My Sister the Vampire Book 2: Fangtastic! (Chapter 11)

Through the window in the Scribe's office door, Ivy saw a setup that made the Beast's movie shoot seem even more amateur. The staff table had been removed, and the room's ceiling had been transformed into a canopy of bright lights and hanging microphones. Atop a square of carpet taped to the linoleum floor were two plush leather chairs that faced each other, and beside each one was a small side table.

Ivy noticed that Camilla was there, talking with the cameraman. Beside them stood the largest TV camera Ivy had ever seen, aimed squarely at the two chairs. Is that a camera or a diabolical weapon? she thought nervously.

Serena Star spotted Ivy looking at the door. She bounded over and ushered Ivy inside. "Come in," she said with a strange smile.

Ivy noticed she'd developed dark bags under her eyes, and strands of her hair were sticking out at odd angles. Her lipstick was uneven, and Ivy thought she saw a stain on the lapel of yesterday's suit. In the last day or so, Ivy thought, Serena has gone from being perfectly turned out to looking slightly unhinged. Somehow, her eyes had now widened beyond the point of reason.

Camilla waved at Ivy from where she stood by the cameraman. "You look really nice," she said. "Martin here was kind enough to let me sit in. Since I'm in media studies, I thought it would be neat to see how a live interview is done."

"Live?" Ivy quaked. She looked at Serena. "This is going to be on TV right now?"

Serena nodded. "Anything could happen," she sang, steering Ivy to the far chair. "Martin, how much time do we have?"

"Two minutes," the cameraman responded.

Ivy started seeing spots at the corner of her vision, but then she realized it was just Martin testing the lights. It's grim enough being on camera, Ivy thought. Now I have to go on live TV?

"She's looking pretty pale, Serena," Martin said. "Should I get some blush on her?"

"No!" Serena said quickly. "She's perfect."

Camilla's smile of encouragement couldn't keep Ivy's heart from beating wildly as Martin counted down from behind the camera with his hand. "Five! Four! Three! Two!" He mouthed the word "one" and pointed to Serena.

"I'm Serena Star, and this is a very, very spe- cial afternoon edition of The Morning Star," Serena announced. "In a few minutes, I'll show you exclusive footage of it girl Charlene Costa's secret wedding. But first, join me for the shocking final installment of my week-long investigative report into Franklin Grove–the town that some people are calling Franklin Grave. I think you'll agree it's nothing short of . . . TERRORFIC!" Ivy could just imagine the graphic with the word "TERRORFIC!" that was appearing at that moment on TV sets across the nation.

"Meet Ivy Vega, a typical eighth-grader here." The camera swung toward Ivy, who forced herself to smile. "Or is she?" Serena Star added meaning- fully.

"Ivy," Serena said, "I understand you're a writer on the school paper. What got you into journalism?"

What a lame question! Ivy thought. "Well, I've always liked to write," she said simply. She waited for the next question, but Serena wasn't looking at her. In fact, she didn't even seem to have heard Ivy's answer. She was busy exchanging looks with Martin the cameraman.

Ivy scrambled to fill the silence. "I used to be a cheerleader," she blurted. For about three days, she thought with a wince. "But it wasn't really my thing. So . . . I joined the school paper." Martin reached his arm in and carefully placed a big glass of water on the table beside Ivy's chair.

"Some water?" Serena Star offered brightly, springing back to life.

"No, thank you," said Ivy.

"Aren't you thirsty?" Serena pressed.

Serena Star's an even worse interviewer than Garrick Stephens, Ivy thought. "No, not really," she replied.

Serena glared at her. "I insist."

With a shrug, Ivy picked up the glass of water and took a tiny sip. Serena Star leaned forward expectantly.

Actually, the water felt good. Ivy hadn't even realized how dry her mouth was. She took a big swallow, and Serena looked like she was going to fall off her chair. When did drinking water become such a big deal? Ivy wondered.

Ivy put the glass back down on the table, ready for the next question. Serena sat back in her chair, looking disappointed. "Um . . . what's your favorite of all the articles you've done?" she asked.

