The Theory of Relativity


For moments after Sophie and Jesper had left, the reception room was quiet, except for the sucking sounds and crinkling of the foil bag.  Morena just stared down at Lucy, marveling at how oblivious she seemed to be, how completely enraptured in drinking she had become.

“Are you gonna be ok?” Morena asked and received not even a blink of acknowledgement.

“She doesn’t say much, does she? All kick, no conversation. You two cousins?” When Morena didn’t rise to the jibe, Nick offered, from the relative safety of the settee, “Maybe he charbroiled her ears?” Morena tossed him a glance and shrugged.

But as a matter of fact, there was something a little odd about the shape of Lucy’s ears, like a piece of flesh was sticking out. Morena kneeled next to her which prompted a suspicious look from Lucy but nothing more.

Morena slowly raised her hand and touched Lucy’s hair just above her ear. When she didn’t get attacked and Lucy just turned a shoulder to protect her drink, Morena tucked the still crispy ends behind what remained of Lucy’s ear. It wasn’t flesh but a flesh-covered piece of metal, electronics to be exact.

She touched it and tensed when audio feedback was her reward. Lucy ripped a cord from behind her neck off and both pairs of inserts came out of her ears, hitting the floor.

“What?” Lucy shouted, crushing her foil bag into a tiny ball in her hand. The wounded vampire girl then fished another out of her bag and began sucking it down.

Morena stared down at the device. When she didn’t respond to Lucy’s remark, Lucy glanced down at the floor. She stopped feeding, sighed deeply, setting the pouch down.

“Oh. Those. Sorry, were you trying to say something?”

“What are those?” Morena asked, now fascinated by all things Lucy.

Lucy smiled. “Anti-Vox Compulsum Modulators.”

Morena just blinked.

“Noise-cancelling earplugs?” Nick asked.

Lucy half turned towards him.  “Simply, yes. But specifically calibrated to a vampire’s control voice: Vox Compulsum.”

Morena picked them up in her hand. They looked just like ear buds with an extra thick cord but the wiring had partially melted. “Shame.”

“Oh, not really. I have loads of them."

Morena threw her a look of amazement. “Really?”

Lucy seemed more chipper and her skin less discolored with every moment. “Yeah, I get them from a manufacturer in Taipei. I buy in bulk.” She sighed. “Still haven’t figured out why some human voices don’t make it through, though.”

“So you couldn’t hear Sophie tell you Jesper was a friend?”

Lucy’s eyes went wide. “She said that? Oh boy, no wonder I’m in trouble.”  She dropped her head but Morena saw the furtive glance she cast toward the hallway where Jesper and Sophie had gone. “I hope she’s right about that. I’ve never seen any vampire like him before.”

Morena cast her own glance at Nick, who asked the question for her. “What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure I should say.”

Nick huffed, “Look, Sophie set up this class so we humanoids could learn about vampires and be better prepared. I hardly think she had this in mind but it’s probably been the best for us. Sure beats trying to decipher that book of hers.”

Lucy’s newly regrown ears perked up. “She gave you the Book?” To Nick’s dumb nod, she nodded herself. “Well, that certainly settles things. She has given you the book of her past lives and experiences. If she has trusted you with that, than I am to trust you too.”

Lucy looked at Morena.

“Um, I tried to save her life once? Badly, I know. But maybe, if I knew more, I might be successful.” It was more a question.

Lucy nodded again, her eyes straying to the hallway. “What do you want to know?”

Morena shifted her weight slightly to half-turn. “Right now, I want to know why you seem so intent on the hallway. Is Sophie in some kind of danger?”

“I don’t know.”

“You obviously think something,” Nick prodded.

“Vampires heal serious wounds only through consuming their food. In my case, blood.”

“Yeah, you both got your licks in,” Nick quipped, trying to lighten the mood. “So?”

She answered with a question. “How much blood do you think I just had?”

“Could you ask a grosser question?” Nick blanched.

Morena shushed him before turning her full attention to Lucy. “Maybe a pint? Why?”

“Each foil pouch holds 10 ounces and it took almost two full pouches before I began to regenerate. It will likely take me several weeks of heavy feeding to fully recover from both blood lost and cell damage done.” She then tossed a stern glance at the hallway. “How long do you think it’ll be until he needs to heal?”

Morena looked back at Nick.

“When you say you’ve never seen a vampire like that, you mean the high beams, right?” Nick asked.

“Well, that’s another thing entirely. Even without that, if I’d known a vampire could sustain that much damage and be seemingly immune to silver, I wouldn’t have attacked him by myself.”

Morena swallowed, her stomach churning. Her eyes locked with Nick’s.

“Maybe we should check on the happy couple,” Nick said.

Lucy picked up the kukri from the floor. “I would heavily suggest it.”

“Great,” Morena agreed. “You go first.”

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