I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar. Ever since vampires came out of the coffin (as they laughingly put it) two years ago, I’d hoped one would come to Bon Temps. We had all the other minorities in our little town -why not the newest, the legally recognized undead. But rural northern Louisiana wasn’t too tempting to vampires, apparently; on the other hand, New Orleans was a real center for them – the whole Anne Rice thing, right?
People want to forget. No one would ever say it, but I think this town will be glad to see our class leave. They put up all the memorials you’d expect, but there was no need: we’re living reminders. Year after year, walking the streets, sitting in the diner, popping up in marching band and on the baseball teams.
When I wake up, all my friends are dead.
I don’t know when they stopped breathing, or how long I slept while they dropped off one by one. Josie’s basement is a windowless place where time does not matter, the lights set low. She’s sprawled across a couch, lips gone gray underneath the plumping lip gloss she uses to cover the fact she’s started shredding them with her teeth, devouring herself with need when there’s no needle in reach.
Let’s start with the Witch in the Woods.
Only children could find her, the Witch, led by foxes faintly glowing in the darkness between sleeping and waking. Together they traveled through dreamland until they came to an archway like an eye half open, big enough only to crawl through.
Beneath the stars, the moon a bouquet of blue-violet bruises, the Witch lived in a castle with turrets of unnaturally thick tree trunks and broad walls of entwined branches and leaves, the battlements formed by the oversize molars of some unfathomable animal. The crisscrossed bones of the portcullis gleamed in the milky midnight light as the drawbridge of melded cloven hooves lowered over rushing river.
Mae wakes, as she does every morning, to the sound of a train.
Even before she opens her eyes, she can feel the low rumble of it straight through her toes, but it’s the whistle that finally tears at the thin gauze of sleep. She turns over to peer through the blinds. Just beyond their backyard, a long chain of silver cars is streaking past.
Two weeks from now, she’ll be standing in the middle of Penn Station, waiting for a train not so different from this one. The minute she steps on board, she’ll no longer be a fixed point on the map, the way she’s been her whole life.
It was supposed to be the perfect summer. I was going to camp out, build forts, have adventures, and score the championship-winning goal in the New England All-Star Under-12 Soccer Tournament. When I wasn’t doing those things, I was going to stay up late with my friends, eat as much junk food as I wanted, and pretty much do whatever I felt like until sixth grade started in September. It was going to be epic: the all-time, best summer ever.
Instead, I ended up in Boring, Illinois.
No, I’m not kidding. There’s a town called Boring. And it is.
Jenny never knew what woke her up. One minute she was in the middle of a deep sleep and the next she was wide awake, the lightweight quilt tangled around her legs, and her heart drumming her ears. The silence around her was as deep as her sleep had been. It couldn’t have been traffic that woke her; the house was miles from the main road. Maybe it was the moonlight.