Are you ready for the best vampire tale EVAR!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!1!!!!!!?
The Last Vampire book series by Christopher Pike is my Care Bear with fangs.
Every now and again I return to it, so that I can snuggle it and revel in its gratuitous, delicious detailing of blood and guts that made my sick, sick 13 year old mind sing and clutch its pearls at the same time. Unlike a certain other vampire saga, there was no sparkly human/vamp love in the first book in the series, only a kickass 5000 year old female vamp named Sita, her Seth Cohenish sidekick Seymour and her admittedly annoying lapvamp human lover Ray who is the whiny Dawson archetype we are supposed to love but hate with a fiery vengeance instead. The story makes me happy inside the way that unicorns nibbling rosebushes do.
So in honour of this vampire tale, which together with Buffy was responsible for forging my lifelong obsession with these creatures, here is my first ever book recap instalment. Twihards beware; it’s like Christopher Pike anticipated Twilight madness back in 1994 when The Last Vampire was published, and decided to make an antidote that predated the whole craze. It may possibly be the greatest role reversal of male vamp, human female dynamics ever written.
So let’s sink our teeth into the tale of the most awesome female vampire anti-hero ever, shall we?
Lines in italics and quotation marks are direct quotes from the book. Everything else is from the recesses of my brain.
Word of warning: the language in this post gets more colourful than your average Spidey entry, because there is some screwed up stuff in this book!
“I’m a vampire, and that is the truth.”
Shhh Sita! The more people you tell your secret the more it cheapens it for the rest of us.
Anyway, sorry Vamp!Bella, but you aren’t the prettiest, kewlest, awesomest vampire of them all to grace the world. No, that would be Sita, who is going by the cover name Alisa Perne when our story kicks off. Alisa just doesn’t have the same ring to it after all the time I’ve spent loving Sita, who reveals this as her real name a little later down the track, so I’m going to abandon all pretenses and just call her that.
Here is how Site describes herself: “My hair is blond and silklike, my eyes like sapphires that have stared long at a volcanic fissure.” […] “Before I speak I appear to be only eighteen years of age, but something in my voice – the coolness of my expressions of endless experience – makes people think I am much older.”
KEWL! What is a 5000 year old vamp if not living history? Also, can you say Vampire Barbie?
The Last Vampire is kind of an Interview With The Vampire deal in the sense that Sita is clearly telling her story to someone, but we don’t find out who until the sixth and final book in the Last Vampire series
hey you stop peeking at the back page of the last book. The books are written mainly in simple, first person, present tense (exceptions being flashbacks), which can be jolting at times, but gives the action an adrenalin-pumping immediacy when it kicks in.
Sita runs through a laundry list of her powers and which vampire myths are true and false.
She craves blood, which as reader Jamie has pointed out in his awesome take on Twilight, would probably be the one deal-breaker for a vamp not being a vamp if it wasn’t the case. You’d think fangs would be too, but Stephenie Meyer stomped all over that bit of lore.
“As to blood – ah, blood, the whole subject fascinates me. I do like that as well, warm and dripping, when I am thirsty. And I am often thirsty.” […] “Do I need blood to survive? Am I immortal? After all this time, I do not know. I drink blood because I crave it.”
So the subtle distinction made here is that while Sita desires blood, she may not necessarily need it to survive. In fact, not only can she eat people food, but her system needs it and digests it properly, and it is implied that it is possible she could survive on this alone. But she is not ashamed of her blood drinking like so many broody vamps are, and sees no reason to go without it even if she could.
This is just one example of how Pike isn’t afraid of examining the morality of vamps. In most tales, vamps HAVE to drink human blood to be at full strength, but here is implied to be a conscious choice they make to satisfy their urges, nothing else; it just tastes good to Sita so she drinks it.
Continuing vamp physiology 101, in Sita’s own words, “I am a living, breathing creature”. Like reader Jamie, one thing that bugs me about some of my favourite vamp tales is that vampires are just magically reanimated flesh, or the undead. Logically speaking, if logic can ever be applied to vampire mythos, it doesn’t make sense for vamps to be able to bleed if there isn’t a heart beating to pump their blood through their circulatory system. Plus, surely I don’t have the only dirty mind that thinks “well, if blood doesn’t flow around a vamp’s body, how the hell do they orgasm and what is the point of becoming immortal if you can’t have sexy vampire sex every night for all time anyway?”
Similarly, breathing is necessary for speech, and yet I’ve never seen a vampire mime in tales where they don’t breathe. I normally just have to call shenanigans about the undead part to enjoy vamp tales, so Pike’s take of “living but immortal” is refreshing for me.
Let’s see, what else. Sita can’t command a pack of wolves to attack, but wolves like her, as do most predators because they recognise a kindred spirit in her. I think this is a pretty cool detail. This vamp tale is unique in that werewolves not only don’t have an age old grudge against vamps but don’t even exist, and the animals closest to them feel warm fuzzies for vamps.
The sun merely annoys Sita, like a mild allergy that saps her energy a little. Bwahahaha, Salvatores! She can go outside during the day, no tacky, ugly ass ring necessary! Although, she does wear jewellery; “I wear a tiny gold cross now around my neck, but only because I like it”. It is interesting she doesn’t cringe from crucifixes or in any way show she is an unholy creature in the typical vamp ways, considering we’ll soon see that she was turned by the Original Vamp
Klaus Yaksha, who in this tale is actually THE devil, or A devil anyway, incarnate.
