It Was the End of Days (previously titled: This Is My Costume)
“Son-of-a-biznitch! I’m never going to find this RV park.” Kara concentrated hard on driving her converted school bus through the thick fog that enveloped the road she was on out in the middle of nowhere. She had an early evening Halloween night gig and had called ahead to make sure she was okay to check in late. The clerk said as long as she got there before nine, she’d be okay. She glanced at the cell phone in the holder and frowned when it said she only had seventeen minutes to arrive in time before she was stuck on the side of the road for the night.
Because the gig was on Halloween, Kara had dyed her normally blonde hair for the occasion. Her short, undercut hair was now deep purple, and she matched it with a purple shirt printed with the words “This is my costume” and a black arrow pointing toward her face. She finished it off with tight zippered black pants and black combat boots. Luckily, the place she played at was one of the local coffee shops that catered to a wide variety of clientele. She fit right in with her androgynous, non-binary aesthetic at the End of Days Cafe.
She slowed even more as the fog increased. Kara finally stopped when she noticed a drive that led off the road. Figuring that must be the place, she turned the big bus and slowly made her way up the well-maintained track.
“Oh, shut up!” Kara hit the button to cancel the navigation app as the bus motor groaned at the uphill grade. Once she broke free of the trees, she could see a large fence and open gates suspended between two stone pillars. The drive continued through the gates and circled a decorative fountain right in front of a well-lit mansion at the top of the hill. There were cars parked along the circle and Kara sighed. “Obviously not the place but maybe they can give me directions.”
The first thing Kara noticed when she got off the bus was the loud music and realized she was about to interrupt someone’s Halloween party. She mounted the steps to the massive front entrance and gave a whistle. “Way above my pay grade.” There was no doorbell, just a large, blackened knocker in the shape of a bat. Kara wasn’t certain anyone would hear such a thing with the music going inside, but she banged it a few times anyway. She jumped as the abnormally loud sound boomed inside.
The door abruptly swung open in front of her and Kara took a startled step back. The guy wearing a Frankenstein’s Monster costume took up nearly the entire doorway. He pointed at her shirt and exclaimed, “That’s a great costume. We didn’t think anyone would dress up. Come in, you’re late!” The comment was pretty strange given his own outfit but Kara just assumed high society types didn’t usually dress for such an occasion. His deep voice was a little unnerving but the dude seemed harmless enough. He waved her forward, and she cautiously stepped inside. Before she could hesitate or explain, he pulled her the rest of the way through the door.
Once she was standing in the entryway, she looked around in wonder, catching a glimpse of the party through the large archway that led into something looking an awful lot like a ballroom. From a movie. She turned back to the behemoth in the costume. “Uh, who are you?”
“Oh, you can call me FM. I’m so glad you could make it. There were a handful that rsvp’d and still haven’t arrived. What’s your name?”
“Kara Zor-El.” She held out her hand and he engulfed it with his own and gave it a hearty shake.
“Of course it is.” He winked, which served to confuse her more. FM led her into the ballroom and to the refreshment tables. He pressed a drink into her hand and gave a wave toward the food, which included an assortment of odd edibles all made to look creepy. “Refreshments are here if you’re hungry from your journey.”
Kara’s eyes went from item to item, taking note of the typical stuff you’d find at a Halloween party. Severed “tongues”, eyes floating in a bowl, cookies shaped like delicate lady’s fingers. “Nice. Thanks though, I ate earlier and should be fine for the night.”
Someone in a Wolfman costume called from across the room, and FM looked in his direction. He turned back to Kara with a shrug. “My apologies, but I must check another guest.”
She waved him on. “Go ahead, I understand.” Left to her own devices, Kara looked around the party. The decorations were fabulous the punch was delicious. She’d never tasted anything like it before. Even the music was good and despite the odd circumstances she decided to just hang out for a while and enjoy the party. After all, the costumes were next level and made for great people watching.
Kara wandered around the open areas of the mansion, occasionally chatting with different party-goers. She overheard a conversation that was clearly about her because they were talking about the monster who was dressed as a human. Little did they know, she wasn’t dressed as anything, but it was a funny twist on the theme of a Halloween party. Kara didn’t correct them.
One person she spoke with was in full mummy wrap and told the best jokes. He was an accountant by day a loved the chance to get out and blow off steam with good music and friends. Another woman had amazing prosthetics that made her look like a legit cyclops. She was a novelist.
A few hours later, someone new caught Kara’s eye on the other side of the room. She was standing near a shadowed corner. “Who are you?”
