Chapter 2.43 – And Blow

Note: drug use, description of medical procedures

In his pink, plastic, shell-shaped seat at the gurgling bubble machine in the technicolour basement, Caleb awaited further instruction. Wyatt – who was starting to smell a little less offensive – had decided to join him and Roxie, but Caleb had no idea who the bearded man sitting beside him was. He looked to be in deep thought, eyes cast down, possibly contemplating the pattern of the carpet.

Caleb could understand that; the carpet tiles were placed around seemingly randomly and didn’t match anything else. Why? Did it have a hidden meaning? As he, too, gazed down, allowed his vision to grow hazy and the colours to blur, an image materialised before his eyes.

What the hell?

Roxie’s sugar cane voice broke through his confusing… hallucination?

“OK, so you take the nozzle,” she said, demonstrating expertly. “Inhale gently and then blow.” She drew up through the mouthpiece and pouted, pushing a stream of bubbles from those glossy lips of hers.

“Like so.” She smiled, watching the bubbles as they floated and popped in the air. She blinked lazily and rolled her head towards Caleb. “Everyone reacts to this a little differently. For me, it makes me a little light-headed, but also makes everything amplified at the same time. I get all my best ideas on this stuff.”

She reached up to replace the hose and settled back into her squeaky chair. “It makes Saul here fascinated with flooring,” she explained, giggling and gesturing at the mute, bearded fellow, who didn’t respond. “It makes Wyatt think he’s a magician, but most things do, hey Wy?”

Wyatt only blew a cloud of bubbles in response.

“And, well, you can see what it does to Billy ‘Libre’ behind me,” Roxie whispered. “He definitely had clothes on when he arrived. So, fancy giving it a go? It’s OK if you don’t.”

Caleb nodded, shrugged off his intrusive thoughts of April – who in his mind was now sitting on the floor, screaming – and lifted the hose nearest to him.

He was very much hoping that he’d be the kind to get good ideas or to feel magical, but had a feeling that he, too, would end up stripping to his underwear at some point. However, the way no one batted an eyelid at the strange, almost nude guy dancing around in the wrestler mask told him that, whatever the outcome, he was in good company.

Inhale gently and blow.

His body had no need to breathe so it didn’t happen naturally, but Caleb could move air through himself if he tried. It would look a little peculiar and laboured if anyone paid a great deal of attention, but nobody was. Roxie was tainted by allure, Wyatt was staring at the ceiling, the mouth tip pinned between his gritted teeth and an almost constant stream of bubbles emitting from around it and Saul was still fixated on random things.

Caleb took a forceful breath, a practice one, feeling his withered lungs burn with the effort of trying to expand. He held his breath for a count of three and then pushed it back out, his torso convulsing with the effort.

Holy hell. It had been a long time since he’d moved more than the air required to talk; a full chest was such a strange sensation. The cavity behind his ribs felt warm, damp and tingly. Is that how it felt to be alive? He wondered, if he started breathing often enough, would it stop feeling so strange? Would it become habit?

He psyched himself up to go again.

“Gently,” Roxie instructed although Wyatt was blatantly ignoring this advice.

Here goes nothing.

“It worked!” he gushed, his voice unusually breathy-sounding. The bubbles danced before him, drifting skywards.

“It worked,” he repeated quietly, watching the orbs vanish and the multi-coloured lights play across the ceiling.

Roxie cheered. “Yeah! Well done you for not choking on the stuff, like most newbies do. Oh no, Thor. No,” she said softly, as Caleb went to take another draw. “Let that one kick in properly, yeah? See how you find it.”

Caleb pointed to Wyatt and Roxie shook her head, clicking her fingers in time to the music. “Don’t follow his bad example. One way ticket to a bad trip.”

“Yeah, I’ll only lead you astray,” Wyatt grinned. “But I never have bad trips.”

“That’s totally tempting fate,” Roxie tutted, her head now moving in time to the music, too. “I’m gonna go dance. Do you like dancing, Thor?”

Caleb usually hated dancing, but right now he seemed to like everything. He nodded frantically. Roxie smiled at his enthusiasm and held out her soft hand. He took it without any hesitation; right at that moment, he’d have followed her to the belly of hell.



