Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Carnival

It was just on sun set when the lights of the carnival lit up the sky; and could be seen from all around.  Throughout the day, the people had worked quickly and quietly to be ready for the first evening – the opening night.  The side-show was full of toys and prizes for anyone to win, the Dodgem Cars were working.  The mirror maze was a shining attraction to children and adults alike… all of it was sitting ready for the first people to wander through and spend their money. It was ready for my friends and me too when we decided to leave the van park and have some fun.  But fun wasn’t exactly what I would have called it.  

As the sun dropped behind the hills and the music of the carnival fill the air, the three of us walked through the gates.  I hadn’t noticed anything out of place.  This place was your average, run-of-the-mill traveling carnival.  It even had a reasonably sized Ferris Wheel glittering with lights and a portable Bingo Hall.   This year, there was a dance program and people were already surrounding the large, dark floor when I arrived.  For a while, I sat on the sidelines and watched as the couples moved around the floor to a familiar Glen Miller tune.  The men looked like they had just stepped off a movie set in their tails and shoes with their hair slicked back; and the women looked just a beautiful in ballroom gowns that must have cost a fortune to keep clean. There was one man in particular who I watched.  His form and stance was fantastic.  He noticed me looking at him from the sidelines and by the time he and his partner came around the floor again to my side, they stepped away from each other gracefully and she walked off the floor to take up another dancer.  
He walked straight for me, put out his right hand and asked:  “Would you care to dance?” Without hesitation, I placed my left hand in his right and allowed myself to be led out onto the floor.  Kissing my hand, he didn’t take his eyes from mine as he bowed and I curtseyed, then he pulled me close up against him in the beginning stance of a dance.  I had never danced before, however, my feet moved in time with his and so did my body.  It was really weird; as though he hypnotised me to follow his orders yet not a word had passed between us. “You are very beautiful.” He said as we spun around the floor. 
“Thank you.” I blushed.
“You don’t hear that very often?”
I tried to look away from his eyes and failed, “No.”
“Pity. You have such potential to be more.” He smiled and his eyes lit up as the music slowed to an end and he led me to a low dip and held me there for a few beats; until the audience finished applauding, then he helped me to my feet, “I could make you more than what you are now.”
I frowned a little, “What do you mean?”
Another man approached us and tapped him on the shoulder, “You’re up for a break Fritz.” He nodded smiling then turned back to me as he led me off the dance floor and more music filled the air. Fritz’s fill-in showed up with his partner and they took to the floor, filling in the space as though they had never left, “You are a natural dancer.” 
“Nah.” Shaking my head, I began walking toward the pub where I had promised to meet my friends.  When he didn’t follow, I stopped and turned to look at him, “Coming?”
He glanced at the building across the street and shook his head, “No thank you.  I wish to talk to you personally; without interruptions.”
I walked to him and smiled, “What about your partner?”
He turned, glanced at her and looked back at me, “We’re not together in that manner.  We just dance together and that’s it.”
I looked over to see his partner making out with the man she had danced with and smiled, “Okay, let’s go for a walk.” 
The Surf Bridge was the safest distance I felt from the carnival.  I didn’t want to go too far from anywhere with this guy I barely knew and end up going missing in such a small town.  We leaned against the old white railing and looked at the South Arm as the tide came in.
“So, what do you do?” he asked as he turned his back to it and leaned his back against it; propping his elbows on the top, “You don’t seem to be the type who is spoilt for money.”
I smiled, “No.  I don’t have that much.”
“But you are very beautiful.”
“You keep saying that.”
His eyes wandered up and down my body for a split-second and then back to my face before he leaned in close, “I’d like to …”

“To what?” I leaned closer. He brushed his lips on mine and I found I couldn’t stop myself.  There was an animal need that arose in me that I wanted this man; and yet I didn’t know anything about him… okay, he was a hot dancer and was a babe in an old-fashioned tux, but really, who was he?  His hands ran around my waist and up my back as his tongue explored my mouth and his teeth nipped my lips; the pain was exquisite. He moved to my cheek and neck and nuzzled me there.  His warm breath made me tingle as he gently moved my hair out of the way and held me close against his body; so close I could feel his hardness through his dress pants and I began to rub against it slowly.
Then, he did the most unusual thing:  he looked at me, stopping what he was doing altogether, “I have to tell you something.”
“What?” I smiled as I tried to undo his shirt buttons. 

