Title: Last Vampire #4: Phantom by Christopher Pike
Summary: After five thousand years she was again mortal.
The dead alchemist’s experiment has worked. Alisa is no longer a vampire, but a frail and confused human. Not only that — she is pregnant. The baby grows in her at supernatural speed. As the stranger watches. The stranger from the past.
But what child will Alisa’s seed produce?
A demon or an angel? Alisa does not know.
But the stranger does. He nows everything that ever was.
And he knows everything that is to be.
Tagline: The monster might be an angel.
Again, I remember nothing about this book, though I’m almost certain I read it. (It’s possible I didn’t, but I know I read book #3, even though I didn’t remember anything about it, either, and there’s very little chance I didn’t pick up the next book after that cliffhanger.) If the trend from the earlier books continues, this will be weirder and more entertaining than ever. (Also, I remember this cover, if nothing else about the damn story.
We open exactly where Red Dice left off, which is a newly human Alisa faced with some unknown person (or thing) knocking at the door of the Las Vegas home where she’s gone to become a human. When the man at the door tells her to open the door because it’s him, though the voice is familiar, she does not recognise it. That’s a great little detail that her senses have changed because she has changed. (And is, as she says, “a young woman named Alisa, the humble offspring of a five-thousand-year-old monster called Sita” which is such a fun line.)
She hesitates, because only her friend Seymour is supposed to know she’s in that home, because her other friends don’t know — mostly because they are all dead, many of them in that nuclear blast just a bit ago.
The man calls her Sita, and she knows fear. If she is human, she is defenseless, and she doesn’t want to die before she has the chance to experience mortality — before she has the opportunity to become a mother, which is the main reason she used Arturo’s alchemy to turn herself back to human. ONCE AGAIN, I deeply dislike this plot point, or at least how it sits in the larger societal story that a woman is not complete without becoming a mother.
The man tells her he will be back, and she spends some time crying and exploring how she is human again. (That is not a euphemism for masturbation.) She watches a little tv, sees the news talking about the hydrogen bomb and whether it was an accident. They are not imaginative, they don’t believe in vampires (I mean, come on, Alisa) — oh, and there are no more vampires to believe in.
In thinking about how she finally beat Yaksha by giving herself an ordinary life again, she realises that her memories are not ordinary, not after all she’s seen and done, though they are not nearly as clear as they were before she turned herself human again. This makes her sad, because even though she’s had a lot of pain in her long life, she’s also had a lot of joy, and she doesn’t want to forget that. She doesn’t want to forget Joel or Arturo, the two friends (“friends” in Arturo’s case, maybe) who died in the recent bombing, or Ray who she believed was her beloved Rama (her husband from her first human life) reincarnated; Ray (and Rama, of course) is also dead, killed while fighting with her to kill other vampires.
There’s another knock, and this time, she recognises the person speaking: it is Seymour!
(It’s struck me particularly hard in this book that Sita has no female friends, at least not that we’ve seen since she became a vampire. In fact, there are barely ever women in these stories besides her. What the fuck, Pike?)
Seymour is shocked to see that her transformation has worked. He really loved her as a vampire, and this has upset him. Not really your choice, Seymour! He even cries for her, because the magic is gone. Jesus fuck, Seymour, this is not about you and your feelings! Fuck out of here with that #manpain.
Alisa calls him on that, too, because maybe his fantasies of becoming a vampire are ruined, but the world is now safe from the curse of Yaksha’s blood. He argues that he’s not worried about his fantasies (which sounds like a lie), but that she was the magic and the magic is now gone. Fuck off, Seymour! She’s right the fuck there. How dare you say the only thing worth being magical about her is her vampirism. What the fuck kind of friend are you?
He continues on in this vein (pun intended) even as she calls him on his bullshit. God, he’s being such a selfish ass over this. Fuck, Seymour. Fuck out of here, while you’re at it. Oh god, and then, after she’s taken the time to try to cheer him into a better mood, even though she’s the one who is going through this huge change, he immediately asks if they can have sex now. Goddamn it, Seymour.
Alisa remembers that they need to get out of town because of that person who came knocking earlier. Seymour wonders if Arturo somehow survived the blast because he was a hybrid. Alisa does not believe it is possible, even though, as Seymour rightly reminds her, she survived the blast, though it was through that weird floaty thing she was suddenly able to do.