“I’m sorry?” Alec Holland was dressed in a swamp thing costume that was so realistic Kara swore he even smelled like a swamp. The extra bit of realism wasn’t a good thing.
She quickly covered her gaffe. “Uh, sorry. I just saw someone I know. Would you mind excusing me?”
“Oh no, go ahead. I’m going to have more of the lady fingers. They’re incredibly moist.”
He wandered off to the food table as Kara turned to look toward the mystery woman once again. She was wearing a slim black suit with a purple bow tie that matched Kara’s shirt and hair perfectly. The striking figure had sleek, long black hair that was slicked back into a tight ponytail. Kara muttered to herself as she took a sip of the strangely strong punch. “Oh, I am in so much trouble.”
She felt her face flush with heat when she met the woman’s gaze and almost against her will, Kara was drawn through the throng of dancing people to the other side of the room. Up close, the attractive stranger smiled, displaying dimples, wine-red lips and bright white fangs.
Kara smiled back. “Nice costume, very understated but handsome just the same.” She waved toward her own outfit. “And excellent color choice if I do say so myself.” She extended her hand toward the attractive vampire. “I’m Kara.”
Rather than shake the offered hand, the woman turned it to deposit a gentle kiss on the back. The voice that responded had a slightly Irish lilt to it. “As is yours. Very imaginative. My name is Lena Luthor and you’re in my home.”
Kara blanched. “Oh shoot, I’m sorry for gate crashing. I actually just stopped to ask for directions and was pulled in by Effem. I can leave though.”
“Is that not his name?”
Another smile. “We actually call him Frank, more of a nickname really. And it’s fine, you can stay and enjoy the party. The more the merrier, right?”
Kara breathed a sigh of relief and took another wary sip of the punch. She didn’t want to get drunk but it was certainly helping to calm her nerves. “Thank you. Uh, what is your preferred pronoun, if I may ask?”
Dark brows scrunched up with confusion. “Preferred pronoun?”
“Yes, do you have a preference for how I address you? While your hair and lips suggestion femininity, the gender expression of your clothing is very masculine of center and I would never assume.”
“Oh, I suppose I go by she or her. And you?”
“The same, or they. I’m non-binary so I don’t mind either designation.” Kara looked around and raised her voice as the music changed and the volume increased. “I have to say, all the costumes I’ve seen tonight are amazing! Is there going to be a contest or something?”
Lena’s lips curled into a slow smile, highlighting those points digging into her full, red lips. “Costumes huh? You know what, the music is a bit loud in here. Would you like to move to my library to talk?”
“That would be nice. And thanks again for letting me in. I’d probably be reading a book or playing my guitar on the side of the road somewhere if I couldn’t find the RV park to check in with my bus.”
Lena led her through an entryway into a large room that featured bookshelves lining three of the four walls. Dark furniture and ancient looking tomes lent a sense of age and reverence to the space. The sound was significantly muffled once the sliding doors were pulled closed. When she turned, there was a gleam to her eyes telling Kara that maybe her own interest wasn’t so one-sided. “Please, have a seat. Can I get you a refill?” She tilted her head toward Kara’s half-full cup.
“I’m good for now, thanks.”
They both settled into comfortable chairs and Kara relaxed for the first time since she woke that morning. Exhaustion was finally settling it, having traveled hours earlier in the day from her previous night’s gig in Coast City up to National City where the café was located. Then navigating the city to find parking, and finding her way back out of town again where the RV park was supposed to be located. It had been an exceedingly long day and Kara was happy to just chill for a bit with a hot stranger and free booze. Her thoughts were interrupted by Lena.
“You mentioned something about a bus?”
“Oh, yeah. I’m a schoolie.”
Lena tilted her head. “I’m unfamiliar with that term.”
“Basically, it’s what those of us who have converted old buses into homes call ourselves. It seemed like the perfect solution for me to live and travel the country, going from gig to gig.”
“So, you do not have a physical address?”
Kara laughed. “Well, I have a P-O box in Midvale, but other than that, no. I’m happy this way, freer than I’ve ever been in my life and living my dream, you know?”
“I suppose if you’re not interested in tying yourself to one place, or your job involves a lot of travel on a limited budget, it would make sense. What about family, friends?”
Kara frowned as memories from years before came to mind. “My parents are both dead. House fire and I was an only child. As for friends,” She shrugged, “I’ve got some I left behind in Midvale but I don’t stay in one place long enough to make a lot of friends.” She laughed self-consciously. “I guess that makes me kind of a loser, huh?”
“Not at all. Did you go into foster care after the death of your family?”
