Chapter 1: Our Journey Has Just Begun
I didn’t realize just how tender I was until I lowered myself into the scalding hot water in my porcelain claw foot bath tub. It was almost like knives and needles piercing my muscles making it so uncomfortable I almost wanted to jump right back out. The mirror was fogged up and the steam coming off of the surface of the water was a welcome sight. Nothing in this world made me feel better then water that felt like the surface of the sun no matter how painful it was to get into at first, especially after an extremely difficult hunting session. Many people would assume this was the hunting of animals, but I was particularly interested in a whole different kind of game. The kind that walked and talked like a human being, but once you saw the fangs and felt its evil, you knew you made the wrong assumption and you knew that assumption would end your life. The fight I had just ended was particularly strenuous.
There were more vampires then I had ever had to kill all on my own before which made this fight so much harder than any before now. One of them was a very ravenous and snarky female who was the hardest to take down. She would snarl a promise of destruction every chance she got, which made it so much easier for me to want to end her than it already was just because of what she was.
As I sat there and let my mind wander I thought of the power I had inside of me. The power I realized was there not even a year ago. I held out my hand, palm side up feeling the water run down my arm, and I could see all of the heat rising up from my skin and I built up the little bit of energy and heat it took to send small trickles of flames across the underside of my lower arm. That’s when I smiled and I listened to the slight sizzle of the water evaporating when the flames hit it and the little bit of steam I could see when this happened was almost satisfying. A slight tingle throughout my body and in my gut reminded me of how good it felt to have that small release after a lengthy and difficult day, especially if there was no need for its use.
The delicate glow of my skin as this happened was something some people noticed outside of this small act. It was like I had been out in the sun and just happened to tan very well even though in reality I burned so badly I looked like a tomato after only being in the sun for five minutes. I never did it in public but this glow from the heat and energy resonating inside of my body was hard to hide no matter how many layers of clothes I would wear or how gloomy it was outdoors. The glow gave my skin a look of being out in the sun all day, even though I barely stepped foot out my front door during the day, since my prey had a tendency to surface only when the moon was shining its light down on the world and that wasn’t good for tanning. And sometimes I could swear, there in the darkness, that this small amount of a glow would make me hard to miss.
Where did this gift come from? I wish I knew. I just chalked it up to a big mystery that I would never solve, and I guessed I was okay with that.
All I remembered about the time I figured out I had the gift of fire was that I was at work as a barista at the local coffee shop at the age of twenty three. I had turned a warm caramel macchiato into a scalding, overflowing mess that almost burned my customer’s entire arm. But I had learned how to control it now, which was a blessing in disguise as far as I was concerned. After this fiasco though my father realized I wasn’t going to be able to hold down a job without running the risk of burning the place down. He had actually believed that my hands would turn into burning embers instead of denying it, which was completely out of character for him. So what he did was buy my house and make it his mission to take care of me and all of my baggage. Yeah that’s a little slothful on my part but this gives me more time to take care of the whole saving the world bit, which needed to be my main focus since holding down a part time job and paying the bills wasn’t going to do it for me. I also don’t hear from him often since my mother passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was like once she was gone there was no need for further contact except when needed.
She had fought for what seemed like an eternity, but was really a three month struggle before she closed her eyes and let out that final breath that lets you know her suffering was over. By this time she had lost so much weight she looked like a skeletal Barbie doll, but she always managed to have make up on and looking her best no matter how bad she felt. I admired that about her and I still did.
Even to this day I could remember the light floral scent she used to wear and every time I ran across this particular scent it reminded me of her. The smell of jasmine would always fill a room when she entered, but it was never an overwhelming scent. No matter how much of it she would spread over her wrists and neck, the scent was barely there but yet noticeable when she passed or you were right next to her. Her dark hair was always styled in different ways daily even through those three months.
I looked more like my mother than my father and I also inherited her compassion and the ability to make anything my own without much effort.
I was there when she passed. Sitting at her bedside as she took her last breaths I was able to sense when it had happened and her soul had departed, drifting off in an invisible cloud of pureness and radiance. Even though she was no longer in a physical form, she was always there in spirit and I could always sense her. Especially when I was in my darkest hours.
A deep dream not too long after my discovery told me who I was and what my gift was to be used for. There was a woman in a beautiful, sleek white dress whose sleeves had delicate and long bells on the end of the sleeves covering her hands. She was walking slowly towards me in a light mist that covered the ground and her feet and gave this woman an air of mystery.
Her hair was long and dark, reaching her hips, with a slight wave that gave it dimension and the shine in it was like the sun was beating down on it even though there was no sun to be seen. Her eyes were the color of the spring leaves, and her skin was as pale as the winter snow and just as delicate like if you touched it she would crumble to the ground one flake at a time. She reminded me so much of my mother, and I took it as a sign that my mother was the reason this message was being sent to me by a being that looked so much like her. Her voice was like silk as she spoke to me of the upcoming battle between good and evil, but never revealed much more than that, like I was going to be the person writing this story and only so much of what was to come was predestined. All she revealed was that I had a journey I had to complete and these gifts that were bestowed upon me were a way to help me make this journey and take my place in this conflict. She also told me another woman with a whole other set of gifts was going to be my companion through this journey, and a part of my army in the clash between the light and the dark. I couldn’t help but remember how much this woman reminded me of my mother as my thoughts drifted in and out of this memory. Even the vague scent of jasmine hung in the air when I awoke, leaving me almost breathless.
That’s when a thundering knock on the bathroom door startled me out of the deepening pool of my thoughts and I could’ve stayed in that place forever.
