General Fiction posted January 20, 2022 Chapters:  ...37 38 -39- 40... 

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final draft

A chapter in the book DIFFERENCES (final draft)

Chapter thirty-nine

by dmt1967

Jake strode towards the barrages and Callore ran after him. She slid her hand into the crook of his arm and matched his pace until they stopped outside the hut. Jake opened the door. He gazed around the sparse, dimly lit room and sighed. Three wooden camp beds with a tartan blanket on each stood at the far side of his quarters. 

Callore squeezed Jake’s hand. “Whatever it is, my love, we will fix it.”

Jake stared into space and a vacant expression plastered on his face. “I was thinking about Jason.”

Callore screwed her face up. “Jason, Jason.” She clicked her fingers. “Jason, your human friend. The one that wandered off and got killed by the vampires. If I remember rightly, we killed his killers, didn’t we?”

Jake set his jaw. “Yes, but the hurt and guilt are still there.”

Callore scratched her head. “Why guilt? We never told him to run away.”

“But it was because of us he did,” Jake growled. “Because I was too much of a coward to tell him about us.”

“But you looked for him and your intentions were good, it’s just your cousin, Hassorev got to him first.” Callore placed her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. “It wasn’t your fault, my love.

Jake shrugged her hand away and turned his back on her. “But it was my fault he came here, my fault, no one else’s. If I hadn’t been so selfish and wanted to say goodbye to him...” He turned towards her and jerked his finger in her direction. “If I had told him he couldn’t come.” He took another step towards her. “If I had been a better friend and been honest with him from the start... Told him I didn’t love him, not the way he loved me...” He stuffed his fist in his mouth and his shoulders slumped.

Callore reached out, pulled Jake into her arms, and ran her fingers through his jet-black hair. “I’m sorry, my love. I keep forgetting you grew up with humans. We ‘Pires take after our vampire ancestors in that respect. We revenge our loved ones and move on. Honesty is not a word we use. A situation like this would not exist in our world as we keep secrets from our loved ones to keep them safe and they know it. Honesty is a human word and you are human. Maybe not biologically, but you were brought up by them. I should have been more understanding. Honesty is important to you.”    

Jake gulped back a tear and shuddered. Pull yourself together, Boy. He took a deep breath, shut his eyes, and gave himself a mental shake. He opened them again and gazed down at Callore. “Please don’t.”

Callore frowned. “Don’t what?”

“Be so nice.” He got up from the bed and walked to the window. “After my outburst, I don’t deserve; nice.”

“Please, Jake, tell me. You’re scaring me now.”

Jake turned towards her and hung his head. “The fact is—." He gulped. We’ve been through so much. Will this be the one that breaks us? “The fact is I’ve been lying to you too.”

Callore put her hand to her mouth. “Y-you don’t love me?”

Jake’s jaw dropped. “Of course, I love you. You are my world. It’s tearing me apart, the thought I might lose you.”

Callore jumped up and ran to Jake. She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. “That’s all that matters. Anything else we can work out. Diversity is what we do.”

Jake smiled. “You don’t know my secret yet.”

Callore released him and sighed. “We all have secrets, Jake. I told you, honesty is a human thing but, I guess, if we are to share a life, I will have to tell you mine.” She took a deep breath and let it out, slowly. “When I have this child, I am going to morph into a man,” she blurted out.

Jake stared at her open-mouthed.

“See,” she cried. “So, unless you are gay or if you don’t mind, you will be married to a man.” She buried her face in her hands and started to sob.

Jake laughed and hugged her. “That’s wonderful.”

She gazed into her eyes. “I’m glad you think so,” she huffed.

He wiped away her tears with the palm of his hand. “My love, I want to be a woman.”

Callore tilted her head to one side. “Really?” her body stiffened. “You’re not just saying that to make me feel better,” she sniffed.

Jake picked her up, swung her around, and kissed her full on the lips. “Really. I have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you.”

The corners of Callore’s mouth started to lift. “Adrian has been trying to make a potion to stop the transformation taking place, but—" She stopped and dropped her gaze. “I should tell you; he’s a wizard.”

“I know.”

Callore grinned. “He told you. He must like you to have told you his darkest secret, but don’t tell the General or Eva.”

“They know.”

“You’re joking!”

Jake shook his head. “Everyone knows, and they are cool with it.”

Callore put her head to one side. “You know I think there have been too many secrets floating around. We are fighting for the right to be different, yet we are just as bad as the creatures we are fighting against.” She pressed her lips together. “But I wouldn’t tell the troops just yet.”

Jake rubbed the back of his neck. “Why?”

Callore shrugged. “They might not understand.”

 “I thought every ‘Pire could choose what sex they want to be?”

Callore lowered her eyes. “They can, but they usually choose when they turn five. We mature quicker than other species and we know our minds then. Most of us make our first kill at three.”

Jake threw his arms in the air. “I thought we were fighting against this narrow mindedness. I thought the General wanted a utopia, where we can live hand in paw with humans and other creatures in peace. Where our children can choose who they want to be and not live by ancient rules?” 

