Caleb had screwed up. Lilith was certainly going to attempt to give him a sharp whack with the spoon of doom for allowing them all to get into this state. Especially April who was supposed to be recuperating.
Faith was such a bad influence; at one point she’d been practically pouring vodka down his throat as she wound him up, mercilessly, about his wild days. He’d apparently had a million lovers by the time she’d passed out and he was getting pretty self-conscious about his hair with her calling him Fringey. Next to the hilarious chaos of Faith was the understated wit of Melinda; watching their interaction had been much more entertaining than watching the movie.
He could certainly get into these movies that they liked, though; he had no idea what it had been about, but each jump scare had forced April closer. The deadly combination of his inebriation and that dress had finally started to break him.
Not that she seemed to mind. He knew she was at least as intoxicated as he was. He knew he should’ve stopped her when she climbed astride him and started trying to unbutton his shirt but he just didn’t seem to be able to.
“April, behave.” A plea, rather than a request.
“Make me,” she murmured into his neck.
Caleb really didn’t want to make her. He could have stayed forever with her soft weight on his lap, her lips on his skin, her hands… oh hell, where was her hand going?
“That’s enough,” he said, those two words taking all the effort in the world. She fell heavily in place beside him, gazing at him, dreamily, in her drunken haze.
“OK,” she said, tucking herself back into his embrace. “I’ll behave.”
“April…” he warned, catching her arm before she’d fully processed the command to move it.
She giggled. “I was just stretching…”
“I think I need to take you to bed—“
“—Let you sleep this off. Call it a night.”
“Are you sure?” she purred, surely trying to ruin him with her kittenish ways.
“We have both had way too much to drink.”
He would put them all to bed, hide all the bottles and have an ice cold shower. Yes, that’s what he’d do. That was a great plan. Fool proof. Lilith would never know.
If only his legs would work and the room would stop spinning for just a minute.
It had been a long time since Lilith had pierced into flesh with anything other than a surgical implement. She hated to admit that Seth was right; she did enjoy it. She also hated to admit that Will did taste quite good. But mostly she hated to admit that she missed the days when she could slaughter any human without a second thought.
Will was surely the most deserving kill for miles and she just didn’t have the heart to do it. She kept thinking of his wife and his baby son, even though he never once did in the whole time he was buying Lilith drinks and dragging her out to the back of the bar. All that filtered through his brain was exactly what she’d expected; a parade of trucks and scantily-clad women, punctuated with beer and steak and power tools. For all that she hated him, she couldn’t help but admire that Will was one of the very few people she’d encountered who wasn’t hiding anything. However shallow and awful he was, he was completely himself, remarkably uncomplicated.
She’d barely drawn anything from him, but she’d lost her appetite. She withdrew her fangs and dumped him on the bench.
She had mesmerised him, so he wouldn’t remember their encounter, but she didn’t have the ability to make him forget his plan. Not anymore. She’d have to find another way to keep the girls safe. She’d start by moving them from Marjorie’s house to her own, tonight. That would buy some time.
The house was suspiciously quiet. For a brief moment she thought she was too late, someone had found them. Then she noticed an empty whiskey bottle on the floor, the lingering scent of alcohol in the room.
Faith and Melinda were passed out on the sofa; a silent horror movie flickering on the screen of the portable television. There must have been a dozen bottles dotted about the place; probably the entire contents of Marjorie’s secret bar. Enough to sink a vampire as tolerant as Lilith, let alone two fledglings who had probably never been drunk in their lives. She was extremely annoyed that Caleb had let them get into this state.
Where was Caleb?
A noise from upstairs caught her attention. She hoped he wasn’t too drunk; she couldn’t move the unconscious girls by herself, not with how weak she still felt and Will would not be out for long.
Lilith slipped upstairs and crossed the landing to knock on April’s bedroom door. There was no answer, but she knew he was in there and she could tell by the openness of his mind that he was unaware of her presence.
She found herself conflicted. On the one hand, he did appear to be changing, finally. He perhaps deserved some of the benefit of the doubt. On the other, this was Caleb and he was intoxicated and alone in a room with a girl who was also, from the sounds of her jumbled thoughts, very drunk. Too drunk.
Lilith found herself caring about that. Ugh. Why had she wanted to regain her humanity again? Had her conscience always been such a bitch?
She heard a sound like a broken radio as he instinctively shut down his unconscious mind. He didn’t respond.
I need to speak to you.
Fine! I’ll give you three seconds to cover anything you don’t want me to see, then I’m coming in. One… two… three…
“I know it looks bad, but I was putting her to bed, she climbed on top of me…”
“And what, got stuck? Put her down.”
