I have no idea what to make of Ms Pink’s admission. There’s the promise of something deeply moving in those words but her actions have done nothing to inspire any trustworthiness either.
“You will go out there and tell Yoona you want to be mine.”
“What if I don’t?”
The pink in her eyes blazes like wild fire stoked by an abundance of flammables and it twists something inside me. “I’ll claim you anyway.”
Her answer doesn’t surprise me. Not anymore. So I simply nod and stand. “I’ll be right back.”
“I do not like to be kept waiting.”
“I’ll try to be quick.”
The lanky figure at the end of the corridor looks up at me as I approach her.
“Ms Yoona, I am here to tell you that I will go with Ms Pink.”
“Ms Yoona?” The vampire slayer snickers. “You’re as submissive as they come. It’s no wonder Tiffany is holding on to you. But I’m no Ms Pink. You can call me Yoona. And no, you should not go with Tiffany. I’m sure she’s worked some kind of influence on you to make you say this to me.” She reaches for her holster and presses a gun on my side. An intense blast of shock jolts through my system and I scream.
“Yoona!” The shock doesn’t last beyond a second and my mind is considerably clearer as I turn towards Ms Pink who has sped to my side. She freezes suddenly and I wonder why, until I see the same black gun pressed against her side. “Yoona…” she snarls in warning.
“I told you to play fair.”
“You don’t get to make the demands. Neither do I accede to demands made by you.”
Yoona shakes her head slowly. “I am disappointed in the great Tiffany Pink. Who would have thought an all-powerful vampire like you would need to resort to mind control trickery to bend a human to your will.”
M-Mind control? Oh my God. Is that why I felt a little weird after looking into those pink eyes?
“I don’t need to resort to such things to bend a stupid human’s will. Much less this stupid human. But I have better things to do than to hang around you and talk. Time is running out. You don’t want the vanguards to come sniffing around here because of her.”
Ms Pink is pointing at me. Why is she pointing at me? And who are the vanguards?
“I suppose you have a point.” Yoona nods. “I’ll let her go with you. But I want some of her blood.”
“I’ll have 10 cc of her blood sent to you.”
There they go again. Talking about me as though I don’t exist, as though my blood is theirs to give and take. “Don’t you think you should ask for my permission when it’s my blood you’re talking about?”
Both Ms Pink and Yoona turn to me. “Shut up,” they snap with scary glares.
My stomach shrinks in fear. “Okay,” I say in a small, small voice.
So here I sit, in Ms Pink’s car, with Yoona’s last words buzzing in my head: ‘Have a good time with her royal majesty the Pink! I hope you make it back in one piece.’ For goodness sakes, can I have one calm moment where I am not bombarded by threats, orders and thoroughly confusing terms that I’ve never heard of in my life?
“Close your eyes.”
“I’m blindfolding you.”
“W-Why? I won’t do anything, I promise.”
“Or would you rather be knocked out like the last time?”
With a great, big sigh, I close my eyes. A smooth, silky cloth grazes my skin and soon, it is tied securely around my head, preventing me from seeing anything other than darkness. And then, we’re off.
I’m really sleepy as we speed along. In fact, I end up falling asleep and wake up to find myself in Ms Pink’s arms, standing in a hallway. Oh my God!
“Shut up. You’re not in danger.”
Embarrassment crashes upon my shores and I squirm. I’m a grown woman. I can walk by myself.
“Hold on tight,” she says, and without warning, she moves like a cheetah on legs, and the walls turn into a blur. We come to a stop a couple of seconds later and I stop screaming too. Holy creeps, this is scarier than a roller coaster ride. “Remind me to gag you before doing this the next time.”
She sets me back on the ground and my first instinct is to bolt but she is holding on to my dress so unless I’m willing to part with the only piece of clothing that maintains my modesty…
I enter the room, half afraid of what might happen to me if I don’t, and half curious to find out what’s inside. Pink walls, pink ceiling, pink bed…hold on. What are those things hanging on the wooden rank on the wall? They look scary. There are chains hanging from the ceiling and I don’t think they are for swings or anything fun and innocent like that. Less than two steps in, and I am regretting ever helping Sunny with the interview. If I hadn’t helped Sunny, I wouldn’t have met Ms Pink and I wouldn’t be in this—
Ms Pink yanks me up against a circle of wood marked with a gigantic pink cross in the middle of it and once again, employs her super-human Speedy Gonzales skills to strap my wrists and ankles in, spread-eagled. I am left feeling like a piece of meat hung for sale, and the way she looks at me only emphasizes my state of utter powerlessness. She reaches for the straps of my summer dress and I hear the distinct sound of fabric ripped.
She covers my mouth with her hand and proceeds to rip the other strap off. By now, I’m in panic and there’s nothing I want more than to be free of my straps but they are durable and do not give way.
