Babysitting for Vampires E01P02
Babysitting for Vampires
by Meg Merriet
Episode 1; Part 2
I was confined in darkness, leaned up against a corner with many small cushions around and under my body. My feet kicked up against the wall across from me. I heard a kettle whistling in my ear, but the sound was purely hallucinatory. My whole neck muscle was sore. When I touched it, I felt sticky clumps of blood layered on my skin. Then I felt the children’s hands move into each of mine as if we were about to play a game of “Ring Around the Rosie.” I whimpered. The children hushed me.
“Where am I?” I asked. I hardly remembered my role as a babysitter or how that had been usurped.
“We’re inside of a teapot,” the littler one Lottie said. She and Mirabelle giggled like fiends.
I touched the scabs on my neck.
“Those are tea leaves,” Lottie said.
“You can see right now?” I asked, blinking hard and rubbing my eyelashes. I briefly wondered if I had gone blind.
Mirabelle struck a match. The flame burst, flickering gently on the reflective surfaces of their eyes. I gasped, realizing that the three of us were inside a closet. The cushions beneath me and on top of me were piles of dolls and teddy bears, old relics from decades past. Centuries past, truly. Their black eyes stared heartlessly at me in my weakened state. I knew I must be in the girls’ bedroom, the one place Gentry warned me not to go.
The little flame pinched between Mirabelle’s fingers sparkled and danced. It changed color, shifting from orange to white to blue, all the while chasing the shadows. Mirabelle smiled, her little white canines shimmering like pearls.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she said. Her gleeful expression dimmed along with the taper that shrank down the stem of the match. I saw lines in her face. Her eyes were so aged suddenly, as if they had seen hundreds of years and grown weary of all the world’s wonders. As soon as I saw this flicker of her true age, Mirabelle blew out the light and a burnt aroma lifted on the air.
“She probably feels the effects more than we do,” Lottie whispered.
“Of laudanum?” I asked. I was so out of touch with what was happening, but the history was coming back to me. The tea party, the laudanum, all of it. “What is laudanum?” I asked.
“It’s medicine,” Mirabelle explained. “Over the years we’ve come to enjoy its effects. Unfortunately, it only works if somebody else drinks it. You see, it’s quite like brewing a pot of tea. We put the laudanum inside of you, let it steep and then we each get to have a cup.”
“Should we finish the pot?” Lottie giggled, leaning forward to bring her lips close to my neck.
Mirabelle pulled on her little sister’s arm. “That would be indulgent! We must allow our guest to enjoy the brew, and she certainly can’t do that if she’s dead, now can she?”
“I suppose,” Lottie sulked. Perhaps I still thought this was a strange dream or that nothing mattered at this point, but I began to laugh hysterically. I curled up like a hedgehog and cackled away at them, slapping the wall, crinkling my eyes up until tears poured down my face. I could hardly breathe.
“I think she’s feeling it,” Mirabelle said.
“I’m gonna die,” I said, catching my breath, “in a pile of stuffed animals!” I broke down into laughter again. I tried to stand, but my muscles ached with the paralysis of exhaustion..
“She’s lost a lot of blood,” Lottie said.
“Hm. There’s the pizza that came with the boy.”
Mirabelle opened the closet door. The faint light from their bedroom seeped in as she stepped out. By the bedroom’s candlelight, I could see Lottie entirely. She had drops of blood down the front of her frilly dress. My hysterics sobered. The weight of my dire situation settled in. I wasn’t a babysitter. I was the food supply. They ate cucumber sandwiches like normal little girls, but really they craved human blood.
“I don’t want you to die,” Lottie said.
I tilted my head back and closed my eyes. “Don’t act like you care.”
“I do care. You remind me of someone.”
“Someone you killed?”
“No.” Lottie spoke firmly as if I had offended her. “She was taken from us, murdered in her prime.”
“It seems only fair, considering how many people you’ve probably killed over the years.”
“That isn’t true! Father keeps us under control when he’s at home. He’s gone to collect from the blood banks so that we don’t have to harm anyone.”
“Oh, how noble,” I spat. “Stealing blood transfusions so you can live another hundred years while children die in car accidents and mothers die giving birth.”
“There is no easy answer for our affliction, Robin. I am truly sorry,” Lottie whispered meekly.
Mirabelle’s shadow loomed over us, accompanied by the comforting aromas of basil, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Mirabelle knelt and fed me a slice of pizza. It was cold and coagulated, but I didn’t care. I ate it greedily, taking it from her and shoving it down my throat.