It was a long minute with only the sound of muffled music to keep them company before Kara answered. “Actually, a friend of my dad’s took me in. While the my adoptive were great and tried to understand what I’d gone through, what I’d lost, it was a really difficult time for me. It wasn’t made any easier by the fact that they had a daughter a few years older than me and she wasn’t happy to suddenly have an adopted sister. Eventually Alex and I grew close but…” She trailed off, lost in memories.
In a show of empathy, Lena’s voice grew softer and she placed her hand atop Kara’s. “What happened?”
“My adoptive dad died, Alex’s mom withdrew into herself, and Alex started drinking. By then she’d already moved to National City for University and had fallen into bad habits. But when he died, they only got worse. Alex and I had a falling out when I tried to talk to her about her drug use. We kept in touch on and off for a few years but eventually I stopped responding. And my adoptive mom, well probably blames me for her golden child’s fall from grace.” Kara shrugged. “I don’t know, I hit the road and stopped responding to all correspondence a few years ago.”
Lena frowned and gave Kara’s hand a squeeze. “I’m sorry you had to go through all that. But you’re happy now? Being a skoolie…that’s a good life for you? Your ideal?”
Kara sighed. “I suppose there are things I would change. I mean, I quit my job as a highly-paid administrative assistant to Cat Grant to pursue my dreams.” She paused to see if the famous name of her previous boss would garner a reaction from Lena…it didn’t. “I was smart enough to put away a decent savings so I’m not hard up for cash. But I’m not getting any younger and the road can be a lonely place.”
Lena laughed. “Younger, she says. If I may ask, how old are you?”
“Older than you, probably. What are you, in your late twenties or something?”
“Don’t let the purple hair and youthful face fool you. I turned thirty-eight last month.”
Lena gave her another one of those enigmatic smiles. “Interesting. And what would you wish for the future, if you’re getting as old as you say?”
Kara hummed melodiously as she thought for a minute. “I supposed I’d like to retire at some point and be able to play my music when and where I wanted. Friends, acceptance, love…isn’t that what most of us are looking for?” It was then Kara realized she didn’t know much about her hostess, having done most of the talking through their time together. But Lena was a master at getting information from her while also making her feel comfortable. “What about you? What is one thing you’d wish for given the chance? You appear to have everything you need here, if this is your home.”
“I suppose I’d like to settle down as well.”
Kara looked around the library. “You seem pretty settled to me.” She got a laugh for her observation.
“I mean with someone. I, too, get lonely. There aren’t a lot of people would say yes to a life here with me. It’s a bit…out of the ordinary and off the beaten path, as they say. To be honest, I have no idea how you found it.”
Purple brows lifted with surprise. “Are you kidding me? You’re interesting, hot, and rich. Someone would have to be a fool to turn you down.”
“And are you a fool, Kara?”
Lena suddenly rose from her chair and took a step toward Kara. “Do you know where you are?”
Kara answered, confused at the conversation turn. “Um, someplace northeast of National City?”
Lena clucked her tongue and took another step closer. “Do you know who I am?”
Kara placed her cup on the table next to her and also stood. “You told me your name was Lena Luthor. Were you screwing with me?”
With another step, Lena clearly invaded Kara’s personal space. While she was slightly shorter than Kara, Lena had a presence about her that was hard to ignore. The very nearness of her made Kara’s heart race and she became extremely conscious of her own attraction toward the other woman. Lena’s eyes were dark, nearly black, and Kara felt caught and held by her gaze. “Lena Luthor is my name…my most recent one. And I’m not screwing with you, though I can certainly oblige if you’re interested.” She licked her lips as if the thought alone made her hungry for pleasure.
Kara swallowed thickly. “I may be interested.” Her hind brain was still concerned about the fact that Lena may be some kind of criminal with the reference to having had multiple names, but she was fast losing the will to care.
“There is something you should know first.”
Lena traced Kara’s jawline with pale finger. “This isn’t a costume party.”
Some of the fog in Kara’s mind cleared with the strange statement. “What?”
“You entered my home willingly.”
“Kind of, but—”
Lena interrupted as she waved toward the empty cup on the side table. “And you accepted my blood into your body.”
“Wait a minute, I what?” Kara tried to step back but found herself unable. “What’s happening to me?”
Lena leaned up and ghosted her lips across Kara’s, causing the musician to shiver. “You’re mine now, Kara Zor-El. Body, mind, and soul. I only hope you can forgive me.” Then, quick as a snake strike, Lena bit into Kara’s neck and drank deeply from her new mate.