Monday, April 24, 2017

Twenty Six

Wow...a whole year, huh? Man. I really am terrible at this.

To be fair, though, I've been writing. Yes, I'm still working off the fanfiction spin. It's been working, though. Since I have an 'audience' that anticipate new chapters regularly, it's given me motivation. I'll be honest...the one I've been heavily working on is close to 60k at this point, and I've never done anything close to that amount before. So, even though it's not done yet, I have, in essence, written a book. And that, despite the dumb formatting, is something I can stand on. Go me.

So, to desperately make a new post so everyone doesn't think I'm dead celebrate, I'm posting part of the last chapter I wrote. I like the last half of this more than the first, but the first was needed for story purposes. It's all still a first-run rough draft, so obviously it has its flaws. Judge for yourselves though. My view on these are obviously skewed.




If he had known last night how long it would actually take him to walk from the end of the bus line back to the original stop, Sean would of tried to hitch a ride somehow, or at the very least, tried to panhandle for a retuning fare. As it was, he only had enough for another ride, and he didn't want to squander it on convenience...or so he thought.

During the nearly two and a half hours walk, he passed by so many things...things that made his mouth salivate and his gut churn in desperate anticipation. It was getting to the point where he was starting to catch the scent of others through more objects now, like passing cars and distant windows, so each step he took was like walking into a bouquet of edible fantasies - sweets on his right, savories on his left, and an endless banquet of palatable jewels just ahead of him. And, as hard as he tried to fight against it, those smells brought on more lapses of stability, more floating fits of near fainting, each one of the few coming up a bit more unyielding and with more bite.

With that, parts of him began to shake, like the last quivering breath of a starling seized with mortality if he didn't conscientiously lock himself down until the feeling had passed. To others, he imagined, he must of looked like an addict; shivering, gaunt, and tired, walking around squaring his jaw at will, and always with a pair of shades on, regardless of what time it actually was.

In a way, he welcomed it...welcomed the fits of torment, the subtle essence of suffering. Part of him felt like he deserved it, deserved to be treated like less than a man, like the outcast he was. He was a monster...a being that drained the life out of others for their own survival. He didn't ask for it, and he didn't want it, but it was who he was now, nonetheless. The least he could do, he felt, was to slowly ride out the unpleasantness, as if he could serve penance for some unknown original sin cast upon him.

But Ted...oh, Ted. Ted was different though. Ted was still the only other person who repelled him, made him sick to his core if he breathed in too deep. If he could just figure out why...if he could just figure out what made him so unlike everyone else, then Sean reasoned that he could cage his inner demon and live a somewhat normal life. As normal as it could possibly be, anyway...as far fetched as the idea seemed to be. For a moment, he imagined having that, having that key, and going home to Mark again. Arm in arm with one another, the warmth from his skin and the feel of his shirt against his face, the soft low voice telling him that he loved him, and the smell, his smell...

...that faint woody smell...

...of cinnamon...

...and sugar...

...and deep, rich frosting...

Sean froze. He felt a drop of wetness fall to his hand. He looked down, and saw a thin string going from the back of his wrist to his mouth. He stiffened, and shoved his hands further back into the gloves that had started to slide down, moving his fingers immediately to his lips.

Fangs. Not fully distended, but far enough that it didn't look normal. He hastily ran his sleeve across his mouth, wiping away any of the residual fluid.

And then he looked down. A smear of color, pale and peachy, greeted him back. Makeup. His makeup.

"Shit...!" he muttered, realizing what he had just done. He didn't know exactly how much he had botched, but from the look of it, it was probably enough to notice. Sean's head darted from side to side, trying to find a reflective surface of some kind, so he could assess the damage. He stood, eyeing a crumpled silver soda can just a few steps away. He figured if he could get it, and break it open, the aluminum inside combined with the streetlight above angled just right might help him out a little. It was better than nothing, which is what he currently had.

As he bent down, he noticed a familiar pair of black shoes come right up to his hand.

"Collecting cans, Jay?" he heard, just above his head.

Sean blinked, unmoving.

"Man, that hole in your pocket wrecked havoc, huh? Those things only get you, what, $.05 a pop if you're lucky. You're be better off pretending to be homeless. Heh."

