Chapter 3: The Reveal

When the bell rang, I was at the stove, giving the lentils a stir and pouring in a little more water. I left the spoon in the pot and went to answer the door. It was Alice.

"Hello, Bella," she said.

"Hello, Alice," I replied. "Can I help you?"

"May I come in, please?" Alice asked.

I thought about this. Charlie wouldn't likely object to my having her over; although I didn't have any classes with Alice, she was a peer in some sense, and he swore up and down that she and her family were the ideal sort of people. Besides, if I was ever going to figure out the answers to my questions, it would probably involve talking to some Cullens at some time. I stood aside and waved Alice into the house; she pranced inside.

"Want some lentils?" I asked idly, gesturing at the pot on the stove. "They're sort of related to chickpeas, I think."

"I already ate," said Alice. "Thank you very much anyway."

I nodded and sat down at the kitchen table; Alice did the same. "So," I said. "What's up?"

"Be patient with me, please," Alice said, looking pained. "I have a lot to tell you and I've never had to explain it before and it's really complicated and my family is going to be angry at me, but there's no other way, I looked, there's really not. You've got to know, and sooner's safer than later."

"I, um, register a general approval of knowing things rather than not, and of safety," I said. "Do you think you're going to be able to explain what you want to explain before Charlie - I mean, my dad - gets home?"

"Yes," said Alice confidently. "He won't get back until after eight. The basics won't take longer than that. You're going to want extra proof, but we can meet some other day and take care of it. So, uh, first - I can predict the future."

I nodded slowly, inviting her to go on. My crazy idea was looking less crazy. If Alice believed of herself that she could predict the future, and I'd independently thought of it - it was still wildly unlikely, but she was willing to let me test it, apparently, and that sure was something.

"Here," she said, passing me a folded sheet of paper. "It's the weather for the next week. I know that weather reports are sometimes right and that Forks is easier to guess than anywhere else, but weather's easy for me, and I put everything down to the minute. I can do physical events like that with no trouble. I can tell what people are going to do if they've made their decisions - if they might do any of several things I get less clear images, but not nothing - but minds can always change. So weather's one of the best tests."

I unfolded the sheet of paper. It specfied heavy rain until 11:09 that evening, after which brief sleeting was called for, and then a subdued drizzle would dominate the night. She'd thrown in a rainbow for Thursday morning. I folded the paper back up. "Dice?" I proposed.

"Cards would be better. How you shake the dice matters, but once you shuffle cards they stay put," Alice said. "I can do better than chance with dice if you prefer them, though. Oh, but you have a dice cup. I can do perfectly with dice too that way."

I got some of both from the cabinet under the stairs and offered Alice a sheet of paper. I shuffled the deck several times and she filled her page with predictions, writing rapidly and with perfect penmanship. Then I took the paper and flipped through each card in succession.

She got them all right. I didn't bother repeating the cards right away; time was limited and I already had more information than I could readily explain. Charlie indeed owned a dice cup, which Alice said would let her get all of the dice perfect as long as I hid the cubes under it for a moment after shaking them. She was right sixteen times in a row, at which point I swept the dice out of the way and planted my elbows on the table.

"How do you do it?" I asked.

"I honestly don't know," said Alice. "I've been able to as long as I could remember. I focus on people, or things, and the possibilities show themselves in visions. No audio, but I'm okay at lipreading; they're not always very clear, and it gives me headaches to focus on really indecisive people."

"As long as you can remember is - how long?" I asked. "You're, what, my age? A year older?"

"I'm at least a hundred years old," said Alice evenly, maintaining steady eye contact.

"What? Wait - at least?"

"I woke up in 1920 with no memories and looked about as old as I do now. I think I'm physically nineteen, but if I look old for my age - I mean, the age I was when it happened - then I could have been born as late as 1905 or so," she said.

"And when you woke up you could see the future," I said. I wasn't sure if I was playing along or if I really bought the rest of the story along with her casino-busting tricks, but even if she were playing with me, outright lies were a change of pace from cryptic eccentricity.

