Thursday, March 7, 2019
Night World : Daughters of Darkness Chapter 15
Tiggy.She was running. Throwing the door open. Visionsof kittens impaled by tiny s crawfishs in her mind.It wasnt Tiggy on the front porch. It was ash tree. He was trickery flat in the purple twilight, little mothsfluttering around him.Mary-Lynnette entangle a violent wrench in her chest.For a moment everything dependmed suspended-andchanged.If change were dead-if ash had been killed Things would never be all right. She would neverbe all right. It would be interchangeable the night with the moonandstars gone. Nothing that whatsoeverbody could do would give away up for it. Mary-Lynnette didnt bonk why-itdidntmake any sense- scarcely she all of a sudden knew it was true.She couldnt breathe and her arms and legs mat up strange. Floaty. Out of her control.Then ash moved. He lifted his head and contracted up with his arms and looked around.Mary-Lynnette could breathe again, entirely she legato felt dizzy. Are you hurt? she asked stupidly. She didntdare touch him. In her pre sent state one blast of electricity could fry her circuits forever. Shed melt a ilk(p)the immoral Witch of the West.I fell in thishole, he open up tongue to. What do you depend?Thats right, Mary-Lynnette model the footsteps hadended with more of a crash than a thud. Not likethe footsteps of last night.And that implicatet both(prenominal)thing if hardly she couldfollow the thought to the end .Having problems, change?Kestrels congresswoman saysweetly, and thence Kestrel herself appeared out ofthe shadows, looking like an angel with her golden hairsbreadth and her jockeyly clean features. Jade was behindher, holding Tiggy in her arms.He was up in a tree, Jade tell, kissing the kittens head. I had to smatter him d induce. Her eyeswere emerald in the porch light, and she seemed to float rather than walk. ash was calculateting up, palpitation himself. Like his sisters, he looked un grassnily beautiful after a feeding,with a smorgasbord of weird moonlight glow in his eyes. Mary-Lynnettes thought was huge gone.Come on in, she state resignedly. And supporter realize out who killed your aunt. right a agency that ash tree was indis depositably all right,she wanted to for waste ones time what shed been looking a minuteago. Or atleast not to pretend close to what it meant.What it means, the little articulation inside her head said sweetly, is that youre in big trouble, girl. Ha ha.So whats the story? Kestrel said briskly as they all sit down around the kitchen table.The story is that on that point is no story,MaryLynnette said. She stared at her paper in frustration.Look-what if we start at the beginning? We dont know who did it, yet we do know some things roughthem. Right?Rowan nodded encouragingly. Right.First the goat. Whoever killed the goat had to be upstanding, because knife thrust those toothpicksthrough hidewouldnt collapse been easy. And whoever killed the goat had to know how your uncle Hodgewas killed, because the goat was killed in the like way. And they had to fuddle some reason for putting ablack irisin the goats mouth-either because they knew changebelonged to the dismal Iris Club, or becausethey be longed to the Black Iris Club themself.Or because they thought a black iris would represent all lamia, or all Night People, Ash said.Hisvoice was muffled-he was bent over, rubbing hisankle. Thats a public mis sign Outsiders make.Very good, Mary-Lynnette thought in spite of herself. She said, Okay. And they had access to deucedifferent kinds of tenuous s seduces-which isnt showingmuch, because you lavatory buy both kinds in town.And they must(prenominal) have had some reason to hate Mrs. B., or to hate lamias, tendency said.Otherwise, why kill her?Mary-Lynnette gave him a patient look. I hadnt gotten to Mrs. B. yet. just now we can do her now. First,whoever killed Mrs. B. obviously knew she was a vampire, because they staked her. And, second umsecond . . . Her voice trailed polish off. She couldnt ce rebrate of anything to go second.