Swallowing hard she gripped the edge of the seat and somehow managed to get to her feet, "I, I think I should be getting home." Odd announced carefully. Ink did not move a muscle, instead quietly watching the scene unfold like a mausoleum statue, unsure of his next action.
The girl however was not so immobile, at Odd's movement she immediately crouched into a hunting pose, fixing her glowing eyes on her intended prey.
She let out a low snarl, so guttural and base that it instantly froze Odd to the spot, all she could do was move her eyes to the left and watch as the vampire leaped towards her.
In that moment Odd knew she was done for, she was about to be reunited with George and know what it really meant to be on the other side of reality.
As she braced herself for the inevitable attack her eyes squeezed tight shut just a split second before she felt the weight of the girls hands grabbing her roughly. Her power was immeasurable, her blow like being hit by a freight train. The force of her hand shoved Odd and she stumbled, unable to control her balance yet her eyes remained tight shut as she waited for death.
When she finally prised her eyes open she realised that only a few seconds had passed, and instead of the girls fangs bearing down on her, her only view was the back of Ink's head as he blocked the other vampire from her onslaught.
"Back off Raven!" He yelled.
"Damn it Ink!" She yelled back, the fury evident in her face. "You swore you would do it, you know the rules."
"I know them as well as you do!" Ink replied snarling at the girl.
"Then it's time to play ball." Raven countered his argument.
Odd stayed anchored to the spot, desperate to flee the scene but unable to tear away from the exchange between the two vampires.
"You sound just like my father." Ink told the girl shaking his head at her.
"I can't keep covering for you Ink." The girl replied, stony faced.
"Can't or won't?" He snarled in response.
"Just try it on this one." The girl nodded to Odd, "I'm sure she's tasty." She challenged as a tinge of bitterness touched her words.
Ink spun around and Odd saw a brief look of fear on his face which flashed momentarily before being suddenly replaced by anger. "Why are you still here?" He growled, flashing her his fangs.
"I, er, I." Odd stammered, her legs turning to jelly beneath her.
"Maybe she wants to be your lunch?" Raven added sarcastically.
"Go!" Ink snarled at Odd between clenched fangs.
Odd didn't need to be told again, she had seen the haze of anger in his eyes, felt his thirsty gaze on her and knew in that moment he was giving her a final warning. Adrenaline took over and moved her at a lightening pace she never realised she possessed, and as she ran from the graveyard she wondered if she would ever feel safe there again.
Odd woke with a start the next morning, her head still clouded with the misadventures of Halloween night. She blinked, trying desperately to retain the memories and images which had haunted her dreams just moments before, as though she could trap them behind her eyelids and somehow bring them back to reality.
Though reality seemed such a peculiar concept when remembering Ink, his very image somehow created from a negative photograph was so at odds with the bright and varied colours of reality that she almost laughed aloud at the thought. How could she have mistaken a vampire for a ghost?
Yet Ink was unlike any vampire she had ever seen before, Raven too. The memory of the pair of them seemed almost satirical in her minds eye, as if they meant to make a mockery of their surroundings. They reminded her of the beginning of the Wizard of Oz when everything was dull and dreary. Greys, blacks and whites. Not the bright technicolour that emerged when Dorothy entered Oz.
Dragging herself reluctantly from her bed and her thoughts she made for the kitchen as her growling stomach reminded her she had skipped dinner last night. But as she entered the lounge she remembered that dinner wasn't all she had skipped.
"Damn it!" She cursed silently, "I was supposed to carve pumpkins with Celine."
As if she had heard Odds thoughts Celine appeared from the kitchen on queue, and began clearing the dishes.
"Good morning Odette." She said giving the girl only a cursory glance, which Odd knew meant she had offended the woman.
"Morning." She mumbled, hoping that she wouldn't have to account for her whereabouts the night before.
"You got home awfully late last night." Celine ventured.
"Damn!" Odd cursed to herself a second time, looks like she wasn't about to get off that easily. She was vaguely aware that she should be speaking right now, saying any words and phrases in a sentence to divert Celine's questioning. That was what a normal teenager would do she was certain. But only thoughts of Ink came to mind so she opted out and said nothing instead shuffling towards the kitchen to collect her cereal, all the while hoping that Celine would let it drop.