"Yes," she said. "I'm not - none of my family is - human. But I'm the only one who can't remember being one. We're not sure what happened to me; I can't see the past the same way I can see the future. The rest of them know more about where they came from."

"And so you are a...?"

"Vampire," said Alice, wincing a little. "Please don't freak out."

"I... really don't think I want you to prove that to me," I began carefully.

"No, nonononono," said Alice, her eyes flying open very wide, "we don't drink human blood. Not my family. Animals only. Although it wouldn't be smart for you to watch us eating them, either."

"Okay... That's why you guys never eat anything at school?"

Alice winced. "I know it's kind of conspicuous. It's not physically impossible for us to swallow normal food, but it's really, really unpleasant. And we can't digest it, so it just all comes back up later."

"Charming mental image," I remarked. "Is that why you all look like you're made of chalk, too?" Alice nodded. I asked, "Did you ever consider wearing makeup?"

"They don't make the stuff to stay on our skin," she said, holding out an arm. "Go ahead," she added.

I laid my palm on the back of her hand. She felt like a piece of rock. Cold, smooth, unyielding rock. I nodded.

"It'd all rub off as soon as we touched anything," she said, putting her arm back down. "So before you ask, most of the myths are false. We do drink blood, but have no unusual relationship with bats, no aversion to garlic in particular over anything else you might eat, don't sleep in coffins - or at all, actually - can't turn into smoke, and aren't harmed by sunlight. Although sunlight does make us kind of conspicuous, so we avoid going out in it in public. That's why we pick places like this to live - cloud cover. A stake through the heart would be impossible - there's no way you could drive a piece of wood through my eye, let alone my ribcage - and decapitation's only an issue if we don't get everything reattached in a hurry. We can catch fire, though, so please don't try that one. We are very fast, agile, and strong, and have very acute senses."

Alice decided to illustrate this last sentence by getting up, jumping into the air, and landing on one hand, which she used to support herself with no visible effort. "One comes to have more vampires than one had before by taking a human and adding venom. Easiest way to get that is from a bite, but according to Carlisle, if I cried into an open wound I could turn someone that way too. The process is not fun. I can't remember mine, and wasn't there for any of the others', but I am told that it takes three days and is emphatically not fun. You can't undo it. Afterwards we don't age. We have to move around a lot so people don't wonder about that too much."

I stared at her.

She pushed off the ground, did a little flip, and landed on her feet, then sat back in her chair. "Questions?"

"Did I actually summon you here by deciding to go to Charlie, or was that a coincidence?" I asked.

"You summoned me, sort of, but please don't make too much of a habit of that," said Alice. "When that firmed up we all flew into a panic. It would be a huge problem if police started investigating us. We'd have to move. Probably abroad for a while just to be safe, maybe split up."

"Is this all of you, or are you split up from some others now?" I asked.

"This is all of our family. We have some friends up in Denali, and a few acquaintances scattered around elsewhere," Alice said.

I nodded. "Uh... why wouldn't it be a good idea for me to see you eat?"

"Because when we hunt we're not thinking very clearly," Alice explained. "Humans smell a lot more appetizing than animals do. If we're hunting, and a human wanders by - we might be able to pull back, I know Carlisle - our father, Dr. Cullen - could at least, but there'd be more risk than there is just attending school with us."

"And attending school with you is... how much risk, approximately?" I asked. A little shiver ran up my back.

"With me - not much," Alice said soothingly. "Or Rosalie or Emmett. Jasper has more trouble than most of us, but we look out for him - if I saw him losing it I'd get him out of the building in plenty of time."

She hadn't mentioned Edward. I looked at her pointedly.

"Edward is... very controlled," Alice said. "Normally I wouldn't think he'd ever be a danger."

"Normally," I prompted.

Alice winced. "Um. Will you promise that you won't flip out and run away and never talk to Edward again?"

