Previously: Through the Looking Glass
Rochelle stepped the mirror in her Los Angeles bedroom on end and came out on an open road on another. It was nighttime wherever she was; the air was cool and the stars bright above her, so knew she wasn't in L.A. anymore.
She could hear the ocean in the distance, and while she got the feeling she was still in California, something felt different. It was like the very vibrations of the world had changed.
Welcome to Sunnydale, a street sign boasted. She didn't recall the name from any of her geography classes, but when she saw the total population being listed as less than forty thousand, she figured it wasn't the sort of town you'd find on a map.
Rochelle headed into the town, enjoying the slow walk. It was so much quieter than the big city and appeared charming, almost wholesome even, except she noticed after a while that it had an inordinate number of cemeteries.
The streets were mostly empty at this hour, so Rochelle simply walked in the direction of the brightest lights and loudest sounds. She had no idea where she was going, of course, and ended up down a dark alley, where someone had established a club inside a warehouse. She could tell by the loud music pulsing inside the building.
Rochelle rolled her eyes, turning around to face the young man behind her. He had a curly red hair and wore brown corduroy pants under a grayish sweater with a lot of holes.
Hm, she smirked. Grungy. "Does that line actually work for you?" she chortled, looking him up and down. She might have been a loser back in L.A., but small town guys were nothing to her. This one practically smelled like a sewer.
"No," he admitted with a shrug. "But this one does."
Rochelle watched as his face morphed, his brow becoming more pronounced, his eyes turning feral yellow, and his mouth filling with uneven fangs. Amused by her shocked expression he asked, "How do you like me now?"
He lunged forward then stopped, frozen in mid-movement. Confusion clouded his horrific face as he looked down between then. Shocked, Rochelle followed his gaze to realize she had stopped him by simply raising her left hand. Struggle as he might, he couldn't escape her invisible gasp.
"You're a witch!" he finally growled.
"And you're a vampire," Rochelle breathlessly gasped. This world has actual vampires, she realized, her heart racing as she desperately tried to wrap her mind around this development. Wait a minute, she suddenly blinked to herself, ...I have powers in this world.
I. Have. Magic!!!
"Are you gonna stake me or what?" the vampire demanded impatiently.
"I don't have a stake," she said lightly, shaking her head slightly, as though in a dream. Her eyes fixed on him as her belief in the magical realm tested its limits.
He blinked, confused. "You gonna burn me?"
"I...could," she nodded slowly, still in a daze. "But I'm happy to let you live...if you talk."
Now he was really confused, but he knew he didn't have much of a choice.
"Fine," he agreed with a nod, as much as his neck would allow.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"Chris," he grumbled. Rochelle rolled her eyes. Of course, the first guy I meet here is a Chris.
"Hi, Chris; I'm Rochelle...Zimms," she introduced herself, starting to relax. She never did like her last name.
"Nice to meet you," came the sarcastic reply.
"Chris, I'm not from around here," she confessed. "I sorta...stepped through a portal. Where exactly am I?"
"You're just outside the Bronze," he tried to shrug.
"What day is it, Chris?"
"The date, Chris."
It's still May of 1996 in my world, Rochelle's mind raced. Fucking Manon skipped me ahead by a year.
Her head rose and fell as she retain her composure. "I see. How long have you been a vampire, Chris?"
He tried to shrug again. "I dunno...like a year or two...ish?"
Rochelle was visibly disappointed. "Oh."
"Oh, fuck's sake!" he barked. "We can't all be long-wandering creatures of the night. Just gimme some time; I'll rack up a few centuries!"
"Fair enough," Rochelle shrugged. "How many of there are you?"
"No clue," he admitted. "We're kinda everywhere."
"So vampires are...normal in this world?"
He flashed her bewildered look. "Dude...all kinds of demons are normal in this world."
Her eyes widened in intrigue. "All kinds?"
Chris ended up telling her everything he knew over late-night lattes and croissants at the Bronze (his treat). Unfortunately for Rochelle, it wasn't much. He had no idea who sired him. He didn't even remember getting attacked, just waking up in his coffin, digging himself out of his grave, and draining the first person he saw...whom he also couldn't remember.
He knew that he was allergic to garlic, crosses, and holy water, that he burned in the sun and would definitely die if staked through the heart with wood. He'd crossed paths with quite a few demons in Sunnydale (apparently the town was some sort of haven), but he didn't know much about the town's history or anything substantial about magic.
However, Chris wasn't entirely useless. He invited Rochelle back to his place after the Bronze, which turned out to be a nearby loft building.
|Industrial loft apartment (click to enlarge)|
"This place is fucking amazing," she gasped, walking through the apartment. It was ridiculously spacious, with crazy high ceilings and windows, hardwood floors, and freshly painted stairs. The furniture reeked of the undead, but that was to be expected.
"You like?" Chris asked, smiling proudly.
"I always fantasized about living in a giant loft apartment in New York," she confessed, turning and turning again, "with a cool job like TV writer or fashion designer. I guess a loft apartment in small town full of vampires will do."
"Sunnydale's not so bad," Chris shrugged.
"How'd you get a place like this?" The interior design of the place hinted at wealth and class, and Chris...didn't.
"Trust fund brat came to Sunnydale a year ago," he explained. "Wanted to show his daddy he could be a real estate mogul. Bought up this whole area. Of course, he had a bit of a drug problem and OD'd about six months ago. Took 'em a week to find his body. Since then, Mayor's kept all his properties tied up in litigation for some reason." He shrugged. "We don't question it. We've just been squatting here ever since."
"Me, Kyle, Josh, and Samantha," Chris nodded.
Rochelle was amazed. "You're all vampires?"
"Yep. We all got turned over the last few years. Now, ground rules...blinds stay closed during the day, don't touch anybody else's shit, and absolutely no hanging out here with the living."
She looked at him, bemused. "Then why would you invite me here?"
"Vampires can't enter a human's residence where they haven't been invited," he told her. "Forgot to mention that earlier. We've been looking for a human roommate to set up here so only we can get in."
"Vampires fight over turf in Sunnydale?"
Chris's green eyes widened. "Over sweet digs like these? Hell, yes! I was living in a fucking crypt before I came here. So overrated," he shuddered.
"And you're sure the others won't mind?" Rochelle asked, not that she'd really cared.
"You're a witch," he smiled, eyes twinkling. "Witches are rare in Sunnydale, so that's kind of a huge bonus."
"Who were you before you died, Chris?"
"I was a senior at Sunnydale High," he replied, slipping his hands into his pockets. "I mean, yeah I was technically about to graduate, but my dad had his heart set on UC Sunnydale after high school. Best part of dying? Not having to go to school anymore." He paused, before adding. "You don't have to go to school either, you know. I mean, it sounds like you're not even from this dimension. But you're also still alive so I guess you need an education?"
"True," Rochelle nodded, fingering the cross around her throat. "What else would I do all day?"