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By Sasha McCallum

Copyright 2017 Sasha McCallum

Smashwords Edition

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Table of contents

Chapter 1. A Strange Encounter

Chapter 2. Such An Unusual Girl

Chapter 3. Obsession

Chapter 4. There Will Be Blood

About the Author

Other titles by Sasha McCallum

Connect with Sasha McCallum

Sample of The Lake

1. A Strange Encounter

Below the tree, an image, half formed and swirling in the otherwise empty, grey air. A figure of darkness and my blood ran ice cold as I watched it. I heard a humming in my ears, my heart beat faster and it came closer; not moving but growing. I thought of Joseph; could it be him? The dark swirling immediately retracted then disappeared. The cold remained though, and the swirling darkness had left an imprint at the back of my eyes. I shivered.

"You saw it too, didn't you?" a woman's voice said from behind me and I turned and met with liquid green eyes. I was scared and the eyes told me she was too. I looked back at the oak tree in the distance and saw nothing but my eyes lingered. "You saw it, I can tell," the voice behind me repeated and I tore my eyes from the tree. She was beautiful, dressed in black. Was she here for a burial?

"I saw something in the air," I stammered, unable to explain myself logically. "It was nothing."

"The nothing scared you," she said with certainty and I looked away, toward the tree again. I did not want to think about it. "You'll give it power if you pay attention to it. It will use that against you."

I frowned. I could not grasp what she was saying.

"Andrea!" The woman turned and I saw a man wearing similarly dark attire, calling and motioning to her as he headed our way. "Come on," he said from a short distance. The woman put out a hand and clutched my arm, sending a jolt of panic through me. She leaned toward me.

"Don't let it know you see it," she said, hushed and urgent, then turned and walked away with the man.

Haley woke up with a start. She was bathed in cold sweat. Her phone read 6.18am. She immediately got up and went into the shower to try to wash her dreams away. The woman in the graveyard had scared her ...No, it wasn't the woman; it was that she'd seen the same thing Haley had. Was it possible?

She was warm and dry after her shower but it did little to ease the darkness of her thoughts. That would have to wait until her daily boredom swept it away. Without work the days stretched in front of her, impossibly long and empty. She largely ignored concerned calls from family and friends. She stuck to a strict diet, exercise and meditation regimen on autopilot in a desperate attempt to avoid thinking and remembering. Any excess thinking would allow ideas of self-harm to creep in and that was unacceptable. She didn't want to end up in hospital, didn't want to make things any worse than they already were. Dr. Fields told her that if she just stuck to her plans and did what she was told then eventually things would start to get better, that the sinking feeling when she woke up in the morning and which struck her every time she thought of Joseph would lose its power. She doubted it, but the alternative was despair, the alternative was blood and pain. Feeling sorry for herself was not a natural state for her, it was ugly and self-defeating.

She went to a local coffee shop and read. Sometimes, she needed the presence of other, normal, happy people around her, while still remaining essentially alone. It was a part of her slow reintroduction into society, as she vaguely hypothesized, though secretly she thought it might remain her only way of being a part of society forever. She doubted she would ever want much more than this.

It was there that fate chose to knock her autopilot off course. She was reading 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran and it was not particularly interesting.

"May I sit here?"

She looked up, realizing she'd been spoken to. A woman stood over her, she stared around the coffee house; the other tables were occupied so it was unlikely she or the woman had much choice in the matter.

"Yes," she said mechanically and returned her eyes to her book. Her attempt to get through a paragraph was thwarted by the sensation that she was being watched. Perhaps she was expected to make conversation with the stranger; she found many superfluous things were expected of her lately. She looked at the woman who was indeed staring as she dipped a teabag into a disposable cup.

"You don't remember me, do you?" the woman said.

"Sorry," Haley was confused, she wracked her brain and then, giving the woman a long, lingering examination, it dawned on her. The green eyes from the cemetery, the strange encounter. "Yes. The graveyard last week. You were there, you said..." She narrowed her eyes and frowned.

"Not then," the woman responded quickly, as if she didn't want to think about that either. "We went to school together."

"No," Haley denied with confidence. "No, we didn't. I would have remembered you."

The woman looked at her very strangely then, as if she wasn't sure what to make of that. But Haley was convinced; this woman was absolutely beautiful, there was no chance she could have slipped under the radar at Haley's college. She observed her as she frowned into her tea. Her hair was dark and her skin was pale porcelain, her lips pink and full and those liquid green eyes stood out inside rings of black eye-liner. Her eyes didn't sparkle, they reflected nothing; they were the type of eyes that had so much depth they absorbed every glimmer of light around them. Two deep, geothermal pools. She could have stepped off the cover of a magazine if it wasn't for her complete lack of effort in the clothes department. Lack of effort? More like an effort to make herself look less than she was; perhaps she did, perhaps she was one of those people who got too much attention if she dressed nice and she didn't like it. Haley could understand that, she hadn't been making much of an effort herself lately.

"You've changed as well," she said to Haley, as if she could read her thoughts. "You've lost your smile. Life hasn't treated you well."

"Who are you?" She was puzzled now, the woman certainly seemed to know her. The woman laughed in response to this, a somewhat embittered laugh. Her teeth were white, small and straight, her canines dipped lower than the rest, making her appear predatory. She sipped her tea and ignored the question which infuriated Haley. It was nice. To feel something other than emptiness and regret. Anger was welcome here. The woman seemed to know this, there was a mirthful contempt in her eyes suddenly.

Haley stared at those eyes, they appeared to challenge and mock her all at once. It was an odd feeling, as if she were being shown another reality, one separate from the inane chatter and smell of coffee that surrounded them. One separate from the darkness and emptiness of her existence.