Alisa takes Seymour to her house in Beverly Hills, which is one of the more opulent homes she owns. They’re not staying, though, because Ray’s father knew about the house, so the government might as well. (Ray’s father was the private investigator from way back in book one, the one who learned too much about her so she killed him and then seduced his son and fell in love.)
Alisa tries to send Seymour home, but he wants to stay with her. You were recently talking about how the world is nothing now that she’s not a vampire. Go home, Seymour, you’re a dick.
She quickly gathers supplies and they head out again. Alisa lets Seymour drive this time, because the speed of traffic disturbs her. I love how fish out of water she feels, having to experience this world with a human body rather than a vampire one. These details are wonderful.
They get a hotel and spend some more time talking about her decision to become human. Seymour finally gets his head out of his ass and starts to support her, but he does wonder if she did this because of how Krishna felt about vampires. She’s very honest about the fact that yes, that was a big influence.
Seymour sleeps, eventually, but Alisa cannot. Instead, she arms herself with the pistol she took from her house and walks to Santa Monica Beach, which she knows is not the safest place to be at this time of night. She walks and sweats and struggles, and it’s very human and wonderful for her.
Right up until she notices that two white guys are following her. They seem drunk and uncomfortably horny (I’m assuming that is an educated guess on her part), and for a moment, she anticipates how it feel to fight them and drink from them — except, oh right, human now.
You need to make this adjustment just a little bit faster, Alisa.
They approach her, she decides she can probably still take them because she is a master of martial arts, but she still feels fear, especially when they use their names in front of her, which means they’re either too drunk to notice or they intend to kill her as well as rape her.
They charge at her, and Alisa defends herself. Sure enough, she is still a good fighter, but her timing and balance are off because her body has changed so much, and things go badly for her for a moment or two. Eventually, she gets free of them and finally draws the gun; even though she originally didn’t want to kill them, she now does because they deserve it. She shoots them, but her ancient thirst is gone, and she leaves their bodies for the crabs, exactly what they promised to do to her.
On the way back to the hotel, the shock of what happened sets in. She has no idea how to deal with the trauma of killing two people. She’s shaking and staggering and doesn’t even think to put away the gun for far too long. Nor can she bring herself to throw it into the ocean, which is what she knows she should do, but she feels too vulnerable without it.
She stops into a coffee shop to calm, and finds that she has a fine mist of blood on her shirt and face. Good work there, Alisa. Very subtle.
And then Ray fucking Riley walks into the coffee shop and sits down with her.
What the ever loving fuck is happening here?!
He tells her that he thinks he was dead, for awhile, after the truck exploded; he felt like he was floating in the sky but he couldn’t see anything or know anything, though he wasn’t in pain. Until then he started to feel pieces of his body again, from a great distance. Eventually, he figured out that someone was trying to revive him by feeding him blood. Or, more specifically, Eddie collected all the pieces of him that were left and fed him Eddie’s blood and Yaksha’s blood — but then Eddie disappeared before it was completed, and Ray was left half alive.
“Disappeared” of course means “Alisa killed the fuck out of him.”
Alisa breaks the news to him that she’s human now, not the vampire who created him, and he says that he’s changed, too. He went into the house after she left Las Vegas, played with crystals, laid down where she had arranged her setup. He did it that afternoon, and he is human now too, and the sunrise will no longer hurt him. (Sunrise is coming for them.)
Alisa is overwhelmed and amazed and delighted, because now she and Ray can be human together, can be happy together; she’s happier than she’s been in thousands of years.
Alisa catches Ray up on what’s happened since she thought he died — good god, there has been a ton of shit in just a very few days; it feels like much longer — including about Arturo, who created the crystal setup.
Ray says they must run, because the government is after her and the police will be, too, after she shot those men on the beach. He warns her that Seymour will not willingly leave her side, so she must leave him behind without telling him where she’s going or even that she’s leaving.
…I am skeptical of this pressure to get her away from her one other ally, Ray. Especially when he tells her that once they’re away from Seymour, they can go wherever they want and even get married and start a family.
Alisa, of course, tells him that she would like a daughter.
