'Vanity of Vanities' is an original work of fiction and manga plot by Moira's Fate, graciously posted on FF.net. Please do not disrespect the author by plagiarizing this work and any work of fiction by other authors for your own pride, credibility and safety!

This work is rated R.





Why Hitchhiking is Illegal in Some Parts of the World



The engine was humming loudly underneath the blaring radio, a cacophony of noise.

The car was filled with cigarette smoke so thick that the driver fondly called it the 'Cancer Chamber' for the past few days. And from behind mirrored square rimmed sunglasses, the driver was just gripping the butt of her cigarette between her slightly open lips, humming along with the music and tapping the steering wheel with her nail bitten fingers.

She was sweating even in the air-conditioning pouring out of the vents as the late summer sun penetrated the heavy fulgrin dress she wore. She could feel a thin trickle of sweat run down the back of her neck and dry, just from where her blonde hair was pulled up and off her skin.

It was yet another humid day, and she could not wait until she was home, in the dark and cold, tucked away from daylight once again.

She had been on a mission of sorts, thus warranting her a trip outside of the home she knew of at the time. A quest for food.. It was always like that, she thought. Hunting for food, like some damn Neanderthal, she thought.

She looked down at the odometer; it read exactly 75 Mph, just above the speed limit on the highway in the rural state she had called home for the past few months. There were mountains everywhere, old domed mountains, covered in greenery and stone. She had always thought that this state was much cooler in the summer than the last state she lived in. Louisiana. But the summer months had proven to be the hottest in years, and wherever the sun hit, everything died.

She giggled to herself. Wasn't that so true?

The traffic had slackened up a bit, and now she was driving without seeing any tractor-trailers or old beaten up cars. It was nice not have to weave her way through traffic, she thought.

She would home soon, and that thought kept her booted foot heavy on the gas pedal. She did not give a damn about the state police or anyone else for that matter, she just wanted to get home.

She snuffed out her cigarette in the overflowing ashtray in the dash and reached for another one when she spotted something up ahead along the road.

Hitchhikers.

It was if God had smiled down upon her, her luck had changed, maybe. Someone to talk to, and someone to take home. For food.

There were two of them, young men with heavy backpacks on their backs, straining in the sun. And at sight of her car, a thumb promptly flew into the air, beckoning aid and beckoning. She giggled again.

She tapped the signal switch and let her foot off the gas, checking her rearview for any sight of another car. Gently she steered off the road, rolling past the hitchhikers before coming to a stop down the road a bit.

She checked the rearview again, her green eyes peering over the top of her sunglasses, watching the two young men run from behind the car. She hit the button on the door and rolled down the passenger side window, letting blue smoke stream out in lazy tendrils.

"Th-th-thanks for stopping!" one of the young men panted, sweat staining his white tee shirt down the front. "Wh-wh-where are you stopping?"

"Prestonsburg. Hop in the back." she purred.





"You sure smoke a lot, don't you?"

She was clenching the filter between her teeth. She glanced at the guy sitting just behind her, the one who had opened his mouth. It had been five minutes at least, and they were already gabbing.

Sheep should stay silent.

He was seventeen, perhaps older, sporting a dark tan under his tie-dye tee shirt, and smelling of pot and sweat.

They would have to be washed first.

The other guy, the one who had asked her where she was heading nudged his companion to keep quiet. Obviously, she thought, he was the brains of the outfit. He was perhaps twenty or so, paler than his companion. His hair was dark however, falling in long curls into his blue eyes. He was handsome, muscular, and much quieter.

'He' might let me keep him.

"We've been walking for two days, you know. We never had anyone stop since we crossed the state line. You live here originally?" the tie-dye shirt said, his voice very loud and his speech slurred somewhat.

"No."

She snuffed out her cigarette and sped up.

"Peter here says that people in this state are a bunch of ignoramuses. I don' know about that, but it sure is nice that you stopped, lady."

Peter, the white shirt nudged his companion again, making the backpack in his lap slide into the floor. Peter, the white shirt bent to retrieve it when she swerved off the road, exiting the interstate on a deserted exit.

"You said you were going to Prestonsburg, miss. This is route 77."

The doors locked under the noise of the brakes as she came to a stop sign at the end of the ramp, the hitchhikers had not noticed.