“Aww,” Mirabelle cooed. “She’s so cute.”
Lottie giggled, yawning faintly and squeezing her eyes closed. “The sun is coming up,” she said mid-way through her second yawn. Mirabelle sighed sleepily as well and nodded. They grabbed armfuls of antique dolls and dusty old teddy bears and buried me in a grave of childhood memorabilia. Then they closed the door and sealed me in darkness.
Escape seemed futile. They were older than me. They had done this many times before, having had hundreds of years to practice the art of abduction, to make petit fours and play the harp. But even as old and wise as they were, they had made a fatal mistake in underestimating me. The amount of laudanum they had given me might have subdued a frail, arsenic-addicted Victorian, but I was no wilting flower. I could drink grown men under the table. Sometimes I donated blood and went out for drinks right after just for the fun of it. I had this.
But what if they could track me? What if, after tasting my blood, they had a memory for my scent and needed to get rid of me before I could tell anyone their disgusting secret?
If vampires were real, I knew all of their weaknesses from various films and novels. Running water, garlic, silver crucifixes. Hell, I could find some splintered wood and stake them through their little hearts while they slept.
But then I remembered the babysitter’s creed. A babysitter is hired to protect the children, to teach them that chores can be games, to bond with them through songs with contrived lyrics, to keep them from eating too much candy—or in this case too much blood—to be a good role model and to make sure that they are clean, well-fed and in good spirits when the parent or guardian returns home. I wasn’t going to lose to a couple of vampire brats.
I waited for the noise to settle. I heard them blowing out candles, the creaking of wood and then nothing. With the faint reserve of strength left in my drained half-dead body, I clawed my way out from under the toys and reached for the brass doorknob.
As I sat up, my head spun, but I pushed through the dizzy spell, imagining myself crouching against a sturdy, flat rock. I opened the door slowly and crawled through the pitch black room. My cell phone was still in my back pocket. I turned on its LED light and lit up the entire bedroom.
The place looked like a funeral home. Two little toe-pincher coffins lay side-by-side. What really sent me over the edge was seeing the limp body of a pizza delivery boy between them. I crept silently toward the boy. He looked withered and dehydrated, but when I felt for a pulse in his wrist, I found a faint beat deep beneath the cold skin.
Then I heard a snap as one of the coffin lids flung open. I held up my LED light and saw Mirabelle sitting upright, her eyes flashing like white lightning. She hissed and I thought my hair might go gray from shock.
“Mirabelle?” Lottie’s voice was muffled from beneath the lid of her coffin. Mirabelle stood, snarling like a wild animal. I screamed and ran out the bedroom door. I tripped on my way out, dropping my phone. It slid and bounced downstairs, the battery spinning out across the floor like a Frisbee.
The living room had heavy drapes that blocked out all the sun. Mirabelle flew through the threshold behind me. I practically rolled down the stairs, hyperventilating and screaming. I barely caught myself before hitting the ground and pulled myself up by the bannister. My legs trembled and I could hardly keep my balance. I could already imagine her teeth sinking into my flesh and ending me forever. I stumbled to the nearest window and ripped open the red drapes, spilling light into the room.
Mirabelle shrieked in anguish and retreated into her bedroom, slamming the door. I heard her moving furniture up there to barricade herself inside.
I tried to breath deep and slow and through my nose, but the adrenalin was raging inside me. I tossed the red drapes on the fainting couch, my body laughing although inside I was crying. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw two puncture wounds on each side of my neck. Touching my little round scabs, I shuddered as I thought about how close I had come to dying, how close my body was even now to blacking out. I slapped my cheeks and shook out my hands, trying to jumpstart my circulation.
There was more of that pizza on the kitchen counter, a whole box of it, and it was as cold as the boy who had delivered it. I finished it off. As I ate bite after bite of the chewy dough, I went to the window and looked outside. The pizza boy’s bicycle was propped up on the sidewalk. The pizza sustenance rejuvenated me and I began to formulate a plan. The girls had a hundred years of life experience, but I had a hundred years of vampire-obsessed popular culture to draw from. On my laptop I would spend the day watching everything I could think of that might help me come up with a plan. I had the mentorship of all the greats. I would acquire the intelligence of Van Helsing, the flair and finesse of the original Buffy and the grit and determination of Abraham Lincoln.
I had to save the pizza boy, but first I had to get rid of that bike.