AMANDA’S BLOODY MARY
copyright johnny carlson 2011
copyright johnny carlson 2011
To all appearances, Adam Chase was a pretty normal kid. Good in school, sports and, until last year, Scouts. He thought of himself as a bit of a loner, but when he was with people, he generally liked most. What set him apart, privately, was his intense interest in myth, folklore and legend. Besides studying so-called “true accounts” of supernatural happenings and paranormal literature, he liked reading horror and fantasy fiction -- otherworld and underworld stuff. It all fed his suspicion that there were indeed real things that went bump in the night. A hidden, dangerous, but exciting world just under the surface of everyday life. Why else would there be so many variants of the same stories over many centuries and many countries?
Besides all that, Adam spent a lot of time on his computer. Searching the web, he’d type in keywords that brought up all sorts of sites and chat rooms that appealed to his imagination His actual belief might have been halfhearted, but his enthusiasm toward the possibilities was boundless.
Adam had been exchanging emails with a girl who claimed she was a vampire. She went by the on-line name of Griffine. At first Adam was intrigued. Her description of what the night was like for her sounded compelling and plausible. Although her apparent self-loathing had become annoying to him, it made perfect sense if she had really been turned into something she hated. She said it happened in the nineteen-twenties when she was a teenager. But her emails were peppered with too much teen angst. The more she wrote, the more Adam believed that in reality she was just a lonely Goth girl -- or a creative but probably delusional, and certainly not one of the truly undead.
“Griffine” was just the latest in a lengthening list of strangers he had been in touch with. He was disappointed that this one, too, was turning out to be another fictional story; one more vampire or werewolf wanna-be. As his dad had said about many types of people in this world; “they may be strange, but they’re a dime a dozen.” It was fine, in general, to take people at their word, but in the world of the preternatural, as in Science, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. He was in the process of interviewing another stranger and he hoped it panned out. When Griffine started talking about some guy she’d met at school, Adam sighed, and sent her off a message.
“Griffine,” he wrote
“I really appreciate the information you’ve given me. I’m keeping it all in my journal. But I will be leaving with my family for a long trip and I won’t be able to email for awhile. Thanks and good luck.
Your friend, A --”
“Whew!” he thought, “so much for the young queen of the damned.” He smiled to himself, wrote down the web addresses of two sites he’d visit tomorrow and closed his laptop.
* * * *
Adam and his parents and his younger sis, Rebekah, had recently moved across town into a huge old gothic revival mansion. It belonged to an uncle that he wasn’t even aware he had. The whole situation was too weird. Apparently it was important to his dad to keep the house in the family.
His dad, as far as Adam knew, had never mentioned a brother -- let alone that he had died last year. If there was a funeral, Adam never heard about it. He didn’t ask many questions about his uncle or the place but he thought it would be cool to live there since it looked almost like a haunted house from a movie.
Another thing that surprised him was that they moved in without most of their furniture. The house was furnished and mom said she loved the decor. Downstairs, the main living areas were decorated in a contemporary style, but the upstairs bedrooms were furnished with ancient stuff, maybe valuable antiques. He didn’t know. But he chose a room with a cool ancient bed. They don’t make those kind of beds anymore, but his dad said they were called cabinet beds. Like a huge old box with carved wood -- looked like it was pushed up and attached to one whole wall of the bedroom -- (it even had these thick old drapes that pulled closed) like he’d seen in some scary old black and white films. Mom had to wash those though. Most of the bedrooms were dusty from being closed up for years.
At any rate, after writing Griffine, he had things to do. Even though it was Friday night, he wanted to finish his geometry homework, write a report for history class and then spend time going over his driver manual. He’d be taking his license test soon. He heard his mom call up to him for dinner. He opened his bedroom door, “Mom, I’m not hungry. I had pizza with Josh and Mike after school.” He really hadn’t but he had loads of junk food stashed in his room that he could eat while he worked.
About three hours later, Adam began getting ready for bed. He would sleep a few hours before exploring more of the house. He went to pull the curtain and, glancing down into the darkening twilight, he noticed someone in the yard below. A woman working in the garden. Kind of late for yard work, he thought. He shrugged. Whatever.
