The guy took off and I jumped, hitting the ground with a bang that echoed through my knees. I would run.
My feet hit the ground one after the other, faster than anything and soundless, because that slap, slap we’re so used to isn’t nearly as loud when you run right, and I was just moving to move.
Vampires, elves, Vulcans, we’re so obsessed with things that go for longer than we can.
I couldn’t tell you how long I went, just keeping my sight on him, one foot after the other, hitting the ground in a rhythm that soon matched my heart and breath, cut time to common but still there, still a rhythm within me that faded as it synchronized. Everything was instinct.
And yet, and especially, when we look for what makes humans better in the animal kingdom, what do we find?
The one in front of me started slowing. He was bright; he’d avoided anywhere I could trap him. But he wasn’t agile. It was all wide open space; I could see him from a mile away. He couldn’t hide, he couldn’t dart under something, and by this point he didn’t even have time and energy to spare if he found a place, not enough to hide his tracks.
He slowed. Collapsed. I sped.
The mirror was in an undesirable state of being.
Once, lifetimes ago, he had been alive. And possibly female. That would be closer in line with how the woman who had trapped him worked, but he couldn’t remember anything of his past life. His voice was masculine, so, at the present time, he was a he.
“Mirror, Mirror on the wall,
“Who’s the fairest of them all?”
He is bound to answer truth, but is adept enough at sticking only to the letter. That, the spell allows for. The mirror opens his mouth to give back her expected, “You are,” as always, and hears himself say, “Um.”
The witch glares at him.
He tries to think of a way out. Snow White is lovelier, but factor her hair in, and she was by no means fair. Her hair was black as snow-soaked stone, even as her skin was as white as her name would suggest.
The mirror panicked. Had she updated the spell? He searched for anything that was different.
Who’s the fairest of them all?
The mirror, miserable but bound to answer, lacking any outward expression so reflecting her calm annoyance, echoed out the answer. “Snow White.”
The queen was livid. She sent out a huntsman to kill the young girl. The mirror was neutral, with no one to reflect, and was left alone for so long he began to fade. There was nothing he could do, for he could not reflect a lie, anymore than he could clarify of his own will.
The fair queen hadn’t included herself.
I sucked in a breath and pinched the bridge of my nose.
“We really don’t have time to—”
“My top five priorities just died, I think you can wait two silent seconds while I rearrange my damn goals.”
Vampires can enter uninvited.
The operative word here is can. A young vampire is still learning how to regulate basic functions, and the additional focus required to suddenly need to regulate not actively rotting when you’re still learning to remember to breathe and keep your heart beating are notable. If you’re outside, or invited, then forgetting those is mildly uncomfortable, and you may gray out. No big deal, usually it’s just a few moments of diminished senses, and at the most a few minutes—given the healing factor we have, there are very few things that can hurt us permanently even given all those minutes. And very few realize they need to. Would you proceed to burn the corpse if you’d already slit the throat?*
But the young ones usually haven’t figured out that they can pass through thresholds, the older ones know they shouldn’t, and the oldest ones can fake it well enough. I’ve been told that the truly old ones can trick even other vampires into believing that they’ve been invited in, though the fact that I’ve never even heard firsthand knowledge at two hundred and thirty-eight should tell you how rare or deadly quiet they are. Regardless, I’d say your chances are better of being killed in an earthquake/tornado/insert local disaster here.
Oh, also. I don’t know about you, but I’m the sort to pick up new accents after a few weeks around new people. Sometimes I’ve even been talking to someone for a few moments and started using their accent without noticing. So this will all be fairly modern, because I have yet to give up human interaction entirely.
And if my register flips between how old I am and far too young for any adult…well, I doubt it will, because I usually have trouble passing for “gifted,” much less my age. But if it does, do keep in mind that humans do still talk to me like I’m twelve. I have to move too often for anyone to acclimate to treating me my age.
* Incidentally, the vampire population decreases significantly during plagues, because the answer to that question is suddenly and definitively, “Yes.”