Sitting around the campfire, Laurel really wasn’t sure where to start. The club was there at her behest, and she didn’t want to waste their time. But now that they were here, it didn’t seem so simple.
Laurel’s vampire book said Forgotten Hollow was the only place to harvest garlic these days. Laurel setup a club gathering at the park in Forgotten Hollow, the only place she could confirm where garlic grew.
The club chatted a bit, each trying ease a bit of nervousness, and they ate BLT sandwiches Carmen brought from home.
“Can you guys believe they have monkey bars in this ‘park’? Who would let their children hang out here? I just can’t even imagine,” said Laurel.
“Hugo’s sister Luna would,” said Carmen.
“Say what? You must be joking,” said Luca.
“I wish I were, but I was just at that big house on the hill earlier today for a visit,” said Carmen. “Luna and her wife Aadhya just moved in with the new baby, who they’ve named Cade. He’s so adorable y’all. Looks like a dulce de leche version of my Rodrigo.”
“Wait, that doesn’t make sense,” said Laurel. “The vampire tome I read said that house is haunted and inhabited by a vampire who’s hundreds of years old. He’s the last in the line of the vampire family Vatore.”
“Oh Creator,” said Carmen. “I hope you’re not talking about Caleb Vatore! He just married Hugo’s step-mother! His father Jacques passed away recently and she’s already re-married and pregnant. Do you really think Caleb is a vampire? He looks so young! This is so crazy!”
“You know what? I might be mixing them up…,” said Laurel. “If Caleb looks young, then that’s not who was in the house on the hill. It was a man who appeared old.”
“That’s a relief–”
“Appears old? That makes me think,” said Gavin. “Gray hair? Very thin frame? Goatee? Wears a long double breasted jacket that’s always buttoned up? I don’t know why, but that’s how I picture the man who I swear was in my room, the reason I believe these vampires exist.”
“That sounds like Vladislaus,” said Carmen. “He just married Travis Holiday, Summer’s cousin, y’all know him? Well, anyway, they live in the next neighborhood over from you in Oasis Springs, Laurel. Vladislaus just stopped by my house the other day with a friend. I was gardening, but I stopped to chat for a bit. I just thought they were two sweet old men. Did I invite two vampires into my home where my newborn baby was?!”
“Perhaps you could borrow my Loner trait until little Rodrigo is older,” said Bo.
“You say the oddest things,” said Luca with a chuckle. “But when do we get to the point of why we’re here? Let’s crush some vampires!”
“No one is crushing any vampires,” said Gavin. “We have to explore the area and see if we can find some of these plants growing. If we can harvest what Laurel needs, we’ll be one step closer to protecting our homes from these vampires.”
“Exactly, “said Laurel, “then we won’t have to worry about who is one and who isn’t.”
They got started that night. Laurel and Luca led the club away from the campsite.
They followed a path that looked spooky and came to an abrupt halt past a fallen lamp post. The path ran right into the back of a stone bench.
“Darn, no garlic.”
They continued exploring, doing their best not to attract the attention of the inhabitants of the homes. They found a stone gargoyle that appeared to have some sort of shrine setup beneath it with many candles lit. Carmen took one look at the shrine and decided to call it a night.
“We’re not going to find anything tonight y’all,” Carmen said. “It’s too dark, and I’m really not trying to accidentally disturb anything that goes bump in the night. Let’s try again in the morning.”
Everyone agreed and headed back to camp to get some sleep. They took shifts sleeping and cooking. Laurel eventually found several plants, but none seemed to have any harvestables. Each member of the club checked in with their families to let them know they were still alive.
To everyone’s surprise/relief no one came across any vampires. By the third day, no one was discussing who they thought might be a vampire anymore. Laurel could tell they were getting restless, but she also noticed they hadn’t given up on her. For that she was grateful.
Laurel decided to take a nap when the talk finally turned back to vampires.
As the only one who’d been bitten by a vampire, Laurel was not at all eager to come across a known vampire again. Even though she was scared, she knew she’d survive a vampire encounter. The men sat around the campfire and shared theories as to where the vampires were hiding. Laurel listened to them while resting in the tent.
Laurel: At least they’re not questioning aloud if the vampires are real. Stay with me guys, we’ll be done here soon.
Laurel often ventured off by herself while the others were sleeping or eating or attempting to play basketball on the sad hoop at the back of the lot.
Laurel visited each of these plants she found. She checked the plants multiple times each day, but they were never ready for harvest. Perhaps this was going to be more than just a short weekend trip.
At one point, it was just Laurel and Carmen by the fire. Carmen talked about her dreams for her life and how it really wasn’t going according to plan. Gavin was nearby, but he pretended to not find their girl talk interesting.
“If you had told me when I was a Teen that this would be my life, I wouldn’t believe you,” said Carmen. “I’m a single mother! Still a fledgling artist to boot, though I feel another promotion is on the horizon. And I spend more time gardening now than dancing. You know I’m just a dance machine, but now I dance while painting, hehe.”
Even though both of them yearned to be at home with their children, they knew they were in this park to keep their families safe, so it felt worth it. The bonding time for the club made them each feel more at home, which was important since they all moved here from somewhere else and were starting fresh in their lives. Laurel thought about what she could say to try and make Carmen feel better.
To Be Continued…