He stroked his beard as he paced across the room. His trusted ‘right hand’, a fairy with a blond bob cut, was standing close to him. Despite her ‘light’ attributes, there was something sinister and off-putting about her; the cold look in her eyes definitely did not help.
“Yes boss, we are one-hundred percent certain,” she replied to him. “We’ve been unleashing creatures at her to stop her in her tracks, unfortunately with very little success until now.”
“Drat!” He had gotten visibly angry at hearing this — as a result, he shoved a glass off the table, loudly crashing on the floor.
“My dear Tamara,” he continued as he slowly circled around her, “I was about to compliment you and the others for your findings, but you haven’t even been able to stop her once?! That is unacceptable!” He yelled so loudly in Tamara’s ear that she trembled for a second.
He was a very frightening man — a vampire who, unlike most others of his kind, had no care for ethics and morality. Instead, he was not afraid to use his blood-drinking skills to wound or even kill those who were on his path; moreover, the concept of ‘mutual consent’ with regards to vampirism was something he considered “complete rubbish” and a “blockade from the true potential of vampires”.
“I-I’m sorry boss…” Tamara stammered softly. Under most circumstances she was able to radiate a sense of confidence, but even she felt held back when she was around him.
“Now get to work, you absolute worm!” He grabbed Tamara by the throat, roughly pushing her away shortly after. “Dead or alive, I don’t even care! Actually…” He quickly stopped himself for a bit. “Perhaps… bringing her alive will suffice for now”. A menacing smile had appeared on his face.
“O-okay boss, we’ll get to work again as soon as possible.” Tamara quickly flew out of the room.
He sat down in his large chair, his red eyes suddenly glowing up.
“Depending on… certain factors, I might have some… plans for the poor girl.” A sinister grin appeared on his face, shortly followed by a maniacal laugh into the darkness.
CONTEST POOL DESTROYED, THEN UNEXPLICABLY REBUILT SAME DAY — SWIMMING COMPETITION INTERRUPTED
That was the headline of the day. Once again, everyone in class was talking about what had happened the day before.
This time, however, Karin felt a lot less alone, since she now had her own best friend to confide supernatural matters with.
Said best friend was currently in the middle of condolence wishes from her classmates regarding the competition.
“I’m so sorry about what happened, Rashida! Hopefully they’ll move it to a different date!”
“Thankfully you’re okay, Rashida! Lord knows what could’ve happened to you!”
“Are you really not hurt anywhere? I’m so glad!”
“No no, don’t worry, I’m fine…” While Rashida was used to a degree of attention due to her status as the ‘star swimmer’, right now she just wanted to talk to Karin, since she was the only one who’d truly understand her at this moment.
She waded herself through the masses of classmates towards her table.
“Finally I’m here,” Rashida panted.
Karin smiled faintly. “At least they were worried about you, that’s at least something.”
“True, but man, they don’t get it,” Rashida exclaimed while looking at her friend. “The only one who does is you, Freckles… We’d be treated like freaks if they knew our secret.”
Karin nodded in agreement. “You’re absolutely right… Say, have you studied the book Papiyon gave us already?” she quickly added.
“A little bit, but I was extremely tired yesterday. I slept like a rock!” As she said that, Rashida stretched out her arms. “Thankfully I feel all fine and dandy again today, so I’ll probably study further after school.”
“Oh trust me, I was tired too,” Karin responded. “At the very least I was able to decipher what the word on the front was. Alo… something. Unfortunately I couldn’t actually look up yet what it meant, though.”
A dreamy look had appeared on Karin’s face. She couldn’t wait to get home and study the book some more — she wanted to know everything there was to know.
“Interesting,” Rashida said attentively. “I didn’t have time to study that strange alphabet yet, but I did learn one or two new water spells for use during battle. I can’t wait to blow some power-bubbles.” Now she too had gotten twinkly eyes, just like her friend.
“Alright class, can I have your attention please?”
Mister Browne had walked into the classroom. He was the Homeroom teacher and taught History as well. Karin was glad to have him for Homeroom in her final year at school — just like Biology, History was one of her favorite subjects, and she could always get along well with mister Browne.
Due to this, Karin decided to pay close attention, and gestured Rashida to do the same.
“For our final year, we have a new student in class.” Mister Browne pointed at one of the front seats. “Feel free to come and introduce yourself.”
