The Surprise

~3300 words :: Vampire Chronicles :: Louis/Lestat :: 7/3/02
Lestat gets addicted to Dance Dance Revolution and a horrified Louis must enlist Maharet’s help to save him.


“Louis, I’ve got a surprise for you!” Lestat’s voice was just oozing with boyish charm and excitement, but there were no words that could inspire terror in my heart as easily as those.

I was almost afraid to follow him into the living room. Maybe if I just hang back here by the door and then sneak up to my room… No, that obviously wasn’t working. He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me towards whatever horrible fate awaited.

“Now close your eyes, okay?”

Only if I never have to open them again. But of course I complied. How could I not? His eyes were sparkling and his smile could light up a room. He was beyond handsome, really.

So despite my misgivings – all firmly based on previous experience, I assure you – I allowed him to lead me into the living room.

I stood with my eyes closed, waiting for his cue. I felt his hands on my shoulders and he leaned in and whispered excitedly in my ear, “Okay, now you can open them!”

I don’t know how long I stood there staring at the monstrosity before me. It took up a great deal of the living room, standing right smack in the middle as it was. Surely it couldn’t be what I thought it was…could it?

“I…”

“Lestat…?”

He walked around so he was standing in front of me and clasped my hands. “You’re speechless, I know, that’s how I felt when I first saw it, too. I couldn’t believe something this cool did not belong to me.”

Speechless, yes, but somehow I don’t think we’re quite on the same wavelength here.

I tried again. “Lestat, I believe I know what this is…in a vague, generalized sort of way…but what I want to know is what, exactly, is it doing in our living room?” My voice was calm, I was not going to get angry.

I had averted my eyes, but now I looked straight at it again. Upright console, large flashing screen, blaring music, slots for quarters…there was no doubt about it. It seemed to be some sort of arcade game.

Now while I was quite familiar with the home video game systems that Lestat likes to play, he’d only ever dragged me into an arcade once or twice, and I had never seen this exact game before, but I was certain that’s what it must be.

“I was walking along tonight and I passed this arcade and they had one of these out in front.” His eyes had this sort of dreamy quality about them that did not bode well for getting this thing out of the living room anytime soon. I just hoped he tired of it quickly. Lestat is very much like a little boy in some ways, and once the novelty of one of his new toys wears off, he tends to forget it ever existed…our attic is testament to that. I would give them away or at least put them in storage somewhere else, but he swears that he has to have them right upstairs in case he needs them again.

“There were all these kids gathered around it, and two of them were playing, right?” I nodded and tried my best to remain calm. “And once they were done, another pair of kids tried it, and then another and another. No matter how poorly they did, the audience seemed amazed. It looked like so much fun, and I thought with my enhanced vampire reflexes, it’d be a cinch to beat!”

Oh God, not this again. When would Lestat learn that “enhanced vampire reflexes” did not automatically translate into high video game scores? I sighed and shook my head, but he didn’t even notice. He was staring, as if mesmerized, at the screen.

“So what, exactly is this game about, Lestat? I’m not sure I understand…I don’t see any controls…?”

“Oh, Louis! That’s the best part! It’s one of those physical games that are all the rage! You remember when I showed you the mountain biking one where you actually had to peddle the bike?” Oh yes, I remembered…as if I could ever forget. I had refused to go to the arcade ever again after that mess. He’d forced me to race him, and my legs had ached for nights afterwards. Not only that, but if I even so much as made a mention of sore muscles, he’d laugh at me and tell me he’d never heard of an out-of-shape vampire. So I like to stay indoors and read, is that so horrible? It’s not as if I don’t get any exercise.

He laughed when he saw my frown. “Just be glad I didn’t buy that game, Louis!” he laughed again and I gave him a withering glance that I hoped said something along the lines of, “Don’t even think about it unless you have a sudden urge to be sleeping alone for the next ten years.” He stopped immediately, so I guess it worked.

“Anyway,” he said quickly, “this is like that, only it’s dancing!”

I looked where he was pointing, and sure enough, the title of the game was Dance Dance Revolution…whatever that was supposed to mean.

“So you have to use these pads here to do the right moves. Oh, it’s easier if I just show you.”

He hopped up on the large platform and pressed what I assumed was the start button. He pressed another button and chose a character, the “coolest” looking one, of course. This is Lestat we’re talking about, after all.

“Come over here, you’ve gotta have a good view.” He motioned for me to stand on the pad next to him and then began going through the lists of songs.

“See the number of little feet at the bottom? That indicates the level of difficulty. I’ll do an easy one so you can see how it works.”

The title of the song he chose was “Boom Boom Dollar” which had a catchy beat in spite of the silly name.

Pressing start again, he stood in the middle of the pad and waited for the song to begin. As arrows moved up the screen, he hopped around like an idiot and explained the concept to me. “You see, when the arrows hit the top, you have to jump on the corresponding pad. If you’re a little off, it’s still okay, but it lowers your score.”

He was doing pretty well, getting “perfects” and “greats” all over the place. Maybe he was right about being good at the game.

When the song was over, it totaled up his score and gave him an SS, which was apparently very good to judge by the way he started jumping up and down and hugging me.

