Butterfly's SacrificebyPenelope Street©
© 2006 by Penelope Street
Out in the sticks there's often not much else to do on a Friday besides drink, dance, and fuck. I guess I've always had a particular fondness for those last two. In hindsight, I'm certain that's why my father would only pay my tuition if I attended Northwest Wisconsin State University. With my grades, I wasn't exactly in line for any scholarships, so I didn't have much choice. Never heard of Northwest Wisconsin State? It's a little teacher's school in one of those towns that doesn't do anything except serve as a suburb for a college. One little sign on route 53 is all we rate, so no surprise if you missed us.
Not that I'm even studying to be a teacher- that wasn't what my father had in mind. Teacher's school- know what that means? A nine to one gender inequality among the students, and not in my favor. Not that I'm ugly, but I'm not exactly in the top ten percent either if you know what I mean. Plus teachers-to-be, well, can't say they lit my fire the way I wanted it lit. Have to give my dad credit. I didn't figure out his plan until I was settled into my dorm, but he didn't reckon with my resolve either. Within a month I had two words for his little scheme.
Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Ok. Maybe that's three words. Or four. Doesn't matter, those words are less than two hours away- that's the two that matters.
Borrowing a car proved easier than I thought it'd be- anyplace near our campus was within walking distance and not like most teachers-to-be were going anywhere on Friday night anyway. By early November, I'd learned to spread out my borrowing so that I could be in the clubs surrounding the University of Minnesota every other weekend.
~ ~ ~
"You're the one they call Butterfly, aren't you?"
Do they really call me that? I wondered. I'd been called a lot worse. At least it was appropriate since the upper half of the butterfly on my back was visible above my halter top. With a smile spreading across my face, I spun toward the speaker, placing my breasts right where my tattoo had been.
Beneath a pair of thick brows, a pair of big dark eyes lingered on my bosom. He was older, mid twenties. Sandy blond hair- uncombed wildfire to perfection. Broad shoulders stretching a puce T-shirt. Perfect bit of scruff along a firm jaw and one of those smiles with the upper lip just peeled away from the teeth.
Beefcake du jour.
After a half-second, he managed to raise his eyes to my face.
"Butterfly?" I said, bouncing my eyebrows. "Is that what they call me?"
He shrugged. "Should I call you something else?"
"Depends." I gave my shoulders a shake. "You like my butterfly?"
His eyes dove right to the rest of my wiggle. "Yeah, I like them."
"In that case, you can call me Butterfly. What about you- you got a name?"
His eyes bounced upward with a smile that now included both lips. "Michael, but my friends call me Mick."
"Nice to meet you, Mick."
"So." He leaned that inch closer. "Can I buy you a drink, Butterfly?"
I winked. "I'd rather dance."
Dancing, done right, is some of the best foreplay. Touching. Feeling his hands. Strong. Soft. Getting sweaty. Rubbing. Sliding my body against his. Warm. Hard. And getting harder. Talking. Not that either of us could hear much above Shania Twain's blaring vocals, but we weren't saying anything really- other than "I want to fuck you" with different words.
A half-dozen tunes later I pressed my body against his and raised my lips to his ear. "I'm ready to go somewhere else."
My favorite somewhere else was a short walk and a shorter drive away, the tree-covered slopes between the river and the campus. I could lean with both hands on a tree and watch the world go by while my beau of the moment took care of me. I'm not sure why I like fucking outdoors, especially doggy-style. Maybe it's the animal nature of it all. Maybe it's that added thrill that we might be seen. The chill in the mid-autumn air only heightened the sensation for me. With the leaves gone and the full moon above, the area was better lit than before and I found a spot near a double-tiered maroon bridge with a good view of the river and downtown.
Looking back, I suppose I was foolish much in the way smokers are- lighting up all the time, one can get used to the danger enough to ignore it. Having taken boys to secluded spots for years, I didn't think twice about my safety. After all, I was going to put out- not as if they needed to rape me.
"Did you bring a condom?" I asked, looking for a good place to set my purse. "Because I did if you..."
"I brought something better than a condom." One of his hands grabbed my hair and yanked my face upward. The other moved toward my throat so fast I caught but a glint from the metal before I felt the edge of the knife against my throat. My purse slipped from my fingers. I swallowed and the whole of my consciousness leapt to where my skin flexed against his blade. My wide eyes darted to his. How did they go from pools to beads so fast?
