Copyright © 2014 by Michael Litzky
The house buzzed in turmoil behind her as Sally reached the front door, Lavinia’s voice shouting something important that was drowned out by Charla’s bellow. Feet drummed down the stairs after her as she fumbled with the bolt. She pulled the heavy wooden door towards her and Lavinia’s strong hand grabbed her shoulder. “Come on!” Sally belted, and made to pull toward the opening. But she was off balance and instead tumbled backwards into Lavinia’s arms.
It was Charla.
For a second she looked up into the bluff face seething with strong emotions, felt the hands which clutched her convulsively, trembling, ready to possess.
Repelled beyond words, she punched her elbow into the woman’s gut and wrenched from the loosening, shocked arms and out the door.
Down the black-speckled granite steps she fell, smacked the sidewalk and rolled to her feet, crying her sister’s name. From the doorway behind her she was vaguely aware of the sounds of bodies slamming and Lavinia’s voice roaring, “Out of the way, you fucking bitch!”
The long descending hill was empty as she scrambled in pursuit, lungs white and panting. But she saw a disappearing slip of white far down at the intersection. Shouting, she ran in great leaping strides, nearly falling, deaf to the voices behind her.
White shapes boiled out of the shadows. Wicked, sly, grinning vampire faces and black cloaked bodies filled the sidewalk around her like coldly boiling lava. “Out of my way you fucking fucks!” she shrieked.
She was shocked as cold hands closed on her in a dozen places. She’d gotten so used to walking outside at night with Lavinia that she –
Lavinia wasn’t with her. Her “home” with Lavinia did not apply. That was what Lavinia had been shouting at her.
For the next few seconds Sally used every ounce of her training to fend off the mass which grew by the instant. Elbows, knees, fists, teeth (again that acrid taste of vampire fluid!); sharp kicks, desperate punches. She smashed noses and pounded soft bellies and still sharp teeth tore at her arms, sharp nails rent her face, wiry hands pulled until it seemed she must be torn into pieces.
She had no ounce of extra energy to call Lavinia’s name but she knew Lavinia must be coming. That was her only hope. Lavinia was coming. Sharp fingers prodded her eyes with a painful burst of yellow red spots; she jerked her head back in the nick of time, felt teeth tearing at her scalp through her thick black hair.
And then Lavinia’s voice through the mob: “I’m with you baby, we’re together, we’re at home, out you fucks, out!” Jumbled in and around the hissing babble, a familiar voice called “Come here, here is where you want to be” and another familiar voice was calling something which she couldn’t make out.
But Lavinia could not reach her through the thick mass that surrounded Sally and was quickly surrounding her too. Sally punched out an arm in the direction of Lavinia’s voice, stretched out her fingers, strained with her fingertips. For an instant drawn out like the throbbing of a violin string, teeth punctured her arm in a dozen places, started to drain her blood.
Exactly how Lavinia had become a vampire – except it had taken only three vampires and had lasted only moments. Why was she still alive?
She had time to realize I don’t have to be touching Lavinia for us to be at home together; we’re together in spirit. But then Lavinia’s fingertips batted against hers anyway and the two women fell to the sidewalk at the center of a hollow in the small crowd. The crowd quickly dispersed, politely uninterested. Jesse’s voice at his front door continued to call, “Vampires! Here is where you want to be. My home is open to you, you know that, come here.” Walter came and stood beside him, added his voice.
“Smart guy, that. I was dumb this time,” Lavinia gasped. Sally understood then. She’d been dumb too. Jesse had siphoned off the bulk of the crowd attacking her; that was why they had been so slow. In dribs and drabs they had left the blood source to go be in a home and new ones had taken their place.
But what had that other voice been calling? Something familiar. Oh yes, KerriAnne and her Queen of the Night routine.
She turned over and saw her vampire sister looming. The white face backed away, seeming to be struck dumb with horror. Sally had longed for a second chance with KerriAnne but now she just felt exhausted as she scrambled to her feet to face the one who, like a cat, kept coming back, who had stood nearby to watch her die. But I nodded to Jeremy, gave him permission to kill her. I’m no better!
Then she saw that KerriAnne did not stand alone. Jeremy Paxton, white as a sheet, stood beside her, an arm around her waist. His hollow eyes stared over Sally’s shoulder into the night.
Oh, KerriAnne, she thought, wearily sad, understanding in a flash that Jeremy had brought her back (“You’ll help me find him. You’d better help me find him!”) and paid the price.
But then a strange thing happened. Jeremy’s ashen face turned to KerriAnne. Breath catching, seeming close to tears, he nodded a wide-eyed confirmation of something they both knew.
And KerriAnne put her arms protectively around him and murmured, “Oh sweetie.”
Then, just as Sally’s stunned brain delivered to her consciousness the fact that during the fight KerriAnne’s Queen of the Night voice had actually been helplessly calling, “Let her go, I command you, let her go,” her sister stalked up to her and smacked her face a sharp crack.
Sally’s ears rang and her mind swam. “You bitch,” KerriAnne said, voice shaking with what seemed to be – outrage? “That’s all I have to say to you. You smug, superior bitch.”
Then she put her arm around Jeremy again and they walked unmolested down the street while Sally stared, unable to move or comprehend.
And then the explanation snapped into form, without any conscious reasoning process.
Lavinia put a tentative hand on her upper arm and she took it and moved against Lavinia’s side, shaken by what she suddenly knew. She was ready to walk away from Charla (who was nowhere to be seen) and her nebbish husband who glared with ineffectual sad hatred from the bay window, Jesse who stood alone now in the doorway calling the last of the vampires in, and most certainly from Malcolm and Walter.
If only she and Lavinia could go alone to the Black Forest and do what they needed to do, without finding money for plane tickets, without setting up websites and blogs and most especially without taking any of these people with them.
Then, almost sagging with relief, she realized that they could. Why hadn’t she seen it days ago?
She whispered into Lavinia’s ear what she wanted and Lavinia grinned at her.
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