Twist of Fate
by Judith Freudenthal
Myra Schanke was seated in the family room watching tv with Jenny, waiting for her husband to come home. A few minutes later Don arrived home from his shift.
"Jenny, shouldn't you be getting ready for school?"
"She's not going today," Myra said.
Don noticed the concern radiating from her and became quite unsettled. "What's wrong?"
"Dr. Parkinson wants to see us. He wouldn't say anything, but it sounds serious."
"In about half an hour. I thought we should all be there."
"When did he call?"
"About half an hour ago. I would've called you, but you were on your way home."
Half an hour later the Schanke's entered the pediatrician's office and the adults were shown to the doctor's office while Jenny was escorted to the rec room.
"Myra, Don. Where's Jenny?"
"She's in the rec room. I thought we'd talk first," Don said.
"I won't make you wait any longer. I found some abnormalities in Jenny's test results and would like to admit her to the Children's hospital for some further tests."
"What sort of abnormalities?" Myra asked.
"I would rather not say at the moment, because I have no facts to back it up. I don't want to make you worry unnecessarily."
They reluctantly accepted his answer.
"When would you like to admit her?" Myra asked.
"As soon as possible. I had it all set up, hoping you'd agree."
"Okay. Can she bring her own pj's?" Myra asked.
"Sure. They'll help her feel more secure."
"How long do you expect she'll be hospitalized?" Don asked.
"Two or three days, most likely. We'll know more after the test results come in." The doctor saw the fear on their faces and was doing everything possible to help ease those fears.
The Schankes stopped off for breakfast on the way home. Jenny knew that something was up by the fact that they were eating out and by her parents' expressions.
"Mom, what's wrong? Is it me?"
They knew they couldn't lie to her. This was too important.
"How do you feel about missing school for a couple of days?" Don asked, trying to sound a bit lighthearted.
"Dr. Parkinson wants a friend of his to run a few tests on you," Myra said.
"Am I sick?"
"That's what they want to find out. After breakfast we're going to go home and pack up a bag for you to take to the hospital. You can pick what to take."
"The good part is that you get to lay there and watch tv, between tests. There will be others there to talk with. There will be a rec room. You'll get to eat in bed and sleep late. You might even get to pick what you want to eat. Mom or I will be there with you as much as the doctors allow." He was trying to help her look at the bright side of things.
"That doesn't sound too bad. Are you telling me the truth? Will it hurt?"
"We would never lie to you about something important. I don't know if it will hurt."
"I understand. I'm scared."
"It's okay to be scared. I would be scared, too," Don said, reassuringly.
Just under two hours later the three Schankes were being shown around the floor where Jenny would be staying. She saw the rec room on her way to her room.
Once Jenny had changed into the t-shirt and stretch pants that were to be her pj's the first test was conducted.
Later in the morning the next test was scheduled.
By late afternoon the first test result had come in. The specialist met with Don and Myra.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Parten." He motioned for the parents to have a seat. "The first test results are in and I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. Jenny has an inoperable brain tumor."
"What happens now?" Don asked, stunned.
"According to what I see here, we could start her on a regimen of massive doses of chemotherapy and radiation."
"Will that help?"
"There's a very slim chance it will. It will make her very sick as well as being quite uncomfortable."
"How long?" Don asked.
"Six months to a year. There's a good chance she won't have any serious problems until the end. It all depends on how fast it progresses."
"How do I tell my daughter's she's going to die?"
"Would you like for one of us to tell her?" He saw them nod. "Would you like to be there then?"
"We'll leave that decision up to her."
Don and Myra tried to hide their feelings, at least until Jenny was told. Jenny decided that she wanted to hear the news alone. They understood, knowing she would feel freer to express her emotions and ask questions without them there.
Jenny sat on the bed and the doctor sat next to her.
"Jenny, feel free to stop me anytime you have a question. Okay?" He saw her nod and continued. "You have a brain tumor."
"Can't they cure that?"
"Some cancers they can. Your brain tumor is in a spot we can't get to."
"Am I going to die?" She asked, trying to be brave.
"Somewhere between six months to a year from now."
"Will it hurt? Will I get really sick?"
"It might hurt, but not for several months. You probably will get sick, but we won't know how sick until then."
"Can I do the things I like to do?"
"Yes. You can do anything you feel like doing. Is there something special you've always wanted to do? Maybe a secret wish?"
He saw her thinking about that. "You don't have to answer right now." He also saw her losing the battle with her tears. "It's okay to cry. And to be scared. If you ever need to talk to someone other than your parents I can introduce you to a friend of mine. She's a very good listener and loves to hug."