Sita has hypersensitive hearing and sight. “I can hear a dry leaf break off a branch a mile away, and I can clearly see the craters on the moon without a telescope.” Umm, Sita is the moon made of cheese? I’ve always wondered. On second thought, don’t tell me. After they took away Pluto being a planet I don’t want this fantasy taken away too.
According to Sita, her “immune system is impregnable”, not just to disease but sex fluids. Devastated that she is never going to meet an Edward of her own and have him fill her full of sparkly sperm like tiny glittery diamonds? Without spilling too many details, don’t be surprised if there is a deus ex machina when it comes to vampire procreation a little later down the track.
SPOILER In the future, Sita becomes massively pregnant with a growth-accelerated part-vampire baby who comes to term and grows to legal age in supernatural record time, stopping at an age where she is at her prime in terms of hotness. You think Bella’s fountain of blood spouting from her mouth and emergency caesarean by Edward’s teeth for her halfling baby’s birth is gross? Just you wait for Kalika’s birth in book four. Oh, yeah, her name is Kalika – suck on that, RENESMEE! And she bashes people’s skulls together for fun. There are GOOD TIMES to come if you stick around with my recaps for that long, believe me. END SPOILER
Anyway, back to THIS book. Sita has an incredible regenerative system, and says wooden stakes are only a danger insofar as being impaled on one might make it hard for her vamp system to heal if it stays implanted because, you know, those pesky stakes are hard to remove, ‘specially when you are a vampire who for centuries has lived by her lonesome.
But it makes no difference if that stake is wooden, topaz, sterling silver or made of Edward granite. As Sita points out though: “But who would stab me? Who would get the chance? I have the strength of five men, the reflexes of the mother of all cats. There is not a system of physical attack and defense of which I am not a master. A dozen black belts could corner me in a dark alley, and I could make a dress fit for a vampire out of the sashes that hold their fighting jackets closed.”
What I like about Sita is that as much as she has superpowers she isn’t as invincible as some of the vamps I’ve come across in pop culture, especially the Anne Rice and Twilight ones. The strength of five men is kickass but nowhere near invincible. She’s like the Buffy, Vampire Diaries, and True Blood vamps in that if humans are well-organised enough or equipped with the right tools, it isn’t so hard to believe they could die. And I think that is important. If your heroine is invulnerable and you don’t have to worry about her safety even a little bit, is it hard to care for her and relate to her, or for that matter feel any tension when she is in danger.
Sita was born “long before the pyramids were erected beneath the pale moon”. Yet another reason why she is more awesome than Edward Cullen. He may look like a seraphic Greek god, but she was around back when Greek gods existed.
Pike gives us another peek into his view of vampire morality: “And I do love to fight, it is true, almost as much as I love to kill. Yet I kill less and less as the years go by because the need is not there, and the ramifications of murder in modern society are complex and a waste of my precious but endless time. Some loves have to be given up, others have to be forgotten. Strange as it may sound, if you think of me as a monster, but I can love most passionately. I do not think of myself as evil.”
Vampires with a conscience exist on a weird scale in pop culture. You have vamps like Stefan Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries who feel human suffering deeply and have tried to maintain the bunny diet as a result. But then you have vamps who will cheerfully rip someone’s throat out from their neck, or tear their heart from their chest, or wear their ribcage like a party hat, because I don’t know, they’re bored or you’ve worn an appalling shade of green that offends their vampire sensibilities. And yet there is still something human about these vampires that keeps you rooting for them.
Damon Salvatore is this type of vampire. So is Sita. Killing is a part of her nature and she embraces it, to the point she is almost annoyed by the inconvenience of potential murder charges, as though society is imposing on HER killing sprees. But she is capable of deep love, and doesn’t perceive herself as evil. What I love so much about Sita and Damon is that half the fun is deciding whether I think they are evil or not. And should they be judged by human standards and morals when they aren’t even human themselves? What do you think?
Another gift of Sita’s? The gift of being awesome and not taking s**t from people, like Detective Michael Riley, a man who has called her into his private office at a late hour. “The good Mr Riley called me three hours ago to tell me I had to come to his office to have a little talk about some things I might find of interest. There was a note of threat in his voice, and more. I can sense emotions, although I cannot read minds.”
OK, Pike, I can give you a pass for now, but if the sensing emotions part turns into being able to sense the intensity of relationships ALA Marcus in Breaking Dawn (I can’t remember if this is the case, you guys, it’s been so long since I read the stories) I will revolt as that it s**t I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR ;).
On a more calm note, living as long as vamps do, sensing emotions isn’t too far removed from the unique understanding of the human condition you’d undoubtedly develop through years of observance – from the objective perspective of a different species no less, who just happened to BE human once upon a time.
It doesn’t escape my attention that she can’t read minds like Edward, which is one of few things she can’t do. I’m actually more sad she can’t control the elements ALA Captain Planet like some vamps. What? I was a Planeteer growing up, and feel no shame in admitting that being able to shout “EARTH” “FIRE” “VIIIIIND!” “WATER” “HEART” to conjure up a superhero with an electric green mullet was one of my dearest wishes as a preteen.
