Grandma Shirley lays gauze gently over my hand and applies pressure. I suppress the urge to mew like a tiny kitten in the snow. "You haven't lost too much blood." She tells me sharply, unsympathetically.
"Then why do I feel like a husk?" I ask lazily. Grandma Shirley refuses to let me go to sleep while she works on my hand. Says I need to be awake and alert for reasons that I mustn't know. I think she just enjoys torturing me.
"Probably shock." She answers flippantly. I nod and make a guttural sound that isn't really close to anything even human.
"How did you drive yourself home?" Aunt Sidney asks, she has been hovering around since I meandered through the door.
I hesitate long enough that Grandma Shirley stops her work and looks at me queerly. "I don't know." I answer weakly.
Grandma Shirley whaps me sharply on the back of the head. "Don't lie to your aunt."
"Hey!" I snap, "I've had two head wounds in as many days, don't make it worse."
A look comes over Grandma Shirley and Aunt Sidney shrinks away into the shadows. "I'll let your loose tongue slid for now, but don't ever speak to me in that tone of voice again." I scowl darkly as she walks away. Sometimes I hate her 'I am the Alpha and Omega' attitude.
"How did you really get home, Sue?" Aunt Sidney asks again.
"I'm going to bed." I growl darkly as I walk away. Aunt Sidney is left alone in the kitchen, her meek eyes looking uncomfortable and slightly scared.
Aunt Sidney isn't the tough-as-nails type of woman like Grandma Shirley, or even me. And sometimes I dislike her for that. I wonder how she can be a vampire hunter but still flinch when someone yells in the same room as her. She is the next leader of our clan and sometimes I think that I might not want to be a part of that. But I know I'll never leave them. Them. My family. My clan.
I sleep late the next morning, once again calling in sick. But this time I really am sick, not just being lazy. My head spins and my body aches like a really bad hangover. The sunlight that I usually enjoy streams through the kitchen like knives to my brain. And for, probably, the fourth time in my life I have coffee instead of tea in the morning. Today, I just need something with a little more kick.
Grandma Shirley is still angry at me for my snarky comment last night, but I feel so terrible that I don't bother trying to smooth things over with her. Instead, I three-way call Susannah and Sahara.
"You don't sound so good." Susannah comments dryly before we call Sahara. "What'd you do last night?"
"I don't want to talk about it." I answer bluntly before switching over to the next line to dial Sahara.
Sahara answers on the fourth ring as Susannah and I listen to each other breath. "Sahara, it's Sue and Susannah." I tell her after her polite hello.
"Hi," She says, though her voice is weak and small.
"I was attacked last night." I tell them both bluntly. Sahara gasps while Susannah remains silent. I know that her blue eyes are hard and her mouth is set in a tight line.
"What happened?" Sahara asks in a voice more fitting of girl talk instead of vampire talk.
"I was lured," I pause, mostly for affect. "By a human."
"What?" Susannah finally says after it sinks into her. "Bach doesn't use humans. He hates humans."
I want to tell her that Bach might not hate me as much as she might think, but I don't. Grandma Shirley and Aunt Sidney are far too close, as well as the fact that Sahara would tell her mother in an instant who would tell her mother in another instant.
"Well, Bach didn't attack me. It was a different vampire, Ernesto." I tell them, recalling names.
"So, do you want to go hunting for him tonight then?" Susannah asks, I know she's already calculating and planning for an attack.
"Yeah, before he can kill again." I answer. "But I think he might be our killer, or at least one of them."
There's a pause on the phone. "Why?" Susannah asks.
"Because he's crazy, he knew I was a hunter but tried to kill me anyway." I tell them, I have a feeling that Sahara wants to hang up but she stays on because she wants to tell her mother.
"That doesn't pin him as one of our killers though." Susannah reasons.
"I don't know, there was just an insanity about him. Like he didn't care what happened as long as someone dies." I tell them, my voice goes distant, remembering his eyes.
"Alright," Susannah says, "Tell us what he looks like and we'll go after him tonight." Her voice is hard, she's ready and willing for a battle.
I give them the description, Susannah asks questions clarify height and asking about smaller details. Sahara is still silent and I begin to wonder if she's even there anymore. "You said there was a human?" Sahara says, so suddenly that I nearly jump. I didn't expect her to speak until we move off of the hunting topic.
"Yes, a woman. JoAnna." I tell them about her in detail. I tell them about her red hair and her green eyes as well as her love for Ernesto. "It was weird. It's like she loves him but he doesn't really care about her."
"Well, duh, he's a vampire." Susannah says blatantly. I frown, but keep my further observations and mullings to myself.
We discuss things for awhile, Sahara remains silent. Soon we're done and are preparing to hang up. "Where are we meeting tonight?" Sahara asks, surprising me again.