At three a.m. he awoke. It wasn’t unusual -- he woke up sometime in the night, every night. He had to go to the bathroom. Then he took the wide curving staircase to the third floor. He had only been up there once but he thought he had seen a door that might lead to an attic. He wanted to check it out. He passed two empty bedrooms and turned on the light in the one closest to the door at the end of the hall. The door wasn’t locked and, yes, there was a few steps up behind it.
He climbed the steps but no light switch was on the wall. Then he felt something tickling his face. He reached up and felt a thin chain. “Ah.” He pulled it and a bare light bulb swinging from the ceiling came on. Whoa! This place was loaded with stuff. Junk, antiques, boxes. He was elated at the prospects. He walked around the place, getting general idea of the size and layout of the huge attic. The stuff thinned out as he moved slowly toward the back part of the house -- approximately above his bedroom he figured. A surprising little vignette was set up. A desk, a lamp, a pair of binoculars and a pen holder stuffed with pens, pencils and sharpies. The desk drawers were locked. Beside the desk and in front of a small gable window, a beautiful telescope sat on its tripod.
Adam looked into the eyepiece. Its sites were set on the neighbors’ yard. Most of the yard and part of the garden was visible. He smiled. “So, Uncle was a peeping tom. Huh.”
* * * *
Now Adam was in a quandary. While he wanted to continue his usual on-line investigations, he was even more intrigued by the possible mysteries of the house. As a typical teenager, he needed lots of sleep, but he was so into looking at all the stuff in the attic that he just didn’t feel sleepy. He had found an old coin collection which he took to the desk and spread out for a closer look.
When he took a break from the amazing collection of coins, to stand and stretch, he happened to look out the window. There was that woman again. Now she was hunched over a flowerbed. He wanted to watch for a moment, but he had to pee again. When he returned, though, she was still there. He picked up the binoculars and focused in on her.
She was standing above the flowerbed now -- just staring at it with her hands on her hips. Then she turned and looked up -- right at him -- and smiled. He backed away from the window and put the binoculars down. Dang! he was so embarrassed. But when he thought about it, it only made sense that she would notice the only light in the house was in the little gabled window.
Oh well, who cares, he thought. If she was out working in the middle of the night then she was strange, not him. Nevertheless he decided he’d better go back to his bedroom and try to get at least a few hours sleep. He pulled the chain and clicked the light off, descended the small stairway and closed the door to the attic.
He dreamed of the woman next door. Later he wouldn’t remember much of the dream except that he had run with her through a field and into a dark wood They laughed together like children playing. But the dream put a thought in his head. Maybe she wasn’t what she seemed. He was very much aware that his preoccupation with werewolves and vampires would naturally play into his subconscious. But, still . . .
* * * *
He got up a little late Saturday morning, but he had plenty of time before he had to be at baseball practice, so he went outside to play catch with Bekah. She was really into all sports and jumped at the chance to practice her throw. Dad said she was a “tomboy“ but Adam knew she liked girlie stuff, too, so he figured she just had a competitive streak and he thought that was pretty cool.
Anyhow it was a perfect day for it; dark and overcast, but warm too. He missed a catch that Bekah threw just to the left. The ball went over the picket fence and he jumped it to get the ball.
“Wow,” he muttered to himself. “This yard is amazing.” He wasn’t generally appreciative of flowers and plants but it seemed like the whole place was in boom. Not an inch of soil between the plants. The porch, too, had pots and boxes full of flowers and vines and cool stuff. And sitting in a porch swing was that woman. At least he figured it was her. She waved at him and smiled. Now that he saw her up close he could see she was pretty hot., but she was kind of old -- late twenties or maybe even thirty!
“Nice yard,” he called out to her.
“Thanks,” she said and then laughed -- “better keep your eyes on the ball though!”
He laughed too. “Okay!”
She was nice at least, even if she was old. But she was on the porch at mid-day so she probably wasn’t a vamp. Darn. He had hoped she was. Well, he thought, she could still be a were-animal or a witch or something, and he hoped she was.
* * * *
She was still sitting there on the porch swing when he returned home that evening. She waved. “How was practice?”
“Fine,” he said, “but how did you know I was at practice?”
“You’ve got your mitt and you’re wearing you uniform, Silly.”
He blushed. “Oh. Right.”
