Life (well, not exactly) in a beach town. Lilly the vampire fights City Hall.
|Invariably it always ends up being about the sea. Living in a seaside community you learn a lot about the water. Seagulls, crabs, fish, fishermen, and all manner of sea creatures and diversions are your bread and butter, lifeblood of sorts.
Here in this beach town I find myself angry, and am now on a new mission. I am out to fortify the bastions of justice. I was wronged, at least in my opinion, and want to find my revenge. Through no fault of my own, I am now being forcefully evicted from my home. This is my sad tale.
I can only come out at night of necessity, since the day is too bright and cheerful. The sun is a deadly source of cancer, as we know very well. For me it is much deadlier. Alas, no one has a perfect life, not even me, as lovely as most of this life I now have is. But I digress. I am wont to tell you about the here and now. Of course, a brief history is in order before I can relate my unlucky happenstance.
My name is Lilly. I was born in 1899, and again from the sea in 1925. My parents were wonderful people who are now passed on, having lived full and varied lives that I had no part in ending. That would be barbaric.
I was attacked when I was twenty-six by a strange and horrible sea-creature I now consider my friend. It was an odd meeting. Ochle was hunting where I was taking midnight swim. I kicked him in the head, which offended him, but he made peace by allowing me to share his fate. He had already eaten my friend who jumped in first. I miss her still sometimes. Anyway, here we were, a damsel and creature, staring one another down across a few feet of ocean water. A not-so-intelligent exchange followed.
I shrieked, “What did you do to Danielle?”
The creature responded by saying, “I ate her, of course. What did you think?” It managed to look very confused and hurt by my question, which upon reflection, is terribly difficult for a creature with six-inch fangs, shark’s eyes, and no discernible eyebrows.
This conversation was more than my mental capacity was able to process, so understandably, I fainted. When I awoke, I felt very different indeed. I was now on the dark beach, and the creature was watching me from the water, I could see moonlight glint off its huge teeth.
“Ah, you’re awake!” It called to me. “Do you feel all right now?”
I raised my eyebrows and answered, “Um, yes, I believe so. What happened?” I’m really not sure why I was so sanguine about having a conversation with a huge, strange-looking sea-creature, or shark, or whatever.
“Well, you see, you were swimming, and I rescued you. Your friend did not survive, and has been taken out to sea on the tide. I also had to make some adjustments to your metabolism. You can no longer go out in daylight, and you must come back tonight to this very spot so I may speak to you again. It is almost morning, so hurry home. Remember, no sunlight, and come back tonight!”
And with that admonishment, it was gone. I staggered back to my bungalow I had shared with Danielle, and slept for the entire day. I awoke as the moon was rising.
I wasn’t planning to go back to the beach, but my curiosity overcame me. I really thought it was just a dream until I noticed two large punctures on my arm that looked healed-over. They itched. I walked back to the beach that night and sat in the sand near the edge of the surf. It wasn’t long before my benefactor/demon arrived.
It called, “Ahoy there, I'm happy to see you. I was afraid you would not come, but I'm glad you did, and that you stayed out of the sun. That would have ended badly. I regret I must tell you that you are no longer quite human, but are now a Sea-vampire, or Mer-vampire if you prefer. That is what I am as well. I was once a shark, but was bitten by a vampire. I’m not sure why it did so, but now I am able to turn other creatures as well. I do not do so often, but you seemed like an interesting creature, and I had my fill with your friend. So here we are.”
“Pardon me?” I asked, “I’m not sure I am following you.” The world seemed to be spinning now. This was information I was nearly incapable of processing. Poor Danielle, I thought fleetingly.
“Ah. Well. What I was saying is that you are now a vampire.”
“Uh-huh.” I mumbled as I frowned and felt my teeth with my tongue. It felt like there were extra rows of razor-sharp points behind what felt like my own teeth. I opened my mouth to speak and then closed it again. There really isn’t much to say to a shark that has just turned you into a vampire, is there?
