Then, she attacked. And they didn't stand a chance.
The monsters were everywhere. Biting. Yelling. Ripping. Attacking. A deep bite in her flesh had now closed itself up, but still hurt as if someone was tearing it open again, jerk by jerk of horrible agony. Her body writhed in pain, screaming for Death to come and embrace her like a lover. It remained at a distance. Mocking her. Laughing at her. Pouring this acid of torture down her throat, knowing well that she couldn't close her mouth. The vampires backed off for a few seconds while some familiar-shaped silhouettes blocked out the large, white moon. Wha-? Without saying anything, Ruby, Izz and Zoidberg formed a ring of protection around her. The vampires didn't touch them, but snarled a little. They wanted Al. She frantically pushed them forward to their salvation. No response, except for the twitch of Izz's mouth. A smile? The ring tightened and moved around her, taking her backwards out of the pit. She hauled herself with them over the sand. It clung to her wounds, rubbing painfully inside them like boiling salt. The hunters were growing impatient, ready to tear the ring limb from limb...and then from limb again. No! She screamed and pushed them back, crying for them to get out. To stay out of this, because they could! They did nothing to earn this! Ruby shook her head stubbornly and picked up her left arm. Zoidberg took her right and Izz gently lifted her fragile, broken legs off the ground. They didn't want to listen, but dragged her backwards to safety. Al groaned for them to stop as the vampires closed in, licking their beautiful lips. Izz grunted and winced as a patch of her hot blood trickled down her leg. Al's tongue flicked at the detection of its soft, delicious, salty scent.
Then she screamed even harder for them to go.
Oh...look at it spread across her jeans, like a beautiful wash of vivid red watercolour. It beckoned her...invited her..."Come on, Alison. You look so thirsty! Drink me. DRINK ME!" Al shook herself and thrashed around in their arms. Drink me. Drink me. Drink me. No...she can't kill her friends. Don't...oh, but she must! Another shout of warning from her splitting lips. The vampires behind were the least of their worries. Al hadn't drunk for forever...and Izz was bleeding horribly, revealing her liquid life like a barman revealing a beer to the designated driver. How could she resist its seductiveness? It was all over her legs now. Oh...Al screamed for them to run away...like it would make a difference if she decided to attack. A strange roar erupted deep within her. Something foreign and stronger than her will reached her brain. NO! She pushed it away, but it still melted deep into her mind. A parasite. A leech of death. One last yell for them to run.
Then, she attacked. And they didn't stand a chance.
Frank looked at the speedometer with nervous, darting eyes. A hundred and ten kilometres. No more. No less. Good. Gee's lessons were beginning to pay off. He felt a strange sense of accomplishment at this; being able to do something that Lincoln didn't think he could. But Lincoln must never know. Hopefully they'd never see him again. He winced as a stab of anguish found his chest. He'd miss his home. But Frank had it relatively easy. He couldn't imagine what it would be like for the girls. His head rotated slightly in the seat, catching a glimpse of the three women asleep in the back seat, heads lolling to one side. The girl with the darkest hair [Liz or something] had a long trickle of saliva sliding down her chin. Gerard looked at her fondly as she snuffled and shifted in her seat. Leaving everything, just because of a stupid rock. They could've stayed. They should've stayed. Made families. Made careers. Made a life. But this black hole of a situation sucked in everything it could fasten its greedy fingers to. Frank spun and fixed Al with a gaze that he hoped cheered her up. She attempted a weak smile at him [toothless, just a slight curve of her soft mouth], but her tear-streaked face told another story. Her fingers shakily traced his hand on the gearstick of the stolen four-wheel-drive, examining fingernail and the beautiful dips and ridges of his digits. His fingers trembled in nervousness and enchantment. If he had an animate heart, its beat would be going off the scale. He leaned over the controls [hoping that there were no turns in the road ahead], perhaps to kiss those quivering lips. Al hesitated, leaning in too, but she pulled back sadly. She forced his hands back on the wheel with an awkward moan. It hurt her to do that. It really did. There was nothing she wanted more than to kiss him. Sooner or later, if it came to that, she would have to run away to protect him and the others. Knowing that he hadn't wasted that special kiss of his on the likes of her, who knows? He mightn't hurt so badly. Not giving her that sacred part of his soul might make him heal faster.
