PROLOGUE

The death of summer fills the air with stale memories and treachery.
Unfulfilled desires beckon dangerously as the sun goes down enveloping the world in monochromatic blue, then black.
You might hear murmurs of caution on the wind as you walk home alone at night, watch out! be careful! don't! you'll be sorry!
If you're young, you won't pay much attention to them.
It's hard to pay attention to anything with the drone of crickets filling your head, with your heart beating as if it's a bird in a cage flapping its wings.
Your life is ever stretched before you, anxiously awaiting the choices you'll make.
Inside you feel restless, insatiable, and ready for anything, a little afraid of making the wrong choices but still free to dream of the endless possibilities...

Forever reckless seventeen,
laughter quick, easy, and mean.
Flying down the street on gasoline,
goin' too fast end up like James Dean.

I never took anything seriously. All my life I've been perpetually hanging out, always in a dark corner, laughing with my friends. Every summer we stayed out way too late, causing havoc and mayhem. The sound of smashing bottles and the coughs from stolen cigarettes were the soundtrack to my youth. Nothing but endless days of the same to look forward to. While people my age were figuring out what they wanted to be when they "grew up," I already knew. I wanted to never grow up. I wanted to be young forever and more than anything, I wanted to feel like I belonged and was accepted exactly for myself, just the way I was. People change as they get older. Their views differ from the views they held when they were younger. They mature and become soft. They sacrifice themselves to become a cog in a machine. I was terrified of that happening to me and I knew the likelihood of it happening was high. The evidence was all around me. I wanted to stay me. No expectations. No plans. No changing. But when you wish for everything to stay the same and never change, the granting of that wish will ultimately change you forever.

Now I know how terrifying it is to get exactly what you want. Now that it's far too late for me to return to ANY time before I made the wish and go back to being ANY person I used to be; cool, scared, dorky, awkward, flaky, mean, smartass, vulnerable, crybaby, toughguy; whatever anyone had once described me as at whatever point in my life, was just gone. Because they were gone. Every single one of them.

All gone.

The person I was is no longer a possibility for me anymore.
Hell, he's not even a memory.

Once my wish was granted, the years went by like seconds and everyone I knew changed under the oppressive hand of time. It changed their ideals, their opinions, their faces, their ages, their health and then they experienced the most permanent change they could ever go through. They suddenly went from being alive...to dead. Their whole life funneled out into nothing and their deaths meant even less. It was fucked up. I came to the reasoning being human meant dying someday. I didn't want to be dead someday. I wanted to be alive EVERYDAY. I got my wish but anyone that might remember me and the person I once was, died and through their death, any connection I had to being human was severed completely. Those memories were no longer real to me because it just wasn't enough to remember them by myself. Things like that would only seem real if you were sharing them with someone else and your mind would no longer be able to process the flashbacks as evidence that you ever were or still are that person. Especially when everything else was changing...everything except you.

And that's when you realize maybe somethings shouldn't last forever.

But you can't believe how other things...only lasted a day.

CHAPTER ONE

If you're reading this, you probably know the story of my friends and I. You already know our names, you've been exposed to our personalities and brutalities, you may even find us fascinating or tragic, it doesn't really matter. What you're really doing here is looking for something you don't know about us. You want to have more things to imagine. So I will try my best to indulge you and hold your interest but be warned, if you are looking for a happy ending, you will not find it here. I will only tell the truth since it is somewhat of a necessary gift my kind can expend upon yours without fear, you know, because after you found the truth out about us, we could just fucking kill you.

I'll begin by saying I was never really a super outgoing person until I belonged to a group of a few close friends that I enjoyed entertaining or enabling because we were all pretty laid back and had fun doing whatever. Some people might describe me as a lackey but really, I just liked hanging out with my friends. It was that simple. We got into shit together and we got out of shit together. We were in the very rare position of living an endless summer vacation. That is, up until last summer…

On this particular night we had parked our bikes after deciding to skip the boardwalk momentarily and head down to the beach to catch a quick bite before hitting up our usual haunts. There was a charge of electricity in the air and each one of us was feeling it. After dive-bombing a few unfortunates and satisfying our thirst, we decided to walk back toward the sighs of faraway carnival music. The dizzying lights cast pale reflections on beached jellyfish and small tide pools. Paul caught a hermit crab and threw it at me and I laughed as I dodged out of the way. David wiped the corners of his mouth on his coat sleeve with business like efficiency and Dwayne strode somberly by his side, shaking his head at me as I grinned at him like an idiot. This was me beyond content. I found nothing more satisfying than belonging to this most exclusive club (except for maybe human blood).

