A Little Uncalculated Weirdness

Chapter 6

Contents

Chapter 6

They dashed for the entrance way, only to glance back as the back door burst open. A group of vampires hurtled out into the daylight, and stopped abruptly as they felt the Sun on their skin. They swung around, desperate to reach the safety of the sunless corridor, but it was too late. In a gasping, whining huddle, they sunk to the floor, their skin beginning to bubble and split. There was a cracking sound, and without warning blood began to fountain out of the kettles on the counter. It streamed out of the ground, and the windows cracked and smashed, hurling broken glass into the midst of the confusion. The dying vampires thrashed around in the mess, and then died, their bodies going into instant and messy decomposition. Buffy whistled. “Cool!”

“You’ll pay for this.” Stepping over the bodies, Walter surveyed the damage. “You’ll all pay. I’m going through that gate tonight, and when I’m finished, your world will be a memory.”

“Er, Giles.” Buffy pointed at the vampire. “He’s, er, he’s not dying.”

“No. Awkward, isn’t it.” Giles pushed the weakened Slayer behind him, in a vague attempt to protect her. She smiled at the gesture and stepped out of hiding.

“Giles… I am the Slayer.” She shook her head. “You can’t get used to that, can you.”

“Yes.” He sounded defensive. “Buffy, this one isn’t like the others, and you’re not yourself.”

“I have felt better.” She lifted her water pistol. “But I’m ready.” She fired. With an enraged scream, Walter tried to dodge the jet of water, and Buffy grinned triumphantly at him. She was beginning to feel a little better. She threw the pistol aside, and raised a stake into the air.

“Come and get it, uncool dead guy.” He snarled at her, and took a step forward himself.

“You haven’t got a chance. I’m nearly five hundred years old. I was sucking blood when your ancestors were still thinking about emigrating to the New World.”

“Like, that’s something to be proud of?” She tried to ignore the feeling of light-headedness. “Come on, creepy guy. How about doing me a favour and running onto this stake?”

“How about dying?” Walter took to the air with a sudden leap, and swooped down towards the Slayer. She jumped aside, rolling out of his reach, and leaping to her feet again. Jumping onto a table, she leapt lightly onto the vampire’s back, pulling him down towards the ground. He threw her off, but she vaulted upright without hesitation, and cartwheeled to one side, swinging around and grabbing Walter around the neck before he could move away. He tried to take off again, but Buffy kneed him in the back, forcing him down onto the ground. He snarled up at her, fighting against her superior strength. Even in her weakened condition she still felt capable of holding him down.

“Bad vampire.” She smiled down at him. “You have not been a good bunny. Now I hate to stake and run, but you know how it is.” She slammed the wooden spike home, and stumbled back out of the way as blood began to fountain out of the dying man’s body. The floorboards lifted up beneath her, and with a sudden rendering of wood, more and more blood began to gush out of the shop floor.

“Time to leave.” Buffy pulled the stake out of the dead chest and ran for the door, pushing Michael and Giles out onto the pier. “I am so glad they don’t do that back home. Blood stains.”

“Nice work, Buffy!” Impulsively Giles hugged her, then stepped back. “Are you alright?”

“Not really no. I feel terrible. Still a match for dead people though.” She glanced down at her clothing, which was covered in red marks. “I liked this shirt.”

“I liked this suit.” Giles was also covered in blood. “We’re going to stand out, now, I feel.”

“Kind of, yeah.” Michael nodded around at the passers-by. “You don’t have to worry about this lot, though. Selective blindness. They’ve been suffering from it as long as I’ve been here. Which granted is only a few months, but you get the drift.”

“Where now?” Glancing about, Giles tried to straighten what was left of his jacket, and adjusted his tie. “Buffy?”

“Er… I’m seeing a TV store.” She shrugged. “That mean anything, Mike?”

“Sure, follow me. I thought the TV store vampires were dead, but I guess another group could have taken it over.” He stood aside to let her pass, and then fell into step behind her.

“Michael?” Giles, following on behind, looked questioningly at the younger man, and Michael glanced back at him.

