Blackwood farm, p.44

Blackwood Farm, page 44

 part  #9 of  The Vampire Chronicles Series


Blackwood Farm

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  I SAT THERE in silence. We had perhaps two hours before dawn, and I felt that all my life was pressed against my heart, and, though I was a sinner, I had not sinned in holding anything back. It was all laid out before me. I wondered if Goblin was near me in any form. I wondered whether or not he could have been listening.

  Lestat, who had been quiet this whole time, waited for a long moment in silence. Then he spoke up.

  "Your epilogue was very thorough, but you haven't mentioned one person. What has become of Mona Mayfair?"

  I winced.

  "I have never received another E-mail or phone call from Mona, and for that I thank God. However, periodically Michael or Rowan will call. I find myself trembling as I listen. Will these powerful witches pick up something from the timbre of my voice? But it doesn't seem so. They tell me the latest. Mona is in isolation. Mona is on dialysis. Mona is not in any pain.

  "About six months ago, maybe more, I received a typewritten letter from Rowan, written on behalf of Mona, explaining that Mona had had a hysterectomy, and that Mona wanted me to know. 'Beloved Abelard, I release you from any and all promises,' Mona had dictated to Rowan. They had hoped the operation would help Mona, but it hadn't. Mona needed dialysis more and more often. There were still medications they could try.

  "My answer was to raid every flower shop in New Orleans, sending sprays and baskets and vases of flowers with notes that pledged my undying love, notes which I could dictate over the phone. I didn't dare to send anything touched by my own hands. Mona could lay her hands on such a note and sense the evil in me. Just couldn't take such a risk.

  "As it stands now, I still send the flowers almost daily. Now and then I break down and call. It's always the same. Mona can't see anyone just now. Mona is holding her own.

  "I think I actually dread the moment when they might say, 'Come see her. ' I'm afraid I won't be able to resist it and I won't be able to fool Mona, and in those precious moments, perhaps our last precious moments, Mona's mind will be clouded with some dim fear of what I've become. At the very least I'll seem cold and passionless though my heart's breaking. I dread it. I dread it with my whole soul.

  "But more than anything I dread the final call -- the message that Mona has lost the fight, the word that Mona is gone. "

  Lestat nodded. He leaned on his elbow, his hair somewhat mussed, his large blue eyes looking at me compassionately as they had throughout the long hours of my storytelling.

  "What do you think is the point of the tale you've told?" he asked. "Aside from the fact that we must protect Aunt Queen from all harmful knowledge of what's happened to you, and we must destroy Goblin?"

  "That I had a rich life," I said. "As Petronia herself said it. And she didn't care about that life. She took it capriciously and viciously. "

  Again he nodded. "But Quinn, immortality, no matter how one comes by it, is a gift, and you must lose your hatred of her. It poisons you. "

  "It's like my hatred of Patsy," I said quietly. "I need to lose my hatred of both of them. I need to lose all hatred, but right now it's Goblin who needs destroying, and I've tried, out of fairness to him, to make it plain to you how much I'm responsible for what he is, and even for the vengeance he wishes on me. "

  "That's clear," said Lestat, "but I don't know that I alone can help stop him. I may need help. In fact, I think I do. I think I need it from a Blood Drinker whose prowess with spirits is a legend. " He raked his hair back from his forehead. "I think I can persuade her to come and help me with this. I'm speaking of Merrick Mayfair. She doesn't know your fair Mona, at least not as far as I know, and even if she did at one time there's no connection now in any event. But Merrick knows spirits in a way that most vampires don't. She was a powerful witch before she ever became a vampire. "

  "Then the Dark Blood didn't take away her powers with spirits?" I asked.

  "No," he said, shaking his head. "She's far too complex for that. And besides, it's a lie that spirits shun us. As you said yourself, I'm a seer of spirits. I wish to God I weren't. I'll need tomorrow evening to find Merrick Mayfair. Merrick is almost as young in the Blood as you are. She's suffering. But I think I can bring her here, perhaps at one or two in the morning. I can't imagine her refusing to come, but we'll see. In either case, I'll return. You have my firm pledge on it. "

  "Ah, I thank you with all my heart," I said.

  "Then let me make a little confession," he said with a warm, irresistible smile.

  "Of course," I said, "what is it?"

  "I've fallen in love with you," he said in a low voice. "You might find that in the nights to come I'm a bit of a nuisance. "

  I was so amazed I was speechless. To say that he looked exquisite to me was an understatement. He was savory and elegant and all night as I had talked I had been so locked to him that I had felt myself under his spell, opening up, as if there were no boundary between us.

