Note: drug references
Lilith looked down at the heap of man that Seth had dumped on her doorstep.
“Special delivery for Ms. Lilith Charlotte Vatore. Please sign here.”
“And what exactly am I supposed to do with him?”
“Vixen, has it been that long? You dine on him, of course. Do you remember where the veins are or do you require an illustration?” Seth laughed like the maniac he was.
Lilith glared at him. “Don’t insult my intelligence.”
“Then don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” Seth said. “I can’t very well let you starve now that you are without a supply of your ‘completely consensual’ blood bags. What would the conceited elite of the world do without your skin-smoothing talents?”
“How kind of you to think of them,” Lilith said dryly. “I see you’ve already sampled him.”
“I didn’t want to bring you a dud. He’s a little high in cholesterol, but otherwise satisfactory.”
Lilith grimaced. “I don’t need him. Or you.”
“Incorrect on both accounts. I think you’ll find you need him very much. You’re so dried out I could use you as tinder. The words you’re looking for are ‘thank’ and ‘you’.”
“The second word is certainly ‘you’.” Lilith knelt down to examine the man’s neck. “Oh my word, Seth.”
Lilith had seen many of Seth’s prey over the years. The results were never pretty, but this one really surprised her.
“Don’t get used to it. It pains me to be so lenient. I even mesmerised him.” Seth shuddered. “The whole experience was about as enjoyable as lapping up your clinical waste from a dog bowl.”
Lilith gently inspected the wound, amazed. Seth had inflicted one neat laceration with his knife, been extremely restrained with his teeth and had stemmed the bleed.
It was almost… kind.
“For hell’s sake, Lilith. Put him out of his misery already, before I rip him to shreds. I’ll even remove the trance for you. Let him tremble in your jaws.”
Lilith’s eyes darkened. “Don’t you dare.”
“Why ever not?” Seth asked, with mock innocence. “Worried that you’ll like it?”
Lilith convulsed against the memory that those words dragged up. Watched the smirk that curled Seth’s lips as he inevitably saw it too.
Ah, there it was! Her usual all-encompassing disgust and loathing brought on by looking at his arrogant face.
“Two can play that game,” she said.
As fun as this was, it wasn’t productive. She shifted her focus to the man passed out on her porch. He looked friendly, cheerful, warm. “Is he a curb-crawler from out of town?” she asked. He didn’t look like one but faces could hide a lot.
“No. I’m sure you’ll recognise him. Eventually.”
That sounded ominous. She tried to be jovial, flippant but still felt abject revulsion. “I’d tip you but you’ve eaten half of my takeaway, so sod off, Seth.”
Seth mused wistfully, “Such a fine line between love and—“
“Not this again. I never loved you. Get over me already.”
“I have. Faith—.”
Lilith laughed. “You’re just a notch on her very eroded bed post and now she has literally run away from you.”
“Lilith. She ran away from you.”
“She doesn’t want you! I don’t want you! No one does! Look at yourself; mere hours after killing someone you’re draining someone else for no reason, tormenting me again and I can hazard a guess what you plan to do to next.” Lilith scoffed. “Do you seriously think you’re worthy of love, Seth? That anyone could possibly ever love you?!”
Lilith immediately regretted her outburst. She knew better than to present Seth with those kinds of questions. She waited for his blatant responses; for the inevitable flash of red that would follow.
This was a day of surprises, it would seem. Seth bit down on his tongue, clamped his hand to his mouth and turned swiftly on his heel, disappearing into the thick forest without another word.
Lilith was dumfounded for a while before she remembered the human at her feet.
She had a slight problem. This man looked to be on the heavy side and she only possessed enough strength to move him efficiently in her dark form. In her human form, she was well-practiced at resisting the temptation of blood, but her dark form, with its heightened four senses, was another story.
She reached down and took the man’s leg, pulling him along by his foot. It was an ungraceful entrance to her home; his face banging off both the door frame and the bottom step as she tried to haul him up. Only three steps up she collapsed on to the staircase, fatigued.
How she wished she could wave her hand and move him freely. How unfair it was that she’d given up so much and she still couldn’t do half of what that cretin could—
“You gave up too soon,” Seth said from behind her. Lilith jumped, almost falling down the stairs.
“Why are you back?”
“Forgot my kidney.” He walked through to the kitchen to retrieve his trophy from the sink, re-joining Lilith in the hallway. “Need a hand?” he asked.