A knock then, loud and unwanted and she almost dropped her cup. She turned toward the window and saw Alison standing outside, her fist still up against the glass, peering in at her, waiting. What was she waiting for, Haley thought in exasperation. Couldn't she see that Haley was otherwise occupied? But with what was she occupied? When she turned back from the window the woman who was with her just a few seconds ago had absconded while she was distracted. What the hell? Her cup was empty and cold, and her companion had just upped and left? How rude. She clanged out of the door and Alison rushed to her with a hug. She searched the side-walks in confusion, but the woman was definitely gone. Again. Had Haley disassociated for a minute?

"Alison, did you see where the woman who was sitting with me went?" she said, raising her voice above her step-mothers impotent pleasantries.

"I didn't see her, sweetheart, no," Alison rushed on. "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I saw you in there and I've been trying to call you for weeks. Walk with me, I must talk to you..."

Haley rolled her eyes and was practically dragged down the street next to Alison.

She arrived home to her empty, cold house later, having managed to successfully extricate herself from Alison's overly mothering concern. She sat down at her kitchen table and stared at the refrigerator, timidly testing the waters of her emotions to see if she was in any danger from them at present. She was not; it was safe to make dinner, eat and read, as her nightly routine dictated.


On a dismal Sunday afternoon, Haley sat in her kitchen practicing her meditation techniques. They were supposed to help her clear her mind of unwanted clutter. It wasn't something she would have done before, but now she needed to try everything, she needed to believe it would work and so she forced it on herself, and in doing this, was sometimes successful. She thought of floating in space, in darkness, weightless and alone, a disembodied wave of energy.

Her doorbell rang and she cursed, ignored it and re-entered her mind. It rang again. And again. She peered through the curtains of the living room to see who it was so she would remember to be angry next time she saw them. But it was an unexpected face. The green-eyed woman from the graveyard; the strange encounter. She thought quickly. Now was a good time to test her theory and she opened her front door and stood face to face; the green eyes looked back at her in silence, expression unreadable. She appeared solid enough.

Haley reached out and gripped her by the shoulder, her jaw dropped. She slid her hand up and touched the skin of her jawbone roughly, prodding her. The woman looked surprised and a little confused by the gesture, then she pushed Haley's hand away with a frown.

"You're real," Haley said and the woman's frown fell away into amusement.

"Of course I'm real. What did you think?"

"At the cemetery..." Haley stammered, "And then the other day. You just disappeared." She didn't know what she was trying to say. It was obvious to her now that her idea that she may have created the woman from her imagination was ridiculous and she felt like an idiot. "You keep disappearing. And you're completely weird," she tried unsuccessfully to explain herself.

"I'm weird? You're the one who zoned out on me the other day. I don't know what is going on but it's obvious something's wrong."

"You know nothing about me!" Haley said defensively then looked around in irritation. "What do you want? Why are you at my door?" She peered at the street outside, it was pouring rain, and the woman on her doorstep dripped, bewitching her with her eyes. "Come in," she said finally.

"Am I disturbing you?" she asked, following Haley into her kitchen. Haley gestured around the empty room.

"As you can see, I am all alone." She watched the woman settle into a chair and handed her a towel. Many questions occurred to her to ask; how did she know where Haley lived? Who was she? What was she doing here? But she sat impassively watching as she towelled her face and hair.

"Why are you alone?" the woman finally asked her.

"Why shouldn't I be? And shouldn't I be the one to ask questions?" she was still on the defence, but didn't she have a right to be? It was very strange, for her to just show up. And after that bizarre scene at the graveyard. Again, as if she could read her mind, the woman spoke.

"My name is Andrea. This was your mother's house, I didn't think you would still be here, but here you are."

"Still be here? I haven't been here for years. How do you know this was my mother's house? Who are you?"

"I told you, we went to school together."

"And I told you, there's no way. You weren't at Filton, I would have remembered you." That strange look again.

"Not Filton. Victoria."

"But that was..." It can't be true, Haley thought. She had a brain wave, went to a side cabinet and shuffled around. Eventually she found one and pulled it out. The year book for the final year she'd spent at Queen Victoria. She threw it on the table in front of the woman. "Prove it," she said.

The woman sneered slightly, and fingered the book.

"Do you have the year before this?" Haley did.

She flicked through the pages until she reached a photo of Haley's class when she was only 11 years old. She pointed to a figure and Haley studied it. It hit her then, it dawned on her slowly at first, a hard pill to swallow and she was tempted to stare back and forth from the woman in front of her to the photo but she couldn't tear her eyes from the girl in the picture. She remembered her. She had changed a lot, but now it was almost hard to believe she hadn't recognized the eyes straight away.

"You've changed too. You're beautiful Haley, but dark. So dark now."

Haley looked up from the picture into her penetrating eyes.

"We called you Andi, I didn't even remember your name was Andrea. You disappeared then too. What happened to you?"

She shrugged.

"We moved. What happened to you? Why are you alone? Why are you so dark? You used to smile all the time."

"I grew up. We all did," she said simply.

Andrea watched her, waited. What did she expect from Haley after all these years? What did she want?

"We were friends," Haley remembered. "You used to make me laugh."

"You used to like to laugh."

"And then you just left. Why didn't you tell me you were leaving? Say goodbye?"

Haley hadn't realized how raw she felt about it until now, she had never talked about it back then either. Not even to Joseph.

"Another life," she waved a hand dismissively. "We moved a lot. I was told not to dwell on it. I always remembered you though. When I saw you at the cemetery I recognized you straight away. I wanted to talk to you. But then..." A shadow crossed her face and Haley knew that what she saw was real.

"So, there was something there. What is it?" She looked into the green eyes. Silence and a frown. "Andrea. What is it?"

Andrea's eyes left hers and glanced at the pill bottles and packets on her counter.

