Children of a Different Sky
Mazikeen kicked her feet loose from the ropes that she had hung specifically in the coldroom, somersaulting neatly to the floor. She experienced a surge of adrenaline in anticipation accompanied by an aching hunger. It was time.
She sighed shaking her throbbing head, her wild red hair flying loosely around her pale face, black eyes glistening dangerously through the red curtain. Her reintroduction to the mortal world after centuries of inactivity had been a significant shock and she found the 21st century to be a rather curious place. She was finding the time shift and the synthesis of mismatched cultures and motivations somewhat challenging.
Desperate to understand the mortals in her new realm she had settled in a small coastal town in Queensland to integrate herself into their civilisation. It was an acceptable place if you didn’t mind the gangs, the humidity and the weird animals.
After careful consideration of her options, she started a Sushi Lounge. Open all night – from dusk till dawn she promoted on her flyers. She had even taken a mate, a broad shouldered, suntanned surfer, inexplicably named Squid. He increased her knowledge of the modern day mortal drastically. And introduced her to another nocturnal activity she had hitherto failed to enjoy in her previous lives.
In an effort to encourage her to venture outside during daylight hours one day he’d brought home a living creature, a cute plump wriggling puppy to be a companion for her. Of course, she’d tried to eat it. This prompted his abrupt departure from her house and her life, taking the whimpering puppy with him. Mazikeen missed them both regretting her impulsive action for a quick fix. She acknowledged that she would have to be more careful when the desire to feed consumed her. She also started to speculate about what would transpire with the puppy, having never bitten a dog before.
The cane toad county quartet started up outside the kitchen window, an unwelcome interruption. This phenomenon was omitted from the tourist books, that these yellow green toads would serenade every night at dusk. Add to that the chirping of geckos and the unannounced appearance of large lizards. It was really more like Jurassic park than anywhere on earth she had ever lived. And she had inhabited a few places in the centuries since she had been born.
The door heralded incoming clientele with a loud rendition of Elton John’s “Don’t let the sun go down on me”, and Mazikeen reluctantly brought her mind back to reality. Her painted on smile faded as she recognised the group, the men were leaders of two rival dating services. They were already pushing each other around, she felt the need to hose them down to dilute their testosterone.
“No fighting,” hissed Mazikeen, as her voice was obscured by the sound of gunshots. She was surprised by the source of the gunfire. It was a small shrivelled woman in medieval dress reminiscent of her childhood.
“Mother,” Mazikeen gasped.
“You never could see what was in front of your eyes,” the woman hissed indicating the writhing men.
Mazikeen watched horrified as the men morphed from bloodied human creatures into large shaggy beasts, their bodies welding back together before her eyes. Their great heads shook with the force of the healing, and she gasped as their mouths grimaced with huge canine teeth. Disbelief shot through her. Lycanthropes in the western suburbs in the 21st century. The travel guide had somehow overlooked this vital piece of information also.
She reached under her apron, her favourite one with the various kinds of sushi embroidered on it, a gift from Squid in happier times, and drew her pistol from its concealed holster. It was loaded, it was always loaded, ready for action. A force of habit for centuries. She aimed at the closest of the werewolves who now stood to his full height of almost seven feet. Shaggy and fierce, he was challenging her, his teeth bared and drooling as he savoured the air around her.
Mazikeen understood the creature had a driving need, a deep pain that throbbed and devoured even as it demanded. She understood this desire herself, psychological and inevitable, commanding and focusing every mindful thought and action, and a good few unconscious also. She understood blood, and the hunger it nursed. Could she conceive pain and forgiveness, or desire of a carnal nature. Of these mortal emotions she still was unresolved, but suspected she could after Squid departed with the puppy. She pointed the gun at the werewolf and squeezed the trigger. He fell to the floor. She aimed again at the second wolf but before she could fire he was upon her, his teeth ripping mercilessly into her flesh. She could know pain, that was confirmed, as the heat from his teeth savaged through her, providing another unwelcome new experience.
As he hesitated licking his lips and grinning with brutal teeth stained with her own blood, she brought the gun level with his heart and squeezed the trigger.
Exhausted and suffering she crawled behind the counter and waited for some brand of death. Instead she slept, hallucinating under the watchful eye of her mother.
Hunger eventually stole her from her dreams, overwhelming desire flooding through her. She lay, experiencing a sensation of damage, despite her flesh having healed during sleep and being whole again. She lay, almost too afraid to breathe, and then she sensed the child. The pure and angelic toddler with golden curls and pouting mouth, negotiating as only a much-loved toddler can with her mother. The child was beguiling and Mazikeen experienced a curious alien emotion. She felt protective of this beautiful innocent creature. And it reminded her again of her first child in this time line, the unsuspecting puppy that would feel its first desire in two days at the full moon.
