The emotion kept rushing over me like a warm Summer rain. Thoughts of Richie eventually getting out of that bed...possibly with a decent head of hair by the time he wakes up...and being able to walk on his own two feet again. The thought of it created an overwhelming 'push' to tear up, the knot in the back of my throat almost tight enough to cut off my air supply. But I only let a few tears fall. If nothing else, I did it to hide my face from the public eye. The less attention I draw to myself, the better. Especially tonight.
I couldn't help but feel a touch of apprehension over the idea that Trevor had taken such an interest in Richie while I wasn't around. Why? He doesn't even know Richie. I doubt that I've ever even really shared any memories of my best friend with him during the entire time that I've been at the lot. Why would I?
Even when Trevor appears to be helpful and sweet...he's always trying to play some kind of angle. And until I figure out exactly what that angle is...I'm going to stay on guard and seriously uneasy about it.
As I ventured further towards the location where I was supposed to meet this 'Jeweler' person...I was surprised by the area I was entering into. Not another dismal neighborhood, abandoned lot or warehouse, or some dismal part of town where vampires would be able to dwell easily without being noticed. No...this was different. A bit of a progressive area, like a smaller version of downtown. Brightly lit. Clean streets. Full of shops, both corporate and local. Tall buildings as well. Not exactly what I was expecting. A big change from the lot, or from Jeremy's blood shack in the middle of nowhere.
I was truly hoping that the Jeweler could truly give me some kind of guidance. Some direction. I was praying that he would finally tell me what it is that I'm supposed to 'bring to the world' or whatever so I could just do it and get it over with. I didn't want to think about it anymore. I didn't want the burden on my shoulders. I was tired of being lost and confused. Wondering if every right turn should have been a left. If every left turn should have been a right. I just wanted to hide from it all. Make it all go away and pretend that none of this was actually happening to me. All I wanted to do was love Taryn, enjoy the friendships I have with my family in darkness, and be left alone.
As always...nobody will ever leave me alone. Not until they get what they want out of me.
There are times at night, when things are quiet and I have room to breathe...that I wish Comicality was here. I wish he could have helped me through this, instead of being forced to abandon me at the most crucial part of my 'training'. I couldn't help but to feel his absence in all this. He was tough on me, but at least he understood. He pushed hard, but he knew when I had had enough. If only I were smarter I could have figured out what he was trying to tell me. He never just came right out and told me what I had to do. He just...UGH! I needed ANSWERS! Not more questions! We could have accomplished SO much more by now if he just stopped withholding important information from me. Sometimes, I think he cares more about being mysterious than he does about helping me find the key to this 'Dawn' everybody keeps talking about.
I don't know. I'd try to find him...but I wouldn't even know where to start. After what Dizz told me...Com could be dead now for all I know. Dead and gone, forever. I've barely been surviving the few scraps that I've been in myself lately, and that was mostly by accident. If Com is dead...and this Jeweler guy isn't what he's cracked up to be...then I may have no one to turn to for any kind of guidance at all. I'd be all alone. With only a few musty old scriptures and a bunch of unrevealed secrets to clue me in on what's to come. And how to deal with it.
That idea, in itself...was frightening.
As I followed the memorized 'map' that I kept in my head, I found myself heading towards a large glass building that was basically standing tall in the center of the main street. It looked like a giant office building or something. A skyscraper in comparison to some of the other smaller buildings around. That was definitely the place. I could sense it. That's where the map told me to go. Thanks, Doc. you're a genius.
I was still a few blocks away, but I noticed that the human population in this area was almost nonexistent. I noticed a few vampires here and there, and they definitely noticed me...but that was about it. It was almost as if this was a 'Vampire Only Zone', and visitors weren't welcome. I couldn't tell if that was a good thing, or a bad thing. But I continued on regardless.
As I got even closer, a lot of the vampires in this area didn't even bother to wear their Optrix. Their eyes burned with an amber glow for all to see clearly, right out here on a public street. More of those golden gazes attached themselves to me. I couldn't avoid the paranoia that began to set in. When you've been abused at home and bullied at school for as long as I have...you learn to generate a certain level of hostility towards those who would stare unapologetically in your direction for too long.
