Stephenie Meyer's/Twilight Vampire Universe – None of her characters or locations are used.
I fell. As I tumbled through the sky blue, it subtly shifted to aqua marine. I lost the light as I sank through a deeper blue, through navy and into pitch. Cold began to penetrate, gnawing deeper and deeper into me. Still, I fell. In spite of my heightened senses, there was nothing, no light, no sound, not even the beat of a heart. Nothing was near, nothing to reach, to touch, to arrest my endless fall.
I had only moments to notice the dark, abysmal plain as I plummeted in my cylindrical stone sarcophagus. Others, like mine, were scattered on the plain, most clustered, half buried in mud or hidden by silt, in the center of my narrowing field of view. I struck a cylinder head first. The concrete cracked, forming a web of fractures half the length of my tomb. For the first time, I felt the touch of the water, icy and thick with cement detritus shattered from the steel mesh reinforcement.
It was neither a dream nor a nightmare. I was sure of that. Then I heard,
Oh. There's a new one.
I first met him in the first class lounge at New York International. I didn't see him coming. But then, I wasn't looking for him.
My first clue was cold, sharp scent of one of our kind. His had a peppery overtone that I didn't recognize as I looked up from my martini and scanned the room. He caught my eye with a glance of recognition. If not who, then what I am. He made his way to where I idly toyed with my liquid prop.
As he settled into the space next to me, left vacant by instinctively nervous humans, I looked him over. I liked what I saw. Tall, dark hair, pale of course, with a hint of olive in his complexion. Something subtle marred his beauty, like the corpse of a beauty queen left too long in the heat. He moved with the expected grace, but with the flourishes and air of an aristocrat among the commons. Cuban was my first guess – which was confirmed by the slightest of accents when he spoke.
"Good evening." He looked me over through his sunglasses. It was very Hollywood. Apparently, he liked what he saw.
"Good evening." I noted that the two men next to him edged back a bit more.
"Do you often go to Miami?" It was a good guess. However, it was self apparent. The New Your International night flight for Pan Am was for Miami – Florida that is. I did note that he kept his speech at human rate and volume.
So I responded in kind. "Not too often. This is my third trip. As usual, this will just be in and out." Maybe that will discourage him.
"While I wasn't born there, I consider it my home town. Please, do me the honor of showing you around." Apparently not.
"I suppose that there is an extensive night life."
"Quite so. After all, the heat of the day, the glaring sun can be quite brutal."
All right, I was willing to be charmed. "Perhaps. We'll see. I do have business to conduct tomorrow evening. But perhaps after that?"
I could "see" the chief steward approach the lounge. He opened the door and quietly announced the departure of Pan Am flight 523 to Miami and requested that we board.
My friend helped me into my coat. The dark sable ankle-length coat was unsuitable for Miami, but a necessary costume for the walk to the skyliner.
"And your name, sir," I asked as I, successively, reached into the arms.
"Estefan. Estefan Pacheco, formerly of Habana, now of Miami. And you?" His coat was barely adequate for the climate. It was quite thin in spite of a very nice fur stitched to the collar and lapels.
"Lisa. Lisa Montrose of Larkspur – that's just north of San Francisco." Well, that was the name and documentation that I was travelling under just then.
Outside on the tarmac, the sharp winter stars were competing mightily with the airports floodlights. The tarmac had been scraped clean but the wind still drifted tendrils of snow around our ankles as we shuffled out to the portable stairs set against the forward hatch. Fifty yards away, the behemoth of the sky with four huge sets of props sat on the apron. It was the center of activity. Hatches were open and handlers were passing luggage from a train of yellow carts up into the white belly. Lights flashed, wing tips and tail, green, white and red. The blue Pan Am globe glowed on the tail under a spotlight. A tanker truck was pulling away and a caterer's truck was still backed up and elevated against the galley access opposite the stairs.
The stewardesses made much of us to help us settle in. One smelled exceptionally delicious – fortunately, I had just fed a few hours ago and found it easy to resist. They helped snug blankest around us to protect against the icy air that would blast through the hatch as the other passengers boarded the plane.
After the door was sealed, the pilots started the big engines one at a time and the chief stewardess began her spiel. Seat belts and exits, flotation devices and crash positions. Information pamphlets in the pocket in front of us. Blah, blah, blah. We started to roll along the taxiways. The plane stopped at the end of the runway and turned into the wind. The engines reverberated mightily, shaking the plane with powerful opposing forces. The brakes released. We were pressed back into our seats as the plane smoothly slid into the air.
I wanted to forestall any conversation. When the seatbelt light went off, I spoke to Senor Pacheco inaudibly through the stewardess' bustle. "I think we'd better settle down for the night."
Bearing a look of disappointment, Senor Pacheco nodded.
We declined the dinner, but asked that our berths be made up. Yes, we don't sleep. But being isolated in a berth would cut off conversation for most of the flight.
Senor Pacheco stuck with me when we went to pick up our luggage. Normally, first class was the first to arrive. When it didn't, I "looked" for it.
