“Sarah, James, slow down!” Lisa called after her sister and best friend.
“Aw, c’mon, Lis. Don’t be such a party pooper,” Sarah turned and stuck her tongue out at her big sister.
“Y-yeah, Lisa,” James put in, obviously trying to impress Sarah. “Why don’t you keep up with us… Slowpoke!” Sarah giggled and gave James a fistbump, and a look of triumph spread across the boy’s face.
Lisa pushed her glasses up and mumbled “Lovebirds,” as she finally caught up. She shifted the books in her arm and looked around. “… Where are we, anyway?” Sarah and James stopped flirting long enough to look around. “Beats me,” Sarah shrugged.
“It looks deserted,” James murmured, looking around nervously. The dark, empty houses stared unfeelingly back in the dim blue-gold light of twilight. “M-maybe we should go…”
“Don’t be such a wimp, James,” Sarah chided. He looked down in shame and scuffed his feet. “Ooh,” Sarah chirped. “Maybe this place is haunted~” She started making ghost noises, causing poor James to turn white.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Which way did we come from?” The other two looked around and shrugged. They had been too busy impressing each other to pay attention. Lisa sighed and looked around. “Maybe we can ask someone for directions.”
“Helloo,” Sarah looked at her sister as though she were crazy. “There’s no one around, remember?”
“They must be inside their houses. Let’s knock.”
“I-is that really necessary?” James looked around nervously. “What if we wake them up?”
“Who cares? Would you rather just stand here all night?”
“Nope! Let’s check this house.”
“Wait,” Lisa pointed. “There’s someone over there, in the cemetery.”
“THE CEMETERY?! I’m not going in there.”
“Fine,” Sarah said, following her sister. “You can wait here.”
“Uhh… O-on second thought, you ladies shouldn’t walk up to a strange man by yourselves.”
“Sexist,” the sisters mumbled. Together, the trio entered the cemetery. “Excuse me?” Lisa called. “We’re lost, can you help us?” The man turned around with a look of surprise on his face and a crossbow in his hand. The group jumped back in surprise.
“How did you get here?” he questioned, and Lisa realized he wasn’t as old as she thought. He couldn’t have been much older than herself, but there was something about his eyes. “Hey, I asked you a question.
“W-we got lost,” James stammered. “C-can you help us?” The stranger’s eyes darted between them suspiciously. He took something shiny out of his pocket and held it out. “Hold out your arms.” He instructed. The friends looked at each other in nervous confusion. “Why?” Lisa asked.
“I’ll help you afterwards,” he replied. After a few moments of hesitation, Sarah held out her arm first, followed quickly by James, then Lisa. The stranger touched the object to each of their wrists, and Lisa realized it was a crucifix. “Clean,” he murmured.
“Umm,” Sarah tilted her head and squinted her eyebrows. “What exactly was that about?”
“Nothing. Where is it you wanted to go?” The stranger tucked the cross back into his pocket and slung the crossbow over his shoulder. “Oh, I’m Adam, by the way,” he added, raising a quizzical eyebrow.
“I’m Lisa, this is my little sister, Sarah, and the one about to wet himself is James.”
“I am not-”
“We’re trying to find the way back where we came,” Lisa interrupted.
“And where precisely would that… Oh no…” Adam’s face drained of color as he stared at something behind them.
“Wha-” Before Lisa could finish, Adam grabbed her by the arm and started running. On his other side, he held James, who gripped Sarah in fear. Adam pulled the group behind a huge, twisted tree. “Get down,” he hissed. “And don’t move.”
“What’s going on?” Lisa asked. “Where are you going. Hey!” Adam was already out of view, the sound of his crossbow firing the only trace he was still nearby. Lisa moved to follow him, but both James and Sarah gripped onto her coat. For once, her little sister didn’t seem so adventurous. The look of fear on her and James’s faces made Lisa furious. Shoving her glasses back up her nose, she whipped around the tree.
“What are you doing?” Adam yelled over his shoulder at her. “I told you to stay down!”
“Helping,” she retorted, then froze when she saw what Adam was shooting at. “What the heck?!”
The cemetery was filled with people with pale, translucent skin and dark, empty eyes. Several of them had bolts stuck in their shoulders and legs. Scattered on the ground, several of these beings were sprawled with bolts in their chests and heads. “Um… Is this a movie set or something?”
