|Jez and Morgead's Night Out|
13 August 2013
L. J. Smith's Official Website Administrator
| Preceded by|
Ash and Mary-Lynnette: Those Who Favor Fire
| Followed by|
Jez and Morgead's Night Out is a short story found on L. J. Smith's official website. It acts as a prequel to the book Huntress, taking place two years before the novel. It is told from the alternating point of view of Jez Redfern and Morgead Blackthorn, fellow members of a San Francisco vampire gang.
"This is an untold story from the past, when Jez and Morgead were still struggling regularly with the leadership (and with each other). It’s not for the faint of heart—Jez’s gang is on the trail of a serial killer, but I think that it makes some valid social points. And of course, there’s the love scenes, too!"
The gang, noted for hunting humans they feel should be exterminated, has targeted a human serial killer, Steven G. Vizner, as their latest victim. Inside the murderer's apartment, which is filled with mummified bodies and various human limbs and body parts, the 15 year old Jez, currently second-in-command of the gang, is reasonably disgusted by the macabre trophy collection, although Val Stillman and Thistle Galena, two other members, react with dark humor. Another member, Raven Mandril, deduces that one of the bodies, a girl, was his first victim (she later adds that this began his spiral into serial killing), at which point Morgead emerges from a back room, looking strained and claiming the room he had come from was "worse". Morgead reveals that the killer would also tape his handiwork, and watched "as much as [he] could stand". Even Morgead is sympathetic to the victims, despite their being humans. Other noted collection pieces include human skin (which he uses as artwork canvas) as well as other parts stocking the fridge. Pierce Holt tells them that their target works at a gas station, getting off work at 2 A.M. Unwilling to let the others see her revilement, Jez opts for heading to the store and waiting out the four hours until he gets off work; the gang agrees to go and wait rather than remain at the apartment. Jez and Morgead briefly butt heads over using Thistle as a lure for the murderer as they normally do, as Morgead is truly sickened by this man, but Thistle shows no qualms about the role of bait, allowing Jez to get her way and see if Vizner falls for it.
They arrive at the station at 1:30 and, after locking the door, allow Thistle inside; the young vampire pretends to be a lost child who was separated from her family to attract Vizner's attention. Jez notes that he's showing all the signs of failing the "test", and observes that despite his monstrous nature, he looks just like any other human, although there are subtle signs and feature changes that chill her to see. Taking the opportunity, when Thistle begins crying and crumples to the floor, Vizner picks the small girl up, brings her to his car and locks her in the trunk. However, he is then ambushed by the gang, who appear out of the darkness, flashing their fangs. Terrified, Vizner faints, after which the gang brings him to the nearby Muir Woods.
Thistle and Raven keep Vizner under mind control to prevent him from fleeing as they arrive; Thistle also hints to the killer gleefully what they intend to do to him. They then proceed taking turns feeding on Vizner, although Jez and Morgead share a turn, platonically exploring each other's outer mental layers in the process, which Jez enjoys. However, afterwards, the gang cannot decide how to dispose of their target. Morgead and the others opt for submitting Vizner to days of torture for all he had done to other human beings, but Jez adamantly disagrees, instead suggesting a quick death. Despite being outvoted, Morgead is furious and tries to convince Jez otherwise, as he is actually hurt by her dissent. However, Jez stands by her convictions, as she reveals to Morgead that, while feeding, she glimpsed Vizner's own abusive past at the hands of his family, giving this as grounds that the gang should not become like Vizner in terms of tormenting others.
When Morgead still refuses to listen to her, citing the serial killer's danger to others and possibly to Thistle prior (Morgead remarks that Vizner had a razor blade on him, and accidentally shows Jez a memory of Vizner slaughtering a girl with red hair like the second-in-command), Jez challenges him for the leadership of the gang, shocking everyone. Morgead accepts the challenge, allowing Jez to set the method and location.
For weaponry, Val nominates nothing but bare hands and legs, which Raven, as referee, agrees to, while Pierce acts as timekeeper with Vizner's Rolex. At first, Jez distracts and punches Morgead, who refuses to move even after start time is called and is felled by the blow, but Raven adds another stipulation to determine leadership: one of them has to bite the other to decide who is the new leader. Neither wanting the others to see that happen in full view (as it is considered humiliating to get bitten by another vampire like that), Jez and Morgead take off into the forest and fight. It continues with the two evenly matched, until Morgead suggests that they decisively end the battle using only a telepathic Power attack. Jez agrees, and the two stand face-to-face, palms together.
However, upon contact, the Soulmate Principle activates, though neither Jez nor Morgead know this is the cause at the time. Despite the bond warning her not to harm him, Jez unleashes Power at Morgead while his guard is dropped twice, although she partially holds back. Even so, Morgead is felled by the blasts. Concerned, the red-haired lamia begins wondering if what she'd done to the other vampire is also a form of torture, but upon reaching for him, Morgead involuntarily hits her with a hard blast of Power. Hurt and angered, she resists the reviving Morgead's telepathic messages, yet he continues and apologizes for hurting her, which he admits was a total accident. He tells her that when hit by Jez's Power, he'd been reminiscing about a play he'd seen (Romeo and Juliet), and remembering the masquerade scene, he likened himself and Jez to the ill-fated couple of the story, in the aspect of holding palms together. However, when the blast hit him, he suffered a second reverie in which he and Jez were being attacked by an unseen monster, causing him to blindly lash out with Power at the object that touched him (Jez).
