By R. E. Bearlee
Tom was sitting on the couch with Violet with only the dim lamp light in the corner of the hotel room. It was around 8 pm; the sun had recently set and the night was closing in outside. Tom had only been there for a few minutes; both of them sat with a nervous quiet while the news on the television was at a low volume. After inhaling deeply Violet turned to Tom and said:
“So you still want to be turned?” She her face was restrained and cautious as she spoke to him.
“Yes. I’ve thought about it a lot and I’m ready.” Tom replied with a calm face as he looked back at her. They had talked about it before and tonight was the agreed upon night.
“Alright. Take your shirt off. Don’t want to get it bloody.” Violet got up and walked to her kitchen. Tom stood up and took off his shoes, socks, jacket and shirt. His heartbeat grew faster as Violet came back holding a large hunting knife. She placed it on the table next to the remote and took off her white silk blouse. She and Tom were both standing as Violet walked over to him. Tom could feel her body was cold as she held him in a long embrace.
“You remember what I told you about how this goes?” She whispered as her face nuzzled in Tom’s neck and chest.
“Yeah. You bite me and drink a whole lot. Then I drink the blood you just drank from me. I guess that’s what the knife is for.” Tom closed his eyes as he held tight to Violet and smelled her hair. It smelled like dirt with a faint presence of coconuts.
“Yes. I’ll give myself a nice gash on my arm for you to drink from.”
“You seemed bummed out about this.”
“Yeah. A little. The unknown is bothering me.”
“Well things aren’t so sure regardless. Relax Violet. I want this. I asked for it didn’t I?”
“Yes you did. I still don’t think you understand what you’re asking for. I’ll tell you again; I think you’d be better off staying human.”
Tom felt the bite as a piercing flash on his neck. He stared at the hotel room decorations as Violet began drinking; the feeling that something was being pulled from him began to grow. Violet held him in an embrace; her fingers drifting over his spine.
Tom’s vision began to blur as he felt Violet pulling from deeper insie of him. His hands and feet began to go cold with tingling numbness and his head began to spin. His knees buckled and Violet caught him without her mouth leaving his neck. When she finished she slowly pulle away and placed Tom on the couch. She looked down at him with drowsy eyes and wiped her mouth to reveal a slight smile. She took a long look at Tom’s open mouth and rolling eyes. His limp hands were half closed but grasped nothing.
Violet thought about what was coming next. If she left him like this he would die within the next half hour. She’d left countless people in that state; left to die cold and witless. Robbed of their blood in alleys, hallways, streetcars and hotel rooms not even fully aware of what had happened to them. Violet thought of the people that died alone in cold shadow because of her need. She usually didn’t care to recall the moments but looking at Tom laying helpless on the tan couch just reminded her of too much. The memories flickered one another another in her mind. She smile because she was satisfied. She was also glad Tom wouldn’t be another corpse. She smiled because she was reminded of the power she had.
Violet staggered as she knelt to pick up the knife; drowsy from her long drink. She picked Tom up with one arm and pulled his limp body close to her. He was cold and she was warm; usually it was the opposite. Violet put the blade to her bicep and dragge until little streams of thick red blood ran down her arm. She lightly poked Tom on the shoulder with the knife, wiped the blade on a napkin nearby and then tossed it aside. Tom didn’t wake up so she pinched his cheek. He snorted awake; looking around weakly.
She moved his head to the gash on her upper arm. Tom’s tongue slowly rolled out and tasted the blood; his blood mixed with Violet’s now being given to him. A moment later he put his lips over the gash in earnest and began swallowing. He drank slowly at first then harder as strength returned to him. Violet felt a pang of loss as she felt the warmth slowly leaving her. Her eyes flashed with an irrational anger a moment later as she felt the speed of that loss increase. She had forgotten this feeling. It had been decades since she had turned anyone and the pain involved had caught her by surprise again. Violet winced as Tom drank more and more; trickles of red ran down the corners of his mouth to his chin. Violet stared down at him with a vague sense of envy.
Tom suddenly stood up and stood Violet up with him. He continued to drink; swallowing hard and fast as Violet began to feel dizzy.
“Ok…enough.” She mumbled. Tom couldn’t hear her. He could only hear his heart thundering. He could only feel the electricity in his veins.