“Uhh… sure sure. Surprise, you’re an actress. Your role is to take your friends and run.”
“Not a chance. Mind if I improv?”
Adam stopped shooting for a moment and looked into Lisa’s eyes. “No, Lisa. You need to take James and Sarah, and you need to run. Please.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll manage,” he replied, aiming his crossbow again. “Just go. I’ll meet up with you later.”
Lisa was about to protest more when she heard screams. She whipped around to see Sarah being dragged by one of the creatures. In a sudden fit of bravery, James was on the creatures back, beating it with a tree root. “Dang,” Adam murmured. “Boy’s got spunk.”
“Sarah!” Lisa ran to her sister, but it was too late. The monster sunk it’s teeth into Sarah’s neck, and another tore James off it’s companion’s back and bit his shoulder. Adam swore and dropped his crossbow, grabbing Lisa by the waist and running with her in his arms. She screamed and kicked, calling out her sister’s name until she finally broke free and sprinted towards the tree.
“LISA!” Adam screamed after her. That was the last thing she heard.
Sounds. The buzzing of a fly. The whoosh of cars passing. The plip of dripping water. They were sharper, clearer, and louder than ever before. Lisa opened her eyes and gasped. It was like the day she had first gotten glasses; everything was in a sort of clarity she had never seen before. Instinctively, she put a hand to her face. No glasses. She thought about sitting up, and suddenly she was. Her movements flowed easily. She had never noticed how choppy her movements had been before. What the heck had happened to her?
She suddenly found herself walking, searching for her sister. “Sarah,” she called. The sound of her own voice was unfamiliar. It was softer, smoother, almost like music.
“Here~” Lisa heard Sarah call back. She followed the sound, finding herself in front of her sister in seconds. “Woah! You actually kinda look pretty now, Lis.”
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Thanks, sis. Where’s James?”
“Dunno,” Sarah shrugged. “I haven’t seen him.”
“He’s here,” a sudden voice surprised them. “Follow me.” The girls spun around to see that a young man with shaggy curls, dark eyes, and a beautiful face had appeared behind them.
“Who the heck are you?”
“Apologies,” the young man dipped his head. “I am Raphael, next in line for clan leader.”
“Clan?” Lisa wrinkled her eyebrows. “Is this a cult or something?”
Raphael raised his brows. “You seriously haven’t figured it out yet?”
“Yeah, Lis, are you stupid or something? It’s obvious that we’re… um… You tell her Raph.”
Raphael gave her a dirty look. “… Vampires. There was an accident, and our rouges turned you. I apologize deeply, though I doubt anyone else here will.”
“Well, duh,” Sarah flipped her hair. “I feel fabulous”
“But we can’t go home now…” Lisa stared at the ground.
Raphael cleared his throat. “So, do you want to see your friend now?” The girls nodded, and Raphael led them to a room that was nearly pitch dark, even to their new eyes. “He hasn’t taken it well,” Raphael barely whispered. “He’s hyper-sensitive. It’s common in fledglings, but it usually doesn’t last this long.”
“Oh, James…” Sarah moved to his side.
“Be careful,” Raphael warned. “I wouldn’t advise touching him right now.”
“Will he be okay?” Lisa worried for her sister. She’d be a wreck if she lost James.
“He should be fine until sundown,” Raphael reassured. “Then we can get some blood in him, and the symptoms should go away.”
The word “blood” stirred a strange feeling in Lisa, and her throat suddenly felt dry. “How long till sundown?”
“A few hours. In the meantime, I’ll show you around.” Lisa nodded and turned to follow him, looking at her little sister. “… Do you want to come, Sarah?”
“No,” she shook her head. “I’ll stay with him. We’ll go on the tour together tomorrow.” Lisa nodded, giving her sister one last worried look before following Raphael.
“… And this is the main hall. That door over there leads to my father’s room. I suggest you stay away from it. He’s unfriendly on his best days.”
“Were you born a vampire?”
“… No. My father turned me on my 18th birthday. Sort of a… right of passage.”
“… I’m sorry.”
Raphael smiled softly. “Thank you.”
The air suddenly filled with a strange ringing sound. “What’s that?” Lisa gave Raphael a curious look. His smile grew into a smirk. “Sundown.”