"I don't know exactly what it is. A concentration of energy. Bad intentions, bad memories. I'm no expert. Awareness and fear of it gives it strength and that's not what you want. How often do you see it?"

"I've seen it six times. Mostly, I don't see it, only feel it. At the cemetery, that was the third time. It left when you appeared. Why?"

Andrea shook her head.

"No. It wasn't me," she said with certainty. She looked at the pill packets again. "You lost someone. Someone who was very important to you. Your grief is more profound than for most. Maybe it's not grief anymore. Who did you lose?"

How did Andrea know this stuff? She must just be guessing. Judging, by her presence in the cemetery, the stacks of pills on her counter, the darkness in Haley's eyes, her demeanour. Andi had always been clever when they were children. There were few other options but to explain herself, albeit briefly, Haley contemplated.

"My brother Joseph shot himself seven months ago," she croaked. "We were twins."

"I am sorry," Andrea said quietly. "I never met Joseph."

"Good. I can't be around anyone who knows him, anyone who makes me think about him."

"Do you think it was your fault?" she asked and Haley felt sick.

"Why would you ask me that? I know it wasn't my fault," she almost yelled.

"I'm not asking what you know, I'm asking what you feel."

Haley looked at her, tried to stare her down but Andrea's eye-contact and the intent that lay behind it was unfaltering. She was not a timid person, not easily deterred by anyone or anything, Haley judged. She averted her own gaze.

"You want to know what I feel?" she looked blankly into the space between them and tried to breath evenly. "Joseph was plagued with problems all his life, I feel it was unfair that he got all of them and I got none of them. And now that he's gone, the demons have nowhere to go but inside me. So here I am, and now I'm paying for having such an easy time while Joseph was alive. And all I keep thinking is that he felt like I'm feeling now all his life. And so many times I thought he was just weak. I didn't know, I couldn't have known..." she broke off with a sob.

Andrea came and knelt on the floor in front of her chair, she put her hands on Haley's. They were soft and warm and still damp from the rain.

"The doctors are probably telling you it's irrational. Guilt. But it isn't that simple. It's hard for a reasonable person not to believe in bad karma," she said easily. Haley dabbed at her face with her tissues and peered at Andrea with blood-shot eyes.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I don't want to talk about this, or cry, or think about it. I don't know why I did. You should probably go."

"Do you want me to go?"

"No." She'd meant to say yes but no had come out instead. Andrea returned to her chair.

"I'd like to stay. I'd like to talk to you," she said.

"About what?" And Haley watched her mouth twist into an unpractised smile.

"Perhaps you could tell me what you've been doing for the past 15 years. Or I could tell you why I came back."

Haley sniffed and checked the clock. It was 4.15 in the afternoon and she didn't like the prospect of finishing her day alone and empty as she always did. A catch-up with an old friend was hardly what she would normally want to replace it with but Andrea was different. She had once been innocently special to her and now, for some reason she had reappeared and seemed to know things about Haley which were unexplainable.

"Would you like a cup of tea?" she asked pathetically.


"Oh..." She stared at her tissue, lost.

"I'd like a cigarette and a gin and tonic."

"Oh..." she said again and looked the other woman up and down. "You're soaking wet."

"Yes. I am," she agreed and Haley made a decision.

"Well... If you're going to stay for a while you shouldn't stay in those clothes. I can put them in the drier for you."

"Okay. Thank you."

"Come with me." She led Andrea into her bedroom and rummaged in her closet. "You're my size. Here, put these on."

Andrea immediately started stripping right in front of her. "Uh..." Haley turned around, embarrassed.

But there were two mirrors in Haley's bedroom and it was very difficult not to see her underwear-clad form behind her. She felt ashamed for not simply shutting her eyes. It shouldn't be any surprise to her that Andrea was not the skinny, shapeless child she once knew. Haley wasn't either. And yet her eyes refused to close, Andrea was stunning.

Back in the kitchen she poured them strong cocktails, carried them out to the patio and offered Andrea a cigarette.

"We can't smoke in the house, it's disrespectful to my mother's memory." She watched as Andrea sipped and puffed. She looked ridiculously good in the clothes Haley had lent her. "Better?"

"Mm, much," she shut her eyes and leaned back in the patio lounger.

"Why do you dress the way you do? Like you get all your clothes from goodwill?"

"Clothes aren't important," she said lazily.

"Do you do it to escape unwanted attention? You could be a model, Andrea."

She smiled mysteriously.

"Will you call me Andi? I used to love it, no one else except you and your friends ever called me that."

"It would feel weird."

"It feels weird being back in your mother's house. I remember hanging out here sometimes. Your mother was always so nice to me."

"She's dead now. Joseph moved into the house after she died. And now he's dead too." She looked out into the grey sky, thick droplets still fell from it beyond the roof of the veranda, but there was no wind, and it wasn't cold.

"You said you haven't been here for years. Where have you been?"

"I went away to University, of course. I didn't come back often," Haley sighed. "Then I worked in Singapore for a while. It's strange looking back, it's like looking at another person, another life. If I'd been told back then how much things could change in seven months I wouldn't have believed it."

"How does it feel, to have changed so much in so little time?"

"It feels... Like you said, it's dark here, but it's also like I've woken up, started seeing things the way they really are."

Andrea nodded slowly, looking into the rain.

"It's good, Haley. You don't realize it yet, but it's all part of a much bigger process. You will be a better person in the end," she said confidently.

"Why do you talk about these abstract things as if they're concrete and why do you talk about me as if you still know me?" Haley found it disconcerting.

"I do know you," she shrugged. "At least, I know the person you've recently become. Do you think you're the only one in the world to experience what you have? People tap into the darkness around them every day. Me, I've always seen it. I knew it when we were kids, and I knew then that one day you'd see it too."