The plan almost worked too until Celine followed her into the kitchen and starting washing the breakfast bowls. To make matters worse the offensively un-carved pumpkins sat fat and slightly wilted on the counter somehow mocking her poor attempts at avoiding the situation.
Odd cleared her throat yet her words still came out squeakily high, "Sorry i missed last night." She proffered.
"That's alright Odette." Celine sniffed still clattering the dishes around in the sink, "I guess a teenage girl has better things to do with her time than spend it staying in."
Odd smiled to herself. Celine seemed to have accepted her apology, that should be the end of the awkward questioning, she assumed as she trotted happily to the dining table cereal in hand.
"I'll have to let your father know that you missed curfew though." Came the call of Celine's voice from the kitchen.
Odd trudged her way to the school bus and slumped on the nearest available seat, which always seemed to be at the front. She pondered what made the rear of the bus so appealing to everyone else briefly, before her thoughts returned to Ink.
The moments spent just between the two of them seemed, on hind sight to have occurred in slow motion. Although at the time she recalled her heart was pounding as though she was running at the speed of a cheetah. She could still remember everything he had said to her. The gentle playful teasing in his words had made her feel a strange sort of acceptance, so different from the full on bullying she was used to receiving.
Was that why she had revealed her gift to him?
The rest of her morning dragged by at a snails pace. Her thoughts, never far from the previous nights encounter, were intermittently halted by one teacher or another asking her a direct question. A thinly veiled ploy they used to attempt to catch her out mid daydream.
But Odd was used to her attention being drawn in two directions at once, although in the past it would be George trying to distract her, now it was Ink.
The bell rang signalling lunch time and Odd pushed herself up from the desk, leaning forward to retrieve her book bag she miscalculated the distance between herself and the chair and fell forward straight into another pupil.
"Watch it loser." Anson Leigh muttered angrily.
Although his hand was held up in front of her face in an angry manner, Odd caught the tone of frustration in his words and noted that his gaze was not fixed on her. He looked right through her as though she were mere vapour, to the real target of his frustrations.
As her brother approached Anson snatched his books up from his own desk and stormed from the class room.
"Making friends as usual i see." Oscar sneered, "At least Leigh's right about one thing, you are a loser." He laughed healthily at his own joke, but his mood of joviality soon soured when he noted that Odds face had remained impassive to his jibe.
"Where's the other loser? Liv finally make herself disappear into thin air?" He swiped the low blow.
Odd blinked slowly at him, like a goldfish being peered at through a bowl.
Usually she found it difficult to display emotion because she found it difficult to feel one too strongly. When it came to reality and Sims she just didn't get it. With ghosts it was simple. Whatever mood they wished to convey to her she simply felt, instinctively. But Sims emotions were always hidden behind some game they were playing or some front they were putting on.
It had never really occurred to her to try and connect to an emotion of her own and so it took Odd quite by surprise to suddenly feel an overwhelming surge of anger.
Anger at her brothers words.
Not against her but against Olivia.
Yet just as she had connected with her emotional revelation Oscar tired of his game and stalked from the room, leaving Odds initial anger fading fast to be replaced by an all together more desolate feeling of failure.
She felt utterly crest fallen. There was her first real connection to a feeling, so pure and raw and she had simply allowed it to slip away, and for what? All because she was too inarticulate to tell Oscar what she thought?
Sighing she realised that if she didn't toughen up and learn to co-exist on the Sim plain as easily as she could on the ghostly one that her families problems would deepen until the hole they had dug would be too deep to climb from.
Odd stumbled her way through the lunch time crowds who were jostling her in the hallway until she reached the janitor's closet. Slouching her way in she was greeted by the first friendly face she'd seen all day.
"Hey there sunshine!" Bellisama quipped sarcastically, noting Odds down trodden appearance, "Someone steal your lunch money?"
Odd slumped in her chair and shot her friend a raised eyebrow glare.
"Ouch! was that an actual reaction i got there?" Bellisama laughed, "Please hold back Odd i don't think i can take it!"
"You know i liked you much better when you were mean and moody." Odd retorted, digging her sandwiches from her backpack.
