Chapter 7: They have a word for that
Several hours passed uneventfully. D had been searching through the vastness of the other dimensions, but felt no closer to understanding exactly how the parasite's powers worked. At last he made his way back to the surface of the real world. Lefty adjusted the position of the rein in his left hand so it wouldn't cut across D's face.
"Why'd you do that?" D asked.
"Move the rein."
"Jeez! I was just showing you a little consideration," Lefty said defensively.
"More than I do for you," D grumbled.
"Maybe I'm setting an example," Lefty said with a grin. D only frowned. "What is your problem, anyway?" Lefty asked, sounding miffed.
"The problem is that I'm not supposed to be Here, and you're not supposed to be There. We're vulnerable like this. If we get into trouble, I don't think I'll be able help you the way you usually help me."
"Will you chill out? Can't you just sit back and enjoy the scenery? It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, D! There aren't even any monstrous mutant rhino-beasts out and about, never mind any vampires or creatures worth swinging your sword at."
Suddenly a vampire materialized right in front of them.
"…Uh, except for that one," Lefty amended sheepishly, whoa-ing the horse.
"what!" D hissed.
"Hello, Hunter D," said the vampire in a dead-sexy female voice.
Lefty took a minute to stare at the vampire, which had a dead-sexy female body to match its voice. She was wearing a white lab coat which matched her white skin, and had her black hair pulled back into a neat bun. And she was carrying a clipboard and something that looked suspiciously similar to a slide-rule.
"Uh, hi," Lefty said at last. "Oh, I get it. You're like an astral projection or something, right? There's no way you could really be standing there, in sunlight like this."
"My organization has been researching the sunlight issue for five thousand years, but you are correct. It is a projection of my spirit which stands before you."
"Okay…" Lefty said cautiously. "So… what do you want?"
"I'm the president of the Vampiric Association of Maniacal, Psychotic Scientists. Hunter D, you and the entity in your left hand were recently involved in an unauthorized operation under my jurisdiction. I'm here to recover you to my laboratory."
"What!" Lefty exploded. "Are you serious?"
"Yes." She waved the slide-rule and a gaping, swirling, ominously purplish portal opened in the air beside her. "Step through here, and you'll be teleported to our facility."
"Just a minute," Lefty said, suspicion edging his voice. "This seems a little too convenient." He glanced down at D. "What do you think? Should we trust her?"
"She's a vampire," D said.
"She's a crazy mad scientist vampire," Lefty clarified.
"Actually we prefer to be called maniacal psychotic scientist vampires," the vampire's spirit re-clarified.
"I have a bad feeling about this," D admitted softly.
"Me too," Lefty said, and then smiled apologetically at the female vampire. "Uh, sorry lady, but we'd rather just head over to the Capitol and try to figure this mess out on our own."
The vampire's spirit narrowed her eyes. "Perhaps you misunderstood. This is not a request. You will come to the laboratory."
"Like hell!" Lefty snorted, turning the horse.
"This is your last chance to cooperate before I forcibly debilitate you," the vampire warned him coolly.
"Hah!" Lefty scoffed. "In all your years of research, did you ever learn what happens when a vampire's spirit is destroyed before its body? It's an interesting process, very violent and smelly. I'll have you know that my little buddy here can eat both you and your ridiculous portal faster than you can say 'forcibly debilitate'!" Proudly he held up his left hand, fingers spread.
"…little buddy?" D muttered incredulously, as he found himself held up at arms length, facing the vampire's spirit. Something like worry flashed in her eyes as she recognized the legendary parasite. And then…
Fortunately a mournful wind 'whoooo'ed through the area at that moment; without it there would have been a rather awkward silence between the hunter, his hand, and the president of the VAMP Scientists.
"Er, D, this is the part where you swallow the evil vampire's spirit and digest it in the netherspace," Lefty whispered, a rather comical drop of sweat appearing beside his face.
"I told you!" D growled through clenched teeth. "I don't know how to do that!"
The vampire's spirit raised an eyebrow, and waved her slide-rule once again. Lefty didn't even have time to scream as a flash of evilly purple light rendered him unconscious and pulled him, horse and all, into the portal.
"Guhh…" Lefty said, his lovely eyelashes fluttering. "Wh… where am I?"