Sean slowly straightened, can in hand, with his head pointed toward his chest. He took the metallic trash and turned it over, as if he were considering something more than how to get out of the situation he currently found himself in.

"Not really..." he said, still shoegazing, "...I'm...kind of...an environmentalist, I guess you could say. Just...makes me sad someone would just...throw this on the ground." Even as he said it, he knew it sounded a little strange.

Ted snorted.

"I can see. You're staring at that thing like it has power over you or something."

"They could of...recycled this. Y'know...I think I'll do that for them. There's a bin over--"

"Jay."

"Maybe not even recycle it. Re-use it for something. Go get some string, and--"

"Jay."

"Actually, I think I remember one of those elementary schools needing cans for something. I can just--"

"Jay."

"Mmm?"

"It's just a can, dude."

"I know. But--"

"Just stick it in your pocket if it means that much to you. The bus is going to be here any minute. You don't wanna have to walk home all over again, do ya?"

Sean thought about it. On one hand, it would of been an easy out. Claim fanaticism for the planet in a weird oblong frenzy and dash away, keeping his secret a secret, and maybe even scooping up a few plastic bags along the way to punctuate his point. But, on the other hand, he still didn't know what made Ted tick, and that was something he really needed to know, and as soon as possible. He turned the can over in his hand again, carefully, as if he was legitimately trying to study the nutritional content label, the street mud and asphalt skids making the little black box nothing more than a bunch of garbled letters and numbers. As he did, he caught sight of his sleeve again, smudged and dirty, a flesh colored stripe standing out the darker tone of his hoodie.

Slowly, the thought came to him. Maybe this is what he needed. Maybe this was the answer all along. Show Ted...actually show Ted part of who he really was, and maybe...

Maybe...what?

Maybe Ted recognizes what he is? Or mistakes him for one of his own? Or maybe a ball of ribbons will drop from the sky, and all the secrets of being dead alive come to him in a glorious dark beam of light?

It was a complete risk, at best. He knew that. At worst, he could only imagine what could happen...anything from avoidant disgust, to the other trying to paw off the rest of his makeup, to the idea that Ted was actually totally normal in every way and seeing corpse flesh might have an irreversible impact on him...one that could go from panic, to horror to any form of chaotic in between. But he didn't really have any other way out of the situation, aside from acting like a total idiot, as appealing as the option was at this point.

Sean closed his eyes. His head felt heavy and full of mud, waves of cold pain darting through the back of his skull to the tips of his lashes. He bit the inside of his mouth, as steady as he could imagine and hard enough to distract himself from the rimy soup brewing in his head. Was he really thinking this through? Was this really the best he could come up with? Or was that other part of himself starting to take over in little ways, small little adjustments here and there, until not even he could tell them apart anymore?

Was he starting to lose his mind?

"Jay...you alright? You're acting...weird. Was it something I said?" Ted asked, taking a step forward, brows pushed together, bending a little as he spoke.

"No, no! I just..."

"Just...?"

Sean took in a useless breath, letting the cool air fill his body, his own skin matching the seasonal chill. He ran his tongue over his teeth, making sure he didn't have anything else to explain.

With care, he gradually picked up his head, letting the amber streetlight above roll over his face, it's golden glow highlighting his mannequinned features until he came eye to eye with Ted. He looked at him through his tinted lenses, not saying a word.

Ted's face went flat.

"Oh..." he started, looking down at Sean's mouth.

Sean didn't move.

"Heh...Mr. Grapey pops, right?" he said, cracking a smile.

"Mr...? What?"

"Yeah...Mr. Grapey! You know, those big popsicles that come in the neon colored boxes. You just had one, right? They're good, but man, do they stain!"

"Uh..." He stammered, trying to find his mental footing again. Did he not see? Or did he just not care? Maybe it wasn't as bad as he thought...or maybe Ted was just colorblind. In any case, he was more than happy to have at least a small sense of relief, given the circumstances.

"I guess you knew that though, right?" He stated, gesturing toward his own mouth.

"Y-yeah..." he said, not really knowing how else to react.

"I'd give you a napkin or something if I had it..." Ted said, patting his pockets, trailing. But the sound of four heavy tires coming up behind them cut off the rest of his thought.