When I was human, I was clairvoyant. It was so spotty, hit-and-miss, that I didn't even realize that I had that talent. Then I was changed. It became crystal clear. Seeing through walls and inside packages, even running engines was fantastic. It really distorted my depth perception. I spent weeks walking into walls, sometimes with my newborn strength walking through walls, because I was looking beyond and didn't see the wall between me and what I was looking at. Another problem was learning to tell what I was looking at. A slice of a person or an object, especially from an odd angle, isn't always immediately recognizable. It took a while to learn how to see surfaces, probing within only when there was a need.
Now, I can keep a pretty steady picture all the way around me out to about 300 yards. If I focus in a particular direction, I can see clearly out to nearly a mile. The "picture" gets fuzzy as I look beyond that until at a mile and a half it disappears entirely.
I didn't like what I saw. I turned to Senor Pacheco and handed him my coat and purse. "Senor Pacheco, will you hold these a moment, please. And please stay here!"
The sign on the double door largely proclaimed, "Pan Am Employees Only!" As I pushed them open there was the snap, followed by the almost musical thump of hard wood bouncing on concrete. A broom had been placed to bar the door. Once the doors swung closed, I ran between the ramps and conveyer belts to the two men. Mechanical sounds from the handling equipment and roaring engines from the tarmac covered the sound of my entrance and approach. They hadn't got to mine yet, but three cases had already been broken open and a small pile of valuables were stacked between the two.
"I'll take mine, thanks." I picked up my brown leather suitcase from the cart. I wasn't angry. I just wanted my things with a minimum of fuss.
They jumped back in surprise. Then they saw me.
I'll admit that I'm not intimidating. Because I am short, a whopping 4 foot 11 inches, blonde, young appearing and female, sometimes people think that they can take advantage of me. The nearest reached for my bag. I kicked him, carefully, between the legs. With equal care, I slammed his head against the edge of a ramp. His cohort lurched at me as he hit the ground.
The large yellow handled screw driver, encrusted with grease and paint, irritated me. Apparently, that was the tool they used for opening the bags. Thief #2 had it in his hand, raised and ready to strike. Didn't he know anything about knife fighting? I broke his arm and turned out his lights against the same ramp. I don't think I killed either one.
I held my breath – just in case there was some minor bleeding – as I walked back to the luggage retrieval area.
Senor Pacheco was standing away from the crowd as they sorted through their luggage. He had retrieved a small black case that was sitting beside him. I did a quick inventory of my purse as I approached. Everything was there.
Yes, I was suspicious. All vampires are inherently criminals. Murder for one thing, though many don't consider feeding a crime. I am certain the humans would, if they knew. Since we are restricted from normal daytime occupations, normal, lawful commerce is denied to us. What we want, what we need, we steal, either directly or by stealing the funds necessary to buy what we need. Then there are the lies, forging of official documents, substitution of false records where we need them, and on occasion, perjury. Oh, well. A girl does what she needs to in order to survive. And that includes being able to disappear into the mass of humanity.
"Thank you, Senor Pacheco. It seems that there was some problem in the back."
As he handed me my coat and purse, he smiled. "Miss Montrose, please call me Estefan." He turned toward the exit, raised his are and said, "Skycap!"
"Are you being met?"
"No, I'll just take a taxi to my hotel."
He handed me his card. "Would you care to share mine? If I drop you, I'll know where to call tomorrow night."
We followed the skycap to the taxi queue. At this pre-dawn hour there was no competition for the cab. But there was a police officer at the curb talking with a group of cabbies. I went up to him.
"Oh, officer. I was passing by the door of the Pan Am luggage area and I heard the most dreadful fight. It sounded like a half a dozen men were hitting each other with hammers. I was terribly frightened. Could you check it out, please. I'd hate to have someone hurt."
He eyed my coat, my dress, my breasts and my "demur" expression – in that order. "I'll be happy to, ma'am." Like I said, sometimes a girl's got to do what she has to do to get by.
In the time it took for him to turn and leave, our luggage was in the trunk. We slid into the back seat.
"Where to?" The voice of the dark, young cabbie on indeterminate race was oddly melodic. But his blood smelled … well, not right some how.
"Hotel Versailles, please."
"I think you will have found it to have become a bit run down since it's heyday."
"I will bear that in mind."
We passed the rest of the trip in companionable silence.
"Thank you for the ride."
"Thank you for your company. What time shall I call tomorrow evening?"
"Oh, I expect to return before 10 p.m. If I am much later than that, leave a number where you can be reached at the desk. I'll call. Thank you again, Estefan. It was a wonderful flight."
He leaned forward to whisper in my ear. "Don't hunt. The Cartel reserves the city for themselves. They think that they are better, or more powerful at least, than the Volturi. And in Miami, they are."
I whispered back, "Thanks for the warning. I fed just before coming down. I don't have any intention to feed until I get home."
When the taxi pulled away, I went in to the front desk to start settling in before the dawn.