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Bite Me: A Love Story Chapter 11

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11. Being the Chronicles of Abby Normal, Pathetic Failure to All Creatures Great and Small

I have failed as a minion, a girlfriend, and a human being in general, and that doesn’t even count Biology 102, which I am still totally failing despite actually going to class twice.

The Countess has been gone for like a week, and no one has seen her or the vampyre Flood.

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I’ve gone looking for them, mainly when I’m supposed to be at school. I don’t even know where to look. I kind of walk around asking people if they’ve seen a totally hawt redhead and they either hurry away really fast or, in the case of one guy, who I suspect was a pimp, offered me a thousand dollars to bring her to him if I found her. Then he offered me a job, because he said, “Johns go for that skinny Lolita shit.”

And I was all, “Oh, that’s very flattering, sir. Thank you. Once I find my friend I will bring her back and we’ll both be happy to service the disgusting choads of creepy strangers and hand you all of our money along with any self-worth we might have left.”

And he was all, “You do that, little momma. You do that.”

Which is just another reason that I need to find the Countess and beg her forgiveness, because my new phone has video and I can’t wait to post a clip on my blog of Jody scattering bloody pimp parts all over the Tenderloin. (The Countess has lectured me about respecting myself and how a woman must never sacrifice her dignity to a man unless he gives her jewelry or is a smoking hottie and has a job, so I think there will at least be broken bones and a beating of many colors.)

Evidently there’s a shortage of hookers and homeless people in the City, it was on the Chronicle’s Web site. They reported it like it was a good thing, VICE ARRESTS DOWN or something, and another article about homeless shelters having plenty of room for the first time, ever. OMFG! They’re kitty treats, you douche nozzles! That’s why I refused to be on the school paper. Journalists are oblivious to the obvious and they won’t even let you say fuck.

‘Kayso, when I finally got back to the love lair, the windows were all boarded up with plywood and Foo and Jared had like alphabetized all of the rats and had them stacked up and labeled and whatnot. So, I, like, ran into Foo’s arms and kissed him a good long time, then I looked around and I was all:

“They’re dead. Our loft is full of dead rats.”

And Jared is all, “Not dead. Undead.”

So to Foo I’m all, “‘Splain, s’il vous plaît.”

And Foo’s like, “It’s amazing, Abby. You just have to inject them with a little vampyre blood and it turns them, but not until you kill them. It took us a while to figure that out.”

“So you killed all these rats?”

“I did,” goes Jared. “It made me sad, but I’m okay with it now. Science.”

“How?”

And Foo says, “Potassium chloride.”

At the exact same time Jared says, “With a hammer.”

And Jared gets all big scared anime eyes and is like, “Yeah, potassium chloride. That’s what I meant.”

And I’m all, “You have been killing and vamping rats while the Countess and Tommy are lost and the whole city is papered with missing cat flyers, and like Chet and his minions are eating all the homeless and probably the hookers?”

And they were like, “Well-yeah.”

“And I had to work and go to class,” says Foo. “And polish my car.”

And Jared’s all, “And we’ve been making sunlight jackets for those two cops, which takes like a million little wires.” And he, like, points to our coffee table, which is the only surface that doesn’t have cages full of dead rats, and there’s not even jackets there, just, like, jacket-shaped nets of wire with little glass beads all over them.

And I’m all, “Cops can’t wear those. They look like robot lingerie.”

And Jared is all, “Tr??s cool, non?”

“No!” I go. “And do not further endorken the French language by wrapping your disgusting penis port around it. You’ll ruin the whole language before I even learn enough to express my deep despair and dark desires en français, you rat smasher.”

‘Kay, I know that was a little harsh, but I was angry, and in my defense, I was grinding Foo’s leg a little when I said “dark desires,” so I said it with love.

Foo’s all, “We didn’t have time to actually get jackets. They need to be leather and they’re expensive.”

So it’s clear that despite his mad ninja science skills, even my beloved Foo cannot be left without female supervision. But he has been going home lately, and his parents are a bad influence on him.

So I’m like, “I got this. I’ll go see Lily.”

Lily is my backup BFF. She used to be my BFF, but at the same time I met Lord Flood and the Countess, Lily got a book in the mail at her work, which is Asher’s Secondhand, and it convinced her that she is Death, so I’m all, “Whatever, ho.”

And she was all, “Free to live my own nightmare, skank.”

So we were cool.

‘Kayso, I took the 45 bus from the dead-ratted love lair to North Beach. Walking through Chinatown sort of creeps me out ’cause of all the Chinese grandmothers on the street, who I’m pretty sure are talking about me because they think I have ruined Foo with my Gothy-Anglo charms. Also, I get mad dim sum cravings for which I should someday seek treatment, or, like, snacks.

