Ryan comes to and notices something a little different about himself.
The way I woke up was reminiscent of the way you wake up when you’re still trying to hold on to your dream, so you come out of your sleep slowly, disoriented, like you’re being dragged through deep water. Pulling my eyes open was a monumental task. I felt like I was drowning, and my deep breaths gave me no relief. I looked around, and my vision dragged like a lagging video. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. I got the idea that I was laying on a bed, in a room that seemed to be ultra modern. My body ached. Everything hurt.
I tried sitting up, but a hand pushed me back down to the bed, and suddenly I was aware of the person sitting at my bedside. I squinted and was sort of able to make out the shape of a young man.
“It’s good to see that you’re awake,” he told me. “Many that get turned here don’t make it through the conversion.”
“Where… where am I?” I asked, testing out my voice. It sounded like me, but….not. “Who are you?”
“My name is Patrick,” he responded. “And you’re currently in the east wing of Wentz Manor.” He pushed me down when I tried to sit up again. “Stay put. You’re not much more than a corpse, now.”
“What?” I squinted at him in confusion.
“All the blood’s been removed from your body,” he said. “The venom’s done its work but you’re still dry. We need to replace the blood to get you back in working order.”
Logically, I knew I should be freaking out. I remembered vaguely the events of the past day, and I knew that this was the last place I wanted to be. I knew that I’d likely just been turned into a vampire. And I knew that I needed to find Brendon, needed his help. But I couldn’t feel those things, only felt a growing pain in my stomach and a clouded curiosity about my surroundings.
Patrick held a water bottle to my lips (I’ll let you guess what was in it – hint, it wasn’t water) and told me to drink as he helped prop my head up. I didn’t have the energy to question him, so I did as I was told, drinking with growing fervor as the blood in the bottle began to hit my system. Soon I was holding the bottle myself, was sitting up, was finishing my second and third and fourth as Patrick handed them to me. I was suddenly aware of everything. I could smell the detergent the sheets of the bed had been washed in, could hear footsteps of someone on the other side of the house, could see a speck of dust on the mirror across the room. I felt strong, healthy.
There was a soft knock at the door, then, and I turned to see the man from the night before enter. Patrick stood and made a deep bow, and I followed suit, feeling obliged to do the same.
“This is Pete Wentz, the master of this house,” Patrick told me quietly.
“You look much better today,” Pete told me with a smile.
“I feel a lot better.” I didn’t really know how to feel around him. My mind told me to run, to get far away, because this was the monster who did this to me, who took Juliette from Brendon, who did so many horrible things to the people of Las Vegas. But I didn’t feel it. Instead I felt a sort of irritation that a child would feel for a strict parent. Irritated, but still obedient.
“Why did you bring me here?” I asked.
“Well,” he responded, “originally I meant to just kill you. But then I got to thinking that since you were the ‘prophesized savior of the vampire world’ and all, it might be handy to have you on my side.”
“I’m not on anyone’s side,” I said. That much I still knew. I continued to lean towards Brendon’s, though, since overall he’d been much more honest and hospitable.
That made him laugh. “Of course you are. You’re part of the Wentz family now. You’re on our side, it’s in your blood. What’s left of it, anyway. And when it comes down to a choice, you’ll always be loyal to us. You won’t be able to help it.”
“Fuck that, I don’t want any part of anything.”
“Hush,” he said sharply, and I felt obliged to obey. “I’m going to show you to your room so you can get changed. Then we’ll discuss more what you’ll do to help our cause.”
I followed him out of the room, feeling rather like a kid that had just been reprimanded. We walked through the long hallway to a minimalistic spiral staircase, which took us to the second floor. From there we went into the West wing and down any number of hallways. I was so lost. Everything looked similar, the same white with chrome finish. Finally, he opened a door and showed me into my room. It was actually very spacious, with clean white and black furniture. On the bed, a pair of black slacks and a white dress shirt were laid out.
“Get dressed,” Pete said, “and then join me downstairs in the library.”
