Lillas stood beneath the window, stunned, mouth open, ignoring the snow that dropped around her. Shards of glass spread all around. Flecks of ash fluttered on the wind, landing on her. Alistar could not be gone. Not like this. Not ever. What was she going to do? Call the police? Call an ambulance? Someone. Someone had to fix this. Bring him back. Someone had to bring him back. But who? Who did she know that could reverse this? No one. She knew no one. No. Wait. Viktor. Viktor would undo what he just did, or die screaming.
Her car was a few blocks away. With new purpose, she marched, hopped in her car, and sped to the church. Anger, sadness, hatred, guilt, all thickened her blood and tightened her chest. After blasting the heavy cathedral doors apart, she stormed inside, startling the few who’d stopped for a visit with one of the priests. Never before had the elements been this strong. This is what power was supposed to feel like.
The priest, who sat with a parishioner, cut his conversation short when he saw Lillas. Standing, he stuttered over whatever he was trying to say. Others either cowered on a bench or ran from the church.
“Where is he?” she demanded.
The man frowned and shrugged. “Who?”
A bench on either side was blown through the walls. Glass from the stained windows exploded under an attack of electrical currents. A chandelier crashed to the floor after the chain froze and broke off. Some of the candles turned to flamethrowers until the wax melted away.
“Do you see me!!!” she yelled, the color of eyes changing to quickly it seemed they were trying to blend. “Do you see what I can do?”
He nodded, his eyes wide, and breath scarce.
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know. I don’t kn… He was supposed to come in this morning, but…but he hasn’t shown up, yet.”
“Where else would he be?”
“Home. I guess.”
“Where does he live?”
“I…” He frowned. “I don’t know.”
“You mean, all this time and you’ve never been to his home!!” More benches flew and glass shattered.
Ducking and covering his face, he said, “No. I’ve been to his house. I just remember where it is or what it looks like.”
Frustrated beyond the break, she screamed, “That’s because he’s a vampire, you moron!” Not caring that he was on knees before, she continued yelling at him. “Didn’t you think it was a little odd that you couldn’t remember anything?”
“Lillas Mehkinnan, stop right there.” Two police officers entered the building, pointing guns at her.
The priest hopped up. “Thank God, you’re here,” he said, running to the offers. “She’s crazy, possessed. I don’t know what…”
“Are you alright, Father?”
“No. I’m not alright. She…she’s…not human. She’s not human. Look at her eyes! Look at her eyes!”
They gasped. “Dear God. What is it?” Lifting their guns, they took aim at the girl. Before a single shot was fired, a sheet of ice covered the weapons. Not only were the firearms inoperable, they were too cold to hold. Shaking their hands and swearing, the officers dropped their side-arms to the floor where they shattered against the stone. Lillas stared at them, going through her options. Killing them wouldn’t lead her to Viktor which was the point of all this. But maybe they could bring him to her. Tears welled. A deep breath and tightened jaw kept the waterworks from flowing. To get what she wanted words would have to leave her mouth that would solidify a cold reality. Alistar was dead. “I’d like to report a murder.”
Handcuffs bit into her wrist. A chair that was nothing but hard plastic atop metal was clearly not meant for comfort. Tears dropped to the floor at her feet as officers rushed to and fro and phones rang nonstop. Only a few took notice of the girl crying alone and silently. They must have thought she was upset about getting arrested. Ha! If only they knew.
“Lillas Mehkinnan,” a man yelled, approaching her.
She looked up, groaned, and dropped her head.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen you here.”
Once his shoes appeared in her vision, she looked up again, careful to avoid his gaze. “Hello Captain Lens.”
“What’d you do this time?”
“Attacked Viktor Michael,” the arresting officer said, returning to his desk.
“The priest! You’re attacking priests now?”
Livid, she yelled, “He killed Alistar Torik! In front of me!”
“We’re checking the building she says Father Viktor tossed him from. So far, we’ve found nothing but a broken window. Which she could have done herself.”
