Meg learns about the fate of her old friends.
“First,” said Vincent, “you must understand that much is unknown about the conversion of Moose Island. Normally, when a principality emerges, the founder presents herself or himself to The Council, an assembly of vampire leaders from around the world, to officially secure leadership of the realm. However, no one has come forward to claim Moose Island. We do not know who converted it.”
“It was Gabrielle,” I said.
Vincent frowned. “I do not believe so.”
“Vincent, she's the suspect here!”
“She has many motives, it is true. However, there are three compelling reasons it cannot be her,” Vincent said. “First, she has a principality already, and it is exceedingly difficult to rule more than one. Second, the vampires of Moose Island lack the ability to transform. This is a hallmark of vampires whose sires are new-generation. Their blood is so diluted, they have few if any powers. The master of Moose Island is a new-generation vampire; Gabrielle is several centuries old.”
“Some older vampires can choose which of their powers to pass down to their fledglings,” I said, remembering the vampire who'd attacked me.
“How did you come by this information, Meg?”
“Oh, I was attacked by a vampire last night,” I said. “He told me.”
Vincent regarded me. “I was not aware of this.”
“I was rescued slash kidnapped right after. Which, by the way, is a very good reason not to destroy that vampire hunter club. They saved me.”
“What did this vampire look like?”
“Damonius,” Vincent muttered.
“Vincent, I've never heard you swear before.”
“Damonius is the name of the vampire who visited you.”
“Oh, I thought it was old-time speak for 'damn.' Like, 'The vampire resembled I? Goddamonius!'”
“I do not sound like that, Meg.”
“So, is Damonius your twin?”
“He is no relation of mine,” Vincent said. “He is Gabrielle's progeny. As you know, Gabrielle is obsessed with me, but I would never take her as a partner. So, over the centuries, she found humans who resembled me and turned them. For a period, these clones were so rampant that whenever humans thought of vampires, they thought of vampires who resembled me: black hair, widow's peaks, aristocratic bearings. She even dressed them in capes, an article of clothing I have always favored. Then, in the 1920s, Gabrielle found Damonius.”
“Someone from the 1920s named their kid Damonius?”
“Strange names were not invented by millennials, Meg.”
“I think he's in love with me.”
Vincent pursed his lips. “Gabrielle will not be pleased,” he said. “Or, rather, she wouldn't be pleased.”
“What does that mean?”
“The third reason Gabrielle cannot be the converter of Moose Island is that she's missing.”
“She has been missing since before Moose Island was converted.”
“I didn't know vampires went missing.”
“It is a rare occurrence,” Vincent said. “Gabrielle has not been seen nor heard from since shortly after the production of My Babysitter Is a Vampire. It is true that Gabrielle was last sighted in Maine, near Moose Island. Given her obsession with us, it is unsurprising that she was lurking in that area. But, again, the vampires of Moose Island cannot be her progeny.”
“So she's definitely missing? She's not lying low, waiting to catch us off guard?”
“I do not believe so. Gabrielle's servants report that she's not been in contact with them. That she would willingly sever ties with all of her servants would be extraordinarily uncharacteristic; she enjoys flaunting her power and being waited upon, more so than any vampire I have ever known.”
“But Damonius said that he was ordered to kill me.”
That gave Vincent pause for thought. At last, he said, “I believe Gabrielle is incapacitated. She was not present at this year's Gathering. Every decade, The Council mandates that all vampire leaders convene at a... meeting, of sorts. It is a grievous error not to attend. Gabrielle shall be punished most severely when she resurfaces.”
“Even if it's not her fault she couldn't make it?”
“Maybe she's resurfaced since then,” I said.
“Perhaps,” said Vincent, but he didn't sound as though he thought it was likely.
“Who did this to Moose Island, then? If not Gabrielle, who? The only vampires I know are you and Gabrielle and those vampire leaders you crushed under Castle Vladestan. Oh, and Grebiv. And Damonius. And Brooke, I guess, but I don't think she counts anymore, since she's human now. Oh, and Mortimer.”
“I do not believe Grebiv is behind these events,” said Vincent in all sincerity. “My younger brother is as involved in the affairs of Moose Island as your younger brother Trevor is.”