Oh, if you are a Captain Planet fan from back in the day, click here for the most awesome parody video of the theme song I’ve ever seen.
The ability to sense emotions comes in handy with the good detective, because Sita realises that he thinks she is dangerous, which sparks her curiosity and suspicion given her innocent exterior. She is convinced that he doesn’t know what she is, or otherwise he wouldn’t have met up with her at all, even in broad daylight (even though the sun doesn’t hurt her, of course the average human would think it does based on most vampire bedtime stories). But clearly someone has alerted him that she is not normal.
She enters the detective’s office, without an invitation being necessary. With a single, sharp, vampiric gaze she is able to size him up. His clothing is wrinkled and stained, and there is a faint note of desperation about him. He has the red-rimmed eyes of a drug user. “The office is stuffy, slightly chilly. I have never liked the cold, although I could survive an Arctic winter night naked to the bone.”
You know, between this and the wolves loving vamps in this mythology, I think that if there was ever a Twilight/The Last Vampire crossover, Sita and Jacob Black would be soul mates. Unlike most vamps who are ice cold, Sita prefers the warmth and has a body temp of a hundred and vampire (winks at Cleolinda). They’d be able to get fresh on a chilly mountaintop, no tent necessary. Too bad he went and imprinted on Bella’s toddler, he and Sita really could have had something.
Also, it’s really too bad that her warm-bloodedness means that there is zero chance of human-vamp secks in this book that is like a piping hot brownie f**king a popsicle, because the thought of that always gives me lulz.
As Sita keeps talking to the detective, to keep him on edge she allows her “past to enter” her voice. I never get tired of her doing that; it is one of the most awesome things about Pike’s concept of a vampire. Our experiences affect our voice as much as physical changes to our vocal cords. So even if Sita’ body is unchanging like any vampire, other things can make her appear different to a human without taking a sparkly sledgehammer to do so.
“I want to keep Mr Riley nervous, for nervous people say much that they later regret.” Yet again, Sita is morally ambiguous. She tweaks a situation subtly so that the likelihood of her needing to take murderous action is increased. So even though she narrates that she wants to avoid the extreme measuring of killing this man, who reveals that he has been snooping around about her background, on some level it is clear that that is exactly what she wants.
Sita and Mr Riley play cat and mouse for a little while, with Mr Riley mistakenly thinking he is the cat. The detective has a gun under his coat; she can smell the gunpowder. She can also hear the faint sound of metal moving over plastic, and knows that he is taping the conversation. It is kind of hilarious how she mentally calculates the best ways of killing him during their entire conversation, in a casual way like you might mentally run through a grocery list while chatting to someone else.
To cut a long story short, he has been digging into her past, trying to figure out why she has gone to such lengths to stay invisible to the public eye even though she has a vast wealth at her fingertips.
“‘It also makes you wonder if I would pay to stay invisible,’ I say.
He acts surprised. ‘I didn’t say that.’ ‘How much do you want?’
My question stuns him, yet pleases him. He does not have to be the first to dirty his hands. What he does not realise is that blood stains deeper, and that the stains last much longer. Yes, I think again, he may not have that long to live.”
Hard to know who is more reprehensible here. The man planning to take advantage of a young woman who, to his knowledge, is at worst slightly dangerous and intensely private, or the vampire contemplating sucking him dry. Sita asks who told him about her, and he claims to have discovered her “interesting qualities” on his own.
“He is lying, of that I am positive. I can always tell when a person lies, almost always. Only remarkable people can fool me, and then they have to be lucky. But I do not like to be fooled – so one has to wonder at even their luck.” Another reference to her bloodthirstiness. Also, I think Sita is fooling herself at being able to read people successfully for their lies, considering the number she falls for throughout the book series, often because of faith she misguided puts into people. It becomes the major kink in her armour, and I think is one of her decidedly human qualities.
Sita offers the detective a million dollars to keep quiet about her, as long as he tells her who hired him to research her. He continues to deny anyone else’s involvement, and even asks her how old she really is. Sita doesn’t like this because it is “impolite” to ask a vampire her age.
Sita knows it is hard for the detective to consider her a real threat, because even though his eyes hear “the velvety voice of
Edward a succubus from hell”, what he sees is a pretty, young, defenceless blonde girl. It’s like Satan staring out of Vampire Barbie’s eyes going, “You’re f**ked, dude, unless you tell me what I want to know”. Or what I imagine Buffy The Vampire Slayer would have been like if Buffy was a Vampire and not a Slayer. Or maybe she looked like a Bratz doll to him. My parents and I got one for my little niece one year, and it creeped the f**k out of me.
Finally, Sita has had enough of their games. “I give him my full, uncloaked gaze, which I have used in the past – alone – to kill. ‘I am a vampire,’ I say softly. ‘And you have pissed me off.’”
I’m clearly an awful, awful person, because that line never fails to crack my s**t up unendingly and without cease.
Like a vampire bullet, Sita shoots forward in a blur to human eyes, kicking the detective in the chest with deadly force. We get awesome descriptions of bones cracking, the sick wet sounds of him slowly drowning in his own blood, and the sounds of the crushed walls of his heart. Look, if that disgusts you, then switch off now because this vampire tale does not hold back.