Chuck couldn’t wait in the car. Anxious and restless he’d been wandering around in the overgrown garden wondering what was taking Lilith so long. What if they’d attacked her too? How long should he leave it before he… before he did what? Stormed in to be swiftly murdered by Seth, or his own daughter? Called the police to no doubt have them be murdered instead?

He wrung his hands and clenched his jaw, causing pain to shoot down his neck. Gently, he pressed his fingertips to his throat and hastily pulled them away, but he still registered his new branding; the tiny, raw, raised bumps where he’d been bitten.

Where Mellybean had bitten him.

Despite everything Lilith had said to him, despite everything he’d thought or wanted to believe, these two little bumps made it real, made it terrifying. He couldn’t pretend now that vampires were simply sharp-teethed people. She was not Mellybean anymore. She had been taken by something dark, something sinister.

“She’s still Mellybean,” Lilith said, appearing beside him.

He nodded, but her words did nothing to soothe him. “Mellybean wouldn’t… she couldn’t…” he gestured to his neck, unable to speak the words.

“I’m so sorry,” Lilith whispered. “I shouldn’t have brought you here. I didn’t realise that she’d already… it doesn’t matter. They’ll be ready to see you one day. They’ll be controlled enough to be around you, eventually. They will,” she assured him. “Because they want to. But for now, I think it’s best that you leave.”

Chuck looked frantically towards the house. “But Seth—”

“He’s already gone. He took Faith, as expected,” she murmured, angrily. “I’ll get her back; it’s not too late. I’ll get Melinda under control. I’ll… I’ll do something with April, hell knows what, but I’ll fix this whole thing. The very second Caleb returns, I’ll move them all somewhere safe and then I’ll contact you.”

“You can’t do all of that on your own—”

Lilith bristled, clearly offended by his insinuation. Her eyes flashed black and he balked. Stop provoking vampires, he rebuked himself. She looks as cute as a button, but she could probably butcher you barehanded.

“I could,” she said sternly. There was the briefest flicker of amusement over her features before her cold frown returned. “I’ll be in touch. Shush!” She held up her hand to silence him before he’d even opened his mouth. “This is not up for discussion, Chuck.”

Chuck wanted to stay, he wanted to fight, he wanted to help. But he knew it, she knew it. He couldn’t do anything. “You’ll call me?”

Lilith nodded.

He nodded back, scuffed his shoe in to the floor. “Thank y—”

Don’t.





Nothing April was saying was making Melinda feel any better, but the sound of her voice was its own kind of soothing, she supposed.

“I did accidentally kill Mother,” April offered; her own brand of helpful. “And I’ve seen how Caleb can lose control in an instant. It is super easy to mess up, Mel. I think it’s just the way we are and we just have to try extra hard not to murder everyone. Don’t feel bad.”

Melinda pressed her thumb into her temple and pressed down. Yes, she definitely still had a brain, so why was she constantly feeling like she didn’t? She carried on nodding at appropriate intervals as April wittered on about how it was easier to not kill everyone if you mesmerised them first.

“I didn’t know how to mesmerise when I drank from you or Faith or Broof. You were tasty but then you freaked out so I only got a little sip and that sort of put paid to that. And Faith didn’t taste very yummy at all. She tasted all bitter and we were in an alleyway next to a smelly dumpster, so the whole thing was unpleasant. Broof tasted good too, a bit like you, I wonder if that’s because you’re both nice people.”

Melinda groaned. She felt the complete opposite of a ‘nice person’.

“But Broof didn’t freak out, like you did. He was super calm. Oh my goodness, I could have killed him, couldn’t I?  Luckily, he managed to stop me. And then I mesmerised Mother by accident, but still killed her.” She paused, thinking. “OK. Maybe it doesn’t work every time then. But every time since then I’ve mesmerised and it’s easy to stop. Like it neutralises them somehow—”

“It does,” Lilith said, slipping into a vacant seat at the table. “It takes away their fear, calms their hearts, prevents their bloodstream being flooded with hormones. Epinephrine, endorphins, heck, even dopamine and serotonin if you have allure or find the right prey. It’s the hormonal spike that makes it hard to stop drinking. We don’t produce many of our own, so feeling those emotional highs again, second-hand… it can be intense.”