She got up and walked to the fence, shading her eyes as if it were sunny outside. Wow, what a body. “I’ve got something for your mom,” she said. “A housewarming gift. Why don’t you come over and get it after while? Part of it isn’t quite done yet. I‘d bring it over myself, but I‘ve got some projects going that I can‘t walk away from.”
He felt himself redden again. “Sure. When?”
“Oh anytime this evening. After you’ve eaten maybe.”
“Oh,” she said as if just remembering something. “I’m Amanda.” She held out her hand.
“Adam,” he said. Her hand was soft but also very cold. That was a good sign. Maybe she wasn’t human after all . . .but she sure looked good in human form.
Adam couldn’t wait to go back to her house, and he gulped down his food so he could be excused.
He ran to the fence and jumped over as if he were in a race. Then he caught himself, slowed down and walked at a normal pace. He didn’t want to seem like he was a little kid or that he was overeager. After all, he was sixteen and should be more mature. She wasn’t on the swing, so he stepped onto the wide wraparound porch and knocked.
Amanda opened the door. “Come on in Adam! Delighted you remembered.” She was dressed in a really short skirt and a tight sky-blue pullover. Wow, he thought, swallowing hard. But it was weird that she was wearing heels. Who wears their shoes in the house? And they were kind of dress up too. “This way. It’s all ready.”
He followed her to a solid oak country kitchen type table. Her hips swung seductively as she walked. He tried not to look at her butt. There on the table was a potted plant and a hot apple pie.
“Adam,” she continued, “I’d love to stay and chat with you but I am going out so we’ll have to do it another time.”
“Really?” he said with too much excitement in his voice. “You’d like me to come over and just talk?”
She chuckled. “I’d like that, yes.”
Grabbing the potted plant in one hand and carefully picking up the pie in the other, he started for the door. “Hey,” he said as an afterthought. “How come you were outside last night?”
“I always tend my flowers at night,” she said. “I prefer the cool evening. I just can’t work or concentrate with the sun glaring down on me, and I don’t need much sleep.
Hmmmm, he thought. Maybe a little bit of a nut case. Most people liked working outside when the sun is shining -- not skulking around in the shadows at night.
“See you later then.” The screen door creaked and slammed behind him. “Sorry!”
* * * *
“Hey Dad, did your brother have a keychain? There’s a desk I found with all the drawers locked up, and I wanted to maybe use it.”
“It’s most likely empty, Adam.” He rustled the newspaper he was reading as he turned the page. “but I’ll look around later.”
After a few minutes his father put the newspaper down and looked at Adam. “I know how you like exploring things. I’ve got a hunch there are lots of interesting secrets in this old house, but probably nothing very important.”
“What do you mean by ‘interesting secrets’?”
“Well,” his dad said. “Take the width between the kitchen and the living room. That’s a lot of space.”
“You lost me, Dad.”
“There are no rooms between the two and yet there is a large space between them. Shouldn’t there be something in all that space?”
Adam got up from the hassock he was sitting on. He traced the long wall in the living room all the way to the windows looking outside -- then he walked along the wall to the kitchen and on down the to the hall. No secret doors.
It was getting dark and Adam went upstairs to his room. He undressed and got into bed. He pulled all the drapes around the bed. It was a small cozy space. He lit the candle in a sconce behind him and started reading, but he was asleep in less than ten minutes. When he awoke around one o’clock, the candle was barely flickering. He blew it out and left his bed. Then he returned to the attic.
He started opening some of the boxes. So far his Dad was right. He found a lot of Christmas decorations, a box of fabric and a bunch of old newspapers. There were two full of old toys -- that was pretty cool. Besides the old lamps and mirrors and furniture there were still plenty of boxes, but he was tired of it so he went to the desk and ran his hands all around the edges and underneath. Nothing. He stood up and looked out the window.
There she was again. He put his eye to the telescope and couldn’t believe how clear her image was. It was as if he were standing right beside her. She had some sort of knife/scythe thing. She was cutting bunches of something and then, bam! She cut herself. He heard her cry out and then look at her hand. He could see it too well. It was sliced wide open, deep, like to the bones. Then the gash filled up with blood. She squeezed it with her other hand and just sat there looking around as she applied pressure. She should have jumped up and ran to her house! Adam was riveted. Soon she took her hand away and wiped the wound dry with her dress. There was no deep cut! What? -- spontaneous healing? That was a sure sign of vampirism as well as werewolf physiology. So, she wasn’t human! As much as he had hoped and expected that myth was rooted in reality, when it stared him in the face, he was as freaked out as the next guy.
