Slayer Lit

Slayer Lit Feature

The Waiting

The Waiting

 

"This bites."

A strong wind blew across Crestwood Cemetery, whispering the dark secrets of the dead as it passed among the tombstones and whistled through the cracks in the walls of each crypt. But Buffy Summers wasn’t listening. She knew each of the thirteen cemeteries in Sunnydale, California as through they were her own backyard --- hell, she spent more time in the bone yards than she did at home --- and being among the graves of the town’s dead had lost its ability to induce even the tiniest shiver.

There was a lull in the wind, and somewhere not far off she heard the creak of a rusty hinge. Though she knew it was merely the resettling of one of the crypt doors or the one on the maintenance shed, her imagination filled in so many other images. A chill ran up the back of Buffy’s neck.

‘Kay, she thought. Maybe just one itty-bitty shiver.

Buffy smiled to herself. In a freaky way, it was good to know she was capable of a good old-fashioned wiggins, the fear of creepy nothing. After all, she had dealt with so many somethings in the last few years, ever since she had learned what she was.

The Slayer. The one girl in all the world chosen by powers beyond her reckoning to combat the forces of darkness. Chosen. It had its pros and cons, no doubt about that. On the plus side, there was the whole superhuman thing --- strength, speed, quick healing, those things didn’t suck. On the other hand, being the Slayer meant she had a duty to hunt monsters until one of them killed her. Given the hazards of the job --- being public enemy number one as far as the nasty ol’ forces of darkness were concerned --- the killing thing was pretty much guaranteed to happen sooner than she would like.

Buffy figured one hundred was a nice round number, but she’d be lucky to make it out of her teens.

Even that did not haunt her as much as it might have --- as much as it had when she had first learned she was Chosen. Like all Slayers, she had a Watcher to guide her. Giles was tops with the demony knowledge, and had given her the combat training she needed, but he was more than that. This was his fight too. He looked out for her. Plus, unlike most Slayers, Buffy had not accepted the idea put forth by the Watchers Council that to be an effective Slayer she had to alienate all her friends.

Screw that.

Nope, what was bothering her more than anything on this warm spring night when a hard breeze was blowing in off the Pacific was that she was stone cold bored.

"This really bites," she muttered to the darkness and the dead.

Sunnydale was right on top of the Hellmouth, a place where the barrier between the human world and the demon dimensions was worn thin. It was like a magnet, drawing monsters from all over. Nearly every night she patrolled the town looking for trouble, and most of the time she found it in some form or another. Somehow she managed to work in some hang time with Willow and Xander, not to mention her Mom.

But there was no patrolling tonight. Even though she could think of a dozen things she should have been or would rather have been doing, tonight, all she could do was wait.

So she sat there with her back against the gravestone --- feeling the engraved letters of a dead man’s name on her back --- and she waited and she stared at the freshly turned earth of the grave across from her and she wondered when Sasha Kopeki was going to come back to life.

An image swam up into her mind of Sasha in her cheerleading uniform. The girl had graduated high school the previous spring and had been attending UC Sunnydale, but Buffy only remembered her from the time she herself had briefly been part of the cheerleading squad. Sasha hadn’t been the prettiest girl on the squad and she had certainly not been the best, but when it came to smile-wattage and team spirit, the dead girl was second to none.

"Was" being the key word there, Buffy thought. Sasha’s pretty much second to everyone these days. The girl had been killed by a stray vamp who had wandered into Sunnydale to check out the Hellmouth, and to find out if the Slayer was really as tough as they said. Buffy had already dusted the moron, proving the point.

But Sasha was unfinished business.

With a sigh, the Slayer rested her head against the tombstone again. Her eyes began to flutter closed. Almost the moment they did, she heard the soft sound of dirt sprinkling to the ground. Or digging.

Buffy’s eyes snapped open and she glanced over at Sasha’s grave. Slender white fingers jutted from the freshly turned earth, clawing at the dirt around them, destroying the dead girl’s French manicure. A wave of sadness passed through Buffy for the excitable cheerleader with the blinding smile. But the Sasha Buffy knew was dead now.

It was her fingers that bored their way up from the dirt, her hands that burst from the ground, her arms that thrust forth and dragged the rest of her body from the grave. And Sasha was still dead.

The corpse crouched beside the hold it had burrowed up from its coffin, clad in a simple and elegant black dress. Sasha’s blond hair had been arranged lovingly in her casket but now it was crusted with moist earth. Buffy thought she saw a worm dangling near the dead girl’s ear.

"About time," Buffy told her. "I thought I was gonna go gray waiting for you. And, brrr at that thought."

Sasha whipped around to face her, rising up almost to her full height but still somehow feral. Yellow eyes glared at Buffy in the darkness. The girl’s face was not at all the way Buffy remembered, but that was no fault of memory. It had more to do with the metamorphosis her features had undergone, the way that her forehead and cheeks had become ridged and cruel and inhuman.

Vampiric.

The undead girl grinned. Instead of the perfect smile Buffy recalled, her mouth was twisted in a predatory rictus, flashing deadly fangs.

"I remember you," the vampire said, voice raspy from disuse. The voice of the grave.

Buffy stood across the disturbed grave from Sasha and reached inside her zippered sweatshirt for the stake she carried in the pocket sewn there.

"No you don’t," the Slayer said.

Confused, the vampire frowned, lips curling back savagely from those fangs. "Yeah. I do."

"Those aren’t your memories," Buffy told her, a horrible revulsion roiling in her gut. "They belong to Sasha."

"I am Sasha," the vampire hissed.

"No you’re not," Buffy replied calmly. "You’re just the thing that’s living off her corpse. Like a maggot."

With a roar of fury, the vampire lunged across the open grace, fingernails hooked into claws, features contorted with demonic ferocity. It leapt at Buffy, who spun out of its way. Sasha rushed her from behind and Buffy took a single step backward --- toward the vampire --- and shot an elbow into its face. Sasha’s surgically reconstructed nose exploded in a gush of blood and a splintering of bone.

Buffy leaped into the air, spun around and shot a high kick at the vampire’s face. It staggered backward and fell over the gravestone Buffy herself had been leaning against for the past two hours. The vampire’s legs were splayed, the hem of its burial dress hanging like a curtain over the front of that stone. The Slayer leaped over the marker and landed on the vampire’s chest, plunging the stake into the dead girl’s heart.

Sasha whimpered once, eyes locked on Buffy’s.

"I remember you," she whispered.

Then she exploded into a cloud of cinder and ash that was swept away by the warm Pacific breeze.

"No you don’t," Buffy said to the night, to the darkness. "No. You don’t."

Then she turned and strode quickly from the cemetery, wanting to put it behind her as quickly as possible. She would go to the Bronze, where she hoped to find her friends hanging out, maybe dancing, depending on what band was playing tonight. With them she would laugh, and in laughing, she would begin to forget, and she would fill her life with the things that mattered, the things that reminded her what she was fighting for.

Buffy would talk, and she would move, and she would dance. She would use the time she had in this world, and she would not be bored. Nothing about being Chosen bothered her more than those times when boredom set in, when she had to sit in the graveyard and wait.

Nothing was worse than the waiting.

"The Waiting" and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are © & ™ Twentieth Century Fox. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

First published in 2002 in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Core Rulebook from Eden Studios.

Special thanks to George Vasilakos, Alex Jurkat, and Tim Brannan with Eden Studios, Debbie Olshan with Fox, and Christopher Golden.