Only now had Karin noticed that there was a girl in class that she had never seen before. Due to all the chattering around her, as well as her conversation with Rashida, she hadn’t been paying attention.
The girl walked towards the front of the classroom and stood next to mister Browne. She had black pigtails, and her clothes were also mostly black. She had a barbell through her eyebrow.
“Pleased to meet you all. My name is Nikki.”
She spoke with a peculiar accent that Karin hadn’t heard before, or at least not that she remembered.
“Sorry if my English is bad, I come from a country far from here,” Nikki continued. “I unfortunately do not know its name in English, how embarrassing.” She giggled at that last sentence. “I hope to be able to make friends with you all.”
“Thank you Nikki for introducing yourself,” mister Browne said. “Now class, please open up your History textbook on page 87. Nikki, please feel free to ask for any help if necessary.”
“Thank you sir, I will.” Nikki walked back to her table and grabbed her textbook out of her bag.
Rashida had been following her closely with her eyes.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust that girl,” she said suspiciously. “Something is off about her.”
Karin’s eyes got big. “Are you saying that just because she’s a foreigner? Or because of her clothes?” She was a little disappointed at her best friend.
“No, no!” Rashida quickly defended herself. “Oh gosh no, it’s… hard to explain. I don’t really know, perhaps my judgement is incorrect. I’m sorry, Karin.” Embarrassed, Rashida opened her textbook as well.
“I don’t know, she seems cool to me,” Karin said. “Maybe I should try to be friends with her.”
“Whatever you wanna,” Rashida mumbled as she read through the assignments.
“Come on Rashida, relax a little bit,” Karin said, still slightly annoyed. “Everything will be fine. Or do you think she’s an enemy or something?”
“Dunno, perhaps,” Rashida responded, not looking up from her book.
“You’re being paranoid. We’ll find out in due time whether that’s true or not.” Finally Karin opened up her book as well, reading the assignments.
“The Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, contains inscriptions in which three ancient scripts?”
Karin’s frown turned into a smile. Ancient history was one of her favorite things to read about. She was so concentrated that she didn’t speak another word for most of the class.
“Alright students, I have a big assignment for you to prepare before the end of the month,” mister Browne told his class, which was nearing its end.
Karin listened closely while wondering what it could be. She most certainly hoped it would be something fun, but since this was History class she wasn’t too worried.
“At the end of the month, I want every single one of you to have prepared a lecture about the history period of your choosing. To be precise,” he continued, “I want all of you to pair up with a classmate. This will count towards your final exam, and by extent your graduation, so please try to do your best, okay?”
Karin heard several of her classmates sigh, however she herself was rather excited. That’s not to say she didn’t feel the pressure and stress of the final exams, but History was her favorite subject after Biology, so at the very least she’d have some degree of fun.
A bit later, Rashida turned towards Karin with a giant grin on her face. “So,” she asked, “shall we?”
Karin almost opened her mouth to say “yes” — until she looked to the front of the classroom. She noticed that almost everyone else had already paired up, except for Nikki, the new girl.
Nikki seemed to be somewhat confused, sad, and disappointed, which Karin found completely understandable. She started to pity her somewhat. Was it because of her appearance? That didn’t exactly seem fair, now did it?
Karin sighed. “Rashida, you’re my absolute bestest friend in the whole wide world and you know that,” she said with a slightly regretful tone, “but I feel bad for the new girl. Look, she’s all alone.”
Rashida got a disappointed look in her eyes. “Well, alright then,” she replied, slightly annoyed. “I see Jennifer isn’t paired up yet either, so I’ll just go with her, I guess. Too bad I can’t discuss you-know-what with her.” She got off her chair and walked towards Jennifer’s desk, who seemed to be fine with the arrangement.
Great, now I feel bad for her too! Karin had started to feel somewhat stressed by all of this. But still… somehow, she felt like wanting to get to know Nikki better, and this assignment seemed like the perfect opportunity. Besides, Rashida was able to get another partner anyway, so this didn’t seem too bad. And while it was true that she probably couldn’t discuss “you-know-what” with Jennifer, neither could Karin with Nikki… right?
Karin got off her chair and walked towards Nikki’s table.
“Um, hey,” she said carefully. “I’m Karin, nice to meet you. Would you like to pair up for the assignment with me?”
