I don't remember what kind of face I made when that idiot blurted his whole secret to my face. I knew he was an idiot when he mentioned the blood, but topping it off with the vampire claim?
I do remember that I dropped my fork. When he noticed, the boy (whose name I still didn’t know,) reached out to pick it up.
"Ophelia, you dropped your fork." He said, as if that were the only problem here.
My gaze did not leave his face. "... Ah?"
"I've already put the spoon in my mouth, so I shouldn’t give it to you…" The stupid boy continued, "Want me to go get a plastic fork from the cafeteria?"
"Uh...." I kept staring, dumbstruck.
Apparently taking my stupid stare as a ‘yes,’ he stood up from the grass and pointed toward the cafeteria building. “I’ll go grab you a new fork. Wait here, okay?”
Then he flipped his hoodie and stepped out of the tree’s shadow, and into the sun. Everything clicked into place. His porcelain pale skin, the hoodie thing, his obnoxious talents… And then, when he turned to grin at me, I noticed he had pointy canine teeth.
"YOU'RE A VAMPIRE???"
Once again. For all the times I complain about my social invisibility, there are as many times when it's useful. Like that moment, when I screeched a really important secret in public. Fortunately, no one noticed me.
That didn't stop him from reacting with surprise and flailing back to me. He dropped to the ground and covered my mouth, having made a mouse-like squeaking noises the entire time. He must have thought it would cover up my outburst.
"Sssh! N-Not so loudly!" He hissed, "It's a secret, remember?!"
"Yeah, a secret! That you should probably keep?!" I whispered back frantically, yanking his hand off my mouth as I did, "I don't even know your NAME. How would I know you're a vampire?"
"My name is Eliot!" He whined, "A-And I-- wait."
We both got really quiet. He lowered his hand from my mouth and scooted away, looking at me with a horrified expression.
"You r-really didn't know?" He whispered.
I shook my head.
"Ah… Ahhhhhh.” Eliot whimpered, “I'm in so much trouble…!!!"
"Are you serious? You weren't joking?"
"Dude, you can just tell me it's a joke. There is still time for me to buy that kind of excuse!"
"Oh, uh… I-It's a joke! Ahahaa... "
Nope. I did not buy that. His list of obnoxious talents did not include lying.
I'm sure that both of our minds were reeling at equal paces. Eliot, in a panic because he had revealed his secret to me. Me, in a panic because I believed it. What did it say about me that I was so quick to believe my classmate was a vampire? Was I that sick of reality?
My concerns were pretty trivial at the time. I didn't even consider that a secret could mean life or death.
Eventually, Eliot put his hands on my shoulders and gave me a gentle shake.
"Y-You should get out of here! You aren't supposed to know." He whispered desperately, "Please forget it, okay?"
"I'd really like to, but you make it really hard." I hissed back. "Listen! I… I don't know what to do, but it's not like I have anyone to talk to anyway. So just go ahead and leave if I'm not as clever as you expected."
"It's not like thaaat." He whined, "Ophelia, this is serious. This whole school is-- You could be in so much trouble…!"
Just then, I heard the school PA system go off.
"Will Ophelia Malory and Eliot Durant please report to the student council room? I repeat---"
"Heek!" Eliot jumped up. "Oh no! They found out!"
"What? Who did? The student council?" I shrugged, "That was fast."
"This is no time for being impressed, Ophelia!" Eliot was nearly in tears. "Listen. Just follow my lead, okay? It'll be fine."
"Oh...kay?" I was still confused, but decided to go along with him. While I didn't know what to think of the vampire thing, we had been summoned to the student council's room. So after we packed up what remained of our lunch, we headed off back to the school building.
The hallways were eerily quiet when we entered the school building. Even the cafeteria sounds were muted now that they had closed the heavy doors. Eliot looked quite anxious as we climbed the stairs to the third floor. I was much more relaxed. You could probably even say that I was having fun. I did not understand how severe our situation was.
At our school, the third floor is reserved almost entirely for the student council. It stands like a tower between the East and West wings of our school, which only have two levels. It is because of this that not many students ever go to the third floor. I never cared much about the student council before that day either. I thought it was just a silly position won through a popularity contest. After that Monday, I realize that our student council is actually kinda scary.
At the top of the staircase was a short hallway, with only two doors facing each other. One was labeled “storage,” and the other, “Student Council.” I was almost disappointed with how dull the hallway was.
Eliot turned to me and whispered, "Just follow my lead and they won't hurt you."
"Chill. We're going to be fine." Said the girl who did not understand anything. My words seemed to calm him. Which was a dumb choice, since I was in no position to comfort anyone. He took a deep breath and open the door, without even knocking.
The student council room was less disappointing on the inside. There was a calming blue carpet that covered the cold tile flooring and colourful squares hanging on the walls, which made the room look almost friendly. It was the size of maybe two classrooms and had numerous wooden desks and shelves. The way they were arranged was probably meant to form cubicles for each member of the council. That, or it was a maze.
"Good afternoon, you two. Thank you for coming so quickly." A soothing voice drew my attention to the left, where there was another door. The side of the door had a plaque that read 'Student Council President's Office,' and that practically introduced the stranger for me. She was a beautiful girl with rich blue hair that fell to her waistline. I don't normally make a point of noticing, but I couldn't help but take note of her magazine model figure. I am guilty of having thought that was how she got elected to her position.
