Life goes on as normal, or as normal as could be expected, when a western stranger enters town, and the school, and a new danger emerges at the same time. Is he the danger? Is he the answer? Karin ...
They rushed through the woods, he and her mother. It was late at night, and the woods were thick. However, when most would be chewed up by the branches of the woods, where the darkness would be so thick that you could not see them, they were seemingly making their way through as if there were nothing there. “Hurry, Jean-Claude, they’re right behind us!”
“Momma,” he said, “We just need to fight! Daddy would have! I can fight—you know I can!”
“No time to explain, boy!” she snapped, “There’s too many!”
They had no idea where they were going, and Jean-Claude wondered if there would have been any way of finding out. Would they even be given the chance? Suddenly, she stopped, and turned one way and then the other. “They’re all around us! Oh God, what do we do?”
She scanned the perimeter, looking intently, and then said, “Jean-Claude, go that way!”
She pulled him close and said, “Now you listen to me: run fast and don’t look back! Do you hear me!”
“Momma, I won’t leave you!” he protested.
“This is not open for discussion!” she thundered, and glared at him in a fashion that he knew would get his attention. She then said, “Remember: I love you. Don’t you ever forget that. Don’t you ever forget to love people, take each person for who they are, not what they are. Love the individual.”
“I think they went this way,” said a voice in the distance, “I can faintly see their auras!”
“Now go!” she said, and shoved him along his way. He quickly hugged her, she kissed him, and he then ran as fast as his ten year old legs could carry him. He was not as able to negotiate the woods as his mother, so his going was slow, but he made his way. However, his keen hearing could detect what was going on behind him. “Where are you going, missy?” said one voice.
“You’ll learn for bringing him into our world!” said another.
“The boy isn’t with her, I can’t find him!” said a third.
“You four: fan out and see if you can find him!” said the second voice, which then turned gruff, and said, “We’ll take care of her!”
Jean-Claude knew what that meant, but he remembered what his mother said: don’t look back. He then heard, “Prepare for Hell, traitor!” and heard that followed by a scream, which was then stifled. He stopped dead in his tracks. He began to tear up, but then remembered that his father would have never tolerated his weakness, and tore off again. He heard distantly behind him, “You can run, boy, but you can’t hide.”
Panic was now setting in, and he began to run with abandon. That was his undoing, as he hit a solid limb and collapsed to the ground. As he tried to regain his faculties, they were upon him. They had him cornered against the tree which held the limb that stopped him. “You abomination!” said the lead man, “Prepare for Hell, half-breed!”
The man raised a healthy piece of steel, and prepared to thrust it home…
The ringing of the paging system of the plane woke him up, informing him that they were soon to hit some turbulence, and that he needed to buckle up. It was that nightmare again. He was bathed in sweat, and was relieved the nightmare was over again. He looked out the window, and saw that it was still dark. He flagged down a stewardess and asked her, “How much longer to Japan?”
“About six more hours, sir,” she said, and then she saw his uneasiness. “Would you like me to get you something? You don’t look well.”
“Thanks, but I’m okay,” he said as he smiled, “It was just a bad dream, nothing more.”
“Okay,” she said, “I hope you sleep better.”
He thanked her, and she went her way. Yet, he wondered if he would get back to sleep at all.
At the precise moment he was having this nightmare, someone else was experiencing the same dream. Just before the sword thrust forward, she was up, screaming in fear. “Karin, Karin!” said her father’s voice as he burst up the stairs, her mother in tow, “What’s wrong? What’s the matter?”
She was crying her eyes out. “Oh what a horrible dream, papa!” she sobbed, and her mother said, “Oh please! Is that all it was?”
However, Henry seemed to be more sympathetic to the situation, and held her close as she relayed the dream. From the description, both of her parents then realized how bad a dream that must have been. “Oh, that poor boy,” she sobbed, “Oh that poor boy!”
“It was just a dream,” said Henry, “There’s no boy, no hunters, no woods, just us. It’s okay.”
Yet, he had to wonder just how deep and visual a dream that must have been. He also wondered what it meant. Did she reach out to another of their kind unknowingly, and link minds with them? Did she even have that power, being what she was? Henry saw her face as red, and said, “Do you need a draw-off?”
She did not answer, because it was obvious what the answer was, and he began to prepare the draw. Calera was now beginning to wonder just what had happened. Only people who were unhappy could cause her blood to rise like that, and this was only a dream. What had happened? Henry was able to draw about four pints, and was at least grateful that something good came out of this. The council would welcome the addition of these pints. It was at this time that the youngest walked in and said, “I just had the worst dream.”
Now they knew something was up. They only guess they had was that one of their kind had the dream, and it was so bad that he let out a primal scream loud enough for one to detect it if their subconscious minds were opened, as their daughters were. Was someone coming? What kind of an omen was this?