“Yeah?”

“Do you know an Eric? Or a Carrie?”

“Yeah, sure. They’re kids from nearby. Sam used to have a crush on Carrie. Why’d you ask?”

“Buffy mentioned them. I think it must have been them that changed her.”

“They’re vampires now?” He whistled. “Wow. Carrie isn’t sixteen yet. I hate it when that happens. Killing the young ones is never easy. It’s not so bad when they’re trying to suck your blood, but later, when the slime chucking has finished, you get left with the kid’s body, and that’s really rough. They look so… so…”

“Innocent.” Giles smiled sadly. “That’s the one thing they’re not.” He glanced at Buffy, walking ahead. She was trying to keep up the speed, but was obviously tired. “You do understand that, no matter what she does, I’ll kill anybody who tries to kill Buffy?”

“Yeah, I understand.”

“Good.” He quickened his pace and caught the Slayer up, taking her arm to help her walk.

“Do you want a rest before the next battle?”

“Not really. I’d rather just try to get this over with.” She looked up at him, her face painfully young. “Giles, are we going to get home?”

“Of course.”

“You’re a terrible liar.”

“Sorry.” He glanced up at a sign on the wall beside them. “I guess this must be the place.”

“Very likely.” She looked through the window. “Cool. Thundercats. That is so eighties.”

“I beg your pardon?” He followed the direction of her gaze, and saw the cartoon playing on one of the display TVs. “Oh, yes. Th-Thundercats. I see.”

“I used to love that show. Don’t exactly get much time to watch TV these days. Something to do with late night jaunts in the graveyard.”

“Sorry.”

“S’okay.” She stepped aside, and indicated the door. “After you.”

“If you’re sure you don’t mind.”

They walked into the darkened store. Just like the coffee shop, it was deserted, the TVs playing to themselves. Michael walked around, glancing behind hi-fis and display desks.

“Nobody here.”

“That’s what we thought about the coffee shop.” Buffy walked further into the room. “Is there a downstairs?”

“There’s an upstairs, you can tell that from the street outside.” Giles wandered over to a door at the back of the room. “Do I really want to open this?”

“I doubt it.” Buffy joined him, water pistol clasped firmly in her hand. “Did you ever watch NYPD Blue?”

“I used to watch Starsky and Hutch.” He had clearly got the message. “Ready?”

“Why do people keep asking that? Of course I’m not ready.” She tensed her muscles, flattening herself against the wall beside the door. Giles did the same on the other side.

“On three?” he asked. She nodded.

“One, two, three!”

With a violent blow, Giles sent the door flying open, knocking it clear from its hinges. Buffy swung around into the doorway, water gun levelled at the room beyond. A sea of young faces stared at her, their wild, bright eyes gazing steadily out of the gloom beyond the door.

“Oops.”

“Oops?” Giles frowned, and turned to see. “Ah, yes. Quite. Oops would about cover it.”

“Welcome, Slayer.” One of the vampires stepped forwards, his teeth bared in a snarl. “Welcome to our little home.”

“Thanks. Where’s the tea and biscuits?” Buffy glanced up at Giles, the panic in her eyes visible even through the dark lenses. He shrugged, hopefully raising a stake. They couldn’t all be resistant to sunlight, so if he and his friends stayed where they were, they should be alright. In theory.

“Which of you is going to come and fight me?” Buffy stuck her water pistol into her belt, and tossed a stake into the air, rather like some psychotic majorette. “Come on, creeps, I have a gate to catch sometime today…”

“Ah yes, the gate. Doorway to the places beyond.” The vampire smirked. “We can’t let you interfere with that. Sorry.”

“That’s okay. I’ll just have to kill you.” Buffy took another step forwards. “Come to Buffy.”

With an ear splitting screech, the vampire took to the air, followed closely by several of its companions. They soared towards the door, and landed behind the Slayer and her friends.

