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Prologue: Since the Destruction
Stand and face the world with open hands and tears
In this tired body, spirit perseveres
Remembering these wounds will heal
You are not alone in this
-- Flyleaf, "Stand"
A lot has happened since the kids and I were kidnapped, tortured, and almost murdered by a second dimension version of Bobbi.
For starters, the kids don’t remember any of it. They remembered our first trip to the second dimension and they remembered my secret. They had to forget. I don’t doubt that even if they hadn’t remembered everything about my double life and OWCA they still would have wanted to forget. They were just kids, but they had been kidnapped, tortured. They even killed vampires. That is something no child should have to live with, even if they are Phineas and Ferb.
Also, OWCA recently sent an anonymous letter to the cops explaining the serial killings. Since Bobbi-2 had killed several teenagers in the other dimension, those teenagers’ other dimension selves were also killed, but there had been no proof of them actually dying. They dropped dead. So OWCA told the cops that these kids had a rare, non-contagious disease that caused all their vital organs to stop, without any symptoms. We told them that it is very unlikely for anyone else to contract the disease.
It wasn’t our best cover story, but they, and the families of the dead teenagers, bought it.
Ever since our near-death experience, everything went back to normal. Phineas, Ferb, and Jessie are back to being the fun-loving, crazy kids I’m glad to call part of my host family. But something’s not right. I can feel it. Call me paranoid; it’s part of the job. But there’s no such thing as perfect, and lately, things have been too perfect.
Part One: Dead Men Tell Some Tales
I will stay forever here with you, my love
The softly spoken words you gave me
Even in death our love goes on
And I can’t love you anymore than I do
-- Evanescence, “Even In Death”
Well, That Escalated Quickly
I pull out my notebook and sit eagerly at my desk. I’ve been taking pre-med summer courses and I hear we’re going to do an actual examination today. I look around, a grin plastered on my face, and see that no one else is nearly as excited as I am.
A boy stumbles into the class, his face red and shining with sweat. He looks around the classroom quickly and then takes a seat next to me. “Hi,” he says, somewhat breathlessly. “I’m not late, am I?”
I shake my head. “You had a good five minutes,” I answer.
“Phew.” He relaxes in his chair. “Hey, aren’t you a little young to be taking a pre-med class?”
“Um, hello? Pre.” I’m about to stop talking to him when I realize something familiar about him.
And he seems to realize something familiar about me too. “Have we met?” he asks.
“I think so…”
“I’m Zachary.” He extends his hand and I take it.
“Baljeet.” That’s when I recognize him. Zachary.
And that’s when he recognizes me too. “Hey, weren’t you at Chez Platypus?” he asks.
“Yes. Weren’t you the vampire hunter that Bobbi dated? Or something like that; I wasn’t really paying much attention at the time…”
He swallows nervously. “Uh, yeah. Forget it, okay?”
He acts strangely. Sure, their date had kind of been a bust. What with him accidentally discovering Bobbi’s a vampire and Ryan bursting in out of nowhere. I’m not sure what happened after that. I was sort of scared and ran off. What’s so wrong? I shake the thought away as the teacher enters.
“Hello class,” he says. He walks in front of his desk. I notice something strange about his desk: everything on it is covered in a white sheet. “Today we’re in for a special class. Now, I realize most of you are new here, but I like doing things special. Elaborate. Unprecedented… Unorthodox. So--let’s see, who’s the oldest one in here…?” He points to Zachary. “You. Come up here.”
Zachary gets up and approaches the teacher. The teacher grins at Zachary and I get an uneasy feeling in my stomach. “Pull off the sheet.” Zachary shrugs and pulls the white sheet off of the teacher’s desk. Only then do I realize it’s not a desk. It’s a metal table on wheels. And instead of having miscellaneous teacher items on it--books, papers, pencils--he, instead, has a teenage girl lying on the table.
I gulp when I realize that this is the body of a teenage girl.
The class gasps in shock. “Now, if any of you are feeling uncomfortable in any way, shape, or form,” the teacher says, “then you don’t belong in the world of medical science and you should just step outside that door right now.” A few girls and one boy leave. “Huh. That’s a new record. Normally there are only two or three people left.”
“You mean you’ve done this before?” a boy asks.
“Of course. I’m a professional.” He picks up some papers from a file next to the girl. “Yowch!” He drops the papers and shakes his thumb. “Paper cut.” He sticks his thumb in his mouth.