Lisa blinked. “Already? It seemed so quick.”
“Time feels different to our kind. Come on, let’s go outside.”
“How to you guys find food? I doubt people wander around here at night often.”
“You’d be surprised. We get a fair amount of naive humans, ghost hunters and such. And people getting lost, like you three. Some nights are better than others, of course. Last night was… Interesting.”
“Last night…” Lisa murmured, suddenly remembering. ”… What happened to Adam?”
Raphael raised his brows. “The vampire hunter? I heard about him, but I wasn’t there. I hear he simply… disappeared.” He made a ‘poof’ motion with his hands. “Freaked the young ones out, but I’m not surprised. I’ve dealt with him before.”
“You have? Does he come here often?”
Raphael shook his head. “No, I first met him in Spain, about… 50 years ago?”
Lisa’s jaw dropped. “Wha-”
A sudden cry rang into the air. “They got something!” Raphael was suddenly gone. Even with her new speed, Lisa struggled to catch up.
Once Lisa had finally had her fill, she found the library and grabbed as many vampire books as she could, then began wandering the town. She noticed details she had never seen before. She had never really liked the dark, mostly because she couldn’t read in it. She could now though. That thought made her smile.
Her reading was suddenly interrupted by the snapping of a twig. She looked around and found herself in the cemetery again. She saw movement and focused on it, catching a figure ducking behind a headstone. She crouched low, softly setting her books down, then slunk silently towards the headstone. She wasn’t really thirsty anymore, but one more wouldn’t hurt anything. Maybe she could bring it back for James.
She pounced, pinning the person to the ground. Her eyes widened as they met those of a familiar set. “… You.”
“Lisa…” Adam gave her a sad look. “So you turned too… I feared as much.”
Lisa stood up, looking warily down at him. “So… are you going to kill me now?”
Adam sighed and stood up as well, brushing himself off. “No. I want to warn you. I heard some of the overgrown mosquitos talking. They’re planning on leaving you three out here once the sun comes up.”
Lisa blinked. “What? Why would they do that?”
“You’re just more mouths to feed, which they can’t afford.”
“… Why should I believe you? Raphael wouldn’t let that happen.”
“Raphie?” Adam shook his head and cleared his throat. “… Raphael has no say in the matter. The orders come straight from Lord Dimitri.”
Lisa laughed weakly. “Raphael, Dimitri, is there anyone here that doesn’t have a stereotypical vampire name?”
Adam smiled softly. “Those two are pureblood, the only ones left in the clan. Word is they’re descended straight from Vladimir Dracul.”
“… How do you know so much about Raphael?”
“… Nevermind that.” Adam’s eyes focused on the eastern horizon. “You don’t have much time. Sarah and James are out here somewhere, I saw them earlier. I suggest you find them and get to a safe place.”
Lisa glanced at the horizon. He was right, the sun was rising fast. If Adam was wrong, surely someone would have come looking for her by now. She nodded, turning back to Adam. “Alright… Will I see you again?”
“… Maybe,” he smiled softly. “Get going.”
Lisa scooped up her books and started running, searching around for Sarah and James. The sun chased her, getting dangerously high. As she sprinted towards the art center, she noticed Sarah sitting on top of it and James walking towards her carrying a box of chocolates and a bottle. She cried out to them. “Run! The sun’s coming up!”
It was too late. As Lisa reached the corner, the bright rays of sunlight licked the trio. It was done.
Adam sighed, gently stroking Lisa’s cold face, forever frozen in fear. He swallowed hard, wiping a tear off his cheek. “I’m sorry.” He heard a voice behind him.
“Raphiel… It’s been a long time.”
“Yes…” Raphael heard Adam’s unique spelling in his words. He had missed that. “It has.” He placed a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I tried to stop him, but you know fathers. They never listen.”
Adam nodded weakly. “Yeah…”
“… What will you do now?”
He sniffed and turned away from the statue. “What we always do, Raphie. Move on, but never forget.”
They smiled sadly at each other, and Raphael pressed something into Adam’s hand. “For your box. I assume you still have those.”
“Of course,” Adam said, looking down at his keepsake. He laughed, one last tear rolling down his cheek.
It was Lisa’s glasses.