Moments later, they were on, and heading toward the end of the line. More chatter. More benign conversation. At this point, Sean had asked him everything he could think of, even dipping into stuff that had nothing to do with any of it, from the few bits of sports trivia either one of them knew to the downright ridiculous, like what color tie Lincoln would of worn if he went to a costume party. He was stretching what he could of what he knew, but even then, it turned into the same mundane kind of talk that any other person on the planet could of said.

Sean rested his head on the back of the seat in front of him. This was going absolutely nowhere. Could he have done something better? Did he do something wrong? Would it of been better if he had set out somewhere, and tried to find Thomas, as dubious as that would of been? He didn't have anything to go on with that other than the vaguest of hints that he was going somewhere cold...maybe somewhere in Europe. But, even then, how would he get there? And how would he even begin to track down one lone person, that he had never even met before, on a continent of millions? Was this...was everything a mistake?

He stared at the wad of gum just inches from his nose, fighting off the halo of black that was slowly starting to creep into his line of sight. He felt the slight ripple of a false chill working its way down from his shoulders to the tips of his fingers, pinpricks of withdrawal numbing his already dead skin, a prelude to the nauseating shudders that were going to follow. He breathed in, as much as his lungs would allow, trying to take in all of the tainted air that Ted had surrounding himself.

"Tired, huh?" he said, as if he already knew the answer.

"Mmm?" Sean said, letting the scent of acrid oil hit the back of his mouth like a panacea. Already he could feel the wave of subtle relief wash through him like warm milk.

"It's cool." Ted said, leaning back in his seat, "I know I talk a lot sometimes. If you want to take a nap, that's fine. We still have a ways to go."

As he said it, his hand gently rubbed Sean's back, up by his neck. All at once that same blue fire shot straight through anything else he was feeling, a rush of blinding alarm striking him like a brick to his head. His skin twitched, almost rejecting the touch, followed immediately by the sensation that he should run, but he didn't know why.

Maybe that was it? Maybe whatever Ted was, was anti-vampire?

Vampire. He still couldn't believe he was using the word. And anti-vampire...what the hell could that even be? A living embodiment of garlic? Sunlight in corporeal form? A...giant, walking, talking wooden stake?

Ridiculous.

Sean's train of thought was suddenly cut off with a solid bump. At first he thought he was feeling things, but then he felt whatever it was move, rolling across the top of his hoodie smacking into the window a moment later. As he slowly lifted his head, he was met face to face with giant rolls of...paper. Each long tube speckled in a myriad of color, loud and gaudy, in a variety of patterns and design styles.

"Hey...apologize." he heard Ted say. Sean turned and saw the other with folded arms, staring forward.

When nothing had happened, he said it again, with more inflection. "Hey. Apologize."

The person looked from side to side, as if it were trying to place the sound. It turned, head barely above the low seat top.

"Me?" he said, almost confused.

"Yes. You." Ted said, voice falling flat, "Apologize."

"For what?" he asked, as if he was being accused.

Ted sat forward, as if it were a challenge he was being presented with, face beginning to harden. "For hitting my friend."

"When did I do that?" he sputtered, bewildered.

"Ted, it's alright. You--" Sean tried.

"No." He said, an edge gaining momentum in his words, "He's going to apologize."

Sean couldn't help but stare at Ted then. There was an almost tangible aura of aggression coming off of him, one that felt hot and ready to attack, like a powerful animal, cornered, but with the clear upper hand. Somewhere inside Sean's chest, he could feel an instinctual fear rise up, as if it were being injected into his thighs, welling up with a mercurial deftness, that same feeling of wanting to run making his muscles brittle and his neck stiffen to stone.

Was this it? Was this who he was? If this went on, would he see it? Would he see Ted's true nature?

The air was ripe with something heavy, something oppressive and something dark. And it all felt like it was coming off of Ted in rolling curls of smoke, like a sudden poison fog rolling in, that same near calming stench he had now boiling over into something toxic and suffocating, making Sean's throat constrict from the new growing embers taking root there. Sean swallowed, as best as he could, and looked on, almost dazed.

Was this what lied beneath? Something terrible, something ominous, something forceful...was this what he really wanted?

Was this...such a good idea anymore?

The man looked between Ted and Sean, then around at the rest of the bus, as if he was on an ill thought out reality TV show, getting pranked. His eyes fell on the rolls of paper a moment later, and the realization washed through him just as fast.

