Chapter 6: The Light
HANNAH slowly opened her eyes and let morning settle over her. As a half-mortal she did not need much rest, but she always enjoyed the dreamy feeling of dozing off and waking up again. Next to her BQ lie tangled in a mess of sheets. Dawn was breaking, fighting its way in, but the room was still very dark from the computerized tinting of the big picture window overlooking the overflowing trash bins behind the Pier House restaurant. Further to the left one could see the still smoldering remains of the very expensive mansion Hannah had blown up last night upon their discovery by the clan of vampires.
She stretched her tawny legs beneath the sheets and enjoyed the silky feeling. She continued scissoring her legs beneath the covers and was now all kinds of in the mood. She had meant to pin BQ to the mattress last night and do him so well and he’d never want to be done again, but his all-too-mortal shell succumbed to the rigors of being on the run for 48 hours. He passed out.
I wonder how he’s feeling now? She asked herself and gave him a nudge. “You up?”
As she snaked a hand across his waist he shriveled away. She pulled back. He was shivering.
“I’m not feeling well.”
His trembling shook the mattress.
She sighed, frustrated, but was concerned for him.
“We’ve been running for two days,” she said. “I’m not surprised you’re worn out. Actually, I’m surprised it took this long. You’re a lot tougher than you look. And sound.”
She expected this to draw a laugh from him; despite it all he’d been able to maintain his dry sense of humor, but to this he said nothing.
“I think I’ve got some medicine in the bathroom,” she said and reached for the lamp.
His hand shot out and grabbed hers. “Leave it off… please…” he rasped.
“Sure,” she replied.
“Thanks.” He removed his hand. His voice was raw and sounded delicate as tissue paper. He was tired. Too tired. If he was going to survive this experience it would have to end soon.
“I’ll make us some coffee after I find you some pills.”
He replied by cinching himself tighter into the blanket. She went to the medicine cabinet and found Alleve and Tylenol. She put them both on the night stand next to him, but he did not move; he was entirely covered by the blanket.
“Thanks,” he said, his voice now tinny and distant. Something was off, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“Take those, they’ll make you feel better.”
He did not move.
She shrugged. “Suit yourself. I’m making coffee.”
Another one of the reasons she enjoyed sleeping every so often was the added excuse to brew a pot of fine European coffee. So she did.
From the bed, BQ asked in his tired voice, “So… the houses… how did you know?”
“How did I know what?”
“All of it,” BQ replied. “Where to build them, how to build them. All the tunneling and security devices. How did you do all that?”
She smiled, feeling a little clever. “Well, as I told you, the Von Port Travelling Amusement did very well. All that money was left to me when… after Tituba passed. It’s been sitting in the bank accruing interest for over 100 years. I don’t spend much; just enough to live on and buy the occasional new pair of shoes. And, of course, property. Lots and lots of property.”
“But the mansion you blew up last night… the land alone, this motel… just the dirt must have cost millions.”
Now she felt even cleverer. “Not 50 years ago it didn’t. Land in Cape May was cheap until the ’90s rolled around. As for the construction and super-secret tunnels and such, provided you use non-union labor and pay cash under the table, it’s pretty amazing how quickly you can get quality work done. And with a little more cash how much confidentiality you can buy. There are a lot of third-generation carpenters in Cape May who are living now off Von Port seed money.”
“Interesting,” BQ said, without sounding very interested at all. “But what I’m more curious about is… how did you know to build and fortify yourself in Cape May?”
The old coffee pot gurgled and boiled on the counter and smelled like heaven. “A bit of luck, really. My… family and I, we spent years moving from town to town, tracking down small pockets of vampires. But we were never able to find the lair. We know they exist; many a vampire spoke of them beneath my blade, but not one ever gave it up. I suppose you have to admire than a little.”
“And?” BQ prodded her.
“We were up in Bangor, Maine. We’d tracked a vampire to his home. He was an upscale vampire, a lawyer or something. In his house we found a safe. And in that safe we found a bunch of documents dating back to when my father drove them out of Europe.”
She poured two cups of beautiful black coffee and continued.