Mazikeen looked around in disbelief. The restaurant was empty save the mother and child, gone were the betraying signs of the werewolf visit earlier, her mother must have bewitched away the evidence. Clearly she was still the powerful witch, smiled Mazikeen. A witch that conceived a designer vampire thanks to her forbidden liaison with the illustrious count, and gave birth to the mother of all vampires, Mazikeen.
It was time. For her mission to succeed she must start creating her army. She looked over again at the mother and child, her resolution wavering. A waste of their innocence or a chance to make them immortal? Decision making had never been her strong point.
It was the child who decided it for her. She toddled over all dimples and sweet plump flesh and opened her chubby fist to stroke Mazikeen’s heart shaped face. Mazikeen smiled, knowing her face had always given her undeserved opportunities with her victims. The toddler’s scent was overpowering. It was over in seconds, the child didn’t even have time to scream. Mazikeen imbibed only a little from the small body, careful not to endanger its chance of survival. The only well-mannered action thereafter was to progress to the distraught mother who was no match for Mazikeen’s strength especially after the pure blood of the innocent. She latched her aching mouth onto the mother’s slim neck and relished in the fleeting pleasure, releasing the woman before it was too late.
Mazikeen carefully arranged the mother and child so that their first vision when they were reborn would be each other, her remorse at having taken them overwhelming her.
She was decided. She would find Squid and the puppy and being her mission.
Looking up, the sky was unquestioningly beautiful to her kind. Dark with a growing moon cutting through clouds sending shards of light streaming to the ground, where it illuminated prey. Not that she required a visual target, their aroma was magnetic.
Requirement flooded through her. She attacked one after another, dissolving into torment and hunger, into fleeting satiation and finally loss as she released them before she took their final life’s blood.
Centuries ago she had failed, by being weak, taking too much. It wouldn’t happen again. In the wake of her devastation this time would be new life, her new children, her new army. For she, Mazikeen, the mother of all vampires, had found the answer. A new desire to temper the one for blood. A carnal desire, just as demanding and curiously moderating. She felt compelled to find Squid and not just for the puppy.
She inhaled deeply, smiling, her eyes closed, as she discerned his familiar scent, mixed with something alien, metallic, the intoxicating aroma of his blood. Bewildered she opened her eyes just as she was tossed in the air. She landed hard on the ground, towered over by her canine counterpart, the puppy completely transformed into a snarling salivating demon. A force greater than herself. A force without control. Without her sense of purpose. Her last memory was of fangs and teeth around her neck and a draining sensation as her aberration child took her last blood.
It wasn’t like I planned it.
Arrogant bitch had barged in while I was shelling prawns to tell me she was sleeping with my husband, as if I didn’t already know. I was at the sink in the laundry, preferring to have messy jobs delegated there rather than violate the kitchen sinks. She had the audacity to apologise and say that the last thing she wanted to do was hurt me, clearly it was still on her list though.
She went on to twist the knife sniffing back her tears and saying they couldn’t help themselves, so in love were they. I whirled around to face her, a monologue of that level of emotional nausea requiring a visual, and the knife I was using to split the prawns flew out of my hand, across the room, clattering to the floor near her high heeled feet.
Over reaction always was Gina’s specialty. She screamed and jumped backwards, her ridiculously high FM heels and the water from Mark’s wetsuit thrown down hastily on his return from his morning surf earlier combined to cause her to slip heavily. I’d argued with Mark over this floor. My position that highly polished concrete was a ridiculous choice for a laundry was ignored in light of his urban dream for the house. Apparently this required every surface to be either glass or as shiny as, regardless of the impracticality.
I rationalized that considering his choice of floor and mistress, the situation was actually his fault, certainly of his making.
I watched spellbound as the blood pooled out around her head onto Mark’s shiny floor. How was I going to explain this, no-one would believe me. And why did it have to be today, when I had the annual family barbecue to host.
Australia Day was big to his family, not only was it the day they had auspiciously arrived in Australia some 50 years earlier, but it was his father’s birthday and also his parents wedding anniversary, and as always it fell to me to host the big family celebration.
Gina was the latest in a long line of hopefuls, and ironically one of my friends. I tolerated Mark’s infidelity for one reason only, our prenup had decreed that I received nothing if the marriage didn’t survive 10 years, and I had 6 weeks to serve. For my long service I would receive $10,000,000 so I wasn’t about to turn into a jealous wife now. What feeling I had had for my husband had been asphyxiated in the first three years of the marriage when his serial philandering had become evident at my sister’s wedding. I found him in bed with her that morning. Shock turned into pain, pain into humiliation, humiliation into revenge, revenge into self preservation.
