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Hell and the Hunger
By Mike Reynolds
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Mike Reynolds
All rights reserved.
The Same Old Scene
Joe slumped in his chair, half leaning against the highly polished, rich mahogany of the bar. A heavy cloud of cigarette smoke hanging in the air seemed to weigh him down. It was the same as always, a crowded, smoke filled bar full of bodies carelessly brushing against each other unaware or ignoring the brief moments of closeness they shared. Though he was alone among them, he blended into the whole, the throng, as if he were one of them, just another body in the twisted gnarl. His life had been an endless exercise in doing just that, blending in and becoming another nondescript face in the crowd. This was no easy task for Joe, constantly evolving, adapting to their ever-changing society, keeping up with the latest fads. That heavy cloud of smoke for instance, it had taken him decades to get used to that and the assault it made on his senses. The first time he walked into a bar had been a nightmare. Two steps into the joint and his nostrils were burning. Watery eyes stung like they were packed with sand. His mouth dried up like high noon in the desert and his skin itched like the mother of all rashes lay to rest upon it. No more than two minutes later and he was bursting back out of the place, desperately seeking the fresh night air. How long ago was that? It must have been two, maybe three hundred years. In any event, it had been in London. He remembered that much. It seemed an eternity ago, but for Joe it was merely a heartbeat, the blink of an eye. His life had been so much nobler then. Back then he was still a hunter. That was before he became lazy.
It had taken Joe roughly fifty years to fully acclimate himself to the bar scene. The smoke was what really got him. Keeping a few whiskeys down was nothing compared to that. It was like anything else these nasty humans did to amuse themselves though. Centuries prior to the bar scene, a room full of humans heavy laden in perfumes and colognes would have had a similar effect. Like the smoky rooms and a belly full of whiskey, he had grown accustomed to that too. He had to. Constantly adapting to the changing world he was trapped in was necessary to his survival. Over the years he perfected it, appearing to be just like the sheep he hunted. He was a ghost among them, barely noticed until he wanted to be.
This relatively new haunt of his – the bar scene – was a product of his laziness. The romance of the hunt, seducing his victims for days, sometimes weeks before consuming them had lost its luster. It grew old, even boring. He still longed for those days at times, those days when he still carried around a measure of self-respect. Sadly, he had neither the energy nor the enthusiasm for them any longer. The truth was he felt alone, trapped in a black pit of melancholy that seemed to grow deeper and darker with each passing day. Loneliness was the only other traveler on this never-ending trail that was his life. As far as he knew, there was none other like him on earth. He had searched. Across the globe and back, time and again he trekked, but never did he find even one that was what he was. If another existed, they were better at hiding than he was. No, he truly was alone.
Joe had sunken deep into his lamentations when something sparkling in his periphery pulled his attention back to the bar surrounding him. He turned his head to see a pair of blazing emeralds smiling at him from behind a thin curtain of blond curls. Under different circumstances, he may have spent some time considering them, enjoying them. There was no time for that though. It had been a little better than two weeks since he had drained Red in the alley behind Primal Pulse and hunger raged like a demon in his belly. As pretty as those eyes were, he beheld them only to show enough interest to bring his meal closer. Besides, they were probably contacts anyway.
Joe barely noticed all of Blondie's attempts at getting his attention. Her smile widened as her pace slowed. A pathetic attempt at a sexy strut came off more like a drunken stumble that did more to irritate than arouse. 'Hurry up already,' he thought, as his hunger raged stronger, battering his insides with pulsing, throbbing hammers of pain. Her sexuality was of no interest to him. She was food.
Finally, the torturous strut was over and Blondie's body slumped against Joe's shoulder. "Hi there," she slurred. "I saw you looking at me."
Joe feigned interest as he fought an urge to try rubbing away pain that had slipped up into his temples. Pushing through it, he slipped into character, "Yes you did, and I saw you looking at me." He caressed the side of her bare neck with his left index finger. The simple act of moving his arm shot flaming daggers through his whole body. "I couldn't help but notice your beautiful, soft skin. I hope my hungry stare didn't offend you."
She giggled, "No." Then after a long blink she added, "So what's your name?"
"Name's Joe. Can I buy you a drink?" he replied. Then he thought, 'And please, make it a quick one.'
"Sure," she was still giggling. "I'll take a Screaming Orgasm."
Joe sighed and smiled, "Of course you will my dear." He ordered her drink. As the bartender prepared it, Joe considered his victim. Had she not been completely drunk, she might have noticed the pain behind his smile. Thankfully, her condition would help him get her out of the bar quickly. He briefly thought of asking her name. Never mind, her name truly did not matter. She was food. The demon in his belly calmed slightly. It was as if the hunger knew that he needed his wits about him to bring dinner home.
