Carmilla was dreaming again.
No, dreaming made it sound gentle, idyllic, like she’d just drifted off to sleep.
Carmilla was having another nightmare.
Laura was sat up in her bed, clutching a pillow to her chest, staring across the dark divide between them and feeling utterly, totally useless. She absentmindedly ran a hand across the three deep scratches on her arm, a souvenir of the last time she had tried to wake Carmilla when she was in the midst of one of these night terrors. She’d been apologetic afterwards, but the unspoken idea that it would be easy, too too easy, for her to really hurt Laura, without ever meaning to, hung in the air.
And so Laura was stranded, banished to the other side of the room, forced to watch the girl she… forced to watch her roommate toss and turn and pull at her hair and sob and whimper. Forced to watch her go through hell.
She didn’t know what the dreams were about. She had a few choice guesses, of course, and she’d even asked, but Carmilla was determined, really, frustratingly determined, not to talk about what happened when she slept with anyone. She hated to show any weakness, any humanity at all. Laura guessed that had been drummed into her by her mother long ago, and it would take more than a few weeks of… whatever it was they were to each other, to change that.
It had taken her a little while to work out what was happening. Carmilla slept during the day, of course, and began making a conscious effort not to drop off until Laura had left for her first class. She’d managed to avoid sleeping in front of her for a while, but she was clearly exhausted, and eventually she had drifted off while they were watching a movie together in Laura’s bed.
That’s when she’d earned her current injury, she’d tried to gently shake Carmilla awake after she’d started shaking and muttering, but the vampire had lashed out angrily, her fingernails more like claws, and Laura had had to jump back. Now it was so hard for Carmilla to get any rest she was catching a restless hour here or there at any time of the day or night, and Laura was seeing more and more how serious this was.
She didn’t want to admit it, but the nightmares seemed to have started with Carmilla’s supposed ‘death’, and Laura just wished that she would open-up about what happened so they could find a way to help her. Her friends were trying to be supportive, but Perry’s advice to ‘just communicate with each other’ fell short when talking to Carmilla was like talking to a particularly obstinate brick wall, and LaFontaine just wanted to take hair and skin samples, which was more or less their solution to everything.
Then there was Danny. Danny was being a super supportive friend. Extremely supportive. Absolutely, 100% behind you, I’ve got your back supportive. And it was smothering them both. Laura knew that Danny didn’t like Carmilla, not really, so why couldn’t she just say it? Everywhere she looked, no one seemed ready to be honest with her.
Carmilla was getting worse. The whole bed was shaking as she writhed among tangled sheets. She was moaning, and occasionally she would yell and slash at something in front of her, then cower, as if wounded. She was fighting, and it looked like she was losing. Laura was on her feet before she knew what she was doing, was part-way across the room, ready to hold her, hang the consequences, but suddenly Carmilla was still.
Laura was so surprised she actually took a step back, stumbling against her night stand. At the noise, Carmilla gently shifted, and then slowly, lazily, opened her eyes.
‘Oh,’ she said in a silky voice that barely resembled the terrified muttering of just a few seconds before, ‘you’re still up. I hope I didn’t wake you?’
‘No. Nope.’ Laura lied, ‘are you okay?’
‘Never better sweetheart,’ Carmilla stretched out on the bed, her hands clasped above her head, exposing a long stretch of pale stomach where her top rode up. ‘I just had a bad dream.’
‘Do you want to talk about it?’
‘Not particularly.’ She stood up in one fluid movement, and pulled her jacket from the bed post she had slung it on. ‘I think I’ll head out.’
‘Um, okay.’ Laura tried to smile, but a few million thoughts were fighting for her limited head space. ‘I hope you feel better soon?’
‘I already do sweetheart.’ Laura tried to reply, but Carmilla had already swept out the door, leaving Laura alone in the dark.
LaFontaine, are you there?
Im here Laura, wuu2?
It’s getting worse.
Ahhh… do u want us 2 come over?
Try not to panic, we’ll be over a soon as we can.
Oh, Ok then
I’ll be there in five
No, Danny, that’s Ok…
Just a sec babe ;)
Kirsch? That’s really not necessary…
‘So, Laura, what’s going on now?’ Kirsch asked as he leaned back in her desk chair, spinning himself around in an entirely distracting manner.
