American vampire, p.16
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       American Vampire, p.16

         Part #3 of Vampire for Hire series by J. R. Rain
 
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Chapter 43-45

  Chapter Forty-three

  I had just slipped into my car after practically sprinting across the baking asphalt when my phone rang. Gasping and in real pain, I looked at the faceplate:

  Caller Unknown.

  Heart thumping and still reeling from my singed skin, I clicked on the phone.

  "Hello," I said. My face and hands were on fire, despite the copious amounts of sunscreen - and a sunhat that was wide enough to shade a small Balkan country.

  "Hi," said the tiny voice, a voice that was somehow even tinier than I remembered.

  "Maddie!"

  "You know my name. "

  "Of course I know your name, honey. " But as much as I wanted to comfort her and reassure her, I needed information. "Maddie, honey, how many people live with you?"

  "Two grownup men now. "

  "Are they black or white?"

  "Bofth. The white man is new. He's really mean. "

  Maddie had a slight lisp and it was the most precious sound I had ever heard. I absently started my car and turned my air conditioner full blast on me, while huddling as far away from any sunlight as I could. My van's side windows were equipped with pull-down shades, which I rarely, if ever, pulled up. The windshield sunshade was still in place, blocking most of the sun, although laser-like beams still found their way through here and there.

  So there was a black guy and a white guy. The white guy, I knew, could have been Hispanic or even Asian. Maddie was only five. I doubted she saw race and color like an older child would. Or as an adult would.

  Sherbet had confirmed the worse, that some kind of children swapping was going on. Children for drugs. Children for money. Children for sex. A slave trade where lives meant little, and no doubt most kids disappeared or ended up dead. Along with the mothers.

  "Maddie, honey, are you in a house?"

  "A house?"

  "Or is it an apartment?"

  "Peoples live here. We take the vader. "

  The vader? My head was swimming. Jesus, I had had my questions rehearsed for when and if I heard from Maddie again, but now all my questions had gone out the window.

  Think. Focus.

  "Honey, what can you see from the window? Can you see anything?"

  There was a slight pause. I heard her pushing aside what sounded like blinds. "I see a big house. "

  "Where?"

  "It's high on top of the biggest mountain I've ever seen!"

  My heart started hammering. I knew Simi Valley. The federal agency I had worked for, HUD, used a facility outside of the city to hold seminars and training. The facility was away from prying eyes, up against the base of a majestic, sweeping mountain range. Or, perhaps, a very big hill. Certainly big enough to call a mountain if you were a small girl from the streets of Buena Park.

  And at the top of the hill, majestically overlooking the city was a museum. Not quite a mansion, but it looks like one from a distance.

  The Ronald Reagan Museum.

  The Moon Feather Indian casino, if I recalled correctly, wasn't too far away from our training facility, either.

  She's in Simi Valley. I knew it. I felt it in every fiber of my being.

  I also sensed something else. Or, rather someone else. And from somewhere over the phone line, I heard what sounded like a door slam followed by a man's yell. The yell sounded drunken and angry.

  "I have to go," said Maddie, whispering into the mouthpiece. Her whisper sounded nearly as loud as her little voice.

  The line dropped before I could say goodbye.

  Chapter Forty-four

  I was back at the hospital, sitting in a chair at the foot of my son's bed. He was sleeping quietly. Too quietly. I would have thought he was dead if not for the hospital equipment that chirped out a heart beat.

  The dark halo around him was bigger than ever. My son, to my eyes, seemed lost in a cloud of black smoke.

  Sitting on my lap was a clipboard with a mostly blank sheet of paper I had found in the backseat of my car. The paper had my daughter's name on it and the beginning of an assignment. I wondered idly if she ever finished the assignment.

  I held in my hand a Pilot Gel Ink Rolling Ball pen, which I preferred to use when I did my automatic writing sessions.

  Automatic writing is still new to me. In fact, I'd only done it a couple of times, and both times I was certain I was going crazy.

  In essence, as it was initially explained to me by Fang (and verified by a little online research) the process of automatic writing is a way to communicate with the spirit world. In particular, with highly evolved enlightened beings who know what the hell they're talking about.

