Posted in Character Stories

Enemy Fire

Somewhere in the rafters above me a parakeet squawks. My father’s friend refuses to have a normal pet. She signed up instead for a service bird who has managed to escape every attempt she’s made to take him to Sunday service. 

Maybe he’s a demon trapped in the tiny body and trying to run away from this cathedral before the singing commences. 

In that sense, he and I would have some common ground. 

My heels drag with each step. There’s a pounding in my skull that gets incessantly louder the further I make it into this holy place. My skin doesn’t burn, though. I don’t feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust or puke out the virus that has attached itself to my system. 

The virus that I had hated until it saved my life.

My limbs heavy, I press forward past a handful of bystanders who pretend not to see me. Everyone says help is at the church. It sure is for the wealthy and the affluent. Me, though, in my bloodstained shirt and bare feet, I look like a dead man walking, a bad omen that they would rather avoid than face head on. 

Ash coats my tongue from laying face to face with Death all last night. Some might argue that destiny finally caught up with me. I’d argue that a coward with a hammer caught me off guard. 

There has to be cracks in my skull from the impact. At least, there were several hours ago. I heard the crunch and then laid on the cold concrete while the insidious disease I contracted a few weeks ago carefully put my fractured bits back together like they were only pieces to a simple puzzle. 

My vision wavers as I take another step forward. My right side swings forward fine. My left leg drags. I continue in that movement as wave after wave of nausea tries to overtake me. I continue anyway, my limp more and more pronounced with each step closer to the front of the cathedral. The bishop is speaking over my movements, pretending that I’m not getting closer and closer to his precious grasp on this audience. 

“Where’s my mother?” I gasp over the pain lancing from my shoulder down through my ankle. 

He doesn’t even bother to look at me. Someone nearby tries to hush me. I’m not about to be silenced. My life on the line, the life of my family as it currently stands is in danger. I won’t just be shushed and pushed aside. 

I make it almost to the first step up towards his lifted podium before someone actually gets up to stop me. The bishop never stops speaking. He doesn’t hesitate to spread lies to these gullible people. 

“Let me go,” I growl, my hold on the virus slipping as my vision turns red and claws extend on my left hand. 

I haven’t had nearly enough time to come to grips with the supposed vampire variant. I didn’t even believe it was real until a few days after my run-in with the savvy businessman. The guy who exposed me to the virus left me a number to call if the shit hit the fan. He wasn’t exactly in a place to educate me while I fought to suck in a simple breath of air. He, though, had more civilized compassion than the person who attacked me last night. 

The good samaritan who came to my side is babbling about a hospital when he notices that my eyes aren’t a normal shade. Jumping back from me, he clutches at the crucifix around his throat while some kind of garbled prayer sprays from his lips. If I was a Dracula knock off, that might have done something. Since I’m a very real, likely an invincible recreation of Stoker’s first imagined creature, it does absolutely nothing. 

I make it up the first step before another voice rings through the confused din of the audience. “Erik!”

Mom. Mother. The high heeled attacker who left me for dead in a cold alley. 

Glaring at the Bishop, I watch as his hands tremble over his text. Another time. I’m not going to forget the person who brainwashed my mother and then sent her after me. 

I am going to deal with her first. 

Staggering away from the front of the cathedral, I follow her out the side door and into a dim hallway. She’s uninjured and far faster than me. While the beast resting just under the surface of my skin wants bloodshed and revenge, I only want to talk. 

She’s nowhere to be seen.

Leaning against the stone wall, I squint into the next room. Some kind of archive. Maybe just an individual prayer room with a stack of ancient texts for every need. 

She’s in there. 

“Does Dad know?” I ask the room as I step past the door frame. 

She seemingly materializes from an exit across the room. Hiding. It’s not really the way innocent people act. 

“He knows you got into some trouble.”

Right. Dad runs a bakery. He was injured in the army a long time ago and now she coddles him from the real nasty bits of our world. 

“So, you left out the part where you tried to kill me?”

