Chapter 1.24 – Less Dead

Warning: This chapter alludes to self-harm and is generally quite dark.

With April not willing to show her ID for fear of being recognised, they’d had to visit a few nightclubs before they found one that would let them in. With its dingy interior and sticky floor it was definitely not the sort of establishment that April was used to dining in.

It hadn’t taken the girls long to lock sights on their targets and while Faith was already on to the hands-on stage, April was taking her time with a charming man named Asif. He had bought her a drink and the two had settled in a corner to get acquainted. The music was so loud that April could barely hear him, but she liked his eyes and she wasn’t here for conversation; he probably wasn’t either.

“You look familiar,” he shouted over the music.

“Oh?”

“Yeah… has anyone ever told you you look a bit like Sandy Moss?”

She faltered. No. No-one had ever told her that.

Her mind fluttered back to a conversation she’d had as a child with her mother.

“Mother, will I be as pretty as you when I grow up?”

Sandy had laughed and replied, “No!”

“Why not?”

“Because that would be rather foolish of me, wouldn’t it?”

She shook her head until she was back in the nightclub.

“Well you do. Although, you know, less dead.”

April tilted her head towards him. “Sorry, less what?”

He laughed, “Never mind, it was a very bad joke. Another drink?”
“What?”

He pointed to her glass.

“Oh, yes please.”

Asif headed towards the bar and April watched him. She wondered if he would taste as sweet as he acted.

“We need to leave.”

April looked confused as Faith grabbed her arm. “What? Why?”

“Now!” Faith hissed and hurried April towards the door.

They were a few streets away when Faith finally stopped dragging April along.

“Faith? What the hell—“

“Your mother’s dead, April. Mel’s texted and called me a dozen times.”

“Oh…”

“Oh? Just oh?”

“Oh dear?” April looked away.

Faith took a step back shaking her head. “You already knew, didn’t you?”

“Um…”

“Oh my god, April. It was you, wasn’t it?”

“Ah…”

“You killed your bloody mother. Wow. When you said ‘sort her out’, you really weren’t kidding.”

April had run out of noises to reply with so she burst into tears.

Faith was quiet for a while listening to April cry. “How did you do it?”

“I drank too much,” April choked around a sob.

“Fucking hell,” Faith almost laughed, “so they’ve found Sandy with two great fang holes in her jugular and you’ve done a runner, leaving both your phones and all your internet search history behind?”

April hadn’t thought of that. She hoped her father had. “My father is taking the blame.”

“Your father,” Faith snorted, her voice dripping sarcasm. “That excellent pillar of strength and cunning. Oh, we’re all safe then.”

“He offered to do it. He has a plan.”

“What plan? What’s he going to say when they ask how he drained all the blood from his wife?”

“I don’t know. He wouldn’t tell me. He thought I was safer that way.”

“Just great.” Faith ran an agitated hand over her braids. “I didn’t sign up for this.”

“We just have to lie low for a while, it’ll be OK, you’ll see. We have all the time in the world to start again, remember?”

Faith didn’t appear to be listening. “Holy shit, I’m your accomplice. I’m going to go to jail. Or they’ll find out what we are and just destroy us. Or both, I mean a life sentence would be forever for us. I can’t believe you’ve done this! What were you thinking? I’m never going to see Joy again.” Faith was pacing. “Why did you even drink from her in the first place?”

“I don’t know!” April blurted out. “I was just defending myself, she attacked me—“

Faith was blunt. “Like how Caleb attacked you?”

April felt like she’d been punched. “He did.”

“Did he, April? Because I’m starting to think that everything you’ve ever told me is a lie.” She turned on her heel and stormed towards the street.

“Where are you going?”

“As far away from you as possible.”

“Please, Faith. Please don’t leave me,” April pleaded as she followed.

April’s sad little girl voice irritated Faith. She turned back and cried, “Stop! Stop with the guilt trip! I’m done. You can keep your money and your empty promises. I’m sick of your games! I’m sick of your face! I hate what you’re turning me into! I’m going home to Joy, while I still can. I’d rather live in poverty than with you.”

“You can’t! We can fix this!”

“Fix it? Don’t you realise what you’ve done?! Your mother was the most famous, most adored woman on the planet and you’ve killed her. Do you think that’s just going to go away? That people will just forget?”

“It’ll blow over—“

“It won’t! For fuck’s sake! Wake up, you stupid girl!” Faith screamed and before she could consider the implications, she’d slapped April across the face, knocking her to the floor.

She paused, staring at her hand that was still hovering in mid-air. April stayed down; her poorly-applied makeup streaming down her face.

Faith took a step towards April, who cowered.

