Season Two – Episode 4 – “Fields of Gold”

By: B.A. Holland

Production Notes:

Started: 4/01/2012

“Air Date” 05/01/2012

Published by: Abyssal Books

www.abyssalbooks.com

Copyright ©2012

All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer

This series is a work of fiction. Characters, names and incidences are either productions of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chapter One

Bad Bosses and Ragtime Music

The kids had walked away from town and down that dusty road they remembered running down all the time two years ago. As long as Jessie was with them, they would have been allowed to do so. School had just ended for the kids and for the first time over a year, they didn’t stay in the neighborhood. Instead, they traversed the hay fields in their small town of Bancroft, Iowa, and toward the outlying farms. Matthew Dillon, a heavyset kid who complained about the hike, sought help from Jessie, the oldest friend in the group. She was the oldest, and not necessarily the wisest, however, perhaps, the kindest. Despite toting a backpack of her own, she was quick to pull the backpack off of Matthew’s back and add it to her own. She had strong arms and an amazing physique for her age. Her eye was black though and she had bruises on her hands and forearms. Her friends always knew why she jumped at the chance to stay away from home for as long as possible.

Jason Beaman, a lanky young fifteen ear old with a small mop of fiery red hair followed the girl as they roughed it down the dirt path. The bus had dropped them off at 2:30PM so there was plenty of sunlight and plenty of fun to be had down by the lake. It had always been their secret lake and so far the bullies at the school had no idea it existed. It was surrounded by trees and bush and couldn’t be seen from the road, nor could it be easily hiked too. It was their favorite swimming spot. The air was beginning to heat up during mid day and the seventy degree temperatures were feeling good.

Matt was beginning to breathe heavily as they got half way to their destination. Jason stopped a moment to help him catch his breath. Jason noticed his friend having a hard time. Jessie, oblivious to it continued walking without a care in the world. She seemed to be enjoying the warm day they were having and not minding anything else.

“Wait,” Jason said while holding onto Matt. “Matt’s not doing too well here. Hey, we’re already close enough to the lake. How about you give me the backpacks and we’ll head to the lake while you get Jordan.” Jason said.

Jessie blinked. Her eyes were somewhat vacant as she stared at them without reply. Matthew looked to Jason who was also knowing that their words weren’t exactly registering with her as she stood in the street. Jessie was a beautiful girl but she was obviously not blessed with the gift of a full grasp of reality. They forgave her for it because she was a kind, gentle soul, unlike other people that the went to school with. Jason stretched his arm out.

“Give me the backpacks. Go get Jordan okay? We’re going to head to the lake before Matt falls over from heat – or lack of food.”

Jason was suddenly hit in the side. Matt’s arm recoiled away. Despite the sudden pain, Jason started laughing.

“I’ll be back!” She handed the backpacks to Jason who suddenly staggered from the weight. Once free of her friends, she was quick to break into a run. Matt and Jason watched in amazement as the girl broke into a full sprint.

“Do you think she’ll be okay?” Matt asked while Jason battled with the weight of the backpacks. They stepped off of the path and walked in the middle of an empty field. The dry grass and hay crunched under their feet as they walked in the direction of distant trees.

“Yeah, she’ll be fine. It’s just one road.”

“Jordan will be pissed if she finds out we let her run off on her own,” Matt said.

“She’s not that dumb. She’s smart enough. Pretty, too.”

Matt almost forgot he was having trouble enduring the walk to the lake when he grinned at Jason.

“Oh you like her!”

“No!” Jason shook his head. “Well, as a friend – yeah! But. I like Christina Sloan.”

“The blonde girl that kicked you in the balls?” Matt started to laugh.

“Shut up…”

Daniel Anderson rarely ever turned his siren on. The town wasn’t large enough to really worry about such a thing. Whenever someone caused trouble in town, he’d turn his light bar on in his first generation 1992 model Crown Victoria cruiser. The man he took over from in the late nineties retired and he inherited the thing and he was sure that the small town’s budget wouldn’t even afford another if anything happened to it. That, mixed with the fact there were many kids in the neighborhood meant that no matter what the emergency, he wasn’t going to break the speed limit anyway. Too much could make the situation worse if he wasn’t careful. He pulled into a driveway of the man that dialed 911 and could instantly see what the problem was.

There was a smoking, splintered piece of wood sticking out of the ground where a mailbox should have been and metallic fragments were all over his yard along with shreds of singed magazines and unopened envelopes. The sheriff attempted to pull the handle to the door of his car once he struggled with the gear shifter to get it into park. With a kick, Daniel finally managed to get the door open. His cruiser had been involved in a few crashes and the town only had enough money in it’s budget to fix the cosmetic damage, and the main frame damage, leaving it with a personality that he didn’t like. Everything about the car seemed to fight with him. The door screamed in reluctance as it opened and he stepped out. He adjusted his brown uniform and stepped over a few pieces of metal debris. Daniel decided to have a little fun since this call meant he wouldn’t be able to meet his daughter at the local airport.

“Jerry… Is there anything I can do for you today?”

Jerry Rodgers, a retired sixty-nine year old man, bared down on him with his beady grey eyes. For an old man, he had a full head of hair, despite being grey, it was astonishing that a man of his age wouldn’t be bald by now, especially with what he had to deal with on a regular basis. He responded in his wheezy tone.

“Them damn’ kids… Theeeem kiids… If you hadn’t taken away ma’ guns…”

He held his fists in the air in classic fisticuffs style after pulling his blue stretch pants past his belly to make sure they wouldn’t fall off despite the suspenders that draped his formal collared shirt. The sheriff smiled and lightly pushed his hands down.

“Now, now Jerry… That’s why I took the guns away. You would have blown those kids away.”

“Just like my mailbox,” Jerry agreed while smacking his lips.

“Who was it?”

“Who else… B- Billy an his – delinquent and their rag time music… Them kids… I aughta’….” He trailed off in his own world of garbled speech while Daniel, being the nice guy that he is, continued to nod while he contemplated his day. Daniel sighed. Normally he would be happy to see is daughter but now he had a federal offense to deal with, and Billy Reuger’s father was another problem he would have to combat.

“Alright, Jerry,” He opened his car door and pointed toward it. “We’re going to go for a ride. We’ll point out Billy when we see him and we can have a little chat with his father. If you want to press charges afterward, just stay in the car and let me handle the conversation. I don’t know if you remember how his dad gets but –.” Daniel decided to stop talking. He knew that he wouldn’t understand and it was sad, really. On a normal day, Jerry was a nice guy but when someone blows up his mailbox, he gets too frustrated to comprehend anything else but kids, and whatever rag time music meant. “Let me get your house keys off you. I’ll lock your door for you and we’ll go for a ride. You don’t have anything cooking in the house or anything do ya?”

