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Assisted

by
Harris Tobias
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

by
Harris Tobias
Time Wars & other SciFi Tales

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Gordon Rowlinson
The Dreaming Fire

by
Jeromy Henry

Descent into Insufficient Light

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It all began on a rainy Tuesday morning in the fluorescent lit halls of Hockessin High School. It was there that Ravyn Kel'Vaim de la Morte went to school. She wasn't one of the popular girls; she was a medium sized girl, with a waifish, curvaceous figure and long black hair and violet eyes. On that day she wore a pair of black pants covered in belts and straps, a t-shirt marked with the insignia of the band My Chemical Romance and a spiked leather band on her left wrist. After searching her locker for her math text book, she closed her locker's door and laid eyes upon the most fascinating boy she had ever seen.

He was tall (for a ninth grader), thin, almost frail, and had shoulder length straight red hair. He too was rooting through his locker, and looked very sad. He was run down, worn out and looked as if he'd rather be fishing, or having his skin slowly stripped off his flesh with jagged knives for that matter. As he closed his locker he looked up and his eyes met Ravyn's. They were the most amazing shade of ice blue she had ever seen. She blushed heavily when their gazes locked together. The strange, enigmatic boy, for his part, frowned deeply as his eyes widened, as if he anticipating something bad to happen in the next three seconds. He quickly gathered up his books and started fleeing in Ravyn's direction slowly, reluctantly.

"Oh well," Ravyn thought to herself as she turned her gaze back to the hallway, "He'll never love someone as worthless as me. But as painful as this is, it will inspire some of the greatest poetry I've ever written."

She turned around to find the sneering face of Helen Rich, the school's head cheerleader. Helen was sneering in Ravyn's direction.

"Well, well, if it isn't Ravyn," Helen said snidely, her other cheerleader friends standing behind her, though how they had all managed to sneak up on Ravyn, she couldn't say.

"Helen," Ravyn said as her eyes narrowed, but inside she knew what was about to happen and it wasn't good.

"How's the dateless wonder today, hmm?" Helen asked with a harsh giggle.

This cut deep into Ravyn's soul, wounding her to her very core. But just as Ravyn felt her knees shake, the boy she had seen started heading towards Helen and Ravyn. He clutched his books tightly as he gulped and went down the hallway, bumping into Helen and Ravyn as he tried to get past them.

"Excuse me, excuse me, sorry," the mysterious boy said as he passed by them.

Ravyn was amazed. No one had ever stood up for her in her entire life. Helen snorted angrily as the boy passed by her, but soon quickly turned her attention back to Ravyn. She said a few more hurtful things, but Ravyn wasn't paying attention. Instead she started following the strange boy down the hallway, heedless of Helen's cruelty. She tried to keep pace with the boy, but as he turned his head to see behind him, the swarm of people grew too thick for Ravyn to see through. Soon the boy faded from her sight.

"Wait!" she called out, drawing a few odd looks from the rest of the students in the hallway, but otherwise, no one seemed to hear her over the roar of the crowd.

"Wait," she whispered to herself as she lowered her head, a lone tear rolling down her cheek.

***

That evening, Ravyn was walking the streets of her neighborhood, fleeing a pair of abusive parents who treated her like a slave, demanding she take out garbage and do homework. They also drank heavily and would, when they got frustrated with their own lives, beat Ravyn and lock her in the basement as punishment. She had left her home when she saw her parents break out the wine box and settle into the sofa in front of the television, escaping through the back door as silently as a ghost. Unfortunately, she had no friends and no where in particular to go, so she wandered the streets of her neighborhood. aimlessly. Around her were a hundred dull split level homes, each one exactly the same and filled with dull conformists that Ravyn would never fit in with.

In her mind, Ravyn was composing a soul rending poem about the lack of meaning in the world, leaving her vulnerable. It took her about a minute to realize it, but she wasn't alone on that empty street. A burly middle aged man, reeking of alcohol and cigarettes was walking behind her, his heavy foot steps resonating across the street. Ravyn turned around and her eyes widened in fear as he pulled out a large knife and eyed Ravyn lecherously.

"Come here little girl," he said with a raspy chuckle, "I promise it won't hurt if you come quietly. If you give me trouble it will hurt. A lot."

Ravyn was frozen in place in fear, her knees shaking as the man approached her, waving his knife around. The girl shook as the knife glinted in the street lamp's light. Thoughts of running never even crossed Ravyn's mind. The burly man raised his weapon and took a swing at Ravyn, but before he could, the girl took a step back, narrowly missing the blade, but tripping on her own feet and falling to the ground flat on her back. She shrieked as she tumbled to the ground, but in a heart beat, something strange happened. A strange blur surged out of the darkness and leapt on to Ravyn's attacker, and a second later the sound and sight of blood flying could be heard. Ravyn sat up to see the strange boy she had seen in school hunched over the burly man... drinking his blood?! Ravyn's eyes widened, and then she caught the glint of elongated fangs off the street lamp. Ravyn then slipped from consciousness, passing out without a sound. But as she went under, she heard words coming from her mysterious savior.

"Ah, crap, she wasn't really stabbed."