“It’s the lighthouses.”
BQ grunted. “What do you mean?”
She leaned against the kitchenette and stared at him. His back was to her and every few moments he would snuggle up deeper into the blanket. But there was something weird about the sound of his voice. “These documents tied a lot of family names into the construction, purchase and maintenance of every lighthouse in America. The vampires took over the existing ones or built new ones with all their old money. You think I’m rich… I’ve got millions, but they must have billions by now. Anyway, the lighthouses were used as beacons to incoming vampires. I’m sure my father would be very upset to learn that the justice he’d brought forth in Europe had led to such misery in the Americas.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” BQ said then grunted quite loudly.
She squinted at him.
“There’s not much use for lighthouses these days, but vampires are a traditional lot, so you can always be sure their main clan will be somewhere in the vicinity of a lighthouse. It’s made them very easy to track and put down these last few decades.”
“And what are you going to do with this Cape May clan?”
Now she perked up, pleased with her own brilliance. “That’s going to be fun. You’re a local, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Cape May Point lighthouse’s recent conversion to solar energy. We’re going to use that to get them.”
“Hmm…” came the voice from the bed.
“The funding for the project came from an anonymous donor, the VPTA corporation – Von Port Travelling Amusement. I’ve been working on this thing for a while now.”
“Hmm…” the figure on the bed repeated.
Hannah smiled. “It’s not a very complicated plan, but it’s a good one.”
“And then,” she sighed, “then it will be done. And I can rest.”
“Very good. Thank you.” BQ replied.
She thought it an odd thing to say, but swatted it away as she had all the other weirdness of the last few minutes. Instead, she gulped down the coffee and stalked the bed.
“Now, you better get yourself naked under those covers, because sick or not, me and you are going to get it on, right now.”
BQ shouted, “Hannah, run!”
She yanked the blanket off him and the vampire hissed at her in the gloom. It jumped up on all fours and dropped the smart phone it had been holding.
Surprised, Hannah stumbled backwards into the small living room area. Her pack, with all her weaponry, was on the other side of the bed.
A new voice came from the smart phone. “Excellent, you have done very well, Irish.”
This voice sent a chill down Hannah’s spine. She had heard it before but could not place it. Regardless, it was obvious now that BQ had been abducted in the night while Hannah slept. But the motel room was in full lockdown mode and the entire complex was covered with motion detectors and vampire alarms.
“How…” she started, but the voice cut her off.
“Your boyfriend, this young man, your lover I take it?” the voice asked with German lilt.
“That’s none of your concern,” she replied.
“Yes, well, he wandered out into the night. My men sat, waiting, planning; how do we get to the great Hannah Von Port? Then this young man came walking right into our arms.”
“I’m sorry, Hannah,” BQ cried through the phone. “I just really needed some air! I was freaking out and didn’t want to wake you! I just stepped out for a cigarette! Hannah, I’m sorry!”
The voice said, “It is true what they say; smoking kills.”
And he chuckled. It was the chuckle that gave him away.
But at that moment, as Hannah backed away from the bed, she noticed all the many other vampires emerging from their hiding spaces; closets, cupboards, pantry, attic space, bathroom… anywhere shadow fell. Again, Hannah eyed her pack; there was no way she could get to her weapons. So she continued to back away in the darkness. She glanced at the clock next to the bed; 7:23am. Her shoulders sank.
“My dear Hannah, my men are going to kill you, but I want you to die well, and with the knowledge that your Irish friend will die along with you.”
Hannah backed all the way up to the picture window. The glass was cold against her back.
“Why don’t we stop playing games. Father.”
“It is true, my daughter. I did not want you to know, but, well, here we are.”
She said, “At least I can die with the knowledge that my father was a lying bastard.”
“I told no lies,” the voice said firmly. “I merely rearranged the truth.”
Hannah counted; 10, 11, 12… 13 vampires closed in on her, cautiously. They very slowly enclosed her in a semi-circle, offering no escape route between them.
“Are you sure you sent enough men this time? Aren’t you afraid of losing them?”
Abraham, replied, “As you well know, my dear; I can always make more.”