“Guess again, Slayer.” The first vampire laughed harshly, beginning to close in on its intended victims. Buffy whirled around, letting off a powerful jet of water from her pistol. One of the vampires screamed, and crashed to the ground gripping its shoulder. In the same instant, Buffy felt herself grabbed from behind. She flipped the vampire over her head, watching in some satisfaction as it shrieked and died in the sunlight. Before she had time to think, she was grabbed again, this time by several of the creatures. She struggled, but it was no use.

“Giles!” The librarian swung around, going instantly to his Slayer’s aid. He grabbed hold of one of the vampires, ramming a stake into its arm. It snarled, spinning around and catching him with a powerful blow that sent him flying. He stumbled to his feet and went back into the fray, aware that Michael was also in trouble, his back to the wall as he tried to fight off several of the daylight-resistant vampires with his failing water gun. Giles ignored him; Buffy had to come first.

“Let her go!” Launching himself at the nearest of the vampires, Giles paid no heed to the imminent danger of being pulled into the darkness beyond the door. He struggled with one for the creatures, marvelling at its strength. Now was probably not the time to wonder how they came to be so powerful here in Santa Carla, but the thought came to him nonetheless. He heard Buffy shout some warning, then felt himself gripped by several hands. He struggled wildly, but to no avail. With a final, desperate last effort to break free, they were all dragged beyond the door.

Stairs awaited them, leading far, far down into the earth. The three would-be vampire killers were pushed down the steps, their eyes adjusting slowly to the dark. Beneath them they could see a huge throng of vampires. What seemed like thousands of the creatures awaited them in the darkness, their teeth bared, and their eyes flashing. Giles felt cold. They had no chance against so many, even if they weren’t being held. He tried not to think about what was coming.

“Giles…” Buffy was calling to him, but as he turned his head to try and see her, he was dragged further away, down to the centre of the room, where several pillars helped to support the roof. He was thrown against one, the rough, hard surface biting into his back. Before he had time to think, he was being bound to the pillar. Strong rope encircled his chest, and he felt his hands being pulled behind him. What a wonderful conclusion to a charming little adventure. He could see Michael out of the corner of his eye, being held by several of the vampires, but of Buffy there was no sign. He tried to ignore his concern, and stared out at the sea of creatures with what he hoped looked like defiance. They were all so young. No matter how hard he looked, he could not see one of the vampires who could have been more than twenty. They were all teenagers. He felt sick. Dead children, their souls lost. He wondered if any of them were just half-vampires, like Buffy, or if the whole lot of them were gone beyond all help. It probably didn’t matter now.

“Greetings, Watcher.” One of the vampires, a kid who didn’t look more than fourteen years old, stepped up to confront Giles. His teeth glowed in the soft light from the faint hint of phosphorescence on the walls. He laughed. “Outsiders. We like outsiders. They can leave the town, and we can’t, so we kill them. Have you ever been bitten by a vampire, Watcher?”

“Er, some-somehow I seem to have, er, missed that experience so far.” Giles looked about. “What have you done to Buffy?

“She’s the last thing you should be worried about right now.” The boy stepped back. “We don’t bite our victims here, Watcher. We tear them apart, limb from limb. It’s so much easier to get at the blood that way. It’s a little wasteful, while you’re still learning, but you soon catch on.” He grinned. “We’re all pretty experienced at it now, you’ll be glad to know.”

“Oh, er, good.”

“I knew you’d be pleased.” The boy stepped back. “Where are the inductees?”

A group of vampires stepped forwards, Buffy and Michael held tightly between them. Michael was struggling wildly, but with no success. He was forced to his knees.

“No…” Giles heard him mutter, his voice strained through fear. “Not again.”

“Hold him still.” The young boy who had been speaking to Giles stepped forwards, a bottle in his hand. He forced Michael’s head up, pushing the neck of the bottle between the prisoner’s lips.

“No!” Michael struggled, choking on the sudden flow of liquid, but unable to prevent it from running down his throat. He tried to spit it out, but more came, filling his mouth until it ran down his chin. He coughed, then finally his captors released him and he fell to the floor.

“I can’t… Not again…” Lying in a heap, Michael rolled onto his side, curling up and moaning softly. “I can’t do it again.”