"Uh, any where but The Tabernacle." I respond dryly.
We decide to meet at a small coffee shop just outside of the downtown area, on the West side of town from The Tabernacle. "Alright, I'll see you tonight." We say to each other, then hang up.
A feeling of guilt washes over me as I lay the phone gently in the cradle. I purposely set the time that we were to meet farther back then dusk because I have another agenda. A personal agenda.
Bach may have saved my life last night but that doesn't excuse the fact that he lets his people run amuck. I am going to kill him tonight. I am going to kill him for those girls last night. For the brunette that died fighting. For the small girl who gave up. And for my cousin, Sally, who can no longer fight.
All those deaths are his fault. And he will pay for them. Tonight.
It doesn't take me long to find an untrained vampire. I jerk the small girl away from the scrawny boy that she has in her grip. His knees buckle and he falls against the wall, eyes big in shock. I jerk my head left and he flees.
I hold her tightly by her shirt, "I'll let you live if you tell me where Bach is." I growl close to her face. One sai is poised over her heart.
The girl nods quickly, licking her lips in a very human gesture. "Alright… Alright." She mutters, "He's at the railroad station, about two miles that way." She motions vaguely West, then stares at me with wide eyes.
I pause for a minute, debating on whether or not I should kill her now. She sees me deliberating and her eyes go wide. "You said… You said…" She murmurs to herself but she seems to have resigned herself of her fate.
With a quiet growl I throw her away from me. She was a small girl in life, death hasn't changed that. She stumbles away from me, her eyes still wide. "I'll just kill you later." I hiss at her and leave her with her big, wide eyes.
I know where the railroad station is. It was shut down several years ago since the railroads weren't used for much now a-days. It seems fitting that a dead man would be hiding in a dead railroad station. Both out dated. Both decrepit. Both useless now.
I arrive at the railroad station a few minutes later, the engines dies quietly but I don't bother to sneak. He already knows I'm here.
"Bach!" I shriek. The blood is pounding in my ears, the faces of those girls are bright behind my eyes. Sally's gurgling last breath sounds sharp in my ears. "BACH!" I scream again.
Silence answers me, I wait several seconds then, "Bach, you son of a bitch! Get the fuck out here!" I scream.
A loud sigh startles me, I whip around to find him leaning casually against my car. "You bellowed, Suzy Q?"
I snarl at him. "Bach." I hiss.
"Suzy." He answers sarcastically with a smug smile on his pale face.
"Tell me why you've let your vampires suddenly run wild before I kill you." I tell him, crossing my arms. The tips of my fingers gently touch the ends of my sai set that's hidden against my back.
Bach cocks his head to side. "What do you mean?" I see his eyes go distant, I assume he's touching bases with all his vampires. "Mira." He whispers.
I stare at him for several seconds but he only pleasantly stares back. "The girls!" I scream suddenly, the corner of his eyes tighten. I take a step forward. "The two girls that were murdered! The brunette! The small girl! Sally! Why did you destroy their lives!?" I scream. He looks at me for several seconds. But is silent. "Say something, you mother fucker! Say that you enjoyed watching them dying so that I don't feel anything when I kill you! Say that you'll massacre more people again and again! SAY SOMETHING!" I feel the blood rushing to my face, it makes my cheeks burn fiercely.
Bach sighs, a look of great sadness glides across his features. I scowl. It's only a mask. A mask to hide his amusement. "The vampire responsible for those deaths isn't me." He says in his smooth voice, a lock of dark hair falls into his electric blue eyes. He looks sexy, delicious. And I just want to break his face.
It stops me. His statement stops me like a train, but then the rage roars back to life like an untamable beast. "Bull shit." I hiss, sliding one sai out from my back, I lung for him.
Bach bounces off my car quicker then I can follow, I slam into where he was. "Don't run, you bastard!" I snarl, turning and rushing him again. He catches me easily. But it's exactly what I want him to do. I slam the blunt end of my sai into his cheek, I feel a tooth crack under the metal. He throws me away, the second sai slides out easily.
Bach grips his cheek, a snarl dribbling out of his curling upper lip. "Don't do this, Susan. You don't know everything yet."
"I know enough." I answer, I aim well as a kick catches him off guard with a chaser of the pointed end into his arm. But there isn't enough force to drive it through the muscle and out the other side. "I'm going to make you suffer like Sally suffered. Like the brunette suffered. Like the small girl suffered. Like all of your victims have suffered." I jerk the sai out of his skin, diagonal like Ernesto did last night.
His jaw tightens. "Sue, stop!" He snaps. I can see his arms muscles straining to stop me, but the anger is making me quicker then a master vampire.