You'd think a mind would race at a time like that, when any word could be your last, but all I could imagine was my father's face when he heard how I'd died.
"No," I begged. "I'll do what you want."
"Oh," he whispered in a tone cooler than the air. "I know you will. You're gonna start by taking..."
"I think she said 'No'."
Four eyes cut toward the source of the feminine voice. At first I saw only the glow of a cigarette as someone drew on it. The tiny yellow light moved toward us and a slender silhouette coalesced within the shadows. "Now that I think about it," she said, taking another drag, "I'm sure she said 'No'."
The pressure of the blade against my throat was gone. Mick released my hair and took a step backward. "It's not what you think!"
A petite blonde in a tweed jacket emerged from the skeletal trees and took another puff. "No," she said, blowing smoke into the night. "It's not what you think."
"What..." Mick began.
I still don't know what he meant to ask her.
The next instant the cigarette hung in the air where she had been. I watched it fall halfway to the ground before a gurgle reached my ear. My attention snapped to my would-be assailant.
The little blonde had him by the hair. Her mouth enveloped his neck. I heard a sickening crunch and a spasm rocked Mick's form all the way from his head to the tips of his splayed fingers. She turned her face toward me, revealing a pair of glowing amber eyes that throbbed in unison with each pulse of her throat.
Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.
"Oh, God," I managed to mutter. I turned and took a single stumbled step amid the leaves before I recalled how fast she'd moved. Trying not to shake, I forced my spine into a line and spun to face her.
She stopped suckling and stood erect. With no apparent effort, she snapped her hand outward, holding Mick at arm's length. His left hand twitched three times, then his form went limp.
"Was he bothering you?" she asked in a near baby-talk tone.
I swallowed and managed a shallow nod.
"Well, he won't bother you anymore." Her fingers opened, releasing Mick, but he never hit the ground. He had just moved when a handful of shadows converged from the surrounding darkness. Their mouths clamped onto his neck, shoulders, and arms. More yellow eyes glowed in the night.
Before I knew it, she was upon me, her face but inches from mine. Pale, straight bangs hung like a curtain above those eyes, only the rims of which still simmered with the remnants of their amber glow. I caught a sickening whiff of perfume and cigarettes. "Shhhush," she hissed. "You don't need to scream. It really won't do anyone the least bit of good."
I know what it's like to be the deer in the headlights. My mouth was wide open, but my throat seemed frozen. I emitted but a squeak no louder than that of a mouse.
Her hand came upward to my face. She licked her lips once. Turning her palm from me, she raked the edge of her fingernails along my cheek. My jaw rose just enough for my teeth to clatter. She issued the subtlest giggle, then stretched upward, bringing her cold steady mouth to my trembling warm one.
The taste of ash filtered beyond my lips, but it was hardly a kiss.
She bit me. I felt only a little sting, then the pressure as she began to suckle. Two quick draws she took before her lips released mine. Streaks of yellow raced through her eyes again. "I know you're scared," she whispered, "but there's one thing you must understand at this moment. The only thing that will ensure you die is for you to scream."
My eyes clouded. A shiver ran down my spine- and it had nothing to do with the chill. "I don’t want to die," I whimpered.
She shrugged. "Neither did I, but it still happened. Can I trust you not to scream?"
With a sniffle, I nodded.
"Good." She turned her head over her shoulder. "Bobby!"
The other shadows were still huddled about Mick, save one. That one walked toward us, his features fusing in the moonlight until a young man stood before me. He wasn't any taller than I was and, if anything, slighter of build. His face was on the round side with short hair parted on one side. Across his nose sat a pair of black-rimmed glasses.
Not beefcake du jour.
The blonde shook her head, snatched the spectacles from his face, and threw them down the slope. "This is Bobby," she said, looking back to me. "The newest member of our clan. And you are?"
My eyes went to her, to him, and back to her. "Amy," I replied. "Amy Schroeder."
"Good. I'm Norma." She cast her eyes to her companion, then back to me. "Bobby's picked you to take part in the ritual welcoming him to our world. It's quite an honor to be selected for a vampire's investiture. You see, we always baptize a new member with a sacrifice."