“Cooking? Nah.. Nah not cooking. Just wish I had dem der’ guns…” He turned around and continued mumbling while grabbing for Daniel’s shotgun that was locked between the two seats. He tried pulling at it while Daniel walked toward his front door. Daniel noticed him going for the gun when he turned around but smiled to himself. He always kept his gun keys on a different key ring so there was nothing the old man could do that would cause a problem.

Or so he thought…

Daniel locked Jerry’s front door and was checking to make sure it was firmly secure when he heard the familiar screeching of his drivers side door and the slam. Daniel turned around to see his cruiser pulling out of the driveway.

“Jerry!” Daniel ran after the car. “Jerry!” He yelled again and Jerry responded by picking up the microphone inside the car.

“Goin’ after dem’ kids n’ their ragtime music.. Kids.. Them scoundrels…”

The car drove off with it’s emergency lights on and Jerry’s voice emanating from the overhead speakers in a constant uninterrupted rant about kids, scoundrels, ragtime music, and flaming mailboxes.

“Ohh shit… Oh shit…” Daniel kept repeating to himself as he walked circles in Jerry’s front lawn. He pulled the cell phone out of his pocket. In the middle of dialing, Daniel heard a loud pop and a bang. His cell phone signal went from four bars to nothing. His brows furrowed as he looked away from his hand just in time to see a telephone pole fall over and vanish into the forest. He threw his phone to the ground and took a deep breath.

“Great,” Daniel said to himself. “Just awesome!”

Jordan’s aircraft wasn’t exactly first class. In fact, there was a reason the details of her flight weren’t given to her father. On the other hand, her father could have told her that the flight was delayed if she had given him the details. Needless to say, if child services ever found out that her mother had shipped her to Iowa Air Freight, their might have been an ethical dilemma. Now she knew what Nermal felt when Garfield finally shipped her to Abu Dhabi. Only, with the lack of atmosphere, Nermal would not have made the flight. She also would have frozen to death if she were not dead already. She knew that because she tried to have a drink from one of the blood packs she took with her only to find that she had to do the one thing her mother always taught her not to do – chew on ice. Luckily for her, blood didn’t freeze to ice, exactly. It was like gulping a slushy.

She also got a first hand experience of what luggage felt like as it went through the hands of a few baggage handlers. She at least made it to the warehouse before someone unknowingly dropped her on the head. She heard a few people arguing over which rack to store a five foot long container on, and another man yelling over the rumbling noise of the forklift , telling them to stop what they were doing and do something for them; this was followed by two forklift operators complaining over the fact that they were told by two bosses that two separate things were a priority and that was apparently why they always had one boss angry at them at all times. In the middle of that particular argument, they had unknowingly packed another crate behind hers, which ejected her from the racking.

She stood up amongst the debris and dusted the wood shavings off of her blue windbreaker jacket and blue jeans. She picked a large duffle bag out of the mess and slung it over her shoulders. The forklifts were so loud that they didn’t even notice that they had destroyed one of the crates they came in with. Jordan was happy, however, that she was able to get out of it so soon. She noticed the sun shining in from one of the open loading bay doors and sighed. She must have gotten to Bancroft early. She wished she had some way of making it home but judging by her wrist watch, she had another four hours of daylight before she could even make it out of the cargo warehouse. The little blonde girl hid behind a stack of crates to avoid being seen as the robotic-like wheeled machines moved around the darkened warehouse like Pacman on crack. There were racks where all of the newer cargo were kept, and then there seemed to be company pallets an isle beyond the racking where merchandise was stacked twenty-five feet high, all the way to the ceiling. Sawdust made the air smell bitter and the floor she placed her hands on in order to support herself behind a Radio Shack crate felt like the surface of a chalkboard. The girl knew that nobody would be getting out of the place without looking like they had attacked a drug dealer with ample supply. In fact, she was sure that somewhere amongst these crates were probably a DEA agent’s wet dream of a bust but that would have required reasonable search and seizure. Having cops for parents enhanced and drove her imagination to the world of crime and mystery. The warehouse served to stoke her imagination. The forklift that dropped her on the head loomed closer, followed by a beep, beep, beep, that echoed throughout the vast darkened enclosure; dark that is, because it looked as if nobody had installed incandescent lighting in the thirty foot ceiling for many years and the place was on it’s last handful of surviving fixtures. That lack of light provided another accident as Jordan ran out of the way. The back end of the forklift hit the rack and boxes rained down and cracked open all around herself and the forklift. One box slammed into the Radio Shack box behind her and boxes within boxes of the same product blasted all over the place. Jordan picked one off of the floor before running to another, more secluded portion of the warehouse to hide.

She jumped into a wooden bin under the shelves. Her skinny body was easily able to make it in between the tight space between the top of the racking and the top opening of the old wooden product bin and then struggled to squeeze her thick bag through the same crack. With a thud, she pulled the bag the rest of the way into the container. She unzipped the bag to make sure that she hadn’t broken anything during the brief struggle. Sitting beside her was one of the small boxes. She grabbed it because it caught her attention.

Radio Scanner was labeled on the box.

She opened it and installed the batteries. It was dark inside the crate but the small amount of light that trickled through the slender crack between the overhead shelf was all she needed to naturally use her eyesight to enhance what she was reading – the manual. She soon learned that she would be able to hear what the workers in the warehouse were talking about simply by finding the radio frequency they were talking on with the scanner. All was going good until she got to the batteries not included portion of the book. She reached into her bag and pulled out her HP laptop. She turned it on and used the USB plug to supply the scanner with power for now. She worked with the radio long enough to receive the signal stalker option. Once activated, it started searching for nearby active frequencies. It went a few rounds until finally it stopped on 460.2375 megahertz. She was suddenly thrown into the middle of a heated conversation that had been going on before she found the channel.

“… because you told us that stacking all the merchandise was more important than worrying about the lighting in the warehouse! Don’t blame that on me! Blame it on five managers telling us to do five different things, all five of those things being the number one priority for each and every one of you! We can’t make five different things a priority! We just have to choose four out of the five of you ass holes to piss off and which one to make happy!”

Jordan’s eyes went wide as she watched the small silver scanner in her hand. Wow, she thought. I’m finally getting a taste of what my tutor was telling me about. Being entertained by talk radio!

“Your choice then! You get written up by the manager for bad forklift driving, or you pull an all nighter and fix all the safety concerns overnight! I think you’re on your last writeup before we can legally can you!” It must have been the voice of one of the managers. Jordan’s brows drew inward slightly. The guy sounded mean and totally unfair to her. His voice sounded familiar too. It took her a moment but she then recognized the voice and shuddered.

“Boss! You’re an assshole!”

“Get it done…” The boss replied rudely.

Jordan made the decision right then and there – it was time for some Grade-A Vampduschery.

