16. Being the Chronicles of Abby Normal, Nosferatu
Well, that was dramatic. Ronnie is all crying and cowering in the other room because I drank a little of her blood. Fuck's sakes, you mopey emo-toy, cowboy the fuck up, you have quarts! What did she expect, she got to kill me, that's not free? I'm not like some easy death slut who lets you kill her for nothing, I am nosferatu, bee-yotch. That shit has a price. Her blood totally tastes like zit cream, too. I almost hurled.
I know, trs cool, non? So, now that I am a dark and beautiful creature of unspeakable evil, I think I'm going to start a pay-subscription blog. Except I can only, like, advertise darkness and unspeakable evil, because I'm totally starting from the beginning on the beauty. First, all my tattoos are totally gone. Gone! Like wiped off. After I succumbed to the dark gift by taking a whole bottle of the Motherbot's sleeping pills, Ronnie hid me under a pile of blankets and stuffed animals in her room, and when I awoke at sundown and crawled from my sepulcher of Carebears and Muppets and whatnot, all my tats totally wiped off. Like the ink was pushed out on top of my skin. Now Ronnie has an Epileptic Elmo with more of my ink on him than I have. And my piercings healed up. My bars and rings are all in the carpet.
Boobs? Still pathetic. I had so hoped to swoop down on Foo and totally flash my awesome vampyre cleavage on him. You know, like put on a bustier and really squish the girls out the top, then be all: BAM! "Check it out, Foo. Cower before killer dcolletage, and beg me to let you rub your handsome ninja face on it." But no! Now he'll be all, "Oh, it looks like you dropped a couple of dimes down your shirt, vamp child. Can I help you with those?"
So I suffer.
And you can't get implants. I saw what happens when the Animals' blue hooker turned vampyre. You wake up and your implants are on the floor and you're all, "Hey, I blew like a hundred strangers to get those." I'm only estimating. I'm sure the number of strangers will vary depending on prevailing suck and surgical rates in your area. (You acquire arcane medical knowledge when your mother is a nurse.) You can't have stuff removed either, you know, if that might be needed.
Even my makeup is ruined from where Ronnie tried to smother me with a pillow, so that's going to take like an hour to fix. I had heard that sometimes even when you overdose on a whole butt-load of drugs, you don't always die because your heart won't stop, which is why you're supposed to put your head in a plastic bag. But I didn't want to because I had done Cleopatra eye makeup that was trs elegant so I would look hawt for my resurrection. So Ronnie was supposed to put her hand over my mouth and nose, just until I stopped breathing, then like fix my lipstick if it smeared. Because otherwise I'd be all girlfriend in a coma for weeks while the Motherbot whined about how she couldn't unplug me because of her guilt for treating me like an assbag and how she had never appreciated my dark complexity and inner beauty and whatnot, and I have too much shit to do for that.
But Ronnie didn't even wait for me to pass out. I had just taken the pills with some Sunny D (because the nosferatu love us some irony), and I laid down on the floor like we had planned, so Ronnie could just roll my body under the bed to hide me from the deadly rays of the sun and Mom. So I'm grieving for the loss of my mortality and whatnot, when Ronnie, like, just throws a pillow on my face and sits on it. And I'm all, "Wait, wait, mmphff, mmphf."
And then she burned one-right in my face-one of those foul, vegan farts-because she's been a vegan ever since she had head lice and we shaved her head. (I don't know why. Something about garlic and parasites. She's insane.) 'Kayso, I decided that I could wait to receive the dark gift, and that Ronnie would have to die as soon as I got her off me. So she, like, burns another one! And she's skinnier than me. I don't know how she could even have it in her. And she's laughing so hard that she falls off of me and I make my move.
'Kayso, I'm chasing her around the house, going, "I'm going to peel off your skin and make it into boots and step in dog shit with them," and other basic super-villain threats, and then things got all wiggly and the last thing I remember is I walked into the sliding glass doors to the balcony and kind of bounced off. And so tragically, I died young, and no one was there to grieve for me or shed tears for me or kiss my cold, lifeless lips and whatnot.
But now I'm undead awesome. I think with practice, I will make a super, super-villain, and really, I'm okay with that, because there won't be any student loans like there would have been with my other career choice of tragic romantic poet.