It was then suddenly that I stopped in my tracks. I felt someone or something watching me intently. The others felt it as well, though somehow we all knew this attention was for me alone. I wasn't scared, though it was rare I was ever singled out among the four of us. I was more than capable of taking care of any threat to myself or my brothers but I didn't feel as if I was in any danger so after a slight pause, I resumed walking toward the boardwalk with them.

However, the feeling of being watched did not dissipate. If anything, the closer I got to the lights the more it grew. The only way I can think to describe it is the physical sensation of heat growing on my skin, like a full blown body blush, and it made me (a vampire who has an internal temperature of 32 degrees or below) uncomfortable to say the least. I had forgotten what discomfort even felt like and I suddenly remembered being in a hospital room with my human mother after my human grandfather had died and how she just held me so tightly, I could hardly breathe. She was sobbing over my head and all I remember thinking was, "I wish you were stronger." I still don't know who I meant out of the three of us but fuck it, it's not like that really happened anyway-

"Marko, what's up?" Paul asked as he fell back to my pace. I shrugged, nonplussed. I had no idea what was going on and I didn't really feel like investigating after the shitty memories that had been dredged up. Whatever or whoever it was could just piss off.

We bought some tickets for rides since our dinner had provided us with a few bucks once we were finished eating. Most of the time we just snuck onto the rides, past the carnies and guards, but seeing as how money was only worth having when you used it, when we had it, we used it. After promising the attendant at the ferris wheel that we wouldn't rock the cage back and forth like last time, he let us on and as we gained height, I started to relax. The ocean wind felt cold against my face and my head felt clearer. But not even two seconds up, Paul jumped from his seat next to me and stepped out onto the window ledge of the cage, pushing his weight toward the opposite side.

"1...2...3," he started counting and I leapt up to get on the other side, mimicking him.

The cage began to rock slowly. As we picked up momentum on our drops, it did as well. Soon the cage was rocking back and forth, faster and faster. The metal began to screech and the attendant below started yelling up at us to stop but we didn't care. The fun had just begun. All of us were laughing now and I grabbed tight to the side bars of the cage and threw my legs up over my head, flipping out and back through the open window. I heard people scream below and I enjoyed the sound. There was a long bar going across the top of the open window that attached to the two smaller side bars and I hooked my legs over it squeezing it under my knees and hung upside down outside of the cage. I passed over the crowd below and waved. Some little kids laughed and waved back. Paul was already hanging by his arm like a monkey out on the other side of the cage. As we made our way back around, we had more people watching and pointing up at us. I waved at the growing crowd again, then we both flipped them off. It was hilarious.

As the ferris wheel made its last revolution, I suddenly felt as if I was being shocked (if you've never been electrocuted, imagine a tiny but fierce earthquake going off inside you and simultaneously feeling like you have to take a stomachache shit while your teeth vibrate and chatter inside your head; not pleasant and not something I enjoyed remembering either) and momentarily incapacitated, I was forced to look straight down. It came instantaneously; another fierce, all over body blush that made me feel like a baking cake and my eyes darted wildly around until I found the source of my discomfort. It came in the package of a small girl, or should I say woman, who honestly could have been anywhere between the ages of 16 and 70. She had a strange but elegant timelessness to her. Her skin was smooth and tan and her hair was a pale, almost silver shade of blonde with black roots showing through close to her scalp. She had on black calf boots, a leather jacket with a biker collar, a white v neck tee under that, and a lilac colored skirt that was foaming like a wave around her as she gazed up at me. Her lips parted but she said nothing, she just stood there conveying a look of what I could only describe as relieved triumph.

