My eyes are open. I'm lying on my back out in the open, looking up at a brightening, partly cloudy sky, in which the sun will soon rise. Around me I hear the chirping of crickets joining with the twitter of birds. My mouth feels dry. I take a deep breath, feel an aching throughout my body, and I groan. A sharp pain comes from between my boobs. I groan again.
Now I remember. Roxanna shot an arrow between my boobs. It cracked my breastbone, and stabbed straight through my heart. I know that's what happened, and that I've been killed.
I wonder. I'm alive?
I'm alive. I'm lying on my back on the gravel pathway outside the entrance to the Demons Gateway cavern. This is where Paula and I stood last night. Paula?
I cry out "Paula!" My distressed shout is loud, but on the vast openness of this mountain side, it feels like I've whispered.
I sit up quickly. The pain from the shallow wound between my boobs becomes agony throughout my entire body. I look at myself. The arrowhead that I'd felt puncture my heart, is now outside my body, imbedded in the large cross, that dangles on the necklace I'd borrowed from Diana. The necklace remains around my neck.
I take off my ripped open halter top and toss it aside. I see that I've got a narrow scratch between my now naked boobs where the arrow stabbed me; a scratch that is bleeding and causing me great agony.
I groan again and look around. I look where my cousin Paula had lay dead beside me last night. Her body is gone. Her Vamp Staker's stake is on the ground, along with her flashlight.
Roxanna. I think, She killed Paula and hid her body; probably somewhere deep inside the cavern where it'll never be found. Why didn't she hide me too?
I remember now, just before my classmate shot the arrow that struck me. She said she was stopping me from being the next Vampire Staker. She said that I might have received Paula's powers when she died beside me. Is that why I'm now in agonizing pain instead of still comfortably dead?
What should I do now?
I know. I have to get back into town, and get back home.
I start to rise up slowly, and the pain greatly increases. I groan again. Then I sit back down on the gravel.
Oh why did I have to receive a Vampire Staker's power? I'd still be a comfortably dead girl if I hadn't. I won't be the one who'll have to deal with all the problems that go along with being a Vampire Staker Vampire.
The problems? To begin with; How do I get home? Then when I do get home, how do I tell my mother that her niece Paula is dead? How do I tell Aunt Josephine, or Diana or Loretta, Nathan, Mr. Goodbite, or anybody else? Everybody in town's gonna be asking me questions that I won't know how to answer. What do I tell them? What'll I say to reporters?
Is my picture gonna be on the front page of the Sangreville News, and the local TV News? Maybe even on World News Tonight? I don't want to have to deal with all that! I don't want to have to deal with any of that!
Then after all that, I am going to be the next Vampire Staker, who's expected to be the Enforcer of the Truce. I haven't got the slightest idea what to do about that either. Just who do I go to for advice when Paula's dead?
Oh why can't I now be permanently dead like Paula; or like the other sexy Hell Mouth Gals, whose pictures regularly appear in the Sangreville High Weekly News Letter, showing them lying dead with blood on their naked boobs?
If I was, I wouldn't have to be the one who'll have to deal with all these Vampire Staker things! All these Vampire Staker things!
No! Those are too many things to worry about all at the same time. I'll just agonize over one thing at a time. The first thing is just getting myself home. After that, if I don't die along the way, which is a distinct (and right now probable) possibility, I'll deal with each separate problem as best I can.
First thing. Paula parked her car on the side of the road, just a few feet from the entrance to the gravel pathway. It's not all that far. I'm sure I can get up and walk that distance. Can I get inside the car, and did she leave the key in the ignition? Those are two good questions. I'd see when I got there.
I again try to rise up, and again the pain is too much. The wound's started bleeding again. I sit down once more.
Now I pray, "Okay God. Kill me now. If you want to send me to Hell, I won't complain."
I stretch out on my back again, shut my eyes and wait to be the next sexy dead Sangreville High girl, with blood on her naked boobs.
As I lay here, my hand brushes along my belt and touches the pouch containing my cell phone.
My cell phone? I forgot it was there!
I sit up again and groan again. I remove the device from its pouch.
Who do I call? I wonder. My mother of course. I'll call her first. What do I tell her? "Hi Mom. Paula's dead and I'm gonna be late for school."?
I switch on the device, tap out her number and put the phone to my ear.
After a few rings I hear her anxious voice. "What's going on Elaine? Your Aunt Josephine called. She said that Paula didn't return home last night, and she didn't receive any calls from her. I haven't heard from you either."
I spoke calmly. "I've got bad news Mom."
She asks just as calmly, "Just how bad?"
"To begin with," I tell her, "I think..., I might need..., an ambulance. I'm wounded..., and bleeding. A girl..., named Roxanna..., shot me..., and Paula..., with arrows."
"Arrows?" Now she's totally anxious. "Wounded and bleeding? Ambulance?"
