To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 20
"Hello, there." Charity said kindly to the small blond-haired boy who was playing alone outside on a swing set. "My name is Charity. What’s your name?"
"Buck." he said, stopping his swinging and staring at Charity. "Why are you so white? What’s wrong with your eyes?"
"Well, Buck, I’m a vampire, believe it or not." Charity said, sitting on the ground. "Would you like me to tell you a story about it?"
Buck hung back a little at first, unsure of Charity’s unusual appearance, but he did notice that her voice was kind, and he desperately craved kindness. Even from a perfect stranger.
"Yeah. That sounds good," he said, sitting on the ground in front of her. He liked nothing more than for someone to tell him stories, but since his Dad had died, his brothers had both been too busy to read to him. Ripp was always tired from working late at the gas station, and Tank was always in a bad mood these days.
Buck tried to stay out of his brothers’ way as much as possible. He knew it was so hard for them, having to take care of him, make sure he got to school and did his homework, plus cook the meals and clean up, that he tried to not make any extra demands. The result, though, was that he was becoming an extremely lonely little boy who cleaved fast to anyone that seemed like they could be a friend.
"I wasn’t always like this," Charity told him as they sat comfortably on the ground. "Once I was a human, like you."
"Were you a little girl once, too?"
"Yes, I was," Charity said, smiling. "and I went to school, just like you do. Then I grew up, and do you know what happened next?"
"I married a vampire." Charity said in an excited whisper, as though she was telling a secret.
"Really? Do you love him?"
"Yes!" Charity said. "I fell in love with him and married him, and then he turned me into a vampire!" Charity laughed at the shocked look on the child’s face as he listened. "We love each other very much, but we’re very sad sometimes."
"Because we can’t have any babies," Charity said. ". . .and both of us want children more than anything in the world."
"What are you going to do?" Buck asked. He was a very sensitive child, and the loss of his own parents had only deepened that tendency in him.
"Well," Charity said, taking a deep breath. "I asked my husband if he knew of any little boys who didn’t have any mommy or daddy to take care of them. I thought, maybe, if I could find a little boy who didn’t have a mommy, maybe I could be his mommy and he could be my little boy."
"I don’t have a mommy," Buck said wistfully. "Or a daddy, either."
"Buck! What are you doing? Who are you talking to?" The exasperated voice of Buck’s oldest brother Tank came from an open window. "Get in the house!"
"Tank! Come out here!" Buck called excitedly. "There’s a vampire! You have to meet her!"
"What are you talking about?" Tank yelled in frustration. "I told you to come in!"
"Really, there is! You have to see!" Buck cried, then he turned to Charity. "Do you want to meet my brothers?"
"I’d love to," Charity murmured.
"Come on!" Buck said, taking Charity by the hand and leading her toward the house. "Sorry about the mess, Ripp never helps clean up, but he’s really nice, you’ll like him. Tank’s a little grumpy since Dad died, but he’s all right, too... "
Charity followed Buck into the house, and as soon as she walked into the kitchen, the shocked faces of two teenage boys met her gaze. The oldest, a harassed-looking boy who was nearly a man, was standing by the stove cooking something, and the younger one was lazily sprawled in a chair, just visible through the doorway to the dining room. He stood up quickly when Charity walked in, however, staring at her with shocked blue eyes.
Buck seemed to be enjoying his brothers’ discomfiture. "I told you!" he cheered, jumping up and down. "She’s a vampire!"
The younger teenager continued to stare at Charity. "Damn... You really are a vampire, aren’t you? How in the hell... "
"Get away from her, Ripp!" Tank bellowed. Tank’s mind was sharp, and he had quickly put two and two together. Although he had not seen his father’s body, the police had told him that the General had died from bleeding to death and that there had been two small wounds on his father’s neck. Tank had thought long and hard about it, but the cause of death just hadn’t made any sense, until now. If there were vampires... actual vampires out there, then it could only mean one thing.
It was standing in his kitchen right now, intending to come after him and his brothers.
Charity turned to Tank with a look of concern, "I’m not going to hurt you. I’m not here to... "
"Get back!" Tank said, shoving Buck roughly behind him with one hand. "Just stay back, damn you! You killed my father!"
Charity shook her head, tears filling her carmine eyes. "I didn’t."
"Then it was another one like you!" Tank’s face was terrible.
Charity bowed her head in acknowledgment. "Yes, it was. But please believe me when I tell you he had no idea you three existed!"
"Like that would have made a difference!"
"I believe it would," Charity said quietly, wiping her eyes.
Buck peeked out from behind his older brother and tugged on Tank’s shirt. "Tank, she was really nice to me. If she was going to kill us, don’t you think... ?"
"Quiet, Buck." Tank said, without taking his eyes off of Charity.
The middle brother, Ripp, who had been standing in the same spot staring at Charity the whole time, folded his arms defensively. "Who was it that killed my father, then?" he asked in a quiet voice. "Do you know?"
.Charity nodded miserably. "It was my husband. I’m so sorry."
Tank made a scoffing noise in his throat, but Ripp took a step closer to Charity, an odd expression on his face.
"My dad wasn’t all that great to me, if you want to know the truth," Ripp said softly. "...used to bitch at me all the time, was always on my back, always telling me I wasn’t good enough." He took another step. "I hated him... "
The pain and guilt he still felt was evident in his dark blue eyes as he smiled crookedly at Charity and shrugged. "‘Least he’s not around to see me fuck up anymore... "
"Ripp!" Tank yelled angrily. "I’m telling you, get away from her!"
"Shut up, Tank!" Ripp yelled back. "Just fucking shut up! God, you always were going around here like you’re better than me, and since Dad died it’s been ten times worse! You don’t know everything, Tank, and I don’t have to listen to you!"
Ripp turned quickly back to Charity. "So why did you come here, if it wasn’t to finish us off?" he asked bluntly.
Buck piped up. "I know, I know! She told me she wanted to be... "
"Quiet, Buck!" Tank commanded, "Or I’ll..."
"No, let the kid talk!" Ripp interrupted, turning to his little brother. "What is it, Buck? What did she tell you?"
"She wants to be my mommy!" Buck said. "She wants to take care of me, of all of us! ‘Cause she can’t have any babies of her own now that she’s a vampire."
"What the...?" Ripp said, looking from Buck to Charity in astonishment. "What does he mean by that?" he asked, turning to Charity and meeting her eyes.
Charity looked into the younger teen’s face and felt an odd pulling sensation behind her brow, almost like a windlass was in her forehead, being slowly wound. She put a hand to her head to steady herself, and then she realized Ripp’s gaze was locked onto hers. He looked as though he could not look away.
This is what Reginald was telling me about, Charity thought wildly. This is that power he told me I possessed. Ripp is in my spell. Now I can Turn him, if I want to, and I do! He’s so lost, and he feels so full of guilt, and alone and worthless. I could bring him into the fold, make him a part of something more ancient and powerful than he could ever imagine...
She cradled the limp body of the teenager in her arms, and gently drew his head back, exposing the tender flesh of his throat. Listening to the screams of his brothers in the background, she instinctively sank her fangs into Ripp’s neck. Biting deeply, she felt a draining sensation, as though something indescribable was being pulled from her into him. When the sensation eased, she let him go, and he groaned as the change overtook him.
Then he was standing there in front of her, newly formed, and instantly she felt a bond to him; instantly she knew him as her son. He appeared shocked, but not upset, as he hissed and bared his sharp fangs. Charity embraced him, laughing with delight before turning her powerful gaze on Tank.
My sons, all of them...
To Be Continued. . .