He went to his room and locked the door. He was surprised at his own fear. His mind was racing. Suddenly he jerked awake with a start. Another dream? Oh please God, he hoped so. Even though his heart was pounding he felt disappointment wash over him.
Sunday morning she was sitting on her porch again and he pretended not to notice her as he walked by. “Morning Adam!”
“Oh, hi Amanda.” He walked over to the fence pretending he was surprised she was sitting there. “What’s up?”
“Nothing much,” she smiled. “you want a soda or something?. I have plenty.
“Yeah, sure.” Must not be a vampire he thought. Why would she have soda if she was. Maybe a werewolf.
She twisted in her chair and opened a cooler and tossed him a coke. “C’mon up and sit,” she said.
He sat down on one of the porch chairs. He couldn’t help trying to see the palm of her hand, but she had both hands in her lap, palms down. He noticed her glass with a stick of celery in it. “What are you drinking?” he asked.
“Oh. Bloody Mary,” she answered dismissively. “So Adam tell me about yourself.”
“Not much to tell really. School, homework, getting used to the new house. You know.”
“Beautiful house, too.” She looked kindly at him. “What else? Do you read or have hobbies?”
“Oh sure,” he answered. “I read a lot actually.” Then he decided to take a chance and tell her his real interests. He told her all about his studies in myth and folklore, and his belief that there was truth in the stories.
She got a funny look on her face. He couldn’t read it. “My,” she said, “that’s really interesting, very cool. So have you discovered anything to back up your theories yet?”
“No, but I’ve got a couple of people on line that I might meet up with. One guy says he’s a member of a pack in Portland, Oregon and there’s another guy who goes by the name Vlad. He said he’d be glad to let me interview him, even go on a hunt! But it would have to be after midnight. To tell you the truth, I think I could skip the hunt part.”
“Vlad,” she said laughing. Then she took a big drink. When she put her glass down, her upper lip was wet with vivid red. It didn’t look like the tomato juice used in a Bloody Mary. It looked kind of slimy and gross. She licked her lip and most of it came off. Gross.
“Oh, well, yeah. I mean people use fake names in chat rooms and stuff. It’s safer.”
“Do you use a fake name?”
“I go by ‘A’ mostly.”
“A for Adam.”
He blushed, “um, no, it’s for Alexi. It sounds better than Adam.”
“Oh,” she said, “I suppose Vampires wouldn’t have typical American names. Listen,” she continued, if you meet one of these characters, would it be . . . I mean would you mind if I tagged along?”
“That’d be great! If you don’t mind riding a bus. I won’t have my actual driver’s license for quite awhile.”
“Don’t be silly,” said Amanda. “I drive.”
“Can’t tell my parents.”
“No, of course not.”
“and you might have to wait in the car when I’m actually meeting somebody.”
“Okay,” she said. “Maybe we should take notes on everything. Let me go get a pad and pen.”
Adam couldn’t believe his luck. That a grown woman would be willing to help him. Wow. When she closed the door behind her, he couldn’t help himself -- he reached for her drink.” He brought it to his mouth. Just a little sip. He almost gagged when the taste registered on his tongue. He put the drink down quickly. That was not anything a person should be drinking! It was thick and had an iron-salty taste. Absolutely disgusting.
Later, Adam was able to track Vlad down on line and instant messaged him. “Vlad,” he typed. “It’s all set. I can meet you now. When is a good time?”
There was no response for several seconds and he was afraid Vlad had already signed off. But then -- “Next Friday -- in Seattle -- 1:00 pm at Mary’s Mausoleum. -- Do you know it? It’s a non-alcoholic dance club.”
“I’ll find it,” Adam answered.
They were standing in the yard. It was about four o’clock in the morning and Adam had known she’d be there.
“Adam, does this ‘Vlad’ know how old you are?”
“I don’t think so. Why?”
“That place he wants to meet, Mary’s Mausoleum. It caters to teenagers. Why would a grown man, if that’s what he is, choose that place?” She had a disgusted look on her face.