“Oh my god. April, I really shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry—“

“I deserved it,” April said in a small voice.

“You didn’t. There’s never any excuse—“

“I always deserve it,” April whispered. Faith saw the darkness creep across April’s face.
The shadows of Sandy’s control.

Faith suddenly wished that Melinda was there. Melinda always knew what to say to bring April back from the brink of hopelessness.

To bring them both back, she thought, subconsciously grazing her nails over the texture of her wrist.

“Stupid girl. Stupid, ungrateful girl. You deserve it.” April was repeating, quietly to herself.

“No. Oh my god, no.” Faith pulled April to her feet, settled her on a nearby bench, “You never deserved it, OK? Anything she ever did to you. You never, ever deserved it.”

“I did. I’m a bad person. I’m a waste of space.”

“April, no. Listen to me. Your mother was a bad person. You’ve done some bad things. There’s… there’s a difference.”

“I killed her,” April said, her voice had lost its sweet lilt.

Faith grimaced. “Yeah, OK, that’s pretty well at the top of the list on bad things to do. But I doubt you were the only one thinking about doing it. And you didn’t mean to, right?”

“No, I didn’t mean to,” April whispered.

“So, a bad thing, not a bad person.”

“I don’t regret it, though. Should I?”

“I am bad, Faith. I’ve lied to you.”

“I… I know.”

“I’ve lied to everyone.”

“But that’s how you’ve survived. Look, you’re weird and very broken. You could really do with working on your jealousy. But otherwise, you’re OK. We wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.”

“Oh, Faith. I’ve ruined everything.”

Faith sighed, “You didn’t do it by yourself.”

April rested her head against Faith’s shoulder. “What are we going to do? How do we fix it?”

“I honestly don’t think we can. I think there’s only one thing we can really do now; damage limitation.” She pulled back to look at April. “You have to start telling the truth.”

“The truth?”

“Yes, you know the opposite of the lies? We can’t deal with any more lies. This is a complete shitstorm, April. If we’re gonna get through this now we have to be honest with each other.”

“Honest,” April repeated, like it was a new word.

“Yes. We are going back right now and… and you are going to explain everything, to both of us. And then we will sit down together and think of a way out of this mess.”

“But I can’t! Melinda… she will be so angry.”

“She will,” Faith agreed.

“She’ll leave us! Faith, we can’t lose her!”

“I don’t think we have a choice. We have completely fucked her over.” Faith was done sugar-coating. “I think she would have left us anyway, eventually. At least this way, if you explain, your conscience will be clear.”

I’ll live with mine.



“So you didn’t mean to kill her?” Melinda asked, again.

“No,” April said. The honesty like a sweet tab on her tongue. “I didn’t.”

“And you’re letting your father take the blame? Does that not bother you at all?”

“I mean he’s not the strongest of men, but—“

“No, I mean morally? He didn’t do anything wrong!”

Faith huffed, “He never did anything right.

“Shut up, Faith. April, making me a vampire. Was that intentional?”

April winced. “I was thinking about it. But that night you came to mine, Mel, I swear, I didn’t intend to. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know that exchanging so little would turn you, or even that I could turn you being brand new and everything. When I drank from you I didn’t expect you to be quite so… leaky. I thought I’d just instinctively know how to stop the flow, but I didn’t. I panicked and kept thinking how I was going to lose you and that just somehow felt like a normal thing to do.”

“Oh, totally normal, much more normal than just taking me to the hospital. Did the same thing happen with you?” Melinda asked Faith.

Faith squirmed. “No. April told me that she thought she might have turned you and I was sort of jealous.”

“Jealous.”

Faith shrugged. “Vampires are awesome. Eternal life, eternal youth…”

“Seriously? Did either of you actually think this through, even for a second? What did you think we were going to survive on? Did you think we could just carry on life as normal?” Melinda felt like she’d reached the limit of her anger and was coming down the other side of the emotional hill. She collapsed back into her chair.

“I thought the four of us could all run away together, start again…”

“I didn’t want to start again,” Melinda groaned.

“…When I was researching, I found loads of creeps online who would be willingly fed on, so I thought we’d be OK, food-wise.” April said. “Plus, Broof was quite accommodating of my new diet, so I figured we could just hire a butler, or three.”

“Broof?” Faith said, visibly disgusted. “You put your mouth on him? April, your mother has been there.”

“So he knows you’re a vampire?” Melinda asked.

“Well, I couldn’t really hide it from him. There was a huge mess for him to clean up and I had to get him to take you home after you passed out. Plus, I hardly got anything out of you, Mel, before you started freaking out. I wasn’t going to lap your blood off the bathroom floor. I have standards. I had to drink something and Broof is duty-bound to serve me.”