A surprised smile appeared on Nikki’s face. “Oh! Yes, yes please!” She got up from her chair in excitement. “I, uh, don’t know much about your people’s, uh, history, so this will be fun! Yeah!”
Karin giggled internally at Nikki’s accent, but not in a negative way. If anything, she found it rather endearing. Besides, she always sounded very friendly, and her English was overall not too bad.
“Well,” Karin responded, “I actually wanted to do the assignment about the late Medieval period, which—”
“Sure, let’s do that!” Nikki had interrupted Karin’s sentence before she could finish it. Karin certainly admired her excitement, even if it took her by surprise somewhat.
“Shall we sit together during, uh, what was it… lunch?” Nikki asked. Karin was about to say yes, but then she remembered that Rashida probably wouldn’t like that very much…
Ah, it probably won’t be too bad, she then thought and shrugged. I’ll make something off of it.
“Sure,” Karin replied.
Had Karin just made a new friend? She sure hoped so.
Rashida was not amused.
She was not amused, because her best friend from ever since they were literal babies had brought some weird girl over to sit with them during lunch. The girl was so, so unbelievably stupid. She kept asking stupid questions about things that everyone should know — or at least, Rashida was pretty sure that most people knew these things, especially by the time they were about to turn eighteen.
She took a frustrated sip from her can of soda.
“Say Nikki,” Karin asked, “why did you even transfer to Summerville High right in the middle of senior year?”
“Oh, I, uh,” Nikki stammered somewhat, “me and my brother… we moved here, you see? For a better future? Yeah.”
“You have a brother? Cool! I’d love to meet him someday,” Karin responded excitedly.
“Bleh,” Rashida muttered under her breath. However, Karin had heard her.
“Rashida, come on! Cheer up a little!” She had become rather disappointed in her best friend. “She’s really not gonna bite you or anything!”
Nikki’s eyes had gotten big at those words. “No, no, most certainly not!” She started to giggle, seemingly somewhat nervously. “We only— uh, I mean, I do not bite. Honest.”
“What a suspiciously specific denial,” Rashida groaned quietly, still sipping her soda.
“Rashida!” Karin had gotten even more frustrated. “Her English just isn’t that good yet, and this culture is clearly new for her! Be a little respectful to our new classmate, please!”
“Aight, sure.” Rashida had finished her soda and she proceeded to shoot her empty can into the trash bin from a distance. However, she had missed and the can landed just beside it.
Karin did not like this one bit. By no means did she want a rift to come between her and Rashida over something as silly as this. Having to choose between friends… That was definitely no fun.
However, Nikki proceeded to smile calmly.
“Rashida,” she said with a friendly voice, “please do not worry. I am your friend, trust me. I know that very well.”
“Fine,” Rashida shrugged in response. “But please stop asking stupid questions, okay?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Nikki responded with a regretful tone in her voice. “Are my questions bothering you? I‘m just trying to learn this, uh, world— I mean, country and culture. I will try to do my best. My sincerest apologies… I just want to be your friend.”
Wait a second… ‘world’?
Rashida turned towards Karin, who was looking back.
Karin hinted with her eyes towards Nikki. Without saying any words, the friends understood each other perfectly. Rashida signed back with something akin to “let’s not jump to conclusions just yet”.
All of a sudden, the bell rang. Just two more classes and then the day would be over.
It was three PM. School had just ended and everyone was on their way back home.
Or, just like Karin, they were on their way to the home of their project partner. Karin was very excited — she was very curious what Nikki’s home was like, especially since she was new at school.
“So, how long have you been in Summerville now?” Karin asked Nikki when they were on their way to the bike storage.
“A few weeks or so,” Nikki answered. “Our new house is quite small, we used to live bigger. My brother can’t stop complaining, but I don’t really care.” Nikki rolled her eyes along with a faint sarcastic smile after saying that.
Karin giggled. “Your brother sounds quite spoiled. He sure must be fun at parties!”
“Oh, he is,” Nikki replied, giggling as well. “He is older than me, but sometimes I wonder if I’m not actually the big sister.”
Both girls grabbed their bikes out of the storage. Before getting on her bike, Karin sent a quick text message to her mother saying she’d be back before dinner. Afterwards, they cycled towards Nikki’s house.
“Here it is.”
