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Vicarious

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Sunlight beamed down on Buffy where she stood at the bow of the ship, watching the shore draw steadily nearer. A vampire on the water in broad daylight, soaking up the rays, was certainly a strange enough sight. It was a genuine puzzler that would’ve been sufficient had that been the only thing that was wrong. It wasn’t. The situation was further complicated by the size of the vessel and its bearing. In short: this ‘football field’ sized juggernaut was headed inland, directly for a crowded Southern California beach. The ship’s keel dug into the ocean floor, causing it to lurch and climb. Great clouds of silt stirred in the water. Metal groaned and people screamed.

The disaster movie motif sent many of the sunbathers, sightseers and surfers scattering, while many others stood transfixed. Some of the gawkers were even so mentally challenged that they got out their mobile phones and started snapping pictures.

As the vessel made a violent show of succumbing to physics, it listed heavily starboard. Buffy with her wide and rigid stance and folded arms appeared completely unaffected…by that. She was however enjoying the show. Her body shook with peals of laughter like those of a naughty child.

Buffy slumped forward as the ship ground to a halt. She might’ve easily caught herself on the railing. The fact that she went over it headfirst seemed entirely without reason. There had to be a better way to disembark. She plummeted, tumbling more than one full rotation before she splashed facedown into the water below.  

A well meaning young man charged to her aid, wading out into the breakwater. He too disappeared as he plunged beneath the surface in a daring bid to find her. Moments later he reappeared only to take a breath and dive again. On his third attempt he surfaced with Buffy in his arms. The waves rushing around the ship threatened to drag them both down, but he fought and finally made it to shore. A little inspirational music might’ve helped to set the tone, otherwise the scene was perfect.

Our knight in cerulean Bermuda shorts laid his damsel out on the sand and felt her neck for a pulse. The music, had there been any, would’ve turned maudlin here. Big surprise, our little chippy was dead. When he laid her head to the side and compressed her chest, bloody seawater poured from her mouth. Any sane person would’ve probably given up then, but our hero was too consumed by the idea that he could save her.

Water rained from the sun-bleached curls that fell into his eyes as he began chest compressions. He breathed into her mouth and pounded her chest several more times before ‘playing dead’ grew too wearisome for Buffy. A giggle gave her away. As he sat up, staring at her in slack-jawed wonder, her giggles turned to hysterical laughter.

Gradually she came to herself and reached for him. In one deft, fluid movement, she leveraged him onto his back and landed straddling his waist. “My hero,” she purred, planting a tender kiss on his lips. It seemed she might let up after one smooch, but Buffy gave a contented little groan and the kiss continued. He put his arms around her. Her fingers laced through his hair. He caressed her back through her leather jacket. For her part, the kiss was filled with passion and promise, but he couldn’t move. She held his head stationary. His hands trailed down her back, coming to rest on her ass.

The kiss grew in fervor, as did the intensity of Buffy’s grip. She wrapped her legs around him. As pressure grew painful, he tried to shove her away. She held fast. He sputtered into her mouth. His legs kicked and his body thrashed. Buffy held on. A muffled squeal marked the collapse of his cheekbones. Tension stretched his neck muscles. Sinewy tissue gave out. His struggle ended with a faint crack.

Buffy lifted her head to stare into his wide vacant eyes. His death throes rocked them both as she wrenched and twisted and yanked. Blood spurted as his skin and muscle tore. His head finally came free. The beige sand beneath him turned red and muddy. She held his head up at eye level. An amused smile brightened her face. “There can be only one,” she whispered.

Though it had only been a few gruesome, chaotic moments, the remainder of the spectators had gotten the picture. A glut of humanity bottlenecked, clamoring for a place on the weatherworn wooden stairs that led to the parking lot.

“Or two. Or two-thousand. Depends on who you ask and when,” Buffy mumbled and sprang to her feet. “It’s past time I fixed that.” She picked a target from the throng and hurled the head.

A petite, bikini-clad blonde was struck so violently that she collapsed, taking another woman with her as she sprawled face-first onto the sand and lay unmoving. Blood splattered the crowd. The head bounced and hit a man who threw the woman in front of him aside as he scrambled for the stairs. Chivalry was quite dead. Two of the fallen women fought to stand only to be trampled. The blonde was trampled by the other two.

The panic grew more frenzied when Buffy started toward the crowd. People pushed and shoved. Some were thrown. Some were mauled. Buffy took her time crossing the beach. Watching them brutalize each other was more fun than anything she could do.

