Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Thanks to Stephanie for inviting me to play again! And thanks to everyone who reads these creepy, creepy stories. Enjoy!
by Geonn Cannon
Copyright © 2009 Geonn Cannon
The phone ringing was the only sound in the apartment for almost a minute before Rita startled awake. She kicked the blankets away in her attempt to find and silence the cell phone, squinting at the bright display screen before she grunted and flipped it open. Her dark hair covered her eyes, blinding her as she put the phone to her ear. "This is me."
"I want to drink," the voice on the other end said.
Suze pushed the hair out of her face and sighed. It was the same routine, repeated ad infinitum. "Don't do it, Moira. You'll regret it in the morning. Trust me, I have been there, I know--"
"You don't know," Moira growled, snapping off the end of each word. "You have no idea how hard it was for me to call you instead of just going out and... and..."
"But you did call me. You took that step, Moira." She looked at her alarm clock. "Listen, where are you? I'm going to sit with you until this urge passes."
Moira was silent for so long that Suze thought the connection had been broken. She was about to check when Moira finally said, "I'm at the boardwalk. By the arcade."
"I'll be there in fifteen minutes." She hung up and sat for a moment, trying to let her brain catch up with her body. She glanced over her shoulder and saw the empty pillow on the other side of the bed. No one to wake with these late night calls, no one to be concerned if she jumped up and ran out in the middle of the night because someone was in crisis. It was better this way. It was easier this way. Yeah, right.
She pulled a pair of jeans on over her boxers, and a hoodie over her tank top. She topped the ensemble off with a leather jacket, pulling the hoodie over her head before she left the apartment. It was cold enough in the corridor that she could see her breath, so she shoved her hands into the pockets of her jacket and hunched her shoulders as she went downstairs.
The street was deserted, the sky thick with clouds low enough to be the ceiling of a padded room. While oppressive, it reflected enough ambient light that it felt earlier than it really was. Suze lived only a few blocks from the boardwalk, so she decided to walk. She would use the time to decide what to do about Moira. God, the woman vexed her. They met at one of those god awful basement meetings, sitting in a circle of ice cold metal folding chairs, whining about their addiction. Suze hadn't had a drink in nineteen months, but it was still a trial every damn night.
And then came Moira. From the very beginning, she had a holier than thou attitude. She listened to testimonials with a smirk, chin down and red hair covering her face to hide stifled laughter. She pissed Suze off from the first moment. Who the hell did she think she was? Suze tracked her down after the meeting and shouted at her, told her that she should show some respect to her fellow addicts, and that if she couldn't muster up an ounce of compassion that she should just go somewhere else.
Their exchange had quickly turned physical, clothes torn and skin clawed as they tried to get into the apartment before they were both completely nude. The sex was epic, and it made her black out, and it caused a series of complaints from her neighbors called in to the super. After that, Moira 'requested' Suze become her sponsor. Suze was resistant, but she didn't feel capable of refusing. And so, five months of hell, being dragged out of bed whenever Moira was feeling weak or horny, and unable to say no. No matter how many times she reminded herself how it always went wrong, how it was always a bad idea.
She wished she had just stayed in bed. But Moira called and, when Moira called, Suze came running.
The boardwalk was still lively despite the hour, but Moira was easy to spot. She stood away from the crowd, arms resting on the rail, looking out at the black ink of the water. She wore a black trenchcoat, her hair falling over the shoulders like a curtain. She didn't turn when Suze approached, but Suze knew she was paying attention.
As soon as Suze was within earshot, Moira spoke. "The water keeps on going." She made waving motions with her hand. "Waves. In and out, no matter what time it is."
Suze leaned against the rail a few feet from Moira. "Nature of the beast."
"You're one to talk," Moira said, one of her coy smiles playing on her lips. "Aren't all our little meetings all about taming the inner beast? Going against our true nature?"
"It's not our nature. It's an addiction."
Moira sighed. "So you're saying it's fine in moderation?"
Suze pressed her lips together. "Depends. Some can control it..."
"Bullshit. The people who tell you they control it are, I swear, just keeping it private. There is no middle ground, and there is no shame in giving in to that urge."
Suze shook her head. "You always talk like this when you're thirsty."
"I am always thirsty," Moira growled. "Trying to control it is like trying to walk only on my hands."
Suze pushed away from the railing. "You know what, fuck you. If you want to cave in, do it. You can testify at the meeting next week."
"What kind of sponsor are you?" Moira said.
"The kind that's sick of being jerked around by an immature brat. You don't believe in what we do. You don't take it seriously. You want to take a drink, go ahead. But don't make it my failure. Do it, don't, I don't care anymore. Have a nice night, Moira."
Moira grabbed Suze's shoulder and forced her to turn around, eyes flashing as she grabbed Suze's upper arms. Suze yelped as Moira's fingers dug into her biceps, the pain like ten needles piercing her. "I wouldn't be here if I wasn't trying. I wouldn't have walked into that damn meeting if I didn't want to change myself. But it is not easy. I need your strength. Without it, I would not be able to--"
Suze swept Moira's arms away and stepped back. "Save it. You do what you want to do. I'm just a little plaything you amuse yourself with."
"Watch your tone."
"Fuck you." Suze turned and stormed away, unsure where the strength had come from. She could feel Moira's eyes on her back, burning through her jacket, but she refused to turn around. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her coat, ducked her head, and kept walking. She didn't relax until she was back in her own apartment, sitting in the dark, staring at the pale gray squares that made up her living room windows. She waited until dawn, certain Moira would show up and start a riot in the hall outside her door, but the commotion never came.
