Haseul found herself wondering if she had just somehow not realized. It hadn’t been that long since she’d seen Jiwoo, right? Not more than a year or two at least. So how had she missed it? Though given Jiwoo as a person, perhaps she was the safest person to be a Catalyst. Haseul thought it was funny; the world always seemed to get smaller and smaller. While she was just barely beyond the scopes of humanity, as the centuries passed, Haseul ran into more and more people that were less and less human. Not that she could do something about her own predicament, but it was interesting nonetheless.
Jiwoo on the other hand was suffering. There was something mind-breaking about feeling like you were burning from the inside out, while simultaneously being stabbed repeatedly in the stomach. But what could she do? There wasn’t anything physically wrong with her. She decided her best course of action was to call Jinsol. If there was something wrong with Sooyoung, Jinsol would be the one to ask. So, she resigned herself to breathing and called Jinsol.
“Oh, Jiwoo, what’re you up to?” Jinsol chirped.
“Jinsol, are you with Sooyoung?” Jiwoo was relieved to discover she didn’t sound like she was dying, even if that’s how she felt.
“Something’s probably wrong”
Jinsol laughed, “Oh don’t worry, I told her not to get into trouble.”
“Based on the fact that I feel like I’m being dissected alive with no blood spilled, I don’t think she listened!” Jiwoo practically screeched.
“‘Oh?’ Please do something or I might die of a coronary instead.”Jiwoo frowned.
“Alright, alright. In the meantime, it might help if you like, take some sleeping pills or something?” Jinsol said.
“Yeah, thanks, just be quick please,” Jiwoo sighed and hung up.
Because every normal person just has sleeping pills on hand, Jiwoo decided to listen to Jinsol and sleep through the pain. She wondered if it would be strong enough to keep the pain from waking her up; she sure hoped that would be the case. By the time she was in her bed with her eyes closed, Jiwoo realized that she was exhausted. Between the mental shock of Haseul’s words and the physical pain she was feeling, the sleeping pills should have been more than enough to knock her right out. But instead of feeling the haze of sleep surrounding her brain, it was a different feeling that came. It was something between the feeling of coercion and the feeling of being physically dragged. Needless to say, not something Jiwoo was familiar with. She thought perhaps this was what people meant when they described ‘being pulled into a restless sleep’, but she wasn’t sure. Regardless of the fact that it felt like someone was calling to her, Jiwoo could feel her consciousness slipping as well. Only she got an unfortunate surprise that wasn’t waking up hours later.
“What the is Jiwoo doing here?”
Jiwoo heard a familiar voice and struggled to open her eyes. It felt like they were glued shut but she eventually got them open. She seemed to be outside, which was weird because she was fairly sure she’d last been in her bed. It looked like some clearing in a forest, but everything felt wrong; it felt as if she’d walked into a room and everything was moved a couple of centimeters to the left or something. But of course, the real kicker was seeing Sooyoung and Jinsol next to her, covered in blood. Without thinking she rushed over to her friends.
“Are you guys okay?” she gasped.
“Well, that might be a stretch but alive would work,” Jinsol glared at Sooyoung who was only staring at Jiwoo. “More importantly, how the hell did you get here?”
“Huh? Where even are we?” Jiwoo asked.
“You don’t know?” Jinsol asked incredulously.
“We’re way beyond the border of the human realm, you shouldn’t even be able to be here,” Jinsol explained.
“If it helps, I don’t think I came here by choice?” Jiwoo said.
“Well, it looks like the human is the smartest of the three. How interesting.” The three girls turned around so fast they might’ve gotten whiplash.
“You!” Sooyoung growled at the woman who’d spoken.
Jiwoo, on the other hand, was suddenly reminded exactly where they were. Even though they were no longer in the human realm, Jiwoo hadn’t noticed that Sooyoung and Jinsol were still mostly human-looking, like Sooyoung had been the night Jiwoo had discovered she was a vampire. This woman, however, was a whole different story. She was in what Jiwoo assumed was a vampire’s natural state. If she thought Sooyoung was tall, it was nothing compared to the new vampire; her eyes were bright and hungry, and her features were sharp and sinister. Even her voice was different. She had a kind of resonance that a human wouldn’t— no couldn’t have. But Jiwoo was confused. Obviously, this woman was implying the Jiwoo had been brought here, but why?