Blondie's drink finally came. Joe's hand trembled slightly as he passed it to her, the forced smile still drawn across his lips. Her throat looked delicious as she leaned her head back to drink. Sweet relief pulsed just below that tender flesh. Unconsciously, the starving hunter licked his lips. He did not even realize that he had done it until he noticed that Blondie had finished slamming her drink and was staring at him. It didn't seem to hurt his chances at all. In fact, the gesture seemed to turn her on.
She leaned in close and said, "This is my favorite song. Dance with me."
Joe had been so thoroughly absorbed in his lamentations that he had completely tuned out the steady bass line pounding out of the multitude of speakers anchored all about the room just below the ceiling. He shook his head slightly and said, "Sorry sweetheart, I don't dance."
Blondie pouted, stumbled slightly to the right and slurred, "Come on. I want to dance."
Joe shrugged, "I would love to, but I really can't. I would just embarrass you."
"Fine," a dejected look barely had time to settle on her face before it was replaced by a drunken smirk. "You can watch me then."
Blondie was three steps into her stumble strut before Joe could argue. The demon in his belly roared again but Joe pushed him back. They would both have to wait for dinner to have her dance. There wasn't much he could do about it, so he watched her walk away as those two emeralds – that were probably contacts – stared back at him.
Joe let his eyes wander over Blondie's form. She really was attractive by human standards. It was impossible not to notice her ass the way she was swinging it back and forth. It was nice, round and firm with just a slight jiggle. A tight, somewhat sheer red dress barely covered it. A grin fought its way on to Joe's lips while his eyes followed the curve of her hips down to her thighs. She obviously devoted much of her time to them. They were firm and tight, not bulky but muscular nonetheless. Joe's gaze continued downward. He couldn't tell if it was the result of the hooker heels Blondie was wearing, but her calves were almost perfectly defined. Had he not been starving, he may have entertained the idea of exploring her a bit more before devouring her. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be able to hold the hunger off that long once he had her alone.
Joe moved his eyes up to Blondie's back. The back of her neckline – if you could call it that – plunged to just above that wonderful ass. He chuckled despite the throbbing in his belly. She had a tramp stamp. Somehow, he couldn't imagine her without one.
Blondie finally made it to the dance floor and fell into the mass of bodies all gyrating and grinding on one another. They were like one being – tendons attached to the same muscle – all pumping and swaying to the steady bass bumping out of all those speakers. Joe's eyes remained on her as she quickly became part of the throng. His mind traveled elsewhere again. It didn't get far before something that sounded much too sweet for the smoke filled bar brought him back there again.
"Is that yours?" The angelic voice chimed like a soft bell. It didn't fit the sarcasm dripping from the statement it carried.
Joe chuckled slightly but his gaze remained fixed on Blondie. "No. She belongs to the dance floor, to them, this place even. She belongs to everyone." he replied.
"That's good," the sweet voice continued. "You look much more interesting than that."
"Thanks," he paused, "I think."
The demon in Joe's belly growled with more vigor. He cradled his forehead in his hand. Now that the music had jumped back into his awareness, it was irritating both him and the hunger. Blondie's favorite song could not end fast enough.
"You okay?" the owner of that sweet voice was still standing beside him.
"Yeah," he sighed. "The music here is just a little loud."
"It is," the voice agreed.
"This is not ..." Joe's voice trailed off as he finally looked over at his companion with the sweet voice that didn't fit the crowded, smoky bar that surrounded them. Like the warm glow of a lighthouse beacon on an otherwise black ocean, she did not fit in with the rest of the throng. No fake tan, no clown make-up, no wild curls standing three feet off of her head, her simplicity was elegant. Joe smiled unconsciously as she held his stare. The word beauty did not seem broad enough or deep enough in meaning. In fact, as far as Joe was concerned, no word in any of the multitude of languages he had learned throughout his lifetime even came close to describing what his eyes were taking in. Her hair was black as a starless night, yet it shined as if moonbeams had been trapped in it. It was long and straight, clinging to her cheeks before plunging straight to her waist. Her eyes were crystal blue like the clear, clean water of a Hawaiian lagoon. They seemed to glow with their own light. It was as if her body could not contain her essence and its creamy glow was escaping through those two immeasurably deep pools of blue. They trapped his stare. Had he tried to look away, he would have failed.
A knowing smile slipped onto his new companion's face as she asked again, "Are you okay?"
A dopey grin climbed above Joe's chin, but he didn't answer.
"Okay," the word came out slowly. "How about this?" She asked. "My name is Evelyn. What's yours?"
Joe paused a few moments – the dumb look still strapped across his face – before he said, "What? Um ... me?"
"Yes you," she laughed. "We are the only two sitting here together right now. I'm Evelyn." She held out her hand as if to shake his. "And your name is?"