“Stop! Shit!” Violet shoved Tom away and staggered from the effort. Tom stood hunched over; wide eyed and speechless. Violet slowly made her way to the couch and plopped into it. She watched with heavy eyes as Tom stared at his hands. The surging energy Tom felt had quickly turned to a burning sensation that throbbed in his veins and organs. His heartbeat sped up as he felt something tear at his insides. A second later he gagged and coughed. A minute after that he clutched his chest and fell to his knees. A headache that made his body shake had caught hold of him. He looked up and over at Violet with terrified eyes.
“Part of the process. See ya when you wake up.” She muttered in a tired voice. Tom then fell face forward to the tan carpet with a heavy thud.
Galba stared out at the loveless world. A world that he now generalized as loveless. Plenty of people were giving and receiving love but Rufus Galba felt blacklisted from it.
The wind was starting to pick up now that night had fallen. Chilly bursts that played with leaves and discarded newspapers in the street. The rituals of the coming cold; the long sleeves and jackets. The hot drinks and calm rain. The precursor to the necessary desolation of winter.
Galba walked along a busy casino district almost aimlessly. He knew what club he was going to he just wasn’t in a hurry to get there and his stride demonstrated this. He felt like a bum but he had no beard and his pants were too tight to be derelict. His jacket was too clean and too meticulously designed for him to be seriously perceived as a vagrant. He had the restless eyes and the aura of a man of the city though. A man on guard.
He passed by the laughing couples on the town and the drunk overweight Tigers’ fans wordlessly. He gave nothing to the beggars crouched on the sidewalk leaning against silver poles. With his hands in his pockets he strolled on; the flashing lights and nice cars telling him to find some other hole to hide in. The ritzy casino district whispered that he was not their targeted demographic. Of course this was just Galba’s perception; he was quite intoxicated. He didn’t notice Hella’s car slowing near him.
Hella pulled over from the busy street and turned her hazard lights on under the flashing casino lights. She stepped out onto the sidewalk with black sneakers, tight black denim pants and a black t-shirt that read ‘Ramones’ in white capital letters over the band’s circular insignia. Her camoflage jacket hung loosely and matched the color of her wavy bobbed hair. She carefully closed her car door and hopped to the sidewalk to meet the shuffling Galba. Galba looked up at her as with confusion; standing still while leaning slightly forward. He was surprised she showed up so quickly.
“God you’re trashed already?” She laughed as she said it.
“No…not yet.” Galba muttered mournfully.
“Get in loser.”
Rufus Galba and Helena Marat sat at the bar of an aging dive watching a muted hockey game. The place was full of wood paneling and mirrors with beer logos on them. It was filling up with leathered degenerates coming to watch the bands no one had set up equipment yet. Galba and Hella sat together with glum faces in silence. It had been a few weeks since Tom and met Violet and stopped being around as much.
“We shoulda learned a trade I’m telling you. Being a plumber, carpenter, electricians…there’s always demand there. Why didn’t our teachers mention that enough? They were always talking that vague ‘follow your dreams’ horseshit.” Galba spoke in a dull voice with heavy eyes. It was a Wednesday night. Galba’s off day and he had been getting sauced and baked since he woke up in the late morning.
“You’ve been out of high school too long to even mention guidance counselors. They didn’t know who you were or what you were into. You didn’t even know who you were. How could they have given good advice? They aren’t supposed to discourage you from anything except dropping out.”
Hella tipped back her beer into her mouth lined with black lipstick. She had gotten off early from her job at the alternative knickknack shop. She called Galba and he told her he was walking to the Flaming Unicorn to see Horshack. Hella drove to where he was, Galba got in and off they went.
“I knew who I was. I’ve always been the same person.”
“So then you really don’t have an excuse huh? Dude if you’ve always been the same that would mean that you haven’t changed. That’s a bad thing.” Helena looked over at people starting to hang around the stage. Their chain wallets swished and their boots stomped on the tile floor as they discussed setting up; their voices damp with boredom.
“I’ve hardened. That’s a good thing. I’ve learned stuff. I’ve found out how crushing the free market can be when you unskilled labor. I thought I had a chance when I was younger. I believed the hype. I bet on working my way up based on hard work and loyalty. I knew I had to start at the bottom. Didn’t known I would stay there! Bullshit!”