However, due to the blast, Jez began to slip into unconsciousness, despite being acknowledged as winner. She expects Morgead to take full advantage of the situation, but, after some time, she awakens to him holding her and calling out to keep her awake. Morgead, crying, reveals that the blast had in fact killed her; he had needed to resuscitate her in that event. However, Jez remains puzzled at his grief and, in spite of her inward desire to comfort him, verbally berates Morgead instead, insisting she would have left him for dead if it were the other way around. Morgead recovers and takes the opportunity to remind Jez, whom he now has pinned to the ground, Raven's stipulation for leadership. To stop him from biting her, Jez creates a mental poison dart with Power and fires it at Morgead, even after he relents and releases her. The blow, to Jez's shock, begins killing him, making her believe something was seriously wrong, as the dart was diverted at the last moment, barely grazing the former leader. To find the source of the problem, Jez mentally explores Morgead's mind.
The story then takes on Morgead's point of view, relating his memories prior to the capture of Vizner, as seen by Jez. Here she hits a mental block; Morgead had seen something inside the room, among scalps and "jar[s] full of teeth" that he did not want to remember; Jez skips by the blockage. Coming to the moment where they fight, Jez sees Morgead viewing her as beautiful, noting her hair, features and particularly her silvery-blue eyes, which he compares to having the moon right near you. His assessment angers him though, as he should be focused on fighting Jez instead of admiring her. However, upon meeting those eyes, Morgead, as he had said, remembers Romeo and Juliet, in particular the line "Palm to palm is holy palmer's kiss", leading Morgead to muse that in a way, he and Jez are "kissing".
At that moment, he was hit by Jez's blast, changing his mental diversion into something else; he mistakenly believed that Vizner was trying to kill them but, crippled by the Power blast, Morgead was too blind and weak to know where to direct his own assault. That changes when something touched his arm, allowing Morgead to throw a mental hit at whoever had touched him, which turned out to be Jez unfortunately. Upon realizing he had killed her, Morgead, who could not facing living without Jez, did something innovative as there was no other way to get help; he utilized his own life energy, which all lamia recycled repeatedly when halting their aging process, and channeled it into Jez to resuscitate her. Despite the process causing his body more and more pain, Morgead refused to give up until Jez was restored, believing that he deserved the pain for killing her. He additionally used mouth-to-mouth on Jez as she began to come back; his efforts proved successful, as shown.
The narration returns to Jez, who is stunned and sorrowful at Morgead's sacrifice for her. She stumbles upon an idea, due to a memory of her Uncle Bracken, and decides to try giving Morgead some of her blood to help restore his health. Using mental prompting, she aligns her throat with Morgead's mouth and encourages him to bite down, which he does instinctively upon hearing a childhood song from Jez to teach young vampires to feed. To her, the experience is somewhat pleasant, although she tries to ignore it. Here she is able to unlock the memory Morgead had originally closed off; in the back room, Morgead had come across a scalp, from which hung bright red hair. The hair had reminded him of Jez, and Morgead had had a disturbing vision of Jez as a helpless girl being attacked by humans like Vizner. The idea incites deadly rage in Morgead, although he knows Jez as far from helpless. He had removed the scalp, thinking that the place should be destroyed, and that Jez would likely understand his ire and agree.
Having seen the memory, "Jez did understand" Morgead's sentiment. By this time, he has recovered from Jez's blood (due to its unique ability to carry oxygen thanks to her mixed genetics), but finds the taste "delicious", even getting akin to drunk on it, and is initially unwilling to let go of her. Morgead has no memory of the fight or even the reason for it, feeling highly effervescent from Jez's blood and commenting on her eyes, which disturbs Jez (although inside she is joyful over the attention). He briefly kisses her, but stumbles and starts to recall the night's events, albeit vaguely. Jez admits defeat and the two start back for the gang, the red-head unhappy that, with Morgead still leader, she will have to participate in torturing Vizner. However, coming to the area in which they fought, despite biting her, Morgead revises his earlier outburst of Power as cheating and, on those grounds, hands over gang leadership to Jez.
Upon returning to the others, they learn that Vizner, who'd had a second razor the gang had never detected, had taken his own life rather than face whatever Jez and her gang were going to inflict on him. Jez opts for leaving the body and car behind, and Morgead publicly acknowledges her as the new leader as the gang departs.
Notes and TriviaEdit
- There is a contradiction created by this story regarding Thistle's vampire nature. Although Huntress states that Thistle is a lamia vampire who chose to stop aging, this short story specifically says that Thistle is a made vampire, changed at age 10. As the story's narration is done by Jez and Morgead, it is possible that the two had assumed Thistle was a made vampire, learning she was instead lamia sometimes between this story and Huntress, but this is not confirmed.
- This tale introduces the formal vampire word for an acknowledged couple: lovepair.
- Ash Redfern is stated to be a distant cousin of Jez.
- Chronologically, this is the first time the Soulmate Principle is activated between Jez and Morgead, and one of the earliest incidents of it occuring overall, barring Thierry Descouedres and Hannah Snow. This is also the first time the two have kissed, though briefly.
- Although this story states at the end that Jez learns of her half-human heritage two years later, in Huntress she actually learns it at age 16, one year later rather than two (in the book Morgead is stated to be a year older than her at age 17).