"You killed them!" I hiss, bring my fist hard against his already wounded cheek. "You killed them all and I'm going to kill you for that. For them." Going down fast, I kick outward hard. My foot makes solid contact with his knee cap.
Bach screams, falling on his unhurt knee. "Stop!" He yells, I loom over him.
"Good-bye Bach." I tell him, bring my sai down hard.
But he lunges at the last second, pushing my backwards so fast that I lose my balance. I'm falling quickly, Bach is wraps his arms around my knees. I slap the ground with my hands, the impact being taken by my arms instead of my head. He takes my second of disorientation, snaking up my body and pinning down my arms with his. His lower body is pressing hard against my lower body, my legs are immobile and his arms are holding on so tight that there isn't a chance in hell for me to slip free or to not have bruises by morning.
"What? Are you going to murder me too? Like you murdered the others?" I snarl, putting my face dangerously close to his.
Bach sighs, "Don't tempt me." He murmurs and it surprises me how normal he sounds.
"Aw, do you think I'm pretty? Is that why you aren't cursing me to the same fate as yours?" I hiss. I know I'm baiting him. I know I should be trying to wiggle myself free but the anger tells me to stay. To torture him with the conscious his should have, though I doubt his does.
He looks at me blandly, "Yes, very pretty." His voice drips with sarcasm. He stares at me for nearly a minute, I merely glare back. "Will you listen to what I have to tell you now?" He asks, I scoff.
"No, I won't listen to your lies." I growl darkly.
He sighs again. "Sue, you have to listen to me. I am not responsible for the deaths of those girls."
"And my cousin?" I ask him quickly. A look comes over his face. "Even if you aren't guilty of the actual crime your vampire, an extension of you, is guilty."
"Can you blame them?" He asks quietly. "You and your family hunt is every night. You snuff out a life every night and feel nothing. How can you not expect us to feel the same?"
I gape at him for a moment. "You are unnatural. Vampires aren't in the Circle of Life. They should never be in this time period. We are setting things right."
He looks at me with distain. "And who made you God?"
It makes me pause. "You did. Or at least your race did. If your kind hadn't come into existence then we could live normal lives. You should be rotting in the ground, but instead you are in our time causing things to happen that should never be."
Bach's grip loosens, his hands are gently laying on my arms now. But I hardly even notice. "If we're so unnatural, then why do we exist? Perhaps it is our destiny to be like this." He looks down at his own hands, they look extremely pale against my skin. "If your God, your Circle of Life, didn't create us, then why are we here? Why are we the way we are?"
I shake my head. "I don't know, something went wrong. Something to create you, separate from the rest of life. Separate from us."
My statement makes him look sad for a brief second before his face hardens. "You murder us every night, we have a right to take our pound of flesh in return. I feel no pity for your cousin's death. Her life is weighed against several vampires lost by her hand."
"Vampires that should never have existed in the first place!" I snarl.
"Vampires who loved and were loved. Vampires who had people who cared for them. They were taken because of your half-wit theory of life and death." Bach growls.
"Then what gives them the right to take away life from others? I only kill the vampires that are attacking humans."
Bach scoffs, "Others of your family aren't so particular about the circumstances. Susannah, for example, attacked a couple who were celebrating thirty years together. They were harming no one, but still one died leaving the other alone in this world without his mate."
I blink in shock. "Susannah did that?" I ask quietly. "She would never. We're only supposed to attack if they're hurting someone, other then that…" I trail off, imagining living without your thirty year lover. But I shake my head away from the pain of what that must be like. "But it doesn't matter, they're still-"
"They survived on animal blood." Bach cuts through. "They hurt no one, philanthropists if you will."
"But-But others of your kind kill humans. You've killed humans." I tell him, though my logic doesn't seem as air tight as it was a few hours ago.
"Only the ones I know harm your humans." He looks at me, in his eyes I see triumph. "Such as the prostitute."
I blink at him, lost for words. "But you can't know exactly who is innocent and who is guilty."
He lightly taps my temple with his index finger. "I know." I pull away from him without realize it until he draws his hand away as if ashamed at the gentle touch.
"But others of your kind aren't so particular." I growl back, I suddenly feel stupid and that makes me angry. "The girls the other night did nothing wrong. Both were just going into college and starting their lives before they were snuffed out of existence."
A small smile curls onto his lips. "But I didn't have anything to do with those deaths, neither did my people."
I make a 'pft' noise. "There aren't any other master vampires in this area. They have to be yours."
He shakes his head, a little to the left and a little to the right. "Another master came with a small contingent of others. You met two the other night. Think about it Sue, why did Charles come between you and Ernesto if they were mine?"
I pause for several seconds, trying to think of a logical reason but only his answer is coming to mind, painfully. "Because… Because he is their friend and… and they don't like you?" I ask, even to my ears it sounds stupid.