"And that's the best of the bad news."
"If you need an ambulance, tell me exactly where you are."
"I'm up at..., the Demons Gateway Cavern. I'm on the path..., outside the en-trance."
"Okay. How about your cousin Paula? Does she also need an ambulance?"
"No. That's where the bad news..., gets really bad Mom."
I hear her gasp. Then she says, "I have to hang up to call for the ambulance. Then I'll call you right back."
Her phone clicks off. I keep mine on, and hold it at my side.
I pray again, "Okay God. If you don't want to send me to Hell today, that's okay. I'm in no hurry. I can wait."
I notice Paula's stake lying on the ground beside me. I reach over and picked it up.
If I'm going to be the next Vampire Staker, I think, I'll see to it that Roxanna is the one who goes to Hell first.
What? I'm seriously thinking about killing Roxanna? Well, I am now a Hell Mouth Gal, "immunized by natural evil", and she's the one who told me that I "...can get away with anything you want, when you're living on the Hell Mouth."
Again I feel pain and weakness. I lie down and shut my eyes again, wondering if I'll be in Hell before the ambulance arrives.
After a few minutes my cell phone rings again. I decide to save my strength and not sit up. I put the device to my ear.
She's even more distressed. "Oh Elaine. I don't know how to tell you this, but the ambulance company won't be sending you help. You see, you're on the grounds of the Demons Gateway, which is a Place of Worship, Consecrated to Vampirania. Since you're lying there wounded and bleeding, that means you're considered a sacrifice to the demon, and must be allowed to die; and the ambulance company won't violate anyone's religious practices."
This time I sobbed. "Oh!" Now there were tears in my voice. "Good bye Mom."
She was also crying. "Good by Elaine. God bless you."
Then the sound from her phone ceased.
I return to lying on the consecrated gravel pathway, being a girl who provoked a demon, and now lies dying with blood on my naked boobs. I won't have to worry about turning in my homework late; and I won't have to be the next Vampire Staker.
The pathway I'm lying on is part of those Sacred Grounds, and the pathway is short. It ends where it reaches the road. If I can get myself down to the road, to Paula's car, I'll be outside the Consecrated Grounds. Then I'll be able to call the ambulance company, and they wouldn't have any hesitation about coming for me. I hoped.
If I can't get up and walk, I think, I can at least crawl. It isn't that far. Paula and I walked up here in about a minute. How long will it take me to crawl?
I roll over, adding a lot of pain. I put my open palms on the rough gravel, push down, and begin moving slowly forward on all fours. What took us one minute last night, now takes me about ten agonizing, moaning and groaning times longer.
I finally reach the roadside outside the Sacred border of the Demons Gateway. I look in the direction where Paula parked her car.
The car is gone.
Now I collapse, rolling onto my back. I lie helpless along the side of the road. I can't move any further. I can't move anything. My eyes are shut.
I hear the sounds of vehicles approaching from both directions. Maybe one of the drivers will stop and give me help. He might even give me a ride to the hospital;
Or maybe none of them will.
A car heading into town rushes past me, but doesn't slow down. Another car drives by, but doesn't slow down either. Neither does the next car, or the next car. I hear other vehicles across the road headed away from Sangreville. None of them are slowing down either.
Isn't anyone going to stop?
No. Of course not. The drivers see a dead looking, bare breasted girl, lying at the side of the road, just outside a demonic shrine, with blood on her naked boobs. They probably think I've been sacrificed to the Vampirana.
If that's what they think, they are right. That is what happened. I provoked a demon and so did Paula. Now the demon is appeased.
Are the drivers respectfully allowing Vampirana's Worshipers to take care of my remains, whenever those Worshipers show up?
My remains? I wonder, Am I now "remains"? Am I dead? Can a dead person hear cars driving by? The volume is decreasing.
Wait! I hear one car slowing down across the road. Now it comes to a full stop.
A woman calls out, "There she is Jo!" It's my mother's voice.
A few moments later she and someone else are beside me.
She shouts, "Elaine! Elaine!" Now her voice is tense. "I think she's dead Jo!"
"No." My aunt Josephine tells her. "She still has a pulse Beth. We might be able to drive her to the Hospital in time."
"In time? If the local Ambulance Company acted like they do in any other place, she'd be there now, and doctors would be doing all they can to keep her alive!"
"I know." My Mom's sister says, "Everything is different here on the Hell Mouth."
"The 'Hell Mouth'. 'You can get away with anything you want'. Right. Here in Sangreville, you really can 'Get away with murder'. In this town that's no figure of speech."
Now Aunt Jo asks, "Did she say where Paula was, when she called?"
I hear nothing. I'm not hearing my mother or Aunt Josephine speak. I don't hear any passing cars. I no longer feel the ground I'm lying on, or the pain in the wound. I suppose that means I'm dead.