We'd just been to a local clothing store, where I'd bought myself a few halter-tops, which was all I had the money to pay for that day. I'd replaced my unexpectedly nerdy blouse, with what was
"Sangreville High chic". I'd put the blouse in the shopping bag, along with the other halter-tops.
Then I'd looked in a store's mirror, seeing myself in that very tight, brand new, revealing halter, and my old knee length skirt and I smiled at what I saw.
"I actually look sexy," I told Roxanna and Diana, "without even trying."
We'd come out of the shop and walked along Main Street. A lot of kids from the School were also moving around downtown. Some of the girls had actually removed their halter tops and walked along casually bare breasted, with their nipples fully displayed. Nobody in the crowd seemed to mind.
As Roxanna, Diana and myself walked along with our halter tops still on, we went past some guys who I recognized from school. They were actually looking at me; and they were interested in what they saw. One of them was the guy who'd said that he'd like to welcome me with his you know what.
I heard him tell the guys he was with, "That's the new girl. I'd enjoy giving her a welcoming fk."
Hearing him say that made me feel really good. I couldn't help looking back at him and smiling. He smiled at me in return; while I thought that I'd also enjoy it if he did welcome me the way he said.
Then we stopped outside the Dark Arts R Us, and the good feeling ended. I stood there feeling very uncomfortable as I looked at the magic shop's window display, which contained books on witchcraft, pictures of goat headed devils, ouija boards, tarot cards, and other items dealing with the occult, including a very large, inverted crucifix.
What am I doing here? I wondered. I'm about to actually step inside a shop that sells these things that are used in black magic rituals?
Now Diana, Roxanna and I went through the doorway.
Once we were inside the Dark Arts R Us I looked around. I had entered a softly lit shop consisting of shelves displaying all kinds of black magic paraphernalia, along with ghoulish looking items, such as replicas of skulls, dismembered eye-balls, and other parts of human and non-human anatomies. There were occult items, such as what was displayed in the window, along with things that I was un-able to identify. There were many books about sorcery, the occult and "Books of Forbidden Knowledge" for anybody to purchase.
A section "For Adults Only" was located in a large alcove at the rear of the shop. From where I stood in the main area, I saw some of my under age classmates in the alcove. I also saw a poster on one of the alcove's walls, displaying the photo of a gigantic stone idol.
The idol depicted the same vampire bat figure that dangled from Roxanna's necklace. This time I clearly saw its face. It had a woman's face. Her open mouth displayed a pair of fully extended fangs. Above the photo, were the words,
"The Goddess Vampirania! To be worshipped by all with Fear and Trembling!"
I suddenly felt myself trembling. Roxanna and Diana looked at me, with amusement.
I told my two companions, "I hope you don't think I'm being a wussy, but everything in here is giving me the creeps; like it's unbelievably evil. I feel like running outside, and getting as far away from this place, as fast as I can."
Roxanna spoke. "We are living on a hell mouth Elaine, so the power of evil is much stronger here, than you'd find in most other places."
I told them, "I just want to buy that Vampires Handbook and get out of here real fast."
Diana said, "Good idea for a newbie like you Elaine."
I told them, "I suddenly feel like throwing up."
Roxanna chuckled. "Then you'd better wait for us outside. We'll get you the handbook."
I immediately went out the door. As soon as I stepped back out into the fresh air and sunshine, my trembling ceased, along with the nausea. I took a few deep breaths.
What the hell's going on? I wondered. Before we'd stepped inside, I'd been feeling so good. I'd heard that guy say that he wanted to eff me, and I accepted it as a complimentary wish, that I'd love to help him fulfill. But when we'd stepped inside the shop all those good feelings were erased by an overpowering sense of helplessness before the power of evil.
"Power of Evil"? Yes. I hadn't been threatened in any way, but I'd never had such a strong feeling of total dread before, than when I was inside the magic shop.
After what seemed like the longest five minutes of my life, Roxanna and Diana stepped back outside, also taking a few refreshing breaths. Roxanna handed me a small paper bag, with a booklet inside. I reached in the bag, removed the booklet and looked at the cover.
The "Vampire's Handbook", was subtitled "Being a Vampire Doesn't Have to Suck". Under the subtitle was a cartoon smiley face with fangs. Under the smiley face was the blurb "What every new vampire should know."
Unexpectedly, I again had a strong sense of irrational fear, and began trembling once more. The Handbook I was holding began to shake. My two companions chuckled again.
"I don't know what's the matter with me!" I told them, "I'm just being over-whelmed by this supernatural evil."
"It's okay Elaine." Diana tried not to laugh. "We know how to handle it. All you need is to get yourself immunized, with just a little bit of natural evil. Then you'll be able to resist the really big, supernatural kind."
"Immunized with 'natural' evil?"
"Right, and that won't be any problem here in Sangreville. Once you get your neck nibbled on and blood sipped out by a vampire, you'll feel a lot more comfortable living here on the hell mouth."
"And if you get your first nibble and sip from 'Mr. Goodbite,'" Roxanna added, "you'll be grinning all the way home."
"Wait a minute." My voice shook. "If all I need is to be 'just a little bit evil', I already am. As a matter of fact, back in Greenfield I was a very bad girl."
