I followed the vampire woman in silence for a couple blocks. Her pace was slow and comfortable, and her eyes were constantly roving over everything. I decided she was unlikely to initiate anything.
“So, here’s the thing.” My hands had risen up to gesture as I spoke. That meant I was nervous. “I’m not really a zombie. I’m human. Someone made a mistake. Do you know who I could talk to to fix it?”
The vampire woman stopped and turned to face me, her arms crossed. “It doesn’t much matter if you’re a zombie or not. Your caste mark says you’re a zombie. End of story to anyone here who will listen.”
She cut me off with a gesture. “Only the Immortals can change a caste mark. And none of them care about the dead side.”
My shoulders sagged. The first part I knew was true. The second part I could easily believe.
“Besides, it was a werewolf that brought you in, right?”
“Then you’re a zombie. Those shifters can smell the difference.”
“Look, I can tell you what’s what, but it’s up to you to accept it.”
“You don’t understand.”
The vampire shrugged. “Whatever.”
Another block passed in silence. Slow, awkward silence that stretched out far too long while I waited for her to say something. “You promised to help,” I blurted.
“You’re new here.” She continued to walk without the slightest pause. “Two things happen to new people here. Either you adjust your perspective, or you’ll end up in an alley somewhere, dead. Permanently.”
“If it’s that bad here, clearly you vampires aren’t doing your job right.”
The vampire stopped. I continued for a few paces before turning, surprised.
“I am not a vampire.”
I gestured at my face. “You were just lecturing me about how my caste mark makes me a zombie whether I like it or not.”
“I’m an estrie. The Immortals, in their infinite wisdom, decided we were close enough to vampires to be given the same mark. You won’t see a vampire with hair like mine.” She gestured at the thick, dark braid that hung down her back.
“So…you drink blood?”
“Yeah. But I can also fly and turn into a cat.”
“Can zombies transform?”
“Nice try. But zombies are pretty much as bad as everyone says they are.”