Chapter 9~10

 

Chapter Nine

It's Like Time Travel, Only You know, Slower...

THE CHRONICLES OF ABBY NORMAL:

Tortured Victim of the Daylight Dwellers

So here I am again, to open my veins and spill my pain onto your pages. My dark friend, after sixteen years of totally boring existence, I come to you at last with a glimmer of hope to break through the gloomth that is my miserable life. OMG! I have found him! Or I should say, he has found me.

That's right, my Dark Lord has found me. A for-real vampyre. He is called the vampyre Flood, and he didn't say, but I think he is descended from European royalty - a viscount or a discount or one of those.

I was in Walgreens with Jared when we saw him - and OMFG he's so hot, in a totally stealth way. I would have thought he was just a totally mainstream geek or something, with his flannel shirt and jeans, but he asked us about buying syringes and I totally saw his fangs come out. So, I was like, "I can hook you up with my dealer," like that, and then he looked at my T-shirt and saw Byron's picture on it and he quoted "She Walks in Beauty," which is like my favorite poem next to the one by Baudelaire about his girlfriend being nothing but worm food, except that Lily called that one first because Baudelaire is her fave poet and so she got the shirt with him on it, even though Byron is way more scrumptious and I would do him on sharp gravel if I had the chance.

So I went home and changed my clothes and fixed my makeup, and when we got to Glas Kat we breezed by the door like we were twenty-five or something. Jared made our IDs himself at Kinkos and we both look so mature in our pictures, although I think he overdid it with the mustache. Anyway, we were there like ten minutes, and this song came on that I really like - "Boning You in the Ossuary," by Dead Can Dub - which is so cool and macabre. And I tried to get Jared to dance, but this guy comes by and grabs Jared's cape and says, "Blacks fade much?" and that was it. Jared went into a level-five freak-out, and turned into a total fuckwit, trying to get me to hide him and stuff, and then just saying he couldn't take it anymore and he had to go home and redye right then. So he abandoned me to the dank loneliness that is the night and I bought a bottle of water and some chips and got ready to grieve my lost youth, when HE showed up. OMG!

Check it, he actually knew Byron and Shelley! He used to party with them in Switzerland when they were all young. They all did laudanum and read ghost stories and stuff, and then they actually invented Goth, right there in this villa on some lake. He is like THE SOURCE! He took me for coffee and I wanted to give myself to him right there in Starbucks. Lily will be totally jealous.

So he said I have to wait. He is connected to some ancient Celtic vampire countess and I'm supposed to find them an apartment in the morning. He even gave me the name of a rental agent to call and a big wad of cash. I have to prove myself worthy of his trust, otherwise there's like no way he'll bestow the dark gift on me, and I'll totally have to finish my sophomore year and probably end up in junior college or working at Old Navy or something.

So, since we're off for Christmas break, I'm going to call this woman and go find an apartment for the vampyre Flood and the Celtic vampyre countess. And when Flood rises from the grave at sunset, I will get my reward.

I'm totally freaked about meeting the Celtic vampyre countess. Flood says she has a temper. What if she hates me? Flood says he's not really into her - it's not like that. It's like, she's his vampyre sire, and they've been together for like five hundred years, so, you know, they have history, and I can respect that.

Note: Make sure to find out if I need to move their native soil to the new apartment before we move their coffins.

Note: Do I need to have a coffin made? Is it okay if it's purple?

Oh yeah, my sister Ronnie has head lice.

Chapter Ten

Red, White, and Blue, Not Necessarily in That Order

Snow White, thought Blue.

With the seven to look after me, and me them, I could be just like Snow White. Granted, the Animals weren't exactly dwarves, Jeff Murray, the ex-high-school-basketball star was at least six five, and Drew, their resident pharmacologist, was pretty close to that height, but she wasn't exactly Snow White either. Still, they were all kind to her, considerate, and basically respectful of her, within their limits as a bunch of pot-head punani hounds. They did seem to have a decent work ethic, were loyal, didn't fight among themselves, and were relatively clean, as guys this age went.

