ChurroAnon - Treehugger: Hippy Vampire Hunter!

Nov 20th, 2016
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  1. >Cold
  2. >Your entire body feels so clammy and cold
  3. >It’s as if you had just crawled out of a freezing lake in the middle of Winter
  4. >While your body shakes and your teeth chatter, one thing remains ever clear and distinguishable to you
  5. >She’s there
  6. >You can feel the warmth from her hand as she caresses your cheek, her gentle touch soothing your wracked mind and body
  7. >And her voice, her low cry as she murmurs that lullaby down to you in that singsong voice
  8. >She repeats it several more times with your body tensing up and relaxing each time
  9. >Slowly, the shaking begins to stop
  10. >Yet the cold feeling stays over you
  11. >Your body is becoming so maddeningly cold
  12. >And the hunger
  13. >Dear God the Hunger!
  14. “Make it stop. Please make it stop…”
  15. >Her hand ceases caressing you as she wraps your head in her grasp
  16. >You lay there with your head in her lap and stare up at her
  17. >Looking into her grayish eyes, you can see just just how terrified she is
  18. >You’re not sure if you’ve ever seen her look so mournful, so afraid…
  19. >She knows something is terribly wrong, but she doesn’t understand what’s happening any more than you do
  20. >It’s a terrible sight
  21. >All so terrible
  22. >Reaching up, your hand brushes through her long red dreadlocks
  23. >Suddenly you’re reminded of when you were so much younger, how she would let you play with her hair when she held you like this
  24. >Your hand falls upon the back of her neck and your eyes widen
  25. >You can’t help but stare at her throat as her pulse beats, and it makes you feel…
  26. >So very hungry
  29. 9:03PM
  30. >Your name is Treehugger
  31. >When you were about sixteen years old, you came out of your shell and began to experiment
  32. >Drugs, Free Love, Spirituality, all these different things helped open up your mind
  33. >It was an amazing time in your life
  34. >You felt free
  35. >Alive
  36. >Then something incredible happened, something frightening that changed everything
  37. >You got pregnant
  38. “Hey Little Man, a-are you feeling any better now?”
  39. >His shaking had just stopped, but you knew something was still wrong
  40. >He looks so pale, and you aren’t just talking about his skin
  41. >Back in the old days, your experimentation with drugs and alternative beliefs sort of… unlocked this ability of yours
  42. >Aura Perception is what some people called it
  43. >The ability to look at a person and see traces of their inner essence
  44. >People’s very souls were something that you couldn’t help but look at
  45. >You didn’t talk about it much to people, and if anyone asked you just said that you were a good judge of character or someone was giving you a funny feeling
  46. >Your son’s Aura was always your favorite to look at
  47. >When he was just a baby, you would hold him in your arms and just stare at his aura for hours
  48. >Such sharp flickering colors, so vibrant and pretty
  49. >Then when he got a bit older, it changed
  50. >When money started becoming harder and harder to come by, when he started coming home from school with cuts and bruises, his aura darkened
  51. >It was still very pretty to you, and when the two of you were together long enough you were always able to find flickering of something bright
  52. >Something as shiny and radiant as the Sun itself
  53. >Now however, his Aura had changed again
  54. >It was pale, almost like a ghost
  55. >Something was terribly wrong with your son, not just physically but spiritually
  56. “Little Man, Anon… what happened to you?”
  57. >His cold hand reaches up and grasps your shoulder
  58. >”s-She did something to me. Mom, I’m so hungry…"
  62. “Hungry?”
  63. >You scratch the side of your head as you look over to the kitchen
  64. >There was some pasta you were going to make for dinner as soon as you got home, until you found your son lying on the floor like this
  65. “Come on big guy, let’s get you up.”
  66. >You crouch onto your feet and slowly help lift him up
  67. >He’s struggling to maintain his balance as you walk him over to the couch
  68. >Laying him down on his back, you place a pillow below his head as he lies there
  69. “Who’s she?”
  70. >”a-Aria Blaze…”
  71. “Your girlfriend?”
  72. >Anon reaches up and grabs onto your wrist, his bloodshot eyes boring into you
  73. >”I went to meet her over at the beach, under the pier. s-She and her friends… they DID something to me.”
  74. >A chill runs up your spine as you fall to one knee beside your son
  75. “It’s OK Little Man, you’re safe now.”
  76. >You run a hand through his hair and plant a kiss on his forehead as you force a smile for him
  77. “I’ll make you some dinner. You just lie down and take it easy.”
  78. >”o-OK. m-Mom?”
  79. “Yeah?”
  80. >He stares up at you with a pained look in his eyes, and for a brief moment his Aura flickers
  81. >It gains a slight tint to it, becoming a pretty sky blue
  82. >”I love you.”
  83. >Your jaw falls open as you look down on your son
  84. “I love you too.”
  85. >Fighting back tears, you reach down and give him a tight hug before standing up to your feet and walking into the kitchen
  86. “I’ll make it better….”
  89. >Rummaging through your drawers, you pull out a pot and quickly fill it with water before placing it down on the stove
  90. >Picking a box of pasta and tomato sauce out of your pantry, you lie it down on the counter and wait as the water begins to boil
  91. >As you stare at the still water, you wonder what this could all mean?
  92. >Could your son just be very sick?
  93. >Maybe you should take him to see a doctor?
  94. >No
  95. >Whatever this is, it’s afflicting him on a spiritual level
  96. >But what could it be?
  97. >Was there someone you could take him to see that would know more about this kind of thing than you?
  98. >You didn’t have many friends who shared your beliefs these days, and you honestly weren’t as in-tuned to these sorts of things as you once were
  99. >So what could you do, besides be a mother to him?
  100. >You sigh and shake your head
  101. >Feeding him ought to help, so as the water begins to heat up you look over back into your pantry
  102. >It had been a while since you had made this, but he always loved it when he was little
  103. >You reach into your pantry and pull out a string of Garlic off of the shelf
  104. “Garlic Bread was always your favorite right?”
  105. >Just as you begin to crack a small smile, another terrifying chill goes up your spine
  106. >”Mom…”
  107. >You turn around and spot a dark figure standing in the entry way to your kitchen
  108. “Little Man?”
  109. >In the dark of the kitchen you can barely make him out, though you know it must be him
  110. “You shouldn’t be up. You need to—”
  111. >As you stare at this shadowy figure your heart stops
  112. >That Aura, it’s not sky blue or pale or…. or anything you can really describe well in words
  113. >It’s so dark and shadowy, it almost blends seamlessly with the darkness itself
  114. >You reach over past your sink and for the light switch and flip it on
  117. >What you see couldn’t possibly be your son, but it is
  118. >His pale face is twisted into a horrifying snarl, like that of a wild beast
  119. >Anon’s jaw opens up, revealing canine fangs in his mouth from whence a low hiss escapes
  120. >As you stand there in utter horror, all you can muster to say as you look upon this terrifying monster is—
  121. “l-Little Man?”
  122. >Your son roars as he charges up to you and grabs you by your arms
  123. >Shoving you against the kitchen sink, he pins you down with an inhuman strength as he flashes his fangs
  124. >You watch in horror as he descends upon your throat
  125. “ANON!?!?”
  126. >He freezes, the bloodthirsty look in his eyes faltering as he continues to hold you down
  127. >You struggle as hard as you can to get him off of you
  128. “Let me go! Chill out!”
  129. >Tearing your arm out of his grasp, you shove against him
  130. >”AAAHHHH!”
  131. >He recoils and lets out an anguished cry
  132. >Standing there, you stare back at him as he drops to his knees while grasping the sides of his head
  133. >Then you realize that, within the arm you had freed from his grasp, you are holding the string of garlic
  134. “n-No fucking way….”
  135. >”Mom! MOM! i-I don’t feel, OH GOD!”
  136. >He rises up to his feet and rushes out of the kitchen
  137. >You follow after him as he runs through your living room and into your bathroom
  138. >As you step down the hallway, you watch as your son stands over the sink with his eyes wrenched wide open and a hand over his mouth
  139. >He removes his hand as a torrent of blood erupts from his mouth, spraying all over the mirror and sink as he collapses to the ground
  143. >You stand there and stare at him as he huddles into a ball on the floor
  144. ”a-a-Anon…”
  145. >Your hands rise up to the sides of your head as you stare down at him
  146. >Too terrified to scream, you drop down on your own knees and crawl over to him
  147. >”h-Help me, please help mom!”
  148. “Fuck. Fuck!”
  149. >Dropping the garlic aside, you grasp hold of Anon and try to gently pull him into your grasp
  150. >”NO!”
  151. >He quickly jolts up and stumbles away from you, crashing into your bathroom tub and taking the shower curtains with him as he crumples down
  152. >”Stay back! STAY AWAY!!!”
  153. “Little Man, wait you—“
  154. >”I almost killed you! I can’t control myself!”
  155. >You stand up tall and gaze at your son, unsure of what to do
  156. >But could there be any mistaking now what has become of him?
  157. >Those fangs, this aversion to garlic…
  158. >His Aura is clearly visible to you now
  159. >You don’t know how else to describe it, other than calling it a pale shadow of what it once was
  160. >Then, as you glance over the bloodied sink your eyes fall upon your reflection in the mirror
  161. >You can’t see your son
  162. >He has no reflection at all
  163. “No. NO! NO! WHAT THE FUCK!?”
  164. >”AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!”
  165. >Your son’s mouth opens wide, revealing his fangs as he screams in agony
  169. >The next few minutes pass by in silence as you sit on the bathroom floor opposite the tub
  170. >Your back lies against the door as you hold the string of garlic in your hands
  171. >”Me and her, we were going to hangout under the pier. She said she had something really important to show me. i-I brought some of our stash, I thought we were just going to chill together.”
  172. >You nod your head
  173. >It was always fine with you that your son smoked
  174. >You always wanted him to have the same kind of experience you had when you were young, though you were beginning to wonder if that was a grave mistake
  175. >”She looked so hot, like you wouldn’t believe. s-She and I, I thought we were going to do it mom. But then… then she kissed me, on my neck…”
  176. >Your son pulled down the collar of his shirt
  177. >Two small punctures lie on his neck, thin trails of dried up blood staining his skin
  178. >This was all like a shitty horror flick
  179. “Hang on… where is she?”
  180. >Your eyes narrow as you rise back up to your feet
  181. “Where’s Aria?”
  182. >”s-She, I dunno. w-We always hung out over under the pier i-I dunno… I don’t know…"
  183. >You reach up and run a hand through your dreadlocks as you stare down at Anon
  184. “Momma’s going to fix this, OK?”
  185. >There’s nothing more in the entire world you want right now than to hug your son
  186. >One look at his frightened bloodsplattered form is enough to tell you that he wants the same, but you both know what would happen then
  187. “i-I’ll be right back. You sit tight Little Man, I got this.”
  188. >Stepping back while keeping your eyes on him, you wrap the string of garlic over the door handle before shutting the door and leaving your son’s side
  189. >Walking back into the kitchen, you turn off the stove as water boils over onto the floor and stare at the mess that’s been made
  190. “I’m going to fix this…”
  193. >Tossing on your work boots and throwing on a denim jacket, you begin to run through different ideas
  194. >You weren’t much for making plans like this
  195. >Calling the police is always a bad idea, but even you are tempted right now
  196. >There’s no family or friends of yours that you could call upon, no one that would have any idea on how to handle this any better than you would anyway?
  197. >So what do you do?
  198. >Wait…
  199. “If this is like a bad horror movie, then maybe if I find Aria…”
  200. >How did it go?
  201. >Kill the Head Vampire, and you’ll save the rest?
  202. “Fuck, this is…. this is harsh.”
  203. >You never once thought you had it in you to take another living creature’s life
  204. >But this girl…
  205. >What she did to Anon
  206. >Your eyes narrow as you walk out of the kitchen, through the backdoor and into your backyard
  207. >You can smell seasalt in the air and can hear the waves crashing against the beach in the distance as you step onto your overgrown back lawn
  208. >You walk over to the beaten up shed
  209. >Shoving a key inside, you open up the lock and step into the dusty room
  210. >Reaching out, you grab a string and pull it down
  211. >The lighbulb fizzles to life, lighting up the room
  212. >Glancing around, you quickly find a yellow flashlight
  213. >You shake it around before flipping it on
  214. >It thankfully still works
  215. >Searching around a bit more, you manage find an old wooden chair
  216. >With a bit of effort, you tear the legs off of it and find their tops are pointed
  217. >Then you lay eyes upon something lying against the wall in a black velcro pouch
  218. >Whatever it is, it’s wooden handle sticks out
  221. >After sharpening the wooden stakes with your newly acquired machete, you shove them into the inside folds of your denim jacket and step back outside
  222. >A pleasant breeze flows by through your dreads as your jacket rustles slightly
  223. >Shoving your machete back in its pouch, you affix the pouch to your belt and walk off past your house and down the street
  224. >The pier isn’t far
  225. >If she’s still there, you’ll find her
  226. >And if not then you’ll just have to search harder
  227. >She needs to answer for what she did
  228. >You need to save your Little Man
  229. >No matter what
  232. 10:25PM
  234. >Walking along the beach would always help you relax before
  235. >As the waves fall against the sand, you are easily reminded of days past when you were only a little kid playing in the water
  236. >You also remember days when you were a bit older and just sat there in the sand, watching the tide rise and fall
  237. >The times when you would bring your Little Man with you are also fresh in your mind
  238. >Those simple days always helped when life got too real, chilling you out when you needed it most
  239. >Right now though, you’re pretty fucking far from Chill
  240. “Maybe this is all just a bad trip…?"
  241. >Your hand rests over the wooden handle of the machete strapped to your belt as the wooden stakes rustle about under your jacket
  242. >You honestly don’t know if you’re going to last it through the night
  243. >Sighing to yourself, you look further ahead at the wooden pier lying in the distance
  244. >If you don’t make it through this, what’s going to happen to Anon?