"Oh, I see. You thought I was going to use 'that' exit?"

Peter nodded firmly.

"I take the back way, actually," she said pulling onto the secondary road, where few cars ever passed by.

"Miss?"

She smirked and sped down the two-lane road, tapping the volume button on the radio. Music streamed out of the speakers, drowning out any conversation.

'Tonight I am feeling like an animal, Tonight I am hungry inside, Tonight I am feeling like an animal, Tonight I'm going wild, All I want is to be with you again, All I want is to hold you like a doll, All I want is to be with you again,

With you again, just to hold you like a doll.'

Miles and miles, over hills and across streams, she drove out into the wilderness of the mountainous state. The sun was already beginning to set behind the mountains, and there was no attempt at conversation, or even to question how far she was going to take the unsuspecting hitchhikers.

As the horizon turned a bloody red, she slowed down at the end dirt road, driving slowly up into the mountains. She turned the music down again and pulled off her sunglasses, placing them on the dashboard of the car.

"I hope you're hungry."

The tie-dye shirt looked green from all the curves and said nothing.

"What do you mean?" Peter asked, his blue eyes meeting her green eyes in the rearview.

"It is late, I thought you might want to stop by my place and have some dinner. Prestonsburg is a bit out of the way, you know."

Her eyes gleamed in the dying daylight, but Peter said nothing, only nodded firmly. She smirked to herself, maneuvering the car to miss a deep dried up hole in the dirt road.

Up into the hollow, the light was fading quicker, the feet of the mountains beginning to press against the road. She hit the headlights.

More time passed, but to her, she could feel her heart begin to lighten as home came into view. The spires reaching up into the red sky, the stone shadowed deeply, hiding the whiteness and perfect symmetry of her home.

"This is a church." Peter mumbled, looking out of the car window up at the spires and the towers on either side of the fa├žade.

She stopped the car, switching the engine off, turning the headlights off as they shone on the iron front doors. She stifled a giggle and unlocked the doors, startling Peter, for he realized finally that the doors had been locked most of the way up into the hollow.

"Come now, I will introduce you to my. my teacher. He will be so pleased to meet you both." she said as she climbed out of the car, her black skirts swirling around her booted feet.

She skipped up the front steps of the church and turned to the two hitchhikers. She was finally seeing them face-to-face, and both seemed wary of following her as they hefted their packs onto their shoulders.

Peter, she noticed was quite tall, while tie-dye was much stockier and heavier set. She had not noticed that before and the fact of it made her turn her eyes back to Peter in distaste.

"Come now," she beckoned, beginning to turn back to the doors.

"I'm not sure, miss, we don't want to be any trouble," Peter said, his voice very low, hiding his hesitation with courteousness.

"Do not be silly," she laughed, glancing over her shoulder at the tall young man with curly hair, "And please, call me Sumire."





The interior of the church was very dark, but Sumire's eyes could see quite well. It was an old church, oddly misplaced in the countryside, a real find in her opinion.

It had been built by German-Catholic settlers hundreds of years ago, a small replica of the cathedrals in their homeland. It had been forgotten or abandoned or both, and left to fall into disrepair. But it suited her tastes completely. The church still held the scent of ritual and traces of God's presence.

The two young men stumbled in the door, tie-dye sneezing rudely, breaking the stale silence of the nave.

"My.My teacher and I have been studying this church for a few months now, looking for a way to restore it to its former glory." Sumire said almost in a whisper, walking up the aisle of the nave, between rotting pews. "Did you know that the stone for this small church was imported from Germany over a hundred years ago? And the iron in the spires from some of the destroyed cathedrals in Germany during the First World War?"

They said nothing, only followed her closely, their footfalls clumsy, their eyes blind in the near darkness.

"You live here? You and your teacher? In this church?" Peter asked, trying not to shiver.

It was cool in the church, despite the inescapable summer heat outside. Sumire was too thankful to be home again.

"Oh no," she giggled, "There is a cottage attached to the apse, where the priests quarters were fifty or so years ago. There is food and drink there, and clean bedding."

"Bedding?" Peter asked, bumping against his companion accidentally, tripping over a piece of pew in the aisle.

Sumire said nothing as she walked down the left transept before the altar and to an old iron side door. As she pushed it open, yellow light blinded the hitchhiker's eyes.

