I was leaving. I felt I couldn’t stay here, for the time being.
I’d taken Camryn aside, and explained everything, start to finish. To her credit, Camryn didn’t reject me or call me a monster, nor did she tell me that I was crazy. She’d nodded and hummed, and looked thoughtful, but also a little worried.
Then, she’d brought in Sophie and told her the truth. Sophie hadn’t taken it well in the begining, but she wasn’t upset with me. She was angry that the person who had taken Sam from her had almost taken one of her best friends.
In my opinion, he may as well have. This was no kind of life at all. It was less than a half life, at best. At worst, I was as good as dead. And all those other people, too.
And a thought occured to all of us. No one knew that vampires really did exist. If we told anyone, there was a big chance that no one would believe us, and if they did, I would get hurt.
But Sophie had a solution.
You see, Sophie, before becoming a pediatrician, was actually a brilliant student of biology and chemistry. She flat out told Camryn and I that she was taking time off work, and I was going with her. We were going away so she could research a cure. She wasn’t going to let anything happen to me.
And so, after many days of making arrangements, we were on our way. It hadn’t been as hard as I’d thought to get more time off, or for Sophie either. The hospital administrator had been genuinely worried about me, and Sophie was assigned to care for me while I was taking a long rest.
Dear, brave Sophie. That I might loose control and hurt her never crossed her mind, and when pointed out, she smiled and told us she’d manage.
I’d offered her the use of my family’s summer home in France. Grandmere Marie had left the house to my father, and he insisted I use it whenever I wanted. Of consequence, I had a key.
It was in the countryside, away from the town, which suited Sophie and I just fine. There was a large garden behind the house, where I could plant and grow the plasma fruit I needed to sustain me while Sophie sought a cure.
It was quiet in France. I drifted around the house, tending to my plants, playing guinea pig as Sophie made me try new concoctions or sit still to have blood drawn, and preparing food for Sophie, who was so engrossed in her work that she forgot to eat.
Sophie had settled herself in the large attic with her books and medicines and other various things needed for her research. Now and then, she would run into town looking for more books.
We were finding more and more information about vampires, the more we read. It was facinating. To a point.
I was repulsed to the point of self loathing, and began to mope in a darkened bedroom, reading a recent publication, ‘Vampire Lore in the 21st Century’, by Jean Pierre Bordeux. It was an interesting read, and apparently the author had actually interviewed a vampire to get the information. A Mr. Kale Alder. Jean Pierre was thought to be some sort of kook, but the information, if true, could be helpful. I read on.
‘Traditional vampires feed off the blood of the living. If satiated before draining their victim, they will leave him or her alive til a later date to finish off. Vampires have been known to pick out a victim many years in advance, usually a child, and wait til they have grown. This, accordingly, makes the blood mature and flavourful. Wounds sustained by the victim will heal abnormally fast.’
Huh…I flipped through the pages.
Modern vampires living in human habitations have a code of ethics they strictly follow. No vampire must ever feed off a human, only plasma fruit or plasma obtained legally, or at the very least, wild animals such as deer. No vampire must turn a human against their will or without consent. And above all else, no vampire must ever reveal their true nature.’
Bullcrap, I thought angrily. If that were so, what the hell had happened in Bridgeport, then? I flipped to the next section.
‘Vampires are not immortal, as originally suspected, though they possess long lifespans. Nor are they completely invulnerable to harm, but have rapid healing abilities. A vampire can sustain damage to any body part only a certain number of times before they can no longer heal the affected area.’
I was about to read on, about something called a Vampire’s Eye, but Sophie called me away, and I forgot to finish the rest. I didn’t know how much of what was written was true, but I hoped not to find out.
It took the better part of a month for Sophie to have any success in her search for a cure. I endured many different potions and medicines, and much blood letting, without a whimper, coming away only mildly ill after each failure.
A week before we were due to return, Sophie succeeded. It came at a heavy cost.
I was unable to leave my bed, wracked with fever and chills, alternately sweating and shivering, teeth chattering. Terrible pain stabbed at my body, and my eyes hurt so badly, that even with the drapes drawn, Sophie had to blindfold me.
Dear, faithful Sophie was at my side constantly. She was always ready with an extra blanket or a cold compress, made sure I ate and was always ready with pain medication. Sometimes she just sat and held my hand. And if I was lucid enough, she would read to me. I don’t think I could have made it through the five days it took for the cure to work.
On the morning of the sixth day, I woke feeling better than I ever had, and with real hunger, not the torturous feeling of constant emptiness and thirst. Sophie was asleep beside me.
Careful not to disturb her, I slowly got out of bed, and examined myself in the full length mirror in the corner of the room.
Tears of joy and gratitude ran down my face.
I was me again.
Sophie was overjoyed when she woke and found me human again.
She insisted on my staying in bed for the first few hours, while she ran into town to get fresh groceries. She wanted to make my favorite foods to celebrate, but living on increasingly stale edibles while tending to me, there was nothing fresh to cook with.
“If you feel up to it, you can read in the living room,” she said as she left.”Don’t try the stairs if you’re dizzy, though.”
I was alone. I didn’t feel dizzy, and I’d had enough of bed for awhile. I pulled on freshly laundered clothes, and eventually made my way downstairs, wandering through the house happily.
It really didn’t look like a French country home. My parents had had it renovated, to a certain point, with modern appliances and furniture, for comfort. There was still a little of the old charm left, though, and it put me at ease.
Awhile later, as I lounged with a good book, Sophie returned.
“Layla, you made it downstairs alright?” she called as she walked in.
“Yes,” I answered.
“You’ll never guess who I found while I was shopping,” Sophie said excitedly.”Jean Pierre Bordeux!”
“You have got to be kidding me,” I stared at her.
“I never kid,” Sophie admonished.”We had a chat, and he’s told me how to find Kale Alder, whom he says will help us convince everyone that vampires exist so we can offer the cure to any who want it!”
I swear, at that moment, my heart was lodged somewhere in my throat.
“All those people who were bit, they could become human again…” I whispered.
“Yes, exactly,” Sophie went on.”Apparently, it’s Kale’s greatest wish to find a cure and a way to reveal the existence of vampires for years. But without a cure to back up the proof, it was too dangerous to do so. It was the same thing we feared, Layla. Innocent people would get hurt.”
I nodded slowly.
“When we get back, we’ll meet with Kale. Jean Pierre has promised to contact him before we arrive in Bridgeport. Now,” Sophie smiled brightly.”How about some breakfast?”