“My name is Ochle. And you are?” He asked politely.
“Lilly.” I responded. I was still checking out my new teeth with my tongue. It was going to take a while to get used to this.
“Nice name, very sea-worthy. Are you hungry yet?” He asked.
“Famished!” I said, I never remembered feeling this hungry before.
“Any sea creature will suffice to curb your hunger, but you will have to consume human blood once a year to keep your humanity. More often if you like. If not, you will become a shark, much like me. I have heard most vampires of my type say they need a bit more human blood because they start to think like fish.” He said, and then laughed.
“What’s funny?” I asked, a bit afraid to hear the answer.
“Sorry, no offense, I was just wondering how you would tell if a human was thinking like a fish, since they already seem to travel around in schools and eat seafood, anyway.”
“I guess so.” I said as I shrugged.
As he tossed me a live fish, he said, “Here is a bluefish that I caught it on my way here for you. Eat it.”
I didn’t like to eat fish much, and bluefish were the worst, but as I looked at it with distaste, my stomach growled and I reluctantly took a bite since I was really hungry. It was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted, and I finished it quickly.
Thus was the beginning of a nearly century-long friendship. I forgave him for Danielle, and Ochle and I still meet regularly at our beach and talk about life, or afterlife, as it were. He brings me food occasionally and I lure a human to him on rare occasions, since that is how he can still speak like a person.
Unfortunately, my current situation is not as good as I would like it to be. I am forced to relocate, as a bridge is being built where my bungalow has been reposing for the past ninety-eight years. I have no money woes, as I have been undead for well over one hundred years and there really is magic in compounding interest, even if you have to set up multi-generation trusts, and change your name and birth date a lot. The government is not a force that can be reckoned with in many cases, at least when it comes to progress and pointless bridges, but it’s funny how they never notice when I become somebody else on documents every twenty years. Most of my conversations on the phone go as follows:
I say, “Is there no other place the bridge can originate? I am willing to pay a significant amount to have the location rerouted around my home.”
Government official says, “No, Ma’am. The plans have been approved and work will begin very soon. If you had a complaint, you should have attended a public hearing to protest. There’s nothing we can do.”
Of course I can’t go to a public hearing. They are all held during the day! I have even tried to appeal to the historical society, but the house has to be over two hundred years old before they consider it ‘historical’. I am resolved to my fate, but I will get satisfaction. I can always buy a new home, but I really like this one.
So herein is the basis of my mission. My home is to be taken, so I am going to punish those who are taking it away from me. I intend to systematically eliminate all the officials who are responsible for my loss. Sounds like fun to me. Besides, I have to get in my human quota, don’t I?
Ochle thinks I’m overreacting, but he’s four hundred years old and lives in the ocean. He has never dealt with bureaucracy. Sometimes I envy him that.
I already looked up all the names and addresses for the offending officials as soon as I found out what was going on. They even have their voting histories and social engagements listed. I do love the technology that has developed over the years. I try to keep up with the times and trends a person my apparent age would follow. I must say, I find that computers are truly marvelous inventions.
So now I have found my first victim, Councilman Wembly. I think this one might be fun. He has been on the town council for twenty-six years? It’s about time for him to step down anyway, isn’t it? I think as I get dressed. It’s nice there are so many lovely events during the summer here; it will be so easy to fulfill my plan. Tonight is the dedication of the new fountain in the park.
He’s a widower, no children, has been spotted at questionable establishments, and something about a dropped charge. Hmm. This might just be a mercy killing. I think as I check my reflection. Mer-vampires can see themselves in still water. I don’t know why, but that’s only one of many differences, like breathing underwater, between the regulars and us. I’ve never actually met a regular vampire, but I know the usual stuff about them. Sure, we have a few of the same limitations as well, sunlight for one, but personally I think we’re far superior.
I see Wembly across the park, and make my way through the crowd to stand behind him as they read a long boring speech about the future and past being inseparable and how venerable things from the past are. Please! So what about my house? Hmph. I move up where he can see me now. I see him looking at me appraisingly out of the corner of my eye. I wait a bit, then back into him 'accidentally'.