"Sacrifice!" I gasped. My quaking lips flew wide, but before I could utter another sound, she pressed her raised index finger over my open mouth.
"Remember," she whispered. "Whatever you do, don't scream or call attention to us. If you do, I have to kill you. That's just the way it is. But I don't want that. No one really does. Bobby would have to pick someone else." Her eyes darted up and down my form. "And he wants you, don't you, Bobby?"
The scrawny vampire nodded. "Yes, Ma'am."
"Go ahead," Norma said. "Kiss her."
I closed my eyes and wondered if it was better to just scream and get it over with. Then I thought of some other girl. I didn't know her name, of course, but if Norma's words were true, she was out there somewhere and she'd take my place if I screamed. I pictured her, whoever she was, sleeping peacefully in her bed, not even knowing I existed. That was the last time I thought about screaming.
The sound of leaves crunching reached my ears an instant before Bobby's lips reached mine. His mouth was cool, like Norma's, but still soft. He did kiss me- a clumsy, timid peck.
"She's so warm," he whispered as he withdrew. "Was I that warm?"
"Of course," Norma said. "Now feed a bit, where I opened her lip- but just a taste."
I dared to open my eyes just when his mouth returned to mine. His lips found the sliver where her teeth had cut me. There he suckled but for a split second. At least he didn't taste like ashes.
"Oh, God," he gasped, pulling away and looking straight into my eyes. Streaks of amber coursed through his irises like little currents of electricity. His throat flexed. The ends of his eyes seemed to droop. His lips quivered. "She's so good."
"I know," Norma whispered. "You're doing fine." She turned, took a half step and picked up my purse. "This is yours?" she asked, looking back to me.
She opened my purse, then stuck her index finger inside and stirred the contents until the keys jingled. These she retrieved with the end of her finger and turned her eyes back to me. "Where is it?"
I licked my lips once and swallowed. "Thirteenth and Fifth."
Norma nodded and held the keys up toward the moon. "General Motors. What kind?"
"Sunfire," I said, before adding a quick, "it's my friend's."
"Nice friend. What color?"
Norma flipped her face over her shoulder. "Ron!"
One of the vampires surrounding Mick rushed to her side.
"White Pontiac Sunfire," Norma said, "in the lot at Thirteenth and Fifth. Go get it."
In a flash, Ron and the keys were gone.
Norma cut her eyes my direction. "Follow me."
Follow her I did. At that point I'd progressed beyond fear into a surreal pseudo-trance. Nothing seemed genuine, especially not the vampires that departed Mick's lifeless form to follow me. One was a short, pudgy female while the remaining quartet looked like refugees from a high school science club. Hardly the handsome hunks or glamorous divas from stories and film.
Pocket protector, I thought. Show me one pocket protector and I'll know it's a dream.
Norma emerged from the trees and looked both ways before extending her hand toward a powder blue minivan parked beside the road. The vehicle chirped, its lights flashed, and the side door slid open. Leaves rushed along the ground toward it. I looked about me to discover they had all vanished except Norma and Bobby.
He walked toward the open door and climbed in. More certain than ever I had been slipped something hallucinogenic, I turned to Norma. "This is your ride?"
She laughed. "You were expecting what, the Batmobile?"
I shrugged. "I'm not sure what to expect."
"Probably a good thing. Get in the middle seat. Beside Bobby."
I did. Norma squeezed in beside me and closed the door. Her potent fragrance once again invaded my nostrils. "What's your perfume?" I asked, thinking small talk couldn't hurt my chances.
"Lady Stetson," she said. "You like it?"
I nodded. "Sure."
"You shouldn't lie." She turned and leaned toward the driver as he pulled away from the curb. "Take River Road instead of Hiawatha." With a grin, she returned her attention to me. "It's a much nicer drive. And we'd like to enjoy it, wouldn't we?"
With my lips trembling against one another, I nodded.
"Don't fret so," she said. "You've already passed the two biggest tests, you didn't scream and Bobby didn't try to eat your lips. You'll probably live." She reached into the inner pocket of her jacket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. "You smoke?"
I shook my head.
"Mind if I do?"
I shook my head again.
"What did I tell you about lying?" she asked, lighting up. "You'll have to forgive me. I started before we knew it was so bad for you." She paused to giggle. "Marlboro was a lady's cigarette back then." She took a drag, then turned and pushed the window open before blowing the smoke outside.