“That was great, Lestat!” All of a sudden, I had a brilliant idea. “But wouldn’t it be more fun to do this in front of a crowd…say back at the arcade?”

“No, no. It’s fun to do at the arcade, too, but I have to have one at home to practice on. Besides,” he said, pushing me up against the bar on the back of the platform, “I’d rather impress you than a bunch of stupid kids…” He kissed me deeply and I decided maybe this night wasn’t going so badly after all, but the next thing I knew, he was gone.

I opened my eyes and saw him back on his side of the platform, choosing another song. I couldn’t believe it…Lestat had chosen his game over me? What kind of evil hold did this thing have over him?

He played level after level, getting As and Ss and SSs every time. Then it happened. He chose a level too high and set it on trick, making it even more difficult, and he failed. As the big F appeared on the screen, I fully expected him to throw a tantrum – and secretly hoped he would get mad enough to break the machine or even set it on fire with his mind – but instead he just tried again.

After his second failure, I went over and put my arms around him. “Lestat, come on, that’s enough for tonight. Let’s go to bed.” With those last words, I nipped his ear with my fangs and made to unzip his fly. He grabbed my hand, but to my surprise it was not to urge me on, but rather to push me away.

“Not now, Louis. I really want to beat this level.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. This is Lestat we’re talking about. Lestat! I had never once known him to refuse sex. The thought that such tactics wouldn’t work hadn’t even crossed my mind, to tell the truth.

Now I was really at a loss. At this rate, he’d probably keep dancing until he dropped, literally! I could just see him dancing until the death sleep took him and then falling flat on the floor.

The game didn’t even look that interesting, just stomp your foot on the correct pad when the arrow was in the right place. And it certainly didn’t look like any type of dancing I’d ever seen. It looked silly. Unless, of course, the one dancing was Lestat. He certainly made it look, as the kids today would say, cool. Although after jumping around for – I looked at my watch, Good Lord! Five hours? Well after playing for that long, his formerly white shirt was now plastered to his body, tinged pink with blood sweat, and his long blond hair was hanging in reddish, dread-like clumps.

“Lestat, the dawn is almost here. You don’t want to go to bed all sweaty like that, do you?” I felt like I was trying to coax a stubborn child. “Why don’t we go upstairs and you can take a shower, hmm?”

The music stopped and Lestat looked over at me, his eyes unfocused. “You go on up, I’ll be there in a minute.”

I could feel the dawn creeping into my limbs and I knew I had no choice but to do as he said. “You will come up, Lestat?” I pleaded. His back was toward me and his hand was already reaching for the button to start another game, I couldn’t be sure if he nodded his head or not.


He still hadn’t come up by the time I succumbed to the death sleep, and when I awoke the next night my worst fears were confirmed. His side of the bed had not been disturbed, the covers were still pulled up, the pillow obviously unused.

Wondering if he was awake yet, I dressed and headed downstairs, bracing myself for what I might find. I peered into the living room and there he was, sprawled across the platform, his head and shoulders hanging off onto the floor. It looked painful, it really did.

Just then I saw him stir, and he stood up like a zombie, rubbing his eyes as he lurched towards the controls, ready to start another game. “Lestat!” I cried out, appalled. “Aren’t you even going to feed first?”

“Hmm?” He hadn’t even realized I was there, I don’t think. “Oh, Louis. No, I don’t want to waste any time. I feel like I’m just one step away from a breakthrough here.”

His voice no longer had the excited tone of last night; instead it was flat and emotionless. His eyes, too, were dull and glazed and his hair, matted with the blood sweat, stuck out at odd angles. This couldn’t be Lestat, it was impossible!

This was frightening, truly frightening, and I knew right then that something must be done. I would not stand by and let this machine steal my Lestat from me!

My mind made up, I went into the hallway and picked up the phone. It rang and rang and I was just about to hang up when I heard a familiar voice at the other end of the line.

“Marius!” I nearly shouted. “You have to come over here! Please help…”

He cut me off before I could go on. “Louis, this is really not the time. I’m a very busy man, you know.”

And then I heard a second voice in the background, one I recognized right away. There’s only one coven member with a British accent. “Marius,” he whined, “I told you to just let the machine pick up.”

“David! David, Lestat’s in trouble! Don’t you care about your maker!?”

“Don’t shout in my ear, Lo…” I could hear scuffling as David tried to grab the phone from Marius.

“Louis,” he began, once he had control of the handset, “I’m terribly sorry, but you’ll have to handle this one yourself.” And then he hung up. Just like that!

“You’ll have to handle this one yourself, old chap,” I mimicked sarcastically in a prissy British voice. Very Lestat of me, really. Well, what do you want, some things rub off after a couple hundred years. Anyway, what did David think I’d been trying to do? It obviously wasn’t enough now, was it?

I sighed and dialed again. Surely Armand and Daniel would want to help out their friend, right?

Wrong.

“I’m a little tied up at the moment, Louis. You know I’d be there for you if I could.”

Tied up, are we, Danny boy. I’ll bet you’re tied up… Fine, then, I know plenty of other vampires besides you!

