-2006, New Orleans-
Marianne-Charlotte walked along the side of the French Quarter frustrated. Tonight was supposed to be a night for her, not for her friends. Yet again, she had been saddled with the responsibility of taking care of them. Now, as they found their way home with their toys for the night. While she walked home alone. Something even a local knew not to do around this time of the year. It was that very reason that made her aware of the fact that since she turned the corner into the more covered pathways she had picked up a follower.
When she turned the corner she waited right by the side of the corner for the man. He was apparently a lot smarter than she realized. Marianne-Charlotte barely had time to dodge the knife. She took a few steps back as he looked at the empty air for a moment in shock. “My knife.” She smiled at him. “Your knife.” He lunged forward again and she hit his arm away. She quickly redirected his knife straight into his neck. The man dropped to his knees first and then fell onto the wall.
Marianne-Charlotte didn’t have time to wait. The monster she felt in the shadows wasn’t the man who just tried to stab her. It was a much scarier monster that waited there, so she did what her grandmother had taught her to do. She took the man’s knife and cut his throat, wiped the blade handle off and dropped the knife. Marianne-Charlotte looked down at her untucked shirt and quickly tucked it back in. The monster would have to be satisfied with the messed up street thug today.
She quickly walked away from the alley and towards the river. The best part of the French Quarter was the benches that ran along side of it. There she could take a moment to catch her breath. When she found her favorite bench she sat down and took a deep breath. “It’s not my day.” Out from the shadows behind her stepped a very pale man clapping. “It was an amusing one for me.” Marianne-Charlotte turned around. A sad smile appearing on her face. “So you are the monster in the shadow that had been following us.”
The man walked over to the back side of her bench. “You knew?” She nodded. “I had hoped my little gift would be appeasing.” He walked around the bench to sit down next to her. “That was an awful choice. What would be interested in that? Anyone who saw that would assume you were just a deranged human.” Marianne-Charlotte turned back to face the water. There was something about this area of the Mississippi River that glowed in the night. She had always thought it was because it was the part of the river that had been preparing itself to disperse into the bayous and the Gulf.
“Perhaps your friend. He isn’t here with you at the moment.” The man shook his head no. “He has chosen another meal.” Marianne-Charlotte laughed. “At least I had proper manners in the end.” He looked at her confused. “In a matter of speaking.” She turned back to look at him. For the first time she noticed how bright red his eyes were. She had never known if the Loogaroo were supposed to be vampires or werewolves, but in either case this was a monster her grandmother had talked about. “Anyone from anytime would find that a proper gesture.”
He seemed to have relaxed around her. It was something that made her confused. When her grandmother talked of them, she had always said how the uncontrollable thirst was all we could see. Instead, she saw so much else along with it. The pale monster reminded her of a wounded wolf. They were so vicious to all those who approached them, because they could not bare to let others see their pain. “From anytime?” She smiled at him. If she was going to die, it might as well be with a semblance of interest and strength. “Why yes, dear Dracula.”
The vampire cracked up laughing. It was weird to watch his face go from barely able to move as he spoke to full on laughter. It was like watching a statue come to life. Marianne-Charlotte wondered if he would break just like a statue. “Dracula? If you know what I am, how do you compare me to a fictional children’s nightmare. ” Marianne-Charlotte knew it was probably stupid to be honest, but at this point there wasn’t really much to lose. “This is Louisiana. There is no place on Earth more honest about all the supernatural stuff than here. Besides, from where I’m sitting the only difference between him and you so far has been his awful hair line.”
The pale vampire laughed. “Hair lines. Maybe this is what everyone was talking about.” She smiled at him. “Friends of yours have bad hair?” He shook his head no. “Everyone I know is beautiful. I am afraid.” The young girl simply nodded her head. “Then there really is more to you then your red eyes.” He nodded. “This calm of yours does not exactly say human. Where is the fear?” Marianne-Charlotte turned back to the water. “I have come to learn that fear should be given to those who do not look frightening. You are honest about what you are. What is there to fear about honesty?” The pale vampire turned to look at the water. He was trying to see what she saw in the reflections. All he saw was black water. “You see the truth of what I am. You know I am going to kill you.”
Marianne-Charlotte stands up and faces him. “When you refused my gift wasn’t that obvious. Although, now it is me who gets to wish you luck.” He smiled at her. She was proving to be even more amusing then he thought. “You aren’t naive enough to think anything you can do can harm me?” She shook her head no. There was no naivety in her bones. “The only fight I would put up is for myself, not for you. But what I was talking about, was my grandmother’s spell. If you are real, maybe her stories are real too.” The pale vampire stood up. “What spell?” She smiled at him. “An old one.” He frowned at her. This was her retort. “They are all old.”
She turned away from him. “One that wards away evil. She said it would protect me in the Quarter.” The pale vampire confidently reaches out for her, but finds his hand burned. He watches her turn around and smile. A rare smile on his face appearing. “An old one, indeed.” Marianne-Charlotte turned back to face him. The expression on his face wasn’t the one she was expecting. “So, Dracula, before you find your way around this I’ll ask one thing.” He frowned at her. “I do not enjoy playing with my food.” She smiles at him. “But I am such interesting food.” The vampire begrudgingly smiles. “Go on, little lamb.” Marianne-Charlotte frowned at him. “You are so hurried to kill.” He shrugged. “Every vampire prefers a timely meal.”