… and yet, two months later they are in Whittier, a suburb of Los Angeles, because they’ve sure run far to get away from the Los Angeles police and the federal government. What the fuck, Pike? You literally just had Ray talking about how they had to run far away.
Alisa loves being a human with Ray, doing all the human things she might have done as a vampire but didn’t truly feel and appreciate: grocery shopping, renting a house, driving around.
And then, two months after the bomb, under a full moon, she learns she is pregnant.
Later that same day, she meets Paula Ramirez at a bookstore as she browses through baby books. … Pike, did you read my mind? Are you finally giving Alisa a female friend? Anyway, Paula is very pregnant and is juggling a bunch of baby books. They joke a little about pregnancy and how people gave birth for generations without books — right up until Alisa jokes about only being two months pregnant at most unless God is the father.
Paula gets weird about Alisa then, and the fact that she’s unmarried, though Paula herself is taking care of her baby alone. She works as an assistant to the Mother Superior at St. Andrews, but that means she does a lot of work around the church and the high school, and she takes frequent breaks to pray a lot, though she won’t tell Alisa what she prays about.
Well this is getting creepy.
Alisa is intrigued, because she is a gentle, kind woman with a strong presence but who doesn’t act like she’s powerful. Paula surprises her when she says that Alisa seems familiar, and then Alisa starts feeling the same way, especially because of her eyes. Here we go again. This is her reincarnated best friend from her first time as human, the one who gave birth to Yaksha, right?
They become close friends over lunch, and Alisa admits that it’s almost like she has a crush on Paula, even though she’s had few female lovers before and Ray takes care of her sexual needs. you can have a crush, including a romantic crush, without acting on any sexual attraction, Alisa.
Alisa has a really good week, praying for a daughter, living life as a human, enjoying time with her reborn lover and her new friend. She can’t shake the feeling that she’ll be punished for all those centuries she spent killing, though, and so feels like it is karma when she starts to have supernatural trouble with the baby.
As in, the baby grows way too fast; by the end of that first week after she meets Paula, Alisa can feel the baby start kicking and her stomach starts to bulge, going through an entire trimester in a few hours.
Ray tries to calm her (…creepily) by saying they are for sure human and the accelerated growth doesn’t have to be a bad thing. IF YOU ARE FOR SURE HUMAN, YES IT FUCKING DOES. He suggests she go see a doctor if she’s so worried, but they’re hiding, she reminds him (and not very goddamn well), and also, this line which made me literally laugh out loud: Doctors report local monsters to the authorities. Young women who have babies in three months. If it even takes that long.”
God, I love you, Alisa.
The baby grows basically a month of development in each 24-month period, and she’s eating and drinking a ton, but almost never going to the bathroom. Red meat is a huge deal, and water, but she’s always burning with hunger, thirst, and fear: would an ultrasound show a “horned harlot grinning back at the sound waves” OH MY GOD ALISA I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.
She goes into labor and thinks about how she wanted to name this child the same name as her first child, Lalita, which means she who plays, and that birth was painless, even ecstatic (…ecstatic, Pike? REALLY?), but this one already feels so violent that she doesn’t think such a gentle name will be appropriate.
Ray wants to take her to the hospital, but she says not only can she not go because of that whole monster inside her thing, there won’t be time for her to get there. Ray then suggests that he call Paula, but Alisa doesn’t want to frighten her. (We also learn that Ray approves of their friendship, but refuses to meet Paula. Cause that’s not creepy at all.)
Alisa tries to make jokes, but Ray is all serious and says that he feels that he came back just for the baby and he wants to protect her; Alisa, overwhelmed by pain, promises him that if anything happens to anyone, it will happen to her.
Sure enough, when the child is born fifteen minutes later, she tears Alisa up enough that she’s in danger of hemorrhaging to death and also has blood all the way up in her hair, which is freakily gross for a birth. Alisa gets to hold her daughter and stares down into her dark blue eyes. The baby doesn’t cry, but stares back as if she knows Alisa. Alisa knows her, too, and not in that way that hey, this is the baby she just birthed. This girl is not the soul of the gentle, joyful Lalita — fucking hell, Alisa, not everyone you knew in your first human life is going to be reborn to you in this one! — but someone else, someone Alisa thinks people would have built temples for when humanity was closer to “the gods in heaven and the forgotten creatures beneath the earth.”