Sita strokes his head, as a rush of weird love for the detective flows through her, like it does for many of her victims. “’Mike’, I say gently. ‘You would not listen.’”
Sita manages to eke out the name of the detective’s source for information about her; a man named Slim. Riley murmurs about not wanting to die, and moans for his son.
“‘Tell me about Slim and I will take care of your boy,’ I say. My nature is kind, deep inside. I could have said if you don’t tell me about Slim, I will find your dear boy and slowly peel off his skin. But Riley is in too much pain to hear me, and I immediately regret striking him so swiftly, about not slowly torturing the truth out of him. I did tell that I was impulsive when I’m angry, and it is true.
Don’t you think that she could totally be Damon’s BFF the way the Lexi was for Stefan? I could picture them high-fiving after a particularly bloody rampage.
Riley pleads for her to help him, but she claims to only be able to kill, not heal, which we find out later is not the truth at all. Sita picks up a desktop picture of a handsome 18 year old boy, and I bet you can see where this is going, forbidden love and all that. But anyway she dangles the picture in front of Riley to try to get him to squeal more details about Slim, saying she won’t hurt the boy; she just wants to know about Slim. A threat is clearly there though.
Alas, Riley dies before he can reveal any more. Sita closes his eyes, a subtle clue to the shred of humanity she does have. She studies the desktop picture of Riley’s son. “The boy has a nice smile, I note. Must have taken after his mother.”
Oh, Pike, is there a small animal I can sacrifice in the name of your wit, only not really?
Sita digs around for more information about Slim, switching on the detective’s computer but realising she won’t be able to break in without an access code. She nonchalantly thinks that she must talk to Riley Junior to get the code, once she’s disposed of his father’s body. Oh, the mundaneities of being a vampire! Yes, I’m aware that I created a word there.
She pops Riley’s corpse into garbage bags, cleans up the bloody mess she created, and wipes away every fingerprint that she has made because she has perfect photographic memory. Let’s all reflect on the awesomeness of a vampire that has fingerprints. Take THAT, special snowflake Vamp!Bella.
Then she drives away with his corpse and hides his body
in the woods behind the school at the end of a dirt road that leads to the middle of nowhere. That reference is for you, Twatlighters, if you’re out there!
Sita puts Riley to rest “six feet under”; no joke, she uses those words, making Alan Ball very happy. She thinks about praying to Krishna for him – much, much more about him later – but decides that God would not listen to her prayer, even for the soul of one of his victims. In this passage we also discover that God apparently crashed a wild, bloodthirsty vampire party she was at and brought it to a screeching halt, which made me go KEWL, you guys!
She takes the picture of the detective’s son home with her as a reference point for tracking him down, but gazes at it in case you didn’t already know that her love for him will be so twu. Just gag me with a ski pole for this subplot, you guys.
She comes home, rests up for a couple of hours until daylight because that is all the sleep she needs – yes, vamps sleep – and reminisces about how she met Bram Stoker one time and didn’t feed on him because she wanted him to write a sequel to Dracula.
Then: “I do not enjoy the day as much as the night. I loved the blurred edges of darker landscapes. Sometimes I dream of visiting Pluto.”
OMG, you guys, Sita is a Pluto fan too! SO MUCH LOVE!
She realises she has to find Riley’s employers before they find her, as it is only a matter of time before they notice his disappearance. In the meantime, she enrols at Mayfair High where Ray Riley goes to school, and seriously, I can’t remember where Ray’s name was first mentioned and skimmed through earlier pages again to no avail, so this is the attention deficient recapper you are working with, kids.
Oh wait, no, over the page she explains that she discovered his identity after killing his father through the informants her wealth allows. Phew!
Anyway, she has taken on the cover name of Lara Adams for her school enrolment. Frankly, that is as boring as the Margaret Wake cover name chosen at one point by Margo Black, the serial killer who looked exactly like Elizabeth Wakefield from the Sweet Valley High series and planned to kill her so she could live out her days as Not!Elizabeth. You think I’m making that shizz up? I’m not making that up!
Later that day, Sita reflects on how hungry for people blood she is becoming, and why she loves it so. “It is only when I feed from a human that I feel truly satisfied, and I believe it is the life force in the blood that makes me hunger for it more than the physical fluid itself. I do not know how to define the life force except to say that it exists: the fell of the beating heart when I have person’s vein in my mouth; the heat of their desires. The life force of an animal is of a much cruder density. When I suck on a human, it is as if I absorb a portion of their essence, their will. It takes a lot of willpower to live for five centuries.”
This may be quite possibly the best vampire pun I have ever read. Pike, any more awesome and I am naming my first born after you. Pike, Spike, the similarity in names and awesomeness cannot be incidental.
Bloodthirsty, Sita sets out that night for a feed from a trucker, something she has done many times over. Holy plot point similarity to Jess Hamby, Batman! She picks up a lonely trucker and after a beer they go away to do bad things. Sita indicates she is satisfied with the back of his truck, but he pats her leg and insists they go to a nearby seedy hotel. In a depressing way, he is gentleman enough for Sita to decide not to kill him.
