Don't' panic. I thought, Just keep driving.
I kept driving. I got on the freeway, and was out of the City and on my way to Sunnydale, faster than I ever imagined. The best time to go anywhere on any freeway is at 2 in the morning. There's very little traffic then.
I reached the outskirts of Sunnydale, around 4 in the morning. I had another two and a half-hours to get safely inside, before sunrise. I drove along the two-lane highway, past the Sunnydale Motor Lodge. Its bright yellow "We Have Vacancies" sign was lit. I would have checked in then, but I was hungry, and I had to have some bottled blood to drink first. I drove on further.
I passed the Doublemeat Place, which was closed and dark, and drove on into Sunnydale itself. All the establishments along Main Street were closed and dark. I saw no pedestrians.
Harmony had given me a copy of the Vampire's Handbook, which had a long list of establishments, which cater to the undead. There were many in Sunnydale. Following the Handbook's instructions, I came to the intersection of Main Street and Whedon Street, turned right and drove on two blocks, until I came to a small flashing red neon sign saying "Willy's Place." I parked, and went inside.
Willy's place was a dive. A few thuggish looking characters were seated on the barstools. When I stepped inside, they all gave me an appraising look. I wondered if they were going to pounce. Then I displayed my fangs, and they lost all interest. I wasn't sure whether to be relieved or insulted.
I sat on one of the barstools, putting two empty seats between me and the closest customer to my right.
The guy behind the bar wore a nametag identifying him as "Willy".
He asked, "What're you having Miss?"
"You do serve blood, don't you?"
He asked, "Pig or human?"
"I'm new at being a vampire." I told him. "I don't want to have anything to do, with anybody's killing; so I'll have pigs blood."
"Right away Miss."
He gave me a large mug of warmed up blood.
The fellow two seats to my right said, "What do you mean you don't want to kill anybody? Sure you do. You're a vampire."
I told him, "I'm a vampire who owns a nightclub in L.A., and I want to avoid losing it all."
Willy asked, "What nightclub is that?"
"The AfterDark. It's in Beverly Hills. We have live entertainment on the weekends."
"Yeah. I've heard of it." He chuckled, "But the Beverly Hills nightclub scene is way beyond my means. For entertainment here, that's it."
He pointed to a TV up on a shelf, at the end of the bar. The TV was tuned to what appeared to be a girls' volleyball game; but the girls had horns, and they were knocking another horned woman's head back and forth over the net, while dressed in only their sneakers.
Willy said, "That's the Demon Network, Channel 666. Wide World of Hellish Sports. Bet you don't have entertainment like that, at your establishment."
"No we don't." I admitted, "But we do have a giant screen TV. Just tell me how to arrange for a closed circuit hookup. With live broadcasts of gory nudie sport flicks, I'm sure that the After/Dark would be packed."
Another woman was seated at the bar. She was around my age, and dressed like me in a tight dress, with a short skirt. She appeared to be very comfortable, seated among the thuggish customers.
"For that," She told me, "you don't want these girlie games. You'll want the Annual Sacrifices to the Demon Beelzebub. My name's Anyanka Jenkins, I run the Magic Box, just a few blocks from here on Main Street. I've got tapes of last year's events if you'd like to buy one, to see what you'd be getting. We've got a whole shelf full of them."
"Sure. I never book any entertainers without an audition."
"Good idea." She told me, "You'd better make sure that your customers can handle it. It's definitely not meant to be viewed by your usual Sunset Strip wussies."
I repeated "'Wussies'?"
They guys at the bar chuckled.
"I tell you gal," the woman said, "this entire Dimension is dying from Wussyism. There's this big Holiday Game coming up; the 'Gladiators' versus the 'Warriors'. Everyone says they're gonna 'massacre' each other. But guess what? They're not real gladiators or real warriors. Those are the just the names of football teams; and when they call it a 'massacre', it's just a figure of speech. Nobody's going to die! What's the point of having a holiday, if nobody's gonna die?"
I said. "Good question."
"Now I remember" she reminisced, "back in the Demon Realm, when I attended ole' Beelzebub High. All our team sports were genuine massacres; and everyone who got killed, had his or her head impaled on a stake. I fought on the girl's squad of the Gladiator Team. I killed more than a dozen opponents. I got killed myself, and my own head was impaled on stakes, four times. Then the next day, our headless bodies stood up, walked over to the stakes, picked up our heads, and put them back on."
I stayed a Willy's about a half-hour. Then I left and drove back to the edge of town. I managed to get a room at the Sunnydale Motor Lodge. When the sun rose that morning, I would be safely inside my room, with the blinds drawn.
At 5 AM, I turned on the room's TV. It also had access to the Demon Network, but I switched to the Early Morning News from L.A. Just as I'd expected, my picture was being shown, and I was described as "Suspected in the vampire killing of Miss Kelly Taylor, the night before last, outside the AfterDark Nightclub in Beverly Hills, which is owned by Miss Malone."
The reporter also stated, "In a surprising development, a reward of $100,000, for information leading to the apprehension of Miss Malone, is being posted by her own business partner, Mr. Dylan McKay. Mr. McKay is reported to have been romantically involved with the late Miss Kelly Taylor."
I thought $100,000? Maybe I should turn myself in and collect the reward. Then when Kelly revives undead, she'll tell everyone who killed her. I'll be off the hook and $100,000 richer. Then I can get my life back to normal or as close to normal as possible.
On the other hand, if Dylan doesn't want the AfterDark to have any involvement with the demon world, I can always look into investing, in this local nightclub called the Bronze.
Then the Anchorman said, "This just in. The body of Miss Kelly Taylor has reportedly disappeared from the Beverly Hills Mortuary, where she was being prepared for her funeral. According to employees, her body was there, when they locked up, a little after 11 o'clock last night. When the cleaning crew arrived, around 3 o'clock this morning, Miss Taylor's body was gone from her coffin."
Time to panic again!
I thought, Kelly won't be telling anyone who killed her! I'm still the chief suspect!
I'm trapped! I don't have enough time to find another place to hide, before sunrise. I'll be stuck in this room all day, until the sun goes down, a little after 6:30 PM! By then, one of those guys from Willy's place, or the desk clerk here, will have I.D'd me to the police, and collected the reward!
The police will have arrested me, and dragged me outside, where I'll have burned up in the daylight, and gone back to Hell! Gone directly to Hell. Will not have passed go. Will not have collected $100,000.
So repent you sinners.
No. Don't panic.
I reached in my handbag and took out the Vampire's Handbook. I looked up the number of Wolfram and Hart, picked up my cell phone and dialed Lindsey McDonald's extension. I got a recording, stating that Mr. McDonald would not be in until 9 AM. The time was now 5:12 AM.
I left a recorded message. "Hello Mr. McDonald. This is Valerie Malone. You may have seen my picture on the TV News. I'm the chief suspect in the vampire murder of Kelly Taylor. I'm going to need Wolfram and Hart's help, both legally and...other ways...I'm not sure what those other ways are."
I gave him my cell phone number and hung up. Then I waited.
About a half-hour later, my cell phone rang.
I spoke into it, "Hello. Who's calling?"
"Valerie. This is Dylan."
He was the last one I'd expected to hear from.
"Dylan!" I snapped at him. "What's this 100,000 reward? You don't know who the vampire was who killed Kelly! You've got no business accusing me!"
"That doesn't matter now." He told me, "Listen. Kelly's gone from the Funeral Home."
"Yeah. I know. I just saw it on the News."
"She's now a vampire. She's outside my door, and she wants me to let her in, before sunrise."
Don't' panic. I thought, Just keep driving.