Chapter 7: One Moment of Fierce Triumph
Charla Thorpe didn’t know much about guns but at least one good thing about the vampire plague, you could just walk into a store and buy one now. No license, no waiting period, none of those things that would have infringed her right to bear a felching vampire killer.
She waited in the doorway of Jesse and Walter’s house for the sunset. Tomás stood beside her, swallowing noisily. “We’re taking a walk in the night, you coming with me or not?” she’d said, and here he was, miserably unhappy. Jesse and Walter were out, she didn’t know where and didn’t care.
When the sun set, the street filled up with them. Hateful wormlike white things, loathsome beings, walking corpses. Some of them saw her and drifted up to the porch but most headed casually for Jesse and Walter’s back yard, so quietly sure of their right to be there that Charla literally saw red for a minute.
“Get ready to follow me,” she snapped.
“You want me to video this?” he asked, thinking he knew what she was going to do.
“Naw, this’s just for us, baby,” she said and pulled out the gun.
The revolver felt solid in her hand and smelled cleanly of metal and oil. Tomás quivered like a baby. “Charlie, what’re you going to do?”
“What do you think?!” She stepped out onto the porch and blasted away.
The thin mustachioed man at the gun store had told her, “This revolver’s specially engineered to fire with less power than a regular handgun, not more. That’s what you want. The wooden bullet has to stay in the heart. If it just blasts through and comes out the back, they’ll keep coming, with a hole right through them. Aim at chest level and sweep. As long as a bullet gets into the heart, it’ll stay there and down they go.”
“Won’t they also stop coming if I shoot low with more firepower and blast their legs to buttcrust?” she’d asked.
The merchant had raised his eyebrows archly. “Oooooh, Lizbet Salander.” Charla glared at him. “I like the way you think,” he continued, “but I don’t know if it’s been tried. Go for my way. It’s been tried and found true.”
Now Charla held the gun in steel-hard hands and swept it in an arc at chest level as she’d been told. The front row of vampires fell, clutching their hearts just like in war movies. She swept the gun back and mowed down the next layer.
The sudden silence as she stopped shooting was electric. No vampires headed toward the haven of the back yard now. Ice cold, identical in every way, eyes red as an ancient wound, the vampires gathered deeper and deeper around her.
“Now hear this,” she yelled, loud and strong. “I’m an American citizen and it’s my God-given right to walk the streets at night. My home is wherever I can kill enough of you motherfuckers, so get out of my way!”
Charla felt the fierce triumph course through her veins for one more moment.
Then she realized that she would never have enough bullets because the vampires didn’t learn. They just kept coming. From blocks around they thronged.
Shit! Alright, she would surrender for the moment to save her life.
She turned for the door of the house and started shooting the remaining bullets to clear her way back. She had plenty enough bullets for this and the line of vampires blocking her way fell like mowed grass, revealing the porch of the house as she sprayed bullets left and right.
And then she stopped, frozen with horror.
Her husband Tomás stood on the porch. Just like the almost comical vampires a moment ago, he clutched his hand to his heart.
In an instant, in less than the time it takes one heart to beat, Charla’s world fell apart.
A heartbeat ago she’d been half sure she wanted to divorce Tomie. And Jesus, she’d made such a fool of herself with that little tramp that she’d nearly died of shame. But all that was swept aside and gone as she watched Tomie slowly crumple to the porch and slither down the speckled granite steps.
The still-standing vampires turned instantly to where Tomie’s body lay twitching at the foot of the steps.
“No, no, Jesus Christ noooooo!!!” she roared. She started to punch and kick and claw her way back across the street. Then she remembered the gun in her hands, brought it up to shoot again.
The gun was ripped from her hands. The barrel sizzled and the smell of burning flesh filled her mind (so vampires had enough of normal flesh to cook?). A harsh voice screamed and in that same instant another, familiar but more distant voice screamed a pleading cry of anguish. It echoed the scream in her own mind: “No, please don’t!” it seemed to beg.
Charla had an instant of clarity before the blood-red darkness fell: she remembered the gleam of the candles in the oil which coated the lasagna Thomás had made for them the night this all began and she remembered with a tenderness which must pierce her heart forevermore the love on his face as he called her into their private inner sanctum.
But as she fell, she saw through the spinning tilting melee of claws and fangs the great fountain of blood which bloomed like a liquid flower from the throng of worshipful vampires on the porch and she let go of any reason to hang on and fight.