He blinks at me slowly and gives a patient smile, similar to the smile you give a child who just can't understand. "Now, now, You know that's not true."
I frown, "But your ego, it could never handle sharing." I tell him blatantly.
Now it's his turn to blink at me. "And you know so much about my ego, how?"
I falter, "Because… Because I just do." I hesitate knowing I should quit while I'm ahead but just can't seem to shut my trap. "You're too egotistical to share, they have to be your vampires."
Bach slightly pouts out his bottom lip. "I'm afraid not. I guess you have to think slightly more of me now, Suzy Q." He says this with a faint chuckle.
"Don't call me that." I tell him automatically. Then a question dawns on me. "Why didn't you stop them from killing innocent people?" I growl, he slowly pushes himself off of me. He senses that I'm no longer a raving lunatic.
Bach looks at me, the look is plain enough. He thinks I'm stupid. "Humans aren't my responsibility. I don't particularly care if they kill a whole lot of them, personally."
I gape at him. "How could you be so heartless!?"
His electric blue eyes hold me for a moment. "If another family of vampire hunters were to come and destroy vampires, would you care enough to stop them?"
"Well… No, but-" I begin, but he cuts me off.
"No is a good enough answer. Whatever your reasoning, it will hold true for me as well. I'm no longer a human, so why should I care if they die?" He walks slowly away from me, arms out wide. "Those people are simply live stock to me, why should I care?"
I follow him, anger fizzling to life. "Because you used to be one of us! You used to have a family and friends and a child who were human."
"Ah, Suzy Q, it has been over 700 years ago. Human memories fade but vampire memories will last a life time." He chuckles at his joke and I scowl.
"You used to be a human, I was never a vampire. The situation is different." I tell him, crossing my arms over my chest.
He smiles, a crooked but unnervingly attractive smile. "But not really." He chuckles lightly again.
A horrible thought occurs to me just as he turns his back. "Bach." I say quietly. He turns, face blank in curiosity. "Would your new friends kill hunters, say two hunters?"
He cocks an eyebrow. "Most definitely," A cold chill runs through my spine. "Why do you ask?"
"My cousins, oh god! My cousins!" I reach out for him without meaning to him. He gently reaches for me, but I jerk away before we make contact. I cover my face with my hands. "Oh, god. They're going to die! Bach! My cousins will die!" I start pacing in tight circles.
"Your cousins don't even know where they are, perhaps a phone call will settle your nerves." He suggests. Bach stays rooted to the spot as I dash over to the car, my cell phone seems to have disappeared into my purse and it takes me, what feels like, ages to find it.
Finally, I find the demented thing. Susannah's number is on speed dial and I press it until my finger turns white around the nail. The phone rings several times, far more then it should. Before Susannah's voice says a perky, "Hello?"
"Susannah, thank god. Don't go-"
"Hi, who's this?" She asks, I blink.
"It's Sue. Who else do you think it is? But you can't-"
"Oh, hey, what's up?"
"I'm trying to tell you, if you'd shut the hell-"
She laughs suddenly, "I got you! Leave a message after the beep!" The phone beeps loudly in my ear, I stand there for what feels like years, letting it sink in.
Finally, I murmur quietly. "I hate your fucking voice message." Then, I disconnect.
"Perhaps the other one? Sahara, I assume." Bach suggests, still in the same spot.
I nod, sweat breaking out along my palms. I search through contacts to find Sahara's number. It rings and rings, just like Susannah's before Sahara's chirper voice tells me she isn't in and to leave a message that she'll get back to as soon as she can.
I disconnect, not leaving a message. My eyes feel hollow as I look at Bach. "She didn't answer." I tell him unnecessarily.
He sighs again, his look says that he's about to do something that he doesn't particularly want to. "I can, I suppose, take you to the visiting vampires."
I stare at him, unable to even will myself to blink. The way he phrases it makes it sound like we're going to drop in for a spot of tea or something. I nod mutely. The keys are in my hands, the sai set is back along my back.
Without touching my skin Bach takes my keys from my hand, "Perhaps I should drive?"
I nod as I try to stay numb and unthinking. But the second I think about being numb my imagination awakens. I imagine Sahara and Susannah numb for the rest of existence. I imagine their lifeless eyes looking up to the stars and their perfect necks with dainty, neat fang marks. But, as I focus on dainty fang marks, they soon become savage wounds. Susannah now has a piece of missing flesh that used to be her throat. Sahara is covered with blood, pales eyes looking up and up, as she slowly bleeds to death.
I look out the passenger window as Bach drives, a small, dry sob escapes me. But he doesn't say anything, he doesn't react to it. I appreciate that. But there is no avoiding the imagines in my head. My cousins, dead. And it's all my fault.