“Dear Diary: Anavey says we’re almost strong enough to ‘full-fill our vampire destiny.’ Something is going to happen tomorrow, she hasn’t told me exactly what yet. I wish it were going to be something good, but I kind of bet it’s not.”
The girls were sitting on their bed with their bedroom door closed. The evening had been fairly quiet, as Mom and Dale hadn’t had a single fight. Not yet, anyway.
Anavey took one of Anastasia’s hands in hers, gently drew her forefinger forward, and began to brush black polish onto her fingernail. Once she had completed the first one, she began to diligently work on her sister’s other fingernails.
“The black polish is a symbol of your vampire nature,” Anavey said. “From here on out, you should always have black nails. It will be a sign to all the others. Tomorrow, the next phase of our plan begins.”
“So what is it?”
“How do I know it’s a good plan? I don’t know whether I agree with it or not.”
“Look,” Anavey said, looking a little exasperated. “You’re either with me or against me. You’re not against me, are you?”
“That’s what I thought.”
“So, when we kill grown-ups, how are we supposed to tell the bad ones from the good ones?”
“They’re all bad. We have to kill all the adults.”
“But won’t we be adults someday?”
“No, we stay the same age forever. Well, physically, at least.”
“What?” asked Anastasia in a quivery, anxious tone.
“You’ve got a lot to learn about vampires.”
“So I’m not going to be able to get married and have my own house one day?”
“Well, we’re still going to get older, but we’re going to stay the same size. You could probably get married if you want to. You’ll just be a very small bride.”
“I guess I can deal with that.” Actually, she wasn’t sure she really liked that idea. It always seemed that life would be easier if she were bigger — even if only a little bigger.
“Look at it this way. All the world’s problems are caused by self-centered, greedy adults. By destroying them, we’re making the world a better place. Aren’t you tired of being treated like a lesser person just because you’re smaller?”
“Well, yeah,” replied Anastasia in a somewhat nervous, unsure voice.
“I promised you it would be fun to be a vampire. Hasn’t it been great?”
No, not really, she thought, but she knew better than say that to her sister. “Well, I guess so.”
“Come on — you should sound more excited than that. Just wait till tomorrow. It’s going to be a big surprise.”
“I can’t wait,” Anastasia said, in a voice flatter than a note from a broken flute.
At least half the kids in school were turned now.
They were getting excited and losing all restraint as bloodlust spread like a contagion among their numbers. They nipped at each other, screeched like banshees in the halls, ripped up their homework, and threw their papers in the air like confetti. Anavey could feel it herself — an excitement more profound than any she could remember. Some of the teachers were beginning to look genuinely fearful, though many were too stupid to understand that they should be feeling fear.
Mrs. Smith’s Language Arts class was out of hand before it started.
The heavyset, dark-haired woman stood at the front of the class, regarding the restless, chattering students with a look of irritation. Irritation meant she still felt as if she were in control.
Let her feel that way a little bit longer.
“Calm down!” she cried, her voice rising above the yapping and squawking of twenty exuberant children.
Anavey tapped her fingers on her desk, and the noise level decreased immediately.
“All right,” Mrs. Smith said, “the first thing I’m going to do is return these papers. Some of you didn’t even write enough for me to grade. Most of these are Fs — in fact, a lot of your grades have really been deteriorating lately. Some of you didn’t even turn in your assignments at all!”
The teacher was obviously feeling in rather hot temper, and when some of the kids started giggling, her face turned redder than her scarlet wool sweater.
She started handing out the papers — amid a hail of crumpled papers flying through the air. “Now, Pamela,” she said, finally smiling a little, “got an A. It was the best grade in the class!”
Several of the children rose and began pelting her with trash.
“What am I going to do with y’all?” Mrs. Smith cried. “Sit down, and stop it. Stop it! You all deserve everything you’re going to get!” With each paper she handed out, she said, “F! F! F!”
Anavey laughed to herself and gazed at Jeffrey Patterson. The chubby boy nodded, his dark eyes glowering at the teacher.
Once Mrs. Smith had finally handed out all the graded papers, she went to the whiteboard at the front of the classroom. “You all were supposed to write in complete sentences. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb.” She paused and pointed at the kids in the back row. “Y’all sit down there and quit throwing stuff! Now, do you know what a fragment is? A fragment is not a complete thought. That’s what most of y’all turned in…. a bunch of fragments. They’re not sentences at all.”
Jeffrey rose from his seat and went to the pencil sharpener at the back of the room. As he sharpened his pencil, his coal-black eyes never left the teacher’s gesticulating figure.
Finally, Mrs. Smith took notice of him, and above the din of children’s voices, she called, “Jeffrey! Don’t you think that’s enough sharpening?”
Now, Anavey stood, her figure seeming to float above the desks, her feet barely touching the floor. One hand rose and pointed at Mrs. Smith.
Jeffrey held the pencil up like a dagger and began walking toward the front of the classroom.
Mrs. Smith picked up her yardstick and whacked it on the desk. “Settle down now! Jeffrey, you go back to your seat. You sit down. Right now!”
The boy continued to advance, his eyes gleaming black. For the first time, Mrs. Smith’s eyes began to show fear. Her face went pale, and she brought her yardstick down on the desk so hard it split in two.
“Jeffrey. Sit down! Now!”
The boy glanced back at Anavey, and she nodded.
The teacher’s eyes flicked toward hers.
The last thing Mrs. Smith saw was Anavey’s blood-red lips spread wide to reveal full, razor-sharp fangs.
Jeffrey’s pencil point went into Mrs. Smith’s ear, puncturing her eardrum and driving straight into her brain.
