#AtoZChallenge: Outsider

Olive Orkin never fit in with the other children. As she grew up, she never fit in with other adults much, either. She was forever the outsider, watching others huddle into close-knit groups while she hung around by herself. In her family, she was the odd duck, the one who stood out from the rest.

Even her uncle Bainbridge, the black sheep of the Orkin house who had tarnished the family name several times over through acts that none of her relatives dared discuss in the open, fit in better than she did. Such was her lot in life.

Most people worried that others would speak about them behind their backs, but that was never a problem for Olive. They spoke about her when she was right there, though to them she seemed invisible.

Olive was getting ready for her first day at a new job, and she was not looking forward to it. She knew the routine. People would remark on her newness and how she would soon be part of the group, yet within minutes, an unseen wall would crop up between them, cutting Olive off from the rest of her co-workers. She had been bumping into that wall her whole life with no hope of climbing over it.

After getting off the bus, which stopped a ten-minute walk away from her office, Olive trudged her way to the gleaming building and in past the sprightly receptionist who would likely forget about her within the week, if not sooner.

There the usual hellos and welcomes. She was given a quick tour by the office manager, Alice. She was shown the break room, the copy room and two meeting rooms. Finally, she was shown to her desk and assigned her tasks for the day. She buried herself in her work and tried not to worry about anything else.

People walked by her desk throughout the morning, often in pairs or small groups. Whenever she got up, she was alone. But she was used to it. She had been expecting it.

At lunchtime, a few people went to the break room. Some would head to the cafeteria on one of the lower floors, and one small group took over one of the conference room, bags of takeout in hand. Olive decided the break room would be the easiest option.

Alice was there, along with Delia, one of the accountants, and another new girl whose name Olive didn’t quite catch; she had started work the week before. The three of them had their backs to Olive, paying her no mind. It was just was well for her. She shrugged and started walking to the mini fridge, but never made it all the way to the fridge door.

Alice, who still hadn’t seen Olive come in, took the new girl’s hand in her own and pulled it toward her mouth. Olive’s cheeks reddened. She hadn’t expected to walk in on something so intimate, and certainly not in the middle of the day. Were public displays of affection a regular thing around the office? Just another awkward social wave that she’d have to surf? She thought it best to just enjoy her lunch in peace and worry about that later.

The new girl didn’t move or make a sound. She wasn’t even looking in Alice’s direction. She was staring at the wall. That seemed odd to Olive, but then, if her manager suddenly decided to get cozy at work, she might do the same. Delia just sat and smiled. Alice leaned in, as if she were about to kiss the girl’s hand. But that’s not what she did.

Alice bit down on the girl’s hand, just between the thumb and forefinger; Olive saw two little streams of blood flow out, then retreat under Alice’s lips. That’s not very romantic, Olive thought, her mind still catching up to the situation. As Alice was feeding off that hand, Delia took the other and did the same thing. Olive stood transfixed. Minutes later, both of them let go of the girl, who still hadn’t moved.

Delia’s head whipped around, followed by Alice; they both fixed Olive with a steady, calm gaze. Olive looked from one to the other. She wasn’t really sure how to react to this revelation so she gave them an awkward smile, her lips parting just enough for her fangs to catch the light. They smiled back and offered her a seat at the table.

Olive sat down, feeling in much better spirits than at the start of the day. Maybe she wouldn’t be an outsider after all. In fact, she thought, as she examined the twin bruises blossoming on the new girl’s hand, she would fit in just fine.

13 Tales of Terror: Eternal Thirst

Malcolm was a vampire.

He hadn’t always been a vampire, of course. In fact, he’d only just become one last night. Before that, he led the simple life of an accountant, managing his company’s books and compiling expense reports. It was a simple, unexciting life. Just the way Malcolm preferred it.

All that changed the night he met Fiona. Or was it Violet? Malcolm was bad with names. Fiona (or maybe it was Violet after all) was the friend of a friend, or rather, the friend of a colleague. There wasn’t much room for friends in Malcolm’s life, so he let his co-workers fill in that role. Alfred was perhaps the one person he might call a friend, if someone were to really quiz him about it.

Every Friday, Malcolm and Alfred would go out after work. They always went to the same place: The Drunken Uncle. They would order three beers each and drink them in silence, or while making small talk about politics or local current affairs. After a couple of hours, they would pay for their drink, shake hands and parts ways, not to see each other again until Monday morning. It was a comfortable routine.

A week ago, Alfred mentioned that his cousin Fiona (it was very likely Violet) was in town for the weekend, and asked if it would be alright for her to join them on their weekly outing. Malcolm wasn’t too fond of breaking routine, but he agreed anyway.

Alfred’s cousin wasn’t what Malcolm had expected at all. She was outgoing, outspoken and knew had to command attention. Malcolm was more drawn to her than he had been to anyone in his life. And she seemed to enjoy his company, which even he found surprising. The usual three beers were swapped out for several shots of harder liquor, and the night went on into the early hours of Saturday morning. The three of them had gone from the bar to Malcolm’s apartment at some point, though Malcolm wasn’t sure when. Alfred had passed out long before then, but he and Violet (or was it Fiona?) were still wide awake and lost in each other.

They had drifted closer over the course of the night, both emotionally and physically. At las, they were sitting face to face, leaning closer still. Malcolm knew what was about to happen, welcomed it. And that’s when it happened. Instead of kissing him, Violet (it didn’t really matter what her name was at this point) went for his neck, biting into his throat. It wasn’t quite as painful as Malcolm had expected, more like getting a shot, really. Within moments, it was done. She leaned back with a satisfied smile on her bloody lips and he suddenly felt very tired.

