Chapter 1.21 – Can’t Compel a Cow

“Do you think she planned this whole thing?” Melinda asked. “To keep us? Why would you want to keep someone who didn’t even like you that much?”

“Why do you pretend to like her?” Lilith asked.

Melinda looked guilty, “For Faith’s sake.”

“Faith must be a good friend.”

Melinda nodded.

“Sun will be up soon. Do you know the way back?” Lilith asked.

“No. I might have to borrow your cat again.”

“My cat? I don’t have a cat.”

“Oh, right,” Melinda looked a bit disappointed, “it must have been a stray.”

“I can walk back with you though,” Lilith got to her feet, “the old Davies house, yes?”

“How do you—?”

Lilith tapped her head.

Melinda smiled to herself and pushed her chair back but as she rose from the table her knees gave way beneath her. In an instant, Lilith was beside her, lowering her back to the seat.

“Melinda? When did you last drink?”

Melinda could barely see as she gripped the chair. “I… I haven’t yet.”

Lilith stood up, her arms folded. “You said you were ‘drinking guys dry.'”

Melinda didn’t know if vampires could blush, but if they could, that was definitely what her face was doing. “I… I didn’t with my guy. I couldn’t.”

“I see,” Lilith said. “Let me get you something.” She walked towards a nearby door.

Oh gosh, Melinda thought, is that the basement where they keep the humans?

Lilith laughed, “No. Well, sort of.” She reached in and retrieved a small pouch which she placed into the microwave.

Melinda watched through her swirling vision, wondering if she was hallucinating. Is this some sort of vampire ready meal?

“You could say that,” Lilith responded to the question Melinda hadn’t asked, decanting the syrupy liquid into a glass and placing it before the younger vampire.

Melinda looked at the gloopy brown fluid. “What is it?”

“Plasma pack,” Lilith smiled. “Sustenance for the kinder kind of vampire.”

Well, this week couldn’t get any weirder. Melinda lifted the glass and gingerly took a sniff. There was something appealing about it. “What is it made of?”

“I think that one is from Ms. Ward’s liposuction. She’s quite a bleeder.”

Melinda stared at Lilith, horrified. “That’s made from bits of humans?”

“It’s mostly blood, but I bulk it up with odd bits and bobs, to round out the flavour. Some of these self-obsessed people taste absolutely rancid. Oh, and there’s some anticoagulant, a few flavourings—“

“Do people know that you do this?”

“It’s in the disclaimer they sign. Not that anyone ever reads those things.”

“Is that ethical?”

“You tell me. I compel them to sleep without any anaesthetic, their wounds heal faster than with any other surgeon. They get a top-notch finish from someone with centuries of innate knowledge of the human form. I take less than a pint, they barely notice. I won’t book them back in until they’re ready. Stop me when you’re convinced.”

“But they don’t explicitly say that you can take it.”

“Would you rather I keep them in the basement?” Lilith smiled. “Hunt them in the street?”

“No. I still feel conflicted, though.”

“Yes. You remind me of someone.”

Melinda looked at the glass and sighed. “Is drinking human blood the only way?”

“There’s apparently a fruit that can sustain us, but I think this may be a myth as I haven’t found it. And I have really searched. Vampires of old would occasionally feed from cattle or other animals, but I think that’s worse. You can’t compel a cow, nor explain what you’re doing, you just have to watch it trembling with fear. Although some of the vampires I used to know liked feeding on fear. Very much enjoyed it, you might say,” Lilith finished bitterly.

“If I don’t drink, what will happen? Will I rot?”

“You will drink. Eventually your thirst will just control you. You’ll attack a random human, or even one of your friends. Don’t get any ideas though. You might be unnaturally nimble, but if you try to bite me, I will whoop you.”

Melinda pouted.

“You have no reason to trust me. I understand that. However,” Lilith pushed the glass closer to Melinda, “you need to listen to me. You must consume something, soon, and it’s not going to be me. Drink up.”

Melinda lifted the glass and watched as a bubble popped on the surface. It looked absolutely disgusting. But then she thought of the stuff that had come out of April’s wrist and decided nothing could be as bad as that. At least this was in a glass. It was warm and… she did… she wanted it…

She took a tentative sip. It was the first thing she’d sampled for days that hadn’t tasted like ash but it was still revolting. She set the glass down, noticing how she felt compelled to pick it back up, how the tightness inside her seemed to be unwinding.

“Well?” Lilith asked. “Is it OK?”

Melinda needed another sip. The taste didn’t seem quite as bad the second time and she certainly felt better for it. She drank it in one and placed the empty vessel back to the table.