In a few days, she'd have the rest of their money, she knew it, and they knew it, but then what? It was a ton of money, to be sure, but it wasn't fuck-you money. (Defined as having so much money that you can say "fuck you" to anyone, anywhere, anytime, and not have to worry about the consequences.) She'd have to find something to do, somewhere to go. As the possibility of her getting out of the life finally loomed large, she realized that she was going to need a new life to live, and frankly, it was scaring the hell out of her. Time isn't kind to a girl living on her looks, and she'd already extended her sell-by date by going blue, but what now? Who knew that the future she'd been hoping for would show up with such sharp teeth. So Blue asked herself the question...

Can a fallen Cheddar princess of Fond Du Lac make a life with seven perpetually adolescent party animals from the Bay Area? Maybe it could happen, but she had her misgivings about dwarf number seven: Clint.

In her experience, it took a lot of work to fuck the Jesus out of a guy, and even then, he was prone to come down with a bad case of the guilts a day or two later. Not really a problem when you were working outcall, but if you were going to high-ho a whole pack of dwarves on a semipermanent basis, one of them having a high-maintenance, holy-ghost haunting was going to be a problem.

"Whore of Babylon," Clint said as the Animals led her into the Safeway like they were presenting her at the palace.

She paused in the automatic doors, despite the fact that she felt like she was turning blue under her blue, dressed as she was in a silver lam�� minidress and six-inch clear Lucite heels, none of it protecting her from the frigid wind coming off the Bay, whipping through the Marina Safeway parking lot. Thinking she'd probably spend most of her time naked, she hadn't packed for San Francisco weather.

"I've never even been to Babylon," she said. "But I'm open to new experiences." She licked her lips and stepped to where her breasts were within an inch of Clint's chest.

He turned and bolted to the office, chanting, "Get thee behind me, get thee behind me, get thee behind me," the whole way.

"However you want it, baby," said Blue. She decided she'd think of him as Freaked, the paranoid dwarf.

"Barry will show you to the break room," Lash said. He'd become the new leader of the Animals, mainly because he tended to be the most sober. "Jeff, send the limo back and lock the doors. Drew, make some coffee. Gustavo, see what the situation is on the floors. We may need you to throw stock on the shelves."

They stood there, looking at him. Stoned. Drunk. Baffled. Blue would think of Barry, the little, prematurely bald guy, as her special dwarf, Baffled. She smiled.

Clint peeked over the three-quarter wall of the office. "Hey, you guys. You should know that the Emperor was here last night. He says that Tommy Flood is a vampire."

"Huh?" Lash said.

"He's a vampire. That girl of his, she didn't leave town. She changed him."

"Get the fuck outta here," said Jeff.

Clint nodded furiously. "It's true."

"Well, fuck," said the others, in an unsynchronized chorus.

"Meeting," Lash announced. "Gentlemen, take your seats." He looked apologetically to Blue. "This shouldn't take long."

"I'll make coffee," she said.

"Uh..." Lash seemed concerned. "Blue, we're kind of on a budget from here on out."

"Coffee's free," Blue said. She turned and started heading to the back of the store. "I'll find it."

The Animals watched Blue walk away and, when she turned the corner, gathered by the registers. Clint unlocked the office door and came out. "So, we have to notify those cops, so they can help us hunt him down."

Lash looked at the Animals, who looked back. Lash raised an eyebrow. The others nodded. Lash put his arm around Clint's shoulders. "Clint, the guys and I have discussed it, and we'd all like to do something for you."

Clint ran back in the office and slammed the door. "No! We have to destroy the agents of Satan."

"Right. Of course. We'll get right on that. But first I'd like you to ask yourself something, Clint. And I'd like you to answer not as the born-again man that you are now, but from that little boy that's inside of all of us."

"Okay," Clint said, peeking over the office door.

"Clint, haven't you ever wanted to bone a Smurf?"

Jody heard Tommy come in the security door downstairs and met him on the stairs with a big hug and a backbreaking kiss.

"Wow," Tommy said.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm really good now. I was just checking on William. I think he pooped himself."

"I'm so sorry, Tommy. I shouldn't have left you on your own this soon."