'Kayso, now I must fix my makeup and pick an ensem and then wander the lonely night, searching for the Countess and the vampyre Flood, and maybe drop by the love lair to totally overwhelm Foo with my haunting and eternal but still small-chested beauty.
Kthxbye. Being immortal rocks! I can type like demon speed! Fear me! L8z.
The Emperor and the men shared a submarine sandwich on a bench by Pier Nine in the bright noonday sun as they watched a dark knife of a yacht glide into dock. She was just short of the length of a football field, all black, with stainless-steel trim-what the Emperor imagined a star-ship might look like if it were driven by sails. The sails on her three stainless-steel masts were mechanically furled into black carbon fiber shrouds, and the curved windows of her cockpit and cabin were blacked out. There were no crewmen on the deck.
In all his years on and around the sea, the Emperor had never seen anything like it.
Bummer flattened his ears and growled.
"Easy, little one, it's only a sailing ship, and a beautiful one at that," said the Emperor, although he thought it quite strange that there was no crew on deck to secure the mooring lines. A ship of that size, and more important, of that expense, would usually have half a dozen or more tying her up, but once parallel with the dock, attitude jets along the sides opened in the hull and gently pushed her into the dock. Jets on the far side pushed back so she stopped within six inches and hovered there, the jets firing just as needed to keep her from drifting. Three hundred feet of steel and carbon fiber, probably over twelve hundred tons, parked as easily and somewhat more smoothly than a Mini Cooper at a strip mall.
Bummer ran to the edge of the breakwater and let loose with machine-gun volley of yapping, which translated, "Bad boat, bad boat, bad boat, bad boat."
A barking fit from his bug-eyed companion was nothing out of the ordinary, and normally the Emperor would have let it pass with a calming word, but there was still half a submarine sandwich to be eaten, and something had to be very much amiss for Bummer to leave the scene of a sandwich.
Now Lazarus sniffed the chill wind coming off the Bay and whimpered, and tossed his head, then looked back at the Emperor, which translated from dog to, "Smells undead, boss."
The Emperor didn't understand what his companions were saying to him, but he suspected. He just wasn't ready to hear it. It had only been a few hours since the two police inspectors had dropped him off at the St. Francis Yacht Club, where the members allowed him and the men the use of the outer showers, and one of the members had purchased this lovely sandwich and presented it to them in thanks for their service to the City. Only an hour since he'd actually managed to straighten his neck out, after spending the better part of a night upside-down in a barrel. And only now, after a walk along the waterfront and a good meal, was the pain in his knees and shoulders starting to subside. He wasn't ready to go back into battle.
"I am a selfish old man," he said to the men. "A coward, worried for my own comfort, when my people are threatened. I am afraid." But even as he said it, he was rising on his creaky knees, pushing himself up on the walking stick he'd retrieved only this morning from the Yacht Club, where he'd left it for safekeeping. The handle was carved out of ivory into the shape of a polar bear, and it fit the Emperor's hand like it had been made for him, although it had been a gift from a nice young man named Asher, who owned the secondhand store in North Beach, but that's another story. He wished there had been a blade in it, like the cane young Asher carried. Alas, he would have to face the black ship with only a stick, a sandwich, and his intrepid furry companions.
He puffed himself blowfish style and headed up the dock, Bummer and Lazarus following along behind him, ears lowered, trailing a two-part growling harmony. A few people had gathered along the fence at the breakwater, and were pointing to the great ship. It wasn't so unusual that one might bring his day to a full halt, but if you were in the middle of a run or a brisk walk and needed a reason for a pause, the black ship would certainly fire the imagination long enough for you to catch your breath.
Once at the ship, the Emperor was unsure of what to do. There was really no reason beyond Bummer's behavior to justify boarding her. And this ship was not of his city, therefore he could not claim dominion over it. He could hear the attitude jets firing just under the water, sporadically, to keep the ship in place. It was only a step, albeit a long step, and he'd be standing on the deck at her prow. Perhaps, having made the leap, a further course of action would occur to him. He backed up on the dock to take a run at it, or as much of a run as his advanced age and boiler-tank bulk would allow him, but as he announced "two" on his count-down to launch, a tanned face surrounded by a tangle of blond dreadlocks popped up over the rail of the cockpit and a young man called, "Irie, mi crusty uncle, bringing us the jammin' grinds, yeah? I and I tanks ye colossal, but please to be waiting on the dock."
