I can’t say I was looking forward to that conversation, but I’d been playing it out in my head for days and it was driving me insane. Funny, thought I’d already reached that point by now. Anyway, there she was and I still didn’t know how to begin the conversation. Rhea asked me about the deal with the Devil. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to talk about at the moment, but it was still important. I told her my side of the story, yet it seemed she’d already known about my deal and the circumstances around it. Had she spoken to Albert? Or Sam? She wasn’t too happy with the situation, to put it mildly, but she isn’t the kind of person who wastes time blaming people, so we discussed possible solutions. I wish I could’ve been more productive at that, but my thoughts were wrapping around another subject. She told me she’d spoken to her sire about it. She mentioned that the kid wasn’t necessarily a demon. He could be something else. What was the word she used? A willworker, yes. An individual who can warp the reality around them. Ugh, all this supernatural gibberish is giving me a headache… However, this possibility only left more questions and soon we hit a wall in our brainstorming. And then—
“I want to talk about the car accident.”
There. I said it. She didn’t look too comfortable, but I couldn’t blame her. It wasn’t a very comfortable topic and it was the first time I’d talked to anyone about it. In addition to all the self blaming and other forms of mental self torture I was trying to understand the nature of the accident. There weren’t any distractions on the road (at least none that I noticed – I was talking to Haruo after all) and I know Haruo to be a careful driver. I wanted to know if Rhea had noticed something. She usually stays incredibly alert at all times. Unfortunately, she said she had no idea about what had happened. And then I told her Haruo had died… It was like a massive torrent of emotions hit me with its full might and knocked me — literally knocked me of my feet. The next moment I was crying in her arms, just like when dad had died. Only back then I didn’t show my tears to anyone, not even mom. And now, the love of my life was dead and I never got a chance to tell him that I loved him… So here I was, crying like a child, though in a way… In way I felt relieved… Sure, I was insanely embarrassed a moment later, but it lifted a tremendous weight of my chest. I really needed to tell this to someone. Well, not just anyone, someone I could trust. And although a part of me is telling me not to get too attached to anyone in the kiddie pool, I still think very fondly of Rhea. I realize there are a lot of things I don’t know about her, but I guess that doesn’t really matter. She is my closest friend in this madhouse.
After this heartwarming experience Rhea and I went to feed. I must say, I can’t stand feeding – it’s one of the most disgusting things we do and yet there is no way of not doing it. Even if one doesn’t care about one’s survival, the Beast always gets what it wants.
It was too early to feed Rhea’s way (which is basically breaking and entering), so I decided to help her out. The problem is, I’m still not very good at telling how much time it takes to drink blood without killing a person and I believe I might’ve been too late in my assistance, when I noticed that Rhea wasn’t planning to stop. Furthermore, I did not account for how hungry she must’ve been, as she did not take my interference well. Rhea is stronger than me (I guess everyone in the Kiddie Pool is stronger than me, save maybe Albert), so she didn’t have a problem knocking me on the ground and beating me up. I tried scaring her, but I failed, so as soon as I got a chance, I ran as quickly as my wounded body allowed me to. And although she caught up to me fairly quickly, she wasn’t able to do anything, so we just ran, until I got exhausted and she seemed to calm down. I was worried about her. It must be really unpleasant to lose control of yourself like that. Which is another thing I hate about us. Rhea healed my wounds and she kept apologizing all the way back to the clinic, although I wasn’t angry at her. I was just glad she was alright.
