The High Arc Series
The High Arc Series is the first work published by Jessica Cage. Follow the story of Alexa, a young woman who has been shut away from the world for years due to her illness. Her mother and father have disappeared and the one person who remains in her life, her grandmother, leaves.
Alexa is reunited with her best friend Jazz who forces her back into the land of the living. After her return to the life she left behind she meets Lacal who introduces her to a world she had no idea existed. He tells her that she is not a normal human, in fact, she isn’t human at all. She is the intended Queen of a hidden race of vampires. No, these aren’t the standard vampires that you have read about in countless tales. These vampires are not from earth, they aren’t a genetic mutation of humans. Their previous Queen brought them to Earth when their home planet fell into the grasp of Darkness.
Now Alexa must return with Lacal, who is her Serve. He is meant to protect her, keep her safe and help to guide her on her journey. Darkness is coming and Alexa must train, fight for her right as Queen, and protect her people.
CHAPTER ONE OF REVITALIZED
The ear piercing shrill of the clock radio alarm tore through my subconscious; crudely announcing that it was time to get up and face the day. It was just another day, nothing more; this was how I had to approach life. The pain I faced was too great to imagine years, months, weeks, or even more days ahead. Each morning was tainted with the fear that I would fall to my knees and break as soon as my feet landed on the cold wooden floor that surrounded my bed and this morning was no different.
My frizzy, auburn hair surrounded my face partially covering my eyes. The sunlight passing through the strands lit them up and reminded me of flames. For a moment, I wondered what it would feel like if they had suddenly ignited and engulfed me. Sure, it would be painful, but how would it compare to the pain that was already there? I flicked the hair away with one hand, and blew away the strands that were stuck to my lips.
I stared at the ceiling above my bed and focused on the patterns created by the cracks in the crème colored paint. Every morning was the same; I woke up to the harsh reminder of what my life had become. One unfortunate scratch on the painting of my existence had grown out of control, branching out into a million tiny cuts; each going in their own direction birthing more fissures until I could barely recognize what I was looking at. The image became so distorted that it pained me to think of it.
The condition of the ceiling also reminded me of how poorly I had been taking care of my home. The house needed a lot of work; nothing too major, mainly cosmetic touch ups here and there. It definitely needed a new coat of paint inside and out. I couldn’t say that I was completely sure I would make the changes if I could. Someone would have to be brought in and paid to make the improvements for me, but this house, with its chipped paint, cracked walls, and rusted hinges was my only comfort. It was all I had left to remind me of a time before pain, before everything went wrong. I’m not saying there was logic to my thinking, but there was a sense of comfort in it.
I grew up here with my mother and father. I was an only child and was happy and surrounded by love and complete understanding. They let me be myself and never questioned me for it. Even when I doubted myself, they were supportive and welcomed changes with open arms. I cringed as the memory of their smiling faces fixated in front of my eyes for a second before they transformed into two cold boxes. It was time to get up.
I took a deep breath silently preparing myself and building up the courage to face the day. I gripped the edge of the covers and tossed them aside. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and my feet landed on the cool hardwood floor. I purposely left my slippers on the other side of the room. The shock of the chill was good for me; it sent an icy wave through my legs waking up the rest of my reluctant body. My limbs shivered as I quickly tiptoed across the floor to my slippers. They were my favorite pair; big floppy puppy faces that felt like warm clouds hugging my feet.
After putting on my slippers, I headed downstairs to begin my usual morning routine. To stop myself from thinking of all the repairs that needed to be done, I tried to focus more on how beautiful the house actually was. I stopped on the steps, gripping the railing that reminded me so much of my father. He had put his entire heart into every crevice of this house. Unlike my mother, he was a stickler for details, something I had always considered to be backwards. I closed my eyes as his smile flashed in my head and I held it there for as long as I could.
He chose this house for us, small and quaint, nothing too flashy, though he could have afforded more. He felt it was necessary for me to live an average life, which would have been impossible if I lived in a world where everything came too easily. He wanted us to build a home, and shape it into what we wanted. The very mention of hiring a professional to touch up the place always made him shiver. He couldn’t stand the idea of some stranger tainting our home. We moved here when I was five. I was encouraged to help with every decision, though I honestly had no real input. I just picked the prettiest colors, which is why my room looked like a disfigured rainbow until I was 16.