“Hold on Michael.” Buffy was willing him to fight the liquid’s power, but he turned onto his back to stare up at her, and she saw that his eyes were not his own. Long, sharp teeth flashed.

“I can’t fight it, Buffy.” A faint growl came from his throat. “I’m not strong enough. Not this time.” He stared up at Giles. “He’s supposed to be our first.”

“Giles?!” Buffy couldn’t quite imagine sucking Giles’ blood. That was too weird to contemplate. All that tea, and the tweed, to say nothing of the dusty books he practically lived with just had to affect the taste.

“Kill the outsider.” The young boy, who obviously had some considerable authority amongst the vampires, pointed at the hapless Watcher, who glowered, using one of the glares that he reserved for unruly high school students who were insulting his library. The boy did not seem to notice.

“Kill the man. He’s not one of us. He can’t be one of us.” The boy raised the bottle into the air. “This is the elixir of youth. We are eternally young, eternally free. We have to destroy those who want to take it away!” With a roar of approval, the vampires surged forwards, but the boy held up his hands again. “No. This one must be for our new friends.” He turned to Buffy and Michael. “Kill him,” he ordered. “Drink his blood. Become one of us. You’ll never grow old, you’ll never die. All you have to do is drink his blood.”

“No…” Michael curled up again, his wild eyes showing his pain. Buffy felt for him. She remembered, vaguely, the craving she had felt earlier, back in the house. She had tried to drink from Giles then, too, come to think of it. Much more of this and he was going to start avoiding her.

“I’ll soon change your minds.” The boy pulled a knife from the lining of his jacket, and stalked up to Giles, the blade held high. “Take a look at this.” He slashed sideways with the knife, the sharp point cutting deeply into the Watcher’s shoulder. Blood poured forth, glinting red in the light from the candles held by the attendant vampires. Giles could see their faces above the dancing flames; mocking teenage bullies perverted by the demons who now owned them.

Buffy gazed at the blood, watching it roll down the Watcher’s arm; watched it dribble onto the floor. She had never really noticed how red blood was, how bright and smooth and wet. She was thirsty, so thirsty, and the blood seemed so mouth-watering, so irresistible. She gulped. She could feel something within her, something that was trying to get out. Something that was trying to rise up and take control of her. She tried to back away, tried not to look at Giles and his damned inviting blood, dribbling so… seductively. A laugh bubbled up from inside her, and she felt a fire ignite within. Suddenly it was as if she were looking at the world through somebody else’s eyes. She could hear a voice inside her, telling her to drink. It was telling her about youth, and immortality. Just one drink… Just one drink and then never grow old. Never get weak. Never fade away. Never die… Just one drink… It couldn’t hurt Giles to just take one drink. It couldn’t hurt anybody. Anyway, it was his fault for bleeding all over the place. Surely that was something that Watchers learnt from birth; never bleed in the company of vampires.

Michael rose to his feet, his bright, inhuman eyes blazing. “Got to fight it,” he was muttering, but his tongue licked his lips, and his own desires were far too strong to fight. He took another step forward. Giles looked from one to the other of the apprentice vampires. Oddly enough, he did not feel too afraid. He thought about Buffy, and how her life was gone now, or would be as soon as she drank some of his blood. All because he hadn’t been able to find out about the gate soon enough.

“Giles…” For a second he thought he saw something of his Slayer in the eyes of the creature now facing him, then it was gone again in the blink of an eye. She smiled at him, and he saw her tongue moving across her lips, saw the bloodlust in those unnatural eyes. She moved in closer, Michael beside her, and he instinctively tried to back away. He could hear the other vampires laughing.

“Buffy, listen to me. Think about Sunnydale. Willow, Xander. Think about your mother. Think about Angel!” He searched her eyes for some reaction, but there was none. “Buffy? Think about Mark Hutten. The grave…”

“Mark Hutten…” She frowned, and he saw something register, then suddenly she seemed to grow before his eyes. “Try again, Watcher. It’s feeding time.”