“So that’s why you’ve been thinking up dumb business ideas? All that economic talk?”
“Money is power. Power is freedom. Freedom is happiness.” Galba said it matter of factly. As the amps switched on and the low drone began Galba took a long gulp from his beer.
“Shush. The Hags are starting. I’ll get you a real drink so you can stop sulking.”
“I’ve got a joint in my pocket let’s go outside.”
“Capital idea Rufus.”
They stepped outside as the Hags went into their first song; a musical rant about the policies of the International Monetary Fund. The wind was picking up as night settled into the city of Detroit. The sun was gone and the moon was behind thick clouds. Galba and Helena stood about 20 feet to the side of the entrance sharing a joint and facing each other. Hella planned to share with anyone who came outside and asked but so far they were alone.
“Do you like that Violet woman your brother’s been seeing?” Galba looked at the moon slowly emerging from shadow as he spoke. Helena shrugged as she exhaled a thick cloud of smoke from her nostrils and passed the left handed cigarette to Rufus Galba.
“She seems nice, but it feels like a mask. She doesn’t talk about herself much you know? She’s a sharp dresser though. She really nails that gothic thing. Tom likes her and that’s what matters I guess. He seems happy with her. Thank God. He was always so fucking bummed since that last bitch.”
Galba coughed and sputtered as he began to speak; smoke leaping out of his mouth as the crowd inside clapped, cheered and hollered. He cleared his throat, passed the joint and tried again.
“She’s hot and she’s polite but she’s also fucking crazy. She says she’s a vampire. Bites people and shit.”
Helena chuckled in that lazy manner of an intoxicated person. A couple guys in denim vests and tight pants came outside to yak on their phones across from them.
“What? Does she worship the devil too?”
“Tom believes her too! He says it all serious. He thinks that shit is cool! Just because a guy’s lonely doesn’t mean he should pick girls out of the loony bin. I’m lonely too!”
“Ohhh….I get it. You wanna get invited to the Satanic rituals and meet a devil woman of your own! Or do you wish it was you? I know you like the weird ones. And she’s black too? Shit I never see you with black women and you’re black.” Helena held the small joint up to her face to see if it was still lit. She saw that it was and passed it to her sour faced friend.
“Most of them think I’m lame. Too weird and too white. It isn’t my fault. All the subcultural minority women already have white guys by the time I run into them.”
“Keep telling yourself that.” Hella tossed the rest of the joint into the dim parking lot.
“Have you talked to Tom? I haven’t seen him in at least a week.” Galba changed the subject and Helena noticed but didn’t mention it.
“He texted me a few days ago. She didn’t sacrifice him to demons or anything.”
“It isn’t fair.” Galba grunted.
“What isn’t fair?”
“Nothing! Let’s go back in.”
The band was really going now. The music was driving and thrashing; so fast it threatened to go off the rails at any moment. It felt like the cohesion of the song and rapport of the band members was being pushed to the limit and that it was routine to push things to the limit. Music so fast and heavy it could shatter into noise at any moment but for now it was a churning, crashing, howling bombardment and the crowd was loving it. In front of the band the writing mass of people were on their feet lunging into each other. They were in dark clothes shoving each other around. Some moved with the reckless abandon of pinballs; flying back and forth and spinning. They were spilling beer on their friends, the floor and themselves as they screamed and pumping their fists.
Galba and Hella still sat at the bar nodding their heads and smiling stupidly; chairs turned to the performance. Galba was watching one woman off to the side; in a plaid skirt and leather jacket. She was punching and kicking the air to the frantic beat; her aggression being exorcised as her black lipstick lined mouth was fixed into a snarl. She paused abruptly to catch a guy who would have fallen and shoved him back into the mosh pit so hard she herself was briefly off of her feet. Such is the scene. People looking out for each other while pushing them into masses of whirling fists and legs. Shoving someone into a writhing mass of expressed discontent and yet trying your best to prevent them from smacking into the hard dirty floor.
“They’re really good. Who did they say they were?” Hella was shouting Galba a few feet away from her; that’s how loud the music was.