My fingers dug into the grooves along the railing. My father was a talented craftsman. It took him nearly two months to finish it. I remembered it vividly; every night after dinner, he would carve away at the mahogany banister creating the intricate design, while my mother and I sat at the top of the stairs and watched as closely as we could without disturbing him. He took so much pleasure in his work that he used to hum ‘Whistle While You Work’ under his breath. The tune rang in my ears now as if he was still there, humming in his own offbeat melody. He enjoyed it so much that over time, the carvings appeared in every room of the house. For years, I would find him intently working on the designs and mumbling about making them perfect.
The wall lining the staircase was littered with picture frames. This was my mother’s project, something she took pride in that I now thanked her for. She was the definition of a shutterbug, snapping pictures at every event, no matter how unimportant others thought they were. I stopped and stared at a picture of her and my father laughing. Her head lay on his shoulder and her arms were wrapped tightly around him. Hanging in a faded gold frame, it was the first picture put on that wall and was still my favorite. They were much younger then and were illuminated with a brilliant light that I could only imagine came from their inner happiness.
I found myself lost in concentration, matching her features to my own, picking apart her face as I always did when I stopped at this picture. Her eyes were my eyes; light brown, almost hazel, and when the sun hit them, it highlighted the subtle hints of green. We shared the same honey brown skin, though hers was clear and even, while mine was now blotchy and dry; a side effect of the medication I was on. If she were still here, she would freak out to see how poorly I was taking care of myself. I continued to go over my features in my head, matching their faces to mine. I had my father’s thin nose and lips, combined with my mother’s pout and a mixture of both of their smiles. (You could see it when I had a reason to smile, which was something that hadn’t happened in a long time.)
As I made it to the kitchen, I was greeted by the red light blinking on the answering machine. I knew who the message was from, because it was the same person every day. She left the same message asking me to call her. She was my last living relative, being the only child of two only children, my maternal grandmother, who believed she had a way to heal me that no doctor would ever dream of, because it would put him “right out of business.” She was old, wise, and stubborn in her ways, and held on tightly to what my mother called ‘dark magic’. Whenever my mother referred to her practices as such, my grandmother simply waved her off. She wasn’t the type to force anyone into accepting magic. She’d always said that if a person didn’t truly believe in its power, it would chew them up and spit them out. She was however, livid with my mother for forcing her views onto me. She wanted me to come to my own conclusions about magic just as she had given my mother the freedom to do.
I had often overheard the discussions they had about me and how important it was that I knew where I came from. My grandmother constantly referred to me as ‘a natural’ and my mother hissed ugly curses at her every time she did. This was always followed by my grandmother kissing me on the forehead and floating out the door wearing a carefree smile; while my mother stormed up the stairs to her bedroom, slamming the door as if she was a schoolgirl who had just been punished for breaking curfew. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy their confrontations, I mean what girl wouldn’t enjoy seeing their mom basically being sent to her room. It was pure entertainment!
I wished I could believe in my grandmothers ‘dark magic’, and her ‘cure’. From time to time, I let myself drift into fantasies that it could be real. I‘d be able to go back to living my life. The life I loved. The life I had now lost. I pictured the friends I had alienated to prevent tainting their lives with my pain. I thought of the sports and activities that once filled my life and how strong I was, but now to even try and perform one tenth of the physical activity that I once enjoyed, would probably cause me to shatter.
I heard my mother’s voice clearly, “That woman and her superstitious ways. You will not take part in any of that. It is not natural!” My mother would never approve of my grandmothers alternative healing methods. She tried her hardest to keep us apart in fear that I would somehow fall for her words and follow her way of thinking. I never understood why this would be so horrible. Was she afraid that I would be closer to my grandmother than to her? What was the big deal? What harm could my own grandmother possibly cause?
After years of these questions going unanswered I stopped asking. Any effort to try and sneak behind my mother’s back to visit my grandmother was useless. No matter how duplicitous I could be my mother always knew, it was much easier to trick my father. Maybe she was using a little ‘black magic’ of her own, although she would never admit if she were.