“Fire!” With a gleeful howl that seemed entirely out of place in the dark and dingy cellar, the door at the top of the stairs flew open, and a torrent of water poured down the steps. Giles heard a scream, and saw several vampires knocked off their feet by the sudden burst of water. They seemed to explode on impact, hurling blood fountains ceiling high as they died. The Watcher blinked in amazement, seeing the water rushing around his feet. Where the hell was it coming from? All around him, vampires were taking to the air to avoid it, and he saw Michael do likewise. Even in the air there was no escape. Almost as if it had a life of its own, the stream of water was flying about, leaping into the air and knocking vampires in all directions.

“Run, Buffy!” Filled with fear for her as the screaming continued around them, Giles struggled against the ropes binding him. “Get away from it! It’s Holy water.”

“I know what it is, Watcher.” The voice was still hers, so painfully close to what he knew, that it hurt to hear it.

“Th-then hurry.”

She walked towards him, the water swirling about her boots, lapping dangerously close to her unprotected legs.

“Maybe I don’t want to get out of the way. Maybe I want to end it.”

“Buffy!” He tried to speak further, but in the air above them the vampires were dying in quick succession, and blood was raining down on the pair on the ground, making it hard to speak. The screams grew louder, echoing about them, cutting into Giles’ mind like an orchestra of grating metal and fingernails on blackboards.

“Giles?” Blinking suddenly, Buffy shook her head to clear it. “Whoa! Holy water. You could have warned me.” She jumped up onto a nearby table, and then frowned. “Where’s Michael?”

“Up there somewhere.” Giles looked up, only to see the young man fall from the air, his arms waving helplessly. He splashed into the swirling water, now a tasteful shade of pink from the geysers of blood. “Er, there.”

“Michael!” Forgetting the dangers of the Holy water, Buffy leaped into the torrent, then frowned. “Say, Giles. It doesn’t hurt.”

“Buffy!” Michael, spluttering and coughing, emerged from out of the water as though from a baptism. “Are you okay?”

“Fine.” She hugged him as yet another vampire exploded in a ball of slime above them. “This outfit will never be the same again, though.”

“But you’re okay? I mean, how do you feel about Giles?”

“Giles? He’s my Watcher, how am I supposed to feel about him?” She glanced back at the librarian in question. There was still blood on his arm, although admittedly it was now indistinguishable from all the other blood exploding from the dying vampires. “Hey, I don’t even nearly want to take a bite! Which is, like, good, because I think that tweed is tooth proof.”

“Er, Buffy? H-hello?” Giles, feeling forgotten, was watching the rising water level, now nearly to his waist. “Do you think, er, possibly you could, er…”

“Relax, Giles.” She waded over to him, and pulled the ropes apart. “Look at this Gilesy! I’m up to my chest in Holy water, and it doesn’t hurt a bit! I think I’m cured.”

“Not a moment too soon. I was beginning to compose my own epitaph.” Giles ritually straightened his tie, then glanced down at her. “Gilesy?”

“Sorry. Youthful exuberance moment. Won’t happen again.”

“I should think not.” For a second he smiled fondly at her, then began to wade towards the stairs. “Come on, we have to get out of here. I don’t plan on staying around to, to see if a-any of them are going to survive this.”

“Right with you.” Michael hurried after him, leaving Buffy to bring up the rear. She snatched up a stake as it floated past, and slammed it home into the chest of a vampire who had mistakenly chosen to swoop half-heartedly down at her.

“Gotcha. Rest in pieces you creep.” They hurried across the floor, fighting against the rising water, and stumbling as the floor began to vibrate. With a noise like thunder, the floorboards burst apart, and geysers of blood erupted out of the ground, sending bright red plumes far up into the air. The determined trio fought on up the staircase, struggling against the flow of water pouring down towards them. Everywhere was awash, either with water or with blood, and the cellar looked as though a bomb had landed. Giles tried to ignore the bodies floating past. He saw the boy who had seemed to be in charge earlier. Down in the cellar, with that knife in his hand, he had seemed the very image of insane demonic fury, but now he was just a dead child, his smooth face peaceful and young. Giles wondered who he was. It didn’t much matter now.