Haley shook her head at her, but her words were doing something, making her feel less alone. No one had understood where her head was presently; everyone thought she was crazy and that she would get over it with enough time. Andrea extended a different view, a confident understanding which was so very welcome. Necessary.

"Is that why you can see the dark forms as well?" she asked.

"I assume so."

"If it was Joseph's death that initiated the change in me, what was it that made you see it?"

"That is a much more complicated story," she paused. "Have you told your doctors about them?"

"Yes. They believe I am hallucinating."

"Don't tell them," Andrea snorted. "Take back what you've said to them, admit they were hallucinations. I don't remember you ever having a problem with lying or fabricating particulars when we were young. In fact, you told lies better than most people told the truth."

Haley was surprised at how well Andrea remembered things, and every time she referred to the old times they shot through Haley's memory equally vividly, though she hadn't thought about them in years, and honestly would have assumed they'd disappeared from her memory banks altogether. What a strange day it was turning out to be.

"And then I became a lawyer," she said wistfully. "Very fitting."

"Hmm, law, not the direction I would have pictured you going in at all. Politics maybe, but law..." Andrea shuddered, as if the idea made her skin crawl and Haley felt the hint of a smile beginning to form at her mouth. It used muscles that hadn't been exercised in a long time and it felt awkward, unnatural. She quickly removed it from her face before Andrea noticed it.

"I haven't been able to work in months. What do you do with yourself these days?" Haley found she couldn't imagine what career would fit such a person as the one sitting across from her.

"Not much. I travel, I learn," she said simply.

"What do you learn?"

"Everything I can."

"What do you do for money?" Haley frowned.

"I don't have any money. Money isn't important."

"Who was the man at the graveyard? Your husband?"

"No," she sniggered. "I am not married. Philip is ...an acquaintance."

"Oh, yes," Haley nodded knowingly and felt another slight smile creep into her lips before Andrea looked at her and she quickly wiped it away.

"It's understandable that you don't remember him, I suppose. The mind blocks out so many impossibilities," she said.

Impossibilities? If he had been children with them then Haley wouldn't remember him anyway.

"It is absolutely not what you are thinking. Philip is family. One of my cousins recently died and we have some plots in the cemetery here. It's not the main reason I came back though."

"So you've lost someone as well."

"It isn't the same. I didn't care for my cousin, he was simply blood." She almost spat the last word and Haley decided to take advantage of a need to change topic.

"Tell me about the dark forms."

"We shouldn't talk about that."

Haley frowned. The wind had begun to pick up and the rain was starting to blow underneath their shelter. Haley ignored it, she needed to get answers while she had the chance.

"You're the only person who believes me, that they're real, the only person who's seen them too," she said, not willing to hide her desperation.

"I told you everything I know, trust me when I say these things are not to be paid heed. The best way to deal with it is to ignore it."

"If you don't want to talk about it, then why are you here?" she had to raise her voice over the wind.

"I'm here to see you, of course."

A fork of electricity lit up the darkening sky in the distance and shortly after, a low rumble. Haley was mesmerized, she watched in calm fascination.

"Haley. Haley!" Andrea shook her by the shoulder. "Shouldn't we go inside," she gestured toward the windows. "You can watch the storm from there if it's what you want."

"Of course," Haley said and got up. When she opened the ranch slider she almost had to coax Andrea across the threshold. Perhaps she was just as interested in the sudden violence of the weather as Haley was, she thought absently.

She invited her to sit down on the sofa and refilled their glasses. It was quiet inside, with the whistling of the heightened wind out of their ears.

"If you didn't come back for your cousin's funeral, why did you come back?" she asked with interest and Andrea appeared to think deeply about her reply.

"Vampires mate for life, you know?" she said and Haley raised her eye brows. Wow, she thought, Andrea really had turned into a strange one. Something old, long forgotten, ticked over in her mind and then slipped quickly away.

"That's interesting," she said, tempted to smile again. How odd, that's three smiles she's got out of me in the past 20 minutes, she mused. "What does it have to do with anything?"

"I came back to find my mate. I'm tired of being alone."

Haley laughed then, it was unexpected and gleeful and she didn't try to hold it back. Andrea smiled at her.

"Still the same warped sense of humour, I thought I might get one eventually," she said.

When she'd sobered, she looked at the woman who had once between her childhood friend. She saw it then, behind the beauty and the make-up, that young girl who had made her laugh so hard.

"I was engaged," she said to her. "We were engaged for a year. When Joseph died I broke it off straight away." She was surprised she was not only willing to talk about this but eager. She suddenly wanted to tell Andrea everything.

"That's good. Why did you leave your fiancé?"

Haley did a double-take. Why was it good? Andrea seemed to know everything else, maybe she knew the reasons behind her sudden abandonment of her devoted husband-to-be as well.

"My eyes were opened. I saw everything differently after that, especially the things that were supposed to mean the most to me. I realized I didn't care for him at all," she stated blandly, more to remind herself than to reveal information to Andrea. "In fact, I may even have hated him. It was all so... It's very hard to explain."

"You don't need to. I understand."

"How do you understand? How can you come back into my life and seem to know me so well?"

Andrea laughed, not an entirely amused laugh; it contained something like excitement. But her very annoying habit of not answering questions was again brought into play.

"Did your brother dislike your fiancé?" she asked and Haley was astounded.

"How do you know that?" Then again, she supposed it wasn't so strange, Joseph had disliked most people. But Andrea had never met Joseph, she shouldn't know these things ...Should she?

"Your brother is a part of you now, whether you like it or not," Andrea said casually, and sipped her drink as she watched the lightning strikes beyond the windows.