“The Detroit Mirrors! Are you going to mosh?” Galba shouted as well. He was planning on having another joint but wanted to wait until the Mirrors had finished.
“I don’t know. I’m kinda wasted. Feeling kinda lazy.”
“I’m gonna go talk to that girl over there. The one in the skirt.” Galba blurted out. After he said this he watched a man with long dreadlocks and black pants made of patches come up to the woman and kiss her. They embraced longer than friends would.
“Nevermind.” Galba muttered as he took a long swig of his beer.
Galba and Hella stood outside the club smoking another joint. Galba was so drunk he wobbled in place; leaning in different directions and blinking slowly. Hella was not as inebriated. She had a bit of a sway to her movements and she was cursing more but that was it.
“Some good bands tonight…” Hella trailed off as she inhaled.
“Yeah. I love this town. We’re special…gritty.” Galba muttered with a face that looked tired and blissful.
“Yeah it is great. Could be better but could be worse.” Hella shrugged.
“The city is getting better. The people are committed.”
“Rufus you’re drunk. You only love Detroit cause you’re from Detroit. That’s why I love it too-”
“Yeah yeah. What I’m saying is that we’re pretty in the middle when it comes to American cities. New York and L.A. are obviously better. There’s more going on in Chicago. We kick Pittsburgh’s ass but don’t come close to Philadelphia. Madison doesn’t have shit on us that’s for sure. You think we’re better than Cleveland?”
“Of course Detroit is better than Cleveland! Better than Cincinnati too! Even if the city just declared bankruptcy!” Galba yelled and then took a long drag from the joint.
Hella sighed and then chuckled. She took the joint from Galba and puffed while looking down at the ground. She thought about going on a road trip. She thought about the big world out there. Inside the club loud applause had started; hollering and cheering for the band that was thanking them for coming out.
“Rufus…hey!” She slapped him on the spiked shoulder of his leather jacket. It looked like he was about to fall backward. She handed him the joint and he nodded slowly to confirm he was there.
“You gotta be objective. Ohio is technically a better state than Michigan. They’ve got more people. They’ve got better roads and more large cities.” Hella pulled out her phone to look up the populations of both states but it was difficult due to her inebriation.
“Fuck that! We’ve got lakes!” Galba threw his hands up as Hella laughed and decided not to continue the conversation. She ditched the roach and followed the stumbling Galba to the door. Before opening the door he stopped and turned back to Hella; his face was sour and distant.
“Do you think I’m ugly Helena?” He seemed suddenly sad as he said it.
“What? You’re ok I guess. Why?” Hella hated when wasted people got emotional. She inwardly resolved to be patient.
“Why won’t anyone love me? What’s wrong with me?” Hella realized he must have been thinking about this for a while. His voice was low and weak.
“Plenty of people love you! I love you!” Hella tried acting indignant at Galba’s blindness to what he had. He scoffed. They were still just standing in front of the door.
“Ugh you know what I mean-” Abruptly the door swung open and almost knocked Galba over. He clumsily ambled out of the way of two guys carrying an amplifier to a van in the parking lot. They grunted quick “sorry bro”s and wobbled on their way. Hella thought to reach out and give Galba a hug in that moment but stuffed it down in favor of trying to think of something useful to say.
“Attraction and relationships don’t make sense. There’s no method to it. I don’t know what to tell you besides just focus on yourself. That’s what I do.”
“But guys like you! You just don’t like them. Women don’t like me. They’re only curious about me for a second. They don’t see me as boyfriend material…I’m not worth the effort! I try to be nice to them.”
Galba stumbled a bit more out of the way and then steadied himself after always falling. He had to hold his arms out like he was on a small boat in rough water. Hella couldn’t help but to burst into laughter.
“You are so wasted! I thought you were a happy drunk?”
“There’s nothing to be happy about. My soul is freezing. Like everything outside will be soon. Frozen hands, frozen heart.”
“Come on let’s go inside. Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Just make yourself happy.”
“I tried to do that tonight. Look at me now.”
Hella stepped back and eyed Galba up and down. She saw the deep brown skin that seemed to absorb shadow. She saw the black combat boots, the tight ripped jeans and the black t-shirt with some obscure band from the 1980s on it. She saw the customized leather jacket with spikes on the shoulders, the chain attached to his wallet hanging near his right thigh and the almost bald head. He held his arms out in front of her, palms up and with a pleading face.
