Chapter Thirty-one

Being the Chronicles of Abby Normal:

Not Unlike the Toaster, I Control the Darkness

So I slept a little that day, and talked to my sweet love-ninja, Foo, a couple of times on the phone, then he came over and we left Jared with some blood for Lord Flood and the Countess when they awoke, and motored to the loft. It took like an hour to clean up all the broken glass and ash and stuff from the night before. We had just finished cleaning and counting the money and making out and whatnot when the alarm went off on the Countess's watch.

And I was like, "Dude, I'm not ready."

And he was all, "Dude, you are more ready than anyone I've ever known."

And I was all, "OMG, I am so going to sex you to death if we live through this."

And then he was all bashful and pretended to be doing something technical so we were ready.

Then, like an hour after sundown, I heard them coming. I was at the kitchen counter when the security door downstairs opened, and when I turned around they were just, like there. Lord Flood called them the Animals, but now they were kind of the roadkill. And I like touched the snap on my UV jacket, just to make sure it was there.

So I was all, "Hey, vampyre scum."

And the formerly black and now gray one, who was like their leader, was all up in my grille, like, "We need the money, where is the money?"

And I was like, "Step off, undead-tard. There's no money."

And he was like, "Don't fuck with us. Flood and the redhead took like six hundred grand from my apartment."

And I was all, "Actually, its like five hundred and eighty-three thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight."

And he was all, "Give it!"

And all seven of them were like gathering around me - even the born-again one the Countess had thrashed - like they were going to do the massive gang-suck on me, so I had my finger on my light button all the time, in case I needed to flash-fry the motherfuckers. But I stayed chilly and I was like, "Are you high?"

And he was all, "No, I'm not high. No one is high."

And they all started whining and whatnot, all, "We can't even take a bong hit. We can't drink a beer. Our systems won't take it. Being sober sucks. We are useless undead stoners."

So I was all, "Step back and behold, bi-atches."

And I'm all taking a bottle of Stoli out of the freezer, and mixing in a glass with some of the blood from the pouches, just like the ones we left for the Countess and Lord Flood, and they're all drooling when they see the blood, so I was thinking, Dont' make me fry you.

But then I give the glass to the gray vamp, and he's all, "Sweet."

And the others are like, "Me, me, me."

So I'm like mixing Bloody Marys all around, and the greasy hippyish one is like, "Can we dunk pot cookies in this?"

And I'm like, "Of course, stoner vamp."

And they're all, "You are a goddess. And we are not worthy. And oh please, may we have some more?" Until they started to drop.

So like two minutes later there's like this big pile of passed-out vampyres in the kitchen, and I'm all, "Yo, Foo, I got your shit ready."

And Foo comes out of the bedroom, all cute, holding his UV floodlight like he's going to save me, then sees that they are all out cold and gives me a big kiss and is like, "You rock."

And I'm like, "You have no idea, my Manga-haired love toy."

And he was like, "The sedative in the blood, blah, blah, four hours, blah, blah, nerdspeak, geektalk - "

And I'm like, "Whateva, studmumn. Handle it."

So it took like two hours for Foo to do all his medical stuff with the Animals, taking some blood and doing various medical nerdism stuff to it, then putting it back in, but finally he was done and I called Jared to tell him that we were on our way to get Lord Flood and the Countess.

So I like made the other call to make sure everything was all in order and whatnot, and Foo was all, "Are you sure this is what you want to do?"

And I was all, "Foo, theirs is the greatest love of all time. It's the only thing to do."

And he was all, "Okay, as long as you're sure. Because we can do them the same as we did the others."

And I was all, "No, that won't work. They have to be together. And you don't have to live at home anymore. We'll have a completely sweet love lair."

So we did it.

Blue watched from the alley across the street as the Animals came out the security door, empty-handed, and stumbled into the street. She knew she should have gone herself, but that whole getting-burned-up thing had taught her that perhaps it was better to delegate. That they didn't have her money was bad enough, but that they didn't have her money and heat was coming off of them was disastrous. "Those dumbfucks can't get anything right," she said to herself. "I'm going to have to kill them all over again."

"I don't think so," said a voice from behind her. She whipped around, leading with her long fingernails in a swipe that would have taken off half a man's face.