"I did a series of pieces on the history of Franklin Grove Middle School that won a special achievement award," Ivy explained, but once again, Serena appeared to lose interest the moment Ivy started talking. "Most people don't know this," Ivy soldiered on, "but in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge accidentally dropped his favorite pocket watch in–"

"What's your favorite book?" Serena inter- rupted eagerly. Then, before Ivy could even answer, Serena pulled a fat volume out from beneath her chair. She held it up to the camera before shoving it into Ivy's hands. "How about this one?"

Ivy looked at the book in her hands. The Bible?

Serena Star stared at her accusingly.

"Well, it's certainly a good book. In fact, it's the Good Book," Ivy said at last, cracking a nervous smile.

Serena's shoulders fell.

Suddenly, Ivy began to put two and two together, and Serena's strange behavior started to make sense. A Bible, a big glass of water. She's test- ing me to prove I'm a vampire! Ivy realized. This isn't an interview about a good role model. Serena Star's trying to expose me! I bet that glass was full of holy water, and Serena must have thought the Bible would set me on fire or something! Of course, that religious stuff only worked in the movies, but who knew what else Serena had up her sleeve?

If she hits on something real, Ivy thought in a panic, I'll be revealed as a vampire on national TV!

"Did you see her show on celebrity underwear, when her made-up word was `INCROTCHI- BLE'?" asked Olivia, who was waiting for Ivy on the steps in front of school with Sophia and Brendan.

"No," Sophia said. "Serena Star has her own ridiculous language."

"As a matter of fact," said Brendan, leaning back on his elbows so his black button-down shirt hung open over his white top, "that's what I ended up writing my English paper on."

"You're kidding!" said Olivia.

Brendan raised his eyebrows. "I'm going to call it, `The Stupidfying Words of Serena Star!'" he said, laughing.

Olivia and Sophia burst out laughing, too. Then the front doors of the school opened, and Toby Decker emerged, his tie hanging undone around his neck.

Olivia waved and walked over to join him. "Hey, Toby," she said. "Is Serena Star's interview with Ivy over already?"

Toby shook his head. "Still going," he replied.

"I'm surprised you're not watching it."

"What about you, Mr. Special Assistant? Shouldn't you be in there?" Olivia said. "Camilla got a special invitation from the cameraman, but I didn't think I'd be allowed."

"You wouldn't have, but it's live TV." Toby shrugged. "You could have watched it in the library with everyone else."

"I didn't realize it was live!" Olivia exclaimed.

"It is." Toby sighed. "The only reason I'm not in there is that . . . well, I quit my job as Serena's assistant."

"You did?" Olivia was shocked.

Toby hesitated, as if he was trying to figure out whether he could confide in her. "Olivia," he said finally, "I think Serena is having some sort of nervous breakdown."

"What do you mean?"

"She's convinced there are real vampires in Franklin Grove," Toby explained, "and that Ivy is one of them."

Olivia felt a wave of panic wash over her. "Why would she think a ridiculous thing like that?" she asked nervously.

Toby looked at the ground guiltily. "Olivia, I have a confession to make. I followed you, Sophia, Ivy, and Brendan to the graveyard last night."

Olivia was speechless.

"I'm sorry; I hope you're not mad," Toby pleaded. "I called Serena Star from outside the cemetery. I figured she'd be interested, since she's so convinced that Goth culture is corrupting the youth of Franklin Grove. Not that I think you're corrupted," he added quickly. "Well, anyway, Serena went there and . . ."Toby's voice trailed off.

"And?" Olivia urged.

"And I had to go home for dinner. But earlier today Serena told me that she followed Ivy back to her house, and that then she saw–" Toby hes- itated.

"What?" Olivia gulped. "What did Serena see?"

"It's silly."

"Toby, what did she see?" Olivia begged, fight- ing the urge to give him a shake.

Toby sighed. "She said that she saw Ivy jump into a second floor window in a single leap."

Olivia put her hand to her mouth. "Serena called it a `display of superhuman strength.' Then she went off on this wild rant about how she thinks people in Franklin Grove aren't just vampire obsessed. She thinks they're actual vampires!" Toby went on as Olivia's heart pounded in her chest. "Right now, Serena Star is on national TV trying to prove that Ivy is a vampire. I tried to tell her not to, but she's planned a whole bunch of ridiculous tests, like making Ivy drink holy water and eat garlic."

Olivia's eyes darted over Toby's shoulder to where Sophia and Brendan were sitting. She wanted to scream. She wanted to wave her arms. She was overcome with panic. She didn't think she could talk to Toby for another second. Ivy's in real danger! she thought.