Marianne-Charlotte shook her head no. “I am not talking about that. I mean the men that follow you. The enemy you want to destroy at the chance of never healing old wounds.” He backed away from her. “How do you know that?” She walked up to him. “Since you have been so polite, I’ll tell you my secret. I can hear the dead. Sometimes even see them. There seems to be a few that are following you around.” The pale vampire grabs her and pulls her down. “What do they say now?” Marianne-Charlotte looked at him confused. “You want to turn me?” He smiled at her. “How clever.” The vampire bit into her neck. She screamed and tried to push him off to no avail.
He gently laid her on the ground and turned to look at his friend. The new vampire hands him a handkerchief so he could wipe his mouth. “You have not finished her yet?” He smiled at his brother. “No, my grief is not as bad as you think, Stefan.” Stefan walks up to the girl. “Then why has she taken away your grief, Vladmir?” Vladimir smiled. “She has given me an idea.”
Marianne-Charlotte looked at everything around her. She was in the festival…no a fair. The art and music crowd that she had once been a part of as a child. People held colorful long plastic drinks, beads, trumpets, colorful art and tasty pastries. Her hand was being held by her grandmother. She could tell without even looking. The rough callouses on textured skin. Her mother’s hands were soft, because she never worked a day in her life to make them textured. However, her grandmother was the opposite. Marguerite had worked almost her entire life. You could smell her history in the scent of flowers, herbs, paints the smoke from jazz clubs of her youth.
Her grandmother had been the one to take them to this fair. A friend of hers was selling her paintings. Another friend was selling beads. Another busking with their viola on the street corner. And yet another selling ‘authentic creole witchcraft’ to the random tourists. Marianne-Charlotte could not imagine any other life than her grandmother’s tapestry. The world was a painting full of colors from her grandmother’s hands.
Her grandmother leaning down. The voice made husky from years of smoking tickling her ears. “Come closer, Mon Coeur.” She leaned in towards the direction she pointed. There among the crowd was a pile of flowers and candles. Above them scattered colorful frames of names and loved ones. But that wasn’t what stood out, what stood out was the faces. The hazy images that appeared and disappeared. The images she had yet to grow comfortable with. “I don’t want to Meme.”
Marianne-Charlotte felt herself being pulled closer. A short laughter that stayed in her ear as they walked in that direction. Always a joy in the air that it left behind. “There’s no need to be afraid. They just need someone to talk too.”
Marianne-Charlotte woke up in a balcony hotel room. Vladimir was sitting in a chair by her bed. Stefan holding a body by his side. “Good evening.” Vladimir stood up and walked over to the bed. “You are finally awake.” When she sat up Marianne-Charlotte was consumed by all the colors in the room. It was like she was looking at colors she didn’t even know existed. When the whiff of blood caught her attention, she is off the bed and tearing into the man in seconds. When she was done she threw the body aside. Stefan took one of the table cloths to cover him. “She is a messy eater.” Vladimir nodded his head in agreement. “But there is a foundation there.”
Marianne-Charlotte used her sleeve to wipe her mouth. When she is done she turns around. “Good Evening, Dracula. It seems you found away around her spell.” Stefan turned to Vladimir. “She is so calm.” He nodded. “It is still unnerving for me.” They watch her walk to the mirror and look at what she’s become. When she is done she turns around to them. “If you have made me this, then there is something you want.”
Vladimir walked over to her. “Now, who is the one in a rush?” She sat down in one of the chairs. “Come on, Dracula. Let’s not play games.” Stefan turned to Vladimir. “Dracula?” The pale vampire just sighed. “A peasant’s tease. Ignore it.” Marianne-Charlotte looked at the translucent people standing behind them. Now that she was like the two men before her the dead could be seen so much clearer. “This about revenge. You want me to be a special weapon against the Volturi. How amusing.” Stefan looked at Vladimir like he had just been the one to see a ghost. Vladimir put his hand on his shoulder to relax. Stefan did not relax. He could see that her eyes had turned white for a second. “I think she is broken.” The pale vampire ignored his brother and walked towards her. “No. When I found her she could hear the whispers of the dead. It seems like now she can do a little bit more.” Stefan walked over to him. “She can see our brothers and sisters.”
Marianne-Charlotte stood up. “I can see them, hear them. They have so much to say.” Stefan walked towards her. “What are they telling you?” Her eyes turned white again. She stood dazed for a moment. When her eyes turned back to the scarlet red she spoke. “They are anger. Most of them just want this Volturi group of yours to burn. A few are sad. They mourn you.” Vladimir walked over to her. “What have you decided to do then?” Marianne-Charlotte stood up. “The dead gave a very good reason to help you.” Stefan smiled. “Excellent.” She looked past them out the balcony of the hotel room. “But first, I will eat.” She disappeared out of the room. Stefan turned to Vladimir. The pale vampire just sat back down in the chair. “Don’t worry she will be back soon.”
Stefan sat down in the chair besides him. “You are so sure.” Vladimir leaned over to a table and picked up a small journal. “She has a younger brother.” Stefan took the journal from his hands. “Jean-Nicholas Julien La Fleur.” Vladimir nodded. “If she can see the dead what do you think he can do?” Stefan smiled. “I believe my grief is starting to disappear as well.”