"I will promise no such thing!" I exclaimed. "If Edward's going to drain my fluids like I'm a Cadbury creme egg I really think I ought to know, whether or not this will cause me to do something that will hurt his feelings."

"I really really really don't think he will!" shrilled Alice. "I don't see it - not anymore - but you're right, you should know. Um, humans smell very tasty. And some humans smell... tastier... than... others. To... specific vampires."

I dropped my head into my hands. "Right. And I smell very, very yummy to Edward."

Alice nodded. "You should put more water in your lentils," she said. "They'll burn soon."

I went to the sink to fill up a cup. "Why," I asked, "did he come back to school? I realize it's a hassle to move, but if he's likely to lose it around me, why didn't he just stay wherever he went that week he was gone? I think my life ought to be worth some hassle."

"He went to visit our friends in Denali," supplied Alice. "He came back because... It's complicated. We missed him - especially our mother Esme. And he... is curious about you."

"Wants to know what I taste like with dijon mustard?" I asked scathingly, returning to my seat.

"Ew," said Alice, wrinkling her nose. "No, I mean - I'm not the only one with a power. Edward - and Jasper - have them too. Edward can... read minds."

I stood up so fast my chair fell over. "What in the name of everything decent and sane is he doing around people?" I screeched, pulse racing.

"Bella! Bella, please! Calm down!" begged Alice. "It's not as bad as you think!"

"How could reading minds be anything other than a flagrant and unconscionable violation of privacy that everyone around him has every reason to expect?" I cried. I'd been worried someone would steal my notebook, would make my thoughts public in that condensed and encoded form. (I'd once considered actual code - some simple cipher to make the writing opaque to a casual observer - but I hadn't managed to develop one I could read fluently. It was a tradeoff.) It had never crossed my mind that anyone would be able to wander by and casually pluck them directly from my brain.

They. Were. Mine.

I was evaluating escape plans - ways to get to Phoenix, ways to get my grandma to take me in, ways to get anywhere but near the mindreader - but Alice rushed through a series of placating sentences: "Bella, he can't read you. You're completely opaque to him. You're the only one he's never been able to hear, but he can't, he really can't, Bella, it's okay."

I decided to provisionally act as though I believed her - there was no way I could be out of Forks for the long term in the hour remaining before eight o'clock anyway - and forced myself calm. I picked up my chair. I sat in it. I folded my arms. I frowned at Alice. "And everyone else?"

"In the family we're all used to it, we don't mind, it's useful sometimes," said Alice earnestly. "Like, he can see what I see - honestly, if he couldn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation now. He's very trustworthy - if he reads something we don't want shared he keeps it to himself. And Edward thinks other people - humans - are boring. He tunes them out ninety-five percent of the time. He can't turn it off entirely, but he doesn't have to listen any more than you have to concentrate on what people are saying at a crowded party."

"Right," I said grudgingly. "This has what to do with him being curious about me?"

"He won't go into much detail... but he's really frustrated that he can't read you. I'm not sure why, he thinks everyone else is so boring. But he's been watching you through other people's eyes -"

I recoiled again. "Alice, those are my friends. I care if Edward has been reading their minds without permission. That's not okay. It's also not okay for him to eavesdrop on private conversations."

"I'll tell him that you - I'll remember when he's nearby that you said that," Alice promised.

"Is that likely to matter?" I asked skeptically.

"Actually, yes," said Alice.

That was surprising. "Why would he care what I think of what he does?"

Alice wrung her hands, and now I realized that the stony scraping noise I'd heard at lunch was her hands, not a pebble in her boot. "I'm spilling the beans so much," she moaned.

"Didn't you come here specifically to spill the beans?" I asked. I got up to add more water to my lentils and stir them again.

"Only most of them. So you wouldn't... poke around too much. When I decided to come talk to you, the future where you talked to your father did go away. I don't see us moving anymore," she said defensively as I re-took my seat.

"Well, yes, I have no plans to send Charlie to annoy a pack of vampires who could pop him like a water balloon to cover their tracks," I said.

