Author’s Note: Invaded is kind of like The Host meets True Blood. I think. But you can say I pretty much imitated The Host. Sigh.
P.S. I’ve been thinking of writing a sequel, from Carley’s POV and everything. But I’d like to hear comments from you guys. Say, minimum ten reviews, and I’ll start. Hee.
Model: Taylor Momsen
Haley wasn’t happy.
The fact that her own sister, Carley was signing up for a Vampification wasn’t what she had in mind in the first place when she saw Carley sneaking into her friend, Thorne’s car and heading to City of Hirraz. Everyone knew that was where the big factories and buildings were located. Not to mention the Vampification Lot, a tall, grey, concrete building that was managed by Aley de Alro, an expert scientist that created the formula to turn normal people into fanged vampires, which happened to be the latest fashion of the decade.
Haley snorted, unimpressed. Apparently, the fashion proved to burn a huge hole in anyone’s pocket, Carley’s included, if she was planning to enter the goddamned building and turn herself into a vampire.
Halliwell Blackthorne, or Haley for short was crouched in an awkward position behind some bushes, peeping at her sister Carley, as she and Thorne linked hands and stepped into the building with the sign Vampification Lot hung above. Haley was shocked. One, because she never knew Carley and Thorne would actually be dating; two, because her little sister was seriously going to be vampified, unless she took some action to prevent the horror from happening. With much difficulty, Haley emerged from her hiding place and entered the grey building.
Registering Carley and Thorne’s silhouettes, Haley followed them, a mile distance between them, careful to remain as silent as possible. A guard clad in red that was standing at the door barked at her to stop, but Haley threw her journalist pass at him and kept on going at a fast pace, avoiding people who were emerging from the Op Rooms, all baring newly planted fangs. Haley flinched as a man in his thirties bared his fangs at her, and then guffawed loudly at her astounded expression. Haley cursed under her breath. These people, they think they’re vampires already, Haley rolled her eyes, and quickened her pace when she remembered her main motive. But as she turned around to search for Carley among the huge throng of people, her sister was nowhere to be found. Reprimanding herself for being so easily distracted, Haley wandered around in the enormous building, hoping, by some unseen miracle that she would be able to bump into her sister.
Please, Carley, where are you? Haley prayed that her sister hadn’t gotten into an Op Room yet, or it might be too late already. All of a sudden, a huge hand gripped her arm and spun her around, taking Haley by surprise. It was the Red Suit Guard. “Sorry, Miss Hurl-Your-Journalist-Pass-At-Me. Just because you write for Hirraz Insertion doesn’t mean you get to enter the Vamp Lot at your own free will,” he looked livid, and seemed to be pulverizing Haley’s arm into powder. Haley was instantly stupefied. She immediately regretted not giving further explanations to the Guard, and wondered what the Insertion Company was going to say about her sudden trespass at Vampification Lot. “I…I was just…” Haley began to stutter incoherently.
“Well, who do we have here?” a short, bald man clad in a prim, black suit appeared before Haley and the Guard. Haley grimaced at the sight of the bald man, founder and creator of the Vampification Lot, Aley de Alro. Apparently, Alro noticed Haley’s grim expression and let slip a smirk. “And who is this lovely lady here, Garth?”
“Trespasser,” the Red Suit Guard, Garth, grunted. Haley tried to pull her arm out of the Guard’s grip, but to no avail. Suddenly wishing that she hadn’t followed Carley here, she cursed under her breath and prayed that this nightmare would be over soon. Calming herself, she said in as professional a voice as she could muster. “Excuse me, gentlemen, but I have an urgent task to run, so if you’ll excuse me,” she glared at the Guard, willing him to release her, but Garth was unperturbed. Instead, Alro laughed once, then said in his unnerving, squeaky voice, “Garth, let the lady go.” The Guard released Haley’s arm, which she massaged it carefully where she thought bruises were starting to grow.
