A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 2e: OF VAMPYRES AND GENIES
In fact, Amy had taken the opportunity while the rest of us were talking to edge back away towards the wall, presumably hoping that things would be cleared up without her intervention. Yet as the vampyre jumped at her now, she didn’t freeze up. Rather, she raised her index and middle fingers in front of her body, and the vamp seemed to bounce off an invisible forcefield.
Amy let out a little sigh of relief. The vamp quickly recovered, landing back on his feet.
“Can’t attack a genie that way,” Amy admonished, apparently starting to assert herself a bit more, seeing as we were out of the detective scenario and into something a little more familiar to her.
“You gave yourself powers,” the vampyre realized. He shot a look at the Somnalibus. “Little help here?” he demanded.
The white haired Somnalibus demon sized up the situation. The vampyre was, for the moment, keeping his distance away from Amy by the wall, as well as from me, in the light coming in from a front window.
“You can handle it,” the demon concluded, crossing his arms and leaning back against the open doorway. In other words, the outcome here was uncertain, and the Somnalibus didn’t want to be on the losing side.
“You useless piece of–” The vampyre didn’t even bother to finish the sentence, instead reaching for the vase on a nearby table, heaving it at Amy instead.
Again, she raised her fingers, the object bouncing off an invisible wall. Regrettably, the vampyre had probably counted on that, as he used Amy’s momentary distraction to jump at ME.
I was at least able to reason out his angle of attack, namely parallel to the window, since he was having to pull the curtain as he moved. To block out the sun.
This let me evade his initial strike, and vault over the couch, though without thinking I put some weight on my wrist as I did so. I cried out in pain before falling onto the floor.
“James?” Amy called out in concern.
“Capture the vampyre in a cage or something,” I suggested, my arm throbbing.
“I cannot grant you that wish unless you have my lamp,” Amy protested.
“Think of a better idea yourself then?” I ventured.
“I cannot use magic on the world around me, unless it’s in self-defense.”
Okay, her dream world, her rules. You’d think she could have bent them, but then, certain beliefs can be pretty fundamental to an individual’s personality. Also, in a way it means supernatural balance was playing a role even here.
I became very busy fending off the vampyre’s next attack, wishing that I’d had the presence of mind to throw on a turtleneck sweater at some earlier point in the evening.
With the curtain closed, grabbing one of the couch cushions became my plan for blocking an attack to my face or neck. It was successful, but the vampyre then went for my injured wrist.
Well, that wasn’t good.
I kicked at him, but he avoided it. His grip locked around my arm, and just as I felt like there was no way to prevent him from biting down on my skin somehow, there was a smashing sound, and he collapsed on top of me.
I quickly hefted him off and crawled to safety, seeing that Amy the Genie was now standing above the both of us with her hands on her hips.
“I can still attack without using magic,” she asserted. Pieces of the other vase in the room were now scattered about the floor, following its impact on the vampyre’s skull. Unfortunately, he remained conscious, and seemed to be shaking it off.
There seemed to be only one way out of this.
“Amy, give me your lamp?” I requested.
She immediately tossed it in my direction. I caught it with my good hand, then rubbed it with my opposing elbow. “We good for magick on my behalf now?” I asked.
“Mmm hmm! Three wishes, Master,” she affirmed, seemingly smothering a giggle as she tacked on that last term. Under different circumstances, it would have been very cute.
“I wish that the vampyre here be trapped in a cage that he cannot escape from, which has us on the outside, yet is such that we can still see and converse with him,” I blurted out.
The thing with genies, even friendly ones, is trying to account for some of those little loopholes that wishing always seems to generate.
“Granted,” Amy said, clapping her palms together.
With a clanging sound, a cage of iron bars dropped from the ceiling, narrowly missing my foot as it enclosed the vampire. Along with the couch and a quarter of the room.
Well, it didn’t really matter to me that it was roomy inside. I got to my feet again, moving to stand next to Amy as the vampyre also rose. He immediately lunged, reaching through the bars, but fortunately his reach wasn’t enough to touch us.
Sensing that he was temporarily out of options, he stepped back, crossed his arms and glared. “What now then, associates of Melissa?” he demanded. “Are you going to kill me?”
It was a rather good question, actually. I looked to Amy. “I don’t suppose I can wish for him to be banished back to his realm.”
“Uh, since his realm isn’t within this dream, I’d have no idea how to do that,” Amy apologized.
I rubbed my chin. “How about wishing for him to spill everything he knows about the prophecy he mentioned? Could be a clue there.”
Amy shook her head. “James – that is, Master – this vampire is not actually a character in my dream, so I can’t interfere with his free will.” She frowned. “Come on, can’t you think of some way that my magic would be of use?”
I refrained from bringing up her pronunciation issues.
“Fine, we can certainly make things uncomfortable here, such that he’d want to cooperate of his own accord,” I concluded. “Amy — uh, Genie – I wish for garlic to be in every house and environment in this world. Along with a basket of garlic bread for the both of us.”
My Asian/Arabian friend grinned once again. “Granted,” she declared, again clapping her hands.