SO DRAMATIC. I love you, Alisa.
Oh god and it gets better!
Her name just springs from my cracked and bleeding lips — I do not bring it forth consciously. The name is a mantra, a prayer, and also a name for that which cannot be named.
“Kalika,” I call her. Kali Ma.
Not she who plays. She who destroys.
Still, I love her more than can be said.
I’m going to start calling myself Wing Who Destroys. Also: SO DRAMATIC. Also also: goddamn, this story about white people sure does lean heavily on twisting Hindu beliefs. Also also also: didn’t Kali destroy evil things, which is not at all what the above quote is imply.
Two weeks later, Kalika is basically a one-year-old and refuses to breastfeed any longer. Each morning, Alisa wakes up to a different, bigger, older daughter — oh my god, I am having a horrible Twilight moment here — and Alisa worries that she wants something besides milk to drink. Ray continues to reassure Alisa that Kalika is not a monster, is not a vampire, because sunlight doesn’t bother her, but come the fuck on, you’ve seen weirder things than that!
They can’t figure out what to feed her until Kalika bites Alisa’s breast and drinks the blood. WELP RAY WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY NOW?
Kalika drains Alisa’s breasts sore and dry of blood — not quite realistic on that second part — but she is still hungry and screaming. Alisa thinks often of Krishna and wonders where he is, if he’s “browsing in the horror section of the cosmic library searching for another chapter to slip in my life story.”
No, really, Alisa has made me laugh a bunch in this book so far.
They again argue over what to feed her, because if Alisa gives any more blood, she’ll die (which is far more believable than just her breasts being drained, Pike); Kalika won’t take raw steak or animal blood. Ray says that maybe she doesn’t only crave Alisa’s blood, but human blood in general, but when she asks if he will offer his, he acts weird. Again. He’s been different toward Alisa lately, no affection in his words, no love toward her.
GEE. DO YOU THINK HIM SHOWING UP WHEN HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD IS MAYBE A SIGN THAT SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG? NO? KAY THEN, ALISA.
Ray says that she’s her daughter and they have to give her whatever she needs; she needs human blood, and they don’t have to kill anyone to get it, which is what she told him when he first became a vampire. This infuriates her, because back then, she had all sorts of supernatural powers to help her lure people in and send them away with only a headache, but now, as a human, she would have to kill to get that blood and she refuses.
Though Ray argues again and again that they have to do whatever it takes to save Kalika, he refuses to be the one who hunts for someone, and in the end, Alisa does go. Good god, woman.
Alisa’s been thinking about taking Kalika back to Arturo’s secret laboratory to make her human, though that would be a desperate act at best and possibly create another monstrous child (even more monstrous) and flesh-eating ghoul.
Also, who’s to say that the laboratory is even still there what with the government and the police all looking for people associated with that explosion.
Alisa goes to pick up a basketball player in a local park. They get coffee, and she talks him into escorting her home to protect her from an ex-boyfriend who is stalking her. When they get to the house, Paula is in the driveway, which puts a damper on things. Alisa gets rid of her pretty easily, and gets Eric into the house, then knocks him around trying to knock him out.
Ray shows up as soon as he’s unconscious, wants Alisa to tie him up rather than do it all himself, and wants to stay out of sight because if the guy sees him, is able to identify him, they’re more likely to get caught.
Alisa returns to the Beverly Hills house for supplies, though she does check to see if it’s under surveillance. (It appears not.) Despite all the rush, she takes the time to call Seymour. She finally admits that Ray’s come back and that she has a daughter, which does, of course, sound impossible all the way around. Seymour asks for the entire story, and she tells him, because that’s what they always do.
Then he asks why she assumes the guy is Ray, who was supposed to be dead. Alisa says he looks like Ray, he acts like Ray, he knows everything Ray knew — but as Seymour points out, he’s not actually acting like Ray, and Alisa herself has been saying that.
He talks to her about whether she should keep Kalika alive, because there’s a decent chance she’ll end up a monster and by the time that happens, Alisa probably won’t be strong enough to stop her; Alisa refuses to consider killing her child.
Alisa collects the first round of blood and finds Kalika reading an anatomy textbook when Alisa takes her the blood. Kalika drains it fast and wants more; Ray wants Alisa to give her at least a pint at a time.