“I’m sorry, Miss..?” Alro started.
“Blackthorne.” Haley answered reluctantly. Her name wasn’t a common one, and tracking her down would be easy since her family was the only Blackthornes in City Of Hirraz. The fact that both her parents were lecturers at Hirraz’s Institute won’t make their existence subtler, either. Haley just prayed that the genius slash weirdo wouldn’t try a blackmail attempt at her family. Who knew what oily, bald men were capable of, especially when you were trespassing his building?
Alro nodded once at the Red Suit Guard, and then beckoned to Haley to follow him. Haley hesitated, but had no other options under the watchful eye of Garth the Red Suit Guard. She was near positive that, if she tried an escape attempt, this time she would really end up in dust.
The teeming crowd in the Vampification Lot seemed unaware of the hairless manager and the blonde, skinny girl that was following him. All Nia Jerovic, receptionist of Vampification Lot, saw was Aley de Alro leading the blonde girl into one of the furthest Op Room at the back of the building. There was the sound of a door slamming, followed by a shrill shriek, mixed together with the sound of whirring machines in the background. Nia sighed and continued filing her nails. Sometimes, the manager’s persuasive skills just weren’t enough to strap someone down and keep her silent at the same time.
The scream finally ceased, but no one in the building seemed to give a thought about it.
“The boss says to watch over these two,” Brown Sand told Paper Flower, who had just emerged from her Bunk. Paper Flower eyed the two humans -who were blindfolded and gagged- warily. They weren’t struggling, like most humans did when captured, but one of them, a female, was wimping. Paper Flower frowned at her colleague.
“That’s his order to you, not me. Besides, I’m his personal assistant, I have errands to run, in case you have already forgotten who’s in charge here,” Paper Flower warned Brown Sand dangerously. Brown Sand nodded apologetically, and Paper Flower proceeded to the Control Room, walking in a prim manner that suggested that she was on an important task.
And she was. The boss had just given out an order to collect reports of the remaining humans in various hideouts in Hirraz. It wasn’t easy, as these Homo sapiens were hostile, with burly bodices to boot. Paper Flower hated them. Such great minds put to worthless uses. They never could understand what the vampires –what she and her Company- were trying to do. Save the world, that’s what it was. Humans and their rash actions, no wonder their planet was coming to an end. If vampires weren’t living on Earth Planet as well, Paper Flower wouldn’t’ve given a damn about those warm-blooded whims.
Don’t forget, you were a human once, her conscience took pleasure in mocking and teasing her, but Paper Flower willed herself not to venture into that department. Humans are weak and worthless, she said firmly. They’re nothing but a bunch of dependent midgets who think that they are mighty and powerful, but are really just cowards hiding beneath flesh and skin. There, she had successfully contradicted her inner self, something worth being proud of, actually.
She knocked twice on the boss’s wooden door, and entered when the boss emitted a faint grunt. Aley de Alro, still bald, but worn out ever since the days when man still ruled Earth, was meditating on a mat spread out on the smooth marble floor. Paper Flower tiptoed into the room, careful not to disturb the boss. She waited patiently until the boss muttered finish his “Ohms”, then handed the brown report file to the boss’s outstretched hand. He flipped through the pages absent-mindedly, which made Paper Flower start to itch with nervousness. Had she been comprehensive enough? Had she missed out some significant detail that the boss was especially looking out for? Had she been too sloppy in her work?
Finally, the boss grunted. “Good work, Paper Flower, now I need you to stand guard for the two new arrivals at the Host Chamber.”
Paper Flower was stunned for a brief second. “The ones Brown Sand is watching over?”
“But…Brown Sand, he…” Paper Flower was a huge mess of controversies. No, she didn’t want to be a babysitter for the new captives! She thought she was supposed to be important, the boss’s personal assistant or whatever. Evidently, the boss didn’t think so. Paper Flower cleared her throat and steadied herself. “Very well. I will see to keeping them in order until they are needed, boss.” Then, she walked out of the room, grumbling to herself.