Seth barely even lifted a finger and the heavy-set man rose to his feet.
Lilith linked her hands with the warm, soft mitts of this dopey human, guiding him up the stairs and into Caleb’s room. As they approached the landing and the limit of Seth’s reach, the man fell heavily into Lilith’s arms. She managed to drag him the remaining distance to the bed as she heard the front door close.
She could imagine Seth’s self-satisfied face; could picture him playing with that kidney like it was a ball as he strutted up the path. Could practically hear him boasting that she did need him after all.
Trying to drag this man along had made her realise how thirsty she was, not that she’d ever admit that. Lilith studied the man carefully, estimating his capacity. Large, male, yet the trance had left with Seth and this man was still unconscious; his sparse thoughts were non-linear and dreamlike.
She felt the human’s skin, carefully noting his temperature and complexion, the strength and frequency of his heart rate.
Lilith was decades out of practice; her senses, like the rest of her, numb. She couldn’t tell how much she could take safely.
So she wouldn’t take anything at all.
Caleb had rarely ever been shopping without his sister. She would rush around, picking up only what they needed and ensuring as little contact as possible with any humans. The only stores he ventured into alone were the bookstore or the greengrocers in the village and the latter had asked him not to come back because he had never bought anything.
This was a whole new experience for Caleb. He’d spent far too long walking up and down each aisle in this strange store, looking at all the weird and wonderful items on sale. What did tinned soup taste like? What sort of dish did one use paracetamol in? What in hell were tampons used for?
In this overwhelming space full of bright colours and fluorescent lights, he eventually located bleach and glue. He placed them on to the counter, greeting the shop attendant who ignored him as she rang up his items.
“Anything else?” she asked, her voice as bored as her face. “We’ve got a special offer on; buy two or more packs of toilet roll and you get free fibre supplements.”
Caleb looked at what was on offer on the restricted list on the counter. Lottery tickets, alcohol, cigarettes. Alcohol would certainly make the days pass faster.
“Ten bottles of vodka, please.”
The assistant eyed him suspiciously. “Got any ID?”
Caleb faltered. He was never asked for identification. Then again, the only time he ever bought anything with an age-restriction was at Joe’s bar and Joe had never asked. Which was just as well as Caleb didn’t have any documented way to prove that he was three hundred and seven.
“I don’t have any. But trust me, I’m old enough.”
“You don’t look old enough,” the assistant said, tapping a sticker on the cash register that said ‘Think 25’.
“I’m much older than twenty-five.”
“Sure you are. No ID, no sale. This store obeys the law,” the assistant said, a phrase that was clearly drilled into her. “Sorry to ruin your vodka-fuelled bleach and glue party. That’s fifteen simoleons for these.” She looked at the items again. “Wait, what are you planning to do with this glue?”
Caleb didn’t actually know what Faith wanted it for. “We’re going to stick things together,” he guessed.
“Right.” She sighed, looking at the grinning, over-excited young man before her and pressed a few buttons on the cash register, cancelling the transaction. “Honey, I can’t sell this to you now. I think you’re planning to use it incorrectly and it would be really irresponsible of me.”
“You can use glue incorrectly?” Caleb looked at her, incredulous, his face cycling through emotions in his effort to understand the assistant’s.
“Oh my. Look at you. You’re clearly already off your sweet face on something,” she said. “It’s a slippery slope, darling. Sure at first it’s just a bit of harmless fun, sniffing glue with your friends. But then before you know it, you’re smoking crack in a hovel and you’re dead inside.”
“I am dead inside,” Caleb agreed, still not really understanding.
“Poor baby. It’s not too late.” The assistant reached behind the counter and handed him a leaflet. “Give these folks a call? Stay safe, sweetheart,” she said gently and motioned him towards the door.
Caleb stood in the car park looking at the leaflet in his hand. Sadness Hotline. He balled it up and threw it into a nearby bin.
Now what? He didn’t want to go back without the items; he felt like enough of a failure as it was.
He glanced around for inspiration and spotted the security light mounted on the wall, watched as it ignored him completely, but illuminated immediately upon detecting a man who was about to enter the store.
If only he was invisible to people as well as to cameras.
Wait a second.
They’d never even know he was there, he thought gleefully. He slipped in besides the man who was entering, whizzed around the store in a blur, emerging again brief seconds later with the bleach, the glue – even a bottle of vodka.
So why did he feel like he was he forgetting something?