This was aggravating. Daltom just had me moving from one spot to the next. He gave me no real indicator of what I needed to do. Just visit the vampire here. Go here at this time. Be here now. So, here I stood, with a vial of vampire venom and a diaper bag. It was the strangest thing, too. I was just standing on the side of the road, waiting where Daltom had told me to wait.
A woman, looking disheveled, just pushed the bag on me and said, “I quit. You take this. Maybe it will do you more good than it did me.”
With that, she walked away and I was left dumbfounded. On to the next place on the list. In some ways, it was pretty interesting getting a chance to walk around my city in the way it looked fifty years ago. It was a lot smaller now. I was regularly walking by things I only remembered reading about, like pay phones and shoe-shining stations. Gas was pennies to the gallon. I felt completely rich until I tried to give the man a five-dollar bill for a soda. He told me it was funny money and I should scram. I wish I had brought some change with me. I remember seeing quarters with older dates on them.
I saw a peculiar woman walking down the street. The woman looked very pregnant, wearing an all-pink dress that bloated out with her stomach. She had a little girl, perhaps six or seven, running around her, barking. She also had a baby that she was pushing in the stroller. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted anything to do with that many kids. I saw a video once; Samantha made me watch it. It wasn’t a baby, it was a fist, but in whatever direction a thing that size was going, I imagined I wasn’t down with it.
Perhaps I was supposed to give her the baby bag. It seemed like another piece to the puzzle. I had played a few of those point and click adventure games in my youth; it felt oddly familiar. Next, I’d need a string to tie to the box to capture the mouse. I’d then release the mouse up a girl’s dress to get into the backroom of the… I was thinking about this entirely too hard.
I moved to give her the baby bag. At the very least, I wouldn’t need to carry it anymore. The woman had stopped at this point and had pulled her baby out of the stroller. She was distracted, looking at something in one of the windows to a boutique, while she struggled to feed her baby. The little girl was prancing around, jumping up and down. Oddly, she went on all fours and back, almost like she was a puppy at play. Then she darted into the street.
I dropped the pack without a second thought and raced after the little girl. She went down to four legs again, and the two little ears popped out of the top of her head. There was a honking and the little girl stopped, turning to look at a bus as like a dog staring at headlights. The truck wasn’t slowing down. I dove head first, shoving the small girl aside. The smack on my side didn’t feel like much. It was as my body rolled over the roof of the vehicle that I knew things were bad.
I slammed down onto the ground behind the vehicle, hearing a resounding pop as my leg broke. I stared up at the sky, my body in a complete daze. A woman raced over to me; it was the mother wearing pink. She stood over me, a clear look of panic.
“Oh dear, oh no, a human too. Katrina, get your little butt over here right now young lady!”
One thought shot through my body. There was the vial of vampire’s venom. I reached into my shirt and found the vial still in one piece. I slipped it out and took a sip. Fortunately, my body was still in shock. The pain was only starting when a feeling of warmth shot throughout my body. My leg creaked as it spontaneously straightened itself. My arm snapped back into place. I could feel a few broken ribs setting on their own. It was the oddest feeling. Not exactly painful; in fact, it felt exhilarating. It was a complete rush, and when it was done I felt like a million bucks.
The woman hadn’t seen me take a sip, but she had seen me repair the damage. I stood up, brushing myself off. The woman rose with me. She seemed surprised, but not as surprised as a human might seem to find someone spontaneously heal themselves.
“Oh, my God, ma’am, are you alright?” The truck driver jumped out of his car. He was bleeding from his head and looked in almost as bad a condition as I had just been.
The pink woman turned with a sour look on her face, “Of course she’s not alright; you almost killed her!” She snapped. “You’re lucky she came out of it completely unscathed.”
The driver looked dizzily at me, a skeptical look on his face. I did still have some blood on my face and my clothing was torn to bits. I felt great though.
“Just you worry about yourself.” the woman waved her hands. “God works in mysterious ways. I’ll handle the girl. Just go get yourself to the hospital. You look like road kill.”
The woman grabbed me tightly by one wrist, then went to grab the little girl, Katrina, who had once again slipped away. The woman looked back angrily to see little Katrina carrying the baby bag I had brought.
“This is hers, mama,” she said light-heartedly.
The pregnant lady sighed, tossing the bag on top of her stroller, grabbing me and her daughter, and ushering us down the street. When we had made it a block or two away from the gawking spectators, she turned to me.
“Well dear, it looks like I owe you an apology and an explanation. My name is Janine and this is my daughter, Katrina. So, what are you? I see all that pixie dust on your pants you’re getting everywhere, are you half fairy?”
“No, ma’am,” I answered politely, sensing she was a no-nonsense woman, “it’s just glitter.”
The woman nodded. “I do apologize. We were supposed to have a babysitter to help out, but she stormed off without warning. She got one little bite from my daughter Katrina and started panicking about lycanthropy. Like being bit actually turns someone into a werewolf.”
“It is fine ma’am. I’ve been around werewolves before.”