“We don’t produce many hormones?” Melinda asked.

“No,” Lilith replied, anticipating Melinda’s next question. She turned to April who had clearly lost track of the conversation. “You’re not pregnant, April. You don’t make enough of any hormone required to ovulate or maintain pregnancy. It’s completely impossible.”

“But we did a test,” April said. “It was positive.”

“Then you drank from a pregnant human,” Lilith explained. “It happens; I’ve done it myself a few times. The sickness is a bitch, isn’t it?” She laughed, eyes sparkling with a memory. “You know, pregnancy hormones have a weird effect on male vampires. There’s a reason nature left the childbearing to females; half a day of sickness and breast tenderness and even undead men think they’re dying.”

“So, there’s no baby?” April asked in a small voice. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely certain. I can cut you open and show you, if you’d like? I’ll bet you’ve never seen a butterflied uterus, especially not your own.” Lilith brightened as an idea came to her. “We should do a live dissection. I’ve never cut open such a freshly-made vampire; it’ll be fascinating! We could repeat the procedure every few years, document the changes as you age. Imagine; a medical journal on the physiology of vampires. Melinda, you could draw the anatomy charts.”

“…Or not,” Lilith said. “I’d make it painless and you’d heal quickly. No? All right. Maybe some other time.”

April looked down at her abdomen and whispered, “Shoo!”

“Are you OK?” Melinda asked. April thought for a moment, then nodded.

“Yes. Thank goodness I don’t have to knit anymore!” she laughed. “But Caleb will be sad. He wanted to buy a fancy mansion, get servants to dine on and raise some beautiful babies.”

“Like father, like son,” Lilith muttered. “Where is he, anyway?”

“He’s at work,” April replied.

“He’s got a job?!” Lilith asked, looking a mixture of concerned and impressed. “Where?”

“A flower shop in the village square,” Melinda answered. “He finishes his shift at four, so I imagine he will be back soon.”

“A flower shop in the village?” Lilith repeated quietly, concern flashed across her face as she looked at her phone. “He should have been back hours ago; its half past six.”

“Oh no!” April gasped. “He said he was going to bring a present home for me. What if it’s someone else for the basement?”

“He’d better not be,” Lilith hissed. “How is your prisoner? Danny, is it? Let me guess; that was Caleb’s idea? The damn idiot! You have to remind him of things constantly or he thinks they’re not relevant anymore.”

“Danny is OK,” Melinda answered quietly. “We wanted to release him but he recognised April.”

“I see,” Lilith grumbled. “That complicates the situation. Seth could have erased his memory, but of course he wasn’t going to tell you that, the swine.”

“Seth can erase memory?” April gushed. “Wow! He’s super talented.”

“Oh, he’s just amazing,” Lilith sneered sarcastically. “Thank goodness he was here to save the bloody day.”

“Yes, thank goodness!” April beamed, missing the sarcasm. “He’s not very nice sometimes, but that was good of him. Can’t he do so much handy stuff? Like teleport!”

“…and lie,” Lilith muttered bitterly.

“…and control minds,” Melinda mused, the puzzle pieces slotting together, proving that she did in fact still have a brain. “Was Seth actually here the whole time? Because when I hugged my dad, I was actively trying not to, but I couldn’t fight it. Was he controlling me? Would he do that?”

“Probably. Neither April or I could get off the floor, you felt compelled to attack and then, on cue, that twat turned up to save the day. I doubt it’s coincidence.”

“But why?” Melinda asked. “He made Dad leave so he clearly didn’t want him to die.”

“Mind games,” Lilith huffed. “A way to simultaneously erode your opinion of yourself, make me look bad and make himself look like the only sensible choice. Add in that he got to play the hero in front of Faith. And it worked like a damn charm; she quite literally fell over herself to be whisked away by that rat bastard.”

Melinda was deeply saddened but not surprised by the news that Faith had left, she was only surprised that it hadn’t happened sooner. Melinda only hoped that her friend would come to her senses one day, that she’d remember wanting to get herself under control for Joy’s sake.

One day, she would find her way back to where Melinda would always be waiting and they could go home.