Elijah caught her hand. He'd found another tracksuit, this one powder blue. "It's time to let it go. The genie must go back in the bottle, I'm afraid."

"Let me go, I need to go get my money."

"No, my dear, you don't want to do that. The residents of that loft have recently developed a very unpleasant fashion sense."

"You're fucking with my income, paleface."

"You don't need to worry about that anymore."

"Meaning what?"

"It ends here. Come with me, my dear."

"You want me to come with you? I don't even know you."

"Yes, but we share a special relationship."

"Special? You beat my face into the hood of a Mercedes."

"Well, yes. Sorry. To the innocent my behavior can sometimes be distasteful."

"Yeah? Innocent, I've fucked thousands of guys."

"Yes, well, I've killed enough to fill a city."

Blue shrugged. "Okay, you win."

"Revenge is a dish best served cold anyway, don't you think?"

"Or not at all," said a male voice behind Elijah.

Elijah and Blue turned. Three of them stood there in their long coats, looking like sculptures, looking eternal, like they could wait forever.

"Can just anyone sneak up on me now?" said Blue.

"Time to go, Elijah," said the African woman.

"None of you would be here if it weren't for me," Elijah said.

"Yes, and we would have been hunted down and killed a long time ago if we hadn't adhered to your rules."

"Ah, my rules," Elijah said, looking down now.

"How many left to clean?"

Elijah looked across the street to the loft windows, then at Blue. She raised an eyebrow, smiled a little.

"She's the only one left." He lied.

"Then finish it."

"I'd rather not," Elijah said.

The Emperor of San Francisco wept for his city. He had done what he could, called the police, alerted the newspapers, even tried to take to battle himself, but by the time he'd gathered the courage to return to the Marina Safeway, it had been finished, and he could do nothing more than speculate to the uniformed police officers how the window had been broken and why the store was empty. They'd tried to track down the night crew, but none of them seemed to be home. And his city was plagued by vampires. Now the Emperor wept and consoled the troops, rubbing Bummer behind the ears and gently patting Lazarus on the ribs as he lay sleeping on the dock. The fog was coming slow off the Bay tonight, not windblown like it was so often here.

He heard footsteps before he saw them, then there were five of them. The fiend, the three in the long coats he had seen come in the night before, and a blond woman in a blue party dress. They walked past, and only the fiend turned and paused. The Emperor held Bummer tight, afraid that he would burst into one of his barking fits and all would be lost.

"Old man," said Elijah. "The City is yours again." Then he joined the others at the end of the dock.

The Emperor could see their motor yacht waiting outside the breakwater - it had to be two hundred feet long, far too big to enter the marina.

"Very well, then, shall we go?" said Elijah.

"Can I get a coat like that?" asked Blue, nodding toward the tall blond man.

The blond man said, "You'll get one when you learn the secret handshake and get your decoder ring."

Blue looked at Elijah. "Is he fuckin' with me?"

"Yes," said Elijah. He offered her his arm. She took it, and stepped down into the longboat.

The Emperor watched the vampires disappear into the fog.

Rivera had six uniforms in SWAT gear with a battering ram ready to take down the door, so he and Cavuto were more than somewhat surprised when it opened almost as soon as they knocked. A shirtless, sleepy-looking Chinese guy with spiky hair stood in the doorway.

"Yes, can I help you?"

Rivera held up the warrant. "I have a warrant to search this apartment."

" 'Kay," said the Chinese guy. "Abby, cops are here."

The skinny broken clown girl appeared at the top of the stairs in a kimono.

"Hey, cops," said Abby Normal.

"What are you doing here?" Rivera said.

"I live here, cop." She popped the p. Rivera hated that.

"Actually, it's my apartment," said the Chinese guy. "Do you need to see ID?"

"Yeah, that would be nice, kid," said Cavuto. He whipped the kid around and marched him up the stairs as the kid read the warrant.

"Do not bruise the Foo, cop," said the broken clown girl.

Rivera turned to the uniforms and shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, guys, I guess we got this one." They shuffled away.

"What are you guys looking for?" asked the Chinese kid. "Maybe we could speed this up."