The woman evaluated me sharply out of the corner of her eye. “Is that so? I suppose I do get a lot of confusing smells from you. Mostly vampire, though. However, underneath all that, I smell human. You wouldn’t be a ghoul, would you? No… I suppose not; you don’t smell dead enough. Although, I’d advise you to stay away from the like of vampires; very depressing those guys are. Next thing you know, they talk you into a suicide pact then they can’t fill their side of it!”
“I…” I failed to interrupt.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really harbor any hatred for vampires. The whole vampire versus werewolf thing came a long time ago. We had one little war a thousand years ago that destroyed half of Europe’s population and everyone thinks we hate each other. Now they call it the black plague and blame it on some kind of bug. Can you believe it? They think a bug can kill people.”
“So, are you a babysitter by chance?” Janine went on like an avalanche, glancing over at my bag. “How would you feel about a job?”
“A job, ma’am?”
“Well, first let me buy you some new clothes. It’s the least I owe you for saving my daughter. After that, I could really use a nanny. I was brought down here for the summit. I guess the Grand Archangel of the summit is having a little trouble keeping his son under proper supervision. And when the Grand Archangel says come, you better wag your tail and get over there.”
“Would the boy be Andreatis?”
“You’ve heard of him? That makes this so much easier. Come, let’s get you into something more appropriate.”
Before I knew it, Janine was leading me into a small boutique to begin dressing me. Dressing me was exactly the word to describe it as she tore off my old clothes and started throwing new ones at me. She apparently knew the boutique owner, who met her with open hugs and kisses. The two then began to chatter with each other as they grabbed item after item for me to try on. It quickly became clear that my input wasn’t necessary for this.
“Have you heard about who is running the summit?” The shopkeeper whispered over to Katrina’s mom as she took my measurements.
“About the necromancer?” Janine shivered visibly.
“Who’s that?” I asked before I could stop myself.
The two ladies gave each other a look before Janine turned back to me with a smile on her face. “Never you worry about him. He’s just a powerful and dangerous man. A human, like you, but keep your distance from him. Even the Archangels and demons step lightly around him.”
I frowned at that. I wanted to ask more, but it was clear neither wanted to say anything else about it. The shop owner had tossed Katrina a stuffed animal, which she started carrying around in her mouth, occasionally shaking her head rapidly to cause it to flap about. Katrina’s mom finally picked out my attire, moving up to the cash register to buy it as I flopped down on a nearby bench.
She had decided on a long, thick, light blue dress complete with an apron in the front. She insisted it was proper servant attire and would do me well in the babysitting business. She told me that whatever I did, I should dress for success. Offer to babysit and I could make some money. Dress as a babysitter and come presenting myself as one, and I could make a career. Personally, I felt like Mary Poppins in this getup.
Katrina moved up next to me, putting her head on my lap. Chewing sounds caused me to look down. She had now opened up the stuffed animal and was pulling the stuffing out with her teeth.
Her mom eyed me and Katrina up and down. “Well, you two seem to be getting along. Did you kill it good, Katrina?”
Katrina nodded enthusiastically, her wolf ears twitching as she spit the dead stuffed animal out on the floor.
I smiled politely. “She kind of reminds me of a boy I know, Daniel. He’s a werewolf like you guys.”
“That’s a pretty name,” Katrina giggled. “When I have a kid, I’ll call him that.”
“Aren’t you a little young to be thinking about boys?” I smiled.
The pregnant woman snorted. “It’s never too young to be thinking about boys.”
“And if I had a boy, I’d want him to mate someone just like you!” Katrina laughed.
My face went white; I didn’t like where this was going.
“That might very well be possible. Now Katrina, if you want your babies to mate with a certain girl, give her a good sniff, and hold it in your memory.”
Katrina went over to me and sniffed. It was a single long snort that ended when she started coughing. She fell over and giggled some more.
“What?” I whined with panic in my eyes.
“Oh, don’t worry, it’s just an old wives’ tale. They say moms always end up choosing who their pup’s mate will be based on their taste of smell. You don’t need to worry about it; by the time this one has a pup who is ready to mate, that’ll be some forty to fifty years from now. If it even did work, it’ll just be some girl that happens to smell like you.”
“You don’t say.” I dropped my head into my hands.
“Although, if there is any justice in the world, Katrina will find a man like my husband. You know the type; rippling muscles, dedicated, strong, and earthy. When my husband and I first met, I was in heat. He sniffed my butt. I sniffed his… well, you don’t want to hear about the romantic stuff. But I will tell you this; if you find a man, find one that isn’t afraid to go shirtless.”
“Or pant-less,” I said before I could help myself.
“Oh, if Katrina could only be so lucky,” the mom almost visibly shivered.
I looked down at Katrina and shook my head. Daniel’s mom? I really needed to stop doing things in the past. I kept thinking I was just an unlucky victim, but it’s slowly looking like I did this to myself.
“Don’t worry, if the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I’m betting Katrina will find exactly that kind of man.”