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    C. Henderson
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Sacrum - 1. Chapter 1

“You’re frustrated,” Vinicius stated plainly, his mouth holding a gentle smile for me.

“I am,” I replied, just as plainly and openly. Maybe honesty was the best policy after all, and something would magically change if I could just convey to my mentor how burdened I was with my future destiny, and how defeated I felt about my lack of progress in harnessing my gift.

“And you feel justified in your frustrations?” He asked, as if we were having a pleasant conversation about the weather, and not discussing matters of national importance.

“I do,” I said bitterly. After all, I never chose this type of life for myself. I never wanted to be a Special. All I wanted was just to be a normal vampire teenager.

“Tell me then, tell me of your frustrations, my son, and I will listen with an open heart, for you have every right to express your thoughts about this strange position you’ve been placed in since the day that you were created,” he replied gently, always patient to my griping. I couldn’t be mad at him, no matter how hard I tried. And try I did, fairly often. But Vinicius wasn’t someone I could ever blame, despite him being directly responsible for creating me.

I thought back to those days now, the days when Vinicius was still alive, and able to guide me through the complexities of my strange existence. Now I was all alone, and I had nobody.

I made my way toward the lunch area. Of course, none of us were actually having lunch at Baritone High School. We fed once a day, at dinner time, on precisely measured out blood cocktails that were ethically sourced from either animals, or human volunteers. Lunch in the middle of classes was just a break from studies, and time to catch up with friends. Except there was a small problem, I still had none. I was transferred here after Vinicius committed suicide, something I still couldn’t wrap my head around. I had never even suspected him of being unhappy. But that was the official statement I was given—that he walked out into the bright sunlight one day and decided to end it all for good. It didn’t make any sense; he knew how much the vampire world needed him. How much I needed him. He must have realized how crucial he was to my development, especially at this current fragile stage of transferring from boyhood into manhood. It was completely out of character for him to leave his responsibilities behind.

I had to be transferred to Baritone because it was the only high school in North America able to accommodate me as a Special and provide me with a new mentor. See, every Special was assigned a mentor at the moment of creation. A mentor was one of the original vampires who took part in developing the Special program. Vinicius was one of them. He was one of the wisest and kindest vampires I had ever met.

The job of a mentor was to teach the Special about their own particular power, and how they were to wield it in the future. We were a very small task force developed to protect the free world and combat any potential insurrections from vampires who had their own dark agenda of taking over, and of potentially destroying our fragile relationship with the human world. As it stood now, it was completely illegal to kill a human in order to drink their blood. Anyone who would even dare would be put on trial and punished if they were found guilty. We were able to purchase blood from our own stores—blood which was voluntarily donated by willing humans in exchange for a small payment. There was also blood created in the laboratory—another invention Vinicius was a part of—which, although nowhere near as tasty as human blood, technically did the job of keeping us satiated.

Vampire and human relationships were also allowed, and if both parties agreed, the vampire could technically drink blood from their partner, as long as they didn’t kill or turn them—they needed to apply for the government’s permission to turn their human partner into a vampire. We were also allowed to drink animal blood, although not many favored that choice. Vinicius, who spent his many lifetimes making various scientific breakthroughs and helping vampires come out from behind the shadows and co-exist with humans, had also developed a way for female vampires to carry and give birth to the dead—vampire children.

Specials were created because the government feared an uprising that would undo all the progress that had been made with humans and vampires who were now peacefully living side by side. Specials were made in a laboratory, with no mother or father to speak of. We were made to serve the state, after we learned to utilize our power. Each Special had a different power, and there were only five of us. The government feared of what would happen if the experiment went wrong and we all decided to use our powers to our own advantage. That’s where our mentors came in. From the moment of creation, the mentors were tasked with reminding us of our mission on earth. To protect the free world, to maintain peace, and to shield the human race if anything were to go wrong within our own government. Just like there were only five of us, similarly there were only five mentors. Only those that had a hand in creating the program and who understood what it stood for and how much was a stake.

“Hello, Special,” a voice woke me up from my musings. “I’m Angelino, but you can call me Angelo,” the boy said, sticking out his hand to shake mine.

“I’m Daniel, but you can call me Dani,” I replied, taking his hand in mine. He smiled and his face revealed two dimples.

“This is Laura,” he said pointing to a red-headed girl behind him. She also smiled and waved at me, and I smiled back. “And that’s Kyle,” he continued, pointing to a serious-faced kid next to Laura who didn’t make any moves to greet me.