She doesn’t flinch at the statement. I thought she would show some emotion. Maybe she would take a breath to beg for my forgiveness. Instead, she straightens her shoulders and looks down her nose at me even though I’ve been taller than her since I turned fifteen. 

“When you started sneaking around with questionable men, you betrayed the family. You’re not human anymore, Erik. If you cared for any of us, you would take care of this mess yourself.”

I’m going to puke. 

“Kill myself,” I breathe, the words barely penetrating the thick air between us. 

She shrugs, her thin frame wrapped in a jacket. Like this, she just looks like the woman who used to stand in the kitchen and ask about my grades. That’s not who she is now. It’s more than the additional lines around her lips and eyes or the gray strands she can’t seem to keep covered with expensive dyes in her hair. She chose the goddamned Bishop over the rest of us, vowing her life to his secret society. 

One that dislikes anyone who strays from the traditional path and despises vampires. 

“It’s the best choice for the family.”

Of course. The family is the most important thing. We’re not supposed to upset Dad’s life or distract Malcolm from his booming security business. We’re just expected to keep our chins up and our mouths shut. 

I haven’t ratted Mom out in years. She’s been moving family funds around and going to these secret meetings with the Bishop and his followers. I open my mouth to argue with her and then firmly shut it. 

There’s no point. I dragged myself off of the ground and came here to make a statement. 

But it doesn’t matter. 

“Tell Dad I died. I’ll get out of your life.”

For the first time since we came face to face, her stern mask cracks. There’s something else underneath. Likely not sadness since she was already prepared to wipe me off the planet with nothing more than a hammer and her personal conviction. 

“Where will you go?”

That has to be a ploy. She isn’t really going to let me walk out of here. Is she?

I shrug, the action making everything on the right side of my body ache. “Anywhere that isn’t here.”

“You can’t reach out to your brother.”

“I know.”

It would defeat the purpose of faking my death if Malcolm was aware that I was alive. I’m not willing to keep playing these games. I’m mad, really fucking mad about all of this, but it’s not a fight I can win on my own. 

We’re at a standstill. I don’t know if we’re supposed to say more. There’s no way that I’ll be trading statements of love and well being. 

This sucks. 

It really, really sucks. 

But I know when I have to throw in the towel. 

I didn’t stumble through college just to die in an alleyway. 

I’ve got dreams and I know there’s places for me to follow them. There’s a mysterious number in my phone for me to call. I’ll see where that lead takes me while I buy a ticket out of town. 

Still, I don’t know if there’s something else to do. I went through all of the effort to chase her down and say something. Is this really how we’re going to leave things?

I don’t get a chance to make that decision. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out her phone, clicking through several screens before her dark eyes, the same dark eyes I inherited, pin me to my spot. 

“I can buy you eight minutes. Get out. The others are coming.”

A last minute show of loyalty or just a way for her to force me out of her life, I don’t think twice about turning away and limping down the next hall. The door closes behind me with a final thud. Half dead, rage and disgust and grief rampaging through my intestines, I keep my eyes forward. 

It’s time to see where life will take me.

Author’s Note

This writer is physically and mentally exhausted. November has been a very long month packed with keeping up with all of my usual updates and working on the NaNoWriMo challenge.

I started this prompt this morning with a vague idea that I would introduce yet another one of my characters. If you enjoyed The Last Dance a couple of weeks ago, I’m happy to introduce Erik as the stranger that whisked Miles away at the end. Erik’s story is going to play with familial tension and a resistance to religion as he tries to find himself in this terribly complex world.

As always, thank you for coming to read this blog and support my dream to write. It has meant the world to me these last few months.

Please check out Bridgette’s story as well on the theme of chasing an enemy: Chalky Hands

And if you’re reading Lore, come meet Erisa Nabil through Ashby’s eyes: Lore by A D Reece

I’ll see you next weekend, readers! ❤

Posted in Character Stories

Mischief Managed

I don’t know how long it has been since I last set foot in Ireland. Gideon saved me from an angry mob and my blackouts have gotten under control, but I’m far from normal. There’s a long journey ahead if I have any hope of moving out of the hidden compound below this bustling city. 