“I was joking.”
“Oh,” he said. He gave a sinister little chuckle. “Indeed.”
Then he said, “The vampire who converted Moose Island may not necessarily be someone you know. I have an idea regarding the origins of Moose Island's enigmatic founder. You cannot know this, Meg, but the movie you created, our movie, has become immensely popular.”
“I do know that. I sign my name on posters for a living because I know that.”
“It has become immensely popular among vampires.”
“It is an unprecedented phenomenon,” Vincent said. “At no other point in history has a mortal's story arrested the attention of immortals as ours has.”
“I...,” I faltered. “I don't understand. How is our story any different from other vampire stories that humans have told throughout the years?”
“Ours is a true story,” said Vincent, “and...”
“Among humans, our story is considered horror. But among my kind, our story is a romance.”
“But—but, wait, what?” I said. Before I could stop myself, I plowed on, “My Babysitter Is a Vampire isn't even the part of our story that's about us falling in love--”
Oh, God, what had I just said? I stammered on: “I mean, the movie is only about that first summer on Moose Island. There was nothing romantic about that period of my... of our... of, you know, us. There was nothing romantic about that summer. So why does, um... why do your people think our story is a romance?”
Fingers steepled, Vincent watched me intently.
He said, “Vampires the world over know the entirety of our story. At least... they know all of Gabrielle's version of our story. When she fell from the cliff during production, she transformed into a bat and flew away, as I had guessed she might. From there, she told every vampire she encountered about the feelings she suspected I harbored for you, and you for me.” He paused, watching me.
I sipped my coffee, eyes fixed on the black liquid.
“Typically,” Vincent continued, “rumors of such a scandal would have been disastrous. Intimate relationships between vampires and humans are forbidden. However, in this era of rapidly advancing technology, vampire attitudes have undergone significant changes. Higher numbers of new-generation vampires—with new ideas—are emerging than ever before. Vampires have become aware of human subcultures that revere us, of a global human obsession with our kind that many of us find... flattering. Vampire-human relationships, though still forbidden by vampire elders, have become, in the short span of only a few years, more accepted among vampires in general.
“Gabrielle endeavored to destroy me by telling the vampire world about us. Instead, she fashioned me into an antihero whom many of my kind now worship. I receive fan mail, Meg.”
He said this with such gloom, I almost laughed. I understood fan mail. It could be wonderful, but often it was intrusive and sometimes unsettling. I recalled all the fans who, in their letters, had claimed to be vampires. Although, considering what I'd just learned, I now supposed many of them really were vampires.
“So we're like vampire culture's Edward and Bella?” I asked.
“Perhaps something along those lines,” Vincent said. “Those books are... interesting, are they not, Meg?”
“They're kind of silly.”
“True. Still, I find the series strangely fascinating.”
“Really?” I was surprised by that. “You're into Twilight? Sparkly vampire skin and all?”
“The stories are not without humor,” said Vincent hastily. “Not without a great deal of humor. It is more the overarching concept that I appreciate.”
Vincent gazed meaningfully at me.
“So, um... so,” I said. I closed my eyes, trying recapture my original train of thought and my rage from earlier, and failing spectacularly at both. Moose Island, my home, had been turned into Vampire Island. What was I doing flirting with a vampire? With Vincent, no less, who may not have converted Moose Island, but whose goal had once been to do just that?
I looked back up at Vincent. He was staring at me with an intensity that, for some reason, I found calming. It was utterly incongruous with the emotions I knew I should be feeling.
“Okay, whatever you're doing,” I said, wrenching my gaze away from his, “you need to stop!”
The spell lifted. I felt the fury and sadness that had leveled me at the vampire hunters' building return full force.
Had Vincent hypnotized me?
“Did you hypnotize me?”
“I was merely trying to make this easier for you, Meg,” Vincent said.
“When did you hypnotize me?”
“I sensed your distress at the vampire hunters’ building, when you first opened the door with that stake in your hand. I did not hypnotize you, precisely. Hypnotism is not one of my strengths. I merely dampened your anger, lest you attempted something we would both regret.”
Moose Island. My friends. My community since I was little. All were gone.