“From outside! I could have broken a window from outside and glass would have still fallen on the concrete?! Were you born this stupid!”
“Watch it, Mik,” Lenshrader said. “Do you have any proof to back up your claim?”
Before she could admit that she had nothing, the officer spoke. “I called him and explained what happened. He’s on his way.”
“Well, good. We’ll get to ask him.”
“He’s a vampire! He’ll lie. He’ll just lie and you’ll all believe him.”
Lenshrader frowned. “Mik, you can’t just go around making accusations like this. He’s a respected member of the community. I’ve met him. I’m sure I’d know if he were a vampire.”
Lillas shook her head. These people had no idea of the world they were living in.
“In the meantime,” the officer said. “We’re charging her with…Oh, there.”
“Lillas! Oh my God. What happened?!” Marisai Mehkinnan, with Nema Habana in tow, rushed into the office and wrapped her arms around Lillas. The scent of Jovan invaded the office and made Lillas’s eyes water. How many times would she have to be told about wearing too much? Releasing her, Marisai asked, “What did you do this time?”
The crowd around Lillas broke, revealing Viktor Michael. Hands behind his back. Innocent all over his face as if he didn’t just kill someone not thirty minutes ago. The sight of him, his voice, everything made her clench her jaw and fists, made her heart burn. A ball of fire left her and sped towards him before she could think twice. He dodged the flame which landed in the wall behind him, leaving a giant hole.
Everyone looked at her. The officer clicked his pen. “And we’ll be adding attempted murder and destruction of government property to that list.”
“Isn’t the punishment for attempted murder the same as for murder?” Lillas asked.
“It sure is,” he said, too busy making notes to hear what she was asking.
“Mik, stop!” Lenshrader yelled, jumping between her and Viktor. “That’s enough! Now, we have the Father here. You address him. I’m sure there’s been some misunderstanding.”
“There’s no misunderstanding. Tell them. Tell what you did.”
Viktor stared at her. Then took a deep breath. “I killed Alistar Torik. And I am a vampire.”
“See what?” Lenshrader said, frowning. “He hasn’t said anything yet.”
The amount of hostile energy running through Lillas could have shot her to the moon. “What The Fuck!!! Are you fucking deaf!”
A smack rippled through the office. Pain shot across Lillas’s face as a sting rested on her cheek. “You watch your mouth,” her mother ordered. “You know better than to talk like that. You apologize right now!”
Decisions. Decisions. Swallow her pride and do what Marisai wanted. Or hold her ground, knowing she’d get the shit slapped out of her again. Fuck it. “I’ve withstood worse beatings for less,” she said, through a fall of tears.
“What did you say?”
“I will not apologize. He did it. I saw him do it. You can slap me til your fingers break. It will not change anything.”
Marisai pulled her hand back to strike again. This time Lenshrader grabbed her wrist. “Mari, not now.”
“I’ll take her to holding,” the officer said, walking around the desk to retrieve Lillas. Once she was stood to her feet, the officer wrapped a hand around her arm and escorted her from the office.
“You will pay for this,” she said to Viktor. “You will pay for this.”
In the holding area were many familiar faces. Seemed no matter their paths in life, they always regrouped here. “Hey, Mik. What’s up?”
Under normal circumstances, she’d be happy, or at least amused, to see some of the people shouting at her. Today, nothing was going to her happy short of Viktor’s painful execution. The officer found an empty cell and threw her in it. After the cage was locked, he said, “Hands.”
She stuck her hands through the bar and remained silent as he unlocked the cuffs.
“You can sit in here and cool off while we go over the charges against you. Won’t be like last time. You’re an adult now. You’ll be doing a lot more time and be hanging with the big girls. Hope you’re ready.” He left her then, whistling. Cat calls surrounded her from men who knew her for different reasons or wanted to get to know her for the same reasons. But they couldn’t afford her these days. Her second bout with the Guild City Genetics Institute had made her hard. Impatient. Had given her a better understanding of how to use the gifts God gave her. To have her now, to belittle her, disgrace her, came with a high price that was not refundable.
