Short Story – The Protégé

Another night of training begins, but I didn’t want to go out just yet.

Thinking about what happened over the last few weeks has been draining.

What did I get myself into? I was working in a wonderful job in San Myshuno that was going well until that fateful day. Feng gangsters kicked me out of my apartment by force and I soon found myself in Willow Creek, with only a few simoleons and my clothes.

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I thought of asking help from friends and family, but I remembered that most of my friends were more like distant acquaintances, and my family thought that I was always the black sheep for dropping from med school halfway. The medical profession wasn’t for me, so I turned to writing. I could not turn to my family for help, fearing that they would just lecture me with “I told you so’s” over and over again.

urlbtme

After exhausting my options around town, I eventually left Willow Creek and ended up on the streets of Newcrest looking for hope. I still had no luck. Many of the places that were hiring required some sort of proof of permanent or temporary residency. It then came down to two choices; join McMeatie’s as one of their peppy, happy crew members or keep being a wandering bum. I chose the latter. I cannot imagine myself being behind a cash register serving poor excuses of food.

I used to review the finest food in San Myshuno, for goodness’ sake! I cannot swallow my pride as a foodie.

I’d rather die of starvation.


A week passed, and I eventually ended up in a destitute part of town, where other hopeless beings like me wandered. My clothes already smelled like piss, and I’ve been scavenging for food in the garbage bins of trendy restaurants for the past few days after spending almost all of my money. The few remaining coins that were jingling in my pocket as I walked was all I had left.

There was a small spa that was hiring workers, but they told me that they were only hiring women. I went out and looked around to see that this was the only place in the area that had a “Help Wanted” sign on it. I sat on the curb for a bit and started to feel my eyes get watery. I wasted my life, like the many hopeless-looking bums shambling like zombies on the street. I guess I’m now one of them. Their eyes were like mine; they had no sign of life at all. It felt like I was one of the undead.

I thought about ending my life at that time. Maybe throw myself in front of a car or lie down on the railway. There was no hope in the future if people like me were resigned to this fate.

What could a bum like me do?

At the end of the alley was what appeared to be a wishing well. I didn’t believe in religion, magic, and other similar things, but I was desperate.

Throwing in what remained of my simoleons, I made a wish.

I wish that I was… uhhhn–

ACHOO!

…dead.

I wish that I was dead.

What happened next was something that I didn’t expect.

An eerie glow emanated from the stone face of the wishing well, and I leaned back, fearing that it was going to do something.

I waited for a few moments, but the light eventually disappeared. Nothing happened. Maybe I’ll die the next day in a painless way.

“COME BACK HERE!”

I hear voices coming from the next alley and decide to follow it. What was happening?

As I went into the alley, I saw a pale-skinned man dressed in formal attire being threatened by a thug with a silver knife. The thug was armed to the teeth with white body armor and knives strapped to himself. The man in the suit looked like he was in bad shape. He had many scrapes and bruises, and his mouth was bloodied, as if he was punched real hard on the jaw. Was he being mugged by the thug in white?

“It ends here, vampire.” the thug says as he brings out another knife. Did he just say vampire?

“You’re quite skilled, hunter. Picking the best time to hunt me down when I am most vulnerable… Damn you and your kind.” the man manages to say as he backs up against a wall. Then the thug raises his knife to deal the finishing blow.

I was paralyzed with fear at first, but I had to do something. This man was going to be killed! Though I had no part in this, I felt like my body was moving on its own to rescue that man.

Steeling myself, I lunge towards the thug.

I was able to push the thug a bit to the side, and the knife thrust missed the man, but the thug then turned his attention towards me. I noticed that the thug was wearing a weird medallion, and he looked pissed.

“One of your minions? Do not interfere, boy.” the thug looks at the vampire and then looks at me.

I had to prepare for whatever was coming next. He grabs me with two arms and throws me towards the wall as if I were a sack of rice. My body slams hard against a stoop and I fall down to the ground. I tried to get up, but I felt my body get weaker from exhaustion.

“Die, thrall.”

Before I could even get up, the thug knelt and stabbed me in the stomach, and I started to black out after that. I felt my vision fade, and I got weaker as I just kept bleeding on the ground.

All kinds of thoughts entered my head as I was dying.

Is this how I would die?

Was I able to save that man?

I always pictured myself living up to a ripe, old age, dying in a hospital bed surrounded by friends and family. But this…

“Doc! We got held up a bit, sorry!” a voice comes from somewhere.

“You’re late, Preston…” the man says as I lose consciousness.


I didn’t know how long I was out. When I came to, I was already in a warm, clean bed, and my wound was healed. Even my clothes smell clean. The sound of a classical opera piece playing somewhere must have woken me up.

I look up and see a pale-skinned man enter the door. Was he the same one from the alley?

