Copyright © 2013 By Michael Litzky
“Oh god, it popped right off,” KerriAnne’s thin voice shrieked over the phone. “I’m alive and it’s off, oh thank God!” She dissolved into helpless weeping.
Sally sagged with relief.
Moved to a gentleness she seldom showed with her sister, she said, “Well Darling, you keep yourself safe. I—” But she couldn’t bring herself to say I love you. “—worry about you sometimes. Oh, do go down into Bunt’s basement, there’s someone down there you have to let out,” she finished. Her finger started for the “End” button. She heard KerriAnne starting to say something that might have been a humble and grateful thank you but couldn’t stop her finger in time. Bip. Call finished. Feeling incomplete but not wanting to call KerriAnne back, she put the phone away and faced Bunt.
She wanted to kill him and there was good reason to kill him. It would shut down the Home Runs. If she let him live, he had a big online following and he’d start spreading lies about her the instant he was out of her sight. He’d probably pick someone else up quickly as blood bait for the Runs. She could see him calculating all of these things. But if she killed him, she’d be a murderer and in all of her rough and tumble existence, that was a line she had never crossed.
So she tried to bully him into obedience. “I’ll be watching you, asshole,” she snarled. She saw him understand immediately that she wasn’t going to kill him. Angrily she drew back and kicked him full in the face, felt his nose crunch and saw blood spurt. The vampires against the barrier hissed and snarled. Bunt howled with pain and covered his face. She hoped that would be enough as she stood glaring down at him. But she was uneasily sure that as soon as he was with his followers he’d make trouble.
At that moment, there came a musical smashing of glass. Sally jerked, but saw that Lavinia had done it. She had pulled the camper so that its open window was flush against one of the display windows, wrapped her hand in what looked to be one of the curtains from behind the driver’s seat and punched the window. “Shit,” Lavinia muttered as the cascade of glass shards subsided. Then she beckoned, “Come on, kid. Outta there.”
Sally had been wondering how she would get out through the front door with the vampires filling the alcove space. Lavinia had made a clear exit path. For some reason she was both grateful and annoyed with the older woman who now was climbing carefully through the window and into the store. But then her new lover stood before her, intense eyes on fire, looking at her with love and exasperation, and Sally hung perfectly balanced between defiance and melting desire.
She knew she had to say something to Lavinia. She opened her mouth to explain something very important. But Lavinia turned, grabbed a fire extinguisher from beside the door and with a grunt, with her teeth clenched, brought it down with all her force on Bunt’s skull. His eyes popping, he sagged into a heap.
“What did you do that for?!?” Sally screamed. “You probably killed him!”
“Or at least knocked him out so he can’t fight me,” Lavinia answered grimly. She grabbed his bloody hands and dragged him to the door, an unhappy look on her face. Sally realized what she was going to do in time to stop her but watched in confused relief as Lavinia repositioned herself and stretched Bunt’s arm so that his right hand reached to the threshold of the door and then an inch past it.
With a rush which nearly wrenched Lavinia with it, Bunt’s unconscious body was pulled completely outside. Lavinia staggered against the door jamb, and Sally ran forward and grabbed her so that she fell inside, not outside. The vampires, maddened by the blood on Bunt’s face and groin, pressed into a tight pack around the man they had idolized ten minutes before. Surges of movement rippled through the pack and one single droplet of blood flew into the air, to be caught by a leaping vampire with its mouth open, who was then pulled down by five sets of claws. When the pack dissolved a few minutes later, no sign of Bunt remained. Even his clothes seemed to have been eaten, or at least shredded into such fine particles that they couldn’t be seen. The small pile of metal fragments which had been his smart phone was all that was left.
Lavinia looked like she was about to throw up as she angrily faced a shocked Sally Yan. “Couldn’t you see the world of trouble that pig was gonna make for you?” And then quietly to herself she added, “Jesus fuck.” She seemed to be reliving some experience from her past. Sally wondered what desperate situation this capable woman had faced in her travels. Maybe she had killed someone to defend her long-ago girlfriend? Embarrassed by the rush of lust and jealousy she felt as she looked at Lavinia in a new light, Sally said only, “Let’s go. Let’s get far the fuck away from here.” I’m starting to talk like her, she thought.
