Ch. 2: Calina

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Calina sat in the darkness below the city. It wasn't her favorite place to be but she found herself there often. The dampness and the rats never bothered her. It was the irony she found hard to deal with. That she ended up seeking refuge in sewers with the waste of humans.  It was almost fitting.

But she had finished her hunting much too late last night to make it home before the sun. It had been necessary. Children could not be rushed. If they were taken even a moment before they were ready, the meal was tainted with fear. The pleasure of all that preparation spoiled.

Calina had taken Charlie from his bed without a sound. She had played with, talked to him, taken her time with him. Shared stories from her past that would have been forgotten had she not recited them often. She had inhaled his little boy smell and felt his tiny heart upon her still chest. They had been on a nighttime adventure. In the park under the moon. Like a real mother and child.

She had enjoyed every moment he had given her. And almost thought to take him back and visit him again when she was needy. It wouldn't have been the first time. There was no need to worry about him sharing stories the next day. Adults were always scoffing children and calling their tales dreams or explaining truths with vivid imaginations. Letting him go would have been easy.

But Charlie had fallen asleep. His warm breath on her neck and the smell of sweat and look of happiness on his tiny face had been too tempting. Calina remembered in these moments. She remembered her own children. Holding her close, filling her empty spaces. She remembered them being her everything, and her theirs.

It was too much. The anger had risen, and the longing. The desperate need to get back that connection, if only for a moment in time. As he lay on her lap sleeping with a simple smile, it was no longer a choice. She cradled him, humming like the mother she had been. She kissed his cheek tasting the salty sweat. And she drank.

There was no struggle. She had been gentle, mother like. And as she fed she felt him. Truly, and utterly, like an absorption of everything he was. His joy, his happiness, his wonder. All flowing through her brain and popping like tiny bubbles of champagne she use to drink on holiday. And when she was finished, she was whole. But only for a moment.

Calina positioned him back gently. Laying him in their story space on the field where his face would greet the morning sun. They liked that, human children. She stayed with him until it was time, later than she should have. But she believed he would be happy like that. Just her and him, awaiting a bright new day.

Calina blamed the others. Perhaps if she were allowed with the group in the nest surrounded by her own kind she wouldn't have such longing. But they had cast her out. Even after she had been turned, even after the agony of being re-born. They had turned their backs on her.

Perhaps she should have relented back then. She remembered the dark place she was in. Her only goal to cease the existence she was given. Time after time of being chastised and beaten for attempts to end it all, she refused to quit. Every attempt deeming her a failure. When she had finally ran out into the street to burn with the heat of the sun, it had been the last straw. Her scarred skin was punishment, but being outcast was the torture. They should have finished it, killed her with mercy or pain, it didn't matter to her.

But because it was what she had wanted.  As punishment for all the clean ups and trouble she caused them, she had been spared. Denied the death she desired and put out like a stray cat in the street. No teaching of hunting or knowledge of history or gifts. She was now the rat. Something that scurried underneath, below the surface. Something to be ignored. But not anymore.  She had risen from those ashes.

She may be sleeping below the streets with the rats and the filth. But she had risen. Her purpose clear to her. Take revenge on Luka and his kind. Clean the streets of those who make vampires and turn them out like garbage. And on the way, delight in the one thing she remembered bringing her joy. The children.

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