She bites into his neck while they are undressing, and Sita knows from her own experience that it feels like getting caressed from the inside out “with the tip of her fingernails”. That is either extremely disgusting or raunchy, I haven’t decided which yet. She whispers “Forget” in his ear when it is over, and knows that the next morning he will wake up with nothing more than a faint headache. Yet it is not yet clear whether compulsion is something a vamp can do at any moment, or only when their victim is weakened by blood loss. Or if this is less compulsion than the aftereffects of blood loss.
The next morning a pert and perky and belly full Sita sits in Ray Riley’s history class, let by a teacher called Mr Castro. She looks at Ray with interest. “His face had a depth his father’s never imagined. He is cut in the mode of many handsome modern youths, with curly brown hair and a chiselled profile. Yet his inner character pushes through his natural beauty and almost makes a mockery of it. The boy is already more man than boy.” I’m sorry, people, but…
Ray sits next to his girlfriend Pat, who hilariously is called “scrawny” by Sita, because of course a vampire thinks in terms of how full a human can make them. Kinda like Talbot being peeved that Tara is too “skinny” to end up in a blood gelato or something in True Blood.
Sita hopes Pat won’t be an obstacle to Ray, because she hates killing young people. When Sita shakes Ray’s hand, we discover that when she is touching someone, together with her sensitive smell, she can sense through a person’s skin whether their blood is healthy or if they have serious ailments – even years before a disease manifests. Suck on that, Dr Carlisle! You only have compassion on your side. The caveat is she doesn’t know exactly what disease it is all the time, though often she can make an educated guess.
Even though Sita is a master at accents, Ray is a Mary Sue who can of course detect a slight English or French accent; he can hear the relics of her past travels, even though she is pitching her voice to sound like a modern American teenager. This boy is a special snowflake like Bella!
Can you actually confuse an English or French accent though? It’s kinda like Edward saying that Bella smells like lavender or freesia – two things I wouldn’t think would be comparable. Hey, persnickety nitpicks are the name of the game when I’m recapping!
Pat, to her credit, doesn’t act like a jealous girlfriend towards the new hottie in town. “Her manner is not the least defensive. She trusts in Ray’s love, and in her own. That is going to change.” Sita is just so matter-of-fact about her bitchy thoughts that I can’t hate her for them. Little things like this are reminders of her vampire nature.
Ray and Pat fill Sita in on the fact that the class is covering the French Revolution. Sita remembers how she “sighed” when she saw the guillotine slice through Marie Antoinette’s throat, as this is one of few methods of execution that disturb her. Sadly, as far as I can recall, that little detail never comes into play later. I mean, how cool would it have been if a villain threatened her with death by guillotine or similar, in a flashback or otherwise, if it spikes fear into her heart?
“I have been hanged a couple of times and crucified on four separate occasions, but I got over it. But had I lost my head, I know that would have been the end.” Clearly, Sita has been reading How To Win Friends And Influence People during her time as a vampire, what with her constant “murders”. Also, I can hear Spike scoffing in my mind that if every vampire who said she was at Marie Antoniette’s execution was actually there it would’ve been like Woodstock. I bet even Sita can be a bit hyperbolic at times.
Mr Castro is a sleazebag Sita dislikes on sight, and they antagonise one another during class with thinly veiled barbs.
Later on, Sita goes to change for PE and OMG Seymour is almost here, you guys!
They are to learn the basics of archery in the class, and in the girls’ change room Sita is jolted by memories of Arjuna, Krishna’s best friend and a wicked archer who killed more vamps than any other. She pushes these memories down before joining the rest of the class.
She meets Seymour Dorsten, who is her partner. As soon as her hand touches his in a shake, she knows that he will be dead within a year because she can sense the sickness in his blood. Then we have the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
“‘What kind of name is Seymour? It makes you sound like a nerd.’” He likes my forthright manner.
‘I’ve always hated it. My mother gave it to me.’ Change it when you get out of school. Change it to Marlboro or Slade or Bubba or something like that. And lose those glasses. You should be wearing contacts. I bet even your mother buys your clothes.
I am a revelation to Seymour. He laughs. ‘She does. But since I am a nerd, shouldn’t I look the part?’
‘You think you’re a nerd because you’re so smart. I’m a lot smarter than you and I look great.’”
OK, look, Seymour is hardly responsible for his own name. And I don’t think Sita’s name suggestions are really any better, even though any Pike fan worth their salt knows that most of his books have a smart, charismatic character named Bubba who is weasel-y and often a horny drug dealer that you can’t help loving anyway.
But their banter is what really makes this whole series for me, and my love for Seymour is eternal. They start shooting arrows at the target, and naturally Sita’s vamp senses and training over the centuries mean that she is kickass with a crossbow, doing Katniss proud with her mad shooting skills.
Sita knows she shouldn’t show off, but she can’t help herself. I love that she is a vamp so devoid of ennui; she is so lively for someone who is a creature normally classified as the undead.
Suddenly, she is hit with a feeling of déjà vu, like she has met Seymour before. It is a feeling that makes her feel uncomfortable, as her ability to sense emotions does. I called it right earlier; she admits her ability to sense emotions is at least partly probably attributed to years of honing her powers of observation.
“Yet I can sense a person’s feelings even without studying them closely, and the ability baffles me to this day because it suggests a sense that is not metaphysical, which I am not yet ready to accept. I am not alone with this ability. Over time I have met the occasional human who was as sensitive as I. Indeed, I have killed several of them because they alone could sense what I was, or rather, what I was not. Not human. Something else, they would tell their friends, something dangerous. I killed them, but I did not want to because they alone could understand me. I sense now that Seymour is one of these humans.”
