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   Chapter 1 Blood

Stolen Souls (boy x boy) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 14079

Updated: 2018-01-21 23:23


My leg is asleep and another psycho is trying to kill me.

I don't know why he wants to kill me. I don't even know how he found me. But I know he's here, in this abandoned school, ducking through the crumbling halls and shredding first-grade scribble art off the walls as he goes. "I know you're here. Come out before I find you."

An unplaceable hum buzzes in my ears and fluorescent bulbs crackle and hiss as they douse the school in hot light. The man's footsteps are slow and deliberate, clipped like hoofbeats. I hear them as clearly as I hear the thumping of my heart.

Run, I tell myself, you can do it!

But I can't. I can hardly move. I'm sprawled on the floor, clutching my knee to my chest, searching it for feeling. Nothing. I roll up the hem of my jeans and pull down my sweaty sock. My ankle is white, inhumanly white, blue veins racing just below my skin like silk threads. I swallow. Breathe in and out, slowly, slowly. I can do this as long as I keep my head in the right place. I can do this as long as I'm not afraid.

The lights flicker at the end of the school hallway. With fumbling fingers, I tuck my rose behind my ear, my breath so harsh and hot in the open air it feels like a wisp of steam.

"I know you're here, " the voice repeats, "come out before I find you." Soft and smooth, a hint of a chuckle at the end, like he's playing with me. Because he is playing with me. My drawing tablet lies flat at my side, the stylus rolled into a rut between shattered tiles. The hall reeks of disinfectant and decay.

"Screw you! And—and screw your gun, too!" I jam the last of my belongs into my knapsack, dropping my limp knee. It flops to the ground, no resistance, no feeling at all. I grit my teeth. Please, Lord in Heaven, not this. My leg can't be going dead on me. Not here. Not now. I swing the Batman-button-covered knapsack over my shoulders, the weight of textbooks sending me tumbling back like a turtle, minus a kicking leg. The clacking of buttons pierces the silence like needles in my eardrums. I swallow a cry and hobble up, scrambling for balance on one leg.

This has all happened before. If you ever stop by my house, I can peel away the layers of duct tape and show you the bullet holes in my window. I can't think of a single day someone hasn't tried to make me more hole-y than Swiss cheese.

But this. This is different.

I brace myself against a wall greasy with mold. Draw up a breath, pray quick and pray hard. Thump. Thump. THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUM—

I take off. My braid, stark white, swings over my shoulder, and I bounce off my good leg. Hopping like a lil' bunny rabbit, I sure must look intimidating. The flickering above my head comes quicker, more violent this time. I am shrouded in black before I'm blinded by sharp and sudden bursts of white. My leg trails as I stumble into the abyss.

That's what happens when my limbs fall asleep; they don't wake up for hours or days.

With a single click, the bars of fluorescent light explode above my head, raining down glass like shrapnel. I grab my face with my free hand. Drenched in freezing sweat, trembling, I'd scream if a killer weren't nearby. And all I can think is that my life isn't supposed to end this way, here, away from my friends, alone, a part of something I'm ashamed of. Me, fourteen, not even old enough to drive or smoke or drink myself skunk drunk. A shard of glass slices my ear as I stumble onward. I jerk my hand up. Ribbons of cold blood splash my fingers and side of my neck. I bite down.

Blood. There always has to be blood. Can't they try to kill me without the blood?

The school building expands into hallways like an ant farm, graffiti dripping on the few rusty, dented lockers left. I sniff. The place reeks of rust and rat droppings. Pink Graffiti curls around the remaining locker locks in an artist's swirling script. Paradigm. This is Paradigm. You can't escape the Paradigm. YOU CAN'T ESCAPE YOU CAN'T ESCAPE YOU CAN'T ESCAPE THE—

The rose slips from behind my bleeding ear in a swirl of silk petals. SNAP! I reel back. The flower lies scissored in pieces in the grinning, glittering teeth of a bear trap. My throat clamps up. Teardrop petals are scattered at my feet, ripped into ragged shreds, red like the cold blood dripping from my hands. The trap gleams.

I swallow hard.

A dented umbrella lies propped against the bashed-in door of a locker. I grab it, the iron hook bent at an odd angle and the hood just a wire frame stripped of its fabric. I lean my weight on the umbrella and it snaps in half.