Jessie walked along the dirt road and into the slender forest-encroached dirt path just wide enough for a car to fit through. The tall girl had to duck to get under the slender branches of the unkept driveway until it came into the clearing; a two story house surrounded by large trees. Even it’s roof was outdone by the tree canopy’s above it. It looked like a house within a secret hiding place that civilization was never meant to find. She noticed that the police car that she was used to seeing as a kid wasn’t in the driveway. She knew that it probably meant that Jordan’s father wasn’t home but she at least hoped that he had left Jordan in the house. She bit her bottom lip and smiled in anticipation a moment before running to the front porch and ringing the doorbell. She waited a moment and then looked through the windows. The interior of the house was unkept. Clothes were strewn about the wooden floor and over the back of the stained brown sofa in the living room. The TV was a large but old rear-projection system that must have been made around the time she was born. Jessie remembered sitting in the living room with Jordan and her mother, watching movies. She smiled as she thought about the good times they had in that living room for a moment but the reflection in the glass caused her to snap back to reality.

Chad Guffy, Stephen Reuger, and Stephen Falso. Otherwise known as the bullies, were right behind her. Chad, the fat boy with short brown hair toted a baseball bat, Stephen the tall redhead had a white sack with several small objects in it, and Billy, the short skinny kid kept flicking a lighter on and off, were all gazing at her in their usual menace. She wanted to call her friends but when she pulled her cell phone out of her pockets, she was met with a no signal tone on her phone. She felt her heart beat in her chest and the all too familiar tingling sensation climbed up her spine faster than lightening could find it’s way to the ground.

“Heard Jordan wus home,” Chad spit on the ground and slapped his open palm with the wooden bat. Her dad left yonder bout’ half en hour go. She in?”

Jessie crossed her arms in front of her and started to shake. She was afraid that anything she said would be used against her as a method of verbal torture, or worse. Too afraid to move she let the group advance on her.

“She’s purty when scared,” Stephen said as he looked her over from head to toe. “She’s the dum’en right?”

“Yep… She’s takin’ the special schoolin’. Ain’t too smart.” Chad looked at her with his beady brown eyes as he waddled next to Stephen and laughed under his breath that he had to catch juts for walking.

“Damn. Ye really put a beatin on thisun!” Billy said as he stood on his toes to flick the lighter in front of Jessie’s bangs. She finally moved in the form of a flinch that seemed to instantly get the boys laughing.

“Haha! Yes’sir’ie… Ma paw dun taught me right. Dem’ gurls ain’t supposed be out all independent-like.” Chad said.

She tried to draw into herself again as the boys loomed around her. She hoped that maybe, if she could find a special place in her mind, then anything they did to her wouldn’t matter. She wished there was a room inside her own consciousness she could crawl into to escape but she just couldn’t escape far enough from them. She knew that things were going to get bad soon. As she felt a warmth run down her legs the boys laughed even more. It spread to the rest of her jeans and she soon realized what she had done, although, she didn’t need to figure it out since they repeated that she pissed her pants over and over. There was a sudden jolt of pain as Chad slammed the baseball bat caused excruciating pain to the back of her legs. Whatever refuge she could have reverted into was ripped away from her as the bat caused her to fall forward onto the wooden porch. The kids began to laugh harder. Her cell phone bounced across the wooden planks and danced to a stop. Stephen, the youngest of the kids was quick to bring his foot down on the phone. It exploded under his heel. Billy knocked on the front door to see if Jordan was home. As much as she wished someone would try and save her, the last thing Jessie wanted her friend to see was for her to be helpless on porch in front of the bullies. The knocks turned to slams.

“Guess noone’s home!” Billy yelled with laughter. The other boys started to laugh along with him. Jessie hoped that whatever it was they were laughing about would give her time to hold her breath long enough for the pain in her legs to go away but she suddenly felt the handle of the baseball bat put pressure on the small of her back until she lie flat on the floor.

“Why’d they mak’er so purdy but so dumb?” Chad seemed to be questioning in general but it was just another taunt. The words hurt her more than the pain. The expectation of the physical pain though was almost worse than the physical pain itself. She didn’t know who kicked her in the jaw. All she knew was that it was such a surprise to her that her whole body went numb while she kept asking herself over and over am I really here? No matter how many times they kicked her, she hoped that the next kick would be her parents waking her up. Her dad may have kicked her, too, but at least he had some love for her despite being abusive.

‘Daniel cursed the unusually hot day in April as he followed the lonely road into town. There had been a phone booth at the boarder of Bancroft for as long as he could remember. Daniel remembered being in his 20’s and using that phone once… The funny thing about driving was that some people tended not to pay attention to the little things. Paying attention to the road is important to some people. So, the same types of people that don’t text and drive are also the same types of people that wouldn’t have noticed that a particular fixture on the side of the road had been run down and disabled for quite some time. Daniel sighed with grief as the phone booth loomed closer to him . It had been caved in, and he could see that the glass on the booth was shattered; the phone was also ripped out — doomed to be some fixture on a teenager’s bedroom wall probably. Soaked with sweat, fatigued, and somewhat pissed off, he found that kicking the down-and-out phone booth made him feel better. From the town, he noticed a car coming. The heat coming off of the pavement distorted the vehicle as it came closer. Saved, at last, he thought as he walked out into the street and waved his arms.

“Hey!” He knew that yelling wouldn’t help, but it made him feel better. He squinted as he tried to make out who it was. It was a small enough town and he knew most everyone. He was curious who he would be thanking for a moment before his eyes went wide with horror. He started hearing a familiar sound.

“Them’ damn.. Damn kiiids n’ their — their raaagtime music…” It seemed to repeat like a broken record. It was coming from the overhead speaker of Daniel’s stolen police cruiser. Daniel waved his arms faster to get the geriatric’s attention but the old man was so far into his own world of self-righteous hate that he probably didn’t see him. Unlike some people that just didn’t notice things on the side of the road like, broken down phone booths, there were other drivers on the road that simply can’t see anything but the road — which included anything or anyone on it. To the poor old man in the vehicle, all he saw was kids — kids, and their ragtime music. As Daniel dove to avoid getting killed by his own vehicle, he caught himself wondering — what the hell ragtime music was. He made a mental note to himself while dusting off to ask his daughter what it meant.

Chuck Guffy, a fifty year old manager with a beer gut the size of a basketball and a balding head of grey hair continued to yell into his walkie talkie while people worked. He had a specialty in nothing else but making other people look bad. He knew how to assert himself in a position of authority by purposely setting his co-workers up for failure. This quality followed him into management. He was able to flawlessly coordinate with the other three managers in a way that everyone had a priority assigned to them by each manager – and every priority was first priority, thus leaving every employee wide open for writeups for not doing what a manager asks of them at any time. His favorite phrases to use were get on the ball, get with the program, hop to it, and his favorite word above all others to use was the word, initiative. The word initiative was either misunderstood by Chuck Guffy, or he purposely used it as his own meaning. Regardless, the meaning for the word initiative, in Chuck’s mind meant whip-cracking the employees into doing the work other people should be doing, or doing to work of three people while getting the paycheck of one person. Chuck knew how to make Initiative sound innocent when it was anything but. He was feeling particularly monovalent after having to sign off on a damage report on a series of wrecked luggage. If the company got sued or gained a bad image, they would hold him accountable; if they held him accountable for damaged or lost property, he would take it out on the employees.

