<-- Part one

Sonny Boy met Druscilla coming down the stairs from the house. She was grinning, hauling most of a torso behind her, and carrying a head under her arm. She looked happy.

"That was absolutely awesome!" she said, still chewing. Sonny Boy grimaced. The eating sometimes grossed him out a bit. It was messy. He knew the others had to do it, but he did wish they'd be a bit more... sophisticated about it.

"You might at least chew with your mouth closed", he muttered.

"Meh...", Druscilla shrugged and continued past him. He looked up the stairs. It was quiet up there now. The five remaining youngsters would have locked themselves in the parlour, and anyway the cat was out of the bag. No need for secrecy any longer.

"I'm going up", he announced to noone in particular, and ascended the creaky staircase.

Just upstairs he found Rat gnawing away on the remains of what had probably been Druscilla's youngster. Carefully stepping over it he tried to avoid getting blood and other fluids on his feet. It would smell for weeks, and it was one of the things that had started Rat chewing on him in the first place, years ago.

Cerberus had caught the other one and was munching purposefully with both mouths at once. The human-y head had less efficient teeth and made do with the more squishy parts, while the wolf teeth tore off chunks of meat and gobbled them down. Sonny Boy sighed and walked around the puddles. He briefly thought about asking Cerberus where the others were at, but decided against it. He'd find them.

Outside the big parlour Lord Sanderson hung around. Mary wasn't anywhere to be seen.

"So...", said Sonny Boy. "Where's Mary?"

The ghost shrugged. It looked like the wind making ripples across the surface of a murky pool of water. Or possibly some other unidentified liquid. Sonny Boy looked at the door to the parlour. It was closed, naturally, but he could hear commotion from inside. The sound of furniture being pushed around, and the unmistakable sound of bars being rattled by desperate hands.

"One ran out", Lord Sanderson breathed, "... and saw Cerberus. Much drama. And screaming. Now they are barricading the door. Will you open it?"

Sonny Boy looked at the door again. He could take it out with one blow, and had done so before. Of course he had to repair it every time since the crew wanted visitors to take up station there, where they could be watched throught the painting. He shook his head. "Nah. Not yet. Mary will want to play a bit."

The ghost rippled.

"I'll possess my youngster for a while. Good fun."

Sonny Boy walked a bit to and fro in the hallway. He felt so uneasy. He had never felt this way before. He rarely felt much besides a slight apprehension when Druscilla "danced" and talked about distant cities. This was a kind of restless unease that made him squirm and wish for... something. The lordship had seeped into the parlour through the many cracks in the much repaired door. He got his nutrients by letting his ethereal body envelope the prey and... doing something. After a few minutes of screaming the remains would drop to the floor, shrivelled and empty like a discarded suit of clothes. But sometimes he would possess his prey first, making it do different things that the ghost found amusing. Druscilla called it "playing with the food". Sonny Boy didn't approve.

Just as Sonny Boy passed the door once more on his aimless amblings he heard the sound of something heavy being pushed over the floor inside, and then furious and terrified voices:

"Jimmy! What the FUCK are you doing?"

"Fuck you, Jimmy! Are you trying to let them in??"

Jimmy would be Lord Sanderson's youngster. Screaming and yelling ensued as the youngsters started fighting to keep Jimmy from opening the door. Sonny Boy hit the door with his fist a few times to add a little more excitement to the scenery, and was rewarded with high pitched shrieks and more yelling.

A change in the texture of the air announced Mary's arrival. In her bat shape she could move with perfect stealth, but she was rotten at landings and often ended up crashing into a wall or in a heap on the floor. It rarely looked very dignified, and Sonny Boy looked the other way, seemingly intensly interested in the way the paint flaked off of the door frame. Only when Mary cleared her throat, right beside him, did he turn his head. Mary flashed her pointy teeth.

"Is his lordship inside?", she asked. Sonny Boy nodded.

"Then I think I will join him."

She grinned again and dissolved into an oily looking smoke, sinking to the floor and flowing under the door, into the parlour. Sonny Boy sighed. He felt alone.

Shortly after Mary's arrival in the parlour another commotion broke out. Sonny Boy listened to the screamings and crashings from inside without so much as a smile. He had an empty hole inside that he had never had before, and he found no joy in knowing his friends would be well fed and happy for a long time now, after feasting and making merry like this. He felt like he might be sick.

"Maybe I have woodworms", he thought. "That'd be bad. I'd have to lie in turpentine again..."

Something heavy hit the door from the inside, and Sonny Boy noticed a new kind of screaming. It was not a scream of fear, but one of rage. It was a female voice, and it sounded ferocious. It was followed by a long, pitiful wail of pain. From Mary.

