Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Meet Vampiric Aunt Polly

I didn’t enjoy the council of war much, but it’s difficult to enjoy such things when you are trapped in a circle of religious symbols and artifacts especially designed to keep your kind at bay. The cross at the head of the circle was particularly glaring and made me, I sadly confess, cranky and irritable. Forte seemed ecstatic about my capture, which had the equally undesirable effect of making me cranky and irritable at him.

Father Stewart was saddened by my presence. He was affected the most by it, although the look of sympathy on Miss Armstrong’s face as we sat in her room was almost too much to bear.

“I’m sorry, Polly,” Father Stewart said. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

“I still don’t get why you guys keep saying Polly. You don’t know this is Polly for sure. This looks like your standard vampire babe to me, and I say we off her.” Forte, of course, was speaking, full of enthusiasm for the expertise of his profession.

“That’s quite enlightened of you, Forte,” Broadstead snapped. He was no happier than I, having been interrupted from a sound night’s sleep at his hotel because his colleagues had caught one of the “vampires.”

“The only good undead is a dead undead,” Forte said. He frowned at the speech, but ultimately found it acceptable and let it pass.

“I do wish,” I said, trying to break up the word by play, “that you’d go looking for my niece, who is well on the way to becoming a creature of the night.”

“Precisely what I think,” said Hyland. “But ma’am, we don’t know where to look.

“I can find Abby,” I said. “I know what she feels like now. I’ll take you to her.”

“With your special vampire sense?” said Forte.

“Yes,” I said, annoyed. “Something like that.”

“Uh-uh.” Forte folded his arms. “You stay put.”

“Really, Forte!” Broadstead protested. “You can’t be afraid of this young woman!”

“I hate to say it, Professor,” said Hyland, “but I’m with Forte on this one.”

“The great J. Hamish Broadstead.” Doyle ribbed Father Stewart. “Wouldn’t know a vampire if it bit him on the neck.”

“Broadstead might come in useful later,” the priest returned. “Forte, what if I watched Polly? I could do something about her if there was trouble. And so could Marie.”

Forte threw up his hands. “Your funeral, people.”

Marie erased part of the circle, and I stepped out.

“How do you feel?” asked Father Stewart.

“Hungry,” I answered truthfully.

“Toast her now,” said Forte, flipping switches on his equipment.

“No, Mr. Forte!” I protested.

“Uh-uh. I’m not looking at you. No vampire eye tricks, sweetheart. I know all about vampire eye tricks.” Forte was soon suitably restrained by Hyland and Doyle. I continued to talk to Father Stewart.

“I have not yet fed on blood. Is that part of the legend true? Can I still be saved?”

Father Stewart’s eyes lit up. Marie LaVeau nodded at me. “Good girl, Polly!” the priest exclaimed. “We may exorcise the vampirism out of you yet!”

“Why take any chances?” Forte wrested one arm free and fired his gun.

“Confound it!” Broadstead hit the floor. Juliet also ducked and sighed as she examined the hole blown in one wall of her room.

I barely moved out of the way in time. “You idiot!” I frothed at Forte.

“Tsk, tsk,” said Forte. “You’ve been taking lessons from Broadstead.” Forte’s next shot was knocked off course by Hyland as Forte yelled, “Eat hot afterlife, fiendish undead!” Forte was once again suitably restrained, and his power pack was removed.

“So then,” said Marie LaVeau. “The vampires make their move tomorrow. We must declare war on Shalimar and her people now. Polly and Andrew must locate Abby. The rest of us will take care of the rest of them. Professor, you and Miss Armstrong should stay here to keep the home fires burning. We have an obligation to the young ladies of this school to protect them, if need be.”

“You can count on me,” said Broadstead, not noticing Juliet’s adoring eyes.

I had thought these people either the bravest or the most foolish people I had ever seen.

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