"We're looking for Thomas Flood and Jody Stroud. He's the one on the lease for this apartment and the one down the street."

"Oh, yeah. I'm subletting," said the Chinese kid.

"Steven Wong," Cavuto read off the kid's license.

Rivera was feeling very, very bad about this. They had found one more body in the Mission with the blood-loss-and-broken-neck MO - the guy had been naked, supposedly someone had stolen his powder-blue tracksuit, so they logged it as robbery, but then, a week ago, the killings stopped. That didn't mean it was over. He'd made the mistake of thinking it was over with these two before. Rivera had finally gotten the Christian kid at the Safeway to file charges on the redhead for assault. After a long talk with the other stoners, they'd gotten the Flood kid on the arrest warrant for conspiracy. They'd also implied that somehow Flood and the redhead had gotten their share of the old vampire's money. Maybe they had left town. If they had, well, good, but he still had a slew of unsolved murders.

"You're subletting from Thomas Flood?"

"I never met him, actually," said Steve. "We arranged it through the rental agent."

"Yeah, so step off, cop," said the skinny girl.

Rivera looked around the apartment. There was no need to tear the place apart. Obviously everything in here was new. Mostly decorated in Pier 1 Imports cheap wicker motif and some punky Urban Outfitter flair, which he guessed was the input of the creepy little girl.

The bronze sculptures were out of character, though. A life-sized nude of a young woman, a large snapping turtle, and a life-sized bronze of a couple posed as if in Rodin's The Kiss.

"These must have been expensive," Rivera said.

"Not really. I know the artists," the Chinese kid said. "Some biker guys down the street."

"Foo's in biotech," said the broken clown girl. "He makes like stupid money, cop."

"Yeah, that's swell," said Rivera. He'd watched this neighborhood turn from a rust slum of repair shops and the odd ethnic restaurant to a gentrified hive of hipster professionals in remodeled lofts during the dot-com boom, and it had never turned back. The whole neighborhood was full of kids who spent the equivalent of Rivera's annual salary on a car they wouldn't drive a dozen times a year. This kid apparently was just another one.

"So you don't know these people?" Rivera said, pointing to the warrant.

Steven Wong shook his head. "Sorry, I've never met them. I send my rent directly to the rental agency. You might check with them."

"Okay then. Sorry to bother you."

"Okay then?" Cavuto said. "That's it?"

"They're not here, Nick. These two don't know where they are."

"But, that's not enough."

"Yeah? You want to spend some time talking to Allison here, see what you can find out?" Rivera nodded toward the broken clown girl.

Cavuto had tried to keep someone between himself and the skinny girl since they'd come upstairs, but now he looked at her full on and shuddered. "No, I guess that's it." He turned and lumbered down the steps.

"You need to check your girlfriend's ID," Rivera said to Steve. "You may not be old enough for her." Then he turned and left as well.

"Chill, Foo," Abby said. "They're gone. They won't be back. Let's go shopping."

"Abby, are you sure about this? It seems cruel." He patted the life-sized sculpture of the couple embraced in a kiss.

"I heard the Countess say once that it was like being in a dream. They just sort of float, all peaceful and dreamy. The main thing is they're together."

"You're sure?"

"Theirs is the greatest love of all time. It would be wrong for them to be apart, Foo."

"Well, I think we should just change them back. Now that we know the process works."

"Someday."

"Now."

"The Countess doesn't want that."

"It's wrong."

"How can it be wrong? It's my idea, and I am their dedicated minion and whatnot. I control the dark." She ran and jumped into his arms.

"I guess you do," he said. "Okay, let's go shopping for stuff for our most fly apartment."

William arrived back at the loft just after dark, feeling very much rested and well fed from his hospital stay, but craving a sip or two of the good stuff, and terribly worried about Chet. He let himself into the stairway with his key, but when he rang the bell, no one answered, so he sat down to wait for the redhead and that guy to bring his bottle.

He hadn't been there ten minutes before he heard the meowing at the door, and his heart leapt as he opened the outer door to find Chet, his red sweater still intact, purring outside.

"Come on, boy. I missed you, buddy."

William scooped up his kitty and carried him into the stairwell. As soon as the door closed, Chet, the huge shaved vampire cat, was upon him.

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