Chapter 4 : Quite the Predicament

Chapter 4 : Quite the Predicament

Chapter 4 : Quite the Predicament

All attention focussed on Mindy who seemed to shrink a little under the combined weight of the four pairs of questioning eyes. There was a moment of heavy silence before Carlotta spoke.

“Well that doesn’t sound promising, Min. The fact that you look like you’re about to yack also isn’t filling me with the warm fuzzies. What the hell’s going on?”

Mindy cleared her throat, looking nervously anywhere except at her nest mates. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair, as if their collective attention was making her teeth itch. 

“Well, the thing is…it’s…what happened was..I mean…”

Nisha reached over and laid an encouraging hand on her arm, “It’s ok, Min. Just tell us what’s going on.”

Mindy shot her a grateful glance before seeming to brace herself, “Alina and I had a…a thing.”

“‘A thing’?” Cassandra’s voice was even but there was a stern note beneath the seemingly calm tone, “What kind of ‘thing’ could you possibly have had with a vampire slayer? I’m guessing this ‘thing’ didn’t involve stakes and holy water?”

Mindy wrung her hands and looked back at Cassandra with an expression both pleading and, were the situation not quite so deeply concerning, almost comically guilty, “Well I didn’t know she was a vampire hunter, did I?”

Cassandra opened her mouth to respond but Nisha held her hands up for calm, “How about we let her tell the whole story first, ok?”

Cassandra’s mouth snapped shut but her face spoke volumes about what she wanted to say. Nisha also noticed that a muscle in Cassandra’s clenched jaw had begun to twitch worryingly. 

Turning away from Cassandra before she launched into a lecture that would eviscerate Mindy and have the rest of them stuck here well into the next century, Nisha turned back to her younger sister, “Okay Min, start from the start.”

“Well, it was just a couple of weeks ago. I’d gone to the Ducky night at The Dusty Trail. You DJed that night, Nisha, but you left early because you had that other set at Fabric, remember?”

Nisha nodded.

“So I was just dancing and having a good time and I met this girl and she was super cool. And, you know, we danced and talked and…it was fun. I, er… ended up going home with her….um, back to her place and…you know.”

Morgana ran a hand through her hair impatiently and gave a distinctly un-ladylike snort, “Alright, so you picked up Alina at a bar and the two of you bumped uglies. Did you tell her you’re a vampire? Did you do something to give yourself away??”

Nisha noticed Carlotta blink in surprise and momentarily struggle to keep a straight face at the sound of ‘bumped uglies’ coming out of Morgana’s mouth. Clearly someone had been making one of her periodic efforts to come up to speed with the language the kids were using these days.

However, for once, Mindy wasn’t laughing and she flinched at the accusation in Morgana’s tone, “Um…no. I mean, not that night.”

Cassandra’s face registered her disbelief, “You mean there was more than one night? Can we please cut to the bit where she discovered you are her sworn enemy and launched a campaign of death and dismemberment upon us all?”

Mindy was starting to look like she’d actually prefer a vampire hunter to smash through the window and plunge a stake into her heart than have to endure the rest of this conversation but, voice trembling somewhat, she pushed on.

“Ok well the thing is, last Monday we went to Drag Bingo at the RVT and, um, we had quite a bit to drink and we went back to her place. But, um, the thing was I was quite, um…hungry.”

A collective groan went up from the others. Carlotta covered her face with her hands, muffling her voice, “Jesus Christ on a flaming fucking bicycle Mindy, how many times have we told you? Always, always, eat before you go out around humans!”

Mindy’s response was anguished, “I know! But I was running late and I was only supposed to be out for a couple of hours!”

There was a variety of huffs and sighs around the room from the older vampires. Nisha scowled at them, feeling defensive of Mindy who was, after all, the youngest of the nest. Sometimes the others forgot what it was like in those early years. She herself was only a decade or so older, and remembered all too well how difficult the adjustment had been. Her focus returned to Mindy after making sure the simmering disapproval in the room wasn’t going to break out into a Grade A verbal spanking. At least, not until they had let Mindy tell them the full story.

“Alright, Min, so you went back to Alina’s house and you were peckish, what happened next?”

Mindy’s hands were twisting her skirt into tight bunches as she stared fixedly at the floor, tears threatening in her eyes, “Well, I told Alina I needed to use the bathroom and I slipped out the back door to look for something, I don’t know, a squirrel or whatever. Just something to tide me over.”

The others grimaced in disgust at the prospect of eating rodents but held their tongues. Not one of them could claim never to have eaten something unappetising when the situation required it.

“And…and so I saw this cat and I thought maybe it was a stray or..I don’t know. So…so I…” 

Her eyes searched the faces of her sisters before eventually reaching Nisha, who nodded gently in encouragement, “You did the right thing, Min. Then what happened?”

“Well, I, you know, I finished up but then I heard a noise from the house and when I looked up, Alina was watching me from the kitchen window. And… she was loading a bloody great crossbow! So, I ran. I just…I came home. And that’s…that’s what happened.”