Sonny Boy cleared the doorway in two blows, and found an amazing scene inside. Right in front of him lay one youngster, unmoving. Around him, like so much marsh water, flowed a confused Lord Sanderson. In the middle of the room Mary limped in circles, whimpering, cradling her arm to her chest. And by the window sat three shivering youngsters, protected by the most magnificent sight Sonny Boy had ever seen.

She stood there, eyes burning, teeth bared, hair crackling with static like a halo around her face. Her cheeks were flushed and her chins trembled while she yelled incoherent threats, brandishing a table leg in clenched hands. There was a smear of blood on her forehead, and more blood on her neck where Mary had tried to sink her teeth in.


The girl stared at him. He stared at her. They both stared at each other.

"Well", Mary pleaded. "Do something!"

"I...", said Sonny Boy. "Er." And then he stared some more. Everything seemed to have gone very quiet

The girl's bosom heaved like the Bay of Biscay on a stormy day, and Sonny Boy felt his eyes travelling downwards to rest upon the swells. Transfixed, like countless males before him in the presence of ample female beauty, he temporarily lost his ability to carefully judge the situation. It wasn't until a hefty blow on his left ear woke him up that he realised that she was attacking him with all her strength and fury and the table leg. Confused he came back to reality, just in time for another blow hitting him on the head.

Carefully he separated the girl from her weapon, and bent down to pick her up.

"That hurt", he said reproachfully, but there was no sting in his voice, and he cradled her gently to his broad chest, marvelling at how soft and warm she was. She didn't even struggle all that much. Sonny Boy looked down at her, completely dumbfounded by all the weird and tumultuous emotions that made his head and stomach hurt.

"What are you doing, you fat BITCH?!" screamed one of the terrified youngsters who she had been guarding. Sonny Boy slowly turned his head and looked at the youngster - the last remaining girl - and felt a terrible urge to pick her up and throw her out the barred window. But he managed to control himself.

"Watch your language, you!" he said, sternly, before turning away. His gaze met Mary's, whose arm had recovered in the meantime. He could see her lips move as if she was giving an inaudible speech, but something in his wooden eyes made her not voice whatever was bothering her. Instead she turned her attention to the now unguarded and defenseless youngsters.

Sonny Boy carried the irate girl out into the hallway, past Cerberus, who had fallen asleep on top of his food, and out into the garden. He didn't bother going around so he opened the front door with a kick that had it flying out into the night in several pieces. The air was warm, and smelled of lilacs and earth. Sonny Boy didn't breathe, but he sensed smells the same way he saw and heard: in mysterious ways.

The girl in his arms made no sounds as he walked out into the night, towards the car. Sonny Boy said:

"Erm. I. Um."

He reluctantly put her down on top of the front end of the vehicle. She arranged herself and smoothed her clothing. The screaming from inside the house had subsided, and the only sounds now were the wind in the trees and a fox yelping somewhere.

"Well. Er." he said. "Sorry about your friends."

She shivered. Or maybe she shrugged, he couldn't tell.

"Um. I am Sonny Boy, by the way."

She looked up at him. "Oh", she said. "Well, I'm Belinda, which is an awful name. Are you going to kill me?"

He shook his head. "I get this pain in my innards when I think about you, and I don't want to harm you."

She smiled. It was like the sun coming out on a grey day.

"I think I am in shock", she said levelly; "... but I like you too. You are very handsome, you know. And the people in there weren't really my friends. They hung out with me sometimes when they wanted me to drive them somewhere. This is my car, see?"

She thumped the car with her heel.

"They're dead now, aren't they?"

Sonny boy nodded. She looked away for a long time, while drying the blood off of her neck with her sleeve. An owl hooted in the distance, and a bat swished by. He felt such a need to touch her again but he was afraid to. His mahogany core felt soft like pine, and he had a notion that if she put her hand on his chest it'd leave an imprint.

"If I go back now, without them, I'll probably get arrested" she said eventually. "And if I tell the truth I'll be locked up. That's quite a pickle, you know. And the vampire bit me. So I'll be becoming a vampire too?"

"Yeah, probably. Sorry about that."

He took a deep breath, mentally, and blurted out: "So your best bet is to stay here! With me."

This time she didn't answer for the longest time, thumping her heel rythmically on the car, clicking her nails against the shiny surface. Sonny Boy felt how the night air slowly cooled off as dawn approached from the east. The hill was dead quiet excepting the faint sound of her heartbeat. He slowly sat down on the car, right beside her. The metal buckled and gave way with a sad sound. He sighed.

"I'm sorry", he said, dejected. "This isn't going too well, is it?"

Belinda stirred as if waking up, and looked at him.

"If you mean the killing all my friends, turning me into a vampire, and ruining my car thing, then no, it isn't."

"I'll regret this in the morning", she said finally. "But, well... since I seem to be screwed anyway: let's just give it a try."

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