I’m on assignment today. 

With no real chance of me ever leaving, Gideon has been kind enough to give me a larger role in his lifestyle and work. My job is to gather the newest recruits. My friends often go out to the port to collect people who come in from overseas, but this particular vampire has been causing a commotion in the downtown area a few miles from our compound. 

It wasn’t anything big, at first. Some electrical surges that caused food vendors to shut down until further notice as their fryers went on the fritz and touchscreens died. A few days later, there was a news story about a block of houses that played a synchronized song through their malfunctioning doorbells. Someone else reported glowing kitty litter. After the first odd circumstances occurred, a signature in dripping graffiti was then hidden at the next areas. 

A Krav Maga class had the looping letters scrawled over their training mats while they experienced flickering lights and flying objects. All of the sweatbands at a particular gym turned pink and stained the foreheads of their wearers. The signature was scrawled on the back of a trash can in the lobby. Whoever is doing this wants credit. Whether it’s a prank or magic gone awry, they’re not scared to take credit for their work. 

Gideon picked me because I’m nice and rational. Usually, I would have an aversion to the simple description, but he’s correct. Nice and rational are probably the most important skills I’m taking into this meeting. Seymour is too ready to get into a physical altercation and Connor would become the butt of an intense magical prank far too quickly. 

Nice and rational. Plus, I come with my own color of magic. 

I can’t make things move or short circuit electrical items, but I’m just as dangerous in close proximity. 

Hopefully, we can finish this quickly. It’s unlikely, but, maybe, for once in my short life as an asset obtainer, I can get in, make a friend, and go back home before dinner is over. My stomach growls its approval for that plan. This virus leaves me always hungry. 

The sharp scent of fish overtakes the street. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good fried basket. Maybe I can convince Gideon to stock the fridges at the compound with fresh halibut or shrimp or both. 

Since this isn’t the pier, it’s odd the smell has carried so far. Time to keep my wits about me, I suppose. I don’t know what exactly he could be doing with fish, but I bet I’m about to find out. 

Glass shatters to the left. I bound across the sidewalk without waiting for the cars to slow. Nobody honks. They’re all too busy staring at the same ridiculous sight I am. 

A line of salmon float through the broken window of the five-star restaurant. They’re fins on the fish in front, my jaw falls open as they dance a perfect conga line out into the middle of the street. The cars that have been stopped begin to vibrate. Music blares through the air. An upbeat sound of opposing instruments. 

My knees crack against the sidewalk. Freaking asshole. One hand covering my right ear as it starts to bleed, I fish out the noise-canceling EarPods in my pocket and stuff them in. It’s not a perfect fix, but it calms the noise enough for me to pick myself up and start to walk towards the restaurant. 

This particular show has gone on far too long. 

Civilians form a circle around the broken glass and stare up at the procession of lettuce leaves that show up to wiggle around the still dancing fish. Several of them have their cell phones out. I have to be careful to not cause any reason for them to record me. Gideon is not going to be happy if I end up on the news again. 

Ducking past the crowd, I slink into the restaurant and then freeze. It’s so much worse here. The people that were seated at their tables are now clapping an intricate beat. Clap. Pick up a cup, slide it to the next person. Clap again. Clap above their head several times. Most have thrown pieces of their food up into the air to join the parade of dinner plates jiggling to the resounding claps. All of them share a strained smile as sweat beads on their brows and fear shines through their eyes. 

I’ve gotta stop this. 

“Who are you?”

The voice comes from behind me. I turn quickly to see the child holding his hands up like a choir conductor. No. This can’t be my mischievous vampire. 

I don’t answer quickly enough for his liking, so he stomps his foot. “Everyone in here should be under my spell, dude. Who are you?”

I raise my hands to either side of my head, trying to show him I’m peaceful as I think calm thoughts. I have to get this under control. These people need me. 

“I’m like you,” I decide to say, turning my face away from the recordings outside to let my fangs fall out of my upper jaw. “Special.”