Brown Sand was extremely bored. The two prisoners were silent and still, proving no challenge compared to the previous captives who would do anything to untie themselves and escape. He sighed in frustration, and raised his eyebrows when he saw Paper Flower heading his way. “I’m on duty. Feel free to roam wherever you like,” Paper Flower said curtly and slumped her body against the concrete wall, avoiding his stare. Sometimes, Paper Flower was hardly understandable when she was in her angry mode. Brown Sand took her terse remark as his sign of freedom and started for the pantry.
Paper Flower was distressed. She hated it when the boss always underestimated her just because she was female. The only female to be involved in the Company’s secret activities, to be exact. Apparently, the ‘Upper Office’ had legislated a ban against working females, especially those serving the Company. Paper Flower was fortunate enough to be specially hand –picked by the boss, who had finally convinced the ‘Uppers’ that she was capable of assisting in the Company’s projects. It took quite a lot of paperwork and persuading to allow Paper Flower to step into the Granite Hub, a domed-shaped building that hosted the Company’s enterprises.
Out of her peripheral vision, Paper Flower noticed the female captive kicking pebbles on the ground, which sent them tinktink-ing across the rough, soiled ground. “Hey, you. Stop that,” she ordered. It wasn’t enough that the building’s generator was emanating loud dins from the other room, now this girl had to add some extra sound effects to worsen her already forming migraine? Her hatred towards humans started to raise a few notches.
The female –couldn’t be younger than twenty-five, Paper Flower thought- froze, as if Paper Flower’s words had riveted her to the spot. Then, she started mumbling through her gag. Paper Flower was annoyed, but decided to let it go. However, when the mumbling started to increase in volume and intensity, she cursed under her breath and bellowed, “SHUT UP!”
The girl was unperturbed. This time, she started to thrash around, wriggling out of her ties that were binding her hands together. Paper Flower’s stomach instantly knotted. Oh, Llhya, she cursed, and bent down swiftly to hold the girl in place, speaking threatening verses to the girl at the same time. Her effort proved futile, and the girl’s struggle never ceased to end, so Paper Flower ripped the girl’s gag out, out of irritation. She would soon learn that that was the biggest mistake she had ever made in her life, for the girl’s next word was going to change her life forever.
“Haley!” The girl cried out.
White, misty clouds were moving in front of her, blocking her vision from what lied ahead. Haley felt foggy and indistinct, her limbs turned into jelly, her mind a single, thin thread, vulnerable and easily snapped into two. She was tired, tired from years of immobility, of stagnancy and inertia. Lethargy and fatigue claimed her, with every step she took. Stupid mist, she wished the blur in her eyes would melt away, because she felt an urgent need to see what was really in front of her. She had a premonition that she was supposed to see it, the reality that she had been missing; the clarity that had been absent in her soul for years. She had never understood the urgent need of the reclamation of her lucidity, after a long period of time in oblivion. She was scared, terrified yet curious at the same time. What lied ahead? What was the truth beneath the web of lies? What had cost her limpidity for all these years?
There was a sharp, glistening light that stroke her abruptly, followed by a piercing pain in her head, then, as soon as it had started, it disappeared, and she was staring at darkness.
What followed after the darkness proved the blinding light and brief sting worthwhile. Projections of her life started to appear before her eyes. Every single detail of her twenty-seven years of life replayed before her, pellucid and limpid. Then there was the inevitable huge pit that yawned before her at the end of her life’s storyline; the token of the end of Halliwell Blackthorne’s life and the beginning of the pompous Paper Flower’s.
…might arouse old memories…the sound of their old names, or the sight of their loved ones…Fog runs out, claimed by lucidness…might be uncontrollable, who knows?…vampire won’t be gone, just two souls living in a single body…might result in ugly death if surprised into incurable state of shock….These were the last words that Aley de Alro had spoken to her, before she was Operated into a vampire.
