I wake up when the door slams shut.  Spinning around, I recognize my apartment and throw the bolt.  I’m desperate for something but I don’t know what.  As my head thrashes around—searching the interior for what I don’t even know—my scalp feels lighter and I realize that my waist-length hair has been cut in ragged chunks almost all the way up to my chin.  I don’t have time to mourn my lost curls, something has me straining to lock the storm-shutters into place before the lovely, cobalt blue sky breaks into the blinding blue-white of new morning.

                What’s going on? I yell inside my head, but the rumbling laugh that answers me is FAR from soothing, well that’s creepy I murmur before returning entirely to my task.  Once the aluminum storm/security shutters are rolled out of their place in the wall and locked in position I throw the black-out curtains and plunge the apartment into complete darkness.

                But it’s not completely dark, not anymore.  Even though the shutters and curtains render my place pitch-black, I can still see.  Outlines stand out in sharp relief and everything—my second-hand couch, my half-circle chair, my messy bookcases that are one part literature and one part bric-a-brac—is picked out in perfect black and white.

                A sudden wave of dizziness has me staggering over to the couch, but even though I want to collapse on to it I find myself crawling toward the den.  I manage to shut the door with my foot and send the files covering the convertible futon-sofa to the floor with one sweep of my arm.

                I’ll worry about how I got back home and where most of my clothes went later.



                “I can’t believe we’re doing this,” a furtive voice whispers.  There’s a light coming from under the door and I KNOW I didn’t leave any lamps on or windows open in my mad dash to collapse.

                “I can’t believe we’re getting paid so much,” another mumbles and although my mind is howling to go back into the depths of unconsciousness I force my eyelids to part (even though it feels like I’m rubbing sandpaper over my eyeballs) as the two men pause outside my door.  “Now shut up.  She shouldn’t wake up but we’ll have our hands full if she does.”

                She HAS, asshole, I think as I roll off the convertible couch and wish I was a gun owner.  A sudden wave of dizziness sends me to my knees and the shuffling feet outside pause.  I skitter around amongst my papers, trying desperately to get my feet back under me, when the door opens and I’m confronted—not by one or two—by six muscular men in uniform black clothing.

                “Black?  Really?” pops out of my mouth and while I SHOULD be embarrassed that six strangers are staring at me in nothing but my camisole and boy-shorts I’m more than a little distracted by the fact that there are invaders in my apartment.

                “Dude, you said she’d be down like the rest of them,” the first voice (now attached to a bland, pale face) says to the stockier one in front of him.

                “Doesn’t matter,” the short, dark one replies.  None of the other men have spoken and I’m getting the sense that they’re the ‘hired muscle.’  These two are the real threat.  I reach out a steadying hand and the pale one levels some rapid-fire weapon at me.

                “Don’t move!” he shouts, voice breaking and I smile wickedly.  The lovely, magic, misty red is starting to creep past the painful yellow light assaulting my oversensitive eyes and I’m fairly certain that it’s a harbinger of doom.  Not mine, of course, but theirs most definitely.

                “You ARE aware that you’re intruding, yes?” I ask pleasantly, trying to get to my feet and failing once again.  This new weakness is pissing me off and I hope to channel some of the fine, hot rage boiling beneath my skin into some quality violence soon.

                “SHUT UP!” the first one bellows and the red in my eyes films over the painful light.  It’s like looking at the world through a crystal goblet of merlot; the men move toward me, my legs power me up…and…OVER…them, and before I know it I’m pinned to the ground by three men, covered in blood and laughing hysterically.  Two of my six attackers are laying, twisted, beneath us—their throats and chests mangled terribly—and the third is mewling in the corner, holding one hand against his head and staring at the ear cradled in the other.  I feel drunk.

                “Kill the crazy bitch,” someone new growls and though the four of us are doing a writhing version of ‘king of the hill’ on the floor, I hear Small, Dark & Stocky grunt,

                “Can’t.  Gotta bring her in alive,”

                “Vampires don’t live,” Plain & Pale says reflexively and it stops me cold.  I fall still and the men immediately tighten their grasp, as if they think that I’m marshalling my strength for some supernatural feat.

                “Gotta bring her in alive,” he repeats and I feel the third come off my legs a moment before the distinctive zzzzzzzzzzzclick of zip-tie restraints ratchets my ankles together.

                “Hands,” Third barks and I’m thrown onto my stomach, arms wrenched behind me, and wrists bound tight enough to cut off circulation.  If I still HAVE circulation.  If I’m NOT a vampire like they claim…If…If…If.

                “Oh God,” I moan and Stocky chuckles, an unpleasant, spiteful sound.

                “God’s turned his back on you, sugar,” I feel more restraints go around my waist and neck and then my body’s strung tight as a bow as they connect the whole assembly and twist me into an amateur yogi.  Small, Dark & Stocky takes a moment to survey the damage—commanding Plain & Pale to take the mewling one in the corner to the ER before ‘disposing’ of what’s left of the other two—before kicking me in the stomach and swearing under his breath.  “Almost not worth the money,” he mutters under his breath before kicking me again.

                “You expected me to go quietly?” I growl from between clenched teeth.  I heard something pop on the first kick, snap on the second, and if I could I’d tear him to shreds with my teeth.  My head is wrenched back even further, the roots of my hair screaming protest, as the ringleader hisses,

                “I expected you to be asleep.”  He pauses for a moment, considering whether or not to keep speaking, but curiosity wins out as he asks, “What ARE you?” and I have no answer.

                I no longer even know myself.  When I open my mouth to give him a smart-ass reply, his fist flies at my face and the world explodes in black stars.

Continue to Chapter 4

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OTHER LEGAL STUFF: The contents of A Fierce Joy, A Roaring Joy and other characters featured through this site, their locations and situations are products of the author's imagination and any similarity to persons either living or dead is unintentional. Copyright 2009 by Juliana Skye. Any unauthorized reproduction of the works contained on this website without written consent of the author are illegal (and morally objectional, as I can't continue to keep doing this just for my health and psychological well-being!) and violators will be subject to prosecution under US copyright law. Thank you for supporting me by not stealing my intellectual property.