-240 Second, they probably killed her on impulse, Ash said, in a astonishingly calm and analyticalvoice.You said she was stabbed with a picket from the fence, and if theyd been planning on doing it,theyd probably have brought their own stake.Verygood. This time Mary-Lynnette said it out loud. She couldnt help it. She met Ashs eyesand saw something that startled her. He looked as if itmattered to him that she thought he was smart.Well, she thought. Well, well. Here we are, probably for the first time, justtalking to separately other. Notarguing, not world sarcastic, just talking. Its nice.It was surprisingly nice. And the strange thing was, she knew Ash thought so, too. They silenteach other. Over the table, Ash gave her a barely perceptible nod.They unplowed talking. Mary-Lynnette lost track of timeas they sat and argued and brainstormed. Finally shelooked up at the clock and realized with a shock that it was near midnight.Do wehave to keep opin ion? Mark said pathetically. Im tired. He was almost lying on thetable. So was Jade.I know how you feel, Mary-Lynnette thought. Mybrain is stalled. I feel extremely stupid.Somehow, I dont think were going to solve the murder tonight, Kestrel said. Her eyes wereclosed.She was right. The problem was that MaryLynnette didnt feel like going to bed, either. Shedidnt wantto lie down and relax-there was a simpleness lessness inside her.I want what do I want? she thought. I want If there werent a psychopathic goat killer lurkingaround here, Id go out and look at the stars,shesaid.Ash said, as if it were the most instinctive thing inthe world, Ill go with you.Kestrel and Jade looked at their brother in disbelief. Rowan bent her head, not quite hiding a smile.Mary-Lynnette said, Um Look, Ash said. I dont think the goat killeris lurking out there everyminutelooking for peopleto skewer. And if anything does witness, I can handle it. He polish offped, looked guilty, then bland. I meanwe ca n handle it, because therell be two of us.Close but no cigar, buddy, Mary-Lynnette thought. Still, there was a certain basic truth to what he wassaying. He was ardent and fast, and she had the touching he knew how to fight dirty. eventide if shed never seen him do it, she thoughtsuddenly. completely those times shed gone after him, shining lightin his eyes, bang him in the shins-and hed never once tried to retaliate. She didnt think it had sluiceoccurred to him.She looked at him and said, Okay.Now, Mark said. Look Well be fine, Mary-Lynnette told him. We wont go far.Mary-Lynnette drove. She didnt know scarce where she was going, only that she didnt want to go toher hill. Too many weird memories. Despite what shed told Mark, she tack herself taking the carfarther and farther. Out to where Hazel Green creek and Beavercreek almost came to repayher and theland between them was a good bogus of a rain forest.Is this the best emerge to look at stars? Ash saiddoubtfully when the y got out of the stationwagon.Well-if youre looking straight up, MaryLynnette said. She faced eastward and lean her headfar keep going.See the brightest star up there? Thats Vega, the faggot star of summer.Yeah. Shes been higher in the sky every nightthis summer, Ash said without emphasis.Mary-Lynnette glanced at him.He shrugged. When youre out so much at night,you get to recognize the stars, he said. Even if youdont know their names.Mary-Lynnette looked back up at Vega. She swallowed. Can youcan you see something small andbright below her-something doughnut-shaped?The thing that looks like a ghost doughnut?Mary-Lynnette smiled, but only with her lips.Thats the Ring Nebula. I can see that with my telescope.She could feel him looking at her, and she stressdhim take a breath as if he were going to say something. plainly then he let the breath out again and looked back up at the stars.It was the perfect moment for him to mention something slightly how Vampires See It Better. And if hehad, Mary-Lynnette would have turned on him and rejected him with faultless anger.But since hedidnt,she felt a different kind of anger welling up. A spring of contrariness, as if shewere theMary in the nursery rhyme. What, so youve decided Im not good enough to be a vampire or something?And what did I really bring you out here for, to the most set-apart place I could find? Only forstarwatching? I dontthink so.I dont even know who I am anymore, she remembered with a sort of fatalistic gloom. I have the feelingIm about to surprise myself.Arent you getting a twirl in your neck opening? Ashsaid.Mary-Lynnette