Chapter 1: A silent beginning
Light rain drizzled down from the grey skies as if it was springtime, but I was walking down a street that did not belong to this season with my hand crooked in daddy’s arm. There weren’t that many people, just a few here and there, and the most eye catching was a ragged, rumped, young girl lying on the side of the road. She was barely breathing, and was staring at us with grey eyes that the light had gone out of. There was nothing but the sign of death in her eyes. Daddy stopped and stood in front of the girl, his face full of sorrow as he shook his head without speaking. He led us forward and a grey wind swept some discarded paper and fallen leaves in front of me.
“Daddy, I have something to do, I’ll be right back.” I hurriedly said as soon as we’d sat down at home.
“The weather isn’t looking too good. Make sure you take a jacket with you!” Daddy headed straight into the kitchen as soon as we returned, and began to busy himself with cleaning the vegetables and meat we’d just bought. Daddy had prepared a feast as he’d just gotten his bonus today.
“Okay!” I agreed and walked into the bedroom, taking out a black cloak from the closest. Cloaks are my favorite type of clothing because they protect against the wind and rain. As for black? I think it’s the color of night, of silence. A beautiful color.
I pulled on the floor length cloak and silently recited a sentence, undoing the first seal. I left the bedroom and home like the gust of wind.
A black shadow flashed through the gloomy streets and stopped before the young girl, who was barely alive. The shadow was a little girl wearing a cloak that was the color of night. She bent down and said to the young girl, “I can give you unending life, but in return you must pay the price of your soul.” The girl used the last of her strength to wink slightly, and so the little girl brought her face up to the young girl’s neck and revealed a pair of sharp teeth. She bit down, but the young girl’s face was full of happiness. The little girl retracted her teeth after a short while and used her sharp nails to draw a small cut on her arm. The liquid of sin quickly gushed out of the cut and dripped into the young girl’s mouth. Death moved further and further away from her as she swallowed, and this fantastical scene was fully witnessed by a dark figure in the corner. The little girl left after the young girl had recovered, with only a sentence floating back behind her. “Treasure other people’s lives as if they are your own.” The young girl scrambled up and left, and so the dark figure left as well, leaving only the wind behind. The wind continued to add a bit of color to the nondescript street by stirring up fallen leaves and dust, even though it was only grey.
“Jing’er, hurry down and come eat breakfast, it’s getting late!” Daddy called from downstairs, an occurrence that had become a daily routine over the past two years.
“I know, coming!” I grabbed my bookbag and rushed towards the stairs after combing my hair. To me, having someone call me down to breakfast every morning was the happiest thing. You could say that I waited for this moment with bated breath every morning.
“It’s your favorite deep-fried bread sticks and soy milk today,” Daddy said to me as he perused the newspaper.
“Daddy, why aren’t you eating?” He was staring fixedly at the newspaper.
“There’s an odd article here,” Daddy’s eyes were still fixed on the upper left corner of the paper.
“What’s so weird about it?” I asked as I ate.
“There’s been a murder in a village called Wei,” Daddy relayed.
“Murders happen everywhere, everyday. What’s so special about this one?” I took a large gulp of soy milk in disinterest. The sensation of soy milk smoothly gliding down my throat was a joy indescribable by words.
“But the article says that animals seemed to have drained the victim’s blood.” Daddy said in growing disbelief.
“Did anyone see anything?” I suddenly remembered something.
“No.” Daddy shook his head with resignation.
“Then how do they know it was animals that drained the blood?” I was usually not too interested in topics like this, but this time…
“The report said that some are speculating that an animal’s teeth made the four neat puncture marks found on the victim’s neck.”
“Vampires!” I bit off a piece of bread stick and said decisively.
“Vampires? Have you read too many novels Jing’er? Listen to daddy. There is no such thing as vampires in this world. Their existence is merely a way for people to explain what they can’t explain, and these explanations have no scientific basis at all.” Daddy put on his ‘I’m-a-parent’ face and started lecturing me.
“Oh, I know.” I didn’t talk back because there wasn’t a need to. If the subject was something you disbelieved in from the depths of your heart, then you would not believe no matter how hard someone tried to prove that it was true. Unless you saw it with your own eyes. But in this moment, where on earth would I find the real thing! Not to mention that some things were better off not knowing.
“However, this animal is truly frightening, it’s almost the same as a vampire. I wonder what really happened.” Daddy said heartfeltly, as he couldn’t imagine what could have happened. But I could. I could clearly see in my mind every scene that had taken place in that village and hear every sound coming from that place.
Night had fallen on a rural village. The laughter of a man and woman enjoying themselves emanated from a lit room. But suddenly, a shrill scream rended the air, and the entire village fell silent. It was a terrifying silence that did not belong to this world, like the silence of walking into a tomb at midnight. But it was the type of silence I liked, it made me feel comfortable, feel safe, feel like I existed.
Villagers sought the source of the scream as they came pouring out of their houses.
“Ah!” It was the scream again, but this time it came from the crowd of villagers. It wasn’t just one scream, but multiple. What had they seen to make them so terrified? Someone called the police, and the police came to disperse the villagers. The police took away the bodies, sealed the scene, and left silently as if nothing had happened. Everyone had left, leaving behind only the silence that I liked. A pure silence.
“Jing, what are you thinking about?” Xiaoya gave me a light shove, waking me from my daze.
“Nothing,” I answered coldly. I was used to these kinds of dazes, well actually, stillness was the more apt word. Perhaps it was unsuitable for a girl of my age, but Xiaoya was the perfect example of someone the exact opposite of me.
“Okay, nothing then. Let’s go eat lunch. We’re getting KFC today.” She pulled me behind her, running in the direction of the KFC across from school, before I had said anything, like a bat on the hunt, springing towards its prey.
(“Xiaoya, a cute girl in middle school, my classmate and only friend. She’s outgoing, naive, and very innocent. She likes to eat KFC’s Doublicious and often drags me along as well. She also has idols she adores, and is a very normal middle school girl. And one other thing, she’s very gentle. Her gentleness is the most irresistible part about her.)
I grew silent again as we sat in the restaurant, thinking back to the scene that had occurred between classes. The day was dark and gloomy, and day was almost as dark as the night, thanks to the weather. I leaned against the railing at the top of the classroom building and stared off into the distance.
“Luvian,” came a voice from behind me.
“Did you come here just to say my name,” I asked, expressionless.
“You’re still the same, so cold. So cold that it makes me afraid!” She gave a cold laugh as she talked, a laugh that sounded like it had floated out of the mouth of a thousand year old zombie.
“And your laugh is warm?” I asked coldly in return.
“You’re something alright. To think that I was bested by a middle schooler.” She still wore that irritating expression, and hadn’t changed at all from the first time she’d appeared.
“I’m going back to class if there’s nothing else. Middle school isn’t a time for just randomly skipping class. Plus, I have no interest in the cheap laughter of a thousand year old hag.” I turned to leave.
“You! You’re still so penurious. Let’s talk about serious things, you –”
“Jing, what’s up, why are you staring off into space again?” Xiaoya widened her eyes and stared at me closely.
“I’m not staring off into space… aren’t I eating the burger?” I waved the burger in my hand.
“Yeah? But you’ve held it for more than ten minutes and haven’t taken a single bite.” She looked at me in confusion.
“Oh, is that so? Has it been that long?” I bit off a mouthful and chewed as I spoke.
“Look,” she waved her own burger as if to say, look I’m almost done eating.
“What’s up with you today, is something wrong? You keep staring off into space. You have to let me know if there’s anything I can help with, alright?” I nodded involuntarily as I looked at the concerned expression on her face. I guess she’s the only one who can make me act so involuntarily. We went to the library after lunch. She continued to read her unfinished “Pride and Prejudice”, whereas I took a random book and sat in front of a table, reliving the moment between classes again.
“What do you intend to do about the girl?” She asked with no good intentions.
“So you were the rat hiding in the corner!” I said in realization.
“Who are you calling a rat?” She yelled, unable to contain her fury.
“I don’t suppose the cat needs to tell the rat that it’s a rat!” I made a small analogy.
“You,” she spoke again after a moment of silence. “You were her creator, yet didn’t teach her anything!”
“Who allowed you to poke your nose into my business.” I countered unceremoniously.
“Can you lay down your hackles? I’m not poking my nose in your business, just reminding you out of the goodness of my heart.” That disgusting laugh accompanied her words, but there seemed to be a bit of anger mixed in. It would seem that her heart was no longer as calm.
“Who would have thought that a thousand years wouldn’t be enough to teach you how to be a proper noble.” I sighed in cold reflection.
“You! I’m going to go if there’s nothing else.” She hurriedly floated away, as if I had been the one to come looking for a fight. What a kid.
I clapped the dust, from the railing, off my hands and glanced at the grey sky. It looked like it would rain again, and soon. It was then that the bell rang for class, and so I turned and walked back towards the classroom.
When I came back to myself, a boy was sitting across from me, staring at me in a stupor. I ignored him and lowered my head to read the book. That was when I noticed that I was holding a book of lesser known Spanish folklore. I was pretty impressed with my luck. To have grabbed a Spanish novel in an ordinary middle school library! I understood now why the boy was staring at me — he’d discovered that the book in my hand was a little odd, but was too polite to say anything. What an embarrassing incident. I didn’t tell Xiaoya for fear that she would laugh at me. But maybe also because I was afraid she would ask why I was so distracted. Anyways, I didn’t tell her because of certain reasons.