Here’s what we know: The world is so overrun with vampires that they’re worse than dangerous: they’re pests. The night is crawling with them. They pound on doors, they block every window, but they can’t come into any home, not by so much as a nose hair. And in the very first story, Charla Thorpe discovers that as soon as she says, “You’re invading my home with your noise,” the vampires are forced to melt into the background, though if you stepped outside, you would instantly be killed.
Nobody knows where the first vampire came from but the current situation is simple math: one vampire drinks and then there are two. Two vampires drink and then there are four. Then eight, then 16, 32, 64, 128. In just twenty days, there are over a million. In just a month there’d be over a trillion, except that almost no new vampires are made now because the competition for blood is so fierce that anybody caught outside is torn into tiny pieces and devoured; nothing is left to rise and walk.
But Sally Yan and her beloved Lavinia Starr have been finding out new things. Sunlight, far from killing vampires, sends them into orgasmic ecstasy, and seems to bring them back from the soulless nightmare place they inhabit. Sunlight on naked skin can make a vampire soar into the daytime sky. And vampires crave something else, even more than they crave blood: a home. Given a choice between drinking and being in a home again, they will chose a home. It is possible to open your home to the vampires and to specify that they are only welcome if they will not harm you.
Shy, quiet Charity Claire has done just this. And once the vampires entered her apartment, they became persons: an elderly lady with white hair, a little boy, a spiky-haired teenager. They move through the rooms like quiet smoke and don’t seem fully present, but neither are they monsters.
Charity asks the vampires to follow her into the sun but they leave in the morning, all except a little boy who nods shyly. He is paralyzed when the day begins, but even in the fog, he feels the influence of the sunlight. Charity finds new fire in her life and calls in sick to take him to the park.
Jesse, who brought his husband back from a soulless vampire by the power of his love, now finds that Walter is so sexed up by the sun that he doesn’t seem to need Jesse anymore. So good at healing others, Jesse doesn’t know what to do for himself.
Another rally, but this time Sally and Lavinia are holding it to demonstrate to the world that Lavinia is a vampire who can fly in the sunlight. With them is Charla Thorpe, who posted the first video showing that humans were not helpless before vampires and has become a star in the anti-vampire movement. Until then, vampires had clogged every window, scratching and calling and teasing. She videoed herself saying “You’re invading my home with your noise.” The vampires were forced to back away into the shadows. Charla has an abrasive personality and is constantly picking on Sally.
Lavinia strips naked and lets the sun send her into (literal) flights of ecstasy. But just when everything seems to be going well, Sally hears a low moan of horror suddenly surge into a scream. Terrified, she scans the crowd.
Nobody else seems to hear the scream of terror. The moaning scream is familiar, though Sally can’t place where she’s heard it before. Lavinia lands again safely. Charity is in the crowd, holding her little vampire boy. He can move in the daytime now and is more human all the time. He asks if he can fly but Charity, embarrassed at the thought of him acting like Lavinia, puts him off.
Also in the crowd is Jeremy, a young man whose little brother was killed by vampires five years before at the instigation of a vampire who, unlike all the others, had a distinctly recognizable face and personality (in general, vampires all look the same until they are invited into a home and become individuals). Jeremy blames himself for his brother’s death: he might have pushed him out the door in a last minute scuffle. He has devoted himself since to getting the entire world at once to say “the earth is our home and all vampires must leave.” Now he sees vampire Lavinia being accepted and welcomed by the crowd. His hand curls as though he holds a wooden stake.
The next day, Sally and Lavinia drive to Muir Woods to check out the mysterious power Lavinia senses in living wood. On the way, Lavinia tells Sally that the reason Charla is so unbearable toward Sally is that she lusts for her and is unaware that she even feels that way. Sally is not sure this is so, but in the conversation realizes that Lavinia has taken in that she, Sally, is there to stay and feels not one scrap of jealousy.
As they walk beneath the ancient trees and both feel a peace so deep it seems woven of some mystical fabric, they realize that the forest is a home and Lavinia, though she doesn’t quite have to, wants them both to ask permission to enter. When Sally closes her eyes to do this, she sees a vision from a recurring dream of a small fairy who is the guardian of the house inviting the vampires in. She sees the fairy clearly (with her eyes closed) and the little spirit is inviting in, not vampires, but her and Lavinia because they understand. Sally is sure that if she opens her eyes, she’ll see the fairy for real, but just then she hears the moaning scream of terror again. She opens her eyes and sees nothing, not even the little fairy. She feels a deep sense of loss.