“Ah, you’re finally awake. Preston! Bring me the meds.” he orders someone as a somewhat translucent hand gives him a rack of vials and syringes.

“W… what?” I manage to speak.

“I couldn’t tell if what you did was stupidity or bravery. Are you all right?” he asks me as he injects something into my arm.

“Yes. I think so.” I reply.

“How many vampire figurines am I holding up?”

“Three.”

The man just nods.

“Eyesight, normal. I’ll check your other vitals once you’ve made a full recovery. The knife wound more or less disemboweled your stomach, but with my genius, I was able to save you from death.”

“So I live.” I tell myself, wishing that maybe I should’ve just died in that alley instead of returning to a bum’s life.

“Don’t look so glum! Think of this as another chance at life.” he pats me on the shoulder.

I just sigh and get up from the bed. At least I have the energy to do that now.

“You were asleep for almost a week. I’m just glad that we were able to bring you back here in one piece. What is your name, young man?” he asks me.

“Ramon.” I replied. “Ramon Antonio. Though people just call me Tony thinking that it’s my first name even if it’s my surname.”

“Tony? I’ll just call you Antonio. It sounds more interesting that way, don’t you think?” the man humors me and smiles.

“Wait a minute. I was in an alley and–”

“Allow me to explain. You have saved my life, Antonio, by distracting that assassin in the alley. He almost delivered the final blow, but your sudden appearance bought me enough time for help to arrive, and we carried you back to my hideout.”

“Assassin? A hideout? Like for criminals or something? Who exactly are you?”

The man laughs, like one of those evil geniuses you see on TV. As he did, I also hear another voice laugh, as if it was inside a suit of armor.

“Consider yourself lucky, Antonio. You have been rescued by the great Archon of House de Guzman, Dr. Domingo de Guzman.”

“But everyone just calls him Doc.” the other voice says, but I look around and don’t see anyone else.

“D-Doctor? Archon?”

“You will understand in time, Antonio.” he told me as he looked at a small monitor by the bed. “You seem to have stabilized now, so I’ve injected you with some of my medicine for the past few days while you were asleep. You will feel strange for the next few hours, but you will benefit from it greatly.” the Doctor said as he removed a medical contraption from my arm.

“Thank you, Doctor. I… I am in your debt. I don’t know how I can repay you.” I said as I was able to move my arm again.


A few hours passed, and the Doctor went about his duties around the hideout. He was talking to someone named Preston, but I couldn’t see him at all.

Seeing that I’m starting to feel better, the Doctor then invited me outside for a visit to his private retreat, where he can explain things to me in detail. The first few steps out of bed made me a bit dizzy, but I was able to regain my ability to walk in no time.

“This is quite the neighborhood, Doctor.” I look around and see that it might have been a neighborhood that was almost abandoned after an industrial boom. The sun is starting to come up, and the Doctor seems to be urging me to hurry.

“Let’s hurry inside. Sun’s almost up.” the Doctor ushers me inside as he closes the steel door.

I didn’t expect the Doctor to live in such a place.

“It may not look like much, but it’s home. But before I give you your other medicine, let me show you to your temporary living quarters.” he tells me.

“Living quarters? But I don’t have any money for rent–”

“You’ll be working for me from now on.”

“What? As what?”

“You’ll see.”

After passing through what seemed to be an interrogation room, we end up at a small kitchen.

“Why don’t you grab yourself something to eat? I believe there’s a sandwich inside the refrigerator. I’ll just be downstairs.” the Doctor directs me to the fridge as I hear him go down the staircase hidden behind the kitchen counters.

I do what the Doctor told me and open the fridge. Not much of a selection. A ham sandwich covered in plastic wrap, take-out boxes, and some soda.

But two things caught my eye: the loads of plasma fruit hidden in the crisper, and blood vials, where you usually place the butter.

Feeling famished, I hear my stomach growl and take the ham sandwich out of the plastic wrap. I don’t even bother with heating it and just eat the damn thing.

It tastes like crap.

It’s as if I tasted the most disgusting thing in my life. I smell it to see if it was spoiled, but it smells like a normal ham sandwich. There’s not even a speck of mold but it tastes so bad.

So bad that I could just–

HMPGFHKK!!


After vomiting the ham sandwich that I ate, I started to wonder what was happening. Was this the effect of the medicine?

I then head for the sink to wash my hands. That was probably the worst time I vomited. My mouth still has that taste of vomit, so I look around and see some toothpaste and a toothbrush.

I rinse the toothbrush, put some toothpaste on it, and start brushing until I look at the mirror.

Why is my toothbrush floating?

This must be some sort of magic trick.

Where the hell is my reflection?

And my teeth seem to feel bigger, as if I have fangs in my mouth.

Does this mean I’m a–

“DOCTOOOOR!”


“I see you’ve already brushed your teeth.” the Doctor chuckles but I want answers.

