"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."
"Carlisle!" My father, Christopher Cullen, hollered as he walked through the door of our small home. His footsteps were heavy, his cane making the most noise as he shuffled towards me. My father was growing weaker with age, he refused to admit this, but anyone could see it.
He lead hunts through the small English village we resided in and forest surrounding our homes, with a group of men from the village and fellow pastors he knew. They searched all night long, once every three days, for vampires, werewolves or witches. Anyone they could condemn as 'evil' and burn in front of everyone.
My father taught me from the age of five that creatures such as the ones they hunted were the work of the devil. They were placed on earth to do his bidding, to cause pain and suffering, and were dammed to spend eternity condemned in hell for what they are. Eighteen years later, and my father continues to teach me these things. My mother died giving birth to me, and my father raised me alone, so I had no one else to turn to and ask questions or doubt his teachings.
I spent most of my time inside, reading. My father home-schooled me until I was eighteen, when I began teaching myself and extending my education. Rather than being outside, working or finding myself a woman to settle down with and have children, like my father wanted me to do, I spent the days reading, studying, trying to better myself and trying to squeeze as much knowledge from the world around me as I could during my time alive.
"Get your head out of that book, boy!" He shouted, hitting me around the head with his cane. The wooden rod made sharp contact with my skull, sending a sharp jolt of pain through my head and making my brain rattle. "You're leading the hunts tonight."
"Father, I honestly don't think that's the best idea." I replied, he knew my thoughts on hunting innocents and labelling them as 'guilty'.
"I didn't ask your opinion," He replied curtly. "You're twenty three years old now, Carlisle. It's time you played your part in society. When I die, someone has to take over protecting our town, and that someone is you, so start looking forward to the idea or you're going to lead a very lowly life. I'm going to take you out to the town square later on tonight; Timothy will show you what to do."
I merely replied with a nod, there was no use in arguing with my father. He was an old and powerful voice among the whispers of the town people. When my father's time comes and he passes on, I will be forced to take over his role in society, though his job is one I certainly would not wish to participate in. Helping people was my passion; I longed to become a doctor, to help people and to be able to save lives, though my dreams were farfetched.
I retired to my room for a while. The hunts take all night, from eight PM, when the sun sets, until six AM, when the sun returns and there was no time for sleeping. Anyone caught sleeping on the job would be shot in the foot to wake them up.
As I laid down and closed my eyes, listening to the noises of the busy people on the square outside. Children laughing as they played in the summer weather, woman chatting about their busy lives and men, eagerly talking about the hunt later on tonight, I began to dream.
My dream was clouded at first, different pictures playing through my mind, voices talking to me and other people, before it changed. The clouds, almost fog like, clouded my vision, before a figure stepped out of the mist.
She was small, slender with a pale face and dark eyes. Her soft brown hair framed her heart shaped face, giving her a very innocent and beautiful appearance. At first I only stared, my light blue eyes captured by her dark ones, but then I realised how rude I was being, even if she was only a pigment of my imagination, I shouldn't forget my manners in front of a lady. I bowed and took her hand in mine, placing a kiss on the back of it.
"Carlisle," She said softly, her voice as sweet as honey. "Be safe."
I raised my eyebrows questioningly, not completely understanding what she was saying.
"Whatever happens tonight is meant to be." She whispered before disappearing.
I woke to the sound of my father knocking very loudly on my door. The dream I'd had left me tossing and turning on my bed to the point that my hair stood on ends. The woman's words chilled me to my bones.
Was that foreshadowing how the hunt would go...?
I shook my head free of the silly thoughts and smoothed my hair until it looked presentable; it was a dream and nothing more. Dwelling on dreams could lead people down mad paths, as I had observed from some of the locals in town who had lost their minds to imaginary people they could 'see' and 'speak with'.
Another loud knock to my door had me slipping my shoes back on and leaving the sanctity of my room. It would do me no good to leave my father waiting any longer; as agitated as he was naturally, his impatience was famous amongst the other pastors.
We walked in silence, through the dusty mud roads to the centre of town. I didn't try and converse with my father; we had so little to talk about. Occasionally he'd bring up some advise on the hunt tonight, or make an observation that he thought they were close to catching 'the beast' but he dropped his side of things when I merely nodded politely in turn. We continued on in silence until our feet hit the cobbled stones of the town centre.
The sun was setting, throwing light rays across the square and the statue of our town's founder, Clarence Reynolds.
"Men!" Timothy called, stepping on the base of the statue, his pitchfork high. "Tonight we capture a beast!" Hearing this, the men cheered loudly, waving their pitchforks and torches towards the sky. "For tonight, although Christopher Cullen steps down as our leader, his son and heir, Carlisle, will be leading us to victory!"
I was passed through the crowd, men patting me on the back and giving me looks of admiration until I was hoisted up next to Timothy. The men stared at me expectantly, twenty faces waiting for me to say something.
I stared at them for a moment before my father gave me a stern look from the back of the crowd. They were waiting on me to say something, and I could tell they wouldn't appreciate a lecture on how all of this was wrong and mislead. So I did what I had to do... I picked a pitchfork up and held it high, as Timothy had done so before me. "Let's go kill the creatures!" The men cheered enthusiastically, gaining volume as Timothy and I led them into the woods.
"Your father confided in me with your feelings of the hunt," Timothy whispered as the men followed, chanting and waving goodbye to their families. "Just know, son. Out here, its kill or be killed."
As we travelled further into the now dark forest, the men quietened. The only sound was the rustling trees, and the deep breathing and heavy footsteps of the hunters following.
"What's that?" I whispered to Timothy, seeing something dripping down from a tree into the ground.
"Sewage system but everyone knows vampires live in the tallest trees." He replied, gesturing the men forward.
I looked into the hole in the earth, and heard dashing feet across the water below, too fast to be a mere human. "Listen!" I hissed quietly, causing the men to step around the hole and crouch down.
Before anyone had a chance to step away from the hole, figures, faster than lightening, leapt from the ground and began attacking the men. Some retreated and ran back towards the village. Some fought back, but their bodies fell to the floor before they had a chance to do any damage.
Before I could turn and join the men, I felt something push me to the ground. A pale face stared down at mine, cold, dark eyes locked with my blue ones. I was reminded of the girl from my dream before his face disappeared, sharp spikes pierced my neck and the weight of the creature was gone.
Had I been stabbed? The searing pain through my neck lead me to believe I had been, but when I brought my hand up I felt only grooves from sharp teeth under the pads of my fingers.
I wanted to scream out in agony, but some men were still fleeing, if they knew I was bitten but not dead they'd shoot me anyway. Once my surroundings were silent, although the pain was spreading and I was bleeding heavily, I managed to crawl away and found a nearby Potato cellar on the outskirts of town, to hide myself in.
As I lay among the vegetables, I felt a burning sensation in my chest, spreading through my veins slowly. The heat grew hotter, too hot, until I couldn't help it anymore and screamed out once, just once, in agony.