Chapter 2: Second Chance
What is this? Where am I?
He thought to himself as he drifted in front of the Barrier. He looked over to his right and frowned, and then to his left, and it had hit him. The confusion he had turned into fear.
Not here! No not here! Please anywhere but here!
His heart started to race, and he wanted to scream. He tried so hard to scream, but no sound came out. He began to run, one foot in front of the other, and his arms moving to and fro pushing him forward, but he went nowhere. He was still stuck in front of the Barrier.
Help! Somebody help me please! I’m in the Wasteland! I’m in danger!
It was then that he realized he had no legs; no arms, in fact he had no body.
What the hell is going on?! What’s happened to me?!
He felt himself being lifted up, as if some force unseen force had taken a hold of him, and suddenly he was flying, further into the Wasteland and away from Oasis Landing.
No, please no, not out there!
He tried to scream again but nothing escaped his mouth, he began to scramble frantically and kick to free himself of the grip but he had no arms and legs. He was rushed along moving past endless waste and arid, dry desert at a breakneck speed until he stopped suddenly, in front of the Barrier once more. He heard something faint in the distance, he strained to hear more, thinking someone was coming to rescue him, or to kill him. But as he strained to listen, he realized it was a chant. Over and over, and whoever was shouting it was coming closer. It was ominous and dark with a deep voice bellowing a language he had not heard before. It filled him with dread and apprehension, and he screamed out once more.
He was pulled once more from the Barrier, but strangely enough flying alongside the Barrier. It seemed to go on for ages, until he stopped at a statue.
Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas! Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas! Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas!
Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas! Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas!
The chant was louder and more audible, and the statue’s blue eyes began to swirl and glow as he drifted directly in front of it. His mind raced, trying escape the grip, but he found himself being drawn in by the statue. Coming closer and closer he found himself not wanting to look anywhere else except into the statues swirling eyes. And he mouthed the chant himself:
Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas. Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas.
“Hguorht eht seye dna doolb fo Arcadia lliw uoy dnif noitavlas.”
Kevvy swiftly opened his eyes, his breathing was ragged, and his heart pounded, he was drenched in sweat and his eyes moved from side to side as he gained a bearing on his surroundings and the mist produced by the dream pod began to dissipate.
The pod opened up, and Kevvy took in a deep breath to calm his nerves and gain a steady heartbeat, and he slowly slipped out of his bed. He looked out the window at the landscape and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Evan. He must’ve done something to my pod; I set it for boys, not some stupid spirit trip through the Wastelands.”
Titus’ mouth shot wide open as he took in a long, deep breath through his mouth. When he was done his eyes shot opened, and he laid there on the wet grass staring up at the pinkish dawn sky. Birds chirped in the trees, and the leaves rustled as the wind blew lightly against them. The sun shone against the changing leaves illuminating their autumn colors of deep red and rich golden, and for a minute Titus admired the beauty of it all. The chirps were so clear, the colors so vibrant, the strong scent of the wet earthy dawn brought such comfort and calm to him. He had never noticed these beauties before. Then he remembered. He scrambled up in fear and touched his neck lightly, no marks, no bites, as if it hadn’t happened. He turned around hastily, and then looked to his side, turning in circles to see if his attacker was near, or if anyone was near for the matter. Then his heart froze.
Titus blinked, and the man was gone. Yet despite the distance, Titus could see the man’s face clearly, and the bright glowing eyes. The same eyes that attacked him last night. Rage built up in him, anger he had never felt before, he wanted to attack the man, punch him, kill him.
Titus screamed out, but to his surprise not because of anger, but because of a sensation. He looked up at what was causing the sensations, and felt it intensify. The sun was making every pore on his body heat up; he felt his nerves ache and tingle, and his head felt it was about to explode. But the feeling was sensational on his skin, he had never felt anything like it, as much as it hurt him, he loved every minute of it.
It feels so good, so damn good! The sun, the sun, oh the SUN!
The sensation stopped, his desire to feel the rays of the sun vanished, and a sense of danger swept over him. He put one foot forward and braced himself for a run, and suddenly he was off.
Titus stormed the dorm room with his fists clenched, his jaw set and his eyes locked on to the arguing pair ahead of him. The fury and anger he had felt before was rising once more, and it was directed towards Evan and Kevvy. He wanted to scream at them, yell and shout, hit and punch, throw them around, kill them. He had this desire to kill, he relished it and feared it at the same time.
“Titus, where the hell have you been?” Evan stared at Titus full of worry written on his face.
“Shut, just shut the hell up! I don’t want to hear anything from the both of you!”
“Um, calm down? What’s going on?” Kevvy question raising his eyebrows at Titus’ sudden outburst.
“What’s going on?! You pressured me to indulge in freaking narcotics that’s what’s wrong! You know how messed up I was last night!?”
Evan reached out his hand to try and steady and calm Titus but he swapped it away, “Don’t touch me Evan!” he yelled. “Mint is the newbie flavor? Really? Then why the hell did it make me feel like a bot was in my head!”
Kevvy held up his hands to try to try and reassure him, “There’s different effects to the drug Titus it’s a pathological drug, depending on how you feel towards it you’re gonna have a positive or a negative reaction. Clearly you felt very strongly about bubbles and so your body and mind rejected even the lowliest of flavors.”
“SHUTUP!” Titus screamed. He was infuriated, angrier than he had ever felt in his life, and he had no idea where it was all coming from. “Just shut the hell up before I throw you out the window Kevvy! I never should’ve joined you two blow heads! Stay the hell away from me for the rest of the semester, do you understand?!”
Evan frowned, dejected and hurt, “Titus come on, it’s no big deal, were sorry man.”
“No big deal Evan?! I slept in the forest last night! In the forest!”
Kevvy and Evan exchanged glances with one another, shocked and taken-aback.
