Babysitting for Vampires E02P02
Babysitting for Vampires
by Meg Merriet
Episode 2 Part 2
The lights flickered. Paul seemed to vanish into thin air. I cupped my elbows and backed up against the wall. A spinning sensation came over me, like swimming into a vortex. With urgency, I glanced about the room, searching for any trace of movement. A furry creature flapped its leathery wings in the stairwell. I screamed, covering my mouth as part of my brain instinctively dreaded that the flying rodent might swoop down and claw its way down my throat. All of the lights came back on and got intensely bright at the sound of my voice, then popped as they burnt out. A residue sizzle followed.
If that impossible aristocratic cockbag Gentry hadn’t taken my phone, I would have a flashlight. I would have the internet to research what to do in the scenario, not that there are likely to be blogs on babysitting for vampires. But it’s something I could see myself Googling.
A demonic chuckle interrupted my racing thoughts. Having taken my garlic supplements, I felt confident that he could not have me for dinner unless he wanted to puke bile for the next few hours. Still, I was scared. I could feel my blood boiling, creating heat in my forehead and cheeks. My suitcase remained untouched by the door. I unzipped the front pocket and took out my silver crucifix, stuffing it into my stocking garter under my dress.
I followed the wall with my hands, avoiding grand picture frames and sharp iron wrought wall sconces. Every window had heavy drapes that blocked out the moonlight, but in the kitchen, the windows were bare. My eyes adjusted and I could see just about everything.
I tossed my coat on the floor and removed my boots. Rummaging through drawers, I eventually found a bundle of long white tapers. There was a matchbox under the sink. I struck one, and it went out almost instantly. From the millisecond of light, however, I did see some mysterious mess clogging the sink. I lit another match and dipped it into the basin. Upon closer inspection, I realized I was looking at the seed clusters of a pomegranate. Please let it be pomegranate seeds, I prayed.
The windows swung open and cold blizzard wind rushed in, blowing out my match. Snow flurried in front of my eyes. I fought the winter chill as I pushed the windows shut and secured the latch. When the room was quiet and still once more, I took yet another match and finally lit one of the candles.
By taperlight I noticed candelabras on the wood countertops. Yet again, my host had failed to give me a proper tour of the house. What was I allowed to eat? Did they even consider that a human babysitter might be hungry? For people from an era of etiquette, these vampires were incredibly inconsiderate. Hundreds of years of selfish behavior had made them forget all their manners.
The refridgerator was packed, but the selection was, to say the least, limited. Rows of blood transfusion bags lined the shelves. Beth did not forget me altogether however, for in the door was a small carton of whole milk and on top of the fridge, a big box of neon blue cereal with flower-shaped marshmallows called Whoopsidaisies!
Taper to taper, I kissed the wicks together and spread light across the candelabras. I could see the room much clearer now. The floor was a checkerboard of black and white tiles. There was a bowl of fruit in the middle of the breakfast table with bananas, kiwis, apples and–thank God–pomegranates.
The flames danced, their reflections multiplied against the window-panes. Just as I started to think I might have at that funky cereal, all the little flames went out, threads of white smoke spinning up from their dead wicks.
“Come on, Paul!” I shouted. “Time will pass much faster if we just hang out together. We can do whatever you want. We can play videogames.”
The cabinets rattled and dishes poured out of them, shattering on the floor.
“Stop it!” I screamed, getting under the table like a child bearing down for nuclear war. “Just stop it!”
Vampires in their stable form I could handle, but the unpredictability of a floaty, shapeshifting ghost vampire was too much. Weakened, brutalized and feeling completely helpless, I started to cry. Gentry’s high words about Paul and what a good vampire he was echoed in my mind. Yeah right, you asinine fossil. Paul was the worst I’d ever met.
Suddenly the candle fires came back, including the one I held in my hand. Light spread in gradients of amber. I came out from under the table and out of the darkest level of light, Paul revealed himself.
“Do you want to hear a scary story?” he asked, taking a seat at the breakfast table.
I sat down across from him, holding my candle like a sword. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“In Hungary, there was a beautiful countess, a powerful woman called Erzebet Bathory. One day while bathing, one of her handmaidens pricked her finger and spilled blood on the countess’s hand. To Erzebet’s amazement, as she rubbed away the blood, the skin underneath appeared rejuvenated and young.”
“Yeah, I saw this one on the history channel,” I said, rolling my eyes.