Two souls living in a single body? Haley’s breath –she was startled to find that she was regaining consciousness, and her body system- caught in her throat. That could only mean one thing.
Paper Flower was still alive.
Paper Flower was in shock. No! This isn’t possible! She was frantic. The boss’s experiment had proved faulty. She could already feel herself weakening as her Old Soul, Halliwell Blackthorne returned from the deep depths of her mind, where she had made sure to guard safely and carefully all these years in case the human came wandering back into her mind, demanding to acquire her body and brain. Silver threads of Halliwell Blackthorne’s soul flew past her own, and even before they had reached the sole part of her brain, Paper Flower knew all was lost. As soon as a single tendril of the soul made contact with what Aley de Alro called, the Sole Ground, the Old Soul would instantly regain control over her body and mind function, and the vampire left to rot in the barren of Halliwell’s mind. Paper Flower wouldn’t be dead, oh, no. It was something much, much worse. She would be forsaken in the deep depths of Halliwell Blackthorne’s mind, just like how she had preserved Halliwell’s in the back of her own mind.
Paper Flower would cease to exist forever.
“Carley?” Haley had finally learnt how to emit a single octave from her throat after ages of abandoning that particular skill. Her fluster at Paper Flower’s entity in her own had started to fade away. She could already sense Paper Flower getting weaker and weaker, until she was merely a single spot nagging at the back of her mind. Her eyes had full clarity, too, and she saw her sister, blindfolded before her, kneeling on red dirt. Thorne was beside her, blinded, muted, and unconscious, too.
“Carley? Oh, my God, Carley!” Haley swiftly untied Carley’s hand ties and blindfold with her deft fingers. In the five years that Paper Flower had minded her body, Haley realized she had gotten thinner and fairer from shielding herself from the toxic sun in this chamber. Her long blonde hair was now cropped short into a pixie hairdo, which made Haley wince in disgust. As soon as she got back home, she would trim off those uneven edges and perhaps glue together some fake hair to regain her luscious, blonde curls. Her chest knotted tightly as she wondered if they would be able to escape from here, much less get home. Hell, she doubted if there was even a home to go to now. As far as she was concerned, five years of living at the back of Paper Flower’s mind more or less indicated that life outdoors was lethal and fatal. It was no wonder Paper Flower had chosen to shelter herself in this strong, protected granite building. She wondered what had happened to the rest of Earth.
“Tell me,” Haley breathed, when Carley was free and started on Thorne’s straps. “What exactly happened?”
Carley seemed uncertain where she should start. Since her sister had gone missing? Since Aley de Alro had taken over Earth with his vampire army? Since their parents died? All sorts of memories flooded her mind, and she wanted nothing more than to rebuild the strong wall around it again, but she couldn’t possibly leave Haley clueless about her current surroundings.
“You went missing. The…the day I went to the Vampification Lot,” Carley admitted, ashamed. “We tried to search for you. We…we put on posters, ads, even sent search teams to look for you in Hirraz, but we soon received a letter from Alro, ordering us to stop our searching attempts and leave it be. He…he was crazy!” Carley cried out. “We would never stop looking for you! Mame and Pop told him that, but when he started to take brutal actions, like arson, we knew there was something wrong, and there would be an apocalyptic change in future. Mame and Pop and all our aunts and uncles found ourselves shelters to hide in, even though we didn’t know this was going to happen. I dragged Thorne along with me, because…because he was only an orphan and I couldn’t bear to let him die alone-”
“Wait, Carley. What happened? You said you didn’t know ‘this’ was going to happen. What is it?”
“Vampires,” Carley whispered, but when Haley looked at her, mystified, she continued, “Aley de Alro’s vampires were robot-like minions, all designed to abide by his orders. When the time had come, he activated the microchips he had installed in the vamps’ brains and they became totally different people. They became…strangers.” Carley looked up with dilated eyes, staring deep into her sister’s dark brown ones. “We thought you were…dead, but it never occurred to us that you became a robot-vamp. And a pretty prominent one too.”
