What started out as a modest flame soon erupted into a full burst fire, a burning bush of prophecy. The new Slayer is rising.
"One more year," Livvy whispered to herself, resting her head on her arms against the windowsill.
Next year she would be an adult and she could finally leave her father's home. She knew he would never allow it, but she could run away and the cops couldn't force her to come back. There were many times when she thought of fleeing her home, even times when she nearly left. But she would come to the realization that there was no where she could stay where they wouldn't turn her in. The wait was almost over. Just 365 more days until she could walk free.
It wasn't fair, she said to herself. Wasn't a parent supposed to let his child fall and scrap her knee sometimes? Shouldn't a kid be able to learn from her own mistakes? Instead of letting her climb on a horse and fall to learn her lesson, her father just didn't let her near the horse at all. He carried her through life instead of letting her walk on her own. She didn't have any accidents and perfection was boring. She felt like he was squeezing her in his hand and refusing to loosen up at any cost.
The first glimpse of sunlight caught her eye. She loved watching the sunrise. It was almost as if she were witnessing the birth of a new day. Slowly, the sky began to light up as the giant star floated toward the center. Livvy wiped away the stinging tears from the brightness. Sunrises always gave her hope that maybe that day would be a day of salvation.
After a soft tapping, her door quietly creaked open.
"Good morning, Livvy," Gerard whispered, gesturing for her to follow him.
"Good morning," Livvy reciprocated, walking toward the hallway.
"Happy birthday," Gerard said with a smile as he handed her a thin rectangular box.
Her gift was wrapped in blue paper decorated with a pattern of multi-colored balloons tied together with a pink bow. She almost expected to find a doll inside, but she knew it was just her father's way of trying to keep her youth alive. She flipped open the flaps of paper that were taped down and carefully shifted the bow aside. As she neatly unfolded the wrapping paper, she lifted the lid of the box. Pushing the pink tissue aside, she held up her present. Gerard smirked in satisfaction of his daughter's expression. It was a beautiful red leather jacket with gold painted zippers and buttons. Livvy ran her hands through the rough fabric in awe. It was the most beautiful piece of clothing she owned. She eagerly tried it on and instantly felt the weight of the material on her shoulders. It was perfect.
"Thanks, Dad," she said sincerely. "I love it."
"I love you," Gerard replied, kissing her temple.
Livvy suddenly felt excited for the day to begin. Gerard had promised her that they would go out to a restaurant with Iris and her uncle. Now she even had something nice to wear. She jumped at any chance to leave the house. She always wanted a birthday dinner at another place.
"Don't forget your promise, Dad," Livvy reminded him.
"I won't," Gerard chuckled, playfully messing up her hair. "Tonight we're going to the restaurant. I made a reservation a month ago."
Livvy couldn't understand it. She almost felt as if she were reading the menu upside down. Every piece of food was written in French. She turned to Iris questioningly, but she only got the same confused look back. They burst into soft giggles when their fathers exchanged similar expressions.
"Whoever heard of pancakes for dinner?" Livvy asked as the waiter served her some crepe.
Iris shrugged as she dug into her food. Her dad and uncle ordered some orange duck dish which she wasn't sure was intentional or accidental, but they seemed to like it enough. When the chocolate mousse cake was served, Livvy felt as if she were in a dream. Sure it was only a trip to an expensive restaurant, but to her it was freedom. It only made her more impatient for her 18th birthday.
"Livvy come with me to the bathroom," Iris suddenly blurted out.
"Right now?" Livvy asked, taking the first bite of her cake.
"Yes," Iris stressed.
"Be right back, Dad. We're going to the bathroom," Livvy excused herself.
Gerard nodded his approval and kept his eye on her until she was out of sight.
"Sometimes, I feel like she just hates me," Gerard confessed to his brother.
"You're being a little hard on her," Mikey admitted. "Let her go out sometime. It won't kill her."
Gerard said nothing as he swallowed a mouthful of chocolate. He let Autumn go out once and she never came back. Mikey read through his mournful gestures and decided not to continue on with the subject.
Livvy and Iris ran through the streets in excitement. Iris had the brilliant idea of ditching the restaurant and escaping to the city. It was a freezing night and their breaths hung frozen in smoky puffs in the air as they ran as far away from their fathers as possible. Livvy had never felt more alive and the rebellion energized her. She ran full speed, leaving Iris to stagger behind.
"Livvy!" Iris panted. "Will you slow down?! I'm sure they haven't even noticed we've left the place yet!"
"I'm sorry," Livvy apologized, walking back toward her cousin and helping her walk straight. "It's just that I feel like getting as far away from him as possible."
"Well, we have plenty of time to do that," Iris grinned.