“You said earlier that you and I are responsible for Moose Island's fate,” I said, trying to keep my voice level and avoiding Vincent's treacherous, hypnoticish gaze. “How are we responsible for the fate of Moose Island?”
Vincent folded his hands. His nails were long and very pointed. The maroon-stoned ring I'd once worn for an entire summer gleamed on Vincent's long wedding-ring finger.
“With our story out in the world, it was only a matter of time before a vampire sought to accomplish what I, the infamous Vincent, could not: the conversion of Moose Island. It is my belief that Moose Island was turned by one of our fans.”
I took this in.
“So we are responsible for what happened to Moose Island,” I said.
“In a way.”
I sipped my coffee, my hands shaking. Moose Island was gone because of me. All the people I'd known there. All the kids I'd grown up with. Jack. They were all vampires now. And they were trapped.
“Vincent, they're starving.”
“How long does it take a vampire to starve to death?”
“Three decades or more. It is a terrible and agonizingly slow way to expire.”
“When did they become vampires?” I asked.
“Four years ago.”
My eyes stung. Four years. I'd gone four years without calling anyone on Moose Island, without checking up on them at all.
Vincent said, “Meg, there is something I must confess.”
“What is it?”
“There is a reason I tasked your friend Voldar with discovering a reversal for vampirism. I wished to restore Moose Island before word of its fate reached you.”
As Vincent's words sunk in, I felt my blood go cold.
“A thousand people—friends of mine since childhood—are dying slow, painful deaths on that island as we speak. They're suffering because of me. And you didn't think I would want some say in how to proceed?”
Needing something to do with my hands, I grabbed my glass of water. Missing my mouth by a good inch, the water spilled down my shirt, which was just rad. Dabbing violently at my chest with a napkin, I said, “What if I'd found out about Moose Island by going there for a vacation?”
“That, among other reasons, is why I have had you followed all these years.”
“Surely, Meg, you cannot expect me not to post a guard around you when you're as famous among vampirekind as you are? Are you aware of how many vampires attend those GothiCons?” He made the word sound filthy, and it rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, yeah, GothiCon is stupid, but it’s kind of my thing.
“Are you aware,” he pressed, “of how many vampires attend those conventions in order to 'hook up,' as you humans say? Are you aware of how many vampires would relish getting a hold of you, the heroine of their modern beloved romance, and--”
“Okay, I get it! I need babysitters!” I fumed. “Am I ever going to be too old for them?”
“Perhaps not,” Vincent replied icily.
With that, I dug into my jeans pocket and retrieved a wad of dollar bills. I tossed them onto the table, rose, and began walking away.
“Meg,” Vincent said, following closely behind me, “you cannot walk back to your hotel. The distance is too great for a human to traverse on foot by sunrise. I will not be able to follow you.”
A couple of truckers turned their heads at that.
“Do I look stupid?” I asked, exiting the coffee shop. “There's a family of vampire hunters that's just been banished from their club because of me. And if what you're saying is true, every vampire in the world is just waiting for an opportunity to bite me or worse. Why would I endanger myself by walking to my hotel alone? I'm not walking, Vincent. You're driving me. And then you're going back to Drazylvonia or wherever you live now.”
I got into the sedan. Vincent did too.
After a few minutes of heavy silence on the road, Vincent said, “I am not returning to Drazylvonia until I have found a sufficient number of guards for you, Meg. Until then, I shall be staying at your hotel.”
"Chapter 8: Guess Who's Not a Vampire"
1. GothiCon is a continuation of an original series, My Babysitter Is a Vampire by Ann Hodgman, published in the early 1990s. Meg, Meg's parents, Voldar, Brooke, Caryl, Kilmer, Gabrielle, Mortimer, Vincent, Reid, Trevor, and Jack are Ann Hodgman's original characters. GothiCon was written and posted with permission from the original author.
The moderator, questioners, and bouncers are my original creations.
2. Part I: GothiCon is a complete section (with a semi-satisfying conclusion) of an incomplete novel.
Parts II and III will be posted by summer.
3. A million thank yous for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed this chapter. Any input is greatly appreciated and will be reciprocated.