‘Kayso, at Asher’s, Lily comes out from behind the counter and gives me a hug and a big kiss on my forehead (because she is taller than me in addition to having surplus boobage).

And I’m like, “There’s a big violet lip print on my forehead, huh?”

And Lily goes, “Kiss of Death-get used to it, beyotch-matches your hair tips, tr??s cute.”

So I’m all, “‘Kay.” It wasn’t really the kiss of Death, but it did match my tips. Then I was all, “Lils, I need men’s leather jackets in these sizes.” I gave her the note Foo wrote out with the sizes and cut and whatnot.

And she was all, “WTF, Abs? Fifty long? You buying a jacket for an orca?”

“Ginormous gay cop. You got it?”

“Yeah. You wanna smoke a clove?”

And I’m all, “Do you have enough violet lipstick?” Because smoking is, like, the worst for your lipstick and it did match my hair.

And she’s all, “Bitch, please.” Meaning, “Do I ever not have enough makeup?” Which is true, because Lily carries a PVC ROBOT PIRATES messenger bag you could hide a small kid in, only she carries beauty products.

So I was all, “‘Kay.”

So Lily and I went out the back door and stared at the Dumpster like it was the very abyss of our despair while we smoked. And I’m just getting ready to tell her about the love lair, and Foo, and vampyre kitties and all, because I’ve sort of been in boyfriend mode, so, like, out of contact, which Lily totally gets.

And Lil’s like, “So, the big gay cop have a Hispanic partner?”

And I’m like, “Rivera and Cavuto. Crusty day dwellers, but Rivera kind of has a secret-agent vibe. You know them?”

And Lily is all, “Yeah, they were here yesterday. Rivera wears expensive suits. Smells good, too. I’d do him.”

And I’m like gagging. “Lils, he’s like a thousand years old, and a cop. The Motherbot was getting squishy over him. OMG! You’re disgusting!”

“Shut up, I’m not saying I’d do him normal. I mean like zombie Apocalypse trapped in the mall right before we have to shoot each other to keep them from eating our brains and turning us to the undead-then I’d do him.”

So I’m all, “Oh sure, then.” To make her feel better, because she doesn’t have a BF and often oversluts to compensate, but I still thought it was disgusting. But to change the subject, I was all, “So what did they want?”

“They were asking all kinds of irrelevant bullshit. Had I seen any strange cats, did I see the Emperor, or some redhead.”

And I’m all, Fucksocks! Fucksocks! Fucksocks! inside. But on the outside I’m all chill and I’m like, “So, you like didn’t know anything, right?”

“No, Asher said a hot redhead came into the store the other night, and then I was on the cable car last night, going down to Max’s Deli for a sammy, and I think I saw her going into the Fairmont Hotel. Like a crazy cape of long red curls I would slaughter puppies for.”

“Red leather jacket?”

“Sweet red leather jacket.”

“You didn’t tell them, did you?”

And Lil’s all, “Well, yeah.”

And I was all, “You traitorous whore!” And I punched her in the shoulder.

In my defense, you’re supposed to tell your ex-BFF when you get fresh ink, so the screaming was completely over the top. I had no way of knowing that she had a new tattoo on that shoulder, so her punching me in the boob was totally uncalled for.

So, I’m ouching tr??s loud and this Russian lady from upstairs peeks her head out the window and she’s all, “Quiet please, is sounding like burning bear out there.”

‘Kayso, Lils and I start to laugh and say, “Like bear,” over and over again until the Russian lady slams the window shut, like bear.

Then it comes back to me and I’m all, “Lils, I have to get those jackets and get to the Fairmont. I have to save the Countess.”

And Lily is like, “‘Kay,” not even asking details, which is why I love her-she is so nihilist it’s, like, not funny.

‘Kayso, I take the jackets and catch a cab to the Fairmont, which totally pisses off the cabbie because it’s only like six blocks, but when I get to the hotel I’m all, “Fucksocks!” because I’m too late.

JODY
Falling asleep was one of the things Jody missed about being human. She missed the satisfied, tired feeling of falling into bed and drifting off in a dreamy twilight sea of dreams. In fact, since she’d turned, unless she’d just gone too long without feeding, she never even felt tired. On most mornings, unless she and Tommy had been making love, and they went out in each other’s arms, she just found a relatively comfortable position and waited for the sun to rise and put her out. Maybe a flutter of an eyelid, lasting a second, then off like a light.