"Okay, okay!" Bellisama conceded, holding her hands up in a gesture of apology. "So what has that devil spawn of a brother done this time?" She asked, her face now a picture of friendly concern.
Odd took a huge bite of her sandwich and stared blankly ahead. She wasn't ready to discuss the problem that was Oscar just yet, she needed more time to mull it over herself before sharing her thoughts with anyone. But clearly Bellisama was open to a spot of problem solving, maybe she could shed some light on the problem that was Ink?
"Do you know any other vampires?" Odd asked, her gaze still fixed expressionlessly ahead.
"Okay i get the picture!" Bellisama snapped, "You don't wanna share stuff with me! But there's no need to end our friendship."
"Huh?" Odd mumbled through her half chewed bite of sandwich, finally looking her friends way and noticing the hurt expression on her face.
"Sure i could go hang with the other vampire kids but i......well i kinda like hanging with you." Bellisama sniffed.
"I like hanging with you too." Odd shrugged her shoulders. She had no idea what her friend was talking about but obviously she'd lodged her foot in her mouth yet again. "But i just wondered if you knew any vampires who don't go to our school?" She clarified.
"Oh." Bellisama replied, her shoulders relaxing with the relief that she wasn't being snubbed. "Er...no i guess i don't, i mean apart from my parents. Why do you ask?"
Odd pondered her friends reply before asking, "Are there different kinds of vampires?"
Bellisama tilted her head at the line of questioning, "Where is this coming from?" She probed her complex friend.
"It's nothing, never mind." Odd mumbled, averting her eyes back to her sandwich.
"Odd seriously come on!" Bellisama sighed, "You can't just clam up on me every time, You have to let me in. Just a bit!" She explained by holding up her thumb and forefinger leaving just the tiniest of gaps inbetween to display the amount of compromise she required.
Odd glanced back at her friend and noted her exasperated look. Swallowing her bite of sandwich she ventured, "I met a vampire."
Bellisama fell silent and after what felt like an hour had passed Odd dared to glance her way to look for a response, but all she got was a raised eyebrow. She stared at Bellisama wide eyed for a while longer until the girl finally caved and replied, "C'mon, you have to give me more than that!"
Odd sighed and took another bite of her sandwich as she weighed up exactly what she wanted to reveal.
"Go on." Bellisama encouraged.
"Well he was sort of different." Odd shrugged her shoulders .
"Different how?" Bellisama encouraged her faltering friend.
"He was pale, you know really pale, and his clothes were all drab, like greys and blacks. He was kinda strange, like not quite real."
"Ha!" Bellisama laughed suddenly, clapping her hands together in obvious delight. "You met someone you thought was strange?" She exclaimed. "Oh Odd that is just too perfect! I have to meet him."
"I'm not joking Belle." Odd replied, disappointed at her friends lack of seriousness.
"Okay, okay I'm sorry." She conceded, "But really Odd how strange can you think it is to meet a pale vampire in dark clothing? I mean it's no secret that we don't particularly like to sunbathe and well black just suits us!" She quipped gesturing to her Gothic attire.
Odd shook her head, she had explained it badly that much was apparent, she supposed you would have to see Ink to really understand just how distinct he was. Like nothing she had seen before. "Look i know that vampires don't like the sun, but this guy was as white as..."
".....as a ghost?" Bellisama finished her sentence.
"What you mean like Dracula?" Bellisama snorted and sprang out her fangs for good measure, "I vant to suck your blood Odette!" She laughed as she imitated the fictitious count.
"I'm sorry i asked." Odd retorted, grabbing her back pack and walking from the closet, leaving a guffawing Bellisama in her wake.
When the bell signalling the end of the school day finally tolled her freedom, Odd decided not to waste a second of it and bolted for the door ahead of her classmates. She found the hallway student free and headed straight for the exit.
She kept pounding her feet against the ground right out into the schoolyard and as she felt the oppressive shadow of the building behind her begin to fade, farther and farther away, she started to feel herself again.
The sense of freedom was so great that Odd decided to keep on running. Not that she enjoyed exercise in any shape or form, but the feeling of weightlessness that surrounded her in the moment made all her problems seem inconsequential.