“You mean you think he’s a perv and a vampire?” She just looked at him and didn’t say a word. “Wait,” Adam continued. “If he doesn’t know my age then he’s not trying to lure me there for the reasons you’re suggesting. Besides, how do you know anything about this place?”
“Because,” she said, “I went and checked it out last night. And another thing, “she said, “the place closes at twelve and he wants to meet you at one, right?”
“Right. Maybe he needs to bite someone before I get there. You know, feed or whatever.”
She threw her head back and laughed. Then she abruptly stopped. “Sorry,” she said, “Maybe that’s right.” Then she looked thoughtful and said, “why do you want to interview him anyway?
“For my research,“ he said. “and, well . . .”
“It would be cool to have the kinds of powers they have. Vampires, I mean.”
“Are you telling me that you want one of them to change you?”
“You mean turn me,” he said. “I’ve only thought about it. I don’t know if I really want it to happen.”
“Well, you don’t!” she was angry. “It’s not a life. It’s eternal boredom -- with no future, no love, lots of trouble and no peace!” She turned away and walked toward the flowerbed. “I’m afraid you’re going to get into trouble. Trouble that I may not be able to help you with.”
Adam’s mood changed, mirroring hers. “I never asked for your protection! You volunteered to come with me. I didn’t ask you.”
She turned toward him again and, with a gentler tone, said, “Maybe this is all a mistake.”
“Don’t come then! I don’t care!”
“I didn’t mean my coming might be a mistake. I mean your agreeing to meet these . . .people you’re in touch with from the web.”
Adam was starting to whine like a petulant child. “I was into this stuff way before I met you,” he said. “and anyhow, if I really wanted to be turned I’d have asked you to do it!”
She was startled. “What?”
“Yes, you’re one. You’re a vampire,” he said accusingly.
“That’s ridiculous! This conversation is over. Go back to bed,” she said and started toward her house.
“I tasted your Bloody Mary,” he yelled at her. “It was bloody alright. And I saw your hand the night you cut yourself. I saw it heal!”
She was on him in a movement so fast it seemed as though she flew. “You mustn’t repeat that. Ever! To anyone!”
The venom in her voice made him cringe and pull away. But he was still defiant. “If I was going to say anything to anyone else, I would have done it already.”
“Adam, I must warn you. Our kind will not tolerate the knowledge of our existence. The way we exist is by blending in.” Her appearance had changed. Her anger made her eyes flash and it seemed as though her body barely contained the electric energy that animated her. Even her breasts seemed to swell.
“If that’s the case, then why have you befriended me? What’s in it for you?”
She relaxed and gave him the smile he was used to. She reached up and stroked the side of his face. The tenderness of the touch made him blush. He felt it all the way down to his groin. She seemed to sense his excitement and quickly pulled back. “Have you ever had a pet, Adam? A dog or a cat or even a bigger animal, that was very close to you?”
“Yes,” he said.
“I liked you the moment I saw you, Adam. Your big doe-eyes, your infectious smile, your youthful energy, everything. Later you showed your enthusiasm and excitement about your interest. I have become very fond of you in that sense.”
“Oh,” he said, with disappointment. “So I’m like a dog to you. A cute puppy you can throw a ball for . . .”
“Adam, you have no idea what my existence is like. I have no reason to exist. I’m a different species, for heaven’s sake! My life requires the life-force of humans. My life is an abomination. I spend hours cultivating my garden, getting what little joy I can from planning something the way your kind plan your lives.
But you’ve become more than a distraction. I have to admit I am a bit surprised at how important you’ve become to me in such a very short period of time.” She sighed. “But if we can’t remain friends, if we can’t be confidants, then . . .” she shook her head. “If I am forced to destroy you -- well, I am capable of doing what I must. Still, I am not void of feeling. I would grieve your loss and become very sad.”
Adam was deeply touched and frightened at the same time. He didn’t know which feeling brought the tears that he was trying to keep in check. She held out her arms to him and he fell into them, melting in her cold embrace. “I’m sorry I got mad at you,” he said.
“Are we friends then? I’d never tell anyone about you. I won’t put you at risk.”
She pulled away and looked into his eyes, her hands still on his shoulders. “Friday night, then?” she smiled.
“Okay,” he sniffed.
