DISCLAIMER: The Facts of Life and its characters are the property of Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television, no infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Written for the 48 Hour Halloween Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Evils of the Night
"Hey, Jo, can you help me string the cobweb over the front porch? I've got to get these decorations finished before the trick-or-treaters show up." Natalie had her arm threaded through a ladder as she walked unsteadily for the door.
Jo rushed to grab hold of the ladder before it could topple over and take Natalie with it. "Here, Nat; give me the ladder and go get the webbing material. I'll wait for you outside."
Natalie smiled her thanks and headed for the kitchen while Jo opened the front door and readied the ladder. She climbed up a few rungs and waited patiently for Natalie's return as memories of the previous night's activities pushed their way forward. A goofy smile slowly spread onto her face.
Tootie and Natalie had volunteered to help at a local Halloween carnival, and Mrs. Garrett was away visiting friends. She and Blair had taken full advantage of having the house all to themselves for the first time in what seemed like ages. In fact, Blair had been positively aggressive, and to Jo's surprise, she hadn't minded in the least as she gladly allowed her lover to take the lead. And boy, did Blair take the lead.
"Jo? Jo? Jo!" Natalie returned to find her friend staring off into the distance. Her final yell almost had Jo toppling over, but the quick thinking brunette grabbed hold of the door facing and steadied the ladder.
"Damn it, Nat, don't sneak up on me like that."
"I didn't; I called your name repeatedly, and you didn't answer." Natalie defended herself, and then tilted her head in question. "Where were you anyway?"
Jo stared down at her friend. "What do you mean, where was I? I've been right here the entire time."
Natalie shook her head. "Physically, maybe, but mentally, you were half-way to the moon."
Jo bit down on her lip. She wasn't about to tell Natalie that she'd just recently had the pleasure of traveling to the moon and back, multiple times in fact. "Well, I got tired of waiting for you." She reached down to grab the string. "Now, where do you want the spider web?"
"Oh, do you think you can reach the top corner?" Natalie's focus shifted to the decorations, and she spent the next hour directing Jo in the placement of the string. Finally, the perfect spider web was in its place.
"That looks great, Jo. I couldn't have done it without you." Natalie gushed, standing back to admire the string art.
"No problem, Nat. I was glad to help." Jo started down the ladder but stopped near the bottom to pick up some loose string that had fallen onto her boot; the move had her shirt shifting away from her neck, revealing two sets of puncture wounds which in turn were surrounded by a series of bruises.
Natalie's eyes grew wide, her over-active imagination going into overdrive. "Um, Jo? Did you go anywhere last night?"
"No, why?" Jo stood and moved to fold up the ladder.
"Just curious is all. Um, was Blair with you the whole time Tootie and I were gone?"
Jo's eyes went wide, and she was very thankful that she had her back to her friend. "No, actually, she went out for awhile. She got back just before you guys did."
"Oh, so did you have any visitors?" Natalie asked in a casual tone.
"What's up with the questions?" Jo turned to face the suddenly inquisitive Natalie.
"Nothing, really; just making conversation." Natalie forced a smile.
Jo just shook her head and started for the corner of the house. "I'm going to put the ladder away. I'll meet you back inside."
Natalie waited until Jo had turned the corner before racing into the house to find Tootie.
"What'd it look like?" Tootie thumbed through the pages of her newly purchased book, Vampires and Vampirism. The minute Natalie had told Tootie of her suspicions, the pair had run to the local bookstore for a book on vampires.
"Stop!" Natalie almost ripped the page as she grabbed hold and pointed to the photo of a set of bites that looked almost identical to Jo's. Tootie leaned in closer and read the caption beneath the picture.
"Sometimes the bites are scattered due to the marks being made during a frantic coupling session. The biter becomes so excited at the prospect of the partner's orgasm that he or she is more distracted, causing the bites to be spread across the partner's neck. However, one set of marks will be visibly deeper than the rest. This is the bite that will turn the victim."
Natalie frowned. "Turn the victim? Turn them how?"
"Into a vampire, Nat; the book says that the victim will start showing signs and will turn by midnight of the following night."
"What kind of signs?" Natalie pulled a chair over and took a seat next to Tootie. The two began to skim over the information, taking mental notes of certain changes to look for. They never heard Jo enter the room.
"Hey guys, what are you studying? I thought you'd already had your tests."
Tootie fumbled for the book and slammed it closed. Quickly reaching for her jacket, she threw it over the book, completely covering it from view. "Oh, we did. I was just trying to get caught up on my next assignment."
Jo tilted her head, trying to get a look at the title of the book Tootie had been so anxious to hide. The previously hidden marks on her neck stood out prominently against her light skin.
"Oh, my." Tootie's eyes fastened onto the set of bites that looked almost identical to the photo in the book.
"What?" Natalie's brow furrowed in confusion. She slowly followed Tootie's gaze. "Oh, my!"
Jo's head snapped up, and she turned her focus from the book to find two sets of eyes pinned to her. She immediately looked down at her clothing. "What? Did I get some grease on me or something?"
Natalie stood abruptly. "No, no grease. It's just that we were admiring your shirt. Is it new?"
"This old thing?" Jo pulled the denim material away from her body. "You've seen this shirt. I wear it all the time."
"Well, it looks different today." Tootie forced herself to keep her gaze away from the collar of Jo's shirt.
"You know, you two are acting very strangely today." Jo shook her head. "I came up here to let you know Mrs. G is baking some cookies and wanted to know if you'd like some."
Natalie perked up, casting the suspicion of vampirism onto the back burner. "Cookies? Did I hear someone say cookies?"
Jo laughed. Some things never changed.
