Overnight, the world had changed. With the fall of the Bertrams and the Zeidans, the two most prominent vampire families in the world were no more. The balance was tipped, there was chaos that emitted a darkness which surpassed even the blackest of nights.
My name is Alfred. Having just put an end to a gruesome war in the underground, there was only one place where the likes of me would find peace.
The light of the moon dazzled, brightly challenging the darkness. Joy and empathy surrounded the place whilst caravans populated my surroundings.
“Daddy, Daddy! Let’s go see the witch!” I heard a boy say to his father.
Witches? There is no such thing, and if there were, they wouldn’t be so stupid to come here of all places... to exercise their gift so openly and so soon after the Salem Witch Trials would be idiotic.
“Alright, alright, calm down. We’ll go see her after we find your mother, okay?” the dad replied.
I was intrigued.
Maybe it was time to pay this witch a visit.
Took me a good minute to find the tent. A sign next to it read ‘Get your palm read at the low cost of five dollars!’ Well, let’s hop right in and see what the future holds for the likes of me.
I pushed aside the curtain and ducked inside. Dimly lit, mostly by candles. It smelled fresh. And sweaty. The humid weather made the air hot and stifling, not helped by the fact that most residents of Texas could do with a shower.
“You don’t have a fate line,” I heard the witch say to a guy who was sitting right across her.
“What does that mean?”
“It means you’re in total control of your destiny.”
“So, she’s bound to say ‘yes’ eventually? Is that what you’re telling me?” The man leaned forward eagerly. Hopeless romantic, or a creepy stalker? Anyway…
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you.” She paused as she turned her head towards me. “I’ll be right with you darling, take a seat please.”
“Yeah, you should wait for your turn—” started the other guy.
“Actually, there’s nothing more to tell.”
“But I have so many questions! How many kids will we have? When will we be able to move in together, seeing as her father is forbidding us to meet and talk most of the time—”
“Jack, you’re in total control of your destiny,” she said with a grim smile on her face. I wasn’t sure which was more pathetic. To be so gullible as to take mere broad suggestions as facts, or the constant need to feed their ego.
“Alright, thank you, thank you so much! You’ve rekindled my—”
“Jack, I have other people to help.”
“Alright, I won’t keep you.” He smiled from ear to ear. Definitely a stalker, I decided. Her father doesn’t want them to talk or meet? Please... she probably didn’t have the heart to tell him to piss off. How much simpler the world would be if humans accepted that as enough reason to back off.
“Sorry for the wait. Here, come sit here.”
I looked at her from the corner of my eye. “They say you’re a witch.”
“I read palms. I don’t cast spells, that would be silly, wouldn’t it? But I guess the hopeless need a reason to keep believing when all hope is gone.”
“So, you admit you tell them bullshit?”
The witch smiled. “Think of it as a placebo effect. They pay me to say what they want to hear. Now if that is wrong, then let he without sin cast the first stone.”
“Funny. Quoting Jesus of Nazareth.”
“What we do is somewhat the same.”
“Not quite.” I took a seat.
“What’s your name?”
“A mystery, eh?” She scratched her chin, taking my palm and laying it in front of her magic crystal. What horse shit. “Well, it’s not entirely bullshit, but there is some science behind it. See this line?” She pointed at a line that stretched from the end of my right hand to the middle. “This is called the heart line. The more the markings on it, the more it symbolizes troubles with a loved one.”
I shook my head. “Haven’t been down that road for a long time.”
“How long is a long time?”
“Would you believe me if I told you?”
“Are you asking if I would believe that you’re a vampire?”
I leaned back in my chair as the witch assessed me.
“Hollow yellow eyes, six feet tall, broad shoulders and a long light brown robe. Word travels fast y’know, and you’re not exactly inconspicuous. You’re on everyone’s radar now, you know,” she said as she smirked at me.
“So, you are a witch.”
“People call others witches or wizards because they see them do something that they cannot understand. In my case, all it takes is a good memory and a desire to see patterns.”
“You’re telling me, that all that there is to you is intense research on matters and individuals?”
“Some would call you a stalker.”
“They can call me what they want,” she laughed. “Now, why don’t you ask what you’re really here to ask?”
“If you’re so good at what you do, then you should already know why I’m here.”
“Seeing as you have just butchered—”
“Might want to skip those details. Not in the mood to revisit the past.”
“And why is that?”
“Because the past is the past. Any who desire to dwell on it can read history books. I’m here right now to deal with the present. So that a bleak future does not stay atop our heads for very long.”
“I don’t know where you can find the Elders. But I know what can help you find one.”
“Before this long night is passed, I’ll need you to do something for me. Would you at least consider that? After you get what you want, of course.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“I suppose that’s as good as I’ll get.” She placed her hand on the magic crystal, closing her eyes and mumbling a few words. “Your future is bleak. It is filled with greatness, yet at a great cost. You will accomplish what you want. But only after you pay a hefty price.”
“Not in the mood for puzzles, witch.”
“I see something. A stone. Shiny, bright but dark. No, it does not shine bright, it shines... dark. It is vile and houses treachery. The creature that has it... is spoken of in legends—”
Sweat beaded on her forehead as she began to shake.
“What else?” I asked, curious to know what path would lead me to the dawn of a new world.
“That is all I can see.” She opened her eyes. The shaking stopped but she was gasping for air as if she had just run a marathon. “That is all that I have for you.”
“Are you sure that this will set me on the path that I want?”
“Of that, I am certain. All the signs are there. But I honestly don’t know the correlation of the stone and that thing that houses it — that is mentioned in legends of course. I see a rose. It’s lightly blue of some sort, does that make sense to you?”
I got up from the chair. “It’s fine. I know.”
“Wait,” she said, rising. “You promised you’d hear my request, didn’t you?”
I paused, not turning around. “I’m listening.”
“There’s a vampire nest, right here in this carnival. They organize it in every town so they can lure innocent humans and drink their blood.”
“There are dozens of them, and only one of me.”
“Please...” she begged.
I raised my eyebrows. “It’s all a game to them, isn’t it?”
“One that I want you to stop. I’m their prisoner, you know. In fact, they’ve been listening all along. They keep tabs on me.”
And as if on cue, shouting and screaming burst from outside the tent. A clever ploy if I daresay myself.
“And why haven’t you run already?”
“Because I’d never escape.”
I sighed and kept walking. I could hear her heartbeat speed up. For someone who knew so much about the mysticism of the future, it was intriguing that she didn’t think I’d help.
As I walked outside, the dim lighting of the tent was replaced by fire and fury. Vampires were latching onto anything alive that carried their precious water of life. I kept my pace, and slowly approached them.
Their eyes met mine.
“You...what the fuck...why the fuck are you here...shit,” one of them said, dropping the body from which he was drinking. Blood covered his mouth to his neck.
It was a disturbing look, if I’m honest.
It took the rest of the group seconds to join in. “I’m not interested in you. I’m looking for the one who turned you all,” I said calmly as I kept my pace walking towards them.
“Shit... shit... we’re screwed...”
“Did you honestly think your tale had a happy ending?”
“Run! Run or we’ll all die... it’s the Fortier!”