Tom was standing outside, waiting for her. When Ava neared him she could see his smile as it changed from happy to see her to his sly grin he used so often.
“Ava, I’m so glad you made it. Come on in, we’re discussing the companies’ new direction right now,” Tom said as he motioned for her to enter.
Ava wondered why they were discussing it out in the warehouse instead of the comfort of the office. As she crossed the threshold, she saw the group of men that had come to buy Herrick-Peyton—and succeeded. They were all gathered around a table with a laptop on it. Ava wasn’t sure why, it’s not like it could possibly work. But when she neared the table she saw that it was working and was connected to a live stream of some sort. On the screen, there was another business-looking man talking via video chat, and the laptop had a strange device connected to it. It looked like a flash drive, but much smaller.
“How did you get it to work?” Ava asked Tom, her eyes wide with surprise and confusion.
“Ava, we are the most technologically advanced company in the world. What good would we be if we couldn’t figure out something so simple?”
“But, why haven’t you told anyone that you have a solution?” she asked, still confused about what she was seeing.
“Because, sweet Ava, we caused it,” Tom said with a chuckle, as if it should have been obvious to her.
Ava was shocked, it made sense now; of course they caused it. They had so many experts that they were the most capable of doing something like this. “Why?” Ava asked, feeling a bit betrayed. He’d obviously known from the beginning and even before.
“In this day and age, technology is power. If you control technology, you control the world. Psytech has been planning this for a very long time and we are glad you’ve decided to join us. Now you can share the power.”
“I don’t think this is right Tom, how could you do this?”
“Ava, our kind has been waiting for power like this for centuries now, and you joining us in this great expedition will make us even stronger,” Tom explained.
“Our kind? I’m not in the corporate game, and I’m not sure I want to be in your company anymore. You are not the person I thought you were.” Ava turned to walk out of the warehouse, but Tom moved to block her way.
“You know very little of me, but soon, it will all make sense. When I said ‘our kind,’ I meant me—and my associates. You are not yet one of us, but we can make you like us, and once you are, you’ll want the power. The need for it will grow within you.”
The men in suits had finished their video chat and turned to Ava and Tom. “You can’t take away technology. What is the point? Turning everything back to the Middle Ages is just cruel, you’ll have no control over anyone, and they will run wild.”
“We don’t intend to turn the world to turmoil like that—at least, not for long. We do intend to control everyone. In the end, everyone will make a choice; either submit to us or live without the luxuries.”
“Submit? I don’t understand. What is it you need from us?”
“Not from you, my dear, no. I want you to be with us. I want you on the side of power, with me. The need we have is from those who will become like slaves to us.”
“Slaves? You want everyone to work for free in return for technology?”
Tom and the other men laughed. Then, he showed his sly grin, once again, only this time he showed something more . . . fangs.
Ava’s mind raced. What on earth did she just see? Was it real? Was it even possible? Could he really be a . . . vampire? She could hardly even think it. It seemed so absurd. Then she looked around the room and realized they were all vampires, showing their fangs like they did in the movies. Ava’s heart beat faster, she prayed for it to slow down so she could get up the courage to get out of the warehouse, but she was frozen, her feet wouldn’t move.
She quickly tried to use her breathing to steady her heart and then slowly backed away towards the door. Tom could see what she was doing and walked towards her slowly, but faster than she was backing toward the door.
“My, you connect the dots very quickly don’t you?” he said, showing his fangs once more.
“What are you? You can’t be a . . .”
“Vampire? Yes, I can be, and you can be too.” Tom circled her, but kept a little distance between them, he was like a shark, circling and getting closer with every rotation.
“You see, we’re going to use technology to get the blood we need from humans. Their donations will ensure that their lives keep going relatively normal.”
He was very close to her now, and she was starting to panic. She stumbled over the words to say. “But—you were out in the sunlight; all the legends say you can’t go into the sun.”
“Oh, Ava, those legends are spread by us; to make humans think they are safe. We exaggerate things so that it seems we can’t possibly exist,” he was going for her hand now; she was frozen at the thought of him touching her. He held it very gently, just as he had before. He pulled her further into the warehouse, toward the other vampires. She knew she had to distract him, he wanted her to be one of them and she couldn’t let that happen.
