"I am about to hurl," said Karl. "How long have they been standing there?"
Essie looked at the silver watch on her hand. "Just over half an hour."
Their gazes were brought back to Merrill and Drew. They were still in each other's arms, kissing as if tomorrow would never come.
"Didn't anyone teach you that it's impolite to stare, or does that not apply to royalty?"
Essie turned around to see no one other than Marty standing on the steps.
"Shut up Marty," snapped Karl.
"Why don't you make me?" retorted Marty. He moved toward Karl and they started a hissing match. Essie immediately made them stop and began to lecture on how stupid they were being.
No one noticed that Drew and Merrill had snapped back to reality.
Merrill had her arms around Drew's shoulders as he held her waist. They swayed to the music that was never there.
Drew couldn't help but smile. He had searched and searched all his life. And here she was, safe in his arms.
Drew spun Merrill around as they began a formal waltz. Drew took them to the roof of the school and they danced under the moonlight.
As Merrill pulled close to Drew, she whispered in his ear, "Drew, you are my One."
Drew looked in Merrill's eyes as she lay before him like a book. He read her past, he read her soul.
And he kissed her. At that moment, the stars lost their fire and the moon became a white dot in the sky for Drew knew that he could not say it back to her. He knew that something was off. Something did not feel right.
Merrill felt it too, but she pushed it away. Finally, something had gone her way.
They realized that the others would be getting worried at their disappearance, so they walked hand in hand back downstairs.
Drew's gaze never left Merrill's as they walked down the stone steps.
"Where the hell were you?" yelled Essie. "We thought that you kissed each other to death."
The love struck vampires didn't answer.
Karl walked up to them with a somber look. "Sorry, you two but it'll be sun up soon and Murdoch wants us in our coffins." And he left them to say their goodbyes.
Essie hurriedly got in her coffin as Karl opened the lid to his.
"Alas, we say good bye," said Drew.
"Not goodbye but good morning, my love," corrected Merrill.
They kissed one final time before they went their separate ways to their coffins.
"Marty, I normally, wouldn't do this, but I need a favor."
Merrill was sitting in a chair, looking serious.
Marty put down his book and pushed his chair over to Merrill.
"What do you need?"
"Lately, Drew has been acting strangely. He constantly kisses me when I tell him I love him. He seems to be going off alone a lot too." Merrill looked over her shoulder to see that no one was around.
"Look, Merrill. If you need help with some girly stuff, go to Essie.
"NO! That's not what I need. If you can throw Essie's power, then you can throw mine. Drew is in the library right now. I need you to throw me there."
Marty stood up and walked back and forth between the chair and the wall.
"So you," he pointed to Merrill, "need help from me. You knew this question was coming. What do I get out of it?"
Merrill looked directly at Marty. "Half of my blood allotment tomorrow. But only if you don't screw this up!"
Marty looked at Merrill. "Half a blood allotment? Deal."
"We need to do this as quickly as possible before Drew leaves the library." Merrill took Marty's hand and they closed their eyes.
Pain ripped through Merrill's body as she was thrown to the library. It felt like she had been thrown against a wall. She was disoriented at first but then she found Drew and began to read.
She followed him up the stairs and down the halls. She had been down this path before. She knew exactly where he was going, Sherry's room. She saw him looking down at her, she saw him caress her cheek as she slept peacefully. She shivered at his cold touch. He bent down and whispered, "I love you Sherry."
At that moment, the pain was too much for Merrill to take. A combination of a broken heart and physical pain that she still felt were unbearable. She let go of Marty's hand and found herself back in the wine cellar. Merrill was dizzy. The room began to spin wildly.
Marty, unhurt from the ordeal, looked at Merrill with concern. "Merrill? You okay?"
The last thing Merrill uttered before she fell was, "I thought we would be together forever."
Marty caught Merrill before she hit the ground. "Merrill? Merrill?" Marty gently shoke her. "Merrill?"
Karl came down the stairs and ran towards Marty and Merrill.
"Marty, man! What the hell did you do?"
"Nothing. We were practicing something for class and she just looked really weak and then she fell." Marty couldn't help but feel responsible for what happened so he kept Merrill's secret.
"Go get Murdoch and Essie, Karl. Quickly."
Karl left running. "Drew?" Merrill uttered.
"Two timing bastard," Marty replied.