Viktor would know that soon enough.
The door to the holding area creaked open. “Yo, Lens,” one of the men yelled. “When am I getting my phone call?” Someone else added, “Is that your new girlfriend? Send her over here.”
As the footsteps made their way to Lillas, she swallowed, not sure what would come out of her mouth once the conversation began. Any attempt to give her pity or force her to apologize would not end well for anyone.
“Lillas, what are you doing?” her mother asked. “Attacking priests, police? Since when do you think you can go do this?”
Frustrated, Lillas gave a sarcastic smile before walking away from the bars. How many times would she have to say it before someone believed it? Viktor was a vampire not a priest and he killed Alistar. Perfect grounds for a scorching. She sat on the bed, one leg off, one leg on and bent.
“We’ve searched all over that room you say Alistar fell from…”
“Was pushed out of…” Lillas said.
“Right. Well, we found a few hairs. But nothing else to suggest he was murdered.”
“And you won’t. How many times do I have to tell you, he was burned to ash? Viktor turned him into a vampire, then killed him. How much clearer can I make that?”
“Well, it would help if you had some proof, Lillas.”
“Well, how about you go shoot him in the chest five times and see if he dies? Oh, wait, you wouldn’t remember anyway.”
“Lillas stopped this,” her mother yelled. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you this morning…”
“Am I being charged with attempted murder?”
Lenshrader blinked. “Um, we’re working on getting that charged dropped. Viktor says he’s willing to let it go. You’re lucky for that.”
“Says he you seemed stressed out about your friend and he’d pray for you both.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh my God. He’s going to pray for us. That’s so nice of him.”
“The vandalism and destruction of government property, those charges are going to stick.”
Anger and fire made a deadly brew inside her. All she could see was finding Viktor and burning him heart-first. Or limbs first to make the pain last longer. Or, since he’s a vampire, she’d tie him down and kill over and over again until…what? Nothing would bring Alistar back. But maybe if enough pain were inflicted on that murderer, she’d feel better. It was worth a try. There were no guarantees in life anyway.
“Lillas?” her mother said. “Are you listening to us?”
Good Lord, were they still talking? Why? They had nothing to say of any importance. “Leave,” Lillas said.
Marisai’s face went through a series of transformations from frowns to wide-eyes and anything in between. “What did you say?”
“I said, ‘Leave.’ I don’t want you here. Either of you.”
“Girl, have you lost your…”
“I’m going to leave you in here for the day,” Lenshrader said. “Give you a chance to cool off.”
The rest of the day progressed with her having to repeat herself to often that she stopped talking. That night, when Alistar didn’t come home, his parents filed a missing persons report. Lenshrader came to her, looking and sounding a little nervous. She didn’t know what the hell he wanted her to do so she just stared at him as he talked.
Visiting hours were now over. She had a choice. Break out now and kill Viktor. Or wait until tomorrow when her bail was posted then kill Viktor. Well, if trouble was coming either way, now would be the best time. Ice froze the lock, rotting the metal. But the jangle of keys interrupted her escape. The entry door opened then shut. Must have been one of the overnights dropping off some garbage. One set of footsteps crossed the floor, not two. Cat calls echoed through the cells. A woman cop. By herself. Must be here to talk to the garbage.
The steps grew louder and louder. Oh, boy. If this was a visitor for Lillas, she was not in the mood. She walked away from the bars and assumed her earlier position of bed weed, just in case.
“Well. Well,” a soft voice purred.
Lillas looked up and frowned, giving the woman her full attention. “I know you. You’re that crazy vampire from TV.”
She shrugged. “I prefer the term vampira, but that’s neither here nor there.”
“Visiting hours were over two hours ago. How did you get in here?”
“Haha! Please. What I’d like to know is why you’re still here.”
“Come now. We both know you are the most powerful human on Earth. Yet, here you sit. At the mercy of these regulars. I can only imagine the reason is you’re planning to escape and kill Viktor, but you prefer to do it under cover of darkness.”