His wide eyes threaten to roll out of his prepubescent skull. “That’s so cool! What else can you do?”

I hold my hand out towards him, beckoning him to me. “If we go somewhere more private, I can show you lots of stuff.”

He immediately shakes his head, his fuzzy hair bobbing along with the motion. Instead of giving me a verbal answer, he blows a raspberry in my direction. The next moment, a glass of water pours over my head. 

Real freakin’ smooth. 

Running towards the back of the restaurant, he’s out of sight before I can wipe the liquid off of my face. Fine. Two of us can play this silly game. 

I take a deep breath. Calm thoughts. Really calm thoughts. 

I cannot imagine strangling the brat that decided to give me a public shower. I won’t think about catching him and dunking him with my own cup of water. That’s immature. I’m a sophisticated vampire with special abilities. 

I can handle a kid. 

Calm. Right. Another deep breath.

I shut my eyes and immediately see the frantic auras of the people in the restaurant. They’re colored in purple shades of panic. Others are flashes of distressed red. In general, there’s a wave of unease crashing through the room as the kid’s magic wears out and the food falls to the floor. 

Calm and cool, Cedric. 

I’ve got this. 

I imagine the feeling as a ball in the center of my chest. Calm. It’s turquoise. It’s the exact shade the waves used to be on a really sunny day back home. 

Once I have it gathered, I let the color move out from my body and wash over the patrons of the restaurant. The change is immediate. People with fisted hands or their heads buried on the table cloths straighten up. The room seems to let out a collective exhale. 

That’s step one. 

I gather a grey orb in front of myself, something visible to only my eyes and then start to walk around the room. “The entertainment here is great. Magic isn’t real, but that magician was really good.”

I chant the words as I pass by each of the affected people. This is what makes me useful to Gideon. I adjust emotions and I can make it so there aren’t any questions to be asked later. Opposing vampires would demand death, but my method is a lot cleaner. 

Everyone gets an explanation they can understand before walking away from an otherwise deadly event. 

I leave the crowd outside to disperse on its own. There’s no time to wipe their cameras. I don’t need to anyway. Nobody in the twenty-first century believes magic exists if the evidence is caught on camera. Technology is too good and people think they’re too savvy to be tricked into falling for a video containing real magic. 

I direct the patrons to exit the restaurant before turning my attention to the back of the building. 

Just me and the kid, now. 

I don’t bother trying to see his emotional state with my extra abilities. Supernatural creatures are impossible to pin down until I’ve made physical contact with them. Most are still incredibly difficult to sway even after I’ve made a connection. 

“We can leave together. There’s a safe place for people like us.” 

My words echo around the metal interior of the restaurant’s kitchen. There’s a hundred places for him to hide here. Inside cupboards, under prep tables, behind the bubbling fryers. It’s going to take me all night to find him at this rate. 

Fortunately, he’s a chatty guy. “I’m not supposed to trust strangers.”

There. I tilt my head. I can just barely see his reflection in the stainless steel door to the fridge. He’s crouching by their paper stock. 


I don’t have to use magic to realize the threat I am to him. 

Okay. More deep breathing. Calm thoughts. I am still wet and inconvenienced by his prank, but I’m not some monster here to enact revenge. 

I’m a good guy. 

At least, that’s what Gideon keeps trying to imply. 

“Okay. How about I tell you a little about myself? Then, we won’t be strangers.” He doesn’t answer, so I go forward with my plan. “My name is Cedric Smith. I was born with a different last name, but it doesn’t matter anymore because my old life is over and I live here now.”

That catches his attention. “Is that why you say words all funny?”

“Yes, I have an accent,” I grin at his distorted reflection. “Where are you from?”

The boy shrugs. “My parents are gone. I took a bus as far as it would go and stopped here.”

Good. I’m getting a response. 

“I used to be a human. I lived with my mom. We had a really big garden together and she would spend the seasons canning all sorts of different stuff. After I was turned into what I am now, I had to move here to stay in a place that was safe for me and kept people safe from me.”

“So, you’re admitting to being dangerous?”