The vampyre’s eyes went wide. “No,” he said rather hoarsely, as cloves and sprigs of garlic suddenly popped into the room. A gift basket of bread also appeared on a nearby table.
The vamp threw his arm over his face, to try and screen his breathing. Or perhaps to remind himself that he didn’t need to breathe, I don’t know.
“Fine, torture me if you like,” he shot back. “It’s still nothing compared to what my fate would otherwise be, either within your realm, or my own.”
I handed some garlic bread over to Amy as I pondered that. “What, are you a wanted felon or something back in Culicinae?” I asked, now hoping I was pronouncing it right.
He didn’t respond, simply glaring with his red eyes. I sighed, taking a bite of bread myself, before shrugging and looking back at my companion.
“Maybe we’ll have to wait until Melissa shows,” I concluded.
Amy’s eyes went wide. “What? She’s coming into this dream as well?”
“That had been the plan, I think. She was returning to the motel first.”
“But I can’t let her see me like this,” Amy protested, tossing her garlic bread aside. “It’s bad enough that YOU are seeing one of my most secret desires. Dammit James…!”
Amy pressed two fingers to her forehead, and it felt like the room blurred a bit around the edges.
“I-I’m sorry,” I apologized, suddenly worried that she was going to wake up. “Could we simply get you a disguise?”
Amy shook her head. “Give me the knife back, I guess I need its help to reverse this whole setting.”
I frowned. “The knife?”
“Yes, I turned Melissa’s nasty knife into that lamp when I switched us over into this fantasy.”
My fingers tightened on the object.
How long had I been holding the knife/lamp now? At least a minute. And when Melissa said two minutes, she meant it. And once I exited, the mirror would be smashed, and Amy would wake up.
“Okay, big problem. Hypothetically, what would happen to the vampyre if this dream abruptly ended?” I asked, not really expecting Amy to be able to answer.
“He’d probably make me jump to another one,” answered the Somnalibus in her place.
I’d almost forgotten about him.
I turned to the white haired demon, still watching us from the entranceway to the room. “What if you were released though?” I asked, trying to speak quickly without slurring my words. “If the item in my world that the vampyre had used to trap you here with him were to be simultaneously destroyed along with the end of this dream.”
An eyebrow went up. “He’d merely be a free floating spirit then. Albeit one liable to trap another of my kind and then find more victims.”
“Could you act to prevent that, within the next thirty seconds? With my personal guarantee that you will be freed from his influence thereafter?”
The demon half smiled, straightening his posture and cracking his knuckles. “Indeed I could. Because I’ve always wanted to see precisely why my associate decreed the absence of all garlic within the dreams of your companion.”
“Now hold on,” the vampyre said, finally sounding a bit worried. “I was going to release you too. Right? Once I’d become corporeal? You’ve known this James guy for all of half an hour. How can you trust him over me?!”
“From what I have seen of her dreams, this Amy is honourable,” the Somnalibus responded. “I extrapolate the same to her friend. Moreover…” The demon smiled a rather unpleasant looking smile. “In the more lengthy time I’ve known you, I’ve decided I quite DISLIKE you, Culicinae. You think you know better than me? You may have another think coming.”
I held up the lamp. “Third wish. That the Somnalibus here have access to the vampyre’s cage, along with whatever else he might need to defeat the vampyre before I depart.”
“Granted,” Amy said, clapping her hands.
“I don’t need anything else,” the Somnalibus rumbled, grabbing Amy’s discarded garlic bread before marching through the iron bars as if they weren’t there.
The vampyre backpedaled frantically. “Buddy. Friend! Let’s talk about this,” the vampyre began, only to shriek as he put his palm down onto one of the garlic cloves that Amy had summoned up earlier.
“We may not want to watch this,” I realized.
“Yeeeah,” Amy said, briefly tugging on my sleeve before heading out into the hallway.
I followed, though was still in time to hear the vampyre scream again like it had when Melissa had blown the garlic vapours at him.
“In fact,” Amy continued, moving to sit on the stairs. “Leaving the vampyre at his mercy, even this doesn’t feel right, somehow.”
“No element of poetic justice?” I suggested.
“Maybe,” Amy granted.
The screams cut out. She shuddered.
“My wonderful genie fantasy’s been tainted,” Amy murmured. “I wonder how much of this I’ll actually remember when I wake up.”
“At least your dreams will be yours own from now on,” I offered.
“Oh! There’s that.” She looked up at me. “Thanks, James. You’ve helped me to realize that magic is–”
“–a much bigger problem,” Melissa shouted.
I sat up, realizing that I was back to being in the passenger seat of the car. We seemed to be parked at the motel.
“He’s awake,” Trixie called out, staring at me through the front windshield.
“Arcesso!” Melissa stated.
I turned in time to see Charlie’s bathroom mirror fly out of the back seat, through the previously shattered rear window, towards Melissa’s outstretched hand.
“Honestly,” Melissa continued, and in the dim lighting of the parking lot, all I could see was that she was talking to some sort of beast, looming over her. “If there’s one thing more annoying than unexpected vampyres, it’s when they’re accompanied by lycans.”
I’d better back up.
END ACT 2