“MMM!” I scream against her hand. “MMM!”
But all is in vain as she takes my dress and rips it down the middle. One more ripping sound later, a wad of what used to be my lovely blue summer dress, is stuffed into my mouth. Oh my God. I am in so much trouble. Why didn’t I go with Yoona! Because Ms Pink pulled some mind games on me. I’m well and truly fucked now.
Her cold, cold finger tips burn a lazy trail down the middle of my chest to my navel before taking a turn to my birthmark. It’s a small little spot near my hip and I’m reminded of the words she said before: ‘Stupid human. It’s not a mole.’ What is it then? My curiosity is piqued.
“Now that you’re nice and quiet, it’s time for you to get what you deserve.” Ms Pink picks up a strange device from the chest of drawers near the door and brandishes it at me. I stare at it. Long, pink and pointy tip. What? She raises it and grazes the bare skin on my side with the pointy tip. Upon contact, I realize the pointy tip is actually a feather. A fine, thin and—oh my God—ticklish feather. It trails up and down my arms, legs, sides, barely touching me at all, just the tip, and leaves a sensation that begs me to scratch it.
“MMM!” The itch is growing in quantum leaps. Expanding in territory faster than any country in history. Sinking deeper and deeper into my skin. Into the depths of my sanity that tells me I need to stop this right here, right now and scratch every inch of my body. “MMMMMM!”
“What did you say?”
“Mmm mmm mmm!”
“More you say?” Ms Pink’s smirk is much too obnoxious but I don’t have the brain capacity to process that thought as the feather makes its way across my stomach, dipping into my navel and tickling me into insanity. I am thrashing about now, trying my best to dodge the feather when Ms Pink pulls another pink strap across my mid-section and puts an end to my struggles. Now, I am helpless and completely at the mercy of her torturous pink feather…
She finally stops after what feels like hours. “Mmm…” I sag against my straps and would have cried out in relief if not for the gag.
“This is payment for wasting my time waiting for you, going all the way to that stupid club to get you and having to deal with idiots like that friend of yours just because you are a stupid human.”
“Mmm mmm mmm…”
Ms Pink pulls out the wad of fabric from my dress at last. “What do you have to say now.”
“I’m sorry. I really am.”
“Who are you sorry to?”
“I’m sorry, Ms Pink.”
She looks somewhat appeased after my apology and hope flutters in. Maybe she’ll release me and give me a new dress to wear. I don’t even mind if it’s all pink.
“Now wasn’t that easy. Stupid human, you should just be good and obey your mistress.”
“You are not my mistress.”
“You are mine. That makes me your mistress.”
I don’t know where I get my strength from but I refuse to back down. “I am not yours. You can’t own me.”
“You are a lot stupider than I thought. Do I need to explain everything to you?” Ms Pink paces in front of me. “You are in no position to haggle with me. I am superior to you in every way. There is no way you can get away from me. I can find you no matter where you hide. There are others who will be out for your blood once they know of your existence. And when the time comes, I will be the only thing standing between you and them. It is not in your interest to disobey me at every turn and corner.”
“I am a stupid human. But I am human. You are not superior to me in every way. I have a heart but you don’t. And being my only defender doesn’t give you the right to do all these things to me.”
Ms Pink is in my face, her breath hitting my skin as she says, “I used to have a heart too. A lot of good it did me. And if you’re referring to the literal heart, then I would have you know that I do have an actual heart that used to pump blood all over my body. You see, we vampires are more than human. Stronger, faster, smarter, sharper—the list goes on forever. We are the superior species and among this superior species, I am superior. I—”
A knock on the door has her contorting her features into an expression of annoyance as she steps away from me. “Come in, Seo.”
The door opens and in steps the personal assistant that I remember from my previous visit. Once again, she is impeccably groomed; her flawless complexion is a stark contrast to her ginger red hair that falls all over her shoulders in voluminous waves. Looking just as—if not more—regal than before, she enters the room and stops beside Ms Pink.
“Take 10 cc of her blood and have it sent to Yoona.”
Personal assistant Seo nods and acts quickly. She is obviously highly efficient as she is done with the entire procedure and leaves the room in no more than a minute. I don’t even have enough time to feel embarrassed properly before she’s gone. I sigh. There goes another 10 cc of my blood. I hope I won’t lose any more blood than I have to, but who am I kidding? I’m like a living blood bank for these creatures.
The door closes and Ms Pink turns back to me. “You look as though you have another question to ask.” She puts the feather stick back in the drawer. “Ask now.”
“W-Who is she?”
“Seo is my company’s Executive Secretary. She reports to me. Only to me.”
“Is she a vampire too?”
“Of course, she is.”
“What does Yoona want my blood for?”
“To kill vampires?”
“You said she slays vampires that do not keep to the treaty. What’s the treaty about?”