"We wouldn't hurt him..." said Alice uncertainly.

"I'm glad of that. I still wouldn't send him after you. Suppose you didn't hurt him, just startled him with one of your super-strength tricks or something, and he shot to subdue, and noticed that you are made of rock? And then he tried to go to the media? Do you let him go? Do you put him under house arrest in a bunker in Nunavut for the rest of his life and send forged notes to his friends claiming that he's Patient Zero of the chartreuse death plague and under quarantine at the CDC? Or do you have a snack? Suppose he followed you really persistently, thought you were up to something big, and ran into one of you stalking a delicious bunny? Snacktime? Would Charlie look better or worse than the bunny after that?"

"Um..." murmured Alice. "If he tried to go to the media, we wouldn't have to hurt him. There are other vampires - who do eat humans - and some of them take it on themselves to keep us a secret from humans."

I clonked my head on the table. "Right. How long do I have to live, dear helpful Alice?"

"Actually..." said Alice with great reluctance.

I sat up instantly. "I - dear lord, did you genuinely put my life in danger by telling me this? Are the vampire masquerade organizers going to swoop into Forks under cover of night and snuff me because you didn't want to move?"

"I don't see that!" squeaked Alice.

"What do you see?"

"You're going to be a vampire!" she shrieked.

I sat back.

I blinked.

Alice peered up at me through her eyelashes, looking a thousand times more fragile than she really was.

"Well," I said. "That's something. Turning is a get-in-on-the-secret-free card? No awful death?"

Alice nodded mutely.


"That I don't know," she said. "It will happen... but I don't know when. You don't look a lot older in the visions I've had of it, though, so - soonish?"

Soonish. Incongruous sort of word to attach to the timing of my impending vampirization.

I looked at the clock. Charlie would be home in half an hour. "I have a few more questions left," I said.

"Right," murmured Alice. "Fire away."

"One: What does Edward care what I think?" I asked. Alice grimaced; apparently she'd been hoping I'd forgotten that. "Two: What's Jasper's power? And three: Who are the vampire masquerade organizers, and what else pisses them off?"

Alice made a small, unhappy huffing noise at having to answer these, but apparently saw that I wasn't going to let it go if she kept evading. "Edward likes you," she said, getting the first part over with in three reluctant words. "Jasper can sense and affect moods in the people around him - it's not a mental effect, just physical, things like pulse rate. The "vampire masquerade organizers" are called the Volturi. They live in Volterra, Italy. We have to keep our secrets, which means that if we create new vampires they have to be kept under control and we can't be conspicuous ourselves. Inconspicuousness doesn't usually mean avoiding feeding on humans, it just means doing it discreetly - most vampires move around a lot so they don't kill too many in any one place."

I inhaled deeply, then let out a tired sigh. "I have a lot to process," I murmured. "I'll let you know when I think I've ground through it all. By some more conventional means than deciding to out your family."

"Thank you," Alice said wryly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Bye," I said absently, staring at the bright yellow kitchen cabinets as though if I did it hard enough I could count our plates. Alice let herself out.

At 11:09, it sleeted, and a few minutes later it began to drizzle slowly.

I did not sleep well.

I cut English the next morning. Just didn't go. I'd drop by after school to hand in my homework. I was at home, abusing my notebook.


- Cullens (& Hales) are weird in many ways. (See last page.)

- Alice exhibits freaky abilities consistent with telling the future (van, interrupting-w/o-interrupting, showing up yesterday, CARDS & DICE, weather so far (keep checking that)). No other hypotheses.


- Cullens & Hales are vampires.

- Vampires have superpowers, drink blood, are "conspicuous" in sun, are made out of humans (not fun), don't age.

- Some have extras: Alice can see the future (seen evidence of this), Edward reads minds (not mine), Jasper messes with (physical) components of mood (do not want).

- I am extra yummy smelling to Edward.

- Edward likes me. (WTF. This sort of thing did not happen in Phoenix. Worth cutting Govt. too to figure out general plan for this & Mike & Eric??)

