“Wait!” I ran after her. “Where are you going?”
As if to answer me, another cold breeze blew through the cave, but this time it settled within my own bones.
“You’ll see.” My mouth spoke.
I climbed down the mountain after Ashley and followed her back toward the direction of the Port. On arrival, we were met with a dozen vampires huddled together and talking with each other—all of them female. Many of them had familiar faces; they were residents of The Shade, but most of them I had never spoken to. Each of them had a normal appearance like Ashley and I, but it was clear from their conversations that they too were possessed.
A beautiful young vampire with black hair walked up to Ashley and I, handing us two short cocktail dresses. “Put these on. We’re leaving in a moment.”
Everyone else was wearing the same type of clothing, the type one would wear on a night out or to a party. Without considering modesty, Ashley and I stripped and quickly pulled the new garments over our bodies.
What on earth are we doing?
My voice spoke up above the chattering.
“Are we ready?”
“Yes,” they replied in unison.
My head turned toward a large submarine that had just surfaced. It was the biggest I’d seen of The Shade’s fleet. It looked capable of carrying at least a hundred people. The hatch opened and we began to pile in. I was the last to enter. I closed the hatch behind me and climbed down the metal ladder. While Ashley and the others took seats in the main passenger area, I headed directly to a small room at the front of the ship, where I found Liana sitting in the captain’s seat behind all the main controls. Once again, it seemed like she would be forced to navigate the submarine to wherever we were headed.
“I need another vial.” I held out my right arm to show Liana where Abby had bitten me. I had almost forgotten about the wound. She reached into her cloak and withdrew another one. I gulped down the sweet blood and within a few moments I had healed.
I sat down in a chair next to Liana. She started moving switches and punching in coordinates. Then she took hold of the wheel and we jolted forward. Her eyes were still translucent, yet I knew that she must now be in control of her actions for her to be navigating the submarine. It must have been a struggle to control such a large piece of machinery with impaired vision, but she was managing it somehow.
There wasn’t much to look at as I sat there. We sped through the occasional school of fish, but for the most part, we were travelling too fast to see anything other than the dark expanse of water stretched out in front of us. We had now travelled far past the boundary of The Shade, so I assumed that it must be nighttime.
Apprehension filled me as Liana began slowing the vessel and we started rising. As soon as we entered shallower waters, I got up and made my way into the passenger area.
“Come on, ladies.” A smirk formed on my mouth. “It’s time.”
I was the first to climb up the ladder and push open the hatch. The air was warm and booming music filled my ears. Although we’d parked on a dark stretch of empty beach, multi-colored disco lights flashed less than a mile away. Crowds of people danced and shouted.
It didn’t take much guessing to know what we were here for. They sure have instincts for what makes for an easy target. Intoxicated young men at a beach rave. At nighttime. They won’t even realize we’re vampires.
We hurried out of the water and onto the beach, heading toward the lights. As we got nearer, men started to notice us and wolf-whistle. I cringed as I imagined what we looked like: a large group of pretty young women in dresses that barely covered our backsides, all dashing toward them at once.
We reached the crowd and each headed for the first man who caught our eye. For me, that happened to be a short round fellow with hair down to his shoulders. He looked like he was in his early twenties. Poor guy. Doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.
“Hello,” I said, walking up to him and fluttering my eyelashes.
“Hi, I’m Jason.” His face was bright red and he held a nearly-finished can of beer in one hand.
“I’m… Ava. Ooof, it’s so hot here. Do you want to come for a walk with me?”
The man stuttered and looked at me like he was physically incapable of refusing. “Oh, s-sure, Ava. That’s such a cool name, by the way. I just need to let Matthew know… it’s his party, ya see. I’m his best man!”
A bachelor party. This is worse than I thought.
He rushed over to Matthew, whispered something in his ear, and sped back toward me with a huge grin on his chubby face. He looked like he’d just hit the jackpot. I took his hand, placed it around my waist, and led him away from all the noise and smoke.
“I want to take you somewhere special,” I purred.
“Oh, do ya? Where might that be?”
“You’ll see. Let’s run.”
Once we were far enough away for his screams to be inaudible beneath the loud music, I pulled his head toward me and bit into his neck, inserting my venom. He squealed and struggled at first, trying to escape my grip, but eventually his body became too weak and he fell to the ground, twitching. I picked him up and flung him over my shoulder like he was a sack of coal. Within a few seconds, I was by the open hatch to the submarine. Liana reached out her hands and I handed the man to her. Then I washed my mouth in the sea, removing all traces of blood from my face, and headed back to the party.
I caught a few more men in this way, some tall, short, skinny and round. The Elder didn’t seem to have any particular preference. It went for whoever was the easiest target. I even managed to lure away a drunk girl by telling her I had some bottles of free booze and needed her help carrying them.
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