“Talk to me again and I’ll rip your heads off.”
Titus stormed out of the dorm room and entered his own room right beside; he could hear them talking strangely despite being in the other room.
“What just happened?”
“I don’t know, but I’m worried about him, he didn’t seem like the type to get all mad like that.”
“He threatened to kill us.”
“He didn’t mean it, he’s just going through a rough time, we shouldn’t have pressured him.”
“I guess, let’s just give him his space, he had a rough night I guess. He’ll come around.”
What’s wrong with? He took off his vest and shirt, and slid out of his shorts and underwear. He rummaged through his drawer for a tank top and pajama pants, slipped it on and crawled into his bed. What’s wrong with me? He had this hunger, he couldn’t quite explain it but it was nagging at him.
“I’ll just sleep, and when I wake up I’ll go get some food. That’s what I need, just some sleep,” The light cover shield lit up overhead of him, and the console for the dream pod appeared. Titus set it for dreams of childhood memories, and fell to sleep.
“Good afternoon class and welcome to the Gen Ed course, World of the 21st century, or as you all know it, HS201, my name is VJ Adams, or Vaan Joseph Adams, I’ll go by VJ or Vaan or Professor Adams it doesn’t matter to me. Now if you all think cause this is the first day I’m going to go easy on you please think again. Also, I’m warning you this isn’t a birds eye course, were gonna be going full on dark ages here, so I hope I’ll be teaching smart adults this semester and you’ve all brought your pens and paper.”
The class began to murmur and look around at one another. “Pens and paper? Is this guy crazy? Where does he expect us to get something like that?”
“As I expected, who uses pen and paper anymore,” Vaan laughed. “But in all seriousness, I will give you the address of where you can buy supplies for this class. You will need paper textbooks, pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, were going to be experiencing the full on 21st century experience, I take it nobody read the course description?”
“How totally retro,” Emily whispered to Leah.
“Take out whatever you use to take your notes, be it the holo or your pad please. The 21st century was an exciting time; it marked the rise of a global economy! Think of it, what we all take for granted today, they just were beginning to use. With the click of a button, they could communicate with others, even trade, across the globe! That century that you all call retro and medieval paved the way for how we live today! Technology, social acceptance, economics, the foundations of our society all began there! Homosexuality, women as leaders, equality among the different races, division of nationalities, free thinking, everything changed in those times! It would have been a marvel to witness!”
“21st century wasn’t all just rainbows and unicorns like you describe Professor,” a young man stepped out of the transportation tubes, the entire class turned around to see who had interrupted Vaan.
The Professor smiled, “Go on, the 21st century was also a century where young people rose up against the older generation, speak your mind, I encourage all of you to speak your mind in this class.”
“The 21st century was rife with wars, corporate greed, human suffering, civil unrest, disease, overpopulation, terrorism, global warming, and the water crisis. The same Globalization and Technology that you mentioned also led to its downfall. And it continues to this day, we rely on Bots to do our work, everything is automated, and everything is controlled. There was never any freedom back then, we were always controlled.”
“You bring up an interesting point Mister?”
“Julian, Julian Sinclair.”
A flash occurred in Vaan’s eyes upon hearing the name, and he flinched for a brief second before regaining his composure, “Mr. Sinclair, yes there were negatives to the 21st century, but you could say there have been wars and suffering since humanity stepped on this earth. But because of the Globalization, we heard about it more. Due to the advances on technology though, many diseases and sicknesses were able to be cured, and there were a lot less casualties.”
“Wrong.” Julian challenged. “Technology led the way to biological warfare; it led the way for governments and corporations to find more hidden means to spy on and exploit the poor and weak, and to destroy the environment. How do you think the Wasteland became what it is today?”
Vaan smiled, he enjoyed the discussion. “You’re very learned Julian. And besides, no one knows what happened to the ocean that covered the Wasteland, when Oasis Landing was formed, the Wasteland was already there.”
“You’d be surprised at how much I know Professor...”
Kevvy raised his hand, and Vaan called out to him, “Yes, say your name please, first and last.”
“Kevvy Asher. I was wondering, what was Oasis Landing like in the 21st century.”
Julian shot a surprising glance at Kevvy before taking his seat. Vaan laughed, and looked at Julian, “Do you know the answer Mr. Sinclair?”
Julian grinned and shrugged his shoulders, “You’re the Professor.”
“Right then. Oasis Landing wasn’t a city of the 21st century, it wasn’t even made then according to history, it’s a product of our century, but there are some who say this place used to be called Arcadia’s Landing, but that’s tales from the Miners and Gypsies.”
"Then what's up with the Mining District? That place seems straight out of a 21st century movie." Kevvy said.
"There were those who loved everything about that time you see, and so they separated from the pioneers of Oasis Landing to form their own district where they could feel like they were still living in that time. As much as I find that century fascinating I find them a bit delusional if you ask me, the 21st century is long gone. Instead of trying to live it, it's best to learn what you can from it and grow, which is the purpose of this very class!"
“What’s beyond the Wasteland?” someone asked.
“Other cities, other towns, the government communicates with them, we have no need too. Unlike the 21st century where the nations needed to trade with one another, Oasis Landing has been made so that we have everything we need right here.”
“Do think that’ll look good on me?” Allyson stroked her chin pondering the decision.
“It looks kinda ugly,” Jenna frowned.
“You think everything looks ugly Jenna,” Allyson sighed turning to walk away.
Jenna groaned and reluctantly followed after her, “I’m sorry if I have good tastes Allyson.”
“You already have a dress for the Autumn Gala, I don’t! And right now I need your help and support, not you dogging everything like you usually do!”
“I’m helping you!” Jenna remarked, “Those dresses that you pointed out are ugly! And why are you getting so mad, The Gala isn’t for a few days off and you’re stressing for no reason, you’ll get a dress!”
