MC Ch. 2

[Link to previous chapter]

Chapter 2: Home schooling, vampire style

Copyright © 2013 by Brian Bixby.

I wake up with the nightmare vision of Martha Fokker sucking my life away. I want to flail around, but realize I’m still bound.

That’s right. I’m bound in a coffin. Me, Ned O’Donnell. I’m a goddam vampire. I’m a victim of the notorious Martha Fokker, who wants me to call her “Mother Fokker.”

I’m thirsty.

I am not going to drink blood. I am not going to drink blood. I am not going to drink blood. Maybe if I say it to myself 100 times, I’ll be normal again.

I’m thirsty.

I don’t hear Mother Fokker’s breathing. She’s probably left me alone here to die. Can vampires die? Well, yeah, we’ve killed a bunch of them. But can they die of starvation?

I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I’m thirsty. I want something to drink.

I get this eerie feeling, like I’ve started something by thinking that. I can sense somehow that someone’s going to come with something for me to drink. I hope it’s not blood. But I’m thirsty. Whatever this thing is, this feeling, I tug on it. Bring me something to drink! Bring me something to drink!

I hear a door open. There are steps. They sound too heavy for Martha, who’s not that big. No, this is someone really adult-sized. The lights go on.

My meal comes into view. She’s already bared her neck where I can see the holes. The holes through which blood will come gushing. Red, wonderful, tasty blood. I’m so excited I growl in anticipation.

And then I drink. I drink and drink and drink and it tastes glorious . . .

And then I feel someone pulling me away. I try to snap at the person, but she bangs my head down hard enough that I come to my senses.

The woman . . . what is her name? She’s getting up, looking a lot paler than she was. There’s still some blood dripping from her neck. The sight of it drives me wild, and I try to draw her back to me.

Instead of lowering herself back down to me, I see Martha grab her, and yank her down out of sight. And then I get this bad feeling that starts in my canines, as if someone just hurt me. No, that’s not it. Someone’s taken away my prey. I growl in rage, strain at my bonds.

The woman gets up. There’s dirt on her coat. There’s still blood on her neck. I try to pull her back, but it’s as if the connection between us has been broken. She heads out of my sight and I hear her on the stairs.

Martha sits up. There’s blood on her lips. I feel this incredible hostility to her. I know she took my prey! I growl and hiss at her.

She reaches over to my hands. “Control yourself, Ned, or I’ll break your thumb.”

I fight for control of myself. I stop growling. I realize I’ve been growling almost from the moment I realized my prey was coming to me.

Martha pulls her hand back. “So what lessons did you just learn, Ned?”

I’m still not quite normal, so I get a bit lippy. “You a teacher now, Mother Fokker?”

She gives me one of her smiles. This time I notice something odd. Her teeth look normal. In fact, her teeth usually look normal. And now that I’m feeling more in control, I can feel that my fangs have retracted.

So I offer that. “My fangs seem to grow when I want to feed, and retract when I’m done.”

Martha stands up, brushes some dirt off her clothes. She’s wearing a long skirt tonight. Sort of looks like a hippie. Pity she doesn’t wear a miniskirt. There might be something to see.

Martha sees me looking her over. “What are you looking at, Ned?”

“You. Most of you vampires came in with the hippie freaks and radical agitators and  hung out with them. I was just wondering why you don’t wear a miniskirt. You know, free love and all.”

That sends Martha into a fit of laughter. When she recovers, she says, to me, “Ned, we’re vampires. Free love’s not on the agenda. And while I’ve used clothes and bare flesh to lure men where I can feast on them in private, I really don’t have the legs for a miniskirt.” She quickly lifts her skirt and I catch a brief glimpse of her legs before she drops it. She sits down, gives me another smile. “Good lesson, Ned, by the way. A step ahead of where I expected you to be. You understand that you enthralled Linda when you fed from her last night.”

I nod. “Yeah. Then why couldn’t I summon her back when I still wanted her?”

“Think, Ned. Who enthralled her first?”

Oh, right, you bit her first, she was enthralled to you, I bit her, she was enthralled to me, and then she stopped. Which means, Mother Fokker, you bit her again. Without meaning to, I growl a bit.

“You got it, Ned, I can tell. You felt weird when I pulled her away from you?”

“Yeah, Mother Fokker, I did. It’s like someone hurt me.”

“Precisely.” Martha reaches in, grabs my throat. I growl again, struggle to get free. Then she lets go. “When another vampire steals your prey, it’s a direct attack on you. No vampire will do that casually. If you ever feel that again, you will find you can track your former prey and whoever took it from you. Plan on killing that other vampire, Ned.”

I give Martha the evil eye. “So I should plan on killing you, Mother?” It seems like a good idea to me.

Martha shrugs. “No. I took her first, and then let you take her from me. Did you hear me growling at you when you did that?”

“Nope.”

“And you won’t, Ned. I’ve got enough control over my behavior that I can suppress that sort of thing. Otherwise, I’d have wanted to kill you, and I would be successful.”

Martha is sitting there, looking pleased with herself. And then suddenly her appearance changes. As I said, she looks like she’s barely into her teens. Suddenly, she looks a lot older. Older, and a lot more vicious. It’s not really age, it’s shadows and the expression on her face. I’m not sure if it’s real, or just a trick of the lighting. But the lighting hasn’t changed. Martha gets up, walks away, and then comes right back. There’s a stake in her hand. I’ve seen enough vampire flicks to know what it’s for. Martha kneels down, places the stake directly over my heart, and gives me the coldest smile I’ve ever seen. That look of being old and vicious on her face? It’s real.

“Want to die, Ned?” she asks in a much lower-pitched voice than normal. “I don’t need a hammer. I’m strong enough to push this right through your breastbone. It’s not as painful as being exposed to the sun and burning, but your screaming and thrashing as your chest compresses and then the breastbone breaks . . .”

Abruptly she stops talking, yanks the stake away, and walks away. The lights go out, I hear her go up the stairs, and I’m left alone.

Well, that was interesting. I’d call it revealing, except I haven’t the foggiest notion of what it reveals, save that Martha isn’t as in control of herself as she makes out to be.

With Martha gone, I lie there, thinking about what just happened. Martha clearly meant to teach me about enthralling humans to feed off of them. So now I know. And I figure she’s got other lessons planned. How to become a vampire in five easy lessons, or something like that.

I also know that my body craves blood, and that I become more of an animal as I try to get it. That’s disturbing. I had been hoping that there was some sort of way out of this for me, that maybe if I could stop drinking blood, I could eventually be normal again. Doesn’t look like that’s in the cards.

Martha doesn’t seem to be immune to this animal-like behavior, either. Whatever happened to her, it looked like her self-control was breaking down. And she wanted to kill me. She thinks she can do it, too. She even looks as if she’d enjoy it.

Well, there’s a lesson I suspect she didn’t intend I learn: vampires can kill each other. I was wondering if there might be some sort of reason why they couldn’t. And since they can, I swear to myself that I am going to find a way to kill Martha Fokker for what she did to me.

 ii.

After contemplating how much I’m going to enjoy killing Martha Fokker, I decide to think more about my family, about Eileen. I think about Eileen the first time her parents were out of the apartment. I can remember how warm she felt, how good she smelled, how wonderful her kisses were. I don’t even realize my fangs are growing out as I think about how wonderful it would be to kiss her on the throat, and then further down, and drink, and bite, and drink.

And then I realize what I’ve been thinking, and I’m horrified. I turn my thoughts away to my parents, my brothers and sisters, and the next thing I know I’m thinking of drinking the blood of my sister Nora, and I’m getting excited by the thought. I try to think about my fellow cops at the precinct, and my thoughts drift to drinking the blood of the captain’s secretary.

This goes on for several hours. I find it harder and harder not to imagine going through with it. Eventually, I give up, and just let myself imagine drinking the blood of everyone that’s ever been dear to me, along with a few dozen Hollywood starlets, my much-hated fourth grade teacher, and even Phil, who walks (walked) the beat with me. I hate myself for it, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Martha shows up, eventually. She comes down the stairs, the light goes on, and there she is, looking as cheerful as ever. She sits down beside my coffin, gives me a smile, and says, “Hi, Ned. Sorry we had to take a break there. But at least I got a few good meals in.” And she giggles.

Martha’s clearly trying to avoid the subject. So I ask. “Want to tell me what happened here, just before you left?”

That kills Martha’s smile. She looks away, looks at me, and then finally says, “Yeah, I don’t want to tell you, Ned, but for your own safety I will. Given what we have to talk about, it’s going to be hard, but try not to talk about violence, pain, or death much.”

I want to test her. “Why is that, Mother Fokker? You looked really enthusiastic about killing me. Maybe you like torturing people as well.”

Martha turns her face away from me very quickly. In this deep, eerie voice, unlike the way she’s sounded up to this point, she tells me, “Shut up, Ned. You are in peril of your life.”

I shut up. It’s a while before Martha turns back and looks at me. She gives me an uncertain smile, as if she’s not sure whether she’s being laughing Martha or homicidal Martha.

I have to wonder whether this is normal behavior for vampires. “Is what just happened to you what’s going to happen to me, Mother Fokker?”

She shakes her head. “No. Whatever your character was in human life, that’s the character you’ll have as a vampire, basically.”

“Then with all due respect, Mother Fokker, you must have been a vicious bitch when you were human.”

The moment that’s out of my mouth, I curse myself silently for saying that, figuring that I was about to get my thumb broken. But, no, Martha gives a weak chuckle instead. She says, “‘Respect’ and ‘bitch’ in the same sentence. That’s a new one, Ned. But it’s pretty much true. And I promised I wouldn’t punish you for the truth.” She stood up. “It’s almost dawn, Ned. Time for me to go back home to sleep and for you to close your eyes.”

I hate myself for it, but I ask, “Aren’t I going to get any more blood tonight?”

Martha shakes her head. “No, Ned, not tonight. I didn’t plan it this way, but it’s actually a good idea if you go without any more tonight.” She doesn’t sound all that happy about it herself.

I whine. “But I’m thirsty.” I despise myself.

She actually reaches out, pats me on the head. “I know, Ned. You’ll feed more tomorrow. Promise.” She gets up, heads over to the stairs, and turns out the light.

I hear Martha leave. I can feel the sun coming, and try to stay awake, but fail completely. I sleep.

End of chapter two

(Link to the next chapter)

9 Responses to MC Ch. 2

  1. Judy says:

    I think Ned’s thought patterns ring true ie the non stop circular thinking of drinking the blood of all near and dear and it going on for hours. Whether its desire, anger, hunger or fear you can get into those semi awake streams of thought that can go on obssessively for hours.

    • Brian Bixby says:

      I’ve had nightmare dialogues like that with myself when waking up in the middle of the night. I have to get up and do something or read something to interrupt them. But Ned can’t do THAT: he’s tied up!

  2. crimsonprose says:

    Yep, it’s working out well. And not at all like Vampirism 101! And I promise you, I wrote that of Kerrid’s finger probably 3 years before you even thought of that Mother Fokker.

    • Brian Bixby says:

      Martha’s got more lessons in being a vampire for Ned coming up. And I must add that while Martha said she wouldn’t lie to Ned, that doesn’t mean everything she says is entirely true.

      Martha and her finger-breaking habit originated in an earlier draft of this story in July or August last year, so, you certainly have me beat. That is one grim situation you have there in the newest chapter of Feast Fables. I’m reminded of the equally grim scenes in the films “Black Robe” and the 1987 “Dead of Winter.”

  3. crimsonprose says:

    I’m not a natural for writing jeopardy, despite I favour fast action fantasy fiction. I tend more towards the emotional/psychology pressures. Maybe why I’m liking Martha’s Children: despite Ned’s back is . . . firmly in the coffin, yet it’s more the psyche that’s being hammered (no pun intended on those old British movies)

    • Brian Bixby says:

      It’s hard to write both jeopardy and deep psychological pressure. You’d think having to run for your life would convey deep psychological insights, but typically not, at least not in literature. I suppose that’s one reason why action genre fiction gets so little critical respect. People need to be in position where they have to make choices to create psychological conflict, and there’s normally not much choice between staying alive and dying. Having said that, I note that is precisely one of the problems Ned is facing.

      I don’t want to completely disappoint Hammer fans, so there will be at least one woman with a seriously low-cut top showing up and showing off in a later chapter.

      • crimsonprose says:

        As I see it, psychological pressure requires time to build. Whereas, by definition, the fast action jeopardy is more sudden. e.g. to be about to stand on a snake is fast action – or fast reaction (I know, I’ve been there). While to be squeezed into the situation where, yes, action is needed, but will it be to save oneself, or one’s loved ones, will it be the morally, legally correct course, or the course that’s most effective. Such dilemmas take time to build within the story, for the reader must understand the stakes if they are to squirm along with the protagonist. I don’t like squirming while reading so tend more towards reading fast action. Yet I find I can’t write fast action; my head won’t handle the necessary bang-bang-bang, All of which must be clear by now in both Neve and FF.

        Ah, Hammer. I remember slipping into an ‘x’ rated movie: Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors, when I was definitely too young to be there. But compare with the genre today it was like Sesame Street. I remember a disembodied hand of a pianist, and ‘one vampire too many’ in town. Innocent days.

        • Brian Bixby says:

          As an added reflection on this, I just finished the second Dresden Flies novels. Butcher is writing bang-bang. And that’s one of the reasons why the relationship between Dresden and the cop, Murphy, is one of the weakest elements in the first two novels.

          One had to drive to get to a theater where I grew up, so I never had the pleasure of sneaking into a film (with one minor exception). Even so, the way horror movies were marketed in the U.S. back in those days meant they either carried a PG rating (because sex and bare breasts were out, but most violence was acceptable), or they were shown only in a few urban theaters. So I wouldn’t have had much opportunity.

  4. crimsonprose says:

    Deprived childhood! Dresden and Murphy, yea that takes quite a few books before it . . . no, come to think of it, it’s still not developed. But Butcher does, in the 2nd from last book, apply the psychological screws, virtually no action. Or rather, the pressure comes from the action of the previous book. I was surprised, cos it’s not his usual style. A classica case of a long build?

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