“Trust me, it wasn’t at my own will. You could say I was bound and gagged like you two, too, only much worse. Apparently, I was Alro’s third minion experiment. Not a nice experience,” As Haley said it, she could remember the time when she first entered the Vampification Lot, and how Aley de Alro saved her from the Red Suit Guard, but she turned out to become a victim in the end, nevertheless.. “What about you? I saw you and Thorne sneaking into the Vamp Lot, too. Why aren’t you a vampire?”
“You did?” Carley’s cheeks reddened. “Oh, Thorne chickened out.”
The sound of a closing door brought Haley back to her real senses. She turned to see Brown Sand staring at her, a cup of steaming hot coffee in his hand. Even though Haley was clad in the Company’s uniform, she knew that Brown Sand had noticed a change in her whole figure. Paper Flower’s egoistic complexion was replaced by Haley’s terrified one. Not to mention, she was kneeling in front of a prisoner.
“Hey! Paper Flower, what’re you-” But Brown Sand never got the chance to finish his sentence, for a huge blow up his jaw sent him hurling across the Chamber, slamming into the pantry door, and dropping onto the ground like a malfunctioning puppet. Haley was amazed at her sudden strength, but it seemed like Paper Flower’s martial skills hadn’t disappeared altogether with her. She grabbed Carley and Thorne, ushering them to hurry, then pelted for the exit, which was faintly etched in Paper Flower’s mind, as well as hers. Thorne proved to be a weighty person, for Haley couldn’t run very fast while supporting Thorne in her arms. They were a motley crew; a Vampire Officer, a runaway fugitive, and an unconscious prisoner. Hell knew what would happen if they were caught. The thought made her chest catch, sending an array of racing shivers up and down her spine, and beads of nervous perspiration started to gather at her forehead.
They passed through many secluded lanes, each one as terrifying as the next. The walls were full of suction pipes and electrical cables, and there was a constant whirr-ing sound that accompanied them wherever they go. The ground was slightly muddy, and they got their shoes –or, in Haley’s case, boots- covered with filth and mud. Normally, petite Carley would start to gripe and mumble about her precious footwear, but the situation seemed too dire to care much about personal belongings now. Every step they took, every junction they turned, they kept on imagining Aley de Alro or a Vamp Guard turning up unexpectedly, and zapping them into unconsciousness. The thought made their pace quickened, but never seemed to soothe their palpitating hearts that was threatening to burst out of their ribcages. Haley had a sudden idea to pretend to be Paper Flower, who was actually taking the prisoners for a spin, but realized her sweaty face and shaky self would give herself away. Besides, she didn’t know if the real Paper Flower would start to show herself if she tried –even for a millisecond- to think like her. In the end, she abandoned that redundant thought and focused solely on getting themselves out of this dreadful building.
Finally, the exit door loomed over them, a green metallic hatch with multiple complicated latches, bolts and an eye scanner to boot. Haley rummaged through Paper Flower’s mind again and realized that the scanner recognized her eye print. She let the bright blue ray of light glaze over her eyeball, which sent the door opening, to reveal a different kind of light, streaming into the murky and dusty corners of the Granite Hub.
Carley was right; the sun had turned toxic. Instead of radiating bright yellow light, the sun was now a gigantic black ball, surrounded by a thin band of blinding, white light among a pitch black sky. The sun, which was now ten times larger than its usual size, loomed over Earth, threatening to shroud the planet in darkness, quite the opposite of its previous job. The land hadn’t fared well, either. All traces of greenery had long gone, substituted by a long stretch of barren land, sandy and muddy in several places. The only signs that indicated the existence of living creatures were the scattered alloyed hutches dotting the desert-like plain. There was not a single animal to be seen. Rivers that used to run free were dried up, and there was a constant buffeting gale that aroused the abundant sand particles, stirring them into people’s sensitive eyes.
