I woke up in a jolt, breathing very heavily, feeling very thirsty. Everything around me was a shade of dark red. Oddly enough, my room returned to normal after I blinked a few times. It was still dark outside as I looked out my window. I ran my hands through my hair and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. Letting out a sigh, I got up from my bed, glancing at the alarm clock. I couldn't believe it. 6:13. Three hours of sleep. Never in my life had I slept so little, not even when I spend the night at a friend's house. We would always stay up late and wake up late. It's just how it works.

Still in my boxers, I went downstairs to the kitchen. I got myself a cup and stood by the fridge as water filled the cup. I gulped it down and filled it again. I stood there in the dark until I finished my fifth cup. That was a bad idea cause I had to pee really bad. After I answered nature's call, I went back upstairs to my room and sat at my desk. Now that I had woken up, I couldn't go back to sleep for some reason, no matter how hard I tried. I picked up my Rubik's Cube and tried to get a whole side of blue. There was no point in trying to solve the whole thing. It was impossible, at least to me, anyway. I gave up on blue and turned to green. Green seemed to be easier to get somehow. Contented with my accomplishment of only one side, I set it down at my desk and looked at it proudly. A few seconds of admiration passed and I decided to get dressed. A little deodorant and some body spray and I put on some sandy-colored khakis and a red and white t-shirt.

Sunlight was streaming through the blinds onto my dresser. My CD player was sitting directly in the rays and I didn't want it to get ruined. I reached for it without thinking and I pulled my hand back as my skin burned. I accidentally knocked my CD player onto the floor. I looked down and saw two parallel marks across the back of my hand where the sun had singed it. It was like an instant sunburn. I ran to the bathroom, turned on the faucet and stuck my right hand under the running water. It didn't really help that much. The burning sensation was still lingering on the two marks. I turned the water off and looked at my injured hand. How am I gonna explain that one? It looked like I was branded with hot iron bars.

I ran back into my room and put on one of my leather jackets that I use when I'm on my dad's motorcycle and I pulled out some gloves. These were the ones had the fingertips cut off so it wouldn't look as suspicious as a full winter glove. It was the middle of August for crying out loud. I checked myself in the full length mirror and it didn't look half bad. I looked like a BMX stunt double. While smiling at myself in the mirror, something fell through the ceiling, or at least I thought it came from the ceiling. I bent over to pick it up when I realized it had come from slits in the air vent. It was a letter with a large green capital U stamped on the front. My name was scrawled underneath the U in black ink. I grabbed my letter opener and cut the envelope open. I set the letter opener back on my desk and pulled out a little card.

Dear Alex,

You are formally invited to attend the exclusive organization known only as "The Underground". Please wait outside your household at midnight sharp on Saturday, August 20th. Make sure know one knows where you are going. Everything will be explained to you shortly, but for now, do not ask any questions. We are aware of who you are. You are special. Never forget that. Do not hide your gifts. They are unique and you will learn to love them. If you do not wish to attend, please say so, out loud. Otherwise, we will be waiting for your arrival on Saturday. An escort will come and assist you the night of the initiation. He or she will ask for this card. Hand it to him or her and follow them to the meeting place. Hope to see you there and please enjoy your gift, from all of us at "The Underground".

Inside the envelope, there was another piece of paper. I took it out and looked at it. It was like a piece of transparency paper. The picture on it was weird. It was a black sun, with markings in the middle that looked very cryptic. I couldn't figure out what language it was. Arabic was the only thing that came to my mind. Another piece of paper fell out of the envelope.

Place on palm. Use your own blood. Don't worry.


I was a bit taken back at the fact I had to cut myself and bleed and yet, the mysterious person still told me to "not worry". The note looked hand-written and I figured EVL was someone's intials. I hesitated, but then headed to the bathroom. I closed the door and locked it. I reached into the drawer and pulled out a razor blade. I set the transparency on my right palm and put the razor blade in between my teeth. I raised my left index finger and slid it along the sharp edge. Holding out my right hand, I put my cut finger over the picture. A single drop of blood oozed from the opening and landed in my right palm. My finger healed completely as the markings began to glow and circle inside the tiny black sun. They emitted a faint white light as it sunk into my skin. The black sun faded slowly until it was gone. The markings were still circling my palm and the light grew fainter and fainter until they disappeared too. I looked at my index finger and finally realized what I was now. Maybe being a vampire isn't so bad. They had their ups and downs. Right now, it seemed ok. And then I thought about that girl in the park. That made kinda think for a bit. My thoughts were cut short when someone knocked on the door.

