by Cathy Yan, Age 15, Canada
Artwork by Katie King
The evening of my best friend’s funeral was the longest day of my life, with blurry, emotional speeches and way too many slices of cream pie. By the end, my eyes were red and crusty, my immaculate make up from the morning washed away by rivulets of tears. Tired of sympathetic looks and falsely soothing words, I crept unnoticed into the back storage room, letting the door lock behind me.
It was there the visions started.
The first wave hit me hard, making my head swim with the explosive pain that was building up in my chest. A bright white glare blotted out my vision, and my limbs were slow and clumsy. Focusing all my remaining energy, I tried to scream; but only a croaked, strangled sound escaped me.
“Heart attack!” the emotional part of my mind cried out. “You’re having a heart attack!”
“But I’m sixteen!” my logical mind argued back. “It’s not possible to have a heart attack at sixteen.”
As weak as I was, I was still able to calm down and focus on the situation at hand. I was behind a locked door and no one knew where I was; the odds were not in my favour. Most likely, regardless of reason, I would die tonight.
At my best friend’s funeral.
Perhaps they would have a double wake for us, just like how we had double birthday parties in grade school. I giggled hysterically at the thought of it. Delia and Deborah; one couldn’t even die without the other following suit.
After a few minutes, my vision returned, and the pain slowly ebbed away, leaving me a panting, drooling mess on the floor. Frantically, half-dragged myself to the door, desperate to get out of the possible death trap I was in. However, I was still too slow, the second wave drowned me as my hand grasped the door knob.
This time, it was a thousand times worse. It made me spasm and foam at the mouth, as if I was having an epileptic seizure. My out-of-control body violently threw itself on to the floor.
My vision had gone completely white, my body completely immobile. My mind was a swirling mess of darkness and light.
Then came the whispering, quiet at first, but growing louder and louder, yet still indiscernible. Images began to quickly flash before my eyes: the unrecognizable face of a cloaked figure, her eyes a piercing, icy blue; a silvery liquid spreading out from beneath the body of a wounded man; a silver bullet, crusted with blood but shining nonetheless.
I woke up with a start after the last image, my head reeling and fuzzy. My dress was torn, caught on a nail when I slipped down unconsciously to the floor. My hair was no better; the purposeful bun from the morning was now a frizzy, discombobulated mess.
“Delia?” My mother’s voice suddenly permeated through the wooden door. “Are you in there? We’re leaving now.”
“Yes, mom,” I replied. “I think I fell asleep. Just give me a second to make myself look presentable.”
Quickly, I finger-combed my hair and smoothed it into a decent ponytail. I buttoned up my coat to hide the rip. From what I could see, I looked fairly decent. Slowly, I opened the door.
“Oh, honey…” My mother looked at me sympathetically, taking in my bloodshot eyes and frazzled hair. “I know how hard this is on you. But Deborah lived a nice life, and there was no way she could’ve survived the cancer. You knew that from the start.”
We lined up at the door, each person before us waiting to express condolences to Deborah’s parents before they left. I stayed silent all the while, not trusting myself to speak for fear of another round of tears. My mother kept quiet as well, but she kept looking at me with an indescribably sad look in her eyes. Finally, we got to the door, where Mr. and Mrs. Parkinson, Deborah’s parents, stood.
“We’re so glad to see you here today, Delia.” Mrs. Parkinson told me when I had reached the front. “Deborah would have appreciated it.”
I nodded stiffly, letting myself be encompassed by her stifling hug. Now that Deborah was gone, was I to fill their void?
Deborah was their only child and, even though my heart was being ripped to pieces, my pain was a drop of rain compared to their vast ocean of grief.
I hoped I would never need to know how they felt.
The next day, the first day of school, was pure, unadulterated hell. Everyone stared at me like I was the one who died. All my friends and acquaintances from last year gave me a wide berth in the hallways and pretended not to hear when I said hello. Lunch, especially, was torture.
During last block, I snagged a seat at the back of the class, hoping to be out of the spotlight. To my chagrin, however, a new student, the sort of girl my mother warned me against, came in and plopped down in the chair beside mine, even though there were at least five more seats.
“Hello,” she said, propping her feet up on to the desk. She snapped her gum loudly, twirling her purple hair idly with a ringed finger.
“Hey,” I replied back, quietly.
“You got a name?” she asked abruptly. Her icy blue eyes made contact with my dull, brown ones.
I sharply inhaled. Those eyes. They had belonged to the first figure in my vision.
“Uh, yeah,” I said, suddenly feeling a rush of panic. “I’m Delia. And you are?”
“Persephone, like in Greek mythology,” she replied. A pause ensued, letting the general hubbub pierce our conversation. “Why are the others avoiding you? Not that it’s not a good thing. It’s curious that’s all. You don’t seem the type of girl to be ignored, with a face as pretty as yours.”
She pronounced pretty as “purty.”
I shrugged. “Dead best friend.”
“Well then, Delia, how about we take your mind off of things? Just for the night?” She slid a black card across the table towards me. “Here’s the address to a top secret vampire club. Come at sunset, and don’t tell anyone.” She then handed me a chain with a silver bullet dangling from it.
“You’ll need this as well.”
For the rest of the class, whenever we made eye contact, a small smile would play across her lips, letting me know that I was to be a part of whatever she planned.
After school, I was so excited I couldn’t breathe. Ever since I was little, Deborah and I loved everything to do with vampires. We had bought posters, watched the shows, even sneaked into the midnight premier of Twilight. This club was to be my first step in continuing our vampire tradition. I was so excited that I didn’t even notice the male figure following me.
It was not until the ominous sound of a snapping branch echoed through the air that I realized just how alone and exposed I was.
I whirled around quickly, seeing a blurry shadow fly behind a tree. “I can see you.” I called out, sounding braver than I was. “No point in hiding.”
After a few seconds, the most gorgeous guy I had ever laid eyes on revealed himself from behind a tree. With a start, I realized he was the guy I had seen in the vision.
Two of my visions coming true in one day. With this kind of success, I could start my own carnival booth.
I uncomfortably noticed that his eyes were drawn to the now crinkled invitation in my hand and the bullet necklace around my throat.
“So Persephone already got to you, I see,” he said, his voice smooth as silk. “Well, I’m glad I caught up with you before you went to the club. Otherwise, there would be trouble.”
Even though his voice was charming, his eyes were frosty. I instinctively took a step back just as he quickly began advancing towards me.
“Your death will bring the war and destruction we seek.” He whispered.
I tried to run, but his long legs quickly closed the gap between us.
I began to admit defeat, planning how to bargain for my life; but the sniper bullet got him first. I didn’t even hear a gun go off, only saw his eyes widen in pain as silver blood sprayed from his chest. I looked up instinctively to see a guy with hair just like Persephone’s standing on a roof, giving me a wide grin before he quickly disappeared. I took that as my cue to run.
That night, at sundown, I lied about going to a friend’s house and sneaked over to the vampire club. I had debated all afternoon about whether or not I should go, but my curiosity got the best of me.
When I got to the club, I was scared out of my wits. It had been a long walk in the dark, and all I could think about was the guy who had gone after me this afternoon.
It was not until a few moments that I realized the loud, bright, fresh-out-of-Hollywood building behind me was the club Persephone had asked me to go to.
‘My god,” I thought. “I don’t belong here. This club is for cool kids, not for a girl with a dead best friend.” Out of habit, I nervously began to chew the silver bullet that Persephone had given me, not noticing the flecks of dried blood from the ordeal that afternoon.
“Hey, are you going in?” the guard asked me. “If you are, you’re going to need some ID.”
My head was beginning to swim from the nerves. Should I go in? Do I really belong with someone as cool as Persephone?
Suddenly, a familiar gut wrenching pain surged through me, bringing me right to my knees. My teeth clenched so hard that it severed the chain, making me accidentally swallow the bullet.
My body seemed to be melting and forming again, my teeth growing and shrinking. Up was down and right was wrong. The only thing consistent was the never ending pain. I did not know how long I stayed like that. It could have been seconds or weeks.
I woke up with a jolt to see a stern man leaning over me. I was inside the club, lying on a table in the back.
“A seer, a vampire, and a werewolf all in one, you say?” he asked Persephone, who was also standing by my side. When Persephone nodded, he turned his attention to me.
“I’m glad you’re awake.” He smiled warmly. He shoved a mirror into my hands, beaming proudly. “I hope you like blue hair, because you’re officially one of us now.”
I didn’t speak. If I did, tears would bubble up again. I had found a place to belong. I was one of the cool kids.