“Rett, can you come downstairs please!?” Katie yelled up the stairs to the home office. There was a sense of urgency in her voice.
“Be right there!” he called back, swallowing the cursing forming in his mind. Everett did not like the interruption but obliged. The workload was insane at the time and he had always been the ‘if you want it done right, do it yourself’ type.
When he arrived downstairs and found two uniformed men patiently waiting for him, he was more than surprised. Calling his visit highly unusual would be putting it mildly, and his grim expression did not ease the worry.
One of the men started talking, verifying identities and just dancing around it all.
“WHAT IS GOING ON?” Everett had enough. He was worried. Clearly, this had to do with his family. And loss. He did not like the sound at all.
“My deepest condolences, but there was a surprise attack, nobody saw it coming, …” the man sounded tired and defeated.
“WHAT?!” Rett was alarmed.
“There has been a great loss of lives tonight ….” the man could not continue past those words.
“WHO!? I am way too tense and way too tired to keep playing charades with you!” Everett desperately rubbed his face. The stress of the past months until getting their son back, who was luckily peacefully sleeping in his room upstairs now, all the mounds of work were taking a toll.
“It was a wide-spread attack. It seems as though my colleagues and I will be visiting nearly every single household in the entire district. Your parents, Mr. Liam and Mrs. Leonie Anne Cameron were among the dead, as well as your aunt Vivian Auditore, her husband Vittorio and their adult son Vincenzo. The rest of the family seems safe from what we can tell. Again, our deepest condolences.”
Everett could not speak. Katie stood mouth agape watching her husband crumble to the floor while she stiffened.
Half an hour later the door to the ambulance truck was thrown shut taking both of them away, both suffering nervous breakdowns.
What followed were days filled with despair, sadness and funerals. So many were lost that their last rites had to be split over several days, the few funeral homes that even dealt with deceased non-humans were overwhelmed and it took forever to find one to take on the heavy burden.
It was nearly too much to bear for all that remained.
So many at once.
It was so significant that ambulances were on standby.
Any funeral was hard and traumatic, but these were well beyond anything anybody should ever had to go through. Katie and Everett worried about Joshua’s state of mind, but he seemed to be dealing okay.
There still was no sign or word of Heath and Abigail. No new threat, no demand for ransom, making one wonder if they had been taken or had gone into hiding voluntarily.
Every single member of the Cameron and Auditore families was affected and in deep distress.
The human government had already declared a state of emergency.
The preacher was going on and on about God’s grace and how His ways were not always obvious to all, when it all happened fast.
The church doors locked on their own and three figures materialized in the middle of the church, right behind a very startled priest.
They were threatening, they were New Breed vampires and they were not to be taken lightly.
“Nice to find you all together. As you have found out, we do not make idle threats. Unlike him over there, I am also not a man of idle talk. We demand the human government to dissolve. It is now our time. We shall reign. I will announce a date by which those who come to me and join my army freely, choose immortality over the ongoing decay of a mortal will be save. Those who deny me, will find out what all else I am capable of. Deny me, and it will be war upon you. Among the things that will happen will be enslavement of all mortals and vampires in this room, I will personally father offspring will all females and I will discard immediately of anybody trying to obstruct. I never joke but always mean what I say. On that note, enjoy the remainder of the ceremony and while you do, remember my words – and deeds.” he vanished with a typical evil laugh that would have rendered this scene ridiculous, but nobody felt amused, as it was perfectly clear he meant every word.
The three uninvited guests were gone as fast as they had appeared. The funeral service was ended and instead the burials began, as nobody was in the mood to drag out the unavoidable any longer.
The small cemetery was suddenly very much filled and nobody knew how to function properly anymore. All tried hard to keep up appearances but all failed miserably.
Everett and his siblings stared at the graves of their parents. Liam and Leonie had touched so many lives. How could it be over? How could this be?! Without even a chance to say goodbye?
Everleigh stared at the damp earth which now held her beloved grandparents, Cam next to her, both their gazes empty. Evey’s thoughts were far away wondering where Heath was. He was her soulmate, she could feel he was alive … poor Abby! Obviously, they did not hesitate to kill toddlers or children, so she was in grave danger. If she still lived.
Over the next months everybody tried their best to process all the recent trauma. Josh still had his own cross to bear with processing his time as a runaway and now his parents and sister were in desperate need for his support, once more torpedoing the tender ground his new start was founded on.
Few weeks after the funerals it was announced that somehow the leader of the New Breeds and most of his growing army had been found and their existence extinguished.
The government, and in an effort to protect all living from anything like this ever happening again, put back into place all the sanctions once in effect, but this time made no difference between Old and New Breed, strict laws with harsh punishment and rigid rules. Vampires, old and New Breed alike, were once more feared by mortals, shunned, often accused of crimes they did not commit and executed quickly until their numbers were decimated to near extinction. To avoid sympathy from mortals, it was made a crime to willfully engage in social interactions with vampires. As as result, remaining vampires became illusive, true children of the night they had been brandmarked as since ancient times. Once more vampires were on their way to become little more than a myth to most who did not know any better, the few remaining vampires were careful to not to disabuse the humans of that notion, leaving them guessing about their existence, so they could go about their undead lives undetected. Forgotten Hollow nearly abandoned aside from a few illusive inhabitants that remained hidden from most mortals.
Everett forced himself to recover, to move on, telling himself that was what his parents would have wanted, him being the oldest. As hard as it was – and it was – he had his immediate family to think of, to protect. His teen son was still trying to recover from his traumatic experience needing his full support, his daughter was hurting for her best friend, his siblings looked to him for strength and guidance, his younger brother and his husband were also recovering from a tremendous shock, there was no time for Everett to curl up and cry.
Being the oldest also meant he had become the executor of the estates of his deceased family, since they never assumed they would need it there were no last wills and testaments, his three siblings were looking to him to figure out what to do with the inheritance and how to move on.
Everett owed it to his parents and grandparents to do them proud and be strong.
Heath and Abigail remained gone without a trace …
Time takes life away
and gives us memory, gold with flame,
black with embers. ~ Adam Zagajewski