Home.

“Poor Dad,” Melinda said sadly. “He- he’s OK, isn’t he? He understood why he had to leave?”

“He’s fine,” Lilith assured her. “You can use my phone to call him and your mother whenever you want. But next time you meet, it’ll be through a window with a phone, prison style.”



11 thoughts on “Chapter 2.43 – And Blow

  1. Oh Caleb! Your clapper! 😠
    You get a vision of April in desperate stress and yet you choose your own pleasure.
    Why should you choose to help your rag doll wife when there is a beautiful seductive blonde woman standing right in front of you. Pfff!
    It looks like Wyatt has a bad trip and Roxie probably has one waiting when Caleb is finishes kissing 🙄

    Chuck may have finally realized what he does best is to stay away from vampires.
    Hm! I get my doubts if he can remain passive waiting?

    Lilith possesses a strong self-control and a bizarre form of humor.
    Her offer to cut April up to show her she’s not pregnant. Hilarious 🤣
    I’m sure she has the skills to do that. No one finds it funny or appealing.

    We get a lot of interesting information through Lilith’s conversation with the girls.
    Melinda thinks Seth has staged the whole scene with her father. Maybe? That sounds plausible.
    Seth is a skilled manipulator and he has gained Faith’s full confidence 🤨
    There is still a sentence that hangs incompletely in the air…. Lilith conversation with Chuck “I didn’t realise that she’d already…”
    There are some pieces that do not fit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tsk tsk. All doom and gloom predictions again, Mona? 😉 For the basement party scene, I fought my inner control freak and left them all to the will of the game’s autonomy. So anything that Caleb did with Roxie, and Wyatt’s overuse and subsequent reaction to the bubbles, is completely all their fault this time, not mine. 😇🤣

      Can Chuck stay away? We’ll see.

      Lilith is definitely bizarre. Centuries of lying about who she is has made her just a tiny bit strange and very evasive.

      There are some pieces that do not fit.” Yes. Quite a few of them. Sorry. Hopefully they will all fit seamlessly at the end. If I’ve done it right. 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodness, Lilith, you sure have very peculiar hobbies.
    Patiently waiting here for Caleb to get himself in some real trouble. He sure does have a type, doesn’t he? I wonder if there’s anything that could break his control over April besides his death. Siring someone else maybe? Probably not.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t really get angry with Caleb for ignoring his visions of April. He’s never had that happen before, he doesn’t know what it means, and he has the mental faculties of a toddler – easily distracted by the bubbles, it seems. If he was aware enough of what it was to purposefully be ignoring her it would be a different matter, but he’s not.
    I can definitely get angry with him for kissing Roxie, though. High as a kite or not. 😂 My gods Caleb is such a hypocrite – being jealous of every man that as much as glances in April’s direction, ordering her to stay in the cabin and holding April for hours just so she can’t go back down to talk to Melinda. Poor April. Actually, would she be angry? All the possessiveness is with Caleb now and all the lust is, too. She doesn’t even seem to like Caleb all that much these days.

    Wyatt never has bad trips, huh? Famous last words 😅 that’s just asking the universe to give you one. Lol, Snuffy in disguise spiking the fountain to make everyone even more loopy, I see 😂

    “I shouldn’t have brought you here. I didn’t realise that she’d already…”
    That she’d already what? Already drunk? Melinda was the only one who refused to drink back when they were at Lilith’s and lived off her plasma packs instead, so maybe Lilith was hoping that she was still doing that? I wonder if she was hoping that seeing Chuck would make Melinda want to come back. Like a Chuck-shaped wakeup call.

    You know, for someone who said “good riddance” to losing Caleb just a few days ago and was ready to let them all stew, she sure is eager to take responsibility for everyone and take charge. She’s the only vampire willing and experienced enough to look after the rest so I should be relieved – but I don’t know, something about her this chapter and last chapter doesn’t sit well with me. I can’t put my finger on it. We’ve never seen Lilith lost in thought and oblivious to her surroundings like that though. Not even when she was trying to block people out on purpose in the bar. She heard everyone’s thoughts anyway. But not this time. Or maybe there were no thoughts to hear? What happened?