Caleb made a disgruntled face and lifted April from his lap. April went willingly as he placed her gently on the bed. She rolled on to her side, instantly falling asleep.
“Happy?” Caleb slurred, trying to stay upright. “Look, still dressed, didn’t touch her.”
“Well done, you. I’ll get you a trophy,” Lilith said, sarcastically. “We’ve got a problem.”
He ran his hands down his face, “Can it wait?”
“Well I think it might have to now you’ve gotten all four of you completely wrecked, you irresponsible, selfish jerk.”
“I’m not wrecked.” He swayed, almost falling sideways on the bed atop April. “OK, slightly. But I’m not selfish.”
“You’ve plied her with spirits! Twenty-four hours ago she was dried out! Are you deliberately trying to screw everything up?!”
“I didn’t! Faith did! I genuinely was trying to put her to bed.”
Lilith looked at him for a while. Her expression a mixture of disgust and despair. She wasn’t sure who it was aimed at. “I drank from Will tonight.”
“What? Why would you do that?”
“I was going to empty him. He’s looking for the girls and he remembers being in this house.”
“You were going to empty him?!”
“I couldn’t do it! Look, he wants the reward money he’d get from turning in April. We need to move the girls to ours.”
“They’re fine here. He’ll have to get through me, first.”
“Oh yeah, what a threat. Caleb, you can’t even see straight. Get yourself into the next room. Sober up.”
“I’m staying here, with April. I want to make sure she’s OK.”
“No, you’re not. You’re going into the next room.”
“For hell’s sake, Lil! I won’t even touch her, I absolutely swear it.”
Lilith amped up the static. “No, you won’t because you’ll be in the. next. room.”
He hauled himself to his feet. “Maybe I’ll sneak back in,” he muttered.
“Maybe I’ll be lying here in dark form, waiting for you when you do.”
“Fine, I’ll go. But I think you’re wrong, Lil. You were the one about to throw away everything they worked for tonight, not me. Are you ever going to trust me?”
“I’ll trust you when you stop doing stupid shit like this.”
Lilith carefully gave April a once over before removing her shoes and tucking her under the covers. She seemed to be OK. Her skin was rather dry, but that would soon remedy itself. Like Caleb had, when he’d pulled this stunt, April had slipped into dark form as she lay baking and, like Caleb, most of the damage would therefore be hidden. Although Lilith couldn’t help feeling it was something of a shame that neither had a more permanent reminder not to take their existence, nor their loved ones, for granted.
She wondered if sympathy would ever be something she’d regain.
As she placed the shoes into the wardrobe, she noticed something leathery underneath a screwed up pile of clothing. The state of April’s wardrobe was very telling; the girl clearly had never had to clean up after herself in her whole life. Lilith pulled out the leather-bound book, looked down at the cover: Encyclopaedia Vampirica.
So it did exist.
She took a moment to listen to check that April was truly asleep, then she sat on the bed, leafing through. Page after page of gory details about vampire hunts, methods to destroy vampires, methods to create vampires. Most of it was absolute nonsense. Written by a vampire hunter or fan, most likely. She laughed out loud about all the mentions of garlic and holy water. She remembered the villagers of Windenburg with their garlic wreaths, huddled in their churches, thinking they were safe from the vampires and witches who were standing right beside them.
The book mentioned the fabled plasma fruit but frustratingly, had no details on its location or appearance. Another dead end.
She scanned the news articles. Vampire hunts had eradicated most of the ancient vampire families, along with their hierarchy, strict rules and traditions. The humans thought they had improved the situation; cut off the head and the body will die. But what they had actually done was create an unstructured, lawless mess of rogues and small covens, answering to no one.
Lilith turned the page. There it was. The article that had started this whole mess:
Vampyre Infestation Finally Exterminated
Wilbert Wangshaft, renowned vampyre slayer, this morning presented to the townsfolk of Windenburg five decapitated heads belonging to the last remaining members of the known vampyre families: Straud and Vatore. The heads will be on display to the public until the next full moon, whereby they will be ceremoniously destroyed by holy water and fire. Tickets 1d.
She remembered reading this article in the local paper. The sick satisfaction of seeing her father’s head on its stake next to Vladislaus’s was eclipsed only by the dizzying thought that she was finally free.
She would see the world, she would find the plasma fruit or a cure and until then she would be a good vampire, the kindest she could be, living in harmony with the humans.
How foolish she had been.
She sat for a while in the silence of the house, listening to April’s dreams and wondering what had happened to her own.