A Vampire Carol
The last thing Alex wanted was to become a vampire for Christmas…
Alex stayed in the dumpster until nightfall. He crept out and stood in the alley, trying to understand, trying to believe, and failing. He recognized the back of his office building.
His car was still parked in the parking garage, on the fifth floor. The keys were in his jacket pocket. Dazed, he opened the car, but for a long while, he sat in the driver’s seat, with his key in the ignition and his foot on the pedal, without turning on the engine. His mind refused to work.
He knew he should go home because Lynn would be worried, alone with baby Bradley. Lynn would have questions though and a long list of ways this was his fault. He couldn’t fight with her right now. He needed support. He needed a friend.
Justin lived with his brother, two years younger, who attended school part-time and worked part time, in a pale blue house at the end of a cul-de-sac. Justin had his degree and was a sys admin, like Alex, at a different company. Alex and Justin had been buddies since college, although since Alex married and had a baby, and Justin stayed single, they had found themselves divided by the secret segregation that keeps Married Couples apart from Single Guys.
Alex knocked at the door. No answer. He pounded.
Gary, Justin’s brother answered the door.
“Hey, Alex.” Gary took a swig of a beer. “Justin’s out.”
He was the first person Alex had seen since waking up in the dumpster. Gary looked…strange. A faint but hot mist steamed from his skin, creating a ruddy glow around his body. The aroma was savory.
Gary turned and padded down the hall, leaving the door opened. Alex tried to follow, but when he tried to cross the threshold, it was as if he were trying to walk through invisible taffy. It wasn’t like walking into a wall, but it repelled him all the same. He couldn’t follow Gary.
And he wanted to, very, very badly.
Gary looked back at him. “You okay?”
“I….” Alex licked his lips. He clenched and unclenched his hands. His stomach hurt, and his throat felt as though he had swallowed broken glass.
“I’m thirsty,” he whispered hoarsely.
“Come on in,” said Gary.
The invisible taffy dissolved so abruptly that Alex, who had been leaning into the force, stumbled forward. He caught himself against the wall, panting. His vision narrowed to a tunnel, focused on the red mist around Gary. Alex could hear Gary’s heart beating, and the gurgle of his blood pumping in and out. The delicious smell, the throbbing sound as loud as music at a rave, the hot, red mist…
Gary rummaged around in the fridge and pulled out another beer, which he held out to Alex.
“Would you like a drink?”
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