  245. >…
  246. >You said you’d make things better, and that’s what you’ve gotta do
  247. >You’re a mom, it’s your job to fix these kind of things
  248. >Time to get off your ass and… kill vampires
  249. >…
  250. “Bummer."
  251. >You come to an abrupt halt before the pier
  252. >It all appears much more foreboding than you remember it
  253. >The pier’s wood looks to be gnarled and rotten, the boarded up shops standing atop it adding to the old and musty feel of the place
  254. >Right now, everything just feels kind of unnatural
  255. >Like the whole world has been thrown out of balance
  256. >After what you’ve just seen, maybe it has
  257. >You take in a deep breath and exhale
  258. “Here goes nothing.”
  259. >Unsheathing your machete, you step forward under the pier
  263. >As you walk along further, your eyes struggle to identify any sign of movement
  264. >You’re tempted to reach for your flashlight, though you decide against it
  265. >One of the last things you want is for this Aria to find you first
  266. >Then, just as you’re starting to become increasingly worried that you won’t find her, or that she’ll find you, a voice echoes over
  267. >”… to be SOOOO MAD when she hears what you did!”
  268. >You jerk your head aside and look over to the source of the noise
  269. >Further down, close to the water, sits a figure on top of a log
  270. >Quickly stepping behind a pillar, you gaze down at whoever is speaking
  271. >”I mean, it was just a boy Aria! What was so special about him?”
  272. >Your eyes widen
  273. >You don’t notice anyone else at all
  274. >She must be on a cellphone, talking with Aria!
  275. >As you stare more intensely you can see that what looks to be a cellphone lighting up some of her features
  276. >This girl looks a little tall but fairly petite, and she definitely APPEARS to be around your son’s age
  277. >She has her long blue hair done in a ponytail, and her face has a liveliness to it
  278. >Then, as you look at her more closely, you begin to gaze upon her Aura
  279. >Your heart skips a beat as you notice the pale and shadowy hue that you had noticed on your son
  280. >Like looking at a ghost
  281. “Then that must mean she’s one of them, a vampire."
  282. >Aside from this ethereal sheen, her Aura looks to be rather active
  283. >It has a bluish tint to it, a kind of bubblegum blue, and it looks to be moving constantly in a circular motion
  284. >”Hey! You can’t talk to me like that!”
  285. >This girl stands up as she raises her voice
  286. >”Well…. yeah. I mean, that’s the worst!… What?! WHAT!?”
  287. >This girl’s Aura is spinning faster and faster, like some kind of out of control merry go round
  288. >She really needs to relax
  289. >”Fine! I’ll meet you and Adagio there! YOU TOO!”
  290. >With that, this girl closes her flip phone and promptly hurls it into the sea
  293. >As this girl twists around, you duck back behind the pillar
  294. >You have no idea what she’s capable of, though you can tell just by looking at her that she’s kind of… out of it
  295. >It wouldn’t take much to set this girl off
  296. >So as you stand there and hear her march closer, you wonder…
  297. >Just what the fuck do you do?
  298. >Your breathe quickens as you hear her approach
  299. >You grasp your machete tightly, though you don’t know if you should even use it
  300. >When was the last time you ever got in a fight?
  301. >Are you even holding this thing right?
  302. >Hold on
  303. >This girl, this isn’t Aria
  304. >But she’s going to go meet with Aria
  305. >Maybe if you followed her, she could lead you to her?
  306. >Then when you’ve found Aria, you can…
  307. >Kill her?
  308. >…
  309. >If it will save Little Man…
  310. >This mysterious girl’s footsteps pass you by
  311. >Peeking out from behind the pillar, you watch as she walks out from under the pier and up the sandy hill
  312. >There’s not a moment to waste as you trail after her
  313. >After ascending the hill, your target promptly enters the beachfront, with you following from behind at a fair distance
  314. >You sheathe your machete as you enter town, and keep an eye out to make sure no one sees you with this thing
  315. >Thankfully, this part of town is pretty much deserted after dark, even on a hot summer night like this
  316. >Suddenly, the vampire takes an unexpected turn
  317. >She ducks inside a storefront, and when you hasten over to see what has become of her you find that she has entered a spot that’s all too familiar from your younger days
  320. “Ah man, the arcade’s still here?”
  321. >Various lights flash inside as the whirling and beeping of various gaming machines echoes over to you
  322. >The vampire lies dead ahead, standing in front of
  323. >”Onslaught? Cool!"
  324. >She reaches into her pocket, pulls out a quarter, and inserts it into the arcade machine
  326. "Is she for real?"
  328. “Guess so.”
  329. >That actually brings a small smile to your face
  330. >You used to love this game
  331. >None of this really helps you at all right now though
  332. >Should you just stay out here and wait for her to continue on to her spooky friends?
  333. >How long could that take?
  334. >How many quarters does she have?
  335. “Hang on.”
  336. >This girl doesn’t know you, and you don’t know her
  337. >If you were to approach her…
  338. >”Oh no!”
  339. “Heh.”
  340. >She’s already on level 3
  341. >That part of the game was always totally unfair
  342. >”OH NO!”
  343. >The vampire’s aura begins to twirl about faster and faster
  344. >She seems genuinely afraid of losing
  345. >Unlatching the machete from your belt, you toss it aside down an alleyway and walk into the arcade
  346. >You were taking an awful risk, but you needed to know more
  347. “Man I could never beat these guys.”
  348. >The vampire twists her head around and stares at you with wide eyes
  349. >Saddling up beside her, you slip a quarter out of your pocket
  350. “Never without help anyway.”
  354. >The two of you get to work slaying Zombies and fighting off ghosts as you work together to get to this dungeon’s exit
  355. >”Whoa, COOL! How did you know there was a secret passage there?”
  356. “Man, I was playing through this game since before you were born.”
  357. >”Haha, I really doubt that!”
  358. >You pause for a moment and blankly stare at the screen, realizing that there is really no telling how old this girl really is
  359. >She could be centuries old for all you know
  360. >Forcing your attention back to the game, you effortlessly weave your way over to a pile of treasure while struggling to stir up a conversation with this strange girl
  361. “My name’s Treehugger, it’s totally nice to meet you…?”
  362. >”My name’s Sonata!”
  363. “Righteous, where you from Sonata? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around here.”
  364. >”Me and my friends just moved into town not too long ag—OH LOOK OUT! The Grim Reaper’s coming!”
  365. >You toss a potion bomb over at the 8-bit specter of doom while sneaking a quick glance at her
  366. >She seems to be having a total blast with this
  367. >It’s hard to believe this perky girl could be some kind of monster
  368. >Then again, just one look at her Aura tells you something is seriously wrong
  369. >There’s that pale shadowy texture to it, the same that you had seen on your own son
  370. >It’s giving you a really bad vibe…
  372. “Aw man.”
  373. >While your mind was elsewhere, the monsters ganged up on you
  374. >”Look out! You’re—“
  376. >”Rats!”
  377. >Sonata scowls as she steps back and kicks the machine
  378. >Folding her arms over her chest, she leans back against the machine while wearing a moody frown
  379. “Uhh, you can still go on.”
  380. >”Nah, I don’t want to play anymore. Let’s go.”
  381. >Go where?
  382. >She walks off toward the arcade’s entrance, with you reluctantly following behind
  385. >Silence falls over the two of you as you leave the noisy arcade behind and walk out onto the street
  386. >”Thanks for playing with me Treehugger, that was really fun!”
  387. >Despite the current circumstances, you can’t help but be infected by her bubbly smile
  388. >You give her a genuine smile back
  389. “No problem. So uh, what you up to now?”
  390. >”Well, I actually have to leave real soon. I told my friends I’d meet up with them over by this diner.”
  391. “Diner?”
  392. >You wrack your brain for a moment
  393. >In this town, and in this neighborhood, it was likely that by diner she meant…
  394. “Doughnut Joes?”
  395. >”Yup! That’s the place!”
  396. >You chuckle at Sonata as she nods her head
  397. >Now you know exactly where to find Aria
  398. “Right on. Well I won’t make you any more late, you go have fun with your friends.”
  399. >You turn away from Sonata as you give her a small wave
  400. >Now that you know where to find her, you can…
  401. >Kill her?
  402. >Shit, you need to think this through
  403. >Killing a vampire can’t be easy
  404. >”Hey Treehugger!”
  405. >Coming to an abrupt halt, you suddenly find that Sonata is now standing directly in front of you
  406. >Her smile is bigger than ever
  407. >”We have to play one more game before you go!”
  408. “One more game…?”
  409. >Your words trail off as you stare back at Sonata
  410. >While she stands there beaming at you, a chill goes up your spine
  411. “w-What do you want to play?”
  412. >She leans forward with her hands raised high, and for some reason this causes you to recoil
  413. >”Hide and Seek!”
  416. “Hide and Seek?”
  417. >Sonata nods her head as a giggle escapes her lips
  418. >Her Aura is bouncing around even faster and more wildly than before, and for some reason it’s becoming more difficult to perceive
  419. >It’s as if it’s growing darker
  420. >”This game is my favorite!”
  421. “I dunno, i-I mean you got places to go and so do I. Maybe we can play next time?”
  422. >”Awww but Treehugger! There won’t be a next time!”
  423. “What?”
  424. >Your eyes widen and you take a step back as her Aura blackens even further
  425. >”I said, there’s not going to be a next time. At least… not for you anyway.”
  426. >You stare at her in horror as you notice fangs jutting out of her smile
  427. >"So let’s play!”
  428. >She places her hands over her eyes as you stand there frozen with fear
  429. >”When I count to ten, I’m going to come looking for you! Don’t let me catch you~.”
  430. “h-Hang on! I’m serious girl, I don’t want to play games anymore!”
  431. >”Why are you afraid?”
  432. >She peeks out at you with one eye through her fingers as another giggle falls out of her fanged maw
  433. >You take a shaky step back from her as words fail you
  434. >Then you notice her Aura once more
  435. >It’s lost nearly all color and is now a like a swirling shadow that bounces around her
  436. >You swear it’s as if her Aura is trying to reach out and drag you toward her
  437. “n-No way, no fucking wa—"
  438. >”One, twoooo, threeeeeee, FOOOUUR—“
  439. >Something in you snaps, and you break out into a sprint
  440. >You run down the adjacent alleyway, a tiny sense of relief washing over you as you feel Sonata’s stare disappear
  441. >Then you spot the machete lying on the ground
  442. >You scoop it up and briefly consider running back, but in the end you keep running
  443. >You feel like your heart’s going to burst out of your chest as you sprint down the alleyway as fast as you can
  447. >Did she somehow know who you were, or why you chose to talk to her?
  448. >Perhaps she saw you stalking her earlier?
  449. >Maybe she was just hungry and you happened to be on the menu?
  450. >Or more likely, maybe she’s just doing this for fun
  451. >All of this briefly flashes through your mind for only a moment as you continue to run off down the lonely alley ways
  452. >Then, just as you thought your good karma had completely run out, you find yourself rounding a corner into a dead end
  453. “FUCK!”
  454. >You cover your hand over your mouth, terrified that your outburst had damned you
  455. >Twisting around, you stare down the dark alley way
  456. >The sound of footsteps is echoing over
  457. >It sounds like skipping
  458. >Reaching for your machete, you tear the blade out from it’s pouch, which you drop to the ground
  459. >The weapon feels heavier in your hands than you remember it
  460. “s-Stay away from me Sonata.”
  461. >Your machete shudders in your grasp
  462. “a-And…”
  463. >Suddenly your hands stop shaking as you exhale a hot breathe
  464. >”…and stay away from my son.”
  465. >The echoing ceases, and the entire alleyway falls silent
  466. >Silent as the grave…
  467. >…
  468. SPOILER> “Why are you afraid?”SPOILER
  469. >Suddenly, are lifted off of your feet as a pair of thin arms wrap around your waist
  470. >Your body freezes up as she hisses into your ear
  471. >”I just want to play."
  472. >You glance back at her, and see a pair of sharp fangs in the corner of your eye
  475. “NO!”
  476. >Just as her fangs are about to sink into your throat, you regain your wits and fight back!
  477. >Your arm tears itself free from her iron grip and slams its elbow into her face
  478. >She hisses once more as you struggle in her grasp
  479. >By some miracle you stagger freely from her grip
  480. >”COME BACK!"
  481. >Your body crashes into the brick wall of the alley way as Sonata pounces you, pinning your body down
  482. >Despite her frail frame, you can’t seem to overpower her
  483. >Turning to face Sonata, you raise up the machete in your right hand just as she rears her snarling visage
  484. >You see her pearly white fangs clearly in the dark
  485. “CHILL OUT!”
  486. >Your machete flies up as Sonata’s fangs fall upon you
  487. >A loud clang resounds as she chomps down upon your blade
  488. >Staring at her with wide eyes, you watch as she angrily digs her fangs down into the steel
  489. >You push back as hard as you can against her, even using your offhand to try to shove her back
  490. >”HRRAWR!”
  491. >Her muffled scream is filled with rage
  492. >Sonata’s maw unhinges only for her to bite down again even harder on the blade
  493. >With your very life on the line, you throw your whole body weight forward and send the two of you tumbling back
  494. >Losing your balance, you crash with her to the ground through a pile of trashcans
  495. >”AAAHHH!!! My mouth!”
  496. >Your heart races as you rise up to your feet
  497. >Sonata struggles to stand while clutching her bleeding mouth
  498. >If looks could kill, her violent glare would have ripped you to shreds
  499. >But…
  500. >You may not look it, but you’re pretty pissed off yourself
  501. >Standing tall over the vampire, you grip your machete with both hands and raise it up high
  502. “I’m done playing games!”
  505. >A red mist emerges from her as your machete slices into her shoulder
  506. >”AAAAAHHHHH!!!”
  507. >Sonata staggers back as you wrench the blade out of her
  508. >You stomp after her and ready your machete for another swing
  509. “How do I save Anon?! Who’s the head vampire?! What are you?!"