This sense is heightened in the next scene. Sita picks up her bow and arrow again and aims at the target, with Mr Casto in her peripheral vision hitting on some poor, impressionable young girl. She toys with the thought of shooting Mr Castro, wondering if she can get away with it and if anyone will really believe that it was her who killed him. Killing Mr Riley awakened her desire to kill, and she is eager to do it again on some primitive level, on her own admission.
Seymour’s one word while watching Sita’s is revealing: “‘Don’t’.”
She laughs it off, but even though her innocent tone when denying he is crazy to think she was going to shoot Mr Casto seems to convince Seymour, she wonders if he is one of the few rare mortals who can fool even her. I like that even though she is a vampire, Sita is capable of great respect for, and fear of, human beings and their perceptivness. So many vamps in other tales have God complexes when it comes to humans, even when they are dating them
*cough Bill cough*, so it is refreshing to know that she considers some humans equals.
In the next class period Sita is off to biology; after all you can’t have a vampire tale in high school without a biology class because IRONY people. Sita sits next to Ray and basically it goes like this: TONNES OF BORING QUESTIONS and TONNES OF BORING ANSWERS as they banter about superficial things.
The upshot is that she feigns needing help to move stuff into her new house, lying that he parents are out of town or a few days. He asks if Pam can come along. Sita is like nein, and Ray doesn’t question her further and WAY TO BE LOYAL RAY. He does say that he will need to check if it is okay with Pam first, but it is obvious that he is going to even though this wouldn’t make anyone’s girlfriend happy.
Ray’s eyes, it is worth noting, remind Sita of her husband Rama, who she was with while still human. This would be romantic, if only Ray didn’t rub me up the wrong way so much, especially later on down the track.
The biology lecture is about photosynthesis, the process whereby plants turn sun into energy in the presence of a green pigment they contain, chlorophyll. The teacher comments that chlorophyll and red blood cells are practically identical, except in chlorophyll the iron atom is replaced by a magnesium atom. Science buffs, if this is factually inaccurate, go your hardest.
“I look over at Ray and think that in the evolutionary chain, only one atom separates us.” Umm, with all this talk about plant chlorophyll I guess that is particularly the case if you are a vegetarian vampire. On second thought, she decides that evolution would never have created vampires; they are an anomaly that exists outside of nature. Jeez, Sita, you outta know since we discover next that you were there for the creation of the first vampire!
Later that night, Sita falls asleep, hoping to dream of Krishna, but “the devil is there instead. Yaksha, the first of the vampires. Just like I am the last.”
Or so she thinks. Anyway, we are going to learn all about vamp creationism, you guys!
We dreamflashback to 3000BC, when Sita was born and lived in the small Indian village of Rajastan. We kick off when Sita is seven years old, and her BFF is Amba, a 14 year old whose name means mother. Kinda ironic considering Amba becomes the mother of the original vampire, albeit unwillingly.
Amba is eight months pregnant with an ordinary human at the time, which is not surprising at her young age given the short lifespans that would have been the norm in those times. Without warning, a deadly plague strikes the village, taking the lives of half of those there. Amba falls sick and Sita watches as she dies.
Originally, Amba was to be cremated.
“But recently an Aghoran priest had entered our village. He had other ideas for her body. Aghora was the left-handed path, the dark path, and no one would have listened to what the priest had to say if the panic over the plague hadn’t been in the air. The priest brought his blasphemous ideas, but many listened to him because of their fears for the plague. He said the plague was the result of an evil rakshasa or demon that had taken offense at our worship of the great God of Vishnu. He said the only way to free our village of the rakshasa was to call forth an even greater being, a yakshini, and implore the yakshini to eat the rakshasa.”
In end of the world or plague scenarios, it always seems to be a crazy fundie who screws everything up for the rest. In times of panic, it just takes one charismatic, awful person to lead others astray. Sita explains that Aghorans were usually shunned by larger society because they invoked deities into corpses, rather than into a statue or an altar. But desperate times can make even the most pious people forget their religions. Am I the only one that pictures a hooded Ringwraith from the Lord of the Rings movies when the word Aghoran is mentioned now?
Anyway, many villagers ate up the Aghoran priest’s words. Our girl Sita was one of those who was doubtful, and questioned why a yakshini could help them where God couldn’t, and worried about what the yakshini would do once it had devoured the rakshasa. Look guys, I know this s**t is getting deep here, but don’t worry, MOAR MODERN DAY SITA ANTICS ARE COMING. You just need to understand her backstory because it is the spectre that haunts all her actions as a vampire.
Eventually, the priest got enough approval to go ahead with the ritual, and with the plague had his pick of corpses to enact it with. Not surprisingly, Amba’s body was the one he chooses to work his black magic on.
Sita was too young to attend the ceremony, for one, but worried about what would happen to her friend’s body, so she stole into the woods to witness the invocation. Some weird voodoo juju goes down while a ceremonial fire burns and suddenly Amba sits up.
