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9.37% Blood & Juniper (A Vampire Tale) / Chapter 9: Unexpected (Part 1)

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Chapter 9: Unexpected (Part 1)

Accounts of Sam. First night of Fall, year 2017.

I march the lonely streets unaccompanied, Cooper tried to make me promise not to go back into the woods, but I'm not going to make promises I can't keep. I recall last night, seeing Derek disappearing into the woods, like a tape on replay and it fills me with fury. He's dead, I can't accept that. I can't accept what could only be interpreted as cowardice when I didn't stop him. And I can't accept that thing that killed him, that *Reaper*. I'm going to destroy him, I don't care if he's a part of The Thorn, or has centuries of experience on me. I'm going to kill him. Somehow, someday, maybe even today.

The only satisfying part of that horrible night was knowing I didn't take anyone's life who didn't deserve it. I sought out the most unappealing blood I could find before going back to my shack. Some addict pacing the alley sated my hunger. Definitely not the most appetizing meal I'd had but I almost took too much from him regardless. He might have a rough morning when he wakes but he'll live.

It was so irresponsible to let myself get to that state, I need to take more care if I'm hoping to turn a new leaf.

I see the entrance for Spiral Hood Falls trail. Although we didn't enter this way yesterday, it should sever as a good shortcut back to the Reaping Grounds. I make a turn for the path, taking in the still air to track where we came the night before. It hadn't even been 24 hours since that mistake of a chase, so I should still be able to trace back to our trail.

While tracking absentmindedly I start to go over what I'm actually going to do when I get back to the juniper death wall. Am I really going to fight it tonight? Maybe stare into it's domain like some kind of madman stewing about things that can't be undone? I could try to wait and lure it out of it's little hideaway. I'm sure the Reaper journeys out of his base occasionally.

I would have to be clever if I'm going to stalk and hunt something that ancient and resilient. Being extremely inconspicuous, play it really safe. Maybe I shouldn't go back to the wall on a consecutive night, it might tip that damned monster off.

I wrinkle my nose in annoyance admitting Cooper had the right idea trying to dissuade me from coming here, the wound was too fresh and I was being impulsive, driven by anger. Not wise, too much experience prevented me from justifying that. But it wasn't enough for me to turn around just yet. I guess age does not always equate to wisdom.

I catch wind of the faded smells I'm seeking. Twisting together in the low atmosphere like a fog to create a unique perfume and triggering the recent event in my head, re-watching of how it all played out. That girl's rare fragrance still hits me like a club. Although her young blood is long gone with her melodic beat, the memory is enough to make me yearn for her. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that she was slaughtered, though unfortunate. The thought of her makes my mouth water even being recently quenched.

She would have been too tempting, forever tormenting me, that is if my will power held out. That young woman would have turned into just another stain I could never scrub from my hands. Glowering I breathe out in an effort to push her from my mind.

I continue off road down the way we came but I can't get that girl's damn scent to leave me alone. It seems to be getting.... stronger? I listen for the sound of her life thrumming, but felt preposterous. Derek had a higher life expectancy than her, impossible. But the smell of that enchanting aroma only continued to fill the woods, could she have actually survived?

I aligned myself with a thick trunk, leaning back into the shadows to observe what is actually going on. I listen intently, searching for any unusual happenings.

There, running full speed through the forest, the movements are clearly nonhuman. I keep low in the shadows, fortune may have just smiled upon me for once. I creep closer, hoping it's the Reaper, coming out to play. I feel my eyes light with anticipation, I stalk cautiously as to not give away the advantage of surprise.

I focus on the energy and to my disappointment discover it's too 'new' to be the Reaper, though the life force glows fairly strong. I keep myself hidden, but in a position so they'll run right past me. It'll be curious to see if they even notice my presence.

The long swishing hair and the figure appear to be feminine as she glides through the trees, she seems to be enjoying herself, hearing an exhilarated laugh sail through the woods. My curiosity has been peaked, who is this new stranger?

The smell of that damn girl assaults me again and the pieces start to come together. I gawk in wonderment, I never expected this. It was her, that young girl who I wrote off as dead the moment I saw her walking alone yesterday.

She leaps through the air, blowing past me and her familiar scent still surprisingly unaltered blasts in my face, I inhale the unforgettable scent. Still luring me in but no longer abusing me by calling to my inner demons. She sweeps past gracefully, completely oblivious to my occupation. How did this happen? Did she somehow take in some of Derek's blood before dying? Is Derek still alive? I was counting my eggs before they hatched, too many things left unanswered. I made the snap decision to follow her in secrecy. Let's see if she can lead me to some answers.

I slink through the wild plant-life silently but swiftly to keep up with her supernatural sprint, I consciously kept a moderate distance between the two of us.

She yells out loud "I'm unstoppable!", I stifle a snicker as the corners of my lips twitch. She really thinks she's alone, hasn't sensed me at all, I get a bit more daring and close the gap a bit more. Cooper's comment 'lil' fireball' popped in my head, right on the nose it would seem.

She slows down to get back on the dirt trail. Then stops moving all together as if thinking deeply about something. I creep behind her intrigued with her mannerisms. An expression of concern is showing in her eyes and the corners of her mouth, did she spot me?

I shrink back in the shadows a bit more, I must be getting to ballsy. She doesn't look my way, still making a worried expression then physically "shakes it off" with a shudder, waving her hand in front of her face as if shooing away a pesky bug. I raise an eyebrow, it's pretty amusing to watch her while she thinks she's alone, but I also notice that I'm imitating the behavior of a undesirable stalker, which I don't like and consider confronting her immediately.

