17: Ying and Yang

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I was uncomfortable; and right behind them. Hayden just shrugged. I prayed I wasn't walking into a perverted harem. Even if I was- I couldn't leave a boy like Hayden alone in that. He'd probably get eaten.

Ji wove us around the garden of dead flowers, out of the gates, and onto the street. It was crowded. Packed. Jammed. Vampires hung on to each other perfunctorily, with occasional Donors trickling behind them.

Hayden followed Ji with a mindless smile. I followed behind Hayden. My hands tightly gripped his shoulders, as if any vampire could just snatch us up.

"I'm glad I got to meet both of you recently," Ji said. "I always make an effort to meet my brother's Donors. It's exciting to see what I can do with them."

I squinted, wondering what the hell that meant. It took me a minute to realize that she's reading my thoughts, and a shiver went up my back.

"Don't worry," Ji muttered, softly. "I only touch the ones he hasn't claimed yet."

What did that even mean? How would she even know? Did she read our minds and determine her version of who she can touch or not?

"Yes," Ji said. "Yes to the latter. I know all. I'm practically omnipresent."

Fuck. That stupid mind-reader.

Guessing from the bits and pieces I've heard of Nam Ha's story, Nam Ha used to steal away time with Ji about a few years ago ago. Nam Ha was lonelier and more naïve then, and Ji was still a manipulator. I don't know if there was anything there. Maybe Ji was sucking Nam Ha's blood- excuse me, psychic energy- or convincing Nam Ha to join in on a Ji/boyfriend/Donor harem.

"I'm not a slut," Ji muttered. "But for a while, Nam Ha was stealing recipes from the twins. She spent a while helping Paul and I with our projects."

Yeah, okay. My stomach was swirling so hard, I might throw up.

I needed Tyson. Yes, he was unstable, but so was I, and he was less unstable than his little sister here. Godamn.

Ji's long fingernails tapped against her skirt perfunctorily. She keeps pursing her lips like she was holding herself back.

"When you live for as long as I do, you get lots of projects," she muttered. "And I've been feeling unsatisfied lately. Maybe it's because I haven't seen my brother in a while."

"You should come over and talk to him," Hayden said.

Ji giggled. "Oh, I'm not allowed in his house anymore. So I need to send my message to him another way."

The longer we walked, the colder I get. A scowl etched into my features, like I was hiding from the vampires on the caveside street.

Let me guess... Ji was going to drink from me again, isn't she? I could storm away, but it's guaranteed that an even crazier vampire could swoop up and grab me.

And Hayden only met her the other day. He probably didn't know what being bit by a psychic felt like.

"How will you get a message to Tyson, Ji?" I whispered.

"I want to repeat the past," she said. "Once upon a time, about seventeen years ago, he had a group of old humans who lived in his house. They were once his Donors, but had wasted away into old people- childless old grandmothers and grandfathers. I snuck in one night, had mercy on them, and helped them go free."

Oh my God. Holy fuck. She killed them.

"Yes," Ji said. "After that, my own brother has despised me. Can you believe that?"

Hayden smiled. His blue eyes were way too innocent. He clearly thought that Ji rescued the Donors from Tyson. He had no idea that she really was a killer.

"See, Laurie?" Hayden yelped. "She's really going to free us!"

My white nightgown hung too snug to each part of my body. It was still bloodstained. Though it was smooth like velvet, was too low-cut. I tugged it upwards.

A little charm hung off the belt- a golden lantern. It swung along my dress as we walk. I tried to listen to the soft beats of it to distract from the rhythm of everything.

After a while, I lost track of where we were going. All the blocks and streets looked the same.

A yellow-thatched house loomed before us. The paint was peeling like it was last painted in the 17th century. The architecture was old and Ji wrenched a key out of her tiny pocket.

Tyson wouldn't notice we were gone until later. This was my last chance for me to escape on my own. But as I debated running into the crowded street, I saw the way that the vampires drool when they watched me.

I wouldn't make it five steps.

So I followed Hayden and Ji into the building, and Ji locked the door behind us. Vitality was laced into her every movement. She smelled like vanilla and old lady hand cream. And worst of all, her eyes were wide and crazy, like marbles that had sprung free from her sockets.

"Perfect," Ji purred. "But to be honest, I only wanted Hayden. But he didn't want to see my house alone, apparently."

Someone was behind me. I could smell their breath, and I moved to turn. But then I felt the syringe against my shoulder and its pinch was like ice.

"But it had to be today," Ji said. "Today was the first day he woke up."

My whole body stung, but I felt nothing. And as I dropped to the floor, I saw two different things, all at once.

One, Paul. He was standing below the steps with a sociopathic smile. He gave me a little wave, like he actually remembered me.

Two, the girl on table. She was dead. Her organs spilled out of her like bubbles out of a skinny container. I think Hayden was the one who screamed, because I wasn't really able to do much of anything.

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This chapter was so hard to write tbh. Comment below, and expect the next chapter verrrry soon.

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