Chapter 9: Deadly
“Stop it, stop it, you’re Lavinia!” Sally screamed.
Lavinia’s cold lips slid on her soft white skin, the mouth snapped open to bite. For one instant Sally nearly went under and allowed it. They would be vampires together, just like she’d wanted. But this new information changed everything (and nothing): just being inside a church, even one a thousand years old, had turned Lavinia into a soulless undead thing. That would happen to her if she became a vampire now. Her sense, earlier, that she had to stay human had been correct.
And so she shoved that hideously cold wet mouth away, close enough to feel the teeth scratch across her skin.
The next instant she was up. She snatched up her duffel bag and swung it in an arc which caught Lavinia in the belly and slammed her up against one of the stone walls. She managed to grab the flashlight while Lavinia scrambled to her feet, hissing.
Sally came within a hair of saying, “You are no longer welcome, I cast you out.” What would have happened if she’d said it, she didn’t know. Would Lavinia have been smashed against a wall, swept over the cliff and hundreds of feet down into the water?
But instead she turned and ran. She was awkward carrying her belongings and Lavinia’s hissing breath was close behind her neck. Cold hands grabbed at her shoulders. She slammed the duffel bag back into Lavinia’s stomach again. Then she dropped the bag, realizing that speed was the only thing that mattered.
Into the cold tunnel she plunged once more, across the dark misty courtyard, under the stone lintel and onto the path along the outer wall. The thought of descending those stairs in the wobbling beam of her flashlight made her stop and turn to make her stand.
Lavinia slammed into her. The momentum carried her back to the lip of the staircase and bowled her over and again she made a choice. She didn’t use her martial arts training to propel Lavinia on ahead and over the rim and down the stairs.
Instead she gripped Lavinia’s arms and pulled Lavinia down on top of her.
“You’re Lavinia,” she insisted. The face above her held only animal cunning. But it was still Lavinia’s face, it didn’t look like a movie vampire. The mouth opened, the serrated ridge of teeth with their volcanic sharp fangs moved toward her. Sally pushed back.
“We’re out of that church, you can come back. You’re Lavinia Starr, your family name was Strajewski, you’ve had tons of sex, more than I’ve had in my whole life, you probably had a threesome with that Helga bitch, you, um,” Sally floundered for more memories. “When you were five your pet turtle Sammy the Wanderer died and you cried all night, I bet you were a cute little girl, in fact I saw that picture on your wall, you were a cute little girl.”
Over Lavina’s shoulder the mists parted for a moment and Sally saw the ancient face of the moon. The cunning on Lavinia’s face faded into blankness for a minute then smashed apart into horror. “Tiger? Oh my fucking god, tiger, what’d I do, I, fuck, I hurt you!”
Sally released her push and let Lavinia collapse on top of her. “It’s okay, baby, it’s okay…”
“No, it’s not! Jesus Christ, don’t tell me it’s okay, I hurt you, I chased you, I would have killed you, oh my God, how could I do that?”
“It’s okay, it’s okay, I love you, it’s okay.”
Lavinia wept like a baby while Sally stroked her back, shifting because of the hard paving stones beneath her.
In all their time together, they had never entered a church or a synagogue or a mosque or any kind of religious establishment. Sally thought they’d laid the religion question to complete rest in Rainbow’s store. If those religious symbols had had no effect on Lavinia and she’d even had a positive reaction to the Star of David, why would a thousand-year-old church suddenly affect her so? Did it mean that God existed and was as vengeful and stern as he’d always been depicted? She’d had that momentary flash where she’d seen the Brothers who had lived here so long ago and they’d been good men, all of them, with the odd exception who was a total asshole as in any group of people.
And the Christianity they’d known and practiced had probably been very little like the Church today. The Renaissance and the Reformation had yet to happen, there had been no Great Schism or Protestantism. Had Islam even been started a thousand years ago? Sally thought so but her grasp of history was shakier than she wished.
In the meantime: “You didn’t hurt me, I got you out of that compound the only way I could think of and you didn’t hurt me, that’s all that matters.”
Finally, as Lavinia got calmer, Sally said, “Babe? It’s cold, it’s dark. I need to go back in there and get our possessions. Will you be okay out here? Whatever came over you, is it safe out here?” The wind up from the sea rippled over them and Lavinia’s cold was like the frost of a grave.
But Lavinia just shook in her arms and so Sally forced herself to hold on, shaking and shivering. This went on until Sally was numb and blue with the cold. When she forced herself to speak, she realized that she’d waited far too long. “Buh-babe, I nuh, I need.” Her mouth wouldn’t work.
Lavinia stiffened. “Jeez, what, what a bitch, I’m sorry, what do you need, tiger?” She tried to hug Sally tighter and Sally got out the word, “freezing.”
“Aw shit, sorry, sorry, I can’t say it enough.” Lavinia released her. “Up, up kid, run back and forth, get some heat built up. What the fuck happened to all the sunlight I took in today? That damn church, it sucked it all out?”
Teeth chattering, a cold hopeless feeling inside like she would never be warm again, Sally forced herself to her feet. She couldn’t make herself run, not with that drop-off beside her, but she walked up and down.
It wasn’t enough. “Love, I need to go get the duffel bag,” she forced out. “Clothes, more clothes, food.” She turned. “Bee arr bee!”
“Wait!” Jumping up and down to generate heat, Sally turned back. “If I’m not right here, it’ll probably mean I had to go on down the stairs, get away from this fucking place. But call me with the words you used in the dream, huh? If I’m, um, lying in wait for you, maybe that’ll bring me out of it.”