By Catherine, age 24, England, United Kingdom

Night was falling on the woods of Elvidire. The sky was a darkened navy blue and the silhouettes of the coarse huddles of trees lay black against it. A sheet of twinkling stars glinted across the vast sky so vibrantly visual they could almost be heard, piercing. An unnervingly cool breeze swept through the woods and made a low rustling and rushing sound as it carried the dried and crackly auburn and tan leaves across the peaty ground.

As all light diminished into the late hours, even the bats hung dormant, dotted along some of the highest branches in sight. A creaking sound was heard in the distance. The lid of a tarnished mahogany coffin rose slowly but surely. Round black nails adorned the edges of the coffin which was a good five feet, seven inches in length. A bronze crucifix was pinned to the top; part of the tips of it looked as if they were peeling off with wear. The lid dropped onto the ground next to it on its hinges and made a loud thudding noise. A slender leg followed by another climbed their way over the top edge of the coffin followed by the rest of a tallish man. He had smooth, jet black shoulder length hair and was wearing a long sweeping black leather coat. His back was turned and his head lowered, hands held in a prayer position, as he seemed deep in thought and determination. Turning around dramatically, his ivory pale complexion could now be seen.

His eyes were a deep brown and held behind long thick dark eyelashes. He wore a stark white shirt with a long ruffled collar which stretched halfway down his torso and close fitting black trousers with knee high boots also of black leather with a sliver buckle on the outside of each top edge. I got lost in his eyes for some moments and I had caught his eye in the pools of moonlight, not just looking, but gazing through the woods at him. Baring his teeth I saw two pointy triangular fangs hanging down from his top jaw, tainted with blood that looked like it hadn't been delved for too long ago.

My celadon green cutis shimmered so much so that a subtly visible aura warmly glowed around me.

"vel'uss xun dos tlu?"("Who do you be?") I uttered in a gently inquisitive and innocent sounding tone, piercing the night air and silence with my sudden emission of sound.

The tips of my ears quivered and the entirety of my eyes flashed like mirrors as my spine glowed roaring red. I yelped and teleported over to plant myself in front of this wondrous being I had just found.

"We...are not here for conversation," hushed the masculine vamp as he shook the collar of his jacket till it stood up, creating a fence-like structure around his neck.

One of the locks of his fringe was abnormally white against the darkness of the rest. He pushed it behind his ear as if trying to conceal. I pouted, narrowed my eyes, and tried to stare right into the vampire as he seemed sure not to give anything away from his very self. The rod of my now fiery spine burnt through me, pleasurably still.

"Spike," he said, before sweeping his coat around him dramatically as he spun and scurried out of sight in less than seconds.

Spike, I thought to myself, ul'tron ji mystic (sounds so mystic). My spine's aggressive glow died down from a burning ruby red to a warm orange and back to invisible behind my frog-like celadon dermis. I saw a small swarm of fireflies in the near distance and flitted over to them, now drawn to the lively activity in this largely dormant and barren area. They buzzed golden sparkly yellow, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. A strobe-like flash of motioned light blurred a rushing line in the distance. Spike was desperate for something. I unfolded my transparent wings from inside the trellis of my backbones and fluttered off to try to seek him out and learn more of his nocturnal missions.

Spike was amid the thick branches of one of the tallest trees in the woods. Halfway towards the peak I could see him eyeing up the bats who were peacefully sleeping with their feet hooked onto the branch as they hung free from it. He was crouching down nearest the trunk of the tree, fangs glinting in the almost pitch black of the night, jacket flapping in the wind that had now picked up from the light breeze it formerly was to short gusts.

I was perched against the base of the trunk, having folded my wings back up. Swiftly I pattered upwards along the trunk with the adhesive pads on the palms of my hands and feet to meet with Spike for a second time. The mid-green of the plumes of leaves was barely recognisable. By the time I had zoomed up and lit upon the branch that Spike was on, he had paced forward toward the bats, and to my shock was holding one scrunched in his hand. Pulling the head back with his other hand he seemed intent on biting its neck.