“Oh, excuse me, sir, I didn’t mean to step on you.” I say and laugh nervously, turning around.
“Quite all right, miss, are you enjoying the ceremony?” He asks me, his eyes traveling across my body.
“It’s very nice. It’s a pretty fountain.”
“Yes, I think it’s a nice addition to the park. Is your boyfriend here? Are you going to stay for the fireworks?”
“Oh, I didn’t know there would be fireworks, and I don’t have a boyfriend.” I say, as I smile up at him, coyly.
“You’re a very attractive woman. I’m sorry I assumed. Would you care to stop for a drink with me after this is done?”
“I’d love to.” I said softly as he put his hand on my arm. I could not believe how easy he was making this. It wasn’t even a challenge.
The crowd ebbs. Wembly gives me a greasy smile and sidles up close to me as we walk slowly to a nearby bar he suggests, talking. He seems to like to hear himself talk.
“Did you know there’s going to be a bridge built from here to Lakeview?” He asked as he put his hand on my back. “I was instrumental in getting it approved. I think it will be a wonderful thing for the cities to be connected, don’t you? It takes over an hour to get there now, but will only take minutes with the new bri…”
I couldn’t take it. He was so proud of the stupid bridge. I had to tear his throat out, didn’t I? The warm blood floods me with vitality and strength. I begin to feel more committed to my mission. Wiping the blood off my face, I feel the humanity coursing through my system. I smile victoriously as I step blithely over the councilman's limp body and keep walking.
My first goal thus attained, I decide to go see Ochle to share my triumph. He is in our area as usual. He settles into the edge of the shallows.
“Well, I got the first one, six more to go.” I say conversationally as I sit down on the sand and tell him about my night.
“Lilly, you’re not going through with this silly plan of yours are you? Revenge doesn’t suit you. I’ve always thought of you as more the predatory, mindless huntress type.” He said, showing teeth.
“That was before they made it personal. I was minding my own business and here they come, taking away my house and my pleasant life.”
“Let it go, Lilly, it’s just a house. Buy a new one. You already got one of them, be satisfied with that. Really, you worry me. If you keep at this, you’re going to get yourself noticed, and that never did anyone like us any good.”
“I’m careful. You know that.”
“That was before you started hunting public figures. A drunken college student or two and a bunch of derelicts who can be written off as shark attacks are one thing. What you’re after now is something else entirely, aside from the fact there aren’t any sharks living on land in the streets. You didn’t even drop him overboard? And you say you’re careful? Besides, you may find you have too much humanity if you eat too many of them.”
“You worry too much. I’ll be by again soon. Good morning, Ochle.” I said as I rose and dusted off the sand from my dress.
I stayed in my room until dark when the evening paper was tossed onto my porch. The headline read, “Maniac Killer on the Loose”. The forensics expert said Councilman Wembly was killed by someone wielding what may have been a shark’s jawbone, the kind you see hanging in bait and tackle shops, and some reastaurants.. A bunch of stuff was written about how fine a citizen he was and how wonderful his bridge plan was for the town. Aargh! The cursed bridge again. Councilman Deerfield was quoted saying ‘He was a great man and a good friend. He dedicated his life to this town and its welfare. He will be missed.'
I chewed my lip and thought about what Ochle said. He was probably right about everything, and I should just let it go. I had drawn blood and knocked off the major player in this sad saga, but I still felt empty. I didn’t feel this way before, not until they wanted to take my house. It made me feel very alone and powerless, and I did not like it.
I decided I was going to kill one more of them and then I could quit; make it a compromise. I’d buy a nice house right on the water, so I could walk right out my front door and see Ochle. It sounded like a good plan.
I checked the next council member in line. He was young, middle thirties, and none other than the Deerfield from the news article. He had no family to speak of either, like Wembly. He lived in an expensive home, but had no visible means of support. Maybe he had a trust fund. He probably wouldn’t be missed much, either. I thought.
