The three Russian vampires stood over me while I bled out onto the patio. I could feel the grit of the concrete pressing uncomfortably into my palms and heels as I writhed in pain. The pool of sticky blood reached my wings and soaked into my feathers, making them heavier than usual. Or, maybe it was merely the loss of blood that made me feel heavy. Some distant part of my brain wondered if they’d find it easier to clean up my blood with their tongues instead of soap and water.
“She’s going to die,” Aleksander whispered. My son covered his face with his hands and knelt near my head.
“No, she won’t, Aleks. I promise I will not let her die,” Deema assured him. He checked me again to see if I was healing yet. My husband growled in anger when he saw what I could already feel—I was still bleeding all over the pavement.
“What do we do?” Aleksandra cried. She also fell to her knees beside me. Part of me almost found it amusing that my son’s twin mirrored his pose on the other side of my torso. It seemed like they were always doing similar things without even realizing it. “It’s not working! Our blood isn’t healing her.” She sobbed in her tearless way while her hands fluttered uselessly over my broken body.
“I’ve consumed too much of your blood too many times,” I muttered. I felt myself weakening more and more with every moment that passed. My wings had started to grow numb as they lay sprawled out awkwardly beneath me. I sighed. “She was so strong because I’ve grown stronger.”
Yes, my seventh and final angel/vampire hybrid child was by far the strongest of them all. She’d broken my spine, shattered my pelvis, and crushed my tailbone while I’d pushed her out, still encased in the amniotic sack.
The three vampires—my family from a previous incarnation—stared at me in shock for a moment while I gathered the rest of my strength to speak my last words as a mortal.
“It’s time, Deema. You must change me or I will die.” My eyes slid closed and I heard him heave a despondent sigh. He’d been dreading this day and knew that my tribal elders would be upset with him for changing me into a blood drinker.
Deema tore open his wrist and proceeded to wipe his blood on the wounds I had received from giving birth. I felt the change start to happen almost instantly. It was shockingly easy and caused me no additional pain. It was actually quite soothing when I felt the agony subside. My broken bones went numb for several moments before they started to knit together.
But while I was in the middle of changing from a mortal angel into an angel who would drink blood and live forever, I was also gripped by a powerful vision. It was terrifying because it was unlike any prophecy I’d ever seen before. Instead of seeing myself from an outside, disembodied perspective, I was actually experiencing the vision through my own eyes…
I gazed out over the wheat field that was being trampled by a sea of soldiers coming to invade my people’s land. I was stunned and disoriented that this was happening right now. I, along with the other women who stood before them, held up my hands and spread my wings while we all commanded them to stop. It was then that I saw my skin becoming clear like glass. I gaped at my arms for a moment while the procession of men ground to a halt. They, too, gawked at my glassy flesh and all of my visible muscles beneath it. I was, after all, the only angel along the fence line who had transparent skin.
The rest of the vision started to play out as it had before whenever I’d dreamt of it. They asked me what I was and I told them, “I am Hope, the first Hopi angel, and I am tasked with protecting this tribe from you.”
Only this time, many of them raised their guns and aimed right at me. That had never happened before in previous visions of the coming invasion.
I was suddenly jolted out of the prophetic sight, not by waking up, but by the completion of my change. After nearly twenty minutes of lying on the ground in my screened-in patio, it was suddenly over and I was back in my body. Sandra helped me up and I glanced around in the darkness with my new, vampire eyes.
Everything was so crisp! I’d thought things were vivid and clear when I’d first drank vampire blood, but now my vision was many thousands of times better than that. I could focus on dust in the air a thousand yards away. I could discern the twitches of the plants and grasses as they grew. My attention to detail was so great that even over the vastness of my yard and the neighboring field, my brain could pick out the movements in the plants not caused by wind.
Deema appeared at my side with our newest child in his arms. She had his obsidian eyes and my high cheekbones. “How do you feel, Hope?”
“I feel…awesome!” I said after a moment. “Oh my god. My voice!” I squealed as my hands flew to my throat. “I sound like—well, I don’t sound like me.”
I peered down and realized I’d already been cleaned up and redressed. I gave Sandra a curious glance and she answered me with a smile. Yes, she had dressed me in my favorite hunting clothes while I’d had my last vision as a mortal. It felt like she’d also brushed out my calf-length hair and left it down. I grinned for a moment while I felt it swirling around with my skirt.
“You sound beautiful.” Deema smiled, passing me our unnamed newborn daughter.
“You look beautiful, too,” Taniya, my best friend and pseudo-sister, chimed in as she walked outside holding her son and my actual nephew, Dancing Bronco. “I wonder if your wings will change later on.” She ran her fingers over my sparkling, opalescent feathers.
I turned and examined my left wing for a moment before I plucked out a few non-essential feathers. They grew back right before my eyes and they were still the same glittering white. “I guess they won’t be changing.”
“We need to call your elders,” Deema said in a hushed tone.
“It can wait until the morning,” I chirped before I walked into my house.
I went upstairs to the refrigerator, where we kept bags of blood for the children, and pulled one out to feed my new baby. As soon as she punctured the bag, the scent of blood filled my nostrils and a burning thirst rose in my throat. I made a noise that shocked me—it was like a hiss mixed with a growl. It took every bit of my self-control to not snatch the blood away from my child and devour it myself. Deema was next to me in a second and asked me what was wrong.
“I need to feed,” I growled. I cursed myself for not thinking of how things were different now. I couldn’t just feed my babies like I always had before. I almost loosed a sob. I’d never have any more babies now that I was a vampire.
He took the child from my arms and encouraged me to go feed with the twins. I crashed through the window beside us and I was back on the ground just outside the patio in barely a second. The broken glass showered down around me, sparkling in the moonlight.
“I must feed now,” I told the vampire twins when they stared at me with wonder and surprise.
Sandra threw open the back door and stepped outside. “Then let’s go.”
We took off into the sky and I sped toward Las Vegas. The twins quickly fell behind and pushed their thoughts to me, saying that I needed to slow down. Poor kids. They could only fly about 200 miles per hour. But bless their hearts for always wanting to try to keep up with my over 600 miles per hour.
‘I can’t,’ I replied mentally. ‘I cannot escape this thirst.’
‘But we need to talk about your vision,’ Sandra thought toward me. ‘It was different. Where were the shapeshifters? Why weren’t the vampires there? Why did the soldiers point their guns at you once you’d said your name? In all of the other times that you dreamed that vision, it was only because more winged women and warriors were joining you. Why is it different now? Why will the soldiers fight you and not join you?’
‘My sweet, wonderful daughter,’ I said inside of my mind while I pumped my wings with every bit of my new strength. ‘Can’t you see? It’s because of my skin. It’s because I’m a vampire now. That is what has changed. Because now, they will certainly want to exterminate me. This change may have put my whole tribe in danger rather than saving them, as is my duty. Because I’ve loved your father in two lifetimes now, I may have spelled the end for all of my people.’