Chuck was well aware that the warehouse was a maze of racks and tight spaces that men in two ton machines had to navigate through and when an accident happened, he would conveniently forget the fact that if he followed safety procedures to allow the employees to actually see where they were driving, they could have avoided most, if not all of the accidents have been hurting the business lately. As manager in charge of the facility, it was his job to forget that this may have been his fault because in his mind, he was perfect and if something went wrong, it was always someone else’s fault. To Chuck, nothing had ever been his fault since the moment he received the pseudo illustrious title of Warehouse Manager.

“Alright! It’s four o’ clock! Everyone quit doing what your doing and start get this place up to code, like I mentioned we should have months ago!” He yelled into the walkie. One of the other managers walked over to him in the perched booth that was nothing but a stairway to the top of a small storage closet inside the warehouse. It gave the managers to have a birds-eye view of a fair lot of the interior warehouse. He walked over to Chuck who was still waiting for everyone in their forklifts to stop and shut the engines off. He couldn’t help but notice the screen saver on the old Dell computer that sat on a desk made out of two filing cabinets and a sanded down door. The managers enjoyed coming to the office.

“Chuck,” Thomas said. “I have several of the drivers on priorities.”

Chuck turned around to the slightly cross-eyed man and shook his head. He couldn’t believe that he hadn’t learned the tricks of the trade yet and he was hell bent to make it clear to him that there were ways to ruin people’s lives which he hadn’t thought of yet. The employees were ripe for blame placement and he wasn’t about to let any other manager do anything to hinder it.

“Tell them their priorities after I tell them all what to do! We’ll shuffle them around and chastise them later for not following my instructions,” Chuck said. Thomas laughed. He wasn’t much of an ass kisser but he was sickeningly just like Chuck when it came to his idea of how to run a warehouse. Chuck brought the radio to his lips and clicked the transmit button.

“Now, I want everyone to adjusting racking, sweeping the floors, and replacing lights in the ceiling. All baggage is in the shop and we will worry about placing them in order later. Right now, we need to make this store safe to work in. I told you all that we were supposed to have done this during last meeting and you slacked off and nobody took the initiative… I will be printing up a list of mandatory things that need to be fixed before you leave for work and I don’t care if it takes you all night and right into your next shift. Get it done!”

Jordan’s eyes widened as she peaked out of the box. This was sad, and she didn’t like to be sad. She felt sorry for the employees and due to her super-human hearing, she was able to understand everything now that the forklift engines were off and she could cut through the loud noises and hear the managers talking behind everyone else’s backs. It was right then and there that she decided that she was going to help these people as well as get even with the two men in the booth that she recognized.

Thomas McGuire, the assistant manager was his best friend, Jessie’s father; unfortunately for Jessie, he was a horrible dad. She always thought that he beat on her but nobody would ever lift a finger to investigate or help. The town was always so tight knit that if anyone hurt the reputation of anyone else, it also hurt the towns reputation. Jordan always hated that her dad would never do anything about her friends dad. Now that she was stuck in a warehouse with the man, she was going to finally get all the revenge she ever wanted for her best friend that she had to leave behind in Iowa. Chuck Guffy was the father of Chad Guffy, the town’s most ruthless bully. She had never had a chance to see him outside of school when he would arrive to pick Chad up. It seemed that this man was as much a corporate bully as his son was a school bully. Sighed curses and whispered comments rode on the stale wind between the aisles of crates, luggage, and forgotten merchandise as tools were handed out to turn forklifts into platforms. She heard foot falls behind her as Thomas McGuire passed the crate she was hiding in and approached one of the employees.

“What the hell do you think yer’ doing?” Thomas said.

A short semi-muscular twenty year old turned.

“I be fixin’ ta get at them their lights,” said the forklift operator.

“I told ya this mornin’ that yer priority was ta’ get the ol’ luggage and organize them in the back of the warehouse so that the newer luggage would be easier to find. Why do I have to keep tellin’ yathis? Are you stupid or somethin’?

If Jordan had blood to boil the crate would be steaming thicker than twelve Mary Jane addicts smoking bongs in a phone booth at this point. The girl felt her fangs extend and her eyes started to turn darker than night as her skin paled white as paper. She couldn’t believe how these managers were treating people who were simply trying to make a living. Thomas was setting the poor man up for failure. Jordan quietly packed all of her belongings into one corner of the crate and turned to mist. She had plenty of blood with her to handle going to mist several times and she was going to use her powers to the advantage of the mistreated workers. A thin mist streaked in a thin line under Thomas’s feet and collected in the back room. Jordan was conscious of several video camera’s facing down in the back maintenance room. The mist traveled up the walls and wrapped around the ceiling support beams. The mist slowly became more opaque second by second until it collected as Jordan’s bare body thirty feet in the air. Her blonde hair dangled as she carefully reached out to the camera and uncoupled the coax clip.

In the office, Chuck was too busy writing up a checklist of things to do for his employees to notice that one of the security camera monitors went to static. He had planned on leaving soon so that the assistant manager would be stuck with all the work. He had no idea that all hell was about to break loose the moment he walked away.

Chapter Two

Friendship Knows No Bounds

Jason’s father had given him a cell phone for emergencies. It was a pre-paid card phone to prevent him from constantly using minutes that would cost his family a fortune. Matthew seemed to be more trusting that everything would go write than Jason. As Matthew was more sheltered than he, Jason felt that he should call the house but when he did, he got a message on the screen saying that there was no signal. The tall slender kid put his shirt back on and started pulling his shoes when Matthew noticed and jumped back onto the rocks next to their special hidden lake to confront his friend.

“I’m worried about them.” Jason was referring to Jessie. “You know Jessie ain’t really… You know. She might have gotten lost or something. We should at least go and see what’s taking them so long.”

“Girl talk… You know Girls talk. They want to have their alone time. They’re probably talking about shoes or hot guys or something.”

“Hot guys?” Jason blinked “Like us?”

Matthew may have been physically slow but whenever he landed a punch to his arm, it really hurt. Jason rubbed his arm.

“What was that for?”

“We ain’t hot!” Matthew said.

“Says you!”

Another punch came to his arm. Jason knew that he would be bruising. Matthew laughed and despite the pain, Jason laughed too. He nodded in the direction of the tree-line beyond the lake that lead to the open fields, which in turn would lead them back to the road to Daniel’s house where Jordan would be staying.

“Come on… Just in case, let’s check in on them. If we meet them half way than we only make one extra trip anyway.”

“And if we have to walk the whole way?” Matthew tried to make a point but it was quickly shot down by his intelligent young friend.

