The fledgling, p.1
The Fledgling, p.1Diana Vincent
By Diana Vincent
The Fledgling – copyright 2012 Diana Vincent
All Rights Reserved
Part 1: Schooling the Young
“Can’t I at least have a little drink before we go?”
“No, Marcus,” his father answered, measuring his son with his deep set eyes the color of wet iron and an expression equally as unyielding. “Hunger is a strong motivator for a successful hunt.”
“I don’t need motivation,” Marcus mumbled under his breath, even though he knew his father’s hyper-acute hearing would pick up every word.
“You’d be surprised,” Orion D’Capilla said. His features softened as he studied his son sprawled on the sofa in front of him with his arms tightly folded to his chest, one leg to the side and the other stretched forth with his heel on the floor and the toes wagging back and forth, a sign of his nervousness. He looks so much like his mother, but he has my eyes. But why must he wear..? He eyed with disapproval his son’s attire – faded jeans that rode low on the hips, a hole in one knee and frayed cuffs, a black tee-shirt with the screen-printed emblem of a rock band across the front, and worn black sneakers without laces or socks. The influences of sending him to a public school, he sighed inwardly, can’t be helped. He thought back to his own early education when flamboyant cravats in shocking colors had been the rage. He recalled one in bright pink and purple…ah well, youth; but that was over three centuries ago. A slight smile wafted briefly over his countenance.
“Darlings!” Elizabeth D’Capilla glided into the living room wearing a sleek, dark red sheath and matching heels. Diamonds sparkled in her ears and from settings within a gold chain around her elegant neck. Her thick blonde hair waved to her shoulders, framing the attractive angular features of her pale face. “Are we ready?”
“I don’t know why we have to do this now. Why can’t it wait until after I graduate?” Marcus grumbled, his position on the sofa unchanged.
“Marcus,” his mother admonished, her patience strained. “You are fifty-two years old. Most youngsters your age have been hunting for at least a decade.”
“What about Jocelyn? She’s seventy-five.”
“What a cruel thing to say!” Elizabeth’s voice rose a decibel.
“You know very well Jocelyn has some…difficulties,” his father replied.
“Poor Jocelyn…I don’t know if she’ll ever…” Elizabeth sighed, her beautiful mouth turned down sympathetically. “Brain damage at birth,” she added in a softer tone. Then remembering tonight’s purpose, she steeled her features to glare at her son. “We have been feeding you for over fifty years. It is well past time you are fledged. We won’t be around to care for you when you leave for Harvard.”
“I’ll have all summer to learn to hunt. I have exams to prepare for.” It wasn’t that Marcus objected to learning to hunt; he knew it was inevitable and crucial for his ultimate survival in a world hostile to his kind. In fact, just a decade ago, he use to beg his parents to take him with them on their bi-weekly evening rounds, only to be told he was too young. He looked forward to becoming a proficient hunter, just not now.
Four years ago his parents enrolled him in Beacon High School in Manhattan, and he had submerged himself in its culture; enjoying the camaraderie of his classmates, bantering with the boys in the locker room and between classes, flirting with girls, and best of all, playing basketball. Now in his last year, with his superior speed, agility, and accurate eye, he was the star center on the team. He had never missed a basket in play or a free throw. He was popular, had excellent grades, and had dated many girls. He was enjoying this phase of his life and wasn’t ready to alter his lifestyle. It was a Friday night after all!
Marcus appreciated the decision his parents had made to enroll him in public school, for many of their kind chose to exclusively educate their children at home. Marcus had already received an extensive education through home study, so attending high school was not for the academics but to immerse him in contemporary customs and culture. His father had attended a public school during his own youth, but his mother had been educated at home. His parents had discussed in depth their different upbringings and decided cultural immersion offered many advantages for survival.
Orion sniffed and raised his eyes at his son’s excuse. Both his parents knew Marcus did not need to study to pass his tests. “Come, the hour is almost prime,” he ordered. He picked up a black silk pashmina tossed over the back of a chair, and adjusted it around his wife’s shapely shoulders while she smoothed the lapels of his black Brooks Brothers suit. Then they affectionately kissed each other on the lips.
Marcus groaned as he shifted off the sofa and pulled on a tattered, gray sweatshirt, leaving the hood up. He followed his parents out the door of their Manhattan apartment, and into the elevator that descended from the fourteenth floor to street level in a matter of seconds.
“Good evening Mr. and Mrs. D’Capilla; Marcus,” Martín, the doorman greeted as he opened the heavy, ornate front doors for the family. “Your car is waiting.”
“Good evening, Martín, thank you,” Orion returned the greeting. Elizabeth nodded at him pleasantly.
“What up, Martín?” Marcus said.
The doorman ushered the family to the black Mercedes Benz parked at the curb with its motor purring, and opened the doors for The D’Capillas to settle themselves into the back seat. Martín watched the chauffeur ease into the scant late night traffic, remarking to himself, such a nice family. Unlike so many of the residents of the apartment building where he worked, the D’Capillas always greeted him pleasantly by name, pronouncing it correctly with the accent on the last syllable. He pocketed the twenty dollar bill tip given him by Orion, always generous. And such an attractive family! The parents looked to be in their twenties, yet had a teenage son. He appreciated the elegance of their dress, something rare nowadays, even among the wealthy. Well, the son dresses like every other adolescent on the street, but that’s a kid for you.
“Your destination, sir?” Paul, the driver asked.
“Sandy’s,” Orion answered and then activated the soundproof panel between the front and back seat. He turned his attention to his son. “Let us review what we have been going over for the past weeks.”
“Do we have to?”
Ignoring the whine in his son’s voice, Orion proceeded with his questions. “If you intend to kill?”
“Select an artery,” Marcus answered, and added before his father could ask the next question, “and if I intend to play with my food, select a vein.”
“Correct, and after feeding, what do you need to do?”
“Be sure to lick the puncture site with my tongue.”
“Good; and why is that?”
“The secretions from our lingual gland produce a clotting substance similar to fibrin, and will prevent further bleeding from the site after we have finished feeding.”
“Oh, Marcus, you are so intelligent,” his mother smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
Marcus groaned, “Mom.”
“How do you obliterate the evidence of a kill?” Orion continued his drilling.
“Press a finger over the bite for ten seconds, to allow the serum from our digital glands to fill in the broken skin.”
“Your memory is excellent,” his father praised.
The chauffeur navigated smoothly through Manhattan, into Greenwich Village and beyond, cruising alongside the Hudson River until they reached an intersection that took them into a seedier neighborhood. He parked between two cars in a lot behind a bar with a neon sign flashing Sandy’s over a metal door and with all its grated windows darkened. He cut the motor and jumped out to open the doors.
“Here we a
Marcus swallowed, trying to hide his nervousness. His heart, normally beating at a rate of twelve pulses per minute, accelerated to forty.
“Thank you, Paul,” Orion said as they emerged from their vehicle, and glancing at his gold Rolex, added,” We will most likely return within an hour and a half to two hours; by two a.m. I should think at the latest.”
“Very good, sir.” Paul stood at attention until the family walked away, then settled back in the driver’s seat of the Mercedes with a magazine and his thermos of coffee. He opened the glove box and positioned his .32-caliber automatic where he could grab it if needed. He never felt safe in this hood. It was not for him to judge the places his employers chose to frequent, but he did think it strange they were bringing their teenage son tonight. However, it was none of his business. He was very content working for the D’Capilla family. He received a more than generous salary with many bonuses, and was always treated with the utmost courtesy.
“Follow me,” Elizabeth directed. She led the way past the bar and down the cracked and littered sidewalk currently empty of people. She paused at the entrance of every alley
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