- Lots of vampires around. Most eat people. Cullens & Hales (& their friends? didn't specify) don't.

- Bad idea to be around hunting vampires.

- Vampires sorta ruled (unclear on govt. system) by vampires called Volturi in Volterra, Italy. Volturi like secrets & kill to enforce rules.

- I will be a vampire. "Soonish". (!!!!!!!!!!)

I drew arrows between things, circled key words in red, scribbled phrases and punctuation in the margins so small that I couldn't read them, and finally tore out the page and copied just the important parts onto the next sheet more neatly.

Then I turned the page again and thought of experiments.

I couldn't come up with an ethical way to test Jasper's special ability without letting him use it on me. Which I emphatically did not want to do. Enlisting an informed outside party would spill the family's secret if it was true; using uninformed outsiders would wrong them; using one of the other vampires would be a test of their acting skills, not necessarily Jasper's mood-altering mojo. After a moment's consternation, I decided to skip that test. I didn't think Alice would be lying or mistaken about Jasper's power and nothing else. If my other results all pointed at "yep, magical vampires", I'd take the specific claim about Jasper as part of the package unless I discovered that there was some ulterior motive such that Alice might have chosen that particular supernatural claim to fabricate. For safety reasons, I also did not invent a test for the "drink blood" claim. I came up with some relatively inexpensive tests of several of the other statements. They would not be Absolutely Conclusive; I didn't expect to publish anything in a journal, though, I just wanted to be sure that I wasn't reading way into a few little quirks.

1. Get a vampire to pick up something very big. Maybe a fallen log from the woods or a boulder if one can be found. (Fear damage to truck - not designed to be lifted)

2. Find a wide open space and a spot with a good view of it, measure it, get a vampire to beat the world sprinting record running it in plain sight. Or send one from several miles from my house to retrieve something from my house.

3. Quietly murmur things far away from vampires & test if they heard. (Not Alice, or Edward who can read Alice.)

4. Write things and hold them up to far away vampires & test if they read. (As above.)

5. Find out Edward's range. Write numbers, show them to a different vampire, have Edward sit in mindreading range but out of (vampire!) earshot & eyeshot where he will write down what he reads in the other vampire's mind.

6. Look at a vampire in the sun.

7. Continue checking Alice's weather predictions. (All good as of morning 01/26/05)

I closed my notebook and looked at the clock. To make it to Government in time, I didn't have to leave for another four minutes, but if I went promptly I could drop off my homework at English first instead of waiting until the end of the day. I decided not to skip another class just to figure out why I was suddenly all kinds of popular with the opposite sex. I packed up my things and left.

The teacher didn't seem to care about my poor attendance and accepted my homework with only a small sigh, no ominous remarks about penalties for lateness. I went to my next class, and the two after that, without incident, and then came lunch.

Alice popped up next to me as I approached the door with Jessica again. "Hello, Bella!" she said in her characteristically musical voice. "Do you want to sit with us today?"

"Okay," I said. I needed to present my test ideas.

"Bella," said Jessica, with an edge of a whine to her voice. Uncharitably, I thought Aw, poor Jessica, the vampires are stealing your shiny new friend, but I shoved that thought in a back corner where it wouldn't do any harm.

"Right, we were going to figure out when to study for the trig test," I said, turning to Jessica instead of impolitely continuing to face Alice as I had the previous day. I didn't think that was why she didn't like that I would be sitting with the vampires, but it was a kinder assumption, and it was a plan we'd actually had. "Uh, call me after school and we'll pick a time then? My plans are kinda," I made a wild gesture, "and I don't think I could nail down a spare couple hours now anyway. Okay?" I smiled apologetically.

"Okay," said Jessica in an automatic sort of tone, and I widened my smile a bit before following Alice to the vampire table. Halfway through the trip across the room, she remembered that I needed food and she needed props, and we detoured to fetch them, then resumed course.

