“Thanks for that, Bob. We’ll have more on the potential alien toddler invasion in Strangerville later, but first on to our top story.
“The search continues for April Moss, 18, daughter of the late superstar Sandy Moss. It is believed that April is in the company of her two friends who are also missing; they have been identified as Faith Splodge, 19, a customer service assistant and Melinda Bucket, 18, a college student both from Willow Creek.”
“The three girls were last seen in the early hours of Sunday 30th April, leaving Joe’s Bar in Forgotten Hollow. They were in the company of three local men; one of these men, Dale BarGuy, 34, is currently in police custody. The location of the other two men, Paul Pants, 28, and William Wangshaft, 39, is currently unknown.”
“We now cross live to our correspondent, Reb Porter who is at Joe’s Bar in Forgotten Hollow.”
“Thanks Lorna. We arrived at the scene just as Dale BarGuy was being escorted away by police. We currently don’t know much about him other than he appeared to have suffered a recent, significant facial injury, thought to be the result of a bar brawl. He had been in the company of William Wangshaft this evening, however William fled the scene shortly before police arrived—“
“He’s a sack of shit, that one.”
“Sir, we’re live—“
“Mark my words! Wangshaft had something to do with it! Strutting around here like the big ‘I am’, groping anything in a skirt. Complete and utter sack of—“
“To be honest, I’m getting pretty sick of this Sandy Moss bollocks. What? I’m back on? Apologies, viewers. We appear to have lost that report. We’ll have more from Reb later. Well I don’t bleeding know! Just scroll the autocue a bit. Police appeal for anyone with information on the whereabouts of the two men or of the three girls to contact them immediately.”
In a run-down motel room in the arse-end of nowhere, the four of them lay in wait. They were trapped here while the sun shone with nothing to do but watch the depressing news. It was certainly a concern that the media was so close behind, that the police were right on their tail, that their faces were so public.
But Faith had much bigger things to worry about right this second.
She stared intently into those big, blue eyes. Her voice was low and unusually serious as she once again asked, “Who are you?”
“I am Amy Algae from Willow Creek and I would like an iced mint tea,” April replied in a weird accent.
Faith nodded. “Iced mint tea. I guess that’s an improvement from elderflower cucumber champagne spritz with a twist of lime. But maybe you’d prefer a lemonade? And lose that accent. You sound like a cross between a pirate and a parrot, somehow.”
“But you said I sounded too posh before.”
“You did, but now you sound insane. Try speaking normally, but just… less posh. Try to sound more like me.”
April closed her eyes, tilted her head side to side. She drew her hand down her centre as if she were undoing an invisible zipper and letting her inner commoner out. She’d often seen her mother do this when getting into character or when she was about to talk to the help.
April blinked open her eyes, a harsh expression now etched into her flawless, doll-like features.
“I’m Amy fuckin’ Algae outta Willow Creek. Gimme a shittin’ lemonade, mofo.”
The room was silent for a while before everyone except April collapsed, laughing.
“What the fuck was that?” Faith managed through snorts.
“What was wrong with it this time?” April asked, bewildered by this reaction. “I sounded just like you!”
“You bloody didn’t. I’m not some ‘hood thug.”
April threw her hands up, exasperated. “Ugh! I’ll work on it. It’s not like I’m going to be ordering many drinks, anyway. Shush, you,” she said, shoving Caleb who was laughing beside her. She turned her attention back to her friends. “Are you two going to be Maude and Fanny again? If you are, you’ll need surnames.”
Faith scoffed. “I don’t wanna be Fanny, it reminds me too much of that dickhead. I think I’ll call myself Violet. Violet um…” She looked around the shabby motel room. “Closet? No. Lamp? Hmm. Divan? Yes! Violet Divan.” She turned to Melinda and purred. “Ms. Violet Divan, at your service.”
Melinda shook her head. “Too suggestive. I’m OK with Maude. I’ll be Maude Smith.”
“Boring,” Faith said pretending to yawn. “At least have a fun surname like Divan.”
“No. We can’t all have fun names; it’ll look suspicious,” Melinda said, ever sensible.
“Fine. So we’re Amy Algae, Maude Smith and Violet Divan, if anyone asks,” Faith said. “Next order of business—“
“Wait, who am I?” Caleb asked.
“Why you’re Caleb Vatore! A vampire in a black shirt, of course.”
Caleb pouted. “Don’t I get a new name? I’ve always wanted to be called Thor.”
“Thor? Are you ten? Nobody’s looking for you and nobody knows who you are. Just be Caleb; this is enough new names to remember as it is.”
“Next order of business: cash,” Melinda said. “I withdrew everything my dad sent me. Four hundred and twenty-five simoleons.”
“OK. So if we add in every penny I have to my name, that brings us up to four hundred and twenty-seven simoleons. Caleb, anything to add to that?”
Caleb dug into his pocket and held out his hand. “Four simoleons. No, wait. Three simoleons and a button.”
“Is that it?” Faith asked. “Anything stashed away in a bank acc- no, wait. Let me guess. Lilith held the purse strings, right?”
