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Sage was dangerous.
Thats what they told her.
Thats why she sat here, on this cold cement floor.
Because strangers looked at her and saw a monster. They saw danger, and they decided to change her life for them. They didn't know her. They didn't care about her. But they cared about danger, and as long as they saw her as a threat, they cared about her.
They told her she was dangerous. They told her they would take her away so she would be safe.
They took her away so they would be safe. They took her away for them, and now she sat in a cold, unfeeling room. Steel and cement. Cold, unfeeling, and strong.
She was surrounded by the others they had deemed dangerous. Others like her in some ways, yet so different. But they decided they were all dangerous. They were all monsters. And monsters belonged together.
She didn't care anyways. Not anymore. She lived, she died, she breathed, she drowned, she was free or caged on their whim. It was their world. She didn't belong in it. The others didn't belong in it. So yes, she would be a monster. Because she could never be anything else.
Sage looked up and passed her hand over the wall, taking in the texture. Searching for meaning in the rough, cold walls. She found none. For humans, meaning. Truth. Purpose. For humans, a life. More than cold cement walls and hard steel bars. For humans, safety. She wasn't wrong to want that.
She laughed. Yes, the humans needed her locked away now. Now that she wasn't one of them, they were as foriegn as the animals she devoured. And their blood smelled just as sweet, even through every bar they put her behind. They could never stop her smelling. And they could never leave her without a purpose.
They gave her a purpose. They told her she was a monster. She had a purpose. Be a monster. They thought they could leave her to rot away, forgotten, in their prisons surrounded by other abominations. They made her a monster. She would be a monster to remember.
“Sage? Sage!” the urgent whisper knocked her out of her ramblings. In constant confines like these, even the most sane of them had lapses in sanity. But no. It didn't matter if it was insane. She would be the monster they made her.
“Yes?” she crossed to the tiny flaw in the cage, a little burrow through which she could communicate with another monster. Clay, a werewolf.
“Full moon tonight.”
“Yep. Should be fun.” The werewolves and others directly affected by the moon were put in special confines, and security tightened for them all. It was nasty for her, she didn't care to picture it for him.
“As always. It could be worse.”
She sucked in a breath. Why was he always like that? ‘Could be worse, look on the bright side’. No. no bright side here. “No. Why don't they just kill us already and be done with it?”
“Do you want them to kill you?”
“Better dead than here.”
She saw what portion of his face was visible shaking. “No. No.”
“So you like being put in a silver cage?” she should be sorry. She knew the words would wound him. But she was done being sorry. Even to him. That's what they did with werewolves on the full moon. They put them in a silver box to weaken them. She hated silver. It's touch burned.
“Would you rather a silver bullet?”
“Maybe I would.”
“So that's what you want then? To die?”
“What, then?” his tone softened.
“I want to be what they want me to be.”
He fell silent. She saw him walk away.
The moon was on the horizon. She saw people come to take him away. Why didn't he resist? If he just struggled for a few minutes he would go wolf and be able to hurt them. She heard him greet them. Easily, friendly. She heard the clasp of silver handcuffs. He told a joke. He laughed, but neither of them did. He always laughed. She walked to the bars and watched them take him out. She hissed at them, baring her fangs. They looked a bit intimidated.
That's right, children. You house vampires here, remember? You house monsters. Watch your backs… watch out…
Soon more came for her, flooding their place as they went to each monster's cell. The ones who came to hers wore special things on their necks to ward off biting. She heard a banshee start to scream in another cell, upset over whatever they did to her. Then a yelp, then silence.
These carried stakes for protection and hung garlic throughout her cell. ‘Thanks for decorating the place. It needs some sprucing up.’ she heard Clay's voice in her mind, with a wink and an easy smile. She hissed at them, reminding them of her fangs. They wanted a monster? Here she was.
In the morning they took back the garlic and Clay came back.
“Morning,” Clay said, smiling through the hole.
“How was your night?”
“Same as usual. You?”
“Oh, they finally decorated the place? I've been saying-”
She knew he wasn't. There was a pause. Then, in a hushed voice, she whispered, “we could escape.”
“No.” his voice, for once, was serious.
“We shouldn't. I have a bad feeling.”
“Then stay. I'm finding a way out. I’ll touch silver if it means freedom.”
“If you leave, you know I’ll follow.” His tone was resigned. He paused, and she heard his breathing clearly. “But please. Where you go, I’ll go. You know that. But I don't think it's wise. And you aren't you anymore. You changed. You let them change you. But I know you’ll go.”
“I love you.” platonically. There was nothing between them.
Maybe if they weren't monsters. Maybe if she were still someone to love. But she wasn't. No matter where she went, she was a prisoner of words. She was only the monster they made her. Not someone worth loving. She stayed silent.
He read her mind, it seemed. “You are someone, Sage. you do matter. If you could only-”
“NO!” She was done with the conversation.
“I’ll come with you,” he said after a moment.