Alice told me that I could whisper without interfering with her family's ability to hear me, while preventing any other humans from getting an earful; the vampires would speak loud enough to hear but choose moments when no humans were nearby to speak. Alice announced that this wouldn't happen to break up the flow of conversation much.

I wound up sitting at a corner, across from Edward, next to Alice. On Alice's other side was Jasper, who sat opposite Rosalie, and Emmett between her and Edward.

"Jessica is going to demand an explanation later," Edward murmured to me when I sat.

"Did you read her mind to find that out?" I asked, carefully cooling the hostility in my voice, and he started to nod, then glanced at Alice and stopped.

"Alice said she'd tell you," I said carefully, "but I should probably tell you myself. That is incredibly not okay. I understand that to whatever extent you can't help it, well, you can't help it, and I can't actually verify to what extent you can't help it and will give you some benefit of the doubt. But please don't, not on purpose, not my friends, not when it's not even important."

"Jessica's not much of a friend to you," he muttered. "She thinks some very unkind things."

"Who doesn't? Don't check," I added hastily.

"Angela," he answered anyway. "From memory, at least."

"Great, yay for Angela, but I think unkind things about Jessica occasionally too and it doesn't mean I'm not much of a friend to her, I hope," I said. "She has flaws, I have flaws, there's lots to go around, sometimes people will notice them, and unless she chooses to act on her thoughts in ways that harm me, I'm not going to act on her thoughts in ways that harm her. Especially since I shouldn't even have access to that information. Her thoughts are hers. What kind of policy are you advocating, anyway? Weren't you considering eating me, the first day I was here? What an unkind thought, surely I should shun you."

Edward winced terribly, and Emmett chuckled. Jasper cracked a smile but didn't make a sound. Rosalie looked bored and Alice conflicted.

"Speaking of magical powers, Jasper, I never want to be on the receiving end of yours except in the unlikely event that I explicitly, verbally request help. Alice didn't make it sound involuntary - right?" I said, turning to the blond boy.

"It's voluntary," he confirmed, looking wary. "But I'm not sure I can promise that."

"If you can't promise that, then I need to find some other way to protect myself," I said firmly. "It is possible, but unlikely, that you will prefer whatever I come up with."

"Some emotional states aren't safe," Jasper said. "If you're flailing around hysterically near something sharp and also near Edward..." He trailed off as Edward made a small growling noise.

"Then..." I considered, wondering what he thought the obvious consequence of this situation might be. "Then I'll start bleeding and smell even more delicious and I'm a snack?"

"Right," said Jasper. "You'd want me to calm you down then."

"I'd want to be calm then," I said. "But not to be made calm. The reason I'm asking you to leave my emotions alone, instead of telling you to stay away from my friends and whatnot, is that I can deal with my own and most people can't. If I start flailing hysterically near something sharp and also near Edward, you can warn me that hysteria is dangerous to me at that time. You know, using words. I do have a self-preservation instinct; I would not choose to be hysterical if it would likely get me killed. Although," I said, turning back to Edward, "it may be that you should avoid simultaneously being around me and sharp objects."

"Edward is a sharp object," rumbled Emmett. He looked a lot more lighthearted than the other vampires.

"Point," I acknowledged. "Uh, no pun intended. But anyway, Alice, you see me being a vampire, definitely, not a corpse?"

"Yes," she said, "but even a very solid vision can change, if someone makes an unlikely decision."

"So it is something to be sure I'm sane about, but not something to rearrange my life over," I decided. "I wear a seatbelt; but I don't walk to school."

The vampires actually looked confused by my analogy. "Car accidents are a fairly common cause of death among us fragile folk," I reminded them, and comprehension dawned. Of course. If a vampire got in a car accident the worst case scenario - the only scenario worth worrying about - would be catching fire, and comparatively few accidents had that feature, in spite of cinematic embellishment making it look like cars were just begging to burst into flames on impact.