The kid is quite sharp. “I think anyone who can move items with his mind is probably more dangerous than me.”

There’s a scoff. “It’s just funny, dude. I’m not trying to hurt anyone.”

Uh huh. Children should never be given such power. They simply cannot handle the responsibility. 

“Those people out there were scared. Normal people can’t handle this kind of stuff.”

We share a long moment of silence as he chews on his left thumb nail before continuing the conversation. “How do I know you won’t take me somewhere to run tests?”

“Have you met people like that before?”

“It’s why I’m special now,” he pops off as if I should have known that already. 

I don’t dare take a step closer. This is the best response I could probably hope to get from him at this point. Let’s just hope I can get him to trust me enough to come out here on his own. 

“Well, I take tests all the time. It helps me figure out if my powers are getting better or not. They aren’t scary, though.”

The kid inches out away from the table enough to peer at me from around the corner. “You have to take tests, too?”

I nod. “And I’ll stay with you for everything you go through, too, if that’s something you want.”

Carefully, I extend my hand between us once again. Please. Please, let me take you home. Don’t make me chase you through the whole damn city. I will never hear the end of it if everyone back at the compound realizes that a kid made me look like a chump with his magical abilities. 

“I’m hungry,” he announces, standing in front of me without taking my hand, but close enough for me to know he’s leaning towards returning home with me. 

Letting my hand fall to my side, I let out a chuckle. “Me too. How do you feel about pizza?”

“I love it!” 

My smile takes over my face as I wave for him to follow. “I’ll buy you a whole large pizza if you don’t give me any more trouble walking home.”

The prankster falls into step with me as we take the back exit and disappear into the night.

Author’s Note

Happy Saturday! Thank you to everyone who made it to the bottom of this story. It makes my week every time I see views on these silly renditions.

It was a race to the finish this week. I hope you enjoyed the return of Cedric and my magical prankster. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Please read Bridgette’s story about the everyday magic found between friends:

See you all next week!

We’ll be discussing villains! 🙂

If you have extra reading time this week, please check out my Kindle Vella story: Lore Click here to see Lore now

Posted in Character Stories


The railroad stretches forever behind and beyond us. We’ve been on it for days. With just the clothes on our body and a backpack each, Thomas Raeleigh and I step off of the platform and back into the real world. 

It’s loud. More jarring than the consistent hum of the train, I flinch when a man yells off to our left. Raeleigh promises that this will get easier. It’s been over two decades for me. I can’t imagine a day coming that I don’t cringe at the shuffling noise of every passerby or tense at the brazen voices of working men. This world was built large and loud and the human population is determined to make everything bigger and louder. 

A city rolls out ahead of us. There’s warm beds and private rooms somewhere out there. Of course, that’s not where we’re headed. 

I keep myself close to Raeleigh as he ducks under a rope meant to contain the human travelers and steps towards the jungle. We agreed to a meeting. None of us trusted that the others would play fair, so we chose a location outside of everyone’s jurisdiction. After days of travel with little sleep, I wish we had just accepted the invitation to visit a castle in one of their provinces. Raleigh and I have fought our way out of plenty of bad decisions. It could have just been another to add to the list. 

A wasp buzzes by my ear. Tension overtakes my shoulder. Without thinking, my left arm moves. I stare down at the crushed bug in my palm. 

“You’re going to have to get control of that if you want to survive in this world, Carter.”

Yes. I know. The virus is capable of reacting without needing me to check off on its movements. From our research, we know it’s a parasitic entity attached to the base of the brain and wrapped tightly around the spinal cord. Any attempt to separate it from the host ends with a dead host and a pissed parasite. So, for the foreseeable future, I’m stuck as a vampire and have to learn to live with the damn thing. 

“I’m working on it,” I murmur to my friend, shaking my head to clear the fuzziness that comes from the virus working on its own. 

It would be so easy to stop fighting and let it turn me into a deadly creature of the night. That’s what it wants. A strong body, an unstoppable host, that it can use for its own purposes. 

Fire is the only way to stop it. Not a campfire. Not something you light on a gas stove. Scientifically engineered fire that burns so hot it turns violet. 

