Home > Phantom (The Last Vampire #4)(9)

Phantom (The Last Vampire #4)(9)
Author: Christopher Pike

I stare out the window as Kalika squirms on my lap. "Maybe she wants something else to drink," I say.

"She's not a vampire."

"You don't know."

"But sunlight doesn't bother her."

It is true, I have tested my daughter under the bright sun. She just stares at it as she stares at everything else. Indeed, the glare does not seem to annoy her young eyes, a fact that does nothing to comfort me.

"No one knows what she is," I say.

"Well, what are we going to do? We have to feed her."

Maybe Kalika understands the question. Already she has begun to speak, simple words as many twelve-month-old children do. But it is probable she understands more than she says, certainly more about herself than either of her parents is willing to admit. While I am gazing out the window at the sky, she leans over and bites my left nipple. She has teeth now and she bites so hard that she draws blood. The pain, for me, is sharp, but the flow, for her, is steady. And the blood seems to satisfy her.

I look at Ray and want to cry.

Another day has gone by and Kalika is in her bedroom screaming. She is hungry but my breasts are too sore—too drained actually—to give her another feeding. Ray paces in front of me as I lie on the living room couch and stare out the big window. My thoughts are often of the sky, and of Krishna. I wonder where God is at times like this, if he is not browsing in the horror section of the cosmic library searching for another chapter to slip in my life story.

I am exhausted—I have yet to regain my strength from the delivery. I'm a smashed doll who's been sewn together by an emotionless doctor, an aching mother whose daughter disembowels Barbies in search of something to eat. Kalika lets out another loud cry and Ray shakes his head in disgust.

"What are we going to do?" he asks.

"You asked me that five minutes ago."

"Well, we've got to do something. A child's got to eat."

"I offered her a steak, a raw steak even, and she didn't want it. I offered her the blood from the steak and she didn't want it. She just wants my blood and if I give her any more I will die." I cough weakly. "But considering the circumstance that might not be bad."

Ray stops pacing and stares down at me. "Maybe she doesn't just crave your blood."

I speak in a flat voice. "I have thought of that. I would have to be stupid not to have thought of that." I pause. "Do you want to give her some of your blood?"

Ray kneels on the floor beside me. He takes my hand and gives it an affectionate squeeze. But there is a look in his eyes, one I have never seen before. Of course having a child like Kalika in the house would give the Pope a new look, Ray speaks in a low conspiratorial voice and there is no affection in his words.

"Let us say she is not a human being," he admits. "I suppose that is obvious by now; Let's even go so far as to say she's some sort of vampire, although not a vampire in the traditional sense. Her indifference to the sun makes that seem certain. Now, all of this is not necessarily a bad thing if we can teach her right from wrong as she matures. She doesn't have to be a monster."

"What's your point?"

"Isn't it obvious? She's still our daughter. We still love her, and we have to give her what she needs to survive, at least until she can fend for herself." He pauses. "We have to get her fresh blood."

I smile without pleasure. "You mean we have to get her fresh victims."

"We just need blood, for now. We don't have to kill anyone to get it."

"Fine. Go down to the hospital and buy some. Take one of my credit cards. They're in my purse on the kitchen table."

Ray drew back. "I'm serious, Sita."

I chuckle bitterly. "So am I. I have experience in these matters, in case you've forgotten. The only blood she will take will be warm blood from a human being."

"I thought you sometimes survived on animal blood."

"I offered her the blood of a cat I caught and killed in the backyard and she didn't want it."

"You didn't tell me."

"Killing a cat wasn't something I felt like bragging about."

A peculiar note enters his voice, to match the strange look in his eyes. "You used to kill people all the time."

I brush off his hand and sit up. "Is that what you want me to do? Murder people for her?"

"No. No one has to die. You told me that the day you made me a vampire."

My temper flares. "The day I made you a vampire I had an arsenal of supernatural powers at my com­mand. I could lure dozens of people into my lair, and let them go with little more than a headache. To get Kalika fresh blood, I will have to kill, and that I refuse to do now."

"Now that you're human?"

"Yes. Now that I'm human. And don't remind me of those two I wasted the night you returned. That was an act of self-defense."

"This is an act of self-preservation," Rays says.

I speak impatiently. "How am I supposed to get someone to donate blood for Kalika's breakfast? Where do you find people like that? Not in Whittier."

"Where did you go to find victims before? To bars? You went to them to lure men back to your place."

"I never took them back to my place."

Ray hesitates. "But we need someone, maybe a couple of someones we can take blood from regu­larly."

I snicker. "Yeah, right. And when we let them go we just tell them to please not mention what has been going on here. Just chalk the bloodletting off to a unique experience." I fume. "Whoever we bring here, we'll have to kill in the end. I won't do that."

"Then you'll let your daughter die?"

I glare at Ray, searching for the loving young man I once knew. "What's happened to you? You should be on the other side of this argument. Before the blast, you would have been. Where did you go when you died? Huh? You never told me. Was it hell? Did the devil teach you a few new tricks?"

He is offended. "I'm just trying to save our daugh­ter. I wish you'd drop your self-righteous, pompous attitude and face the facts—Kalika needs blood or she will die. We have to get her blood."

"Fine, go out and get a young woman victim. You're handsome and you've got style. It shouldn't take you long."

He stops. "I don't know how to pick up people. I've never done it before."

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