It had been a brisk day at work, and both Karin and Kenta were exhausted. It seemed odd to think that the start of school in a few days would be an actual relief. Kenta’s situation had indeed improved since his mother started working at Julian’s, and was able to hold the job. They had two solid incomes now, and they were considering moving up to a bigger apartment in the complex. In the meantime, with all their problems worked out, and Karin now feeling that she was no longer an outcast to her kind, she felt freer than she had ever felt before. It was even better when you had a boy that deeply loved you and more so when you knew that he was accepted by your family, and your kind. She knew that, with allies like Kenta Usi, Wiener and Victor Sinclair, and her good friend Maki, vampires in this city were safe from persecution. They knew that these people would protect them, and deflect unwanted intrusions. It was only the misunderstanding of humans that were too scared of you or too scared of legends and lies, that kept full mixing of the two worlds from happening to the benefit of both. She hoped that, one day, this could be. The marriage that she was sure to happen between her and Kenta one day, though it would have to be secret for a while, was bound to happen. They knew that it would one day become allowed to be public.
As they walked down the street, they began to talk about how fun the summer break had been, and about their upcoming junior year. Kenta began to chuckle a bit. “What’s so funny?” asked Karin.
Kenta took her hand, and said, “It’s funny—the irony of the whole thing!”
Karin tilted her head, with a slightly curious look on her face. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I mean, the way things are right now,” he said, “One thing that the two of us have desired is some sense of normalcy—you know, the ordinary—and have never got it, and now, look at us.”
She began to take a look on her face that seemed to show that she was getting the point, and then he said, “Now, what we are doing is so, well, ordinary, to the rest of the world, I mean. Yet, we know that things are not exactly ‘normal,’ and even this ‘normal’ we have now is not really all that normal!”
She laughed, snuggled close to him, and said, “You are putting far too much thought into this! Can’t you just enjoy the moment?”
All this was going on as they were passing by a post office. They were so engrossed into one another that they did not hear or see the young man coming out of the office, talking on his cell phone. “Yeah,” he said, “I got here well enough. Are you getting the assets? What? How much longer? Look, I only have so much here, and I still have to clear customs on my animals. Hey, I am going to be forced to camp out until I can get the fundage, and I don’t know just where in Tokyo I could do that. Besides, I don’t even know if they would let a 17-year old kid rent. Look, you have the address now, so get those funds to me soon, or else I won’t even have that much longer. Right, call me.”
He slapped it shut, just as he was walking out of the post office, and ran right into the couple. They all fell in a heap, and he was quickly on his feet, helping them up, apologizing profusely. Though he looked like a westerner, his Japanese was excellent. “Please forgive me! I should have been watching!” said the young man. Kenta said, “No problem: I think we should have been watching too!”
Now that they were all on their feet, they got a good look at the stranger. He stood about 1.75 meters tall or so, and looked like he weighed around 145 kg. None of it seemed fat. In other words, this man cut an imposing figure. He could not have looked more Western. He wore a brown bush hat, well-groomed and tapered dirty blonde hair, a New England Patriots jersey, blue jeans, and black U.S. military boots, with the jeans tucked in the boots. He had on his back a large rucksack that seemed to carry all his possessions, and an empty five gallon water jug tied to the rig, and a silver fish emblem hanging around his neck. Karin asked, “So, did you just get in?”
“Yes,” he said, “But it was a bear getting this through customs,” as he pointed to the ivory handled saber strapped to the side of the rucksack. “You are American, I take it?” asked Kenta.
“Very much so,” said the stranger.
“Yet, your Japanese is so good,” he said, “You speak it like you were born here.”
“My parents insured I became multilingual at an early age,” said the stranger, “I speak this, my native tongue, French, German, and even Gaelic!”
“Gaelic,” said Karin, “What language is that?”
“That was the original tongue of Scotland and Ireland,” he said, “and it is a quite difficult language. What is odd is that there are only 18 letters, but the sounds of them change depending on the vowel placement, and what kind of vowel. That was actually harder to learn than Japanese!”
They all laughed, and then the young man looked at his watch, and said, “Well, sorry for bothering you. By the way, since this Japan, I know there are bathhouses around, and I haven’t had a chance to bathe since I got here. Do you know where the closest one is?”
Karin gave him some directions, yet, as she did, she could not help but notice him looking at her oddly. She then said, “Is everything okay?”
He shook his head, as if he was snapping out of something, and then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I though I recognized you from somewhere. Anyway, thank you for your time.”
He then took his leave. By the look of it, they were not sure if he had anywhere to go, but they figured that it wasn’t their problem, so they moved on. Still, they wondered if they would cross paths again.