Allyson sighed and shook her head.
“I know what this is about, you don’t have a date.”
“What?” Allyson asked puzzled, “Don’t be silly.”
“That’s what it is isn’t it, you don’t have a boy to dance with, well I have the perfect solution.”
“You’re one to talk Jenna, you also don’t have a date.”
“I’m sure me and Jared will go together.”
Allyson let out a small laugh and rolled her eyes, “What’s your solution?”
“I’m having a bon fire party tonight! Everyone who’s anyone will come because I’m having it. Plenty of cute boys Allyson.”
Allyson giggled, “You’re right, the bonfires attract them like moths to a flame.”
“Exactly! So all you’d have to do is pick, and who’d say no to a sexy girl like you.”
Jenna closed her eyes held up her head beaming, and Allyson laughed, “Alright, you’re a genius.”
“Just a genius Allyson?”
“A beautiful genius!” Allyson laughed pushing her best friend.
“So hit up PlumbBook and send out the mass texts, we got a boy hunt to plan.”
“Hey, wait up,” Jared called out running after Emily, “Wait up.”
Emily grinned and turned around, “Hey, what’s up?”
“I just can’t shake off this feeling that I know you from somewhere.”
“We met at the club last night, had a couple drinks, got to talking, danced a bit, then you left,” she lied.
“Really? I would’ve left a beautiful girl like you alone.”
Emily giggled and blushed at the flirt, “Well I thought something major had come up.”
“I didn’t get your name?”
“I’m Emily, Emily Chisholm.”
“I think, I have your number, you gave it to me at the club,” she said taking out her phone and looking through it.
“Oh lemme give that to you, here,” he pulled out his phone and held it to close proximity to one another so they could automatically exchange contact information. “Hey, we live in the same dorms! On Enlightened Heights!”
Emily laughed, “Wow what a surprise, what are you taking?”
“Wow Astrophysics,” she said with a chuckle and raised eyebrows. “Tough, I’m taking neuro-sciences.”
Jared laughed, “That’s the harder course.”
Emily flashed a smile, “I like playing with the body. But I have to go, catch you soon alright
“Yeah,” Jared watched as Emily turned around to walk away. Suddenly a sharp pain hit his shoulders, and he grimaced in pain.
Emily, mouthing an incantation stopped and grinned devilishly from ear to ear, she whipped around to comfort Jared, “Is something wrong?”
“My back and shoulders,” he tried to flex them and reached over to rub his shoulders.
“Let me help, I’ve learned a thing or 2 about massages, my mom used to be a massage therapist.”
“Really?” he asked bewildered, “In this day and age?”
“Yep,” Emily replied proudly, putting her hands on his shoulders and working them over with a firm grip.
“She wasn’t from here you see.”
“I could tell, by your accent- ooooh that feels good. We don’t see many foreigners here, where are you from- oh yeah right there.”
“Shang Simla, well my mom was, I was born elsewhere,” she moved her hands all over his back and shoulders, continuing to mouth a silent chant as she worked.
“So you’re in Oasis for school?”
“Yep,” she said, “It’s one of the best I heard, despite what Vaan Adams said,” she laughed, “People are still connected in our little world.”
“Oh my god,” Jared sighed as Emily wrapped up, “That was an amazing massage, you’re really talented.”
Emily tilted her head and smiled, looking into his eyes, a dangerous gleam in hers, “That’s not the only thing I’m talented at.”
So much has changed, yet everything is still the same.
“You’re quite the historian.”
Julian turned around smiled faintly as Leah Watts approached him.
“Following me are you?” he asked.
“Just out for a stroll honest,” she replied back. “But you are intriguing. May I ask what were you doing just staring out like that.”
Julian turned back around to stare out at the water, “The sunset’s beautiful isn’t it? Most don’t stop and look; they just pass it on by, and ignore it. It’s good sometimes to appreciate the beauty of nature.”
“I notice it,” Leah admitted, standing beside him. A tear fell down her cheek as she looked at the setting sun. “My mom, she used to take me, every time it set like this, to just sit and watch. ‘To understand life, you have to appreciate the beauty of the things that last forever.’”
Julian turned to her, “I’m sorry.”
Leah shook her head, “it’s okay, it’s been a year, and I’ve since done the impossible and moved on.”
“Your mom sounded like a smart woman, most don’t think like that. It’s a shame she’s past on. I sometimes forget the shortness of human life.”
“You say that as if you’ve lived forever,” Leah laughed.
Julian regarded her with a soft smile, “I’ve seen a lot.”
“Is that how you know so much about the 21st century?”
Julian laughed, “I read a lot actually. Gurgan, Albert, Heinreich, a lot of articles from historians and philosophers.”
“I felt the passion in your voice.” Leah admired his body, the hard physique, his pale skin, soft lips, his auburn hair, the fitting form of his black leather jacket, the tightness of his pants and those eyes. The eyes drew her in, almost ethereal-like, blue and silver, and captivating.
Her gaze met his and not for one second did they look elsewhere. There was something in the air between them; they both felt it, yet had no explanation for it. They just couldn’t look away.
“Almost as if you lived through it, as if you experienced pain.”
“I’m passionate. The governments of the time, the corporations, the people, it was all the same. The greed led to so many suffering, economies and countries collapsed so that others can grow richer, innocents died due to wars waged by politicians and businessmen, and it’s the same today. We’re complacent, eager to feed on the half-truths and lies the government feeds us.”
“No, you were affected by it weren’t you?”
“That’s impossible,” he replied instantly.
“I know, but it’s true, I could feel it… I can feel it now,” she moved closer to him, drawn into his eyes, the eyes which betrayed him.
“You’ve felt the pain, betrayal, tragedy yourself, you were there-“
“Stop!” he exclaimed, looking away.