We finally get a little bit more about Kali and how she does destroy evil and how many worship her as the supreme being, but that doesn’t change the fact you named a bloodthirsty child after her because she’s a destroyer. (PIKE.)
Later, Alisa goes to the beach where she sank Yaksha’s body. She tries to figure out what she’s missing and why life keeps turning out like this; she knows she has a responsibility to her daughter, to feed her child, but she also admits that it’s possible her daughter is capable of destroying all humanity.
Then she goes to visit the St Andrews church. Paula is there, working on the school’s books because she couldn’t sleep. She saw Alisa’s car in the parking lot and went looking for her. They talk a little, and Paula knows something is wrong, but Alisa won’t tell her what. Can’t tell her what, really. Paula soothes her as best she can, and then leaves her alone.
Alisa tries to sleep (her form of meditation, basically), because she mostly sees Krishna in her dreams.
Sure enough, he appears on that same plain, with a hundred blue stars blazing overhead and a stream of people heading toward a large spaceship.
Krishna is wearing the Kaustubha gem around his neck, which holds the destiny of every soul. He looks at the spaceship and the stars, not at Sita.
She asks when she will see him again, and he tells her that the fish searches for water in the ocean and can’t find it because he searches too hard; Krishna is everywhere in creation, so how can she be separated from him? He also reassures her that she must forget, because in forgetting and then remembering, that is how the learning is much sweeter.
He promises that she will see him twice, once at the beginning of Kali Yuga and once at the end of the age. She won’t recognise him at first, not with her mind, but she will know him from the inside.
She begs him to let her stay with him; instead, he tells her a story, the same story that will be told by “a simple man named Jesus in the middle of Kali Yuga.” It’s about a man, Homa, who is a good person, but not perfect. He’s a friend of Jesus and when Jesus sends him to buy 12 loaves of bread, 5 jugs of wine, and 4 fish to feed a large crowd, Homa is confused, because Jesus needs twice that to feed people and also he gives Homa twice as much money as he needs to spend, so Homa will buy exactly the amount Jesus requested and will keep the rest of the money. He buys, the food doubles, he has the coins, and when he returns to Jesus, he’s ashamed because he thought to cheat them and tells Jesus what happens. Jesus tells him he’s done well because he did exactly what Jesus bid him to do, which was all anyone ever has to do. The miracle of the tale is that if you give half of what you have to god, he will make up the other half, but the church will pervert it because they want everything. He tells Alisa not to surrender everything to him; she should keep her head and he will take her heart. She will need her head to deal with Kali Yuga, particularly at the end of the age.
Then he plays for her, as he always does, but a wind drowns out his melody and turns everything black. In that blackness, she sees a darker shadow, and she knows she sees Kali who destroys everyone at the end, sinners and saints, humans and vampires, and Sita knows Kali will eventually destroy her.
Three days pass, Kalika hits five, the boy she’s feeding off is basically dying. Kalika is a genius, is beautiful, is magical, can talk people into agreeing with her though she rarely speaks.
Kalika wakes Alisa one night, saying that she wants more blood, but Alisa says the boy can’t take it. Kalika refuses to wait, and will take a little of his blood and then go with Alisa to get someone else. They talk, Alisa goes to take a little more of the boy’s blood, he starts shouting accusations at her in terror, calling her a vampire, an alien, a monster, and she has to hit him to shut him up. Still he survives.
Alisa and Ray fight again over her not wanting to kill, and then Ray gets all creepy over Paula’s child being a normal child and wanting to know when her baby is due exactly. Kalika mentioned Paula, too, and Alisa is starting to think that’s weird.
CATCH THE FUCK UP, ALISA, THIS ENTIRE SITUATION IS WEIRD.
Alisa takes Kalika with her to a club to find the next victim, Kalika talks about weird things, like how she knows Alisa used to be a vampire (Ray told her) and how she calls Alisa mother but doesn’t call Ray father; Kalika says that Alisa isn’t ready to hear how Kalika feels, but she will be soon.
Well that’s not creepy as hell or anything.
A man comes to pick her up on the dance floor and invites her back to his place. She leaves her gun in the glove compartment of her car and Kalika sleeping in the back of the car. He invites her back to play his piano because she tells him she’s a music teacher, but when she gets to his house, there’s no piano, and she can smell dead bodies somewhere in his house.
