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The Art of Dying

By Alice Oddkid All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

WTF!

The walls were paneled by dark wood and there were no windows. Behind a large, antique-looking, intricately carved, oak desk, sat an elegant lady dressed in a black tailored suit. She had wild, untamed dark auburn hair, a professional air about her and light brown eyes. She was also wearing a very dark shade of red on her lips and a deep black smokey eye makeup, making her skin appear as white as snow.

“Delphine?” She asked. I gave a small affirmative nod. She looked at me oddly for a moment, ─as if she recognized me from somewhere but couldn’t seem to recall from where─ but that look didn’t last long and soon her professional detached look took its place back on her face. She then motioned me to sit in one of the cushioned, dark red seats in front of the desk. I sat and noticed a small, brass, desk plate with ‘Principal H. A. Mortis’ engraved on it beside a green banker lamp. That must be C.C.’s uncle’s office. “I talked with your mother and she has something important she needs to tell you.” She then pushed her desk phone towards me, and when I took hold of the receiver, she pushed a button that stopped the flashing of a little red light on the phone.

“Hello?” I asked, a little fearfully.

“Del, ‘choupette’” My mom said, tearfully.

“Mom, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?” What happened for her to be this choked up?

“‘Cocotte’, it’s your grand-father.” My mom said. “He passed away this morning.”

“What?” I asked in shock.

“He’s had a heart attack in the shower” I could hear her choking on her words. “and by the time your grand-mother found him, it was already too late.” Oh my god, not grandpa ─no. He’s the only paternal figure I’ve ever had and I love him. “I talked with Principal James and she agreed to let you come back home for his funerals, this week-end… That is, if you want to come?”

“Of course I do.” I whispered, still not believing what I’ve just heard.

“Ok, I’ll make the arrangements right now.” She said.

“Ok.” I didn’t know what else to say. I was shaking from the blow this news did to me, although weirdly enough I didn’t cry. Wordlessly, I handed the phone back to acting Principal James. She talked to my mom for a while, as I stayed seated in the blood red chair, but I tuned her out. My mind was a whirlwind of what…, why…, how come… as it refused to process this news.

“Alright. I’ll tell her. Goodbye.” Acting Principal James said before hanging up. “Delphine?” I looked up, focusing on her. “Your mother made some arrangements. A cab will pick you up tonight at 5 PM in front of the school to bring you to the airport, your flight is at 7:30 PM tonight. You’ll come back Sunday night and I agreed with your mom to give you Monday off.” Then as an after thought she added: “I’m sorry about your grandfather.” Numbly I stood up.

“Thank you.” I mumbled.

“You can go back to your dorm to pack; I’ll inform your teachers.”

“Thanks.” I quickly stood up and got out the office as fast as I could. It felt as if I were suffocating. Once out, I took several deep breaths to calm down and dragging my feet, I went back to my dorm in a sort of trance. I’m sure if someone were to see me, right now, they’d think I were a zombie.

Is it me? Am-I a death magnet? Why do all the men in my life drop dead like flies around me? No, it’s not me ─well at least not concerning grandpa since the last time I saw him wasn’t the first time I’ve given him a hug. And he didn’t die right away, but what was that thing I felt the last time I hugged him?

I soon made it to my room, puzzled over what happened the last time I saw him and sad from his death. I grabbed my purse/carry-on from the closet and then went about the room, mechanically shoving things; my toothbrush, my mom’s diary, MP3 player, passport and all the stuff I’d need in it. Once that was done I looked down at my ‘Nike’ T-shirt and PJ bottom and pursed my lips.

I was all sweaty and gross. I checked the time on my alarm clock and deemed I had time for a quick shower. Grabbing some clean underwear, black jeans and a black T-shirt from my ‘clean pile’ on the floor, I made my way to the bathroom.