“Then, there was obviously something wrong, right?” Jason crossed his arms and Matthew submitted and admitted that it was sound reasoning. They gathered some of their things and left what they knew they would come back to later on in the day if there was still any daylight left. They were looking forward to seeing Jessie and Jordan in swim suits. None of them would audibly admit it but that’s what they were equally thinking that left them with mild smiles on their faces as they eventually made it to the road.

Jessie McGuire was now too weak to cry. The bullies had been mean before, but they had never gone to such an extent as to kick her while she was on the ground. Billy was getting laughs out of his friends by trying to light the tail end of her shot on fire with a lighter. Whenever Jessie would attempt to stop him from doing so, Chad would slap her hand out of the way. Eventually, they would put out the fire by stomping on her. It got to the point where her cries turned to desperate shrieks to attempt alerting anyone within earshot that she was being hurt.

Matthew and Jason heard the scream and began running toward the secluded drive that snaked toward the house. Jason was more agile than his larger friend and gained distance quickly. He stopped for a moment when he was close enough to see why his friend, Jessie, was screaming. His mouth gaped as his eyes welled up at the sight. He knew that Chad’s group of bullies were mean but he never would have expected them to go as far as they had just taken it.

“Jessie?!”

Jason watched as the battered girl’s hand extended out to him from a distance. He wasted no time breaking back into a run to close that distance and confront Chad, Billy, and Stephen. Even the other boys seemed shocked. Some of them were surprised that Jason would confront them, and others were surprised that they had beaten up Jessie in the first place. They all looked to Chad who was too busy staring Jason down with his dark menacing eyes.

“You’ve done it this time. Wait until Daniel gets home. I’m going to tell him what you did and you’re going to jail.” Jason fought with all of his might to keep his hands from balling into fists. Chad started laughing.

“Ma’ paw’s your paw’s manager. Ye think he’s gunna press charges when paw can fire’um on the spot?” Chuck spit on his shoes and pushed him away from Jessie. Jason walked forward again and leaned down to pick Jessie off of the front porches wooden deck. Chad leaned in and swung his arm through the air. It connected with Jason’s temple and sent him stumbling backward while holding the battered, crying girl into the railing behind him. Jason didn’t let go. Chad was about to do it again when he heard Matthew’s voice.

“Hey!”

Matthew stomped toward Chad. Taken aback by the large boy and how he carried himself, he didn’t put his guard up when Matthew slammed his fist into Chad’s stomach. It sounded like a wet slap that sent waves through the surface of his belly. Chad closed his eyes in agony as he doubled over. Matthew was scared he would get back up or that his buddies would jump in but to his surprise, Stephen and Billy ran off toward the main road. Jason did a double take to make sure that he saw what he saw. Through a swollen eye, Jessie witnessed the heroic display. If she had been feeling better, she may have smiled. Jessie felt pain whenever she tried to breathe in, her face felt like it was on fire, and her back ached with every movement of her body. In the arms of Jason, she felt like she could openly cry again.

“What are we going to do? It’s a mile to town.” Jason looked to Matthew while Chad slowly got to his feet while cursing the both of them.

“Find a way into the house. Daniel isn’t going to care,” Matthew said.

“Jessie, I’m going to put you down but I’ll be right back. Matthew isn’t going to go anywhere,” Jason assured her as he lay her down on the wooden deck once more. She sobbed and cried between coughs and gasps. Matthew’s fists tightened to balls as he looked at her and then to Chad, who was now limping away from the house.

Justin watched his friend shake as he stared daggers into Chad’s backside.

“No,” Justin said. “He can’t get away with this. Not this time.”

It look like it took all of his will power to unlock the murderous stare from the running bully. When he blinked he looked to Justin who continued shaking his head for emphasis. He pointed to Jessie and Matthew nodded. The two story house had many windows, and Justin was quick to find an open one on the second floor. The next minute, Matthew and Justin found themselves carefully laying their sobbing, hurt friend on the sofa.

“Call nine-one-one,” Matthew recommended. “I’ve never seen anyone beat up this badly.”

“I think she’s okay. Just beaten up. Let me find a camera though.”

“For what?”

“To have proof of what they did to her before the bruises go away,” Justin yelled from the other room to make sure that his voice carried through the rather sizable house. His feet clacked on the hardwood floor as he rummaged through the drawers. “I know they had a digital camera here somewhere,” he whispered to himself as he kept opening drawers in Daniel’s desk. Finally, he found what he was looking for in the form of an older model HP digital camera. “Gotchya.”

“That was – so brave,” Jessie whispered lowly through her broken lips. She smiled and held onto Matthews hands as she looked up to him. “You and Justin… You are usually so afraid of them when they come around.”

“That was before they started hitting our best friend!” Jason said. He lifted a camera at Jessie and snapped a few pictures. Jessie let Matthew pull her shirt up after whispering that she had her bathing suit on in preparation of swimming in the lake. It provided perfect access to show any court exactly what they did to her. Matthew covered his mouth when he saw the bruising on the poor girl.

“I should have beat the heck out of him!”

Matthew let go of her hand and walked toward the living room window that faced the long curvy drive that led to the street. All of him hoped to find Chad again. If he had known now, the results of what they did to her, he knew he would have beat someone to death for it. He angrily hit the wooden window frame so hard that the glass panes in the window rattled and blood dripped from his knuckles.

“No! No you shouldn’t. If you did that, then this would all start over again and it might even be worse next time!”

Justin was very smart for his age. He knew how to pick his fights despite being in very few. He was sure that when Daniel returned with their long lost friend, Jordan, she would be able to comfort Jessie while the pictures on Daniels’ camera angered the police officer just as much, if not more than Matthew. There was just one question in his mind… Where were they?

Daniel felt as if he had been walking through the desert by the time he finally made it to town. He worried that poor Jordan would be angry with him. He could care less about the old geezer that stole his police car. All he wanted was a tall glass of water and to see his daughter.

“Howdy Sheriff!”

An old blue and white chevy idled next to him – the truck bed was filled full of slimy black, green, and grey mush that seemed to attract thousands of flies despite the fact he must have been traveling twenty miles an hour down the road with it. The stench hit Daniel hard and he swiftly brought one leg behind him to keep from tipping over.

“Holy shit…” Daniel gasped and pulled part of his sweat soaked uniform shirt over his nose and mouth.

“Jerry! What the hell are you doing?!”

“Wuts it look like! Ima fertalize me’ crop! I’s about ta be askin yew the same question. Wut da’ hell ya doin’ outcheer?” Jerry spit a clump of tobacco out of the corner of his mouth and it hit the hot, horridly cracked pavement with a wet flop. Specks of the black tar-like substance splashed onto the pants of the sheriff’s pant legs. It was enough to make Daniel puke, which he did.

“Ahh… Oh my god-uhh!”

It sounded like his words were chased by the familiar sound a pipe makes when water was pushing air out ahead of it before rushing out the nozzle. Sure enough, it sounded like a water pipe too, but there was a familiar twinge of acrid atmosphere that tickled the redneck farmer’s nose.

