Copyright © 2014 by Michael Litzky
Staring furiously at the blank screen of his phone, vodcast forgotten, Jeremy relived the feverish hours which had followed his betrayal of the others.
When Sister Amanda asked on Sally’s behalf where the body of her sister was (KerriAnne, they’d named her), he glibly explained that since her foot stuck out beyond the barrier, the vampires outside had pulled her out and devoured her. The nun seemed aware that something was wrong and he cringed from her obvious caring about him. But she was equally on fire to tell the world about how being at home with God or Jesus or whatever could let you walk among vampires and so she didn’t press him like she might have.
He endured the rough good-natured companionship of his friends as Satsuki, the oldest, gave them all a ride home in the morning, after incoherent interviews with reporters. He endured his parents’ cautious hugs and, after a dead sleep full of feverish dreams, a dreadful evening where they tried to “bond” with him like parents are supposed to do.
But at 11 pm, they took their evening dose of cold medicine and bid him goodnight from across the gulf that neither he nor they could cross. Their feet climbed the carpeted stairs. By 11:45, the sounds of their muted conversation trailed away. Listening at their door like a criminal, Jeremy heard heavy breathing. Neither of them snored but they’d drugged themselves to sleep for years now. He could stage an orgy downstairs, he thought daringly, and they’d never hear.
Nervous, horny and disgusted with himself, he tiptoed back down the stairs to the living room. The house was an old Victorian with high ceilings and big bay windows. No vampires were visible at any window, not now that everyone knew, thanks to Charla Thorpe, to tell the vampires that enjoying the sanctity of one’s home meant having one’s view too.
If he went back up to his old bedroom (he now slept in the downstairs room that had once been “the TV room”), he could sleep in his old bed with the shade up and not be bothered by a single vampire. He remembered with harsh grainy vividness those nights of torment five years ago when Alec had been about to die, and new rage filled him.
When KerriAnne showed up (if she showed up, he added angrily, still unable to really accept that he’d told her to be at his house at midnight), he’d stab her in the heart again as payback – but then there’d be no chance that she could help him find that bastard, that bastard vampire who had first whispered, “Push him out to us and we will let you live.”
He remembered the moment, the exact look of that older vampire with his crafty, slightly fat face with its soft white moustache, the velvet tone of his voice, the full, hungry lips.
His cheap digital watch said 11:56. Never did four minutes crawl by as slowly as these did. The black bar numbers seemed to read 11:59 forever. But at last they flickered up to 12:00.
There was no knock. Trembling, he peered out one of the three squares of glass set into the solid red front door. He saw only the Spanish-style houses across the street, wavering in the uneven glass. He went to the bay windows in the living room, looked up and down the dead, empty street where streetlights glowed grimly, silently.
He’d known even as he made her promise to come to him that she wouldn’t. What had made him think a girl would keep a date with him?
Shocked at the thought, he raged at himself. This is not a date! She’s not a girl. (A stray memory teased at him: his fumbling, trembling hands pressing a piece of paper with his email address into the palm of cute, blonde Cherise at summer camp. She’d smiled and said she would email him but she never did.)
For another half hour he kept watch. Then he crept into his bedroom, heart full of hate. His parents had bought him a double bed when he’d changed bedrooms, and they slept upstairs, as if they couldn’t bring themselves to care what he did. As he lay alone, staring at the darkened ceiling, his hands slowly curled into fists.
Jeremy put down the phone. Nobody was listening to his vodcast, anyway. His lunatic act had been weeks ago. It was now the night after Lavinia had put on her flying demonstration and the world was on its way to loving vampires.
He got up from the sofa in the living room. It was nearly two in the morning; his brain was white with exhaustion. Nobody would be up for online chat. Raymond and Cindy, the founders of the Earth is a Home movement back in upstate New York, would be up in a few hours his time, but that wasn’t now.
He heard a small click from the street outside and instantly his heart beat faster. It’s her, she couldn’t find the house, she’s been looking for it for weeks and she finally found it. Even knowing it wasn’t so, he couldn’t help peering eagerly up and down the street.
A flicker of movement, just a retinal image, came from the pepper tree in front of the house. He peered, heart hammering with excitement and dread. He was sure someone was standing behind the tree. For long moments nothing stirred.
Then a white face peeped from behind the twisted trunk. It instantly flicked out of sight again.
Jeremy felt his legs go weak. She was there, she was outside his house. What was he going to do?
Her face appeared again. When she saw him watching, she stepped out from behind the tree with what seemed like – shyness? He realized that she was trembling as she stood with her hands at her sides.
In a daze, he saw his own hand lift and motion toward the door.
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