When I stepped in the shower I was expecting to break down and cry but oddly enough I didn’t. I remained numb, empty, hollow inside. I quickly washed up and dressed. I brushed my hair and let it dry as it may then I applied my usual makeup darkening my smokey eye more than usual. Exiting the bathroom, I grabbed my MP3 player from the carry-on and put the earbuds in my ears. I crashed on my bed and blasted some ‘Skillet’ as I stared at the plain white ceiling unseeingly. I remembered nostalgically some happy moment with my grandfather; like when he taught me how to ride a bicycle or the time he took me to ‘La Ronde’ with grandma and of course all the Christmas dinners, new years and Easter.

I snapped out of my memories when I heard a dancehall beat starting a new song. Skipping the song for something that fit my mood better (something dark), I looked at the time. It was 4:53 PM, I guess I’d better hurry up. Throwing on my black faux-leather jacket and black and white ‘Converse’, I grabbed my bag and rushed out the door, practically running all the way to the front of the school, through the practically empty corridors. On the way I crossed path with C.C.

“Hey where you going?” She asked me. I turned around to answer her but kept walking backwards.

“My grandpa’s funeral.” I said. “Sorry, I can’t stay and chat, my cab’s probably already there.”

“Sure,” She said ─louder since I kept walking away from her─ with a sympathetic expression on her face. “I’m sorry. When will you be back?”

“Thanks. Monday” I replied loudly at her before turning back around and speeding up my pace a little. Damn, it’s not Monday, it’s Sunday night that I’ll be back ─oh, well.

Busting through the front doors, I saw a 2011 ‘Volkswagen’ beetle cab parked in front of the school. I walked up to it and got in. “Where to?” The cabbie asked.

“’Logan International Airport’, please.” I said.

“Right away Miss.” As the car drove away, I decided to resume my visit of memory lane.

Mom was waiting for me at the airport with grandma. They were both wearing somber clothing and looked tired and lifeless. I got closer and could see the sadness reflected in their eyes. Once I joined them, I dropped my carry-on down and we had a group hug trying to find solace in each other.

After a beat, we let go, I grabbed my carry-on and silently, we made our way out of the airport towards mom’s burgundy Mustang. The silence stretched on till we got home and then as we all sat at the kitchen table it stayed. None of us said anything. What was there to say? Grandpa was dead and nothing could change that.

Friday was spent with my mom and grandma finishing organizing grandpa’s funeral for the next day. Despite my lack of things to do, it passed by relatively fast.

Saturday, I donned my little black dress that I bought the day before with grandma and left my straight hair down. My necklace also got a new heart charm attached to it ─for grandpa. When we were all ready, grandma wearing a black tailored suit with her pink hair up in a neat bun, mom in a little black dress like me but with her hair in a messy bun and me, we hopped in grandma’s black Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and she drove us to the funeral home ─where we were to have grandpa’s service.

We got out of the car and walked up to the funeral home. The inside was very classy, with light wood and cream walls. A man dressed sharply in a black tailored suit walked up to us and asked us which funeral we came for. “François Valiquette.” My mom answered the man who gave a polite nod and directed us to a room where already some people where. We walked in and right away, the people that were already in the room, came to us. Most of them were crying which made my mom and grandma cry also but I couldn’t seem to be able to cry. I know I was sad and that I was going to miss grandpa but it felt almost like an out of body experience. Like I was crying inside for grandpa but my body was refusing to acknowledge its sadness.

After greeting practically everyone there, and accepting their condolences, it was time for the speeches. Grabbing grandpa’s urn from the room, we all gathered in the little chapel in the other room. People went up front for a minute or two and talked about grandpa. Grandma went first and then it was grandpa’s friends, since we didn’t have any more family members. Mom and I did not want to go up front even though apart from grandma we were the ones closest to him. Some of the speeches were really moving and heartfelt while others...

The whole thing was over in less than two hours and we all made our way back to the room where we greeted everyone prior. Mom grabbed grandpa’s urn on the way.