Sally still cannot identify the source of the moaning scream or why it is familiar and, of course, cannot see the little fairy with her eyes open. She and Lavinia wander from tree to tree. Lavinia feels something clearer with each tree she touches but all the trees in Muir Woods have been touched too much. She finally leads them up a side trail and off into a hillside grove. There she fully embraces a tree. But when she turns back to Sally, a splinter of wood is jammed into her finger. Eyes wide, she slowly crumples to the ground.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Paxton is trying to record his usual anti-vampire vodcast, but he’s overwhelmed by the memory of what he did on the night of the rally: he pulled the stake out of KerriAnne’s heart and brought her back to life. He was hoping that he could use her to find the other unique vampire, the one who got him to push his little brother out the door. But KerriAnne looked at him with wet lips, shining eyes and helpless longing and he found himself aroused. He told her to leave the plaza and disappear into the crowd of vampires but to come to his house at midnight that night.
After bringing KerriAnne back to life, Jeremy waits for her to keep her appointment (which he is shocked to realize he is thinking of as a “date”) with him, but she doesn’t show up. Flash back to the present: Jeremy hears a noise outside the house. KerriAnne is out there and she radiates shyness and devotion. Almost in a daze, Jeremy motions her toward the front door of his house.
KerriAnne’s story is exactly what Jeremy wants to hear: she couldn’t find the house and when she found it, she still didn’t come to him because she was afraid. He lets her in, flushed with the power he holds over her and warmed by her devotion. Like a moaning wind she glides across the room and her cold arms pin his arms to his side. Meanwhile, Sally finds that Lavinia is not hurt: the splinter made her feel everything the tree feels and she is dazed. “These trees,” she says, “They’re vampires.”
Lavinia means that the trees were whatever she is now and chose to become trees. Sally is relieved to hear Lavinia say she has no plans to turn into a tree herself. She tells Lavinia that she has finally realized where she heard that moaning scream before. It was at the beginning of a nightmare vision which ended with her rescuing Lavinia from the grip of some evil force of despair. She heard that moan and saw a dead hiker by a ruined wall and felt strongly that he was talking to the whole world, that he was at the center of everything. She feels strongly that if they could just find that young man, they would understand something about the cause of the vampire plague, but there’s no telling exactly where he is. Lavinia says quietly, “I could take you there.”
Lavinia recognizes the place in Sally’s vision because she saw it in the same vision. (Back in Volume III, they had both shared a mystical experience of fighting off some palpable force of despair.) Lavinia tells Sally that when she was in Germany many years ago, she hiked with her lover to a spooky place (“and I don’t spook easy”) in the Black Forest. The dead hiker, whose despair seems to be swamping the world, is lying in that spot. They decide they must travel to the Black Forest and find him.
It turns out Walter has had the vision of the dead hiker too. Sally and Lavinia resolve to travel to Germany and find the spot. Sally is impressed at how close Walter and Jesse seem: he told Jesse his vision right away while Sally hadn’t shared this crucial detail with Lavinia until today. Later as they make love, she worries again that Lavinia may get tired of being human. Suddenly she sees KerriAnne looking hungrily through the window at her, happier than she’s ever been. An instant later she’s gone. Meanwhile, Jesse is so inspired by Sally’s closeness to Lavinia that he forces himself to start talking to Walter about his own fears.
Charity Claire finds herself taking risks and becoming more confident at work. She has an idea which delights her about finding a place to let little Tommy try flying. Meanwhile, Sally and Lavinia get her passport from her old apartment. On the way to Lavinia’s apartment, they get into an argument. As they drive into the garage of Lavinia’s old building, the house magic tries to force Lavinia out. It seems she will be squished into jelly at the relentless pressure.
The house magic releases Lavinia at the last minute and though the camper nearly rolls over, it rights itself. Sally realizes what happened: because they were fighting, they didn’t feel “home” together and the house magic pushed vampire Lavinia out. As soon as Sally dropped her anger and lunged to help, the house magic released her again. Aghast, Sally wonders how she can tell Lavinia about this new, unwanted power she has over her.
