Monday, April 6, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Lab Work

Marie’s lungs did not hurt quite as much when she finally came to. The horse hair sofa she reclined on scratched her, and it annoyed her that it would disturb her sleep. When her eyes flickered open, she found Doyle sitting over her solicitously, a glass of brandy in hand. She shook her head. “No, it will burn going down.”

Doyle’s face relaxed visibly. “I am glad you have decided to come back to the land of the living. Both you and Mr. Hyland had me worried.”

“Where is Mr. Hyland now?”

“Strong as an ox, that man. Only could keep him about fifteen minutes before he had to wander off to find the others and tell them about Aunt Polly. Is her vampirism true?"

“As far as I could tell.” Marie sat up and discovered that there weren’t quite as many little black dots dancing in front of her eyes as before. “The vampires have reduced one of our number, certainly.”

A voice from behind the sofa spoke softly. “To lose one to the vampires is to lose too many.” Marie saw the man with white hair who had helped her escape from Shalimar before.

“Benjamin, isn’t it? Why are you here?”

“Father Stewart sent me to look after you. He felt my abilities might be useful to you without your magic. I tried to convince him that you were just as useful without it. You are very resourceful.” Benjamin said it as a statement, as if he knew the many long years of her life had trained her to be that way.

“I can get by.” Marie stood up, straight and tall. “Doyle, where is Simpson?”

An explosion from the room next to theirs answered her. Doyle muttered under his breath, “Playing with noxious chemicals, no doubt. Frankly, I think all this vampire business has unhinged him. He seems to be puttering about in there for no apparent reason, and he’s been at it for almost a day straight.”

Marie took the brandy from Doyle and sipped it. “I’m sure he’s up to something constructive. You said the others were at Miss Pettijohn’s?”

“It’s our unofficial headquarters now,” Benjamin informed.

Marie wondered what Miss Pettijohn had to say about that, but the twinkle in Benjamin’s eyes told her that Miss Pettijohn was pliant in Benjamin’s hands.

“I’m off now. There is much to be done. I could use an escort though.” Marie started to rise off the couch.

“I’m your man,” said Doyle, extending a helpful hand to her. “And your doctor.” He steadied her, then knocked on Simpson’s door. “Simpson, we’re off to the school. Do you want to come?”

“With the vampires out looking for us tonight? Not likely,” the muffled voice came from behind the door. “I’ll be fine here.”

“Suit yourself.” Doyle shook his head. “I can’t just leave him alone.”

“I’ll stay,” said Benjamin. “If you arrive with Miss LaVeau, I’m sure that Father Stewart cannot fault me. He wouldn’t want any of our number to be solitary.”

“Just make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy while I’m out,” said Doyle. He and Marie made their way into the street.

Benjamin figured they had two hours before evening fell. Plenty of time to make their way safely to Miss Pettiohn’s without undue interference from vampires.

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