"Now," she said, looking back to me. "Why don't you tell us about yourself?"
My shoulders crept toward my neck. "What do you want to know?"
She shrugged in reply. "Whatever you want me to know."
"Well," I began. "I'm from..."
With the van rolling between tree-cloaked mansions and the river, I told her about my childhood, my parents, where I went to college, what I studied, and how I came to be on that wooded slope with Mick.
Norma's eyebrows dropped. "You drove all the way to Dinkytown to get laid?"
"I guess," I said with a shrug. "Kinda silly, huh?"
She shrugged back and tossed the cigarette butt out the window. "I know you could get action there too, but let me have a guess. After being labeled a tramp in high school, it was kinda nice to have some friends who'd be seen with you- so why not come here and do your sleazing?"
"Yeah." The ends of my lips dared creep upward just a bit. "That's nice too."
Norma smiled back. "You're the perfect sacrifice. Pretty. Easy. And not too bright. I think you might even enjoy yourself. Some do, you know."
My lips formed a pout and I wondered why her calling me stupid pissed me off more than the idea that she was about to kill me and somehow thought I might enjoy it.
She reached back into her jacket and brought out a smaller package. Pulling a stick halfway out, she extended it to me. "Big Red. Want some?"
What was I supposed to do, decline a vampire's generosity? I extended my unsteady fingers and accepted her offering. Together, we unwrapped our gum, popped it into our mouths, and began to chew.
No one said another word before we pulled into a dark and otherwise empty parking lot. Instead of stopping there, the driver piloted the van across the asphalt, over a curb, and onto a wide concrete path. I leaned down to peer out the left side of the vehicle as we passed a pair of monolithic, boarded-up buildings- perfect vampire dens.
We continued down a gentle slope and another structure came into view. At first I thought it just a large, round tower, but behind it a long stone wall disappeared into the night. The van traveled past the tower and along the wall until we came to a wide arch sealed by a wooden gate. The wall continued ahead toward some distant trees.
I turned to Norma. "You live in a castle?"
"It's not a castle," she said with a smile, "though I did live here, once upon a time."
The opening of the passenger door grabbed my attention. The pudgy vampire was gone. A heartbeat later, I heard a creak and turned to watch the gates part. The driver pulled the van between the doors and the headlights played across a diamond-shaped courtyard surrounded by a quartet of long, white buildings. We parked at the one point of the diamond. In the distance, at the other point, I could see a narrower, but taller building.
"What is this place?" I wondered aloud.
Norma's brow dropped over her eyes. "Do you know who was president during the Civil War?"
My eyes wandered. My lips twitched. My throat flexed through a dry swallow. I forced my eyes back to hers. "George Washington?"
Norma shook her head and opened the sliding door. "You spend too much time in clubs. This is an old fort from the 1800s, one of those living historical sites where the employees play various characters from the period. It's closed for the season- makes a nice cozy place where we can make a little noise and not be disturbed."
My head leaned to one side. "And you have the key?"
"Some of us work for the historical society. I guess you might call us history buffs." She smiled and nodded toward where the other female vampire closed the gates. "Mathilda plays a cook here all summer. A few of the men portray soldiers."
My blinking eyes fell to the ground. "But, you're, uh, vampires, right?"
"Hey," she said with a giggle, "for a floozy, you're pretty quick."
My lips formed a pout again. "And this place is open during the day, right?"
Norma's head began to move in a slow bob and a broad smile spread across her face. "Oh, that," she said. "Another myth. C'mon, I can tell you about that on the way." She started walking across the courtyard and I fell into step beside her.
"Back in the day," she began, "we used to avoid the sun- and we still do, to a lesser extent. You think you need UV protection?" She paused to guffaw. "And our eyes! Ouch. Back then we didn't come out except at night- we really couldn't or our skin would've been a cracked mess in no time. Now, with sunscreen, some makeup, sleeves, and shades, we can be out for a little while and do ok."
"So the sun doesn't turn you to ashes," I asked, "like in that movie with Brad Pitt?"
"No," she replied, "although I did rather like that flick."
"So it's realistic other than that part?"
She giggled again. "No. I just like Brad Pitt."
We walked a few more steps in silence before Norma stopped. The other vampires continued into the building ahead while she turned to me.