For Anastasia Alexanderin, a beautiful wonderful artist with the crazy sidekick.
“I taste American cheese. Kraft.”
The way Kristin said it made it sound like a philosophic gem that would echo down through the ages and result in a fundamental change in the fabric of the universe. Which might be true. Everything else the girl said eventually came to pass in one form or another.
Ana smiled. “Does that mean you want macaroni and cheese for dinner?”
Kristin smiled. “You read my mind.”
Ana shook her head. “No. It’s too messy in there for me to see anything.”
Kristin laughed. That joke never got old.
“So what’s happening tomorrow?” Ana asked as she grabbed the box of pasta from the pantry.
“I haven’t looked yet,” Kristin said. “You want me to look now?”
Ana nodded. Kristin closed her eyes, her forehead creased with concentration. “Cornflakes for breakfast.”
“Something a little more dire than food, please?” Ana said.
“Mmmm, some ghouls, werewolves, a hag in Halverston Park. And a little girl with a peanut allergy is going to accidentally imbibe some peanut-butter, but she’s in Canada so we can’t get to her in time.”
“That’s all I can see right now,” Kristin said. “It gets fuzzy when I’m hungry.”
“Of course it does,” Ana said. “Here’s dinner.”
The bowl of bright yellow sauce-covered pasta didn’t last long. Kristin leaned back with a contented sigh.
“Now, what about tomorrow?” Ana pressed.
“During sunup we’re fine. When it gets dark we’ll be busy. Its a full moon.”
Ana nodded. “So the werewolves weren’t a joke.”
Kristin shook her head.
“Do we have any of the antidote?”
“No. We ran out of wolfsbane,” Kristin said. “And steaks.”
Ana put the dishes in the sink. “Do we have a chance?”
“We always have a chance,” Kristin said.
“So I’ll go rustle up some wolfsbane, then,” Ana said. “You should get to bed.”
The next morning Kristin walked out in her pink panther pajamas with a scowl on her face. That was not a good sign. Kristin was rarely in a bad mood.
“What happened?” Ana asked. “Or should I say, what is going to happen?”
“Vampires got involved. There’s going to be a massacre.”
“Where are they?” Ana wanted to know.
“They’re down at the Lace Quartet, I think,” Kristin said, naming the inn where all the magical and fantastical creatures gathered to gossip, trade and drink ambrosia and morning dew.
“We have some time then. Help me out. I got the wolfsbane, and the steaks.”
When they went downtown that evening, the inn was lit up in faerie lights. An elvish band played on fiddles and flutes on a flowery stage. Groups of all sorts of people in white leather and silver lace, black velvet and cloth of gold and ruby, pale pink spiders-silk, striped furs and cloaks of peacock, sunrise and midnight sky.
“See them anywhere?”
“I couldn’t see them very clearly,” Kristin admitted. “It was dark.”
“That’s what you have me for,” Ana smiled.
She began to wander through the crowd, searching faces both beautiful and hideous, frowning in concentration. She stopped still when she found them. They were dressed in old-fashioned vests and pantaloons of deep greens and purples, kneehigh boots and black leather jackets. Ana smiled at them and walked on.
“I found the vamps, but they’re not planning anything.”
“What do you mean?” Kristin frowned. “There was a whole ambush planned and everything.”
“Not yet, it hasn’t been,” Ana said.
“I don’t understand,” Kristin muttered.
She pursed her lips and looked into the distance. “Oh. That’s why.”
“There’s a man. Dressed like a priest with the black shirts and the white thing…he’s sitting in the corner.”
Ana looked. At the corner table sat a man as Kristin described, drinking a glass of something sparkling and pink. “What about him?”
“He’s going to tell the wolves and the vamps that the other is going to pick a fight and kill them.”
“We have to tell them.”
Ana threw rock as Kristin threw paper.
“You knew what I was going to choose,” Ana grumbled.
Kristin smiled. “I take werewolves.”
“Of course,” Ana said. “The easy ones. I have to deal with those pompous…”
Kristin smiled. “It’s better this way, trust me. See you in a few.”
Ana watched Kristin walk into the crowd before she turned to find the vamps had disappeared. She made a quick round through the Lace Quartet but they weren’t inside, not even in the garden out back. Ana hurried outside, head swinging from side to side as she searched for the vamps.
She ran into them around the corner. Five of them, three of them smoking goblin cigars. She smiled at them as they favoured her with haughty looks. The one in the viridian raised an eyebrow.
“Can we help you?”
Ana looked into his head. “The priest told you the wolves are coming after you.”
“So you overhead.”
Ana shook her head. “He’s lying. The wolves don’t even know you’re in town.”
The vamp in purple blew a smoke ring. “And we should believe you because…?”
Ana shrugged. “Because what you know I’m telling the truth.”
“It’s a full moon,” another vamp pointed out. “The wolves are strongest now. They would take us now.”
“No one is taking anyone,” Ana said.
“And you and what army are going to stop us?”
“My friend and I will find a way,” Ana said, stalling for time as she dug a little deeper into the vamps recent memories. “The priest told you the wolves are going to jump you on the Lane of Silver Trees. You thought that was very unoriginal of them.”
The vamp look confused, then shrugged with one shoulder. “You could have read about the attack from last year in the papers.”
“But I couldn’t have read that your big brother was there. He told you not to come, but you sneaked out after him anyway. You saw a black wolf with a silver hoop in his ear shove a stake through your brother’s chest. Afterwards you went to his corps and took the bracelet you’re wearing right now off him. You add a charm ever year on the anniversary of his death. You added a steel harp three days ago, one day late.”
The vamp stared at her with an open mouth, fangs gleaming in the faerie lights while his friends stared at him.
“Cam, is that true?” one of them asked.
The vampire blinked. “Yeah. Yeah it is. How did you know?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Ana said. “But you can’t go looking for a fight or for revenge.”
The vamp sighed. “It’s not like that. It’s who we are. We can’t just…not.”
“Sure you can. Besides, it makes more sense to at least put it off until later, when there’s not a full moon.” Ana pointed above them to the large, perfect silver coin in the sky.
The vamp nodded slowly. “You have a point.”
“So you’ll let them be?”
The vampires looked at each other and then one by one shrugged and nodded.
“Perfect,” Ana said.
“One question. What does it matter to you if we go play with the wolves or not?” Cam the vamp asked, tilting his head.
“I care if people live or die, and I try to steer them in the right direction when I can,” Ana asked. “No matter if they be vamp or wolf or anything else.”
“So, if we go back to the priest and give him what for…”
“I’d prefer if you didn’t. I’m sure my friend will take care of him. In a more socially acceptable, less bloody fashion.”
“You’re very strange,” the vamp said. “I mean that as a compliment.”
“Thank you,” Ana smiled. “Have a good night. Be good.”
Kristin was waiting for her at the entrance to the Lace Quartet, sitting on the steps.
“How’d it go?” Ana asked.
“Good. At first, when I told them what the priest would say the wolves thought I was in league with the priest. But he thought I was a wolf and then he proceeded to say exactly what I said he would. I gave them the steaks. They calmed down. A lot.”
“And the guy who was dressed up like a priest?”
“I told him to stop being an idiot and not to judge people on stereotypes. You?”
“Vamps are cool. Another good day, another good deed.”
“Good enough for me. Let’s go home. I’m starving. What’s for dinner?”
“You tell me,” Ana smiled. “You’re the one with the premonitions.”