“Sir, would you like a bandage?” I ask him.
He nods and points to a first aid kit on the wall. I open the first aid kid and get a bandage. I walk over and am about to hand it to him when Zachary grabs my arm. “What’s wrong?” I ask.
“I thought I saw,” he starts. “I thought I saw her move.”
I roll my eyes. “Zachary, do you really think she moved?” I glance at her and notice that a droplet of the teacher’s blood accidentally landed on her lips.
“Vampire hunter,” he mouths. “Sorry, I’m a little paranoid.” I frown and hand the bandage to the teacher. He thanks me and excuses me to go back to my seat. I do and he continues with the lecture.
“Now, this girl"--he gestures to the body--"was one of… Oh, that’s peculiar.”
“What is it?” Zachary asks.
“I forgot my, um…” He doesn’t finish his sentence. He scurries to one side of the room and starts rifling through some drawers. Zachary turns his back and checks the clock on the wall.
Suddenly, there’s a soft clatter and Zachary whirls around. I’m about to shrug off his paranoia when I notice the girl’s body is no longer on the table. A girl screams and I dart my attention towards the teacher. The girl whom we all believe to be dead is right behind him. The teacher turns around and lets out a yell as the girl clamps her teeth onto his neck.
“Everybody get down!” Zachary yells. Without hesitation, I, and the rest of the class, drop to the floor. Zachary hustles back to his chair to grab his backpack. He rifles through it and mutters something that sounds like “cod jam”. I hear a crash and turn my head. The door has been kicked open. Curiosity stirs at me and I get up. A purple and pink blur runs into the room and tosses a wooden object to Zachary.
“Just what I need,” Bobbi says as she runs toward the teacher.
What Is This?
I grab the girl’s shoulders and attempt to pull her off the man’s throat. She’s strong; eventually I pull her back and the momentum sends us both flying to the floor. She lands on top of me. She whirls around and hisses at me. I make a disgruntled noise in the back of my throat; her teeth are covered in the man’s blood. Her eyes are a vibrant blue, but black where the whites should be.
Zachary plunges the wooden stake into her back while she’s looking at me. She gasps and falls down on top of me. I groan and shove her off of me so she’s lying on her back. I get up, close her eyes, and stand in front of the room. No one fled during the fight; they’re all cowering under their desks. “Everyone get up!” I say. They do. I clear my throat.
“Okay,” I start. “Um, Zachary, can you check on--?”
“I already did,” he says coldly. I tense, remembering his last words to me: If I ever see you again, I’ll stake you where you stand. “He’s dead,” he adds.
A girl sitting up front cries out. “Well,” I continue, “here comes the difficult part.” I can’t erase people’s minds. Believe me, I’ve tried. No, they’re going to remember this. I need to do something. “Okay,” I finally say. “None of you will tell anyone about this. Understand?”
Hesitantly, they all nod.
“Great, now for a test. You--” I point to a boy in the back row. “Can you explain to me what happened?”
He opens his mouth and I listen to his thoughts: I don’t understand why she would want to know. Why would anyone want to know? They wouldn’t! There’s no reason to tell her or anyone else. He doesn’t say those, obviously. But he just shakes his head. I smile.
“Okay. Everyone clear out.” Everyone grabs their backpacks and hustles out of the room. Zachary heads toward his backpack but I stop him. “Not you. I didn’t hypnotize you because you already know about vampires. What happened?”
“Why should I tell you?” he spits. I open my mouth to respond but am cut of off by his sigh. “Fine. We were going to examine her body. This is a pre-med class. But the teacher got a papercut and I think some blood landed in her mouth. Next thing I knew, she was biting him. Then you came in and I think you know what happened then.”
I frown. I lean down and pick up the girl’s body. “What are you doing?” Zachary asks.
“I don’t think she’s dead,” I tell him. “She’s definitely not a normal vampire. Her eyes were blue and I don’t even think she has fangs. I think she bit your teacher with normal human teeth.” Zachary lets out a sound of disgust. “So I’m going to take her to my friends. That is, if you’re willing to postpone killing me until a later date.”
He doesn’t respond. Instead he stares at me, his green eyes moving rapidly, like he’s analyzing me. “After you,” he finally says. I run out of the classroom and outside. I hiss at the sun and duck under a shade. Zachary appears behind me.
“Here,” I say. I give him the girl and I grab my umbrella that I discarded on the ground before I ran into this building. I open it up and start walking.