She does tell Lavinia, and not wanting this power over her, begs Lavinia to make her a vampire on the spot. Lavinia tries, but can no longer bear the taste of blood and Sally realizes it’s just as well, that she needs to stay human for whatever they are about to do. Meanwhile, Charity tries out her delightful idea: by asking the vampires in her house for help figuring out where to take Tommy to let him practice flying, she brings another vampire back to humanity. But she cuts her finger just at that moment.
The vampires who are only half human are attracted by the blood but Tommy and the man who just spoke are human enough to stop the others. Meanwhile, Sally and Lavinia attend a meeting at Jesse and Walter’s to try and raise funds for them to fly to Germany. Charla surely seems both interested in and repelled by Sally, just as Lavinia said. But suddenly Sally see’s KerriAnne’s white face in the street outside and flies down the stairs to confront her.
Charla tries to pull Sally back at the door and as Sally tumbles into her arms, is seized with powerful emotions she can’t speak. Sally elbows her in the gut and runs out. Hordes of vampires attack her because she is not with Lavinia and so is not in a “home.” Jesse comes to the door and invites the vampires in, siphoning them slowly away from Sally and giving Lavinia time to reach her. Sally sees that KerriAnne is watching and that Jeremy, pale and staring into the night, is with her. Jeremy gives KerriAnne a horrified nod and KerriAnne steps forward and slaps Sally’s face. “You bitch,” she says, her voice shaking with what seems to be outrage. Then she puts an arm around Jeremy and they walk away into the night. Sally suddenly realizes what this all means and wishes she and Lavinia could just fly to Germany without having to ask for help from any of the people in the house. Then she realizes that they can and when she tells Lavinia what she wants, Lavinia gives her a big grin.
Before they leave, Sally confronts Charla, tells her angrily to either admit that she wants to be with a woman or give some heart to the marriage she’s in but to stop being such an asshole. As she turns to leave, Charla finds and hands to her a pentagram which was sitting by the bedside. Sally remembers buying it recently because of an interesting story behind it and realizes she must be meant to take it with her. The story then jumps back in time to the night Jeremy let KerriAnne into his house. He easily freed himself from her grasp but can’t resist when she seems to offer herself to him sexually. He follows her down the hall into his bedroom, keeping just enough sense not to turn his back on her.
Full of doubt but with lust raging, Jeremy has sex with a submissive KerriAnne. As soon as he comes, he realizes that he’s just betrayed everything he’s believed in for five years. He flinches away from her, and pulls the wooden stake from the belt loop of his pants, determined to kill her. He hears a sound from behind him just before he turns back to her…
Jeremy finds that KerriAnne, far from preparing to attack, is weeping. She truly has changed, her previous world blasted to pieces by the experience of dying and coming back. Jeremy’s tender heart helps him across an enormous gap: he comforts her and tells her he loves her and that she is good. She clings to him, overjoyed to be loved. A week later, she is leading him somewhere through the city streets…
KerriAnne leads Jeremy to Jesse and Walter’s house on the night of the meeting. Jeremy, face white with horror, recognizes in Walter the round-faced older vampire who tormented him and caused the death of his brother five years ago. Thinking her beloved sister has been working with evil, KerriAnne slaps her face and renounces her before walking away with Jeremy, weeping silently.
Jesse suspects that Walter is the evil vampire: he had disappeared for a few weeks when he first got turned. In the dark, he sits in bed watching his sleeping husband and wonders what to do. Lavinia wakes in the night without any disorientation or bleakness. She tells Sally she went to sleep with Sally’s face in mind and, though she felt the evil call in her sleep, she called on Sally instead. Sister Amanda is prowling the pre-dawn streets of San Francisco, up to something. And Jeremy tries to persuade KerriAnne to step into the light of the sun which will rise soon.
Sally’s idea was for Lavinia to fly the two of them to Germany. Powered by the ecstasy of sunlight, Lavinia lifts Sally into the sky. She starts to search for a way to fly them to a specific goal, which doesn’t yet know how to do. Meanwhile, a terrified KerriAnne nods yes to Jeremy: she will go into the sun.
A terrified but hopeful KerriAnne puts her hand into the sunlight. She experiences the powerful ecstasy but the wound in her heart gouts blood and she dies in Jeremy’s arms, leaving him devastated. Sally, still hovering with Lavinia, feels KerriAnne saying goodbye. She also remembers her as a child crying over the nursery rhyme “ladybug ladybug, fly away home.” As she thinks of this, Lavinia suddenly starts to fly them to Germany – but she is heading straight there, heedless of the fact that a portion of the earth is in the way.