“What are you?” she raised her hands to cup his face, but stopped and stepped away. “I’m so sorry; I don’t know what got into me.”
“It’s… alright,” Julian returned to look at Leah. “That’s quite an introduction.”
Leah smiled and blushed, “I’m Leah.”
Julian turned back around and stretched out his arms, “It feels so good, the sun, it’s at its best at dawn and dusk you know.”
“The exact same things my mom used to say.”
Julian faced her again, “Leah, you’re going to that bonfire tonight right?”
“Yeah, my friend’s dragging me.”
Julian grinned, “Walk you there?”
Titus awoke with an eerie calmness, the cover shield of his pod had disappeared, and the pod’s dream mist was not flowing. He got up and sat on his bed, looked at where he slept and frowned.
How did I get dirt in here?
He got out of the bed and felt something odd on his mouth. He touched his lips, getting a feel of the sticky liquid and looking back at his fingers.
He was disgusted, but impulsively licked at the blood on his lips and sucked on his fingers.
Titus ran to the washroom and looked in the mirror. He nearly screamed.
Why do I have blood on my mouth?! Why did I just eat the blood?! What happened to my eyes!?
He frantically checked his body for any wounds, he found none.
His phone began to vibrate and he jumped, he took it out and read the message from Evan.
“Bonfire party tonight, great. Second day of college and I have dirt in my bed, blood on my mouth and I've been invited to a bonfire party.”
Titus took a deep breath as he stood atop the stairs staring at Evan and Kevvy round the fire pit. His stomach was in knots, he felt nervous, anxious, and worried at the same time.
Will they forgive me?
He started down the steps and approached them, stretching out his hands to feel the warmth of the fire.
“Hey guys,” Titus said softly.
“Oh look, he’s talking to us,” Kevvy said looking over at Evan.
“I don’t wanna say anything back; he might rip my head off and all.”
“Guys I’m sorry alright, I don’t know what came over me,” he looked at the fire as he rubbed his hands together. “I never should’ve acted like that; you all just wanted me to have fun, who would’ve known how I would’ve reacted. I even thought I was all good for a while.”
Kevvy looked at Titus and shook his head, “It’s completely my fault Titus, I never should’ve pressured you like that, it was wrong, I was being a terrible friend.”
“So all is forgiven then?” Evan asked smiling.
Titus took a seat beside his friends beaming, “All’s forgiven.”
“Har har,” Evan yelled putting his hands with his stick of marshmallows in the air. “So let me ask you something Titus, why do you look like that?”
Titus looked taken-aback, “Like what?”
“You’re pale Titus and you're eyes are different,” Kevvy said.
“Well you two, I did spend last night sleeping on the wet ground, forgive me if my color hasn’t returned yet, and in case you guys haven’t noticed, I’m naturally pale! And these are optics, duh.”
Kevvy shrugged his shoulders, “He’s got a point.”
“So why aren’t you all by the bonfire?” Titus asked, “You wanted marshmallows that badly?”
“More intimate, gives us time to bond,” Evan stated, twirling his stick of marshmallows in the fire.
“You’re serious?” Titus asked about to laugh.
“Were serious, just the three of us. What did you say Evan yesterday back in the dorms, us three against the college for these four years, how were gonna take it over by storm.”
Evan laughed at the moment, “Yeah, back when I think you hated my guts.”
“I think I still do though,” Kevvy laughed. He turned to Titus, “So what’s it like, growing up in the Mines?”
Titus sat back in his chair and looked up. He could feel the warmth of the flames on his skin, every pore and inch of his skin could feel it, and he remembered sitting at the fireplace with his mom when he was little, feeling the warmth of the fire.
“Intimate. Close-knit. We didn’t have bots cleaning our rooms or machines making our food, we did everything ourselves you know. Laundry, repairs, groceries, everything me and my mom did together. I love her more than anything, I love that house more than everything,” Titus laughed mid-sentence as he remembered something else. “And you know what, back then I hated it. I’d always stand, at the crown of the hill, and look out at the lights below.” He stifled a tear, “The bright lights of Oasis Landing, I hated that I was born up there, in the Mines, I wanted to drive around in those fancy hover crafts, zip up the tube elevators, ride jet backs and hover boards, and I wanted to do it all. But now,” he paused and looked away, “I yearn for that simple life again.”
“Hey,” Evan reached out his hand and clasped Titus’. “We all get homesick, that’s why we have each other. We’re gonna have an awesome time buddy, awesome memories that we’ll remember when were old and grey.”
Kevvy put his hands on top of Evan’s and Titus’, “You got me, no matter how angry I may get at times with you all, you’re my roommates, and my friends, let’s make those memories.”
“See, fire pits are awesome for bonding,” Evan laughed.
“Jared, you came,” Jenna approached Jared with a charming smile and hugged him, “it’s good to see you.”
“You think I’d miss a bon fire Jenna,” Jared laughed, “You don’t know me at all.”
Jenna joined his laughing, “True, you always loved these.”
“And to be honest,” Jared leaned in close to Jenna, “You did always throw the best ones.”
Jenna chuckled and ran her hand through her hair, “They did used to get pretty wild back then.”
“Remember when Zayn did the keg stand that went wrong?!” Jared hunched forward in laughter, and Jenna burst out laughing.
“Oh my god that was hilarious, the visit to the hospital was hilarious, and his parents were super pissed.”
“Yeah, or that time when we got so drunk that we went skinny dipping in your pool!”
“Madison was so freaked out, she was literally cowering in the corner with her eyes covered” Jenna laughed, she stopped and started smiling, “That was the night you know, when we first made love.”
“I remember… that was some night,” he said softly, the memory was fond to him, for both of them.
“We had a lot of nights like, good nights, I cherish those Jared.”
“We had a lot of nights like, good nights, I cherish those Jared.”