Earlier that night, Izz and Al made it back to Ruby's place, inhaling the refreshing scent of greasy chips, ice-cream and Coke. They had said little, but Izz had made almost constant glances behind her, making sure that the vampires were all there. Especially Gerard, who flashed his dazzling smile at her on countless occasions. Izz practically dissolved with purest pleasure into the cold tar of the road every single time. She lightly touched her lips with two fingers. Where Gee had kissed them. It was still glacial from his cold, silky, wonderful mouth. Vampires. It still seemed far-fetched. They were the entity of horror movies, and cheap novels at second-hand bookstores. But here they were, following closely behind. Protection, perhaps? But Al was a vampire too. They couldn't all be just for protecting her, could they? She should be feeling fearful...didn't vampires drink blood? She forced herself to think sensibly [as in 'Run away, you idiot!'], but then he touched her shoulder. The sensation spread even through her thick, compulsory, fire-engine-red blazer. All thoughts vanished. Gerard and Frank, with Mikey following sulkily behind, perched themselves on the long, metal chair in front of the dwelling. Frank leaned in and whispered a promise in her ear. "I'll be here." She smiled and gripped him tight in her arms. He smelled like red lollies. Why did her brain just spew up that fact? Of all the details...his white skin...his alluring brown eyes...his low, gentle, breathy voice...the way his pale chin rested on her shoulder and exhaled shaky gasps onto her vest...ah...she vaguely heard the creak of corroded hinges. Izz opened the door, coughing politely. "Uh...Alison?" The two besotted vampires broke off the embrace; Frank was extremely hesitant and unhappy as his arms slid away from her body. With a small wave of farewell, Al walked into the house and the sweet blast of warm air hit her cold nose. Ah. Ruby's place always seemed welcoming, even with the screaming Clementine and the whiny Spencer going off in the kitchen. She heard a grunt and a moan that came from a low Dubbo accent. A chuckle followed, from a slightly higher voice: Ruby and Zoidberg.
Izz and Al stormed into the kitchen, just as two tiny hands stole the last handful of chips from the greasy, see-through paper. Clementine giggled and fled the room, a small figure waddled after her and the sound of something smashing rang through the hallway. Ruby tore off her glasses and began cleaning them on her black shirt, muttering f-bombs under her breath. After much eeny-meeny-miny-mo-ing, Izz opened a banana that was sitting in a bowl of fruit. It reached her mouth, only to have its head torn off by her white teeth. She opened her mouth to speak, revealing pale mush, and then promptly closed it. Al made a gagging noise and helped herself to the remnants of Coke. In their absence, everything had been eaten, most probably by Clem. Ruby calmed from her hyperventilating fit and glared at both Izz and Al over her red glasses. Her pretty grey eyes narrowed suspiciously. This could be potentially problematic. "What took you so long? You took..." there was a pause as she checked her black-strapped watch. "You took an hour and a half to get home!" Izz and Al exchanged apprehensive looks. To tell or not to tell? Al felt like she was digging a hole deeper and deeper. The walls were crumbling and unclimbable. Brown walls of imprisonment. Inescapable. Deep. Trapped. There was no way in holy hell that Izz could explain this all...but there was also no way she could be expected to keep this to herself either. Al sighed and rubbed her temples, in a Doran-like fashion. She'd be handing out uniform detentions next! "Pull up a pew, guys, this could take a while..."
"What the fuck?" Ruby spat eventually. Her eyes bulged abnormally, and she leaned forward on her seat. Clementine screamed louder for her attention in the lounge room, but everyone else in the house was too focussed to neither notice nor care. There was silence where Ruby would normally commence her swearing and yelling. Al sighed again, this time taking a long drink from something she hoped was water. It sloshed around emptily in her stomach as her brain demanded blood to fill it. It was getting easier to deny herself her essential fuel...though she wasn't as strong as when she was first blooded. How long would it be until she gave in to the angel of death? Al didn't particularly want to die. Slowly, she flexed her fingers before her and reached down to the black shirt she'd changed into an hour before. Her hands lowered the collar to reveal the long, red scar that ran down her chest. It was tinged slightly with black, like a horrible burn. Ruby and Zoidberg gasped. ZoÃ« glanced at Al with a 'That needs medical attention!' look. Alison released the collar and it bounced back up to her throat. "Believe me now?" she breathed, looking up sadly at their flushed faces. They still didn't trust her. She searched for some proof and thought back to Frank's visit a month ago. What had he done? Superior balance...and speed." Risky. But what were her options? Zoidberg was probably already on the line to the loony bin!