The pregnant silence in the kitchen was broken by a loud nasal intake of breath from Carlotta, eyes closed and palms splayed on the table, obviously doing a bit of mental fire fighting to stop rage inhibiting her ability to carry on rational discourse. She was only moderately successful.

“And it didn’t occur to you perhaps to just, oh I don’t know, maybe mention to any of us that your hook-up mysteriously turned out to be a medieval weapons enthusiast who was fully intent on shooting you after witnessing you chowing down on a local kitty???!”

Mindy opened her mouth as if to reply but Carlotta waved her impatiently into silence and took another deep, calming breath. “No, don’t answer that. Listen, was there not anything in Alina’s place to suggest you might be in danger there, Mindy? No indication you should exit swiftly, and before you’d tucked into the local fauna?”

Mindy looked as if she was trying to rack her brains but clearly turning up nothing. She shook her head miserably. Suddenly Cassandra, who had been lost in thought until now, spoke.

“Hang on, if she’s around Mindy’s human age then she might be on her Frolicspan, right? Which would explain why she’s out here by herself while the rest of the Romanovs are off in America getting stabby out there.”

Carlotta and Morgana made noises and facial expressions that seemed to say, ah yes, of course, as if remembering an old bit of trivia.

Mindy looked none the wiser for hearing this, her head swivelling comically from one to the other of her sisters. Nisha looked uncertain, as if the word had a nagging familiarity but she couldn’t quite pin it down.

“Frolicspan, frolicspan…..nope. Gone. Can you remind me and er, enlighten Mindy please?”

“It’s a long held tradition amongst Vampire Hunters, not just Romanovs,” continued Cassandra, “Life in hunter communities is pretty strict, all kinds of rules and regulations designed to keep them on the straight and narrow. Members are expected to live a pretty ascetic life focussed on honing their skills and to fulfilling what they consider to be their duty to protect humanity. But they know that their vocation also requires interaction with the rest of the world, and so knowing what that world is really like is also important. So, when younger hunters get to between 20 and 22ish, they are allowed a kind of gap year, living away from their clan. A span of time to do as they please, usually one full calendar year, with the expectation that they will then return to their expected role within the clan. And actually, most do. A few decide to stay out in the world but to do so means that they become regular citizens and have to lose all ties to their kin.”

Nisha nodded along with increasing understanding, as her research into vampire hunters came flooding back. “Ah, yup…I remember reading about that actually,” she said, suddenly looking relieved. “Something else just occurred to me too. Won’t we be totally fine if we just stay in the house for the Betrayer’s Moon, like we usually do? Not like we should be going out and laying about in the streets comatose, surely?”

“Yes,” Morgana said, speaking as if her mind was off in a different dimension from her mouth, “I think that even with the recent spate of unsolicited external ‘decoration’, that the layers of protective spells, charms and other such measures that we’ve built up on this place should keep us safe. Or rather, buy us a bit more time to come up with the best strategy to be ready for whatever the Romanovs choose to throw at us a bit further down the line. Because they absolutely won’t rest until we’re all dead. They come from a long, long line of Olympic-level grudge holders, not to mention that their entire raison d’etre is to wipe all vampires off the face of this planet. Plus, if Alina is on her Frolicspan then that means she won’t be allowed contact with her clan so we can assume she hasn’t been able to call in the cavalry.”

Another silence ensued, heavy with a bizarre mixture of short term relief and longer sighted anxiety. This time, it was Cassandra who snapped everyone back to the here and now.

“Ok, so we just all need to stay calm and focussed on making the protections on the nest as comprehensive as possible between now and Friday night, get through the Betrayer’s Moon and then revive the old War Cabinet to work on the longer range problem.”

The other two older vampires smiled nostalgically at the mention of a War Cabinet. Nisha caught Carlotta’s eye, sensing an in-joke, intrigued by what must be some epic story she hadn’t yet heard.

“Prague?” she asked, hoping for further details.

“Baku”, Carlotta replied hastily, offering no further details but seemingly roused back to the here and now by Nisha’s enquiry.

“Ok, I think we all need to eat something and decompress for a bit.” Carlotta’s words sounded much more cheerfully resolute than at the start of the meeting. She strode across the kitchen towards the fridge, busying herself with preparing a sanguinous snack to revive her sisters’ spirits.

“And let’s just be thankful your fuckboi behaviour didn’t end in total disaster, Mindy. You could have brought her back here instead of stumbling to hers, then we’d be completely screwed. No protective spell could stop a vampire hunter who has already been invited over the threshold.”

The rest of the group all let out a kind of relieved chuckle, imagining how outrageously hopeless that situation would be. The rest of the group…..except Mindy. Nisha was the first to notice the sheer, blind terror and regret plastered across her young nest mate’s face. Her own chuckle died abruptly in her throat.

“Oh Gods, Min, no. Please don’t tell me you–”

Mindy cut her off, bursting into hysterical tears, bringing all the focus in the room back onto her as the rest of the group looked at her, their relieved mirth rapidly being replaced by expressions of mingled dread and disbelief.

