“Come back! I’ll leave my wife!” Will called as Faith and April headed back down the path. He tried to follow them and ended up falling onto his face. Dale giggled but he wasn’t faring much better.
“Wife?” Faith turned back towards Will. “You never said you had a wife!”
“Beth’s gonna be so pissed at you, dude!” Dale laughed, trying to stay upright. “She’ll castrate you for sure this time.”
“Fuck Beth. I love you, Fanny!” Will wailed from the floor.
April started tugging Faith along by the arm, “leave them!”
“But—” Faith began.
“Come on! Brain over loins for once, please?”
The two had made their way about halfway down the path when April stopped.
“Faith, we need to talk about your behaviour.”
“You sound more and more like your mother each day.”
April shuddered. “You really should have more self-respect. You can’t go forcing yourself on every man you drink from.”
“Well, he wasn’t really in a fit place to consent, was he?”
“Oho! Don’t you lecture me about consent! Why do you think the guys came back to the house with us, April? To bake cakes and discuss poetry? Dale went upstairs with you easily enough.”
“Dale was very much the gentleman, I’ll have you know. He didn’t even try to touch me.”
“How dull. Will was practically begging me to touch him.”
“He was drunk and under your spell, Faith! It’s wrong! You’ll get a bad reputation.”
“I’ll get a bad reputation? He’s screwing chicks half his age behind his wife’s back!”
“Why can’t you be more like me?” April whined. “I think sex should be special. You should save yourself for the right man.”
“Yeah, I know exactly which man you’re saving yourself for,” Faith smirked. “Like them cold, undead and predatory, don’t you?”
April looked like she’d been slapped. “How dare you!”
“Let’s just hope he can get it up, what with his complete lack of blood flow.”
April didn’t know how to respond so instead she shoved Faith and sent her flying into the bushes.
“You’re dead, Blondie—” Faith started. She got to her feet but quickly lost interest in April. “Oh my god.”
“Are you hurt? I didn’t mean to—“
“No I’m fine but… there’s something over there. No, wait, someone.”
April walked over to where Faith was standing and looked down at the red-headed man curled up on the floor. “Oh no. Is that Paul?”
“It is! Is he OK?” Faith asked even though she could clearly tell that he wasn’t.
“Oh my god, Faith! Melinda really did do it. Melinda! She can’t even swat flies and she’s left someone for dead in the woods!” April gasped.
“I didn’t even think she’d really drank from him,” Faith said, unable to tear her eyes away. “Has she… has she torn his throat out?”
“Oh my god! I’ve created a monster!” April cried.
“Where are his clothes? Shitting hell, April. You lecture me about my behaviour, at least Will’s alive and can to go back to his fucking wife.”
“What do we do? Shall we call someone?” April flapped her hands, panicking.
“Like who? How the hell are we gonna explain this?”
“Do we leave him then?”
“I don’t know!” Faith cried.
“Should we hide him?”
“I don’t know, April! I’ve never had to deal with any of Mel’s murder victims before! Why don’t you make a decision for once? This is your fault!”
April thought for a moment. “We’ll hide him for now and find a way to dispose of him.”
“Where shall we hide him?”
“Back at the house. In my trunk.”
“I’m not dragging him back to the house!”
“Do you have a better idea?”
Melinda had excused herself, leaving Lilith alone with her brother.
Caleb covered his ears against his sister’s intrusion as if it that would ever work to stop it.
OK! Enough! What was I supposed to do, Lil? Let April take us down?
You’re the one taking us down, you moron.
I’m trying to do better, OK? I’m really trying.
You’re definitely bloody trying! Go in there and fix this!
Caleb got up and stormed to the front door.
Or you could just leave! You fucking coward!
The door slammed as Caleb disappeared into the night and for once Lilith didn’t care if he never came back.
She followed the breathless sobs to find Melinda. She was in the kitchen, oblivious to the pan behind her that had boiled over. Something else well and truly ruined.
“I’m sorry, Melinda.”