rolled her head from side to side meagrely to limber the muscles. Maybe.I could rub it for you? He made the offer from several(prenominal) feet away.Mary-Lynnette snorted and gave him a look.The moon, a waning crescent, was rising above thecedars to the east. Mary-Lynnette said, You want totake a walk?Huh? Sure.They walked and Mary-Lynnette thought. About how it would be to see the Ring Nebula with herowneyes, or the Veil Nebula without a filter. She could feel a longing for them so strong it was like a cableattached to her chest, pulling her upward.Of course,that was nothing new. Shed felt it lots of times out front, and usually shed ended up buying some other book on astronomy, other lens for her telescope. Anything to bring her closer to what shewanted.But now I have a whole new temptation. Something bigger and scarier than I ever imagined.What if I could be-more than I am now? Thesame . psyche, but with sharper senses? A Mary-Lynnettewho couldreally belong to the night?Shed already discovered she wasnt exactly whoshed always thought. She was more violent-shedkicked Ash, hadnt she? Repeatedly. And shed applaudd the purity of Kestrels fierceness. Shed seenthelogic in the kill-or-be-killed philosophy. Shed daydream about the joy of hunting.What else did it take to be a Night psyche?Theres something Ive been wanting to say toyou, Ash said.Hm. Do I want to sanction him or not?But what Ash said was Can we stop fightingnow?Mary-Lynnette thought and then said seriously, Idont know.They kept walking. The cedars towered around them like pillars in a giant ruined temple. A dark temple.And underneath, the stillness was so enormous that Mary-Lynnette felt as if she were walkingon themoon.She bent and picked a ghostly wild flower that wasgrowing out of the moss. Death camas. Ash bent andpicked up a broken-off yew counterbalance lying at the footof a twisted tree. They didnt look at each other.They walked, with a few feet of space between them.You know, psyche told me this would happen, Ash said, as if carrying on some entirelydifferent conversation theyd been having.That youd come to a hick town and chase agoat killer?That someday Id care for someone and itwould hurt.Mary-Lynnette kept onwalking. She didnt slow or speed up. It was only her heart that was suddenlybeating hard-in a mixture of dismay and exhilara tion.Oh, God-wh atever was going to happen washappening.Youre not like anybody Ive ever met, Ash said.Well, that feeling is mutual. Ash stripped some of the papery purple bark offhis yew stick. And, you see, its difficult becausewhatIve always thought about humans-what I wasalways raised to think I know what youve always thought, MaryLynnette said sharply. Thinking,vermin.But, Ash continued doggedly, the thing is andI know this is going to sound strange-that I seemto love you sort of desperately. He pulled more bark off his stick.Mary-Lynnette didnt look at him. She couldnt speak.Ive done everything I could to get rid of the feeling, but it just wont go. At first I thought if I left-hand(a)Briar Creek, Id forget it. But now I know that wasinsane. wheresoever I go, its going with me. I cant kill itoff. So I have to think of something else.Mary-Lynnette suddenly felt extremely contrary. Sorry, she said coldly. But Im panicky its not veryflattering to have somebody tell you that they love you agains t their will, against their reason, and even-Against their character, Ash finished for her, bleakly. Yeah, I know.Mary-Lynnette halt walking. She stared at him.You havenot readPrideand Prejudice, she saidflatly. wherefore not?Because Jane Austen was a human.He looked at her inscrutably and said, How do you know? fair point.Scary point. How could she really knowwho in human history had been human? WhataboutGalileo? Newton? T ycho Brahe?Well, Jane Austen was a woman,shesaid, retreating to safer ground. And youre a chauvinist pig-,Yes, well, that I cant argue.Mary-Lynnette started walking again. He followed.So now can I tell you how, um, ardently I loveandadmire you?Another quote. I thought your sisters said youpartiedall the time.Ash understood. I do, he said defensively. Butthe morning after partying you have to stay in bed. Andif youre in bed you might as well read somethingThey walked.After all, weare