Typically, decapitation starts the process. There has to be access to the parasite. Then fire. So much fire. 

I’ve only seen it used in practice twice. Once on a battlefield. Once as a criminal punishment. Both times by the royalty we’re going to see today. 

Raleigh glances over his shoulder, his eyebrows pinched together in that concerned expression he likes to use on me. “Maybe I should do the talking.”

I nod. It’s my plan, but I don’t want to talk to these people. No. Not people. Monsters. The things the Nabils did to their own daughter… I can hardly stand to be in the same place as them. 

I haven’t met most of the rest of the company yet. I know of Ivan and his desire for blood. He’ll be accompanied by someone as well. The Nabils will travel as a couple as well as bring a half dozen servants. There are others. I don’t know any of them well. They’re all old creatures that are scared of change and reluctant to make an alliance with humans. 

It’s the only way forward, though. Humans have overtaken most of the world and they show no chance of slowing anytime soon. There’s no longer a way to stay hidden in the shadows. At least, we can’t do that with the growing dissent of the supernatural world. Either we change or there will be bloodshed. 

Thomas holds out a hand to slow me. “We’re here. Keep your wits about you.”

Right. Every person down there is a murderous creature that has lived far longer than I have. Some of them have seen the rise and fall of empires. Others remember the fresh air before humans created steam engines. All are restless. 

Following Thomas, we make our way into the deep gulley, stepping into footprints pressed in by the people who have beat us to this location. It makes sense. None of them trust us. Actually, I should rephrase that. None of them trust me. Thomas is like them. Old and created through the evolution of supernatural creatures. 

Not me, though. Science made me. Human-made science.

I’m an abomination that they paid for. One they now fear. 

It’s dark down here, the dirt clinging to my boots as we slide down the steep earthen wall. A few weeds manage to photosynthesize, protruding from the side of the gulley in vivid splashes of green topped in yellow and white. Life finds a way in every condition. We can’t just get rid of humans. They could try to decide to eradicate me and those like myself, but it would be a failed mission. Somehow we’re all going to have to learn to live together. 

Ahead of us, someone calls out our arrival. “Master Raeleigh is here with his French lapdog.”

Cute. It’s not the worst name they’ve used for me over the years. I let it slide off of me. There’s no reason to give my virus a reason to snap. I’m here fighting for the right to live. I can’t be more of a monster than any of the creatures gathered down here. 

Thomas doesn’t look back at me. He trusts me to stay composed. He trusts me and that’s all that matters as we step forward into the circle that’s been formed. 

The Nabils are directly in front of us. I don’t know their names. They’re so old that I don’t think they remember anything other than the title that comes with their noble surname. The woman stands next to her king. To her left, a black Labrador sits back on its haunches, its brilliant green eyes too bright to be realistic. It’s rumored she has the ability to shapeshift. That dog is likely a servant or bodyguard she snuck in as an animal to keep the rest of us from suspecting an attack. 

King Nabil leans back in his wheelchair, his posture confident and relaxed. This is a throne on wheels more than a sign of his steady deterioration. He has yet to fully recover from the last war he oversaw and will likely not make it through the next. Erisa is his only heir. It’s why they killed her lover and locked her in a dungeon somewhere far from the likes of me. They need her complacent before the king croaks. 

I’d do more for her if I could. Thomas refuses to get anymore involved. 

My thoughts are cut off by the raspy whisper of the man ahead of us. “You’ve kept us waiting, Raeleigh.”

Thomas dips into a bow. “My apologies. I was under the impression none of us would be here for another three hours.”

There’s a bristle of annoyance from the group, but no one argues. They can’t admit that they’re all more paranoid about this meeting than Thomas and me. Making a show of looking at the various people around us, Thomas clears his throat. 

“We’re all here then?”

Queen Nabil steps forward, a threat in simple shoes and flowing, red robes. “The meeting may begin,” she speaks clearly, making no attempt to hide the fangs that dangle from her upper jaw. 