  510. >Sonata cries out with another loud hiss as she bares her fangs and snarls like a mad beast
  511. >Then you nearly lose sight of her as she blitzes forward
  512. >Your machete is knocked aside, nearly tossed out of your grasp as she backhands it away
  514. >Before you even have a chance to respond, the wind is knocked out of you
  515. >You’re sent airborne as Sonata’s fist collides with your chest
  516. “OOF!"
  517. >Crashing face first into the ground, your body slides across the hard brick, scuffing your jacket and bruising your side
  518. >Then, as you try to force yourself back to your feet you realize only too late that you’ve been disarmed
  519. >You reach down for the bloodied machete lying in front of you, but Sonata moves faster
  520. >Your head jerks back as Sonata grabs you by your dreads and flings you back down toward the dead end
  521. >Stumbling forward, you narrowly avoid hitting the wall too hard
  522. >You twist about and stare back at her as she glowers your way
  523. >She has this feral look about her as she approaches
  524. >That alone would be terrifying, but you can see more than that
  525. >You can see that monstrous Aura of hers, as it lashes out about her
  526. >As you stare into that abyss that is her Aura, you suddenly feel as if the end might be near
  527. >She’s just about to strike, you can feel it
  528. >Wait
  529. >Up to your right, in between the two of you
  530. >A fire escape!
  533. >”HRRRAAAOOOR!”
  534. >You glance back at Sonata as she glides through the air straight at you
  535. >Sprinting aside, you hear her body smack agains the brick wall as you sprint away toward the fire escape
  536. >With as much force as you can muster, you jump up and grab onto the ladder
  537. >You don’t look back as you clamber up it
  538. >Then, just as you reach the top of the ladder, your body is violently jerked back down
  539. >You grasp onto the fire escape for dear life as you look back down and see Sonata grabbing the scruff of your jeans
  540. “STEP OFF!”
  541. >Tearing your pant’s leg up, you slam back down at her
  542. >Your work boot collides with her face
  543. >You’d like to think that you chipped a fang as you sent her hurtling to the ground, but you don’t stop to find out
  544. >Climbing up the rest of the ladder, you hurriedly rush up the fire escape
  545. >Then, just before you reach the top, you notice a distinct rustling in your jacket
  546. “The stakes!”
  547. >In all the chaos, you forgot that you had a backup in case your machete couldn’t cut it
  548. >Reaching into your jacket, you tear out the chair leg you whittled down earlier
  549. >You know you can’t run forever, and you’re sure Sonata can’t be—
  550. >”TREEHUGGER!”
  551. >The entire fire escape shakes and you are sent tumbling against the wall, the stake flying out of your grasp and falling off the ledge
  552. >Twisting your head, you see Sonata clambering over the side
  553. >Her bloodied head bobs up as her sliced up body vaults itself up
  554. >She leers over at you with bloodshot eyes, her fangs glistening in the dark as she leans toward you
  555. >Her dark Aura bounces about, a jumbled and stained mess that completely pollutes everything around it
  556. >As you stare in terror at this dark and all too tangible presence, you spot something within the shadows
  557. >A single small area on her dark form appears to shine brighter than the rest of her, reflecting a faint bit of the bubblegum blue you originally saw in Sonata's Aura
  558. >It lies right over her heart
  561. >Sonata growls as she hops up and crouches atop the ledge of the fire escape
  562. >”WANNA PLAY?!”
  563. >With herculean effort, you snap out of your fear and reach into your denim jacket
  564. >You wrench the wooden stake out and charge straight for the monster
  565. >With a sickening thud, your stake pierces through her sparkling heart
  566. >She gasps in pain as you shove the stake into her as hard as you can, impaling her through her very heart
  567. “Game Over.”
  568. >Sonata hacks up a bit of blood before tumbling back
  569. >With the stake lodged firmly into her heart, Sonata’s falls backwards off of the fire escape
  570. >Watching as her body flies downward several stories,
  571. you swear you hear her bones crunch as she lands in a crumpled mess
  572. >Then, all is silent once again save for your haggard breathing
  573. >You stare down at what’s left of Sonata, and slowly you see the dark Aura surrounding her body dissipate like smoke from a fire pit
  574. >She’s done
  575. “Unreal…”
  576. >Your small glare is gone as you fall onto your butt and lean against the railing
  577. “i-I just killed a vampire… I’m either Bad as Hell or stoned off my ass. h-How did this, w-w-where did—“
  578. >You stutter for a few more moments before finally regaining your cool
  579. >Shakily descending the fire escape, you hop back to the alley floor and take a closer look at your handiwork
  580. >Sonata’s body lies there, but it looks so much different now
  581. >You can see clearly that the dark Aura is all gone, but you still see something there
  582. >There’s a faint bit of bubblegum blue light surrounding her
  583. >It’s faint, but it’s not pale like before
  584. >As you stare confusedly at this admittedly beautiful sight, you spot something else that throws you for a loop
  585. >Sonata, in her last moment, is smiling
  586. >You don’t see fangs on her anymore
  589. >You liked to believe in Reincarnation
  590. >That life was like a wheel, and when one spirit left the wheel it would get right back on it
  591. >The existence of vampires kind of threw that belief of yours for a loop, but after all that you had just seen you were starting to believe in something else
  592. >Evil spirits must exist, things that don’t quite fit on the Great Wheel and all
  593. >Things that mess up the cycle, and force the dead to stay dead
  594. >Whatever these spirits were, when they got a hold of someone the end result would have been… well, a vampire
  595. >You’re not entirely sure all of that makes sense, but it’s as good an explanation as you can think up at the moment
  596. >You don’t particularly care enough to work out something that makes better sense
  597. >Maybe when you’re on a really good high you can mull it over, but for now…
  598. >You pick up your now crimson stained machete and return it to its sheath, which you then affix back to your belt
  599. >Searching around a bit more, you find the wooden stake you dropped and return it to your jacket
  600. “Doughnut Joe’s. That’s like five blocks from here. Time to pay your Ex a quick visit Little Man.”
  601. >You smile warmly at Sonata one last time before walking off down the alley
  602. “Aren’t you lucky your Old Lady’s such a Bad Dude?”
  603. >You walk off a bit more, wincing a little as you become more aware of the bruises on your body
  604. >Sighing, you begin to steel yourself for whatever horrors may await you next
  605. >You’re not ready yet for Anon to go back on that wheel
  606. “Just, hold on Little Man. For me OK? Stick around, for me…"
  609. 11:45PM
  611. >It was around now that the high started to wear off
  612. >With each step you took down these empty city streets, the adrenaline from your kill faded
  613. >You had very nearly given your life to destroy Sonata, but your night was FAR from finished
  614. >Aria Blaze was still lurking out there, and Anon was still locked up back home…
  615. “Alright, just around the corner here and…”
  616. >You gazed down the city street and saw a small white billboard with bold blue cursive words scrawled on it standing above a red brick building
  617. “… Doughnut Joe’s.”
  618. >A short sigh escapes your lips as you lean against a flickering lamp post and stare at the place
  619. >You’re still gripping your machete underneath your denim coat
  620. >By now you had managed to slip it in well enough next to your remaining stakes to keep it secure and relatively well hidden, though it was hard for you to simply let go of the handle
  621. >It would be quite a while before you could just chill out
  622. “Just keep it cool Girl. For Little Man…”
  623. >You run a hand through your dreads and breath another sigh before walking over
  624. >Then you hear her
  625. >”ARIA!”
  626. >That one word that stops you dead in your tracks
  627. >”LISTEN. TO. ME!”
  628. >You jog down the sidewalk and slide to a stop when you spot her
  629. >Only, it’s not Her
  630. >A short girl, maybe just a little bit older looking than your own son, stomps away from the front door to Doughnut Joe’s
  631. >She has this huge mane of poofy orangish hair that runs down her backside all the way to her waist
  632. >It makes her stand out quite a bit, despite her unassuming outfit consisting of a dark hoody and jeans
  633. >”Fuck off Adagio!”
  634. >You look over just in time to see a young girl in a leather vest don a helmet and hop onto a black motorcycle
  635. “It’s her.”
  636. >And before you can act, that girl kicks her bike into gear and spins out into the street
  637. >You can almost swear that your eyes meet with hers underneath that dark helmet of hers as she speeds by
  638. >Then she’s gone
  641. “No fucking way.”
  642. >Your eyes widen in terror as your heart beats faster
  643. “Did I seriously just let her go?”
  645. >You nearly tear your machete out as you stumble back
  646. >Adagio stamps her foot in the dirt while growling downwards
  647. >Something about the way she snarls instantly rubs you the wrong way
  648. >Then, as you stare more closely, you begin to see her Aura
  649. “Adagio. Sonata spoke about you…”
  650. >Her Aura is like that of Sonata’s and your son Anon’s
  651. >A pale shadow
  652. “… you’re a vampire too.”
  653. >As Adagio’s fists shake you begin to see fangs protruding underneath those gritted teeth of hers, almost as if it was impossible to see them until now that your eyes had adjusted to her
  654. >What startles you far more than her teeth though, is the change to her Aura
  655. >Adagio’s orangish Aura almost looks like it’s swelling up and becoming spiky
  656. >You take a step back
  657. “She looks like she’s gonna blow.”
  658. >If you hadn’t already seen Sonata lose it not too long ago, you think this alone might have sent you running
  659. >”You BITCH!”
  660. >Adagio screams as she stumbles about, her hands gripping her hair all the while
  661. “Take it easy girl.”
  662. >Adagio’s head jerks to the side, and her fierce eyes lock onto you
  663. “Oh shit.”
  666. >Did she hear you?
  667. >Adagio breathes in as she stares you down with shaky eyes
  668. >You reconsider hauling ass out of there when something unexpected happens
  669. >Adagio’s Aura suddenly shrinks down and becomes noticeably less spiky as she straightens up and tucks her hair underneath her hoody
  670. >Without paying you another look, she steps back inside Doughnut Joe’s and slowly takes a seat inside a booth
  671. “n-Not cool…”
  672. >A scary thought crept up on you as you leaned back against a building’s wall
  673. >As terrifying as this little spiky chick was, she was your only link to Aria
  674. >You had to find her, and Adagio…
  675. “She has to know where she went.”
  676. >You fold your arms over your chest as a bead of sweat drips down the side of your head
  677. >A warm breeze blows by through your dreads, and slowly your heart begins to slow
  678. “Round 2.”
  679. >Bouncing away from the wall, you begin to walk across the street
  680. >You step inside the cool air conditioned diner and immediately grab a seat over behind the counter
  681. >You take another deep breath and sigh as you glance around the place, seeing that it is pretty much empty with not even a cook or cashier in sight
  682. >As good as it feel It feels to be off your feet, it’s impossible to relax knowing what is sitting in the booth behind you
  683. >Shifting about in your seat, you glance over your shoulder and—
  684. >”What the fuck are you looking at?”
  685. >…
  686. >—And you shift back
  687. >This is going to be tricky
  691. “Uhhhh…”
  692. >You hunch over the counter as you sit with your back turned to her
  693. “… sorry, didn’t mean to stare and all. Just noticed you and your friend earlier…”
  694. >”Hmph!”
  695. >The diner falls quiet
  696. >Maybe you should just—
  697. >”No, it’s alright.”
  698. >You pick your head up and peer back over your shoulder
  699. >It’s hard to see what’s up with her, what with the hood over her face, but a look at her Aura tells you she’s definitely calmed down
  700. “Looked pretty nasty.”
  701. >”That's an understatement. My… friend and I, we’ve been going through a few issues lately.”
  702. >Maybe she’s got something to get off of her chest?
  703. “Wanna talk about it?”
  704. >She lifts her head up, giving you a look at what lies underneath the hood
  705. >It’s a little strange how she’s able to keep all that hair of hers tucked down like that, but what really catches your attention is those eyes
  706. >Those reddish eyes are giving you a real tired look, almost like she’s just been through Hell
  707. >Something about it actually makes you feel kind of sorry for her
  708. >”Sure, why not?”
  709. >She gestures to the seat across from her
  710. >With only the barest hint of hesitation, you rise up from your stool and take a sit with her
  711. >It feels a bit dangerous being this close to those spikes in her Aura, almost like you could cut yourself if you reached out and touched her
  712. >Even so, she doesn’t seem like much of a threat right now
  713. >Very strange
  714. “Like, tell me what’s on your mind girl?”
  715. >”My name is Adagio Dazzle.”
  716. “Right. What’s up Adagio?”
  719. >She curls her fingers together as she tilts her head up
  720. >“My friends and I, we’ve been together for a long time. A VERY long time.”
  721. “y-Yeah, I dig…”
  722. >”Yes well, we’ve been through quite a lot you see. Despite our differences, I am very fond of both of them. I can’t really imagine going on without either of them. I… love them.”
  723. >Your eyes widen as she stares down at her hands
  724. >An image of Sonata lying on her back in an alley way with a stake shoved through her heart flashes through your mind
  725. “t-That’s radical. i-I mean, er—“
  726. >She raises her head and stares as you fumble for an answer
  727. “—you getting all worked up at your friend shows that you really care. You feel me?”
  728. >She smirks at you
  729. >”Yes, I feel you.”
  730. >That was close
  731. >You smile a little yourself, feeling somewhat relieved to see her in a cheerier mood
  732. >”The thing is though, I’m worried that our friendship isn’t as strong as it once was. I’m terrified actually, because I feel Aria might want to leave us.”
  733. >Your smile falters at that
  734. “Leave you?”
  735. >”Yes…”
  736. >She folds her arms over each other as she sinks into her seat
  737. >”Aria and I have been arguing over more and more these past few years. I was just losing my temper no more than a few minutes ago because I thought that she was about to run out on me.”
  738. “Run out on you? Wait, you mean like split town?”
  739. >If Aria left on her own, how were you going to be able to find her?
  740. >”Yes, but I think I was overreacting a little.”
  741. “y-You sure?”