"I didn't think it was right," Toby said, "so I quit. I mean, Serena just crossed the–" A car horn beeped, and Toby sighed. "I gotta go," he said sadly. "Thanks for listening, Olivia."

As Toby walked off, Olivia raced over to Sophia and Brendan. "Serena's trying to reveal Ivy on live TV!" she cried. "We have to save her!

Come on, come on!" She dragged them to their feet and started sprinting up the school steps.

"Wait!" said Brendan. "Let's go that way!" He pointed around the side of the school, and Olivia realized that it would be quicker. Brendan and Sophia were much faster than she was, even with Olivia running flat out. She followed them past classroom window after classroom window.

As they neared the outside of the Scribe office, Brendan and Sophia abruptly slowed, and Olivia almost ran into their backs. Together, the three of them closed in silently and crouched below an open window.

Olivia heard Serena Star's voice saying, "How many hours do you sleep at night?"

Olivia peeped over the windowsill. Ivy and Serena were sitting opposite each other in leather chairs, surrounded by lights, a hulking camera panning back and forth between them. She saw Camilla in the corner, looking weirded out. As for Ivy, she was shifting around uncomfortably in her chair, and Olivia could tell she was totally freaked. Olivia had the urge to reach out and touch her shoulder, to comfort her. After all, Ivy's chair was only a few feet away.

Olivia sunk below the windowsill and glanced at Sophia's black tank top and dark pants. "I have an idea," she whispered. Brendan and Sophia looked at her eagerly. "If Serena Star wants a vampire so bad," Olivia said, "why don't we give her one?"

Serena Star fixed Ivy with an intense gaze. "Have you ever gone sunbathing?" she asked, and leaned forward, ready to pounce.

Ivy squirmed in her chair, unsure what to say. "I–"

Suddenly there was a bloodcurdling scream in the hallway, and Serena bolted to her feet. "Something appears to be transpiring!" she announced. Martin the cameraman swung the camera around to follow her as she rushed across the room.

Serena flung open the door, and Ivy heard a panicked voice cry out, "A vampire! He's trying to bite me!" from the corridor.

Serena pointed frantically at the camera. "We're still live, right?" she shrieked. Martin nodded fearfully. Camilla stood behind him, looking puzzled.

Ivy craned her head trying to see. Is it Garrick? she wondered.

Serena stuck her head out the door, and then pulled it back in right away. "They're coming!" she cried hysterically.

Suddenly a girl ran down the hall and paused outside the doorway.

It's Sophia! Ivy realized with a jolt, but for some reason, her friend was wearing Olivia's shirt.

Sophia spun around to look behind her, horror filling her eyes as if something awful was approaching. A deep, diabolical laugh rung out.

"No! Please nooooo!" Sophia shrieked.

Another figure appeared beside Sophia. A man wearing a black cape. Brendan! Ivy's heart swelled. He grabbed Sophia, and she leant backward, exposing her neck dramatically. Brendan immedi- ately bared his teeth and bent over to bite her.

"I knew it!" Serena whispered in amazement, but Ivy saw Camilla and Martin exchange doubt- ful glances.

After a moment, Sophia let out a bloodcur- dling scream, struggled from the vampire's grasp, and fled, with Brendan in hot pursuit.

Serena Star stepped out into the hall after them, madly gesturing for the camera to follow. Camilla and Martin began trying to awkwardly maneuver the apparatus through the doorway.

Suddenly, Ivy felt a tug on her sleeve. She turned to see Olivia bent down beside her, her face whitened, her eyes lined with thick black eye- liner. She was wearing black pants and a black tank top.

"Switch!" Olivia whispered, pointing to Ivy's top and swiftly handing over her own. Glancing at the doorway, Ivy hurriedly peeled off her sweater. Olivia snatched it and pushed Ivy toward the window.

Ivy scrambled and dove for the ground. Above her, she heard Sophia say in a normal voice, "Ooh, that tickles!"

Then Brendan said, "Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!"

Serena Star immediately interrupted, saying, "And now for a brief commercial break!"

Ivy laughed softly to herself as she heard Brendan and Sophia running off down the corri- dor, shouting "I'm a vampire!" in laughing voices.