Haley was in silent shock, but determined not to reveal herself to Andrea. There was something eerie about her confident understanding, and something suspicious about how comfortable Haley felt with her -she shouldn't, it was unequivocal; she barely knew the woman.

"You spent some nights here when we were young," she said guardedly. "It's odd that you never met Joseph."

"You talked about him quite a lot. I felt like I knew him. You were angry because he'd been sent away to boarding school. You missed him."

"That's right!" The memory struck Haley. She sat in silence, her brain suddenly crowded with that particular period of her life. "When we were little we were inseparable, our father thought it was unhealthy but there wasn't much they could do about it. When he started showing abnormal symptoms his behaviour became erratic and they took him to doctors who said he'd grow out of it. They had a good reason then, to keep us apart, they thought that somehow he'd infect me," she sneered bitterly. "They sent him to a boarding school, my father's decision. I hated him for that."

Andrea watched her and listened. Perhaps she remembered all of this herself, but it was only just coming back to Haley. She needed to voice it, to make it real again. Andrea seemed to understand this, she seemed to understand everything. Haley looked at her. "And then you were there. That year after he left."

She reached over and took one of Haley's hands into her own, examined it closely.

"You used to bite your nails. You always said you wanted long, perfect nails. You got your wish."

"You have a good memory. Especially for someone so willing to leave the past behind."

"I wasn't willing, I was a child -I had no choice in the matter. And I don't remember well. All the other places we lived blur together but I liked it here, this place stands out in my memory. Every single bit of it."

She still had Haley's hand in her own. Haley tried to pull it back and Andrea held it tighter. Haley looked into her eyes and they stared back, so intense. She brought Haley's hand to her mouth and touched her lips to it. Her lips were cool, damp, her hand tingled where they touched it. Then Andrea let go and turned away, leaving Haley baffled. She had kissed her, it was erotic and yet not. No woman had ever kissed her like that, hand or otherwise.

Andrea was rooting around in her bag.

"Look," she said, pulling an item from it. It was a snap shot. "Do you remember?"

Haley looked at it in surprise. It was the two of them, so young, so happy. Carefree. That Andrea had kept it all these years was unexpectedly warming to Haley's cold heart.

"I wasn't your only friend here," she said, studying the picture. "There were a few of us. Have you looked up any of the others?"

Andrea waved the question away.

"They only accepted me into the group because of you. And I only wanted to be around them because of you."

Haley considered this. It was probably true, putting herself back in those innocent 11 year old shoes, it was always Andi she'd wanted to be with; often they would run off together, excluding the others purposefully. She frowned then, how badly she had missed her when she'd left. How upset she had been at her for neglecting to say goodbye.

"You're angry," Andrea said, observing her expression.

"Yes, I am angry. You couldn't even extend a brief phone call to explain what had happened?"

"It's good that you're angry. It means you cared about me. Like I cared about you. You seem to have blocked out a lot of what happened back then," she frowned. "I didn't realize. We'll have to start anew, maybe."

"You think you can come here and start straight back where you left off?" Haley was livid, it felt good.

"No," she smiled. "Do I seem ignorant to you? I wouldn't want that anyway, it's nice to remember, but neither of us are the same anymore. What I want is something much different. When I saw you at the graveyard I knew I'd been right. I knew what I wanted."

"You want to be friends again?"

"Something like that."

"I'm not in a good position for friendships. I'm not well, perhaps in the future when I'm better..."

"What about this; I come back to see you again and if you feel like inviting me in, you can, if not... It's up to you. You aren't unwell, Haley." She got up from the sofa.

"Are you leaving?" Haley began to panic, perhaps she had been too harsh, too honest.

"Yes. Thank you for letting me in. Thank you for talking."

"Okay," Haley felt lost. She didn't know what to make of the strange visit.

"Will you please do what I said?" her liquid eyes plead with Haley. "Present to the doctors like you are alright. All that shit they've got you on isn't going to help you. They can't help you."

"What will help me," she wondered out loud.

"What if I said I could help you? Would you accept my kind of help?"

"Yes," Haley said automatically. Then, "What kind of help would that be?"

Andrea smiled slyly, which did two things for Haley; it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and it sent a tingling sensation to her lower regions.

"I suppose you are going to find out," she said almost menacingly then adjusted her tone. "Will you bring me my clothes, please?"

Haley thought quickly.

"You'll be coming back, won't you?" she asked.

"I will."

"Then keep mine for now, it might give you more incentive to come again."

Andrea smiled.

"So you do want me to return?"

"Perhaps I do. Yes, I do."

She handed Andrea an umbrella from the stand before she shut the door behind her. She pulled the curtains in the living room back and watched her make her way down the street casually in the pouring rain and fading daylight. She swung the umbrella at her side.

Haley sat down at the kitchen table, stared again at the small figure of a girl from her year six class photo. Her mind went back to all those years ago.

2. Such an Unusual Girl

She looked at me like I was the only person in the world. And she told me stories, secret stories, forbidden stories. She told me of darkness, of creatures, of blood and flesh and eternal life. She talked about love and lies, destiny and death.

"Vampires aren't like humans. Our love is eternal."

She said these things with such conviction and I believed her. I believed she knew about such things. I wanted to believe her, she told me of a world different from the one I was trapped in.

"No one-night-stands then?" I would ask her, since I had recently learned about things like this.

She would laugh and shake her head and I would go willingly with her into our fantasy world. Re-entry into my harsh reality, home life without Joseph close, knowing he was suffering, was difficult. Something I put off as long as possible. Perhaps any alternative would have worked as well, but it was Andi who provided me with what I needed.

"A one-night-stand isn't love," she would say wisely. "They happen all the time, love doesn't." She understood so many things I had yet to learn.

"But you could have a baby from a one-night-stand," I'd say, as a test.