  742. >”Yes, I mean i don’t think it’d be like her to just go off on her own. I’ll admit she’s a bit tougher than me, but I can’t possibly see her going it alone.”
  743. “Then you’re saying it’d be different if she… if she had someone to run away with…"
  744. >Your heart sinks
  745. “Little Man…”
  748. “i-I think I know where you’re coming from Dagi…”
  749. >”Hm?”
  750. >There’s no use in trying to hide the terror gripping you now
  751. “I don’t really think I’ve realized it until now… b-but well, I have a son…”
  752. >”You look very young for a mother.”
  753. “Heheh y-ya think so?”
  754. >Adagio raises an eyebrow at you as you chuckle at her
  755. “My kid, he means the world to me. Sometimes I kind of think he’s the only good thing I got ya know? But over the last few years, I think we’ve been drifting apart too…”
  756. >Adagio carefully reaches out and places a hand over yours
  757. “… I don’t think I was ever really cut out for being a parent, but I love my Little Man. I wish I could have done better…”
  758. >”Maybe it’s not too late?”
  759. >Your shaking ceases as you stare back at Adagio
  760. >Her earlier mournful look has given way to something entirely different
  761. >That warm smile of hers calms you ever so slightly, it’s motherly in a way
  762. >Still, you can’t just shake off the fear that’s booming inside of you
  763. >”Maybe it’s not too late for either of us?”
  764. >…
  765. “I should go home and see my son.”
  766. >You stand up to leave
  767. >If you head out now maybe you can—
  768. >Adagio is gripping your hand, pinning you in place
  769. >”Not quite yet.”
  770. >You force yourself to look down at her as she gives you a stern look
  771. >”I like you. What is your name?”
  772. “m-My name? My name is Treehugger.”
  773. >”Treehugger, thank you for everything. I am truly grateful, yet I still need something from you.”
  774. >Her spiky Aura seems to blossom, nearly enveloping your entire hand as she entraps you in her tight grip
  775. “w-What do you need Dagi?”
  776. >Her eyes narrow as she tilts her head and glances behind her
  777. >”Someone is hunting me.”
  779. >You look up from Adagio and spot a figure sitting across the room
  780. >He is a short man with a scraggly beard who wears a leather jacket
  781. >Currently, he sits in his booth with a smile on his face and a small cup of tea in his hands
  782. >He looks very relaxed on the surface, but then you see his Aura…
  783. >It’s like a little red light, flickering bright like a faraway star
  784. >A star that’s about to go full supernova
  785. >”Do you see him? That man over there means to kill me. He is a Hunter.”
  786. “a-A Hunter? What do you—
  787. >She tugs you back down into your seat and regards you with a cold glare
  788. >”I only noticed him after Aria left. I was hoping my other friend would have arrived by now. As soon as I leave he is going to strike at me.”
  789. >Your eyes veer back from Adagio to the new mystery man
  790. “He’s a vampire hunter.”
  791. >Adagio’s grip on you slackens as her eyes begin to widen
  792. >”How did you know?”
  793. >Uh oh
  794. >Your jaw drops as you stare at a shocked Adagio
  795. >One wrong step here and…
  796. “I can see your Aura.”
  797. >”My Aura?”
  798. “It’s pale and shadowy. That’s how I know.”
  799. >Her wide eyes slowly narrow as her fangs begin to protrude
  800. >”You’re rather special as far as Mortals go aren’t you?”
  801. >You have absolutely no idea how to respond to that
  802. >”How very fortunate for both of us. Help me kill this man, and I will let you go home to your son. I’m sure I can repay you handsomely afterwards…”
  803. >Her Aura is beginning to swell once more, growing spikier and darker as her vampiric side takes over
  804. “You’re not going to give me a choice are you?”
  805. >”Now what makes you think that?”
  806. “…”
  807. >”Treehugger,SPOILER look into my eyes.” SPOILER
  810. >Suddenly your body feels numb as you stare deeply into those eyes of hers, which now appear to glow like swirling balls of fire
  811. >”You and I aren’t very different at all Treehugger. You could say we’re kindred spirits even. That’s why you’re going to help me.”
  812. “i-I’m going to help you?”
  813. >”Come along.”
  814. >She stands up out of her seat and to your horror you stand as well
  815. >As Adagio steps over you spot something with that second sight of yours
  816. >A thin swirling strand, something alight in the aether, connecting you to her Aura
  817. “Fuck, you—“
  818. >Adagio quickly slides her body around you, moving nearly too fast for you to see as she places her hands on your hips
  819. >Her cold breath chills the back of your hot neck as she whispers
  820. >”Just follow my lead, and we’ll both walk away from this.”
  821. >Your eyes widen as the figure on the other end of the diner exits his booth
  822. >The Vampire Hunter’s smile vanishes as he stares over at you and Adagio
  823. >”He’s not going to risk killing a bystander. You’re going to walk with me over to him so I can get close.”
  824. >Her hands clasp around your waist, sending a small shiver through your body as her cool hands press against your flushed skin
  825. >”Easy right?”
  826. >She chuckles into your ear before pressing you forward
  827. >With each methodical step you slowly approach the Hunter, his tense stare switching from between you and Adagio
  828. >He reaches inside his leather jacket as he steps back from you
  829. >”Oh yes, I can smell his fear.”
  830. >You wince as her laughter hits you from behind
  831. >"I can smell his blood…”
  835. “t-This…. this. THIS.”
  836. >”Hm? You have something to add Treehugger?”
  837. >Your entire body begins to shake as Adagio holds you close, her human shield
  838. “This… is bullshit!”
  839. >Your body stops just as you take another step closer to the hunter, who now stands with his back against the wall and his hand firmly grasping something within his jacket
  840. >Slowly your head veers back as you look down at the beast pulling your strings
  841. >She glares up at you with pure malice in her eyes
  842. “I’m not. Like. YOU!”
  843. >You feel something snap as your eyes wrench wide open and you stagger out of her grasp
  844. >”How did you—“
  845. >Her fanged mouth opens wide in shock as you reach inside your coat
  846. >Rasing her hands up, she violently shoves you back
  847. >Pain shoots through your side as you slam into the counter and fall to the ground
  848. >Then, just as look back up—
  849. >”HROAAAR!!!”
  850. >A deafening explosion reverberates throughout the diner as a bright flash of light emanates from the vampire hunter
  851. >Adagio’s tiny frame bounces away, hurriedly hopping atop a table as the wall behind her catches flame
  852. >You glance over to the hunter and see that he has brandished a huge revolver
  853. >He grits his teeth as he takes aim at Adagio, who gives him a feral hiss whilst crouching atop the table
  854. >The Hunter squeezes the trigger, and another blast of light billows forth from his gun
  855. >Adagio lunges away as the brick wall behind her is sprayed with flame and the table she once sat upon catches ablaze
  856. >Flying through the air, Adagio lands atop the counter just above where you currently sit
  857. >You stare up and meet her predatory gaze
  860. >That brief moment when your eyes meets her’s lasts but one tense second before she pounces away from you
  861. >Another deafening blast and a blinding flash of light forces you to turn away
  862. >Over the gunshot, you swear you hear screams
  863. >Placing both hands atop two different stools, you open your eyes and see what has happened
  864. >Adagio has caught fire!
  865. >Her flaming visage twists before you, and for a moment you think she is convulsing in agony
  866. >Only then do you realize too late, that she has closed the distance with the Hunter!
  867. >Flames envelop her back and give her the presence of a wild flaming demon as she pins the hunter against the wall
  868. >One hand of hers grapples the wrist of the hand holding his gun as she reaches out and holds him down with her other hand
  869. “No!”
  870. >Rising up to your feet, you stumble ahead while desperately rummaging inside your coat, your Second Sight quickly identifying the bright orange light that is her heart
  871. >Seeking to end this all immediately, you take out a wooden stake just as the flaming vampire bares her fangs
  872. >”AAAARRRGH!”
  873. >The Hunter screams as Adagio sinks her fangs into his neck
  874. “NO!”
  875. >With both hands grasping the wooden stake tightly, you raise your weapon high
  876. >Adagio drops the hunter to the ground and turns about to snarl at you, her body covered in fire and fresh blood
  877. >”AHH!”
  878. >Once more your eyes briefly meet while you bring the stake down
  879. >She howls in pain as your stake pierces through her bosom
  880. >”TREEHUGGER!”
  881. >Your heart stops as she shouts your name in a fit of rage
  882. >Glancing down, you spot the stake you are currently plunging inside of her
  883. >The bright blur of light within her blazing body lies only a few inches away from where you have impaled her
  884. “Bummer.”
  887. >Her fist crashes into you as your stake slips out your hands
  888. >The force of the blow knocks the wind out of you and sends you airborne
  889. >Your body topples backwards over the counter, unceremoniously knocking you flat on the floor
  890. >The room flashes once more as you lie facedown, followed quickly by the boom of thunder
  891. “Not… cool…”
  892. >A torrent of water falls upon you, and you briefly wonder if you had somehow been sent flying out of the building only to realize that the sprinklers overhead have activated
  893. >Shuddering in pain, you slowly lift yourself up while fishing the machete out
  894. >”YOU!"
  895. >A new jolt of pain shoots through your head as you are lifted off your feet
  896. >Her hand grasps you by a dreadlock as her bloodied, burnt, and staked form leers at you from atop the counter
  898. >Fear silences you as her bestial eyes bore into you
  899. >It reminds you of the rage of a bear who has just realized a hunter has killed it’s cub
  901. >She pulls you closer as she opens her fanged maw
  902. >Knowing death, or far worse, is near, your body finally reacts
  903. >Grappling her by the shoulder, you wildly slash at her with your machete
  904. >Blood spurts into your face as you slice a gash right through her neck
  905. >The hatred in her eyes falters and she drops you to the ground
  906. >Over the din of the sprinklers and the crackling of the flames, you hear her hack and whimper in pain before a distinct thud hits the ground on the other side of the counter
  907. >You continue to lie there on the floor, your chest rising and falling while the water from the sprinklers soaks you
  908. >Your battered form can do little else but lay there, until you hear something new
  909. >A crash, the sound of glass shattering, startles you back into action
  910. >You crawl back up to your feet and spot a broken booth window, with no sign of Adagio
  911. “She’s… gone.”
  912. >Your lower your head onto the counter while trying to catch your breath
  915. >Hopping over the counter with a bloodied machete in hand, you consider running off and giving chase
  916. >Then you spot him in the corner of your eye
  917. >The Vampire Hunter sits on the floor with his back against the wall, a trail of blood streaming down his neck and mixing with the water pooling on the ground
  918. >His Aura, which flashed so brilliantly before in the fight with Adagio, was now nothing more than a glimmer
  919. >It was like looking upon a dying star
  920. >The machete in your hand clatters to the ground
  921. “Hey! Are you like…”
  922. >Your words trail away as you run over and stare down at him
  923. >You know he’s not going to be OK
  924. >That dissipating Aura of his is beginning to lose it’s vivid color
  925. “You're becoming like them now.”
  926. >You gasp as you stare at him, nearly certain that you had seen his hand move
  927. >Just leaving him here would damn him
  928. >His soul would become trapped, tainted by that otherworldly blackness
  929. >Unable to find peace, forced to never move on
  930. >Through the bite wound on his neck, you see something dark and forboding seep into his Aura
  931. “I’m so sorry bro. I’m just— fuck.
  932. >You sigh as you slowly reach a hand inside your coat, your fingers gripping onto one of two remaining wooden stakes
  933. “j-Just hold on there Dude. I won’t leave you like this.”
  934. >Steeling yourself for the inevitable, you brandish the wooden stake and kneel beside him
  935. >Getting a closer look at him, you can see that he’s not too old
  936. >His face has so much color to it, so much life
  937. >Staring downwards at the glimmer of light in his chest, your shaky hand positions the stake
  938. “You just, rest a while. o-OK?”
  939. >Gritting your teeth, you stare away and push
  940. >Your heart stops as you hear him gasp, but you keep pushing as hard as you can
  941. >The stake slowly pierces through his chest and the whole body seems to spasm
  942. >Then all motion stops, and you simply kneel there
  943. >You don’t know how long you remain there, but eventually you force yourself to look upon him again
  946. “…”
  947. >He’s… smiling
  948. “I’m sorry!"
  949. >Choking back your tears, you give this lone hunter a tight embrace
  950. >Refusing to let go, you sit there and hold him just as if he were your own son
  951. “I’m—I’m sorry. You didn’t have to go out like this. You can rest now though, you can be as comfy as you want. Your hunt’s over."
  952. >You squeeze him tight as your eyes narrow
  953. “I’m going to finish what you started.”
  954. >Letting go of the Hunter, you stand up again and look down upon the gun in his hand
  955. >Carefully picking it out of his grasp, you awkwardly examine the wet firearm
  956. >You’ve never used one of these before, though you imagine simply aiming and pulling the trigger is about all you need to know
  957. >Looked like he needed to get in close for it to work well, you’re going to keep that in mind
  958. >A brief thought flashes through your head, alerting you that he may have more bullets on him
  959. >You carefully pat his leather jacket before taking what appear to be a few red shotgun shells out of his pocket
  960. “You really came prepared. y-You were a cool dude, you know that?”
  961. >You sniffle and wipe the tears from your eyes upon discovering something else within his pocket
  962. >A small slip of paper
  963. >Unraveling it, you see that the word ‘TARGET’ is scrawled above an address
  964. “d-Did you know where they were hiding? I guess you didn’t know there were three of them though huh?"
  965. >Not wanting to waste another moment here, and unable to bear speaking to him anymore, you turn away from Hunter
  966. >Grabbing the bloodied machete and slipping it inside your coat along with your gun and bullets, you begin to walk away
  967. >At least now he can rest
  968. >For you though, your hunt has only just begun
  969. >Adagio was gone, but you learned one vital bit of information from her
  970. “Aria wants YOU Little Man.”
  971. >You scowl as you stomp down the street just as another peal of thunder booms and rain begins to fall
  972. “I won’t let her take you away."
