Turned / Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen


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Caitlin and Caleb stood together on the large, open terrace outside the Cloisters, looking out at the night. Far-off, she could see the Hudson River, peeking out between the bare trees of March. In the distance, she could even see the tiny lights of cars heading over the bridge. The night was completely silent.

"I need you to answer some questions for me, Caleb," she said softly, after several seconds of silence.

"I know," Caleb answered.

"What am I doing here? Who do you think I am?" Caitlin asked. It took her a few seconds more to summon the courage to ask the final question, "And why did you save me?"

Caleb stared off into the horizon for several seconds. She could not tell what he was thinking, or if he would even answer.

Finally, he turned to her. He stared right into her eyes, and the power of his stare was overwhelming. She couldn't look away if she tried.

"I am a vampire," he said, flatly. "Of the White Coven. I have lived for over 3,000 years, and I have been with this coven for 800 of them."

"Why am I here?"

"Vampire covens and races are always at war. They are very territorial. Unfortunately, you stumbled right into the middle of it."

"What do you mean?" she asked. "How?"

He looked at her, confused. "Don't you remember?"

She stared back, blankly.

"Your kill. It ignited all of this."

"Kill?"

He slowly shook his head. "So, you don't remember. Typical. First kills are always that way." He looked her in the eye. "You killed someone last night. A human. You fed on him. In Carnegie Hall."

Caitlin felt her world spinning. She could hardly believe she was capable of harming anyone, yet somehow, deep down, she felt it was true. She was afraid to ask who it was. Could it have been Jonah?

As if reading her mind, Caleb added, "The vocalist."

Caitlin could hardly take it all in. It felt too surreal. She felt like she had just been branded with a black mark that she could never undo. She felt awful. And out of control.

"Why did I do it?" she asked.

"You needed to feed," he answered. "Why you did it there, and then, that is what no one knows. That is what started this war. You were in another coven's territory. A very powerful coven."

"So, was I just in the wrong place at the wrong time?"

He sighed, "I don't know. There may be more to it than that."

She looked at him. "What do you mean?"

"Maybe you were meant to be there. Maybe it was your destiny."

She thought. She thought hard, afraid to ask the next question. Finally, she summoned her courage. "So does that mean...I am a vampire?"

He turned away. After several seconds, he finally said, "I don't know."

He turned and looked at her.

"You are not a true vampire. But you are not a true human, either. You are somewhere in between."

"A half-breed?" she asked.

"That's what they would call it. I am not so sure."

"What is it, exactly?"

"It is a vampire who is born into it. It is against our law, our doctrine, for a vampire to breed with a human. Sometimes, though, a rogue vampire will do so. If the human should give birth, the result will be a half-breed. Not quite human, not quite vampire. It is very much looked down upon in our race. The penalty for interbreeding with a human is death. No exceptions. And the child is considered an outcast."

"But I thought you said that your Messiah will be a half breed? How can they look down on a half-breed it if will be their savior?"

"Such is the paradox of our religion," he answered.

"Tell me more," she prodded. "How exactly is a half-breed different?"

"True vampires feed from the moment they are turned. Half breeds usually don't begin to feed until they come of age."

She was afraid to ask the next question.

"When is that?"

"18."

Caitlin thought hard. It was starting to make sense. She had just turned 18. And her cravings had just begun.

"Half-breeds are also mortal," Caleb continued. "They can die, like regular humans. We, on the other hand, cannot.

"In order to be a true vampire, one would have to be turned by a true vampire, one who fed with the intent. Vampires are not allowed to turn just anyone - it would inflate our race too greatly. They must receive permission in advance from the Master Council."

Caitlin furrowed her brow, trying to take it all in.

"You have some of our qualities, but not all. And since you are not a full breed, unfortunately, the vampire race will not accept you. Every vampire belongs to a coven. It is too dangerous not to. Normally, I could petition to accept you in our ranks. But given that you are mixed...they would never allow it. No coven will."

Caitlin thought hard. If there was anything worse than finding out that she was something other than human, it was finding out that she wasn't truly something. Finding out that she couldn't belong anywhere. She was neither here nor there, stuck between two worlds.