"Come on, Alex get out of the bathroom. I'm the girl here." It was my sister. "Hurry up. I have to pee." What a great thing to hear from your sister.

I shoved the razorblade back into the drawer and opened the door.

"All yours," I said, slipping pass Megan in her little pink t-shirt.

"Good," she replied, closing the door behind her.

Anxiously waiting for Saturday, the week seemed to fly past quickly. It was Friday when my best friend rang the doorbell. It was noon and I had just woken up, still wearing just my boxers. Nobody seemed to be home when I ran down the stairs. I looked out the side of the door to see Jeremy standing there, wearing jeans and a red t-shirt that said "Parental Advisory".

"Hey," he said, pulling off his headphone.

"Hey," I replied, yawning. "Go watch TV or something. I'm going to get dressed." I went back upstairs while Jeremy went to the living room. Fully clothed this time, I went into the kitchen and pulled out a pan. I could see into the living room and saw the channels on the TV swtiching by. "Do you want eggs?" I asked.

"Yeah, sure. That would be great," came the response. I smiled. Why did I even ask? We're both always hungry anyway. I made the eggs and fried some bacon to go with it. Setting the pan in the sink, I picked up the plates and put them on the table. I went to the fridge and poured two glasses of milk. I came back and Jeremy was already eating a piece of his bacon. I gave him one of the glasses and muttered a "thanks" through chewing his bacon. We watched Redhot on some movie channel. It was a comedy about the Devil granting seven wishes to a guy in exchange for his soul.

"I'm throwing a party tomorrow night. Can you come?" Jeremy said, halfway through his scrambled eggs. I lowered my fork a little and chewed on a piece of bacon.

"Yeah, sure," I began and then remembered what tomorrow night was. "What time?" I asked quickly.

"I'm thinking about from six to about sometime after midnight."

"Oh, um, I can go, but I have to leave around 11:30 or so."

"What? Why? You've never left a party before it ended. Who are you?" he asked sarcastically, pointing a piece bacon towards me, cocking one eyebrow. I laughed.

"I have stuff to do."

"At 12:00 at night? What could you be possibly doing at..." He stopped for a second and a wide smile spread across his face. "It's a girl. Isn't it?" he said slyly. "Somebody's gonna get laid. Right? No, no. Don't worry. I can keep a secret. Just tell me in the morning. My mouth is sealed, but yours isn't." He laughed wildly. I began laughing too, trying to think of what I should tell him. I knew he would believe me if I told him it was a girl, but then I would to make up some story about it. I could tell him about "The Underground", but it was risky. We stopped laughing for a minute.

"So is it a girl?" he asked seriously.

"Well," I replied, letting him decide what to think.

"Oh my god, it is. Isn' it? I was just kidding, but somehow I knew." He punched me in the arm and I laughed. "Let's go to the arcade," he said. "I'm bored."

"Okay. Let me finish washing the dishes," I said.

After drying all the breakfast plates, I went upstairs and grabbed my wallet and cell phone. I came back downstairs and wrote a note, saying I was with Jeremy at the arcade and we might go to the movies and I wouldn't be back for dinner. I placed the note on the fridge and told Jeremy to turn off the TV. I grabbed my keys from the key bowl by the door. Who in the world has a key bowl in their house? I thought. I locked the front door and slid into my black jaguar. All those good grades did come in handy. I smiled as I pulled out of the driveway and turned on the radio.

We arrived at the mall a couple minutes later and I parked in front of the entrance that was closest to the arcade. As I got out of my car, I noticed a girl walking to her car. She opened her trunk and put in the bags she was holding. Folded neatly, a yellow raincoat was at the bottom of the compartment. She turned around and we made eye contact. As if she saw a bull charging at her, she ran to the door and got in, quickly starting the car and driving off. I shook my head, making sure I was seeing right. Lots of people have yellow raincoats folded in the trunk, I thought. I dismissed the thought and jogged to catch up with Jeremy, who was already at the revolving doors that lead into the mall.

"What took so long?" he asked, pushing the door and stepped onto the tiled floor.

"Oh, I thought I saw someone that I knew," I said as I walked into the air conditioned building.

"Was it someone you knew?"

"No, I think it was just someone who looked like someone I knew."