“You look good. Keep being yourself and you’ll attract a mate with something in common. Don’t give up Rufus.”
“What’s giving up?”
“Heroin. Suicide. I don’t know. Come on the next band’s starting.” Hella pushed Galba through the doors into the club. The bright lights hit her like a shockwave. They weren’t even that bright she was just high as fuck.
Galba walked through the dim hallway quickly with Hella trotting beside him. They were going to Tom’s apartment because they still hadn’t heard from him. The rain came down hard from the grey mid afternoon sky.
With the turn of a key and the flick of a switch they were in. Hella walked over and drew back the shades. The rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. From the third floor it looked like a mist covering everything outside.
“I left it like this. He hasn’t been here in days. Let me check his bedroom.” Hella spoke slowly as her eyes darted around her older brother’s pad. Galba cracked open a window because the air was stale and he loved the rain.
Sitting there perched on top of a hotel room table, shivering and coughing from time to time while Violet read a book in a corner Tom realized again just what he had gotten himself into. A chill deep in his body that made him weak and delirious. The change into a vampire. The death of the body to become undead.
“It is a few days of hell but then-poof! It’s over.” Violet oversimplified with a smile as they sat on a shitty bench on the edge of a neighborhood at 4 in the morning a few days ago. Tom had reservations then but the rest just seemed to go too fast for him. Now Tom was losing feeling as his body grew colder; the icy numbness pushing deeper into his essence. ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ by Nico was playing in the background. It was an 80s version with haunting synths.
“How much longer before something happens?” Tom asked her with a quiver in his voice. He looked expectantly at her under a mass of blankets.
Violet sat low in the green booth under the bright lights of the Coney Island diner. It was 4 in the morning and she had her sunglasses on indoors. Her leather jacket was still on as well. Tom sat across from her; his eyes nervously darting around while the rest of him sat still.
“This is incredible…its like I can dimly see their veins under their skin..hear their heartbeats in a whisper…” Tom’s hands rested neatly and unmoved on the ceramic table. He had on a camouflage jacket buttoned up and a black fedora. His skin was pale and he blinked slowly.
“Are you thirsty yet?” Violet stared at him hard but she had shades on. She was thirsty.
The thirst was forefront in Tom’s mind. In front of his heartbeat it swelled inside dimming other thoughts of bemusement and novelty. They stood outside behind a state government building in the night scooping the nearby skid row for victims.
“See one you like yet?” Violet hovered close next to Tom’s ear whispering in delight.
“I could go for any of them.”
The old industrial area above the freeway had a lot of flattened buildings. The fires from rusted barrels were easily a block away.
Tom and Violet stood on the brown shingles of a roof looking out over the neighborhood. The night was warm and the moon was a thin silver sliver in the sky. There wasn’t a breeze at all and in this quiet well kept neighborhood there were no people out either. They turned their heads in opposite directions looking around.
“Do you feel better? You look better.” Violet asked as a siren wailed in the distance.
“Much. I don’t feel sick anymore. I’m hungry but I can’t think of anything I want to eat. I’m thirsty but I don’t know for what. There’s something else I want…not sure what it is. Its like I’m horny but I’m not.” Tom felt a gnawing in his insides. A strong desire for completion. A craving for the unknown. A ticking clock counting down in his soul. A sense of dread from being unsatisfied in the near future.
“That’s the thirst. You’re a vampire now Tom Marat. You need the blood of the living. This is a special moment: your first drink. I’ll walk you through it. Let’s go this way there’s no one out around here.”
“They’re in their houses. We could just go in one-”
“Whoa easy baby bat. We’re trying to be low key here. There’s no need to make a scene breaking and entering. Easier prey is just a few blocks away. I like your enthusiasm though.” She smiled big as she finished. Tom nodded slightly as they jumped from the rooftop. He could go on and on to Violet about how cunning and beautiful she was in that moment if he were not so damned thirsty.
They hit the street in a single bound and took off running eastward.
Tom and Violet were crouched behind a wall near the parking lot of a cheap motel. A fenced in field of overgrown grass was behind the building. A furniture outlet was to one side and another cheap motel was on the other side.
