Short Story Sunday: The Child

The Child (A Short Unspectacular Vampire Story)

“I don’t get them at all. What is it about the obsession with things like Proust and his stupid cookie or that German guy who kept shoving his cat into a box then pondering if it was dead or alive. And what is up with Hamlet? To be or not to be? Really? He needs some serious counseling. And don’t even get me started on Little Women.”

“Schrodinger. He was the guy with the cat,” I said.

“I hope it bit him,” said my partner (and best friend) Jayne.

We drove for a few more miles, lights off, but not in silence. There is never silence with Jayne along. She talks non-stop for hours on end, and endless stream of consciousness, a dialog of rambling thoughts and opinions.

“They’re all so stupid, you know, people who think they’re smart and profound. An it is usually guys. Idiots.” Jayne was scowling now. I don’t blame her.

“I know. I’m going to stop here.”

“Sounds good.”

We got out of the car, both in black from head to toe except for a shock of blonde hair coming from Jayne.

The sidewalk smelled like urine and barf. I love my job but only because I know I’m doing the right thing, not for the depravity I run into each and every day.

“Where’s Max this weekend?”

Of course she had to ask. I didn’t want to talk about him. I hated him. I loved him. I wished she’d just leave it alone. “Family stuff. It’s his mom’s birthday.

“You know the guy is just using you.”

“End of story Jayne. I don’t want to talk about it.”

We walked along for a few more blocks, checking out ally ways and what looked like mostly abandoned buildings. Not a street light was in sight or many lights in the windows of the buildings.

“Urban decay at it’s best,” Jayne said. “Remember when it was a big deal to live in a city. Everyone wore hats and gloves and men were always in suits. I don’t get it. Now they just sit around in jammie pants and sweats and everyone looks like slobs. It kind of turns my stomach. I mean, packaging and presentation mean so much. It is like nobody cares. That is why everything is going down into the deep black hole of…Mehitabel, are you listening?”

“Yes. We’re getting close.”

“When people ask me what I do for a living I never say I hunt monsters.”

“I know.” I had to smile.

We came to what looked like an 19th century factory or warehouse building. The windows were broken out or painted over with black. The brigs looked like they’d sagged from 100 years of gravity.

“Let’s do this,” said Jayne.

We checked our weapons.

I smiled at Jayne and we entered the building and silently walked towards the scent of our prey.

We didn’t need to talk. We knew what the other was thinking. We knew what needed to be done.

At the end of the hall was a light. The door flew open. They were there, hovering over a bed where a frightened child cowered in the corner.

They spun around looking shocked to see us.

“Give us the child,” I demanded. “She’ll die if you keep her. You don’t know how to take care of her.”

“She’s already dead,” one of them said.

“Oh give me a break. What an asshat.” Jayne always had something interesting to say, especially when she was pissed off. She drew her gun out and pointed towards the group.

“Don’t look them in the eye,” yelled one of the men.

Jayne chuckled under her breath. I drew my weapon. “Give us the child.”

I knew what the men were thinking. They’d been paid a half a million dollars for the girl. Yesterday she was happy in first grade learning how to read and write. Tomorrow she’d be a prize for the highest bidder on the pretense of scientific study.

There were three men, youngish, frightened. “Give us the child,” I said, “or I’ll let Jayne here talk you to death.”

Jayne laughed and walked towards the men, gun up and ready to shoot. “Back off gentlemen and let us take the child. Honestly imagine if someone had taken you from your mommies when you were this age. Scary scary stuff if you ask me. And look at you. You’re all so young with a full life ahead of you. You need to go to graduate school or join the Peace Corps or do something with your lives besides taking money to steal children from those who aren’t like you. Make something of yourselves. Learn to hula dance or tap dance or ballroom dance. Or you could just go to sleep. Go to sleep and dream of warm fires and gentle ocean breezes and the wind through the palm trees and white sands and ….”

Jayne’s hypnotic voice had put the three men into a deep slumber.

“I’ll have you know,” she said, “I don’t do this when I’m out on a date.”

I had to laugh.

We approached the small girl who threw her arms around my neck and held on tight. “You’re alright Holly, dear child. We’re going to bring you home. Are you hungry? You must be.”

The child nodded yes so I took the limp arm from one of her captors and held the wrist up to her mouth. The little Vampire teeth sunk in. “Not too much too fast or you’ll get sick.”

On the car ride home Jayne talked about growing up as a Vampire and how she couldn’t imagine anyone stealing her from her parents. They were tough and eccentric old Vampires. I loved going to visit them in their wild house full of insane fun.

My parents had been dead a long long time, as I wasn’t born a Vampire. But all the same, they would have been heart broken if someone had taken me.

Over a hundred years have passed and I think that maybe one day I’ll have my own family, but until then, I’ll do what I can to keep the children of my world, and any others safe from harm.

 

 

Note: The Child was first posted here in October 2013. So if you think you’ve read it before you probably have. ~ Juliette

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