Dr. Murdoch came running in the room. "Marty, what happened?"
"We were working on something for class. Merrill wanted me to throw her powers to see if it would work, so I did and when it worked, she got all weak and fainted."
Dr. Murdoch looked over Merrill's body. He did not have to check her pulse as she did not have one, but the strange markings on her left hand were getting steadily darker.
"Will she be okay?"
"I have no way of knowing, Marty. Help me get her in Essie's coffin."
Marty picked Merrill up and laid her on the red satin.
Merrill's v-neck shirt revealed the same strange markings on her skin around her heart.
Dr. Murdoch looked at the wounds and knew exactly what was wrong.
Essie came in the room with Karl at her side.
"Oh my God. Merrill!" Essie took Merrill's hand into her own and noticed the bruises. She looked at Merrill's chest. Her panicked eyes looked at Dr. Murdoch's and he nodded. Essie shed a bloody tear.
"What is it, Dr. Murdoch?" asked Karl.
"I had better go find Drew. Essie you explain it to them," said Dr. Murdoch. He quickly left the room.
Essie looked down at Merrill and began to cry, "Poor girl."
"Essie, what is it?" asked Karl, growing impatient.
Essie released Merrill's hand and wiped the tears away from her face. "Merrill is suffering from a broken heart. When your One loves another, you suffer greatly. The wounds around her heart are proof. And on her left hand, where the wedding ring normally goes, that's the vein that leads to the heart, there are bruises there too."
Karl and Marty looked at Merrill's frail body.
"And the worst part is, a broken heart is like a death sentence. Very few cases in vampire history state a vampire living after having their heart broken," said Essie. She looked over her shoulder at her friend and began to sob. She had lost so many friends that way.
Karl held Essie as she cried.
Marty was stunned. How could he have agreed to do that? This is all my fault, he thought
Drew clumped down the stairs.
Essie looked over Karl's shoulder and stopped crying. She immediately vamped and threw Karl to the wall. She grabbed Drew's throat and held him up in the air.
"Whoa, Essie!" said Karl as he got up.
"No!" yelled Marty. "Let the bastard pay for what he did."
Karl spun around and looked at Marty.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Okay, so I lied. Merrill came to me for help. She wanted to read Drew's thoughts cause she thought he was acting weird. I threw her powers to Drew. And she found out that he had been doing a little mind traveling too. All the way to Sherry's room. Where he whispers I love you to the mortal bitch." Marty had heard and seen everything as he witnessed what Merrill had witnessed.
Drew looked confused as well as panicked.
Essie tightened her grip. "You fucking bastard. You will burn in hell once I stake you."
"Essie, let him go!"
Dr. Murdoch was back in the room.
Essie lowered Drew slowly back down to the cement ground. He moved his neck as if he were uncomfortable. "Now please tell me what in hell is going on that Essie would go insane?" He looked in the eyes of all his "friends". Their eyes were as cold as the stone behind them.
"Drew, I think you should come with me," said Dr. Murdoch. He led Drew to the coffin were Merrill lay. Her bruises were blood red.
"Merrill!" said Drew alarmed at the sight. He reached out to touch her, but Dr. Murdoch stopped him.
"Don't touch her Drew, it will only make things worse."
Essie came over to Merrill and touched her forehead with a cool hand. "Dr. Murdoch, she's burning up."
"Why does Essie get to touch her?" asked Drew, looking at Merrill's pale face.
"Because you are the one who started this," replied Dr. Murdoch.
Drew looked at Dr. Murdoch in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding."
"Unfortunately Drew, I'm not."
Drew looked at the others in the room. They looked away except for Marty who stared right at Drew with a look of disgust.
"You did this to her, man. You broke her heart. She came to me asking for help. To let her see what was wrong with you. She knew something was up. So I did her a favor. I ended up killing her." Marty looked away, with bloody eyes. Although he and Merrill never really got along, he knew that she was the only one who accepted him for what he was.
Karl looked at Drew. "We have a lot to tell you, man."
"Let's all step into my office then and discuss this," suggested Dr. Murdoch.
"What about Merrill?" said Marty.
"She'll be fine," said Dr. Murdoch. And they all went into his office. As they talked and explained to Drew what happened, Merrill's pupils began to move madly.
Sherry, Drew, kiss, love, pain, death, run.