“What were you even doing there?” Zachary asks after a few minutes of silence. I hear him grunt, no doubt under the girl’s weight. He doesn’t hand her back to me, probably to see her reaction to sunlight. So far, she looks okay; her skin isn’t red or blistering or even smoking.
“I heard someone scream,” I answer, “and I ran in. That a problem?”
“Wait, why am I even talking to you? We need to get moving. The sooner we get her to my friends, the sooner neither of us ever have to see each other again.”
That shuts him up. I feel guilty for talking to him like that. I really liked him. Maybe I still do. But he doesn’t. I know that for a fact. If he does like me, why did he threaten my life? Why did he tell me he hates me? Why was he okay with breaking my heart?
Finally, we show up at Phineas and Ferb’s house. I step up to the porch and knock on the door seven times. Phineas opens the door. “No time to talk,” I say. “Can I come in?” Numbly, he nods. I burst in, closing my umbrella, and Zachary follows me. “Guys, get some newspaper or something to lay on the floor.”
Ferb darts off to get some. Phineas looks like he’s about to ask why, but then he notices the girl in Zachary’s arms. Ferb returns a moment later with the newspapers and lays them carefully on the ground. Zachary lays down the girl’s body and I think, just for a moment, that this girl is sleeping. But then I get a flash of her tearing apart that poor guy and I shake the thought away.
“This girl,” Phineas says. “She’s dead?”
“I’m not sure,” I reply. “I think she’s a vampire. Or half vampire. I don’t know. She didn’t burn in the sun, but she attacked a man and drank his blood. And she doesn’t have a pulse and she’s not breathing. She’s as good as dead, but I don’t think she’s fully dead.”
“And the reason you brought her here is…?”
“You guys are good with stuff like this.”
Phineas shakes his head. “Vampirism is more your department, wouldn’t you think? Especially with you being the Vampire Queen and all.” My hand flies up to my ear, covering up my tattoo.
“How’d you know that?” I ask. That memory should have been erased along with all the other memories from just a couple weeks ago in the other dimension. I sneak a glance at Zachary. He wasn’t supposed to know, either. I’m sure my bounty just tripled.
“I just assumed. Since you dated the Vampire King. Isn’t that how it works?”
“Yeah. Yeah, kinda.” I shake my head. “But whatever this is, I’m pretty sure this isn’t something most vampires are familiar with, let alone me. I may be the Vampire Queen, but I’ve only been a vampire for, what, a month? It’s not like there are vampire classes. But, man would those be helpful.”
Phineas looks at the girl. Where have I seen her before? he thinks.
I blink. “You know her?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “I don’t know. She just looks familiar. I don’t think she’s one of Candace’s friends. I just remember seeing her face before…” When he says that, I realize that she does look familiar. I get an image of my head of this girl, walking through my school. She was a straight-A student, worked for the school paper, never did anything bad. What could she have done that would get her turned into a vampire, if that’s even what she is?
I look at Phineas. “Well,” I say, clapping my hands together, “let’s get this vampire autopsy on the road.”
I feel my stomach clench with uneasiness as I open the girl’s eyes. They can only truly be described as black orbs with crystal blue jewels floating inside. That proves two things: one, anyone with blue eyes can’t be a vampire, and, two, anyone with blacks instead of whites in their eyes can’t be purely human.
Zachary cups her face in his hands. “You weren’t kidding, Bobbi,” he says with a definite twinge of coldness in his voice. “Her eyes…”
Bobbi looks at him, her amber eyes glistening. I don’t think she’s going to cry, but something is definitely going on in her mind; something is definitely affecting her. “I know,” she replies matter-of-factly. She stares at the girl, brushing her curly hair. “I wonder… No, it’s too risky.”
“What is it?” I ask, curiosity growing; curiosity for her plan, curiosity for this girl, and just my general never-ending curiosity for the universe. Everything about the universe: its infinity, its mystery, its impossibility. I know I’ll never see--or know--about all of the universe, but I can try. And try I will, one step at a time.
Bobbi lets out a breath--unnecessarily, if you ask me--and turns to me. “Zachary said she responded after, apparently, blood got in her mouth. I was thinking… If we could get some blood, maybe we could stimulate her just enough that I can at least figure out what’s going on in her mind. But it’s insane. Never mind.”