While we were in the chapel, the people working here put up several small tables with on it, different small bite dishes; mushroom quiches, apple puffs, small croissants,… It was all very nice and that’s pretty much how the rest of the evening happened. People chatting and eating and basically it was like a big, sad, depressing party. I mostly stayed off to the side and observed. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to all those people that I didn’t know nor cared to know.

Around 10 PM we all drove back home, grandma was staying with us in the guest bedroom since going home was too painful for her with everything in her house reminding her of grandpa.

The next day was my last day home, since my flight was leaving for Massachusetts this evening and so with grandma and mom, we decided to cheer up and change our minds. We got our nails and hair done, went to the cinema to watch a comedy and finished the day off by eating at the restaurant. “So Del, how are you liking your new school so far?” My mom asked before taking a sip of her red wine.

“It’s great, I have an awesome roommate and great friends. But, is it normal that everyone is so gorgeous?” They both began to laugh and it was refreshing after such a dark and depressing couple of days.

“When I was attending I asked myself that very same question.” Mom said once she calmed down from her laughing fit.

“So that’s normal?” I asked again. She just shrugged. I guess it is then. Maybe it’s something in the water or, oh well…

We all finished dinner talking pleasantly about mom’s new book about a duck who meets a fairy and grandma moving in with mom for a while. Soon it was time to get a move on if I didn’t want to miss my plane. When the bill was paid, thanks to grandma, we all piled up in my mom’s mustang and she drove us to ‘Pierre-Elliot Trudeau’s Airport’. She parked the car in the parking lot; we all clambered out of the 1967 beauty and entered the airport.

After hugging my mom and grandma in a heartfelt goodbye, I made my way to the boarding gate.

When I was comfortably seated in my seat, inside the plane, I dug out my mother’s journal from my carry-on. And began my reading;

Dear diary,

As I was waiting to meet with Heath in ‘Wonderland’, I saw Ellianna rush over to me looking distressed and devastated. She quickly sat down in front of me and broke down in tears. She then explained to me what had her so worked up and I felt my whole world stop and then crumple like a house of cards.

Heath was hit by a car on his way over here. She told me that they took him to the hospital but that it was already too late and that he died on impact. I felt my heart shatter in my chest. I finally find the courage to express my love to him and by some miracle he felt the same, only for my happiness to be ripped away from me after only one night of pure bliss in his arms…

A flight attendant woke me up as we began the descent in Massachusetts. I must have drifted off, again. I don’t know what it is with me and reading in a plane that makes me so sleepy.

Getting out of the airport with my carry-on, I spotted a cab and quickly hopped in. I couldn’t wait to get back to my dorm and go to sleep, the events of the previous days finally catching up with me and I suddenly felt bone-tired. I told the cabbie the address of ’Mortis Academy’ and sat back and relaxed. Grabbing my MP3 and putting the earbuds in my ears, I listened to some ‘Pierce the Veil’ as the cabbie drove me back to my home away from home.

Soon I caught sight of the tunnel of trees that lead to that familiar, majestic, grey building that is ’Mortis Academy’. In the night, I noticed that there were green and purple projector lights illuminating the trees lining the school and the big sign that read ‘Mortis Academy & Boarding School’, it looked fairy-tale-ish.

After paying the cabbie, I got out and tiredly used my room key to get in the school, since at this hour ─a little past 10:30 PM─ the school was closed. I got in and the door automatically locked itself back behind me. Dragging my feet down the long corridor, I turned to my left as I’m accustomed to and then at the end of the hall, I turned on my right and entered the glass bridge leading to the dormitories.

A blood-curling scream emitted from the garden/terrace made me stop dead in my tracks. What the hell was that? I peered closely to the garden through the glass wall and could see two little figures close by, sitting on a bench. Looking more closely, I could see that one of them was Chris and he had his head bent over the neck of a little Asian girl who was flailing her arms madly trying to get him off of her. Should I intervene?

