Authors: Morris Fenris,Jasmine Bowen
Changing Culture Publications
2013 Changing Culture Publications
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just happened to be in the room where his coffin was kept when it happened. He was looking for a piece of artwork that hadn’t been hung up in almost a century. Anything untouched that long was kept in this room, stored at the back with the coffin in the center point.
’s creaking was so unexpected that it didn’t even register until it happened a second time. The lid was moving, slowly.
nearly dropped the painting he was holding, turning around to stare at the coffin as the lid slowly opened. He backed up, instinctually, even though he had no reason to be afraid. His voice became strangled in his throat. He couldn’t call for his brothers. He could do nothing but watch as Arthur slowly sat up, his features unchanged for a thousand years, his clothes preserved. He looked him right in the eye. Arthur, a thousand years asleep, was now, finally, awake. Both of them screamed.
The scream echoed through the halls of the
mansion, and it brought his brothers running. Brock came in first, the youngest of all of them, and still slightly faster and agile, despite the fact that he had been asleep 100 years and only recently wakened. With a little more dignity, but still brimming with alarm, Gregory came crashing in as well.
The four brothers made up the
Initials, the oldest and first vampire family to ever walk the earth. From them, all vampires were created, and as such, all vampires had it built into them to obey the Initials, the princes and the king, as such. But the Initials preferred a carefree lifestyle, flying low on the radar, and so they installed vampires almost as old as them - second and third generation - to keep the law. The Regime, as they called themselves, ruled from a castle in Spain, punishing those who broke laws like revealing themselves to living humans, or killing their own kind en masse.
,000 years ago, the Initials had suffered a broken piece. Arthur never liked being a vampire, and wished desperately for his human life. Immortal - unlike the vampires he created - who could be killed easily, he did the only thing he could do. He fell into a deep sleep, the vampire version of a coma, known as Torpor. Nothing could shake him from it, and so they gently placed him in a coffin, closed the lid, and waited for a day when Torpor would be lifted.
, the youngest prince, had suffered the same fate, but at the hands of witchcraft. For 100 years, he slept, a smile plastered on his face. Only a month ago, Brock had awoken, and now Arthur, Gregory’s regent, the second oldest brother, could no longer seek the refuge of Torpor either.
Arthur,” Gregory said, who was the oldest, the reluctant king of the vampires, although the crown wore heavily on his hand. He approached his Irish twin brother with a mixture of alarm and relief, reaching out to take his hand. Arthur locked eyes with him, and babbled.
Knox said, glancing to Brock, his eyes wide. When Brock had awoken, not too much in terms of language had changed. But Arthur was spewing a tongue that none of them had heard in a thousand years. The words did not come easily to them, and even Gregory looked confused as he tried to calm his brother down. Knox caught one word in every three, but it was enough to know how Arthur was feeling. Confused, jolted, frightened.
Gregory said, speaking calmly as if Arthur had just awoken from a night’s rest. “It’s alright. We’re all here. We’ll get this sorted out. You’re alright.”
finally quieted down, and turned his gaze to his younger brothers. Knox dipped his head, never one for a grand display of affection. But Brock, only 16 when his body was made immortal, flung himself onto Arthur, a grin stretched across his features.
“I’m so glad you’re back!” he cried, and
Arthur could only put his arm around him, a confused look on his face. Gregory took that time to step back, dipping his head to Knox.
“Well, this is certainly going to be an interesting few weeks
,” Gregory said.
Knox agreed. “What do you want to do first?”
“Lock the doors. I don’t think
Arthur is going to be quite ready for the outside world.”
smirked. “You don’t think I should ask his opinion on the latest smart phone selection?”
gave his brother a look. “Lock the doors, and put away anything too alarming.”
“It’s probably for the best,”
Knox said, as he went. “I don’t think the outside world is quite ready for Arthur yet either.”
nodded, his eyes locked on Arthur. What had awoken him from Torpor, and how were they going to explain a world to him that was basically a different planet since he fell asleep? He still didn’t understand half the things this world had to offer.
He had a cell phone because it was impossible to operate without one, but he
preferred to just leave it in his pocket. Knox and Brock were constantly texting or browsing, but Gregory could go days at a time without charging his phone. He didn’t spend hours staring at the TV, and preferred a good theater show. He even couldn’t bring himself to dress in anything less than a full suit. Arthur was certainly going to have an interesting time in this world. He’d missed so much and couldn’t fathom the task of having to update him. He could barely remember the language to reassure him.
finally backed away, and Gregory reached to help his brother out of the coffin, his legs placed on the ground for the first time in a century. He looked at Gregory, a mixture of pain and fear on his face, and Gregory could only place a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“It’s going to be alright,” he
reassured him, although he had no idea how.
“What are we going to do?”
Brock asked, looking to Gregory. The vampire king paused a moment, and then his eyes lit up.
“I have an idea. Get Dr.
Hever on the phone.”
“That tree hugging human loving vampire?
” he said. “Seriously? Bambi and the rabbit flutter around him with hearts in their eyes. His entire family is like a Disney movie.”
“Just do it,
Brock,” Gregory replied. “And also phone down to the New Orleans translation department. See if you can get Diana Diaz.”
cocked his head in confusion, but left Arthur in Gregory’s care to do as he was told. Arthur only looked at Gregory, his eyes wide and his mouth gaping.