“Luna si ym htgnerts, Luna si ym rewop, I evig ym efil ot Luna. Luna si ym htgnerts, Luna si ym rewop, I evig ym efil ot Luna. Luna si ym htgnerts, Luna si ym rewop, I evig ym efil ot Luna.”
Emily finished her chant, took a sip of liquor from her cup and stepped closer to Jared and Jenna, she focused on the two, and then began to open and close her mouth really quickly, until Jared started doing the same.
“Stop Jenna,” she mouthed and Jared spoke. “Were finished, through, do you understand me!” The tender tone he once had was now gone, it was replaced with something much harsher.
“Jared, we made a mistake, we never should’ve broken up, you know it-“
“Shutup!” Emily mouthed and Jared spoke. “God don’t you ever shut up! You prance around here like some god-damned queen looking down your nose at everybody! That’s why I dumped you Jenna, you’re a cold and unfeeling bitch!”
Jenna’s eyes watered as she stepped back slowly shaking her head, “Jared you know that’s not true, I told you-“
“What that you’re just insecure? Vulnerable? Yeah right drop that act! We’re not getting back together Jenna, I’ve moved on to something even better.”
Emily finished mouthing, took another sip of her drink, threw the cup on the ground and walked past the pair. She could feel the burning glare of Jenna, and she loved it, she glanced back to look at her and mouthed the words, “Luna-tic.”
Emily stood in front of the fire; she looked up at the moon then at the dancing flickering flames. She glanced around to see if anyone was looking at her, and began to quietly speak.
“Luna I offer you thy sacrifice, a daughter of the Moon, the Luna-tic, take her, and empower me Luna, empower me to do thy Will.”
Emily took out a small vial, and glanced at it, as she did, Titus, who had been the only one to hear the incantation, looked up from the fire pit and directly at her.
Emily repeated her phrase, “Luna I offer you thy sacrifice, a daughter of the Moon, the Luna-tic, take her, and empower me Luna, empower me to do thy Will!” She threw the vial into the bon fire and the flames erupted and roared, flickering out to touch Emily’s nose, an intense heat emanated from the bonfire that caused many to turn to it.
“The hell…?” Titus mouthed.
“That was weird,” Leah said turning away from the bonfire and back to Allyson. “What were we talking about again?”
Allyson stamped her foot on the ground, “Oh my god Leah! You never listen to me!”
“I’m sorry, okay I remember, you don’t have a dress for the Gala.”
“Am I over-reacting?” she said feeling defeated.
Leah rubbed Allyson’s shoulders, “No, I don’t have a dress either, I’m somewhat freaking out,” she laughed. “We can go shopping for dresses together, Jenna is a bit of a downer and I think I’d be much better company.”
“The mall had nothing!”
“That mall’s crap, we’ll look around I promise. We’ll be the best dressed girls at that Gala!”
Leah spun around and gasped, covering her mouth with her hands. Her surprise soon turned to joy as she rushed to hug the man in front of her, “Adam!”
“Leah, wow, it’s great to see you too.”
“Adam Rian,” Allyson smiled, “Where have you been?”
“Around,” he struggled to say as Leah wrapped her arms around him.
Leah let go and glowed, “It’s so good to see you Adam. Oh my god, I thought I’d never see you again! Never heard from you whole summer.”
“I know, I’ve been pretty MIA but had to come back for school and all, can we catch up?”
“Yeah, of course,” Leah turned to Allyson, “I’ll be right back okay?”
“Go, its okay I’ll be alright,” Allyson said trying to smile.
Leah mouthed thanks and trotted off with Adam; Allyson sighed and went to get a drink.
“What the hell did you just do?” Titus asked, approaching Emily slowly.
Emily flashed a smile and giggled, “What are you talking about?”
“Luna I offer you thy sacrifice? What the hell was that? And what’d you throw into the flames to make it burst out like that?”
Emily’s smile turned into a quick frown, she began to stare intently into Titus’ eyes.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Emily furrowed her brow and scanned Titus from top to bottom, and moved her eyes left and right. She blinked for a few seconds before staring at him again, with even more intensity.
“Like what Titus?” she said seductively, her gaze never leaving his.
Titus raised his eyebrows and his eyes grew wide, “How do you know my name?” I’ve seen you around the dorms but we haven’t talked, you know you’re pretty weird.”
“Why isn’t it working, why isn’t he in the trance,” she whispered to herself, quietly glancing to the side.
“Why I’m not in a trance? You know I can hear you perfectly fine! And what do you mean by trance?!”
Emily gasped and looked around frantically, stepping back from Titus.
“How?” she stammered, stepping back, Titus began taking steps towards her. This time it was his gaze that stared intently on Emily, and it sent chills down her body, and then her mouth dropped, the truth had dawned on her.
“It can’t be- How did you get in?!”
“Get in?!” Titus questioned, he felt his emotions rising again, but it wasn’t anger, it was something else, the want to protect.
“I’m so sorry, it was just a little trick I do from time to time to rouse the flames! What’s a good bon fire without a little fun!” she said quickly, and she spun around and quickly hurried off.
“Something’s not right about her...”
“You look like you could use some company.”
Allyson took a long swig from her cup and spun around, her blonde locks tumbling down her shoulders as she moved. “How could you tell?”
“Pretty girl like you standing all by her lonesome drinking, instead of sipping,” Julian said.
She rose up her cup, “Join me.”
Julian held up his hands and shook them, “I don’t drink.”
Allyson’s eyes widened, “Oh sobriety, that’s rare, and refreshing. So what is your name?”
“You go first.”
Allyson giggled and took another mouthful of her drink; she gulped it down and let out a loud grunt, “Goes down hard that one. I’m Allyson Cantrell.”
“Julian Sinclair, nice to meet you,” he said taking her hand and gently kissing it.