  975. 1:20 AM
  976. >The boom of thunder resounds overhead as warm rain continues to pelt down on you
  977. >Your boots splash into another puddle as you slowly trudge down the lonesome road
  978. >At the very end of the dark street lies a single one-story home with a few faint lights shining from within
  979. >You’re home
  980. “Little Man…”
  981. >Exhausted and sore, your bruised body forces itself onward through the overgrown lawn
  982. >Tearing your key out of your soaked jeans, you unlock the front door and stumble inside
  983. >You crumple to the ground, allowing your stake and your machete to slip out of your jacket as you sink into the carpeted floor
  984. “I’m trashed…”
  985. >Thoughts of Adagio, Sonata, and especially Aria filter through your head until you turn aside and stare down the hall
  986. >You see light seeping out from underneath the bathroom door
  987. >Shoving yourself up to your knees, you take a hard look at all around you
  988. >Everything is in disarray, but it’s the kind of organized chaos you’re used to
  989. >No sign of forced entry, no shadowy figures looming in the darkness
  990. >Nothing, not even with your Second Sight, but when you look down at the bathroom you can sense whose fragile Aura lies within
  991. “Anon?”
  992. >You hear no response
  993. >Standing back up, you make sure the door is locked shut before cautiously walking down to the bathroom door
  994. >As you walk along, you peel off your drenched denim jacket and toss it aside on the floor
  995. >Throwing modesty aside as well, you then tear off your equally saturated shirt and leave yourself completely topless as you take a seat on the floor beside the bathroom door
  996. >Breathing a deep sigh, you look over your shoulder and spot the pale sky blue Aura of your son
  997. “Little Man, mom’s back.”
  998. >The silence begins to frighten you
  999. “s-Say something man. Come on.”
  1000. >You rest your head against the wooden door and shut your eyes, until finally…
  1003. >”Ma?”
  1004. >Your eyes fly open as you raise your head
  1005. “How do you feel?”
  1006. >”Not good, I’m so hungry. I… I feel like shit. Fuck, what’s going to happen to me Mom?”
  1007. >You frown as you lean against the door
  1008. “I’ll… figure something out. Just take it easy right now, I’ll fix everything.”
  1009. >"m-Mom?"
  1010. “Yeah?”
  1011. >”I’m sorry I come home late without calling you.”
  1012. >Your eyes stare forlornly down at the ground
  1013. >”a-And I’m sorry I hangout with people you don’t like."
  1014. “Little Man you don’t—“
  1015. >”And I’m sorry I skip school so much, and drink so much, a-and dig into your stash and—“
  1016. “Shhhhhhhh.”
  1017. >You stare absently at the faint sign of life behind the door as you shush your son
  1018. “Just chill. Don’t think about any of that right now OK? Don’t think about anything at all."
  1019. >”d-Don’t think. I can do that.”
  1020. >You sniffle as you wipe away a single tear before pressing your head back against the door
  1021. “I need you to be strong for me for just a little longer. I’m going to leave and—“
  1022. >”Don’t leave me!”
  1023. >Your eyes widen as you hear shuffling from behind the door
  1024. >”When I’m alone, all I can think about i-is the hunger, the thirst! i-I feel like I’m gonna die!”
  1025. >You shake your head and steady your voice
  1026. “You’re not gonna die, I’m going to go out and fix this right now.”
  1027. >”d-Do you have to leave already?”
  1028. >You sigh again as you wipe some rainwater off of your brow
  1029. >You’re still feeling physically drained, to go out right this second in search of another fight might be dangerous
  1030. >Maybe you have no choice but to take a breather, especially if it will calm your Little Man down
  1031. “I can stick around for a bit.”
  1032. >”t-Thanks ma…”
  1033. >You sigh as you slide flat onto your back
  1034. >The shag carpeting feels as comfortable as a bed, tempting you to fall asleep
  1036. >You sigh to yourself as you reach inside your pocket and take out your wallet
  1037. “Might as well."
  1038. >Opening it up, you brandish a single blunt and raise it to your lips
  1039. >Taking out a lighter, you’re disappointed to see no flame emerge
  1040. “Baby?”
  1041. >”m-Ma?”
  1042. “Can you slide me a lighter?”
  1043. >A single silver lighter with a skull emblem on it slides over to you from underneath the door
  1044. >You examine it in your hand, noting how expensive it looks, before lighting yourself up
  1045. “Thanks Little Man.”
  1046. >You let out an uncharacterisitc cough as you take the first puff and slide it back under the door
  1047. >After lying there a few moments, you hear the click of the lighter
  1048. >”AAAAHH!”
  1049. >You jolt back up and shout
  1050. “What’s wrong!?”
  1051. >”t-The flame! i-I think I’m gonna—“
  1052. >Your eyes widen as you hear your son retch from behind the door
  1053. “I’m leaving right now.”
  1054. >”NOOOOOO!”
  1055. >You come to an immediate halt at his cry
  1056. >”j-Just a little longer. s-Stay with me… please."
  1057. >A gloomy frown falls upon you as you slowly lie back down upon the floor next to the door
  1058. >”Can you sing to me?”
  1059. >You turn your head to stare at the door
  1060. >”Like you used to when I was little?”
  1061. >You raise the blunt to your lips and smoothly inhale
  1062. >The effects are almost immediate, as your strained muscles begin to relax and your heart begins to beat slower
  1063. >You begin to sign
  1064. >That soothing lullaby you would murmur to yourself when you yourself were just a kid, the same song you would sing to your baby boy to help rock him to sleep
  1065. >It seems to do the trick as all noise from behind the door fades
  1066. >With that, it feels as if the horrors of the world outside fade with it
  1067. >You begin to smile to yourself in between the lullaby as smoke clouds your vision
  1070. >Your vision grows darker as you feel yourself whisked away to another time and place
  1071. >You return to your teenage years and see yourself trying to figure out just who you were
  1072. “Sunny days...”
  1073. >The colors in your past seemed brighter
  1074. >You recall now the first time you caught sight of an Aura, a vibrant and lively hue surrounding the tree in your parent’s backyard
  1075. >It was such an exciting time, a brand new age of discovery… but in the end, it did not change much
  1076. >This power of yours allowed you to see the world in a whole new way, but the world did not seem to push your powers further
  1077. >What reason did you have to develop them back then, to push these powers you had discovered hiding within?
  1078. >Your life lacked desperation, or purpose, but now…
  1079. “…”
  1080. >A loud banging noise rouses you from your slumber as you jolt up
  1081. “Little Man?”
  1082. >There is no response from within the bathroom
  1083. “Anon?”
  1084. >The banging returns as your attention is drawn to the front door
  1085. “Arrrrrgh.”
  1086. >You groggily rise to your feet, using the walls for support
  1087. >Your heart is finally beating at a leisurely pace again, and the pain in your joints and muscles is completely gone
  1088. >The smoke break appears to have worked wonders
  1089. >Absently pondering over this, you open the door
  1090. >A flash of lightning blasts and the storm rages overhead, illuminating the figure in front of you
  1091. “Yo”
  1092. >You find a young woman
  1093. >Her leather vest and tight jeans are soaked, and her long purple hair is also completely drenched
  1094. >”The fuck?”
  1095. >You narrow your eyes as the girl scoffs at you
  1096. “Can I like, help you?”
  1097. >She stares incredulously as you continue to lazily gaze back
  1098. >You’re not certain why she’s looking at you like that, but then you feel a breeze
  1099. >Glancing down at yourself, you see that your breasts are hanging out
  1100. >You're still nude from the waist up
  1101. “Whoops.”
  1103. >”Hey uh, Miss… this Anon’s place?”
  1104. “Anon’s…”
  1105. >Your eyes widen as you look upon this stranger's Aura
  1106. >It is a dark purple that glows like a crackling fire, one that surrounds her entire body
  1107. >Now that you notice it, your own body feels as if heat is washing over it from her fiery spirit
  1108. “y-You’re…"
  1109. >There is the unmistakable pale hue to it that you have grown to know so well over this long dark night
  1110. >”… I’m Aria. Look does Anon live here or…”
  1111. >Her words trail off as you glare at her
  1112. >”w-What’s up with you?"
  1113. >Raising up the blunt in your hand, you inhale deeply before exhaling right in her face
  1114. >Aria’s jaw drops, revealing a set of fangs
  1115. >”MOTHERFUCKER!“
  1116. >She balls her fists and charges at you, only to stop at the threshold
  1117. “Let me guess, you can’t enter a home unless you’re invited inside?”
  1118. >She recoils a step back into the rain
  1119. >”I—YOU—HOW—"
  1120. >You reach into your back pocket as you calmly utter
  1121. “You’re not welcome here.”
  1122. >You tear out the Hunter’s revolver and shove it right over the glow in her chest, where her heart lies
  1123. >”WHAT THE—"
  1124. *BOOOM!*
  1125. >A huge gout of flame erupts from your gun as Aria screams
  1126. >Flaming pellets ripple through her vest and pound into her chest, sending her flaming body onto the lawn
  1128. >You stuff the blunt back into your mouth as you stomp outside into the pouring rain
  1129. “Guess karma’s finally going my way."
  1130. >You loom tall over Aria as the puddle of water she rolls in staunches the flames
  1131. “You guys really hate fire huh?”
  1132. >Aria jerks her head toward you and bares her fangs
  1133. >”You crazy bitch! I’ll—“
  1134. >Aiming your gun right at her face, you silence her with a click of the hammer
  1137. >The two of you lock eyes and stare each other down as another peal of thunder booms overhead
  1138. >Aria simply lies there, gripping the holes you’ve put in her chest as she waits for what comes next
  1139. >She sighs and looks down
  1140. >”Get it over with."
  1141. “…”
  1142. >”Well?!”
  1143. >Her Aura fails to darken as did Sonata and Adagio’s
  1144. >Did your last blast really weaken her that much?
  1145. >Another flash of lightning illuminates your steely gaze and her shaky frown
  1146. “Why him? Why Little Man?"
  1147. >”Who the fuck is Little Man?"
  1148. “My son! Anon! Why did you attack my son!?”
  1149. >Aria grimaces back up at you with gritted teeth
  1150. >”I… really really like him, OK?"
  1151. >You glare down at Aria as she slowly crawls away from you through the mud
  1152. >”h-He is here, isn’t he?"
  1153. >The gun is beginning to shake in your hand as you fail to pull the trigger
  1154. >Letting out a low growl, Aria jerks her head back and shouts
  1156. “Cut it out! I won’t let you turn my son into a monster! You can’t have him!”
  1157. >”I LOVE HIM!”
  1158. >Your eyes widen as you see Aria’s cruel facade crack
  1159. “i-Is— this is a trick! I’ve seen what you vampires are like, well I’m not falling for—“
  1160. >Your entire body instantly shudders as you aim your weapon away from Aria and blast into the darkness
  1161. >The blast of flaming buckshot illuminates a large black wolf just ten feet from you
  1162. “OH SHIT!”
  1163. >You fire off another blazing blast at the beast as it bounces back in the darkness
  1164. >”AHRRROOOOO!”
  1165. >You have no clue where it came from, but you somehow instinctually realize it was sneaking up on you
  1166. >As you take aim at it again, a figure rises up from the mud beside you
  1167. >”BITCH!”
  1168. >Aria smacks you in the ribs, knocking the wind out of you
  1169. >Her hands grapple onto you as the wolf growls
  1170. >Tearing the gun from your hands, Aria shoves you back
  1171. >You splash down into the mud while the monsters approach
  1174. >With every last bit of strength in your tired legs, you leap back up to your feet and scramble away
  1175. >The wolf’s vicious growls seem as loud as the thunder above
  1176. >”GET HER!”
  1177. >Falling to the ground, you grab onto the carpet inside your house
  1178. >You pull yourself inside, when a great force tears you back
  1180. >The wolf grips onto your pant leg with it’s razor sharp fangs while you hold on for dear life
  1181. >Finally, something gives way
  1182. >Your pant leg is messily torn off as you fling yourself into the safety of your home
  1183. >The wolf spits the denim out as it fiercely barks at you from just outside your door
  1184. >Yet it does not enter…
  1185. “t-Thank the fucking Gods…”
  1186. >Your eyes widen as you get your first good look at this wolf’s aura
  1187. >It is black and yet pale, and moreover it is very sharp and spiked in appearance
  1188. “No way. Adagio?”
  1189. >The wolf sneers at you as the creature’s entire form becomes enveloped in an otherworldly glow
  1190. >For a brief moment, all you clearly see is a dark mass of shadow before a figure arises
  1191. >In front of you stands a short girl with a very long mane of orange hair
  1192. >Sheis covered in blood from the gash in her neck to the stake lodged next to her heart
  1193. >”Surprised to see me so soon Treehugger?”
  1194. “How did—“
  1195. >”You Vampire Hunters never seem to think that you’ll be the one’s hunted instead! Well I’VE been hunting you ever since you left that diner!”
  1196. >”Adagio!”
  1197. >The vampire’s cruel expression softens as Aria stumbles to her side
  1198. >”Aria, you’re injured.”
  1199. >”Me? What the FUCK happened to you?!”
  1200. >Adagio sneers as she gestures inside the house
  1201. >”Your consort’s MOTHER happened to me!”
  1202. >Despite being taller, and arguably more intimidating, than her Aria seems to shrink back from Adagio
  1203. >”y-You heard everything?”
  1204. >“Yes, now I see exactly what’s been going on. AND YOU—“
  1205. >Adagio jabs a finger at you as she snarls
  1209. >Your chest rises and falls as the storm rages and the monsters glare
  1210. >Despite the terror of it all, you find refuge in your anger
  1211. “I see you for what you are.”
  1212. >Adagio and Aria silently stare you down with unblinking eyes
  1213. “You guys don’t belong here, all you do is bring misery and death wherever you go. Even to yourselves. Well no more, I’m going to set your spirits free and save my son while I still can.”