By the time Malcolm woke up, it was already Saturday night. Violet and Alfred were gone, and Malcolm was alone in his living room. He was disoriented at first, struggling to remember the past twenty four hours of his life. Piece by piece, it came back to him. He remembered what had happened and put a hand up to his neck. There were two small puncture wounds, as if he’d been attacked by a stapler.

Just then, Malcolm felt an unbearable thirst. His mouth was dry and his whole body felt empty. He had to satisfy himself. He knew what he had become, and the unholy urges that came with it.

There was just one problem: Malcolm couldn’t stand the sight of blood.

A to Z Challenge: Door to Door

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“Good afternoon, Ma’am. May I take a minute to – ”

Darren never got to finish as the door slammed in his face. He sighed, adjusted his spectacles and proceeded to walk to the next house.

Selling magazine subscriptions was no easy task. Neighborhoods had a sense of uniformity, casting suspicion on anyone that seemed to stick out. Someone like Darren, walking around in his neatly pressed tweed suit and carrying a dark leather briefcase, stuck out quite easily. He was surprised that anyone even opened the door to him in the first place. But then, no door stayed open for long.

The sun was climbing higher in the sky and Darren was getting increasingly thirsty. He almost wanted to just barge into a house to slake his thirst, but he knew that wouldn’t be right. Darren respected the rules.

He tugged at his tie in frustration as he approached yet another door, painted in a bold hue of red that grabbed his attention instantly. He knocked twice, his bony knuckles rapping against the wood sharply. The door opened and a youngish blonde woman smiled out at him.

Darren forced a smile in return.

“Good afternoon, Ma’am. I’m selling magazine subscriptions. Fashion, gardening, home improvement, I’ve got it all.”

Her smile faltered ever so slightly, but the door remained open.

“I’m…not trying to make a sale right now, though. It’s just that it’s ever so hot out here and I was wondering if I could trouble you for a glass of water.”

The woman didn’t respond right away and Daren braced himself for the sudden rush of air that preceded a slamming door. But it was still open. The woman’s smile widened.

“Oh, of course! That’s no problem at all. Please, come in.”

She stepped back from the door to welcome him, and Darren sighed with relief as he walked through the threshold.

“It’s a real scorcher today,” the woman said as she directed Darren to a large cream colored couch in an otherwise sparse living room. “I just went out for a half hour and I was sweating buckets when I got back!”

Darren laughed at her little joke dutifully, and she went off to the kitchen. He loosened his tie and sat down. Finally, someone had invited him in. It just made things so much easier. The husband would no doubt be gone for a couple more hours yet, and Darren didn’t detect the scent of children. It was just her. Perfect.

Later in the evening, Darren would lose the suit. Adopt a new face, a new identity. Maybe a cable repairman this time. Nobody would ever find a trace of the oddly dapper salesman who was roaming around the neighborhood the day before. Darren smiled at the thought, baring his fangs.

He could, of course, have picked someone off the street in the dead of night, as so many of his brethren did. But Darren preferred to make things more interesting, seeking out the weak of will, coercing them into inviting him in, inviting their own fate. It made him feel less…monstrous.

“I hope you like lemonade!” the woman chirped as she appeared in the doorway holding a glass that Darren barely paid any attention to. He was more focused on the vein that throbbed subtly at the side of her neck.

“Oh, that’ll do just fine, Ma’am,” he responded, putting on his most charming smile. “That’ll do just fine.”

 

WEP Valentine’s Challenge: Forever

Yolanda and Renee of Write, Edit, Publish have put forth their first writing challenge for this year, based around Valentine’s Day. The challenge is to write a fiction or non-fiction piece in 1000 words or less. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.


 

John couldn’t believe it was Valentine’s Day already. How time flew.

It was one of the most important days of his life. The day when he and Marnie had decided to take the next step in their relationship.

John adjusted his hat and walked along the same street where he had taken so many moonlit strolls over the years, hand in hand with Marnie. He smiled. The city had changed so much over the years, but it was still beautiful at night, pulsing with life and vitality. The both of them had had many wild nights together, painting the town red.

They were inseparable, always with their arms around each other. Her sing song laughter echoed in the evening air, replaced by ecstatic moans as the night went on. His thick, stubby fingers would comb through her dark tresses, caress her pearlescent skin, trace the contours of her sanguine lips. She in turn would let her spidery fingers roam over his rough form, from his scruffy brown hair to the slight bulge of his gut. The passion they shared could scorch the world, but that wasn’t all that they had.

Marnie was one of the few people, perhaps the only one, that truly understood John. The both of them could spend hours engaged in the most idle conversation, or simply watching the world go by in complete silence. They were content to simply exist together, two bodies and minds joined as one.

John’s footsteps grew a little heavier as he walked away from the city, towards the small hill that lay on its outskirts. He paused before the iron gates at the foot of the hill and took out a small package from his coat’s inner pocket. He opened the package carefully, removing the wrappings to reveal a single, blood-red rose. With a sigh, John walked through the gates.

He hadn’t expected his romance with Marnie to end as abruptly as it had. Though perhaps he should have. They had become too reckless, drawn too much attention to themselves. With the number of people that had gone missing in the wake of their nightly escapades, it was only a matter of time before a hunter showed up in town. John and Marnie hadn’t been concerned. They thought they could handle things. But they were wrong. The hunter was cleverer than they had anticipated. He laid the perfect trap, and they fell for it.

John knelt down and placed the rose on top of an unmarked gravestone. Marnie had made the ultimate sacrifice so that John could escape. This was where she rested now, though he wondered if she’d found any peace. He patted the stone and started to walk away. All good things came to an end, he thought.

His jaw clenched.

But this wasn’t supposed to.

John walked out of the cemetery and back to the city, running a finger along the bite marks on his neck, still as fresh as they were 150 years ago. Eternity was too long a time to be spent alone.

Word Count: 509