The closest thing to a dream state she’d experienced as a vampire was when she’d gone to mist inside the bronze statue, and even then, the door into dreamland slammed shut at dawn. The constant alertness of being a vampire was, well, it was a bit irritating. Especially since she’d been searching the City for Tommy for a week, pushing her jumped-up senses to their limits, and had to return to the hotel every morning with nothing. Apparently, Tommy had limped down an alley and vanished. She’d checked everyplace in the City that she’d ever taken him, every place he’d ever been, as far as she knew, and still there was no evidence of his having been there. She’d hoped she would have some special vampire “sixth sense” to help her find him, like the old vampire who had turned her seemed to have had, but no.

Now, she was returning to her room at the Fairmont for the seventh morning. And for the seventh morning she would put out the “Do Not Disturb” signs, lock the door, put on her sweats, drink a pouch of the blood she kept locked in a mini-cooler, brush her teeth, then crawl under the bed and go over a mental map of the City until dawn put her out. (Since she was technically dead at dawn, sleeping on top of a comfortable mattress was a dangerous luxury, and by climbing under the bed she put one more layer between her and sunlight, should a nosy maid somehow find a way into her room.)

Part of her new pre-dawn ritual had been returning to the hotel a little later each morning; like the skydiver who will let himself fall closer and closer to earth before pulling the ripcord to boost the adrenaline rush just a little more. The last two mornings she’d just been entering the hotel when the alarm watch she wore, which was set to go off ten minutes before sunrise on any given day, based on an electronic almanac, had started beeping. She’d bought one for Tommy, too, and wondered if he was still wearing his. As she strode down California Street, she tried to remember if he’d been wearing it when they cut him out of the bronze shell.

Two blocks from the Fairmont her alarm watch went off and she couldn’t help but smile a little at the thrill. She picked up her pace, figuring that she’d still be safely inside her room with time to spare before sunup, but she might have to forgo the sweats and the blood snack.

As she came up the steps into the lobby she smelled cigar, and Aramis cologne, and the combination sent an electric chill of alarm up her spine before she could identify the danger. Cops. Rivera and Cavuto. Rivera smelled of Aramis, Cavuto of cigars. She stopped, her boot heels skidding a little on the marble steps.

There they were, both at the front desk, but a bellman was leading them to the elevator. He was taking them to her room.

How? she thought. Doesn’t matter. It was getting light. She checked her watch: three minutes to find shelter. She backed away from the door, out onto the sidewalk, then began to run.

Normally she would have paced herself so someone didn’t notice the redhead in boots and jeans running faster than an Olympic sprinter, but they’d just have to tell their friends and not be believed. She needed cover, now.

She was a block and a half down Mason Street when she came to an alley. She’d survived her first night as a vampire under a Dumpster. Maybe she could survive the day inside one. But there was someone down there, the kitchen crew of a restaurant, outside smoking. On she ran.

No alleys in the next two blocks, then a narrow space between buildings. Maybe she could shimmy down there and crawl in a basement window. She crawled on a narrow, plywood gate and had one foot down before a pit bull came storming down the corridor. She leapt out onto the sidewalk and started running again. What kind of psychopath uses a two-foot-wide space between buildings as a dog run? There should be laws.

This was Nob Hill, all open, with wide boulevard streets, a once-grand neighborhood now made incredibly irritating to a vampire in need of shelter. She rounded the corner at Jackson Street, snapping a heel off her right boot as she did. She should have worn sneakers, she knew, but wearing the high, expensive leather boots made her feel a little like a superhero. It turned out that turning your ankle hurts like hell, even if you’re a superhero.

She was up on her toes now, running, limping toward Jackson Square, the oldest neighborhood in San Francisco that had survived the great quake and fire of 1906. There were all kinds of little cubbyholes and basement shops in the old brick buildings down there. One building even had the ribs of a sailing ship in its basement, a remnant built over when the Gold Rush left so many ships abandoned at the waterfront that the City literally expanded over them.

One minute. The shadow of the Transamerica Pyramid was lying long across the neighborhood ahead like the needle of a deadly sundial. Jody did a final kick-sprint, snapping off her other boot heel as she did. She scanned the streets ahead for windows, doors, trying to sense movement inside, looking for stillness, privacy.

There! On the left, a door below street level, the stair-case hidden by a wrought-iron railing covered in jasmine. Ten more steps and I’m there, she thought. She saw herself jumping the rail, shouldering through the door, and diving under the first thing that would shelter her from the light.

She took the final three steps and leapt just as the sun broke the horizon. She went limp in the air, fell to the sidewalk, short of the stairwell, and skidded on her shoulder and face. As her eyes fluttered, the last thing she saw were a pair of orange socks right in front of her, then she went out and began to smolder in the sunlight.

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