“She earned all the money,” Caleb said. “I did have an allowance, but I doubt I’ll get that this week. Or any week now. I knew I shouldn’t have settled my bar tab yesterday; that was almost three hundred simoleons.”
“Three hundred? Caleb, you have a problem,” Melinda said.
“Joe’s drinks are expensive…”
Faith groaned. “Is it even worth asking? Apr- Amy; any money?”
“I have my credit card,” April said in her normal, posh voice. “But it only has a credit limit of about five thousand simoleons. I don’t carry cash.”
“They’ll be watching that card, April… um, Amy,” Melinda said.
“Yeah, we’re not using that unless we really have to. So, we have four hundred and thirty simoleons. How much is this motel room, Caleb?”
“Three simoleons per hour,” he replied. “I think that’s a fairly standard rate. Not that I’ve ever rented rooms by the hour. I haven’t. Alright, once or twice but only because—“
“Stop talking,” Melinda hissed.
“Per hour? Why would they charge per hour?” April asked.
“Why do you think, Blondie?” Faith replied, watching as the cogs turned in her friend’s pretty head and her expression changed from curiosity, through to fleeting anger directed at the man beside her, finally settling on general disgust.
“That’s revolting! What is wrong with the world? Please can we stay in some proper hotels at some point, not these seedy ones? Ones with nice toiletries, clean sheets, concierges…”
“No. April Moss would stay in ‘proper’ hotels. Amy Algae is a rough-and-ready motel girl,” Melinda reminded her.
“I feel cheap and dirty.”
“Good, then we’re getting somewhere. Time to embrace disgrace, Amy. OK, so if that is the going rate for a room, as reliably informed by a man who has definitely never spent his pocket money on them, and we’ll only need it during the day,” Faith started counting on her fingers, “that’s four hundred and thirty, divided by… um… three? How many hours sunlight in a day? Eight? So two years. No, that’s not right…”
“About ten days,” Melinda said, swiftly. “We’ll need to find another abandoned house or something to hide in.”
“I have somewhere in mind, if it’s still standing,” Caleb said. “It’s just outside of Windenburg; we should be able to get there within a few days.”
“Wonderful. OK, so then on to the final issue, the big one: food. How many plasma packs did we get?”
“Ninety-six,” Melinda replied, sadly. “I still think we should have left Lilith some. We should have checked she was OK. We should have—“
“You’re too soft,” Faith huffed. “Ninety-six packs; how many days is that?”
“How many do we need each day? I think I can get by on one or two,” Melinda said. April and Faith nodded in agreement. “So that’s at least twelve days before we have to start hunting,” she finished, uneasily.
Caleb cleared his throat. “You girls might still only need one or two. I need a few more than that.”
“How many more? Three? Four?” Melinda asked, Caleb shook his head, pointed upwards. “More than four? That’s just greedy.”
“Seven, perhaps eight or even nine if I’ve been in the sun or running a lot.” Caleb rubbed the back of his neck, looking distinctly uncomfortable. “Any less and I run the risk of going rogue.”
“Fuck,” Faith stated inelegantly. “Your thirst must be fierce. I bet you’ll really enjoy chomping on a few tasty necks each night after all this time behaving, won’t you Wild Boy?”
“Holy hell,” he mumbled, lost in thought. “I shouldn’t. I can’t.”
“Why not?” Melinda asked. “We’re all going to have to, at some point.”
“I lack restraint,” he admitted, glancing at April. “Before Lilith came up with the plasma packs, I was never allowed to drink alone; she supervised me.”
“Of course she did,” Faith muttered. “Another way to clip your wings.”
“I can supervise you!” April gushed, clapping her hands. “I don’t mind hunting. We can go together. It’ll be almost like a dinner date, vampire-style.”
Caleb pulled her closer. “We could make it a real date? Sneak into the cinema and perhaps take a moonlit stroll along the waterfront before we attack a few strangers?”
“I’d like that.”
“We’ll have to get you a disguise if you’re going out, Amy,” Melinda said.
“Also, I might book a second room,” Faith said to Melinda. “All this bloodthirsty talk has woken up the demon in me. You can have all the plasma packs, Mel. You also get to choose whether you’d rather hang out in a room with the ‘newlyweds’, or if you’d prefer to watch my hunting tactic of wrestling horny men into submission.”
Melinda rolled her eyes. “What kind of choice is that? I’d rather let the sun burn my eyes off. You could try hunting using your new power, instead? Blasting them across the room and powering down their brains.”
“Boo! That’s not as fun. What was that thing I did anyway? Fringey, any ideas?” Faith asked.
“No idea. But I don’t even have my fringe now. Can’t I be called Thor?” he whined.
“Oh for fuck’s sake. Fine! You can be Thor. Now stop sulking and make yourself useful. I need you to go to the store to get bleach and glue. Come on girls; you can help me get these hair extensions out.” Faith waved her hand in front of Melinda’s face. “Hello? Earth to Mel!”
“Yes, I’m just thinking about my dad. When you all go out hunting later, I’ll go and find a payphone, give him a call. Let him know I’m OK.”
What did I miss, Mellybean?