"Oh...Oh! Hey, I'm sorry. Thought I had a better hold on these things..." he said, reaching over, readjusting the tubes, shaking his head, "...Late nights get to me. Again, sorry."

Ted leaned back, arms still crossed, but seemingly satisfied with everything that just happened. A moment later, he turned to Sean, half a smirk on his face.

All at once, the atmosphere changed, light switched in nature, going from bad to benign in a matter of seconds, as if all the feeling had been vacuumed out, leaving behind nothing save for the plain flatness of the bus and Ted's same fixed scent, no longer threatening to smother Sean's undead life within.

He blinked behind his lenses, the whiplash of things surrounding him unsettling something deep and primal. He still couldn't tell what that was, whatever it was, just that it felt like there was now a tiny, sprouting weed within his chest, one that whispered to him in tones nearly unheard, but still felt. Ted, for all his kindness up until this point, definitely had something else to him. A potentially dangerous something.

Sean softly cleared his throat, still shaking things off. As he did, he winced, the slightly raw feeling extending down past his shoulders, into his ribs. He gently touched his gloved hand to his neck, in a vain attempt to soothe it. Even the skin there felt chafed red, especially the permanent ring just below his Adam's apple.

He put his head back down on the seat in front of him for the rest of the ride. Sticking around Ted definitely had a footnote to it now, one that Sean had to be sure to remember. There was something much deeper to all of this than he had realized, something he had no idea what to do with or how to handle. But, despite how it all made him feel, he knew he had to keep the course. He didn't have much of a choice at this point.

That wasn't entirely true, he knew. He could just give in. Give in to the need that his undead shell so desperately craved. He could do it. He could take out this whole bus. Drink them dry, savor in their flavors, feel his whole body flood with the heat from their blood, that unquenchable lust assuaged on their coppery souls, writhing with life beneath his skin, drop by drop, filling him with deep red love...

Sean felt something graze the top of his lips and stopped cold. There they were again...a set of sabers itching to come out and pierce the closest thing with a heartbeat. His eyes widened. What was he doing? Where did any of that come from?

"Oh God..." he whispered, screwing his eyes shut, fighting the tides of confusing thoughts flashing through his mind. Sean's hand darted to his arm, pinching the skin underneath his sleeve, leaving two little marks from where his nails dug in. He did it again and again, telling himself no each time. No. No he would not. Stop it. Stop it.

His stomach flipped, angry that it was denied again. Nausea fluttered in on it's coattails, that same gut-punch feeling constricting everything from his hips to his throat.

Another deep inhale of that hideous scent, and soon it bled from him, leaving nothing but that near nervous tick that told him who that unctuous perfume belonged to.

Soon enough, they came to the end of the line, the bus rolling to its last stop on wheels that were in need of oil, the people inside filing out in languid plods, nobody seeming to be in any real rush. As usual, they were the last to leave, just behind that same short man with the giant rolls of paper.

"Well, we're here." Ted said, looking back at the terminal for a second before turning back to Sean, "Headed home?"

Sean nodded. To be perfectly honest, with how he was feeling, he didn't know how far he was going to be able to walk tonight, let alone make it back to wherever "home" was for the remainder of it. Sitting out among the trees seemed to be working out so far, but out here in the pseudo suburbs, there really wasn't any such place for him to go.

"You seem really tired, man. Want me to walk with you?"

"No. I'm fine. But thanks."

"You sure? You wouldn't be putting me out or anything. I'm a strong boy. I can handle an extra walk." he joked.

"No, really. I'm good. I just...need to eat, is all." he said, a bitter taste pricking the tip of his tongue.

"Gotcha. Well...tomorrow I wont be coming on the same bus, just so you know. I'll be out for the day. But...I only have one shift the day after..." he said looking off for a second before looking back, almost as if he needed a moment to consider, "...Do you want to hang then? Theres this little bar just down the street from where I work that always has good stuff on tap." Ted looked on with a face of genuine friendship, the corner of his mouth curling up ever so slightly.

Sean considered it, as best as he could through all the swimming things his head had to contend with. On one hand, having Ted in a public setting where alcohol is involved might tell him something his normal self wouldn't. And, who knows, maybe he might even see it. With enough people around, and enough space, even something like him had a chance to run should the occasion arise. But on the other hand...if Ted left him alone for a moment, could he handle it? All those bodies, all that lowered inhibition...