"Come in, but mind the step down."

The cottage was warmly lit, a large one room with curtains portioning off the back, the part of the cottage further from the wall of the church. A rough plank table set in the middle of the room, a seven-pronged candelabrum lit upon it. And on camp dishes sat warm rolls and ripe fruit. A cask of wine set in an old bucket of cool water and three tin cups set on the far end of the table.

"Go ahead, set those packs aside and pull up a stool," Sumire said smiling, moving to a grated fireplace and stoking the dying fire therein. It was too warm that time of the year for a fire, but a cold draft ran from the church and under the side door into the cottage.

Peter and his companion sat down at the table and began eating the warm rolls, finding melted butter in an old cracked china dish, helping themselves.

"Eat as much as you like, and if you want, there is water to freshen up in the back," Sumire said replacing the poker by the fireplace.

"What about you?" tie-dye asked, his mouth full of apple and bread.

Sumire nodded, "I will just have some wine. Would you pour me some, please?"

Tie-dye fumbled with the cool bottle, pulling the cork out with his teeth and sloppily pouring the red wine to the three glasses. Sumire sat down finally, in the remaining stool and smiled at tie-dye, her smile somewhat strained. Instead she glanced at Peter who was devouring the last of a pear, placing the core on a spare camp dish.

"You mentioned your teacher, is he here?" Peter asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Sumire sipped the last of her wine and set the tin cup on the table, her emerald eyes gleaming in the candlelight.

"Oh, he is probably taking a walk right now, he usually does this time of day, when it is cooler outside. These hills are very pretty, and there are old logging roads about, good walk ways, if I say so myself."

Peter nodded, and Sumire did not know if he agreed with her or just acknowledged her answer.

"Come now, if you are done, I will show you where you can clean up if you like. I am going to see if I can find my teacher outside. Just make yourself at home."





"Don't you think something is going on here, Chris?" Peter asked his friend as he pulled off his dirt tee shirt behind the curtained off area in the cottage.

"What do you mean, Pete?" Chris, the tie-dye tee shirt asked, pulling off his boots as he sat on the edge of a narrow cot in the corner.

Peter went to the old washtub; dipping the towel Sumire had given him in the cool water. He washed his unshaven face and arms, looking at his rippling reflection in the water's surface.

"Doesn't she, Sumire, seem kind of weird?"

Chris chuckled, standing to move to the washtub and wash himself as well. "I don't know, I think she's kinda pretty, don't you? I wonder how old she is?"

Peter could not help but smile at his friend. Chris never thought the worst of people, and Peter could only attribute it to Chris's somewhat simple mind.

"She is pretty, I guess. A bit too pale though. She must be about twenty or twenty-two. But that's not what I'm thinking of, Chris."

"I don't think she is a bad person. Did you notice that she hasn't lit up all the while we've been here? She was really huffing those cigarettes in the car. I bet her teacher or whatever doesn't like her smoking."

"Maybe." Peter mumbled, wiping his back the best he could, lost in thought. "Maybe there is no teacher and she lives here by herself."

"What is her teacher's name again? Did she even tell us?"

Peter nodded, "No. That's another strange thing too."





When Sumire returned to the cottage, she informed her guests that her teacher would be back shortly, but would not come to the cottage. Instead, she insisted that they settle in for the night, the skies were foreboding, or so she said.

"He says that he can smell rain in the air, and that is usually the best indication that we are due a bad storm."

Peter sighed.

"How old are you Sumire? Are you seeing anyone?" Chris asked as he filled his tin cup again with more wine. Peter noticed that Chris had been drinking quite a bit since Sumire had returned from outside.

Sumire laughed, her green eyes flashing. "Its not all that nice to ask a girl's age. But no, I am not actually 'seeing' anyone, I do not have the time really, or the interest. But. I am willing to try it out."

Chris chuckled and Peter knew that his friend was nearly drunk. Chris had little tolerance to alcohol, and would usually avoid it. But Peter thought it was the fact that Sumire was attractive and thought that perhaps Chris thought if he had some alcohol in his system he would be a little more forward, as if he was not forward already.

It was growing later and later and by perhaps eleven thunder was rolling far off in the distance. Chris had fallen asleep, his head resting on his folded arms upon the table.