“It’s horrible.” He took my hands gently and stopped me, “I need to tell you something about me.”
“We getting it on in public and you stop to tell me something.”
“I’m going to feed off you.” He whispered looking down, “You’re too good-a person to keep this from.”
He kept his eyes on our hands as he nodded, “Yes.  I need to.” I took a step back and he pulled me toward him, “We’re on a road-bridge; be careful.  I don’t want you dead.” It was then he looked at me and I found his golden eyes staring back at me with the town’s lights reflecting off the iris. I forced myself to take a deep breath and I stepped back again, “Oh, shit!”
“Hey.” Fritz took my arm again and pulled me toward him, “Road-bridge, remember?” 

“You’re a…a… vampire.”
He nodded, “Yeah, Valerie, I am.”
“How did you know my name?”
Fritz smiled, “I nicked your lips and tasted your blood to see who you were.  Everything you are is in your blood; right down to your name.”

“Yeah, creepy, hey?” he smiled and it was then he forgot he had let his canines slip down. For me, the whole world slowed down.  I stepped back again; but I didn’t see the Mustang coming.  They were speeding across the bridge and hadn’t even given way (as you were supposed to).  And Fritz wasn’t fast enough to grab me this time.  By the time the driver had blasted the horn, the left fender had hit me – breaking my pelvis and smacking my head against the bonnet – and they ran over my left arm with the rear tyre.  He raced forward as I looked at him and he looked up to watch them drive off without so much as a pause to see if I was okay.  It was then he made the hardest decision of his life and picked me up carefully.

  My eyes opened and I was in a room that was clearly not mine.  Fritz was sitting by my side.  I was sure I had been hit by a car; but it didn’t make sense that I was supposed to be alive.
“Hey.” He said, “I made either a very stupid decision or the right one.”
I looked at my arm, “I was hit by a car, right?”
“Yeah.” He muttered, “About that… they didn’t stop.  I picked you up and you were close to death.” Tears – red tears – brimmed his eyes as he sniffed, “I had no choice.  You were under my protection last night.”
“You sired me?”
He nodded, “You’re alive in some way.”
“Can I go out into the daylight?”
“For a short amount of time.”
“Okay.” The man who had approached Fritz on the dance floor walked into the room and smiled at me, “And so, Valerie, how are you feeling?”
I looked at him for a moment and realised I was absolutely starving, “I’m hungry.”

He gave me a tight smile, “Good.  You need to perform your first kill soon.” He checked his clipboard that seemed to be glued to his hand, “We don’t want a sick vamp on our hands.” He turned and walked out of the room signaling Fritz to follow him to the door.  They talked for a minute then he walked out leaving him standing there looking ashamed.
When he approached the bed again, he pulled back the covers and helped me up in silence, “Are you okay?”
His eyes flicked to me then away again, “Yeah.  Fine.” 

“He grilled you, didn’t he?” 
Fritz stopped what he was doing and nodded, “More than a bit.  We weren’t looking to recruit anymore new ones.”
I nodded, “I see.”
“I was supposed to feed off you and then take you home.  But that car was something that was unexpected.”
“I’m supposed to dead.”
Taking my hand, he looked straight at me, “Let’s not talk of that.  We have a party to go to; and you have a kill to perform.”  

The sunset was pretty as the sky turned a burnt orange and the carnival started up again.  My clothes had been cleaned from the night before and I was beginning to smell like a dead body; so I wore stronger perfume than usual; truthfully, I don’t think anyone really noticed the smell but me.  Looking around the fairgrounds from the long metal caravan, I watched at the rest of the vamps opened up their stalls and began working and wondered how they did it all without feeding off their customers.
“Not all our carni-folk are immortal.” Fritz said at my shoulder, “Some are just travelers who work around Australia with us for a time, then leave.  We don’t hold anyone to their jobs.”
“But the dancers?”
He smiled, “Yep.  We’re all vamps; that’s how we know how to do the ballroom steps so well.”
I looked at his pale face in the colourful lights of the Dodgem Cars while people lined up to have a drive, “So, how old are you?” 