"So, did you talk to Blair?" Tootie opened another bag of candy and poured it into the large plastic pumpkin. The trick-or-treaters would be arriving within the hour.
Natalie tossed another tootsie roll into her mouth. "No, Jo was always around, hovering in the background. I swear she's already got that 'moves so silently no one knows she's there' part down pat. I think her incisors have grown some, too."
Tootie nodded in agreement. "I'd noticed that, too. And, when she came into the room earlier, I waited to see if I could see her reflection in the mirror, but she never went near it. I think she avoided it on purpose."
"Well, we better be ready at midnight just in case." Natalie reached into her backpack. "I went to the hardware store and bought some of these." She lifted a wooden stake from the bag and mimicked a striking motion.
"Put that away, Nat! We don't want Jo to know that we're onto her." Tootie glanced at the door. "We've got to warn Blair. You find some way to distract Jo, and I'll fill Blair in on our suspicions."
"Me? Why me?" Natalie dropped the stake into her bag. "I've got a better idea; you distract Jo, and I'll talk to Blair."
"Talk to Blair about what? And, why do you have to distract me to do it?" Jo was standing across the table from the pair, and once again, neither of them had seen her come in.
"Hee-hee, I guess she caught us, Tootie." Natalie chuckled nervously.
"Yeah, I guess so." Tootie swallowed hard and awaited their fate.
"You see, Jo, Tootie and I were planning a surprise birthday party for you, but I guess it won't be a surprise after all."
Jo frowned. "Nat, I just had my birthday a couple of months ago."
"Well, it's never too early to plan, especially surprises. You know, surprise birthdays, surprise anniversaries, surprise attacks " Natalie voice had slowly raised an octave with each 'surprise' word.
"Okay, that's it." Jo narrowed her eyes and shifted her gaze between the two. "What is going on?"
"There you are." Blair glided into the room, interrupting Jo's query. "I've been looking for you everywhere. We need to get ready for Jana's Halloween party."
"Blair, I really don't want to get dressed up in any costume. Can't I just go as I am?" Jo gestured to her jeans, denim shirt, and boots.
Blair cast an appreciative eye over her lover but wasn't about to give in. "No, I've already rented the costumes. Now, c'mon, we have to do your hair and make-up."
Jo started for the doorway. "Ah, Blair. I don't want to put on any make-up."
"It'll be fun, Jo. I promise." Blair followed her lover into the other room.
Natalie turned to Tootie. "Blair's on her own now."
Tootie just shook her head sadly.
At 11:30, Natalie turned out the front porch light. The last trick-or-treater had left hours ago, but Natalie had left the light on just in case there were any stragglers.
"Whoa, I'm beat. I didn't realize passing out candy could be so tiring." Natalie plopped down on the couch.
"Yeah, just think how tired you'd be if you'd passed out the candy to every other group instead of every third or fourth one."
"Hey, I alternated with you during commercials."
Tootie just sighed and leaned her head back against the chair. The two sat in silence until Tootie finally voiced her thoughts.
"I'm worried about Blair and Jo." She glanced at the clock. "If Jo really does turn into a vampire in the next thirty minutes or so, she'll bite Blair, and then Blair will turn into one, and the circle will continue and continue until everyone's a vampire."
"Well, they're not getting me." Natalie reached towards the floor and retrieved a stake from her backpack.
"Natalie, we'll never be able to overpower both of them."
"You're right, Tootie; let's go out and try to find them. If Jo turns, we'll stake her right away. It's what she'd want us to do."
Tootie glanced over at her determined friend. "Hand over the other stake."
Natalie grinned widely and reached into her bag. Ten minutes later, the pair was strolling through the park.
"You sure this is the route they'll take?" Tootie glanced around nervously, every shadow adding to her already palpable fear.
"Yeah, it's a short-cut Jo always takes. We should be coming across them any minute now." Natalie crept forwards, suddenly stopping when she noted movement up ahead. "Quick, Tootie, let's hide behind these trees." The two had barely ducked under cover when they'd heard the sound of laughing.
"I can't believe Carol dunked Joy's head in the punch bowl." Blair chuckled, recalling the redhead sputtering as she lifted her head from the bowl.
"Yeah, well, she probably shouldn't have been making out with Carol's boyfriend."
Blair smiled and leaned against a large oak tree, the moonlight casting a bright glow on her beauty. Jo returned the smile and stepped forward.
"Is she crazy? What's she doing?" Tootie couldn't believe Blair was making it so easy for Jo to turn her.
"Maybe she's onto Jo, and she has a big ol' stake in her purse." Natalie's chin was resting on the top of Tootie's head as they peered around their hiding place.
The two watched in shock as Jo lifted her black cape and moved closer to Blair, the lengthened incisors shining in the moonlight. The cape slowly draped over the pair, concealing Jo's actions from Tootie and Natalie's view.
"We're too late, Nat." Tootie dropped her head and closed her eyes.
"C'mon, Tootie, there's nothing we can do. Let's get back to the house and lock ourselves in the bedroom. We can find Jo during the day and take her out then."
Tootie nodded her head sadly, and the duo slunk off into the night. They never saw the cape lift from the kissing couple.
"Oh, Count, I do love it when you sink your teeth into me." In turn, Blair sank against the tree, her knees week from Jo's attentions.
Jo grinned. She had to admit that dressing as Count Dracula wasn't so bad. In fact, it was actually quite stimulating, and as she was finding out, it definitely had its perks. Removing her pointed teeth, she slid them into the pocket of her black jeans and latched onto her lover's lips.
The black cape lifted once again, shielding the couple from the evils of the night.
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