"Will he be alright?" Sumire asked, a kind smile on her face.

"Sure. I'll unroll his sleeping bag and throw him in. You don't mind if he takes up a space on the floor?"

Sumire nodded and stood up, stoking the fire once more. Peter went about moving his heavy headed friend and taking his sleeping roll off his backpack and placing it near the fire.

By the time the first raindrops pelted against the old tiled roof the cottage, Sumire had disappeared once again, leaving Peter alone with his sleeping friend. Peter, no matter how he wanted to, could not seem to will himself to lie down and sleep. He could not get over the feeling that he was in a strange, and perhaps dangerous situation.

Sumire had disappeared into the church, leaving the side door open, a draft of cool air circulating into the cottage. She had taken no light with her and Peter wondered if she had gone to speak with her teacher. She claimed to have heard her teacher moving about in the church, but Peter had heard nothing.





One o'clock, by Peter's watch, and still Sumire had not returned. Peter moved from the table to the door to the outside. He pushed it open to get a face full of rain water streaming off the roof. He ran quickly out the door and into some bushes he saw in a flash of lightning just beyond sight of the cottage. Shivering in the cold rain, Peter drained his bladder and rushed back to the cottage.

Even though Peter had hurried, the rain had soaked his curly hair, straightening it to fall to his chin and soaked his jeans and tee shirt. And as he closed the door to the cottage, he felt the thunder rumble the broken tile floor under his boots. But as the roar of thunder began to fade, he heard something that made him turn quickly. It was a cry.

Peter's body was poised to move. He could have sworn that he had heard Sumire cry out, but he wasn't sure. He stared at the open side door and the darkness beyond. Hastily, he glanced at Chris; he was still sleeping soundly on the floor, beginning to snore.

Peter waited.

Another cry, distant and somewhat muffled.

Peter moved, running to the side door, not thinking to grab a candle. He ran into the church, lightning flashing in the distance, illuminating the cracked and broken stain glass windows, portraying the resurrection of a German looking blonde Christ with an equally blond Virgin awestruck by her son's revival from death.

Peter scanned the church in flashes of lightning, seeing no movement. He waited again, narrowing his eyes.

Another cry, closer this time.

Peter moved to the altar, climbing up two steps.

And suddenly falling down ten more.

Peter landed on his side after rolling down a set of filthy stone steps. He could not imagine where he was or how he had gotten there, but another cry, closer than ever before, jolted his senses. He figured he must be in a crypt of sorts under the altar. He remembered from somewhere some old churches had such things contained in the church.

It was almost pitch dark at the bottom of the steps, but as Peter narrowed his eyes once again, he could make out a faint light at the end of a low tunnel. He begin creeping along the stonewall, closer to the light. Doubtless Sumire was there, and perhaps injured as Peter was. He knew he had bruised his sides during the fall and perhaps cracked a rib on the edge of the stone steps.

Another cry, closer, somewhere at the end of the tunnel. Peter bent lower as the tunnel narrowed considerably. There had to be a room on the other end, the source of the light.

Peter took a stale breath, inhaling the scent of death and decay and nearly choking. He stepped into the lit room and immediately pressed his back against the wet and moldy wall at the visage of what assaulted his eyes.





Sumire saw Peter out of the corner of her glistening emerald eye and smirked. He was standing behind her in the ultimate expression of surprise.

The trap had been sprung.





There was only one sarcophagi in the crypt, opened slightly, the white bones that should have been there, nothing but dust. On the lid were two figures, intertwined in the most sensuous of poses.

Peter recognized Sumire immediately and realized somewhat sheepishly, that she had not been crying out of pain, but ecstasy it seemed. Her dress had been open by some invisible set of buttons or by a zipper for it was open from the neck down the front, revealing the palest, purest flesh Peter had ever seen. Her hair had fallen down from the ribbons that had been holding it up on the back her head and cascaded down in thick golden tresses to the middle of her back. But what caught Peter's eye almost immediately, the reason why he had pushed himself against the wall was what he saw on her long ivory neck.

Blood. More blood that Peter could believe to have come from such a small wound. It was running down her neck to her chest, in between her breasts and down her belly. But she did not seem injured in the least, she seemed to be thrilled and aroused by the fact she was bleeding so much.