Jinsol laughed nervously. “What the , Sooyoung. I thought you said you killed her?”
Sooyoung, who was remarkably unbothered by all of this, just shrugged. “I thought I did.”
“Your insolence will be your demise, Sooyoung.” the other vampire grinned.
“Look, I don’t know how you’re alive, but I beat you once. I can do it again.” Sooyoung said, and Jiwoo watched as her friend’s body changed to match the other woman.
“I’m going to take you back. You shouldn’t be here.” Jinsol whispered and grabbed Jiwoo by the arm.
The other vampire wasn’t having it though. “Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I don’t know what the human’s for? Or did you forget that I brought it here in the first place?”
Jinsol and Sooyoung froze. But Jiwoo, Jiwoo was curious. What was this woman talking about? She was utterly lost. She didn’t know why this was happening to her. She wanted to go back to before she had known Sooyoung was a vampire. Even though there was no place for such fickle thoughts in the current situation, Jiwoo couldn’t help it. She was already in this deep; she would find out what exactly was going on, even if it killed her.
“After what you did to my sister, I’m not going to let you break my curse.” The woman snarled, advancing towards Sooyoung.
Oh. Suddenly, things were falling into place for Jiwoo. This was the vampire that had sealed Sooyoung’s powers away. Apparently, Jinsol had been wrong about Sooyoung killing her, though. The only thing that didn’t make sense still was Jiwoo’s presence.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Sooyoung huffed, unconvincingly.
“Oh? So you weren’t planning on devouring the Catalyst here to break my seal, then?” she gestured to Jiwoo.
Jiwoo’s heart stopped. Devour the catalyst? What the hell was she talking about? Why was everyone but her on the same page? She felt like she was back in high school again.
“Sooyoung . . .” Jinsol warned.
“And if I had?” Sooyoung countered, ignoring Jinsol completely.
The vampire laughed, and suddenly she was next to Jiwoo. “How would this little human feel if she knew the truth?”
Sooyoung faltered. “You wouldn’t—”
“Oh, but Sooyoung! I would, wouldn’t I?” the woman smiled, and leaned down to whisper in Jiwoo’s ear, “Your so-called friend here, wasn’t ever really your friend. She only approached you because you hold the key to solving her problem.”
Jiwoo paled. Sooyoung wasn’t actually her friend? Even after everything . . . she stopped herself. There was no everything. What had Sooyoung actually done for her? It was always Jiwoo initiating. Jiwoo had always been naive, she knew that. But maybe she was just blind too. All this time she had been so desperate to have another friend that she had pushed everything onto Sooyoung. They had only known each other for a handful of months, and yet Jiwoo couldn’t imagine not being friends with Sooyoung. All this time Jiwoo had been disillusioned when Sooyoung only wanted her so she could be free. Jiwoo felt overwhelmed; she felt like she was being hit by wave after wave of crushing emotion. Holding her head, she fell to her knees, all of her focus going into not bursting into tears right then and there. If she saw the jolt that went through Sooyoung, she didn’t register it. This was bad. Jiwoo had spent so much time trying to change after the relentless hell of being alone all through high school, but in the end, nothing had changed. She was too eager and easy to use, even after all these years.
Jinsol and Sooyoung watched in alarmed shock as Jiwoo slumped to the ground, completely unconscious. They couldn’t rip their eyes away when it looked like something the size of a fist was crawling around under the skin of her chest. And they could only gasp as a ball of golden energy burst right from her rib cage. Sooyoung in a sharp breath as she watched the rest of the colour drain from Jiwoo. The girl’s hair was ten shades duller, and her skin was somewhere between white and gray.
“Well, I’ll be taking this, then.” the other vampire said, reaching for the ball of light hovering in front of her.
“NO!” Sooyoung screamed and lunged at her.
The woman was startled. She barely dodged Sooyoung’s jab, but she smiled. Jinsol was frozen in place, startled by her friend’s outburst. Sooyoung’s eyes were on the vampire but she was watching the light.
“Don’t tell me,” the woman laughed hysterically. “Don’t tell me you’ve fallen in love with a human, Sooyoung?”
Jinsol blinked and Sooyoung said nothing.
“I didn’t want you to have her soul and break the seal because I wanted you to suffer. But it looks like making you use her soul might be the worst punishment I could instill upon you.” she grinned.