Allyson put her hand to her chest and let out a chuckle, “A true gentleman, I think I caught myself a winner here.”
Julian grinned and shook his head, “I think you’ve been drinking too hard and too fast.”
“I’m fine, so tell me why I haven’t seen someone like you before.”
Julian leaned in as if to tell Allyson a secret, “I’m new here.”
“Oh really, where you from?”
“City in the mountains.”
“Oh, okay, have no idea where that is,” she laughed.
“Course you wouldn’t, so who ditched you?”
“Leah, my friend. Apparently her childhood best friend popped out of the blue and swept her away.”
“Leah,” he said surprised, “We met, she’s in HS201 with me.”
“What are you taking?”
“Urban planning and design, have a thing for architecture.”
“So you’re gonna be making the future buildings of Oasis Landing, that’s pretty cool. Ask me what I’m doing.”
“What?” he laughed.
Allyson shook her hair and beamed proudly, “Water Treatment and Technology!”
Julian’s jaw dropped, “No way!”
“Yes way!” Allyson said, “My goal is to bring the water back to the Wasteland. To revive the ocean, it’s a lofty goal and everyone I’ve told it too called it impossible and a dream but I think it’s possible, look how far the human race has gotten, nothing is impossible for us if the brightest minds put their heads together. We can bring the ocean back!”
“Part of the reason why I went into Urban Planning was so that I could help this city avoid what happened in the past to the Wasteland! You don’t know how great it is to meet someone who cares about the environment we live in!”
Allyson put a finger to her mouth, “Shhh, I don’t want that getting out yet,” she laughed. “Might ruin my image.”
Julian chuckled, “Trust me it won’t, everyone will see you as smart, in addition to beautiful. As one of the future leaders of Oasis.”
“You’re deep and flattering at the same time Julian.”
“I’m passionate,” he admitted.
“So am I…”
Titus, rubbed his hands vigourously in front of the fire, trying his best to ignore the foolishness that was restoring water to the Wasteland and the blatant flirtation. He looked up to relax his eyes from the dance of the flames and his heart froze, the same way it did this morning.
That’s the one who attacked me… who left me in the woods… who did this to me… Julian…
“Come sit with me,” Leah held out her hand and beckoned to Adam.
Adam smirked and took a seat beside Leah.
“So what have you been up too all summer?” he asked.
Allyson shrugged her shoulders, “Nothing, literally. Oh except write in my diary every morning and every night, Ashley says it’s good to do, I didn’t see the point in it,” she laughed.
“Get all your thoughts down in writing, that’s good, it clears your head, and once you read what you wrote you begin to get a clearer picture.”
“How did the kid I know get so smart Adam?” she laughed jokingly.
“The written word is power Leah, do you know how much knowledge is in the books of the past, and it’s why I went on that expeditionary trip into the mountains this summer.”
She hunched her shoulders and looked at him inquisitively, “How was it?”
Adam made a ‘mind-blown’ gesture at Leah and laughed, “You have no idea how my mind was opened up out there. I mean the government keeps us all holed up in this town when we should be out there exploring you know, rediscovering the old world!”
Leah’s eyes grew concerned over hearing what Adam was saying, “Adam, you know that’s not possible right? I mean out there is dangerous.”
“That’s what they want you to believe Leah! I’ve met outsiders,” Adam sat back in amazement, “There are cities like ours Leah, and people who dwell in the mountains, some who live like us, some who don’t. But there’s life out there Leah.”
“Then let them live it Adam! Who are we to be going out there interacting with these people, are lives are here.”
“Do you really wanna live that boring life Leah? How many times did we joke about daring to go into the Wasteland when we were kids?”
“We were kids Adam! Were adults now, well young adults,” she laughed. “Times have changed, we can’t keep running on these adventures. Were in school now, about to embrace our lives…”
“I want to go to the Wasteland.”
Leah’s became stern, “Adam no. Out there is incredibly dangerous, the mountains are one thing but the Wasteland-“
“You don’t know that Leah!”
“It’s been proven!”
“By the government! The same governments whose been lying and lying to the populace for centuries now! We need to wake up, we need to stand up and-“
“We need to grow up,” Leah took Adam’s hand and looked him in the eye. “I admire your passion Adam, it’s what I’ve always loved about you, you always stood up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves, always willing to help. Adam, help Oasis. Go to school, finish your program, and contribute to this society. I went an entire summer without you, my best friend, and it hurt so badly!” she clasped his hand even tighter. “My fear Adam, is that you run off, to the mountains, to the Wasteland, and you NEVER come back! You saw me when I lost my mom,” she held back a tear forming in her eye; “I don’t want to lose you too.”
She let go of his hand and hunched on the chair, huddling herself and shivering, “I’m cold,” she muttered.
Adam put his arm around her and pulled her in, holding her in his arm. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s a fault Adam, we all have them.”
“Did I really put you through hell this summer?”
Leah smiled faintly and nodded.
“I’m sorry, I’ll be by your side for college, I promise.”
Leah looked out at the night starry sky and chuckled, “Remember we used to do this?”
“Yeah,” Adam laughed. “We’d watch the stars and call out the constellations, and your mom would bring us snacks, and then tuck us in with blankets on the roof when we fell asleep.”
“I miss her Adam.”
“We all do Leah, we all do.”
Kevvy folded his arms and rubbed his shoulders shivering, the autumn cold was beginning to set. He inched closer to the fire for some of its warmth and held his hand out, rubbing them together.
The wood crackled as the flames burned, and little specks leapt out of the fire. He continued rubbing his hands together and peered into the flames, going into a daze of sorts.
That’s when he noticed something. Something in the flames… shapes and figures blending to make a scene. He peered closer until flashes of still images danced in his head. He didn’t move or look away, but kept peering into the flames, seeing the vision at the same time. The final image came and went, and Kevvy snapped out of it and stumbled back. It all made sense to him strangely enough, it all pointed to one thing.