“You…..did only go to Alina’s house, right Mindy?” Nisha’s voice was much quieter this time, the verbal equivalent of peeking through fingers watching a horror film.

“She……I mean……I…….we……. it was that night you guys all went to that stupid art thing, the reflective humus hole thing? Sounded so borrrrrrrring.”

“Posthumous retrospective of Warhol’s previously unseen work?” quizzed Cassandra, eyes locked and loaded on Mindy like a hawk equipped with state of the art missiles.

“Yeah that thing,” bawled an inconsolable Mindy “I knew you’d all be out at that, then probably onto some weird arty soiree afterwards, so I figured, hey, make the most of an empty nest. I’ve got that massive four poster bed and…”

“So, as well as failing to identify a member of the most prominent clan of vampire hunters and deciding to sleep with her, you also failed to remember even the most basic, basic rule of vampire due diligence and invited her into our nest, knowing nothing at all about her?”

Morgana’s words were incredibly, eerily calm but also as cold as ice. Cassandra recognised the tone from conflicts past. It was a good thing Morgana was amongst the undead, as the spike in blood pressure such pure, controlled anger would elicit in a human would likely kill them on the spot. She wondered for a second if this might be the first thing to fully push her over the edge and was relieved as she watched Morgana swiftly stalk from the kitchen. Clearly, she’d thought the same and decided to remove herself until she could think straight again. 

The third and longest silence of the nest meeting was almost suffocating. Finally, Nisha spoke, trying but really struggling this time to sound like she wasn’t as mad at Mindy as the others.

“Babe, did you remember anything at all from The Handbook?” Her voice trembled as she choked back tears of her own.

“Of course I do! I…totally…I do…I just…it was just…really…boring.” Her voice trailed off as she hung her head, unable to meet her sisters’ looks of condemnation and disappointment.

A forth silence threatened for a brief moment but was interrupted by Morgana’s return. She’d clearly regained control of her submarine, still angry but no longer imminent DEFCON 1. She walked over to stand with Cassandra and Carlotta. Mindy sobbed dramatically at the far end of the table. Nisha sat bolt upright in her chair, mid-way between them all, staring straight ahead at an old fridge magnet advertising a long defunct brand of cereal, completely expressionless.

“Given that we have absolutely no time to waste,” seethed Cassandra, “let’s focus our brainpower on working out what the fuck we are going to do about this totally shambolic predicament we find ourselves landed in. Mindy, I hope Alina was the absolute shag of your life, because she may very well be your last. I honestly think, right now, the best thing you can do is go up to your room and leave the rest of us to come up with a plan to try and extricate ourselves from this monumental shitstorm your choices have landed all of us in.”

“But I want to help!” squeaked Mindy, the self pity in her voice replaced by high pitched recalcitrance. She hated being treated like a kid by her sisters.

Not even Nisha could muster anything other than anger this time.

“Go!”, all four of the others barked at Mindy, who scuttled from her seat, knocking her chair over with a clatter as she ran from the room, sobbing again. The wretched sound of this tiny personal violin playing her saddest poor me tune could be heard echoing through the house as she sprinted up the main staircase, across the landing and to her room. A little plaster dust fell, snowlike, onto the table in front of the four remaining vampires as Mindy’s door slammed shut. Silence. 

“Fuck the snack, Car”, said Morgana, still staring at the dusty table, “I think we all need a large Old Fashioned, twenty minutes in front of the fire to enjoy it, then our best thinking caps on to solve this”

“Agreed,” nodded Carlotta, “I’ll get the Fangustora bitters, Nisha can you grab a fresh bottle of bourbon from the case, please.”

The four vampires turned in different directions, two gathering cocktail ingredients. The other pair went to make a start on collating ancient manuscripts and charms from various shelves in the study whilst the drinks were prepped. 

A quarter of an hour later, they regrouped in the lounge. Sitting once again in silence, this time broken only by the gentle clink of ice in crystal tumblers and the soft hiss and crackle of the fire, they all stared into the dancing flames, lost in the same unspoken thought…   

Was this stupid series of mistakes by their younger nest mate going to be the end of them all?


Mindy crept, cat-like, down the stairs, her ears straining for any sound that would indicate one of the others was about to exit the lounge. But all she heard was the murmur of voices and the rustle of pages. On tiptoe, she made her way across the tiled entrance hall and, pausing again to check she wasn’t about to be busted, she eased open the heavy front door and slipped silently out of the house.

The others may think she was just some kind of clueless fuckweasel who couldn’t do anything right, but she did care. So she would be damned if she didn’t at least get a chance to try and fix this. She knew exactly where Alina would be tonight, it was bingo night at the RVT. She would go and plead her case. Surely, surely Alina would see that this was all just a bit of a misunderstanding?

Taking one last glance at the house, thinking wistfully of her sisters all together by the fire, she turned and moved off into the darkness, determined to make things right.

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