She hesitates a moment and then replies, “Ye are in my home. Do ye know how ye got here?”
Now I’m getting worried. “My memory’s a bit fuzzy. Sorry.”
“Ye carried a young woman into the emergency room at the LDS Hospital. She was unconscious and covered in blood. Ye were stag-gerin’ about and yellin’ incoherently. Ye frightened everyone. We took the young woman and attended to her, but ye collapsed. I thought it best nae to let the staff examine ye. So, I brought ye here and tended to ye myself.”
The girl. Yes, I remember the girl. “Is she OK?” I ask.
Moira nods slowly. “Aye, she’s fine. Some blood loss, but she’ll live. Ye did nae kill her.”
“W . . . why would I kill her?” I stammer. “What’re you talking about?”
She stares at me again. She seems to be holding some kind of internal debate. Her eyes narrow as she comes to a decision.
“Blood,” she says simply.
I look at her without understanding, blinking stupidly.
“The drink,” she says. “’Twas human blood.”
In an instant, it all comes back to me.
Michael. Rebecca. Chikah. Benjamin. The Cult. The Ritual. Every-thing.
I think I’m going to throw up.
I lurch to my feet and look around frantically for a bathroom, a sink.
Moira is at my side in an instant. She pulls me toward the kitchen. “Dinnae ruin my carpet, laddie!”
By the time I reach the sink, the nausea has passed. I lean against the sink all the same. The room is still spinning.
Moira gave me blood to drink. I drank human blood.
There’s something seriously wrong with me.
Or, to be more precise, I dinnae want to Sleep. And since I can catch a full day’s rest only once each week, abstaining could have . . . consequences. It makes me irritable. It affects my judgment. It in-creases the ever-present likelihood that I might . . . slip up.
And if I slip up, people die.
’Tis another thing that’s worrying me. I should nae be hungry! Nae even a wee bit! I Fed just after sunrise! We both did. Carl, my husband, and I consumed two quarts each just before we went to bed. ’Twas a bit of a luxury, those two quarts. One should’ve been sufficient, enough for a week in a pinch. But here I am, lying in bed beside my Sleeping husband, and all I can think of is how hungry I am, how tired I am, and how much I dreadgoing to Sleep!
I rise from bed. Carl does nae notice. To all appearances he could be dead. I slip into my dressing gown and make my way to the living room. I take several turns about the room as I try desperately to think of something else, anythingother than my hunger, my weariness, and my fear.
A scratching sound! Aye, lassie, focus on that. Someone’s at my flow-er bed again, digging it up. And I’m nigh certain I know who ’tis. That’s twice this year. I should peek out and catch . . . but, nae, ’tis the side facing the Sun.
Perhaps just a wee pint more.
I walk into the kitchen. Though nobody’s watching me, I try to keep my pace casual, walking, strolling as if I’m nae in a hurry, as if I’m nae desperate to get there. Why do I bother? There’s nary a soul to see me. Who am I trying to deceive? Myself?
I open the refrigerator, and the cold air transports the sweet fra-grance to my nostrils. To be sure, ’tis tainted by the odor of the preservative, but that cannae mask the nectar of . . .
There! Outside! Something far sweeter than the contents of my icebox!
Though I cannae smell it just yet, I can feel the general direction.
Quickly I close the refrigerator and head to the window. A cau-tious glance, while I carefully stay in the shadows, reveals nothing about the source of the evil, but it does show an overcast sky.
I shudder with relief, and my mouth begins to water. In a trice, I rush to the door and throw open the chest beside it. This is my emergency kit. I retrieve all the things I need: the bottle of heavy-duty spray-on sunscreen, the sweatpants, sweatshirt, gloves, boots, sun-glasses, cloak, and hood. In just a few seconds, I’ve applied every bit of protection. Only at this point, when I’m prepared, do I pause for a wee tick to be sure there’s still a reason to venture outside.
Aye, the evil’s still there. Sweet corruption.
I open the front door quietly so as not to alert anyone to my pre-sence. Aye, but I want to throw it open!
And the scent of pure evil washes over me. The honeyed fragrance engulfs my senses. Drool spills from my eager lips.
The familiar rage builds like a smithy furnace stoked by a bellows within me. Here! In my very neighborhood, practically on my front lawn!
Through the red haze of my wrath, I barely notice that my flower beds are indeed torn up, the destroyer having fled. I dinnae care for that. The one I Hunt now has done far worse than petty vandalism. Nae, the evil I smell can be caused only by murder and violence.