"Not me."

"No, well, not yet, we're too young."

"I will never be able to have a baby. I was born Blood, I'm not capable."

This fascinated me, I never tired of hearing about it. Her stories never changed, no matter what angle I came at them from; she was a superb fantasist. I enjoyed testing her and witnessing her pass the tests every time.

Sometimes her tales were gruesome, often they made me laugh. It was the way she told them, with utter confidence, and how she knew I liked the relief they provided from reality, comic or otherwise. How they made us, our world, separate from everyone else's -parents, friends, teachers. I could even forget about Joseph for a while. I developed trust in her stories, trust in her.

"One day, when the stars are aligned, things will change. You'll understand better."

For five consecutive nights after her reunion with Andrea, Haley dreamed of her, of their days together as children. They were not bad dreams, they confused and overwhelmed her with their nature, but they were welcome respite from her usual nightmares about the dark forms, and about Joseph.

Her attempts at meditation became drenched in day-dreams and memories from that interval. She did not fully comprehend how 15 years could pass with little thought of it and how now, it was everywhere, waking and sleeping. She could only imagine it must have been that off-handed comment Andrea had made during her Sunday afternoon visit; the comment about how vampires mate for life. At the time Haley hadn't consciously understood the reference, but had ended up laughing anyway. Now she remembered, all those stories, all those fantasies they had shared so long ago. They must still be fresh in Andrea's mind for her to say something like that; had she realized that Haley hadn't remembered? She was sharp, she would have known, Haley nodded to herself.

On the sixth night something different happened. She dreamed of Andrea as she was now. Adult, beautiful. She sat on Haley's sofa, kissed her hand. But she didn't stop there, she kissed her way up Haley's arm, Haley watched, breath held. She left a trail of damp up Haley's arm, kissed her shoulder, her breast bone, her neck, her jaw. She did it slowly, sensuously, and when she reached the side of Haley's mouth and Haley could feel her warm breath against her lips, she jerked awake, gasping for oxygen.

She had been holding her breath and she felt immense disappointment that the dream had had to end when it did. When she regained her composure and lay still, her thinking pattern returned to its analytical norm and she felt the dampness in her underwear and immediately got up and into the shower to wash her guilt and shock away.

She stared at herself in the mirror; she still looked like the same person she'd always been but felt completely different. She had never thought of a woman sexually before, not like this anyway. Never had a dream like that, and it was only the latest in a series of enormous changes that seemed to be taking place within her. Most of them, she recognized, had happened after Joseph's death, because of Joseph's death, but this one was something else. It was all Andrea. Why had Andrea and Josephs involvement in her life always been so separate but so inextricably linked? There was no way to find out for sure and maybe it was mere coincidence.

Andrea had said that Joseph was a part of her now. Perhaps that was why she was having sexual feelings for another woman. Though she was shocked and a little uncomfortable with these new developments, she was also feeling better than she had in months. The dark forms were no longer looming in her semi-consciousness, and she was so distracted by memories of childhood that she was not thinking of Joseph and his pain, nor her own. That was the first day she stopped taking her pills and the first day she began hiding the whole truth from her psychiatrist.


Haley fired an email to Till, who still lived close by and was a resident oncologist now. Dr. Matilda Jepson, unmarried as yet. Till was happy to hear from her and accepted her offer of lunch without hesitation. They had been at Filton together and had remained friends through University, so her knowledge of Till was much more recent than Andi, but it was still odd to be meeting up after so much had happened.

Chatty as ever, conversation was not awkward with Till, though she looked worn out, presumably from her long and demanding work hours.

"...When did you get back from Asia?"

"What?" Haley realized she'd been zoning again which was not good, she was here for a purpose; she would have to remain more vigilant."

"Asia? What brought you back? Are you working here now?"

"No," she shook herself lightly. "I'm on a bit of a sabbatical. You didn't know my brother died?" It was a necessary part of the conversation she had already resigned herself to when she'd contacted Till.

"Joe? ...Shit, Haley, I'm really sorry. I didn't hear about it, no."

"Suicide, you know he was always screwed up in the head."

Till nodded as if she was unsure how to respond to that.

"I had the worst crush on him when we were kids. It's the only reason I remember him so well." She peered cautiously at Haley. "How are you? Are you coping?"

"I'm still here, I'm trying," she shrugged, keen to change the mood. "Do you remember, back at Queen Vic, a girl who used to hang out with us for a while there; dark hair, green eyes, really pretty. Name was Andi."

"Course I remember Andi," she said quickly and Haley breathed a silent sigh of relief.

She was real then. So much of Haley's reality had been put into question lately.

"You two were so fucking irritating together," Till went on. "Always with your secret looks, your whispers and your private jokes," she chuckled. "The rest of us were pissed about your exclusive little club of two and pretty damn relieved when she never showed up the next year. Kids, huh? Fickle as hell. Why are you asking about her?"

"She came to see me recently."

"No shit. Andi? ...Wow, what's she like now? Why'd she make contact?"

"Did you know her name was Andrea?"

"Yeah, I think I vaguely remember that. So? What's she like?"

"Well, I mean, she's gorgeous and quite strange," Haley said honestly.

"What's new," Till chuckled.

"We didn't even speak for that long but it was so good to see her again, she didn't feel like the stranger she should have. I learnt almost nothing about who she is now though. Maybe because she hasn't changed much. I don't know." Haley felt like she was using Till as a sounding board for her own confusion.

Till didn't seem to notice or mind at all, she continued chatting at Haley about old times and Haley felt herself drift away again. At least Till remembered Andi, at least now she knew that she wasn't a figment of an overactive imagination or a psychotic break with reality. She had even remembered how close the two of them had been.