My question raises Ms Pink’s eyebrows. “Your memory is better than I give you credit for and for that, I will answer your question in detail.” She pulls a chair and sets it in front of me. I watch as she sits, and wait for my answer. “Long ago, even before your great-great-great-great grandmother was born, vampires and humans were at war. Of course, vampires being vampires, they killed a great many humans, so naturally, the humans retaliated too. They found out how to kill vampires and there were large numbers of vampire slayers out to make a living. But not all vampires were blood-thirsty, human-killing evil beings. Some chose to drink the blood of animals, and as medical advancements were made, some would steal blood bags for food. But even these vampires were hunted and killed.”
Ms Pink stands. Her hands are clenched and I’m surprised to realize that this story is agitating her. “Something had to be done. The proverbial black sheep of our kind would always make us look worse than we really are and that would give humans more reason to hunt and kill us all. So, a group of vampires sought out the help of some vampire slayers who understood us more than others and made contact with a powerful queen in the late 18th century. Vampires were tired of being indiscriminately labelled as evil beings and vampire slayers were falling in numbers. So they came up with a treaty, endorsed by the queen and bound by the blood of all parties.”
I watch as Ms Pink sits again. “This treaty basically proclaims that vampires will not kill humans for pleasure. Vampires will find alternate sources of blood or have willing blood banks provide for them. In return, vampire slayers will only slay vampires who are criminal—the ones who are savage, dangerous and out of control. And as a measure of good faith, vampires would help to capture them, put them on trial and once proven guilty, will allow a vampire slayer to destroy them. But most of the time, vampire slayers have to capture them on their own. There is a stigma attached to vampires helping slayers.”
“What about vampire baits?”
“Vampire baits are more like pawns in the game of chess. A vampire slayer who happened to be a brilliant scientist chanced upon a vampire who died after drinking the blood of a particular human. He was able to determine that the cause of death was metal poisoning.”
“Don’t interrupt me.” Ms Pink glares at me and I shut my mouth promptly. “As I was saying, the vampire slayer figured out that the victim had actually killed the vampire because his blood contained exceedingly high levels of iron. But it is an extremely rare condition that is now known to be a rare genetic disorder.”
This information is so alarming that I can’t stop myself from interrupting Ms Pink. “What do you mean by ‘genetic disorder’. Does it mean that I have it too? Is there a cure for it?”
“It is hereditary, there in your genes. According to the blood test, you have the disorder. Technically, there is no cure for it but there is a way to prevent it from killing you.”
“What’s the way?”
Ms Pink frowns. “Stop being a parrot. And a lousy parrot at that.”
“I’m s-sorry. I’ll stop. P-Please continue.”
“Removing your blood will lower the level of iron in your body. Regular blood removal will ensure that you will not suffer the symptoms of your condition.”
“Oh…that’s…not too bad…”
“Except that vampires can’t drink your blood even though it smells like gourmet blood to us. Some vampires that are not knowledgeable enough will fall prey to vampire baits and die.”
“But why would you claim me if you can’t drink my blood?”
“I told you the reason once. I will not repeat it.”
“I don’t really understand your reason.”
“I will not explain it.” Ms Pink stands, her body language signalling that this is the end of our little Q and A session. “Ask your final question.”
A flashback hits me just then and I realize that I’ve had this question at the back of my head all this time. This is the perfect moment to ask it. “Who is Pan Ni?”
Ms Pink gasps. I end up gasping too; it is too surprising to see Ms Pink feeling shocked. But her eyes narrow immediately and a faint pink glows in them. “Who told you that name.”
“No one. It just popped in that night when you were in my room.”
“You better not be lying to me about this.”
I flush with anger at the accusation. “I have not lied to you. I may be stupid, but I’m not a liar.”
Ms Pink backs away from me, looking wary. It is more disconcerting to see her in this state than in her usual predatory stance. “The name came to you that night? You didn’t hear it from anyone?”
“It popped into my head just before I fell asleep. I mean, I don’t know why but I felt so sleepy all of a sudden and this name pops up from nowhere. I thought you might know something about it.”
Ms Pink looks like she knows something but she isn’t telling me. “That’s enough for tonight. We’ll talk after you get some sleep.”
I don’t protest as she unstraps me from the wooden circle. Everything she has said tonight is weighing on my mind, so it isn’t until I slump in her arms and feel her skin on mine that I realize I’ve been in nothing but my lingerie all this time. How mortifying.
“Go to bed. Seo will show you to your room.”
Like magic, Executive Secretary Seo appears and takes over the arm that Ms Pink is holding me up with. I’m at the door when I turn back to look at Ms Pink but she has already vanished into thin air. I guess I’m not finding out who Pan Ni is tonight. I have a better chance dreaming about her than Ms Pink telling me anything more.