“Nice to meet you guys,” I replied.

“We were wondering if you’d want to hang out with our group. You seem pretty lonely over here,” he noted. I was touched by the offer.

“I would like that, thanks,” I replied, and they all sat around me.

“It must be strange to be at a new school, so far from your home,” Angelo stated.

“You know where I’m from?” I asked, curious. Angelo and Laura both chuckled.

“Of course we know where you’re from,” Laura chimed in. “You’re a Special! You’re like the Justin Bieber of the vampire world.” I cringed at the comparison. I came from a very small private school, and Vinicius failed to inform me that us Specials were kind of a big deal to the rest of the vampire world.

“Well, you guys are the first people to even talk to me here. I doubt Justin Bieber would have that issue,” I replied joking.

“I think everyone here is just intimidated to be honest,” Angelo replied. “They don’t know what type of skill you might have. You might breathe fire or something,” he said and I winced in embarrassment. “Not that I think that!” He quickly added, “But you know how teenagers are.”

“Well, you know I can’t tell you what my skill is, but I can assure you I do not breathe fire,” I replied.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel weird. We’re happy you’re here. It’s actually really cool,” he said, showing his dimples again.

“I’m supposed to meet my mentor today. Do you guys know a Sebastiano Maratoni?” Angelo and Laura exchanged quick glances.

“Yeah, uhh, all I’m gonna say is good luck with that one,” Angelo said, looking like he felt pity for me.

“What is it?” I asked.

“He teaches Vampire History, and let’s just say, he’s not known for being the nicest,” Laura said. “Last year he almost failed Angelo for no good reason at all. It doesn’t take much for him to dislike someone. In fact, there aren’t many students at this school that he does like,” she mused. Great, I thought.

Just then the bell rang and I said goodbye to my new found friends, promising to meet with them after class was over.

I hesitantly made my way to my mentor’s office. If Maratoni was as bad as Laura and Angelo claimed, I was going to be in for a rude awakening. Every day I missed Vinicius more and more. I shouldn’t have ever taken him for granted.

Just as I reached for the doorknob, the door flew open, almost knocking me to the ground.

“Are you okay?” The black-haired boy asked, grabbing my arm in order to steady me. His touch was firm and cold.

“I’m fine,” I replied. His lively brown eyes sparkled with a tickle of mischief.

“You’re new,” he stated.

“I am,” I confirmed.

“I’m Vincent,” he said, he was still holding my arm, and for some reason his tight grip felt comforting.

“I’m Dani,” I replied.

“What’s going on out here?” A bald and thin man wearing black rimmed glasses asked, appearing from behind the door. “Ah, Vincenzo, I see that you have met my new little project…and look at that, he’s clumsy!” He said sarcastically, looking over the scene playing out in front of him. Angelo and Laura were right, I already loathed this man. Not only that, but it was also clear that he loathed me too.

“It was my fault,” Vincent stated, not taking his eyes off me. “Good luck,” he added, then winked. And just as fast as we met, he was suddenly gone.

“Well, don’t just stand there like a rock, come on in,” Maratoni said with apparent distaste. His office was extremely dim, but well-organized. Hundreds of books lined the walls. There were also jars filled with strange things floating in them. I turned my eyes away, not wanting to see any more. Maratoni sat at his desk, and I made my way to the chair across from him.

“Vinicius’ creation through and through,” he said, studying my face and describing me as if I was a piece of technology. I didn’t like the tone of his voice when referring to Vinicius.

“How so?” I asked.

“You look like a little blonde angel. Only Vinicius would be ridiculous enough to give a vampire your features.”

“As far as I know, there are no typical features for vampires. We possess every race and gender. Every height and weight.” His mouth curled into an odious smile.

“Is that so?” He replied. “You think you know it all, don’t you?”

“No sir,” I replied, trying to remember my manners. But it was a difficult task around this man.

“Vinicius killed himself without a care for what would happen to you, so I suggest you fix your know-it-all attitude, because I’m the only person you’ve got left in this world,” he stated. I bit my tongue.

“Yes sir.”

“How are you doing with your gift?”

“I haven’t fully mastered it yet,” I admitted, embarrassed. He scoffed.