So she just kept right on going.
Past the old play park where she had witnessed Oscar push Stacey from the jungle gym. Past the subway station which she usually took down town to visit Elsa. Past the football field where the athletically blessed were doing what came so naturally to them.
She headed away from it all towards the old part of town, where the house that had held George's secret for so long still stood in all it's creepy glory. She felt a shudder as she passed by but knew it was merely from memory of all that she had witnessed there, and sadly not from George or Alice's calling.
She ran past it all until she came to a sudden stand still at the top of the hill.
Her conversation with Bellisama had been ringing in her ears the whole way here but somehow the City, as it passed her by had quieted her friend.
All except for one word. "Dracula"
That was what Belle had referred to Ink as. Although she couldn't have known at the time that she had voiced what Odd was so unskilled at trying to explain, yet she had hit the nail right on the head. If Odd could compare Ink's unorthodox appearance to anyone it would be exactly that. Dracula.
Not some Sesame street, cliched version with greasy hair slicked back into a widows peak and a cloak who preyed on innocent Young women, at least she hoped not. But the true essence of what Bram Stoker had written all those years before, "A real vampire." She spoke out loud to herself.
But she couldn't fathom quite what this meant.
Vampires after all were as real as you or I, everyone knew it to be true. In fact if you looked back far enough into your own history you could be certain to find a little vampire blood in there somewhere, no matter how diluted. Yet the vampires of the modern day had come a long way from their once fearsome image. They had, had to fight for it certainly, like any race wanting equality it had not been easy for them, but they had managed it like others before them and now vampires lived and worked just the same as any other Sim.
But the feeling was unshakable. Ink, and Raven too were somehow different. There was no other word she could find to describe them and so Odd resolved that there was only one thing for it. She would have to get another look at Ink.
She headed directly to the concrete bench where just the night before she had laid eyes upon him for the first time. Odd sat exactly as Ink had done previously, as if in doing so she could somehow hope to learn more about the mysterious boy who had managed to divert her thoughts entirely for a full day. She pondered and puzzled over him some more before allowing her mind to quiet. She glanced up to the sky and noted the sun.
It had almost vanished into the ocean and was just setting it's peachy glow across the waves in a farewell to the day that had passed.
Odd knew that vampires weren't fond of the sun, it was a well known fact that too much exposure to it's rays could cause irreversible damage to a vampire, in the worst cases it caused them to die. Yet most vampires were able to walk around for brief spells during a cloudy day. As long as they didn't stand in direct light for hours on end they were more than capable of recovering from the mild case of sunburn they received, as it was another well known fact that vampires had amazing healing powers and were able to recover from almost all known injuries.
She looked to her left and watched as the pale moon rose from behind it's mountain home, casting it's sallow glow over everything it touched. Soon all the light would have vanished and the shadows of the night would rule again, this was the time when the creatures of the night would show themselves, that much she knew to be true.
And so she waited.
She waited all night until just before her curfew, she dared not skip it a second night in a row and so forced herself to her feet and reluctantly trudged to the nearest subway.
When the next night came again she waited.
And the next too. Odd waited every night that week, and yet there was no sign of Ink.
He knew it wasn't down to her fast reflexes, he had watched her here every night this week and not once had she been quick enough to spot him from his vantage point. Heck he was a hunter bred from a long, long line of hunters. His reflexes and movements were nothing short of perfection.
No matter how he tried to reason with his actions that night he couldn't shake the feeling that he had wanted her to see him, had invited her in, and now? "Damn!" He cursed again to himself.
And yet there was something about this girl, something that drew him in. It was quite unlike anything he had ever experienced before.
Sure he was used to being able to weave his spell on others, that was all part of a vampires charm after all, but he had never before felt under the spell of another. Okay so he had other influences in his life from which he had felt compelled to behave in certain ways but this?......she was something else entirely.
Perhaps it was her seeming lack of fear that had sparked his curiosity? Although most Sims these days seemed oblivious to the danger they faced when in the presence of him and his family, they had all but forgotten that they were not at the top of the food chain. "Easy targets" Raven called them, "Like shooting fish in a barrel"
But no that couldn't be it, he had struggled all week to put his finger on just what it was about this girl, this Odd that had him so caught up. Perhaps her little revelation was what held his interest? But no, he had invited her in without this knowledge, so that could not be it at all.