She gazed around her, there were attractive women here and it felt weird to look at them with her new eyes, knowing she now had real attraction for a woman. She looked across at her other childhood friend. Till was pretty enough, sure; she had an intelligent look about her which Haley found appealing. But these women inspired nothing close to what she felt when she thought of Andrea.

"...You're looking at me really weird, Haley. What's going on in that head of yours?" Till asked curiously, snapping her out of her reverie.

"Sorry." She considered her options. "Have you ever been confronted with ...unusual feelings?"

Till raised her eye-brows in amusement.

"All the time. Personally I quite like unusual feelings, I chase them," she paused and frowned. "What are these feelings? Does it have to do with Joe?"

"Not really, I don't think so. Maybe, uh..."

"Come on, spit it out girl."

"It's just... Well, Joseph always liked women. Loved women. Since he died I feel like some of him is inside me. His depression, his problems..." She paused and observed Till's frown. "And now, well, I've never really been interested in women in a sexual way..." she struggled to formulate her meaning but Till's face dropped into an easy grin.

"Oh geez, Haley, is that what this is about?"

"It's not funny, Till! It's all so goddamn new to me..."

"Most of us ended up sleeping with a woman at some point or another, if you didn't you must have been one of very few," she said, rolling her eyes.

"I'm not talking about sex."

"Oh, but you said..." she narrowed her eyes at Haley and smiled. "Wait a second, hold the phone... This is about Andi, isn't it? Holy shit!"

Haley looked down at her hands. She felt like a child again, embarrassed and guilty of something she shouldn't have done. Till just stared at her with that stupid smile on her face, finally stumped for words.

"Did you fuck her?" she eventually asked.

"No! For Christ sake, would you keep your voice down?"

"Why?" Till glanced around her shrugging, "No one gives a shit."

"I give a shit."

"Oh wow, this just gets better and better. It's a sensitive topic for you... And not because it's a woman either, because it's Andi," Till concluded and shook her head at Haley. "You two were always so damned exclusive. This is typical."

"Thanks for the crack analysis," Haley said irascibly. This had gotten weird and now she was only wondering how to worm her out of it without seeming uncivil or abrupt.

"Look, Haley, if I were you I'd be more worried about the other aspects of Joe's personality that might be affecting you," she stated simply.

"So you believe in that stuff?" Haley was surprised. "Dark forces and all that?"

"I don't know about spiritually but psychologically, yeah, for sure. Your twin brother has killed himself, it would be a huge surprise if you weren't all fucked up over it."

Haley could see she wasn't trying to be insensitive. She searched Haley's face as if looking for clues of damage then her phone beeped and the moment was lost.

"I've really got to run, babe," she said, staring at her screen.

"Yeah." Haley was silently grateful and continued drinking her coffee.

"I really am sorry to hear about Joe. I know how close you were," she gave Haley a long stare then got up and put a hand on her shoulder. "If you see Andi again, say hi. Take care of yourself, Haley, and stay in touch this time."

"Will do. Thanks." She barely looked at Till as she left. Her goal had been achieved and now the nuisance of being in a public place and the after effects of connecting with someone who had no idea what she was going through were making her feel sullen. She felt the presence of the dark forms knocking at her peripheral vision. She finished her coffee and began walking; movement was sometimes the best solution. Changing scenery, changing scents, changing faces; a multitude of expressions and snippets of conversations, voices on busy streets.


The day after her lunch with Till, a rainy, dismal evening Haley sat online looking at job advertisements. The doorbell startled her but, unlike the previous weeks, she rose to answer it immediately.

She stood staring at Andrea for several seconds. She looked different today, she had a black dress on. Another funeral perhaps? Whatever the reason, she looked breath-taking and Haley, remembering her dreams and thoughts for the past few days, could not prevent a vague blush from creeping into her cheeks as she observed her silently. The colour in her face clearly did not go unnoticed by Andrea whose eyes widened but expression gave little away.

"May I come in?" she asked.

Wordlessly Haley stepped back and allowed Andrea entry into her darkened hallway.

She sat down and closed her lap top, she stared at Andrea, waiting. Questions ran through her clouded mind but now that she had Andrea in front of her it was difficult to formulate them. The silence was not awkward, it was more like each of them were challenging the other to be the first to break it. Haley gave in.

"Why are you dressed like that?"

"You don't like it?"

"You look amazing. Are you going somewhere special?"

"Yes, here," she smiled at Haley who lifted her eye-brows. "You said you didn't like my clothes."

"That's not what I said at all." Haley felt ashamed of herself suddenly. Had she really been that rude? "Actually I find it interesting that you don't feel the need to impress people." She was attempting to make up for whatever she'd said but it wasn't sounding good. "Would you like a drink?"


Haley's mind raced; did Andrea really dress like that just for her? How sweet. And she felt the tingling again.


"Yes?" She handed her a glass and sat down.

"I don't want you to feel uncomfortable around me. I wish you wouldn't."

It didn't really help much to know that, she was uncomfortable because she knew so little about Andrea now. There was only one way to remedy it, Haley thought.

"Where have you been for the last 15 years? Where are you living now? Do you have a phone number?" she asked the questions in a rush, she felt a need to get them out of the way before she forgot them again. Andrea smirked at her.

"You want my phone number?" she asked blithely. Then appeared to rethink the playfulness and launched into a tirade of reality while Haley listened. "When we left here we went to Kent then Dover. Other places sometimes. I don't really live anywhere permanently but base myself mostly out of my grandfather's house in Wales. I've spent time travelling around Asia and America. I tend to avoid Europe when I'm not in Wales. I'm sorry, I don't have a phone at present, but I will get one if you want to reach me."

"I want to reach you," Haley said without hesitation. "You don't have a phone? Highly irregular, Andrea."

