Monday, March 23, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Chip vs Marion

Marcus had stopped me completely where Marion's goading had failed utterly. I was amazed at the attraction I still felt for Marcus, even after what he had done to me. “Shalimar tells me you’re leaving us. Is that true?”

I spoke bitterly. “I have absolutely no reason to stay here.”

My head turned as Marion roared with laughter. “Woah! Watch it, Marcus! Wouldn’t want Shalimar to know you’ve goen sweet on the new girl!”

Marcus reddened, or rather turned a shade of ash—vampire blushing. “What makes you think Shalimar would care?”

Marion snorted. “We all know, buddy. About you and Shalimar.”

“Oh, that.” Marcus had assumed control. “Can I help it if I am the only male among the chosen that can satisfy her needs?”

“That’s it.” Marion stalked toward us, pulling off his coat and rolling up his sleeves. “We’re gonna have it out, pal, just you and me.”

Chip Hyland stepped directly between the two men. He held a shotgun over his head to keep it out of the water as he came onto the bank. “I’m gonna ask you folks one question, and you’d better answer fast. Where’s Pauline Raintree?”

“Oh, Mr. Hyland!” I gushed. “Thank goodness you’ve come!”

He looked at me sideways. “You have me at a disadvantage, ma’am.”

“It’s me! I’m—” I realized Hyland wouldn’t recognize me because of my new appearance. “I need your help too,” I managed to say.

“Well, I’ll see to that presently.” Hyland first eyed Marcus, then Marion. “Which one of you will tell me about Pauline Raintree?”

“I’ll leave that dubious honor,” said Marcus, grabbing me by my wrist, “to Marion.”

“Me?”

“Yes. In your own particular idiom.” Marcus tugged on my arm. “We’ll watch from over here. Hope he wasn’t a friend of yours,” Marcus whispered in my ear. He gripped my wrist tightly with his hand, a steel vice.

“You a vampire?” Hyland asked Marion.

Marion smiled, bared his teeth, and ran at Hyland. Hyland’s rifle sounded twice, knocking Marion to the ground. Marion stood up, dusting himself off.

Hyland glanced over the rifle, then pitched it in the direction of the bog. “Well, okay then. Come on over here. Let’s have this thing out. Just you and me. If you can handle getting those dandified duds dirty.”

“Oh, I can handle it, cowboy,” Marion said. “Looks like you’ll put up a good scrap before I kill you.”

“Wish I could say the same about you,” said Hyland.

“No more witty repartee! God, I hate you guys and your snappy patter!” Marion lunged forward and both men fell off the bank into the swamp. Both men disappeared underwater.

Marion surfaced first, holding Chip’s head under the surface. I tried to start forward to help Chip, but Marcus held my wrist firmly. “We don’t want to be unfair, Pauline. One-on-one.” I watched as Hyland’s arm flailed vagrantly. Marion fell back into the goo.

Hyland emerged, gasping for air. Suddenly, Marion shot out of the swamp like a bullet, a huge bat with slime oozing from his wings. Marion arched and swooped toward his target. Hyland reached into the water and pulled up the same gun he had tossed there seconds before. He lifted it at precisely the right moment, and Marion flew into its butt. The vampire slid into the murky water again.

This time, Hyland seized its head. Wings flapped furiously, yet Hyland held on. The wings de-solidified into mist, and by the time Hyland had refocused onto his target, Marion had become substantial on the branch of a cypress tree in his human form.

“That crap tastes awful!” he exclaimed. “I’ll do you for that!” Marion looked pointedly at Marcus. “You wanna give me a hand here?”

Marcus shook his head. “You’re doing wonderfully. I wouldn’t want to interfere.”
“Don’t let him hurt Mr. Hyland!” I said. “Shalimar really told me I could go. I don’t want anyone to be hurt because of me.”

Marcus laughed. The two men began to beat each other again, each with a dazed look on his face. Hyland leveled Marion with a solid punch to the vampire’s jaw. Marion fell forward into the murk. “No real problem there, Pauline,” Marcus said. “No problem at all.”

Chip slogged onto the bank. “Okay,” he pointed tiredly at Marcus. “You’re next.”

Marcus bowed graciously. “I have no wish to fight you now. You’re tired. Maybe later. For now,” he released my wrist and pushed me in Hyland’s direction, “to the victor, the spoils.” Marcus slowly faded into mist and disappeared.

“Vampires!” Chip looked around for his hat briefly, then gave it up for lost. “They never tell you what you need to know!” He looked sternly in my direction. “Well, are you one of them? Are you going to attack me too? I don’t hold with hitting women, but we’ll figure something out.”

Now, lest this narrative sound too predictable with the past line and what immediately followed it, let me suggest two things. Firstly, I really didn’t have any intention of attacking Hyland, but he was the first living, breathing human who smelled of blood that I had come in touch with since my transformation. Secondly, remember that I had not yet eaten. Before I could control myself, I was all teeth and fangs, and pouncing at Mr. Hyland!

“Not again!” Hyland muttered. I wondered how he would rid himself of his vampire problem, and still not hit me.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

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