I couldn't tell if they were surprised, curious, or simply not used to seeing 'halflifes' like me in this part of town. They didn't seem to be confrontational about it. But it creeped me out just the same. I just kept my head down and kept walking.
Only one block from the tall glass office building...
Now I notice a few vampires that seem to be reaching for cell phones when they see me walking in their direction. Turning their backs to me as they made calls, I assume, to alert certain 'people' to my presence. So much for showing up unannounced.
Then again, for a vampire who operates with his level of secrecy...I shouldn't have expected anything less.
However...there was a sudden chill that ran through me as I was hit with a feeling of intense dread. It hit me hard, out of nowhere. I stopped dead in my tracks, almost as if I had run into an invisible brick wall.
I couldn't explain the feeling. I didn't understand what it was telling me. But deep down I could sense that something was seriously out of place. A surge of caution ran through me. And my instincts told me to look upwards to the rooftops of the buildings around me.
I scanned the entire area, but I didn't see anything. Nothing at all. In fact, the streets around me had emptied themselves completely. Not a single vampire remained. Was it the paranoia? Was it my mind playing tricks on me? It didn't feel that way.
I stood still for a few minutes more, just to make sure. I didn't have Jun, Dion, or Jenna, to back me up out here. I didn't want to keep moving on this if it was going to turn out to be more than I can handle. I needed to be smart about running into this all alone. But once the silence and lack of proof concerning any real danger had passed...I began to continue my short journey forward.
I wonder what Taryn's doing right now. I wonder if he's ok. I don't know why I thought of that at this particular moment...but thoughts of him being hurt had suddenly become my number one concern. I guess it comes and goes. I always worry about him. I always will. No one has ever touched my heart in a way where I just randomly worry about his safety, long distance, before. Hehehe, but I guess that's just how it was meant to be for us. I would die for him. Technically, I already did...but I'd do it again, a hundred times over...just to keep him safe.
That's what my love means to me. That's why I need the Jeweler to set me free from my obligations. So that we can finally be together. Just the way our intertwined destinies had planned it out for us.
Shaking the feeling of caution and fear surrounding me, I walked the rest of the way to the shimmering tower of glass before me. I think I actually began to feel better as I crossed the street and started heading to the doors of the main lobby. So...this might be it, right? This might be the source that's going to give me all the answers I need. Deep breath, Justin. Let's do this.
I was able to open the door and walk in with ease...but I wasn't permitted to go much further than that.
The lobby was HUGE, with a long desk against the wall, tons of security cameras, and a big water fountain on the side. The room was also full of armed vampire guards, all wearing bulletproof vests and sunglasses. I counted fourteen of them, stretched from one end of the main floor to the other. But I wouldn't be surprised if there were more hiding out somewhere. And I'm sure more were 'on the ready' if a simple call was made for them to come down. Why would someone who's supposedly just trying to help out need so much security? It seemed a bit overdone, if you ask me. But I had been invited. I doubt that I had much to worry about. It was the Jeweler who was looking for me, after all.
The men in the lobby were still as I entered the building. They didn't hide the fact that they were staring me down like a pack of hungry jackals at the scene of a fresh kill. Even through their sunglasses, I could feel the harsh blaze of their menacing stares as they attempted to burn a hole right through me. This wasn't going to be as simple as just having someone call upstairs, is it?
One of the bigger guards stepped up and blocked me from advancing any further. He had short, almost buzzcut, gray hair...and a healthy growth of stubble on his face. In a gruff and gritty smoker's voice, he asked, "Are you lost kid?"
"I'm...I was supposed to meet someone. He's waiting to see me." I said.
"Oh really? And who might that be?"
I felt a little weird saying it, especially with some of the other guards now inching closer to see what the disturbance was. "He calls himself The Jeweler. He's been searching for me."
