I would like to thank StrangeHaven, M-Funky, Cirya & SweetUnknown for their reviews. You were supportive, encouraging and brutally honest with me. I loved every word. Every review reminds me that there is someone out there (even if all you're doing is taking a page out of my book and screaming 'UPDATE SOON!') ;)
I know the first two chapters have been under two thousand words, but I'm warming up – I promise there will be more to come. Forgive my grammar – the boyfriend is a Nazi about grammar but I tend to let things slide in favour of personal preference.
3 I apologize to all the grammar Nazis out there 3
On a side note, if I get ten reviews on any single chapter of Free Fall there is one of my poems in it for all of you to enjoy! So I will upload one of the poems I had up on Fictionpress before the 'Purge' if I get ten unique reviews on one of the future chapters. And you know what? I'll keep this an open offer for a few months. Maybe it will encourage me to explore that muse more too! ^_^
And now, for chapter three.
When Francis was only five years old, vampirism could be found in books, movies, and on the streets October 31st. If someone wanted to know something specific about a vampire, they called Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer. Vampires sparkled according to the latter, and sought out the purpose of their existence according to the former. Terms like the savage garden became the subject matter of term papers, and the classical image of Dracula was romanticized into an approachable evil.
An evil you wanted to fall in love with, if you were insane.
Francis Gerbeck knew better. She had seen what vampires were capable of. It didn't matter than when she was five years old, the race as a whole had effectively slipped out of their coffins. Doctors had spent the last twenty or so years bargaining for tissue samples so that studies could be done to determine whether their undead flesh could cure cancer. Cancer. While the least moral of them continued to run wild.
The world's covens with their appropriate Masters had revealed their true natures cautiously, starting with a campaign on Parliament Hill for individuals' right to claim their blood as property. They used lobbyists associated with pharmaceutical companies and large corporations to grease their existence into the public consciousness. But all the money and smooth talking publicists couldn't stop the outcry. For nearly six months the Canadian government had to wrangle with religious groups, parents, the military and instability in the United States of America to their south. Vampiric citizens were ordered to register, although many chose to go into hiding to avoid the purge they feared would come. The military in particular began screening applicants to determine whether or not they were tainted. Hospitals saw huge drops in blood donations due to conspiracies to feed the monsters.
All of this seemed to melt away however, with the careful application of time and money. Large donations of money were made to hospitals, park benches were installed in honour of the lives lost during what many would refer to as the dark times. Franky met her first vampire surprisingly at the library when she was 11 years old. Her mother chose to explain to her why they had to walk to a different library every day after. She said, "Franky, you can't tell a vampire from a human. Not when they eat regular and clean up nice. They might say they are no different from you or me, or even your father but they are different. And I don't think we should take any chances."
Franky opened her eyes as Brant rolled over the awkward speed bump outside Rick's underground parking. He had a private practice operating out of the main floor of a condo in downtown Mississauga, while his personal residence was upstairs. She had never seen the inside of his office.
Brant found a parking space and took his time swinging into it. It was a habit Francis had always found irritating.
"While I'm still alive, Brant." She growled.
"Don't joke about that," He chuckled back. After he was happy with how he was parked, he collected her into his arms once more. The migraine still pulsed, leaving her nauseous and unstable on her feet. The debilitating pain had always been played down as a case of chronic cluster migraines whenever the cocktail of drugs Rick had tested eventually failed. The discomfort in actual fact was far worse – Brant had gotten nervous during one of her worse attacks and ordered an MRI. The picture was worth a thousand horrible words.
Francis winked in and out of awareness as she closed her eyes to avoid the harsh fluorescent lights above them in the elevator. She vaguely heard Brant mention that Rick knew they were on route, and she made a sound of acknowledgement in the back of her throat. When they exited the elevator Brant walked the full length of the hall and kicked Rick's door. Why the physician left it open when he knew full well what went bump in the night, Francis would never understand.
"Rick?" Brant questioned, as he slowed his pace into the apartment. She didn't blame him – what if one of those dangers had actually invaded Rick's home?
"I'm in here," A strained voice responded from the small examination room slash guest room. It occurred to her that he sounded angry.
Brant kicked open the ajar door to that room as well, and Rick was sitting in the adjustable chair by a simple white melamine desk as if this was a simple checkup. A vein bulged in his forehead, and his pulse was up. This Franky could tell with her ears, before she opened her eyes and saw the bald fury on Rick's face.
She flinched at the sight of it, causing a particularly nasty bit of pain to erupt inside her head.
"I told you Franky, what working in a god damned school would do!" Rick growled under his throat. The long hours and stress of working as a full time family doctor had left their mark on what had been an otherwise handsome face. Rick's brown hair was streaked with tiny slivers of grey, and he had bags under his eyes. He'd have looked worse had he taken out his contacts and wore his glasses.
Despite the moment of concern for his health, Francis was swamped with anger. She knew she had pursued her teaching degree despite his warnings, his pleadings to quit. But that had been her choice, and she'd lived with it. He had no right to judge her now. No right!
Brant responded before she could however, indignant rage colouring his voice. "Rick! You need to take it down a notch. These walls ain't that thick, definitely not as thick as that head of yours. Franky made her choice, and you made yours. You promised you'd help her through this."
The folder of papers Rick had been holding flew across the room and hit a wall. Apparently angry wasn't the word for the mood he was in. "I told her I would help! And I have helped! I've worked my ass off to find some way to stop the virus from spreading! But clearly its not working – nothing – is working. And I think its because she doesn't want it to work! She wants to be just like the monster who did this to her!"
She felt the blood drain from her face, her legs dropping to the floor as she found her feet. The complete shock of hearing Rick dismiss nearly 4 years of drug trials and pain, and of hearing him compare her to the monster who had infected her... Brant was holding her upright by one arm one moment, and the next moment she had her own weight held up by the slender stainless steel table that served as an examination area. Two inches from her nose was Rick's enraged, red, face.
She whispered hatefully, "I can assure you, being your fucking lab rat hasn't been a party."