The next full moon their plans culminated. He resisted when they came to take him. She watched, through the tiny hole, as he fought them off, one after the other. He was broken and bloody but he was fighting.
For her, she realized. He fought for her. There was nothing else to fight for, or to stay for. Just for her, and she for him.
The moon came up and she watched as he morphed, growing fur and fangs. She grinned, fangs shining in the silver moonlight. Without garlic to make her dizzy, she was powerful. With ease, she tore the steel bars, bending them with bare hands as she walked to his cell where he lay, defeated but alive. The humans seemed relieved. They didn't think to turn.
“Hello.” She watched the relief fall from their faces and turn to terror as they turned. She made sure her fangs were visible.
“V...vampire!” she smiled and dove for them.
For once, she got a full meal. She left the pale bodies and gently picked up the large black wolf Clay became. “sage…”
“Sh… sleep now. We’re free.”
“Ok…” he smiled in his sleep. She could rest now. She was free. No, she couldn't rest. She wasn't free inside. She wasn't free of words. They didn't have a place in this world anyway. As the moon beggan to set she found a dark burrow and laid him in it, hiding with him. Then she fell asleep. She woke up at dusk with him shaking her. He was still injured but not as badly.
“We’re free!” she said.
“Yeah, in a world that hates us.” She paused. She was smiling while he complained? Odd. but he wasn't done. “Did you ever think there was a reason they put us there? Did you ever stop to think maybe I didn't want to leave?” he continued angrily. Then he sighed. “No, no. I'm sorry. I agreed to go.” She stared. This wasn't like him.
“Uh… somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed?”
“Yeah,” he forced out a laugh. “But be careful, Sage. That was kindness. Out here there's nothing to protect us.”
Why wouldn't he lighten up? She was free. If he wouldn't appreciate it, she would be free alone. Or at least until he eased up. “Out here there's nothing to protect them.” Then she shouldered past him and out into the silver moonlight.
The night was a fine one. She spent it reminding humans that night is a time to hide inside and close the curtains, pull the covers over your neck, head, eyes. To fear the moon, for the moon meant the monsters of the night. To fear her, the monster of the night they made.
She returned to the cave, partly to escape the sun, partly to see if Clay had come around yet. She should be satisfied with her work that night. At peace and happy. But it left her empty, and that empty left her needing more. More blood would take away the awful empty. More and more and more. Revenge would take away the empty. And when humanity fell, dead and bloodless pale, she would be full.
She went inside, glancing to Clay. He sat dark in the corner, watching her with a strange, sad, glare. Before she could speak, he dropped his eyes and looked away.
“I guess you haven’t lightened up. Clay, we’re free now! Don't you see? No bars, no silver, no garlic. Free!”
“I see. I see a monster with blood dripping down it's face. I see who won and it isn't you. I see a heart you let them suck dry and replace with a silver clock, pounding out hate. I see plenty.”
“I did win, I'm free! You could be too, if you would just let yourself. Get them back for what they-” She stopped. Then she fell back to the wall and clutched at it for support. Garlic? What else?
She glanced at it in front of her. How-
“Get in, quick, while it's distracted!” Two men jumped in and grabbed her, latching silver handcuffs to her wrists. Clay rushed to her side and supported her. But before he could do anything, steady her, fight them, or something else, they dragged him away and checked his mouth roughly for fangs. They found none, but his pupils reflected small images of the moon, currently slightly waning.
“Werewolf! We have a vampire and a werewolf!”
“Aye, good. That’ll sell for quite the price.” She gasped and tried to run but fell, hitting the ground hard as the world spun. They gagged her and yanked her to her feet. She screamed behind it and met Clays eyes. The eyes said sorry. The eyes said I failed you. They didn't say told you so, even though they would be right.
Tear sprang to her eyes. So good. Clay was so, so good. She didn't deserve him.
“This is what happens to monsters.” The man holding hers voice bit her ears and she winced. Was that true? Clay shook his head. You aren't a monster.
Yes, Clay, she thought. Yes, I am. And she cried then and there. She had failed him, not he her. This was her fault. And she was a monster. She wanted to say she was sorry. She wanted to say he was right. She wanted to say a mountain of things, but couldn't.
Then they were being dragged away. She was put in a sunless black carriage. She didn't see where they took him. The coach drove away on a rouch road and for hours all she had to connect to the outside world was the jostle of the road and the clop clop of hooves. She couldn't even smell.
Finally it stopped. The door was opened and another man looked in at her curiously. The captors yanked off the gag and displayed her teeth. Try as she might, she couldn't get a bite on him.
“Real vampire, see?”
The ones who took her tossed a rabbit in with her. She looked closely at it. It's paws were bound. Like hers.
Just then she felt a strange kinship with it. She would not kill it.
“Eat it already.”
“No!” she spat.
“She’s been draining half the countryside.”
The new man who demanded to watch her kill the rabbit took out a knife and slashed it. The scent of blood stung but she refused to eat.
“She's being smart. Throw a human in with her and she’ll do it.”