The conversation ended there. I didn't know what to believe at that point. My worries were no more when I arrived at my favorite video game arcade. I think it was Jeremy's favorite, too because we would come here all the time. It started in third grade, I think. My mom and Jeremy's mom became friends when we moved here and I was scheduled for playdates with him. Every weekend, my mom and Jeremy's mom would drop us off at the arcade with a big bag of quarters and then leave to go shopping. It was a pretty big mall, so they wouldn't come back until a couple of hours later. Sometimes, they would show up with bags and bags of clothes while other times, they were just coming to tell us they were going to a movie or something and give us another bag of quarters or money to buy lunch. Those were good times and they still continue, except now our moms don't drive us and they don't give us quarters anymore. Sadly, we have to bring our own money.

We stayed at the arcade for a while, playing some of our favorites games, taking on challenges on unsuspecting meat. They actually thought we were new here. It was quite sad. After many attempts to thwart us, people began to leave us alone and we could play each other in a friendly competition that would sooner or later turn into a ravashing knuckle-to-knuckle facedown in every game installed there to see who was better. It always turns into that, but there were no hard feeling when Jeremy watched his pitiful french swordsman fall to the feet of my deadly ninja. I laughed triumphantly as we exited the arcade and headed towards the food court. I ordered a chicken sandwich and fries while Jeremy got two slices of pizza. We each got a soda and sat down in a comfortable booth.

"Do not worry, young master," I said, pretending to be a badly dubbed chinese movie, "you will learn to use your skills more effectively." I showed him my kung-fu hands and screamed silently. Jeremy burst out laughing, putting down his soda and wiping his chin. I glanced at the clock on the wall. 2:17. The movie wouldn't for another hour or so. With that in mind, I ate slowly, enjoying my time, checking some girls out as they walked by, sipping my soda, crunching on my tasty fries and conversed with my best friend about music, video games, TV, girls, and the upcoming school year. Three o' clock rolled around and we were on our feet heading to the movie theatre next door. Whoever thought of putting a mall and a movie theatre next to each other was a genious or someone who was tired of driving around all day on a lazy weekend afternoon.

We went to see a movie about a guy who falls in love with a girl, but she is really an alien who feeds off love of a man and then kills them by having so much sex with them that they die of exhaustion. It was quite funny, when I thought about it. As we walked out of the parking lot and headed towards my car, we heard a girl's voice in the darkness.

"No, stop. I told you, no!"

"Come on, we're ready. You said so." A guy was with her, obviously barking up the wrong tree or girl, to put it literally.

I looked at Jeremy and I knew he was thinking the same thing. We walked over towards the alley behind the mall. There it was. A girl, our age it looked like, was pressed against the wall, trying to paw off a boy who was also looked about our age. He was definitely drunk. I could smell the whiskey from a distance. The boy lifted his head from the girl's chest and glared at us.

"What...do you guys...want?" His voice was slurred and he looked like he was going to throw up after every word.

"Get away from her," I said fiercely. I raised my fists, just in case. Jeremy followed suit and raised his fists. The guy laughed and slapped the wall. He kept laughing until suddenly he passed out onto the ground. I lowered my hands and calm down a bit. I walked over the fallen body and grabbed the girl. She had curly brown hair and I could see brown tear-filled eyes as well.

"Are you okay?" I asked. She nodded nervously and hugged me, really hard. Jeremy knelt down and looked at the drunk guy. He turned the head from side to side and stood back up.

"I think he had too much to drink," he said. I rolled my eyes. It was kind of hard to miss. We walked the girl back to my car.

"Do you need a ride?" I asked.

"Really? Can you? I don't want to be a bother or anything," she said quickly.

"It's no big deal, really," I said, smiling at her. She had stopped crying and returned with a warm smile, showing the whitest teeth I had ever seen.

"What should we do about that guy?" Jeremy asked pointing his thumb over to the alley.

"Screw him," the girl replied and climbed into the backseat. That made me a bit wide-eyed and a little excited at the same time. I shrugged and got into the car too and started the engine.

"So what's your name?" Jeremy asked.


"Cool, I'm Alex and this is Jeremy," I said, pulling out of the parking lot.

Naomi gave me directions to her house and I dropped her off. She didn't live very far from me so I made a mental note to visit her tomorrow and make sure she's okay. I drove Jeremy home and went back to my house. As I walked to the door, I realized I hadn't had dinner yet and I didn't think anything was in the fridge so I headed back to the car.

I went to a drive-through and bought a box of popcorn chicken, my favorite food in the whole world. Nothing better than snacking on pieces of bite-sized fried chicken. I drove and parked in an empty parking lot. No one seemed to be in the mood for fried chicken, I guessed. Oh, well, more for me.