Woops, Alisa the former vampire got picked up by a serial killer. Good times, good times.
They fight a little, the man cuts her, she actually tells him that she’s Sita and she is older than she looks and he will die that night, not her. He’s fast, but she’s still good at fighting — but again, she underestimates her human muscles. I’d argue that she’s had plenty of time, but she’s not actually been fighting, so I can see her not adjusting in that way just yet. He cuts her up some more, but finally makes a mistake and she beats him down.
Right up until he pulls a gun on her.
He tells her he’s cut up 12 girls, the youngest 5, which means he is a wide age range offender, which is rare. He calls her lucky number 13 and binds her, then torments her with a knife.
They’re interrupted by a knock at the door. Kalika, of course, and Alisa knows it. Kalika opens the door, not bothering to wait, and asks if Alisa is okay. When Alisa says no, Kalika flat out tells her I told you so, which makes me laugh.
He calls Kalika closer, and she comes to him, but Alisa notices she moves with the precision that an experienced vampire would use when closing in on a kill, taking in every detail. He doesn’t believe her when she tells him she will drink his blood, of course, and even takes her hand to lead her into another room before she brutalises him.
She kills him piece by piece, drop by drop, and Alisa cannot bear to watch.
Within a week, Kalika becomes fully an adult, around 20, the same age Sita was when she became a vampire. She’s powerful, but Alisa isn’t sure how powerful, because except for that one night, Kalika never shows off her power in front of Alisa.
Though Alisa has stopped taking blood from the basketball boy, she hasn’t figured out a way to let him live, yet, and so he remains locked up in their spare room. He talks to her about Kalika, about how Alisa serves her without even knowing it, about how he’s seen the red fire deep in her eyes, about how she’s evil, she’s going to kill him and eat his guts and then she’s going to kill Alisa and eat her brains.
Ray, of course, wants to kill the boy and bury him. Alisa finally tells him that she has no idea who he is, because the real Ray would never want to kill an innocent person, even if it meant his own death. Also, Kalika doesn’t share a single feature with him.
Their argument is interrupted by two officers showing up because they’re canvassing for the missing guy. Alisa worries because she didn’t replace his gag; Ray is of no help and runs into the back room, not to keep the boy quiet.
But oh, they’re not canvassing, one of her neighbours reported seeing him going into her house. This is a specific visit. She refuses to let them look around without a warrant, which they use to push her because why won’t she let them look if she’s not guilty, hmmmmmm (look, it is your constitutional right in the USA not to let them look around without a warrant. Now, holding up that right might get you killed, particularly if you are a black person, but it is a protected right. Cops abusing people’s fear of looking guilty so they can look around is bullshit manipulation).
Kalika comes in to join them. She’s been meditating in the backyard wearing a black bathing suit, so she’s quite an interruption. The cops ask Kalika if she’s seen the missing guy, and she says she will show them where she saw him. She is, of course, going to kill them.
Paula calls shortly after because she’s in labour and wants Alisa. Even though Alisa doesn’t say anything, Ray knows where she’s going, and reminds her that she promised Kalika she could see the baby. I’m pretty sure that Alisa told Kalika she would meet Paula someday, but okay, sure.
Alisa picks up Paula, but then decides not to take her to the local hospital where her doctor is waiting. She makes an excuse that the hospital isn’t good enough, but really it’s clear to the reader that she’s trying to get Paula away from Ray and Kalika.
The labor lasts eight hours, and a baby boy is born with blue eyes that Alisa thinks will fade to brown. But why? There seem to be blue eyes all over the place in this book. Alisa is the first person besides the doctor to hold the baby and she whispers the word “vak” to him, which is supposed to be the ancient mystical symbol that reminds the baby of its true soul. It is the name for Saraswati, the goddess of speech. Alisa whispers that to him and loves him already; she also wonders who his father is, because Paula still hasn’t said.
Paula has no name for him. She’s never thought of a name.
Alisa calls home to check on how Kalika fared with the police. Kalika answers the phone, knowing it is Alisa. She tells Alisa not to worry about what happened to the police and demands to see the baby. She also says that Ray has gone out.