"Anyway," I said. "I find myself pretty much taking what Alice said at face value, given the available snippets of evidence. However, as she predicted, I would like a little more proof. I've got a list. Two tests require somebody other than Edward or Alice to be valid tests of the things I'm looking for, and one is specifically of Edward. Can't compel participation, but I would appreciate it."

"What've you got?" asked Emmett. I took out my notebook, tore out the page, and handed it to the large vampire. Edward leaned slightly to look at it.

"We're all going to do them except Rosalie," reported Alice. Rosalie sniffed.

"Aw, Rose," said Emmett. "Don't want to pick up a tree?"

"Or even let Bella admire you in the sun?" asked Edward in a low voice.

"No," said Rosalie, "I don't. You don't need me anyway; the four of you can satisfy her curiosity doing whatever tricks she likes if that's how you want to spend your afternoon."

"And Carlisle and Esme," added Alice. "They'll be there. But not this afternoon. We're doing it Thursday. There'll be a little sun around four p.m."

Rosalie snorted and Emmett rolled his eyes. I had a moment of unkind speculation about the depth of that relationship. But for all I knew they'd been together for seven hundred years and there were vast reams of subtext I couldn't detect; at any rate, I had no reason to act on information about their love lives, so it didn't bear investigation. "Tomorrow?" I said. "I guess that works; I need to study for trig with Jessica this afternoon."

Alice nodded. With the important orders of business out of the way I took a bite of my macaroni and cheese, then started peeling my orange. The macaroni had flecks of bacon in it. I wondered if vampire taste sensations were anything like human ones - I'd have to ask a non-Alice vampire about that. It would be sad to give up normal food.

Lunch ended, and I - flanked by Edward - caught up with Angela and Mike. Mike gave Edward an annoyed look, which Edward responded to with a tight-lipped smile and narrowed eyes. None of us talked on the way, but I suspected we all had different reasons: Angela didn't mind silence, Mike didn't want to talk to Edward, Edward didn't want to talk to humans who weren't me, and I knew all of that and didn't want to oblige anyone to talk. We arrived at Biology and went to our respective seats.

The class was, as usual, something I'd done before - the syllabus indicated we'd get to some fresh material in the next unit, which I hoped would be interesting, because Biology was increasingly tiresome as we went over more and more that I already knew. It occurred to me to wonder why the vampires were in high school. They moved a lot - did they have to repeat high school over and over again? Or did they just do this occasionally, and at other times spend their days pretending to "homeschool" and secretly pursuing whatever interested them?

The latter would make more sense. I could see attending high school anew once every thirty years or so to get an update on the state of education - they would always need to be able to pull off having attended high school recently - but even if that was the goal, it would make more sense to go to college repeatedly and at least choose a different major each time. There was no reason the vampires couldn't pass as youthful college students, especially at a large, prestigious school that would tend to attract prodigies. Maybe they liked continuity more than I would have guessed, and preferred to segue into college with genuine secondary school histories. (Living as they did there had to be a source of forged records, of course, but they might not use them for absolutely everything.)

While the teacher talked about ribosomes I started speculating pointlessly on what sort of knowledge they must have acquired over their lives. Alice had hinted at knowing Korean. I couldn't think of any other clues, so I made things up to entertain myself, fabricating long lists of languages they'd speak and cities they'd explored and skills they had mastered and books they'd read and performances they'd attended - there was so much to do with life as soon as you took a few of the bars off the cage.

The thought of how much time would be freed up by the mere lack of a need for sleep was staggering. Not only the time spent sleeping, but also the time preparing for sleep, waking up from sleep, ensuring the comfort of the place in which one might sleep, managing threats to the peaceful environment such that one might sleep, and dealing with the interruption to any long-term pursuits due to sleep. That, and there was little to no risk attached to anything they could do that didn't call for sunbathing. No reason not to skydive.

I was warming up considerably to the idea of joining their ranks. Three days of "not fun", a loss of my love of bacon, and the introduction of a temptation to slurp up the fluids of those around me notwithstanding, I wanted immortality and real twenty-four-hour days.