“Why’d you pick this spot? We could be out finding someone instead of waiting for someone.” Violet sounded annoyed. She didn’t like staying in one place on errands like these.
“I know this place. People are always in and out. Besides you said I could pick.” Tom was nervous. His eyes darted around and he made sure to stay in the shadow; away from the view of the security cameras. They had been here 10 minutes already. They had parked a couple of blocks away and walked here at Tom’s urging.
“So you know what to do when you find someone? Grab them quick. Make sure to cover the mouth first so they won’t scream. Drink until you feel the heartbeat really slow down. Don’t drink a dead person’s blood ever.”
“Yes.” Tom nodded without smiling. He was thinking about all the news reports of attackers in the night he had seen over the years. Now he was going to be one of those attackers. He wished he felt bad enough to not go through with it but those feelings were barely there. The thrist overrode it all; it made his hands quiver with excitement.
“Ok here he comes.” As soon as Violet spoke the words the headlights from a battered blue pickup came into view. The truck pulled in too quickly, too haphazardly for a sober driver. Tom heard the car door creak and his heart began to gallop. He smiled as next he heard the car door slam shut and the tinkling of keys.
“Let him come to you. The point is to take him completely by surprise.” Violet whispered in Tom’s ear.
The footsteps grew closer, a shuffling and scraping that Tom listened to intently. When the sound was close enough Tom sprang out. In an instant Tom saw a middle aged white man, fat with dirty old jeans, mud caked boots, an untucked flannel shirt and a Tigers baseball cap. The man only had time to drop his case of beer and shield his face. Tom pounced on him and did as he was told. He threw his victim against the wall, tore through the collar of his shirt and bit him hard on the neck.
The blood was warm and light. As he drank the warm and calm feeling extended outward from his center; leaving him unconcerned about his victim’s muffled grunts. The man struggled but Tom easily held him firmly. Eventually he stopped moving and the flow of drink slowed to a trinkle. Tom knew it was over but he wanted as much as he could get. He felt as if he were floating and his mind was delightfully, mercifully blank. He felt satisfied for once. Suddenly a hand from behind pulled Tom away and the man flopped to the cemet and didn’t move.
“I told you to stop before they died! You’ll get really sick if you don’t. Come on! Grab his beer and let’s go.” Violet scolded him; slightly jealous of his drink. Tom swiftly picked up the plastic bag full of cans as Violet nudged the body over and reached in his back pocket. They ran to the back of the motel and away through the sidestreets.
Galba stood in the shadow of the Pac Man machine, sipping a pina colada he personally kicked up a couple notches with stashed cheap vodka. Hella was a few feet away concentrating on a game of Marvel VS Capcom. The arcade was bathed in blue light surrounded by shadow. The dance floor and all that came with it was a good distance away from the fading relic of a gaming zone. An old roller rink it was recently refurbished and reborn as an alternative meeting hall/club of sorts. The Kritian Ballroom was a museum of old tunes, old quarter eating amusements and the space to freak out. Some still brought their skates. The floor was still good for it.
“Does the other side of that one work?” Galba asked Hella nervously. He was waiting to meet a guy from the internet and didn’t want to miss him. But how could he miss him? The place wasn’t crowded enough.
“I don’t know come find out. I’ll own your ass right quick. Why are you looking around? No one’s out there for you.”
“Yes there is. We’re meeting that guy I told you about.”
Galba and Hella sat across from the paranormal investigators alone in an ancient seating area next to the arcade of the Kritian Ballroom. Beautiful in its decay the powder blue tiles from the 70s were still in place. In fact the broken ones had been replaced with tiles that didn’t quite match. As Galba looked around he wondered if more people would show if the place were more current. Old shit was kept around because it had character but that only brings hipsters. There are only so many hipsters.
“This place is always so empty. It’s the best.”
Horace smiled to himself as he sipped his latte. His phone buzzed and he gently set his drink down to tend to it. The Pet Shop Boys echoed softly throughout.
“Rufus why’d you contact us?” Rina leaned in and looked people in the eyes when she spoke. Her voice was sweet and quick. Her gaze held longer than the average person’s. Her brother Ace didn’t look people in the eye long enough. He was still staring down at his phone as Sabrina spoke.