The next thing Peter saw was two pale hands, long fingered and claw like gripping her shoulders, the wrists crossing Sumire's back in a sturdy embrace lifted her and released her as they made love. Long strands of shimmering black hair fell across her neck, as a set of handsomely sculpted lips covered the wound on Sumire's neck and drank.

"Oh my God." Peter choked.

A pair of silver eyes peered at Peter from over Sumire's bare shoulder, penetrating Peter with a dagger like quality.

Slowly, as if studying Peter in fascination, the man, Peter realized, who had been feeding on Sumire, slowly raised his head and straightened his back. Sumire groaned as the man lifted her off his lap and set her gently on the lid of the sarcophagi. There she sat, watching with rapt attention as the man straightened his clothes and stood.

Peter scanned the man, noting his clothing. This man wore a long black coat, seemingly made of the same material as Sumire's dress, so black that it did not seem to be something made of earthly material. The coat was so long, Peter noticed that it almost appeared to be a long dress, but Peter knew he was mistaken for he saw the ends of the his trousers gathered loosely about the tops of the man's heavy black boots.

"So this is one of our guests?" the man said, his voice as cold and deep as an old river.

Sumire nodded, gathering her open dress up around her, hiding her full breasts.

Peter shivered, his eyes moving from Sumire to the man's shadowed face. The man stepped forward and Peter found himself dumbstruck and frozen to the spot.

He realized he was looking into the face of the most beautiful person he had ever seen. It mattered not that this face was that of a man's, for this man's skin was as pale and perfect as silver and his eyes were of the same substance. His hair was as black as his coat, only silkier and shorter, flowing past his shoulders. All of this man's appearance and overwhelming presence instilled only thoughts of beauty in Peter's brain.

Peter's mind melted from the frost of awe and began working again. He felt his body relax, out of fear and resignation.

He was not looking upon the face of any regular man, but the beauty and mystique of the embodiment of death.





Peter woke slowly, his mind so empty of rational thought, that he did not understand what he was seeing at first as he blue eyes focused on one location.

It was Sumire, embraced once again, standing at the tunnel entrance of the crypt, her beautiful, pale face and green eyes gazing at Peter.

"My love. My clever darling." he heard that deep and cold voice whisper inside the stale crypt.

Peter watched Sumire smile and he closed his eyes. He could feel his life force ebbing from his body, pooling under his back and head where he lay, inside the sarcophagi. He had been watching Sumire and her 'teacher' through a wide crack in the stone tomb.

But as Peter tried to move, he realized that he was weighed down by something in the dark of the sarcophagi.

Chris was lying on top of him, his friend's face pressed against his bare chest. And Peter knew that his friend was already gone for his friend's body was colder than ice.

Peter's eyes moved slowly to the crack again, watching as Sumire and her teacher kissed one last time, before the light faded.

They had gone, and so had Peter from the very world.





The storm had passed quickly as Sumire stepped outside, running her fingers through her hair in the cool breeze.

"I think summer is over. Gabriel." she whispered, feeling her lover's body against her back.

It was late yet, plenty of more hours before dawn. There would be plenty of time to put miles between the church and them, she thought.

Sumire giggled and skipped down the steps to the car. She opened the driver's side door and reached under the steering wheel for the trunk release button. When she closed the driver's side door, she watched as Gabriel sealed the doors, his hand raised in incantation, his perfect lips moving slowly, speaking ancient words.

Sumire smiled, walking to the back of the car, lifting the trunk and peering inside. Her hand bumped against the plastic bundle containing the true owner of the car and found the straps to her knapsack. She laughed aloud as she slammed the trunk shut, throwing her knapsack over her shoulder.

She stepped backward from the car a few paces and closed her eyes, whispering under her breath. The car quietly and unabashedly caught fire and began to melt, producing no smoke.

"I smell cigarette smoke."

Sumire opened her eyes, biting her lip ashamedly.

"I thought I told you that cigarettes are bad for you, Sumire."

Sumire said nothing.

"I am going to have to punish you again, you know that."

Sumire smiled and grasped Gabriel's hand, her master and lord and lover standing next to her, watching as the glass windows melted into liquid crystal.

"I know."

Gabriel tugged on Sumire's hand gently and together they walked from their temporary home to disappear into the darkness.





To be continued.

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