Paul slammed the table with his fist. “It’s not history!” he shouted.
“Hey. Calm down.” I made my voice soft and gentle as I explained myself. “I know that she and several accomplices murdered hundreds of peasant girls and bathed in their blood all for the sake of youth and beauty. I know she tortured and maimed innocent women because she was insane. And I know that they couldn’t put her to death because she was nobility, but they sealed her up in her castle for the rest of her days.”
“Then you also know she created a device called the Iron Virgin, a spiked cage that allowed her to shower herself in blood while watching her victim die. Scary, isn’t it?” Paul sneered, tilting his head. “The truth is even more terrifying. Did you know they tortured her accomplices? Did you know they gouged out the eyes of her favorite?”
“Oh God. Is Beth the countess of blood?”
“Her name was Báthory Erzsébet.” Paul glared out the window and I turned to see if there was something there. The sky outside was just beginning to glow with the first light of dawn. The snow fell softly now in tranquil repose. I turned back around, and he was gone. In his place, a round feathery owl perched on the back of the chair, rolling its shoulders.
A candelabra flew at me, spilling red wax down the front of my dress. It scalded my neckline and seeped down my chest. Paul chuckled, his voice coming from everywhere at once.
I ran out of the kitchen, but when I came into the living room, all the wax candles in there were lit as well, including the ones inside the iron cage hanging from the ceiling. This could very well be the Iron Virgin. Another candelabra smacked me in the back, spilling more wax on my clothes and down the back of my legs.
The burn was fast and over with quickly, but the surprise at being so abused for no apparent reason had me infuriated. “God! You’d think you’d grow up a little after five hundred years! Screw you, kid! Screw you and your psycho mom!”
I grabbed my suitcase and ran outside into the snow, sans shoes, sans coat. Now I endured a different kind of burn, a stifling, bone-piercing cold. I tossed my suitcase on the ground and sat cross-legged on top of it, hugging myself and waiting for the sun to reclaim the sky. With no cell phone, I couldn’t get any help just yet. All I could do was wait for dawn so I could go back inside, tear down the curtains and use the phone to call a cab. The snowfall dampened my dress and soon the white fabric had the consistency of a wet paper towel. I chipped away at the wax with my nails. Stupid vampires. Stupid candles.
The cold made me dizzy. My nostrils were so dry and my lungs ached more and more with every breath. I was getting delirious. Soon I saw a tall figure cloaked all in black coming toward me. His hood darkened his face into anonymity. I squeezed my wet feet in my hands, too frost-bitten to care who he was or if he was even real. But soon he was close enough to reach out and touch.
“Are you real?” I asked.
The man wrapped his cloak around my shoulders and lifted me into his arms, taking up my suitcase with the other. The sun lifted behind the treelike just as we reached the front porch. Up the creaky old steps we went. Everything was going to be okay.
“Can I carry you inside?” he asked. I was so cold, I couldn’t speak, but I nodded emphatically. He opened the door and I heard my suitcase drop with a thud.
The stranger laid me down on the white linen couch, removed his cloak with a flourish and draped it on top of me. I could see him clearly now. He had a wiry frame and large ears that protruded through his short hair. All of his teeth were sharp and crooked like a jagged roof of stalagmite.
“Are you alright?” he asked. It was the first time I’d ever heard a British person with a nasal quality to his voice. He sounded so kind, so sweet, like an adorable Chihuahua.
“Yeah. Kids, ya know?” I said, nestling deeper into his cloak.
“Is Beth home?”
I knew I shouldn’t tell him, but he seemed so nice, and the words just came gushing out, “Just Paul and me ‘til Monday.”
“Where is Paul?”
“I don’t know. He turned into an owl.”
“I see. Thank you, human. Now go to sleep. You’ve been up all night.”
It felt so good to sleep, to let my bones sink into the couch. But as we broke eye-contact, I remembered the dangers of hunters and all the warnings my employers had given me. I reached under my skirt.
“Just one thing,” I murmured. The impish ghoul leaned in to hear me better.
With my radiant silver crucifix in hand, I struck him across the cheek. The silver melted through his skin as if it were laced in acid. The demon emitted a goblin shriek and slithered into the corner, unable to touch or remove the silver that continued to disfigure him. The skin fell away, melting into carbonated puddles on the wood floor. His roar swelled furiously and he crawled toward me, mouth stretching back over his gums as he snapped as me like a feral dog. And then I remembered the panic room.