He'd known it the moment he had blocked Raven from attacking her, something she had yet to forgive him for. But in that moment he couldn't imagine anything worse than the idea of this girl becoming dinner. Is that why he insisted on following her to her apartment every night?
Damn, he hated what he was doing, almost stalking her for pleasure when she was supposed to be food. It was a total affront to his nature, and yet she was so damn frustrating, walking the City at night as though it were no big deal! As though the scum of the Earth weren't also occupying these same streets at night! As though blood thirsty creatures weren't lurking behind every shadow!
And yet there she walked as though nothing could touch her. As though she wasn't even afraid of death at all.
Perhaps Raven was right about this girl, perhaps she did want to be his lunch, she certainly went out of her way to entice him, showing up night after night unaccompanied. Maybe she was one of those avid fan girls who actually believed that being a vampire was in someway romantic, and that her prince charming with fangs was just waiting to sweep her off into forever.
"Ha!" He laughed aloud, and found himself ducking behind a lamppost to conceal his presence. "God i am a stalker!" he thought to himself, rolling his eyes at his predicament.
He watched as she approached her apartment door, always the same slouching walk like she'd rather be anywhere else than where she actually was, he thought.
She paused briefly at the door and Ink found that even though he didn't require the action at all, he was actually holding in his breath. If she turned in that moment she would see him and once again he felt powerless to stop this from happening, his unconscious mind would not allow him to conceal himself. But she pushed open the door and disappeared inside without giving him a backwards glance.
Ink released his uneccesary held breath and shook his head, "What am i doing?" He wondered for the millionth time that week.
He remained statue like at her gate for a while, then confident that she had returned safely to her home and family he turned, and in a blink of the naked eye he was gone.
Ink stopped his speed of light run at the top of the hill.
If Odd had known him just a fraction she would know that the cemetery wasn't his favourite hang out, in fact it gave him the creeps, all that death and decay. Ink liked to watch the City from afar, he loved the juxtaposition of Bridgeport's inhabitants. Although it was far from being the City that never slept it sure had it's fair share of night owls, not just creatures of the night either, he observed. Sims here liked to party. But then most were what he was certain would be termed as normal, the nine to fivers who rushed home to their families and were tucked up in their beds by now. He figured that Odd was the latter as she seemed keen to observe an apparent enforced curfew of 10pm.
And yet he would hesitate to use the word normal when describing her.
"A penny for them." Raven said as she came to a stand still behind him.
"Huh?" Ink asked, spinning round to face her. "Oh. I was just......"
"You were just staring at that God awful City again." She retorted, her expression one of pure boredom as she examined her talon like finger nails instead of meeting his gaze.
"It's not so bad." He replied softly, turning back towards the City.
"Then you must see something that i don't." Raven replied, stepping forward to stand beside him. "It's all so garish and uncivilised." She complained in her snobbish tones.
Ink allowed a smile to play across his lips at her words, "It's better than Twinbrook." he laughed, and Raven joined him.
"It's still not home." She simply replied, and he nodded his agreement. "We will return there soon enough." She added before slipping her hand into his.
Ink allowed her hand to nestle against his own for awhile before dropping it and placing his arm around her shoulders, "You know what our return will mean Raven." He said simply, and the girl nodded.
Ink sat alone the next evening and contemplated his Odd situation.
"I won't go back again tonight, i won't go back again tonight." He repeated silently over and over. He knew he had to break the cycle that he had started, it could not, no must not go on. It could only lead to bad things. Heck if Raven found out what he was doing, if she recognised the girl she would take great pleasure in making her life a misery, and God forbid his father should ever know.
"Why? Does it bother you?" He joined in her little game.
"No i love it!" She laughed giving him a flash of her purple eyes. "I'm so bored!" She exclaimed, "There's nothing to do for fun around here." Raven pouted.
Ink smiled, she loved to play the princess and although he would never admit it he loved to indulge her. Everyone in the family loved to indulge Raven. "What would you like to do about it?" He asked still smiling at the girl.