After a while, I stopped sneaking to see my grandmother. Partially because of my mother’s judgmental tone, and my schedule had become so jammed with social events after I started junior year in high school; but mostly because I started to feel strange whenever I was around her. It was like there was something buried inside of me that I could only feel when I was with her. Whatever it was, it had been stirring, waking, and sometimes felt as if it were clawing to get out. With each visit, the feeling only got more intense. Even though she never said anything about it and I never mentioned it, she seemed to be aware of what was happening with me. I forced myself to ignore it. Stifled, it went away and I never thought about it again.
I put off the message and headed to the counter where a total of eight pills waited in the daily compartment of my weekly pillbox. I frowned at the idea of forcing them down my throat, because I had never acquired a tolerance for them. One pill always led to the next. Each one fixed one issue and caused another. I argued with my mother that I’d be better off without them, and she told me I had no idea what I was talking about. I longed for my mothers’ warm arms around me and her soft voice whispering in my ear that it would all be okay. It felt like only days ago she had been here with me, helping me through it all. I shook the thought from my mind, got a glass of water, and swallowed each pill down as quickly as I could. I ignored the pain as each one punctured a new hole in my throat, leaving its bitter signature on the way down.
It had been two years now that I had spent in this monotonous morning routine, and one year since I’d been doing it alone. It was something I felt I could count on; as everything was always where I expected it to be. I made sure to keep it that way; one of the few things my mother was very intent on. Her kitchen had to be in top condition. Everything was assigned a designated place and position. ‘Labels forward Alexa, always forward!’ I remember when I would dread the thought of coming anywhere near this room. Not wanting to hear her scrutiny when I didn’t put a cup back in its rightful cabinet, or if I put a fork in the spoon section of the utensil drawer. Sometimes just for fun, I would move things around so that I could time her and see how long it would take until she had put them all back in order. Once the room I avoided against all odds, this was where I spent most of my time now. It was where I felt the safest and the closest to her.
Something about the room made my mom feel more at ease, this was her sanctuary. Every morning she made sure there was hot breakfast for my father and I, never forgetting to remind us that cold cereal was no way to start the day. I stopped at the refrigerator door, remembering the smell of her pancakes. The ones with the secret ingredient she never got to tell me about. She promised to give it to me, along with all of her other special recipes, on my 21st birthday. It would have been the start of a new tradition, something for me to pass on to my children. My heart ached as I realized I would never be able to taste them again. I tried to remember it. I tried to focus on the flavor in my mouth, the smell was strong, but the taste was spoiled by the pills I’d just taken. I gave up and went on with my routine.
I grabbed the bowl of fruit I’d cut up before I went to bed last night and a bottle of orange juice, grabbed a fork from the drawer and started to eat while still standing at the counter. I couldn’t sit at the table anymore. It flooded my head with memories of all the meals I had there with them. The laughter that erupted as my dad told me embarrassing details about my mom when they were younger. I remembered trying to hide the blood that rushed to my cheeks as they attempted to have the drug talk and even worse when they brought up the boy talk. I hadn’t built up enough courage to sit there, but I could never get rid of it. So I stared at it from a distance, making sure to never make contact with it. Even after a year, the resistance to it had not faltered.
The round mahogany table, with its four matching chairs, taunted me in what became a childish voice in my head. The designs carved into their legs and on the center of the table were similar to the ones in the banister. The dust that settled on its top was thick enough to be mistaken for a tablecloth. I could barely make out the color of the wood under the gray film. I hadn’t touched it at all since that night. My grandmother’s worried eyes, I could see them. She was there with me, I’m not sure how she knew, but, she was there before the police even showed up. I was grateful for her presence, for her arms wrapped around me and her shoulder to cry on.
I treaded heavily over to the phone and watched the blinking light on the answering machine. It would be her. No one else called me anymore. At first it felt like they were giving me space, the distance I had asked for, but eventually like most thing that go unseen, I had been forgotten, except for her. She called every day and her voice on that machine had also become a part of my daily routine.
As I pressed the playback button I popped a chunk of cantaloupe in my mouth and damn near choked when I heard the voice.