Spike wasn't aware that I was there as I am quite light-footed. The dark brown fur of the bat's body inflated and deflated through the spaces between Spikes fingers as it continued to breathe in its ignorant sleep. Spike threw open his jaw making shown all his viciously spiky teeth laced with blood stains. His eyes looked possessed and a rabid expression grew gradually over the rest of his face. My spine turned grey and cold and emulated a shiver throughout my body. Spike's gleaming white shirt shook in the wind, beating his chest. He lifted the bat towards his mouth.

"Iskalik!" ("Stop!") I shouted, startling him and causing the bat to be released in fright to safety. It fluttered into the oblivion.

"Who goes there?" he raised his voice and said, spinning on his back heel, seeming annoyed at the interruption.

Readjusting his eyes, it seemed as if Spike had recognised me as I shimmered against the trunk of the tree, my eyes deep and wide, surveying him up and down as I began to try to figure out this male creature. My spine had begun to glow warm again. Spike rose to his feet, brushing down the fragments of dark tan bark from his knees. He straightened his shirt.

"I'd really like to know who you are," he carried on, as he stepped forcefully towards me. The sky was laden with a tinge of bright; day was making its way into our presence.

"Casyonne," I whispered.

"Casyonne, my blood is getting weak and..." he gestured dramatically towards the sky with his right arm. "Daylight is slowly tightening its grapple 'round us. I must depart, but we will resume this conversation at nightfall...Good night." With that, he climbed down from the branch and hung onto it with both his hands before releasing his grip and dropping silently onto the floor of the forest.

I curled up into the fetal position on the inside end of the branch next to the trunk and drifted off to sleep majestically fast. Meanwhile, Spike was losing energy by the minute and collapsed to the ground not far from his coffin. He pulled himself along the ground in a semi-crawl. The sky was turning indigo; he did not have much time left. A pillar-box red ladybird scuttled slowly over some bracken right in front of Spike's eyes below his head. Ants made their way tickly over his hands. Spike picked up the ladybird in desperation between his forefinger and thumb, holding it by its head and watching its legs scrabbling about. 'Crunch' - a thick green blood-like liquid oozed out into Spike's mouth, and he swallowed it as the jagged edges of the ladybird's mangled body scraped down the inside of his esophagus.

It was only an iota of blood, but enough to recharge Spike, enough for him to stand up and sprint the last few yards back to his box. The darkness had receded so much that a sea of bluebells was visible around the vampire's bed. His skin began to burn in the increasing light as he jumped back in and slammed the lid shut.

As night gave way completely to day, the sun shone gleaming through the spindly twigs and thicker branches of the trees onto the array of vegetation strewn across the forest floor. A flock of blackened ravens flew low and planted themselves around Spike's coffin, squaking unpleasantly. They flailed their large wings and seemed distressed. I was still purring as I slept halfway up and halfway down the tree where the bat had nearly met its fate the previous night.

I was suddenly awakened by a loud roaring and shouting from humans. I hung my head over the side of the branch to look down and saw a small crowd of fully silver shining armour clad warrior types marching into the centre of the forest. They each had shields complete with dark and vibrant red crosses, and wore helmets with metal plates partially covering their faces in the shape of an upside down T. There was no warring going on, so I assumed that if there had been any, only one team had decided to make their way here. I wondered if Spike had awakened with all the disarray going on so near to him.

The warriors came to a halt and each dug his staff into the ground dramatically. Some of the warriors were carrying boxes and placed them onto the ground. They opened the boxes and began handing 'round sandwiches wrapped in tin foil, then sat cross-legged in a circle chomping on their lunch. I estimated that it must have been around midday by now. Whimpering quietly without distress, I watched them eating, but felt as if I were prying. Some of the warriors had taken off their helmets and laid them on the ground next to them. From the excerpts of conversation I heard, I surmised that this small army had been warring all morning. It certainly seemed that this side had won the fight, as they seemed relatively unscathed.