Melinda choked back a sob, hoping this apology was for something Lilith had done, rather than something she was about to do. “What do you have to be sorry for?”
“I’ve raised an idiot. He’s done some ridiculous things, but this is really something else.”
Raised? Melinda took in Lilith’s youthful features. Is she his mother?
“Sister, actually,” Lilith answered before she could stop herself. “Err… I mean, what? Did you say something?”
“No, I didn’t,” Melinda said. “Can you can hear my thoughts?”
Lilith sighed. What did it even matter now? Her whole carefully constructed facade was being destroyed by the very person she’d built it for. She nodded. “Loud and clear. It’s quite refreshing to hear yours, Melinda. Not many think like you do.”
“What? Pineapple?” Lilith looked confused.
“Oh my gosh, you can hear them. Is that a vampire thing? Can I do it?” Melinda closed her eyes and tried to listen. All she could hear was the sound of her own stomach rolling. She tried not to think about how hungry, how thirsty she was. She didn’t want to be offered any basement humans. “No, I can’t do it. Unless you’re not thinking of anything?”
“You’re too new. You have to lose a lot of your humanity to achieve that kind of void,” Lilith said.
Melinda cast her eyes down and tried not to think about how Lilith lost her humanity, how she herself would lose hers.
An uncomfortable silence fell between them. Lilith could hear Melinda replaying Caleb’s version of events over and over in her mind.
Lilith’s voice was soft, almost pleading. “He’s impetuous, certainly, but he’s not a monster, Melinda.”
“But he attacked her,” Melinda said helplessly. “She might have tempted him, for whatever reason, and I’ve felt those urges he had, I understand how difficult it is to fight them. But he should’ve known better. I mean if nothing else, she’s barely eighteen and incredibly sheltered and he’s in his twenties—“
“He’s three hundred and seven.”
“Three hundred and seven?”
“And he really should know better,” Lilith looked up through her lashes, “I just don’t know that he does.”
“You don’t know? Can’t you read his mind? See if he’s telling the truth?”
“He’s become pretty good at keeping things from me over the years,” Lilith admitted quietly. “I can only hear what he wants me to hear now.”
“Then how do you know he’s not a monster?” Melinda asked.
Lilith opened her mouth to defend him but couldn’t seem to do it.
“April’s story was different,” Melinda explained. “She said that he told her she should know better and then he attacked her. She says she didn’t ask to be turned and can’t remember anything about it. So one of them is lying.”
“Can you think of a reason why April would ask to be a vampire?”
“Not really,” Melinda sighed. “Other than having a slight obsession with horror movies. I just don’t think she’d offer herself for drinking from even if she did think she’d gain something from it. I mean, a lot could’ve gone wrong with that plan, right? He might have turned her down or drained her completely or Sandy could’ve walked in. But then if April’s telling the truth, Caleb is lying. Obviously, Caleb would want to drink from her, but other than threat of disclosure, can you think of any reason why he would so readily turn her?”
“So we’re stuck.” Melinda wiped her face. “And why would she turn Faith and me? Well, thinking about it, Faith probably didn’t take much convincing but why would she turn me? I mean, I get that she thought she was probably saving me, but did she save me? She would’ve known I’d be a rubbish vampire; I struggle to even think about blood let alone drink it.”
Lilith looked at her for a long while. “I know she’s your friend, but she sounds like a manipulative bitch to me. She could have at least given you the choice. Not many people would choose this affliction, and the ones that would probably aren’t the type of people you’d want to have around for eternity. You’ll get over your aversion to blood but it’s beyond that. There’s a lot that movies make attractive about us but there’s no doubt about it; vampirism is a curse. It’s a long and terribly lonely existence.”
“Oh my gosh,” Melinda gasped, “a lonely existence?”
“Yes, painfully. Nobody wants to be your friend, or lover, if you’re going to keep biting them. And like I said, turning people is a really big deal. Well, it should be.”
I’m so lonely, stuck in this stupid house.
I don’t have any real friends.
No-one likes me.
And just like that, Melinda was eight years old again.