A silent scream. My fingers catch a loop in a combo lock before I hit the ground, holding me up as I gasp. The jagged, hooked part of the umbrella dangles in my grasp and I clutch it hard. I don't want to use it as a weapon. Not only because it'll make a sucky weapon, but because violence isn't something I do. I'm a gentleman and gentlemen talk things out, even if the best they can talk out is "screw you and your gun!"

The man is silent now, but still, I run. I round a corner, leg dragging. Another bear trap snaps shut, triggered by a button rattled off my little gray knapsack. I jump.

Briefly, I consider ditching the bag, but my drawing tablet and textbooks are buried inside. Not only would I have to explain to my parents how I lost them in an abandoned school building, but I'd also have to explain how I got lured into an abandoned school building in the first place. And, well, short answer: something kind of illegal.

A glimmer catches my eye. At first, I don't believe it's even there. Like I'm seeing things. But when I do, I tremble with happiness, enough to squeal. There it is, a shimmery nameplate on a rusty steel door: the janitor's closet, it says. The door is wedged open on a cement block just enough for me to see a crack of cozy darkness.

I breathe out. My salvation. Mirage or not, I balance on my good leg and skitter toward it. But I miscalculated the angle of the door and how much of me I can squeeze through it. My laces catch on the corner. Something pops in my knee.

I hit the ground hard.

Head tucked to my chest to keep my neck from snapping, curled up so my knapsack takes the brunt of the impact instead of my face. Something cracks underneath me. I freeze.

Not my drawing tablet. Please don't be my drawing tablet. Be a textbook, a thermos, my spine.

But apparently, that shouldn't be my first concern. The door slams behind me, leaving me alone in the dark. Exposed. Vulnerable. My leg twisted at an awkward angle and my poor, precious drawing tablet maybe busted beneath me. I reach for my bag in the darkness.

My friends will miss me soon. I don't want them to look for me. I don't want them to know what I've been doing.

The umbrella's splintered edges cut my fingers. More blood, eerily cold, trickles down my skin. Someone chuckles behind me. The chuckle of a serial killer, if serial killers chuckle at all, more sneer and "sucks to be you" than "hey, that's funny."

I whip around,

no better options to take, heart plunged in my gut. So this is it. Where it ends.

Hands grasp my neck, fingers long and cold. They snake around my throat, thumbs and forefingers gauging shallow pockets into my flesh. I scream and fight back one-handed, screwing the non-violence thing, slashing at his arm more like a lil' kitten than a lil' bunny rabbit. I thrash and dig my own fingers into my neck to push him away. It doesn't help. My vision cuts into triangles, blotches of black blooming before my eyes the more he squeezes. The other twitching hand clutches the umbrella hook.

The man drops me with a bored huff. White eyes roll back in the dark. "You can't fight, " he says. I scooch back on my butt and the man yanks me toward him by my ankle. I can't scream because I can't remember how vocal boxes work. And when I do, my voice is a whisper.

"I don't want to fight." I'm shaking. Can't help it. I'm being toyed with and this guy is bent on killing me. Thump. Thump thump. Thump. Footsteps. My heart leaps. The man's hand falls away, but I can't run. Without a wall for support, I can't even get up.

"And your blood, " the voice drones on, "smells remarkably unappetizing."

I squeak out a laugh, still touching my neck, trying to breathe. My knapsack sinks underneath me and I slide back on it, kicking out my good leg to propel myself closer to the door. A terrible getaway plan, but it's all I have.

"What's that supposed to be mean?" Keep him stalled. Keep him stalled.

"I'm unimpressed, " the voice answers flatly, and he lunges. I roll out of the way, squirming as fast as I can with one working leg. Dust finds its way into my hair and under my nails and my mind can hardly process it all so fast, only offering me 'crap, crap, crap, crap, ' in quick succession. I dodge each blow he throws, his fists driving into the floor. Crack, crack, crack! I roll, kick, and talk real fast.

"What do you want? Why are you trying to kill me? Why is everyone trying to kill me? Could you please, please, answer me!"

He smacks me, so much strength my body arches up and slams back down, all the wind knocked out of me. I cry out.

The door explodes open, filling the room with smoke. Gray and thick, it smothers me. I hold my breath and my head spins. There's always supposed to be a way out, but where's mine?