“Oh yes, would you care to volunteer?” she smiled at the one who caught her and bared her fangs. He slapped her with a silver rod. She flinched but didn't back down. “Just wait until the moon is full and I’m free,” she promised. “Just wait.”
He shook and stepped back.
“That’s right, go hide. But when the moon is full and nothing can conceal you, I’ll be there.”
“Definitely acts like a monster. I’ll take her.”
“Great!” The captor's voice was laced with many fearful tremors and his words were as quick as possible as he ran behind the other man, who stood broad and unafraid. Rat.
The broad man pulled a bag of silver from his coat. She could sense the silver radiating from it. He tossed it to the coward, who left quickly.
“Call me Master,” he said, and it took her a moment to realize he was talking to her. “Your legs are unbound?”
“Yes.” The word slid out through her grit teeth, unwilling.
“Come. I will show you to your quarters. Don't try a thing.” She spotted a silver tipped stake in one hand. She followed reluctantly. He brought her to a dark closet. Inside was a coffin. The room was small and windowless, and could barely contain the coffin. She walked in, but at the last moment turned.
“What am I here for?” she asked in a calm, controlled voice.
He smiled darkly and she wondered why people claimed vampires were the only ones with fangs. “You’ll see.” Then the door slammed shut and she heard a lock click as she was left in utter darkness.
She found out quickly. She was in charge of making servants that disobeyed vanish. Rumors spread quickly about her closet and the servants slowed in their coming, behaving in fear of her door.
She hated this. Yes, she despised humans, but the servants had done nothing to her. She didn't want their blood, she wanted their masters. Or rather, she wanted their blood on her terms, not the Counts.
Eventually blood flow stopped entirely. The servants behaved flawlessly in their fear, and there was no more need of a real threat behind the door. The Count came in one day. She would kill him, except he carried garlic. He chained her without a word and dragged her to a carraige. Was she being taken off to be staked? At this point, she didn't care anymore. She wanted to die, even. Then she could leave.
But instead she heard another exchange of money and a different man opened the carrage door. He was brightly dressed, ridiculously so, with feathers bursting from his horribly colorful suit. He took her chain, again without a word to her, and dragged her off. She noted garlic dangling from his side. She glanced up. Full moon again. Yet she was still subdued.
She lunged toward him, aiming for his neck, but fell clumsily and he easily sidestepped. He swung the garlic tauntingly. She looked up and saw a circus tent. She was going to be displayed as a freak monster, then? Why did no one stake her now!
She was taken to a cell beside a ring. The man went in the ring and shouted to the crowd. They cheered.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Prepare to witness the spectacle of your lives! Two monsters, a werewolf and a vampire! One winner! The prepare to watch the spectacular battle of your lives!” he kept droning on. A werewolf? Easy. Of course they had a werewolf. What circus didn't? The werewolf wasn't the only one to benift from a full moon. The cage door opened a a large black wolf with red eyes walked out. It looked exactly like any other werewolf, but sad. Of course it was sad, it was imprisoned in a circus. And about to die, though it didn't know it.
She walked out and eyed the crowd. She didn't like them. She hissed. She heard a few playful screams and more cheering and laughter. Idiots. The silver bars kept them safe for now. The wolf leapt toward her but she sidestepped and punched it. It whimpered and flew across the room. Did she break a bone or two? They met eyes. It froze. She didn't.
“Sage?” she recognized the voice and stopped.
“Clay. of course you identify yourself when i'm about to kill you.” her tone was serious, but they both knew she was being sarcastic. The humans thought they were old rivals or something, but she didn't care what they thought.
“SAGE! I missed you!”
“Kill any humans without me?”
“No.” He rolled his red eyes.
“I've killed… 30? 40?”
“What have i told you about killing! How many did you spare?”
“Right.” He laughed and she joined in in relif. The crowd was murmuring and getting bored and the announcer returned.
“No,” Clay said.
“Don't feel like it,” Sage said.
“Fight or die!”
He probably had a stake and silver arrow or something. She didn't care. “ what do you say? Second times a charm?”
She bent closer and whispered, “listen. I’ll take care of the bars. You run. No matter what happens, don't stop until you're safe. I’ll do my best to join you.” She knew she wouldn't.
“What do you mean?”
“Just run. Promise me.”
“Good. This might be goodbye.” She hugged him and her tears dripped on his canine face. She knew she saw tears from him too. Her lips brushed his but she didn't care. Then his lips, fur and all, were on hers and pressing hard. She felt him turn to a man again. She pushed her lips one last time, hard, on his, then sprang up. The moon was setting. She didn't have long to do this. She couldn't follow him in the day anyway.
She pried open the bars, ignoring the silver. “Run!” he did and she followed. But she didn't go with him. She turned to the crowd and started biting as quickly as she could. She saw him pause.
“Come on! You don't have time! You'll be killed!”
“You promised! Go!” he hesitated but kept running. She kept biting until stake bit flesh and she fell. Sunlight hit her body and she turned to dust, as if she had never existed.
Missouri City, Texas
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