Only two women remained when she reached the stairs. Buffy went for the one she’d struck with the head. Maybe what they said about vampires was true. They are attracted to bright colors. The blonde was wearing red, though most of it was blood now. She came to as Buffy lifted her from the sand by her hair. She clawed and wrenched at Buffy’s hand, but she couldn’t break free, so she cooperated. Standing of her own accord must’ve seemed preferable to having her hair ripped out.

Buffy’s eyes yellowed as the demon surfaced. Ridges formed across her brow. She embraced the tanned, slender form of her prey. The fabric of the woman’s skimpy top barely covered her ample bosom. As she squirmed, her top twisted, exposing her. Buffy bored down. Bones snapped. She sank her teeth in to the woman’s neck.

Her attention shifted as she fed. Another of the fallen women scuttled backward on her rump. She’d been smart enough to hang back after being thrown down by that man. Unfortunately, she lingered a little too long. In her panic to reach the stairs she’d stumbled again. She finally made it, but she couldn’t take her eyes off of Buffy long enough to stand, let alone run.

Buffy drained the blonde and dropped her. Sidestepping the corpse, she approached her next victim. This woman was older than the blonde with auburn hair and a pleasant, freckled face. Something about her caused Buffy pause, though there was nothing really remarkable about her. She was ‘Mary Ann’ to her now deceased counterpart’s ‘Ginger,’ pretty enough, but not voluptuous in that ‘Southern California,’ ‘I’m an actress’ kind of way. Maybe it was that she didn’t appear to be a ginormous slut. Instead of a thong and a couple of pasties, she wore frayed cutoffs and a white tanktop that left a thin strip of her toned midriff bare.

Sucking another person dry shouldn’t have been a problem. Seemingly on a whim, Buffy said, “Come with me,” as her face returned to normal. She offered the woman a pleasant smile which should’ve been significantly diminished by her bloody teeth and chin.

The woman didn’t seem to notice. Though hers was bashful, she returned the smile. She only looked up again when Buffy offered her a hand, and then she seemed to momentarily lose herself in a study of Buffy’s face. A gentle tug brought her awkwardly to her feet.

Buffy climbed the stairs at a rapid, yet entirely human pace, towing her new companion along. The parking lot was gridlocked when they reached it. A couple in the car closest to the stairs took notice of Buffy, abandoned their vehicle and fled in terror. There had already been several fender benders and her arrival caused several more.

Spying what she desired, Buffy set off purposefully toward a muscular man on a Japanese sportbike who sat in the queue near the exit. She cleared her throat and tapped his shoulder. When he turned to look, his eyes filled with fear. Instead of panicking, abandoning his motorcycle and running away like a sane person, he tried to maneuver around the car in front of him.

He was almost home free when Buffy flipped the sidestand down, killing the engine with the built-in safety device. She released her companion’s hand, grabbed the man by the back of his shirt and slung him off his motorcycle.

The woman could’ve taken the opportunity to flee. She might’ve even gotten away. Instead, she stood watching as the biker careened into a signpost.

Buffy threw her leg over the machine, flipped the sidestand up, pulled in the clutch and restarted it. With a twitch of her toe, she put the bike in neutral. She didn’t give the biker a second glance. He lay unmoving, draped over the mangled signpost. Instead, her attention turned to the woman. She wiped her chin and rubbed her hand on her thigh before she asked, “So, what’s your name?”

The woman played coy, hanging her head as she mumbled, “Janet.”

“Come here, Janet,” Buffy said.

It was plain from her expression that Janet wasn’t convinced that that was wise. She did manage to hold Buffy’s gaze for a moment or two before she had to look away.

Sirens sounded in the distance. Buffy cocked her head. “You should get that, if I wanted you dead, you would be,” she said, reaching out her hand. When Janet accepted the gesture, Buffy drew her closer. “I’m not going to hurt you.” This seemed like it should be a lie, but Buffy sounded entirely sincere. She reached up to smooth Janet’s hair away from her face. “If you do everything I ask, the worst experience you’ll have today is the cab ride home. I promise.” She turned introspective. “Okay, so…maybe not the worst. I did rip some guy’s—”

Janet butted in to ask, “You’re going to send me away?” She rested her hand over Buffy’s holding it to her face.

Buffy scrunched her brow. Poor Janet seemed genuinely upset. “No,” Buffy replied, drawing the word out in a questioning manner. “Not now, at least. I’m gonna introduce you to some old friends of mine.” The sirens were growing louder. They didn’t have much time. She slipped her hand free and twisted to pat the seat. “Now hop on. We need to roll before things get interesting.”

Without question, Janet did as asked. She put her arms around Buffy as they rode out onto the grass to cut to the front of the queue.