Holy hell. Did she read her mind?
“Either that or you’re a complete coward and just want to wait until your fate is decided for you by people with far less talent than you possess.”
Lillas glared at her. How dare she call her a coward?
The vampira smiled. “But I think we both know that’s not the case.”
“What do you want?”
“To help you.”
“Yeah? Help me how?”
“Don’t kill Viktor.”
“Don’t kill him. He killed your friend. He didn’t kill you. He’s taken something very precious from you and has everyone believing you’re crazy. He’s made you miserable. Torik’s death will impact you for the rest of your life. In the interest of fair-is-fair, you must do something that will impact him for the rest of his life.”
“While I agree with your logic, it has one fatal flaw. I don’t know him. I don’t know what is important to him. How am I supposed to take something precious from him when I don’t even know what it is?”
The vampira gave her a blank stare. “I hope you’re brighter when you’re older.”
“Do you think I would be standing here if I didn’t already have ideas for you?”
Lillas opened her mouth to speak, but stopped. Actually, she had a point. “What do I do?”
“First, you need to make a statement. You need to let the whole city know that he is an enemy to you.”
“And then what? I’ll be back in jail with nothing to show for it. No one cares who’s an enemy to me. I’m nothing in this city.”
“Then they will see you for the power that you are. They will fear you and they will know that anyone who friends your enemies become enemies themselves. You will be more than something in this city. You will be everything.”
“I will be killed. They’re not going to let me get away with this.”
The vampira dropped her face into her palm. “Oh, I knew this would happen if you were around humans too long.”
Confused and irritated, Lillas shrugged. “I am human.”
Waving her off, the vampira said, “We’ll deal with your identity crises later. Right now, we to talk about what you’re going to do about Viktor Michael.”
“Right. Make a statement. …Whatever.”
The vampira reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and held it out between the bars.
Hesitant, but curious, Lillas scooted off the bed and went to her. Upon unfolding it, she found a list of names, buildings. “What am I supposed to do with this?”
“This is a list of everything he owns either solely or with a partner.”
Oh, wow. Of all the things someone could give her now, this was maybe the best gift.
“You have a lot of options. Don’t use fire.”
“Please, that is so unoriginal. Anyone can burn anything down. You are special. Be special.” She winked at her then walked away, her red dress sweeping across the floor.
Oh, the things she could do. Be special indeed.
Lillas stood in front of the cathedral. Escaping the jail turned out to be easier than getting a taxi to take her to the cathedral. Ravenna was right. Lighting fire to something so magnificent would be such a waste. The place was stunning at night. Blue lights around the structure blended with the golden hues in the stone to cover the structure in an ethereal green haze.
No cars in the parking lot. Still, to make sure no one was here she knocked on the door. No answer. She walked around the entire, yelling, “Hello!” At twelve-in-the-morning, there shouldn’t be anyone here, but you never knew. Despite her anger, she didn’t want to kill anyone who didn’t have it coming. Certain there would be no collateral damage, she walked away. She couldn’t be close to the building for this. A block away, that was a good distance.
Her hazel eyes turned bright blue. Water rose from under the cathedral. A rectangle block of liquid that would cover every inch of the building. The sight was freakish even though she was the one making it happen. Water was not supposed to be in places that it was not supposed to be. No matter how it got there. Unfortunately, the blue lights were too close and didn’t survive the slow onslaught. The other lights around were not strong enough to penetrate the water, leaving nothing but a rising shadow. Once the building was covered from top to bottom, every side, every angle, Lillas froze the block.
Burning things. Ha! That was so two weeks ago. An entire building encased in ice. They couldn’t clean up the ruins; they couldn’t rebuild; they couldn’t do anything until the ice melted and water evaporated. Or if she found grace in her to undo what she’d done. However, for that to happen, Viktor would have to admit to what he’d done. Chess was never really her game, but she believed this was what they called a “check mate.”