Callore kissed her forefinger and put it to Jake’s lips. “We are my love. But that takes time. There are some ‘Pires that think creatures and humans should never mix. They are not happy about their next leader having human tendencies. They are waiting until the unrest is settled before they act. You cannot show weakness or emotion in front of them.”

Jake gritted his teeth. “What about Adrian’s potion? When you change so must I. I cannot wait for their acceptance.”

Callore smiled. “Once I become a man and you a woman, we will have won the war and the General would have built the first utopia town. Everyone will see his plan come alive and it is working. They won’t be afraid or mistrust the idea anymore.” 

Jake grabbed Callore’s arm. “Let’s get married now.”

Callore grinned. “You’ve already proposed you dope. We are after the war and—"

Jake shook his head, let go of her arm, and marched to the door. “No, I mean tonight.” Jake opened the door. “Oh, wait. We can’t.”

“Why can’t we?”

“We haven’t got a priest or anything.”

“Adrian’s a Wiseman, which is the creature’s equivalent.”

Jake rolled his eyes. “Of course, he is.”

Callore giggled, ran out of the door, and pulled Jake after her. “Come on, let’s tell the others. We can have a mixed marriage and please all your parents.”

Callore jogged through the compound towards the general’s quarters. Donors came out of huts as they passed while others entered to start their blood giving shift. To the left of the couple Mr Goat, the combat trainer bellowed out orders and took the recruits through their drills. ‘Pire soldiers marched past in their brown uniforms each with a pistol strapped to their belt. Jake sighed and followed; his stomach churned at the thought of what that might entail. They reached the Generals quarters and Callore knocked on the door.

“Enter,” they heard a voice bark.

The pair pushed the door open and walked in.

The general sat at his desk. “I’m so glad you two could make it,” he growled. “We have important work to do. The plan will bring about the end of this war.”

Eva raised her hand. “Now, Filtiam. These young pups have a life outside work and the war.” She closed one eye. “I think they have an announcement to make.”

Jake cleared his throat and glanced around the room. “We want to get married now.”

The general tutted and rolled his eyes. “We know that, already.” He tapped his fingertips on his desk and turned back to the group. “Now, as I was saying if we—"

Eva jumped out of her seat. “That’s not what he’s saying. He means right now.”

Jake nodded and turned to Adrian. “Would you marry us?”

The general stood. “Why the hurry? Peace is nearly here. Why don’t you wait till then?”

Jake rubbed the back of his neck. “We can’t wait. The babies will be here by then and Callore might morph.”

Eva pursed her lips. “Yes, I forgot that side of childbirth for Humpires.”

Vera and the captain exchanged glances and shrugged.

Eva sighed. “Callore is a Humpire. When these types of ‘Pires give birth, their body builds a cocoon around themselves, rather like a butterfly, and they transform into the opposite sex. In Callore’s case, a man.”

Little Tommy scratched his head. “But if she turns into him, will Jake turn into a woman?”  

Jake walked over to the boy and ruffled his hair. “I hope so. I’ve always wanted to be a woman. Ever since I was your age.”

Jake waited for the insults, the catcalls, and the laughter, but none came. His eyes darted around the room for a sign of a smirk, but he saw none. Everyone in the room gazed at him with tenderness and care.

“I’d love to help. Jake,” Adrian whispered. “But I can’t. To marry you, I’d have to be a Wiseman, and only wizards and elders are—” he shrugged and stared at his curled-up toe shoes.

Callore gave Adrian a wide grin. “Everyone knows you’re a wizard darling. That bolt is off the wall and in the toolbox.”

Adrian gazed around the room. “You know,” he whispered to the general.

The general walked over to Adrian and slapped him on the back. “I’ve known since you arrived, my friend.” He grinned. “For one thing, humans might keep vampires young, but the glow every time Eva sucks your neck is something else.” 

Adrian took a step back. “Why didn’t you say anything?” He turned towards Eva, “why didn’t you?”

The general shrugged. “It wasn’t my place. I knew when you were ready, you’d tell us.”

Adrian beamed. He turned to Jake and Callore. “In that case, we’d better get ready if we want to be married in a few hours. I have ordained over marriages before, but they have only been Wizards marrying wizards. This is a first for me and, I must say, I’m kind of excited. What type of wedding would you like?”

Callore glanced at Jake, and he nodded. “We’d like a mixed one, with a few human, vampire and werewolf traditions thrown in.”

Jake walked up to commander Tom Sullivan and placed a hand on the shoulder. “I want you to be my best man, Dad.”

Tom beamed and hugged Jake. A tear rolled down his cheek. “Are you sure, Son?”

Jake gave a curt nod. “Callore told me everything, thanks, Dad, for keeping me safe.”

Callore turned towards the general. “And I would love for you to give me away. You have been like a father to me, and I just...” She sniffed and swallowed the lump in her throat. “I would be honoured if you carried my collar.” She turned towards Eva and Vera. “And I would be grateful if you two carried my lead.”  

“It would be our pleasure,” both women cried in unison.              

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