Authors: Dorlana Vann
The vampire dropped the suit, catching Mark before he hit the carpet and carefully placed him on the couch. He grinned, his fangs hungering for the taste of such a satisfying victory. Nevertheless, he looked down at his new clothes. The young man would be out for a while, plenty of time for him to try out his new suit.
Although the vampire had acquired quite a wardrobe over the centuries, he had never felt the likes of the material that was against his body. It was soft, like silk, yet form fitting. He wished he could see himself in a mirror. He settled with knowing he would be able to analyze the expressions on people’s faces. Even though the glare of terror so pleased him, he was anxious to see a new look in their eyes; one of awe and admiration. Complete with gloves and hat, he walked out his door.
“Wake up sleepy head.”
It took Mark a moment to stop his dream and to realize he was asleep. He opened his eyes, took in a panicked breath, and sat straight up. When he clearly remembered his predicament, he hastily felt his neck.
Trey stood over him with his arms crossed. “You’re clear. Even if I am a rookie, I know the rules. If he had bitten you, you wouldn’t have woken up.”
Mark nodded, feeling truly foolish. In all his years of being a slayer, he had never allowed himself to be hypnotized by one of them. “Mission complete?”
“Poof,” Trey said, his eyes wide with excitement. “You should have seen him. Oh, that’s right; you decided to take a nap. Anyway, it only took him a second to trust the suit before strolling down the sidewalk like a man about town. When I realized you weren’t right behind him, I knew what I had to do. But don’t worry; I waited, like you taught me, until he hit the mark. I was shaking so bad, but I managed to grab the pull tag before he even noticed me. But when he did see me, he knew something was rotten and went for my throat. I ducked and ran like hell. What a rush! When I was far enough away and got the nerve to turn around, I saw him still standing in the same spot with nothing on but a frown. But then a second later…” Trey had his fist up by his face. He popped his hands open wide and whispered, “pooffff.”
“Did you gather the catalog and the rest of the money?”
“Yeah, all right here.” Trey held up a white envelope. “You know, I still don’t understand why we just don’t clean them out.”
“I’m not in this for the money. I only charge what is needed to fund our operation. Otherwise, we could turn into the bloodsuckers.” Mark stood up, still feeling a little woozy. “Speaking of bloodsuckers, who’s next on our list?”
“Female,” Trey said. “What I hear is that she’s really young-looking, smart, and smokin’ hot. Hmm… I don’t know. We may have a problem, seeing as you let this repulsive ancient dude—”
“Funny,” Mark said, snatching the envelope from Trey. “Just give me the details.”
If You Feed a Wolf
“But I don’t want to go among the mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the cat, “Or you wouldn’t have come here.”
From “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
Nora ran, dodging trees and paying no mind to the twigs that scraped her bare arms and legs from shoulder to thigh. Once in awhile, the high afternoon sun shone through the density of the woods, and she knew she had better hurry.
When she reached the beach, she admired all her sisters who had gathered for the festivities. The continuous breeze carried the ocean’s scent as it waved through her long, bright hair. She felt powerful and had no doubt that she would be the victor.
“Gather around,” said Mother Mabel. Even without her ceremonial robes she stood with confidence, stripped down to her breast and bottom coverings. She was the oldest and wisest in their community, beautiful and flawless. “It’s time for the first race.”
Considering her competition’s bronzed, muscular legs and stomach, Nora found her to be an equal opponent. She couldn’t recall her name, only that they had known each other for a very long time. Nora smiled, and the woman smiled back, but with more self-assuredness—like it was clear she’d leave Nora in the dust.
“Go!” shouted Mother Mabel.
Nora took off. Her legs were strong and her mind clear. She wanted to win, although she didn’t want the race to end. Her sisters raised their red-ribbon-tied spears and cheered. The further Nora ran, the thicker the sand gathered on her feet, but it didn’t stop her from crossing the finish line first. She took small, effortless breaths as she looked behind her, but her opponent wasn’t there.
Where did she go? What did she look like
? She wondered this as her sisters picked her up on their shoulders and paraded her around.
The moon, blazing orange, seemed to take the sun’s place in an instant. Everyone had gathered for the feast, eager and hungry for it to begin. The fire felt hot against Nora’s face and hands. She wasn’t hungry, but she couldn’t wait for the food. A bird with antlers flew down beside her and pecked the ground and then flew away again.
She watched as a wolf walked out of the forest. He stopped and then began to spin, around and around, in circles. No one else seemed to notice him until he sat down beside the fire. He was hungry. Mother Mabel threw him a crumb and told him to leave. He growled out of the side of his mouth but ran back into the woods.
“Nora,” Mother Mabel said, the fire’s light dancing on her face. “If you feed a wolf, it will leave.” She took a puff from her brass pipe and passed it to the sister sitting next to her.
A storm started brewing, and the wind blew sand over the fire. All was black, except for the light of the pipe, and it seemed to float to Nora. She took it in her hands but hesitated until she heard Mother Mabel say, “I will come with you on your journey. I will always be with you.”
Nora put her lips to the cold pipe and inhaled, feeling the sweet smoke invade her mouth and then her lungs, heavily gratifying…
When awoken by a sudden light and an uneasy rustling, she couldn’t recall ever going to sleep. She was afraid to look, but curiosity forced her eyes to fly open.
Where am I?
Like lyrics to a forgotten song, but without the sweet melody, she vaguely recognized the room. She couldn’t breathe; the four white walls were stifling. Other people were there, but she didn’t know them.
What did Mother Mabel say to me?
“Something about a journey,” Nora whispered.
