Flash: Veronica Visits (Pets 2)

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

Veronica rushed at human speeds from the hired car to the burrow door in the side of the hill where Reginald kept his underground residence as the last vestiges of the July sun beat down on the Mojave Desert. One of his servants held the thick, iron-banded door open. The man took her layered wrap and offered her a glass of clear liquid from a set of crystal near the door.

“I don’t drink water,” she shook her head declining the offer. Although she was thirsty enough to consider it, long experience had taught her how useless the attempt would be. Her host would set her up with something shortly.

“Ma’am, it’s plasma, not water.” The human extended the goblet to her. “We’ve found it helps with the dry air.”

Intrigued, she took the glass and sniffed it. Instead of the normal metallic scent of full blood, a slight cheese scent wafted up. The old Gaul vampire took a tentative sip. None of the richness of blood with the layers of life rippled over her taste buds. A clean, fresh taste, almost clear took its place. A little sweet taste unlike anything she could remember experiencing danced lightly on the tongue. With a swallow, the first non-blood in nearly a thousand years went down her throat. And, she closed her eyes in silent thanks, stayed down. Vomit was so messy.

Her body absorbed the liquid in a welcomed rush. Taking a second sip, Veronica nodded, “It will do.”

“Very good, my lady.” The human bowed, then stood and swung out an arm. “If you would follow me?”

Having never visited her blood brother before at his Las Vegas quarters, Veronica studied the interior of the underground stronghold as they walked. Sandstone cut walls held the outermost border. Inner walls alternated between variegated-colored sandstone and tasteful pale, almost white woods of different grains and were decorated with paintings of the desert by unknown artists of varying skill. The breathtaking art were the woven baskets, turquoise jewelry, and the pottery tucked into alcoves, displayed on shelves, and the best pieces isolated on pedestals with spotlight lighting. The overall look came across more open and much cleaner than the typical vampire packrat display of wealth. She wasn’t even certain how much wealth was on display; indigenous and modern pieces eluded her knowledge.

She found it refreshingly different.

Reginald always thought differently, outside the box as the modern saying went.

Her guide stopped in front of a double-door of stained glass in a dreamcatcher design. He opened the doors into a cozy library and after turning on the lights, stepped aside. “My lord will be with you shortly.”

Veronica entered the much more traditional space. Thick mid-eastern rugs decorated the floor, three heavy wooden chairs equal distant apart but all facing each other and allowing a clear view of the door, and a glorious library filled with volumes of books. Modern paperbooks pressed covers with medieval manuscripts. One section of textbooks and scientific volumes were stored behind glass. Two yellowed skeletons, one male and one female, which clearly had meat on them at one point, had been rethreaded to hold their shape. A smile touched her lips, two of Reginald’s favorite pets from the Old World still traveling with him after all this time.

The sidebar held crystal filled with clear liquid. Lifting the decanter she sniffed it, more plasma. Veronica shrugged and refilled her goblet. While thirsty, she wasn’t truly Thirsty yet. The blood plasma took the edge off. She might need to make arrangements for it back home. Having something different to drink was an experience.

The door opened and her host came in. “Veronica, this is surprise.”

“A pleasant one I hope,” setting down the goblet on the only empty side table by a chair, she crossed the room to kiss her brother’s cheeks.

“Indeed,” he said with cheerful agreement.

She ran the tones through her brain, tumbling them like rocks to find the core shape. In the New York coven, not a single word was spoken without extra meaning. Reginald either had gotten much better at hiding his true intent, or he remained as open and welcoming as the day he greeted her and their progenitor back on his family farm, thinking them lost nobility seeking shelter from a stormy night. He hadn’t changed in seven hundred years.

“Still sleeping in half the night?” she teased, moving to the seat she claimed.

He laughed as he walked to the sidebar and poured himself a goblet of the plasma. “Not all of us have the gift of daywalking.” He joined her, sitting at the chair with two side tables filled with books, and more surrounding it on the floor. The floor lamp light fell perfectly on his lap, hiding part of his face in shadows.

(words 804, first published 9/28/2022)

Pets for Vampires Series (Order of Creation)

        1. Pets: Another One, Reginald? (5/17/2020)
        2. Veronica Visits (Pets 2) (6/7/2020)
        3. Still See His Teeth (Pets 3) (11/29/2020)
        4. Hair of Dog (Pets for Vampires 4) (12/6/2020)