  1214. >Taking several steps back from the door, you scoop the machete and the stake off of the floor and take position at the center of the room
  1215. “Aria, come on in.”
  1216. >Adagio’s eyes widen as Aria scoffs
  1217. >”My pleasure.”
  1218. >”ARIA NO!”
  1219. >She rushes forward only for Adagio to immediately grab onto her and pull her back
  1220. >”She’s playing you! Don’t go in, she’s already killed one of us!”
  1221. >”WHAT!?”
  1222. >Aria ceases her struggle and stares at her smaller compatriot with a look of sheer terror
  1223. >”s-Sonata’s…”
  1224. >Adagio grits her teeth and nods her head
  1225. >You lower your machete as Aria drops the revolver to the ground
  1226. >”I don’t believe it. After all these years…”
  1227. >Adagio let’s go of Aria as she begins to tremble
  1228. >”t-The very last thing I ever said to her was… was that she was the worst.”
  1229. >Tears of blood stream down her face and mix in with the rain as Aria grips her fists and turn her gaze to you
  1230. >”i’m— I’m going to rip you apart!”
  1231. >”NO!”
  1232. >Adagio shoves herself in between Aria and the doorway
  1233. >”I won’t lose you as well Aria. I have a far better fate for her.”
  1234. >Adagio turns around and gives you a maniacal smile that makes your skin crawl
  1235. >”Well Treehugger, if you’re not going to come to us then we won’t bother coming to you either.”
  1236. >Adagio chuckles as she crouches down and swipes the revolver from the ground
  1237. “Uh oh.”
  1238. >”Let’s see how YOU like fire!”
  1242. >You duck down as Adagio blasts a gout of flame blasts at your living room
  1243. >Buckshot tears through your furniture and your wall, which quickly alights in flames
  1244. “NOT COOL!”
  1245. >You hit the deck as another roaring gunshot hits your living room
  1246. >”Give me the gun Adagio, I’ll blow her head clean off!”
  1247. >”No need!”
  1248. >Looking up, you watch as Adagio smugly grins down at you while aiming the gun at your ceiling
  1249. >She fires off another round, spreading flames everywhere
  1250. >”Now Treehugger, you can either come outside and face us, or you can burn to ashes. I do hope it’s the former…”
  1251. >Adagio bares her fangs as she smiles
  1252. >”… I could really go for a meal right now.”
  1253. >”MA!”
  1254. >Your eyes widen as you look away from Adagio and stare down your hall
  1255. “LITTLE MAN!”
  1256. >Aria gasps as she too looks down the hall
  1257. >”ANON!”
  1258. >To your immense shock, Aria stomps inside your blazing house and takes off down the hall
  1260. “Get away from him!”
  1261. >”HOLD IT!”
  1262. >You hear Adagio click the hammer on the revolver, stopping you dead in your tracks
  1263. >”Not one more step.”
  1264. >You slowly turn your head and find yourself looking down the barrel of the massive revolver
  1265. >”It’s over Treehugger.”
  1266. >A loud crash steers your attention back down the hall
  1267. >Your heart sinks as you see Aria emerge from the bathroom, your son’s arm latched around her as his head sags
  1268. >”a-Aria…”
  1269. “No. NO!”
  1271. >Your body shakes as you watch Aria slowly carry Anon up the hall
  1272. >”You haven’t had a bite at all this whole time have you? Fuck me… just hang on a little longer man, I’ll—“
  1273. >His fangs protrude from his mouth as he raises his head and groans weakly at you
  1274. >Aria looks back and forth from your son to you
  1275. >She bares her fangs and smiles
  1276. >”Or you can feed right now.”
  1279. >Aria lets your son stand on his own two legs
  1280. >The machete and the stake both shake in your hands as you look on in horror at your snarling son
  1281. “Little Man, no. t-This isn’t you dude.”
  1282. >Adagio laughs while aiming the revolver at you
  1283. >”I suppose Anon is part of our family now.”
  1284. >Aria slips behind your son, her hands falling over his shoulders as she leans up and whispers into his ear
  1285. >”This is what you wanted right? Go ahead.”
  1286. >You lower your arms as you stare at the two of them
  1287. “What you wanted? y-You’re lying, he—“
  1288. >”I’ve met with Anon every night since I’ve been here. He hates this shitty little town, and now I'm helping him escape.”
  1289. >Anon takes a step towards you, his eyes wrenched wide open as his mouth hangs agape
  1290. >”Mama…”
  1291. >You freeze up as Anon takes another step closer
  1292. >His Aura has become as black as night
  1293. >He reaches out and grabs hold of you by your arms, pinning you in place
  1294. “Anon…”
  1295. >His mouth curls into a snarl as he grips you tighter, his cold breath billowing out as the house begins to crumble away in the growing inferno you are trapped in
  1296. >Adagio growls from the doorway
  1297. >”Do it!”
  1298. >Anon leans in closer, his bloodshot eyes boring straight into yours
  1299. >The machete in your hand clatters to the ground as he leans up to your throat
  1300. >“Mama…”
  1301. >His body begins to tremble once more as his grip slackens
  1302. >”I can’t take it anymore. Help me.”
  1303. >In that moment, he raises his head back and stares at you with bloody tears in his eyes
  1304. >”Make the pain, go away…”
  1305. >You blink down at him as tears of your own begin to fall
  1306. >Even with the curse taking hold, you can still see your baby boy in his eyes
  1307. >And… in his heart…
  1310. “i-I love you, m-my Little Man…"
  1311. >His smile is as radiant as the sun itself
  1312. >”I love you mom.”
  1313. >You grab him by the shoulder and raise the stake
  1314. >”NOOOOOO!!!”
  1315. >Aria screams as your stake pierces into his flesh and impales him through the heart
  1316. >He gasps as you shove your weight against him
  1317. >It feels as if the entire world is collapsing as his blood, your blood, splashes against you
  1318. >”I’ll… miss… you…”
  1319. >You watch as the shadowy Aura fades away, leaving only the dying sky blue light of your son’s soul
  1320. >He steps back from you and falls, landing in Aria’s arms as the two of them crumple to the ground
  1321. >Adagio screams as flaming plaster begins to fall to the ground
  1323. >It feels as if time has stopped as you stand there
  1324. >Anon and Aria appear to be speaking to one another as more and more of your ceiling caves in and falls
  1325. >The area is overflowing with smoke, yet you don’t feel you need to breathe
  1326. >The house has become as hot as Hell, yet you feel cold
  1327. “This is it then. We’ll move on together Little Man, we can—“
  1329. >Aria's rage resounds throughout the house, seemingly shaking it even looser as she rises up with Anon in her arms
  1330. >She stomps away from you and towards Adagio, and you remember…
  1331. >You remember it was these Vampires who started all of this
  1332. >You remember the young man who gave his life to take down Adagio and protect you
  1333. >You remember Sonata, and how you freed her tortured spirit, and when you remember that you remember so very clearly that Anon loved Aria
  1334. >Reaching down, you scoop the Machete off of the ground just as Aria steps out the front door with your son’s remains
  1335. >You break out into a sprint toward them, your machete raised high
  1336. >Just as you’re about to reach them, the ceiling collapses in front of the door
  1337. >The way is blocked
  1340. >As your desire to live renews itself, you begin to cough profusely and notice the encroachment of flames
  1341. >Looking back, you sprint toward the sliding glass door
  1342. >With a loud crash you bust through to the outside and stumble onto the grass
  1343. >The warm rain pelts down as you fall to your knees
  1344. “I’m going to miss you too.”
  1345. >Gripping your machete, you stand back up and run away from what was once your home
  1346. >You hear the howl of a wolf echo from behind as you run away
  1347. >Without a gun or any stakes left, you have nothing else to defend yourself with save the blade in your hands
  1348. >You know it’s not enough, so you sprint on
  1349. >”TREEHUGGER!!!”
  1350. >Aria’s scream echoes over
  1351. >Glancing back, you see a figure sprint through the grass, her Aura having become a maelstrom of black flame
  1352. >Turning your attention back to your front, you find yourself screeching to a halt
  1353. >The smell of seasalt overpowers the stench of the flames as you stand before the cliffside
  1354. >There’s nowhere to run
  1355. >You twist around to face your foe
  1356. “Aria Blaze!”
  1357. >Raising the blade high over your head, you await the frenzying vampire
  1358. >Moving with a deadly speed, the feral beast is upon you within seconds with a blood curdling scream
  1360. >As her monstrous form pounces, you slash downwards
  1361. >Blood splatters as bones crack
  1362. >Your machete smashes into her skull while her body slams into yours
  1363. >Lightning strikes the sky, illuminating her broken body
  1364. >You stare at it unblinkingly, your machete lodged through its head, as you fly off the cliffside
  1365. >A glimmer of light, like a violet flame, shimmers from her before extinguishing itself
  1366. “You can be… together now…”
  1367. >The sea swallows you whole
  1370. >You are surrounded by pitch black darkness, all sense of physical feeling gone
  1371. >Sensations of horror and rage that once clouded your mind have disappeared, leaving nothing but an emptiness
  1372. “Well, I guess that’s all.”
  1373. >The words manifest, though you can’t be certain whether you said them or not
  1374. “Anon’s dead… Aria’s dead.”
  1375. >Again, they appear seemingly from nowhere
  1376. “Treehugger's dead.”
  1377. >Is she?
  1378. >…
  1379. “Adagio still walks the Earth, neither living nor dead.”
  1380. >…
  1381. “But like, who cares right? What’s the point?”
  1382. >Now you are becoming aware again, as memories of all that had befallen you resurface
  1383. “I fucked up, I fucked everything up. Anon’s dead, but…
  1384. >You feel a little bit of emotion return to your voice
  1385. ”His spirit will live on. Aria, Sonata, Adagio, they all lived on after death, long after their spirits were meant to pass on. My spirit, I don’t think it’s gone quite yet.”
  1386. >You sigh
  1387. “But why? Is it because my work’s not finished? What am I supposed to do?”
  1388. >You ask, hoping that someone somewhere will answer, but no one does
  1389. “Am I still here to help others go on? Life, death, an endless cycle that people like me can watch over?”
  1390. >You grumble to yourself as you mull over your own words
  1391. "I don’t get what I'm talking about, I can’t even see what’s going on!”
  1392. >”Then maybe you should open your eyes?”
  1394. >Suddenly there is light!
  1395. >You gaze across the sea as the dark clouds overhead finally begin to part
  1396. >A large wave rushes forward and you instinctively raise your hands to shield yourself
  1397. >It crashes down, only to pass harmlessly through you
  1398. “d-Dude… what?!”
  1399. >You stare back at your hands and notice that you can see the sea through them
  1400. >Turning around, you spot the smoke in the distance rising from your house
  1401. >Looking down, you gaze upon your battered body lying in the sand
  1403. “Am I a ghost?”
  1404. >You crouch down and reach toward your body
  1405. >Your hand passes through it
  1406. “Freaky.”
  1407. >There is no response to be heard, only the continued rolling of the waves and the absent thunder booming in the distance
  1408. “Hang on, vampires should be dead but they still walk around. I’m not a vampire but…”
  1409. >You’ve never known anyone able to see life like you can, to be able to sense Auras so clearly
  1410. >Is it possible that, in your own youth, that you became something not quite human?
  1411. “Then can I even die? Can my spirit go on to where Anon’s went?”
  1412. >You ponder over the question for a minute or so, before turning away from the body and walking up the beach
  1413. >Your hands grip into fists as you walk away
  1414. “I can stick around a while… at least until Adagio’s laid to rest.”
  1415. >How long has she been alive?
  1416. >How many spirits have been unable to pass on because of her and the others?
  1417. >Your son was almost trapped here, in a permanent state of suffering
  1418. “I can’t let her do that anymore.”
  1419. >You mull over this as you walk along, past the beach and into town
  1420. “I don’t understand this at all, but I understand this much. You need to ‘pass on' Adagio.”
  1421. >Your eyes widen and you falter in your step
  1422. >Glancing down the road, you spot an Aura nearly a mile away
  1423. >You walk in the direction of that faint light before arriving in front of a large abandoned building
  1424. >It appears to be a church, with many of it’s stained glass windows either boarded up or shattered to pieces
  1425. >Staring down at the steps, you spot a wooden spike glowing on the ground
  1426. >The piece of wood is covered in blood
  1427. “The stake…”
  1428. >Looking up at the faded address on the wall, you suddenly realize that it is the same location that the Vampire Hunter had written on that note you had found
  1430. "This is where they were hiding. This was their nest.”
  1431. >You take a few steps closer and shudder as your hand passes seamlessly through the boarded up front door
  1432. >Peaking your head inside, you spot the dust and cob-web laced church pews, as well as countless debris all over the place
  1433. >At the center of the room, lies three wooden boxes
  1434. “Coffins.”
  1435. >Two of the three look to be wide open and empty, while the third remains closed
  1436. >Hovering over the sealed crate, you lower your head and gaze inside
  1437. >Adagio’s face lies just below yours, her eyes closed and her face scrunched into a deep frown
  1438. “Adagio."
  1439. >Her eyes flutter open as the two of you stare
  1440. >You tear your head back and stare down at the coffin
  1441. >”WHO CALLED TO ME!?”
  1442. >The casket is wrenched open as Adagio’s body lifts itself up to a standing position
  1443. >You watch in shock as Adagio falls into a feral stance, her eyes darting across the room
  1444. >She takes a few steps away from her resting place before stepping through a ray of light
  1445. >”AH!”
  1446. >The look of rage in her eyes dissipates as fear grips her
  1447. >She falls to the ground as if struck dumb
  1448. >With a snarl, she bangs her fist against the floorboards
  1449. >”Damn it all! Damn everything!”
  1450. >The wood appears to shake underneath her incessant pounding
  1451. >You can do little else but watch on in… pity?
  1452. >After all she’s done and all they’ve taken from you, it’s hard for you to not look upon this old monster as just a scared child
  1453. “Adagio stop that!”
