Chapter 6: "Initiation"
DEAR DIARY: This is my first time writing in you, and I already have a lot to say. Yesterday, I had a birthday party. Dale ruined it and started yelling like he always does. Mom and Dale have been fighting a lot more lately. Last night Anavey bit me and turned me into a vampire, but now she’s saying I have to kill Grandmama to complete the transformation. I don’t want to kill her. I don’t know how she plans for us to do it, but I hope it’s quick and painless.
I’ve been really worried about Anavey. She’s been acting really weird, even for her. I wish there was something I could do to stop her, but I feel helpless. Anyway, I’ve got to go, I hear her coming up the stairs now.
Anastasia slipped her diary back under her pillow and pretended to be asleep when Anavey opened the door.
“Good morning. Rise and shine!”
She opened her eyes and feigned a big yawn. “Hey, Anavey.” She slid out of bed, and the first thing she did was grab Grandmama’s hideous scarf and tie it around her neck.
Anavey wasted no time. She planted herself right between Anastasia and the door to the hall. “All right, let’s get down to business. As you know, today’s the day you kill Grandmama. It’ll go like this. I’ll distract her, and you will throw this brick at her.” She drew a dirty old brick from behind her back. Seeing it made Anastasia cringe. “Then you’ll drink her blood.”
“Make sure you hit her right in the face. And don’t miss.”
“It won’t hurt her, will it?”
“Not if you hit her right the first time.”
Burning, raging sorrow rushed through her veins, overwhelming her. “But I don’t want to do anything bad to my Grandmama. I love her!”
“She’ll be dead before she knows what hit her. And remember what I told you — you’re just sending her to heaven. She’ll be ever so much happier than she is here.”
“Why do I have to be the one to do it?”
“You don’t listen, do you? I already told you that to make the transition complete you have to kill someone. Plus, we’ve got to make an example out of her. The adults need to learn they can’t control us anymore!”
“But they’ll find out and we’ll just get in trouble. How is that going to teach them anything?”
“No, you don’t get it. At first, they’ll think this was an accident. But then, as we turn more kids, there will be other ‘accidents.’ Eventually, the adults will start catching on. But by then, it will be too late for them to do anything. We’ll have them in our power.”
“I don’t know about this.”
Anavey gave her a menacing look and then stepped close to her. Too close. Once again, Anastasia felt pure dread of her sister. “You can’t back out now. You already agreed to this.”
“You swore you would protect our coven.”
“How is this protecting our cousin?”
“It’s ‘coven.’ And if you don’t know what that means, you can look it up for yourself. You’re ten years old now, and you need to start finding your own answers to things instead of having it all handed to you. You’re not a little kid anymore.” Anavey laughed to herself. “You’re not even all human anymore.”
“No more questions! If it makes you feel any better, this will be the last time I ask you to do something like this.”
“So if I help you kill Grandmama we won’t have to kill anyone else?”
Anastasia could see it in her eyes: Anavey was lying. But she did not dare call her out. If Anavey was prepared to kill their grandmother, might she not also be prepared to kill her own sister?”
“Do you promise?”
Anavey cracked a quick, almost invisible smile. She was lying. But as mean and calculating as she had often been, Anavey had never lied to her before.
At least, she didn’t think so.
“Okay,” she said, her voice a frightened little squeak. “I’ll do it.”
“I knew I could count on you,” Anavey said. “So here’s the plan. We’ll go downstairs and I’ll distract her. While I do that, you’ll finish her off.”
“How are you going to distract her?”
Anavey gave her an annoyed shrug. “I’ll tell her a joke or something. That’s not your problem. The important part is this — when she’s not paying any attention to you, you hit her really hard with that brick.”
She placed the heavy brick in Anastasia’s hands.
“Don’t let me down.”
Anastasia felt tears trying to well in her eyes, but she was determined not to cry. That would only make things so much worse.
“I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
She was shaking so hard she could barely hold the brick. God, it was heavy. But she followed Anavey down the stairs to the living room, where Grandmama was sitting in her wheelchair, reading, as she so often did. She could walk for short distances, but her old body wore out so very quickly. She oftentimes looked to be in pain.
Maybe what they were planning really was nothing more than a show of mercy. Poor Grandmama sometimes did seem so miserable. She knew she would never want to be so miserable all the time.
“Hey, Grandmama,” Anavey said, wearing a cheerful smile.
“Oh, hi there, dearies.” Grandmama eyed the scarf around Anastasia’s neck. “I’m so glad you’re wearing your scarf. I was afraid you didn’t like it.”
“Oh, no, It’s really nice,” she said, her voice barely getting past her lips, which felt like rubber.
“I have something to tell you,” Anavey said, still smiling.
“What is it?” Grandmama Nelda said, smiling back at her.
“It’s a joke.” Anavey put on her most innocent face and said, “Knock- knock.”
Behind her back, Anastasia tightened her grip on the brick.
This was it. Grandmama was looking right at Anavey. Anastasia lifted the brick and brought it down with all her strength on the old woman’s forehead, the impact vibrating through her hands and all the way up to her shoulders. The brick fell to the floor with a heavy thump.
She saw blood spurt from a horrific gash in Grandmama’s forehead. The old woman fell forward with a horrified, agonized cry.
“Howie like that, you old bat?” Pitiless laughter erupted from Anavey’s mouth.
Tears were streaming from Grandmama’s eyes, and she was moaning like a wounded animal.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this!
“Oh, why would you do that to me?” The raspy voice cracked in shock and pain.
“You said it wouldn’t hurt her,” Anastasia whispered. “But look at her!”
“Quick!” Anavey said. “You’ve got to shove her down the stairs.”
This was awful. A-W-F-U-L! But she couldn’t possibly let Grandmama suffer so. Her heart was breaking in two, and then she felt as if she were outside her body, watching everything that was happening from some distant place. In desperation, she grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and with all her strength began to push it. Anavey rushed ahead to the kitchen and opened the door to the dark, unfinished basement.
“What are you doing?” Grandmama cried. “What are you doing to me?”
“Shut up you,” Anavey said with an animalistic growl that stunned Anastasia. The voice didn’t even sound human.
At the top of the stairs, Anastasia gave the chair a final push, and it rolled into the darkness to bump and clatter out of sight, carrying Grandmama Nelda with it, finally ending its descent with a deafening crash at the bottom of the stairs.
Then all was a silent but for the thin squeaking sound of one of the wheels still spinning far below.