"Lets go hunting again, like on Halloween." She smiled devilishly.
"Raven!" He sighed, turning from her.
"What? Come on Ink, hunting is so much fun, you know you like it." She goaded him in her sing song voice.
"Lincoln!" Came a strong booming voice from behind them.
Ink jumped in fright at the sudden interruption.
"Ha! You scare too easily." Jet laughed, grabbing Ink firmly by his shoulders from behind the couch.
"Well if you weren't such a sneak." Raven defended Inks nervous disposition readily.
"If i weren't such a sneak then i wouldn't be greatest hunter this clan has ever known little sister." Jet crowed boastfully.
Raven rolled her eyes and Ink almost laughed.
"Come on Lincoln!" Jet demanded, "We have an errand to run."
"Can't Raven go with you? She's looking for something to occupy her time." Ink replied.
He was certainly not scared of Jet and his boorish manner, it was simply that the older boy rattled his cage. For one thing he always insisted on using Ink's full name, just as his father did. Ink knew it was just a tack he used to try and assert his authority, while he still could.
"No Raven can't come." Jet replied, "This is more a man's task. You are a man aren't you Lincoln?" The older boy challenged.
Ink closed his eyes and sighed, this was clearly not a battle he was in any danger of winning.
"Fine." he replied, keeping his impatience in check.
"Have fun!" Raven called teasingly from the couch as Ink stalked by her.
Just because he wasn't afraid of Jet didn't mean that he wasn't going to tow the line when he was told to do something by the boy, he knew that the real order had come direct from his father and that was a command he could not ignore.
"So what is this little errand?" Ink asked as Jet circled his motorcycle cockily.
"You'll see." He smirked, noticing Ink's reticence. "Think you can keep up?" He nodded to the bike.
"I thought we were supposed to lay low, you know blend in with the locals?" Ink asked pointedly.
"What makes you think I'll be seen?" Jet sneered with contempt.
Ink rolled his eyes as Jet's bike roared into action, his elder counterpart was the very worst kind of vampire in his opinion. A total purist when it came to rules and values and yet he loved to embrace the showiness of the new world, in many ways he was the most dangerous of them all and yet the power was not in his hands.
"Well what are you waiting for?" Jet yelled over the bikes monstrous engine.
"I don't even know where we're going!" Ink yelled back in frustration.
"You don't need to know Lincoln, you just need to keep up!" Jet's laugh boomed as loud as his bike before both had vanished in a cloud of fumes.
Ink rolled his eyes yet again before taking off on foot after him.
"What kept you?" Jet scoffed as Ink, who despite his natural speed had struggled to keep the bike and it's rider in his sights, finally came to a stand still.
He gave the boy a glare but kept his lips sealed, it wasn't worth the effort that butting heads with Jet caused him. While he was undoubtedly the stronger of the pair physically, Ink could run rings around him with his intellect.
"I thought we had a job to do?" Ink simply stated, bringing Jet's ego back to Earth swiftly.
"Follow me." Jet commanded, his smug grin still in place.
Ink sighed and followed Jet into the obscure looking store, he had a feeling this was going to be a very long night.
5 minutes earlier............
"Odd! Quick into the store room!" Elsa yelled.
"Huh?" Odd shrugged, "What...."
"There's no time Odd you must hide now!" Elsa continued, grabbing Odd roughly and shoving her towards the store room door. "Do not come out no matter what you hear!" Elsa warned her sternly.
Elsa took the few milliseconds that she had to compose herself, it wouldn't do to give away that she was not alone in the shop, let alone that she had someone with Odd's gift in her circle of friends. She smoothed down her dress and turned to face the shops door as it swung open revealing the visitor she had been dreading.
Odd peered carefully through the keyhole of the store room.
Her breath caught sharply in her mouth as she witnessed first an unknown vampire enter, followed shortly by Ink.
Although Elsa was no ghost it didn't take a spiritualist to read the emotional signals she was radiating.
The woman was scared.
Odd had no idea what could scare a witch of Elsa's apparent talents but she knew one thing, she wasn't looking forward to finding out the answer to her question of the week.
Just who was Ink?