No.

No.

"Sounds good, man." Sean said, almost in defiance of himself. Fuck whatever the other part of him wanted. He had control of himself. He'd prove it.

"Great! The place is called Feeny's, by the way. If you're walking from the pier, it's 2 or 3 city blocks down from that, on Carver street. They have a big ass lawn gnome painted up to look like the Statue of Liberty sitting out front. Kinda hard to miss." he said, with a smirk. "Lets say...6:30-7 o'clock?"

"I'll be there!" he said, with feigned enthusiasm. And he would be. Come hell or high water.

Ted leaned in, and gave Sean a hug. It was short and brisk, and teetering ever so slightly on awkward from Sean's part, mostly because he wasn't expecting it and almost smacked face first into his collarbone. Still that same shrill cerulean flame shot through him, like every time Ted touched him, every bit of his insides lit up with alarm and repugnance.

Sean waved as Ted went, fake semi smile selling the point more than words could. As soon as the other turned the corner, he dropped everything, including his shoulders, letting the weight of his exhaustion rest wherever it might lie.

He had time, at least. Enough time to make it to wherever he was headed tonight, and enough time to shuffle his way over to the waterfront before he was expected to be there. So if anything, he didn't have to push himself to be anywhere for the next day. And for that, he was at least mildly grateful.

Still, part of him wanted to just break every self imposed rule and try to follow Ted home again. Maybe tonight he'd actually make it if he followed him home close enough and kept on breathing in fully, letting his industrial leftover musk fill his lungs every time he felt weak to the rhythm of life surrounding him. And then...

Then...what? He still had no idea.

And he couldn't even imagine any reasoning to it. His head just simply wouldn't let him. It was too filled with pain and sick to let anything come together.

Without thought, he started to walk, in the opposite direction of Ted, hands in his pockets, and a slight sense of dizziness dancing just on the corners of his consciousness. His pace was slow, but still coordinated, and to anyone else looking on, he must of just looked like some moody teenager, walking alone at night, too cool to even look anyone in the eye. It was better that way, he thought. The less he interacted with people, the less he could smell them. And the less he could smell them, the less he had the desire to kill them.

He didn't actually want to kill them, though. Just gorge on the wine of life that pulsed throughout their bodies. That dulcet elixir, that toasty avarice...the same Bordeaux that he denied himself as often as he longed for it. If there was only some way he could get what he needed without murdering another person...

His mind drifted over the possibilities. If he really didn't want to kill them, he could always go after someone that was already dead. But, where to find them? Cemeteries were his first thought. They were, quite literally, full of them. Just...go in after midnight, dig up a body, crack the casket, and have his fill. It would be especially easy, he thought, if he could find a freshly dug plot. The earth would still be loose, and nobody would even notice if he went back for seconds the following night, if there were any to be had.

No. He couldn't. Even as an idea, it made him feel dirty. And logistically it wouldn't work either. Nobody was interred without embalming these days, so even if he went through with it, even if he fought his better self and actually unearthed a corpse and tried to kiss their wrists, he would only get mouthfuls of that same disgusting death cocktail that he himself was purging just moments out of the grave.

He flinched at the idea. He could still remember ripping the wire out of his mouth, just in time to hear the splashing on the grass, and the smell of paint thinner following on its heels. And the taste was not something he ever wanted to experience again.

Maybe not people, he thought.

Dead animals were surely easier to get than a dead person was. And there were cars everywhere that could facilitate his need. He was in a city, after all. Find the local street pizza, run his tongue over what was left, bite into the parts that were still viable...

The memory of his first and only meal came trailing in, that fat gray squirrel that punched a hole in his hand before he accidentally slammed it against the wall. Pumpkin...certainly didn't taste like a pumpkin. More like a can of beans. Cheap, tomato tinted pintos, with a dash from the spice rack to make it more palatable. And as much as he didn't really care from them when he was alive, those were the best damn beans he had ever had. Sweet, a little salty, a little tinny, and warm...

Sean stopped suddenly. His stomach contracted hard, taking out his knees.