Al smiled slightly [it would be worth it to see their faces!], before raising a finger for them to wait and watch. Quickly, she grabbed and tore an entire phonebook in half...last year's, of course. Their eyes followed her hands in astonishment, as if she were a magician and they couldn't find her secret. She threw one piece at the wall with inhuman strength; the paper tore right through the plaster like a hot knife through butter. These abilities didn't make her feel any elation; it just stung with sadness and abnormality. Al flicked her hair out of her eyes like a curtain off a window. She looked tellingly at her friends with green, calculating eyes and spun around. Effortlessly ran [more like glide, in which her feet barely touched the earth] around the ageing house once...twice...three times, in a black and white blur. On the way past the front, she saw Frankie's grin, Gerard's confusion and Mikey's indifference. Frank clapped the second time, and bowed on the third. Her heart soared. He was impressed! Intoxicated on Frank's appreciation, she switched into show-off mode. Like a professional gymnast, she twirled and landed on the elastic, yielding trampoline. It was incredibly small, Al noticed, as she desperately tried to convince the others with tricks she most certainly couldn't perform before. They crawled to the doorway, with wide, frightened eyes. Ruby froze and looked back at the makeshift seat in which Al was perched a moment ago. She now stood at the other side of the backyard, bouncing impossibly high on the trampoline which screeched angrily under her weight. Her hair bounced in the slight breeze. Al flipped twice like a monotone ball of black cloth and landed before Ruby. Ruby's eyes nearly popped out of her skull, bulging fiercely as if midgets in her brain were forcing them out of their sockets with pitchforks of flame.
"Ta-da." She said flatly. After a second or two of giggling manically, Ruby fell quiet and collapsed onto the grass.
Everything was silent for a moment, in which Ruby rolled over a little. They looked at her in awe. Al took a bow. Then, they cast their eyes down and realised that Ruby was out for the count. Zoidberg, Izz and Al bent over her frame, frantically searching for a line of action. "Shit. ZoÃ«, get ice!" Izz hissed finally, pulling Ruby into a roughly comfortable position. Her head lolled around awkwardly, like a mannequin being dressed at a boutique. Zoidberg ran inside, and the familiar crash of rushing flesh against wall echoed through the quiet street. She stumbled further and Al heard ice falling onto the ground. The vampire chuckled, scratching the back of her head. Her mind still rushed from the thrill of her performance. It was mind-blowing, to be able to do all those things. Maybe she could even fly! Frank would have laughed at that. No...it was a bit much. But she'd barely scratched the surface of her abilities, like digging her fingernails into the frozen surface of an endless ocean. Al scoffed inside her mind. Abilities. More like curses! She was a freak. A stupid, weird freak. She should be in a side-show, not a school! The adrenaline evaporated off her chest and skin, and misery melted in like the gem on her flesh. A freak. She sat beside Ruby, who had actually landed on the paving and developed quite a bump. It rose off her face like a mountain across a valley of pale skin. It was quiet. Zoidberg was eerily silent in that kitchen. Al peered through the window, but saw nothing but her vampiric lack of reflection. With a small cough, Izz looked up from making sure that Ruby hadn't consumed her tongue. She leaned against the wall, examining Al with a stern but dazed look. It was a combination of acid and ice-cream; neither was relenting, but fighting fiercely against the other in her eyes. "Impressive." Izz said, shrugging. "It explains quite a lot. - no! Like why you don't eat now." She added hastily when Alison's eyes widened with a "Holy fuck! Was it that obvious?!" look of shock. Al leaned on the wall next to her, heart rapidly plummeting to her feet. She bowed her head. "I can't believe I let this happen." The vampire breathed finally. Izz opened her mouth, as if to ask what she meant...when...
"Move and the girl dies." A familiarly ominous voice grunted from the doorway. Everyone spun around to face the door. Lincoln stood there, beautiful and powerful in the twilight. He had a strange aura of menace. His head was lowered slightly, so he could keep The Blooded Heart in his frame of vision. He had well recovered from Alison's beating several weeks ago. He was back. He was angry. He was ready. Inescapable. She couldn't take him on alone. Not when he had Zoidberg. As much as she hated it, she would need to get Frank involved. Al whispered his name, praying the breeze would carry it to the front.
In a rush of black fabric, three vampires leaped behind Al and Izz, a line of stunning defence. Humans...weak. Protect. Her Neanderthal-like thoughts finally got through into her brain. Save Zoidberg, who was wrapped in Lincoln's arms, struggling madly, but slightly enchanted by the vampire's beauty. Al stepped over Ruby and Izz, shielding the pair with her hard, alabaster flesh. The adrenaline was back, not out of joy, but fear. It rushed through her like a sprinter on steroids. Her brain only registered tiny details. Lincoln's half-sneer, furious but strangled, hesitant to hurt his hostage. Zoidberg's terrified face, constantly glancing at Lincoln. Ruby's muffled waking sounds. Frank's tiny little grumbles of rage. Al vaguely felt her hand reach for the red jewel around her throat. She wasn't quite sure what it did, but it was calming to touch. Her head cleared like the eye of a cylcone. She stroked it more. If he wanted it, it must have some power. Some usable power. Lincoln tentatively tightened his grip around Zoidberg's throat. And in that second he paused, Alison registered that he didn't want to hurt ZoÃ«. No thought. No pause. Action. She sprinted towards Lincoln, growling low like a monster of the night [which she was]. His face grew closer and closer, changing emotions countless times every second. The world seemed to stop as she reached out a hand, ready to strike. In sickening slow motion, he pushed Zoidberg out of the way [thank God!] and swung his arm out in defence. It contacted with her face, but made no damage. Al spun around and laid a kick into his crotch. Lincoln buckled slightly, but retaliated with a blow to her stomach. But Al had him now. She brought down a fist on his head, right where she had a month ago. It was still weak. Upon contact, Lincoln's legs gave way; his eyes stared at her vacantly. Then, he fell to the ground. Alison picked up a piece of wood to finish him off, but Zoidberg shrieked a frantic "NO!" before leaping over and hanging onto the bit of lumber. Al looked at her down the branch. What?! Zoidberg whispered the objection again, weaker this time. She trembled. There were tears in her eyes. She knew she couldn't beat Al. "No." ZoÃ« repeated faintly. Begging! Al lowered the stick and looked at his body. He was alive. Just. Bastard.
Zoidberg whispered her thanks, before stroking his head and crying over his wounds. Ever so slowly, Al pulled her small frame off his. She desperately clung to him, sobbing his name. Her fingernails dragged along his skin. Drew blood. She turned and collapsed into Al's arms. Al raised her head, black hair flicking slightly, and glimpsed at Frank, who hunched over in melancholy defeat. Al's stomach plummeted like it did when she knew the atrocious reality. They had to leave. Now. All of them. Leave! Tamworth was a hole, yes. But it was a hole that held their lives. Everything they had, they had to dump and run away. Lincoln had the girls' scent now. He would find them and use them. And kill them. She couldn't stand it if they died. Al turned to her friends. Ruby and Izz seemed to have guessed and were already picking themselves off the ground, eyes red and swollen. Frank shrugged sadly, and they both pulled a screaming Zoidberg onto the lounge. After a few moments looking at each other over her sobbing form, he hugged her. "Get ready to say goodbye to home." He breathed into her hair. His lips brushed her mane. He swept them lightly over her cheek, but she eased herself out of his arms before they could find her mouth. Oh...she wanted him so much. But it was for his own good. "Frankie. I have to call my family. Please."
He smiled weakly, with teary eyes, passing her his phone. She couldn't remember dialling the number, but it was ringing against her ear. Like a heartbeat on a hospital machine. It rang a few times, before going to message bank. The familiar high-pitched beep came, but Al said nothing, just breathed into the receiver. Her heart, already broken, shattered again into sub-atomic particles. She imagined her sisters, growing up without an older sister to ride their bikes with. Slowly, she exhaled a struggling syllable of nonsense. What should she say to the people who'd brought her up? Reared her for over 14 years...just for her to vanish. They'd never see her again. An empty space in the lonely photo frame on the blank wall. She'd just be another on the endless list of missing teenagers. Slowly, she murmured. "I'm sorry." into the receiver and hung up. Al looked across the yard, avoiding Frank's eyes, and saw Mikey, staring at Ruby like a drowning man stared at the surface and the air that waited. Ruby shoved everyone's things into a rough pile of supplies, oblivious to his attentions. But she did spare a few glances back to the cute, bespectacled boy as she heaved and moved and shoved supplies. A bag of food. Drinks. Suitcases. More food. It was abnormally dormant and silent. Clementine and Spencer were asleep, Gerard using his charms to get them to slip into bed and salvation. He came out of Spencer's room and hugged Izz briefly, before disappearing in a blur. To get a car. Izz slowly made her way to the front, ready to lug the bags into their ride. Examining all this like a distant television in an electronics store, she turned back to him. Frank was gazing pensively at Alison out of the corners of his eyes, confused. He looked like an abandoned puppy in the gutter. Frank slowly turned his head to face her in response to her stare. He placed a shaky hand on her shoulder. She didn't want to hurt him, so she slowly traced up his arms with her fingers, leaning in unhurriedly. It took so much of her will not to kiss him, but to lean in, absorb every detail. Wait for the distraction to come...
And it came, right on time. Gerard honked the novelty horn of the four-wheel drive, signalling the end of their childhood. Disappointed again [would he ever kiss her?] Frank slowly sighed and traced her lily-white collarbone. Slid his hand down onto hers. He held and they leapt into the front seat. Aside from a shit radio station pumping out something wrongly labelled "music", it was quiet and mournful. Ruby touched the mirage of her home on the window pane. Shaking his head, Frank restarted the car and clicked his seatbelt across his beautiful torso. He spared one last glance at Alison, who was cautiously wiping tears from her eyes.
They had been on the road for five hours [everyone was asleep, even the other vampires] when Al finally turned to Frank. He smiled slightly, despite everything. Al took his hand and looked down. Frank followed her gaze down to the jewel around her throat. She held out The Blooded Heart on its flimsy silver chain, double checking that the girls were asleep. "Okay, Frankie. Tell me everything you know about this."