    Ah, well that puts an end to April’s pregnancy scare. Though it’s probably for the best – the last thing they need is a possibly vampiric baby to take care of on top of everything else. Very interesting bit about feeling emotional highs second-hand again, though. Wait, so you experience the emotion/hormonal state that your prey is in as you drink from them, unless you mesmerise them first? Didn’t Seth say he disliked mesmerising before? I thought he liked drinking from fearful/panicky prey because it was some kind of sadistic satisfaction, but if you experience the human’s emotions to some extent, does that mean that Seth likes the feeling of fear?

    Oooh and who was the human that April drank from that was pregnant? My first thought is Jessica – did she mistake a pregnancy for a bad period? 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bubbles and boobies in one place; no wonder Caleb couldn’t hold a conversation. Very much a hypocrite. Do as I say and not as I do. Wonder where he learned that.

      No, Wyatt doesn’t have bad trips. Ever. Nope. Never got high after having a repulsion potion either, but it’ll be fine. Snuffy, or ‘Becky’ as she is here was also on autonomy during this scene and she not only spiked the fountain, but pranked all the toilets and then got ‘Billy’ into the sauna. I decided not to include all that. Immersion and that.

      Lilith was definitely hoping Melinda hadn’t yet taken a drink so there’d be another level of resistance. Oops.

      “she sure is eager to take responsibility for everyone and take charge” she’s hardly going to tell Lovely Chuck that she gives up and they can all go eff themselves right then, is she? What did happen? She was pretty engrossed in something but if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

      I thought a vampiric baby would be an excellent addition to the cast. Maybe later. Yes, they get a second-hand rush from their prey; Seth brings a whole other meaning to adrenaline junkie. But who else do we know who enjoys fear? Hmm…

      April has drunk from Melinda, Faith, Sandy and Jessica and had a transfusion from Lilith so there are your potentials.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Easter completely threw me off and I didn’t realise it was Monday yesterday, haha.

    Ok, in we delve *nervous laughter* Ooh, Caleb can see what’s going on with April even though they’re not in the same place, that’s new! Though it might not technically be new, they haven’t really been apart much since the binding was finalised. I wonder if it’s specifically linked to intense experiences – given that April is obviously in a heightened emotional state. I also wonder if it goes both ways. I’d imagine it’s a one way thing, with him being the “commander” person – terrible chocie of words, but you know what I mean. And here we leave, with everyone high and at the beginning of what will definitely not be a catastrophic night for several people involved…

    Aww Chuck. As chivalrous it would be of you to try to defend Lilith, indeed, her odds are much better than yours, and as you say, there’s literally nothing you can do against a group of vampires, other than stay the hell out of their way. But in a way it’s kind of good Melinda fed on him, since it’s facing him to confront the truth – being all “oh I accept you no matter what you are” blaze attitude is all nice if she does her “vampy” stuff, but he can’t *truly* accept her for being what she is if he doesn’t see any of it? Because ignoring things is not quite the same as acceptance. That’s not to say I necessarily think Chuck is obligated to accept Melinda for who she is no matter what. There are situations when it can be acceptable for a parent not to not be supportive of their child, you know, like the child becoming a murder machine that feeds on people, for instance 😀

    I see Lilith is still trying to control everyone and everything. How’s that been working out for you so far, Lilith? Everything in hand, yes? What do they say about the definition of insanity… On the bright side, Chuck gets to walk from this alive, woo. That’s a second time against terrible vampy odds. Hopefully there won’t be a third. Who am I kidding, of course there will.

    Back to the party! Damn, these girls are all so pretty! And… more terrible decisions incoming. Fantastic!

    Lmao, April trying to console Melinda by bringing up her killing Sandy is priceless. Oh dear. Ooh, we get confirmation that April is indeed not pregnant, though we already kind of knew this, I suppose – but I’m glad April does now too. Also, the line “half a day of sickness and breast tenderness and even undead men think they’re dying.” is very interesting – I wonder if that will come into play. Or if it already has… was there a vampy man that thought he was dying so far? I don’t think so…

    Also, conspiracy theory time, Faith apparently tasted bad, as did Jessica. Something tells me the common element here is not personality, since they couldn’t be more different.