‘Well, as you all know, as of last week Carmilla’s stopped having the nightmares I was worried about…’
‘In the middle of the night, and with no explanation.’
‘Yes, thanks LaFontaine, and ever since she’s been acting a little… strange.’
‘Strange for a normal person, or strange for a member of the legion of the undead.’ Danny asked, from her position on the floor.
‘Strange for her. Strange for Carmilla.’
‘Ok,’ LaFontaine chipped in again. ‘Are we talking blood sacrifices, or speaking in tongues, or, like, trying to kill you in your sleep? Because I have some pretty compelling evidence that there’s a lot of that going around.’
‘No, it’s really weird stuff. She’s become, like, obsessively neat. And she’s stopped stealing my food. And the other day, I caught her wearing a pencil skirt.’
‘While that all sounds a little out of character, could she just be adjusting to what happened?’ Perry sounded a little hesitant. ‘I mean, we all went through a lot. I killed someone.’
‘We all remember babe,’ said LaFontaine, ‘Laura, did you seriously call us all here because your terrible roommate has become slightly less terrible?’
‘Guys,’ Laura was becoming increasingly frustrated, ‘it’s a feeling okay? A bad feeling. I know Carmilla, and something is wrong.’
‘Alright.’ Surprisingly, it was Danny who spoke. ‘We trust you. If you say something is wrong, then something is wrong. Let’s get to work. What’s the plan?’
‘I for one nominate the tied to chair method.’
‘LaFontaine!’ Perry interjected. ‘We can’t just tie our friends to chairs. Again.’
‘Well if you have a better plan I’d love to hear it.’
‘Seriously!’ Laura cut across them. ‘We are not tying my might-be-girlfriend to a chair! Again.’
Carmilla woke slowly, but as soon as her eyes were open she began straining against the rope, muffled obscenities emerging from behind the piece of duct-tape covering her mouth. The rest of them sat in an awkward semi-circle around her as Laura tentatively reached forward and pulled the tape free.
‘I swear to all that is unholy that I will end your worthless, pathetic…’
‘Hey, hey, hey,’ said Laura, ‘we’re calm, everyone’s calm, we just wanted to… talk to you.’
‘I believe the tying to a chair is not traditional.’
‘We’re just a little worried about you, and think maybe you … might want to… talk to us…?’
‘Listen up evil or whatever!’ Kirsch seemed to have finally got bored of taking up a full quarter of the space in the room. ‘What have you done with the hottie! Carmilla. Whatever!’
There was a moment of silence as everyone stared at him until he sat down again, and their focus switched back to woman in the chair. She stared them down for about a minute until she lay back, stretching her neck out and looking more feline than ever.
‘How,’ eventually she said, her words laconic, ‘does a group of the most dim, lack-witted, mortals manage to do this so… frustratingly, consistently. How do you,’ she glanced at each of them with a look of such pure malice that Laura felt an acute stab of pain in her chest, ‘managed to defeat me.’
LaFontaine raised their hand slowly, and Carmilla turned to look at them with as much disdain as is possible when tied to an office chair. ‘Are you the Dean?’ they asked.
‘Wait, you didn’t figure it out?’ One by one they all shook their heads. ‘And I revealed myself to you imbeciles. Shit. Oh well, you’re going to help me anyway.’
‘Umm, no?’ Laura said. ‘I mean, I can’t talk for everyone, but I’m pretty sure we aren’t.’
‘Nope, yeah, not helping you,’ Perry added.
‘Well then, how else are you going to get your friend back?’
‘So I guess, we have to work out a way to give the Dean what she wants, and then defeating her once she’s out of Carmilla’s body. Then we smite her?’
‘Sweetie,’ Perry’s hand was on her back. ‘Sit down. Have some hot chocolate.’
‘I don’t want hot chocolate! I want to know what we’re going to do to help Carmilla!’ She took the cup anyway, angrily slurping at the scalding liquid.
‘That’s umm, sort of the thing.’ LaFontaine sounded apologetic, ‘are we totally sure that that’s the best idea?’ Laura couldn’t understand what they were saying.
