Ryan would never want to admit it, but he was a vampire. In the modern day world, this fact probably wouldn’t make his classmates shun or fear him, but it was just embarrassing. Vampires had been popular for a while, both as romantic leads and gory monsters, but not anymore. They had lost their sparkle. Get it? Sparkle?
No, Ryan had to keep his mouth shut about his blood-deficient condition, if only for the sake of his dignity. His parents had privately informed the principal of his condition when the school year had started. Since his-- disease --was hereditary, and his parents were from a long, respected line of elegant monsters, the whole matter was handled discreetly.
His cover as a normal high school student was perfect. Ryan was careful not to stand out too much or move too fast. He drank blood at school when he had to, carefully concealing it as a cherry-red slurpee. Power naps and strong sun-screen helped him stay out and awake during the overly-bright daytime hours. No problems... Except for Angie Moore in his algebra class. Ryan noticed Angie because she snored very loudly in class. Not just once, but everyday. With one cheek squished on her textbook and her mouth slightly open, she would puff out heavy breaths, and then snort herself awake. She’d sit up, look around in confusion, and put her head down on her desk again until the teacher threatened to send her to the principal’s office.
At first, Ryan really hated her for that. Not because she drooled, or because her snoring was annoying and distracting, but because he really, really wanted to sleep himself. Fighting against his nocturnal nature was even harder when he had to watch the girl right in front of him doze off over and over again!
Still, it was only a minor annoyance. Whenever it got to be too much, he’d see Bridget smile at him sympathetically from across the room, and that made him feel better. Bridget was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed witch, a star volleyball player, and his partner-- not in an intimate way, although he wouldn’t have minded that... She was hot, smart, and really nice, but anyway, for now they just worked together. At the end of the last school year they’d both been recruited, trained and handpicked from the top of their class by the FBSI: the Federal Bureau of Supernatural Investigation.
Now they were official federal agents-- junior agents, but still official. They were strategically placed in Maple Ridge High and given the mission of keeping watch on their fellow students. This town, they’d been told, was an especial hotspot for supernatural events. There had been reports of ghoul sightings, howling at night, green slime under windows, etc. The two of them had found nothing yet, but they felt ready.
On Friday morning, the week before Halloween, Ryan and Bridget were quietly discussing the best vantage points around the school before class started. There was a dance that night, and it was important to keep a lookout when there were crowds involved. Bridget was agreeing to take the first shift of lookout duty when Angie zoomed into class and slid into her seat, panting and out of breath.
“Angie, your eyes are all puffy!” Bridget said affectionately. “You okay?”
Angie’s eyes were practically sealed shut with sleepiness. “Never been better. You could try to find a time in my life when I was better, and you couldn’t. Because I have never been better.” She leaned all the way back in her chair until her head was resting on the back. She tilted it further to see Ryan from an upside down angle. “Hi, Ryan!”
“Hi.” Ryan answered automatically.
Angie squinted.“You’re blurry.”
“You need to stop partying so hard.”
“I keep telling myself that too, but it never seems to work,” she sighed.
Mr. Barnes walked in, Bridget went back to her seat, and class started. Angie’s head was down on her desk within five minutes. She was so annoying. Ryan was there to do his job and learn. Angie was just there to goof off and sleep. The class liked Angie, though. Even the teacher couldn’t be too mad at her; she was just too good natured.
Ryan was still surprised, though, when he came to the dance early to meet Bridget and found her sitting in the cafeteria with not only Sean and Kevin, but Angie as well. He gripped the cold, wet sides of his slurpee cup tighter. Getting to know his classmates was part of his job description, but still. Bridget was just too friendly sometimes. The only open chair was right next to Angie, too. He grimaced and sat down.
Bridget seemed to be friends with everyone. Ryan only sort of knew Sean, a burly guy who hardly talked, and he’d spoken to Kevin a handful of times. Kevin was more talkative, which in Ryan’s book meant he was someone to be listened to but not trusted.
“Ooh, slurpee! What flavor is it?” Angie’s voice sprang out by his elbow suddenly, and far too late, he saw her reach for his cup and take a sip from his straw.
“Don’t, that’s mine!”
Too late. Angie gagged, coughed, and stared at him in the eye. “That’s quite a flavor.”
“I told you not to drink it.”
“I should have listened.”
Kevin piped up, “What flavor is it?”
Angie finally looked away from Ryan. “The worst ever: fake cherry medicine.”
“Ugh, I hate that!” Kevin shuddered.
“Yeah, why do people still use that flavor? Oh, hey, the dance is starting!” Bridget said, hurrying to change the subject. “You guys go without me, I’ll use the bathroom first.”
That was her code for saying that she was starting her rounds to look out for trouble. Ryan heard her, but his eyes were trained on Angie, who was walking down the halls to the gym as innocently as you please. They entered the dimly lit gym, and stood at the edge of the crowd. Kevin and Sean started talking about football. The fast, rave beat ended, and a slower song began to play, which Ryan recognized as a Rumba. He turned toward Angie, and their eyes met. Both were significantly expressionless. He held out his hand. She took it very calmly, and they stepped out onto the dance floor together.
There was plenty of silence to be filled. Angie was looking over his shoulder at the other dancers. She chewed her lip for a moment, as if sampling a new taste in her mouth, and then said, “You know what I always think of when I hear the word ‘vampire’?”
“Please don’t say Twilight.”
She laughed. “Well, almost. There was a picture I saw on the Internet a while back-- a parody of the book cover-- with the same font, same outstretched hands... only instead of ‘twilight’ and instead of the apple, it said ‘crap’. So that’s always what comes to mind for me: a pair of beautiful white hands, full of crap.” She turned her head towards him, eyes twinkling.
Ryan laughed, not knowing whether to be insulted or relieved. “Do you think you’ll have a hard time keeping this a secret?”
“Oh, heck no,” she smiled. “C’mon, man, everyone has their secrets. Me, I don’t wear shorts because I have a hematoma just above my left knee.”
“Yep. So I don’t think I’ll be telling anyone. That’s just silly.”
“Well, yeah. Five years ago vampires were all the rage, but they’re kinda lame now. Besides, I already know you’re the good kind.”
“Oh, am I?” Ryan raised his eyebrow. “What makes you so sure?”
“Because you’re drinking blood from a slurpee, and not out of someone’s neck. That makes a difference.”
Ryan was pleasantly surprised. Angie was acting kind of... intelligent. And it was nice-- really, surprisingly nice to have his embarrassing and dangerous secret so quickly accepted.
This happy feeling left very suddenly as screams pierced through the big speakers, followed by howls and vicious laughter. His phone vibrated in his pocket; there was a text from Bridget:
Ghouls. Weight room. Now.