Merrill's eyes shot open. She was weak but she knew she couldn't stay at Mansbridge with Drew there. Stumbling around for a few minutes, she found the secret exit. Behind the wine barrels was an opening small enough to only fit her. She threw the barrels away and crawled through the shaft. She could smell the dew on the grass and knew soon she would be home free. Merrill found the opening on the side of the school and wiggled out. She took one final look at Mansbridge, the one place that she felt safe and ran. The trees were a blur as she swiftly cascaded past.
Marty had to get away from Drew. Just the sight of him made him want to kick his ass. He went to check up on Merrill but she was gone.
"Oh shit," he said and ran up to see Dr. Murdoch.
"Nick, what the fuck are you doing?" asked Sherry.
"I'm getting in the car."
"The hell you are. You're drunk. Give me the keys."
Sherry held out her hand. Music from the carnival could still be heard in the parking lot.
"I am not letting you drive my car," replied Nick with a slur. "Now come on. We have to get back to Mansbridge before the Doc gets pissed.
They all piled into the Civic as Nick put the keys into the ignition.
"Hey Sherry, do you think this is safe?" whispered Mimi.
"Nick isn't that drunk. He can handle his alcohol."
They drove down the silent, black road. Trees zoomed by and Sherry had an eerie feeling, like something was about to happen.
Just then, a flash of headlights drowned out every sight as the screams penetrated the air. The truck swerved and hit the small automobile.
Merrill slowed down as she saw that the trees had gotten much taller. It'll be sunrise soon. I have to find a place to stay for the night. A cemetery, anywhere. she thought.
"What do you mean she's not there?" yelled Dr. Murdoch.
"I mean, she's not there! Not in the coffin! Gone!" Marty yelled back.
The phone rang.
Dr. Murdoch looked at Marty as he picked it up.
He stared at his desk without uttering a word. A gasp escaped his lips and his eyes lost their shine.
"Thank you. I'll be right down."
He hung up.
"Was it about Merrill?" asked Essie.
"No, it was the coroner. Apparently, three of my students are dead. Sherry Woods, Nick McAllister and Mimi Sperling. Nick decided to drive home drunk. A truck hit them. I have to get down to the morgue to identify the bodies. I am leaving you to find Merrill before sunrise." And with that, he got up and left.
"Sherry's dead?" said Drew. "No, that is impossible. Sherry cannot be dead!" He traveled to the scene of the accident. A car rammed by a truck into a tree trunk. Broken glass, blood, and body bags. Drew's mouth began to water at the smell of the red liquid splattered on the ground. "She's really gone."
"Wait a fucking minute here," said Marty. "If his beloved Sherry is dead, then why isn't he covered with bruises?"
"Marty has a point," agreed Essie.
"What does that mean?" snapped Drew.
"If Sherry is dead, then you should be dead too. When a vampire finds their One, they live and die together."
"That means Sherry is not your One."
Drew refused to believe it. "Don't you dare say that! She is my One and will always be!"
"Then why are you still standing here?" said Marty.
"You guys, we only have about three hours before the sun rises or Merrill is toast," informed Karl, looking for his watch. "I have no idea what you guys are going to do, but I'm going out there to look for her." And with that, he jumped out of an open window and landed on his feet. He ran toward the woods.
Karl ran with all his might, tracing Merrill's scent in the air.
"MERRILL!" he cried.
The distant echoes of a voice disturbed Merrill's thoughts. Who could that be? The voice shouted again. Merrill recognized the mere two syllables. Karl!
The voice was louder, meaning he was closer.
I'm driving through the night,
I'm driving through the rain.
The engine roars.
I'm on my way for Mr. Pain.
My eyes keep seeing
What my mind wants to forget.
Those sequences they rock and roll
Inside my head.
Merrill stopped out of sheer exhaustion. The pain in her chest was too much to bear. If the sun didn't kill her first, her heart would.
"What are we going to do?" said Marty.
Essie was pacing in a corner. "I have an idea but it may be dangerous. We'll have to fuse our powers together to get Merrill to come back before sunrise. Do you think we can do it?"
"I'm in," said Marty.
Drew stared at the wall. She's gone. A bloody tear slid down his cheek.
"That had better be a tear for Merrill or I will rip your throat out," threatened Essie.
Drew looked at her, seeing how serious she was. "I'm in. What do you want me to do?"
The chase was on. Karl heard the cracking of leaves and twigs up ahead and he ran.