All that was left of him was focused there, in curling coils knotting over and over again, like dueling snakes, twisting, turning, painfully squeezing. With one hand, he tried to shakily support himself, arm shivering against his slight weight as the other gripped below his ribs in vain, the sudden and heavily intense darts of pain arching from middle to end, nearly making him blind. He felt as if he was suffocating, on air that had never meant anything to him before, ghostly hands gripping that last tangible piece of himself, pushing him down, nose to the ground, smothering him with impermeable force. His whole body shuddered, and, with one violent heave, he spat up something black and watery.

Sean collapsed to his side, still involuntarily moving, eyes unfocused and hazy. His fangs were out, but he couldn't help it. He wasn't himself right now. He felt as if he wasn't even in his own body, but somehow looking in. Trails of fluid ran down past his teeth, running down his jaw, and pooling down near his ear. Listlessly, he brought a twitching hand up to his mouth, and gently touched his lips, the leather from his gloves almost sticking.

Blood. Dark, dark blood.
And somehow he knew, it was his blood.

Numbly, he worked himself to stand up, muscles still jumping, still frigidly moving but still functioning, almost as if someone else were doing it for him. His face was still, and his gaze was blank, as blank as it had ever been before. Not a thing running through his head, and not a thing to even be read on his face.

He started to walk, seemingly as if he knew where he was going. It was something quicker than what he normally did, but not quite running, the top half of himself dragging his legs along to go faster. It looked as if he was being pulled along by rope, almost as if he were being puppeted to just go, ignoring anything else in his path, trip walking over plastic bags and not even looking at the streets he was crossing.

Moments later, he was in front of a row of stores, their colored paint and vintage wooden signs clearly marking out something akin to a suburban strip mall. It was small, but well kept, and almost looked something reminiscent of Main Street from Disneyland. A sharp, drawn out breath at the head of the block, and his eyes honed in on the corner, with its bright fire engine red trimmings and gold-gilded letters.

"DesOrmeaux Meats"

He stared at the bouncy pink pig on the front window, it's porcine belly too large for it's tiny legs, its face too cartoonishly happy to know what it was advertising.

Smash it. He heard, like a whisper, on a voice that wasn't really there.

He lunged for the window, almost on command, fists wildly smacking against the glass, the muted thud of skin on thick panes echoing into the hollow of the store. He wasn't strong enough to break it on his own, at least, not now, given how weak he was. But the drive was there. A drive like one he had never known. Something so primary, so elemental, and yet, something that he could feel held an awful power. Smash it. Smash it. Smash it.

He needed something, anything, to help satisfy his resolve. His head flicked around, hood tapping the sides of his cheeks, looking for what he could use. The streets, like the stores around them, were unhelpfully clean and devoid of any urban grit, save for a smattering of cigarette butts here and there. In the distance, as the passing overcast pulled back and moonlight hit it, a metal trashcan across the street caught his eye. A small smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth.

Sean yanked it from it's lightpole, the plastic loops holding it in place falling away as if they were never even there. He dragged it across the road, that same lurching gait leading the way, the sound of scraping metal on asphalt decorating the otherwise sullen sounds of silent plastic models and sleeping halogen lights. Without stopping, he flung the black barrel at the window, with as much heft as he could give it.

It bounced off the thick glass, and rolled to the side. He grabbed it again, with the force of something untamed and lawless, scowling as he heaved it again at the smiling pig and it's paradise of malformed bodies beyond. Another bounce and roll, with only a faint scratch to show. Another throw, without pause, tailed shortly by a gruff yell. The pig remained.

His top half led the way again, dragging him just a few paces beyond the front door to the backside of the building. That same red paint decorated the sole door, the worn metal underneath barely masked by the thick primer.

He didn't even need to be told before throwing himself at it, that indiscernible power moving him with force, aged locks rattling around with each thrust from his shoulders, the door itself giving way little by little with every reckless slam. Sean couldn't feel a thing, not the chips of painted rust falling in his clouded eyes, not the blunt dents he was forcing into the stripped panel, and certainly not the frenzied bruises and maddened muscles forming just underneath his clothes. He was drooling at this point, streams of that same vampiric fluid dripping at a steady pace from his overgrown eyeteeth, all while the whispering remained, louder, more insistent and more driven...SMASH SMASH SMASH.

In a burst of splinters, like derelict confetti, the door gave in, and yawned wide into the dark store.