***

Ravyn woke up on an old mattress in a small bedroom in a dull suburban house. She opened her eyes slowly, but was quickly over come by the Gothic grandeur of the place. The light blue lamp on the old used desk spoke of painfully unrequited love. The bookshelf loaded with paperbacks resonated with dark, forbidden lore that only a select few could read without descending into madness. Outside the bedroom, past the not entirely closed door, stood a ragged green sofa that silently said volumes about the inevitability of death and the futility of life. And the mattress she woke up on was an extravagant resting place, fit for a queen, even though it was pretty much just a small mattress mounted in a light brown bed box. At first she was concerned about where she was, but that concern faded as she remembered what had happened before. She remembered being attacked, being saved by a blur of motion and fangs... on that boy! It was then that Ravyn realized that there was the slightest stinging sensation between her neck and shoulder and glanced down to see what it was.

Two small puncture wounds, clean of blood.

Ravyn gasped at the sight and looked up to see the sight of the strange boy playing a Nintendo DS while perched on a computer chair that gave the impression of great pain and sorrow at the cruelties of life. He looked up and sighed when he saw that Ravyn was awake.

"Oh good, you're up," he said glumly.

"What, what happened?" Ravyn asked nervously.

"Oh, you mean the fang marks? Yeah, that was me. Guy's gotta eat and you were right there. But then I had an attack of conscience and decided that I couldn't leave you passed out in the street, which explains why you're here," the boy said.

"Who, who are you?" Ravyn stammered out.

"Oh, I'm Silas, who the hell are you?" the boy said after a moment of contemplation.

"Silas, that's a beautiful name," Ravyn said as her eyes glazed over and she rushed over to embrace her savior, who grunted as she wrapped her arms around him.

"Hey, what the hell?" Silas said nervously.

"No one's ever stood up for me in my entire life, but you did it twice in one day! Oh I don't care if you're a vampire, I know we have a connection," Ravyn said between ragged breaths.

"Whoa, hang on, what the -hell- are you talking about? I drank your blood, I didn't have sex with you!" Silas said quickly.

"You had sex with me while I was unconscious?" Ravyn said with disbelief, taking a moment to digest that before she continued, "You do love me!"

"No!" Silas yelped as he struggled to pry Ravyn off of him and failing miserably, "Are you dense or something? I just drank your blood and brought you home so you wouldn't get hit by a truck, what about that is so hard to understand?"

"Yes, I'm glad you brought me here, Silas," Ravyn continued, "Your ancestral manor is so darkly beautiful, it touches the darkest parts of my soul like nothing else ever has. It's almost as touching as the way you stood up for me to that bitch Helen."

"Wait, when did I stand up for you? And who the hell is Helen?" Silas asked angrily, his fury going unnoticed by Ravyn.

"Oh, you don't know? Of course, a rebel like you wouldn't care that she's the head cheerleader!" Ravyn exclaimed as she squeezed Silas a bit tighter.

"Cheerleader? How am I supposed to keep track of cheerleaders? I change schools once every four years trying to keep people from getting suspicious, why should I bother knowing who's who?"

"Yes, it must be terrible being cursed to immortality, never being able to grow to love others," Ravyn continued.

"You're damn right it sucks balls!" Silas said, raising his voice and his level of hostility, "Being forced to go to high school for all time is -not- my idea of a good time! No one in their right mind wants to die at my age and come back as a blood sucking aberration and be trapped at the age of fifteen forever! And I can't leave school because I look too young to be anywhere else! And every, fucking, year, it's another assembly of morons like you!"

"Oh my," Ravyn said, releasing Silas and raising her hand to her mouth, looking shocked and stunned, "That's so beautiful the way you articulate your eternal torment!"

"You're not really listening to me, are you?" Silas asked, sounding a bit exasperated.

"I'm hanging on your every word!" Ravyn said as she hugged Silas anew, "Your words are so beautiful, you must be a poet at heart, like me!"

Then there was a knocking on Silas' door. Both Silas and Ravyn turned their heads towards the door quickly, for a very brief second forgetting each other. After the knock, a head poked itself into the room. It looked like an older, college aged version of Silas, a man with wild red hair reaching down to his shoulders and ice blue eyes that danced with amusement as he looked in on the two.

"Aw that's so cute," the man said with a chuckle, "You and your guest are bonding. Well I hate to break up the pow-wow, but I think it's time she left."

"Fuck off Lars!" Silas snapped as he frowned deeply.

"Don't I always?" Lars said as he softened his tone away from mockery, "Come on brother, you know she can't stay here forever. Time to catch and release this one."

"I could not agree with you more," Silas said as he turned his gaze back to Ravyn, who had ceased hugging Silas and scrambled to hide behind his back, cowering and shaking as she whimpered weakly.

"Silas, your evil older brother is, he's planning to rape me, isn't he?" Ravyn said, fright filling her voice.

"What? Lars? Rape?" Silas said, stunned by disbelief, "No. No, we don't do that in this household. At the rate you're pissing me off, you're safer with him than me."

"You'll protect me from him, right?" Ravyn whispered fearfully.

"Oh Silas," Lars said with an exaggerated sigh, "This is by far the worst one you've picked up yet. Get rid of her before she starts depressing me."

"Welp, you heard the man, time for you to go," Silas said as he sat up off his seat and grabbed Ravyn's hand and started leading her out of the room and towards the house's front door.

"Please, Silas," Ravyn begged as she was dragged out to the front door, "Take me with you into the night eternal so that we may love for all time. I have nothing to live for in my petty mortal life, I need to be brought over into the night!"

"That's, just great," Silas said tiredly as he opened the door and shoved Ravyn outside and slammed the door behind her.

"Silas, you'll come back for me, right?" Ravyn said, her tone heavy with desperation.

Her only response was the sound of the door being bolted.

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
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Assisted

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