“What kind of medicine did you give me, Doctor? How come all the food I’ve eaten tasted bad?”

“My blood.” he replied nonchalantly.

“Wait, what? Your blood?”

There was a moment of silence until he spoke again. “Starting tonight, you also have to stay away from sunlight, avoid garlic, and take healthy doses of blood type O from a healthy human at least once a month.”

“Like… a vampire?”

“Exactly.”

“Wait, vampires are real?”

“Have a whiff of this.”

The Doctor then brings out a small vial of what appears to be blood and opens it. And as if on instinct, I grab the vial from him and drink the whole vial.

Now that was delicious.

It feels as if it cleansed the rotten taste that I had earlier in my mouth.

“You savored that blood to the last drop. So yes, you are now a vampire like me.”

I stood there speechless and couldn’t move a muscle.

“I apologize if I did not get your consent, but it was the only way to save you from dying.” The Doctor just gave me a grin and chuckled after saying that.

“Why? I wanted to die. My life was a train wreck.”

“And I gave you a second chance at life. Consider it as me returning the favor for saving my life. Besides, my House needs more capable vampires.”

“But I don’t want to be like this! Why did you turn me?”

“That act of selflessness is something that I haven’t seen in humans in a while. I wanted to thank you for it, but I couldn’t tell that to a lifeless corpse, right?” the Doctor explains while I reflect on what I did.

“So you just turned me into a vampire to prevent me from dying.” I speak as the Doctor nods.

“Besides, if you died, it would be a waste of your good looks.” the Doctor added.

Another moment of silence as I felt a bit awkward from his compliment.

“Haha! A jest, Antonio. But in all seriousness, I always choose who I turn. Ugly vampires are not allowed in my House.” the Doctor explains as I look at how he is dressed. He does indeed look like a sharp dresser with his ensemble.

“So what do I do now?” I look at my own hands, seeing how pale they are, just like the Doctor’s.

“Now that I have turned you into a vampire, you are now obligated to serve me for eternity.”

“E-eternity?”

“What? My 300 years of undeath didn’t feel like an eternity. You’ll get used to having a long life.”

“So this means that I’ll be forever 26.”

“Yes, every vampire physically remains the same age they were turned. I’ve lived for so long that I forgot when I was turned.” the Doctor chuckles as I assume he was turned somewhere around my age. Maybe a bit older than me.

“Well, before we retire for the day, let me congratulate you for transitioning into a vampire safely.”

“Thank you, Doctor. But why safely?”

“Because if you were not compatible with my blood, you would have turned into a ghoul, which is something that I abhor.”

“A g-ghoul?” I imagine a creature that looks monstrous in my head.

“I’ll save the explanation for another time. It’s almost time for me to rest.” the Doctor says as he looks at a nearby coffin. “You can sleep on the bed for now, but you’ll eventually get used to sleeping in a coffin.”

After that, the Doctor then gave me a pamphlet with a smiling bat mascot entitled, “Everything You Need to Know For Your First Week as a Vampire.” The cute bat mascot named Lammy described every frequently asked question in the simplest way.

“Oh, and inform me if you feel strange on occasion. Fledglings like you usually experience body pains in weird places after being turned.” he pointed to somewhere around his crotch area.

I blink slowly as the Doctor seems to have made another joke.

“Now, before I retire for the day, let me assign you your very first job. Consider it an honor to polish the throne.”

Polish the throne???

That sounds like an important job.

Looks like I’m gonna have my very first assignment as a vampire!


 

I was picturing something else, but I guess this isn’t so bad. How silly of me to forget the mess that I made in the toilet earlier.

“Remember, a bit of lavender spray will make it smell like brand new. And scrub it down well!” the Doctor looks from the bathroom door.

“Yes, Doctor.”

Maybe this new life isn’t so bad.

At least I’m not out in the streets anymore.

Maybe being undead has benefits, after all.


Author’s note: I rewrote Antonio’s story here since I thought it wasn’t polished enough. I also updated it to my current writing style, now that I have a better understanding of my characters.

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6 Responses to Short Story – The Protégé

  1. raerei says:

    Hmmm, good to know my blood type is the most desirable. Do some prefer positive or negative? Haha.

    I am loving this story, and loving the world you’re setting up here, it just draws you in and every chapter releases a bit more about the world. The vampires, plasma fruit, guild, trunks of mystery, different countries, etc.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Virtualee says:

    What a creative way to introduce Antonio’s backstory, BRILLIANT…fav line: “Everything You Need to Know For Your First Week as a Vampire.” hahahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cathytea says:

    This is so great: “a state-of-the-art Nosferatu canned plasma fruit opener.” LOL!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I love that the vampires have a cheerful brochure on being a vampire. That just makes me grin so much 😛

    Liked by 2 people

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