“It’ll be alright then, Adam. Don’t worry. Go back to your room now.”
* * * *
All the rest of the week, Adam tried to figure out how he could get to Mary’s Mausoleum without Amanda. He felt, after their spat, that he wanted to go on his own. He wasn’t sure why, but his adventure would be more productive without her. Maybe, subconsciously, he did want to become a supernatural being. Finally, Thursday afternoon, he decided what he’d do. After school he knocked on Amanda’s screen door.
“Adam! Is anything wrong? You look strange.”
He kept his eyes downcast. He was still a little embarrassed by the heated conversation they’d had earlier in the week. “Amanda, I think I’m going to cancel Friday night. I feel like I’m coming down with something. In fact you shouldn’t get too close to me now. I’d hate to give you this crud.”
“Don’t be silly, Adam. I’m not susceptible to your illnesses. But I’m sure sorry to her you don’t feel well. Let me know when you’re better,. Okay?”
He raised his eyes to her and saw the look of concern on her face. Adam was pretty sure she was worried that he might have had second thoughts about their friendship. He didn’t want her to think that so he smiled broadly. “Thanks Amanda. Maybe I’ll be better by Saturday.”
He told his mom the next morning that he thought he had the flu. He didn’t want to make Amanda suspicious by walking off to school. So he faked it. His mother suggested that they go see the doctor, but he said he didn’t want to do that. He just wanted to stay in bed, he told her.
Friday afternoon he spent some time on the sofa as part of his ruse. After a while he told everybody that he was going to bed. “If anyone calls, tell ’em I’m sick and in bed.” At nine-thirty he crept down stairs and out the side door without any of the family seeing him. He stayed on that side of the house so that Amanda wouldn’t see him if she happened to be looking outside. By ten o’clock he was at the bus stop and by ten-thirty he was in downtown Seattle. He asked someone for directions to third and Bourne and then walked to the club. Adam was tall. He was wearing a hoodie and kept the hood up. No one seemed to take notice of him.
He heard the music two blocks away. He was early, but that couldn’t be helped. So he decided to go into the place. Luckily he had money on him. He paid a cover charge and entered a dark place full of dancing bodies. It was really dark except for the bar. So he walked up and ordered a coke and then sat on an empty bar stool.
Two stools down was a pretty girl -- kind of. She was about his age. She smiled. He smiled back. Her eyes were caked with black makeup. “Hey,” she said. “You wanna dance?”
“Uumm . . .naw. Thanks though.”
“What’s your name?” she asked. “I’ve never seen you here and I come every weekend.”
“Alexi,” he answered.
“Alexi? Wow. You Russian or Ukrainian or something?”
“No. My parents.”
“That’s cool,” she said. “I’m Eve. You know, like Adam’s wife.”
He gave her a funny look. What a weird thing to say “yeah, I know.”
He wished she’d go away. Even if she was sort of pretty, he was going to be meeting a Vampire later for chrissake. He got up taking his coke with him and went to the men’s room -- just to get away from Eve. Three minutes later he walked around the edge of the dance floor. He stood and watched the kids make asses of themselves.
“Hey!” It was Eve’s voice behind him, damn it. “where’d you go?”
“C’mer,” she said with her mouth to his ear. “I wanna show you something.”
Adam was irritated by her persistence. “Fine. What do you want to show me?”
“C’mon.” He followed her toward the coat check and around a corner into a kind of hallway. “Give me your coke.” She reached out and took it from him. Then she pulled a little bottle of vodka from her back pocket and poured it in. “Try that.”
He looked skeptical. “Everyone does it,” she said. He looked at her. “Oh, c’mon! Don’t’ be a nervous Nelly.”
Adam suddenly laughed out loud. “Nervous Nelly?”
She rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean.”
He hadn’t heard that phrase since his great grandmother had died. He smiled at her. “you’re funny. But just to let you know I’m not here to pick up girls.”
“Boys?” she asked.
He laughed. “No, I just mean I’m not looking for a girlfriend.”
“Good. ‘cause neither am I.”
“Could have fooled me,” he said.
She punched him in the arm and almost knocked him over. “I was just trying to be friendly,” she said. “I thought you looked kind of out of place and uncomfortable.”
