Home > Phantom (The Last Vampire #4)(6)

Phantom (The Last Vampire #4)(6)
Author: Christopher Pike

"What do you mean?" I gasp.

"I watched you at that house. I watched you enter it, and I watched you leave it. I knew you were not the same, and I wondered what had happened in there. I explored the house, and found the basement: the copper sheets, the crystals, the magnets, the vial of human blood." He pauses. "I performed the same experiment on myself. I am no longer a vampire either."

The shocks keep piling one on top of the other. I cannot cope. "How did you know what to do?" I whisper.

He shrugs. "What was there to know? The equipment was all set up. I just had to lie down and allow the vibration of the human blood to wash over my aura as the reflected sun shone through the vial of blood." He glances out the window. There is a kind of light in the east. "I did it this afternoon. Now the sunrise will no longer hurt me."

The tears in my eyes travel over my cheeks. My mind travels with them as my disbelief washes away. Swallowing thickly, I finally feel as if my body returns to my control. In a burst I realize I am not imagining anything. Ray is not dead! My love is alive! Now I can live my life! Leaning across the table, I kiss his lips. Then I brush his hair and kiss that as well. And I am happy, more happy than I can remember being in thousands of years.

"It is you," I whisper. "God, how can it be you?"

He laughs. "You have Eddie to thank."

I sit back down in my seat and feel my warm human heart pounding in my chest. My anxiety, my fear, my confusion—all these things have now transformed into a solitary glow of wonder. For a while now I have cursed Krishna for what he has done to me, and now I can only bow inside in gratitude. For I have no doubt Krishna has brought Ray back to me, not that mon­ster Eddie Fender.

"Let's not even speak his name," I say. "I cut off his head and burned his remains. He is gone—he will never return." I pause. "I'm sorry."

He frowns. "What have you to be sorry for?"

"Assuming you were dead." I shrug. "Joel told me you were blown to pieces."

Ray sighs and looks down at his own hands. "He wasn't far wrong." He glances up. "I didn't see Joel at the house?"

My tower lips trembles. "He's dead."

"I'm sorry."

"We both have to stop saying that." I smile a sad smile. "I made him a vampire as well, trying to save him. But it just killed him in the end."

"Who created the equipment that transformed us back into human beings?"

"Arturo—old friend, from the Middle Ages. I was in love with him. He was an alchemist, the greatest who ever lived. He experimented with my blood and changed himself into a hybrid of a vampire and a human. That's how he was able to survive all these years." I lower my voice. "He died with Joel. He had to die."

Ray nods. One didn't have to explain every detail to him in order for him to understand. He knew Arturo must have still been after my blood; that he was dangerous. Ray understood that I could kill those I loved, as I had almost killed him. Ray reaches for my hand again.

"You have blood on you," he says. "Surely you're not still thirsty?"

"No, it's not like you think." I speak in a whisper. "Two men attacked me at the beach. I had to kill them."

"I shot them in the head."

Now it is Ray's turn to be shocked. "We have to get out of here, away from here. Besides the government, you'll have the police after you too." He glances toward the door of the coffee shop. "I know you have Seymour with you."

I understand what he wants to say. "I have told him he has to go home."

"He won't want to leave you. You'll have to leave him."

"I have been thinking about that. I just don't know how to explain it to him."

Ray is sympathetic, but a curious note enters his voice. For a moment he sounds like I used to as the pragmatist.

"Don't explain it to him," he says. "Just leave him, and don't tell him where you're going."

"That seems harsh."

"No. You of all people know that to keep him with you will be harsh. You'll expose him to danger for no reason." He softens his tone. "You know I speak from experience."

"You're right. He's asleep at the hotel right now. I suppose I can sneak in, grab my things, and be away before he wakes up." But inside I know I will at least leave him a note. "Where are we going?"

It is Ray's turn to lean over and kiss me. "Sita, we can go anywhere we want. We can do anything we want." He whispers in my ear. "We can even get married and start a family if you want."

I have to laugh, and cry as well. My happiness lingers like the warmth of the sun after a perfect summer day. It is the winter outside, the darkness, that seems the illusion.

"I would like a daughter," I whisper, holding him close.

4

Two months later we are in Whittier, a suburb of Los Angeles, where the late President Nixon attended college. The city is largely middle class, completely nondescript, a perfect place, in Ray's opinion, to disappear. Certainly I have never been to Whittier before, nor harbored any secret desires to go there. We rent a plain three-bedroom house not far from a boring mall. Ray picked it out. There is a large backyard and an olive tree in the front yard. We buy a second-hand car and purchase our groceries at a Vons down the street I have lived five thousand years to do all these things.

Yet my happiness has not faded with the passage of the eight weeks. Sleeping beside Ray, walking with him in the morning, sitting beside him in a movie—these simple acts mean more to me than all the earth-shattering deeds I have accomplished since I was conceived beneath Yaksha's bloody bite. It is all because I am human, I know, and in love. How young love makes me feel. How lovely are all humans. Shopping at the mall, in the grocery store, I often find myself stopping to stare at people. For too long I admired them, despised them, and envied them, and now I am one of them. The hard walls of my universe have collapsed. Now I see the sun rise and feel the space beyond it, not just the emptiness. The pain in my heart, caused by the burning stake, has finally healed. The void in my chest has been filled.

Especially when I discover that I am pregnant.

It happens the early morning of the full moon, two months after the nuclear bomb detonated in the desert beneath a previous full moon. A fifteen-dollar early pregnancy kit tells me the good news. I shake the blue test tube in the bathroom and Ray comes running when I let out a loud cry. What is the matter, he wants to know? I am shaking—there must be something wrong. I don't even get a chance to show him my blue urine because I accidentally spill it all over him. He gets the picture and laughs with me, and at me.

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