Her body collapsed onto the desk with a heavy thud, and deafening cheers rose from every corner of the classroom.
Within moments, the kids fell upon the body, and fangs — some well-developed, some just budding — ripped into the teacher’s flesh, tearing it open, sending blood spraying in every direction.
Anavey tapped her desk, and the noise level diminished to a dull roar.
“Take all you want,” she said. “When you’re done; we’ll need to clean this up. We’ll take the remains to the supply closet down the hall, and — this evening — Mr. Kelly’s cats will have another special treat.”
The kids cheered again — all except for Pamela Nicole Pryce, who looked as if she were going to throw up right on the floor.
“Anavey Winchester, what are you doing?”
She had just closed the supply closet door and was starting back toward the classroom when she heard the teacher’s voice.
It was Mrs. Brock, one of the other English teachers.
“Oh, nothing, Mrs. Brock, I just went to the bathroom.”
“Do you have a hall pass?”
“No ma’am, I was just going to the bathroom.”
“You know you need a hall pass for that.”
“It was an emergency.”
The tall, bone-thin woman marched toward her, pale blue eyes questing deeply into hers. “You’ve been inciting these other students again, haven’t you?”
“I don’t know what you mean, Mrs. Brock.”
“All these kids are biting each other, being destructive, and getting out of hand. I keep hearing that you are the one behind it all. What are you trying to prove, young lady?”
She shrugged, her face innocent. “Nothing, Mrs. Brock. How could I be responsible for any such thing? It’s like I said — I just went to the bathroom.”
The slender woman started toward Mrs. Smith’s classroom, and she beckoned Anavey to follow her. As she opened the door and stepped inside, the students, all seated quietly at their desks, looked up from their books to regard the new arrival.
“Where is Mrs. Smith?”
“She didn’t feel well, so she left,” Jeffrey Patterson said, one corner of his mouth turning up in a little impish grin.
Anavey nodded in satisfaction as she returned to her desk and sat down. The classroom was immaculate. No sign of trash, all books and papers in their proper places, and — most importantly — not the first trace of blood.
“You don’t have a substitute? Did Mrs. Smith check out at the office?”
“How would we know, Mrs. Brock?”
“I’m going to find out what’s going on here,” the lanky woman said. “For now, you all stay in your seats. Except you, Anavey. You come with me.”
“Yes, Mrs. Brock.”
Anavey chuckled as the teacher led her down the hall toward the office.
Just another one too stupid to realize she ought to be petrified with fear.
Mr. Patrick didn’t believe for a moment that any of these rowdy, incorrigible little miscreants were really vampires, but they were more out of control than he had ever seen them. It seemed as if fully half the kids in the school were jacked up on speed. The ones who seemed more or less normal — those who didn’t appear too terrified to talk — had almost to the person implicated Anavey Winchester as the instigator. It was Anavey telling the others what to do, compelling them to be disrespectful to all the adults, and no one seemed able to refuse her.
For the first time, he began to wonder if it might not have been better policy to cooperate with the sheriff right from the start. Because now, with his own eyes, he had seen bite marks on any number of the children’s necks. And some of the kids had started a fire out by the parking lot — burning trash, desks, school books, anything they could find that was flammable.
It’s crazy, he thought, shaking his head. Absolutely, certifiably crazy.
Anavey herself had not confessed to any wrongdoing. In fact, when he had questioned her about her role in all this madness, she had been silent. Silent, as in never uttering a single word to him.
He looked up her personal information on his computer, found her home phone number, and dialed it.
The phone on the other end of the line rang several times before anyone picked it up.
“Hello,” he said. “Is this Mr. Winchester?”
“This is Dale Buckmeyer,” replied the voice on the other end of the telephone.
“Is this Anavey Winchester’s legal guardian?”
“This is Mr. Patrick, the principal down at the school. I have to tell you, sir, things are getting very chaotic down here.”
“Hold on just a minute.”
Patrick heard a metallic popping sound and a seemingly endless gurgling — no doubt, Mr. Buckheimer downing an entire can of beer at once. It ended with a deep, rumbling belch.
He finally came back on a mumbled, “Wha’ did Anavey do this time?”
“With all due respect, Mr. Buckmeister, the students around here — all these insubordinate little munchkins — are biting each other on the necks. And a lot of them are saying Anavey put them up to it.”
Dammit — he really shouldn’t have called them ‘munchkins.’ Ah well, too late now. He wasn’t sure Mr. Buckhorn was in much of a state to remember anything.
“I am so sorry, sir,” the voice on the phone said, every word so slurred Patrick could barely understand him.
“Look, Mr. Buckingham, I am sorry, but I am left with no choice but to suspend Anavey from school until we can get things sorted out down here.”
“The name is Buckmeyer.”
“Oh. Sorry. Anyway, someone — either a parent or a guardian — will have to come down here, pick her up, and sign all the proper papers. I am sorry, sir. I hope we can get this matter settled quickly. But until then, this is my only possible course of action.”
“I’ll be right over. Thank you, sir.”
“Great,” Patrick sighed. “Now I’ve got a possible drunk driver hitting the road to come pick up his vampire daughter. That’s just great.”
Young Blood: An upcoming novel by Stephen Mark Rainey with Mat Smith and Myron Smith.
You can help bring this project to life at the following link: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1990813857/young-blood-a-novel
Stephen Mark Rainey is author of the novels Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark (with Elizabeth Massie), Balak, The Lebo Coven, The Nightmare Frontier, Blue Devil Island, and The Monarchs (now available from Crossroad Press), five short story collections, and over 90 published works of short fiction.
Here are a few illustrations from the book: