Elian woke up soaked in sweat. He threw the covers off of himself and moved to the window. It was still dark outside and he could tell that by the position of the moon, he hadn’t got much sleep at all. He’d not been getting much sleep at all for nearly a week. He was worried about professing his love for Marie to her. It was the first time ever that he could not remember his dreams the next morning. He was a little worried by that.
Looking at the clock, he was it was nearly five a.m. It wasn’t a time that he should be awake at all. Elian got up out of bed and moved to change into his running clothes. He grabbed his MP3 player off the charging cord and turned it on. A song with a nice hard beat started up and he put the ear buds in his ear before he started out of his room and out of the house. The city was dead.
Runs always started at his house and moved to the downtown area of town before he cut across and then ran the back ways back to his house. It was normal and easy. He could run for hours without ever thinking about where he was going. He would just make loop after loop until he was less excited.
Crossing onto Main Street, Elian saw there were several cop cars blocking the path he normally took on his run. One of the cops spotted him and used his flashlight to wave him over. Elian pulled the buds from his ear and started over to him.
“Elian, I’m going to call an officer to take you home.”
“Officer Self?” Elian looked around the officer and saw Animal Control vehicles, a great deal of Sheriff’s cars, and what looked like a few hunters. “What’s going on?”
“We had a call about a wild animal fight. When the first officers arrived on the scene before the warden got here, they thought it was a coyote fight but it turned out to be a panther.”
Elian’s blood ran cold at the man’s words. He moved around so that he was closer to the cop cars and more away from the darker areas. He didn’t want to come up against a panther in the city limits. Officer Self gave a small chuckle and opened the front seat of the car. Elian gladly moved to sit in it.
“We had been hoping you weren’t going to run. We just sent a car to you house to try and intercept you just in case. You must have missed him my minutes. I’ll have him come straight here to take you home.”
“I can just stay here. You don’t need to have a cop do anything special.”
“He’s going to be on patrol after this. Stopping others. We’ve contacted the school and they are contacting all the parents of kids in school. All kids are going to be waiting inside their houses until they see the bus coming. We are pulling in Marietta and all surrounding areas officers to give the buses escorts just in case.
“How did a panther get loose inside the city?”
“We are unsure of that.”
The Officer’s radio crackled and he wandered away from the car, shutting the door as he did so. Elian relaxed back and waited for the other officer to arrive to take him home. He had the dinner party with his parents and Marie to get ready for. He hoped that the whole city wasn’t going to be shut down all day long. He wondered what the cops were doing about people who worked early, long before the news started.
By evening, there had been no more sightings of the panther and while the city has relaxed some, there were still cops patrolling over. Marie arrived when she got off work to help him start to prepare the final parts of the meal.
“Marie?” Elian called from the kitchen. Marie was in the dining room finishing getting it all set up. Elian turned the fire down on the food on the stove. It would be about twenty minutes before his parents got there. He wanted to talk to her before then.
Marie entered the kitchen with a smile on her face. Elian reached into his pocket and pulled out the key ring. He handed it over to her. She looked at the ring with a look of confusion on her face.
“What’s this?” Marie held the keys up to an eye level.
“Those are keys to my house.” Elian pointed to each key and told her what they were. When it all sunk in, she shrieked and threw her hands around him, kissing him soundly on the mouth. Elian lost his footing a little and shifted back so that he was leaning against the counter. He let himself go and get lost in her mouth. She giggled when he grabbed her ass and lifted her, spinning as he did to set her down on the counter. She looped her legs around his waist.
After a few minutes, the timer on the over went off and Elian jerked backwards from her. He looked around and then looked at the oven.
“You need to get back to cooking and I need to finish dinner. We can talk about that more later.”
Elian pulled her back to him when she started to walk off. “I love you, you know that right?”
Marie looked at him shocked again but this time she smiled and leaned over to give him a quick peck on the lips. She sashayed from the room and Elian watched her every single step of the way. Elian reached down to adjust himself but found that he wasn’t horny at all. It had to be the stress of the dinner that was causing him to not be. Marie was a very hot woman and he didn’t figure that it had anything to do with her at all. It had to be him.
Shaking his head to clear it, Elian moved to the over to open it up. The turkey inside was cooked to perfection. He closed the oven back up and turned it off. He got out everything needed to slice up the meat and only then did he pull the bird from the oven. Plugging in the electric knife, Elian started to carve. He placed each piece on the platter carefully, keeping the white and dark meat separate. His mother liked dark while his father liked white. Elian could eat either one and he wasn’t sure which Marie would like to eat.
The stuffing on the stove was ready and he fluffed it before putting it in the over to crisp up the top a little. The potatoes were ready to be mashed and the gravy just needed warmed a little just before serving. So far the meal was going perfectly but his parents weren’t there to mess it up yet. When the meal was as ready as he was willing to get it before his parents arrived, Elian stepped from the kitchen to check to make sure Marie didn’t need any help. She was standing at a window that looked into the garden. She looked so beautiful in the light.
The light was so bright that Elian had to blink. When he opened his eyes, there standing in front of him was a black haired lady. It was the same lady from his dreams. He took a step back and blinked his eyes again. When he opened them back up, it was just Marie standing there. Elian shook his head and moved to the kitchen again. He didn’t know why he had seen her. Pushing her from his mind, he set up getting some of the serving plates ready. Nothing was going to make this a bad night. Nothing.
Elian was sitting in the gazebo when the urge to draw hit him. He went into the kitchen and grabbed his things. He moved to the small table that was on the porch of the garden and sat down to draw. He sat there for nearly three hours drawing a garden. He looked down at the page and dropped his pencil. It was a near copy of his garden. There were differences, he could tell that but the wall of the garden in the drawing was made of stone. The stone had signs of age that were so old; Elian would have put it as several hundred years old. The roses that had climbed those fences showed their age as well. There were other differences. The gazebo was different; again the one in the drawing was older. The flowers in the drawing were mostly exactly the same. There were a few that Elian had never seen before and some that he knew of and knew the flowers didn’t grow in this climate or area. He didn’t think much on it but he did pull the paper from the pad and took it into the kitchen. The garden was beautiful and he was going to color it in. The light outside was fading so he grabbed his colored pencils and sat down at the kitchen table to start coloring in.
As he colored he thought about the woman in the garden. He grabbed his pencils from outside and started to etch in a woman sitting on one of the benches with her back to him. Her hair was so black that it shined blue in the sunlight. She was wearing a dress. When Elian finished coloring it all in, he really looked at the woman. The woman was the same woman from his dreams. He hadn’t had the dream about her in a while. He signed the page and grabbed one of his empty picture frames and put the picture inside of it before hanging it one the wall beside the sliding glass door. Smiling at the picture, he touched the glass with his hand.
Elian entered the small hardware store so that he could get a set of keys made for his house for Marie. He wanted her to be able to come as go as she pleased. She was a huge part of his life and even though they decided to wait a little while before they did anything permanent with their life together, he wanted her to know that he was serious about her. He had three keys that needed to be made. There was the one for the door, the deadbolt and another that was the lock on the side of garage.
“How many I help you?” the older man behind the counter asked as he set down the paper he had been reading.
“I need a set of keys copied.” Elian handed over the three keys that he had pulled of the ring before heading to the store.
“Any particular color or do you want just regular keys?” the old man pointed at the revolving rack of uncut keys and Elian saw that there were many different colors and some that even had scenes painted on them. He found one that was pink with little hearts on them. He grabbed one of them. He then grabbed on that was pink and one that was red. He would use the one with hearts as the front door lock and the pink one as the deadbolt. The red would serve as the garage door key. He handed the keys over and told the man what he wanted.
In less than five minutes, Elian had been handed back all six keys. He handed the money over to the man and quickly made his way out of the store. He had a store he wanted to go to in Marietta. It was a place that sold new and old jewelry. He’d been in there before looking at necklaces for his mother. He’d ended up going someone else and getting her a ring but there had been things in there that he remembered liking in general. He didn’t have to work that day so he had planned to take the entire day to shop for an engagement ring for Marie.
He had grand plans to propose to her on their sixth month anniversary. The two of them had started dating over three months ago. Time had flown by and he was surprised by that. Time had gone by quicker than it ever had in his life. He was enjoying his life more with Marie than before he had met Marie. She made his life worth living. Even with the strange things going on with his sense of smell, Elian was finding it hard to worry about anything at all.
Elian turned down the street that would take him to the cross street that the shop was on. He was looking around when he noticed the book shop where he had got the journals. The old woman was sitting out front with knitting in her hand. Elian stopped at the light that was nearly in front of the shop and looked over at the lady more. The windows in his car were down so he felt when the breeze picked up. The smell of mushrooms and dandelions wafted into the car. The old lady looked up at him and smiled before she turned back to her knitting. When the light changed, Elian took off. The old lady and her store still wigged him out. He looked in his rearview mirror to watch the bookstore get smaller and smaller until he couldn’t see the store at all. Only then did he relax and breathe easy.
It was just another few minutes of travel before he arrived at the small shop. There was only a few parking spots in front of the building but there really didn’t need to be more parking than that. This wasn’t a store that many people would flock to at once. Elian got out of his car and checked his wallet before he entered the store. He had his card that was needed for a larger purchase that meant he was set.
At first, when he opened the door to the shop, he thought it was empty but the old man stepped back from behind bookshelf and smiled at Elian before he disappeared back to the same place. Elian moved to the cases where the rings were and started to look at them. He looked down and saw that there were many engagement rings inside. He started at the bottom of the case and worked left to right going up as he did. There was nothing inside of it that screamed out that Marie would like it.
“Sir?” Elian asked turning to face the older man. The man popped his head around the shelf and looked at Elian; saying nothing. “Are there anymore engagement rings?”
“I have some of the nicer ones in the back. Do you want to come and look at them?” The old man placed something on the shelf he was behind and then started around to head into the back room. Elian followed him, his eyes in front of him to see where the old man was going. Behind the black curtain that blocked the front from the back. Behind was a room with a smaller case but it was still full of about a hundred pieces of jewelry. “Have a look. See if what you are looking for is in here.”
Elian stepped up to the case and looked inside. There was once piece of jewelry that caught his eye before any of the others. It was a black band with a gold inlay. It looked to be man’s ring. What really caught his eye were the red stones that ringed it. There were five stones and while they looked to be rubies, there was something about them that didn’t look right. He pointed at the ring. “What is this?”
“That ring has been inside of this shop for a very long time. I’ve had this shop in several different cities over my long life and while people have looked at it, no one has wanted to buy it.” The man looked at the ring like it was a sibling to him. Something that he hated and loved at the same time.
“What is it made of?”
“See this is where it gets interesting. It was found in the basement of a house that was being torn down. It was in the wall inside a box. The box was nearly all deteriorated but the ring was just fine inside. The box was put at over a hundred years old but the ring seemed to be older than that. The black is tungsten. The gold is gold. The real kicker is the gems. I thought the gems were rubies. When I had it appraised, no one could figure out what the stones were. Harder than diamonds. No scraping could be made of it and looking at it under microscope, it looks like nothing that had ever been discovered. I took it to a scientist, he tried to look into it more but when he looked at the stones under a microscope, he got scared and told me to leave and never come back. I let it go and just tried to sell it. Thirty years of trying to sell it.”
“How much for it?”
The man pulled the ring from the case and handed it to Elian. He put tried to put the ring on his right hand but it didn’t quite fit on any of the fingers. He moved it to his middle finger on his left hand and it fit perfectly.
“It fits you. That’s good. I paid five hundred for it so many years ago. To make a profit, I’ll say a thousand.”
“I’ll take it.” Elian started to remove it but the old man laid his hand on his own.
“Leave it on. It looks good on you. Now you want an engagement ring. What kind are you looking for?”
“I want something pretty and special. A nice big diamond.”
“I have just the thing. It’s a new acquisition. I was getting ready to put it in the case.” The old man moved to a safe on the other side of the room and opened it up. He pulled out a ring box. He handed it over to Elian.
Elian opened the box and stared at the ring in wonder. It was a perfect and beautiful ring. It was small and looked like it wouldn’t need too much sizing to fit on her hand. There was a large diamond in a setting and below it was a ring of diamonds that were surrounding it. The band and settings were gold. It was so perfect for Marie and would look so wonderful on her hand. It looked like it was old. Like something from at least four or five decades before.
“It’s seven thousand and I have the documentation from the original jeweler. Its seventy years old. I had the settings tightened so that the diamonds wouldn’t fall out. It’s a beautiful ring. I got it at an estate sale about a month back.”
“I’ll take the both of them.”
“You don’t want to know the price?”
“I don’t care about the price.”
“For the both of them, it’s going to be eight thousand before tax. It will be somewhere around eight and a half after tax.”
“I don’t know the size of Marie’s finger but I can have it sized after right?” Elian wait for the old man to nod before he handed the ring back over. “Good. Can I have the name of the jeweler you took it to for tightening?”
“Of course,” the old man said as he took the ring back in its box and grabbed another small box. He started up to the register and Elian followed. Elian was excited. Marie was going to love the ring. For the first time in a while, Elian was looking forward to the future.
The journal was sitting on the bar in the kitchen. Beckoning him to read it. He had been putting off reading because there were only a few entries left. He was enjoying the tales that he was reading about even if the entries were short and was read in a matter of minutes. He grabbed the journal and leaned against the wall by the fridge. He opened the book and found the last entry he had read and went to the next one.
When I came back to London for the first time in nearly a decade, a quarter of a century after the duel, Dmitry has had a child. I need to see him and his family. His last letter had not been like his old self. He was worried for the child. I would be as well. I know that over the past twenty five years that we have been letter friends, he has been having visions of darkness. A darkness that claims his sons’ life and many others. Dmitry had settled into a love with his wife. They were happy and the love he bore for me was settled into the deep friendship that it had been before his madness. He ached to see me and for me to hold his son.
What I found when I entered the Darkan estate…I will never lose that. The horror of that night will live on inside of me forever. I smelled the blood the moment I stepped on the estate but that was a given if any of them had hunted recently. When I got to the front door and it was wide open, that was when I got worried. I dropped the presents for the child and ran inside. The staff of the house was all dead, lying around the rooms. It looked like a massacre had happened inside of the house. All of them had their throats slashed if they were human and hearts ripped out if they were Weres. I ran to the room that had been Dmitry’s nursery when he had been young. I found Dmitry’s wife, Adriana, lying in a pool of blood in the hall outside. I entered the nursery fully and found Dmitry lying over the cradle where the child, Darius should be. Dmitry’s throat was ripped out; his heart ripped from his chest. It was Werewolves who had killed them. I could smell their scent. It was a scent that I had smelled before but had never placed to a certain family of Weres.
I found Darius dead in his crib, his tiny neck snapped and his tiny heart lying beside him. On display like it was a stuffed animal. My scream must have alerted someone because Vampires and Werewolves from all around the surrounding miles came running, finding me holding Darius in my arms and crying. When a Vampire entered the room, I snarled and lashed out; I had to protect Dmitry and Darius. It wasn’t until my father arrived that I allowed anyone into the room. He brought news that the entire Darkan line had been killed that night. Anyone who carried the Darkan blood in them, no matter how small it was, was killed.
I vowed then and there to destroy whoever had done it.
Elian dropped the journal and quickly backed away from it. The journal hit the floor and closed itself up in the process. Elian went right out the back door and quickly made his way down to the river. He didn’t know what was going through his head. He thought back to the drawings he had done on the graves of those three that he kept hearing. There was no way that two sets of people were different. All of his visions were flooding back into his mind. All of them had to be real. The visions of the past, the hallucinations that were no longer hallucinations, all of it was real. There were vampires and werewolves in the world. The entire world had expanded more than he ever thought was possible.
He vowed to never read anymore of the journal. There were some things that he didn’t need to know. Some things that were best left in the past and not in his head.
When I finally have a chance to stake out the house that the wolf boy is living in, there is no one there. His smell is so faint around the house that I know that he rarely stays there. I sneak around the house and make my way to the backyard. I jump the fence and land in a beautiful backyard. It’s not until I have taken a few more steps that I recognize it. I’ve not set foot in my personal garden of my castle for a great many years. Dead center in the garden is an area that only my master gardener is allowed to touch. I stand and stare at the garden. Between my eyesight and the light from the moon, I am able to see all of it. I move to the gazebo. It’s the only part that isn’t exact outside of some of the flowers that won’t grow here that grow in my own garden. The gazebo looks old like it has been there for a while but it’s well cared for. I have my own gazebo in my garden. There is no way that this wolf has seen a picture of my garden. There are no pictures that exist and at the current there are only two alive who has been inside and my master gardener has never left Scotland.
I hear a noise and I shift quickly to my animal form and I hide back in the shadows. I see a woman enter the garden and I nearly gasp, which in this form would have come out as a growl. Behind her is him. He takes her hand and shows her around the garden. He pauses when he shows her the gazebo and looks around the flowers where I am hiding. I think for a second that he has seen me but he continues. The woman pulls him into the house and when I am sure that they will not see me I leap the fence still in my animal form.
Even on the other side of the fence, the smell of the woman penetrates my nose. She smells of burnt sugar and human but surrounding her is the smell of rotten milk. She is not a unchanged wolf. She is a human who spends too much time around those who killed off the Darkan family. The Matians have made a home near here. They family must be in hiding for me to not have come across them before. If they get wind of me before I can get to the wolf and save him, they will kill me.
I have to look into the woman more. I need more information before I let the world know that I live.