When Albert came back, we decided to conduct a little experiment – check our “Devil’s” perception. We went to the Movie Poster shop, with me partly obfuscated and Rhea obfuscated to the point of being invisible. Albert was supposed to talk to the guy, so that Rhea could make an assessment of what he might be. However, I wouldn’t call our experiment a success for a couple of reasons. First of all, the “Devil” wasn’t very talkative and didn’t say anything that Rhea hadn’t heard about him before. Secondly, I’m not sure if there was an accurate way to “measure” his lack of recognition of me and Rhea. The plan was simple: Rhea suggested I buy a movie poster and see if he takes a notice in who I really am. At first, he treated me like an ordinary customer (although he asked for 50 dollars for that Casablanca poster, which is a total robbery, so in retrospect I am pretty certain he was mocking me). When I went for the door, he called me by my name. At first I thought the experiment was successful (well, not in the traditional meaning of the word), since we at least knew he could see through the mild form of Obfuscate. However, Albert made a good point later about the uncertainty of whether the Devil knew who I was or simply knew my name, as in, had a power to know people’s names just by looking at them. The same uncertainty could be extended to Rhea’s invisibility – what if he saw her, but decided not to say anything, since he was aware that she was trying not be noticed? If so, all our experiment has done was make the Devil suspicious of us (if he hadn’t been already). Finally, of all the posters in the Poster shop I had to take Casablanca. I don’t even like Casablanca that much. I mean, I could’ve taken Gone with the Wind or Pulp Fiction, and there was a lovely poster of Audrey Hepburn in a hand’s reach, but I had to take Casablanca… Well, on the bright side, I did like Ingrid Bergman’s character in it aaaand why I am still obsessing over this? I should be glad I didn’t grab Brokeback Mountain, because that would lead to many unnecessary questions.
On our way back, we separated with Albert. Rhea and I talked about Haruo’s vampire hunter friends (a problem I naively hoped would solve itself after Haruo’s death) and just when we reached the clinic, I found an envelope on the doorstep. It does seem silly now, but then I thought it was filled with explosives or something else equally dangerous, so I was reluctant to open it. It even had my name on it, which did not make it any less creepy. In that envelope was a note from who I assume were the same Haruo’s vampire hunter friends, who Rhea and I talked about just a moment ago. Five months ago I would’ve said it was a coincidence, but now i’m not even sure anymore. The note said that they wanted to meet me at 1 pm at Alumni park to, and I quote, “find those responsible for Haruo’s death”. It is unfortunate that they would choose such an hour for the meeting, although I doubt it was pure circumstance. They might’ve chosen the time out of caution, since they don’t know who — or what — i am. Although I clearly couldn’t come to the park, I felt like not going was also not an option. We needed to know as much as possible about these hunters, as their presence puts everyone in danger. Though, frankly, I couldn’t care less about the rest of the kiddie pool as long as our team is safe, and I suspect Rhea, Albert and Markas feel the same way. Especially Markas, who, as I’m starting to suspect, doesn’t even care about us. On the other hand – why should he? How long will our friendship last when some of us start getting signatures? Tauras and Katerina left us without even blinking and Tauras only remembers us when he needs something. It’s a little sad, really, since I thought of him as a friend and trusted his leadership. In any case, despite my secret desire to watch this place burn to the ground and never return to it again, my better judgement (or what’s left of it) dictates that I should care about threats like those hunters. Well, I still couldn’t meet them, so I suggested sending Sam. The hunters don’t know how I look like (hopefully), although, as Rhea quickly pointed out, they wouldn’t really need to, since sending a Caucasian person to pose as a Black person is silly even as a plan made by a preschooler. Rhea and I contemplated sending Sam to deliver a message, but we couldn’t make that decision without Albert, so we went to the SPA to meet with Katerina instead.
It was weird talking to Tauras at the SPA; it has been weird ever since he left. The conversations are brief and neither side seems to care much for the other. I wanted to ask him how he was, but hesitated. Suddenly, Rhea asked him about a dead girl, the same girl Albert and I buried under a coffin. Apparently, Rhea was hoping that Tauras had heard about the murder, yet he knew nothing. Or pretended not to, who knows. So we waited for Katerina. Rhea gave her the Russian book that Tina originally asked Evelina to translate. I’d forgotten she even had it. Rhea told Katerina to give the book back to Tina. At first, I wanted to object, but Rhea explained to Katerina that the book might make Tina forget about the incident, or, as Rhea put it, “the arrow to the neck”. The book is surely an asset, but Katerina’s safety is much more important. Then my mind trailed off and I remembered… The guy in the street! The one Rhea fed from earlier tonight! How did we forget about him?!