"Freeze, freeze, freeze!" the people shout outside, but my attacker doesn't. I've never felt strength like this, like a guy who's more freight train than muscle. He snatches up my arm and shoves me clear across the floor so I skid like I'm a hockey puck. This time, I definitely hear a crunch. But I don't think it's from my drawing tablet.

I think it's from my wrist.

My brains pounding in my head from the sheer pressure of the situation, the pain is an after-thought. Less than an after-thought, actually. The smoke clouds my vision and fills my lungs so I squeak and gasp. But the people hold flashlights, and through the darkness, I see the man, well, kid, clearly. Teen, lanky, tall. His straight black hair tumbles over his ears, his eyes a green so striking they remind me of a cat's. Draped in a black trench and equally black scarves, he looks like he's going to a funeral. But this I take in quickly, my eyes drawn up elsewhere.

He has fangs.

Long, white ones, growing slowly from the side of his mouth. It all feels like a horrible dream, but I know it isn't. Nothing is. This is real, this kid with fangs who wants me dead, this smoke driving the air from my lungs, these shouts of strangers outside the closet I'm trapped in. The boy gives me a smirk and lunges for the side of my neck. I jab the umbrella out, survival instinct kicked into autopilot. I don't want to die. I don't want to die!

The creature shrieks.

I hear a crunch. When I look up, I see a flash of the twisted iron hook driven down the side of his mouth. He spits out. The umbrella drops. The flash of sudden red in his eyes, the way all his features screw up, it takes all the courage in the world for me not to scream.

I jerk my arm in front of my face and his fangs make contact. They sink into my flesh, scissoring right through my sleeve and muscle. I'm a mess, my shuddering breath, violent tremors, and frigid sweat to prove it. Still, I fix him with a steady look, shaking on the inside, trying not to let it show on the outside. "Well?" I ask. He pulls back, his eyes wide and his lip curled.

He spits. A spray of red hits my raised hands. I don't even blink.

"Your blood! What the hell, kid?"

I shrug and shoot him the biggest grin I can muster when I'm about to go into some sort heart-stopping mind-numbing panic attack. I'm not high, my brain says over and over again, I'm not high. My chest is tight like it's wound up of steel springs. "Type O. I'm the Universal Donor, you know."

He hits me, closed-fist. My head snaps to the side and the bones in my neck make a sudden 'crick' sound. It stings. A string of spit flies. Lying there, gasping, I glimpse chunks of something shiny swimming in my blood. Glinting clusters, melting and easing the puddle to a soft pink sheen. I blink. There's ice in my blood. Why is there ice in my blood?

The rescuers storm in, only three pairs of feet. Tight dark pants. Combat boots that lace to their thighs. They point their flashlights at the fanged creature. The light is a dark purple, incredibly hot. It makes my limp leg blister and my heart squeeze like it's melting in my chest.

The creature howls and tumbles back.

I look up into the light, about to puke, bleeding out and still struggling to breathe. "UV light, " a smooth voice offers. I can't see the speaker; the light is too bright. "The type the sun gives off."

I nod weakly.

Rough gloved hands grab me by the wrists and yank me out of the janitor's closet, dragging me across the broken tile floor in a trail of my own blood. I'm really sick of it, the blood, I mean.

They drop my arms. My head lolls back and I risk a second of closing my eyes. Coming here was a bust idea, even if it meant getting some of that sweet, sweet elixir of the gods. I'm about to smile and thank the heroes for saving me, but out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glint of metal.

I make it out quickly. A crowbar raised above my head. My hands snap up, but I'm weak from blood loss, my entire sleeve covered in blotches of red that keep growing and growing. I'm too slow, still wheezing, still struggling to piece together what, exactly, is happening. Something hard cracks across the base of my neck.

The pain jolts up my skull in a smolder. My head hits the floor. I can't even choke out a whimper. Bummer.

"Delinquent, " huffs a woman.

"Villain, " says a man.

"Shiro, " a boy breathes. And I recognize the voice. The smooth, easy flow of words. The deepness. The tinge of Spanish accent. I recognize who's speaking immediately.

Jules Cervantes.

Sophomore. Bio partner. Mayor's son.

And so I curse myself as I drop from consciousness.

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