Karin got off her bicycle, put it against the front window of the house and locked it. She took a glance at the house out of curiosity — it looked almost eerily normal, given the strange yet somehow safe air Nikki gave off.
Perhaps Karin was overthinking things, and Rashida even more so.
Nikki took her bike through the door of the garage, where she locked it as Karin followed her.
Together, they walked through the door towards the house into the living room.
Suddenly, Karin understood — the curiosities were on the inside of the house.
Clashing with the mundane-looking outside, the living room was decorated with all kinds of Victorian-esque furniture and art, including a grandfather clock, a few art pieces such as paintings and statues, and a stylish end table with a fitting sofa.
“Whoa…” As eerie as it somehow seemed, it was also extremely beautiful in Karin’s eyes. At that moment she seemed to understand that Nikki and her family used to indeed live in a mansion.
“You like it?” Nikki had noticed Karin’s fascinated look in her face. “It’s all high art from our home w— country. And this isn’t even our parents’ full collection.”
“You're parents are still back home, right?” Karin asked as she was still looking around in awe.
“Yes, they are. They have uh, business to attend to,” Nikki responded. “My brother and I have our own things to handle, so we decided to, uh, move out together.”
“So uh” — Karin thought it was perhaps a bit rude to ask, but she wanted to know regardless — “are your parents, like, rich?”
“You noticed, huh? Yes, they are, actually,” Nikki replied nicely, not sounding bothered at all. “But me and my brother, we’re just two young people. We don’t need a big home for just us, we even decided to, uh, rent.”
“And I hate it.”
The living room door had opened. It was a young man’s voice with an accent similar to Nikki’s.
“Ah, look, he is home,” Nikki said cheerfully.
Karin turned her head towards the door as Nikki’s brother walked into the living room. Karin could definitely tell that they were siblings — both had long, pitch black hair, deep brown eyes, even a similar fashion sense. But one thing that Karin also noticed about Nikki’s brother was that he was extremely attractive.
Karin quickly turned her head away again. No no, do not blush under any circumstances… What if they’re evil or whatever… Come on girl, don’t do it…! She tried to stay calm, but it was harder than expected.
Nikki quickly said something to her brother in what seemed to be their mother tongue. Shortly after, he nodded it seeming agreement.
Somehow, the language felt familiar, but Karin didn’t know why since she had no idea what was actually being said. And yet…
Karin was a bit startled by his voice, even though it actually sounded quite pleasant, despite — or maybe even because of — the accent.
She quickly turned around. “O-oh! Hello! My name is Karin.” She shook his hand timidly, while hoping extremely hard that he didn’t notice her blushing.
What Karin noticed, on the other hand, were his black-painted nails and expensive-looking ring. They looked more stylish on him than she wanted to admit.
“My name is Matthew, I’m Nikki’s older brother,” he introduced himself. “So you are her classmate, right? And you have to do homework? I shall not disturb you, then.” He walked towards the hallway door. “I’ll be upstairs if any of you need me.” The next moment, he disappeared.
Karin felt a little bit said that he had to go again so soon. Then again, she had only just met the guy — as hot as he was, what if he had a very unlikable hidden personality? Or very stupid interests? Or… or maybe he was a monster that wanted to attack her?
Karin shook her head and giggled internally. Okay, that last one was stupid.
“Say Nikki, how old is your brother?” It was out of her mouth before Karin knew it.
“He is, uh, twenty-one? Yeah,” Nikki responded. Karin had to admit that Nikki did tend to come off as slightly suspicious when she had to search for words, but Karin ascribed that to the fact she was from a foreign country.
Nearly eighteen and twenty-one… That wasn’t so bad, right? Once she turned eighteen, none of it would matter anyway, and her birthday was already in a few months—
Karin shook her head. No, no, no! You’ve only just met him! Bad! Wrong!
Nikki’s voice made Karin’s daydream disappear like smoke.
“Ohuhwhathuhwho?” Quickly, Karin rearranged her posture.
“I asked if you would like something to drink,” Nikki asked, presumably again.
“Oh! Uh, sure,” Karin responded. “Do you perhaps have any tea?”
“Most certainly we do,” Nikki said as she opened a kitchen cabinet. She grabbed out the tea box as well as two cups. She then put them on the dinner table — which was even fancier than the end table — and then proceeded to heat up some water.