“It’s not that insane,” I say. “Sure, it’s dangerous and risky, but I can understand what you’re thinking about. We need to figure out what’s going on in her mind. The only one who could do that is you.”
“It’s out of the question.” Zachary stands up and crouches next to me. “She’s not going to willingly put anyone in danger.” Then he looks straight at Bobbi and says, “I’m never going to let her hurt anyone.”
Bobbi opens her mouth slightly and blinks rapidly. Pain. Pain in her golden--no, scarlet--eyes. I don’t dwell on it too much. Instead, I say, “She would never hurt anyone.” They both turn and look at me. Amazingly, both of them have a look of shock on their faces. “It’s beyond her capacity,” I continue.
“That’s where you’re wrong.” It’s Zachary who says it, but I could have sworn I also heard Bobbi whisper it. “You know what she is.”
“Yeah. She’s kind.”
“Can we please not talk about me like I’m not right here?” Bobbi asks. “Can we just focus on the matter at hand?”
“Way ahead of you.” I spin around. Jessie. I hadn’t noticed that she is here. She waves her hand around. I notice a glint of green sliding on her hand. It’s her blood, I realize, as an acrid smell fills the air.
“Jessie--?” I say.
She cuts me off. “Papercut. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it? Bobbi’s plan?”
“Jessie.” Bobbi. Her voice is rough and haggard. “Put. That. Away. The plan was stupid. And crazy. It was stupid crazy.”
“But it’s so stupid crazy it just might work.”
“Or, it’s so stupid crazy you’re going to get yourself killed. By this girl”--she gestures to the girl on the floor --“and maybe even…” She trails off. I can’t believe it. Is she actually letting herself be succumbed to what Zachary assumes about her?”
You’d be surprised how right he is, Bobbi’s voice says in my mind.
You don’t actually believe--
In the truth? Incredibly, I do.
I want to say more, but I’m cut off by the corpse that begins to stir.
Before I can even react, the girl is up off the floor and running toward me. I ball my shirt in my fist, hoping it’ll stop the flow of blood. Instead, it makes the girl look even more ravenous. She lunges, but Bobbi grabs her around the waist, pulling her back. The girl snarls and shrieks, and Bobbi shakes her.
“You leave her alone!” Bobbi yells. “What are you?”
The girl begins to foam at the mouth, her black and blue eyes growing with anger. She bares her teeth, and I am repulsed. They’re human teeth, but that’s not what’s so appalling; it’s the fact that she used those regular old teeth to tear a man apart.
“What do we do?” Phineas asks.
“Get Jessie out of here! Remove the source of blood; it might calm her down.”
“No!” I yell. “I want to help!”
“And I want you not to die!”
Phineas and Ferb usher me upstairs. “Let go,” I’m saying as I’m forced into my room. “What the heck?” I ask.
“Bobbi and Zachary’ve got this,” Phineas says. “A vampire and a vampire hunter. They’ll be fine.”
“Do you even hear yourself? A vampire. And a vampire hunter. Do you have any idea how that could go wrong?” I run a hand through my hair. “What if he--?”
“He won’t,” Phineas interrupts. “He won’t.”
“How do you know?” I whisper.
Phineas doesn’t reply.
I shake my head. “We get in the middle of everything. Don’t deny it, you know it’s true. There wasn’t a major event since we’ve been alive that we haven’t been a part of. Is that right? Is that safe?”
“One day, someone’s going to die. It might be one of us, it might be a friend, it might be…” I cut off. “Screw it.”
“No, Ferb,” I snap. My twin looks at me with hurt in his eyes. “Just… just forget it.”
“Why are you getting all weird?” Phineas asks. “This isn’t like you.”
I smile ruefully. “I guess I just have something against putting my friends in danger.”
“Funny.” I gasp. I didn’t even notice Bobbi’s arrival. “I feel the same way. That’s why I told you guys to leave.”
“Where’s Zachary?” I ask.
“Downstairs with the girl. She passed out shortly after you guys left. He’s down there making sure she stays unconscious.”
“Did you get any thoughts?” Phineas asks.
“One,” Bobbi says. She swallows. In a raspy voice, she says, “‘Help.’”
“‘Help?’” I echo.
Bobbi nods. “‘Help.’”
“So, what does that mean?” Phineas asks.
Bobbi shakes her head. “It means… It means she’s totally aware that something’s happened to her. She knows her body’s doing strange things, she just doesn’t know what. She knows she’s trapped in her own mind.”
To be continued...