She gave off a strange aura. Though her face wore a smile, but her blue eyes seemed... off. I can't describe it any other way. It was like when you put white paper next to eggshell: It’s just ‘off.’ She tucked her hair behind her ears, drawing my attention to her matching gold, triangular hairclips and the beautiful blue gems set in them. She looked like someone who turned heads. Even now, I find myself marveling the fact that I came across such a beautiful person.
"I'm the student council president, Saki Shiroyume." She explained lightly, "So this is Ophelia? You didn't take long to approach her, Eliot. Is she that interesting?"
Eliot was standing very still. He looked at me nervously after Saki made that comment, then returned his full attention to her. "It isn't like that. All of this is my fault, Ms Shiroyume--"
"Saki." The blunette corrected with a smile, "We are classmates, Eliot. And your standing in this world is much higher than mine."
"I'd beg to differ…" He said with a sigh, "Please let Ophelia go. She thinks I'm joking."
"I don't, actually." List of things I shouldn't blurt: That. "Eliot is really bad at lying."
"Ophelia!" My comment broke his calm façade, revealing the pitiful boy he really is. Eliot now looked at Saki with a pleading expression. "Please! Just don't hurt her! It's my mistake!"
"Eliot." Saki spoke calmly. Her words silenced his panic like magic. "You know the policy. Humans who learn our secret here have got to be disposed of. It's the best course of action."
Whoa now. I physically flinched when I heard those icy words. Disposed of???
"But Ophelia is-- geh…" Eliot shook his head slowly, "She's different! She's, uh…"
We both stared at each other. For the first time, I was actually looking scared. I felt scared. I still didn't know the specifics, but it had finally sunk in that I was in trouble. He looked guilty and scared for me as he mumbled incoherently. Then, in a sudden moment of clarity, he made an odd announcement, “Ophelia is my assistant now! So… So you can't hurt her!"
"Assistant?" Saki looked startled. We had both been thrown a curveball...Though, I was more confused because I did not know what an assistant was. I don't usually label myself as the helpful type. "So that's how you're going to play?"
"Yes!" He lifted his head and stepped in front of me protectively. "I need a human perspective to properly record this time period anyway."
"Pssst." I tugged on his long jacket and hissed up at him noisily, "Please elaborate for us confused humans?"
Saki heard me and chuckled at my confusion. Thankfully, she also offered an explanation. "He really has roped you into this, hasn't he?"
"Yeah, kinda. Please have mercy?"
"I can't give you that. But I can explain." She folded her hands in her lap, "Eliot is an immortal vampire with a rare classification. Because of his exception memory, he is 'A Living Library,' and considered a treasure of this world. He has memory of every book and important historical perspective for hundreds of years."
I squinted up at Eliot. His memory just got even more obnoxious.
"As a world treasure, he does hold a lot of sway in this conversation." Saki continued. "But you're also a prisoner here, Eliot, just like everyone else. And that dilutes your power by quite a bit."
A lot of crazy information was being thrown at me very quickly. Eliot stood in front of me all the same. "I've made my decision. Ophelia is my assistant. You can't lay a finger on her."
Saki sighed, but I heard a laugh mixed in. "Well, if we can sweep it under the rug without hurting her, I am not opposed. However, I will need proof that she is competent enough to be your assistant, Eliot."
She looked at me with that strange, ‘off’ gaze of hers. "Being the Living Library's assistant is a huge undertaking. Are you sure that you accept, Ophelia?"
"Um. What's the alternative?"
"Death, most likely."
"I would love the job. Thanks for hiring me."
She lifted a hand to mute her giggling. "Very well. Then I have an assignment for you, Eliot. Complete it with the help of Ophelia and I will arrange the necessary paperwork. She can be your official assistant when it is submitted."
Eliot's shoulders fell with relief. The quick glance he gave to me suggested that maybe he was feeling better about all of this. I, on the other hand, was not. My body felt cold and my head was beginning to spin. All I knew was the job I had accepted was saving my life. I had no idea what the job was, what was going to kill me, or even how I had been backed into this corner. Eliot was a vampire, apparently… But that didn't seem like a big enough deal to warrant my death.
"Please report here when your classes conclude for the day. Make sure Ophelia doesn't run away, Eliot, or someone will have to hunt her down." Saki seemed ready to wrap this up. And I'll admit: I was pretty eager for all of this to be over. I just knew that it wouldn't actually end with us getting hall passes back to class. This wasn't something I could escape with social invisibility, either.
So I raised my hand high, even though I was not exactly fighting for attention. "I have no idea what is going on. Can someone please explain?"
The look Saki gave me made me feel stupid. I know everyone says that there is no such thing as a stupid question, but apparently that rule only applies to humans. She then glanced around the room, before gesturing to a couch that was pushed up against the far wall. I only now noticed what appeared to be a sitting area, complete with an elegant coffee table, to our right.
"Why don't you sit down and I can answer your questions?" She suggested. "Eliot, would you like to go ahead to your next class?"
"No." He answered flatly. "I'm not leaving you alone with her until that paperwork is submitted."
Saki frowned. "You make it sound like you don't trust me…"
"It isn't you that I don't trust." Eliot also frowned, though more apologetically now. "It's everyone else."
The two of them seemed to reach an understanding. Their expressions softened with pity and guilt, but then broke to faint smiles. I have no doubt that their friendship deepened considerably in that moment. Unfortunately for them, I was too confused to care.
"Please elaborate on that entire conversation." I pleaded. "Who don't you trust? What's going to happen if you leave me alone?"
I shuffled my feet nervously, with my confusion sinking into panic. "What have I gotten myself into?"