  At least, that was the idea.

  Who or what came through in these sessions was certainly open to debate. And, yes, there was a part of me that seriously suspected I was moving my own hand, and giving myself the answers I wanted to hear.

  Just a part of me.

  The other part of me, perhaps the part that was still human, believed that I was getting messages from beyond. By spirit guides, or spiritual beings.

  Or, for all I knew, Jim Morrison, unless he was alive, too, and working as a bounty hunter in Hawaii.

  I went through the various steps of centering myself, imagining silver cords attaching themselves to my ankles and lower spine and reaching down through the many hospital floors, the building's foundation, through the very ground itself, down through Hell and a lost world of dinosaurs, and all the way to the center of the earth, where I mentally tied them tightly around three massive boulders.

  Now firmly anchored, I closed my eyes and attempted to empty my mind by focusing on the physical act of breathing, drawing air in through my nose and out my mouth, even if it was air I didn't need. Except I kept thinking about my son, lying there just a few feet away, fighting for his life.

  Focus, Sam.

  I closed my eyes and, as I breathed, I pictured the stale, medicinal hospital air flowing over my lips and down deep into my lungs. I breathed in, holding the air, and then exhaled it.

  I did this over and over, breathing and picturing, and any time I thought of my son, I gently released the thought.

  In and out, in and out.

  Breathe, breathe.

  My hand twitched.

  I kept reminding myself to breathe, and as I breathed I imagined the air currents tinged with gold, and the golden air flowing into my mouth and filling me with golden light.

  My hand twitched again, followed by a full-blown spasm.

  The pen gripped in my fingers moved back and forth.

  It's coming, I thought. Whatever it is.

  Keep breathing. Breathing. In and out. Golden light.

  Jesus, my hand is moving.

  Don't think about it. Good, good.

  But now I couldn't deny that something seemed to have settled in me. I actually felt another presence. A warm and loving presence.

  And then my hand moved again, and again, and I realized it was writing. I looked down at my clipboard as two words appeared:

  Hello, Samantha.

  Chapter Forty-five

  "Hello," I said quietly, feeling slightly silly, but also feeling like something very important, and very exciting, was happening. "Um, how are you?" I added lamely.

  My hand twitched again and again, and it kept on twitching until it wrote out a reply. I could only watch in stunned silence. My hand, in these moments, did not feel like my own.

  I'm doing very well, it wrote. It's a great day to be alive, is it not?

  "Am I alive?" I whispered, my voice barely audible to myself. "There's some who think that beings such as myself are dead. "

  More twitching and tingling. More writing. Do you feel dead?

  "No, but I feel very. . . different. "

  Twitch, write. You should feel different. We are all different.

  "Am I dead?" I asked. "And don't ask: Do I feel dead?"
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  Your body went through a massive transformation, or metamorphoses, Samantha, but it did not die.

  "Then why don't I breathe? Why can't I eat?"

  That's the metamorphoses of which I speak. Or write. Your body, quite literally, is not the same, and thus does not have the same requirements.

  "Like food or air. "

  Exactly. Yes.

  "But I still need blood. "

  Of course. This is your new body's requirements.

  "And so my new body is a killer, if it must feast on blood. "

  Does all blood need to come from that which is dead?

  "No," I said, and my voice trailed off. I thought about something Kingsley had said earlier, about blood donors. Those who donated willingly. . . and those who most certainly did not. Blood debt perhaps.

  Yes, Samantha, you are a far more powerful being than you were before, but what you make of your new physical form is up to you.

  "I could choose to kill. Or not to kill. "

  Exactly. Yes. Just like everyone else.

  "So I have a new body. . . but I still have the same moral code. "

  You are still you, sweet child, no matter what shape you take.

  "Don't call me sweet child. It makes me want to cry. "

  Why?

  "Because it sounds like you care about me. That you love me. But I don't know who you are or what you are. "

  Understood. But remember, all you have to do is ask.

  "I have asked, but you've avoided the question. "

  I did not avoid. I simply gave you the answer you were ready for. Are you ready for the answer now?