And the Emperor stopped. Bummer and Lazarus even stopped growling and sat and turned their heads in the manner of a doggie listening for a "food" word amid a recitation of The Iliad.
The young man vaulted over the black cowling of the cockpit and landed on the lower deck, his bare feet barely making a thump. He was lean and muscular, tanned a caf au lait color, with a tattoo of a humpback whale on his right pectoral muscle. He wore board shorts, despite the chill Bay air, a gold ring in his nose, and a series of them chasing down the rim of each ear. His dreadlocks fanned out around his head and shoulders as if they might be sun serpents looking for a way to escape.
He leapt the gap to the dock, dazzled a blindingly white grin, and snatched the remains of the sandwich out of the Emperor's hand. "Ah, Jah's love on ye, Uncle, bringing de rippin' grinds to I'n'I after so long at sea."
Bummer barked and growled. The Rasta-blond had their sandwich.
"Ah, me doggie, dreadies," said the Rasta. "Jah's blessings on ye." He knelt and scratched Bummer behind the ears.
The stranger smelled of coconut oil, weed, and the undead, and Bummer was going to bite him as soon as he was finished having his ears scratched.
"I'n'I be Pelekekona Keohokalole. Call him Kona, for short. Pirate Captain and lion of the briny science, don't cha know?"
"I am the Emperor of San Francisco, protector of Alcatraz, Sausalito, and Treasure Island," said the Emperor, who couldn't bring himself to be impolite to the smiling stranger, despite the black ship. "Welcome to my city."
"Ah, many tanks, Bruddah. Much respek on you, yeah? But you can't be going on that Raven ship, no. She kill you, brah. Automatic-kine kill. Dead, dead, too. Not walkin' around dead like them below."
"It goes without saying," said the Emperor.
The rats had been up and moving for about an hour when Foo heard the key in the front door. He put the soldering iron he was using in the wire holder and was turning toward the door when she was on him. He felt his vertebrae crack as her legs wrapped around him and he went over backward. Something caught the back of his head and something wet and coppery was shoved into his mouth: tongue.
Panic vibrated through him and he felt he might suffocate, but then the smell: a mix of sandalwood perfume, clove cigarettes, and caff latte. Amid the panic, he'd sprung a first-rate erection, which he thrust against his attacker in defense.
She pushed away and twisted up a handful of his shirt-front as he gasped for breath.
"Rawr!" she rawred.
"I missed you," said Foo.
"Your suffering has only begun," Abby said. She wore a red tartan miniskirt over a black leotard with a low swooping neckline, a spiked dog collar, and her lime-green Converse Chuck Taylors, which she sometimes referred to as her "forbidden love Chucks" for no reason that he could ever figure out.
"You're kind of crushing my ribs."
"That is because I am nosssssss-feratu and my powers are legion and stuff! Trs cool, huh?"
Foo realized then that she had actually done it-she had somehow managed to change herself into a vampire. Her nose, eyebrow, and lip rings were gone, the piercings healed. The spider tattoo on her neck was gone as well. "How?" he asked, immediately trying to calculate her odds of survival. He'd talked to her yesterday on the phone and he was sure she would have mentioned the transition if she'd made it already, so she was in her first twenty-four hours. She might still be one of the ones who went insane and self-destructed, and even though Abby was short neither on insanity or self-destruction, it didn't mean he shouldn't try to save her.
She kissed him again, hard, and as nice as it felt, he was hyper aware of whether she had broken the skin on his lips, or hers. So far, so good. She pushed him back, but then caught the back of his head again so it didn't bang the floor. She actually seemed a little more considerate now that she was dead, although not that much quieter.
"Be patient, my love ninja, I will use you like the delicious manga-haired man-whore that you are, but first we have to try out my powers. Let some of the rats out of their cages and I will command them with my vampire psychic thoughts. I'll see if I can get them to clean the kitchen."
Okay, maybe they weren't out of the insanity woods quite yet, Foo thought. He said, "Yes, and then we'll see if we can get bluebirds to tie a ribbon in your hair."