“You guys say you’re paranormal investigators. That’s what the website said. Well we’ve got a situation that is paranormal. Duh.” Hella’s voice was low. The vodka she slipped in her milkshake was beginning to show. She was a little surly and slurring slightly. She was quieter and more spacey. She was also worried about her missing brother.
“My friend, her brother has started palling around with some unsavory characters.” Galba stated flatly, hesitant to use the V word.
“Yes I’m Horace Blaine. This is my sister Sabrina. We’re thinking of calling ourselves ‘Ace n Rina: Occult Investigators”. Just haven’t decided on a logo yet.”
Galba stared hard at the two Blaines. They had the same wheat colored hair and blue eyes, the same quietly bored expression but their faces looked different. Horace had more of a square face, round eyes and a big sharp nose. Sabrina had a round face, rosy cheeks and tight narrow eyes. She did have the same nose as her brother though. Galba turned to Hella and Hella shrugged.
“Our friend has this vampire girlfriend and we think she’s gonna kill him, us or everyone.”
“Probably just him.” Blurted Rina in a monotone. Hella shot her a grim glare in silence. The lack of a response from her comment made Rina double back.
“Sorry. Who knows how many could succumb to her unearthly powers?” She wasn’t convincing.
“I apologize for my sister. She’s been having some man trouble.” Ace butted in and he was convincing.
“That piece of shit isn’t a man. Men don’t do what he-“ Sabrina abruptly ducked for the bathroom, quietly sobbing into her hands as she ran under the blue neon.
Galba puffed his blunt and coughed. He then took another drag and passed it to Hella. She took a hit and passed it to Sabrina. Sabrina frowned and the blunt was passed to Horace. They were all standing in a circle behind a shitty abandoned store. The sun was setting and it was cold was usual.
“Are you really gonna kill your bro’s girlfriend? I mean yeah she’s a vampire and all. But maybe he likes that about her?” Horace gurgled after exhaling a large cloud of smoke. He handed the thing back to Galba and coughed some more.
“Maybe its what he wants.” Sabrina noted in a monotone. She wasn’t into the drug shit. She just wanted to go home and watch her shows on Netflix.
“Nobody wants that. He’s under her spell duh! We haven’t seen or heard from him in a week. We need to do something before it is too late.” Galba handed the stick to Hella as Ace started up.
“The guy just got a girlfriend. That is why he’s been missing. Nothing unusual about it. You said he doesn’t get a lot of female attention right?”
“My brother isn’t a bitch like that though. Before if he was caking with some broad we’d know her. He’d be around with her. Fucking smooching in front of us and shit.”
The intended effects were starting to be felt by those who indulged. The lazy eyes and tongues but charged minds. The inner vibrations and outward nonchalance. Damned drugs rarely disappoint.
“Well we need to be sure this girlfriend is a vampire before we do anything.” Sabrina added matter of factly. Galba shook his head.
“I know she is but I get it. You guys need to be sure. Let’s go to the hardware store then the grocery store. I’ll try to get ahold of Tom again. Maybe we can get him and brown sugar to hang out with us. Then you’ll know. Then we’ll strike.”
Ace was going to reply with an affirmative but a coughing fit got him first.
“Is that shit over yet?” Sabrina was looking at the stubby brown smudge between Hella’s fingers with an expression of thinly veiled contempt.
“How are you guys so skilled at this but still starting out?” Hella asked as she strolled the lumber aisle of the hardware store.
“Our Dad was a paranormal expert. He taught us.” Sabrina absent mindedly noted as she scanned the shelves.
“Have you heard of Adlai Blaine?” Horace turned to look at Galba as he asked.
“Nope. That your Dad? He retired?”
“He’s dead.” Sabrina sharply answered.
“Pancreatic cancer about a year and a half ago.” Horace added.
There were the 4 of them in a dimly lit basement in the early afternoon. Helena Marat, Rufus Galba, Horace Blaine and Sabrina Blaine. It was the living quarters of Horace the big brother. They sat at a table carving, sharpening and sanding wooden stakes. They weren’t chatting much, just passing the bottles and joints around with some murmur. Galba noticed Horace’s soft trance music in the background was shitty but didn’t say anything.