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St. Augustine, 1823
Cara shivered, the stone cold floor beneath her. Shrieks sliced through the air above her, echoing through the stone walls. A moldy stench, thick in the surrounding air, drifted up her nostrils. The temperature dropped several degrees as a breeze touched her head. She dared to open her eyes and stare into the darkness surrounding her, peeling one eye open and then the next.
“Cara,” sounded a soft voice, almost a whisper. A warm touch caressed her hand, a shadowy figure flashed before her eyes. “You need to leave.” The soothing voice didn’t elicit fear but warmth and love. Her eyes searched for whom it belonged to. A breeze brushed against her and the voice whispered in her ear. "You need to go. I can lead you.”
She tilted her head and gazed upon a transparent woman, no more than twenty. Her flaxen hair fell across her shoulders, circling her heart-shaped face. “Who are you?” Cara stammered.
“I’m Alda, once like you. They’ve been here for centuries, before the pirates, before the first settlement. The true first inhabitants of this continent.”
“Who are they?”
“They are Bloodseekers. Come now!” The urgency in her voice resounded inside Cara. She jumped to her feet and followed the apparition. Alda’s white bodice hugged her torso, the black hem grazing the stone floor.
Light from candles illuminated the darkness as they wound through a narrow passageway, as one candle lit ahead of them, the one behind went dark. The brightness of each light cast a glow on the shadow beside it, lighting the faces of each ghost. One apparition after another, men and women, blood drenching their shirts and bodices from the fang marks in their necks. The chilly air sent waves of shivers spiraling through Cara’s body. She lifted her arm to touch a girl, no more than twelve, but her hand went through the child’s face.
They came upon a fork in the passage, Alda motioned for her to stop. Quickening footsteps sounded from the right. “Plaster yourself against the wall, into the shadows. They see heat, our lack of it will protect you.”
Cara did as asked. Not questioning Alda. She knew the footsteps belonged to a Bloodseeker. One had come into her home and killed her family, draining them of every drop of blood. She tried to escape, to run, but he was too quick. His dark eyes bored into hers. And a voice inside her head commanded her to stop. Her body froze in place. She tried to move but his mind controlled the core of her brain and she collapsed, waking up on the stone floor.
Her back against the wall, the shadowy apparitions swarmed around her, blanketing her in darkness, shielding her from the Bloodseeker. His footsteps halted at the fork, as if deliberating which direction to go. He turned and followed the corridor leading to the room she’d left, he halted. His black eyes glowed through the shadows surrounding her. She closed her eyes tight, to avoid his mind commands and held her breath. Cara stayed as motionless as possible, controlling the tremors threatening to shake her body.
Her sense of hearing heightened with her eyes squeezed shut, she heard his footsteps walk away from her and continue through the corridor. She popped her eyes open and watched his form through the corner of her eye. When he disappeared around the corner, Alda motioned for her to follow. He’d know she wasn’t there. He’d look for her. The apparitions parted as Cara moved away from the wall.
Alda floated up the stairwell as Cara followed with gentle footsteps, careful not to draw his attention. A wooden door appeared before Cara as she reached the top of the stairs. Alda motioned for her to open it, the hinges creaking as she pushed it open.
Moonlight from the crescent moon streamed through the parted heavy curtains, bathing the room in enough light that Cara could see. Dozens of ghosts swarmed the room. Now, able to see them clearly, she gasped. Their skin tones and origins varied - black, white, and varying shades of brown. None older than her. Their styles of dress told her many lived centuries before her. A young black ghost hovered in front of her, clothed in a thick graying dress. Her gentle brown eyes sent a burst of warmth through Cara’s quaking, goose-pimpled body.
Alda soared towards a bookshelf and pointed to a nondescript brown leather book. “Pull it.”
Cara hurried towards the shelf and lifted the book, the shelf easing back to reveal another room.
“Take the book inside the room. The door will close behind you.”
Cara didn’t argue. Thundering sets of footsteps pounded the floor behind her, only moments from catching her she dived into the room. The book case closed, leaving behind all the ghosts except Alda. A Bloodseeker rushed towards it, catching it with his hand. He forced the heavy door open. Cara scooted away from his grasp.
A bright red light flickered from the corner of the dark room. “Grab the light!” Alda yelled. Cara scurried towards it, dropping the book as she reached for it. She held it firmly in her hand and tugged, but the object was caught on something she couldn’t see in the dark.
The Bloodseeker dived for her, catching her other arm in his firm grasp. A blast of white light diffused through the room from the object Cara clutched in her hand. He pulled her towards him. She tightened her grasp as the object and the nail it was stuck on slackened from the wall. The Bloodseeker, too late to stop her, screamed in agony as the light blasted him against the door, his body engulfed in flames.
The light enveloped Cara, pushing its way through her body. She burst into fire, the flames licking the walls, then eddying into nothingness. Her ginger hair now crimson red, her amber eyes shining as garnets in the darkness. Beneath her skin, muscles exploded to the surface.
A smile widened on Alda’s face. “You’re the one. We’ve waited for you.”
“What do you mean and how come I can see you and they can’t?”
“You are a Slayer, that’s why you see us. As long as you wear the amulet you will be indestructible and invisible to the Bloodseekers. They won’t be able to harm you. Your job is to find others like yourself and slay every last Bloodseeker. Don’t ever take it off and keep it protected beneath your clothes. Should it fall into their hands they will use it against you. You see us because you are special. All the answers are in the book. Take it, place the amulet around your neck and leave now!”
Cara leaned over and grabbed the book. She then pulled the glowing amulet over her head. “What about you and the others?”
“You have freed us. We are forever grateful but you must leave.”
Cara hurried towards the door, stepping on the Bloodseeker’s ashes. The door opened for her and she ran through the house, ghosts guiding her way. She dodged the Bloodseekers, their dark glowing eyes searching, fangs sharp as daggers protruding from their upper gums. Their blood covered mouths saturated the air with scent of iron. Claw-like fingers sliced through the air, scratching her clothes as she sprinted past them, hurdling tables and furniture with skill and agility unknown to her.
Finally reaching the front entrance, she twisted the golden knob on the large, chunky door and ran into the morning’s first light. Dawn. The sun rising just above the horizon. She stepped onto the porch, Bloodseekers on her trail. Stumbling down the steps, she landed face first in the dirt. Scrambling she lifted herself upright and quickly turned towards the house.
A tall, thin Bloodseeker hissed, shielding his face as he sank into the house, flames licking his hands. The sun’s light rose bigger and brighter in the sky, immersing the house in radiance. The ground shook. She sprinted.
Reaching the relative safety of the tree line, she turned in time to watch the ground part around the house, swallowing it. Thousands of lights glowed as the ghosts swirled into the atmosphere, rising high into the sky as they disappeared. Screams reverberated in the air surrounding her as the Bloodseekers were burned and buried.
She cupped her ears and knelt, curling her head towards her knees to muffle their death screeches. Unable to stifle the noise, tears rose to her eyes from the pain in her throbbing ears. As soon as the screeching began, it stopped, and the earth filled in above the house. The ground appeared undisturbed. The sun shone high in the sky, erasing the dreadful night.
Cara lifted the amulet hanging against her chest, a large red stone set in the center surrounded by, and hanging on, a silver chain. She clutched it, the book tucked beneath her arm, and marched down the road. Not a soul peered outside their windows or took notice of the event.
The house was wiped from existence and erased from St. Augustine’s inhabitants’ minds. Cara’s secret.
copyright and intellectual property of Lisa Klaes 2016