"You mean before he calls the cops on us?" Livvy wondered.
"Yeah, but tell me this isn't worth it," Iris replied.
"It's definitely worth it," Livvy sighed.
They walked passed rows and rows of streetlights. The streets were deserted and not even a cricket's song could be heard. It was a part of town neither of them had ever been familiar with. But then again the whole town was unfamiliar territory to Livvy. There were pitch black alleyways to their left and as they went further their steps began to speed up in fright. Where was the glowing, busy city? Where were the countless designer stores, the glamorous dance clubs, even the cheap mini-marts?
"Are you sure we're going the right way?" Livvy asked Iris.
"I don't know," Iris said, worriedly. "Should we go back?"
"Yeah, maybe we should just go the other direction," Livvy agreed.
Suddenly, a garbage can knocked over in front of them. They both jumped up and nearly shrieked as the screeching sound of aluminum hit the pavement. A gray cat with glowing green eyes jumped on top of the pile of trash and hissed at them to leave.
"Stupid cat," a scruffy voice called out.
A boy with large liberty spikes came out of the shadows of the alleyway. His skin was as pale as pure snow and the dark circles around his eyes only made him more ill. He looked like the epitome of teenage rebellion. Dressed in black and chains, he smiled at them with his twice pierced lips.
"Hey," the boy greeted, staring intently at Livvy.
"Hi," Livvy replied.
Although Iris seemed unmovable, Livvy was somehow drawn to him. She was fascinated by his far from conventional features.
"What are you two girls doing in this part of town?" the boy asks.
"We're just looking around," Livvy answers, oblivious to Iris's gesture to get out of there.
"Don't you know that there are things here that people should never ever see?" the boy tells her with a mysterious air around his words. "Secrets just floating around in the dark."
"Secrets?" Livvy mused.
"Oh yes and not to mention one of the biggest secrets in the world," the boy grins. "Would you like me to tell you?"
Livvy nodded and the boy motioned for her to get closer. Iris tugged on her arm to stay, but Livvy shrugged her off as she followed the boy into the alleyway. He waved his index finger for her to follow him. She obeyed until she was inches away from his mouth. She felt him walk behind her and lower his head to whisper in her ear, but his lips passed her ear and went straight for her neck. She felt his cold breath on her shivering flesh and suddenly went into a state of panic. As soon as something sharp grazed her skin, she turned around to face him and screamed from the top of her lungs. The boy's eyes were glowing red in the dark and he had long, gleaming fangs protruding from his gums. He clawed her shoulders with his sharp, glassy nails and hissed just as vicious as the cat. In terror, Livvy pulled his arms off of her and ran out of the alleyway, attempting to drag her cousin with her.
And then, she saw them. More red eyes flashing through the aisles of darkness that surrounded them. The boy walked slowly toward them with a devilish grin and hissed once more. Then a symphony of hisses came all around. Livvy and Iris had no place to go, but the center of the street. They waited for any sign of help or any sign of waking up from this unbelievable nightmare.
"You ain't going nowhere, Sweetie," the demon boy said as he approached Livvy and placed his fingers on her chin.
She had no choice and it was either die without trying or fight to the death. In one impulsive moment, Livvy kicked the boy in the torso, knocking him to his back. Iris stood, wide-eyed and mouth agape as her cousin bravely approached the vampire. The boy jumped back to his feet, easily recovering and striking his arm at Livvy. Iris screamed when Livvy fell back to a wall, but she seemed unfazed by the powerful blow. She ran toward the vampire and punched him back in the stomach. Soon it was a battle of fists and kicks. Livvy blocked, hit, and took punches and kicks like they were nothing. The vampire lifted a garbage can and threw it toward her. It hit her fully, but she rose from the ground as if she had merely tripped. She took a piece of ply wood from the trash and swung it toward the demon. She swung and swung until she had him cornered to a wall. Then, as if by experience, she stabbed him through the chest with a sharp edge. The boy's eyes widened as he screamed in agony and evaporated into dust.
The hissing intensified and there were sounds of shock and dismay.
"Slayer!" a voice among them cried. Soon, the red eyes disappeared as if a thousand lamps were extinguished.
"Livvy!" she heard her father cry out.
She turned around and saw him running toward her. Iris was sobbing in Mikey's arms, but neither he nor Gerard could keep their eyes off of her. She stood there, covered in ash with the piece of ply wood still in her hands. She dropped it as soon as she was engulfed by her father's arms. He held her for awhile, before pulling her apart to face him. He wiped the trail of blood on the corner of her lips with his thumb and almost broke down in tears. He said nothing as he guided her home. Livvy wondered why her father hadn't even bothered to lecture her about her disobedience. He didn't even ask her about what happened. It was almost as if he had seen it all before.