He wouldn’t hear otherwise.
Travis didn’t understand exactly what April had done to her mother or how she had managed it, so he didn’t ask. He knew that he couldn’t hear about April’s guilt if he was to be able to convince someone of his. He was a terrible lawyer, after all.
The pair had managed to roll Sandy up in the very expensive rug and Travis had formulated a plan. He thought it best that April leave town for a while – she did not have her mother’s acting prowess and he couldn’t risk her being in the picture with her guilty face as he was arrested. She did have a tendency to blurt things out. He gave her the address of his elderly aunt, Marjorie and April was to leave tonight. Travis would then wait as long as he possibly could before he eventually confessed to Sandy’s murder.
April thought this plan had a few holes, but what did she know about great plans? She headed back up to her room to pack.
“I’m so glad to see you, I was just going to call you.” Melinda had gushed as she opened the door to Faith. “I need to tell you something and it’s going to sound so crazy-“
“April has turned you into a vampire? Yes, me too.”
“What? When? How is this even possible?” This was just a really bad dream, she’d wake up soon. “Wait, you let her feed from you?”
Faith paused. “We traded.”
“For what?” Melinda thought for a moment. “Money?”
Faith shook her head, frustrated with herself. “She wants to see me, urgently apparently.”
“Why? Are you, like, her dial-a-dinner?”
Faith scoffed. “Well she can hardly feast off me now can she? Look, I don’t think she has a clue what she’s doing, Mel. Less so than usual and now she’s undead and has a taste for blood. She’s a car crash waiting to happen. Get your jacket.”
“I’m not going.”
“Yes you bloody are. I’m not doing this without you.”
The two had travelled to the perimeter of April’s estate, scaled the wall behind the house and made their way to the service entrance, a route well trodden by them over the years.
April was waiting for them outside along with a large trunk and a few suitcases.
Faith scowled, “There had better not be a body in there April.”
April didn’t react, her face was pale in the moonlight, her voice so quiet they strained to hear her over the wind. “I attacked my mother and I’m leaving. Right now.”
“You attacked your mother?” Melinda gasped, “Are you OK? Is she?”
“No. I just can’t seem to control myself. The thirst is just… something else.” She glanced at Broof who had arrived to dutifully take April to the train station and was looking between the car and all her bags with some confusion. She carried on in a hushed whisper, “Judging by the fact I can’t detect a pulse in either of you, it’s probably only a matter of time before you’re out of control too.”
“You think I’d attack my mum?” Melinda said incredulous, then remembered that she almost had.
“Or worse.” April looked at Faith. “You could hurt Joy. We all know how easily you can fly off the handle.”
Faith, for once, didn’t reply.
“So what are we going to do?” Melinda asked, still feeling ten levels of numb.
April shook her head. “I really don’t know. Father says I can stay with an aunt until this thing blows over. Maybe you should come with me.”
As much as neither Melinda or Faith wanted to leave their families, the alternative just didn’t bear thinking about. They all agreed that they needed to get as far as they could from anyone they loved. Marjorie’s seemed like as good a place as any to start.
The train was deserted except for the three girls.
They travelled in silence, each consumed by their own thoughts. Melinda stared out of the window, watching the darkness whizz by. She glanced at her phone to see a dozen missed calls and messages from her mother in response to the note she had left.
Faith found herself irritated by the constant pinging coming from Melinda’s pocket. Her own phone had been silent since she’d left. Although she didn’t know what she was really expecting. Her mother had always told her that she took after her father; perhaps she had known that Faith would abandon her, too.
She’d barely had chance to pack anything in the five minutes that April had waited outside her house on the way to the train station, let alone adequately explain to her mother where she was going or why. Thankfully, Joy was at a sleepover and didn’t have to witness anyone else walking out on her.
She thought of Joy’s little face and her heart, or whatever was left in its place, sank. She really hoped she was doing the right thing.
It had taken hours but they had finally arrived at the address on Travis’s note. It had not been easy to find – one very long, very silent train journey, a short hitch-hike to a shady-looking bar and then a trek from the main road down an overgrown path through dense woodland. It was made all the harder by the massive trunk April had packed. If it wasn’t for Melinda’s navigation apps they’d surely be wolf food by now.
“This place looks like something from a horror movie.”
April walked up to the front door, ignoring Faith’s description of her great-aunt’s house. She had never visited this place before. Sandy didn’t really have time for distant family members, especially not Travis’s. She knocked.
“It doesn’t look like anyone’s home. Or they don’t want to answer because, y’know, it’s dark and terrifying out here,” Melinda offered, trembling.
April sighed, looking around at the overgrown garden. It didn’t look like anyone even lived here.
“Try calling your dad.” Melinda suggested.
“I can’t. I haven’t brought either of my phones. You know that mother will track me,” April choked around the lie.
“So what do we do?”
April didn’t know. She wasn’t used to making decisions. She sank down in despair against the door and startled as it gave way behind her.
Was it breaking in if she was related?
The three of them wandered inside the pitch black house. April walked around the living room inspecting the dusty furniture. Melinda ventured over to an end table illuminating it with the light from her phone.
April nearly jumped out of her skin as Melinda gasped, “Oh my gosh! She’s dead!”
Had news travelled that fast?
Melinda was scanning a piece of paper. “‘Enquiry about the ownership of the house following the death of Ms. Marjorie Davies.'” She read the page a little further. “Wow, this letter is three years old. Doesn’t your dad know his aunt has died? Did he not call ahead?”
“Clearly not,” April sighed, rapidly losing what little confidence she had in her father’s ability to form a cohesive plan. She walked over to the fireplace and ran her finger through the inch thick dust on the mantle.
Faith was fumbling with something on the wall and then the room filled with light. It only made it marginally less creepy.
“Home sweet home,” April said brightly, as spiders scurried away for cover all around her and something fluttered upstairs. “So… what shall we do first? Choose rooms? Unpack? Perhaps watch a movie? It’d be a great place to watch something really spooky.”
“Nah, let’s go to the pool, I quite fancy a swim and a mojito,” Faith said sarcastically. “We’re not on bloody holiday, April!”
“Right.” April conceded.
“Ugh. You weren’t wrong about this thirst.” Faith pressed her hands to her face. “I’m parched.”
Melinda could feel her insides tighten at Faith’s words. “We didn’t buy any food! Do you think there’s any food here?”
April shook her head, her words heavy. “Probably nothing we can survive on.”
“Oh right.” Melinda looked like she was going to cry. “I can’t… how will I? Blood, I mean…” She turned green.
“I hear you. I’m going to need something, though.” Faith murmured.
“You get over it. The ick part I mean, the thirst just rages on,” April said. “I guess we could head to that bar we passed on the way down here? Might find something suitable there. Or rather… someone.”
Faith nodded and so, reluctantly, did Melinda, although she’d never been less sure of anything.