“Of course not, Vinicius would never push his precious little prodigy, would he. You’re way past behind all the other Specials at this point. And frankly, I’m not even sure if it’s safe to have you in this school, with the number of students here and you not being able to control your power.” My heart dropped. I had just made new friends; I wouldn’t be able to go through another transfer. “But since the powers that be have no issue with it, I guess I’ll go along with the plan…for now,” he added. His lips curling in distaste yet again. “I want a 10-page essay next time I see you. I want your gift explained in detail. I want to know everything that you know about it. I want to know everything Vinicius told you about it. And I want to know every instance that you’ve used it in. Got it?” I nodded, disheartened.

“And when, when will I be seeing you again, sir?” He smirked.

“That would be tomorrow,” he replied with sadistic satisfaction. “Goodbye now,” he waved me off and went back to the papers on his desk. I left the office feeling defeated. I met with Angelo, Laura, and Kyle just to let them know that I would be spending the remainder of my night working on my paper in the library. They all gave me empathetic pats on the back.

The Baritone High School library was impressive. It housed 10 large tables, and rows upon rows of books. I picked an empty table and pulled out my notebook and pencil case. We were not allowed to use laptops for our work, we had to write every report by hand. 10 pages of pure torture, I thought to myself.

“What’s my gift?” I remembered asking Vinicius as a young boy. I was still in the process of learning everything about what it meant to be a Special. He looked at me thoughtfully.

“You will figure it out on your own, eventually. But Dani,” he added in his soft tone, “It’s not worth focusing on the name of it, or what it entails, or how unique it makes you from others. The only important thing about gifts, is how we use them.”

“But how can I practice, if I don’t know what it is,” I complained.

“Oh, but you do know. You just haven’t put a name to it yet.”

“Do the other Specials know their gifts?” I inquired.

“Perhaps, perhaps not. But if you ask me,” he leaned down to whisper, “Your gift is the best one of them all.”

I smiled remembering the conversation all too well. Vinicius was as close as I would ever get to having a parent. I picked up the pen and started writing. After three hours of work, I was slowly getting close to the finish line. I took a break to stretch my sore hand, when I saw the boy I now knew as Vincent walk into the library. Right away I felt a sense of childish giddiness upon seeing his face. The boy was tall and handsome. I thought of Maratoni’s comment about vampire features. Vincent had the type of look the old man probably had in mind when discussing the ideal looking vampire. Dark black hair, sharp jaw line, full lips, brooding eyes, tall and self-assured. I didn’t even realize I was staring until Vincent chuckled as he approached me. I quickly glanced down feeling embarrassed.

“This probably isn’t the best place to make friends at a new school,” Vincent commented, sitting across from me.

“Who says I want to make new friends?”

“Everybody wants friends. Even Specials,” he replied. For a moment I was worried that maybe my gift was the reason that the boy wanted to speak with me. Everyone always seemed to be curious about the gift, not me as a person. But Vincent continued, “Only Maratoni would have you working this hard after one day,” he said, glancing down at my notebook. I closed it involuntarily. Guarding the secret of the gift was part of my schooling. Only mentors and select government officials had knowledge of the gifts each Special possessed.

“Don’t worry, I wasn’t trying to look,” Vincent said, somewhat offended.

“I know, it’s just a habit,” I replied, not wanting to lose his friendship before it even really began.

“I think you need to take a break,” the dark-haired boy suddenly suggested.

“I do?” I asked, confused.

“Yes, you look exhausted. Come with me, I want to show you something.” I was apprehensive, but my curiosity won over. I followed Vincent out of the library and through the hallways and quickly noticed that he seemed to be somewhat of an outcast as well, as students moved out of the way when they saw him. I wondered why. I couldn’t see any reason for the handsome boy not to be popular.

Finally, we entered what looked to be a storage closet.

“You promise not to tell anyone?” Vincent asked, and I nodded, even though I wasn’t sure what I was agreeing to.

Vincent pulled a ladder from the ceiling which I hadn’t noticed was there until then. He climbed and I followed him. We were in some sort of ‘crawl space’, but it was tall and spacious, almost like an attic. Vincent put his finger to his mouth, telling me to stay quiet, and I obeyed. We walked for another minute or two, until we found ourselves standing on top of a large ceiling ventilator. There were voices coming from below. And one of them was already familiar.

Vincent got down on his hands and knees, and I followed suit, looking in through the cracks at the scene below. The room looked like a doctor’s office. Sterile and clean. I quickly recognized my mentor, Sebastiano Maratoni. He was there with a woman—a human. I could smell her blood; it had a sweet aroma.