  "Good," he said suddenly as though he was reading my mind. "Now perhaps I'll leave you early so that I can try to find Merrick right away. We have some time left before morning --. "

  A loud scream suddenly interrupted both of us. It was Jasmine, and I heard another scream right after it.

  "Quinn, Quinn, it's Goblin!" she was roaring from the foot of the stairs.

  I had to hold myself back and force myself to run like a mortal man as I descended with Lestat behind me.

  Screams came from Aunt Queen's room. I could hear Cindy, the nurse, crying. Big Ramona was sobbing. Jasmine rushed towards me. She grabbed me by both arms and said:

  "It was Goblin, Quinn! I saw him!"

  We ran back through the hall together, I once again suppressing my speed, trying desperately to keep to a mortal pace.

  As soon as I saw Aunt Queen lying on the floor by the marble table I knew she was dead.

  I knew by her eyes.

  I didn't have to see the blood streaming from her head, or the blood on the marble table. I knew, and when I looked at her bare stocking feet, when I looked at her humble stocking feet, I began to sob, covering my face with my handkerchief.

  And there was the beautiful cameo of Medusa at her throat, the charm against harm, and it had done her no good, it hadn't saved her. She was dead; she was lost. She was gone.

  She and her majesty and her goodness were gone forever.

  What else was there? People were making frantic phone calls. Sirens were soon screaming. What did it matter?

  How many times did they explain it before dawn?

  She had taken off her treacherous shoes. That's why no one was holding her arm. She had taken off her terrible shoes. That's why Jasmine didn't have her by the arm. She had taken off her dangerous shoes. That's why Cindy wasn't at her side. She had gone over to the table to look at her cameos. She had wanted to find one in particular for Cindy's daughter.

  On and on they said it, and the Coroner listened and Sheriff Jeanfreau listened and Ugly Henderson listened, and Jasmine and Cindy both said it had been Goblin who made her fall, it had been Goblin whirling in the air, Goblin like a small tornado in the room, and Aunt Queen had cried out twice "Goblin!" and thrown up her arms, and then gone down, her head crashing into the marble.

  Cindy and Jasmine had seen it! They had seen the commotion in the air! They knew what it was. They heard her say it twice: "Goblin, Goblin!" and in her stocking feet on the carpet she fell, she fell and hit the marble table with the side of her head, and she was dead before she reached the carpet.

  Oh, God in Heaven help me.

  "Now, are you two ladies telling me that a ghost killed Mrs. McQueen?" asked the Coroner.

  "Sheriff, for the love of Heaven," I said. "She fell! Surely you don't believe that either Cindy or Jasmine had anything to do with it!"

  And so on it went, round and round, until I had to go, and I took Jasmine aside and told her to make all the arrangements with Lonigan and Sons in New Orleans. The wake should be tomorrow night, starting
at seven. And I would see her then, and I told her to try as she might to arrange for an evening interment. Of course that would be highly irregular but maybe money could manage it.

  "And for the love of Heaven," I said, "beware of Goblin. "

  "What are you going to do about him, Quinn?" she asked. She was trembling and her face was puffy from crying.

  "I'm going to destroy him, Jasmine. But it will take just a little time. Until I can get it done, beware of him. Tell all the others. Beware of him. He's swollen with power --. "

  "You can't leave here now, Quinn," she said.

  "I have to, Jasmine," I said. "I'll see you at the funeral parlor in New Orleans at seven tomorrow. "

  She was horrified, and I didn't blame her.

  Lestat stepped in front of me and he gently took her by the shoulders, looking intently into her eyes. "Jasmine," he said in a low tone, "we have to go and find the woman who can put an end to Goblin. It's imperative that we do that. Do you understand?"

  She nodded. She was still crying and she licked the tears from her lips as they fell. But she couldn't take her eyes off his.

  "Keep little Jerome close to you," said Lestat, his voice soft and persuasive. "This creature wants to hurt everyone dear to Quinn. See that everybody is on guard. "

  He kissed her forehead.

  Quietly, we withdrew.

  At last, Lestat and I were alone on Sugar Devil Island and I gave vent to my grief, sobbing like a child. "I can't imagine the world without her, I don't want the world without her, I hate him with my whole soul that he did it, how in the name of God did he get the power, she was too old, too fragile, how can we make him suffer, how can we make him suffer so much that he'll want to die, how can we send him to whatever Hell exists for him?"

  On and on I raved. And then we went to our rest together.
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