"Strapped to an operating table," D's voice informed him. "In the vampire scientist's lab."
"Tied down again, eh?" Lefty sighed. "Two days in a row now! Groan. Well, it's not so bad. And actually, this could be a good opportunity--"
"What do you mean?" D interrupted, sounding vaguely upset. "We've been immobilized. We could be killed."
"Relax! It will be okay! I'm going to show you how you ought to handle a situation like this," Lefty said, sounding almost smug.
"And how is that?" D found himself asking.
"By sweet-talking your way out of it, of course! You just need to act like you love being tied down like this at the mercy of that sexy scientist. Don't get all sullen or gloomy and don't lose your cool either. Stay suave. Take control of the--"
At that moment the female vampire in the white lab coat appeared, carrying a huge shining syringe. The sight of it abruptly derailed Lefty's train of thought.
"AIIIIEEEEEEEEK!" Lefty shrieked, panicking.
"Suave," D commented.
Expressionlessly, the vampire stuck the huge needle into her own arm, slowly pressed the plunger all the way down, withdrew the needle, and discarded it in a waste bin.
"Ugh!" Lefty said, calming down once the needle was out of sight. "What was that for?"
"I've no need to explain that to you," the vampire said in her dead-sexy voice. "It's just part of the process."
"What process?" Lefty asked suspiciously.
"That of undoing your displacement, of course," she answered.
"So you're really going to do that for us? You'll put D's consciousness back in his own head, and put mine back in his hand?"
"Yes," the vampire replied.
Lefty breathed a sigh of genuine relief. "Phewf! Sure am glad to hear that," he said gratefully. "It sure sucks being a vampire hunter with a worthless smart-aleck left hand that can't even hold open a connection to the void long enough to ingest a single evil spirit."
"I'm not doing you a favor, Hunter," the vampire said. "I'm merely doing my job. Now before we get started, I need your honest answer to one critical question: have you bonded with any other consciousnesses since the displacement occurred?"
"Uh… well, there was a young woman in Morsburg I would have liked to have 'bonded' with, but, it didn't really work out," Lefty admitted.
"A human woman in Morsburg…" the vampire said in an eerie voice. She held her hand about a foot above Lefty's chest. Her eyes began to glow with creepy purple light, and then suddenly an image of Elsa appeared, hovering in the air. "Is this her?"
"Yes!" Lefty exclaimed. "That's her! How'd you do that?"
"Never mind," the vampire said, and the image vanished. "Now. Were there any other consciousnesses that you formed any kind of bond with? It's important that we identify them all, so they don't get in the way while we're switching you back."
"You mean there might have been a chance that Elsa's consciousness could have gotten tangled up with ours?" Lefty asked, wide-eyed. Suddenly he giggled. "D, can you imagine that? Heh heh! Can you imagine waking up and finding out that your body was that of a human girl? Heh heh heh! That would be hilarious!"
"Please concentrate," the vampire said sternly. "Were there any other consciousnesses that you bonded with?"
"Hmm… Well, the sheriff was kind to me… that was really the only other person I talked to or spent any time around. There were a few people in a bar, but surely I didn't 'bond' with any of them. Can you think of anybody else, D?"
"No," D said. "The sheriff, possibly, but there weren't any others."
"The sheriff of Morsburg," the vampire said in that same eerie voice, her eyes glowing again. A moment passed but no image formed. "Apparently no bond was formed," the vampire concluded. "All right. Are you confident that we've eliminated all the consciousnesses that might be at risk for getting 'tangled up' with the two of you?"
"Yep," Lefty said. "If you're sure that Elsa's safely out of the way, then let's get this show on the road! What do I do, click my heels together and say 'there's no place like—"
The entire room suddenly filled with swirling, vaguely electrical-looking purple light…
"—home?'" D said, almost unconsciously finishing the sentence his mouth had been speaking. D blinked. He could feel his feet again. He flexed the fingers of his right hand. He was back in his own body!
"Excellent," the female vampire said, as the purple light faded away. "That was no problem at all."
"Thank you," D said softly.
"May I have your word that you won't try to kill me or any of my scientists on your way out?"
"Do you use humans in your experiments here?" D asked, his voice cold.
"Then you have my word."