I crept along the lengthy branch stealthily until I came to the tip and peered out across the forest. I had a good view from here and could see Spike's coffin prominently. I imagined him lying neatly with his arms by his side, sleeping soundly due to his weakened energy level. Feeling audacious, I sprung from branch to branch as I bounded down the tree back onto the floor. I strode along the forest floor towards Spike's box, and upon reaching it pulled the lid half open and jumped into the coffin, closing it behind me. I wasn't sure what to expect and certainly had far from thought this through. But the acute alarming agony of Spike's teeth gouging into the underside of my forearm was the last thing on my mind before it happened.

"Arrrgh!" I exclaimed in pain as I felt the twinge and tug of his teeth on one of my tendons. A dark bloody nightmare had begun to take place. When he had released his teeth he brushed against my arm and painted sanguine stars across his lips, as a couple of drops rolled backwards onto the tip of his tongue, the taste so sickly sweet and bitter. I could see in his eyes the absorption of it penetrating his soul with warmth, and now radiating joy. His eyes sparkled. Daylight brought us columns of light through the cracks, and I glimpsed his reinvigoration.

Crimson slender canals of blood trickled from the corners of his mouth as colour returned to his cheeks, and I watched the veins in his hands temporarily protrude as the additional blood thumped its way through his system, spurred on by the strong beat of his heart. I looked at the now parting green skin on the back of my forearm as it revealed my inner flesh brashly and garishly. The wound ran deep but was no longer bleeding. My muscle composition was glimmering with exposure and spindly black veins cris-crossed dangerously, now brushing with the air, but I felt a strange sense of positivity about the punctures and gashes I saw before me. I was glad to have been marked by Spike. His skin now shone a healthy glow and he sat up energetically telling me how refreshed he felt.

"I drank life from you," he said wistfully, deliriously leaning backward against the inside wall of the coffin. He seemed giddy.

There remained a few hours of what were, to him, wasteful hours seeped and raped with violent and dangerous rays of whitened light.

"What now?" Spike whined.

"gaer zhah lotha udos shlu'ta xun" ("There is little we can do"), I replied, so we slept.

This, one would imagine, could have been rather awkward given the prior attacking frenzy that had occurred. But it was a better experience than typically imagined, and what followed was a slumber quite comforting. The drumming of Spike's heart pulsed through my head as I lay on his chest and drifted away.

Some hours later I awoke to Spike twitching as he too awoke. For a couple of slightly unnerving moments I had forgotten where I was and whom I was with. We were enveloped in complete darkness.

"Evening," Spike stated wearily as he kicked open the coffin lid and let the crisp and unfettered delights of the nighttime air gush into the box. Bats clapped their wings atmospherically as they flung themselves overhead through the muted sky.

"Let us go bask in the night," proclaimed Spike enthusiastically as he lifted me by my waist out of his coffin with his strong arms, then himself clambered out of it. As we stood facing each other and taking in the damp and viciously present cold air, my eyes shimmered silver and Spike did an excited little jump as if expending pent up energy from his rest. I looked in his direction, but could see little of him but the outline of his staunch build. Then, without warning, he zoomed in a hexagonal route through the trees around me, up and down the lengths of trees quicker than I had ever seen anything move before in my so-far existence. The strobe light emulated dazzling lines of vivacious illumination about the forest after him. He sped back up to me and threw his arm across my shoulders whilst nearly running on past me and knocking me over.

Panting, he said, "It's such a great day...night, whatever", with a huge grin on his face, shaking his hair back into place as he ran his hand back through the long strands. The pupils of his eyes were attractively dilated and the purple of the thin circular iris around it shone more encapsulating and deep than ever. Specks like diamonds seemed to sparkle as they widened, perhaps a reflection of mine.

"Let's go and shoot the moon with the ambidextrously tinted serpents at the pit of enigmatic wonders!" he uttered hyperactively with glee.

I had no real idea what he was talking about, but pulled loosely at fragments of the sentence with my mind to try to gauge an idea of what I was to let myself in for. Vel'noa orn'la udos inbau ninda phor gaer? (How would we get them up there? )I thought to myself.

