her approach. She startled me half out of
She glanced at the
sarcophagus. Then she glared at me.
Lunch is ready,” was all
Lunch was light with
delicious cucumber sandwiches, tea, and crumpets.
I’d never had cucumber
sandwiches before. They seemed strange at first. But I ate them the
way my mom taught me to eat anything dubious: I slathered them in
Mayonnaise makes food much
Theo asked me if I’d like
to go for a run after lunch.
What was I going to say?
No? I was smitten.
The invitation to be with
Theo made me happy. He could have invited me to Antarctica and I
would have gone with him. I would have gone with him
Wyn stood between us. He
looked at me sternly. “You need to drink blood. You’re losing color
in your cheeks.”
Theo took my hand. “She can
feed later. I’ll show her someone good to drink from.”
Wyn rubbed his chin,
No,” he said at last. He
reached out and touched Theo’s shoulder. “I’ll show her someone
Then he did something I
never expected: He tapped Theo’s shoulder. “Tag,” he said with a
playful grin. “You’re it.”
Then he dashed fast through
Theo smiled widely at me.
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s get him!”
He chased after
I chased after
Chasing him was becoming a
habit, the way it had with my china doll.
The three of us raced
throughout the mansion. Over chairs and sofas. Under tables and
We dashed through the front
door when Ms. Crystobal shouted at us: “Take this outside,
We rushed through
We chased deer and
We scaled Suicide Rock. We
swan dived into the green canopy.
I was breathing hard
through my nostrils like a bull. I felt like an animal.
It felt good.
I wished Wyn wasn’t with
us. I wanted to be alone with Theo.
But the three of us stopped
our chase in Idyllville and we walked through the village square.
It was thronged with villagers and tourists. I saw peers from the
academy. They didn’t recognize Theo. Or me.
You’ve changed much in the
last two weeks,” he told us.
Wyn insisted that I drink
blood. He made a game of it. He challenged each of us to use our
abilities to pick out of the crowd the finest blood.
Theo picked out a student
from the Academy. A freshman ginger named Sebastian. I’d heard of
him. Supposedly he was a polymath. He could dance, paint, sing, and
play at least a dozen instruments. He had an astounding
Theo had already considered
drinking his blood. Now he whispered in my ear. “The ginger boy
would be perfect for you. His Blood Memories would enhance your own
I didn’t want Sebastian’s
blood. I wanted more of Theo’s. I thought I needed him.
Besides, the idea of
drinking someone else’s blood bothered me. Having someone else
inside me didn’t feel right.
My tongue deep inside
Theo’s neck was a good feeling. His blood in me was a better
feeling. I wanted to be entangled with him again.
Wyn agreed with Theo. They
insisted I should drink the ginger boy’s blood. They let me hunt
him by myself.
I tailed the ginger boy for
He led me through
Idyllville, through the tortuous neighborhoods, to Hatter’s Café.
He grouped with a few other Academy students. He mounted a drum
set. The other students strapped on their instruments.
Together they played a
fusion of baroque and jazz. I admit: It was fascinating.
I listened to them play. I
watched the ginger boy. He would have filled me that day. My body
was starving. My mind felt famished. My heart was ravenous. Mine
was a psychosomatic starvation for something more in my
But then I saw someone
else, an ordinary man, in his mid-50s it seemed. He was walking
along the street that passed Hatter’s Cafe, up the mountain, away
from the village square, toward quaint B&Bs and small
I’d seen this man before.
He owned and operated a used bookshop. That’s where he was
I left the cafe and
The man was gangly with
thick glasses and crooked teeth. His sandy hair was always mussed.
He was like the used books he resold: Worn on the outside, a
treasure on the inside.
The ginger boy carried
himself like one who owned the world.
But this aging man carried
himself like one who owned nothing, yet seemed to have everything.
It was attractive.
I hungered to carry myself
like him. I thirsted to be that carefree.
His bookshop had once been
a small studio apartment. Now books were stacked from floor to
ceiling. There were more books than bookcases. Books were piled
everywhere, on tables and under chairs, in stacks and in
There was little order.
Hemingway occupied a few shelves. Stephen King had some stacks.
Agatha Christie lay in piles beside Isaac Asimov and Charles
Dickens and R. L. Stine.
The whole place was
perfumed with the wonderful scent of book pages over a decade
I love that
The man’s name was Joe –
just Joe – what a great name – simple, honest.
Joe wasn’t a bookseller.
His used book business was a front. He ran it because he liked
meeting people. Tourists came from all over Southern California to
visit Idyllville. Joe liked meeting them, talking with them, asking
about their lives.
