He finds me at the end of my next class. Not that it was too hard; after all, he was sitting three seats away from me.
“So, you’re the new girl?” I inhale deeply as he gets closer, catching a faint, bitter whiff of chemo. His skin is paper thin, and I can easily see his pulse at his throat and temples.
“Nope. I’ve been here thirteen years. You just never noticed me before.”
He smirks at that. “I’m Billy Price.”
“And you already know my name.” I had to introduce myself all over again in AP English. I’ll be doing that all damn day long.
He grins at me. “Can I help you find your next class?”
“Sure.” I hand him my schedule.
“212. I’m in the next room over. The stairs are this way.”
He leads me through a crowded corridor and up a wide staircase. When we get to 212, he gestures at it with a flourish. It was an almost courtly gesture that would have made perfect sense in 1770, but was horrendously out of place in 2010. “And now you have been safely deposited at French V. If you wait here after French, I’ll show you where your next class is.”
“Thanks,” I say quickly and slip inside.
Billy has me puzzled. He isn’t the vamp. But there’s something else going on with him. Besides the chemo, I mean. I can’t put my finger on it; nothing about him seems particularly off, but he has my Spidey-senses tingling. There is something about him that I haven’t seen before, and I’ve seen pretty much everything.
While the class around me conjugates verbs, I decide getting to know Billy a bit better might be a good plan. Sure, he isn’t the vamp, but the whole reason I’m doing this is fun. Figuring out what’s up with him could be interesting.
He’s waiting just outside 212 for me when I get out of French. I hand him my schedule again, and again, he leads me to my next class.
He doesn’t say much. I get the sense he isn’t feeling well. You’ve probably heard people say fear has a scent. That’s true. But so does any strong emotion. Pain has a scent as well. I can smell he’s hurting.
The character I’m playing should just go into class without saying anything to him. But as I look at him, wondering what makes him special enough to attract my attention, I decide to break character.
“Thanks for the guide work.”
“No problem.” He half-smiles and heads off.
I find a seat and settle in for the last forty-five minutes of school for the day.
Home. Another day of high school over and done with.
I have a real home. A place I go when I’m not hunting. I haven’t been there in a while, but maybe after this jaunt, I’ll head back. Maybe try going after a grown-up vamp. I haven’t seen Charleston in too long, and I miss it.
When I’m on the hunt, my car, laptop, lathe, clothes and I hop from one furnished corporate apartment to another.
How do I afford this? Long story short: compound interest is your friend, and when you’re as old as I am, you can really take advantage of it. I’ve also been dabbling in the stock market since the 1880’s. I bought IBM, Apple, Coke, and a few others I’m sure you know, at less than two dollars a share.
And, amazingly enough, I’ve got a really good eye for antiques.
So, once again I’m sitting in the living room of a generic corporate apartment. The furniture in this one is comfy, and the bath tub is big enough to entertain in. I’ve stayed in much worse.
What do vamps do at home? Well, a lot of the same things humans do at home. I read. I watch TV. I game. I work on my art.
And some things you probably don’t do. For example, I spend a few hours checking the local papers for missing girls. None. Most people would think that’s a sign this is a town sans vamp (I mean, besides me), but I know that just means the vamp here is smart enough not to shit where he eats.
Want to get the locals all up in arms, pitchforks and torches at the ready? Go eat and then kill the Homecoming Queen. No, if you’re a smart vamp, you don’t kill the girls; you munch on them for as long as that’s interesting to you, making sure they’re convinced you’re in lurve with them, and then you break up with them.
Remember that anti-glamour thing I mentioned before? Yeah. Work that right, and when you break up with her, she goes and kills herself, and you don’t have to worry about being outed.
After a suitable time, let’s call it somewhere between one and three weeks, depending on how often you need to eat, where you become even more attractive to the idiot twits because you’re the oh-so-sad-little-boy, mourning the tragic loss of your true love—No, you don’t let anyone else know you broke up with her. And you damn well make sure there’s no suicide note!—you pick up a new girlfriend. This can usually get you to graduation. Then off to ‘college’ you go and set up a new life in a new town.
So, I look for towns with unexplained teen-girl suicides, the sort where everyone is stunned because the girl had everything going for her.
And no, not all of us play by this set of rules. If you’re really good at your glamour, you don’t bother to kill the girls. It’s a lot less messy if you don’t have to kill them. If you get off on pain and fear, you don’t bother with the suicide line and go straight for horrific but unexplained murder. If you don’t want one steady feed, a quick insta-glamour that makes the last ten minutes sort of fuzzy will do the job just fine. But if you want to be adored for a while and have a snack available at all times, the suicide trick is easiest way to make sure you’re not going to get outed.
It’s simple to glamour someone to do something while you are there with them or shortly after they’ve left you. It’s a lot harder to make them keep doing whatever it is you want them to do. Basically, glamour is a learned skill, and if you aren’t any good at it, you can end up with some very awkward questions aimed in your direction.
This vamp’s lazy or stupid. He’s lingering too long here. There’s maybe 250 fifteen to eighteen-year-old girls in this town. One killed herself last year. One killed herself this year. One got in a car accident. (That’s another way to get rid of an inconvenient girlfriend/snack.)
I’m in the right town.
Shouldn’t I do this sort of research before I get into town?
Probably. I usually pick places by how much I like the town and if the corporate apartments nearby look decent. Then I settle in and look for a vamp. I don’t care if there’s a huge nest of vamps eating every kid in the local high school. Not if they’re in a suck-ass town with lousy accommodations.
Researching gets me to nine o’clock. Still a lot of hours to kill.
I go to my kitchen. Obviously, I don’t use it for eating. I do use it for woodworking.
The wooden stake thing is true. One of those through the heart and we’re deader than dead. (Deader than normal? Deadest? Ash!) Now, here’s the thing; just like humans, we’ve got a breastbone. Just like humans, it’s pretty damn tough.
You know those big stakes you see Buffy use? Yeah. Okay, they work. And if you’ve got my strength, hammering one of those through someone’s ribcage isn’t an issue. But they aren’t precisely subtle. And they aren’t easy to hide. And when they are hidden, they aren’t all that easy to get to fast. While I’m more than fast enough to take on any human around, sometimes other vamps can be pretty damn fast too, and those few extra tenths of a second can count.
Not to say I don’t ever use the big ones, but I prefer something a little more… sleek.
Did you know that you can buy extremely thin titanium knitting needles? They make them for knitting socks and lace. You can get them less than a sixteenth of an inch wide.
Sitting on my kitchen table is a selection of pretty wood blanks. These days I’m using a lot of rosewood and mahogany. I take two small rectangles of wood, say less than three eights of an inch thick each, chisel out a channel, glue in the knitting needle, glue another block on top, and then onto the mini-lathe they go.
Most people use a mini-lathe for making pens or dollhouse furniture. I use mine to make hair chopsticks: beautiful, titanium-cored, very pointy, wooden hair chopsticks.
I always have my hair in a bun. I almost always have a stick or two tucked in it. And I always enjoy the look of surprise when the vamp notices how that tiny little bit of wood is a lethal weapon.
I spend the rest of the night at my lathe, turning new hair sticks.