“Where are you going to, with Hirraz in such a state?” Haley was horrified. Five years, she was gone for five years, and Alro brought along an apocalypse? It wasn’t possible, yet here she was, standing in front of what used to be her home, now destructed and ruined by vampire dunces. The very thought sent anger rippling through her chest, sending waves of uncontrollable fury all over her body. Someday, she thought menacingly. Someday Alro will pay for this.
“Uncle Yahe found a shelter below the City Center. All remaining humans are taking refuge there,” Carley replied, and then sensing Haley’s dubiousness at their parents’ condition, she drooped her head and added quietly, “Mame and Pop are dead. The vamps got them when they were out on a rummaging search for necessities.”
It felt as if the angle of the world was tilted on its side, and if Haley moved, she would topple over sideways. Like those bad dreams where you had to cling onto the floor for dear life, unless you wanted to feel like you were falling down a deep chasm of panic. Haley’s breath came in short gasps. Her parents were dead, her parents were dead, her parents were dead. Somehow, reality felt the need to repeat those words in her head over and over again, like a battered old radio, straining to be heard.
But now wasn’t the time for sentimentalities. Carley and Thorne’s life –and maybe even hers- were at stake here, Haley needed to get them out of here, before she could even think about mourning. Just as she was pushing the two teenagers out of the door, she felt a searing sting at the side of her neck, and felt herself weaken instantaneously. Just a sharp point of a needle sent Haley’s heart careening around inside her chest, and her mouth went to another level of dry. Her ears rang from the blood that rushed to them, so loudly that she could barely hear what Carley was screaming at her, nor could she hear the subtle but resounding sets of footsteps that were approaching them. “Go,” she mustered all her strength to utter that single syllable, pushing Carley and Thorne out the door and closing it at the same time.
Surprisingly, she felt relaxed. She felt calm, serene, even peaceful, as if she was drifting on clouds. Everything is going to be okay, her mind was telling itself, even though her real consciousness was shrieking endlessly that it wasn’t. Carley was safe, that’s all that matters. Besides, she didn’t think she could continue living after years of being Paper Flower’s host. Paper Flower was too vile, too aggressive, and even though Haley hated to admit it, part of the vampire’s soul would still remain implanted in herself, no matter how much she tried to eradicate it. The sound of footsteps boomed in her mind, but she couldn’t care less. She didn’t care if it was the madman Alro, or some other robotic guard coming to incapacitate her. She didn’t really care what was going to happen to her. She had done what she had intended to, and was satisfied with her life, even though she was a wee bit remorseful that she didn’t have the chance to spend more of her years seeing the world.
She dropped sideways onto the uneven floor, her eyes just barely opening now. She knew her time had come, her time to leave. She stretched her muscles into one last smile, than closed her eyes serenely. Halliwell Blackthorne was safe.
Aley de Alro wasn’t happy at all, but he didn’t show it, for it would show his disgust for tranquiliser darts. He was quite fond of that Haley girl and her body, even though he thought Paper Flower was a pain in the ass. No matter, he had other plans in mind. One human down, one vampire down, many more to go.
“What do you plan to do with her, boss?” Copper Brick, who had accompanied Aley de Alro in search of the runaway human slash vampire, said. He reached down to yank the tranquiliser needle that his remarkable sense of accuracy had sent stabbing into Paper Flower/Halliwell Blackthorne’s neck. He pushed in the plunger until all liquid was gone from the syringe, and then flicked it away.
Aley de Alro was deep in muse of a brief moment. “Put her in the storage room. I’ll make use of her later,” he smirked viciously, as a great plan started to form in his wicked mind. “As for little Carlyle Blackthorne and her male friend, hunt them down and bring them to me. Un-alive.” Then, with a swoosh of his tailcoat, he strutted away, making a faint clicking sound on the floor with his black boots.