"I'd like that. Do mom and dad know?"
"Can they come in now?"
"Sure. I'll tell them."
Jenny wiped away her tears as the doctor left. A moment later Don and Myra entered. The first thing they did was hug Jenny and each other.
"When can I go home? I don't want to stay here."
"Tomorrow morning. They want to run a few more tests."
Don and Myra knew the best thing for the family was also going to be the hardest thing to do, to go on like they had before the diagnosis.
Don and Myra had fallen into an exhausted and restless sleep that night. They had not been allowed to spend the night with their daughter.
Don tossed and turned as his mind tried to deal with all he'd learned. A few hours later he woke. Once he had regained his orientation he looked over at his wife, glad that she was still asleep. He very carefully got up and headed out of the room. He went downstairs to his favorite chair to think.
He started to think about his dream.
"That son of a bitch," he angrily said as he suddenly realized that Jenny didn't have to die.
He slipped into his raincoat and closed it to conceal the fact that he was still in his moose pajamas, before storming out of the house.
Nick was soundly asleep when he heard a familiar voice from the main floor of his loft.
"Nick. Wake up. I need your help."
Before long Nick was walking down the stairs, tying his robe.
"What is it?" Nick was annoyed, but had heard the distress in his friend's voice.
"I know what you are and I need your help."
Nick was stunned.
"It all came back to me tonight."
"How can I help?"
"I need you to make Jenny what you are."
"We just learned that she has an inoperable brain tumor. They give her six months to a year to live," Schanke fought back the tears.
Nick heard the deep sorrow in his partner's voice. "I can't condemn her to this hell."
"Some partner you are! Thanks for nothing," Schanke said, angrily. He could tell from the bitterness in Nick's voice that he wouldn't change his mind. "What if it was Natalie?"
"I couldn't condemn her either."
Schanke stormed out, slamming the elevator door.
Schanke was driving home when he started playing with the radio. He couldn't find a clear station that he liked. Near the end of the dial he heard the Nightcrawler's voice.
Schanke turned his car around and headed for CERK.
Before long Schanke entered the radio station and headed straight for the broadcast booth. He saw the red light go out as he approached.
LaCroix stepped out of the booth, shutting the door behind him.
"Detective Schanke, wasn't it?"
"What can I do for you?"
"I need your help. I had the most interesting dream tonight. Between it and hearing your radio show I knew you were the right person to help me."
LaCroix wondered if Schanke did indeed remember about vampires. "How could I be of help?"
"I just learned my daughter's dying of an inoperable brain tumor. Would you make her what you are?"
"I might. First we need to have a talk."
LaCroix led Schanke to his office where they took their seats, LaCroix behind the desk and Schanke in front of it.
"What do you think I am?"
"I know you're a vampire."
"Children do not make good vampires. There's something within them which makes them bad candidates."
He saw Schanke's face fall and knew that what he was about to suggest would be quite useful to him.
"Maybe if she had at least one parent come across beforehand, it might work better."
"I would be willing to come across if it would save her life."
"You would not be able to be with your wife if she did not choose to as well."
"I will discuss it with her. I think I can convince her to."
"There are a few things you should know before hand. You will have to stay out of the sun completely, but you will live forever. You will never grow older or become sick."
"Jenny will stay a child forever?"
"Yes. That is where the problem comes in. Her mind will continue to grow but her body will not. How old is she? How long do they expect her to survive?"
"She's 13. They gave her six months to a year."
"That is good. She's old enough to pass for a very young looking adult, especially if we were to hold off for a few months."
"You will do it?"
"Yes. Go home and talk to your wife and daughter. Informed consent is required. Do not tell anyone or the deal is off."
"I won't. Thank you."
Schanke left, missing the evil grin spreading across LaCroix's face.
Schanke arrived home just in time to pick their daughter up from the hospital. He saw the worried expression on his wife's face.
"Where have you been? You had me worried."
"I had something to take care of. Should we go get her?"
Before long Don and Myra returned home alone as Jenny had insisted on going to school. They didn't argue with her, knowing it was probably best for her.
"Myra, there's something serious I need to discuss with you before I talk to Jenny about it. I want you to hear me out before you comment."
They sat down next to each other on the couch as Don started.
"I found a way to save Jenny's life. It will only be attempted if we participate. I have already agreed to, but told a friend that I'd talk with you and Jenny first." He saw that his wife was following along. "She would need our help to make the difficult transition and during the first few months. We'd be brought across first and once we were ready, she'd be brought across. She'd never get sick again, die or grow old, neither would we."