“I can’t believe I just drank a cup of blood and I sort of liked it. Thanks Lilith.”

Lilith didn’t respond, she was looking towards the front door where the first rays of sun were starting to creep through, her face creased with worry.

“He’s been gone a while,” Melinda whispered.

Lilith smiled to herself. “Caleb ruined your life and you’re worried about him?”

Melinda didn’t say anything. Lilith sighed. “He’s fine with sunlight though, if that’s what you’re thinking. He’s spent enough time over the years trying to blister himself to oblivion, it doesn’t really touch him anymore.” She closed her eyes, a memory heavy behind them.

Melinda took hold of her hand and Lilith’s eyes fluttered open, surprised.
Perhaps Melinda didn’t have to be able to read minds to know what someone was thinking.

Even with the thick canopy of trees, Lilith couldn’t risk taking a brand new vampire outside while the sun shone. The weather channel promised dense cloud and thunderstorms this afternoon. Melinda was struggling to stay awake, so Lilith had offered her a bed in the meantime.

Lilith settled in the living room to check her emails. This was prime season for new appointments, the Starlight Accolades were just around the corner, and yet work had tapered off. At least now she finally understood why this might be and why Sandy Moss’s people had left that negative review on her website.

She hoped she would be able to harvest enough blood to feed five.

She heard the front door unlock softly and turned to look at Caleb. He pretended he hadn’t noticed her and headed to the kitchen. She heard him rummaging and then return to the door.

“Where did you go?” Lilith asked.

Nowhere. Has she gone?

“She’s upstairs, resting. I gave her your bed.”

“Of course.” Caleb nodded. “She looked thirsty.”

“I’ve sorted it. I don’t know how she’s going to survive, Caleb. I’m glad she found us, but I am so, so mad at you.” How could turn someone?

I had to.

“Why? Why did you even drink? It’s been years, I thought we were doing OK.”

So did I.

“What was it about April?” Lilith asked.

Lilith hadn’t expected an answer, which was just as well as Caleb didn’t have one.

“She sounds awful,” Lilith said. “I think she’s been manipulating Melinda her whole life and turned her just to keep her, like a pet or something. I don’t think the girls even like each other. Now they’re stuck together. Caleb, I really don’t know what else I can do for you. If you can’t control yourself by now…”

I can. I just… I just made a mistake.

“Then let me in,” Lilith pleaded. “Let me help you process this.”

Caleb’s voice was hollow, “Tell her I’m sorry.”

“Are you sorry? Why don’t you tell her yourself? She’s a lovely girl, very kind. You’ll have to work on her a bit, but hey, we’re not short on time. You could definitely use a friend.”

“So could you.” He moved towards the door.

“Wait, was this… intentional? Have you given me new companions so that you can finally leave? After everything we’ve been through?”

What do you think?

“I don’t know what to think.”

Caleb paused, his fingertips grazing the door handle. Then without a word, or thought, to his sister, he opened the door and left.

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20 thoughts on “Chapter 1.21 – Can’t Compel a Cow

  1. Lilith seems very nice. Far nicer than I ever imagined her to be. Her little plastic surgeon cover is very clever!

    In all the misfortune, Melinda is pretty lucky. I’m glad she took the drink in the end – beggars can’t be choosers and this is definitely the most ethical option she has.

    So Caleb is leaving Lilith, or intends to? I understand that, I don’t think people are designed to spend centuries together. It would be especially hard to live with someone who constantly questions your behaviour and treats you as a child. I understand that Caleb would have done things in the past that compel Lilith to treat him that way, and that the way she treats him may be fair and deserved. But she’s not giving him even the slightest benefit of the doubt, zero wiggle room for growth. The prospect of living an eternity like that, with someone who assumes you can’t change and can’t be trusted is depressing. And would most certainly not inspire anyone to try to change and grow either.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, shipping temptations put aside – I actually really like Lilith. She’s taking responsibilities for the new vamps in a way that her brother isn’t, and seems really compassionate despite being centuries old and not having to care about any of them including Melinda. She even offered her a drink. Sure, it would have become a problem later otherwise, but simply killing her was an option, too.

    Also this:
    “She hoped she would be able to harvest enough blood to feed five.”

    Shows she’s not only thinking of herself, Caleb and maybe Melinda, but even Faith and April. That’s incredibly responsible and kind to these girls. Shame that she seems to be hell-bent on believing Caleb is to blame for everything, though 0.o

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The way I see it is… if you’ve been stuck with your brother for 300 years, you’d be dying (figuratively) for someone fresh and new.
      (To any of my brothers reading this: I love you. 😆)

      Aww, why would she kill sweet little Melinda? She knows she’s harmless. She can hear it.