“She was hideous to behold. Her face dripped blood. Her eyes bulged from her head as if pushed out from the inside. Her grin widened over her teeth as if pulled by wires. Worst of all was her tongue; it stretched much longer than any human tongue could, almost a foot, curling and licking at the air like the smoking snakes that danced beside what was left of the fire. I watched it in horror knowing that I was seeing a yakshini come to life. In the haunting red glow it turned to the priest, who had fallen silent. No longer did he appear confident.”
Sweet merciful jumping baby Jesus on a pogo stick is all I can say.
“The yakshini cackled like a hyena and reached out and grabbed the priest. The priest screamed. No one came to his aid. The yakshini pulled the priest close, until they were face to face. Then that awful tongue licked the priest’s face, and the poor man’s screams gagged in his throat. Because wherever he was touched by the tongue, his skin was pulled away. When the priest was a faceless mass of gore, the yakshini threw its head back and laughed. Then its hands flew up behind the priest’s neck and took hold of his skull. With one powerful yank it twisted the priest’s head around until it was facing the other way, his bones cracking.”
F**k me gently with a chainsaw. Look, how I managed to grow up to be a relatively well-adjusted adult after loving this vampire story as a tween is beyond me. I remembered chunks of the story and gore going into this recap, but had forgotten about this. I do remember that the neck cracking move became one of Sita’s favourite ways to kill as a vampire; I guess a subtle way of indicating how by turning she essentially had to make a deal with the devil.
“Then finally, thankfully, the monster closed its eyes, and Amba’s body lay back down.” People, I needed a good lie down too after those last couple of pages.
After that awkward moment where a body has suddenly been animated by a yakshini and licked someone’s face off, the men who were bearing witness to the priest’s ceremony collected themselves.
Sita’s father poked Amba’s body in a brave, though stupid, move. The men conferred about whether to cremate the bodies of Amba and the priest straight away. Before they can talk for too long, Amba’s belly starts moving. Sita’s dad cried out to the others that Amba’s child is alive and makes a move to cut Amba’s child from her womb. If US Weekly existed back then I think it is safe to say this baby would be a cover story.
Sita jumped out of her hiding spot to implore her father not to bring the child into the world. Her father is peeved that she is out there but reasons with her because he clearly respects her a great deal. He said that even though her friend appears dead, it sometimes happens that a living child is born to a dead woman. Plus, the priest was killed for his evil karma at calling forth a demon, but the men were wrong to partake in the ceremony and would now incur their own evil karma if they just let the child die.
Sita argued with her father that women can die during birth, but in Amba’s case her baby would need to have stayed alive in the womb almost half a day after she has died, and it is not possible. She said that it is not the child moving, but that the yashini has entered the child and intends to trick them into entering the world. After Sita’s words, the men were divided. Some thought the life moving inside Amba needed to be killed. Others were afraid that doing so would be a horrific sin.
Sita’s father then asked her, A SEVEN YEAR OLD might I remind you, to make the final decision since she knew Amba best. To his credit, he knew she was intelligent and wise for her age. Sita’s reluctance to personally follow through on killing the life in her friend’s womb proved in her father’s eyes his point that care must be taken in a matter of life and death. He reasoned that if the child is evil they will know as it grows up, and it could be dealt with later if necessary, but until then they should err on the side of life
The fact that Sita allows him to save the child is quite frankly the ultimate blonde moment, and one she will regret forever. Sita refuses to hold the child once he is removed from the womb, but does name him: Yaksha, as he has the “heart of a yakshini”. Forgetting the evilness of its origin, I think that is an awesomesauce name. Much better than Klaus at any rate, amiright?
Yaksha was raised by Sita’s aunt, a woman without a child of her own. His supernatural accelerated development meant that by the time Sita turned fifteen he looked the same age, even though she was over seven years older than him. The night Yaksha was born was never spoken of again apparently by mutual decree among the group of men who witnessed his “birth” even when people asked about it later, because the first rule of the I Birthed A Demon Club is to not talk about the birthing.
Sita kept her mouth shut because she doubted anyone would believe her if she told the story about what happened that night. Plus, aside from the taking part in demon invocations thing, her father was a good man who she doesn’t want to disappoint by ratting out.
Around the age of 15, Yaksha started hitting on Sita. He was insanely hot, with black hair, pale blue eyes and a beguiling smile. He was also incredibly smart and charismatic, and consulted by the
Mystic Falls Council village adults on matters like improving their harvests or how to best barter with wandering merchants. I like to think of him as the Damon of this tale. Considering he is clearly all-out evil at this point, you might throw stakes at me for saying so, but you’ll change your mind as we find out more about him.
Yaksha starts giving Sita gifts. “I accepted these gifts reluctantly because I felt as if one day Yaksha would want something in return, something I would not want to give. But he never asked.” Sita was attracted to him but couldn’t also help but feel wary of him due to her knowledge of his origins. Her father, on the other hand, was uniformly proud to have helped bring a young man into the world who turned out to be such a village asset. Remember, this was the time before recorded biblical history, where pride was identified as one of the seven deadly sins.
When Sita turns sixteen, the men who witnessed Yaksha’s birth started disappearing, which planted doubt even in her father’s mind about him. One of the men turned up gored as though by a wild animal and drained of blood.
YAKSHA IS VAMPYRE! Sita told her father it was time to spill to the others about Yasha’s origins, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it, as he was the adopted son of his sister and someone he had almost fathered in a weird way.