“How was he?” Faith asked.

“He tasted quite good, actually. Much better than Mother did.”

“Wait,” Melinda sat up. “You said the four of us. Is Broof the fourth?”

“No. Caleb is, of course,” April replied.

Faith burst out laughing. “You thought he would just up and run away with us? A centuries old vamp and three random teenagers?”

“Yes.”

“Why would you think that?” Melinda asked over the sound of Faith’s laughing.

April folded her arms around herself, a desperate attempt to hold herself together. “I said he could he drink but only if he stayed with me. And he drank, so…”

“Oh, you naive thing.” Faith sighed, composing herself.

“Did you threaten to tell the media about him unless he turned you?” Melinda asked, remembering Caleb’s version of events.

“No… where did you get that idea? Mother was already upset with me for ruining dinner. She would’ve killed me if I’d done that.”

“So… how did you convince him to turn you?” Melinda asked.

April covered her eyes.

She could see the piano warping before her, she could feel the sharp pain in her neck, his hands on her. She remembered words. Soft words, nonsense words…

“Did you ask him to?” Faith enquired.

“Yes, I think so. I was pretty light-headed by the time he’d finished drinking, though. It’s all really fuzzy.”

“Why would you ask?” Melinda coaxed, gently.

April tried to piece together her memories. In her mind, she could hear him laughing at her.

No, I can’t do that. What the heck’s wrong with you?

“I don’t know,” she replied to them both.

21 thoughts on “Chapter 1.24 – Less Dead

  1. Thank you, Melinda, for pointing out what I was thinking – how does noone have a problem with poor Travis going to jail for something he didn’t do?

    We of course already knew that April jas a distorted self-image and low self-worth. I’m wondering if that’s what inhibits her compassion too – she doesn’t think highly of herself, or of others. But being compassionate is difficult when you hate yourself the way she does.

    I kept going between liking and disliking Faith in the chapter, but in any case her reactions were very raw and believable. She’s a really interesting character. Rough around the edges but with a soft side too.

    So that’s how things went down (and how April sustained herself) even though we still don’t quite have a full picture. But it’s good the girls are finally talking and being honest with each for a change. Huge milestone for them, even though it took all this to get there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For sure her image of herself would impact how she treated those around her. Got to love yourself first…

      Faith is very complicated. She’s probably feeling the same way about herself as you are about her.

      Indeed. But can they sustain it and is it enough to keep them together?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems that April has spun itself into a thick web of lies and self-deception, but the truth always comes out in the end.
    I liked this chapter even though the tone is gloomy. We get to know both Faith and April a little better.
    I love the description of Faith’s temperament and underlying empathy.
    April is a creepy cocktail mix of pampering and neglect ….but she cannot escape taking responsibility for the rest of her eternal life.
    Now I’m excited about when Caleb shows up and what it all means to him?
    Will Broof keep the secret?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “A creepy cocktail mix of pampering and neglect” made me lol – that is a perfect description of April.

      Caleb will be back soon and I’m sure he will indulge you.

      That’s the crucial question, isn’t it? April is relying a lot on two men who have previously, it could be argued, let her down tremendously.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. NB: How to become herself to itself?
    Is that correct speech or is it just another google translate nonsense?

    Like

  4. I think this is a prime example of one too many lies told by our darling April. Even with her crying and breaking down and Faith having to patch her back together and her finally coming clean to Melinda… I still don’t trust her words. That’s probably on me just as much as her, but there’s still so many questions that she’s glossing over.

    And it’s chilling to me that neither Faith nor April cares about the fact that an innocent man is now in jail for a crime that he did not commit. Yes, he was a terrible father. But I honestly wonder if April thought about him even once after escaping. I have the sneaking suspicion that she hasn’t.

    April foolishly believing that Caleb would stay with her because he promised… oof. Big oof. Huge oof. Honey. You’re lacking some sorely needed life lessons. >.<

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is April’s first attempt at honesty, maybe she’ll get better at it.

      She probably hasn’t between satisfying her blood-lust and covering her tracks. And Faith just hates everyone.

      Indeed. Question is, will she learn those lessons the hard way or the very hard way?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh man, I don’t know who to believe. I am convinced both Faith and April are unreliable narrators, so I take everything they say with a grain of salt. Maybe I’m just overly suspicious.

    April is extremely manipulative. At first, I thought that her breakdown was an act to get Faith on her good side. I really don’t trust April, I think she might be more conniving than she lets on and plays the but-I-didn’t-mean-to-cue-pouty-face card. Her mother was an actress, so she could have learned some things from her. And I could be totally wrong on this, and maybe I’m just being heartless and unsympathetic to April. I still like her as a character, even though she’s manipulative and broken (I love me some flawed characters).

