“You mean apart from losing your soul and having to feed on people to survive?”
“Do you really lose your soul though? What is a soul anyway? Are you any different now that you’re a Slayer? Maybe it’s the same thing. But you get to live forever, that seems like it would be worth a lot to me.”
“I don’t know, I think it might get a little boring.”
“If our parents were vampires they wouldn’t have had to die…” Julia said in a quiet voice. I was quiet too. I didn’t want to think about what she was saying, because I was afraid it would make too much sense. It was easier for me to believe that vampires were evil and humans were good. That’s what Arthur had taught me. That was the battle that had raged through the centuries, and that was the fight I was going to fight.
“Come on,” I said, “let’s see you have another go, and this time be careful and do exactly what I tell you.”
We tracked another vampire. This time Julia was more cautious. I told her exactly what to do before the fight and, aside from a few missteps, she managed to kill her first vampire. We gave each other a high five and she thanked me for helping her out. We didn’t talk about the ramifications of vampirism or theories about the origins of the Slayers. It made my head hurt. But I considered the night to be a success and when we departed she actually thanked me. Julia! I never thought I’d see humility from her.
“So, how was your first night of training?” Arthur asked after Julia had left. She looked with derision at the books he had prepared for her. I had had to read the same things, and I was amused that she had to go through them as well. I exhaled deeply when she left and tension released from my body.
“It was okay for the most part. She was trouble at first, but when she almost died she started to see things my way.”
“Sometimes it takes a shock to the system for people to gain clarity. Was she alright after that?”
“Yes, she was,” I said. “She did say a few things that I found surprising though.”
“Oh?” Arthur asked with an inquiring gaze. I told him about her opinions about vampires and the stories her mother had told her. Arthur furrowed his brow. “This is rather troubling.”
“Of course,” he flashed his eyes towards me, and I could see the whites of them. “The lure of vampirism does take hold of some people and they become blinded by the evil. It’s all too easy to let ourselves be fooled into thinking that they’re not evil, but they are, and we must remain vigilant. This…this myth is something I have heard before. It’s a story misguided people tell themselves to try and understand the world better. It’s a dangerous way of thinking and you must remain vigilant. Keep a close eye on her. We cannot let a Slayer turn to their side. The consequences would be disastrous.”
“I don’t think she’s thinking anything like that,” I said. “But what would you have me do if she does end up sympathizing with the enemy?”
Arthur’s shoulders sagged and he looked as though he had aged a hundred years in a matter of moments. “She must be stopped,” he said simply, but I felt the ominous nature of his words, and I wondered how many other Slayers had gone down that path, and how many had been stopped. It suddenly made me wonder about my own position as a Slayer and how I could be under threat too. I thought back to that conversation I had overheard and wondered if the council had ever thought about stopping me, or what it would take for them to try. Tension ran through my body and I didn’t know what else to think. Was there always a danger of new Slayers walking down the wrong path?
“Have you had any more dreams lately?” Arthur asked, as if the thought had just occurred to him.
“No, I haven’t,” I replied. I was telling the truth, but at this point I wasn’t sure I would tell him, even if I had. I thought I had gotten the message I needed from my mysterious ancestor, but was sure that there was something else my aunt hadn’t told me. I hadn’t had any other dreams from her though and the longer she was silent the more I wondered if that one single dream had just been a product of my own mind rather
than an echo of a memory.
I returned to the Academy on Monday with excitement. I couldn’t wait to see Josh and the others again. I got there early to try and catch them between breakfast and the start of classes. But it wasn’t them who I saw first; it was Julia, who was flanked by the usual suspects. We passed each other and exchanged a knowing glance, although breath caught in my throat because I wondered if she was going to go against her word and reveal our secrets to her friends. Angelica looked at me with a scornful expression and sneered. She made a comment as we passed, but before I could bite back with an insult of my own Julia interceded.
“Leave her Angelica. She’s off limits now,” Julia said. Angelica’s face reddened as if she couldn’t believe it, but she obeyed Julia’s wishes without question. I assumed it was thanks for saving Julia’s life and I was glad to see that finally something had changed. Given everything that had happened with the boys on Friday I had the feeling that things were changing for the better and I couldn’t wait for the rest of my life to begin. I hadn’t been convinced of the advantages of the academy during my first couple of weeks, but I was beginning to adjust to the life and it was getting better at every moment.
I searched the dining hall for signs of the boys, but I didn’t catch sight of any of them. I thought about going to the dorms but then I saw what I thought was Josh near the entrance. I went back that way and saw him coming out of Mrs. Thorpe’s office. I ran up to him with an excited smile on my face. We were near the entrance of the academy and the sun shone outside. People were coming back from the weekend so there were cars moving outside the entrance, some of them driving off rather abruptly, as parents seemed eager to get away from their children.
I tugged at Josh’s arm, feeling as though flinging my arms around him in an emphatic embrace was a little too much for so early in the morning. When he turned to face me, I knew that something was wrong. His heart was stone and his eyes had lost some of their light. He looked as though he hadn’t slept since I’d last seen him. He was so weak and vulnerable.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
He went to turn away without saying anything, I had no idea why. I pulled him back. “Josh, talk to me.”
“I’m sorry Elsa,” he said in a rasp, “but I can’t.”
“What? Why not? What about Friday?”
“That was…that was a mistake. I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have done that. We all got a little carried away I think. It’s not right. I wish things could be different but they aren’t.”
His words stabbed me, each one was like a dagger in my heart. “What are you talking about?” I asked in disbelief. “We all enjoyed it. You can’t mean this. What do the others think?”