Titus burst into the washroom and darted for the sink. He quickly turned on the tap, put his hands out to catch the water and splashed his face with it. It did nothing. His temperature was rising, his blood boiling, and the anger seemed to have reached its peak. But with this anger came this insatiable hunger, this desire to feed, on blood. The same blood he licked off his lips and fingers earlier. It was all he could think of at the moment.
“Damn it!” he yelled.
“I would calm down if I were you,” Julian stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
“You! What did you do!”
“What are you talking about?”
“You attacked me last night! Put me in the woods! I saw you when I woke up, it was you!” Titus screamed, his fists shaking and aching to punch Julian. “Why am I thinking about drinking blood?!”
“You need to relax,” Julian said holding up his hands. “Yes, I was with you in the woods but only because I felt you, your heartbeat had stopped, and I heard it start back up again. I knew what you had become, but I didn’t turn you!”
“Turn me?! Become?! What the hell are you talking about?!” Titus screamed.
“You need to calm down or else the hunger is gonna get the better of you!”
Titus screamed and punched a wall, “Why am I so damn hungry!”
“Because you’re a vampire Titus!”
He didn’t want to admit it, he banished the thought as soon as it crept up, but finally it was said.
“You’re lying,” he said softly, he shook his head, “You’re lying.”
“You have fangs? Craving for blood? You can hear what others can’t? You feel things more intensely? Emotions are all whacked up? You’ve turned.”
“I’m a vampire…? No, they don’t exist…” he said in disbelief.
Julian grabbed a hold of Titus arms, “Titus, listen to me! To complete the transition after you’ve awoken from death you need blood! How did you get the blood?!”
The anger in Titus exploded and he slapped away Julian’s arms and pushed him violently into the wall, “Get off of me! You did this to me! You did this!” he screamed, not being able to control himself, “I’m going to kill you!”
“Titus stop listen to me! I didn’t turn you I’m trying to help you!”
“Liar!” Titus lunged at Julian but he quickly side stepped him.
“I don’t want to hurt you Titus and I can. I’m older, which means I’m stronger and I’m faster, and you haven’t fed it looks like, which makes you weak to me, but dangerous to others.”
Titus breathed in heavy, glaring at Julian with hot anger.
“How did you feed initially?”
“I don’t know!” Titus cried out. “One minute I’m sleeping dreaming of childhood memories and the next I wake up with dirt in my bed and blood on my mouth! Blood that I licked and enjoyed!”
Julian turned away in quick thought then turned back, “You were compelled, which means whoever did it is near…”
“Your sire, the one who turned you, compelled you-“
“Stop talking to me!” Titus screamed clutching his head.
“You need to calm down, you need more blood, but not from the vein, you’re way too unstable.”
“I can handle myself!” Titus spat.
“No you can’t look at you! You can barely control your emotions; you’re all over the place! Acting like a damn wolf!”
Before Titus could respond they heard a blood-curdling scream, they exchanged glances and hurried out of the washroom.
Daughter of Luna, you are thy sacrifice, you are thy offering, you are Luna-tic, Daughter of Luna…
“I am yours Mother. Lead me to do your Will,” Jenna chanted, walking aimlessly away from the bonfire.
It was a pull almost, leading her, guiding her to something, and Jenna obeyed without resistance or hesitation. Her only focus was the Moon, the Mother.
Jenna turned the corner of the pillar, looked down, and the trance was lifted.
And she let out a piercing scream.
Soon a crowd began to form around a sobbing Jenna and the body that lay on the ground.
“What happened to her?!”
“Who did it!?”
“What did it!?”
“I’m calling the police,”Kevvy said taking out his phone
Titus stared at the body, a feeling of dread washing over him. He knew that face, recognized her, Did I do this?
“Did you?” Julian asked beside him.
“I don’t know,” he replied grimly.
“Try to remember-“
“I can’t!” he exclaimed. “I can’t remember okay!”
“The compulsion was strong then, were dealing with an old vampire.”
“No you’re dealing with an old vampire! I don’t want this! This was supposed to be a good year, a great first year of college! I am NOT fraternizing with a vampire to try and locate another!”
“Listen to me, if you wanna live a normal life you better start fraternizing with me! On your own you’re as good as dead! See that,” Julian pointed to the body. “Once the right people see that they’re going to know vampires are back in Oasis Landing, we’ll be in danger if we don’t look out for one another!”
“Don’t! Don’t do this me! I don’t want this!”
“This isn’t a bad thing Titus believe me, you just have to learn control, and I can teach you. Being a vampire opens up an entire world of possibilities, nothing is locked for you anymore! I can help you reach that potential!”
“I told you I don’t want your help!”
“What are you going to do Titus? When you’re with your friends, and suddenly you want to drain them dry, when one of them says the wrong thing and your first impulse is to rip their heads off, what are you gonna do Titus!”
“I’ll figure it out,” he seethed through clenched teeth.
“Then say goodbye to that perfect year. You’ve messed it up already.”
“Clear the way, clear the way!” yelled two men running on to the scene.
“Detective Parker Levesque of the Oasis Landing Police Force, clear the way!” the black haired man yelled trying to get through the crowd.
“Bots recharging tonight?” someone jokes.
“Investigator Robert Lewis everyone, please clear the area.”
As Robert moved to get a closer look at the body, he stole a glance at Kevvy and narrowed his eyes; Kevvy stared back at him, almost surprised to see Lewis on the scene. Robert quickly looked away and resumed focus on the dead body.
Titus took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, he closed his eyes and thought of his mother, of his home in the Mines, of the life he lived before last night, and slowed down his heart rate. His anger dissipated a little, and the hunger became manageable. It was still there gnawing at him, but he could deal with it for now. He approached Leah with a smile.
