Copyright © 2014 by Michael Litzky
At the sight of KerriAnne’s supernatural glide up the front stairs, Jeremy came to his senses, ran to the door and made sure the bolt was thrown.
The doorknob rattled.
I told her I’d let her in, he remembered. She has her invitation. She’s trying to come in.
If he unlocked the door, a vampire would walk into his house.
For a moment he thought, it’s my parents’ house; my invitation wouldn’t even count. But there were countless stories that proved otherwise. Just three weeks ago (he wondered now if it had been triggered by that nightmare rally) a boy had programmed his phone to posthumously upload a video to YouTube (quickly removed, but Jeremy had seen it). The kid (Jeremy’s own age) had turned a camera on and invited the vampires into the house where his parents and his snotty looking teenaged sister were eating dinner. The table had had a slick black and white vinyl checkered cloth, Jeremy remembered, and a single piece of Kraft macaroni had flown through the air during the massacre.
His invitation would count. If he unlocked the door.
He touched the wooden stake which he always wore on his belt.
The chunk of the deadbolt seemed immeasurably solid, an irrevocable choice. The knob turned of its own accord and the door swung open.
KerriAnne was the most beautiful woman Jeremy had ever seen.
She was exotic to him with her Asian eyes and dainty upturned pixie nose like a character in an anime film. Her silk blouse, still torn over the heart, was perfectly preserved by the vampire magic (whatever it was).
She kept her hands at her sides, looking at him as though he were the object of her heart’s desire, waiting for him to tell her what to do.
Heart pounding with excitement, mouth dry, he reminded himself harshly that he was using her to help find that other vampire, that she was a monster.
“Follow me,” he said, keeping his voice cold. He turned, took a few confident steps.
His heart froze at the rush of sound behind him. Full of dread, he whirled around.
She struggled at the threshold as if she were caught in a fog of spider webs. Her big baby eyes filled with tears.
I’m being given one more chance to turn back, he realized.
Her face held what seemed to be genuine distress and even longing. All he had to say was, “Welcome, come in.”
To a vampire. Here at the doorway where four years ago the vampires had destroyed his kid brother.
With shock, he realized he couldn’t remember exactly what Alec had looked like. His face usually had a sneer. But in that last instant, it just held wordless pleading.
She was talking nervously in a little girl voice, telling him exactly what he had hoped was true. “I’m so sorry, I failed, I did bad, I couldn’t find the house and then I found it but, but, I was afraid….”
Her voice trailed off. She spoke with fright and some other energy that he didn’t understand but which excited him. “But I’m here now. Please? Please let me come in and make you happy. Please … let your humble servant please you how … however you want.” Her words came in a breathless gasp.
Jeremy was thrilled to his core by such humble talk. And did she – did she mean her offer the way it sounded? He didn’t want to assume…
With delighted shock he realized that he didn’t have to worry about what she was thinking. The ordinary rules didn’t apply. He could dictate what would happen. He didn’t have to worry about disrespecting her as a person!
Flushed with the unexpected power, he said, “Come in, come in now.”
With a charming gasp of excitement and a dazzling smile, she leaped across the threshold and flitted toward him like a moaning wind.
As her cold arms snaked swiftly around him, pinning his hands to his side, Jeremy remembered too late the wooden stake still holstered to his belt.
He’d let himself think he wouldn’t need it.
“Babe.” Lavinia’s voice was a barely audible whisper as Sally clutched her hand. But the face Sally saw was one of wide-eyed wonder, not horror.
“You’re alright?” Her voice was shrill, not daring to believe yet. “You’re still welcome in our home, keep my love in your mind, can I pull the splinter out, tell me?”
Lavinia shook her head, a small movement like she were shaking off a droning fly. Pushing away the momentary hurt, Sally begged, “Love, love, tell me what to do to help you.”
She lifted Lavinia’s hand, pointed at the protruding splinter. “Should I get this out?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Lavinia’s voice was dreamily reluctant.
“Tell me what’s going on for you!” Sally nearly screamed. “Are you in pain or…”
Suspicion dawned. “This is another thing like sunlight, isn’t it? I’m worried to death that you’re dying in horrible pain and you’re just having another orgasm, aren’t you?” Tears of tentative relief filled her annoyed eyes.
Concern slowly creased Lavinia’s face. “I’m sorry, hon. I didn’t even think. I, yeah, pull the splinter out so I can…” She trailed off. Sally took the protruding end between her first and second finger and worked it gently out.
Without any actual movement, Lavinia seemed to condense from a more dispersed form. She lay still for several moments but just before Sally could ask again if she was alright, she sat up and hugged Sally, murmuring, “I’m sorry, tiger, I’m, I’m not human, you gotta remember. This is all so weird.” The tears of relief squeezed out of Sally’s closed eyes.
“What was happening?” she asked finally.
“Well, not another fucking come, I just do that in the sun, I guess.” Lavinia’s eyes got dreamy again. “When that splinter went in, boom, in one second I was that tree and I felt what it was thinking and its connection to all the other trees. It was so fucking big, I couldn’t barely hold it all.
“But,” she continued, opening her eyes and looking at Sally. “I caught it this time. Finally.”
“Caught what?” Sally asked in a whisper. Then she remembered Lavinia going from tree to tree earlier, trying to hear something and just missing it.
“The trees. They’re vampires.”
She looked around at the towering ring of giants, the wreath of blue sky in their middle. They seemed to lean ominously over her.