We rushed to the place where we’d left the poor fellow, but it was too late – the man was already dead. Every time I go to feed with someone something like this happens. How am I still alive? Luckily Rhea had a plan. We went into his house (the door was still open from when I scared him). We packed some suitcases and put them in his car, together with the body. The man, as we saw digging through his house, was a fishing enthusiast with a terrible taste in clothing. Though packing his stuff reminded me that I hadn’t changed clothes ever since I got here, which no amount of bathing can amend.
Rhea knew how to get rid of the body, it’s sort of her thing, but she didn’t know what to do with the car. Well, neither did I. I suggested dumping it in another town, but we wouldn’t have made it back in time and it was already pretty late (or early? I can never tell). Suddenly, she grabbed the phone and called some guy, and what do you know? The next thing I saw was her counting the money for the car while I was inside with a dead body on the floor. Good luck keeping this place clean, Amir. Heh. Such is life.
What really disturbs me is the indifference I felt towards the corpse. Have I become so numb to cruelty? Well, I don’t think so, I still shake in fear every time we meet in that dreadful place where the sheriff burns or flogs vampires… Last time was so far the worst with two deaths and two floggings. And I’m so sorry about Oliver. Not as much as I was about Evelina, but still. Now that I think of it, her death was the catalyst to my deep anger towards this shithole. Yes, I hated this place from the start, but it was the I-don’t-like-it-here kind of ‘hate’ and now it’s more like see-you-all-in-hell kind of feeling. I wonder if Hell is real. I mean, it’s way too ridiculous to be real, but to me, so were the vampires back when I was… me.
Anyway, when Albert returned, Rhea and I told him about the letter and our plan to use Sam as a messenger. However, he strongly objected to the idea and he was right to. The more I think about it the more selfish it seems. We don’t know what might’ve waited for him there, it could’ve been really dangerous. We shouldn’t risk people’s lives to do our bidding and yet we did so anyway, as Rhea suggested that Albert could use his powers to make any person deliver the message. Albert and I ran out and headed towards the Main street, where we saw a bunch of people waiting for a bus. These were probably the early commuters and it only meant that we didn’t have much time – the sun was about to rise.
When we got back to the clinic, we had to stay awake until the sunrise, or Albert’s, erm, technique wouldn’t work (I don’t know how it works; well, not yet, anyway). As soon as the sun rose, Albert gave the man a command and the last thing I remember afterwards was waking up on the floor, with Albert’s body collapsed on me. We had arranged a meeting at 8:30 at the same park, but I was half-an-hour late. I waited for a while, but no one seemed to be waiting for me. There were people in the park, but I didn’t want to approach any of them. It was 9:30 when I decided to go back. When I reached the clinic, I saw a figure behind the bushes, but it disappeared quickly and I decided not to waste any time on it, since whoever it was was probably already gone by the time I realized what happened. Nonetheless, it made me a bit paranoid, so I decided to always leave the clinic obfuscated. What if the hunters found the message suspicious? What if they realized the messenger was under influence? They might be watching me. After all, they know where I live. They might have figured out what I am….
Ever since my life was taken away from me I was building a wall in my mind, a wall to protect my sanity from all the inexplicable and supernatural. Not even my scientific curiosity was able to break that wall at first, but now I feel powerful cracks opening up in all directions, making the wall crumble slowly under the immense weight of reality. After Rhea and I went to feed again, I decided to talk to someone on the bothersome topic. And who better than Teodoras of the Circle, who seemed to be one of the friendliest kindred in this town, in addition to being knowledgeable. I went to the Point and after I told him my request, he kindly invited me to his place. What he told me wasn’t as pleasant, thought. The thing is, despite the supernatural nature of all things around me, I was still hoping that they could be proven scientifically. However, Theodoras told me that many had already tried that, especially the members of the Ordo Dracul, who seemed to have invested more time in this field of research than anyone. So what does it mean to me? At first I felt a little hopeless, but then I thought that feeling sorry for myself won’t change my condition, but understanding all this will surely benefit me greatly. Knowledge is power, after all. Theodoras also told me that Barbara knew more on the topic than he did, so we decided to meet the next night in their apartment.