The scent turns my head to the southwest. I cannae see the source, but the direction is certain. I follow the airborne spoor across the street and to the right toward . . . Aye! That open garage! ’Tis the Mur-phys’ home. I can see two cars, neither one of them running. Now I can hear voices—hushed but emphatic voices.
“. . . my money, cabrón?”
I dinnae recognize the voice.
“Tomorrow! I’ll have it tomorrow!”
That voice I recognize. ’Tis Aaron Murphy. I dinnae know the the family well since they are nae in my ward, but Aaron’s the oldest boy in the family. He’s plays football or baseball or some other sport at the high school. I do hope he’s nae the source of the evil.
I approach the garage with all stealth, fighting hard to contain the mounting rage and the ravenous hunger.
“You said that yesterday, man. And the day before that. You been hiding from me!”
“I swear, Manny! Tomorrow!”
“You don’t get it, muchacho. I give you product. You sell it to your little friends at school. You give me my money. I give you more product. You sell it. You give me money. You get to go on making everyone think you just a good little Mormon boy. That’s how it works.”
“Not this time, cabrón! I gotta teach you a lesson. Today, I’m just gonna break your fingers.”
I round a corner of the garage and take in the whole scene. In the confined space between a compact car on the left and the Murphy fam-ily’s minivan on the right, Aaron, the all-American boy, is pinned a-gainst the larger vehicle, held there by a big Hispanic man complete with bandana, gold chains, tattoos, multiple piercings, and a nasty-looking switchblade. Manny, the thug, has one hand at Aaron’s throat. The other hand holds the knife an inch away from the lad’s eye.
“Next time I cut off one of your fingers, muchacho. Just try catching a football like . . .”
A snarl rips from my throat.
Manny releases the boy and spins to face me. He looks startled, but nae frightened. Aaron’s head snaps in my direction, but he remains rooted to the spot. Helooks horrified.
The thug’s face twists in an evil leer. “Beat it, chica. This is none of your business.”
I laugh low and menacingly. “Ach, nae, rat. Ye are my business.”
I step into the shade of the garage, safely out of the muted sun-light. I throw back my hood and pull off my sunglasses, setting them on the trunk of the sedan. I fix Aaron’s eyes with my own and say with Persuasion, “Lad, go stand over there and wait for me while I deal with this.” Aaron’s expression goes slack, and he turns obediently and walks to the far wall of the garage.
I return my gaze to the gangster, who’s staring at Aaron in amaze-ment. “Now, rat,” I say, “face me. Look into my eyes and see the hellfire that awaits ye.”
Manny looks at me, his face a mask of fury. “Listen, puta . . .”
I open my mouth wide, revealing my dripping fangs.
His brown eyes go wide, and the color drains from his face. “Madre de . . . ! ”
I advance toward him, savoring his terror as I will the honeyed sweetness of his evil blood. I want to tear this vermin to shreds . . . after I consume his life.
Still brandishing the knife in one hand, he fumbles at his breast with the other and lifts a rather large and ornate gold cross on its chain. He holds it toward me as a talisman.
I cower back, shielding my face from the crucifix.
Through my fingers, I can see Manny’s face split in a leer of tri-umph. “That’s right, zorra. Now you know who’s . . .”
I straighten up, no longer feigning fear. I shake my head slowly from side to side, laughing softly. “Ooh, did I give ye a wee moment of hope, ratty? That bonnie bit of jewelry cannae protect ye from me.”
“‘Sons of God! Brood of Light-Bearer who fell!’ That is how I would render the first half.”
The message is in plain text. The email address looks like a random mix of letters and numbers, and the email provider is one that supports anonymous accounts.
I’ve been collaborating with colleagues across the country and in the U.K., Israel, and Egyptfor more than a week. We’ve been trying to decipher the twenty-four syllables of Adamic (at least I assume it’s Adamic) that Lilith uttered at the battle at the farm. My colleagues are experts in Hebrew, Arabic, Egyptian, Greek, and Latin. We’ve been exchanging emails ever since I asked for their help.
Of course, I’ve told them I’m not at liberty to reveal the source just yet, but I’m certain it’s a language that predated all others, a protolanguage. In the beginning, some refused to collaborate on the project because I wouldn’t reveal my source, because I was being cryptic. But eventually, most couldn’t resist the lure of the puzzle. That’s something we all share in common, my colleagues and I: we can’t resist the potential, the lure of hidden knowledge.
And of course, I can’t tell my academic friends that the source is a native speaker. I also can’t tell them that the text is an outburst from a six-thousand-year-old vampire after she’d been impaled by the very spear that once pierced Christ’s side, a spear being wielded by a former Nazi assassin who is now a repentant vampire.
In other words, I can’t betray my friends.