To our right, a man stands up off of a trunk he’d been using as a chair. Ivan. “I vote we do away with their cities. We’ve grown in numbers. They won’t be able to stop us. We can keep the ones we need for food and get rid of the rest.”

Thomas steps forward amidst the murmurs of agreement from the rest of the bloodthirsty lot. “As much as everyone appreciates a modest proposal, I have to disagree. Humans are making technological advances that we would never have managed. Their short life spans and competitive resources make for a people that can be an asset to us. Caging them like they’re cattle will only launch a war.” He stares ahead at the Nabils. “Are you ready for that kind of violence?”

The Queen is the one to speak. “There are humans who are willing to work for us. We’ve had a good system for several centuries. Eradication is a steep choice for a species that serves a purpose.”

Good. We’re already making headway. Humans don’t deserve to die. I think we should treat them as equals who deserve respect and fair rights, but we’ll work on getting to that. For now, just getting them off of the chopping block is a good step. 

Ivan hasn’t been swayed. Dressed in leather armor, he spits on the ground and kicks at the dirt. “They are killing this planet. They’re unnecessary.”

His words spark a new argument. Is their worth greater than their damage to the planet? The group to our left argues that there isn’t much point to keep a pest that will destroy our habits. Another group speaks up. World War Two becomes the topic of the conversation. The devastation that the humans brought on each other and the toxins they released into the air. Some of the creatures in this group were hurt by it. Some communities still haven’t fully recovered almost thirty years later. Humans are dangerous and cannot be left to live unchecked. 

“You could have stopped all of that. There was plenty of time to do something and you all just watched it happen.”

The words are out of my mouth before I have time to think about it. Silence overtakes the circle. Queen Nabil snarls in my direction. 

“You are not a welcome portion of this committee. Raleigh, reign in your pet or I will do it for you.”

There’s prescription painkillers in my backpack. I should have taken some before this meeting. A pounding headache has started behind my eyes. 

It’s going to be a long night. 

“I have as much of a right to be here as the rest of you,” I raise my voice when she tries to cut me off. “I lived through the war. I was ready to give my life on the frontlines until I was kidnapped and experimented on. When I was released, I helped clean up the cities in need. I’ve been going out of my way to stop the scientists still trying to create more vampires and put down the people who can’t be saved. The rest of you would have sat back and watched the world burn, but I’m out there every day trying to make a difference.”

Thomas has a hand on my chest. He won’t silence me, but he’ll keep me from stepping forward and demanding a duel from one of these cowards. Ivan cracks his knuckles. Nobody dares to speak, though. This is between me and the so-called Queen. 

Her lips twitch. “What’s the plan then, Gideon Carter?” She launches my name at me like it’s a venomous snake writhing in the sand. “How will you change the world?”

“We work with them. I already have government officials in America who want to help us. They’ve given me space to fix up and we’re going to set up homes and food systems to help new vampires.”

She barks a laugh, crossing her thin arms over her chest. “We do not speak to them, Carter. We feed from them. Have you made them aware of this?”

Yes. Of course. “They’re going to work with hospitals to get us regular shipments of nutrient-rich liquids.”

“Blood,” her eyes shine as she licks her lips. “They will just hand this to you?”

Thomas is pushing on me, silently asking me to back down, but I can’t. This is my idea, my plan, my purpose. It’s the whole reason I survived the experimentation. I’m supposed to help people. This is how I’ll do it. 

“We’re still negotiating, but they weren’t turned off by the idea.”

“So, you will live among them?” She hisses each word at me, her eyes squeezing into slits. 

I nod. She’s listening. They’re all going to hear my plan and understand that it’ll work. 

“Cohabitation is key. It’s the only way the world gets better than it is right now.”

Her gaze slides from me to Thomas. “He is young. Unlike the rest of us, he was once human. I will let his behavior go this one time, Raeleigh.” My heart stops as she pins me down with her eyes once more. “What you have come with is a child’s dream, Gideon Carter. Let me tell you how that plan ends. 

