Buffy has dusted vamps and fought demons, but this is one paranormal that she never expected to face…
Hi, there. Some of you may already know me, but for those of you that don’t, my name is Buffy Summers and I am the Slayer.
Chatter in the caf had been circulating around Sunnydale High that a very pale girl had been seen prowling around one of the local graveyards. It was my duty to dust vamps. Even on Halloween. Which for the record, totally sucked.
I’d parked Giles’s BMW by the cemetery gates, grabbed a flashlight from the glove compartment, and walked down the sidewalk past a rickety old Victorian with a lighted pumpkin on its porch and through the arched entrance of the cemetery. The gate gave a rusty moan as I pushed it open, and then I stepped inside. The ground fog soaking my boots heaved like some miasma from Hell. Headstones gleamed silver like bony specters in the moonlight.
My gaze darted across the terrain. Cold winds shivered through the trees. My teeth ground and my body shuddered. From the streetlights around the edge of the graveyard, deep pockets of darkness fell across the stone pathway that looped deeper into the quiet graveyard.
Trees rustled. Leaves fell. Something moved in the shadows. Maybe patrolling alone was a bad idea. Xander and Willow were anxiously waiting for me at Giles’s house, where he was making us dress up in costumes and give out candy corn to the kiddies. Right now, I’d much rather be there than patrolling.
Only good thing? I was already wearing my costume, a black, form-fitting jumpsuit aka Black Widow from The Avengers for this ultra-cool sexy, spy look. But the coolest part was the cute utility belt that held Mr. Pointy and a squirt gun filled with holy water. I was looking way 007 in my outfit. Well, at least the girly version.
I swung the beam of the flashlight and it flashed on the iron-gate separating the graveyard from the street. Stone angels stared at me with frozen faces and hollow eyes. On the aged headstones from centuries before, moss grew thickly. The names almost diminished by time and weather. I passed a mausoleum with ivy curling its way around the walls. Winds whisking through the grass, sent a clammy chill straight into my bones.
My Spidey senses were tingling. My Slayer instincts on high alert.
Grayish figures moved behind the headstones. Fuzzy edges. Same color as the slab. Their spectral bodies flickered. Dead stares watched me closely. Ghosts didn’t bother me much. I could handle them. Vampires and other paranormals were a different story.
Distracted by the ghosts, I tripped and teetered on the edge of an opening. My hands flailed and I tumbled downward. The flashlight slipped from my fingers. My shoulder hit something hard.
The fall knocked the breath from me. Moist dirt coated my arms and hands. Worms squished on my costume.
“Ewww!” I squealed, brushing them off.
On hands and knees, I felt around for the flashlight. My fingers curled around the base and I flicked the power button with my thumb, but it wouldn’t turn on. Damn. The impact must’ve jostled it. I stuck the flashlight into my belt and glanced upward. I’d fallen into a friggin’ grave and onto a coffin. Just super-duper.
I grasped at jutting roots and struggled to get a foothold with my boots, which sank into the soft earth. Struggling and grunting, I pulled myself free. Pungent odor from the moldering autumn leaves that stuck to my legs made my stomach turn.
“Another perfectly nice stroll through the cemetery ruined,” I mumbled, and thumped the flashlight against my hand again. This time it turned on. Whew.
Three things were immediately apparent. One, someone had purposely disturbed this grave, because the dirt was still moist and fresh. Two, the mahogany coffin had been broken and splintered from within, and something had obviously clawed its way out. Three, the flashlight revealed muddy footprints leading away from the grave. Whatever had emerged from the coffin hadn’t ventured too far from its bed.
The vamp had to be close by. And it had to die.
At least I’d fallen on the silky interior of the coffin and not on the part that resembled firewood. I could’ve been impaled like a vampire by the sharp stakes.
“Come on out,” I called. “It’s no use trying the Anne Rice Routine on me. I’m only here to slay! Not listen to your undead woes.”
The breeze carried with it the rancid smell of decaying flesh and dirty hair. The odor suggested the vamp hadn’t ventured too far from its bed.
Thin swords of pale light shifted position as I moved the flashlight over the graveyard. My heart banged in my chest. My Slayer senses sharpened.
I just wanted to dust the vamp and hit the Halloween festivities at Giles’s house with my friends.
“Hurry up and show yourself,” I said, my voice echoing across the graveyard. “I have elsewhere to be. Like yesterday!”
The thick aroma of embalming fluid and the disgusting odor of decaying flesh stung my nostrils. Laboring footsteps shuffled in the grass. The footfalls grew closer. Louder.
I stumbled backward, smacking my hip on a tombstone. It just wasn’t my day.
Instinctively, I reached for the stake, Mr. Pointy, strapped to my belt, and held it out in front of me. Ready to fight, I squinted into the darkness, and then blinked. I lowered my hand, the rough edges of the wood scraping my palm.
No freakin’ way.
With sluggish, jerking movements, a teenage girl emerged from the fog. Thick blue veins swelled through her waxed paper skin. Her ragged cheerleading outfit was grimy and her aura glimmered like a dying fire. A sickly sweet stench rose from the blond brain-muncher. She licked her dry, cracked lips.
Zombies. Seriously? Not bad enough I had to battle all those Nasty-Pointy-Bitey types, but now the walking dead?
She shambled forward with outstretched arms—full Thriller-style. “Aaarrgghh!”
Guess a stake wasn’t going to work on an already dead thing. So instead, I pointed the squirt gun at Zombie Girl and squeezed the trigger. A stream of holy water struck corpse-a-licious in the face.
She thrashed her head and shook off beads of water from her long blondish hair. She charged and hit me hard. The force of my landing knocked the wind out of me. I scrambled to my feet and kicked her in the stomach. Zombie Girl stumbled into a tombstone.
Whether vampire or big bad evil, it was my destiny to slay those who lurked in the shadows…and even those that eat, well, brains.
Grumbling under my breath, I faced my undead opponent.
Using my ninja-slayer moves, I crouched to sweep one outstretched leg behind Zombie Girl’s ankles, yanking her feet out from under her. She hit the ground, but stood up faster than I would’ve thought possible for a dead chick and took two staggering steps back, then lunged again. I headbutted her crazy hard. Even I glimpsed stars for a second. I swayed, but managed to stay upright.
Before I attacked again, the moonlight shone down on her once pretty face, and I froze.
That’s when I recognized her. Harmony Kendall, an undead cheerleader. Imagine that.
I lifted my hands in a truce gesture. “Harmony? Is that you?”
A slobbering Harmony nodded.
“Why did you attack me?”
She pouted. “Hangrah.”
“Humph. Well, I’m not food, got it?”
Harmony’s shoulders drooped. “Uh-huh.”
Profanities came shrieking from the far side of the cemetery. The echo startled me until I recognized the source of the cursing was Cordelia.
Cordelia’s flashlight bobbed wildly as she crossed the lawn. She put her hand into her jacket pocket, and then shoved what looked like a handful of candy corn into her mouth.
She stopped near me and frowned. “Dammit! Got mud on my new shoes.” She’d worn a black cat costume with white sneakers. Correction: muddy white sneakers. “Willow and Xander sent me out to look for you. Are you done patrolling yet?” she demanded.
“Uh, Cordelia.” I pointed at her former best friend Harmony. “I think we have bigger problems.”
Cordelia gasped and I lightly laughed.
“I suppose Harmony can join us at Giles. And she doesn’t even need a costume,” I said. “But first we’d better find her something other than candy corn to munch on.”
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