Karin looked at the teacups and the tea box. Just like the rest of the interior, they were ornately decorated with organic motifs and dark colors.
She opened the tea box. To her surprise, the tea bags featured normal English text — she somewhat expected the bags to be from Nikki and Matthew’s home country and was slightly disappointed that this wasn’t the case.
This didn’t last long, however, as Karin picked out cherry-flavored tea, her favorite.
As Nikki poured in the hot water from the kettle, Karin decided to start talking about the assignment — after all, that’s what she was there for.
“Alright, so we’re gonna do the assignment about the late Medieval period, as you know,” she started. “I think we’ll just gather some info on the internet, write it down and decorate it with some pictures that we can showcase.”
“Oh! Right, internet.” Nikki seemed to have completely forgotten it even existed — did they not have internet in her home country? Karin felt it was too rude to ask, so she let it slide.
“You guys do own a computer, right?” Karin asked. Internet aside, she hoped that at the very least they could type down their findings.
Nikki nodded. “Yes, we do have computers, each our own. With internet, actually. We just call it something different back home.”
That explains a lot, Karin thought in relief.
She took another sip of her cherry-flavored tea, which tasted quite delicious. Nikki seemed to have picked blood orange tea — an interesting choice for sure, even if it didn’t actually sound all that bad.
“So, since you’re new in town… I’d love to know a bit more about you,” Karin asked Nikki. “Do you have any hobbies, what was life like back home… that kinda stuff.”
“Ah, back home…” Nikki gathered her thoughts. “I actually have not mentioned this yet, but… Back in our home country, there is a civil war.” Nikki’s eyes became somewhat sad. “My uncle… Very bad person.” Her sadness turned into disgust and anger.
“Oh… I’m sorry,” Karin responded sympathetically. “Is your family at least safe? Is that why you and your brother fled? But then why didn’t the rest of your family come with you?” Everything became different to Karin with this knowledge in mind.
“My parents are safe, yes,” Nikki responded. “This is weird perhaps, but me and my brother, we did not actually grow up uh, ‘at home’? I don’t know how to explain…” She took another sip of her tea as she was looking for words. “My brother still remembers life before the war… But my mother was pregnant with me, so obviously, I do not.”
“Do you still remember what the war itself was like?” Karin asked.
Nikki thought about how to answer that question. “Not directly, thankfully… I actually grew up in a neighboring country, for safety reasons of course. We share a language so there was no barrier, but… Well, we are still pretty different from them, in a way. I don’t know how to explain… You probably would not understand.” Nikki giggled slightly nervously. “My true home country is sadly not very safe right now, of course. I’ve been in contact with family and friends who still live there, but… Well, perhaps once it’s safe again I’d like to go back. We’re fortunate enough that we could relocate elsewhere, for the time being.”
“So, you don’t want to stay here forever? Or at least, that’s not your plan?” Karin found this all very interesting. She would miss Nikki if she left, but she also knew she had little control over that.
“It’s more that I can’t,” Nikki responded. “It’s a long story… But I belong home. I want to fix what’s back there, eventually.”
Karin nodded in understanding. “It sounds silly perhaps,” she said, “but part of me wishes I could help somehow. I know that’s impossible, but—” Karin thought about her own mission of saving the world. That would probably conflict with this completely, wouldn’t it?
“Perhaps you could,” Nikki responded, to Karin’s surprise. “But that isn’t for me to decide.” She quickly took another sip of her tea, which had cooled down significantly in the meantime. Before Karin realized, Nikki’s cup was empty.
As Karin’s tea had likewise cooled down, she proceeded to do finish hers as well. She wanted to ask Nikki what she had meant by what she said, but Nikki seemed eager to get started on the homework project instead, so Karin dropped it.
“Alright,” Nikki exclaimed as she got up, “let’s go upstairs to my room.”
Karin followed Nikki as they walked through the hallway upstairs. The hallway was just as elaborately decorated as the living room, which admittedly kind of clashed with the comparatively plain-looking staircase.
- The Netherlands
- Secretly a magical girl
Bio: Hello! My name is Lotte and I like to write. I also draw and make music. My current ongoing project is "Alomiriya", a magical girl/urban fantasy web novel. I hope there's enough in it for everyone to enjoy, despite the girly premise. Nice to meet you! 😊