“But the time of hiding and keeping our secret will soon come to an end!” he shouted to the room full of vampires, as they all clapped.
“So, when you said you’d been working for this company for what seemed like a hundred years . . .”
“I meant it,” he finished for her. Ava looked around for a way to escape. She saw a ladder reaching up toward the upper level of the warehouse only ten feet away. She remembered that she had a pocketknife in her purse.
“Enough stalling, Ava, we must do this now. Trust me; it is our side you want to be on. You don’t want to be a slave to us. He motioned for one of the men to bring a chair. “You may want to sit down for this. At first, you will be weak, but when we get some blood in you, you’ll be stronger than you’ve ever imagined.”
Ava sat down on the swivel chair, but only because Tom was so close that he towered over her. He turned around for a moment, to address his associates. “And so begins a new era for the vampires, an era of prosperity.” When he turned back, Ava was waiting with her knife. His fangs came at her as she flipped open the knife and stabbed him in the chest. She turned in the chair and dashed for the ladder. She climbed, not looking down. As she reached the top, she heard Tom starting to laugh.
“Ava, there is nowhere to run!” he called out. “I’m not sure you want to be up there anyways, we’re keeping a few--uh, meals up there.” Ava looked around at the boxes she was hiding behind. She hadn’t noticed before, but they were more like coffins. The one she was hiding behind had a name on it: Joe Herrick. There was another that said: David Peyton. As she looked at the others she saw a few names she recognized to be shareholders’ names. “They should have read the fine print!” Tom laughed and the others laughed with him. Ava gasped. She wanted to burst into tears, but she knew that if she succumbed to her emotions she would not leave to warehouse alive, or at least human.
“The contract they signed also signed over their blood to us. They are no longer human, nor are they vampires. Once you sign a contract like the one they signed, you become a zombie. They will spend the rest of their existence doing our bidding and providing us with blood. But that’s not what I want from you. I want you to be a full-blooded vampire. Come down here now, and stop this foolishness. I could easily come up there, but things might get . . . violent. I’ll overlook the fact that you stabbed me if you come down on your own.”
Ava was scared. She didn’t know what to do. The ladder she’d come up was the only way up or down besides the hydraulic lift that was in the down position. She was trapped. “Please,” she pleaded, “Don’t do this to me. I can’t be like you; I’m not cut out for it.”
“I can change your mind. I know that it seems scary; I’ll make you a deal. I’ll wait three days to change you if you promise to keep an open mind. If you give me three days I know you’ll see things my way. You will stay with me at all times and see what your life could be like. I’m sure after the first day you’ll be begging me to change you.”
Ava had no choice, but at least she’d bought some time. She obviously couldn’t trust Tom anymore. How could she be sure he’d keep his word? She came over to the ladder and looked down at him. “Come, Ava, you don’t want me to come up there, do you?”
She turned around and lowered herself down the ladder. Tears came to her eyes. Before she reached the last few rungs she felt someone grab her around her waist. It was Tom, she struggled against his hold, but it was no use. His strength was too great. “See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” he whispered into her ear. He set her down, “Put a wristband on her,” he said as he held out her wrist to one of the men. She tried to resist but they locked it onto her anyway. “This device is a very handy little thing. You see, if you go too far from me, it will start to beep, if it beeps ten times it will deliver a dose of venom into your system and you will be changed whether you want it or not. I prefer you to be compliant because, well, I do still like you even though you stabbed me. Not to mention I want to be the one to change you, your blood smelled so good through your wrist and your neck the other night. It’s a wonder I didn’t change you then.”
Ava glanced at his chest where she’d stabbed him. There was no blood, just a hole in his shirt and no wound. The knife lay broken on the floor. She touched the wristband. “And, if you try to tamper with that wristband, it will inject you, so don’t bother trying to cut it off either,” he said with a smile. Ava was silent. She was scared and angry and a little confused. Things like this just didn’t exist—they didn’t happen. She did know one thing though; she had to get away and she had three days—or less, to do so.