Over and over and over again.
I concentrate harder and harder and then
You are just an image
That I can't see
You are not for real
You are not for real.
Merrill could feel that Karl was getting closer by the minute as the distance between them got shorter and shorter. And she thought about surrendering, going back. Back to Mansbridge, back to Drew, back to heartache.
You turn into a picture of somebody.
Someone I don't know
Someone I don't feel.
Essie, Marty and Drew held hands as they stood in the center of the room.
"Drew, travel to Karl, find him," commanded Essie. They were all struck by pain. The forces were unhappy and they were going to show it. But they endured.
The three vampires sailed across the forest until they came upon a clear area where Karl stood, sniffing the air.
"Marty, throw my power to Karl."
Marty did as Essie said.
Karl, follow us. We will lead you to Merrill.
Karl obeyed as he ran with all his might, following his friends.
The wolves cry out tonight
I see your broken line.
Merrill could see an image approaching her very quickly. She could also feel heat from the horizon. And the pain in her chest was unbearable. A knife stabbed her in the back.
At that exact moment, Drew fell to his knees screaming.
"OH GOD! IT HURTS!"
But he held onto Essie's hand.
The sun will rise,
without a love, without a smile.
I always think about
the way you had to leave.
I close my eyes
Cause I was with you by that time.
Merrill felt heat against her back. The SUN! Another shot was taken at her back. Like bullets and knives. Her stomach was roaring with hunger. Bruises oozed blood. Merrill clung to her stomach and to life or what she had left of it.
Drew let out a scream. "WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?" There were red bruises on his hand. And his stomach was killing him.
"Oh no!" said Essie. "It's Merrill, she's dying."
Faster and faster and faster ahead.
As if you were waiting for me
down the way.
Karl came to Merrill but Essie sent him a message. "Stop! Don't go near her. I have to talk to her."
"Merrill, come back to us. You're not safe. You have only an hour before the sun rises."
Merrill heard a scream in the background.
"Merrill, it's Drew."
Drew looked down at his hand that oozed red blood. Drew cried for fear and for confusion. Like an innocent child that was dying, he started to rock back and forth and cry.
"Look at him, Merrill. Look."
Merrill saw Drew, her love, on the floor, in pain, screaming.
I have never seen you
lying on the floor
Crying needing more.
"Merrill," said Drew. His voice was a mere whisper. He inhaled a shallow breath. His heart hurt so much at the thought of Merrill dying. "I love you."
Karl stared as Merrill's beaten face healed. The bruises faded to white.
Drew's scars were gone as was the pain. Drew got up and said, "Merrill, come back to me."
Merrill was still incredibly weak and she knew she wouldn't make it on time.
She looked at Karl with fear in her eyes but he just smiled, scooped her up and ran with her in his arms.
"I am going to get you home if that is the last thing I do," he said.
Essie and Marty smiled. Drew was already on his way to meet Karl and Merrill. Merrill could see the school but she could also feel her skin begin to melt from the sun.
"Hurry Karl, we don't have much time!"
Drew saw a figure, coming fast.
There was Merrill, in Karl's arms, smiling. Karl let her down as she ran the rest of the way to Drew.
Karl went inside to see the others.
Drew held Merrill in his arms once again. Her eyes showed pain.
"I'm sorry Merrill. I was stupid. I know I said I realized Sherry was a mortal and that I couldn't be with her. I lied. Sherry was killed tonight. In a car accident. And when I heard, I was devastated. But I was alive. How could she be my One if I didn't die with her? And then you were gone and hurt. I felt your pain. I cried with you. I love you."
He stroked her hair and was so glad to have her back, safe in his arms.
Merrill looked up at Drew and said, "Read my mind."
Drew smiled and he kissed Merrill. He kissed her with all his heart and soul. A real kiss that should have been their first. And while they kissed, the sun rose. The heat was unbearable but they held onto each other. Then Drew looked at the burning sphere and remembered what he told Sherry in her dream. "Only with you."
He was wrong. His love for Sherry wouldn't be strong enough to keep him from the sun.
Merrill saw the sun out of the corner of her eye. How long had it been? Centuries. Drew put his arm around Merrill as they rushed into the school together. At that moment, their love could not be broken. At that moment, neither could die. At that moment, the sun rose and did not burn. At that moment, they were loved.