‘Well, we’re just thinking, the Dean is so powerful, and she nearly killed Carmilla last time…’
‘And the rest of us.’
‘Thank you LaFontaine, is helping her the best cause of action?’
‘We’re not leaving her! I’m not… I won’t abandon her.’ Laura was furious. Of course the Dean was dangerous, but they’d beaten her before.
‘Would Carmilla want us to help her?’ Danny had remained quiet until now. ‘I wouldn’t. If helping me meant the Dean coming back, meant all this happening again, I’d want you to leave me.’
‘No Laura, I’m just telling the truth. I wouldn’t want you to save me. And I don’t think Carmilla would either. She’s lived for more than eight-hundred years, and she sacrificed herself once before. Maybe she’d be happy for this.’
‘Quick stake through the heart, she wouldn’t feel a thing.’
‘Not helping LaFontaine.’
Laura looked around the room, at the faces of her friends, turned grim with determination, and for a moment she couldn’t speak, her stomach filled with squirming, leaden, snakes. Then support came from an unlikely corner.
‘Well I think that’s bullshit, sorry ladies,’ Kirsch stood up, ‘hot vampire chick saved all of us and we aren’t gonna help her? Nope. I mean, you guys can do what you want, but I’m gonna help. So, yeah.’ A little abashed, he sat back down.
‘We’re not going to untie you.’
‘We’re just going to help you complete your ritual.’
‘So we’re going to summon your body, and then you’re going to leave Carmilla alone.’
‘Please, if you’re intending to torture me with pointless repetition, just kill me now.’
‘Right, LaFontaine, did you get everything we need?’
‘I couldn’t find eye of newt, but apparently toad eyes are completely fine as substitute. Also, I wasn’t sure exactly how much blood is in a church mouse, so I guessed.’7
‘Ok, so we have to form a circle,’ awkwardly, they held hands in a ring around the trussed girl on the chair, and Laura began to read from a huge text.
‘Umm, Assurgit Skidda Stabilis, Mons, umm, Mons Numquam Non Durabulis, Haud Ulla Vi Mutabillis, Quod Dominus Fundavit…’
Carmilla began to shake, her eyes rolled back in her head till only the whites were visible. Her mouth hung slackly open, and at the back of her throat a blue glow was visible.
‘Deus Noster Tolle, In Pueris Est Colentibus, In Gaudiis Injentibus, Tu Nobis Quic Quid Laedat…’
The glow was more pronounced now, forcing its way out through her open mouth, spreading into the room, where the hazy form of the Dean was beginning to materialise, wavering in and ut of reality like bad TV reception.
‘Dominum Amavimus, Christum Expectavimus, Ad Deum, Oculus Levavimus…’
‘Now!’ Danny interrupted, and two Summer Society girls burst in, holding something that looked a mix between an Xbox and a vacuum cleaner. Because they had built it out of an Xbox and a vacuum cleaner. The girls switched it on, then struggled to hold it steady as it pulled the ball of green light towards it. The grasping, wiggling thing turned, and tried to crawl down Carmilla’s throat. Laura yelled over the machine’s roar. ‘Oh! No! You! Don’t! Get! Away! From! My! Girlfriend!’ The blue orb seemed to lose it’s grip, and was pulled into the x-vacuum with a sad little ‘whoomph’ noise.
The Dean’s body had vanished and, after looking at each other to check for any major injuries, they all breathed a sigh of relief. They had done it. Again.
‘So, your girlfriend?’
Carmilla was sat at the end of Laura’s bed, playing idly with her toes as she sipped at a beaker of blood. ‘I mean, heat of the moment, people say things,’ Laura tried to explain, ‘you were about to be repossessed.’
‘Don’t go taking it back now.’ Carmilla waved one finger as if scolding her. ‘I was just getting used to the idea of…’ a pause, ‘domesticity.’
‘Ok then. Good. Great. In fact. Are you? Good. I mean.’
‘I’m tired, I suppose. It’s been an odd few days. Months, really. Still, I do need to try to get into a better sleeping pattern.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, ideally I need to stay up until dawn. I don’t suppose you could help occupy me?’
The mug of blood sat congealing on the nightstand, quickly forgotten about.