It was now past sunset, and Anjou was out hunting. She had the taste for jealous young women, and she knew that this certain district of the town was always good fishing ground. This was not out of the ordinary for her to be there, at least, from a certain perspective. For everyone else, to see a thirteen year old girl in this area at this time of night was odd. Anjou paid it no mind as she made her way along. However, for some reason, she felt drawn to this point. She went to this place in town often, but not to this particular spot, and not because she was drawn there. That dream had stuck with her no end. The boy in the dream was only a few years younger than her, and she did not know if this was something that just happened, if this was something of the past, or if he or she that had the nightmare realized that they had reached out in a distress signal to other vampires, merely as a subconscious act. This was actually not out of the ordinary. It seemed odd, though, that it was that loud. Before she knew it, she was coming close to a commonly used bath house in the area. As she approached, she felt a compelling to enter. Yet, before she could, two sleazy looking young men came out of nowhere, and smiled an evil grin at her. “Hi, little girl,” said one, “would you like to come and play?”
She was only thirteen, and yet, she was not naïve. She knew what they wanted. However, they had no clue what she was. She figured that she would let them take her, and then sock it to them later on, out of sight of others. She would leave them with a nightmare they would not soon forget! “Come on, little girl,” said the other, “I’ve got a nice lollipop for you to lick.”
She wanted to throw up, and considered calling her brother for help. She knew he would love to throttle these scumbags. However, before that could happen, her eyes opened wide to the sight that emerged behind them. A slight grin curled one side of her mouth, as a hand snatched each of their collars and roughly yanked them backwards. He turned them towards him, and said, “You like to play games, filth? Play with me!”
He looked past them at Anjou, and said, “Run home, girl: nothing to see here!”
She stared at him, which prompted him to say, “Go home: its not safe here!”
She turned on her heel, and went around the corner.
“Let us go, gyjin!” snarled the one.
However, his disgust at what was in his hands grew. He made sure that there were no police around, and smashed their heads together. They both collapsed in a heap. He knew that the concussions they would awaken with would be something that they would not soon forget. Hopefully, it would knock some sense into them, but that was doubtful. The next order of business was to find a place to camp out.
As he rounded the corner, he saw the girl standing there again, staring right at him blankly. She was all in a black, Victorian ear girl’s dress, holding a funny looking doll in her hands which held a yarn butcher’s knife. In her very long, blonde hair was a big black ribbon. It just wasn’t her dress that surprised him, it was her riveting eyes. He shook it off, and had to ask, “Honey, don’t you have a home to go to?”
She did not respond, making him wonder if she understood Japanese. He then said, “Sprechts-du die Deutsch?”
There was no response, “Parle-tu francais?”
Still, she did not respond. He doubted strongly that she spoke Gaelic, and then said, “You have to understand Japanese, because you heard what I said.”
She stared at him. “Look, kid,” he said, “your parents are probably worried to death about you. This is a dangerous place. You are not safe here. I can’t watch over you, because I got to find a place to make camp. The only hotels around here are sleazy ones, and I do NOT want to stay in those.”
She cocked her head, and finally said, “Then follow me.”
She walked straight past him as if he were not there, and then turned and said, “Please, follow me.”
Now the kid was giving her the creeps: the dress, style of dress, the doll, the blank expression—was she some kind of serial killer? Yet, somehow, his instincts were telling him to trust her, so he followed. They had walked about a mile when they came to some cheap looking apartments, and a road that led up a hill. As the ascended, civilization seemed to melt away. As they went, she waved her hand, and kept on going. Now things seemed odd. As they were ascending, they seemed to walk into a fog. Before he could do something about it, she took his hand and guided him along. Once through the fog bank, he saw a house on the top of the hill that looked nothing like a house common to Japan. In fact, it looked European. He had to ask, “What is this: 1313 Mockingbird Lane?”
“Its home,” she said.
“Are you taking me to your house?” he had to ask.
“No,” she said, and guided him to a spot that allowed view of the house, but it was yet distant. She then turned to him, and said, “This is the edge of our property. Please, do not cross this line.”
She took a stick, and carved a line in the dirt to ensure that he knew right where the limit was. She then said, in the same, blank fashion, “Try to use the bushes to camouflage your camp. This is no-man’s land, and you can camp here. Yet, father may not understand, and chase you off anyway. Please, keep yourself concealed. You may stay here until you find proper lodging.”
He thought, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” but took off his pack anyway, and began to look for a good spot to conceal his tent. He then looked at the water jug, and then said to her as she turned to leave, “Say...is there a river or fresh water stream somewhere near here? I just want to fill this…”
Before he could finish, she took it, and said, “Don’t worry: I’ll take care of that. It will be to you before sunrise.”
She left, and he wanted to protest, but decided not to push it. He thanked her, and set up camp. Meanwhile, Anjou wondered what would happen if he were caught. Somehow, she knew that he was involved somehow with the dream, but she did not know how. If she had been a normal girl, she would have owed him this much, because he would have saved her life. However, her life really had not been threatened in the slightest, and yet, she somehow saw in him a kindred spirit, and felt a need to protect him. This would take further examination. For now, she had to get the jug to the house, and then go to feed: she was starving.