He looked at me, “I’ll tell you when we’re closer to the party.”
He took my hand and smiled as he inhaled the scent of any human that came within a few feet of us.  I did a few times and found that if he hadn’t been holding my hand, I would have wandered off.  The scent was mouth-watering and delicious and something I could follow to the ends of the Earth if given a choice. It didn’t take long to get to the house just outside the town center where the party was thumping.  Cars parked a good two blocks away to get to it and we walked up to the place and nobody seemed to care if we were there or not; nobody stopped us. 

Fritz took me off to one side where we could peruse the whole room in one go and he smiled at me, “Okay, there are three different types of humans.  The extraverts, introverts and the ones nobody wants.”
“And we go for the last one.” I smiled. 

“Sometimes.  It depends on who they are.”He said, “In a place like this, the third one could be the bottom of the barrel kind of people.  Druggies and prostitutes.  You don’t want them in your system.” He looked around the room as I did, “That’s when you go for the introverts; the shy.  Those people have an extrovert screaming to get out inside them.”
I looked at him and smiled, “Sounds like my kinda person to pick.” He kissed me on the forehead as he squeezed my butt and let me take a walk around the house.  I wandered around the place and it wasn’t very big; but there were two stories to it and so I went upstairs too.  It was mainly bedrooms, showers and a balcony or two; nothing too exciting. 
As I was heading back to the hall, a guy exited a room and he looked at me as he carried his shoes. “She told me to leave… she’s not who I thought she was.” He muttered.
“Shy, right?” I smiled.
He nodded, “Yeah.” he rushed down the stairs without another word as I looked at the door and – without hesitation – opened it.
“I told you, I didn’t want to…” a young blond began, “Who are you?”
“Are you okay?” I asked, “The guy who left is going to paint a bad picture of you all because you’re too shy for your own good.”
She sat on the end of the bed and burst into tears as I locked the door, “I want to – really I do – but I don’t know why I stop when a guy gets close.”
I sat next to her touching her shoulder, “It’s okay.  You’ll do it when you’re ready.”
“I’m only sixteen.”
I smiled, then laughed, “Don’t worry, you’ve got your life ahead of you to do that.”
She looked at me as she wiped the tears away, “I haven’t even kissed a girl.”
“Does that matter so much?” I moved a loch of her hair from her face to see her better.
“Well, most of my friends have.”
“How do you know?  Do they have photos?”
She considered this and shook her head, “No.”
I rubbed her back gently, “I wouldn’t worry about what other people are doing and worry about what you want to do with yourself.”
Looking at me, she smiled, “You’re nice.”

“But that guy is going to badmouth me isn’t he?”
I nodded, “Unless you do something completely outrageous to make his jaw drop.” 

I touched her face with the back of my fingers, “Well, we’ll think of something.  But first I need you to tell me something.”
“What kind of car does he own?”
“A blue Mustang.” She said, “He was gloating about how he had run over some street kid last night and just left them on the Surf Bridge.”
“Thanks.” I smiled, “Oh, and that thing you want to do?  Wait until you’re ready and in love.” 
“What about kissing a girl?” I looked at her and thought who could it hurt.  But as I leaned in close, I caught a whiff of marijuana and sat back, “Have you smoked some pot?”
“I’m not into that.  Sorry, I can’t tonight.” I stood and left the room quickly remembering what Fritz had told me.  For now, I had to find the guy who had left her alone for being shy; I had to have words with him. As I headed downstairs, I spotted the guy standing with his buddies near the front door.  Glancing at Fritz, he saw that I had a target in mind for my first kill and understood immediately what I was going to do.

I trotted down the stairs, pushed through his circle of friends and looked straight at him, “I want you.”
He looked me up and down for a moment, “Really?”
“What about my buddies?”
“What about them?  Can’t they get a chick of their own?”
He pulled his keys from his pocket and – as expected – I saw the key fob for Mustang hanging off it, “Come on, then.” He took my hand and led me out the door; much to his five other friends’ disappointment, “Hey, guys, she’s right.  There’s something wrong if you can’t get dates of your own.”
Fritz followed us out and passed us, handing me a mobile phone, ‘Leave it switched on.’
I looked at him, ‘Of course.’
The guy led me to the Mustang and opened the right hand door, “Ladies first.” 