“Make sure there’s no trace of you left here,” Lavinia started to say.
“Jesus Christ, I know that!” Sally exploded. “I didn’t drop anything but how do I know what traces I left?!” A new, horrible thought troubled her. “And no matter what I do, my GPS will show that I’ve been here. I checked in as soon as I got here. They, anybody who wants to can probably reconstruct, aw shit.” Sally realized she was about to cry, tried to suppress it and felt the tears come buzzing through her barriers.
Lavinia, who had listened with sad patience to her outburst, now put tender arms around her. Sally fought off the sweet embrace and said harshly, “Let’s go.” But Lavinia’s hand was still on her back as she climbed through the broken window into the homely camper van. Sally sat still and straight, looking ahead at the thronging faces, matching their evil with her anger. Lavinia climbed in beside her and started the motor into rumbling life.
Sally pictured herself holding out some sticky rice or a piece of yellow paper with a Chinese spell written on it, and all the vampires melting away. Why had her father left? Had he seen what his daughter thought he was and been ashamed? She had come back to help her mother when he got the cancer diagnosis and she had watched him drink himself to death (a path which he had warned both his daughters would cause “nine-fold harm”) without ever saying a word about what had almost happened. She hardly dared to look at her confused feelings about Bunt or KerriAnne.
Lavinia broke into her thoughts. “Kid. You gotta navigate me, least until we get several blocks away. Then, I don’t know, maybe we ditch the phone?”
Her eyes blazing at the endless plague of vampires, Sally raged, “Why should we have to? Navigate, I mean. I mean, if this is our home–” Lavinia brightened when she said that “–and it’s a moving home, shouldn’t they have to get out of the way and let it move? Move your pale asses, you leeches, you slugs, this is our home!!”
Then she saw the miracle that Charla Thorpe had discovered a few weeks ago and had shared in a video which was about to go viral. The vampires, some fighting it tooth and nail, were pushed away from the front and sides of the van as if some cosmic janitor were wielding a push broom. In twenty seconds, the way was clear to drive.
“How did you do that?” Lavinia said in awed silence.
Sally shook her head, then found her voice. “I’d suggest that you drive, though.”
Maneuvering carefully off the sidewalk and back to the street, Lavinia observed, “You should bottle that and sell it, kid.”
The tires thumped down onto the pavement and the old camper pulled away. In silence they put several blocks between them and the scene of the crimes. Then Lavinia put a tentative hand on Sally’s knee. Sally wrapped her small white hand tightly around Lavinia’s. They drove like that for several more blocks until Lavinia turned right onto Mickabelle Street which became a quiet country lane in a couple of miles.
Sally let the knowledge that she had triumphed seep into her body. All those years of gymnastics with no end in mind but being tough, all the months of training to kill vampires, all the reconnaissance for this Home Run, it had all paid off. She was the first successful Home Runner in the world and, now that Bunt was dead, hopefully the last. Whatever repercussions there would be from Bunt’s death (and maybe there’d be none, nobody had liked the bastard) she had won. She had checked in at the goal first. Her inbox was probably clogged with congratulations. (She pulled out the phone, unwilling to destroy it, compromised by turning off the GPS and putting it into airplane mode.) She had saved her sister’s life and sanity. And, amazingly, this love had fallen into her lap. Maybe it would just be a few months of fun, like all her other relationships except one. It felt different though, it felt like she could give this woman the devotion she’d always yearned to give.
But at the very least she and this amazing witch woman had a dish of incredible sex on order and nothing needed to stop them from devouring it. Sangrove County Park was on the right and Lavinia was turning onto the access road.
She pulled into the loop of the old public campground which nobody used anymore except daredevils. Your tent was your home and if you were brave enough to ignore the creeping menace thronging the space outside the thin walls, you could safely camp out if you never left the tent even to pee. But what kind of camping was that? Or there were the campers that Lavinia deplored, the monsters the size of busses pulling trailers half as big as they were. But there were no RV hookups in this old tent campground, so those bring-your-mansion-with-you campers didn’t come here either.