"It's okay. I'm okay. Hey, you have something on your dress."

Jody was still wearing the little black dress. Some of the dust that was James O'Mally was still clinging to it near the hemline. "Oh, I must have bumped up against something."

"Let me get that for you," Tommy said, brushing at her thigh, then starting to raise the dress up past her waist.

Jody caught his hand. "Horndog!"

Chet the huge shaved cat looked up for a second, then put his head back down on William's chest and went back to sleep.

"But you left me on my own," Tommy said, trying to sound sad, but smiling too much to make it work.

"You're fine." She looked at her watch. "We only have about forty minutes till sunup. We can talk while we get ready for bed."

"I'm ready for bed now," Tommy said.

She led him up the stairs into the loft, through the great room, the bedroom, and into the bathroom. She grabbed her toothbrush off the sink and tossed Tommy his. She pasted, then chucked the tube to him.

"Do we still have to floss?" Tommy asked. "I mean, what's the point of being immortal if we have to floss?"

"Yeah," Jody said, through a mouthful of pinkish foam, "you should just go lie in the sun and get it over with, rather than suffer the torture of flossing."

"Don't be sarcastic. I didn't think we could get sick at all, but your hangover proved that to be wrong."

Jody nodded and spit. "Don't swallow any when you rinse. The water will come right back up."

"How come your foam is pink? My foam isn't pink. And I went last."

"My gums might be bleeding," Jody said.

Jody wasn't ready to tell him that she'd taken someone tonight. She would tell him, just not now. So, to change the subject, she summoned her superhuman strength and pantsed him.

"Hey!"

"When did you get skull-and-crossbones boxers?"

"I bought them tonight, when you were getting Christmas presents. I thought they would seem dangerous."

"You bet," Jody said, nodding furiously to keep from laughing. "And you'll blend in - in case you're ever caught with your pants down in the pirate locker room."

"Yeah, there's that," Tommy said, a little toothpaste foam dribbling down his chest as he looked at his boxers. "I have the whitest legs in the universe. My legs are like great white carrion worms."

"Stop, you're making me horny."

"I've got to use that tanning lotion we bought. Where is it?"

Jody moved with catlike speed out to the kitchen, snatched the lotion off the counter, and was back sitting on the edge of the bed in only a couple of seconds. If she could just keep Tommy from asking any questions until sunup, she was sure she'd figure out a way to tell him about the old man. "Come over here, worm legs, let me put some lotion on you." To emphasize her commitment to lotionization, she stood, pulled the straps of her dress off her shoulders, and let it fall to the floor at her feet. She stepped out of her dress and stood there, in just her pumps and a silver necklace with a tiny heart that he had given her.

Tommy hopped out of the bathroom - his pants still around his ankles - one long hop, and he stood in front of her. Jody smiled. Give a geek supernatural agility and speed, and what you get is a superagile, speedy geek.

"You went out commando, in that dress?"

"Never again," Jody said, grabbing the waistband of his boxers and pulling him toward her. "These are mine, now. I want to be dangerous."

"That's so, so slutty," he said, lisping a little, his fangs coming out now.

"Yep. Where do you want to start with the lotion?"

He pulled her close and kissed her neck. "We have to be careful not to break the furniture this time."

"Fuck it, less to move," she said, her own fangs coming out now. She raked them down his chest. "If we figure out a way to get a place before someone kills us."

"Oh, yeah, I found us a minion," he said as she bit into his side and tore his boxers off in a single swift pull.

"What?"

But Tommy was finished talking for a while.

Blue watched as the Butterball rocketed by her and slammed into a triangle of two-liter soft-drink bottles - the front bottle burst, sending a cola-brown eruption of foam across the floor by the meat case.

"Strike!" Barry shouted. He danced in a tight circle among the Animals, pointing and chanting, "I own you, and you, and you," to each as he passed.

Blue looked to Lash, and raised a cobalt eyebrow.

Lash shrugged. "It happens. That's why we use diet soda. It's not as sticky." He had decided that they all needed to sober up some more before they started stocking the shelves; thus the turkey bowling.