I tried Gabrielle’s cell phone and, amazingly, she was somewhere with reception. “Louis, honey, I can’t get involved in your little domestic squabbles every time.” Click.

Have you no concern for your only living son? And more to the point, when have you ever gotten involved in our lives at all? That woman, I swear…

Mentally going down the list, I decided that Jesse would be the next best choice. I didn’t know her all that well, but she seemed like the nice, helpful type.

“Hi, Jesse? It’s Louis.”

“Jesse’s not home, this is Maharet. Mekare and I are house-sitting while she and Mael are off site-seeing at Stonehenge.” I didn’t stop to question the logic of this statement, there was no time for that!

“Oh, Maharet! Even better!” I told her of my problems and she promised to be over as soon as she could.


While waiting for Maharet to arrive, I decided I’d better go out and feed in case I needed my strength for the coming confrontation.

Back at the flat, I paced back and forth in the hallway, wishing I’d remembered to ask where it was exactly that Jesse lived. I couldn’t bear to look in on Lestat – the sight just made me want to cry.

Damn that infernal machine!

Just then the doorbell rang. Finally! “I’ll get it!” I yelled, but I don’t think poor Lestat had even heard the bell, so in thrall was he to that evil game.

I threw open the door and very nearly cried for joy when I saw Maharet standing there. Apparently Mekare had been left to watch the house – I still couldn’t figure out why, exactly, it needed constant supervision, but it didn’t matter – so she was alone. In her hand was a very large suitcase and I wondered if she was planning on staying for a while. I hoped it wouldn’t take that long to cure Lestat!

“Oh no, I’ll be leaving again tonight,” she said, reading my mind.

“Then why…?”

“You’ll see,” she said mysteriously, and then she marched in as if she owned the place. A little lacking in manners, if you ask me, but maybe there wasn’t such an emphasis on such things six thousand years ago.

“I heard that.”

Damn mind reading.

“That, too.”

“Just help Lestat, please!” I shut the door and followed after her. This was my last hope, I’d better try to stay on her good side.

“Indeed.”

Argh!

“Lestat, we have company.” I tried to act as normal as possible, as if my lover wasn’t currently sacrificing himself on the electronic altar of some hellish arcade game. “Why don’t you give it a rest for a bit and we can sit down and chat. How long has it been since we’ve seen Maharet anyway? Since Night Island?”

A grunt was his only response.

“Don’t worry, Louis, just leave this to me.” Well at least she seemed pretty confident, that was a good sign, surely.

Then she opened the trunk and I saw what was inside. Two huge, thick chains with even heavier looking manacles at the ends. “Um…Maharet?” I was almost afraid to ask.

She took them out and began attaching them to the wall. “I don’t know that I approve of…”

“Do you want my help or not, Louis?”

“All right…”

Once they were secured, she moved quickly to grab Lestat, using the element of surprise to make up for the fact that they were just about equal in power. In his zombie-like state, he wasn’t a match for her at all, and before he really even realized what was going on, he was chained to the living room wall.

“What the hell?”

“Cher, it’s for your own good.”

“My own good? I was finally about to pass that song!”

“That’s exactly what I mean, Lestat. You’ve become way too obsessed with this silly game.”

While I tried to calm Lestat, Maharet lugged the machine outside – although its weight was nothing to a vampire, its pure bulk made it quite a chore to dispose of – and told me to ring up the city and have them come round with a truck to collect it. It was much too large for the regular garbage truck.

I thanked her sincerely as she left, but she said it was no problem at all, she’d been wanting to try these chains out for some time and had been looking for an excuse. That made me sort of nervous, but I was indebted to the woman, after all, so I let it slide.

“How long do you think we’ll need to keep him like this?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just let him out whenever he seems back to his old self. Here’s the key.”

I clutched the key tightly in my palm. Someday you’ll thank me for this, love.


Several months later I was shopping at Borders when I came across a new novel under Lestat’s pen name. “Memnoch the Devil? What on earth is this…?”

I bought a copy and took it home. Lestat was out doing God-knows-what, so I settled in on the couch and began to read. I had just turned the last page when I heard the front door open. Lestat bounded into the living room and plopped himself down on my lap. “Whatcha readin’?”

“I’ve just finished a very interesting new work of fiction,” I said, emphasizing the last word. I held up the book and waved it in front of his face. “Care to explain?”

“Oh, that. You know when you had me in chains,” he paused to frown at me, still wasn’t happy about that one, no, “and I asked you to bring me my laptop?”

“You wrote this then?”

“Well I had to do something, didn’t I? So I wrote about my adventures, explaining to my fans why I was now in chains.” Another glare in my direction.

“But Lestat, it’s not true, not a word of it! The only thing remotely similar is that Maharet had some sort of previously unknown bondage fixation! You didn’t meet the devil, or anyone named Dora, and you were chained up in the living room with easy access to the couch and the TV, not in some old orphanage!”

He sighed as if he couldn’t believe I didn’t get it. “Louis, there’s no story in that. Besides I don’t want people knowing you locked me up because I got addicted to a video game. I mean, come on. How stupid does that sound?”