Monday, July 27, 2015

Losing My Appetite: Short Fiction

Losing My Appetite
 Chris Costello

I ran my tongue over my fangs, scanning the crowd, inhaling the scent of warm meat. The thumping of a thousand hearts drowned out the cheesy Dixie Chicks song.

Then I saw her in the corner, sipping a Bloody Mary. She was wearing all the classic Goth attire. The torn fishnets, the ten coats of eyeliner, you know the drill. Her hair was cut in a neat bob, and it was clearly dyed black. With an outfit like that in a country bar, she was just begging to be my dinner.

I sauntered through plumes of cigarette smoke, locked eyes with the twenty-something man in a cowboy hat seated next to her, and tapped into my powers. The well of energy in my chest ebbed a little, and my eyes pulsed with a dull energy Then the guy met my gaze.

“Leave.” I mouthed.

He stood and left.

“Good evening.” I said, sidling up next to the woman. I let a hint of the Eastern European inflection seep through. If there’s one thing the ladies dig, it’s an exotic accent.

The woman glared at the cowboy’s broad back. “See if I give him an ‘A’ on his next term paper.”
That was my cue. I straightened my ruby bolo tie and flashed my most dazzling smile. “Perhaps you would care for the company of something a little more...mature.” Six hundred counts as mature, right?

She shrugged.

I now realized she was about forty or so, if the streak of silver through her hair was anything to go on. Older than my usual, but really, taking out this aging vamp wannabe would be doing the world a favor.

I used the classic look-into-my-eyes tone. “So, you’re a teacher?”

She nodded again.

“What do you teach?”
“English 201, Gothic Literature, and Monsters in Mythology.”

“Monsters?” I asked, stifling a chuckle. “Like vampires?” Some days, this was just too easy.

Her heavy-lidded gaze passed over my black Wranglers and settled on my enormous silver belt buckle. Not real silver, of course. A smile tugged at the woman’s scarlet lips. I tried to turn on my hypnotism, but she spoke first. “You don’t actually believe in that kind of thing, do you?”

If my heart could still pump, it would have been going like a jackhammer right about now. “Don’t you?”

I was all set to bend her will, but she ruined the moment. Again. “Vampires are just metaphors for what people didn’t understand about medicine in the past. Their limited knowledge caused them to create stories. We fear what we don’t understand, so we feel the need to explain that which cannot be explained. It doesn’t matter if the answers make no sense.” She then proceeded to lecture me on the nature of disease in the Victorian era until I was sleepy. 

I sucked in a breath. My stomach sounded like a defective chainsaw, and I was starting to feel a little woozy. The only thing to do was to mesmerize her, ensnare her so thoroughly that she would be my willing slave. It wasn’t the most ethical thing in the world, but damn, I was hungry.

I was all set to do it when the woman opened her mouth yet again. “Because the literature often reflected the sexual suppression of the era, the monster was usually the min character’s wife or neighbor, transformed from innocence into a femme fatale or deviant. Vampirism empowered women, so naturally, they had to be killed. And, come on. The male’s weapon of choice was always the phallic wooden stake. How could anyone deny the metaphor of sexual violence?” She said.

I was ready to bite her right there, just to shut her up. Humans weren’t usually so difficult to control-or this talkative. All the same, I held back. There were too many people in this damned bar. One of them was bound to see me and notify the proper authorities of my existence.

She waved to the bartender. “Can I get a menu? I’m starving.” She turned to me. “I hope they have garlic chicken wings.”

It was now or never. I stared into her eyes, tapping into that well of energy once more. “You are not hungry.” I said slowly. “You are thirsty. You will leave and invite me for a drink at your place.” Doing the bloodsucking at someone else’s house always saved on the cleanup.
The lids of her eyes drooped. “A my place.” She said, slumping against the bar. Just as I was about to pat myself on the back for  job well done, she blinked. “My place is a mess. No way you’re seeing that.”

I leaned in closer, the sound of her pulse rising above the twang of Shania in the background. The scent of her blood filled my nostrils, making it difficult to concentrate. I glared at her, noticing for the first time that they were steel gray. Sexy. “You will come with me to my condo and I will...empower you.” And then after that, I’d drink her blood.

She smiled, clearly already drunk on my magic. Why had this taken so long?

“And you will not ruin the mood by speaking.” I added.

She rose, staring into my eyes as we exited into the cool, night air. Even though Miss Dinner stank of cheap perfume, what I suspected was residue of wet dog, and cigarette smoke, I was still dizzy with hunger. But my powers must have been waning by the time we got to my place, because she stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk and the spell was broken.

"And if you think the vampirism in literature a hundred years ago was sexist, you should read some of the trash published today about supposedly sexy vampires."

"What do you mean, supposedly sexy?" I took her elbow, guiding her to the elevator.

"They're in paranormal romance novels, powerful men bending women to their will. The weak woman says no, but afterward she decides sexual violence is okay because she didn't know what she wanted anyway. Blah! That's why I like Jane Austen. Keep it simple with nice Mr. Darcy."
I tried not to gag. I hurriedly enthralled her into silence with what was left of my magic, then ushered her to my condo. Jane Austen fan or not, she would be my dinner. A guy’s gotta eat, after all.

Unfortunately, when we entered my bedroom, instead of jumping on my king size bed with the inviting blood-red comforter, she went to the dressing screen in the corner.

"Ooh, I've always wanted to change behind one of these! Can I?"

"As you wish." I reclined back on the bed, faint from hunger, stomach whining in complaint.

She disappeared behind the screen. "So, you never did answer me when I asked if you believed in vampires."

I chuckled. "I have reason to believe. Perhaps, I might change your mind...."

She was silent for a long moment. Her scent intensified, the feminine musk growing sharp in my nostrils. And there was something else.... Was that fear? I smiled.
At last, she spoke. "And do you believe in werewolves and witches, too?"

"Of course not, don’t be ridiculous.” I decided not to tell her about my encounter with the Sea Hag of Bear Lake last August. "And you don't, either, I'd wager, as you'll just say wolf-men are metaphors for--"

She slipped out from around the screen. She had changed, but not in the way I expected. She was covered from head to toe with fur. Her face was now a muzzle, drawn back into a hungry smile, though her voice was the same authoritative teacher tone as before. “I don’t believe in wolf-men.” She said. “Just wolf-ladies.”

No comments:

Post a Comment