“Such high regard you have for them, sending them to certain death.”
“These men serve the purpose for which they were created.”
“Let’s get this over with.”
“Hannah, no!” BQ cried followed by the sound of flesh hitting flesh. “Ow…”
“Do it!” Hanah ordered.
“Very well then,” Abraham replied. “NOW!”
The vampires leapt forward, filling the air with their lithe, gray bodies. She took a sharp breath, closed her eyes, and pressed the button under the window sash. The computerized tint lifted instantaneously, and 13 vampires fell into harmless dust clouds on the carpet.
“Now,” she said and wiped some ash from her shoulders, “enough with the shenanigans. I want my friend back.”
The voice said, “Friend? Not your lover?”
“I said it’s none of your concern. He’s my friend and I want him back.”
“But there have been other men over the years Hannah, many lovers before Irish. And those men you left to die or put down yourself when the need arose. So what makes this one so special? Has Hannah Von Port finally given her heart away?”
“I’m not… I just want him back is all. Now let him go or I’ll come and get him. If you harm him in any way I will end you.”
“Tsk, tsk,” the voice said disapprovingly. “Threats against your father, not very ladylike. But very well, if that is how you would like it. You know where we are, and now we know your silly plan with the solar energy, so there will be no secrets between us when the time comes.”
“Fine with me,” she said into the phone.
“Who would have thought the legendary Hannah Von Port would die for love.”
“I’m NOT in love!”
“Hey!” BQ shouted, followed by another slapping sound. “Ow!”
“I’m… I don’t know what I am…”
“It is okay, my child,” the voice said. “I know these things can be very confusing.”
“Shut up,” she said. “You’ve got 20 minutes to get your affairs in order.”
And she smashed the phone against the wall. Hannah Von Port got her pack, refilled it with weaponry from the secret compartment in the pantry, put on her black hunting clothes, and stalked out of the motel room.
It would be the last night of her life as she knew it.
Deep beneath the Cape May Point lighthouse, BQ struggled mightily, to no avail, against his bonds. The vampire listened as the phone went dead in his hands.
“A pity it has to end this way,” Abraham said, tossing the phone aside. “She’s right, you know, about us being a traditional sort. We don’t adapt well to change. But I like this iPhone thing, it could be very, what’s the word, cool.”
“You know she’s grieved for you her whole life,” BQ said angrily. “You bastard.”
Abraham spread his hands. “I did what I did. Who is to judge? Me? You? God?”
BQ spat in his face. “I guess we’ll find out when we get there.”
Abraham smiled and wiped his face. “I think I quite like you, Irish. Your people have the sweetest blood. Must be all the whiskey and potatoes.”
“I think you might have some brains, and you certainly have some gumption. And if my Hannah has fallen for you, well, there must be something I’m not seeing, but I’m sure it’s a good quality.”
A smaller vampire handed Abraham a burlap sack with something heavy in it.
“What’s that?” BQ asked, frightened.
“Nothing for you to be concerned with,” he said to BQ. To the smaller vampire he said, “Please go help the others. My daughter will be here soon and we need to prepare.”
“She’ll destroy all of you, you know.”
“Perhaps, perhaps not,” Abraham replied and pulled a jar from the burlap sack. Inside was all gray and black dots, some large, some small, a pulsing mass against the glass.
“What. Are. Those.” BQ asked.
“I believe they are known in the scientific community as superfamily Ixodoidea. But you probably know them better as ‘ticks.’”
“Oh holy Jesus…”
“Yes, I am afraid he cannot help you now. My men have been very hard at work preparing for this night,” he took a small black bug from the jar and held it up to BQ’s eye, “and I believe they deserve… what do you call it when you reward your fat little children for the genius of being able to wipe their own as… Ah yes, a treat.”
“Where is your bravado now, Irish? Now that your Hannah is no longer here to help you?”
BQ could only weep.
“I do not blame you,” Abraham said. “This is all going to be very unfortunate for you, but we all have our roles to play, no?”
Abraham reached a fist into the jar; it came out covered in ticks. BQ shrieked.
Abraham was right, it was going to be an unfortunate evening.