Joe’s livelihood surprised
me. He was the village garbage man. Every day he hauled away
He came home every evening
to a quiet wife and two daughters. Sometimes his eldest daughter
helped him in the bookstore. Sometimes his youngest daughter helped
him haul away garbage. They were a happy family because their
household lacked ambition to change the world, yet they strove to
change themselves for the better, “which is perhaps the least
obvious way to make the world a better place,” Joe used to
He and his family knew the
world was always changing all by itself. They just weren’t
threatened by it.
I’d never seen a family so
balanced and happy and fearless.
Their home wasn’t far from
Joe’s bookshop. He liked to walk wherever he went.
I followed him to his
house. I watched him go to his home. His house was four walls and a
roof. His home was four people and a life.
It was evening.
Joe’s family held hands
around the dinner table. The meal was small and simple. I watched
them through the window. I could hear them giving thanks to God for
the gift of food.
The scent of food suffused
the village. Other families were readying supper now.
I looked around at Joe’s
neighborhood. It wasn’t like the gated community where my mom and
dad lived. Joe’s neighborhood was on a nearly paved road. Each
surrounding house was unique. No two looked alike. It was a place
I’d like to live for the rest of my life, a place of simplicity, a
place of peace.
But right then, once again,
I saw the Dark Man and the Pale Girl.
Lowen and Nell.
Lowen was standing in the
woods at the edge of the neighborhood. He still wore the same dark
clothes and dark expression.
To his left stood Nell, the
girl my age, still seeming so sickly and drowned in
To Lowen’s right was an
open doorway. It was made of stone more ancient than
Darkness and fog were
spilling from the doorway, spreading throughout the woods, bleeding
into the neighborhood.
At the top of the doorway
were letters that I could not read. They were from a dead language
long forgotten by the human mind.
Lowen reached up and waved
his hand over the letters. They changed. Now I could read them
easily. They spelled two words:
He stopped leering at me.
He started to glare at someone over my shoulder.
I turned around to see what
Ms. Crystobal was standing
at the far end of the road.
Beside her stood a country
door, wooden, painted red and white. Over the iron knocker was a
sign that read:
KNOCK TO FIND
I could hear everything in
the forest, moles burrowing, owls soaring, wolves hunting, and
But I could not hear Ms.
Crystobal. Or Lowen or Nell for that matter. It was as if they were
Ms. Crystobal stood with
her arms folded, a defiant stance. She wasn’t looking at me, but
over my shoulder, back at Lowen and Nell.
I turned back around to
But he was gone. Nell and
the ancient stone doorway had gone with him.
I whirled to face Ms.
But she and her door had
The woodlands seemed
unbothered. And right at that moment, I had a small wish to be like
that old forest.
Joe and his family said
I turned to watch them.
They were sitting down at the table. They were rolling up their
sleeves. They were ready to eat.
I didn’t know what to think
of the sight of Lowen and Ms. Crystobal. There was no explanation
for it. I didn’t know who Lowen was or what he wanted. I couldn’t
understand why Ms. Crystobal had followed me. Was she protecting
The sight of their doors
was even more confusing. Could that be what she meant about doors
Theo’s Blood Memories gave
me the confidence to confront Ms. Crystobal about this matter
later, when I returned to the mansion.
Without his Blood Memories
I would have only imagined confronting other people. I would have
only been a tissue paper girl with a wild imagination.
I stayed outside Joe’s
house all night. I watched him spend time with his family. They
played a board game for an hour. For an hour each took turns
reading from a book,
. Joe’s wife loved it. So did Joe.
So did their daughters.
They were not a family of
wealth. They weren’t fighting or bickering.
I never knew a wife could
be so happy with her husband – or a husband with his wife – or a
mother and father with their children – or children with their
I’d never seen a family so
large and so united and so satisfied. I’d never seen a family so
well organized about being together. It was as if they wanted to be
with one another. It was as if they loved each other.
It didn’t seem
I grew hungrier as the
stars spun around in the nighttime sky. The night grew colder and I
grew colder with it.
I became resolved: I would
I assumed that my appetite
was craving it. I hadn’t yet learned that my assumptions always end
Soon it was bedtime for Joe
and his family.
Soon after that it was
suppertime for me.
Joe’s family didn’t have an
alarm in their house. Few families did in Idyllville. Villagers
trusted one another. Real crime was in good fiction.
I stole into the house, as
silent as a mote of dust.
Swiftly I crept into Joe’s
bedroom. I stood as still as a statue at the foot of his bed. I
watched him and his wife sleep.