"What about her mind?"
"It would still grow and develop as normal."
"What do you mean by brought across?"
"I mean we would become vampires."
"Have you lost your mind? There's no such thing,"
"That's what I used to believe. Nick is one."
Myra still couldn't believe it. "Is he going to do it?"
"No. He wouldn't."
She saw the anger in his eyes. "Why not?"
"I don't know."
"Who will do it?"
"Nick's father, LaCroix."
"I will agree. I don't want Jenny to die," Myra said, a little uncertain.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. We need to talk to Jenny as soon as she gets home."
Several hours later Jenny entered her house. Her mother approached, leading her into the family room.
"Jenny, your dad and I need to have a talk with you about a few things. Do you have some time now?"
"Yeah." Jenny could tell it was important.
"Don, Jenny's home. Could you come down here?"
Don came down the stairs, and joined his loved ones in the family room.
They all sat on the couch, one parent on each side of Jenny.
"What we have to discuss with you is serious and has to be kept a secret. Okay?"
"Honey, I learned of a way where you would be healed and never have to worry about sickness or death. You would live for a very long time, but your physical body would not get any older. Your mind would continue to grow. Would you be interested in this?"
"Yes. I don't want to die. Am I gonna be like Nick?"
Don and Myra were shocked. "You knew? Why didn't you say anything?" Don asked.
"I've known for a while. I told him I wouldn't. Besides, you wouldn't believe me."
"She does have a point," Myra said.
"Is he going to bring me across? Why didn't I think of that solution myself."
"No. His father is."
"I don't know about this. Have you met his father?" Jenny asked, a bit wary.
"Yes. He's a little strange, but then again so is Nick. Have you met him?"
"No. I've heard a little about him though. I didn't think Nick would do it."
"We'll leave the decision up to you. LaCroix wants us to come across first so that we can help you through it."
"The bloodsucking Brady Bunch. Won't that be interesting," Jenny said, sarcastically.
"This is serious," Don said.
"I know. It's also sorta funny if you step back and look at it. I do want to live. I'm willing to trust LaCroix, but only so far. I'm sorry you have to be dragged into this."
"It's okay. We wouldn't be doing all this if we didn't love you so much."
"When does he want to do this?" Jenny asked.
"Probably pretty soon," Don said.
"You do know that once this is done there's no going back," Jenny said. "Nick'll probably blow a gasket when he finds out. You do know that this will make us Nick's siblings."
That evening Myra fixed everyone's favorite meal knowing it would be her and Don's last meal of that sort. They spent the early part of the night together, knowing it would be quite a while before they would be able to see Jenny again.
They had arranged for Jenny to stay with Natalie, saying that an emergency had come up and they had to go out of town for a while and didn't want to take her out of school. They wouldn't leave her with Nick after he'd turned them down like that.
Don and Myra dropped Jenny off at the morgue at the end of Natalie's shift. Jenny had been curious to see what Natalie did for a living, and she had offered to show the teen around. Also, she wanted to talk to the only mortal who knew quite a bit about Nick and vampirism.
Don and Myra headed over to CERK to start the process. They entered and headed for the broadcast booth, seeing that LaCroix was just finishing his nightly show. About a minute or so later LaCroix exited the booth.
"Hello, Don. I take it that this lovely woman is your wife."
"Yes. This is Myra."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Myra. My name's Lucien LaCroix." LaCroix kissed her hand in a very Old World gentlemanly way.
Myra saw what Jenny had detected, probably from her chats with Nick, an evil hiding behind the courteous facade.
"Which of you would like to go first?" When no quick decision was made LaCroix decided for them. "Don, you're first."
Don and Myra exchanged a glance before nodding their acceptance.
"Myra, make yourself comfortable. It'll be a while," LaCroix said before he escorted Don back to his private apartment.
Once in the apartment he had Schanke sit in one of the overstuffed chairs. He could hear the detective's heartbeat quickly rise.
"Why so nervous?"
"This just brought back an old memory I'd forgotten. I got a little to close to one of your kind once, Elma, Alma, something like that. Janette stopped her."
"Alma can be a little much at times. I'm glad she didn't go through with it."
"What's going to happen?" Schanke asked, a little nervously.
"I think it's better if it just happens. It might hurt a little, but there shouldn't be too much pain."
LaCroix moved behind the detective, kneeled down and sank his fangs into Don's neck. Schanke cried out as he felt the sharp fangs pierce his skin.
Schanke felt the blood being drained from his body and was at a loss to describe the feeling. Before long he was feeling very lightheaded, yet quite good.