“Weird end for the night huh?”
“Yeah,” she said shaking her head. “Look at those bite marks.”
“Don’t look at it, you’ll get upset,” he said quickly. “Look at me.”
Her attention turned to Titus, and she broke out into a smile, “Should I really be smiling when a dead body is a few feet away.”
“When you’re in good company, why not?”
Leah laughed quietly, “You are good company I admit. But right now I just want to get home.”
“Let me walk you back, who knows if whatever did that to her is still out there.”
“Oh and you’d protect me,” said laughed unconvinced. “I can fend for myself, trust me.”
Titus opened his mouth in shock and chortled, “I’m a good fighter I’d have you know, and I’m definitely not implying otherwise. Just for the company then I guess.”
Leah chuckled and closed her eyes, “Hmm, I would like some company for the walk, it’s a bit chilly out but it’s a good cold you know? The chill that clears your lungs when you breathe it in, and suddenly your muddled mind becomes crystal clear, try it, close your eyes, and breathe in deep.”
Titus closed his eyes with Leah, and took a deep breath in, the air was brisk and cool, and despite being hard to breathe in, felt good inside his body, it rejuvenated him almost, gave him a renewed strength.
“That’s amazing, I never felt that before.”
“Someone reminded me today, that we have to stop and admire the beauty of nature and our environment from time to time, to truly appreciate our lives.”
Titus stared up into the sky, at the starry heavens and the multitude of stars.
Whoever that was, was right. I died last night, I was killed. And by some miracle, by some twist of fate, I’m alive; I’ve been given a second chance, to breathe the air, to look at the stars, to stare into the sunset, to be with my friends… I’ve been given this second chance, a second chance to live, and I’m so ungrateful…
“Shall we get going?” Leah asked, her eyes twinkling.
“So tell me something about yourself Titus, I hardly know you,” Leah asked walking alongside him.
“Well, let’s get this out of the way first,” he laughed, “I’m from the Mining District, lived there my whole life.”
“That’s okay,” Leah said shrugging her shoulders, “Sure many people might make fun of you for it, but I think it’s neat. You all live a completely different lifestyle than us, one that takes courage and hard work, that’s a quality to be commended on.”
“I never looked at it that way,” he said smiling and a little embarrassed, “Anyways I lived with my mom, she’s my entire world.”
Leah’s produced a sad smile, and then looked at the playground they were passing. “My mom used to take me here all the time when I was a little girl, every day I begged her to take me, and she always did, without complaint or hesitation, and she would sit down on that bench,” Leah pointed to the bench and let out a small laugh, “And she would watch me play, she’d watch me run, and scream and yell at the top of lungs.” She paused for a moment to reflect, then continued, “And when I’d got into fights, with Allyson Cantrell believe it or not, she’d rush in to break it up, and to make sure that we apologized to one another, no matter who started the fight.”
“Your mom sounds awesome Leah.”
“She was, she was my world, my guardian angel, and then she left me,” Leah stopped and broke out into a sob, she covered her mouth almost as if she was shamed. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Titus said taking her hand away from her mouth and clasping it, “It’s good to let it out.”
“I’ve gone through this so many times before Titus, it’s been a year and I-“
“You’ll never get over it Leah, never. She was your mom, you were in her stomach for 9 months, and she gave birth to you, and cared for you for how many years… you don’t get over someone like that in a year,” Titus squeezed her hand to provide her with comfort and security, “And she never left you Leah, no mother would want to leave her child. They love us too much.”
Leah let the tears run freely down her cheeks and smiled, she continued walking, and Titus followed after her.
“Look, a deer,” Leah said, gesturing to the fawn bounding through the park. “You don’t see them every day here.”
“No, you don’t” Titus said amazed, “What a treat huh?”
“Yeah,” Leah responded, “Maybe it’ll bring us good luck, seeing as how witnessing one is so rare here.”
“Yeah, yeah I do,” she smiled. “Maybe it’s a sign also.”
Titus grinned, reading her mind through her gleaming eyes, “That were supposed to be together.”
“You said it,” she laughed.
“Hey, you never know.”
“Yeah, you never know…”
As Titus walked alongside Leah, he realized that not once since his time with her, did he ever think about his hunger for blood, or his anger. He was calm. He was normal.
I can do this.
The pair finally reached the dorm house, making their way to the walkway connecting the two portions of their home. They leaned against the balcony looking for a few moments before turning to face one another.
“So I guess this is,” Leah stated, regarding Titus with sadness in her eyes.
“Yeah… but why do you look so sad?”
“Because I enjoyed the night, I enjoyed you, and who knows what tomorrow could bring. What if something happens and we find ourselves not talking to each other anymore.”
“What could possibly happen that would make me stop talking to you Leah.”
Leah threw her arms up then let them down, “Anything,” she laughed. “The world is an unpredictable place.”
“But you just said that maybe we’re destined to be together.”
“So no matter what, there’s nothing that’d be able to separate us if it’s true,” he inched closer to Leah, feeling the warmth from her skin. “So don’t worry, we’ll see each other tomorrow, and we’ll talk and we’ll laugh, and enjoy each other’s company, alright?”
Leah smiled in agreement, “Alright, you win, I'm convinced.”
“Good, and don’t think of the dead body tonight, that’ll be no good.”
“Oh no,” she said, “That’s what the dream pod is for.”
“What are you going to set it too?” he asked grinning.
She wrinkled her nose and blushed, then embraced Titus, resting her head on his shoulder and wrapping her arms around him. She closed her eyes and whispered, “Thank you.”
“For tonight, for walking me home, for listening, for reassuring me, for being there, thank you for all of it Titus,” she let go of him and smiled.
“Have a good night Leah...”