Alisa is tired of being pushed around, and says she will tell Kalika the name of the hospital if she explains why she wants to see the baby so badly. Kalika tells her that isn’t her concern, and then says that she has Eric sitting next to her. She lets Alisa talk to him, and he already does not sound well.
There’s tormenting, Alisa listens to Kalika kill him; at one point, he cries out “I don’t want to die” and Kalika comes back with Alisa’s favourite line from before, that he should never have been born.
Kalika wants to know what Krishna told her about vampires in Kali Yuga. Alisa calls her monstrous and refuses to answer her question.
AND THEN KALIKA REVEALS THAT SHE ALSO HAS SEYMOUR.
Well holy shit.
Alisa makes an offer to Kalika, that she will bring the baby to her in 24 hours, at the Santa Monica Pier, and if she hurts Seymour at all, Alisa will make sure she never sees the baby no matter how she searches.
Alisa goes to hold the baby, and the nurse not only lets her, even though she can’t identify herself as family, but then leaves her alone with the child are you fucking kidding me?! Alisa steals a vial of his blood and takes the baby to Paula, who is praying deeply.
Alisa asks again about the child’s father. Paula finally tells him her story, which is that she would sometimes swoon with joy over the world, so much that she lost track of what she was doing. She was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy, much like Saint Paul and Joan of Arc were because of their visions. When she swooned, she felt like she was transported to a vast realm of beauty and light, close to god, like she was in a sacred presence.
She drove out to the Joshua National Park and sat alone one day near sunset, and had a swoon. She saw pitch black, this time, and then a million stars. A blue star fell toward her and she felt like she was being transformed. She woke the next morning with a slight sunburn, an aching body, and an incredible thirst. And the Joshua trees were all taller, maybe twice the size they had been the night before.
And then, six weeks later, she learned she was pregnant.
Ah, we finally learn who Paula reminds Alisa of, which is Radha, Krishna’s friend. Radha did seem pretty awesome.
Alisa tells her about Ray and Kalika wanting her baby and about how Kalika is a killer. She offers to give Paula lots of money so she can flee with her son. Paula admits that she was warned in a dream, and an old man with white hair and a crooked grin told her: Herod was an evil king who didn’t get what he wanted. But he knew where the danger lay. Do you know where the danger lies, Paula?
They make a plan. Paula will leave with the baby, and Alisa will give her a special number to call in a month so they can get back into contact.
Alisa longs for her old powers again, so she can save Seymour, save herself, save the baby — and maybe kill Kalika.
And we’re back to Arturo’s alchemy of transformation, of course. She needs vampire blood to transform back. She could use Yaksha’s blood, but there’s no way she can find his body without already having vampire senses.
Ah, but there was that ice cream truck where Eddie Fender (former serial killer vampire, the one they were hunting when Ray blew up) kept Yaksha. There may still be frozen, preserved blood inside it. (Well, she says it must be there, but come the fuck on, surely it has been examined in the months since then.)
And yet, it is still on the street. What the ever loving fuck, Pike.
A homeless man is sitting by the truck, and he speaks to Alisa as if he knows her. He has been guarding the truck for her and keeping it serviced. And yet, even with all the police searching for blood and the government searching for vampires, no one found this ice cream truck with vampire blood? Right.
Of course, there is frozen blood, and of course she feels the power in it still, somehow.
(You know, Pike, you probably should have just gone with miraculous vampire pregnancy if you wanted a monstrous, rapid growing vampire child, because this entire thread of getting her transformed again is way too full of coincidence in ways that are even more ridiculous than said monstrous, rapid growing vampire child.)
Alisa drives to Vegas at 80, calling that fast. It is not that fast, really. She easily breaks into Arturo’s house (once again checking for surveillance and not finding any), and as she looks at a picture of him, she realises that he is Kalika’s father. Vampires are sterile with vampires and with humans, but Arturo was a hybrid and she slept with him that night in Vegas. She was pregnant before the transformation. She was a pregnant vampire. SEE, PIKE! You didn’t actually need all this human transformation bullshit that is really pulling me out of the story.
Ray turns up there, and she questions him, pushing, at last, for the truth. And finally she gets there: Ray is not real. The things she wanted most in her 5000 years as a vampire is to have her husband and child back, and she thought she found that in Ray and Kalika. As a vampire, she saw through her own illusions, saw what was real from what was fake, but as a human, she has been fooled, and her greatest illusions have now brought her the greatest sorrow.