    I think Lilith and Melinda should totally make a vampire anatomy book at some points when things calm down! if things calm down. Lol.

    April looks so much like Wyatt in some of these screenshots. She just has to be his. Which technically means Wyatt and Caleb are having an in-law bonding time, yes? 😀

    I still don’t think that it was Seth that made Melinda feed on Chuck, now more so that Lilith and the others have completely jumped on that bandwagon. It’s too convenient and too straight forward to actually be the truth, and when have these guys ever been right about anything?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to Tuesday! Nervous laughter? Because of the disclaimers or just general pre-reading apprehension, I wonder. High and catastrophic… so pessimistic. 😆

      I agree; he can’t say that he accepts what she is if he doesn’t know what exactly she is. Now he does! So really, it’s a good thing.

      Lilith is excellent at controlling situations, can’t you tell? Everything has gone swimmingly in the story so far and now she’s back in the saddle, everything from here on out will be fine. This is Chuck’s third time surviving a vamp attack and you predict more? He’s like an animal that has a lot of lives… I can’t think of one right now.

      Not all the girls at the party were pretty; I made the ugly one the active one and had her stay upstairs for the duration with only her screenshot-ruining plumbob for company. I’m joking. All girls are pretty. ❤ And loner wasn’t alone all night; Seth went up have a bite on her. Nom nom. Terrible decisions and, thanks to autonomy, all their own doing this time!

      April does not have a bright future as an agony aunt. Yes, you already knew she wasn’t pregnant with your logical deduction that our vampires are opposites, therefore it wasn’t possible. You were right!

      Ooh, conspiracy theory! What could Jessica and Faith have in common? An attraction to men who don’t treat them well? Poor eyesight? Ooh! Cheap make up!

      Things will calm down.

      “April looks so much like Wyatt in some of these screenshots” Does she now? They would be having possible in-law bonding time, if Caleb hadn’t buggered off with the nearest boobs and left Wy by himself.

      *Lilith gets on bandwagon, ThePlumbob gets off.* It is all rather convenient to blame the guy with the brain fiddling powers and the bad history, isn’t it? Especially when he can’t defend himself. And they’ve been right. There was that time… and the other time… Um. I’ll get back to you on that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. …I´d call Caleb names again, but he´d seen an elk not so long ago, so I´ll cut him some slack on the “ignoring possible hallucination of April” front. XD
    Heh, so Wy starts spilling secrets when high, but that´s okay because of course nobody believes a word of it. Unless he´s not even /that/ high and just likes chatting about stuff when he can. p:

    …and again, I can´t help but think Lilith rushing back in and trying to take charge once more is at least as much because of Chuck as it is her general habit. “Absolute fool for a soft-hearted man,” indeed.

    Autonomy, was it? So no reason behind the fountain spiking, then?

    Lots of info here! I wonder if Mel tasted a bit like Broof because she has witchy blood, too. Would it show at all, if she had witchy blood, now that she´s a vampire?
    So your vamps don´t even have much feelings on their own, do they. Ugh, this strain of vampirism sure does sound more and more like a curse, I give you. Also corrects a bit of what I thought the “feeding on emotion” works like. *facepalms* That´s just… *shakes head* understandable, I guess. Demons of the past considered, I guess I see where /that/ comes from.

    …and I would be inclined to agree with Lilith that there is indeed a reason why nature left childbearing to females, if she actually chose a proper example. Having a ton of very foreign chemicals in your system is not one. You go drink from a guy on steroids or something, Lil, then talk, will you? Watcher, she can be so nasty.
    Shoo? April is actually sad that there won´t be a kid, isn´t she. Eeeek, sweetheart, please believe me you have enough to handle even without that.
    Yep, Mel didn´t see April´s eyes. Not surprised she´d jump to the more… expected conclusion, but I´m not buying it.

    Whoops, looks like the repellent doesn´t mix well with the rest of the stuff, does it? Poor Wyatt, not that it isn´t entirely his own fault. XD

    …and… I guess a lack of disaster around Caleb truly is too much to ask for. *sigh* Now just to see what kind of disaster. Because, you know, I´d definitely count “get caught” as a disaster too and stuff…

    Like

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