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The Cure -- Chapter One

Charlotte Jane Woods' life is sent spiraling into chaos.


“Dad, come on,” she began as she held out a plate of food to her father. “You have to try and eat something.”

He looked up at her with his tired, over-worked blue-gray eyes. “Charlotte, I can’t. I have to focus on my research. This is very important.” She stared back at him, unresponsive, and he sighed. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“What wouldn’t I understand, dad?” She questioned him, growing resentful at his stubbornness. Of course, she shared this very same trait, but thought nothing of it. “If you think I won’t understand, then why don’t you try explaining it to me? You sure as hell don’t have to explain how you feel about mom being gone! You weren’t the only one who lost someone, dad!”

“Charlotte Jane Woods!” He slammed his fist down on his desk as he stood up.

Oh shit, he’s calling me Charlotte… she thought to herself.

“Don’t you understand that I have to work!? Oh, of course you don’t! You don’t know what it’s been like to work night and day for the past six months!”

“Just because I don’t have a job doesn’t mean I am useless!” She screamed.

He shut his laptop and tucked it underneath his arm as he started for the stairs. “Charlie…” There it was; his favorite nickname for her. “This research could very well save your life one day. I hope you’ll come to realize that, before it’s too late.” He covered his lips with his hand as he suppressed a yawn. “Goodnight, Charlotte. I’ll see you in the morning.”

She opened her mouth to respond, yet the slamming of the basement door kept her silent. “Well, sweet dreams to you, too…” She muttered as she walked up the stairs, purposefully stomping the hardwood with her feet. She slammed the door behind her before returning to her room for the night.

She did her best to keep her mind off of her current family situation. After her mother had been killed in a car accident six months ago, her father had never been the same. Before her death, he was still working, yet in a healthy way. He and Charlotte’s mother were renowned scientists; Dr. Rayford Woods and Dr. Layla Woods. They specialized in research that concerned illnesses; pathogens, viruses, and cures to various diseases. But now that his wife was gone, all he did was immerse himself in his work. He would refuse to eat and would barely take general care of himself.

He had been pretty bad when his father, Charlotte’s grandpa, died of an unknown disease, but this residual effect from her mother’s death caused her father to act in strange ways that were baffling to her. He had become a shell of his former self, and it made her sick to her stomach.

She got changed for bed before lying down and attempted to sleep. But the thoughts racing through her mind kept her awake.

What did he mean, “This research could very well save your life one day. I hope you’ll come to realize that, before it’s too late.” ? She wondered as her eyes slowly closed; her subconscious mind taking her to places that weren’t possible in the world she lived in.

x x x

“Charlotte!” Her dad’s familiar voice pierced her quiet mind, awakening her from a deep sleep. She quickly got out of bed, impatiently untangling the sheets from her body. She stumbled a bit as she tried to gain her bearings.

The desire to ignore him and go back to sleep was powerful after their fight last night, which had been the fourth time that week.

But something inside her told her that she shouldn’t ignore him. Not this time.

“Dad, what’s going-“ she paused mid-sentence as she descended the stairs, his hand clamping over her lips. He held up a finger, trying to tell her to be quiet. He cautiously drew his hand away to let her speak. “Dad, what’s going on?”

“Charlie, I’m so sorry,” he whispered, and it shocked her to see tears forming in the corners of his eyes. The sad expression forced the wrinkles around his eyes to increase. “I never meant for any of this to happen! It’s all my fault; I should have done this sooner.”

She stared at him as if he was truly a mad scientist. She watched him carefully as he drew a shaky, nervous hand from his back, which held a small syringe in its grasp.

Inside was a silver liquid, which seemed to have the same consistency of blood. Her green eyes were wide with fear. “Dad, what the hell are you – Ow!” She yelped as he shoved the needle of the syringe into her jugular and pushed down the top of the plunger.

The solution was quickly administered to her, and she soon began to feel dizzy and delirious.