'Answers, she needs to take me to answers and this is the most efficient way to get them.' I settle holding out a bit longer before making her aware of company. 'Besides, we didn't exactly get introduced on the best terms.' I feel a wash of guilt come over me, but why? I suppose I feel sympathy that she was affected by all of this, but I didn't typically concern myself with strangers. I didn't admire this about myself but I could be a downright bastard, borderline heartless. What is it about her that effects me so?

The train of thought was going nowhere, so I focused back on the unusual girl. I continue to ensure her meandering down the dirt path, I'm barely even sneaking around at this point. It concerns me a little how completely unaware she is. I could probably go right up to her and breath down her neck and she'd carry on blissfully uninformed. I ignore the bizarre urge to watch over her and protect her, because I don't even know her!

We finally get to the end of the trail, I observe as she takes in all the new sensations of being newly turned, it takes me back to the past when I was turned. It was no doubt a hell of an experience. I remember it being quite terrifying, being bastardized and all. I hadn't a clue, I'm really lucky Cooper came alone when he did, who knows what I'd be like if he hadn't shown up and taken pity on me. Probably out of control or dead.

I eye her wondering what could be going on in her head as she stares up into an unattractive street light. Is she afraid? Does she even understand what's going on? Then a wave of alarm runs down my core for the major question. Has she encountered any humans yet, had her first drink?

My jaw ticks, 'Shit, I hope I don't have to kill her, I mean she died just yesterday. She's alone out here and probably doesn't know the "unwritten rules". If she starts goes into a frenzy or becomes Bloodstruck she might start leaving a trail of bodies.' I tail behind her very cautiously now. I don't want to have to kill her, but if she's out of control causing a live massacre the Thorn will show up to enforce. Great, this is just great.

I don't smell anyone outside yet, the sidewalks were eerily deserted. I guess it was almost 10pm. I shrug to myself but keep a keen eye out.

'Where is she going?' I narrow my eyes as she heads for a Chinese restaurant. I shake my head, 'That's not going to fill you up anymore.' I say to her in my head, trying to recall what Chinese food even tastes like. All that comes up is that cute Chinese girl I encountered a while back, she was admittedly more than a little tasty.

Anxiety floods my system as I smell exactly what I feared. I don't even have to look. There's a person filling up their car across the street at a gas station. He has a healthy heartbeat with "good quality" blood, which wouldn't normally be a problem, except it might be pretty bad for his health tonight. I fix on the girl strolling in front, she doesn't seem to notice yet, she just stares dreamily at the sign buzzing above the Asian cafe.

I look towards the station. It's far enough from the store that she might not draw attention from the employee inside when that clueless guy by the pump becomes a casualty. I start plotting what I'm going to do if things get ugly.

I'll have to help her hide the body, if she'll even cooperate with me, and what if she does gain the attention of the employee? Do I kill her or him, they are both innocent in their own way... She'll probably kill the employee too if he comes out to investigate, I guess that makes things less complicated in a sick sense. I frown as I continue scheming. Can I ask for things to calm down just for one night?

'Perhaps I won't have to murder anyone this time, I've had my fill recently, I can probably get away with 'persuasion' though it's been a while and it could be very chaotic if he's freaking out.

As long as he doesn't call the cops this will be doable.' I list all my options, counting the windows on the station store and guessing how many exits for a build that size. Calculating the time it will take for me to get from one place to another on the perimeter. I wonder, 'How long will it take the cops to get here? If they send a lone policeman I should be able to rectify the situation, even with a few dead bodies it shouldn't be too tricky.'

I continue to mentally prepare for the worst, though the best thing for me to do is stay out of the way, interfering to early could result in a worse outcome.

Too bad, my hands are tied when it comes to helping the one outside. What a poor, unlucky sod. I turn my gaze to the unfortunate girl again wondering if she's a natural born killer or if she'll actually try to resist.

It finally hits her and I see the girl shape shift before my eyes from an unsuspecting young woman to a bloodthirsty savage. She pivots her face toward the direction of her target, her profile now visible to me. Total tunnel vision, still heedless to my company.

Through the hungered and demonic expression on her tensed face, I see an undeniable purity. She's soft and delicate, never meant to be a murder. This shouldn't affect me, I'm so desensitized by the evil I've witnessed and even been apart of, but it crushes me a little knowing I will spectate the loss of true innocence in a minute or so.

Her eyes glow a striking yellow as lust and corruption seeps out.

I'm no stranger to the power of blood, even now this hapless man's heart sings it's sweet song. Always captive to it's entrancing pulse and unrivaled energy, the flavor nothing short of ambrosiac.

Godless, we are godless creatures. My facial features feel misshapen with repugnance as I dwell on things that cannot be changed.

I watch her ride on a wave of fresh blood, a small gust spreading it like a contagion. She moves to it like a zombie with no will of her own, ready to sign her name off to the devil himself.

Killing her now would be a mercy, before she damns herself forever. But, I'm not nearly so noble, if I was I would have taken my self out picture decades ago.

This setting is all too familiar and I can do nothing but watch the mayhem unfold. Just as Derek had ironically become prey to his own beast, she would too. For what some would consider a godly immortality we sure were powerless to our own monsters, weak. I crack two knuckles with my thumb, mindlessly brooding.

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