He left, closing the door softly behind him, and I went over to where the clothes were laid out. I didn’t particularly feel like wearing nice clothes, but the ones I was in were stained with blood and frankly pretty ripped up. I opted for the clean clothes, and changed into the slacks and shirt. I tucked in the shirt and rolled the sleeves up to my elbows. I regarded myself in the full length mirror. I actually didn’t look that bad. Moving closer, I inspected the two fangs I now had in my mouth. They were creepy, out of place. And the red eyes that had replaced my brown ones seemed so foreign to me. I started to pace. I felt obligated to stay here, felt a loyalty to that man even though I knew I should hate his guts. But I wanted nothing more than to get out of here, to find Brendon and make him help me. Maybe there was some way to undo this. I wanted to find Spencer, to hug him and cry about all my dumb problems like I used to when we were kids. I wanted to tell him he was right.
It was then that I noticed the French doors that opened onto a balcony. I listened, for a moment, but heard no footsteps or any indication that anyone was close by. Walking silently, I went over to the doors and opened them as quietly as I could. I stepped onto the balcony. The air was cool, and I was almost taken aback by all the different things I could smell on the breeze. It was overwhelming. I looked down. The grass below wasn’t too terribly far. I thought that maybe I could jump and escape with only a twisted ankle or something. If I was quiet, I might be able to get away. I climbed onto the railing, and after looking around one last time I let myself drop.
Surprisingly, I landed fluidly and with ease on the grass. No twisted ankle or anything. Apparently the curse of vampirism had chased the clumsiness out of me, which to be honest wasn’t a terrible thing. I had no idea where to start looking for Brendon. All I could remember about his house was the rainy seawater smell there. I smelled the air, trying to find anything similar to it. There was a very faint rain smell coming from the west, and though I knew it rained everywhere and it was barely anything to go on, it was all I had. I started running, way faster than I could ever have hoped, and I had to stop a second to gather myself. Knowing that my absence would soon be missed, I started running again, and hoped I could find Brendon’s mansion.
It took me five days to find Brendon. Well, I guess to be fair he found me. In downtown Las Vegas. Draining the life out of some poor woman.
I couldn’t even remember doing it, didn’t remember finding her or attacking her or anything. I just came to with a dead body in front of me and blood all down my shirt and two strong arms pulling me backward. I didn’t realize I was fighting him until he started to yell at me.
“Ryan!” he yelled. “Ryan, snap out of it! Calm down!”
I became aware that I was clawing at his arms, and forced myself to stop, forced my body to stop thrashing and took in deep breaths that hardly did anything. I started to shake, looking around at the scene in front of me. Blood was smeared all around the concrete, the broken body of a young woman lying a few feet away from where I stood.
“Oh god,” I breathed. “Brendon, oh my god, what did I do.”
“I think that it is obvious.”
He kept his hold on me, obviously not trusting me to not go batshit again. Frankly, I didn’t trust myself either.
“I didn’t… I don’t… I don’t even remember getting here, I don’t remember killing her…”
I felt scared, not knowing what else I might have done, what else I could still do. I didn’t want to get out of my head like that again. I felt like I was going crazy. I never wanted this.
“It is not your fault,” he said. “Not really.”
Suddenly we were back in Brendon’s mansion, and he let me go with a sigh. “I knew I should have kept a closer eye on you,” he said. “I thought they wouldn’t be able to find my home. But I guess your scent was too strong.”
“I-it was Wentz,” I said, feeling rushed, like I had to offer up any information I could. “I was at his house, a-and he had these kids, and then I woke up like this, and I jumped out the window, I wanted to find you but I couldn’t, and then I woke up here, and, and…”
“I know, it’s-“
“He said that I wouldn’t be able to help being loyal to him,” I said, trying to control my shaking. “I don’t want to be, not if this is what he’s turned me into.”
“You won’t be able to help it,” Brendon said, shaking his head. “You’re his blood, now.”
“But I don’t want to be.” I felt myself quickly breaking down. It was all too much for me. First I was just in hiding, then I was a vampire, now I’ve fucking killed a woman. Unthinking, I stepped forward and hugged Brendon hard, hiding my eyes in his shoulder. “I don’t want to be this way.”
“I don’t either, Ryan.” He paused, then I felt his arms wrap around me and hug back. Everything was still shitty, but the small comfort was nice, and I felt safe. “I want to go home,” I said. “I want to see Spencer, he’ll make it right, he always makes things right.”
“He can’t fix this one,” Brendon said quietly.
We stood there like that for a long time, Brendon patiently listening to my hysterical babbles and soothing my shaking. The entire time I felt like I was forgetting something very very important, and when it finally came to me, I sprung apart from him, eyes wide.
“Holy shit, Brendon, I forgot.”
“Fuck. It’s Juliette. She’s alive.”