She stopped fighting him off, her arms gradually lowering. Maybe she was just playing hard-to get? Chris suddenly lifted his face from her neck with a dazed look in his eyes and I could glimpse some blood trickling from his mouth. What. The. Fuck?!? The Asian girl still sat motionless on the bench with blood smeared messily on her neck. That is not just a lover’s hickey. I stayed frozen, where I was on the bridge, in horror. What just happened? Did he just kill her? With his teeth?

His buzz seemed to wear off and soon a frightened look replaced his previous expression of ecstasy. Do I go help him? What just happened? If I go over there, will he kill me too? A blur of movement from the garden interrupted my internal debate and Zane stood in front of Chris who seemed to be seriously freaking out. How did he get there so fast? It’s like one second he’s not there and then the next, bam, there he is. That’s not possible.

Zane seemed to be reassuring Chris or something and the next thing I see is Chris ─sweet little Chris─ with glowing red eyes, grow two massive fangs from his previously normal teeth and bite into his wrist. By then I couldn’t help it, I let out a little squeak, more of surprise then actual fear. That is until I caught Zane’s eyes lookingdirectly at me, they were glowing like Chris’s but they were light blue instead of red and I could see two fangs protruding from his sadistically smiling mouth.

In the next instant, I ran as if my life depended on it (which it probably did) all the way to the elevator and luck seemed to be on my side, since I just had the time to get in before the doors closed, effectively keeping Zane from getting in. Breathing out a sigh of relief, I tried to rationalize what just happened.

Chris had glowing red eyes, fangs and blood on the side of his mouth from where he bit that poor little Asian girl and then there’s Zane who appeared out of nowhere with glowing blue eyes and fangs also. Either I’m still on the plane and I’m having a nightmare about them being vampires or I somehow got drugged and now I’m hallucinating. Those are the only two plausible explanations. Or I could simply have snapped and gone mad, with all the deaths ─Guillaume’s, Antoine’s and now my grandpa’s─ that happened around me it’s a possibility but I’d rather believe it be either one of the other two prior options before entertaining the possibility of my being crazy. Or, it could also, maybe, be real? Since I do believe I killed two boys only by kissing them, maybe anything can be real…?

Anyway, even if it’s just a nightmare or hallucination, (seriously what else could it logically be?) I prepared myself to bolt right out the elevator as soon as the doors open and run like hell all the way to my room. Getting out my room key from my carry-on, I watched as the little screen above the elevator doors indicated that we have arrived at level one.

The doors opened and I dashed out of there as fast as lightening (well obviously not that fast but anyway). I wasn’t even halfway down the small corridor to my room, that I felt two strong arms take hold of me from behind, one arm around my mid-section trapping my arms to my sides while his other hand went to my mouth, keeping me from screaming. Damn vampire speed, he must have used the stairs why didn’t I think about that? “Shhh, shhh. If you scream, I’m going to bite you.” I heard Zane, whisper in my right ear. Even though I know he meant that as a threat, he still managed to make it sound sexual. “You don’t want that now, do you?” I shook my head a little in the negative. “Good, good, now we’re going to pay a little visit to our good friend Oliver to solve this little problem of ours.” What? Oh man, is Oliver in on this too? Is he like the supreme vampire or something? Wouldn’t be too far-fetched, with him being all weird and stuff.

I’m surprised I’m not more freaked out about this, maybe it’s the fact that it’s probably not real… Before I could dwell further on the matter, Zane snatched my room key with his hand that was previously over my mouth and unlocked my dorm room. He then quickly threw open the door and dragged me inside before promptly closing the door shut behind us.

Upon hearing the sound the door made as it closed, I saw a silhouette fall from C.C.’s bed with a thump. The silhouette muttered a small ‘Ow’ and a lamp got switched on. The silhouette was a half naked Oliver in only his black ‘Emporio Armani’ boxer briefs rubbing his right elbow ─from where he landed painfully on the floor. But it’s not his near-nakedness that caught my eye, it was the fact that his usually blue eyes were silvery-grey all over, there were no more white and in the middle of both eyes, a small black line crossed the vast expand of grey vertically and was acting as his pupils. They reminded me of the eyes of a snake somehow and it was very creepy and so, despite Zane’s threat, I screamed as I dropped my carry-on carelessly at my feet.