Sophia and Brendan had played their parts per- fectly. With Camilla and the cameraman strug- gling to get the giant camera unwedged from the doorway, Serena Star was trapped in the hall. Olivia arranged herself in Ivy's interview chair and tried to catch her breath. Out in the hall, she could hear Serena Star's annoyed voice now apol- ogizing to America.

"When the vampire and his `victim' collapsed in fits of giggles and then ran off together down the hallway, your eagle-eyed reporter quickly real- ized that this was nothing more than a fantastic charade–two disruptive students' attempt to obstruct the Star of truth!" Serena declared dra- matically. "However, nothing will divert me from the real story here. Let us return to Ivy Vega . . ."

The cameraman finally succeeded in pulling the camera free, and Serena Star stormed back to her chair looking furious.

"Let's not pretend any longer," she huffed at the camera. "I didn't ask Ivy Vega here, America, so that she could tell you about her extracurricu- lar activities. I asked her here because I've discov- ered the dark secret at the heart of Franklin Grove, and it is worse than you could possibly imagine! An undead people lurk here. They stalk the land, terrifying the locals and sucking the blood from this community!" She dug under her neckline and pulled out a crucifix. "I've taken to wearing this to protect myself.Yes, America, there are vampires living in Franklin Grove!" Serena's wide eyes were enormous. "And this eighth- grader is the worst of them!"

"But I still haven't answered your question about sunbathing," Olivia said.

Serena Star glowered at her, and Olivia knew at once that she had her fooled. "You're a vam- pire," Serena Star seethed. "And I'm going to prove it."

Out of the corner of her eye, Olivia saw the cameraman gaping at Serena like she'd lost her mind. Meanwhile, Serena was pulling a small ziplock bag from the inside pocket of her jacket. "This is raw garlic," Serena announced, waving it before the camera.

She held the clove out to Olivia with two fin- gers. "Eat it!"

Olivia grimaced. "No!" she exclaimed.

"Eat it!" Serena demanded.

"It will give me seriously bad breath," Olivia protested.

Serena Star narrowed her eyes and turned to the camera. "The fact that she won't eat it proves she's a vampire!"

Olivia sighed heavily and rolled her eyes. She took the garlic from Serena Star and lifted it to her mouth. Then she pretended to think better of it and shot a desperate look at the camera.

"Go on," Serena sneered.

Olivia gave a dramatically fearful gulp before popping the clove in her mouth.Then she chewed with a pained look on her face, and the camera- man looked back and forth from her to Serena Star anxiously. Finally, Olivia swallowed with great difficulty.

Her eyes began to tear, and she started to cough. Raw garlic was really strong!

Serena Star's wide eyes lit up in triumph as she pointed a manicured finger at Olivia. "To dust, you bloodsucking beast!" she cried. She waved her arms at the camera. "Watch now, America, as a single piece of raw garlic destroys this vampire so she can never threaten her fellow students again!"

Serena leaped to her feet. "That's right! I, WowTV's Serena Star, have both broken the biggest story in history and saved humanity from the dark forces of evil!"

Serena turned, waiting for Olivia to turn to dust, but Olivia just stared back in mock horrified amazement. There was a very, very, very long pause.

"You s-stopped coughing," Serena Star finally stammered.

"Duh," murmured Camilla from the corner. Martin the cameraman buried his head in his hands.

"You can't fool me!" Serena Star snapped. She turned to the camera. "I saw this girl leap onto a rooftop! She was in a graveyard! She guzzles blood!" she howled.

Olivia blinked and said, "Are you okay?"

"I KNOW SHE'S A VAMPIRE!" Serena shouted.

Martin whispered something to Camilla. He stepped in front of the camera and took Serena Star's elbow, but she pulled it away and flapped her arm at Olivia hysterically. "SHE'S THEIR QUEEN!"

"It's okay," Martin said, firmly putting his arm around her. He looked into the camera grimly. "This was Serena Star," he said. "Sorry, America."

As Martin led her out of the door, Serena cried, "Vampires are real!" and burst into tears. Olivia heard her sobbing the phrase over and over again as she was led away down the hall.

At last, Olivia turned to the camera and shrugged sadly. "I guess the `Star of truth' shone too brightly." She sighed. "It seems to have burned itself out!" And, at that, Camilla shut off the camera and ended the interview.