The Reformed Vampire Support Group

BOOK: The Reformed Vampire Support Group
3.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Catherine Jinks

First published in 2009

Copyright © Catherine Jinks 2009

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The
Australian Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (
) under the Act.

Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest
(61 2) 8425 0100
(61 2) 9906 2218
[email protected]

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:
Jinks, Catherine, 1963- .
The reformed vampire support group.
9781741756722 (pbk.).
For secondary school age.

Cover and text design by Bruno Herfst
Cover illustration by Heath McKenzie
Printed and bound in Australia by Griffin Press
Set in 12/14 pt Chaparral Pro

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

To Claire Haywood –
your training really put me on the right track


Nina was stuck.
She didn’t know what to write next.

So far, her teenaged captive had been dragged into a refrigerated meat locker by two thugs armed with a gun and a boning knife. But Zadia Bloodstone was already waiting for them. Hanging upside-down from a meat hook, wrapped in a long black cape and covered by a thin layer of frost, Zadia had cleverly disguised herself as a harmless side of beef. Only when she’d spread her arms wide had the crackle of breaking ice announced her presence.

Two bullets had promptly smashed into her ribcage. But Zadia wasn’t troubled by bullets, because her vital organs could regenerate themselves at lightning speed. Somersaulting to the floor, she’d walked straight up to the bigger thug and kicked the gun from his hand. Then she’d whirled around to fight off his friend. Within seconds, the two baddies had been knocked out – leaving a very important question unanswered.

What would the rescued boy do?

Obviously, he would be grateful. He might even be dazzled by Zadia’s flawless face and perfect figure. But if he saw her sink her fangs into anyone’s neck, he would also be frightened. He would realise instantly that she was a vampire, and run for the door.

He would be unaware, at this point, that Zadia was a heroic
crime-fighter who preyed only on lowlife scum.

Nina chewed away at a lock of her hair, thinking hard. She was in the middle of chapter eight. The room in which she sat was illumined solely by the glow of her computer screen; barely visible in the dimness were her brass bedstead, her Indian cushions and her lava lamp. A poster of David Bowie hung on the wall, curling at the corners. A small bookshelf contained multiple copies of
(book two of the Bloodstone Chronicles), by someone called N. E. Harris.

Splashed across the cover of
was a glamorous, slinky young girl with white skin, black hair and ruby-red lips. She wore high-heeled boots and lots of black leather, as well as an ammunition belt. Her canine teeth were long and pointed, but she was stunningly beautiful nonetheless.

She appeared to be leaping from rooftop to rooftop, her black cape streaming out behind her.

‘Nina!’ somebody shouted, from beyond the closed bedroom door. Nina didn’t respond. She stared unblinkingly at the computer screen, still gnawing at her hair – which was thick and dark, and cut in a heavy, clumsy, old-fashioned style that didn’t suit her bony little face.

It was about time, she decided, that Zadia made friends with the boy she’d rescued.

Zadia hesitated
, Nina wrote,
torn between her desire to punish the wicked and her need to reassure the tall, pale, handsome teenager with the big brown eyes.

‘Nina!’ a distant voice called again. Ignoring it, Nina deleted the word
. Her hands on the keyboard were like chickens’ feet, all scaly and dry. Her skin was the colour of a maggot’s, and her legs were so thin that her tights were wrinkled around the knees.

Her boots had flat heels on them.

‘Nina!’ The door burst open to admit a withered old woman in a quilted nylon dressing-gown. ‘For God’s sake, are you deaf? Father Ramon’s outside – you want to keep him waiting?’

Nina sighed. She shut her laptop, moving sluggishly.

‘All right,’ she murmured. ‘I’m on my way.’

‘Aren’t you feeling well?’ the old woman wanted to know. She had the hoarse rasp and yellowed fingertips of a chronic smoker; her hair looked like a frayed clump of steel wool, and her scarlet lipstick was bleeding into the cracks around her mouth. ‘Because if you’re sick,’ she said, ‘you shouldn’t be going.’

‘I’m not sick, Mum. I’m fine.’

‘That’s what you always say, and you never are. Is your head giving you trouble?’


‘What about your stomach?’

Nina didn’t reply. Instead she rose, reaching for her sunglasses – which shared the cluttered surface of her desk with a Pet Rock, a pile of vintage vampire comics, and a netball trophy awarded to the ‘Junior Regional Inter-School Champions’ of 1971. Pinned on a noticeboard hanging above the desk lamp were various faded photographs of laughing teenage girls.

If any of these girls was Nina, it wasn’t immediately apparent. They were so sleek and glossy and bright-eyed that they could have belonged to an entirely different species.