  1454. >Her fist freezes in midair
  1455. >She tilts her head back as her gaze falls upon you
  1456. >”Is that you Treehugger?”
  1457. >Adagio slowly rises up to her feet, hissing in your direction all the while
  1461. >”I can’t simply be rid of you can I?”
  1462. >She walks about the room, careful not to step through one of the few rays of sunshine piercing through the boarded up windows
  1463. >”If you are here, then come out and face me. Let’s finish this, once and for all.”
  1464. >You stare deep into her narrowed eyes as her fangs protrude past her sneering lips
  1465. >A sigh escapes your mouth
  1466. “You got it.”
  1467. +++
  1469. >Your eyes flutter open as you lift your head up from the wet sand
  1470. “ACK!”
  1471. >You cough and sputter as you attempt to lift yourself from the ground
  1472. >Putting pressure on your arm as you try to move, you feel it give out and are given a face-full of sand
  1473. >You’re certain its dislocated
  1474. “Damn dude.”
  1475. >Pressing yourself up with your good arm, you slowly rise to your feet
  1476. >While you see no more smoke in the distance, you can still smell the smoke on your own wet half-naked body
  1477. >You flinch as you begin to walk away while clenching your throbbing arm
  1478. >Squinting as you glance back at the rising sun, you suddenly spot something glinting in the distance amongst the rocks
  1479. >At first you think it might be your Second Sight going off again, but when you get closer you discover what it really is
  1480. >Stabbed into the sand amongst the rocks, lies your machete
  1481. >For a second, you swear you see Anon’s smile in the glimmer of the blade
  1482. “Maybe we’ll see each other again…”
  1483. >A single tear slides down your cheek as you reach out to the machete
  1484. >The sun shines brightly off of the blade while you tear it free from the sand
  1485. >Glancing tiredly down at the shining weapon, your eyes narrow
  1486. “… but that won’t be for a long time. Mom’s got a lot of work to take care of first.”
  1487. >Turning away with the sun at your back, you begin to ascend the beach path up the cliffside
  1490. >After you’ve ascended the steps of the path and have walked a few more minutes, you find yourself in front of what’s left of your home
  1491. >Burnt out ashes and a few blackened wooden beams are all that’s left
  1492. “Bummer...”
  1493. >It feels as if this should be a great loss, yet you can’t seem to bring yourself to care much
  1494. “Guess I’ll be sleeping in the van for now on.”
  1495. >”Excuse me ma’m?”
  1496. “Hm?”
  1497. >Turning around, you find yourself locking eyes with a man clad in a blue uniform wearing a ball cap and a pair of sunglasses
  1498. >Suddenly, a terror as great as any vampire had given you seizes your body
  1499. “It’s the Fuzz.”
  1500. >”Ma’m? Your arm!? Do you require an—"
  1501. >The police man’s jaw drops as you twist toward him, his eyes staring down at the machete hanging loosely in your good arm
  1502. >”Stop right there!”
  1503. >He takes a step back from you as a hand of his’s grasps the pistol in his holster
  1504. “Whoa! Take it easy man!”
  1505. >”Drop your weapon now!”
  1506. >A pang of fear ripples through your body as a headache begins to grip you
  1507. >The numbing pain in your head strikes you very suddenly as you let your machete clatter to the ground
  1508. “See? it’s cool man, I don’t want anymore trouble than I already got.”
  1509. >”a-Are you the owner of this home?”
  1510. “You mean ‘were’?”
  1511. >Your eyes narrow as the headache begins to strike you even harder
  1512. “Ffffffuck!”
  1513. >You drop down to your knees as beads of sweat begin to slide down your face
  1514. >The policeman let’s go of his gun and rushes over to you, standing just a few steps out of reach
  1515. >”What’s wrong? Are you suffering a concussion? Are you on any drugs or alcohol?”
  1516. “… no.”
  1517. >”Son of a— come here, I’ll help you to my car.”
  1518. >He steps closer to you and places a hand on your good shoulder
  1519. >The headache disappears
  1522. >His hand grips onto you as he freezes up
  1523. >Suddenly the pain dissipates as you stare deeply at the ground
  1524. >Images flash through your mind
  1525. >You see this policeman clearly as you are treated to not just a simple look, but a deep understanding of his Aura
  1526. “Holy shit.”
  1527. >”w-What are you…?”
  1528. >Picking yourself off of the ground, you stare deep into this man’s wide eyes past his drooping sunglasses
  1529. “You… can’t arrest me.”
  1530. >”I… can’t arrest you.”
  1531. “No hospital either.”
  1532. >”No hospital either… b-but your arm?”
  1533. >You flinch, as if just being reminded of your injury was enough to hurt you
  1534. “y-You…”
  1535. >Gritting your teeth as further sweat drips down your body, you stare even further into his eyes until your faces are only a few inches apart
  1536. “… you were a medic in the war.”
  1537. >”y-y-Yes…”
  1538. “Relocate my arm.”
  1539. >”…”
  1540. “Fix my arm!”
  1541. >”Yes ma’m.”
  1542. >You can no longer take it
  1543. >When it feels like you are on the verge of passing out, you slap his hand off of your shoulder
  1544. >The policeman readjusts his sunglasses and calmly stares
  1545. >”Alright ma’m. Follow me to my car and I’ll fix you up.”
  1546. “c-Cool…”
  1547. >You slowly follow him as you try to figure out just what happened
  1548. >You’ve been able to see Auras for many years now, but this is the first time you’ve been able to actually see into a person’s actual life like that
  1549. >Memories of his past were imprinted into your own head, and somehow while the two of you were in that state you managed to… order him around?
  1550. “Not cool. Not fucking cool.”
  1551. >Not to mention being able to visit and find Adagio
  1552. >An out of body experience, what would you call that?
  1553. “Was that Astral projection? Just what else can I do?”
  1556. >You continue to ponder over all of these unbelievable developments as the policeman lays a blanket down on the street
  1557. >He places a hand around your waist, his eyes looking away from your bare body as he blushes
  1558. >”Please lie down right here on the ground.”
  1559. “Uhh thanks.”
  1560. >You let him help you to the ground as he kneels down beside your dislocated arm
  1561. >”This is going to hurt a lot, are you sure you wouldn’t rather I call paramedics?”
  1562. >Sighing, you shake your head at him
  1563. >Going to a doctor and having to explain ANY of this would only make things more complicated
  1564. >You plan on finishing this all today, and the last thing you need is more people either getting in the way or getting themselves hurt
  1565. “Just do what you gotta do dude.”
  1566. >He nods his head as he grips onto your arm
  1567. >You grit your teeth when he begins to apply pressure
  1568. >Your body shudders
  1569. *POP!*
  1570. “ARRRGH!”
  1571. >For a few agonizing seconds you continue to lie there on the ground
  1572. >Then the pain slowly eases off
  1573. >You almost feel as if you could pass out right there if not for the myriad of problems still plaguing your thoughts
  1574. “c-Can you help me up?”
  1575. >”Sure thing.”
  1576. >With the officer’s assistance, you are able to stand once more
  1577. >Flexing your arm, you can tell it’s still not quite back in shape but the pain is much more bearable
  1578. “Thanks dude.”
  1579. >”Your… welcome.”
  1580. “Huh?”
  1581. >Taking a look at him, you can see that he’s a bit out of it himself
  1582. >You get the feeling that it likely had something to do with you jumping into his head and mind controlling him
  1583. >You’re still feeling pretty upset about that
  1584. >Making people act against their will is totally not something you want to get in the habit of doing
  1585. “Why don’t you just take it easy bro.”
  1586. >”y-Yeah, that sounds good. d-Do you want a jacket?”
  1587. “A jacket?”
  1588. >”t-To cover yourself up?”
  1589. “Oh, yeah…”
  1593. >The officer reaches into his trunk and tosses you a leather police jacket
  1594. >You stare down at the smooth coat in your hands and crack a small grin
  1595. “Heh, never thought I’d ever be wearing one of these. Seriously.”
  1596. >The officer nods his head before shutting his trunk
  1597. >”You have a nice day.”
  1598. >Not wanting to press your luck anymore, you let the officer clamber inside his car
  1599. >He immediately reclines back into his seat and passes out
  1600. “Thanks bro…”
  1601. >Tossing on the jacket, you find that it is a rather close fit
  1602. >Zipping it up covers your top, though it does make your bosom appear a bit bigger and you can tell the leather is going to make things rather hot in this sunny weather
  1603. “It'll have to do for now.”
  1604. >Walking back over to the wreckage of your house, you reclaim the machete before digging through some of the ruins
  1605. >After a few minutes of searching, you manage to find a small bit of metal glinting in the ash
  1606. "Huh?"
  1607. >Anon's lighter
  1608. >You stare down at it for a good long minute before pocketing it
  1609. >Another few minutes and you find a different piece of metal
  1610. “Sweet.”
  1611. >Taking your keys, you turn toward your van
  1612. >Your son used to affectionately call the old thing The Mystery Machine, as it did largely resemble the vehicle from Scooby Doo fairly close down to some of the faded paint on the exterior
  1613. >Opening the door, you shove the keys inside and bring the engine to life
  1614. >Reaching inside your pocket, you roll up the now extremely faded and tattered note you had taken from the Vampire Hunter last night
  1615. >Satisfied that you have the address down correctly, you crank the car into gear and begin driving into town towards the abandoned church
  1616. “She’s gonna know I’m coming now… good."
  1617. >The sun is shining brightly above, and you feel that after all you’ve struggled through and lost that you’ve managed to gain some incredible power
  1618. >Even so, you can tell that finishing Adagio off is going to take everything you’ve got left
  1621. >You crank open the window a bit to let some air in when you hear it again
  1622. >The roll of thunder booming in the distance as dark clouds approach
  1623. “Man, it just won’t let up.”
  1624. >It had looked like the town was starting to wake up
  1625. >People were stepping outside to water their plants and kids were hanging out in the streets, but now everyone was running for cover
  1626. >The streets became deserted once more, leaving you feeling like you were the last woman on Earth
  1627. “I really need to get out of this town.”
  1628. >Mumbling to yourself, you find a spot in the street to park the van and shut off the engine
  1629. >After thoroughly scanning up and down the road, you grab your machete and step outside
  1630. >Diving into an alleyway, you glance around once more before running over to the abandoned church
  1631. >You stare at its broken stained glass windows and its boarded up doors
  1632. >The clouds are approaching faster as you run up the church’s steps
  1633. >You pause in your stride only when your foot connects with the bloodied wooden stake
  1634. >Scooping it off of the ground, you turn toward door
  1635. >Pulling on the handle fails to get it to budge
  1636. “How did these guys even get in here?”
  1637. >For all you know, they could’ve climbed in from the steeple
  1638. >Taking a step back you try to think of a quick solution
  1639. >Perhaps you could get in through a back door, or maybe there’s a broken window, or—
  1640. >A flash of light jerks your head back as another boom of thunder roars over
  1641. “Screw it.”
  1642. >You raise your leg up high and shove your body weight forward
  1643. >The rotting wooden entrance all but flies off it’s hinges
  1644. “Nice.”
  1645. >Light pours in alongside you while you enter the small forgotten church
  1648. >It’s exactly how you had seen it earlier
  1649. >Dusted old church pews and debris lie all over the place, with three large wooden coffins lying in the center of the room
  1650. >Only now all three are empty
  1651. >Your eyes narrow as you slowly take it all in
  1652. “Adagio, it’s me.”
  1653. >The only sound that greets you in return is the echoing of your footsteps
  1654. “You knew I was coming right? You heard my voice.”
  1655. >A skittering of noise draws your attention to a rat running aside the wall
  1656. “I’m sure you’re really pissed right now, I know I am. So let’s… get it over with.”
  1657. >You walk even further down the church aisle until you are no longer within the sun’s warm rays
  1658. >Taking a deep breath, you close your eyes and breathe out
  1659. >…
  1660. >A pang of noise screeches inside your mind as you jerk your head up and gaze at the ceiling
  1661. >You spot Adagio several stories above, glaring down at you while she crouches amidst the rafters
  1662. >She howls and drops down
  1663. >“BURNOUT BITCH!”
  1664. >Your eyes widen as you hop back
  1665. >She lands on her feet only a few steps from you and snarls
  1666. >“You miss your little brat so much, I’ll send you to Hell so you can join him!”
  1667. >Raising your machete up, you ready your weapon
  1668. >Baring her fangs, Adagio rushes you
  1669. >You slash your blade through the air, only for her to bob back
  1670. >Faster than you can react, she pounces
  1671. >Her fist smacks into your cheek, nearly knocking you down
  1672. >She didn’t hit nearly as hard as she did last night, but it’s still enough to send you reeling
  1673. >You raise your machete up again when she closes in, only for her to duck her head
  1674. >Her fist crashes into your gut this time, hitting you so hard that you drop the machete
  1677. >Adagio’s cruel chuckle fills you with dread
  1678. >”How much more can you take?”
  1679. >Gritting your teeth, you swipe at Adagio and grab a handful of her hair
  1680. “Before I lose my cool?”
  1681. >Her hissing gives way to screaming as you thrust into her chest with your stake
  1682. >Adagio falls back away from you, scampering across the ground while howling in pain
  1683. “Let’s find out.”
  1684. >You stare down at her while slowly scooping up your machete and stepping closer
  1685. >She backs away to the altar’s steps where she climbs to a crouching position
  1686. >Now that you’re close enough, you can see that your stake missed her heart a second time
  1687. >You’ve been putting quite a few large holes in her, but she keeps coming back for more
  1688. >"y-You..."
  1689. >Hissing lowly, you can tell that she’s getting ready to pounce again
  1690. >You look back back at the open doors where the light is slowly seeping inside
  1691. >Turning around, you sprint toward the light
  1692. >Your pursuer moans for your blood as she leaps from the altar
  1693. >”No escape!”
  1694. >Reaching the sunlight, you slide to a halt and face her with the machete held high
  1695. “For you.”