  I thought about that. I looked at my son sleeping on his back. My God, had the black halo actually grown in just a few minutes?

  "No. Not now. Wait. Perhaps just a name. "

  You want my name?

  "Yes. "

  My hand and pen paused, and then together they wrote: I am called by many names, through many lives, but I'm most commonly called Saint Germain.

  "I've heard of the name. "

  I'd heard of the name. Saint Germain was a European mystic. An alchemist of the highest order. He supposedly lived for centuries. And, from most accounts, he never died. They say he ascended; that is, turned to light. A heavenly being who was just as comfortable in the spirit world as the physical world, often alternating between the two. And helping those in need.

  And no, Samantha, I'm not a vampire, either.

  "Then what are you?"

  A seeker of truth.

  "And did you find the truth?"

  I found what I was looking for, yes. But there are always bigger questions, with bigger answers.

  "So you eternally seek answers. "

  "Forever and ever. "

  "So why are you here with me now?"

  You have called out for answers, Samantha Moon. I'm here to help you find them.

  "But why you?"

  Why not?

  "Fine," I said and rubbed my head. I looked at my sick boy. "I want to talk about my son. "

  What would you like to know?

  "Is he going to die?"

  There was a slight pause and the tingly sensation briefly abated, but then it returned. I realized that maybe I didn't want to know the answer. My hand moved across the page, and the gel ink flowed freely.

  Your son has his own path, Samantha.

  "What does that mean?"

  We all follow our own paths, generally agreed on and known before our births.

  "Who agrees on this?"

  You. And many others.

  "Which others?"

  Those who care about you deeply. And those who care about your son deeply.

  "And what's his path?" My voice was shaking now.

  You know his path, Sam. You have foreseen it.

  "Just tell me. "

  There was a short, agonizing pause, and then: Your son's path will come to an end in this physical plane soon, as it has been decided upon, as he has decided, as well.

  "He's only a little boy, goddammit. What the hell does he know about anything?"

  A little boy now, in the flesh, certainly. But a very wise old soul eternally.

  I covered my eyes with my free hand. Tears poured between my fingers. It was all I could do to not throw the clipboard across the room.

  "Why, why would he decide to end his life now? Who would decide such a thing? Why take him from me?"

  There are many, many reasons, Sam. And most of those involve the growth of his own soul, and the growth of the souls around him. Adapting to loss is a big step toward growth.

  It's a horrible, cruel step toward growth. How could you take my boy?"

  I'm not taking him, Sam. No one can take. Leaving this world is his choice and his choice alone.

  "But he's just a boy. He doesn't know what he's doing, and don't give me that crap that he's an old soul. He's not. He's just a little boy. A little, sick boy. "

  A little, sick boy with a highly evolved soul, Samantha. He understands his purpose here at the soul level, even if not at the physical level.

  "Fuck you. "

  I'm sorry, Samantha.

  I wept hard for a few minutes, barely able to control myself. Finally, when I could speak again, I said, "Are you there?"

  Always.

  "I have a question. "

  We are here for answers.

  "Okay. Okay. " I took a deep breath, and plunged forward. "Is there anyway that I can save him?"

  He does not need to be saved, Sam.

  "Please. "

  We all have free will, Sam. You can do anything you want.

  "So there is a way to save him?"

  Of course there is. The body can heal itself immediately if it so chooses. What your doctors call miracles.

  "But I know of another way. "

  I know, Sam. There are many ways. Many paths. The key is to find the right one. The one that feels the best.

  "So my way is such a road. "

  Of course. But does it feel right, Samantha?

  "It feels right to me," I said quickly, although doubt ate at me.

  Then so be it.

  I took a deep breath. "Well, you haven't told me not to do it. "

  I would never tell you not to do anything, Samantha. This is called a free-will universe for a reason.

  "But would you caution against it?"

  I would caution against doing anything that doesn't feel right, Samantha. Always ask yourself if the choices you are doing feel right, and act according to your feelings. Then you will know you are on the right path. Always.

  "But how do I know how I feel if I'm truly confused?"

  You always know, Sam. Always.

 
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