"Can someone bring a mop?" Clint said. Because he would not gamble, he was the designated pin setter. He was scrambling around trying to retrieve soda bottles even as Jeff Murray was warming up at the other end of the aisle, swinging a Foster's Fresh Frozen Homestyle in each hand. He believed that he got better pin action off the Foster's because of the savory gravy packet stuffed in its center. He claimed that Foster's had mastered superior poultry technology, and was, in fact, working on an oversized titanium turkey. The other Animals were forced to point out to him that he was completely full of shit as they sprayed root beer on him.

"So you guys hunted vampires?" Blue asked Lash. She had come back to the front with coffee for everyone just in time to hear Lash lay out the scenario for the Animals. She'd held off asking any questions until now. A Fresh Frozen meat missile zipped down the aisle between them. Lash didn't even blink.

"Yep. We didn't kill him. We just blew up his yacht and took his art. That's where we got the money."

"Yeah, right," said Blue. "I got that part. It's the vampire part I'm not clear on. Like a real vampire. A real, blood-drinking, can't-go-out-in-the-day, live-forever vampire."

"We figured he had to be at least six hundred years old," Troy Lee added, joining in the conversation. "Blue, you wanna skid the buzzard?" He nodded to the end of the aisle, where Jeff was offering his spare Fresh Frozen turkey like a sacrifice.

"So you guys, who work in a grocery store, have seen a vampire?"

"Two of them," Lash said. "Our night-crew leader, Tommy, was living with one of them."

"She was hot," Troy Lee added.

"Vampire hunters?" Blue couldn't believe it.

"Well, not anymore," Lash said.

"Yeah," Troy Lee said. "Clint says that Tommy's a vampire now. We're not going to mess with him."

"Spawn of Satan!" Clint shouted from the end of the aisle.

Drew, who Blue had decided to think of as Doc, because he always carried the pot, ran down the aisle and shot-putted a twelve-pound self-basting at Clint's head. "Shut the fuck up!" Clint ducked and covered. The turkey went over the meat counter and stuck in the drywall by the window at the back of the meat department. To Blue, Drew said, "Sorry, couldn't be helped."

"Well, that's gonna take all night to patch," said Clint.

Lash looked at Troy Lee. "Could you kill him?"

"On it," Troy Lee said, falling into a fighting stance, before taking off and chasing Clint around the corner. "Prepare to die, White Devil!"

"So," said Blue. "You were saying?"

"Well, Clint says Tommy is a vampire now, and we should go stake him out or something, but he's one of us, so we've decided to pursue a policy of Buddhist tolerance."

Just then Troy Lee dragged Clint back around the corner in a headlock. Despite being six inches shorter and forty pounds lighter than Clint, he'd studied martial arts since he was six and that took size out of the equation.

"Should I hypnotize the chicken?" Troy asked.

"Make it so," said Lash.

Troy Lee adjusted his chokehold on Clint. The larger man's eyes bugged out, his mouth moved like a gasping fish out of water, and he went limp in Troy's arms, who then dropped him in the puddle of diet soda on the floor.

"He'll come around in a second or two." Lash leaned into Blue to explain. "We used to call it choke the chicken, but that sounded kind of gayish."

"Of course," said Blue. That trick would come in handy in her work. She'd have to ask Troy Lee to teach it to her.

"And you think that your friend and this girl are really vampires."

"I suppose. Clint said he heard it from the Emperor, and he was the one that turned us on to the old vampire guy in the first place. Either way, they're not our problem."

"What if I said they were?" Blue said. Her mind was putting it together like a sewing machine on crack. It was insane, but for once she could see a future stretching out before her, welcoming her. "What if I said I wanted you to go after them?"

Lash blinked at her like she was speaking Klingon. "Huh?" He looked at the other Animals, who had stopped bowling and moved into range of the conversation. They stood there with frosty gobblers steaming in their hands like they were on wet-nurse duty for a group of headless infant snowmen.

"Flood is our friend," Lash said.

"I don't want you to kill him," Blue said. "Just catch him."

Lash looked to the others, who looked away - at the floor, at the cabbage and lettuce counter, at the turnips, at their frozen charges.