“You may not like me for this, Charlie, but you will come to realize that I am doing you a favor,” he shuffled around the living room in his slippers as he attempted to find a suitable place to hide the empty syringe. “I am saving your life.”

She kept her hand pressed firmly over the injection site, shocking chills running through her veins as if ice water had been mixed in with her blood. “D-Dad… I don’t feel so good…” She swayed on her feet and used her free hand to try and balance herself. “Whhhhat did youuu do to meeee?” Her voice slurred as she collapsed onto the hardwood floor. “Ow.”

He knelt beside her and gently placed his hand on her shoulder. “The effect should wear off by tomorrow. Hopefully, you’ll be safe by then.” His head shot up just as their front door had been kicked down. Three tall, strange-looking men stood in the foyer and looked around.

The one in the middle, who appeared to be the leader, pointed towards Rayford. “Get him.” One of the men appeared almost instantly in front of Charlotte’s father, grabbed him, and held him with his hand around his neck. His long, pale fingers were enclosed tightly around his throat, causing the doctor to find it hard to breathe normally. “Dr. Rayford Woods,” the leader began, his voice deep and smooth. “Today is the deadline. Do you have what I requested?”

Charlotte lay on the ground helplessly, her body limp and weak. She fought to stay awake, yet a fuzzy feeling was growing in her mind. She saw her father purse his lips before spitting in the tall man’s face.

The leader smiled as he wiped the saliva off of his cheek. “I will take that as a no. It is very unfortunate that you have made this decision, Rayford,” he cooed. His voice, despite how alluring it sounded to her, was almost… Like Splenda; artificial and sickeningly sweet. “I shall give you a few moments to change your mind.” He searched Rayford’s face for any change in expression, yet found none. “I see. I dearly hope your daughter is not as stubborn as you are.”

Fat chance. She’s even worse than her father!

“Kristoff,” he grinned maliciously at the man who had his hand clamped around Rayford’s neck. He made an undefinable gesture, and within seconds, he had ducked his head down, but a growl from the leader stopped his actions. “No, you must not feed on this human,” he spat out the word. “We will not drink blood from someone so vile. Just snap his neck and be done with it. We will feed him to the dogs later.”

With a quick motion of the man’s large hands, he violently snapped the neck of Charlotte’s father. She tried to scream; to do anything, yet the burning sensation she felt in her body rendered her silent. She stared at the lifeless body of her father as he now lay on the floor of their foyer.

Unable to fight the closing of her eyes, she quickly retreated into unconsciousness.

x x x

“Oh my God, I feel like roadkill…” She groaned as she awoke from her temporary, comatose-like state. She pushed herself off the floor and slowly began to stand up. “Dad, what the hell happened? What did you-“ her voice trailed off as her gaze fell to her father, now dead on the floor. “Daddy!” She screamed at the top of her lungs as she ran to kneel beside him.

“Dad, no, no no! Dad, please wake up!” She struggled to grasp his upper body in an attempt to hold him. Eventually, she gave up and buried her face in his chest. “You can’t be dead, you can’t… Daddy, please…” She sobbed quietly for what felt like forever.

I can’t believe this is happening… Her body trembled as a new sense of fear and hopelessness crept over her. She almost jumped out of her skin as she heard various voices from the basement.

Flashes of the events that had just transpired before losing consciousness made her spine stiffen. They’re still here, she thought. She bit the inside of her lower lip before kissing her father’s forehead and painfully shut his eyes. “I love you,” she whispered before getting back on her feet.

Her body still felt weak, and wondered what the hell her father had done to her. She ran out her front door, yet suspected her feet running on the old, creaking hardwood floor had drawn too much attention to her attempt to escape.

“She’s awake! Go after her, you fools!” The familiar voice of the leader snapped as her fight-or-flight sense kicked in.

FEAR: Fuck Everything And Run.