"Yes," she smiled. "I've always been a bit like that though, haven't I?"

Yes, she had, Haley thought. God, she's beautiful.

"Why do you avoid Europe?"

"Asian people bore me less."

"Have you spent any time in Singapore?"

"None, unfortunately. I like Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong. It would have been strange if we had met up again in Singapore," she said wistfully.

"Till says hello."


"Till. You used to get along well. I thought you said you remembered everything from your time here."

"Same old Haley, always searching for loopholes in stories. You think I'm trying to trick you?"


Andrea nodded as if that was only too understandable.

"Till remembers you anyway. Quite well in fact."

"Been doing some homework on what things used to be like?" She didn't wait for an answer. "I remember Till; brown hair, blue eyes, a little shorter and heavier set than us. Smart, crafty, and jealous of our closeness. She hid it well though, was always good to me. I respected her for that."

If Haley had been trying to trip Andrea up, she was failing, and secretly glad of it. She realized she was interrogating her, but if Andrea didn't want her to feel uncomfortable what more could she expect? Haley suspected that their knowledge about each other was far too unbalanced, she wanted to set it right. Although, in the back of her mind, she knew it wasn't Andrea's fault that Haley's memory was terrible and that she was an innately suspicious person.

"You said you're tired of being alone," she led.

"I am."

"Why aren't you with anyone? You could easily find someone."

"It isn't that simple. There have been people over the years, I suppose it's been the same for you. But as you also know, you can be with someone and still be alone. Perhaps that's how it was with your fiancé?"

"I guess so," Haley sighed heavily. "We looked perfect from the outside, no one could understand why I broke it off, least of all him. We would have made such a disgustingly quaint little family. It made me want to puke." Haley couldn't keep the scowl from her face but Andrea apparently found her description gratifying. "And what would have happened if Joseph hadn't died when he did? I'd probably still be with Kevin. Married with a baby on the way, I'd still be blind," she pondered.

"You shouldn't think like that. Your destiny is falling into place, it's about time. You were never blind, just not ready to follow the path less travelled. At least now you are able to recognize the silver lining, you can see that every terrible thing can have meaning, importance. Your brother would have understood why you left your fiancé."

"And you," Haley returned. "For some reason you understand, though we know almost nothing about each other anymore."

"Surface, all surface and superficial. Deep down you and I will always know each other."

"How can that be? We only shared one year together when we were so young."

"We imprinted on each other. It's simple and yet not easily understood. Do you remember what an actress you were? Always pretending, always lying in one way or another. Very few people were privy to your true self, I believe your brother was one of them, though I never witnessed it first-hand. I was another. At first I didn't know why you chose to show me who you really were, but I was honoured nonetheless, I loved you for it... And I returned the favour."

Haley thought about this in silence for a moment.

"You make me sound like a terrible person," she offered.

"Do I? I don't mean to."

"Why would you want to be friends with such a person?"

"You weren't a terrible person at all. You were a child who didn't know who she was supposed to be. You tried on every different character you could; some of them you wore to give people what they wanted, some to go along with expectation, some to rebel against expectation. You used yourself and others' reactions to you as a subject for experimentation. But there was always a small part of you that remained on the outside, an objective observer of your own behaviour and responses to it. That was the part I was privileged to get to know."

"Then it was inevitable that things would crumble around me. If my reality was really so thin."

"Yes," Andrea said carefully. "You feel lost now because you realize that you have no idea who you are."

She was making so much sense. No wonder she understood Haley's state of mind at present, she remembered everything. Andrea knew Haley better than Haley knew herself. It was shocking. And completely awesome...

"Why did I turn out to be that way?" she asked.

"I don't know. But you shouldn't think of yourself as wrong because of it. You were the most complicated, interesting person I ever met, adult or child, and your lack of direction and talent for subterfuge makes you perfectly suited to..." Andrea trailed off.

"To what?"

"To be one of us." She looked down at her hands as if she hadn't really meant to say so much and a very old, but very familiar feeling came over Haley.

"I must ask you an important question," she ventured.


"Those stories you used to tell me ...about blood-suckers..." But she couldn't complete the question, she no longer knew what she wanted to ask.

"You're remembering." Andrea smiled. "Are you scared?"


"You never were. You were special."

"You said you were one. Born Blood."

"Yes. What else do you remember?"

"You're killers," Haley said, surprising even herself with her directness. "You choose your victims carefully, selecting 'unworthy' lives. It doesn't make you good, but it makes it easier." She paused and studied the woman on her sofa. "When I knew you, you weren't a killer yet. Can I assume you are one now?"

"You still like my stories," Andrea said quietly.

That she had not answered the question didn't go unnoticed by Haley.

"You said one day I would understand..." Haley waited, captivated by her eyes.

"I remember." Her eyes had taken on an excited, glowing quality.

"I suspect your stories were true. That you are what you said you were." Haley felt hypnotized; she was unsure as to the context of their discussion, and no longer felt a need to define it. "You said vampires did their best to fit in, but you don't seem to feel the need."

"I turned out differently than the others," she explained. "My heart was broken, I didn't have much interest in things. They understood that at least, they allowed me my individuality."

"Who are they?"

"My elders. My family."

"Why did you tell me your secrets? Weren't you afraid of what would happen to you?"

Andrea's expression changed, darkened.

"I knew I wasn't supposed to be doing it. But you were different, important. I always knew that. Felt it. And you did what I asked, you never told anyone. You even forgot the stories yourself."

"Until now."

"That's right, until now. I should explain to you why I left when I did. I was overheard talking to you about it. It was unacceptable, after that we couldn't stay. But it was worth it, I wanted you to know."

Haley was shocked to hear this. Andrea had been taken away because of her? Any residual bitterness she felt dissipated immediately.

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