I hung upside down staring at her, completely dumbstruck. I didn't bother much with people, let alone girls. I never had much interest and although I have never thought of myself as a bad guy, I did have to feed. In this regard I treated all genders equally. David, Paul, and even Dwayne on occasion would skulk off into the shadows for a bit of solo time with the boardwalk groupies but I never did. To me it seemed dishonest. I guess because when I was human, I was taught never to play with my food. That lesson must have transferred into my current eating habits. I knew what I was and I knew what they were to me and after I changed, nothing gave me more pleasure than sinking my teeth in and sucking them dry. I wasn't going to waste time pretending and try to make them feel like they were anything else. Humans are fucked up. Beyond a doubt. They see hidden messages in smiles, in the way you look at them, the way you position your body next to theirs, and how else are they to interpret the look of hunger than to equate it with desire or worse, love? No way, man. Fuck that. Better to be straightforward without a mess you can't clean up afterwards.

We were all ladykillers in our own right, but myself in only one regard and luckily enough, my goofy baby-face didn't rank high on the boyfriendometer in the 80's. But honestly, it's not like I was completely innocent of any involvement. I'd play lookout or wingman or bait or even mediate when necessary. We were blood brothers, literally, and we had to protect each other no matter what the others' choices were simply because we were all we had. Humans deserved our mockery because they were walking steaks. Walking takeout boxes. Walking Pepsi cans. Weak and pitiful. The only strength they had was in knowledge but by then, all knowledge of how to destroy our kind was dismissed as fantasy. WE DID NOT EXIST. Besides, they were too stupid to take seriously. David would sometimes bring one into our lair as a plaything for mostly himself. Most of them were runaway beauty queens looking for someone to cling to in the storm of their adolescent idiocy. He'd offer them the chance for true, endless summer but these girls could never pass the test and make their first kill. They reeked of fear and designer perfume. After their failure, they were never seen again, except maybe staring out from the confines of a paper flyer, their photocopied eyes blurring into anonymity with one emboldened word flashing across the top: MISSING.

I was jarred from my thoughts as the ferris wheel began to slow suddenly and my gaze was broken as it shuddered to a stop. I lost sight of the girl and for a second I thought maybe I had imagined her until I heard David say,

"Looks like Marko has a fan," as he nodded toward the entrance of the line.

"She's kinda weird looking, huh?" Paul asked as he climbed back into the cage.

"Hm...in a pretty way," remarked Dwayne.

Shit. This was really happening and hell, I can honestly say it had never happened before. I wasn't used to any sudden changes in our regularly scheduled programming of kills and thrills but after years of the same thing every night, I figured I might as well find out what this girl was all about and why looking at her made me feel like I was standing underneath the hottest summer sun.
It was...difficult remembering exactly what that felt like.

It had been a very long time for me.

We got out of the cage and security was already waiting for us. I never worried about these little encounters as we usually had our own way of making the boardwalk personnel forget our faces and we didn't exactly photograph well. I quietly sidestepped one of the guards but immediately felt a firm hand grip my shoulder.

"Where you going, Marko?"

I came face to face with David as I turned around and smirked, feigning mischief and nodded toward the entrance. His eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"You're still hungry after our fun beach picnic?"

I shrugged vaguely. He chuckled and let go of my shoulder.

"Well, have fun my friend. It's about time our little Marko had a little fun, right boys?"

Paul cackled like a hyena and gave me the A-OK sign.

"Remember everything I taught you, lil bro. Cock first, then fangs. And when she's on her back screaming, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" just act confused and say, "I thought you meant literally!"

He slapped my back and broke into a fit of laughter before leaving me to catch up with David who was heading toward the carousel. I rolled my eyes and turned to go but Dwayne was blocking my way.

"Be wary of this one, Marko. She's putting off strange vibes," he said quietly under his breath before letting me go.

What the hell was I getting myself into? I looked where she had been to find the spot empty of her presence. My eyes searched up a ways and I saw her walking toward the beach. A few dives dotted the coast past the lights and illusion of safety the boardwalk offered and she turned her head toward me, waiting. So she meant for me to follow, did she? I reluctantly made my way towards the sound of waves noting that she'd hardly left any boot prints behind. If she had, they would definitely be gone by morning and who knows?

Maybe she would be, too.


NOTE:

Thank you for taking time to read this, this is my first time writing here and I'd definitely appreciate any feedback or reviews you have to offer, even the anonymous ones! If you follow the story, I will try my best to update it regularly. Thanks again!