She pumped her arms at her sides, struggling to push herself to run until her heart gave out. The cold winter air pierced her lungs as she inhaled. She had made it across the street and into the neighborhood forest before finally slowing to a stop. She pressed her back against the trunk of a large tree. Her chest heaved as she tried to compose herself.

Her gaze travelled to her feet, which were both cut and bloody from running barefoot on the rocky pavement of the road that separated her house with the forest. Just as she thought she was safe, familiar voices pierced the calming sounds of nature.

“She couldn’t be far from here, Your Highness,” one spoke softly. “Her scent led us straight here.” She cursed under her breath and made a mental note to exercise more when she would get the chance. “Wait, what was that?”

Charlotte, you big mouth! The voice inside her head screamed. Again, the combating emotions of fight-or-flight set in. She decided that running any further was simply not an option. Her endurance, or lack of one, kept her in her place. “I’m right here, assholes!” She pushed away from the tree, her hands balling into fists at her sides. “You murdered my dad! I’m going to kill all three of you freakish beasts!”

The three men looked at each other and simply laughed before the leader decided to speak. “Oh, how charming! She’s a defiant little one. This shall be most entertaining,” he sighed contently.

“Your Highness, is… Is that her blood I smell?” The man to the leader’s left looked bewildered. His eyes flashed from a bright red to a dark color that almost seemed to be black.

“Kristoff, don’t,” the other warned.

He shook his head as he ran toward Charlotte with unnatural speed. “She’s different, Your Majesty!” He snaked one arm around her waist and drew her near as his other hand grasped the nape of her neck. His nose slowly trailed up along her neck, causing goosebumps to form on her skin. Just when she believed he was done with, well, whatever the hell he was doing, she felt two small, sharp objects pierce the skin that covered the base of her neck.

She yelped and tried to wriggle free from his hold, yet to no avail. “Stop it! S-Stop, please…” Her voice grew soft as her body became even weaker than it had been before. She kept her wide, frantic green eyes on the man in front of her as he lifted his face into her line of sight.

Is… Is that my blood on his lips? She wondered deliriously.

Without warning, his body began to tremble and shake violently. He dropped to the forest floor as he convulsed and as bloody aspiration poured out of his mouth.

“Kristoff!” The other ran to him, whose body now grew still. “Damon, what the hell is this all about?!”

“Ah, Kristoff,” the leader sighed heavily. “His bloodlust was always doomed to lead to his demise.” He shook his head as he approached the two slowly. His eyes moved to Charlotte, who clutched her neck – again – and braced herself against the tree with her free arm. “Gabriel, heal her.”

The one who knelt snapped his head up in response. “What?! Are you fucking kidding me? You want this bitch to live?”

He nodded. “Yes. She may have answers.” He held up his hand as he saw the other attempt to form words. “I am your King. You must do this.” The leader started to walk away when he noticed Gabriel, who appeared to be younger, attempt to pick up the dead man. “Leave him. Heal her. Now.”

Damon walked off as his subordinate struggled to fight the rage that seemed to intensify within him. He stood in front of Charlotte, his ice blue eyes piercing her own. He drew out a knife and quickly slit the inside of his wrist. He held it up to her full, pouty lips reluctantly. “I don’t know why, but King Damon Altair wishes to have you alive. Whether you drink my blood or not doesn’t matter to me; I’d rather have you dead. Regardless; drink this if you want to live.”

His blood is… Silver? She stared at him, completely dumbfounded. Her whole body ached, and couldn’t bring herself to speak. Instead, she, with the undeniable desire to stay alive, drank the silver blood that crept out of the wound on his wrist.

Even though she hadn’t swallowed much, she could feel a familiar fuzziness take over her mind. Oh God, not this again… she groaned as she began to slump against the tree, yet his strong arms grabbed her and scooped her up into his hold. He cradled her against his chest as he walked away, knowingly stepping over the lifeless body of his friend Kristoff. “Dear girl, you are going to be so much more trouble than you’re worth…”

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