LaCroix bit his wrist and held it up to Don's lips. Don quickly grasped the wrist and sucked, like a baby with its bottle, until LaCroix pulled away. He then led his fledgling to the couch and commanded him to sleep, which Schanke did.
LaCroix fed well knowing that in a few hours he would have to repeat the process with Myra, but he had something special planned there. He headed out to where he had left her and saw that she was asleep. He scooped her up and carried her to a spare bedroom, well apart from his own apartment, and gently set her down on the bed.
LaCroix returned to Don, knowing that within an hour he would awake a starving fledgling, suffering from the first hunger.
An hour later LaCroix had two bottles of human blood, a fine vintage at that, ready for Don. As soon as the fledgling awoke he handed him the first bottle, which disappeared at an amazing speed. LaCroix only wished he could take his new son hunting, but it was just too dangerous in this modern age. He handed Don the second bottle and watched as it was drained, quickly at first, but slowing down as the hunger was quenched.
"Did I just drink what I think I did?"
LaCroix nodded, an evil grin forming on his lips. He loved the stunned look on the detective's face. Once again he commanded his fledgling to sleep, and with a little persuasion Don did just that.
LaCroix went to Myra's room and woke her with a kiss.
"It is time."
"What do I need to do?" Myra asked, unsure.
"I want to make this as pleasant an experience for you as I can."
He had her sit on the edge of the bed while he sat behind her. He gently kissed her neck as he located the right spot and sank his fangs in as gently as he could. He sensed the joy she was getting from his gentle touch, along with some guilt because it wasn't her husband making her feel this good.
As soon as he had drained her to that crucial point he bit his wrist and let her feed from him. She took to his wrist very naturally and seemed to know exactly when to stop, maybe it was her maternal instincts.
He made her sleep just as he had done with her husband. After retrieving two bottles of his finest vintage, he stayed with her until she awoke. He then made sure she satisfied that intense first hunger.
When she again slept, he carried her into his apartment, knowing it was now safe for them to be reunited. He tucked her into his bed. He slept on the other edge of the bed, being careful to make it look as platonic as possible.
A few hours later they all awoke, after they fed he left the two fledglings alone to make their own bond with each other.
Over the next two months he taught them everything he thought they needed to survive in the outside world. He left out most of the same lessons he had with Nick. He was grateful for his age (and the withheld lessons) as it allowed him to keep Nick's new siblings from being detected by Nicholas.
A few nights later Myra dropped Natalie's apartment to pick up Jenny. She was able to avoid having to come in for a chat by stating that they had to rush back to the airport for their flight. She did thank Natalie for taking such good care of her daughter. Myra was grateful for mid-year school vacations.
Myra and Jenny headed back to CERK. Jenny noticed that her mother seemed fine, a little paler and cooler to the touch, but otherwise no different. She was glad her mother had successfully made the transition.
Back at LaCroix's apartment within CERK, Jenny made herself comfortable. Her parents were allowed to be present while LaCroix brought her across, as he thought it would help her be less nervous. LaCroix was surprised when he sensed less nervousness from her than he had from either parent.
"Jenny, do you know what is about to happen?"
"Yes. You're going to save my life by making me a vampire." She moved her hair to one side, giving him good access to her neck.
LaCroix found her most interesting and wondered if she might not turn out to be the biggest success of his new children. He was careful to sink his fangs into her neck as gently as possible. She too, was a natural when he handed her his wrist to drink from.
LaCroix allowed her parents to stay with her and to feed her from his finest stock when the first hunger hit. He wanted to keep things as normal for Jenny, and her parents as possible, at least while the teen adjusted.
Over the next two months Jenny turned out to be a remarkable student. She picked up things extremely quickly and had a wonderful curiosity, but lacked his taste for the dark side. He allowed that as she was young and fascinated him in other ways. He made sure her curious mind was never left wanting for information, but he did not hand it to her, he had gifted her with a laptop computer so she could do her own explorations.
Her parents had never seen her so eager to learn. She had been a B student, sometimes an A one in school, but didn't always seem interested in her lessons.
Her biological parents were allowed to discipline her whenever she broke any rules, as LaCroix knew it would work best that way.
One night LaCroix approached the Schankes, as they were talking in the room LaCroix had said was theirs as long as they needed it.
"I believe it is time for you three to return to your lives. Remember all I've taught you and you'll do fine," LaCroix said.
"Thank you, LaCroix. You don't know how much it means to us that our daughter will live," Schanke said, grateful.
"I'm glad I could help."
Forever Knight Index