The female vampire nodded and unbuckled the restraints, allowing D to sit up. D looked down at the palm of his left hand. "Are you all right?" he asked.
The parasite's face formed and smiled at him.
"Well?" D asked, gazing at the wrinkled face.
The expression on the face clouded slightly in confusion, but then quickly resumed grinning. D closed his eyes and sighed gently.
"Something's wrong with him," D concluded.
"I wouldn't worry," the vampire said. "That thing's consciousness is far more complicated than your own, since it naturally traverses so many dimensions. It's probably just disoriented, strung out over several dimensions. In a few more minutes it should reconnect itself completely to your hand."
D found his horse waiting for him out in the laboratory stables. It had been unsaddled and made comfortable, with hay and water at its disposal. It nickered eagerly as he approached.
D set the saddle across the horse's withers and fastened the cinch. The horse stood as patiently as ever… but something wasn't right, D could tell. He turned his hand over again. Lefty's face was still beaming at him. D scowled at it, and instantly the face's smile faltered, looking like its feelings had been hurt. D realized that something about the sheer honesty in the shiny little black eyes was truly bothering him. "Snap out of it," D muttered to his hand. "If this is some game you're playing…"
"Heh heh heh!" Lefty's voice said, significantly louder than usual. D's eyes narrowed. The mouth in his palm hadn't moved.
The horse bent its neck around to look D square in the eye.
D stared at the horse, his expression blank.
"...no…" D said softly, actually taking a step backwards.
"Yes!" the horse said enthusiastically, nodding its head, its black mane swaying. "If you think about it, it makes sense: I gave it a name, talked to it, spent plenty of time in close proximity to it, and even fell asleep listening to its heartbeat! Guess I accidentally 'bonded' with its consciousness! Isn't it great?" Lefty laughed uproariously, the sound halfway between Lefty's normal laugh and the horse's whinny.
D looked down at the smiling face in his palm. Was it… possible? Was it possible for his horse's consciousness to have become trapped in his hand? Speechless, D looked back up at Lefty.
"What?" Lefty asked, swishing his long, beautiful tail. "Don't you think this is awesome? You have no idea how strong this horse's body is! I could carry ten of you! And actually I think it's kind of cool, because you've been carrying me around for God-knows-how-long: now I can carry you for a bit! Well? What are you waiting for? Hop up! Let's go! I can't wait to see how fast I can run!" he scraped one hoof impatiently on the ground.
Wordlessly, D draped the reins over Lefty's neck and held up the bridle. Lefty shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Are you kidding me?" Lefty said. "You know we don't need that! Just tell me where to go, and I'll go there."
But D was already slipping the headstall over Lefty's face. "Whoa!" Lefty said, raising his chin out of D's reach. "Come on, D, give me a break! I don't need that, you can just talk to me!"
Silently, expressionlessly, D held up the bit.
"What the hell, man!" Lefty exclaimed through clenched teeth. "You're actually going to put that in my mouth?" D's eyes were completely cold, his expression unreadable. He pressed the metal bar against the horse's lips. "No way! You have got to be joking. You're sick! They have a word for that, you know. There's no way you're putting that thing in my mouth! I won't even be able to talk-ulk!"
Before Lefty knew what had happened, the bit was across his tongue, the bridle strapped to his face. He felt D pat his glossy shoulder once, and suddenly felt the weight of a boot in a stirrup- and in one fluid motion, one very somber-looking vampire hunter was balanced across Lefty's withers. The former parasite grit his teeth, smoldering with rage. "You bastard!" Lefty growled, only it sounded more like "ou asard!"
The only reply was a soft tap of D's heels on his sides. "ow!" Lefty said, indignant. "ou on't haf to kick meh!" Grudgingly he headed out of the stables, and turned towards the road.
"We'll head for the Capitol," D said softly. "We'll find someone there who can put you back where you belong. I think the mad scientist vampires have done enough for now."
A/N: Lefty, I am so sorry! But this is your punishment for your comment at the end of chapter 3. (LOL...sweatdrop) True story: Recently my horse and I had a long discussion over whether or not I would be putting her bit in her mouth. Anyway… it was an interesting discussion, and during it, this chapter was born. Go ahead, tell me I've lost it. (grin)