"Snark not, Foo! You must obey me! I am the Countess Abigail Von Normal, queen bitch of the night, and you are my groveling sex slave!"
"Are you a countess or a queen? You said both."
"Shut up, grommet, before I suck you dry!"
"Okay," said Foo. A wise man picks his battles.
"Not that way, Foo. I mean that I will dominate you and you will do my bidding!"
"Which will be different from any other day, how?"
"Cease your banality and nerdardious questions, Foo. You are totally harshing my heady power over the night."
"It sounds like you bought a flashlight."
"That's it. I am going to beat your ninja ass." She leapt off of him and made the "crouching tiger, rip your heart out" kung-fu posture that everyone who has seen a martial arts movie knows.
"Wait! Wait! Wait!"
"'Kay," said Abby, relaxing to the much less dangerous "slouching tiger chillin' with a bag of Cheetos" stance, which is known by all who have ever snacked.
"You need to feed, get your strength up first," said Foo. "You're a vampire noob. You need to grow into your powers."
"Ha," said Abby. "You speak like a mortal who can't possibly grasp the depth of the dark gift. I jumped over a car on the way here. And I totally ran faster than the F train. My Chucks are still warm with residual speediness. Go ahead, feel them. Lick them, if you must. Even now I can see this aura thing around you, which is like bright pink, and doesn't go with your fly hair and manly bulge."
Foo looked down. Yes, his bulge was betraying him. He said, "You should take it slow, Abby."
"Oh yeah, watch this!" In an instant she was across the loft at the kitchen counter, and in another instant she had shot back across the living room and hit the plywood covering the windows.
There was nothing Foo could do. She might have lifted the couch, leapt up fifteen feet, and grabbed the open ceiling beams, or even turned to mist, if she'd figured out how to do that, but what she had decided to do to show her powers was blast through the quarter-inch plywood and land catlike on the street below. And that would have been badass, to be sure.
What Abby didn't know was that while she'd been gone, the window guy had called, and he wouldn't be able to come out to fix the windows for two weeks, so Foo had replaced the quarter-inch plywood with three-quarter-inch plywood, and instead of it just being tacked at the corners with small nails, he had screwed it down with stainless-steel screws, so as not to leave any vapor gaps for the rats to make an escape.
Foo cringed and covered his eyes.
She was fast, and preternaturally strong, but ninety pounds of vampire is still only ninety pounds.
Did she hit the plywood Wile E. Coyote style, then slide down? Wah-wah-wah. Oh no.
She hit the plywood, which bent precipitously, then splintered a bit before springing back and rocketing her all the way across the loft to the back wall, and there, she made a petite Goth girl impression in the sheet rock before falling forward, flat on her face, and saying, "Fucksocks," into the rug.
"You okay?" asked Foo.
"Broken," said Abby into the rug.
He knelt over her, afraid to turn her head to see what damage she might have done. "What's broken?"
"I'll get you some blood out of the fridge. You should heal pretty fast."
"'Kay," said Abby, still face-down, not having moved since the initial impact. "Don't look at me, okay?"
"No way," said Foo, already in the kitchen. He took one of the plastic pouches of blood from the fridge and worked it back and forth. "Just a second. Don't move, Abs, you might have broken bones." He quick-stepped into the bedroom, grabbed a capped syringe off the cabinet where he kept the chemicals, flipped off the cap, and injected the sedative into the bag.
"Here you go, baby. Just drink this and you'll be fine."
Ten minutes later he heard someone coming up the stairs and realized that Abby had forgotten to lock the door.
Jared bounded into the loft, stopped when he saw Foo kneeling over the prostrate Abby, who had a sizable pool of blood around her head, and began screaming.
"Stop screaming!" barked Foo. "It's not her blood."
Jared stopped screaming. "What did you do to her?"
"Nothing, she's fine. Would you move the maze off the bed and help me get her in there?"
Sometime during the debacle, Abby's skirt had flipped up and Jared pointed at an oblong lump that ran across her bottom and partly down her leg under the black leotard.
"What's that? Did she poop herself?"
"No," said Foo, wishing he didn't know what it was, but he had already checked for himself. "It's a tail."
"Yeah," said Foo.