It was July 4th weekend. The tourists were out in force. I found my mark preparing for the festivities scheduled for the next day, and decided to offer my assistance. Deerfield was pinning up red streamers where he’d already hung blue and white ones. I watched for a minute or two, and then I stepped in a little closer.
I said, “Hi. Do you need any help?”
He turned smiling, and said, “Sure, help me get the rest of these red things up? I’m Lorne.”
“Lilly. I always like the fireworks.” I said as I took a streamer end from him.
“Yeah, me too. Do you live around here, or are you just visiting?”
“I live here. Been here a few years.”
“Thought you looked kind of familiar.”
“Really? I don’t usually get out that much.” I said raising my eyebrows.
“Maybe not, then. I don’t know.” He said and shrugged.
We hung the streamers up, and he smiled at me when we finished. He had a very nice smile.
“Well, I need to get home. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow. Will you be around?”
“Mmm, maybe tomorrow night. I have a lot to do early.”
“Maybe I’ll see you?”
I went on home and thought I may let this one live a while. At least until tomorrow night.
I could hear the music of the bands playing from my house during the day, and I eagerly went out once it was dark to see my newest victim. I felt almost giddy.
He was there, talking to some people I recognized from my research. All of them had something to do with the town. A couple of the other councilmen and the mayor were there, too. Tough crowd. I thought.
I picked up some punch and swirled it. He saw me as I smiled in his direction, and he waved. A few minutes later he came over to me.
“Hey, Lilly, good to see you. I had to get away from the officials. They always want to talk about work.” He said, smiling at me.
“The public servant’s job is never done.” I said, and smiled back.
“Oh, I remember now where I saw you before. You were talking to Mr. Wembly at the fountain dedication. How did you know him?”
“Oh, I just bumped into him that night.” I said dismissively. “Shame what happened to him.”
“Yes. It was.”
This wasn’t going well, now. I killed his friend. Ochle was right. I was seen with the victim. Damn.
“Was he talking to anyone else that you saw?” Lorne asked.
“I didn’t talk to him very long. I left just after the fireworks.”
“I know. I saw you leave together. Did you kill him?” He asked and stared into my eyes.
His eyes were cold and hard. A predator’s eyes, I thought. I narrowed my eyes and stared back. Now it was an interrogation?
“Don’t be ridiculous, and stop staring at me like that. How and why would I do something like that?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised by anything you could do. I’ve been watching you a long time.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, alarmed now.
“I know what you are, and I know what you did. I just want you to tell me why.”
I looked back at him blankly. I said, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Of course you do. You can only come out at night, you were the last person who saw George alive, and I know what you are capable of.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Did he try to take advantage of you or something? He could be a little forward.” Lorne said.
“Maybe.” I said. I thought about the night at the fountain. I remember he was getting awfully close to me. And just before I killed him, wasn’t he being too free with his hands? I began to think that maybe I wasn’t as upset about my house as I was about the things I read about Mr. Wembly. And getting up close was even worse. I felt confused now, and must have looked it, Lorne touched my shoulder in a comforting way as he spoke.
“It’s okay. I think that’s why you did it, and I won’t tell anyone. Like I said, I’ve been watching you a while, and I do know what you are, or at least mostly. You’re not really what I expected.” He said and laughed. “Of course, what can anyone expect of a vampire?”
I scratched my head, and looked at him sideways. I asked, “If you know what I am, then why are you alone with me? Aren’t you afraid I’ll attack you too?”
“Not really. I think I’m fairly safe. I’ve been watching you for about sixty years, now,” he said, and waited for his words to sink in.
They sunk in like shark’s teeth. I snapped my head around to look at him. He was just smiling. He spread his hands in a defensive gesture.
“Sorry, I’ve been careful not to let you know. See, Ochle is a friend of mine, too. We aren’t the same species, but he and I have talked about you a little. He was worried about you and your vendetta. I decided to let you go ahead and get George before I tried to stop you. Heh, I think you did the world a favor, personally.”