“Eeeh hehhe, yeahboy!” The farmer slapped his knee while he laughed at the sheriff’s hand. “Icun smell shit alll day but the smell uh’ that fresh up-chuck somethin’ even I ain’t gotten used ta yet.” The hand was actually all the farmer could see because the rest of him was busy painting the side of his chevy with the extra cheese, half digested pepperoni. The eye watering fumes of stomach acid were strong enough to push back at him with seemingly physical force. Daniel wiped the sticky streams of spittle that dangled from the corner of his lips with his sweat soaked shirt sleeve and pleadingly spoke the only words he needed to speak and did so with urgency.

“Take me home… Please!” The sheriff gasped now that he had the chance to speak.

“I reckin’ I could do that…”

The Warehouse

Jordan pulled her hands into a set of stacked pallets to keep herself from falling. She was at least fifteen feet in the air and hidden in a square space that was available to her through pure luck because the pallets were stacked in a way that gaps and spaces naturally occurred between mountains of luggage, company merchandise, and stored aircraft materials. The girl was easily able to peer between the cracks and get a good look at Chuck’s list.

1. Replace all overhead lamps in the facility

2. Clean the floors

3. Re-stack the pallets so that they’re lined up nicely.

4. Unload all luggage from the passenger racks and move the racks to allow a wider space between aisles (for safety reasons)

5. Rearrange passenger luggage by date received

Of course, the list didn’t really look like that. Jordan had the education to convert the list to an eighth grade reading level because it originally looked like this:

1. Rplace all ovearheard limps in the faculty

2. Clean the flors

2. Restak the plates so their lined up nieceley

4. Unload all lugage frum pissinger raks and muv the raks to allow wedder space bettwen

the isles (for safty reesons)

5. Re arrange pissenger lugage by date reeseeved.

Jordan rolled her eyes.

“What?” She whispered to herself. “Did you think all those red zigzagged lines in your word processor were decorations to everything that you write? How did you get this job?!” Her whisper rose to a hiss and she heard footfalls on the other side of the pallet stop.

“Hello?”

The girl caught the glimpse of a flashlight beam cut through the small ports underneath the pallets that allowed forklifts to pick them up. There was a poof and her body fizzled into a mist that quickly flattened itself to the concrete floor. By the time the operator climbed over the luggage to check the dark space between the stacks, there was nothing to see.

“Whut are yew doin’?!”

The operator looked up to see his boss, Chuck, yelling at him from the elevated office space near the front of the shop.

“I – uh.. I thought I heard something, sir!”

“Get yer ass back t’ work! I gotta list!” His boss waved a piece of paper in the air. The operator looked between the small square space at the back of four pallets one last time. The young man shivered slightly as.

“Shouldn’t have smoked that weed,” the forklift operator whispered to himself quietly as he dismissed what he saw as a simple hallucination.

As the forklift operator stumbled off of the pallets and walked off, the mist reemerged from underneath the old wooden platforms that held hundreds of pounds worth of aircraft parts. The fluid white stream rolled across the aisle between stored items and hugged the bottom corner of the wall. It passed turned a corner and recombined into solid form. This time, Jordan ducked behind a stack of commercial grade floor tile that stood four feet tall. Behind the stack of tile was another door that led back into the maintenance area. Jordan ducked through the thin slips of plastic drapes and streaked into the back room and into a small rarely used corner office. She thought about that list she witnessed on the computer. The first thing he wanted done was to replace the overhead lamps. She was fairly certain that she would get caught doing that. Cleaning the floors… I have speed. I can do that!

The girl snuck out of the office with a broom in her hand and snuck to the side of the building nobody was in. There was a special floor cleaning solution that she found in a basket along the way. Apparently it allowed the dust on the warehouse floor to clump together. In a flash, she soaked the floor with the solution and returned with an empty bottle. She ran so fast that there was mist in the air from the contents of what she used. The fine spray began to settle all around her and the light grey cement floor gradually started to turn a darker shade as the mist condensed. She felt her stomach growl slightly as she placed the broom at one corner. Okay… Just run as fast as you can! Straight from one side to the other and sweep-sweep-sweep, she thought. Jordan crouched down and let the broom handle rest against her boney shoulder a moment while she dramatically rubbed her hands together. In a flash, the young girl turned to a blur while fully expecting to have one whole half of the warehouse’s floor so clean it shined.

And as the floor caught fire, Jordan stopped in her tracks and remembered that friction causes heat. Her eyes darted at the flaming broom in her hand. For such a fast girl, her reaction to the situation was slightly delayed. She blinked and then dropped the broom to the floor – the same floor that had flammable cleaning chemicals sprayed all over it. Once more, she turned to mist and vanished as several forklift operators ran to the area in time to watch the fire engulf the entire aisle and then quickly burn out since most of that section consisted of metallic aircraft parts that wouldn’t burn. Their boss was quick to dial 911 but it didn’t go through. The fire burned itself out by the time he realized that nobody’s cell phone worked. Jordan recollected inside the enclosed crate with her luggage, laptop, radio scanner, and most importantly, her blood packs. Jordan wasted no time tearing into one of them. She had the pack drained dry in seconds. Turning to mist really taxed her hemo-metabolism. She didn’t realize how much color had drained out of her skin until she noticed her statue-pale arm turning to a more believable shade of white.

“What was that?!” Thomas said. Chuck was in tow with several write-up forms and a gleeful smile.

“Im’a write someone up! Im’a write someone up!” Chuck kept repeating it like a broken record. “Who wus in this parts. You’s supposed ta be workin’ down yonder!” Chuck kept frantically waving his lists and writeup forms toward the other side of the warehouse.

“It wasn’t me sir!” Said the forklift operator. “I ran over here because I saw it happen. It just – caught fire!”

“Nothing just catches fire! Look at that broom!” Thomas pointed toward a burnt broom handle. “Damn it.. Just open the doors! Open the doors… Let’s vent the smoke out before it gets to the fire alarms.”

Jordan had just putting her clothes back on when she heard the order to open all the doors to the warehouse. She reached into the crate she hid in to find her watch and looked at it. There was still another hour of daylight left.

“So much for trying to make the bosses look like asses,” she whispered to herself. She could see that Chuck was getting ready to place the blame on the person closest to the vicinity of the fire. As she hid behind a set of pallets, she found a position close enough for her to see the expression on the mans face. His gears were turning. She would have work really hard to pave a road of good intentions in the direction of anywhere but hell.

Daniel Anderson’s Home

Matthew and Jason jumped when the front door opened. Daniel was too busy thinking about the kitchen sink to notice that there were three kids in his house. He only noticed after he drank a quart of water straight from the tap. When Justin and Matthew showed up behind him, Daniel realized that he was too exhausted to even jump with surprise – lucky them. It was never a good idea, in Daniel’s opinion, to break into the home of a man who carries a gun for a living. Matthew and Justin still jumped again despite the exasperated officer visibly drained of energy and dripping with water from sticking his head under the kitchen faucet. In just a few minutes, he had heard the entire story and it made him just as angry as Matthew.

