Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Chapter Four: Arrivals - Moriko; Vance

After many days and nights on the road, Moriko and her father arrived in a suburb in New Jersey. The GPS read 4.3 miles to their destination. Her new base. They never called it home. She watched the town drift by outside her window. Many houses sported For Sale signs on their front lawns. Moriko wondered what was making so many people leave. Was it her prey here or a mundane threat like interest rates?

The high school floated by, atop a slight hill, and shadowed gloomily by the lowering sun. It gave her the chills. She could just make out the name on a large sign in front. Matheson Senior High. Moriko never felt welcome at a new school, but this place seemed to promise particularly nasty experiences. She felt a pain in her neck and reached up to touch it. When she pulled her fingers away the tips were daubed with blood. For a moment she felt light headed and dizzy, but then she felt herself being held in strong arms. She smelled wet fur and had the strongest feeling that she might find someone who could understand her here, someone she wouldn’t have to lie to. And that she would have to kill that someone.

She saw the house as her dad pulled into the driveway, with her head against the window. It was a long, single-level house done up in white and brown in a vaguely alpine motif. The landscaping was intricate and immaculate (and therefore boring). That was something her father insisted upon. 

Some ultimately depressing Glass piano piece droned on the stereo. The house was also ultimately depressing. Nice enough, but Moriko was not willing to give it any credit, so as to avoid any feeling of attachment. Why bother forming positive opinions? The good and the bad, it all littered the road behind her.

“Moriko,” said her father, “take your head out of the clouds. We have arrived. There is much work to be done.” There was always more work to be done once the traveling part was over. “Come,” he continued, “let’s see who we are this time.” He might have even winked. He did that sometimes, and Moriko could hear the note in his voice that said he was trying to cajole her out of a good brood. The ride past the high school had really helped and she was in as bleak a mood as she’d ever managed. But, it might be interesting to learn more about the threat here…

“Besides,” he added once they were outside the car, “I think your new blade is here.”

Moriko brightened, but just a little. 

* * *

By the time they arrived in New Jersey, Ana had taught Vance just about everything he needed to know about being young in the 21st century. She’d prepared well. She had a Louisiana state identification card with the name Vance Alexander Rothchild, an iPhone, and a laptop computer with wireless data built in. 

Cheri’s lifeblood had done wonders for Vance, and he felt compelled by Ana’s confidence and planning. At each stop, someone met them and was willing to submit, especially if Vance made it a point to talk to them first. He also had a way of getting what he wanted. Ana drove and stole glances at Vance, while he studied the devices (and Ana) and asked questions. He’d gone to ground in the 1970s so he had some catching up to do. They listened to lots of music.

One of the things VAnce came to admire about Ana was her ability to admit when she didn’t know  something, which was quite common. Vance found himself very curious about foreign affairs and the wars the US and Great Britain were taking part in. Ana proved woefully ignorant of these matters, but brushed it off. 

“That’s what the internet’s for, Grandpa.” She scolded. He hated when she called him that. It made him feel very dirty. It’s hard to make a vampire, especially one as old and jaded as Vance, feel dirty.

“Ana, please. Do not call me that. And do you mean to tell me people now don’t bother to actually learn anything because it’s on this internet?”

She shrugged. “More or less, yeah.”

“That seems counterproductive. What happens when no one knows anything? I feel like the world has fallen into decline without me.”

“Don’t worry, Vance, there are still a few people with the brains, willfulness and wealth to do things like magic and finding unfindable things.” She grinned very slightly. He loved it when she did that and her meaning was not lost on him. She was something special. But he already knew that.

 On their very first night together, when he still reeked and looked a bit like something that crawled out of a grave, Ana had showered with Vance, groomed him—that was a pleasant surprise—and made him feel very welcome back to the realm of the living… and un-living.

But something was wrong. Vance was sure of it. He’d never let anyone earn his trust so quickly and easily. Sure, Ana was beautiful and very willing, but… yes, something was wrong. He would have to think about it.

“Think you can handle high school again?” She asked, pulling him away from his thoughts.

“Seriously? Why would we do that to ourselves?”

“It’s different now. Everyone’s much more sensitive and polite about all these issues. Besides, you know what a juicy source of information a high school is. 

“Here’s our new home,” Ana said, pulling in to a drive in front of a large brown house. It was only a single story, but it sprawled. It looked to border on a park or some undeveloped wilderness. 
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