So they sat and talked. She asked too many personal questions, but he had another vodka coke and it didn’t bother him too much. He looked at his watch. The place closed at twelve and he was supposed to meet Vlad at one. He had to think of a way to ditch Eve.”
“I gotta go,” he said. “my ride will be here soon.”
“Okay. Maybe see you next weekend?”
“Yeah, sure, next weekend.” He got up from his stool and walked toward the door. He was relieved at how simple that had been. Now he’d just have to find a place to keep out of sight until all the teenagers left.
Adam walked into the night and around the block until he was on the next street over. He knew when the place closed. He could hear kids yelling and talking after the music stopped. He didn’t know which way Eve would be going and he didn’t want her to spot him so he walked until he found the entrance to a dark alley. He leaned against a sour smelling dumpster where he could watch the street.
And that’s when it happened.
* * * *
Someone grabbed him roughly from behind and spun him around as if he were a rag doll. It was Eve. She grabbed him with both hands by the collar and lifted him off his feet. She slammed him against the brick wall of the alley. She looked furious and evil. Nothing like the harmless kid he’d spent the last few hours talking to. “What are you up to, Alexi, hmm?” Her voice was almost a snarl. “Think you’re cool hunting vampires? Or do you think it’d be fun to be one?”
“I’m not hunting vampires,” he said breathlessly. “I’m just doing research.”
“Research,” she mocked. “You think I’m a fool? I wasn’t born yesterday you know.” She slammed him again. “I ought to kill you,” she said. “I’ll decide after I’ve had a drink.”
He felt her teeth sink into him -- the skin didn’t give at first, but with pressure it punctured and slits opened with ease. It hurt like sharp barbed wire digging into his flesh. The pain was localized on his neck but he felt the burn all the way down his chest, shoulder and arm. He struggled against her but had no power. He felt the life draining out of him.
There was some sort of stir behind Eve -- he could see movement but nothing recognizable. Then he was pulled away from the wall, or more precisely, she was pulled and he with her. He heard her snarl and scream. He heard growls and ripping fabric. She had sunk her teeth deeper into him like a dog biting the end of a rope or a ball.
* * * *
He awoke in a bedroom he did not recognize. He felt strange. His muscles felt tight and coiled like a spring. Amanda was sitting in a chair beside the bed. “Welcome back.”
“Vlad, happened,,” she said.
“I was confused. I don’t think I saw him.”
“Adam it was the girl. The girl went by the online name of Vlad!”
“But . . .”
“We’ll talk about it later,” she said. “But we’ve got to get a move on. We have to leave. For obvious reasons you can’t go back home -- fake eating and drinking, struggling to procure blood. All that. The sooner we go the better for your parents.”
He instantly saw that she was right.
* * * *
They drove all night in Amanda’s car. When the sky began to lighten, they pulled over to a rest stop. She duct taped some heavy cloth over the windows to sleep through the day and Adam crawled into the trunk, slamming the door behind him. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The sun would be strong later.
Sometime during the afternoon he heard male voices and felt the car shake as if someone were trying to get in. Shit, Amanda was in the front of the car! She wouldn’t be able to fight them off if they opened the car door. He couldn’t do anything either. There were at least two and they sounded like belligerent young men. He was really scared. Then he heard the door pop open and the Amanda hissing. The men were laughing and ordering her to get out. Then there was a tussle and he heard Amanda’s horrible screaming.
For a little while it was quiet. About ten minutes later, he felt someone get in the driver’s seat and start the engine. Had to be one of the men, since Amanda wouldn’t be able to drive under the sun. The car moved and Adam was on his way somewhere with a strange man. A man who, after dark, Adam would rip to shreds for murdering Amanda. Adam felt tears stream down his face. He knew that, eventually, he’d be driving somewhere . . .alone. And he’d have no one.
* * * *
Ten years later, Adam was living in an old shack in Texas. He had adjusted to his solitary life as a child of the night.
Over the years he had kept tabs on his family. They never knew it of course, nor did they ever find out what happened to him. His Dad had retired and traveled around a lot with his mom in their motor home. His sister, Rebekah, had married some guy and had recently given birth the a healthy daughter.
Occasionally a car or a truck would drive by in the evening and see the boy working in his back yard. Sometimes they’d slow down to admire his amazingly lush garden.