‘Are you nauseous?’ her mother nagged. ‘You are, aren’t you?’

nothing wrong
,’ said Nina, on her way out of the room. It was a lie, of course. There was always something wrong.

And her mother knew it.

‘If you get sick, I want you to come straight home,’ the old woman advised, as they descended a narrow wooden staircase together. ‘Dave won’t mind bringing you back early, if you can’t
stay to the end. And don’t leave it till the last minute, the way you did before. Dave won’t want you throwing up all over his sheepskin seat covers again …’

Nina winced. It was true. She had ruined Dave’s precious seat covers. Was it any wonder that he didn’t exactly beat a path to her door? Was it any wonder that she spent so much of her time in imaginary meat lockers with the stylish and vigorous Zadia Bloodstone? At least there were no uncontrollable bouts of vomiting in Zadia’s world.

Nina pulled open the heavy front door of her mother’s terrace house. Outside, the darkness was relieved only by the soft glow of a nearby street lamp; stars were scattered like sequins across a coal-black sky. Yet Nina had already donned her sunglasses, which were big, heavy, wraparound things that made her pinched face look smaller than ever …

You know what? This isn’t going to work. I can’t write about myself the way I write about Zadia. It’s too weird. It’s confusing. Next thing I’ll get mixed up, and start making me do things that I can’t actually do. Like turn into a bat, for instance. Zadia can do that, but I can’t. No one can.

The plain fact is, I can’t do anything much. That’s part of the problem. Vampires are meant to be so glamorous and powerful, but I’m here to inform you that being a vampire is
like that. Not one bit. On the contrary, it’s like being stuck indoors with the flu watching daytime television, forever and ever.

If being a vampire were easy, there wouldn’t have to be a Reformed Vampire Support Group.

As a matter of fact, I was going to a group meeting that very night. Father Ramon had come to pick me up. It was a Tuesday,
because all our meetings are held on Tuesdays, at 9.30
, in St Agatha’s church hall. And in case you’re wondering why I couldn’t have driven myself to St Agatha’s … well, that’s just one of my many problems. I still look fifteen, you see. I still
fifteen, when all’s said and done, since I stopped ageing back in 1973, when I was infected. So I’d attract far too much attention behind a steering wheel. (Besides which, Mum doesn’t have a car.)

As for the public transport option, Sanford Plackett has ruled that out. He’s always ruling things out; you’d think he was our lord and master, the way he carries on. He’s forbidden any of us to travel around Sydney on buses or trains, for instance, in case we stumble across something that Father Ramon would probably describe as ‘an occasion of sin’. I suppose Sanford’s worried that we might encounter a bleeding junkie rolling around on a station platform, and won’t be able to stop ourselves from pouncing.

‘You think you’ll never succumb,’ he once said to me, ‘because you can’t come to terms with your true nature. You refuse to concede that you’re really a vampire, with a vampire’s weakness. But you are, Nina. We all are. That’s why we have to be careful.’

And being careful means not catching cabs. According to Sanford, it’s too risky. Staring at the back of a cab driver’s exposed neck would be quite stressful for most of us – especially if someone’s been bleeding onto the seats beforehand. Sanford also insists that no one in our group should go wandering the streets all alone. He says that we wouldn’t stand a chance against the drunks and addicts and muggers on the loose out there. He says that everyone should follow his advice, because he’s been around for so long and has so much experience, and because, although Father Ramon might be our group facilitator, even a priest with counselling experience can’t be its
. Not if he isn’t a vampire himself.

That’s Sanford’s opinion, anyway. He’s got a lot of opinions, let
me tell you. And he’s never shy about airing them, whether asked to or not.

He was already in the car when I reached it, because he can’t drive either. People who grew up before the First World War rarely can. Back then, even doctors like Sanford didn’t own motor vehicles – and he certainly couldn’t risk learning to drive now. None of us could. We’d be exposing ourselves to the kind of official scrutiny that you need to avoid at all costs when you’re toting fake
s. Most of the vampires I know have changed their identities at least once, and Sanford has done it twice, owing to the fact that he doesn’t look his age (believe it or not). Despite his balding scalp and clipped moustache – despite his preference for three-piece suits and fob watches – you’d never guess that he was a hundred and forty years old. The very fact that he’s not six feet underground is a dead giveaway. And he’s no different from the rest of our group, which is full of people living precarious lives, under assumed names, with forged papers.

It’s a real drag, believe me.

‘Hello, Nina,’ he said, as I slid into the back seat of the waiting Nissan Pulsar.

BOOK: The Reformed Vampire Support Group
3.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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