Gregory tried again. “I know you don’t understand a word I’m saying, but it’s going to be ok.” He tried again in ancient Latin, knowing that his accent was probably terrible. Arthur seemed to understand, and nodded, although he clearly didn’t believe his older brother. He glanced back at his coffin, his home for the past millennium, and started towards it. Gregory caught his wrist, pulling him forward. “No, Arthur. Here. Stay with us now. Please. Ruling this motley crew without you has been kind of a nightmare.”
’s eyes glanced at Gregory, listening, at the very least.
Gregory said, trying to pull him out of the sight line of the coffin. “Here, come with me. We’ve just been discussing putting the Christmas tree up. We’re the richest family in town, of course, and we want the townsfolk to like us, so we’re throwing a Christmas Ball. You’ll fit right in. Remember the balls Mother used to throw?”
Latin was horrible and Arthur probably caught one word in four. But slowly his brother nodded. He seemed too overwhelmed for speech and Gregory didn’t want to push him. Instead, he led him slowly out the door and into the hallway. Their house was vast, a mansion, almost a palace which was something Arthur would understand. Throughout their existence, they had always been nobles with large houses who threw parties like no one else. In modern society, houses seemed to be shrinking, entire families living in rooms once meant for servants.
The vast hallways seemed not to bother
Arthur, although some of the items on the walls clearly confused him.
In the foyer,
Brock approached, waving a cell phone.
Diana Diaz is supposed to call back, and Dr. Hever is on the line. Who’s Diana?”
smiled as he took the phone, trying to ignore Arthur’s confused look.
“She’s a translator down in New Orleans who
specializes in ancient languages. The girl has seven under her belt, and her boyfriend is Rene Levesque. Remember him?”
snorted. “Sure. Why has the Regime not taken her down yet?”
“Law of Assistance,”
Gregory replied. “She’s allowed to be with a vampire because she specializes in cases like this. Diana is going teach poor Arthur how to speak again. But as for Dr. Hever, he has something much more valuable.” He put the phone to his ear, turning away and spoke in a low voice. Brock glanced to Arthur with a shrug.
“Don’t look at me, mate. I understand him about as much
as you do. Gregory’s gone mad in his old age, I sometimes think.”
Annalise shifted her backpack around, trying to get her coat zipped up at the same time. Christmas was only six weeks away but it was already a winter wonderland outside, and she didn’t want to risk getting frostbite before she could get to presents.
This would be the first year, after all, that she was able to afford proper presents for her friends. Last year
, it had been just after Christmas when her life had changed forever.
used to be the most popular girl in school, with huge green eyes and long brown hair that always looked perfect. Slim and just the right height, with proportional curves, there wasn’t a boy in school who didn’t glance at her when she walked down the hall. She worked hard every night to make sure her thrift store clothing was perfect, and she never invited anyone to her house, a rundown trailer in the back of a trailer park. No one knew the secret life she lived of barely having enough money to eat every day, of her parents being gone for weeks on end as a traveling sales team. Boys bought her food and drinks, and girls showered her with gifts, trying to get on her good side. Annalise’s secret was well kept until, in October of last year, her bout of childhood leukemia returned full force, her remission over.
Her parents were unreachable, unable to afford a cell phone, and so,
hospitalized, alone and without insurance, she thought that this was the end. The bills were racking up. The hospital was considering not treating her, and she had a raging fever.
hat’s when Dr. Hever entered her life. Kind Dr. Hever, compassionate and patient, offered to waive her bills to treat her privately. It seemed too good to be true, and it was.
One night, her fever unbroken, he shut the door, and sat beside her.
In her haze, he told her what he needed.
ampires existed in the world, he told her. He and his family was a clan constantly on the move, trying to fit in with human society. But as with people who grow up in a different generation, there is often a gap. He and his family needed to be updated, to be taught modern ways, reminded of what a hash tag was, and how to text to make it all look natural. He would pay her, and well, as well as waive the treatment bills if she helped.
hen she told him he was crazy, he only smiled kindly and informed her that he was risking his own life in speaking to her. If the Regime found out he revealed their existence, and Annalise didn’t work in their favor, he would be killed for breaking the law of secrecy. He risked his life to save his family from being discovered.
ing in those kind eyes shifted her soul. When she awoke in the morning, she thought it was a dream, a nightmare, the ravings of a fever. But as soon as he entered the room, she knew it was not.
Hever was a vampire, his wife and those posing as his children were as well. And she would keep their secret.
With infected blood, she was the perfect choice. They weren’t tempted by her as she sat on the couch beside them, clicking page by page through
Facebook and Twitter, explaining everything slowly. Besides, cancer wasn’t popular. She no longer had the energy to attend parties or break the rules. Her superficial friends stopped coming by, and she had nothing else to do.
Over the past year, it became more than just a teaching job
though. She found a new set of friends in the vampires, a new life, and new hope for survival. Friends to hold her hand in the hospital, be awake with her at night when the pain set in, and help her when the chemo turned her stomach.
“Anna, my phone froze.
She looked up with a grin to find
Arianne, one of the Hever girls, standing by her locker and holding out her Blackberry. Annalise took it, glancing at the screen as she shut her locker door.
“Remember, we talked about this?
” she reminded Arianne. “Blackberrys are super special because every single problem they have is fixed by a battery pull and restarting them.”