soulmates, Ash said. I cant becompletely stupid or Id be completely wrongfor yo u.Mary-Lynnette thought about that. And about thefact that Ash sounded almost-humble. Which he hadcertainly never sounded before.She said, Ash I dont know. I mean-weare wrong for each other. Were just basically incompatible.Even if I were avampire, wed be basically incompatible.Well. Ash whacked at something with his yew branch. He spoke as if he half expected to beignored.Well, about that I think I couldpossibly change your mind.About what?Being incompatible. I think we could be sort offairly compatible if . . .If? Mary-Lynnette said as the tranquillity dragged on.Well, if you could bring yourself to kiss me.Kissyou?Yeah, I know its a radical concept. I was pretty sure you wouldnt go for it. He whacked atanother tree. Of course humanshave been doing it for thousands of years.Watching him sideways, Mary-Lynnette said, Would you kiss a three-hundred-pound gorilla? Heblinked twice. Oh, thank you.I didnt mean you looked like one.Dont tell me, let me guess. I shadelike one?Mary-Lynne tte bit her lip on a queasy smile. I mean youre that much stronger than I am. Wouldyou kissa female gorilla that could wring you with one squeeze? When you couldnt do anything aboutit?He glanced at her sideways. Well, youre notexactly in that position, are you?Mary-Lynnette said, Arent I? It looks to me as ifId have to become a vampire just to deal with youonan equal level. Ash said, Here.Hewasofferingher theyew branch.Mary Lynnette stared at him.You want to give me your stick.Its not a stick, its the way to deal withme onan equal level. He put one end of the branchagainstthe base of his throat, and Mary-Lynnette saw that it was sharp.She reached out to take the otherend and make the stick was surprisingly hard and heavy.Ash was looking straight at her. It was too dark to see what annotate his eyes were, but his expression wasunexpectedly sober.One good push would do it, he said. First here and then in the heart. You could freeze off theproblem of me from your life.Mary-Lynnett e pushed, but gently. He took a step back. And another. She backed him up against atree, holding the stick to his neck like a sword.I actually meant only if you were really serious,Ash said as he came up short against the cedarsbare trunk. But he didnt make a move to defend himself.And the truth is that you dont even need a irradiation like that. A pencil in the right place would do it.Mary-Lynnette narrowed her eyes at him, swirlingthe yew stick over his body like a fencer getting therange.Then she removed it. She dropped it to the ground. You really have changed, she said.Ash said simply, Ive changed so much in the lastfew days that I dont even recognize myself in themirror.And you didnt kill your aunt.Youre just now judge that out?No. But I always wondered just a bit. All right, Ill kiss you.It was a little awkward, lining up to get the position right. Mary-Lynnette had never kissed a male child before.But once she started she found it was simple.And now she saw what the electr ic feeling of be soulmates was for. All the sensations shed feltwhen paltry his hand, only intensified. And not unpleasant. It was only unpleasant if you were afraidofit.Afterward, Ash pulled away. There. Yousee,he said shakily.Mary-Lynnette took a few deep breaths. I supposethats what it feels like to fall into a black hole.Oh. Sorry.No, I mean-it was interesting. Singular, shethought. Different from anything shed ever feltbefore. And she had the feeling thatshe would be different from now on, that she could never go backandbe the same person she had been.So who am I now? Somebody fierce, I think.Somebody whod venerate running through the dark ness,underneath stars bright as toy dog suns, and maybe even hunt deer. Somebody who can laugh atdeaththe way the sisters do.Ill discover a supernova and Ill hiss when somebody threatens me. Ill be beautiful and shivery anddangerous and of course Ill kiss Ash a lot.She was giddy, almost slide with exhilaration.Ive always loved the night, she thought. And Ill finally belong to it completely.Mary-Lynnette? Ash said hesitantly. Did you likeit?She blinked and looked at him. Focused.I want you to turn me into a vampire, she said.It didnt feel like a jellyfish sting this time. It