Eventually Sita’s father disappeared like the others, but then so does Yaksha suddenly. Sita is left with grief over her father that is only lessened by meeting and marrying Rama close to her twentieth birthday and having a child, Lalita, or she who plays, within the first year of marriage.
Then a night came that changed everything.
“One moonless night I was awakened by a sound. Beside me slept my husband, and on my other side our daughter. I do not know why the sound woke me; it was not loud. But it was peculiar, the sound of nails scraping over a blade. I got up and went outside my house and stood in the dark and looked around.”
Yaksha had finally come to collect on his gifts and claim her as his. Sita, previously suspicious, sensed beyond a shadow of a doubt how inhuman he was in this moment. But it was too late. She started to cry out and he was on her and muffling any sounds she tried to make with strength she had not been aware he possessed. He threatened to kill her if she screamed, but allowed her the chance to speak. Because any good mustache twirling villain needs a chance to gloat, and it is more fun when you can “banter” with your villain.
Sita bitterly accused that he killed the six men, including her father.
“‘You do not know that,’ he said.
‘If you didn’t kill them, then where are they?
‘They are with me, a few of them, in a special way.’
‘What are you talking about? You lie – they are dead, my father’s dead.’
‘Your father is dead, that is true, but only because he did not want to join me.’
Sita calls him evil, but he denies that she understand what he is, proud and angry at the same time. “‘But I do. I was there that night. Didn’t the others tell you before you killed them? I saw itall. It was I who named you – Yaksha – cursed son of a yakshini!”
Yaksha tells her to put a sock in it but she refuses with spirit. He then threatened to kill her again, but this time after watching her husband and child die first. He gave her two options, to become like him and be his wife, or be killed along with her family. Sita begged him to kill her and spare her family instead, but he refuses. This may be the most tragic turning story I have ever read, honestly.
Unlike characters in many contemporary tales, vampires hadn’t even been given a name back then, Yaksha being the original one, so Sita didn’t know exactly what he meant by becoming like him. He explained that he can make others who have similar attributes to him if they consent to mixing their blood with his. So it’s a little different to a lot of vampire tales where turning is one big sucking thing where you feed on a vamps blood and they feed on you, or vice versa.
In this book series, the vamp opens your veins and their own and mixes the blood that runs through them like some sick science experiment.
“‘If your blood entered into me, would I also become cruel like you?’ I asked.
My question amused him. ‘I believe in time you would become worse than I.’”
He leaned closer still, and I felt his teeth touch my earlobe. He took a tiny bite and sucked at the blood that flowed, and the act revolted me because of its effect on me. I liked it. I loved it even more than the passion my husband gave to me in the middle of the night.
This to me captures a powerful aspect of vampire tales. Even if you hate them, vampires are sexy beings that give pleasure mortals cannot. Her asking about the cruelty aspect is interesting, because when it comes to Sita, as we will find out more later on, the word cruel is too clear cut to describe what she becomes.
Defeated by Yaksha’s threats to her family, Sita allows herself to be carried into the woods where she had watched the ceremony performed on Amba’s body, and lies motionless while Yaksha opens their veins.
“Eventually the power of his transfusion overwhelmed my body. My breathing, my heartbeat – they raced faster and faster, until soon they chased each other, until I began to scream, like one dropped into a boiling pot of oil. Yet, this I did not understand, and still do not. The worst of the agony was that I could not get enough of it. That is thrilled me more than the love of any mortal could give to me. In that moment Yaksha became my lord, and I cried for him instead of Vishnu. Even as the race of my breathing and heartbeat collided and stopped. Yes, as I died I forgot my God. I chose the path my father had rejected. Yes, it is the truth, I cursed my own soul as I screamed in wicked pleasure and embraced the son of the devil.”
That is the creepiest vampire sex to ever happen that didn’t evolve pillow biting. It may not have been conventional sex, but you must admit Sita put the HOOOOOOOR in the METAPHOOOOOOOR of sex we’ve just witnessed; she knows it too, as evident when she said “I screamed in wicked pleasure”. There is fluid exchange and a big O and ecstasy in agony. But it is sexiness that comes at such a deep cost.
Sita is truly a complex creation, and the best word I can think of to describe her is anti-hero, although even that seems pale and weak for her. She only became a vampire to protect her family, but some part of her had to embrace a demon to turn, and even enjoyed the process.
As a child, she could have killed the demon that would later become the first vampire. She wasn’t sure what Yaksha was at that point but recognised evil when she saw it. Yet there was obviously some part of her that felt empathy for the creature, otherwise she would have killed the yakshini in Amba’s stomach without a moment’s thought when her Dad gave her the fleeting chance.
Fun Sita is back in badass action in the next three chapters. The tragedy of her turning is vital in understanding why she has become what she is, and the motivations for many of her future actions. For me, it is yet another reason why I can’t hate her even when she acts in depraved ways.
Until the next recap from the book, I’d love to know what you think.
Like: Have you read The Last Vampire before? If you haven’t, do you think you might like to read it now? Are you excited that it is going to be made into a movie? Do you like Sita? Hate her? Are you warming up to Seymour already? Do you like the vampire mythology Pike has built? Which Sita power is the most awesome one of them all?