    Also, the comment that Faith makes at the end about living with her conscience. She’s also not telling the whole truth and I have a theory on what might be going on but don’t want to say in case it spoils something. It could also be totally wrong, but I do like to speculate. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whenever you feel the need, feel free to speculate away. I am thick-skinned against the regular beatings I receive with the so-called speculation stick. I’ll just have a beer and nod and not say anything.

      It’s for sure hard to believe someone who doesn’t even know what to make of herself; your feelings about April are totally valid. And Faith… well, she’s as deep as the ocean who knows what’s going on in her head. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Honestly, Travis, just get in jail. You’re on my trash list along with Caleb.

    This chapter was really fantastic. Dark, but fantastic. The way April snapped? The way Faith dropped her anger enough to see her friend(?) was in real pain? The confessing to each other both mistakes and dark impulses? Loved it.

    So much of being a teenager is performing. Even if it came with a lot of pain, the fact that they stopped performing to each other for a moment was really nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And here we have 10 more points for Mel for probably being the only one with (teen appropriate) brains and empathy, and two more head shakes for each Faith and April 😏

    Like

  8. Alright, so. First hard lol at “less dead.” Because, well… yeah. April´s /slightly/ less dead, for sure.

    Then, I´m really starting to wonder and speculate about Faith´s past because, oh dear. The way she learned about what April did and started thinking first about the evidence she left behind… in a way it´s immensely helpful to have someone that practical on the team. But at the same time you got to wonder how she got to this point, this young. I bet there´s some really big, really dark secrets there. Faith´s broken, but at the same time still extremely functional. Gotta say, all my respect, girl.
    Also, I worry about her even more because of Joy. This is going to be horribly hard on her. Because it´s either never see her sister again, or watch her grow old while Faith stays unchanged. I think she might need to think really long and hard about that some day soon, but not now. Now, they have tons of other stuff on their plate. But really, there´s no good option here and it really depends only on Faith and what will be at least a little less painful for her.

    Another little detail that gets me thinking is this – April and her jealousy. It´s kind of natural for a girl who never really had anyone to be horribly jealous when she does feel like she might finally have someone close. But maybe there´s more to it than that. She expecting Caleb to stay around sounds naive, from a human´s perspective, yes. But he is her master. Wasn´t it expected of him to stay around and teach her? As Lilith said, turning someone should be a big deal. He /should/ have been there, right?
    And the same goes for April herself and the girls. She is their master. I wouldn´t be surprised if she feels all protective of them, all of a sudden and doesn´t even know why. And doesn´t have a clue how to keep them together and safe, which is only making her more desperate. And on top of all that, there´s this old, high-and-mighty vampiress who just tries to take them all under her wing even though they are her nothing. Oh, dear.

    Finally, love the fact Faith /did/ want to be a vampire. Probably a part of why she´s handling it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ever so slightly less dead is still less dead, lol.

      Faith has a number of secrets, for sure. All of those options you mention re: Joy are painful, true, but perhaps there is another.

      You may just be on to something (you know you are, humour me 😆). Especially as we didn’t see April act particularly jealously pre-vampire. Swapping blood has to create some sort of bind between them all, right? Turning someone *is* a big deal, after all. Haha! I see you had to get a little Lilith dig in there. Gah! I so can’t wait for you to catch up so we can all debate live; it’s gonna be so much fun! 😁

      Faith definitely wanted to be a vampire. Whether it’s ‘living’ up to her expectations remains to be seen.

      Like

      1. True, true.

        *big grin* Oh, of course, there is another. /Some/ might discourage it strongly and frankly, I don´t think it´s ideal either on the “drawing no attention” front… but yeah. I´m starting to really like Faith and I think she´s had enough stuff going on as is, so you wouldn´t hear me arguing against it.

        (Do I though? I stopped reading ahead the moment I started commenting, so if there´s something in the newest chapters, I haven´t been there yet. So as far as the bond between April and the other girls goes, it /is/ mostly just speculation on my part.)
        I do expect the blood bond to have /some/ sort of effect, yes. And oh, *dramatic gesture* you wound me. 😀 I actually meant to give Lilith credit at least where I can, the opportunities are scarce enough as is. She had been right for once here, and I´ve got no problem admitting that.
        Tee-hee, I´m workin´ on it. :DD

        Mmmm, even if it isn´t, hopefully that could change.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “as far as the bond between April and the other girls” -no, we’re good. I was only on about the events of book one. This is like trying to avoid landmines isn’t it? 🤣

          Like

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