What was wrong with him? Normally, he felt no real attraction to humans, save his hunger. What was so special about this one? Finally he managed to struggle an answer to his lips. "I'm ... ah ... Joe. Name's Joe." He stammered like an awestruck teenage girl meeting the lead singer of her favorite boy band.
"Joe." Amused by all of his stammering, Evelyn's smile widened. "Hmm," she continued, "simple, plain, easy to remember." She reached out and took his right hand with hers, slowly shaking them both up and down. "It's nice to meet you Joe. Are you always this smooth?"
'Good question,' he thought before answering in his head, 'No, normally I'm really smooth. I don't know what the hell is wrong with me.' A shrug slowly lifted his shoulders as he tried to pull himself together. Then he said, "Sorry, you took me by surprise. You don't really fit this place, or it doesn't fit you." He paused and stared into those creamy eyes before continuing, "Evelyn. I like that. It's pretty and sweet, yet elegant at the same time."
"Thank you," the smile remained on her face.
Joe grabbed his whiskey from the bar and swirled it around a few times trying to appear casual. He couldn't slip back into character. Evelyn's eyes were focused on him. He felt scrutinized and perhaps a little nervous. Mopping at his brow he thought, 'Am I sweating? I don't sweat.'
Evelyn's tongue slipped slightly out of her mouth. Joe watched it slide slowly across lips that were full and perfect. He wished she would speak again as he had no idea what to say. All of the witty remarks he would normally use to wow a potential victim seemed completely juvenile as he stared at her. Why? What was so special about this one? Sure she was an incredibly attractive human specimen, but Joe had seen a million of those in his lifetime. There was more to this one. The emptiness that normally sat behind human eyes simply wasn't there. Substance. That's what he saw in those wonderful, creamy, blue eyes, substance. He had to speak. He couldn't just sit there and stare dumbly at her.
"Can I buy you a drink?" The words that spilled out of Joe's mouth lacked the slick charm they normally had, but they were something more than silence.
"Again you speak," she chuckled. "I was beginning to think that I had enchanted your tongue and stole all of your words away." She paused and then said, "Sure, I'd like a drink, but I'm driving tonight. Honestly, I never come to places like this. My girlfriend from college is in town for her bachelorette party. My group is all out on the dance floor with that cute, little, blonde thing of yours. How about a cranberry juice?"
Joe sipped his whiskey. He had actually acquired a bit of a taste for the vile liquid. Truly, he didn't mind it that much at all, and it helped him fit in better with the food. At that moment, it gave him something to do besides simply looking uncomfortable. "Cranberry juice it is."
"Thank you." Evelyn took the seat next to him.
Joe's smile widened until it ran out of face to stretch across. He knew he should bolt. He knew he should run for the door, but he could not pull himself away from her. Instead, he gave a nonchalant wave to the bartender and said, "Bar keep, a cranberry juice for the lovely Miss Evelyn." 'What?' he thought. 'Did I really just say that?'
Blondie's dance lasted through song after song. Joe completely forgot about her as Evelyn held him mesmerized. The evening spun slowly around them as they drank, talked and laughed. All the while, Joe fell deeper into this spell Evelyn had on him. What was it? He couldn't come up with a name for it, but this foreign attraction continued to grow, feeding off every word she spoke and every move she made. The longer they talked the stronger it became until it was overwhelming. It was like his hunger – that demon in his belly – but it was different. Blood would never satisfy this new hunger. The walls seemed to close in around him, like the jaws of a trap moving in slow motion.
Joe was suddenly snapped out of the spell by weight on his shoulder and heavy breath against his neck.
"Who's the slut?" Blondie slurred loudly.
Joe resisted an urge to slap her across the face. Drawing unnecessary attention was something that he avoided at all costs. Becoming the center of attention is no way to blend in. Instead he scolded, "She's not a slut. Her name is Evelyn. We were talking and having a drink."
Before Blondie could speak again, Evelyn smiled at her and said, "Don't worry sweetheart. I'm not trying to steal your man. He's all yours. We were just chatting." Then she turned her attention to Joe, "Good-night Joe. It was nice talking to you. Thanks for the drink." She slipped out of her chair, turned, took three steps and then turned back and said, "Have fun with that," as she motioned with her head toward Blondie.
Joe didn't reply. He just sighed, rolled his eyes and watched her go.
"Bitch," Blondie said just before a belch quickly rumbled up from her gut. With a surprised look – as if the gas had snuck up on her – she continued, "Why were you talking to that whore?"
Reminded by the demon in his belly that she was dinner, Joe resisted the urge to scold her and slipped back into character. "Don't worry about her sweets. She just came over to talk while you were having your dance. I must have looked lonely. You did leave me all alone here."
The look on her face was probably intended to portray some emotion, but in her drunken state all it conveyed to Joe was confusion. He waited a few seconds but she didn't speak.
Excerpted from Hell and the Hunger by Mike Reynolds. Copyright © 2014 Mike Reynolds. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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