A tick in all the boxes

Chapter three of our tale, in which we deal with the “meet cute”, except it wasn’t that cute…..

An Undead Christmas Carol. J R Manawa.
A tick in all the boxes.

After the birthday boy had been laid to rest in his perfect white coffin with the silver handles and dark blue satin interior, Caleb locked the door of the safe room with his passcode and returned to the living room to set about the task at hand. Disposing of three adult bodies.

As he went to the kitchen and picked out of the top drawer possibly the only useful kitchen item in a house inhabited by vampires – heavy duty, extra-large, black bin bags – he fell into thinking.

About the girl. Nadine.

That she was just the latest victim in a long history of similar cases was a true statement. Levi had mentioned this rather scathingly last night during one of their disagreements. He liked Levi analysing his habits even less than when he did it himself.

As an afterthought, he grabbed the meat-cleaver too.

He’d always fed after a preference when he could, on trend with his mood and hatreds at the time. Whores waiting for death, business men dying for their next dollar, young boys running from home, priests praying to a god they didn’t believe in, musicians high on cocaine, under-fed girls desperate to be actresses.

From the utility cupboard he took a brand new tarpaulin sheet off the stack he kept there.

Eventually he would get bored, or some small interaction would change his tastes, but in the past few years he had found a newgenre to feed on. Levi told him his problem was a masochistic desire for revenge on a world that had made him the monster he was. Caleb disagreed that he had a problem at all, the monster he was had simply given him new pleasures to enjoy, new things to find entertainment in.

With all the films and television programs, brand franchises, books and comics, the world was saturated and changing, more ‘aware’ of things that moved in the dark than ever before, and at the same time – less believing.

He’d forgotten the duct tape. Duct tape holds together all manner of sins. It was also in the utility cupboard.

There were benefits to this disbelief. Blending in had become much easier. Milky-pale skin was just as favourable once more as the sun-kissed brown kind. Black eyeliner was socially acceptable on both sexes, and long black hair and a leather trench coat were a statement in cool. Even fangs had become something of an accessory, and not just for Halloween.

But the gothic and vamperic sub-culture of the twenty-first century had given Caleb a new taste, the ‘sympathetic’ he liked to call them. The depressed and outcast of popular culture, the kind that haunted the clubs and bars around Soho and Camden on Friday nights, or in Brixton after a show at the Academy.

Levi had told him his habits of hunting were disgusting, but said little more on the subject. Levi drank much less often than Caleb, and always went out on his own, a predator hunting another kind of predator, the kind that only a lone child can be found by after dark on a quiet city street. Unfortunately it made him more – righteous – about his feeding.

There was nothing righteous about a meat-cleaver stuck in a femur. Nor was there any salvation in the curious splintering sound when it finally came loose from bone.

It was all rather annoying. Caleb enjoyed his hunting and his easy meals. It was fun to have a girl so obsessed with him that he would be freely offered a smooth, pale neck for that first innocent feed. A little of his own blood in return would keep her alive for a time. They were all begging to be turned anyway. They took the bait happily, overjoyed with thoughts of becoming immortal, living forever.

It was at this point Caleb lost interest. The game was over. How could they really want this? How could they truly say they had considered carefully what they asked for, what they begged for? Living forever was a fate worse than hell or oblivion. Half-changed, and half-dead, he eventually put them out of their misery.

It was just a sick game, but he liked it. How long before they changed their minds? How long before they realised that life was precious? How long before they just gave up? Perhaps it was true that he only did it because of his hatred at what he was. Or perhaps it was purely his disgust that a living human would beg to be like him and would actually choose a damned life for eternity over the sweet warmth of a human existence that ended when the body faded, and the soul moved on.

Caleb had not been given that choice. His soul was bound in damnation on earth to his eternal body.

These girls, however, were now free. And for a moment that thought made him thoroughly sick, as he twisted the duct tape around the third bundle of bin bags and tarpaulin. Who was he to choose their freedom?

Fuck it. Survival of the fittest.

His latest victim, Nadine, had seemed a tick in all the boxes. He’d found her in a bar in Soho, dressed in a black leather mini skirt, patent Dr. Martens boots, and a fishnet top that fell of her shoulders and exhibited the defined curve of her waist beneath it. The waves of her auburn hair had shone an electric red under the black lights, spilling over her shoulders and down her back as she danced.

She was beautiful, without a doubt, but Caleb could read from her eyes, caked as they were in black liner and mascara, that she did not believe she was.

It was perfect hunting.


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