Authors: MaryJanice Davidson
"Oh, dear," I said. I wiped my eyes. I hadn't actually cried, of course, but my face was wet with holy water. "Oh, that was really great. Well worth the price of parking downtown. And hardly anything is, you know. Except maybe a show at The Guthrie."
"You're a vampire," Tux Boy said, except he didn't thunder it majestically this time. It sort of squeaked out.
"Thanks for the news flash, but I figured that out when I woke up dead a couple of days ago."
"Well! This has been fun, but I think I'll be going now."
"But...but I was curious so I came along for the ride. However, if hanging with other vamps means I have to go the whole movie cliché route, then forget it. Cemeteries? Acolytes? Partying in chilly mausoleums? Yuck-o. Also, nobody wears a tux this time of year unless they're going to a wedding. You look like an escapee from the set of
Dracula Does Doris
I walked out of the room, climbed the steps, and was back outside in a jiffy. The evening had been educational, but ultimately disappointing. I couldn't believe vampires were so boring and uncool. I had set trends when I was alive...apparently it was up to me to carry the coolness torch when I was dead, too. There was no rest for the fashionable.
"Wait." It wasn't a shout; it wasn't a cool command. And, weirdly, my feet stopped moving like they'd been spiked to the ground. I looked down at them in annoyance. Traitors!
I turned. Tall, Dark, and Sinister was rapidly approaching. He'd been the only one not to cringe away from me in the mausoleum. At the time, I'd kind of liked it. Now I wasn't so sure. "What is it? I have to go; I've wasted enough time in this pit."
He ignored me and grabbed my face with both hands, pulling me toward him until our mouths were millimeters apart. I squeaked angrily and tried to pull away, but it was like trying to pull free of cement. I had thought my undead strength was spectacular, but this guy was easily twice my strength.
He was touching my face, examining me like I was a really fascinating specimen, peeling my lip back and looking at my teeth. I snapped at his fingers, which made the corner of his mouth twitch. "Let go! Jeez! I knew I shouldn't have gotten up this morning. This evening, I mean." I kicked him in the shin, which hurt like hell. It was like kicking a cliff. And his reaction was about as animated. "You don't get a lot of second dates, do you, pal?"
a vampire," he said. It wasn't a question. He released his grip, and I backed up so fast I nearly tripped over a headstone.
"What do you want, a prize for figuring it out? Trust me, being dead—"
"—is the only way I would have been hanging around a bunch of too-pale, poorly dressed weirdoes. But that is
my scene and I'm outta here."
His hand shot out and grabbed me above the elbow. "Indeed, but you'll accompany me, I think." The stone face cracked and he almost smiled. "I insist on the pleasure of your company. We have much to talk about."
"If you wish, although I'd have to see it first to truly comment. If it's anything like the rest of you, I'm sure it's quite nice. Also..." He yanked me up against his chest with about as much trouble as I'd have tossing a Kleenex. That icy black gaze bored into me. I felt everything inside me turn cold. "...you haven't fed tonight, and yet you're energetic. You don't look at all hungry. In fact, you look...quite nice. However did you manage that?"
I cleared my throat to work up some spit (tough work, when you don't make much in the way of bodily fluids anymore) and said, "First of all, mind your own business, and second, it's none of your damned business! Now." My voice went hard and cold. I'd never heard it sound like that before, not even when I told the Ant she couldn't send me to military school. "Remove the hand, while you can still count to five with it."
He stared at me for another second, then laughed. It was like being laughed at by Satan. I'd never heard chuckles sound so humorless. "Yes," he said, almost purred, and my arm was numb from the strength of his grip, "you'll come to my home. And we'll talk. About all kinds of things. And really, girl, it's for your own safety."
"Sorry, but I already promised the Wolfman I'd be his girl. Now let go!" I tugged, furious that my strength, one of the few good things about being a vampire, was useless here.
His other hand was on my face again; his fingers forced my teeth apart and he stroked one of my canines with a thumb. Then he pushed, hard, and I felt a drop of blood hit my tongue. This was shocking, for several reasons: it was delicious, it was cool to the taste, and I didn't think vampires bled. "I wonder," he said in a low voice, more breath than words, and his thumb was pushing, forcing its way into my mouth, an odd kind of rape and as infuriating as it was exciting. "I wonder what you'll taste like?"
"That'th it. For the latht time,
get off me
!" I shoved as hard as I ever had in my life. And I could hardly believe what happened next. Although the whole thing took little more than a second, I saw it in slow motion. Tall, Dark, and Psychotic flew away from me like he'd been fired out of a cannon. He crashed back into a monument—a large cross—and
it. Stone flew everywhere, because as soon as he hit the cross it blew up and the back of his suit began to smolder. But he kept going, until he smashed into the side of the mausoleum and collapsed to the ground like a sack of dirt.
I didn't wait around to find out if he was dead (again) or what. I ran.
When I slowed and looked around, I saw with amazement I'd trotted sixteen blocks in about three minutes. Summer Olympics, here I come. Assuming they held the races at night.