"Searching for you, huh? And so you decided to giftwrap yourself and show up at his front door? How sweet of you." The guy's massive arms were nearly the size of both of my arms put together. The heavy cigar stench on his breath was nauseating. Even worse on the fabric of his uniform. And yet, he kept stepping ever closer, making sure to prove his dominance by towering over me...as my head barely came up to his shoulders. "Beat it, halflife. Ain't no Jeweler here." He tried to shoo me away before turning around to go back where he was standing before, but I didn't move.
"Look, it's important. Ok? It's an emergency." I said. But the guy didn't seem to care.
Then, as my eyes looked at a desk further away in the lobby by the elevators...something out of the ordinary caught my eye. There was a boy, maybe only a year or so older than I was, sitting on top of the desk and watching a few of the security monitors. He had medium length, oak brown, hair and a slim build. He was chewing bubblegum...and playing with a yo-yo. Absentmindedly letting it drop from his hand...and letting it dangle and spin at the end of its string for a few seconds before pulling it back up again. In a room full of fully grown adult vampire soldiers, he was the most 'out of place' part of the whole scene.
The boy didn't bother to look up at me. Nor did he seem even remotely interested that I was even there. But when the main officer didn't listen to me, I directed my next plea in his direction instead. I called out to him, "This is the place that the Jeweler told me to come to. He has been going through an awful lot of trouble to find me. He'll be pissed if you don't at least tell him that I'm down here." The boy let the yo-yo drop again...let it dangle and spin for a full 7 seconds, and yanked it back up into his hand again. He never lifted his eyes to acknowledge me. Never once.
I took a few steps closer.
"If you could just tell him that I'm down here, I'm sure that I could..."
The big soldier took large, frustrated steps towards me again. This time he put his hand firmly on my chest. "What did I tell you, kid? HUH??? Go play somewhere else!" He gave me a heavy handed shove. "Fuck off!"
"You'll be sorry if I don't get to see him tonight." I said, still hoping to get the boy's attention.
The guard said, "Alright, you know what? Enough is enough. Now you're starting to get annoying. I told you, there's no Jeweler here. You know what that means? It means THERE'S NO JEWELER HERE!!! Now are you going to walk away like a good little brat, or are we going to have to give your next sleep cycle some damage to repair, newblood?"
"If you just take a second and talk to him..."
I didn't even get the words out of my mouth before he shoved me again. Harder this time. Then again. And again. Pushing me back towards the doors while the other guards began to swarm behind him for assistance. "Go! I'm not telling you again! Get the fuck out of here! GO!" This time he put his hand in my face and push my head back.
I felt it. Like a storm brewing in the center of my stomach. So much power. Sooooo much pressure on me to unleash it. But I gritted my teeth and got a hold on it before I did something....'messy'.
I was practically shaking as I held the many weapons at my disposal inside. And with an angry stare, I tried to speak. "Listen to me, ok? We don't have to do this."
"Is that a fact?" He smirked.
"Look, why don't we just save ourselves the cliché, obligatory, fight scene and you guys just take me up to see him? Otherwise we're going to waste a lot of time and break a lot of furniture. I'm going to end up hurting you all, and you're just going to have to take me upstairs anyway. So why don't we just skip to the end credits on this one, alright?"
The big guy seemed so amused by me even suggesting something so ridiculous that he had a decent chuckle to himself. I saw him tightening the black leather gloves on his fingers as he shook his head in disbelief. "Heh...What do you know, fellas? We've got a real badass on our hands tonight, don't we? And I thought this evening was going to be uneventful."
Without warning, his fists suddenly shot out from his hip and aimed directly for my face. Three, swift, strong punches.
He hit nothing but air.
Dodge left! Dodge right! And I caught his third punch by grabbing the back of his wrist!
"Stop!" Came a young voice from the background. And we both turned to see the boy with the yo-yo holding his hand up so as to pull back his security. Much to my surprise, they all obeyed. Even the largest of them, who had to struggle a bit before pulling his thick muscled arm out of my grip. He narrowed his eyes at me and I didn't back down an inch. The boy said, "It's alright, Cage. Take five." He followed his order, but he'd love nothing more than to finish what we started.
Whatever. I've dealt with worse.
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