As the threesome reached the top of the stairs they were helped up by Edgar Frog, standing on the top step with a look of cheerful delight on his face. He grinned at Michael.

“Enjoying yourself, Mikey?”

“Couldn’t you have arrived a little earlier?” Michael, stumbling out into the store, appeared exhausted, and there was a haunted look in his eyes. “Another five minutes and I’ve had been lost for good. Buffy too.”

“Nah…” Edgar was still grinning. “We were watching. Couldn’t find any vamps at the usual hangouts, so we came down here. Are we cool or what?”

“You-your timing is certainly t-to be applauded.” Giles offered them a weak grin, almost falling out of the cellar. He looked at Sam and Alan, who were holding a giant fire hose between them. “I think you can turn that off now. They would all appear to be dead.”

“Totally and completely dead.” Buffy whistled down at the scene of utter devastation below them. “That was just so cool. Why don’t I get to have a super charged Holy water cannon, Giles?”

“I’m not sure. I suppose because we don’t have a g-gr-great deal of Holy water.” He followed the hose with his eyes, wondering where it was plugged in. “How exactly did you, er, um… o-or do I not want to ask?”

“Well…” Edgar threw an arm around the Watcher’s shoulders. “It involved driving our stolen tanker full of water at full speed through the town; so on reflection, you probably don’t want to know.” He helped his two companions to turn off the hose. “So what’s next?”

“Next?!” Michael sank down onto a nearby display table. Just like Giles and Buffy, he was soaked to the skin and covered in blood, which was still fountaining out of the cellar door. Edgar was covered from head to toe in its redness, although he clearly did not mind. “Next I want to sleep for a very, very long time.”

“Not that long I hope. It’s gone noon.” Buffy wandered over to the windows and looked out onto the pier. “Everybody is walking around out there like nothing’s happening.”

“Told you. Selective blindness. The tourists and the newcomers notice, but hardly anybody else does, and what they do see they seem to forget about. It’s crazy.” Michael stood up and joined her. “Now tell me we can have a rest, Buffy. I’m whacked.”

“I’m not sure.” The Slayer glanced back at her Watcher, who was looking as exhausted as the others, and was trying not to show it. “How many of them do you think we got?”

“At least two thousand.” Giles shrugged. “Michael said to estimate about five thousand of them in, in total. In the whole town.”

“We got most of the leaders. I recognised a few.” Michael grinned. “You people are useful to have around. We try and hunt down those creatures for ages, and then you turn up and they all congregate in one place, waiting to be killed. That’s cool.”

“They’re dead. You can’t expect them to be clever.” Buffy wandered out onto the pier, with the others close behind. “We have to find out where the gate is, then we can get some rest. They can’t use it until midnight tonight.”

“Good point. Any suggestions?” Michael smiled suddenly, and answered himself. “The graveyard, right? Mark Hutten.”

“Give the man a Kewpie doll.” Buffy nodded vigorously. “Now that I’ve got my Slayer senses back on line, they’re telling me that’s the place. I don’t know why, but his grave was the centre of things in Sunnydale, and it is here too.”

“L-luck of the draw. On, er, on his part. Probably buried on a con-convergence of lay lines. A focal point of power which…” Giles caught the looks that the others were giving him. “What?”

“Don’t mind him. He’s missing his text books.” Buffy smirked at the glare she received from the librarian. “Come on peoples. We don’t have time to stand around pretending we’ve had a hard day.” She ushered them all along the street, then glanced up at Giles. “Are you okay? You look a little pale.”

“Hmm? Oh, er, no… No I’m fine, thankyou Buffy. Quite fine.”

“It’s your arm isn’t it. Where that little munchkin vampire stabbed you?”

“My arm? My arm is fine.” He waved it about to illustrate his point. “Come along, there’s Slaying to be done.” He indicated that she should go first, and she shrugged, hurrying off to catch up with the others. Only when she was some way ahead did Giles clench his teeth, and grip his shoulder momentarily in a bid to ease the pain. When he took his hand away a moment later it was covered in a fresh coating of blood.