Maratoni undid his tie, and the woman looked on seductively licking her luscious red lips. Her body was stunningly curvy, and she wore a tight white dress that barely contained her ample assets.

“You look so…alive today,” Maratoni commented excitedly, and she laughed.

“God, I’ve been counting down the hours to this,” she confessed, her voice hoarse and sexy.

“Don’t bring God into it, he has nothing to do with what’s about to happen,” he said, and with the speed of light he was on top of her. He ripped open the top of her dress with one swift movement, and she moaned with pleasure as his fangs pierced the skin of her right breast.

I almost gasped out in horror, but Vincent reminded me to be quiet with his finger once again pressed to his lips. Maratoni continued to feed on the woman, leaving dark bruises all over her large bosom and neck. I glanced over at Vincent who seemed to be mesmerized by the scene, his mouth slightly ajar in excitement. I looked back down, for a second I was worried Maratoni was going to kill her, or turn her, but then I heard a timer go off. He had fed on her for as long as was legal, then slowly disconnected his mouth from her now pale skin. She laid on the hospital gurney looking exhausted but seemingly happy. I couldn’t see Maratoni’s face. He grabbed his tie and put it back on, then left without a word.

Shortly after a vampire nurse walked in and helped to clean and disinfect the human woman’s chest. She also gave her a snack to eat to get her strength back up after such a large blood loss. Vincent and I left quietly.

“What the hell was that?” I asked when we climbed back down into the storage room. After witnessing the strange scene upstairs, it suddenly felt claustrophobic in the cramped space with Vincent’s fit body just inches away from mine.

“I just wanted you to have some extra information on your new mentor. I know he can be a dick, but at least this way you know something private about him too. And not just the other way around.” I felt touched that he thought to do that for me.

“Don’t most teachers choose to feed from the blood store supply?” I asked.

“Most of them yes. And more importantly, he’s definitely the only mentor I know of that drinks human blood straight from the source,” Vincent added. He seemed excited by it all, while I felt uneasy. It seemed strange for a mentor to be drinking from a human like that. They cared about preserving our bond with humans more than any other branch of the government.

“Was that his partner?” I asked.

“Nope, she’s a volunteer. It’s sort of like…blood prostitution,” Vincent replied. I didn’t even want to know where he got that knowledge.

“So, she gets paid?”

“No, she does it for free. She gets…excitement out of it,” he said. “There are a lot of humans who view being with a vampire as a privilege. It’s sexually arousing to them to be drained of their blood.” I cringed hearing the information. Vinicius had always taught me to believe that humans and vampires were equals on this earth.

“Do you think that?” I asked.

“Do I think what?”

“Do you think that vampires are better than humans?” Vincent hesitated. Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door.

“I can hear sounds where there shouldn’t be sounds. I will give you 20 seconds to clear out of there, before you’re in trouble,” a familiar voice announced.

“Angelo?” I asked, opening the door. He was surprised to see me, and even more surprised to see Vincent.

“Sorry, I didn’t know it was you Dani. What are you doing in there, that’s off limits to students.”

“What are you gonna do, run to the headmistress and tell?” Vincent asked, with a type of hostility I wasn’t expecting from him.

“It is kind of my job,” Angelo replied, pointing to his prefect badge with pride, “But I’ll let it slide since Dani didn’t know. You, on the other hand, should know better by now.” Vincent clenched his jaw.

“It’s my fault, I asked him to show me around,” I lied.

“Don’t worry about it Dani,” Angelo replied, smiling at me. Vincent scoffed.

“I’ll see you around,” he said to me, then walked off. Vincent seemed like trouble, but for the first time in a long time, I felt all my senses completely alive. He brought out something in me, something I had never felt before. I had just met him, but I already couldn’t wait to be in his presence again. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad last year of school after all.

Copyright © 2021 C. Henderson; All Rights Reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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A very interesting take on vampires and humans, I wonder about young Vincent knowing about Vinicius supposed suicide.....

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From what we've been told, the death of Vinicius is an improbable suicide. Dani's new mentor is totally odious and unfortunately has been given power over him. Who decided this since he held Vinicius in such low regard? 

Dani is drawn to Vincent and apparently Vincent is drawn also. He shared a secret to give him a small and illicit  glimpse into their mutual mentor's life.

It's an odd world we've been introduced to where vampires live openly among humans. 

You have me hooked.

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