  1696. >You grip the blade with both hands and slash
  1697. >Adagio recoils back nearly a second too late, with your weapon leaving a small and bloody gash that runs from her shoulder to her chest
  1698. >”Son of a BITCH!”
  1699. >Not wasting any time, you run forward and take another slash
  1700. >She staggers back another few steps
  1701. >Adagio screams as you cleave into her shoulder while, likely cutting down to the bone itself
  1704. >With another snarl she rushes you with her good arm
  1705. >Her fist connects, but you barely flinch this time
  1706. >Stepping back amidst the sunlight, you stare at the blood-soaked vampire
  1707. “It’s a new day Adagio. The night’s going to be a bit less dark for now on, maybe you’ll get to see it again in your next life.”
  1708. >She balks while clenching the bloody gash in her arm
  1709. >”I have seen entire cities shrouded in darkness long before you mortals lit it up with your street lamps and billboards, and I will live to see many more nights after I’ve SLAUGHTERED YOU!”
  1710. >You don't bat an eyelash as she lunges
  1711. >When her hand touches sunlight, she hisses and retreats into the shadows
  1712. “How can you call this living? Can’t you see how miserable this is, how you’re taking your unhappiness out on everyone else?”
  1713. >”Mortal lives are nothing to people like me! Your kind are only fit to feed and amuse us!”
  1714. >You raise your machete and point it at her
  1715. “Does this amuse you? Are you like, entertained right now?”
  1716. >She only hisses in reply
  1717. “You’re sick girl, but I got the cure right here.”
  1718. >She opens her mouth only for a boom of thunder to silence her
  1719. >Adagio’s eyes widen, causing you to glance back
  1720. >Dark clouds begin to gather outside
  1721. >”Heh... hah hah hah…”
  1722. >You glare at Adagio as the rays of sunlight are blocked out
  1723. >”Well well, it looks like my night has already returned."
  1724. >Her fangs jut out as she grins
  1725. >”What now Treehugger?”
  1726. “What now…?”
  1727. >Her smile falters as you stride closer
  1728. “I’m not afraid of you anymore.”
  1729. >”w-What did you say?”
  1730. “There’s nothing left for you or the rest of the world to take away from me. I’m not a mother anymore, and I’m not just some burnout either. I’m a Hunter and you’re MY prey!”
  1733. >Adagio’s fanged mouth opens in terror while a flash of lightning bounces off of your face
  1734. >Glaring into her Aura, you see the spikes begin to recede with each step back she takes
  1735. >”Heh… hahahaha… ahhhh…”
  1736. >Rainwater begins to leak through the ceiling as she nervously chuckles
  1737. >”You look just like one of us.”
  1738. >With another blast of thunder and lightning, she turns tail and runs
  1739. >You rush after her as she takes to the air
  1740. >Adagio’s body leaps up high through a window, sending splinters and shards of glass raining down
  1741. “I won’t let you get away with this!”
  1742. >Your eyes spot a wooden door beside the church altar
  1743. >With a few heavy kicks, your boot smashes the door off of its hinges
  1744. >It sinks into the muddy grass as you step over it and chase after Adagio through the raging storm
  1745. >She slips and falls into the mud before quickly pulling herself up, her ragged body struggling to go on
  1746. >With each step, you slowly close in on the blood and mud splattered monster
  1747. >Adagio jerks her head back and stares you down with blood dripping from her eyes before limping off
  1748. >Her body collides with a chain linked fence
  1749. >Glancing beyond the fence, you spot a canal overflowing with water
  1750. >For a moment she tries to climb it, only to quickly fall back down
  1751. >Even with all her supernatural strength, she can’t climb a fence with only one good arm
  1752. >Instead she uses the fence for support as she struggles to escape
  1753. >"I won't die! I WON'T DIE!"
  1754. >You’re only a few yards from her now when she suddenly finds a slash amidst the fence
  1755. >Her knees hit the mud as she crawls through the hole
  1756. >Following after her, you proceed to hack the fence open as Adagio trips and falls amidst a pile of trash
  1757. >The way open, you march after her
  1758. “No more running.”
  1759. >”I agree.”
  1760. >She stands back up, now with a lead pipe in her hand and a glower on her face
  1763. >Staring each other down for a but a moment, the two of you charge
  1764. >You cleave at her with your machete while she swings with her pipe
  1765. >Sparks fly at the two hunks of metal clash
  1766. >Shoving the machete away, she takes another swing at your head
  1767. >You step aside and dodge her blow
  1768. >She swipes again and you manage to step back in time
  1769. >Only this time, your boot slips in the mud
  1770. >Nearly falling back into the raging canal, Adagio swoops in
  1771. >With another swing, she tosses the machete out of your hand and sends it clattering into the mud
  1772. >”You’re mine!”
  1773. >The roar of thunder drowns out your scream as her weapon slams into your previously dislocated arm
  1774. >Snarling down at Adagio, you raise up your good arm as you tower over her
  1775. “YOU’RE DEAD!”
  1776. >Adagio is sent flying back with an uppercut
  1777. >The lead pipe plunges into the canal, drawing your attention to the trash that lies beside the torrent of water
  1778. >Narrowing your eyes, you reach down and grab a piece of metal amidst the trash
  1779. >Adagio struggles to raise herself up, shifting onto her back while you loom closer
  1780. >Your gaze falls upon the flash of light in her Aura, illuminating the heart
  1781. “Rest in Piece!”
  1782. >You raise the metal rod up and slam it straight through her heart
  1784. >Shoving your weight into her, you ignore her screams for a few moments before finally letting go
  1785. >To your surprise, she continues to howl while lifting herself off the ground
  1786. >The two of you lock eyes once more before the universe itself steps in on your behalf
  1787. >A shining light crashes down and blinds you as lighting strikes the metal rod in Adagio’s heart
  1788. >The crash of thunder is the loudest thing you’ve ever heard, as it is the last thing Adagio ever hears
  1791. >You watch the blackness surrounding her Aura burn away like the steam receding from her body
  1792. >Taking a step back, Adagio's lips curl into a smile
  1793. >While there’s a great deal of ringing in your own ears, you swear you can hear something like... singing
  1794. >”Ah ahhh ah… ah ahhhhhh…"
  1795. >She falls back and splashes into the canal, the rain washing her away
  1796. “That song.”
  1797. >Your heartbeat struggles to slow down
  1798. "I know that song..."
  1799. >Lowering your head, you turn away from the current
  1800. >Reaching down, you grasp the machete and walk through the fence
  1801. >You stomp through the mud and step around the church back to your van, no longer caring who might see you
  1802. >Tossing the machete into your passenger seat, you collapse behind the wheel
  1803. “Adagio, Sonata, Aria… Anon…”
  1804. >You have no home to go back to, no family to look after or to go to for comfort
  1805. >To take care of those three vampires, you had to lose everything else
  1806. >Sighing, you shove your key into the car and let the roar of the engine and the cool jet of air from the AC greet you
  1807. “I guess I gotta move on…”
  1808. >You rest your head down against the wheel
  1809. “… but dying sounds a lot easier."
  1810. >Gripping your hand around the wheel, you sniffle as the storm begins to die down
  1811. >A few minutes pass as you watch the clouds finally fade away
  1812. >Rays of warm sunlight begin to shine down once more
  1813. >Unzipping your jacket slightly to let the cool air soothe your body, you reach over to the glove box and pull out a pair of sunglasses
  1814. >Turning on the radio, you don your shades and drive off into the rising sun
  1823. One year later
  1825. >Lighting your joint, you smoothly inhale a puff of smoke into your lungs before slowly exhaling it
  1826. >Just like that, you’ve taken off the edge
  1827. >Across from the leather couch you sit on, the tv reporter shuffles his papers and solemnly stares straight at you
  1828. >”The search for the Stockyard Slasher continues after another grisly murder last night took the life of a cab driver and a father of three. Although the victim was found with a deep laceration around his throat like the previous victims, new evidence has begun to emerge which indicates that this most recent murder may in fact be the work of a copy-cat killer.”
  1829. “Copy cat huh?”
  1830. >You recline further back into your seat as you close your eyes and listen to the man speak
  1831. “Or maybe the killer made a new friend?”
  1832. >You take another drag on your joint as you relax further and begin to mentally block out the man’s voice
  1833. >Your gaze lazily drifts over the room as you take in the surroundings
  1834. >This apartment of yours is a bit smaller than your old place, but for someone living on their own you think it’s perfect
  1835. >Plenty of privacy, and a nice view out the fifth story window as well
  1836. >Real peaceful place to rest your head, but tonight you know you can’t do much resting
  1837. >Dropping your joint in your ash tray, you pull yourself up to your feet
  1838. >Cracking your head and stretching your arms, you glance over to the machete in it’s holster that lies against the wall
  1839. >Picking it up, you securely fasten it on your belt and behind your back, with the handle pointed diagonally downwards where it can easily be reached with your right hand
  1840. >Tossing on a denim jacket and glancing in your mirror, you see that the machete is concealed well behind your back and buttocks
  1843. >You walk over to your kitchen and grab one of the strings of garlic hanging off of your ceiling, which you proceed to hide around your neck and under your shirt
  1844. >Finally, you reach inside your coat pocket and take out a bandanna which you tie around the top of your head over your dreadlocks
  1845. “Here we go again.”
  1846. >Walking out your door, you begin to steel yourself for tonight’s hunt
  1847. >You’re so focused, that you only just now notice the figure up ahead as he fumbles with his keys
  1848. >”This fucking thing…”
  1849. >You pick your head up as he bangs his fist against the door with a snarl
  1850. >Caught off guard by his display, you reach for the machete only to freeze as he looks to you
  1851. >The two of you stare at each other for a few moments as you take in his appearance
  1852. >He looks to be a somewhat younger man with messy hair, broad shoulders, a clean shaven face, and dark skin under his drooping eyes
  1853. ”Uhhh sup.”
  1854. >”Hi uhhh…”
  1855. “Treehugger, and you’re…”
  1856. >”My name’s Shining Armor.”
  1857. “Right, I don’t think we’ve met yet. I just moved in down the hall not that long ago.”
  1858. >”Yeah, same here.”
  1859. >You give the guy a smile which he slowly returns
  1860. “Having trouble with the door?”
  1861. >”You can say that. Damn thing won’t budge.”
  1862. “My door’s the same way, here.”
  1863. >You walk up by his side, take the key out of the lock and shove it back in whilst throwing your weight up against the door handle
  1864. >The door finally unlocks as you push it open
  1865. “There, just needs a little muscle.”
  1866. >”Heh thanks.”
  1869. >Now that you’re up close you can smell a bit of booze on his breathe, though he looks to be fairly sober
  1870. >While you’re taking a closer look at him you’re treated to a good look at his Aura
  1871. >It’s honestly like nothing you’ve seen before
  1872. >His Aura looks quite sturdy, and it sticks noticeably close to his body
  1873. >True to his name, it also looks somewhat shiny almost like metal
  1874. >If you weren’t up close to him, it’s possible you might mistake his Aura for a suit of shining armor
  1875. >“Something wrong?”
  1876. “What?”
  1877. >Your eyes widen as you shake your head, realizing that you had been checking him out for a rather long time
  1878. >”Would you uh, like to come in?”
  1879. “Oh, uhm…”
  1880. >You rub the back of your head as you feel the machete bristle against your back
  1881. “… now’s kind of a bad time for me.”
  1882. >”Oh, that’s cool.”
  1883. “Yeah…”
  1884. >”Well thanks for giving me a hand, I’ll see you around.”
  1885. >You frown as he steps inside his room
  1886. “You doing anything tomorrow?”
  1887. >”Tomorrow?”
  1888. “Yeah, I mean like, we’re neighbors and all man. We should like, get to know each other.”
  1889. >Shining stares at you with a blank look before smiling
  1890. >”You free tomorrow night?”
  1891. “Tomorrow night?”
  1892. >You’re honestly not sure if you’ll find anything meaningful about this new target of yours tonight
  1893. >Could take weeks…
  1894. “I’m probably going to be busy tomorrow night… you doing anything during the day?”
  1895. >Shining frowns in return
  1896. >”I’m kind of working all day tomorrow.”
  1897. “Oh, bummer…”
  1899. >The two of you awkwardly stand beside each other a few moments before you effect a smile for him
  1900. “Well, let me know whenever your free Dude.”
  1901. >”Yeah, will do. You have a good night Treehugger.”
  1902. “You too.”
  1903. >You give him a small wave as you step down the hallway and he closes the door
  1904. “Dude… you look like The Dude around here.”
  1905. >You chuckle to yourself as you step down the stairs and hit the streets
  1906. >Your smile fades as you march down the sidewalk, your right hand hovering close over the machete behind your back
  1907. >You had moved over a thousand miles away from where you had lived your entire life, hoping to start over…
  1908. >… and hoping to continue your Hunt
  1909. >Your eyes narrow as you stare down the dark and empty street
  1910. >Slowly, your eyes widen as everything illuminates
  1911. >Not a sign of life at all, not one Aura
  1912. >You breathe a sigh of relief as you continue your solitary march
  1913. “There’s a lot of messed up shit in the world…”
  1914. >A small smile purses your lips
  1915. “… but there’s always a sunrise the next morning.”
  1916. >Suddenly, a jolt pierces through your mind
  1917. >Sucking in all your breathe, you close your eyes and drop to your knees
  1918. >Opening them once more, you send your spirt out as it races through the buildings at the speed of light
  1919. >Flying through the air, you glare down at a dark and shadowy aura as it creeps through the alleyway
  1920. >A scantily clad young woman stumbles roughly twenty feet ahead of it, clearly drunk off her ass
  1921. >The monstrous figure bares it’s fangs as it slowly creeps along
  1922. >Rushing back into your body, you rise up to your feet and lay a hand on the machete behind your back
  1923. >Glaring down an alley way, you break off into a sprint after the monster
  1924. >Charging through the darkness, you carry on the Hunt
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