Copyright © 2013 by Michael Litzky
“Are you assholes crazy?!” Malcolm ranted at the strangers in “his” plaza. “I don’t want another Constantinople here. Go home, leave me in peace, for Christ’s sake.”
The tall black woman stepped forward now. “I’m Sister Amanda Malraux, Mr. Donald, of the Community of St. Francis. Please listen to these young men. Especially to Jeremy here.” She wore a navy turtleneck and nice jeans and her eyes held an inner peace and sureness that made Malcolm wonder for an instant if there might be a god after all. He shook her hand and said, “Pardon my language, Sister.”
She was making a gesture of dismissal as if to say my faith can withstand a little profanity when the teenager with the haunted eyes broke in. “We’re not here to kill a few more vampires, sir. That’s not going to fix anything. We’re here to kick them off the Earth.” He turned red at the importance of what he’d just said.
Malcolm rounded on the young man. “What are you talking about?”
“My friends and I, we were going to be, y’know, vampire hunters, sir? But then I, kind of, found these tee shirts?”
Malcolm rolled his eyes and Jeremy cringed but Sister Amanda said quietly, “Please hear him out, Mr. Donald.” She seemed protective of Jeremy, almost as if she wanted to wrap him in a cloak of love and forgiveness.
“Call me Malcolm, please. Awright, sorry, young man. You were saying?”
“So, there’s this couple back east, they’ve got a whole website of these tee shirts and stuff, in like every language you can imagine? They’ve even got some in Eskimo. Thick ones, sweatshirts.” He saw Malcolm’s patience wearing thin and sped up. “W-well, they’re all about how the whole earth is a home and, y’know, the vampires should have to leave ‘cause, y’know, they can’t be in a home?
“But it’s not a joke, do-don’t you see? So I, like, joined their online community and I, they don’t think it’s a joke either. We’re growing every day.” His voice shook with emotion as he finished, “We’re gonna get those monsters off the earth. We just have to get enough people to believe it!”
The nun finished, “We’re here to spend the night in your home, if you’ll have us, Mr. Donald. Malcolm. As a way of raising public awareness of what must happen. All of these young men are over eighteen except for Jeremy, and I have signed permission from his parents.” She looked sad as she said that, as if she’d expected them to be sensible and say no. “Will you allow us to stay and, assuming all goes well, to speak at your press conference in the morning?”
I just wanted someone to stay over and schmooze, Malcolm thought sourly. This kind of responsibility I don’t need again so soon. But he said, “I don’t think you’ve given me a choice, really. The sun’ll be down before you could get to anywhere now.”
“I’m afraid we were somewhat counting on that. Malcolm.” She smiled at him and he saw their pile of sleeping bags and camping gear beside his tent.
“Allright, come on in, welcome to my home.” He turned and shouted into the growing dark, “Just them, dammit!”
Lavinia talked as she drove.
“You know, kid, I hurt a lot of people, my time. There’s things I said to some exes, I’d give a thousand bucks to take back. Shit, there’s things I did as a kid, there was this one dorky kid, Solly Schwedelman, he’d be fully justified to kick my ass if he could find me, I terrorized that poor schmuck.”
Sally knew the point Lavinia was building to and resented being lectured. Predictably, Lavinia was concluding, “But I didn’t fuck up their whole lives. Who they are now, huh, maybe I had a small piece in who they are now.”
Sally felt dread in her stomach. Lavinia didn’t really understand what she’d done, hadn’t really heard her. Her parents had never found out what she did to Carrie; they’d kicked her out when they’d simply caught her kissing a girl. But she’d had sex with her sister when Carrie was a minor, when they were both minors but she, Sally, was old enough to be considered a perpetrator. She’d crossed a line there and the horrified moment of disgusted revelation must still be coming to Lavinia.
Still following the GPS, they passed the turnoff to Twin Peaks, marked “Local Traffic Only. Twin Peaks closed one hour before sunset.” The sun was out of sight but not quite down when Lavinia turned the old camper onto Diamond Heights Boulevard, and then left onto Duncan Street. The GPS guided them right and then left again, to the top of a hill which plummeted steeper than a rollercoaster.
“Shit.” Lavinia parked. “These fucking hills. House must be halfway down. We’re out of time, babe, all your mashugas. They’ll be out before we find it.”
This was it then. They would have to do it here. Lavinia took Sally’s cold hand. “You okay, baby? Twenty seconds or so. I feel it.”
Sally nodded, eyes still full of pain. Looking her right in the eyes, Lavinia said, “Hear me, tiger. Your love saved me, no two ways about it, and nothing you maybe did to your sister changes how good you are. Jesus Christ, you risked your life for her, that’s how we met! I see your goodness, so quit insulting my intelligence and good taste, huh?”
As Sally gave the surprised laugh Lavinia intended, the vampires came out. Like white noise, like TV snow, they blocked the backdrop of quaint Victorian houses. Like a cold delirium, they took over the sane streets of the residential neighborhood. A shroud of ice mist, a confusion, a hunger, a hatred. This was the physical manifestation of the nightmare from which Sally had rescued Lavinia today.
Their faces were all blank, evil, soulless white. They dressed in graveyard clothes, burial suits. There was no telling any of them apart. Slavering mouths pressed against the glass of the windows, sinister hands tried the driver’s door, ancient tongues hissed in icy delight as they found they were not blocked from pushing the tongue of the door latch so it clunked, from starting to pull the door open.
The two women sprang out of the opening driver’s door, Lavinia first and Sally scrambling after. What were we thinking, this is crazy! Sally thought, desperately holding on to the feeling of home with Lavinia. But a part of her was still thinking, I betrayed my trust, Kerri needed me and I betrayed her, I don’t deserve this. If she could have put her feelings into words so clear, she might have denied them, but this bitter frost was laid deep.
Lavinia was speaking the words they’d planned. “Wherever my beloved and I are together, is our home.” But all Sally could think was I was wrong.
The beautiful moment they had planned was falling into buzzing hissing pieces. What had she been thinking? She’d thought declaring a home together would protect them. But didn’t she already know that any home she shared with Lavinia, even a metaphorical home, was one which vampires could enter too? She could never have a home with her.
The crowd surging around them like an ice floe was not grabbing yet, but pressed close on every side. Lavinia waited for her to speak the words too, looking troubled that Sally was silent. In Sally’s head came the inevitable moment when Lavinia fully understood what she’d done and roared, as her father had done, “Leave the house and never come back!”
A marble face with red eyes swam into her field of vision, jaws opened to reveal glistening teeth.
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