“Thank you.” I smiled as I slid in, “Oh… American-style!”
He jumped into the driver’s side and started the car, “Where would you like to go?” 

“The beach.”
“Which one?”
“Surprise me.  I like seeing the stars… no light.”
“Mmmm, I know just the place.” He put the car in gear and we drove away; leaving the small town behind us as we found our way to the highway. 

He turned off the lights once he killed the engine and the darkness of the night surrounded us.  We were about twenty minutes outside of Byron Bay in between Brunswick Heads where surfies usually hung out; but tonight, it was very quiet. “Come on, I’ve got a blanket in the boot and we can look at the stars while hiding in the dunes.” He smiled getting out. I got out of the car and cold night air hit my skin, yet I didn’t feel it.  It tingled making me feel more alive than anything else.   He soon joined me by the front of the car and led me onto the beach and the sand dunes; and we were out of the wind.  It was quite warm there.
“Well, the stars really are out tonight.” He smiled, “You were right.”
I laid there as I looked at him knowing it was time to kill him, “I heard you hit a street kid last night.”
“Yeah, they dented my fender and the police never found a body.” He said. 

“Did you stop to see if they were okay?”
He looked at me, “Yeah, of course.”
Liar… damn you! “Oh, that’s good.”
He sat up and the wind ruffled his hair, “Do you think I didn’t?  You weren’t there.”
“I was just askin’.”
Nodding he muttered, “I know… sorry.”  He was starting to come apart.  His nerves were still raw from the accident; and he knew that at any point he’d get caught.
“Come here.” I put my arms out and he smiled as he leaned down and held me close.  He smelt of cigarettes and a slight odour of booze; bourbon, “Mmmm, feel better now?”
“Yeah.” He had a smile in his voice.
“Good.” My first kill was about to be performed as I felt the canines slide down from my upper jaw.  It was time before he pulled back to look at me with lusty looks and promises of calling me tomorrow after we fuck; and the beach isn’t exactly the best place for it.  I began to nuzzle his neck and make out that I’m going to leave a hikkie there… moving his hair.  He sat up and I lowered my eyes as he muttered about making this easier for me as I straddled him; face to face.  But still, I made no eye contact – I’m still concentrating on that big throbbing artery in his neck.  It looked too good to be true!  Licking my lips, I feel the razor sharp teeth in my mouth as I wrapped my legs around him; locking my ankles around his lower back (so he couldn’t get me off him no matter how much he tried).   The best thing happened!  He put his head back and closed his eyes.  I had his complete trust.  What a wonderful thing!  Moving closer, I kissed his neck, nuzzled and heard him chuckle muttering how much it tickled.  Then, it’s time to attack!  Digging my fingernails in his shoulderblades and grabbing a handful of hair, I bit straight into the pumping artery; piercing it beautifully!  The blood came fast and hot from his body to mine!  The rush of nourishing food was amazing!  I couldn’t believe how good this felt. He struggled feebly to get away from me and failed miserably.  His drum beat of fists on my back weakened quickly as I drained him completely of all he had, wiped my mouth and caught my breath.  Thank God he brought a blanket.  I moved his carcass to the middle of the blanket and wrapped him up like a mummy; but not before grabbing his car keys and leather jacket off him.  Mine was covered in his blood.

I drove to Byron Bay and found a car dealership where they paid top money for the Mustang and sold me a Monaro which was just as lovely; and I drove that one back to the carnival.
Fritz saw me emerge from it and smiled, “I see you didn’t need our help.” 
“Nope.” I grinned as he held me close, “And he won’t be found for a few days.” 
“Where’s the Mustang?” the guy with the clipboard asked, “You better have gotten rid of it.”
“Very legally.  I sold it for top money and got this.” I ran my hand over the bonnet of the Monaro.
“Good.” He smiled, “That’s the way.  I’m proud of you for not bringing it back.”
“Where to next, boss?” I asked.
“Well, seeing you’re so good at hiding things, we need you to talk to his buddies.  They need to know where he vanished to.”
Fritz smiled, “I’ll help.”
The boss smiled as he walked away, “Do what you want to do with them… just don’t get caught.”