"So then what was all this talk about the Messiah? About me being...The One?"

"Our doctrine, our ancient law, tells us that one day a messenger, a Messiah, will arrive, and lead us to the lost sword. It tells us that on that day, war will begin, a final, all-out war between the vampire races, a war which will even drag in the human race. It is our version of the Apocalypse. The only thing that can stop it, that can save us all, is this missing sword. And the only person that can lead us to that is the Messiah.

"When I witnessed what happened to you tonight, I felt certain that it was you. I have never seen any other vampire immune to such holy water."

She looked up at him.

"And now?" she asked.

He looked off into the horizon.

"I am not so sure."

Caitlin stared at him. She felt a desperation welling up.

"So," she asked, afraid for the answer, "is that the only reason you saved me? Because you thought I would lead you to some missing sword?"

Caleb stared back, and she could see the confusion in his face.

"What other reason would there be?" he answered.

She felt the wind sucked out of her, as if she had been hit by a bat. All the love that she had felt for him, the connection she thought they had, went rushing out in a single breath. She felt like crying. She wanted to turn and run, but didn't know where to go. She felt ashamed.

"Well," she said, fighting back tears, "at least your wife will be happy to know that you were just doing your job. That you don't have any feelings for anyone else. Or for anything but some stupid sword."

She turned and walked away. She didn't know where she was going, but she had to get away from him. Her feelings were just too overwhelming. She didn't know how to make sense of them.

She had only gone a few feet when she felt a hand on her arm. He turned her back around. He stood there, looking down into her eyes.

"She's not my wife," he said softly. "We were married once, yes, but that was 700 years ago. It only lasted a year. In the vampire race, unfortunately, they don't forget things easily. There are no annulments."

Caitlin tossed his hand off of her, "Well, whatever she is, she'll be happy to have you back."

Caitlin kept walking, right for the steps.

Again he stopped her, this time getting around her and standing directly in her path.

"I don't know how I've offended you," he said, "but whatever I did, I am sorry."

It's what you didn't do, Caitlin wanted to say. It's that you didn't care, that you don't really love me. That I was just an object, a means to an end. Just like every guy I've ever known. I had thought that this time, maybe, it was different.

But she didn't say that, instead, she just lowered her head, and did her best to suppress a tear. She couldn't, though. She felt the hot tears streaming down her cheeks. There was a hand on her chin, and he raised it, forcing her to look up at him.

"I am sorry," he said finally, sounding sincere. "You were right. It was not the only reason I saved you." He took a deep breath. "I do feel something for you."

Caitlin felt her heart swell.

"But you must understand, it is forbidden. The laws are very strict on this. A vampire can never, ever, be with a human, or a half breed, or anyone who is not a true vampire. The punishment would be death. There is no way around it."

Caleb looked down.

"So, you see," he finally continued, "if I were to feel something for you, if I were to act for some motive other than for the general good, then it would mean my death."

"So, then, what's to become of me?" she asked. She looked around, "Clearly, I'm not welcome here. Where am I supposed to go?"

Caleb looked down, shaking his head.

"I can't go home," she added. "I have no home left. The cops are looking for me. So are these evil vampires. What am I supposed to do? Go out there on my own? I don't even know what I am anymore."

"I wish I had the answer. I tried. I really did. But there is nothing more I can do. One cannot defy the Council. It would mean both of our deaths. I am sentenced to 50 years confinement. I cannot leave these grounds. If I did, I would be banished from my clan forever. You must understand."

Caitlin turned to go, but again he spun her around.

"You must understand! You are merely human. Your life will end in 80 years. But for me, it's thousands. Your suffering is short. Mine is endless. I cannot be banished for eternity. My coven is all that I have. I love you. I feel something for you. Something even I don't understand. Something I've never felt with anyone in 3,000 years. But I cannot risk leaving these walls."

"So," she said, "I'll ask you again. What's to come of me?"

He just looked down.

"I see," she answered. "I'm not your problem anymore."

Caleb opened his mouth to speak, but this time she was gone. Really gone.

She made her way quickly across the terrace, and down the stone staircase. This time she was really gone, heading into the Bronx in the dark, New York City night. She had never felt more alone.


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