“Well, the cell phone tower is down and old Jerry Rodgers ran off with my car when I was responding to another one of his domestic disputes,” Daniel said. “Dispatch is sending one of the deputies with a car. I’m late picking up a package from the airport because of this and now I have to file a report that’s probably going to get the old man thrown into a retirement home.”

“Jerry stole your car?! I didn’t even know that guy could see to drive!” Jason said.

“He can’t!” Daniel confirmed. He said it so loudly that Matthew and Jason quit asking questions; they quit talking altogether. “I’m sorry… It’s been a long day. You two are brave, responsible, and good friends for my daughter. Thank you.” Daniel then walked to the living room again to check on Jessie. She had one eye open. Her other eyelid was raw and probably hurt to open. He had ordered the kids around enough for them to know what their new responsabilities were since he knew that they were caring enough to be trusted. As they gathered water, and towels, they were well on their way toward collecting things that would disinfect the raw areas and eventually make her feel better.

“Hi,” Jessie said with a smile.

“Hey Jessie… You’re fine. Just a little bruised up. You can all stay here, but I want you to call your dad and let him know what happened and that you’re with me.”

Jessie seemed to turn yet another shade of pale at the mention of her father. Sadly, this was understandable to Daniel. Nothing more had to be said. He smiled and started dialing. He would do the talking for her. The phone went straight to voice mail due to the cell tower being knocked out.

“This is sheriff Daniel Anderson. I’m informing you that there was an altercation between Jessie and a number of her school mates. Jessie is alright but needs time to rest. I am calling to inform you that she is over at my place with two of her friends that volunteered to take care of her until she can get back on her feet and go home. I will have one of my deputies drive by your house to give you the message personally within an hour if I still cannot get a hold of you. For the time being, I think it would be best if she stayed in one spot until she felt better.” Daniel continued to give his contact information in a formal manner. The last thing he wanted to do was get into trouble. He didn’t very much care for Jessie’s father. He wasn’t much better than the bullies that had beaten her so badly, in his opinion. The sound of rocks being pushed into the dirt road by a set of tires caught his attention and he looked out to see another worn out, dented up police cruiser pull into the drive from outside.

“I have to pick something up. Keep the doors locked unless it’s Jessie’s father. If you have any problems, there is a police radio on the kitchen counter. It is not a toy, don’t play games with it. Don’t even turn it on unless anyone comes back to cause problems, understand?” Daniel looked at the boys to make sure they understood that he meant business before turning for the door.

Chapter Three

Thomas was still chewing his employees out in an effort to distance themselves from any kind of problem that they feel they may have been responsible for when two police officers walked into the warehouse. Normally, not even the police were allowed into the facility, but in this circumstance, he had an obligation to check on an employee to see if they were still there working. Thomas’s jaw clenched when he saw Daniel walking over to him.

“You aren’t allowed in here, uniform or not,” Thomas said. It wasn’t much of a greeting but after he had been arrested for abusing his daughter, Jessie, there were bucket loads of animosity between them. The only circles of people that even liked the man were people like Chuck, who had a history of treating people like pure excrement.

“I’m here for two things,” Daniel said while looking at his nemesis and ticking off his fingers. “One, my package, and two, Chuck’s son beat the shit out of your daughter. She’s okay but she’s resting at my place because she was actually beat up over there. As owner of the premises there is a third thing actually.” Daniel took great pleasure as he filled his lungs full of air and cupped his handed over his mouth. “Hey Chuck”

Daniel’s voice carried so well that it easily reached the man’s ears half way across the warehouse.

“Just wanted to let you know that I’m arresting your son for trespassing, assault, and aggravated assault and battery”

“What yew just say to me?!” The man jumped off of his managers box and stomped over to the officer.

“Your son, Chad… He’s an asshole.” Daniel knew that the simple minded son of a bitch needed things simplified, and so he did.

At that point, Thomas kept Chuck from attempting to throw a punch on an officer. Daniel’s deputy stood ready to respond at the first instance of contact. Daniel didn’t mind the help because all the deputy talked about was about how he was itching to try out his new X-86 taser. Daniel watched and enjoyed as the man tried to squirm his way free.

“Do you have my package?” Daniel asked while ignoring the intended fist-throws. It would have worked out perfectly, Daniel thought. I could have made Thomas find the crate I was supposed to pick up and that would have been so much more gratifying since I would be arresting one asshole while making another asshole do m y bidding. He was puffed up with happy thoughts until Thomas deflated his ego with a statement that terrified him.

“The crate fell off a damned rack and hit the floor. It exploded and there was nothing in it…”

“Nothing inside it?!” Daniel breathed in and out. He didn’t want to know if all the stories about Vampires were true. He had heard so much about Vampires in fiction but he still found himself having a hard time believing everything that his ex-wife had told him about it. He wasn’t technically supposed to know about it anyway but due to the insurrection of the society that governed the laws, there was a little leniency. Okay, really, it was just the fact that nobody of importance knew that Humans knew about Vampires. Otherwise, Daniel would have probably ended up dead.

“I want to see the crate!,” Daniel yelled it a little louder than he should have. Even his deputy flinched at the odd urgency for the need to see personal belongings; that was probably due to the fact that nobody else would have guessed that Daniel of all people would be shipping his daughter air-freight in a coffin-like structure.

“We already cleaned it. There was nothing in there.” Thomas was able to relax his grip on the boss now that conversation was more distressing to the officer than for the people at the store.

“I don’t see why ya all mad bout eh damn crate,” Chuck said. “I wanna know what yew know bout ma boy!” He started to breathe harder as his anger swelled. “First yew comin’ here yakin’ bout arrestin’ Chad n’ then you go off about yer fuckin’ crate?!” He finished that sentence with several other curses but Daniel was so zoned out over the fact that the crate that was shipped to him was empty. Both fathers were worried sick for the same reasons – they thought something had happened to their sons and daughters.

Daniel thought about the scenario in his mind before responding to the manager of the warehouse. He couldn’t explain that his daughter was shipped air-freight. That wouldn’t go over well. He couldn’t search the warehouse. As he thought about his options, the overhead lights came on – all of them.

“Son of a bitch… No way…”

Thomas’s mouth opened wide as he looked overhead at the lighting fixtures. All of the employees had been gathered around them for the show and in the midst of all of it, one of the things Chuck ordered the forklift operators to do, had been done.

“What?” Daniel asked Thomas.

“The lights.”

“What about them?”

“They’re all on.”

“What makes that so special?”

“They kinda installed themselves? Maybe…”

Daniel looked to Thomas with a raised eyebrow. If he wasn’t so worried about Jordan and his Career back home, he might have found what he just said as somewhat amusing.

