SHORT STORY: Night on the Town
She’s still up, waiting for me when I walk in the door.
“There you are,” Meg says, rising from that crappy orange couch we found on Craigslist. “You know it’s almost five a.m., right?”
“Sorry,” I say, closing the door behind me. “I lost track of time.”
“I have work in four hours,” Meg says, crossing her arms and pouting slightly. Her eyelids are drooping from fatigue.
“You didn’t need to stay up,” I say, taking off my coat and drop my bags near the door.
“…You know I did.”
“I said I’m sorry,” I say.
“Fine,” she says, sitting back down on the couch. “I see it wasn’t a wholly unprofitable night, though,” she says. “You’ve got a little something right here.” She rubs the side of her mouth.
“Ah, crap,” I say, rubbing at the indicated area. “Better?”
“Kinda,” she says. “C’mon, sit next to me and tell me all about it.”
Who am I to say no…?
The night started with a trip to the comic shop around six-thirty. Sometimes the customers give me crap, but the employees are used to me by now. I grab my weekly pulls and try a few new ones that have been popping up my Twitter stream.
From there, I stopped by the police station for my weekly check-in and to see if they have any targets.
I’m in luck — a pair of violent criminals on the run are suspected to be in town tonight. I get their details and head out.
Those two won’t go public until later, so — as you know — we grab dinner and catch a late movie. From there, I go to work and you… Well, I thought you’d go to bed. (Sorry again.)
The clubs are busy for a Thursday night. As late in the semester it is, I guess people are looking for an early weekend. I scope out The Rusty Screw, but the security’s beefed up after a stabbing involving a rusty screw (would be hilarious if not incredibly dangerous), so the police in the parking lot would scare ’em away.
From there, I try King’s, which is promising — the bartender says she saw two people roughly fitting my description, but they left an hour or so ago. I get a shot of whiskey, tip generously, and head out.
The next few stops are busts, but things heat up at Lemongrass Tavern. When I walk in, one of the regulars — you know Jonny, right? He waves me over. He tells me about two people in a heated argument, with one leaving in a huff out the front door and the other searching for his pride at the bottom of a beer bottle at the bar. I look over at the guy and, sure enough, he’s a dead-on match for one of my targets. I offer Jonny payment for his help; he takes it, thanks me, and returns to his drink and sudokus.
I fix my hair to the best of my ability, put on my most alluring smile, and approach the bar. I nod to the bartender as I approach, gesturing towards my target; he nods back.
“Hey,” I say to my mark, sitting next to him.
“Oh… well, hello there,” he says.
“You alone?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says, looking me over. “…But I hope you’re gonna change that.”
“What do you say we take this somewhere more… private?” I ask.
“I don’t got any condoms,” he says. (What a romantic.)
“I’m sure we’ll figure something out,” I say, standing up. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
I lead him to the back alley. It’s cold, but not too cold; still, he’s shivering like a shorn sheep in a blizzard.
“Hey, miss, can’t we do this somewhere a bit warmer?” he asks.
“We really can’t,” I say, pinning him against the brick wall.
“Whoa, hold on, lady, I-”
“Eddie Halehart,” I say, “seeing as how you have been found guilty of two counts of homicide… I’m not going to have any problem doing this.”
I sink my fangs
into his neck
and drink deep.
This feeling is why I do it. This glimpse of being human again. I feel his blood returning me, inch by inch, to my old life, or something like it.
I drain him dry, leaving no chance of vampirification. To be safe, I toss his body over an exposed fence post, ramming it through his chest.
Vampiric strength has its perks.
As I do, though, I realize I could’ve shaken him down for more info about the second target. Too late for that, though; I text one of my contacts at the police station that he’s been taken care of and move on to my next target.
The story doesn’t get interesting again until I find my second target, so I’ll just skip there.
I was unlucky until around four-thirty, when I decided to head back to The Golden Ilon (I still think they should just get the sign repainted instead of embracing the typo, but whatever). I’d seen a few tweets about a lone wolf yelling at people here, and my gut was right.
Standing in front of the bar counter, waving a gun, is the spot-on match for my target.
He looks terrified.
“Hey, you!” he shouts at me, his voice cracking from overuse. “Hands where I can see them!”
“Sure thing,” I say, putting my hands up. “What’s going on?”
“She knew a bit too much about my business,” he says, gesturing towards the bartender. “Said somebody was askin’ for someone matching my description. That wasn’t you, was it?”
“Why would I be asking something like that?” I ask.
“I dunno… I just… can’t be too sure,” he says. “I’m not goin’ back.”
I look around; other than my target and me, the only other person I can see is the bartender.
Good. Less chance for a mishap.
My charm’s not going to work here; he’s way too worked up. I’m going to have to go for a different approach.
“Listen,” I say. “Why don’t we just have a drink?” I begin working my way toward him.
“S-stay where you are,” he says, shaking the gun at me.
“Right, sorry,” I say. “You’re right. You’ve got this under control.”
“I know what you’re tryin’ to do,” he says.
“Yeah?” I say. “Tell me, then. What’s my plan here?”
“You’re trying to talk me down, all smooth-like,” he says.
“Is that such a bad thing?” I ask.
“It is when you’re gonna suck my blood out!” he says.
“Listen,” I say. “I could make you like me.”
“A blood-sucking freak?” he asks. “I’d rather be dead.”
“I can grant you immortality,” I say. “Unbounded power. Freedom. You just need to stay out of the sun and get used to the taste of blood. Is that so bad?”
“…Maybe not,” he says.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Ethan,” he says, lowering the gun. “You said… unbounded power, huh?”
“And life eternal,” I say.
“Well, well,” Ethan says, holstering his gun. “Maybe tonight’s not so bad after all. Especially after I got rid of Eddie. Idiot wanted half the cut after I did most of the work!”
I nod as compassionately as I can. “That’s all in your past now,” I say, approaching him and exposing his neck. “Breathe deep the final moments of your mortal life…”
I drain him dry, drawing me ever-closer to restoring myself.
I feel no remorse for breaking my promise to him. No place for his type in our family.
I jab a leg of a barstool through his chest.
“Thanks for not freaking out,” I tell the bartender, pulling a hundred from my wallet, “and sorry for the mess. Hope this helps.”
“It was a slow night anyway,” she says, taking the money and pocketing it. “Thanks for taking care of him.”
Three years ago, she’d’ve been screaming and running for the door. Nice to know I’m getting a good reputation again in part of this town.
I dump the body out back, make sure the bartender keeps a close eye on the gun until the police show up, and send another text to my contact at the station. And then, well, I came back here.
“You could’ve texted me,” Meg says.
“Sorry,” I say. “You know how I get when I’m in hunt mode.”
“It’s fine,” she says. “Really, it is. Just make sure to check in from now on, OK? You… You’re my whole world.”
“And you’re mine,” I say.
She wraps an arm around my shoulder and pulls me close.
“You ever gonna turn anyone else?” Meg asks. “For real, I mean.”
“Maybe you, someday,” I say, smiling. “When you least suspect it…”
My head slumps against Meg’s shoulder; my eyes fall shut after a long night, and I drift to sleep…