"I'll make it worth your while," Blue said.

Jody lay on the bed watching Tommy turn slowly, back and forth in the air like a pale white-boy mobile. The loft had twenty-foot ceilings with open, industrial-style beams, and sometime during their lovemaking, they had both ended up hanging from them. Jody dropped to the bed after she came, but Tommy still hung by one hand. The bright side was that with the exception of the set of shredded sheets upon which she lay, they had kept the destruction to a minimum. The downside - well, she really could have gone a couple of lifetimes without seeing him from this angle.

"We did good," Jody said. "Hardly anything broken."

"You think that monkeys really do it that way?" Tommy replied.

"I always thought you were just using that as an expression." She'd thought she could remain detached enough about their lovemaking to stay in control - to enjoy it, but to use it, as it were - but since Tommy had changed, it wasn't like that anymore. She lost herself in it, she didn't just make love with him, she fucked him like a crazed monkey girl. It was good, but disconcerting. She had liked being in control.

"You look amazing from this angle," Tommy said.

"You look like a man-shaped fluorescent lightbulb," Jody said, grinning at him, then noticing a change. "Do not get wood, Thomas Flood. You will not get wood, do you hear me?"

"You sound like my mom," Tommy said.

"Ewwwww," Jody said, shuddering and covering her eyes.

"Ewwwww," Tommy said, realizing what he had just said and about what and whom.

He dropped to the bed and bounced. "Sorry. Quick, put the self-tanning lotion on me, we only have a few minutes before sunup."

"Okay, but just the lotion."

"Right, go."

Jody took the lotion and squirted some on her hands. "Turn around, I'll get your back."

"But - "

"Just point that thing the other way, writer boy, you have had all the monkey love you're going to get tonight." She said it, but she didn't mean it - she'd go another round if he wanted, if they had time before sunrise. Then she remembered.

"Did you say you found us a minion?"

"Yeah, I did. She's going to start tomorrow - er, today. I gave her money to get us an apartment. Told her what we needed."

"Her?"

"Yeah, you remember that girl we saw in the drugstore?"

Jody stopped rubbing, grabbed his shoulders, and spun him around. "You gave our deposit money to a nine-year-old?"

"She's not nine. She's sixteen."

"Still, Tommy. You trusted our secret to a sixteen-year-old girl?"

"She already knew."

"Yes, because you let your fangs show like some doofus of the night. You could have explained that somehow, or better yet, never seen her again."

"Look, she's smart, and she'll be loyal. I promise."

"You could have just gotten us killed."

"What would you have done? Huh? You have to trust someone."

"But a sixteen-year-old kid?"

"I'm only nineteen, and I was a great minion. Besides, she thinks I'm her dark lord."

"Did you even tell her about me?"

"Of course, she knows all about you. Knows that you're my sire - that's what they call the vampire who made you. I even told her that you were older, that you had vast experience."

"Vast? Vast experience sounds like I'm a slutty old divorcee. How old does she think I am?"

"Five hundred."

"What?"

"But you look great for five hundred. I mean, look, you got my attention. Do my front."

"Do your own front." She threw the lotion bottle at him and he snatched it out of the air.

"Love you," Tommy said, slathering self-tanning goo all over his face and chest.

"I'm going to lock the bedroom door," Jody said as the alarm on their watches started beeping, signaling ten minutes before sunrise. She'd gotten the alarm watches for both of them, just in case. "You didn't give her keys, did you?"

"Not to the bedroom."

"Great. What if she finds William in the stairwell and stakes him out? You could have given our key to a Buffy wannabe - "

"This stuff is supposed to take like eight hours to work, so by sundown I'll be sexy bronze."

"There's a bronze vampire in the living room. Why don't you go ask him how that's working out for him?"

"He's impersonal bronze, not sexy bronze like I'll be."

"Come to bed. And put on a T-shirt. I don't want a sexy bronze stain on the sheets, even if they are torn up."

Tommy sniff-tested a half-dozen shirts, finally decided on one, climbed into bed, and was kissing Jody good morning when the sunrise put them out.

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