Diana smiled, "You were?"
"Yes." I told them, "And I won't have any problem being just as bad here. I used dirty words. I told lies. I cheated at school and I effd one boy who wasn't my boyfriend." I lowered my voice. "I even shoplifted an item from a local store once, and didn't get caught. I even cursed at my mother. I think that makes me bad enough."
Diana and Roxanna both nodded their heads.
"Bad enough," Roxanna told me, "for us to introduce you to Mr. Goodbite."
"Hey Roxanna!" A girl's voice called out sharply from the passing crowd. "Diana!"
A Sangreville High girl stood in front of us, with a Sangreville High guy at her side. She had stylishly set black hair, wore a light blue skirt that hung halfway down her thighs, and a matching halter above her belt. She also wore a pearl necklace and pearl earrings, along with a mother of pearl bracelet. She did not have either a hickey or a bandage on her neck.
The guy at her side was the one who'd said that he'd like to welcome me with his... I knew I'd enjoy it if he did. She looked at us three with a peeved expression on her face.
Roxanna and Diana had both stiffened up.
Roxanna spoke with a tense voice. "Hi Loretta. Nathan."
The dark haired girl looked at me. "You're the new girl. My name's Loretta Cabell."
"Hi Loretta." I looked uneasily at the guy beside her. "I'm Elaine Harris. I'm also Diana's cousin."
"This is Nathan. He's my boyfriend."
He said, "Hi." Then she put her arm around his waist.
Okay. I thought, No problem. There won't be any complimentary effing between me and him. I might have an occasional, shamelessly skanky, slutty thought, but nothing more than that.
Loretta ignored me and spoke to Roxanna and Diana. "So what were you doing here in Black Magic Central?"
My two companions looked at each other uneasily, but said nothing.
I answered, "We've been shopping around. I've got myself a few halter-tops, to start building a new wardrobe that'll be appropriate for a Sangreville High girl."
"Good idea." Loretta said, "I think you'll look good wearing them."
Now Nathan spoke. "I think you'd look good not wearing them at all. Just that skirt'd be enough."
I told him, "Thank you. I think."
Loretta gave him a hard slap.
"Hey!" He said, "What'd you hit me for?"
I went on. "We came to this shop so I could get myself a copy of the Vampires Handbook. I hear its recommended reading in this town."
"It definitely is," she looked straight at Roxanna, "if you're gonna be hanging around with this Vampirania worshiping bimbo!"
Roxanna snapped. "Hey! Watch your mouth!"
"Yeah!" Diana spoke sharply, "What do you want Loretta?"
"Remember. Your sister Paula's warned us all to stay away from this shop; so has the Truce Commission. They've all said that there's an evil force inside this place that has to be avoided. If not, that force might open the hell mouth, and things will be who knows how many times worse than they were, before Paula and the rest of us on her Team, negotiated that Nibble and Sip Truce with the vampires."
I asked, "My cousin Paula took part in negotiating the Truce?"
Diana explained, "My sister Paula is also the Vampire Staker. She's also called the 'Vampstaker', or just 'Staker', or at least she was."
"You mean the 'Vampstaker' actually exists? And she's my cousin?"
"That's true." Roxanna said, "Or she used to exist as the Staker. Once the Truce was signed, she was overjoyed to be able to finally put down her stake and retire from that career. Now she can go on to have a normal life, or unlife, like the rest of us here in Sangreville."
Loretta told me, "But if the evil force escapes from here, the Truce ends, and things go to being 100 times worse, than they were before."
I thought of the overpowering sense of evil I'd felt inside the shop. I tried to think of any Bible verse that dealt with this situation, and I remembered the words "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
I turned to face the occult display in the window of the magic shop and said, "Get away from us Satan, and stay away from all of us! The Lord rebuke you! In the Name of the Lord Jesus..."
Loretta shouted. "Don't say any more!"
I turned and saw her standing there with her hand raised, looking very distressed. Roxanna looked just as distressed, with both her hands protectively clapped tight around the idol of Vampirania on her necklace.
"What ever you do," Loretta warned, "don't do or say anything that might provoke the demonic force!"
About a half-hour later, Diana and I returned to her house, carrying our books. I also carried the plastic bag containing my new halter-tops and the Vampires Handbook.
We stepped through the door and went into the kitchen where my mother was, with me wearing my brand new skimpy halter, and my old, knee length skirt.
My mother took one look at me and called out. "Oh my God!"
There was distress in her voice. "Why are you dressed like that? And where's the blouse you were wearing when you left this morning?"
"It's okay. I brought it back here with me." I lifted up the shopping bag. "This is the way that most of the girls at Sangreville High dress. It's sort of their unofficial dress code."
"Yes. I've noticed." She said, "I actually saw some girls your age walking around town bare breasted, in public, and nobody seemed to mind."
"Nobody here does." Diana explained, "There's no law against dressing, or not dressing, any way you want here in Sangreville."
Mom sighed. "There doesn't seem to be any law against anything here in San-greville."
I said, "And I've been told that I'd look good dressed in only this skirt."
"Well I hope you're not planning to do so."
"Don't worry Mom. There's no law here that says I have to dress that way either, so I won't."
"That's good to know."
"At least not right away."