He quickly covered my mouth with his hand. “Zane what the hell?!” C.C. whisper-shouted. She was sat in her bed, holding her comforter up to her chin to hide her state of undress.

“Yeah, yeah. Sorry to interrupt your little ‘ahem, ahem’ but we got ourselves a little situation.” Zane said referring to me. He was still holding me firmly to keep me from bolting away from these freaks.

I mean vampires, ok I can deal with that, it can even be kind of sexy, but what the hell is wrong with Oliver’s eyes? Whatever the hell that is, it’s not what I would consider hot. Tearing my gaze away from his freaky but captivating eyes and looking more closely at the rest of him, I could see some sort of silvery-grey stripes along his torso, arms and legs reminiscent of a tiger. “What happened?” She asked looking at me with concern. Oliver stood from the floor and went to sit beside C.C. on the bed wrapping an arm around her shoulders, observing silently the scene unfolding before him with a slightly amused smile on his weird face.

“She was at the wrong place at the wrong time and saw something that she wasn’t supposed to. Now can Oliver alter her memory or do I have to kill her?” Zane asked exasperated. Kill me!? I started to panic and struggle wildly in his strong arms as I tried to free myself from either imminent death or brain-rape. I don’t know which is worst, well probably the death option of course. “That was a joke. I won’t kill you.” He said softly in my ear. “Maybe I’ll take a bite…, you do smell good, but I won’t kill you.” He then gave my neck a small kiss, that was supposed to reassure me but instead just made me shiver in fear. “Oliver?” He asked again.

“I’ll have to know exactly what happened to be able to know what to look for and alter the correct memory in her mind.” Oliver quipped calmly from the bed with what seemed to be mirth in his creepy silvery eyes. Zane gave a frustrated sigh.

“Alright.” Zane said annoyed. “Chris found his mate and almost killed her, luckily I got there in time and helped him turn her. But little Del here, just so happened to be on the glass bridge when it occurred and saw the whole thing. Now you know the rules as much as I about our world and keeping it secret from the humans, so now can you alter her memories?”

“Sure.” Oliver replied offhandedly as he hopped off the bed and made his way over to Zane and I. I struggled again to break free but it was in vain.

“Don’t worry it’ll be over in a second and it’s painless.” C.C. said sounding comforting but I still don’t find the prospect of brain-rape reassuring. I felt Zane’s arms around me tighten effectively keeping from struggling anymore. I tried to look away from Oliver as he crept closer to me but he somehow managed to catch my gaze and it felt impossible to look anywhere but deep in his odd orbs.

The little pupilles retracted themselves until they were barely visible and in the next second, they expanded like tea seeping in boiling water covering the entirety of the grey, leaving his eyes completely black. “Hmmm,” He seemed to be searching for something in my eyes. “Ah, yes. Ok,” He probably found whatever he was looking for. He then went on in a hypnotic sort of voice saying: “tonight, once I got back I heard a small scream from where I was on the glass bridge. I wondered what was going on and crept closer to the glass wall, to investigate what I’ve just heard. Peering into the garden I saw Chris, he was in the company of a little Asian girl. He was tickling her. She was giggling and squeaking in laughter.” What is he trying to do? Is that supposed to hypnotize me? “Seeing nothing wrong with this picture, I made my way back to my dorm tiredly and now I’m going to go to sleep and won’t think anymore about this evening.” His eyes then gradually returned to their silvery color with only a little line in the middle and then he dropped my gaze. As Oliver turned away from me and went back to C.C., Zane’s arms slowly loosened from around me, he let go of my mouth and stepped away from me.

“WHAT THE FUCK?!?!” I shouted. They all turned to me with shocked, gobsmacked expressions on their faces.

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