Sean stumbled in, but didn't settle on his small victory. He was yanked further in, lead on an ethereal leash, sneakers squeaking softly on the immaculate floors beneath, past the receiving room, past the front counter, and past all the toy display pieces behind the vinyl grass. His hands reached for it first, pawing at the door to the back room that lead to where the animals were kept, fingers groping in the black for a way to get inside. His palm hit a latch somewhere, and a handle popped out, the sound of the aluminum smacking back into place and the faint hiss from the accordion plastic surrounding it sounding like near music to his ears.

His leadened feet pushed forward, into the room unseen, hips smacking into low cabinets and the center island table. The scent was heavy in this room, the smell of stacked breads, some honeyed with the perfume of an early morning bake, others redolent with thick, buttery crusts. His already uncontrolled actions dove into near chaos at this point as his hands swiped at things with a reckless abandon, knives scattering, the clang of stainless bowls knocking into one another, reams of paper skidding across the floor. He was so close. So, so close...

THERE.

A smaller door, but not unlike the first sat flush against the far wall, the notebook sized window leading in frosted over in ice. He threw himself on it, nearly breaking the handle with how hard he pulled on it, and shoved the door open, as far as it would go.

A cold steam filtered down through the blinking lights, the fluorescent blue coming to life the second the latch was moved. Carcasses of every size hung from the well-used hooks, blocks of legs, ribs and even a few heads in various stages of being cut were mutely perched on the slabs to the side. All of them seemingly were cleaned down to the bone, and all of them petrified into frozen bricks.

Except one.

On the right, was a deer corpse, it's broken off antlers tossed carelessly in the corner, it's matted, muddied fur still on it's body, pock marks from where the buck shot hit it's side still burned into it's flesh.

Sean couldn't control himself.

He lunged for it, rattled hands giving it's hindquarters a death grip, and sunk his mouth into the firming tissue underneath with a hasty, vicious bite. Two small beads of blood bubbled up to the surface, as his canines dug further in, filling the new cavities with froth, as the near rhapsodic feeling of ichor fell on to his lips and danced on the tip of his tongue. It felt so good, so, so good...

He went for another pull, the hollow from his cheeks eagerly anticipating the new viscid rush...

...only to return with nothing.

Something wasn't right.

He repositioned himself, and clamped down again, drawing in, body still too focused to realize he was digging his fingers into the dead deer, tawny fur ripping in small, half moon chasms.

Nothing.

Sean cautiously staggered back, still shaking, still vibrating, and looked on in disbelief. His opaque, sunless eyes trailed down his would-be victim's body, slightly swaying from the contact, distended tongue scraping gently on the bright, white tiles underneath. Two drops fell from it's open maw, and rolled down through the grout to the drain that was just a few inches away. The body, still tilting, still rocking, turned just a little more, and that's when he saw it...saw the slash from the butcher's cleaver run down the length of it's soft, white underbelly, the faintest shade of pink just curling around the seams. Sean reached out, and hesitantly peeled back some of the loose skin, expecting the worst, and just stared.

The inside was hollow. It had already been cleaned.

All at once, it felt as if his body was given back to him. Used, abused and battered, he collapsed under his own weight, stony skin slapping on the porcelain squares below, the ruthless frost all around him reaching to his core in mere moments. Weakly, he reached out, with violently trembling arms, and clawed his way over to the drain, clothes dragging, face smearing, leaving peachy streak marks on the otherwise unblemished floor. When he was close enough, he lifted his head with whatever was left of him, and ran his tongue down the tainted vein of grout, desperate for that one last trill, following it to the end, circling around the perforated silver plate.

Sean gave one last shudder, and laid on his side, defeated, hungry and cold. A wash of blackness fell through him, followed closely by the dulling tingle of numbness as his senses seemed to silence themselves for the first time since he came to be, all those many damnable nights ago. He was tired, so so tired. He let his eyes slip closed, as fruitless as that felt, and let it all consume him, riding the detached void that covered him like a blanket, covering himself in its sedative embrace.

Somewhere, a part of him wondered if he was dying.


Fun fact: The name DesOrmeaux came from my first boyfriend. (If you can count it. This was when internet relationships were considered fake on all fronts, and we never actually met.) I always liked how his last name sounded though, so I occasionally use it for "background" names.

Until then.

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