“The humans will agree to your plans, but they will lie. You will build your homes and lure innocent vampires into them. Then, they will trap you down there. As hearty as your species is, Gideon Carter, I am curious to see how well you would survive a bombing. The humans came into this world a deadly type of people and will allow the death of their own if it means killing us off. Ash will fall from the sky and fire will overtake the land and the deaths of your people will be on your head.”

Before I can open my mouth, Thomas kicks me in the knee. My leg goes out from under me. He doesn’t look down at me. Instead, he holds his palm open towards me. Stay. Don’t move. My hands in the dirt, my hair falling around my face, I do as he wordlessly pleads. As much as I disapprove of this meeting, I won’t get him killed for me. 

“Forgive him for his optimism, Queen Nabil. He’ll lose that soon enough.”


I could never. 

I brought my brothers with me into this world of humans and vampires and story tale monsters. I have to believe there’s a reason I survived. There’s a reason for us to be here. There’s a way for humans and monsters to live together without constantly going to war. 

I say nothing as she returns to her spot by the King. “Have you any better options then, Thomas Raleigh?”

No. We came together with only one option. It’s the only thing we discussed the entire trip here. 

Thomas, however, has a backup plan. “We pitch in for one more experiment.”

Face down, I listen to the shuffling feet around this circle and the murmur of excitement. These are the people that funded my death. They brought me back as well, but they killed plenty of others before they got the formula for new vampires correct. 

This can’t happen. 

“A bit of each of us. We create a creature to unite us all. Something that will rule the earth long after we’re dust.”

That wasn’t the agreement. The man-made virus is taking over the planet. New vampires are showing up on every continent. The planet can’t handle anything else. 

“That doesn’t fix the human problem,” Ivan calls out. 

Thomas is confident in his response. “There won’t be a human problem left when this experiment is successful.”

“We can’t just kill them all,” I snap from the ground, pushing to my feet. 

Thomas turns to look me in the eye. “We won’t have to,” he speaks loud for the whole group to hear, “I’ve located the missing piece of our last project. A syren. The last syren. To mix her DNA with ours would create a child that would grow up with enough power to conquer the world.”

“That’s incredibly dangerous.”

Nobody hears me. They’re all too excited over Thomas’ proclamation. While they speak amongst each other, he leans close to me, his breath hot on my ear. “Just go with it, Gideon. This is the only way to buy us time.”


He’s gambling for more time. 

“They’ll find a way to actually do this,” I whisper back. “You’re signing the death warrant of that syren at the very least, Thomas. We can’t let them do this.”

His blue eyes are void of any compassion. “Sometimes we can’t save everybody.”

I’m losing him. This isn’t my friend. This is one of the monsters prepared to do whatever it takes for its own survival. “You would allow them to experiment on a child?”

He doesn’t answer. He doesn’t have to. 

The future is barreling towards us faster than any of us can handle. Hard choices are going to be made. These creatures are on the wrong path. 

I take a step back from Thomas. 

I won’t be like them. 

I’ll find a way to stop this. 

“If you leave, they’ll hunt you,” Thomas breathes, his pupils wide as concern wrinkles his forehead. 

I know. I won’t stand around and let them agree to kill people. 

“They’ll have to outrun me.”

I’m another step away from the group. 


Desperation pulls at the edges of his voice. He didn’t plan to come here and lose a friend. 

“You’ll have to stop running eventually. You can’t spend the rest of your life like this.”

Another step. I shrug. This isn’t the life I asked for. None of this is. I was supposed to meet a girl when I came home from the war and buy a restaurant. I wanted love and the smell of baked goods to fill our home. There was going to be laughter and we would have family over as often as possible. 

That dream is gone. 

I won’t lose my morality, too. 

“Nothing has killed me yet. I dare them to try.”

Author’s Note

It was important for me this week to make a juxtaposition between Gideon and the older creatures in this series. His actions over the course of the story affect many of the other characters, easily making him friends and enemies at every turn, while giving me a fun character to share.

I hope you had a fun read this week and to see you again next Saturday!

Be sure to check out Bridgette’s and Anna’s stories as well: