I DO NOT OWN ANY RECOGNIZABLE CHARACTERS . . . THIS IS JUST FOR FUN! : - )
I gripped the handles of my bike and arched my back, smiling as a few joints popped. No matter how little we slept, we always felt as if we'd been sleeping for years. I turned my head in the wind that swept over my face.
The night was new. The boys surrounded me as we speed down the coast and into town. There was a concert tonight on the beach - some two-bit band - Rinser or Rizer or something like that. Any matter, it was the height of tourists season - money to the local businesses and food to us.
Locals rolled their eyes as we came into town and vacationers bumped their way towards the sidewalks, unaware of the mortal danger that was speeding past them. For some, our faces would be the last thing they see.
A fast moving blue car came into view, blocking our path to the beach. We quickly came upon it, flocking it on all sides are we slid past. It was packed with people and things - more tourists. I wondered if I would see them at all during their stay - probably, since we roamed the boardwalk all night. I then wondered if I would end one of their lives . . . .
I am a vampire. In body, I am merely 20, but in spirit, I am over 80 years old. I was turned by Max Reineir in the forties. We were a small company inside Germany . . . and I mean inside. We were going to kill Hitler and things turned bad - real bad - half of us were gone and the rest of us were going fast. Max was our company captain and I was a mere private. He didn’t seem to buckle under pressure much - I’ve never seen him flinch when facing a grenade - but then, he was as scared as we were. In the end, there were only four of us including Max. And Max said he had a secret - why he wasn’t afraid as we were. He showed us he was a vampire and that he could save us, too. Long story short, we went for it. We cut out after that and I’m not proud of it but we did. We raced back to the States undercover - we were presumed dead while on mission. Georgie Bray, one of the kids that turned with me, branched out after we got back to Jersey. Yes, we all were Jersey kids. But Max wouldn’t let him leave - he would have been too much of a liability - he couldn’t afford to have Georgie spreading our fate. It had to be isolated and must be sanctioned only when needed. Georgie’s dead now. The other kid was Dwayne Deso - my best friend for nearly 80 years now.
I wasn't always proud of what I am. After I had drank Max's blood and I realized what I had to do, I refused what I was. Max had to force me - trick me, actually - to kill my first. I hated him since then and it hasn't changed. But I had to protect his secret - without him, I wouldn't have been given my first and truest brother - Dwayne. Dwayne and I became inseparable friends for the few years we were on our own. Finally we were gifted with Paul, and then a few months later "little" Marco, who we all cared for like a little brother. A while later, with need for a different beat, I kind of fell in love with this girl named Star. It wasn’t love, really, just a raw thing. She was a lonely hippie at the time and was toting around this little kid. We got along for a couple weeks - until Star attracted the attention of a mortal kid, Michael. They fell in love - real love. God, he had this little bothersome brother. His brother had a few friends that insisted they could kill us. Long story short, we fought, we killed, we won. It was back to just Dwayne, Paul, Marco, and I and we were pretty content.
It was just us four for the longest time until we connected with Logan. He was the last boy inducted into our group. And we were pretty satisfied with each other. As a vampire, Logan’s immaturity showed. He often killed in places that were too inhabited and stayed out until minutes before the sun rose. But on this particular night, my anger over little bits that annoyed me disappeared, and I was refreshed by the night. We braked at the Boardwalk, stopping our bikes in the parking lot and angled them towards the beach - and the crowd.
As vampires, we had different hunting preferences. At first, I hunted for revenge, killing off of those who had wronged me when I was still mortal, but now that it was inconvenient to do so (with the fact that I haven‘t aged and all) - we had moved from our original home when it was only Max, Dwayne, Paul, and I - I didn't care. I didn't speak to them before I killed them. I tried to distant myself from them as much as possible. Paul hunted like me. So did Logan, but it was more for the fact that he was ruthless - more so than any of us. He killed to kill - getting nourishment was just an added bonus. I'm sure if he would have stayed mortal he would have been a mass murderer. Dwayne and Marco both liked to converse with their prey first. They liked to kill girls that they would date if they could. Dwayne liked provocative and hard-core girls. Marco liked girls that liked thrills like shooting up or tempting fate on his bike or roller coasters - convenient since Santa Carla was the West Coast's version of Coney Island.
The festivities were in full swing tonight - girls in tight, short skirts and tiny t-shirts, top-less guys in swim trunks, couples making out on benches and corners of beaches. Logan became unsettled, twitching on his motorbike. "Paul," I hissed, nodding my head towards Logan, "Get him out of here before he does it in the god damn open." Paul, who had become Logan's "keeper” and best friend, nodded and pulled Logan off of his bike. They disappeared down the main city street and into the direction of old industrial buildings that were havens for the homeless and druggies - and easy pickings for us. I sighed and got off of my bike and leaned against the handles, watching a band play at the band shell. A few screaming girls passed on roller skates and by reaction, I turned to glance their way. Marco spotted them too and slid off his bike, smiling “later,” following them. Dwayne and I watched the horizon a bit. I boom-box blasted behind me and I turned instinctively.
That's when I saw her.
She was sitting in the back of a pristine navy-blue 2008-something car, looking out of the window with such an analyzing look that I felt as if she knew everything about me already. 'Already' . . . as if I, David, felt she would know everything. Her hair was dark and held in loose pig-tails that fell around her neck, twisting into the hollows of her collar bone. She was white, yet her skin held a light-olive tint. Her face was round and full, her lips large and untainted and shiny. She looked sad and annoyed. As if to prove the point, she let out a heavy sigh, shouting fog onto the window. She cast her gaze on the thick crowd, this time her eyes falling on me. I was tall with wild blonde hair and tattered clothes. Would she, who from first glance seemed good-natured and clean, even glance a second time at my disheveled figure? As predicted, as soon as her eyes met mine, they left. She sighed again and stepped from the car. She was wearing bright teal trainers and blue jeans. She had on an open neon green hoodie and a black tank underneath. She was of average height and curvy build. At first glance she looked maybe twenty, but it was soon noticeable that she was younger - eighteen at the most.
“How long has it been since one of us hunted like gentlemen?” I smiled towards Dwayne, keeping my eyes on the mystery girl. Dwayne turned and followed my gaze.
She locked the car and hugged an '80s-style print bag to her chest. She walked past me, only mere feet away. The breeze caught her perfume and sent it towards me. My breathing quickened, drinking it in - she smelled as if you were standing in the middle of a lush forest in northern Washington. An uncommon scent, but one that made me want the world to pause. I watched her retreating figure as she headed up the Boardwalk.
“Quite a while,” Dwayne smiled, baring his pristine teeth. “Not usually your style, Davy.”
I shrugged. “Just got a feeling I should get to know this one first.” I pushed myself off of the bike and slowly followed her.
“Don’t be having too much fun, now, Davy.” he chortled behind me. Dwayne had an unusual way of talking. When it was just between us, he often switched to an American-Brit-Cockney, the way he was raised.
She walked fast. Her head turned in every direction as she tapped on, magically swaying her curvy but shrinking her body inward if she came too close to someone. A buzzed, middle-aged man knocked into her. He turned and apologized, touching her elbow. She nodded and shrunk away from him, quickening her steps. She stopped at a bench where two adults sat, a boy probably a year older than her, his face turned to the excitement behind him, and a younger, shorter, and fatter girl, her eyes on a group of dark-haired boys mulling about next to a hotdog vendor. I stopped and stood next to a woman reading palms, observing the scene.
She quietly exchanged words with the two adults - her parents - and pointed off towards West Beach. They nodded and she walked away, padding down the Boardwalk and walking further away from the cover of the crowds. Dangerous to do so, girl, I chided her in my mind. I resumed my track again, this time closing the space in between us to a few yards. I could smell her again. She continued to walk until there were only a few people on the Boardwalk. There was so little that she could probably hear my breathing. And considering the look on her face that she was the type to memorize and keep tabs on everything, she would pick up on me quickly. She suddenly stopped and stepped off of the Boardwalk, peering into a thick bush of beach reeds. I brushed past her, my sleeve brushing up against her back. She flinched and stepped into the reeds.
For the longest time, West Beach was our top hunting grounds. Mortals caught on and over a few years the people who frequented there turned from partiers to no one and then - now - it was a hot spot to make out at. I quietly parted the reeds and peered through. The girl was there, seated in the sand. She had taken her sandals off and the waves lapped at her feet. She was running her hands through the little stones that were beneath her. I set a boot in the sand, but pulled back when an overly buff and an overly-tan guy her age with a dog bombarded the beach. He used the old trick - the dog swamped her and he jovially pulled it off, smiling at her.
She smiled at him and they introduced themselves. His name was Cash Roberts, but she talked so quietly I couldn’t catch hers. Roberts stuck himself next to her in the sand, letting the dog roam around. Every so often it would nuzzle the girl with its goopy, spit-ridden snout. She would gently knock the dog back, cringing. It was obvious she didn’t like the smell of wet dog - or the feel of its slime. Roberts finally dragged the dog back, keeping it to his side. They talked for a while, but I couldn’t help but notice the charming smile on the girl’s face. She seemed to be enjoying the encounter. I watched as they headed down the beach towards the populated areas again. I couldn’t help but feel a slight tinge of jealously in my stomach - I never liked being beaten to my prey.
I decided I should probably eat before I was so consumed that I’d accidentally snap the girl’s neck before I could properly analyze her. I vaulted myself off the end of the boardwalk and headed towards the Browns - a higher-end escape for rich college kids. I needed a buzz, anyway.
It was coming towards the end of the night and I tracked back towards town. The car was gone. I shuddered - what if this was only a stop for them? What if they were miles away, never coming back? The girl had struck something deep inside me, an invisible thread that told me to find out more. I couldn’t help but feeling a little bit lost, something I didn’t usually feel in this state. I sorted out the guy - Cash. He was dancing near the band shell with a willowy blonde. Guess he moved on pretty quickly. Probably looking for someone to put out. Hopefully my girl didn’t. My skin prickled. My girl . . . . Come on, man, get a grip.
When I had first saw her, that clichéd thing happened - like when I saw Josephine. Dear, dear Josephine. She was my wife, torn to pieces when she heard that I’d died. And torn even more when I showed up at our doorstep, thriving in my new lifestyle. She was pregnant at the time, just four months along. I hadn’t been home for nine. I found Johnnie Darlan - my little brother - in our bed. I killed ‘em both, I couldn’t help it. She wasn’t even going to send me a Dear John letter. I loved Josephine - I really, really did. I cried so hard and beat myself up so bad after I did it - but I think because I felt more betrayed than anything. My own brother. I never really loved a woman after that. I’ve made love, yes, but I always ended up killing her afterward. I had no care for life after that.
But this mystery girl. She struck a chord deep within me. I was pulled towards her. At first I thought it was just an instinct to kill
Paul, Logan, and Marco's bikes were gone. Dwayne leaned against his, watching the remaining partiers on the beach. I swung myself onto mine and touched my fingers to my temples. "I've known you long enough to know something is seriously wrong." Dwayne muttered, turning his gaze to me.
“For once, I think I floundered out there.”
“Meaning . . . ?”
I looked up, muttering into the sky and fighting back a laugh. “I think it took eighty-fucking-years for my hormones to kick in.”
“Shall we keep this from the boys, then?” Dwayne had turned his attention to the horizon, the subtlest pinkish glow dancing across the water. I could feel the concern in his words. In the late seventies Dwayne had fallen for a mortal - her name was Betsie Lye. It was a love like mine and Josephine’s. We all knew about it, but we hadn’t realized the consequences or the seriousness. Dwayne was days away from killing himself with agony over the situation - he didn’t want Betsie a vampire, he loved her the human way, but he wanted to be with her always. Max killed her, poor Betsie. That was in Michigan, way up north. They called it a kidnapping and looked for her forever, until maybe 15 years after they finally erected a headstone.
Every few years, Dwayne will up and leave for two weeks and travel back there, visiting where he buried her. It wasn’t anywhere near the cemetery - it was on a bluff, above the Picture Rocks, their favorite spot. I went with him once. It was horrible. He stooped over it, heaving with pent up grief. I never saw such a look of despair. He laid seven calla lilies at the spot - seven for each month he knew her, he said - and then sat next to it for hours, just staring into the dark. Then we went to the cemetery and had a look at her gravestone. He would look at the engraving:
BETSIE SARAH LYE
LOVED DAUGHTER AND ANGEL
WHO LEFT THIS WORLD
TO BE WITH OUR LORD IN HEAVEN
MAY PEACE FIND HER
MAY 8, 1959 - MAY 10, 1979
and let out a disgusted sigh. “She would have hated that. Bets didn’t believe in that crap. Her parents were big Christians . . . she hated them, too . . . .”
Yes, Dwayne knew the trials of falling for a mortal, but he didn’t ever warn me - to tell me to stop, because I know that he wouldn’t trade those seven months with Betsie Lye for anything. “No,” Dwayne whispered again, his glassy eyes turned away from the prominent pink flirting across the water, “we shan’t tell the boys.”