“You okay in there, Robin?” my roommate Elizabeth, Beth for short, inquired through the white, crisp bathroom door. I almost wished the door was made out of lead as soon as I felt the concern in her voice, which had me sinking farther down into the claw foot tub until the water was up to my chin. That edge to her voice always had me running for cover and that wasn’t going to change anytime soon as far as I could tell. It contained annoyance, concern, as well as a tiny bit of anger that she had to wait for me at all. To be honest, she didn’t have to. She could have gone by herself if she wanted, but for some reason she felt she had to wait for me.
“Yes. I’m great, actually.” Of course I was being sarcastic. I wasn’t okay. Never was and I had no idea why she would think I was okay when I had such a huge secret to keep from those around me.
At least my secret wasn’t one I had to keep from my best friend, but that was only because she had a gift as well and this gift was the gift of foresight. Wasn’t that a pain in the ass? So, because of that, she always knew how I’d feel on certain days before I even knew what made me feel that way, which was really annoying and I wished I could get away from sometimes. “We really need to get headed out. You know how that club is. Don’t want that dreamy vision of mine to get away.”
As I groaned I could feel her frustration coming at me in waves through the bathroom door, making me want to sink further into the clear water until I was completely submerged to never come out again. Damn, I hadn’t even gotten to wash my hair yet, I thought. It was still gross from my nightly excursion as well as my rumble with that snarling woman. I submerged my head under the warm water and quickly returned to the surface, gulping in air and trying to get water out of my ears which wasn’t going very well to say the least. Scrubbing shampoo through my hair and into my scalp I yelled, “Give me a second.” I let the impatience at her insistence to hurry along penetrate every nook and cranny of my voice, and I could tell it had annoyed her even more than her insistence to leave had annoyed me. Good. Goal accomplished.
I could hear the heels of her pumps as she walked away from the door and down the hall, agitation echoing with every step she took and that really made me wish she wouldn’t wear those things when she was agitated, but that sound took me back to when we first met, not even a month after the coffee shop incident.
I was walking in downtown Los Angeles, something they tell all attractive young women never to do, but I was doing anyways. Plus, who would want to mess with someone who could turn them into a pile of nothing when I was through with them. I noticed a muffled sound in the dark, damp alley to my right that was so obscured in shadows I almost couldn’t see anything at all. All I remembered was that I should keep going and mind my own business. It was probably a creepy man down there with a lady of the evening and he was doing something to her she didn’t enjoy as much as he might have been, but I couldn’t help myself. Damn human curiosity.
I stopped dead in my tracks and turned my head, dreading what I’d see in the shadows and thinking it would be something I definitely didn’t want or need to see and I would be scarred for life. As soon as I saw the sight of a man with very long canine teeth about to sink them into the neck of a woman around my age something took over and there was going to be no way I would be able to stop it.
It felt like a monster was inside of me. Beating on my skull, my ribcage, trying to get out and right this wrong being done and as I let it consume me with a fear so strong I’d never felt before I sensed a heat rippling through me that I felt I wouldn’t be able to contain. It started in my belly and worked its way throughout my body in thick waves of heat that pulsed with the same rhythm as my own heartbeat. I knew my eyes had to have been radiant at this point because a fire was blazing inside me, begging for sweet release, and I was going to give it what it wanted. No questions asked. I didn’t fight the instinct to put my hand out and yell out to get the creatures’ attention, the power in me distorting my voice to a demonic gravely blast of sound that would have scared even me if I didn’t know where it was coming from. The power running through me was like nothing I had ever felt before. As the creature turned it was so quickly that he looked like a slight blur, dropping its victim and hissing a promise of death. My hand began developing a luminosity that could blind a whole city block without effort and I almost couldn’t look at it myself as that light began to grow even brighter.
The creature hissed again and started to back away, holding its pasty white hand just in front of his deep crimson eyes to block the intense light I was discharging and would surely blind him. It wasn’t doing him any good considering the light was causing his skin to smolder and blister like he had stuck it on the eye of a stove. That’s when it happened. As the light grew to a glow that rivaled the sun, flames burst from my palm, incinerating the creature in a matter of seconds. He fell into a pile of gray ash and the fire ceased to flow from my hand in slow trickles.
When all remnants of the intense power I had no idea was this strong, I felt so weak I almost couldn’t stand. I fell against the wet brick of the alley as the woman ran up to me with hands out to keep me from falling to the ground instead, but that didn’t seem to work. I was dead weight and so weak I almost couldn’t hold my own head up just like a newborn baby. The rush of heat that had run through my entire body produced a cold sweat that made me shiver and my teeth chatter like I had been standing outside in a blizzard.
Through a haze of fatigue and the sound of my chattering teeth I could somehow hear the woman thank me for saving her life and telling what her name was, but I hardly thought this was the time to be introducing herself. There was an edge of fear to her voice as she was shakily asking me if I was okay. What was her name? I could only hear muffled sounds and see her lips move like she was speaking but all I could hear could best be described as the sound from Charlie Brown. Elizabeth? Yeah that was it. Elizabeth. She later became known to me as Beth. It was like my soul was calling out to her and the connection was instant and I knew exactly who she was. She was my salvation and my companion in the fight that would soon tear the world apart and it would never be the same again.
I let out another sigh and sunk deeper into the tub as that resonating heat licked up through my belly, causing the water to bubble a little around my entire body and then cease and it was like they had never existed. Quickly rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, I rose from the tub, the cool air around me causing my skin to develop goose bumps.
I hastily dried myself off and blew my hair dry, barely even bothering to run a brush through it. Beth was going to be pissed it even took me this long to get my ass out of the tub and into some clothes for a night out that wasn’t really going to be a night out which I hated because I never got just a night out without having to kill something. It was scouting. She had a vision of some dreamy guy who she apparently thought was put in her path just for her. Too bad it never seemed like I could find one just for me who I could tell my secret to who wouldn’t go running for the hills thinking I was schizophrenic or something. Now wasn’t that just too bad?