And now the end was in sight, an escape on a magic carpet of his mother’s creation. But being imprisoned for murder would rather ruin everything now. So I needed to return to the job at hand, creating the usual perfect Aussie Day barbecue complete with my signature crumbed prawns with sweet chili sauce as a prequel to the Bourbon and soy marinated steaks, and my piece de résistance chocolate soufflé finale, and now I had to hide a body – the body of my cheating friend and my husband’s latest mistress no less.
The first problem was stopping the blood, which was pooling in great lakes on the smooth and ridiculously shiny laundry floor. Mark would have been livid, clearly the way it was pooling in certain areas indicated that the floor wasn’t level. I stacked freshly laundered napkins around Gina’s head, I would need to use paper serviettes for the barbecue after all. Mark’s mother would be livid.
My next problem was finding something I could wrap the body in. I had invested in plastic tablecovers that resembled fine linen, they would be perfect. So we would have the old linen tablecloths and paper napkins, Gina would be embalmed in linen napkins and a plastic tablecloth.
The biggest problem though, was what to do with the body. Its not like I had masterminded this, not even thought it through. And I still had the BBQ starting at 4. The prawns still needed cleaning, the steak needed marinating, and the settings had to be finalized on the terrace. Finalized with military precision and political correctness. It was imperative that Mark’s mother didn’t have to sit with or even be able to view from any angle, Mark’s sister’s husband, Nick – if ever there was a skeleton in the family closet it was Nick. And also so that Mark couldn’t see his brother’s wife Felicity, with whom he had enjoyed a fleeting liaison just prior to her conceiving their first child. And he mustn’t be able to see the crèche area from any angle either, not just because of the possible offspring, but because of the nanny hired for the event. A pretty creature with a strong church upbringing, she had briefly come into Mark’s radar and although he hadn’t been successful in nailing her, or perhaps because of this failure, her presence always vexed him.
Once I had Gina’s body in the plastic table cover the challenge really began. Gina was a well built gal and I found it exhausting to move her. Thank god for the pump classes I had started taking and my newly acquired tapping routine. I kept repeating to myself as I tapped, “This isn’t of my making, but I will resolve the problem. This barbecue is going ahead, as is my divorce and my prenup.”
Back to the marinade, Bourbon, dark brown sugar, soy, lemon juice and pepper, lots of it. As I ground I contemplated what I could possibly do with the body. At least till after the barbecue.
The garage was out, Mark’s father would insist on going in to look at Mark’s new classic car. As was the green house, his mother was quite predatory when it came to my orchids, and was always taking stock of what I was growing. The only option was my studio. I always banned visitors due to the fragility of my work, I made leadlight windows, lots of dangerous welding gear and slithers of sharp multi-colored glass, so it wouldn’t seem strange for me to lock the doors and keep people out. Perfect solution, then I could get this charade of a family barbecue out of the way and deal with Gina’s body in a bright new light.
What to do with the body, what to do with the body. My therapeutic tapping started to follow the rhythm of the problem, and stopped providing the usual welcome relief. I was making punch and took a generous glass to test it. Then another.
The body didn’t seem such a massive problem suddenly. That’s where I stared to loose my edge, I got complacent about the body. The body of my husband’s latest mistress. I heard Mark’s car pull into the gravel driveway warning me of his imminent return. Live and learn.
With a marching band keeping its own beat in my chest, I managed to keep him out of the laundry by asking him to make sure he washed out his wetsuit and not leave it for me to do. Love reverse psychology. Mark raced off to have a shower.
I used those precious few minutes to get Gina’s body in its plastic tablecloth cover on a wheelbarrow and into my studio. My studio fortunately had a powder room at the back, so I sat Gina regally on the loo, leaning her against one of the walls. One of her hands fell out of the tablecloth, and in an ill-conceived moment of humor I put a cigarette in her manicured hand. I looked at the nails that I knew had raked down my husbands back only two days before (he hadn’t been bright enough to leave his shirt on last night when we went to bed) and smiled when I noticed there was still skin under them. The plastic slipped down and revealed her garishly made up face, her lips still as red and pouting as when she had arrived only an hour earlier. I moved the cigarette from her hand to her pouting mouth. As I closed the door it occurred to me that he would probably appeared more implicated in this tableau than I, were the body to be discovered.
That thought calmed me and I returned to the kitchen where I finished the lengthy job of crumbing the prawns and turned the steak in the marinade, forgetting to lock the door to my studio.
Mark swanned in at just after 3pm reminding me it was only an hour till our royal guests arrived.
Only 6 more weeks I consoled myself as I waved to Mark and excused myself for a shower.
I was just exiting the shower when I heard Mark’s mother’s scream. Damn. There goes the prenup.