Welcome to a short week.
No, it is not a holiday. And that phrase actually gets a double meaning with today's post. And stay tuned, because very soon I will be telling you how you can own this week's shorts along with many other fantastic entries in an upcoming anthology. (Hmm...maybe even an audio book of shorts?)
And now, how about A Little Bite.
“…and law enforcement officials remain baffled by this third death in as many days—”
Tomas switched off the television and tossed the remote on the table cluttered with unread magazines and a smattering of cards and envelopes addressed to OCCUPANT. Well, he thought, time to move again. The question was…where? There were some definite plusses to the over-burgeoning population problems of the modern world.
Tomas peeked out his curtains to the courtyard below. The shadows of evening were growing larger and would soon fill the interior of this square apartment complex with darkness. The glow from several televisions could be seen in numerous windows as residents of the Emerald Pines Apartments settled in for the night. Empty food wrappers swirled in the eddies of the night breeze along with the last few leaves that had clung stubbornly to the pair of ratty trees in the courtyard; neither of these trees were ever emerald in color, nor were they pines.
One of the residents emerged from the breezeway and scurried to his darkened apartment. The glare of numerous hundred-watt bulbs blazed from within and then the door shut.
“These silly people,” Tomas mused as he went to his bedroom and began to dress. “Always so anxious to hurry home from meaningless jobs and camp in front of the glowing idiot box to be told what to fear next. If it isn’t the stranger next door…it’s the newest sniffle or cough. These sheep have no idea what real evil or true sickness are about. Vlad…Genghis…Caligula…those were killers. And the Black Plague…now that was a sickness that thinned the herd.”
No, Tomas thought as he shoved his feet into his boots, they don’t have any idea how good they have it. He pulled on his gloves, enjoying the smell of the well-oiled leather, stopping at his bathroom on his way out just long enough to grab the bottle of blue-tinted mouthwash and swish around a perfectly measured capful, spitting it into the toilet. Why, the advances in dentistry alone were so epic that many of Tomas’ friends—enemies too for that matter—probably owed their lives to said advances. Things had come a long way from shredded twigs and salt.
Of course, not all of the technological advances were good. Nowadays, everybody carried one of the numerous so-called “smart” phones. And don’t get him started on the advances in forensics. Getting away with murder was becoming almost impossible.
Murder. He saw it more akin to cleansing. What he did was practically a public service. People were multiplying so rapidly that poverty and hunger no longer registered on the social consciousness. The only people who even pretended to care were often vapid Hollywood-types, or musicians that wanted to cater to a bunch of hemp-loving wanna-be environmentalists, who would stagger away from a three day outdoor music festival leaving the park looking like a landfill starter kit. That…or politicians.
One of his favorite hobbies was to go downtown and hide in a shadow where he could watch some poor, grungy sap marinating in his filth while asking for change. Or…worse yet, holding a sign. Today’s beggars were too lazy to even beg properly, but that was an entirely different issue. Anyways, watching folks walk by and pretend not to see the wretch…absolutely priceless.
This sort of thinking always made Tomas nostalgic for the “old” days. But, to a vampire, “old” was a rather subjective term. At almost nine hundred years old, he wasn’t the youngest, nor was he the oldest. However, he had been around long enough to have earned a certain amount of respect from his peers.
That had taken a century or two…that respect. His turning was initially done as a joke. Whoever said that vampires lacked a sense of humor was gravely mistaken. Tomas chuckled at his own mental pun as he stepped outside his apartment. After checking his series of locks exactly five times—these days they called the behavior OCD, back in the old days is was simply being cautious—he went out into the night.
A short while later, he arrived at his destination: one of the many parks that dotted the Seattle landscape. This one in particular had been in the papers and on television lately: “Man exposes himself” and “Child avoids abduction.”
Climbing onto one of the swings, Tomas began to casually pump his legs. His eyes could see perfectly in the evening gloom. At the moment, he was sharing the park with a family of squirrels, two dogs—whose owners had obviously ignored Bob Barker’s pleas—and a wino passed out under a cluster of bushes near the concrete building that housed the men’s and women’s restrooms.
This was certainly an inexact science, but over the years, he had learned that man was nothing if not a creature of habit. And with all the wonderful gains in technology to “free up time,” they actually seemed to have gotten worse, not better. It always amused Tomas when little hiccups in things like electricity, cable/satellite, or—heaven forbid—their precious cell phones occurred. Mankind skewed towards frantic when their routines got a little hitch in them. It threw their patterns off…and they hated that.
Movement from the opposite side of the park snapped Tomas from his musings. The soft glow of a living being drew his focus and shifted him into instant predator mode. The thought of ‘what could be’ if he’d guessed correctly made his fangs extend into their feeding position.
Why don’tcha have a seat, Tomas heard the voice in his head. He was willing to bet that if he were to host one of those Catch a Predator television shows, those sick bastards would shape up in a hurry.
He continued to swing, trying to be sure that his face stayed shrouded by his hoody. He glanced down to see which one he was wearing and smiled at the image of the robot that could change into a truck splayed in bright colors.
The person took his time getting closer. He was making sure that there were no witnesses. Excellent, Tomas thought, it’s always nice when the sheep do the work for you. Just as he’d hoped, this sick pervert was preparing to take his sickness to another level. There was probably a windowless van parked nearby.
The sheep was close enough to smell the heady mixture of anticipatory sweat with just a mixture of fear. Even in his excitement, this twisted freak had that little nugget in his brain that was afraid of getting caught. If he only knew—
“You okay, son?”
“M-m-m-my mom went out with her new boyfriend again and didn’t even make my dinner first.” Tomas thanked the fact that his voice had always maintained its high, tinny pitch.
“That’s terrible,” the man’s voice almost seemed to tremble with excitement. “Well, how about I take you to get a burger or something?”
“I’m not s’posed to go with strangers.” Best not to sound too anxious, he didn’t want to spook the sheep.
“That’s pretty smart,” the man’s voice oozed with false praise. “My name is Bill. What’s yours?”
“Well now, Tomas,” Bill—if that was really his name—said, “now we aren’t strangers. So, how ‘bout that burger?”
“I guess.” Tomas dragged his feet in the sand below to bring his swing to a stop. He could smell the excitement and added adrenaline dump into the man’s system. “Will you take me home after?”
“You bet, sport,” the man-who-might-be-named-Bill assured. He reached down to Tomas for his hand.
Tomas flipped his hood back and fixed the would-be predator with his gaze. The man’s eyes went wide with shock.
“You’re a little person!” was all the man managed to say before Tomas’ hypnotic gaze froze him.
“Kneel,” Tomas commanded. With a flash, his fangs sank into the man’s jugular.
And that was another thing, Tomas thought as he fed, this whole politically-correct garbage, he’d been a midget for centuries. What in the hell was this society’s infatuation with labels?