I was on one of the side streets behind Minneapolis General Hospital, and figured I should go inside and call a cab. I sure as hell wasn't going back to the cemetery—I wasn't meeting up with any of those losers ever again. And if I
saw that rat bastard Elvis wannabee sociopath again, I'd have his eyeballs for...for something disgusting you'd use eyeballs for. Every time I thought of his hands on me, his thumb in my mouth, I got hot. No, dammit, that's not what I meant...I got pissed. Really pissed. I should shove my fingers in
mouth, see how he likes it. I should shove my fingers into his windpipe! Up his ass! Around his--
By now I was really stomping down the street, so I was almost relieved when a dull voice cut through the light traffic and the other night noises: "See ya, world." Yes! Something to distract me from the unsettling events of the last hour, praise God.
I looked up. Six stories above, a guy a few years younger than me was standing on the ledge. He was looking down, straight at me. I knew at once he was waiting until I got out of the way so he could jump without taking the chance of splattering himself all over me. I stopped walking.
The building was an old one, built of rough brick, and as I put my hands on the wall, testing the texture, I had a thought—a brainstorm, really. They really are like storms for me—it's like there's this
and then I've got a brand new idea from nowhere. Anyway, I pulled myself up and started to climb. In no time I was skittering up the side of the building like a big blonde bug. I was pissed about what had happened in the cemetery, and worried for the guy on the roof, but couldn't help also being elated at what I was doing. I was climbing
...me! I couldn't even climb that damned rope in gym class, not even the easy one with the rubber grips. And it was easy. It was wonderful! It required about as much effort as opening a can of Pringles. I was fast, I was strong, I was...I was
I got to the top and gave a little jump, which sent me soaring a few feet in the air, only to land on the roof and go into a deep bow. "Ta-dah!"
He was really cute. Dressed in scrubs which—uh-oh—smelled like dried blood, here was another guy with deep black hair. Except while Finger Boy gave off an air of understated menace, this fella was throwing off vibes of exhausted despair. His hair was cut brutally short, his eyes were dark green, and he had a goatee that made him look like a tired devil. He was lightly tanned and thin, almost too thin. He stared at me with eyes gone huge.
"What have you been eating?" he said at last.
"Let's not go there."
"I must really be tired," he said, more to himself than to me.
"Nice try, but I'm no illusion. Although in these second-rate tennis shoes, I ought to be. Why d'you want to jump? What happened?"
He blinked at me and shifted his weight. He wasn't nervous to be talking to me, not at all. Probably thought he could jump long before I got to him. And he was so sad and unhappy; nothing was surprising him tonight. "I'm sick of kids dying, I'm in debt up to my tits for medical school, my dad's got cancer, I haven't had sex in two months, and I'm being kicked out of my apartment because the owner sold his house."
"That's pretty bad," I admitted. "Except for the sex thing...I once went two years."
He pondered that one for a minute, shaking his head. "What about you? What happened to you?"
"Well, I died earlier this week, found out I can't die
, my stepmother stole all my good shoes, I can't eat any kind of food, I raped a perfectly nice guy last night, met a bunch of vampires who turned out to be every bad movie stereotype imaginable, and threw a really bad vamp through a stone cross. Then I saw you."
"So you're a vampire?"
"Yes. But don't be scared. I'm still a nice person."
"When you're not raping men."
"Right. How about we go get a cup of coffee, talk about why our lives suck?"
He hesitated. The wind riffled his scrubs, but his hair was too short and didn't move. He glanced down at the street, then back at me.
"Come on," I coaxed. "Vampires exist and you never had the faintest clue, right? I know I didn't. I mean, come on! Vampires? What year is this? But if we exist, think of all the other amazing things out there you don't know about. It's a little early to shut the book on your whole life, don't you think? What are you, twenty-five?"
"Twenty-seven. Are you just luring me down so you can feed on me to quench your unholy thirst?"
Why were people always asking me this sort of thing? "No, I just don't want you to jump. I can wait a while for my next meal."
"I'll get down," he said slowly, "if you'll make
your next meal."
I nearly swooned at the excitement that simple statement brought. "What have you been smoking? You just met me!"
"Yeah, and the last fifteen seconds have been the most interesting in the last three years. So...?"
"Pal, you have no idea what you're asking." I tried to sound tough and cool, but since I gasped out the whole sentence I sounded more like a horny cheerleader.
"Sure I do. Part of the reason I'm up here is—you were right, I figured there's nothing new in the world except death and people being shitty to each other. I never should have been a doctor. Never wanted to be. But my dad—anyway, it's just death and paperwork and more death." He trailed off and I saw his eyes shine with unshed tears. He blinked them back. "Anyway. Sorry. So, prove me wrong. Prove a few more things, besides. I want to feel what it's like. I want to feel something besides—besides nothing."
I bit my lip. The poor guy! "Forget it." But I was sidling toward him. I was thirsty, and here was a perfectly sane (as sane as a clinically depressed suicidal man could be) specimen offering to be my dinner. I was nuts to turn it down. The alternative was taking it by force from some poor jerk. Why in the world would I hurt or scare someone, when there was a willing guy standing right in front of me? At least he wasn't all goo-goo eyed and mumbling about my beauty, such as it was. He was perfectly clear-eyed, and curious, and what was the harm? And why was I trying to convince myself? I had to eat, right? Why was I still talking to myself?
"Okay...if I do this..." I did a fairly good imitation of Reluctant Night Stalker. "...you promise not to jump?"
"Or leap in front of a truck or take a bath with your toaster or comb your hair with a chainsaw?"