She begs him to leave her, and he says that he died as a vampire, so she must kill him as a vampire. His heart beats only for her, sos he must cut out his heart. He tells her that their love is gone and he wants to die; she responds that she should never have been born.
She goes back down to the hidden basement, because of course all that equipment is still there and hasn’t been taken by the government searching for vampires. Of course. She adds a few drops of blood from that vial of blood from Paula’s child, the blood of the infant Kalika covets above everything else, and hopes it helps.
That night, Alisa goes to visit the dead basketball player’s parents to give them information about their son. She gives them a bunch of information, though nothing that will identify her, and tells them to call the police and let them find the body, because it is bad.
When she went by the house, there’s no sign that anyone has come looking for the two officers who went off with Kalika, which is strange.
And then she’s off to the ocean, and her daughter.
Alisa is a vampire again, and stronger than ever because of Yaksha’s blood, even though she’d had a bunch of Yaksha’s blood before the last transformation, and for that fucking matter, Yaksha was the one who used his blood to transform her in the first damn place. She also feels like good fortune shines on her, as if she’s lucky as anyone has ever been.
Kalika has done something to make people stay away from the pier, and it is powerful enough that it frightens Alisa, too, because she’s never seen anything like it. Alisa’s also pondering why the old man at the ice cream truck looked like the old man in Paula’s dream, the one who warned her about danger, but there’s no time to think about that now! We’ve got a mother-daughter battle to attend.
Alisa approaches Kalika and Seymour, trying to move like a human still.
Kalika talks about death and rebirth, birds and humans. Alisa wonders if Kalika is trying to tell her something about who Kalika really is, but she’s still not prepared to believe that Kalika is the real Kali. There’s more talk, Kalika rips off a bird’s head, Alisa basically says she’s violent and cruel because she’s insane so fuck off with that, and Alisa eases closer as she tries to get answers from Kalika.
Kalika can’t tell Alisa why she wants the child because it is forbidden. Ray’s gone, and that is good, because he was also forbidden.
Kalika reaches for Seymour, Alisa flies toward her with that beloved kick of hers, but she hesitates and Kalika grabs her foot and breaks her ankle. Alisa starts to heal fast, of course, and Kalika grabs Seymour, hides behind him. Alisa calls her on always hiding behind a human, challenges her to actually fight.
Kalika approves of this and throws Seymour over the side of the pier. He survives, at least for awhile, and Alisa turns back to Kalika. They talk, Kalika forces Alisa to look into her eyes to see what she really is, and Alisa falls into them, her beloved child, and there she sees Mother Kali with her Lord Kala who destroys time itself.
Kalika takes the phone number from Alisa’s mind while this happens, so all of this was for no real purpose. Alisa is desperate to know who the child is, still, even when Kalika tells her that it will cost her. So, of course, Kalika makes a stake from one of the boards of the pier and spears Seymour with it. Shocking. I am shocked.
Alisa barely manages to get him to shore, but he’s lost a ton of blood and he feels like death already. He wakes just long enough to talk to her, and then he dies in her arms, too far gone for even her blood to save him.
Goddamn, Alisa’s losing everyone she loves left, right, and centre in these books.
Alisa takes his body high into the mountains and builds him a funeral pyre. She can’t bring herself to burn him, though, and she remembers the blood of vial from the baby. She pours half of it over his wound and half done his throat, then walks away.
When she returns, he’s alive. She has a long story to tell him, but she’s not sure how to finish it. She still wonders who the child is — and, more important, who he was.
This is even worse than Stine’s Needlessly Dramatic Cliffhanger Chapter Endings. And better, at the same time. This story gets more and more ridiculous. Very little of the book felt familiar as I read it, just enough of a sense that I had read it at least once many years ago, and I have no concept of where we’re going next, how Alisa will save the baby, if Alisa will save the baby. I can’t see myself stopping after this cliffhanger, but I very well may have never read Evil Thirst. We’ll see, I guess.
God, I love the hell out of these books, mostly because no matter how over the top and dramatic Alisa becomes, I love her, and no matter how unnecessary or convoluted certain story elements are, the overall story itself is super fucking compelling.
Roll on Evil Thirst next month.