Going out every night to kill vampires? Sure thing, I can do that, but having a family? That means falling in love, forming attachments, making myself vulnerable…I wasn’t sure about that. Physical pain could heal, but emotional pain, that was the one that really scarred.
It wasn’t as though I’d ever been taught how to be a parent either. My parents had died when I was very young, so young that I barely remember them now. Their faces are ghosts in my mind and their voices are just whispered echoes. I still have a scar on my stomach from the car crash. Sometimes it haunts my nightmares as well.
I was taken to an orphanage, being told that I had no family who wanted to claim me. I learned how to survive, how to fight for what I wanted, but no family ever wanted me. Maybe they sensed I was different. Maybe they saw something in my eyes but, whatever it was, they left me to rot in that place. I was unwanted and that was the most painful thing of all.
The nuns who ran the orphanage made sure I had a good education, but it didn’t seem like my prospects were going to be any good in the real world.
Then Arthur had come along. I’ll always remember that day. I was helping to teach one of the younger girls to read, and I had been filled with such pity, and even a little bit of envy. I’d seen so many kids come and go from the orphanage. There were only a few who were like me, and nobody could explain why, it was just one of those unfortunate things that happened. I knew that this other girl was going to be chosen and given a loving home, provided with love, care, support, and all the things that a kid should have, but I was never going to have that. My childhood had disappeared and it could never be claimed back. It was just gone, vanished, and I would always mourn the childhood I could have had.
But I was teaching her to read, and then, Sister Agatha came to me with a strange look on her face. She said there was someone I needed to meet. Arthur was standing there with his briefcase in hand, wearing his brown suit that was a little too tight for him. He smiled at me weakly.
“Elsa,” he said, “I have to speak with you. I knew your aunt.”
My first reaction had been one of anger.
“If I had an aunt then why didn’t she get me out of here?” I screamed.
Arthur went on to explain that she had a dangerous line of work and she didn’t want to put me in danger, but that she had died. As if it wasn’t bad enough that I learned I had an aunt who didn’t want anything to do with me, now I learned I’d just lost the last family I had. Arthur handed me a letter from her and told me to read it.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. She talked about the bloodline and tried to explain her actions and why she had stayed away. She also talked about my parents and had a few trinkets of theirs. It was nice to read about her memories of them, and I still wear a pendant that was my mother’s even today. I looked at Arthur with disbelief when I read the part about the Slayers.
“You have to be kidding me,” I said.
Arthur glanced around and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.
“It’s all real. You’re going to start to feel different soon. I know you don’t believe me, but when you do, come to this address.” He handed me a card with an address stamped on it. He left my aunt’s possessions with me and then he departed. I thought he was a kooky old man and I had no idea what had happened to my aunt, but it seemed she had lost her mind. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but later that night and through the next few days I did feel different. I felt stronger and faster, and I wasn’t sure what was happening. I was beginning to have dreams, as well, but they didn’t feel like my dreams, they were the dreams of other people from long ago, people I didn’t even know.
Eventually, I went to Arthur and he told me everything. The dreams turned out to be echoes of my ancestors, and he assured me they would calm as I became used to my new powers. I still wasn’t sure if this was all real, or if it was some kind of elaborate magic trick, but then he asked me if I would rather live in denial and go back to the orphanage, living an ordinary life, or take a chance, believe him, and become something greater than I ever could have imagined.
I chose the latter, obviously, and I didn’t regret my choice. My life was firmly divided into two parts and, at least, being a Slayer I knew I had my place in the world. But that wasn’t enough. I had to go out there and be something else as well. I pulled the covers tightly around me and welcomed the few hours of sleep I was going to get, because the interview for the academy beckoned and despite my show of bravado and nonchalance in front of Arthur, I was nervous.
I was in a dark castle. Wings of bats fluttered behind me. I gasped, looking at the grey stone. I was on an altar, wearing a dark robe. It was so cold. The stone was hard. Shadows danced around the room. My skin was pale. Three figures emerged from the darkness and immediately, I knew them to be vampires. They smiled, showing their fangs. I gasped. My heart fluttered with terror and I tried to push myself away, tried to escape. I reached for my stake, but my arms wouldn’t move. My body wouldn’t do as I commanded.
This wasn’t a dream. This was a memory, an echo of one of my ancestors. I winced in terror as it was likely the time she died. The three vampires came closer. I knew I was going to have to feel their fangs sinking into my flesh. I tried to scream in terror. Why wasn’t the Slayer moving? Why wasn’t she struggling to flee? Why wasn’t she screaming?
The vampires were mere inches away. I knew the final moment was approaching so I braced myself. But then, to my shock, the vampires fell to their knees and bowed to me.
“Mistress,” they said, and then the dream faded…
“Did you sleep well?” Arthur asked when I came downstairs. The dawn sun was bright, twinkling against the morning dew that trickled down the windows. Birds chirped outside and on a morning like this it was difficult to believe that monsters existed in the world.
“Like a baby,” I said. “No nightmares at all,” I lied. I wasn’t yet sure what that dream meant. I was convinced that it was an echo of a memory, rather than a dream, because I had become adept at telling the two apart, but I was confused by the content. I’d never experienced anything where vampires bowed to me. It didn’t fit with anything, and I wasn’t ready to share it with Arthur just yet. I wanted to think on it myself first.
Some nights were good and some were bad. This one, I wasn’t even sure how to classify. It was just new.
The kitchen smelled like bacon and eggs. Arthur brought out a stacked plate.
“You’ll need your strength today. I don’t want you going into that interview on an empty stomach,” he said. I gulped down some orange juice and thanked him, before tucking heartily into my breakfast. Arthur was a man of many talents and cooking was but one string to his bow. Everything was perfect. “How are you feeling?”
“Fine, I’ll admit, now that it’s getting closer I am feeling a little nervous, but I’m sure I’ll be okay.”
“I’m sure you will too. Just remember to answer their questions honestly, although don’t be afraid to embellish a little. Present the best version of yourself to them and I’m sure you’ll be fine. In many ways, this interview is just a formality. I think they just want to meet you and ensure that you’re the type of person who will fit in at the academy.”
“I’ll be my normal charming self,” I flashed him a smile.