      Lilith feels responsible for Caleb so his mess is hers. Whether her treatment of him is justified or not… I guess we’ll see.


  3. I like Lilith more than I thought I would. She’s going to help the girls. I don’t know if I agree with her opinion on April, though. I don’t think April was using Melinda any more than anyone uses anyone. She just wanted a friend. I still don’t know what to think about the turning, though. Maybe she worried if she didn’t turn her that she’d kill her.

    Anyway, I’m sad Caleb is leaving. I’d hoped for more from him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hopping on the Lilith train. When we think of ‘badass,’ we usually think of fighting, but developing professional skills as a cover to somewhat ethically obtain blood? And to invent plasma packs? That’s hella genius and resourceful. And then, on top of that, she retains that empathy over 300 years? Ten million thousand bad bitch points.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excuse me, Caleb, but I’m just here to comment how you have THE AUDACITY.

    I mean, I don’t doubt that April did this on purpose. But it’s the same way teenagers do lots of dumb things without understanding the consequences. They are all feelings and any action that feeds that feeling is justified. April isn’t terrible (or more terrible), she’s a teenager with awful parents who is starved for affection and incapable of understanding what an actual healthy relationship would look like.

    Caleb is an adult.

    Literally, eff him.

    (Damn, you’re probably going to make me change my mind at some point)

    Lilith for queen!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Melinda looked guilty, “For Faith’s sake.” – funny bc from what I gathered Faith is not too fond of April either 🤨

    Ok Lil & Mel are def both most favorites. I love the surgeon cover up. And it’s actually hilarious that self-absorbance makes their blood taste worse 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  7. *small little pout* Plasma packs. I´d never thought much of those, except that they´re handy for emergencies, but… I´d always imagined them to be like transfusion bags. You know, nice fresh and /liquid/. This is actually… yuck. 😡 Sooo much worse.

    But we have more important things to focus on.
    “You’ll attack a random human, or even one of your friends.” and “You must consume something, soon, and it’s not going to be me.” So it would appear that a vampire drinking from their own kind is not only possible, but even gives sustenance, too. There might be consequences, I´d be surprised if there weren´t. But it´s possible. *small little smile* Interesting… very interesting, indeed.

    Other than that, feeding on fear? Like, literally gaining sustenance/power from the feelings of someone? Now that opens a whole another can of worms. I´d heard of vampires like that before. And usually, fear wasn´t the only emotion they could use. Makes me think of one of the girls, you know… 😉
    Of course, Lils mentioning she knew a vampire like that makes me think of Paul again. We know we have an evil vampire on the loose. Could that be Lilith´s old acquaintance? Hmmm…

    Other than that, Lilith works hard this whole chapter and actually makes me think she might not be so bad… and then goes and asks Caleb to let her into his head. So she can, presumably, mess with his thoughts. Yeah, okay. Progress lost, we back at square one, Lils. :7

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I figured it would be quite difficult to siphon off enough nice, juicy, full bags of blood every day from every unlucky sod who came in for a nose job, so thought the majority would be her taking smaller amounts then mixing them all together with random other stuff. An acquired taste for sure. I would definitely be missing potatoes now, if I was Melinda.

      Yes, it would appear so.

      Fear (and other emotions… heh) can raise the heart rate and possibly make for a more intense drinking experience, no? I’m sure that’s all she means. And what evil vampire? You mean the picky wolf?

      Ah, maybe she’s only so bad with Caleb then? Or maybe her ways around Melinda are an act. Or maybe I’m pulling strings, who knows? Back to square one you go with your bags of gloop, Lilith.


      1. It is perfectly reasonable and perfectly disgusting at the same time. XD


        Mmm, it could be, I guess. Feelings make a whole lot of stuff enter the bloodstream, too. Bet the blood tastes different then.
        Sticking with the picky wolf, eh? I don´t know about that. Maybe it was another creepy cat instead, only bigger… PX

        So many questions, so many unknowns. Who knows? Maybe she does have a good reason for everything and I´m being way harsh on her, myself. It could be. She does seem to be at least both capable of making the mess better and willing to do so, so there is plus points. Maybe it´s just that meeting her at such a bad time made an unfavorable first impression… maybe. Possibly.

        …but no. A vampire who talks about themselves as the “kinder kind” as if such a thing exists, who attempts not to drink directly from people ever and tries to make another do the same despite him obviously not being able to adjust to such a lifestyle… no. That still sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe it actually would be better for the girls if she didn´t try to teach them the way she did Caleb. …or else they might end up like lion cubs raised by humans when you try to put them back in the wild. Especially Melinda.

        Liked by 1 person

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