The place was completely deserted by humans. But even out here several vampires drifted aimlessly. As soon as Lavinia parked, they thronged around the Commer Camper, pressing tight against every window, their eyes seeing everything and nothing.
As the engine thrummed into loud silence, Sally turned resolutely to Lavinia. She saw a desperately vulnerable face looking back at her and she throttled back the charge on what she was going to say by at least two notches. “Look, I appreciate….” But I appreciate what you’ve done for me was inadequate. “No, I’m….” Already half in love with you was too scary. And a frightening white face pressed itself hungrily to the glass in front of her. “Can we get into the back of this thing? The home part?” she asked. Hastily she added, “Not that the front seats aren’t part of our home!”
Lavinia motioned with a grand gesture at the gap where a curtain had hung. “Climb over the seat. I’ll follow you.” She was waiting for Sally to give her a clue and Sally found herself disappointed. A part of her still wanted Lavinia to just take over.
So she made herself stop before she climbed into the back and say the words, ignoring the vampires. Tenderly stroking the older woman’s face, she said, “You saved my life tonight. You helped me save my sister’s life. I want you, just the way you want me.”
Lavinia still looked cautious. “But?” she prompted.
“I don’t want a twenty-four by seven … master/slave thing.” At the warmth and relief which filled Lavinia’s beautiful face, she felt the perfect words rise. “I want to be bossed around in the bedroom. Nowhere else. So that stunt you pulled in the garage? Never again.”
Lavinia didn’t look perfectly happy. But she nodded. “Yeah, that went well, didn’t it.” Sally looked stubborn and Lavinia raised her hands. “Look, I’m sorry. I thought you wanted, you know, like that.”
A smile wriggled its way onto Sally’s face as she felt again her rush of panting lust when Lavinia had floored the accelerator, sweeping her along.
Lavinia still looked pensive. “Look, I know we also oughtta have the safe sex talk and go over what we both like and don’t like and set boundaries and a fuckin’ safe word and shit. By the way, you got a fuckin’ name?”
Stunned, Sally realized she’d never told Lavinia who she was. “Sally Yan,” she said weakly.
“Well Sally Yan, I got no diseases, not even a cavity. You?”
Sally shook her head. “But I’ve been with …” She trailed off, not wanting to tell Lavinia just yet that she’d had lovers of both genders. “I haven’t been 100% safe,” she finished.
“Safe,” Lavinia muttered. They both looked at the dozen or so vampires prowling and Sally felt herself laughing. Lavinia chuckled. A schoolgirl excitement suddenly filled the air.
“I just got one other question for you then.” Lavinia’s violet eyes were now ablaze with merriment. “You don’t get off begging ‘stop, stop, don’t,’ do you?” Sally shook her head again. “Great, then your safe word is ‘stop!’ That’s all you need to know. I don’t want you to know just yet what’s in store for you. But you want something to stop, say. You good with that, baby?” Lavinia looked surprised that the word “baby” had emerged.
Sally shivered deliciously. On fire and fully sure at last that she was doing just what she wanted, she nodded. She liked Lavinia’s smell, she realized. Musky and still that hint of lavender flowers. “Come on,” Sally said meaningfully. “Get me into the bedroom.”
But behind Lavinia’s head, five hungry faces filled the still-open window. “And roll up the window,” Sally added.
“Jesus fuck!” As Lavinia cranked up the old window, Sally stared into the faces. She remembered her crazy wish to step out among them earlier this crazy evening. Now she imagined putting a piece of yellow paper on their foreheads.
In the cozy little back Lavinia set up the bed, putting the table in place as a baseboard and unfolding a foam mattress on top of it. The camper was old but not musty. It had been well cared for. Sally liked that Lavinia was the kind of person who took care of an old camper. Even the crow emblem on her jacket was done with some class, a crow whispering into a stylized ear, hand-stitched of different colored pieces of leather and with some writing on it which Sally couldn’t make out in the dim light. Lavinia rehung the curtain between front and back, made sure all the other curtains to the outside were pulled. No vampires could be seen.
In the dim light filtering through from the lamps outside, she turned slowly to face Sally, who lay in warm excitement on the bed. Their eyes locked. The vampires were outside and the long night ahead was theirs and theirs alone.
End of Volume One