Just wait until I see Ochle. I thought.
“So you know why I was out to get the council? You were supposed to be next.”
“I know. I set up the public record files so I was always listed as second. Wembly was slime; I knew you’d go for him. I actually think it’s unfortunate your house is in the projected site, but I think you could do better. Maybe you could move in with me?”
“Are you kidding me? Move in with someone who wants my home destroyed? Never.” I said, but I was beginning to wonder about my own motives, now.
I stormed off into the night. Ripping branches off trees and cursing as I went. I knew where I had to go, now.
“Ochle! Ochle, where are you? Get up here.”
He surfaced, and I could tell he was laughing at me. “Did you meet Lorne?” He asked innocently.
“I am completely and utterly dumbfounded. I’ve been so careful and this person’s been following me around for sixty years? It’s a wonder I haven’t been fooled into the sunlight by a butterfly. I am so disgusted with myself. My righteous indignation over my house has turned into a convenient excuse to get rid of a lowlife by this, this thing. You set me up! How dare you! I thought you were my friend, but you betrayed me. I will never forgive you.” I ranted, then turned away from the shore and stood with my arms folded over my chest.
“Lilly, Lorne is a vampire too. You need to associate with your own kind. You’ve been alone too long. I am mainly a fish, and dalliances with tourists aren’t a relationship. Lorne is like us, but different. He is a straight vampire. Not a Mer-vamp like you, but he understands. I think he would be good for you. Why don’t you calm down and just think about it?”
Having found no satisfaction, I growled, and stormed off the beach, too. I went home to my bungalow that wouldn’t be mine for much longer, and cried myself to sleep for the first time in a very long time. That’s one thing regular vamps have over us, I guess, they can't cry.
The worst part was that I really did like Lorne. I didn’t even know the man, but I felt a connection the first time I spoke to him.
I have been thinking for days. When I look over the profiles of the other councilmen, I am not moved to vindictive rage the way I was with Wembly. Lorne may be right. I think Wembly was just something I needed to do for the good of my community, and to make myself feel like I’m a part of something bigger. I’ve also decided my house is just a house.
I laid low for a few days, but I need to go out tonight. I stop by Ochle’s beach, and see him off shore a ways, hunting. I sigh and move on, he’ll probably be a while. It takes a lot to fill a giant shark’s belly. He still has to eat like a fish, the same as I have to eat fish every day. I stop at the beachhead. There is someone there.
Lorne said, “Hi, Lilly.”
I sigh and say, “Hi.”
“Can we talk?”
“Look, I’m sorry I dropped this on you like I did. I wish we could be friends.”
“I’m not ready for that. You made me feel incompetent, and I hate that.”
“Have you decided against eating the council? I noticed they’re all still alive.” a small, nearly non-existent smile played across his features.
“I guess so. I realized it wasn’t about them.”
“You haven’t given up all humans?”
“Can’t. Don’t want to be a fish.” I glanced at him, he was staring at his feet.
“Ah, I thought that might be the case. I’m in the same boat, in a way.”
I just looked at him.
He said, “I didn’t tell Ochle before, but I’m a different kind of vampire, too. I was embarrassed, since I’m a sort of were-vamp. It doesn’t matter about the moon, though. I can get by mostly on red meat, but I need the occasional human to keep from becoming a dog. This place is perfect, and I understand why you like living here. You and I are a lot alike, so it’d be a shame not to make something out of it. Don’t you think?” He smiled then, expectant.
I hate it so much when Ochle’s right. I turn to look at the ocean. It’s always there, like Ochle. He’s close to shore where I can see him now. He knew Lorne was here then. I brush away my tears, then turn back to Lorne and smile. He reaches out and pulls me to him. It feels right, not lonely at all.
I look out at the night-shrouded sea, and think, This is what it’s always about. The sea knows. I hear a sea-bird call. Now I am content.
Word count: 4436