"Come, this way," he said, grabbing my hand and swiftly gliding through the air, feet barely touching the ground, as within seconds we had arrived back at the coffin. Picking up two crossbows and slinging them over his shoulder he gestured back towards the ground we had just covered.

"Asleep," he said, pointing at the warriors we had seen yesterday during the light, now just an array of humans resting amok with silver glistening armour strewn, worn and piled unevenly. Like a sea of a magpies, dreaming rippled with the breath from each of them as they snored plumes of misty condensation into the air, chests rising and falling.

"Climb on my back," Spike insisted.

"vel'klar phuul udos aluin?" ("Where are we going?") I asked.

"Serpentine rainbow," Spike almost sang in a humour soaked tone of excitement.

I was intrigued and becoming excited too at what I didn't know, so I climbed on less than hesitantly. We zoomed through the trees and I felt exhilarated by the speed. My stomach did a back flip as we ducked down a hill and stopped abruptly halfway down it. My head was spinning and I staggered slightly after dismounting Spike. I readjusted my cape and pushed down the straying locks of hair against my head. Looking down the hill I became aghast; at the foot of it was a sheet of serpents all gliding over one another, each a starkly different shade of colour from the next. They were tinted in hues I had never even known possible to taint the skin of a snake, or anything for that matter. Standing back and looking at the entirety of them at once was quite overwhelming.

"We're going to shoot some to the sky, honey! How else d'ya think the moon gets that face?" he said. I giggled and then looked at the moon, wondering. "Here, let me show you," he carried on, dropping to his knees and maneuvering onto his front before sliding down the hill towards the rainbow vipers, rather like a snake himself.

He reached out with his right hand whilst his crossbow was clutched in his other hand and snatched an unsuspecting hissing air force blue tinged asp by the part of him nearest to his head, on his neck. Its eyes bulged and Spike clipped the blue lasso shaped creature into the arrow like the bow he was now to become, then with little time wasted pondering, scraped to his feet and shot the snake into oblivion. Right up to the moon - we watched the blue mono limb dancing its last slithering airborne dance spectacularly.

"Nindel zhahus llaar weird," I reacted. "Jhal wun natha zhennu i'dol! Ol zhahus ou'tix fantastic, shlu'ta Usstan xo'al?" ("That was really weird") I reacted. ("But in a great way! It was actually fantastic, can I try?")

"Of course!" replied Spike.

"Usstan ssinssrin lil mountbatten tala guy" ("I want the mountbatten pink guy"), I said zestfully, arming myself with the crossbow across my back and slithering on down the hill.

It was python size and I was quite scared, but also buzzing with the joyous feeling that risk often brings. I pulled and lifted at the preposterously feminine looking python which was surprisingly heavy. It felt my grip and thrashed its tail end towards me and hit me in the face.

"Two hands!" yelled Spike dramatically, as if a lot further away.

So I used my left hand too, and tugged at the mountbatten pink serpent. I never imagined that the insult "gay and flighty" would ever cross my mind until now, during a snake fight of all scenarios. My crossbow dug into my back. I pulled the python towards me, away from the masses of what were probably family and friends, and judging by the time spent together the distinction between each category probably blurred more and more by the day. I had the thick asp in my possession, and unhooking my crossbow and flinging it around to the front of me I strung up the cantankerous bastard of a snake and pulled at my wiry string in an effort to take this boy to the stars, never to return.

I hated snakes, and always have. The tail end of it wrapped grippingly around my back and I unpeeled it angrily. Unable to correctly place the snake in my bow I got annoyed and threw the coil of useless and lively muscle to the ground.

"don't dos talinth dos'll saph ol wun jyzumar?" ("Don't you think you'll like it in space?") I said in frustration to the bruise coloured stretch-limo mollusc writhing around before me. It was pointless.

I kicked him back into the pit in rejection.

"Don't give up yet!" exclaimed Spike from behind me, sitting cross-legged further up the hill, with his chin in his hands and seeming to enjoy my performance with a wry smirk growing into a grin at my tantrum-like state.

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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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