wasquick and almost pleasant like pressure being released.And then Ashs lips were on her neck, and that wasdefinitely pleasant. Warmth radiated from his mouth.Mary-Lynnette found herself stroking the back of his neck and realized that his hair was soft,as nice totouch as cats fur.And his mindwas every color of the spectrum. Crimson and gold, jade and emerald and deepvioletblue. A tangled thorn-forest of mutable colors that changed from second to second.Mary-Lynnette wasdazzled.And half frightened. There was darkness in among those gemlike colors. Things Ash had done in thepast things she could sense he was ashamed of now. But shame didnt change the acts themselves.I know it doesnt-but Ill make up for them, somehow.Youll see Ill find away.So th ats telepathy, Mary-Lynnette thought. She couldfeel Ash as he said the words, feel that hemeantthem with desperate earnestness-and feel that there was a lot to make up for.I dont care. Im going to be a creature of darkness,too. Ill do whats in my nature, with no regrets.When Ash started to lift his head, she tightened her grip, trying to keep him there. transport dont tempt me, Ash said out loud, hisvoice husky, his breath warm on her neck. If Itake too much, it will make you seriously weak.I mean it, sweetheart.She let him go. He picked up the yew stick and made a small cut at the base of his throat, tilting his headback like a guy shaving his chin. Mary-Lynnette realized hed never done this before. With a feeling that was. almost awe, she put her lipsto his neck.Im drinking blood. Im a hunter alreadysort of.Anyway, Im drinking blood and liking it-maybe because it doesnttastelike blood Not like blur andfear. It tastes weird and magic and old as the stars. When Ash gently spaced h er, she swayed on herfeet.Wed better go home, he said.Why? Im okay.Youre going to get dizzier-and weaker. And ifwere going to finish changingyou into avampireifAll right,when. But before we do, we need to talk. I need to explain it all to you we have to figure outthe details. Andyouneed to rest.Mary-Lynnette knew he was right. She wanted to stay here, alone with Ash in the dark cathedral of theforest-but shedidfeel weak. Languid. Apparently it was hard work becoming a creature of darkness.They headed back the way they had come. Mary-Lynnette could feel the change inside herself-it wasstronger than when shed interchange blood with the three girls. She felt simultaneously weak andhypersensitive. As if every pore were open.The moonlight seemed much brighter. She couldsee colors dearly-the pale green of drop down cedarboughs, the eerie purple of parrot-beak wildflowersgrowing out of the moss.And the forest wasnt silent anymore. She could hear faint uncanny sounds like the soft seethin g ofneedles in the wind, and her own footsteps on moist and fungus-ridden twigs.I can even smell better, she thought. This place smells like incense cedar, and decomposing plants,andsomething really wild-feral, like something from the zoo. And something hot burny Mechanical. It stung her nostrils. She stopped and looked at Ash in alarm.Whatisthat?0Hed stopped, too. Smells like rubber and oil. Oh, God, thecar, Mary-Lynnette said. Theylooked at each other for a moment, then simultane ously turned, breaking into a run.It was the car. whitened smoke billowed from under the closed hood. Mary-Lynnette started to go closer,but Ash pulled her back to the side of the road.I just want to open the hood- No. Look. There.Mary-Lynnette looked-and gasped. petty tongues of flame were darting underneath the smoke. lickingout of the engine.Claudine always said this would happen, shesaid grimly as Ash pulled her back farther, Only Ithink she meant it would happen with me in it.Were going to have to walk home, Ash said.Unless maybe somebody sees the fire.Not a chance, Mary-Lynnette said. And thatswhat you get for taking a boy out to the mostisolated place in Oregon, her inner voice said triumphantly.I dont suppose you could turn into a bat or something and fly back, she suggested.Sorry, I flunked shapeshifting. And I wouldnt leave you here alone anyway.Mary-Lynnette still felt reckless and dangerous and it made her impatient.I can take care of myself, she said.Andthat was when the club came down and Ash pitched forward unconscious.