“Nora? Nora?” asked a lady with silver, stringy hair, wrinkles, and sunken cheeks. “Can you see me? Can you hear me?”
The old lady sucked in her breath and put her hand over her mouth. “It’s me… Mabel. Mabel.”
Nora shook her head, because the woman didn’t look anything like Mother Mabel. But there was a resemblance. A similarity. The green eyes, the way she opened her mouth when she smiled.
“I will come with you on your journey.”
“But why do you look so old?”
The lady laughed. “Why indeed.”
“What kind of journey is this?” Nora whispered. She tried to stand, but her legs held no strength, and she fell to the hard, cold floor.
“Oh,” Mabel said. “Are you hurt?” Mabel tried to help her, but Nora refused, thinking she didn’t need help.
Nora sat on the floor, legs in front of her, staring at unkempt yellowing toenails that stuck out of dirty, pink slippers. She pulled up the gown she wore, revealing pale, thin legs. “What happened to me? Why am I here?”
“I’m so glad you can talk.” It took her a couple a seconds, but Mabel got down on the floor and sat cross-legged like a little girl. “You are talking, aren’t you?”
“Is there a reason? Is this a lesson? Does this have to do with the wolf?”
Mabel eyes widened and in a raspy whisper she said, “How’d you know about the wolf?”
“It was by the fire, and you told me to feed it.”
Mabel inhaled, and her hands jittered about wildly. “Right. I told you about the wolf. You did hear me. You could hear me the whole time. Why didn’t you say anything?”
“About what?” Nora asked.
“Right.” Mabel bit her nails.
“Oh, Miss Nora,” a man wearing white from head to toe stood over them. “Am I in trouble!” Without asking, he helped her up and back into her seat. “Here.” He handed her a small container. “I got distracted on my rounds and plum missed you. Woo wee, we wouldn’t want this to get out.”
“No,” Mabel said struggling to untangle her legs. “No, she can’t have those.”
“Miss Mabel, causing trouble again, I see. You know what happened last time Miss Nora was off her meds for too long. She bit you. Remember?”
The man held his hand out, now helping Mabel stand up.
“See,” Mabel said as she stood. “I’m fine. Don’t you see? Nora told me about the stories. She heard my stories…”
He looked back at Nora and nodded. “Take them, Miss Nora, and you’ll feel a lot better. You’ll go right back to la la land.”
Mabel wiped her eyes. “But the fairy tales, she remembers. And I don’t have anyone to talk to.”
Nora looked at the two little pills in the bottom of the small clear cup.
“No, Nora,” Mabel pleaded. “Stay with me. Stay with me….”
Nora couldn’t see the value of her journey. She didn’t know why she had come to the colorless place where she had to be so weak and helpless and where her thoughts were foggy.
“If you feed a wolf, it will leave.”
As she looked down at the little white pills, the message the real Mother Mabel had given her became clear. In this strange place, she was the wolf. If she wanted to go back to be with her sisters and never leave the beach, she would have to feed the wolf the little white pills.
If it Weren’t for Bad Luck
I walked through the front door a little after midnight. Jana sat on the couch in the darkness covered by the quilt from our bed, the images from the television flickered on her solemn face. “Oh, you’re up,” I said and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“I want to talk to you, Trevor.”
When I caught a glimpse of deep concern in her eyes, I immediately thought something had happened to the baby. “Is Ethan okay?”
“He’s a handful to deal with by
… but he’s fine.”
“Good… good.” That’s all I needed to know; I could go on to bed because anything else could wait until morning. “Well, goodnight.” I turned and walked down the hallway. But I didn’t get very far.
She yelled after me: “I hired a P.I. today!”
As I stormed back into the room, fear flushed my face. “You did what?” I stood over her. “Why would you do that?” When I realized my hands had a death-grip on my hair, I tried to relax but still couldn’t control my fidget.
“Because every time I try to talk to you, you walk away. I want the truth. I deserve the truth. Where do you go every night?”
“You know I’m out drinking with the guys. I’ve told you a thousand times.”
I watched her jaw tighten, and through her teeth she said, “Why are you lying to me?”
My heart raced. Had she found something? “What makes you think I’m lying?”
Jana tossed the blanket off her lap and stood up. I tensed my body, prepared for a slap. She eased to her tiptoes, so we were face-to-face, breath-to-breath. “You don’t smell like a bar,” she whispered. “For a man who has been out drinking all night long, you certainly are sober. You don’t drink at home. Why the hell would someone pretend to be a drinker?”
I plopped down on the couch and rubbed my face hard with my hands. “Why are you doing this? Why can’t you just leave it alone?”
“Leave it alone? This is our marriage!”
I had nothing to say, nothing to offer.
“I give up,” she said. “I’m just going to ask, since you can’t be a man and just admit it. Are you cheating on me? Is there someone else?”
An affair. It would be a simple enough explanation. “Would that be something you could forgive me for?”
“Wait a minute. That’s not it, is it? Shit… I can see it in your eyes. Trevor?”
“Just do yourself a favor. Do our family a favor. Call the private detective, and call it off. Let me protect you. Don’t you see? If I tell you, I don’t know what will happen. I’m afraid you’ll never forgive yourself.”
“What? Forgive myself? What are you accusing me of?”
I looked at her, exhausted, tested, tears filling her eyes. It had gone too far. I knew she would probe until she found the answers. And I knew that it wouldn’t look good if a P.I. came back with pictures. Jana would just draw her own conclusions. Conclusions that would end our marriage, and I had lost too much to let that happen. I inhaled and then exhaled slowly. “You tried to sell Ethan.”
“I had to buy him back,” I said. “Now I can’t catch a break.”
“Just stop it. Stop it…”