“What exactly has been going on today? Any strange things happening?”

Almost as if on queue, everyone heard a disturbance at the front of the warehouse. The raised compartment that acted as the perch for the managers and their old computer, fell through the floor and into the storage room below. The floor shook as the warehouse rumbled from the inside-out. Daniel was quick to respond. He heard moans and groans coming from the rubble; a distinctive woman’s voice that panted and gasped.

“Hold on! I’m coming!”

“Come for me!” Came the response.

“What?!” Daniel pulled another few boards out of the way and was met, not with a woman in distress, but a pornographic screen saver from the managers computer. Daniel rolled his eyes and dusted himself off. At that point some of the other warehouse workers started to laugh over the sight of the town sheriff bent over the rubble in a futile attempt to save Chuck’s precious screen saver. Daniel navigated his way through the pile of debris.

“Looks like we’re going to have to call the safety inspector guys… You have overhead lights installing themselves while your own managers office gets demolished. Sounds like you have gremlins. Now, where is that crate? And what did you do with my – with what was inside it?” Daniel almost caught himself saying what was really in the crate and quickly bit his tongue.

Jordan was starving by the time she returned back to her crate. She thought destroying the managers office was a fairly good touch and with all of the whining, bickering, complaining, and attention that the managers office, she was able to use her strength to move every pallet stack in the warehouse in perfect rows – something that Thomas and Chuck must have just noticed. The talking stopped for a moment and Jordan was already through her third blood-bag. It took a lot to quench her thirst after shifting in and out of mist form so many times. This would be her last time because, aside from sweeping the floors, she was done doing everything the managers unfairly asked of their forklift operators. She also learned that putting clothes back on in a confined space such as a crate, even for someone her size, was no small task. She checked the time while putting her watch back on. There was still technically ten minutes of daylight left. Jordan was sure that there would be a way for Daniel to stall the managers for ten minutes so she slipped out of the crate and dusted herself off. She reached in and pulled her backpack out. Once out, she slipped her feet back into her shoes and walked along the newly straightened store. Instead of the jagged, haphazardly arranged corners, all the pallet stacks were stacked an even four stacks high and the corners were as straight as a wall. She was fairly certain that a forklift couldn’t have ever placed stacks of luggage, parts, and crates so evenly. She slung the backpack over her shoulder as she approached the demolished office. She almost made it all the way to the group of dumbfounded employees before anyone noticed.

“Daddy!” Jordan yelled happily.

Filled with relief, Daniel turned and picked her up. As he kissed her on the cheek, he could smell the blood on her lips but he didn’t let that phase him. He hugged her tight.

“I missed you,” Daniel said with a sigh.

“I missed you too!” Jordan squirmed in his arms; it was her universal symbol to tell her loved ones to let her down. “I noticed the cop car and thought you might be in here! Whatcha doing?”

“Your daddy’s giving me a hard time,” Chuck shot without missing a beat.

“Don’t start… Forget about the crate. We’ll go into this tomorrow but don’t expect your daughter to be coming back home tonight. She’s got a friend coming for a sleep over and it’s Friday.” Daniel patted Jordan on her back and started to walk toward the front door but Jordan stopped in her tracks and mumbled through her teeth. Daniel looked down as she pointed at the windows in the front of the warehouse.

“Oh…” Daniel stopped in his tracks.

“What are you two doing? Just – get out already!” Chuck said.

“We still just need to go over that damage report for now, Chuck.” Daniel winked to Jordan and walked back into the main section of the facility – where the sunlight couldn’t get his daughter.

“It’s okay sir, I can take care of it,” said the deputy.

Jordan turned around at the sound of footsteps to see two men in suits entering the building. They seemed to be looking the place over as they walked toward them.

“What the hell is going on here?!” Yelled one of the suited men.

“District Manager Kirkland!” Chuck was quick to practically snap to attention.

“What’s this about disarray? Your warehouse looks top shape to me except for your office. Why is it all over the place?”

“Well uh…” Thomas cut in for Chuck while Jordan, her father, and the rest of the workers all seemed to cross their arms at once to see how they were going to try and get out of it. “… it’s like he said. They didn’t think before they put things in the storage closet and as — as the years went by, the employees let this place finally ware out until it gave way just before you got here.”

“You were going to invite your own employees to manipulate the structure of your office? Why didn’t you call corporate? You can’t let employees into the office unsupervised, what are you thinking?” Kirkland snapped the reply like a whip on his minions. Even Chuck had no idea what to say. The deputy had a harder time completing a damage report now that the managers were attempting to play the blame game but it was hard to do after the only thing in disarray seemed to be the managers office. Daniel started to hear the distinctive echo of a young girls laughter; his daughter was enjoying this.

An hour later, Daniel returned home with Jordan and was met with a series of hugs. It wasn’t until she saw Jessie that she realized the extent to which Chad and his band of bullies went to beating up on her friends.

“Can I have a moment alone?” Jordan asked.

Daniel reached out to Matthew and Jason to motion them to step into the kitchen. Jordan waited until they were gone and then she knelt next to her.

“How could they do something like this to you?” Jordan whispered.

“You got pale,” Jessie made the observation as she lie on the sofa unable to move.

“Do you trust me?” Jordan asked . She didn’t receive an answer because Jessie fell back to sleep. Jordan looked over her shoulder to make sure that nobody was looking. Her fangs extended and she bit into Jessie’s arm. She brought her wrist to her mouth and bit her own wrist as well. As she brought their wrists together, Jordan could feel he friends hand wrap around hers and her eyes open. The deep bruises around her face seemed to evaporate away and the cuts on her lips retracted to nothing. In moments, Jessie was able to breathe without pain. She looked to Jordan with a surprised gaze. There was something else in her eyes as well. They moved around more as if she were actually thinking harder than usual. It was clear to her that sharing her blood did more than simply heal her wounds; she was clear of mind for the first time, too.

“Jordan…” Jessie hopped up from the sofa and looked down at herself and then to Jordan. She gave her a hug. “What did you do to me?”

“That –,” Jordan thought about how to explain things and she gave up and shook her head. “… was a secret. How are you feeling?”

“Better than I have been all my life. Jordan, it’s amazing! It’s like – my mind is freed!”

It was official, Jessie was not only healed; she was no longer slow, either.

The girls entered the kitchen to an audience of the confused and surprised.

“Guys, just pretend that she wasn’t even hurt that bad. I can’t tell you anything more, ‘kay?”

“Hey guys,” Jessie said clearly as she smiled at Jason and Matthew. It wasn’t normal for her to be the one to initiate a hello because usually it was her friends that let her tag along. “Don’t be afraid. I just wanted to say thank you so much for being the wonderful friends that you are.” She extended her arms and pulled her speechless buddies into a hug. Even Daniel stood next to Jordan with his mouth gaped wide open. Jordan could tell he was about to ask about how she did it so the young blonde girl just shook her head as she put her finger to her lips.