When the sun finally began to brighten the sky, Suze undressed and went back to bed.
The meetings were led by a nebbish young man named Alan. His shirts were always buttoned to the throat, his wrists like pencils inside the wide cuffs of his sleeves. Suze arrived while he was still putting out the folding chairs and helped him out, then went to the back of the room and poured herself a cup of coffee. Alan joined her at the refreshments table and smiled. "Looks like you've had a rough week. Want to talk about it before the others arrive?"
She swallowed the coffee, black and hot enough to make her wince. She hissed through her teeth as the coffee burned a trail to her stomach, then nodded.
"You're not doing either one of you any favors, living this way."
"Trust me, I know."
"Has she fallen off the wagon?"
"I don't know. I haven't spoken to her since Thursday night. But I would assume so."
Alan looked at the stairwell door as two other members came in. "Well, we can only hope she makes an appearance tonight. We need this place even when we fall. Especially when we fall." He put his hand on Suze's shoulder for a moment before he walked away. Suze downed the rest of her coffee, licked her lips, and wondered why no other drink could compare to the one forbidden to her. She crushed the cup in her hand and went to pick out her seat for the meeting.
She had just sat down when Moira walked in. Suze froze as Moira scanned the room, then locked onto her. Moira smile, her teeth catching the light before she walked over. "Well. If it isn't the big speech maker. How did you sleep?"
"Just fine. And I've slept fine every night since."
"So have I." She sat down next to Suze and crossed her legs.
Suze stared at her for a moment, looking for tell-tale signs until she finally just asked. "Did you drink?"
Moira looked at her. "If I did, it would be my failure. Not yours. So what do you care?"
Suze pursed her lips and turned away from Moira. That woman's eyes were damned hypnotic. She wished she had gotten a fresh cup of coffee, just to have something in her hands, just to keep her mouth occupied. If she could fool herself into forgetting the taste, just have liquid in her mouth and swallow it... maybe it would be enough to quiet the screaming at the back of her mind. When she regained focus, she heard a quiet rumble coming from her left. She didn't have to look to know that it was Moira.
Suze's phone rang again in the middle of the night, but she wasn't asleep this time. She flipped the phone open, pressing it to her ear without checking the caller. It was always the same person. The light from her phone lit up the right half of her face; she could see it in the reflection of the living room window. "How long have you been out?"
"Just about an hour," Moira said. "You're thinking about it, aren't you? Thinking about whether I've fallen off the wagon. And how good it would feel to join me down here in the gutter."
Suze closed her eyes and bit the inside of her cheek. "I just want--"
"You want it to be easy. But you're making it impossible to live. How many hours of the day and night do you spend wishing you were drinking? How much of your life is spent wanting, forcing yourself not to want? You want what you want. I'm at the Driftwood Bar. I'll be here for another two hours. I'll see you when you get here."
Suze hung up and dropped the phone onto the couch beside her. She leaned forward, elbows on her knees, and covered her face with both hands. She could feel the urge tickling the back of her throat. No matter what else she drank, the thirst never really went away. She just wanted one goddamn drink. What good did nineteen months mean if she couldn't just cave in once and walk away?
She stood up and took her jacket off the back of the door. She pulled it on as she left, taking the stairs two at a time. When she hit the street, she saw that it was drizzling. She stood for a time on the sidewalk, head tilted toward the sky. The sleet hit her face, melted from her body heat, and trickled over her features. It pooled in her ears, on her eyelashes, over her lips and began to refreeze. She felt it in her hair, small crystals disappearing more than melting. The moisture became a part of her.
She walked amid the few other pedestrians, all of them carrying umbrellas against the weather. They glanced at her as she passed, but she ignored them.
Driftwood Bar was near the waterfront, Moira's usual haunting grounds. The bar was dark and small, small windows covered over with neon signs for all the liquor that could be found inside. Suze went to the door and scanned for Moira inside. Her heart pounded at the familiar scents, the jars of pickled eggs and the small bowls of peanuts that lined the bar. People filled every stool, bent forward like penitents at an altar.
"Welcome back to the dark side."
Moira's voice washed over Suze's throat like a cloud of smoke, her hair moving in the gentle currents of Moira's breath. Moira had appeared like a star exposed by a drifting cloud, not there and then suddenly enveloping Suze in her presence. One hand curved along the small of Suze's back, reminding her of different times, times when they had been naked, dripping sweat, nipping at each other's throats in the darkness.
"I'm not back," Suze said.
Moira chuckled and the sound sent chills down Suze's spine. "Sure you're not, darling. Come here."
Suze stepped out of the bar's doorway and let Moira lead her down the boardwalk. All it took was one hand in the small of her back, another holding her right hand, and Suze was directed like a sailing vessel. They moved into an alley and Moira pressed Suze against the wall. Their kiss was hungry, loud as they both grunted with pleasure. Suze, now fully convicted to fall, began to tear at Moira's clothes. She could taste whisky on Moira's breath and she swirled her tongue to get as much of it as she could, sucking Moira's tongue into her mouth.
Moira thrust a leg between Suze's, rubbing her, and Suze ground herself against the familiar, muscular leg. Moira's shirt ripped when Suze tugged at it, buttons hitting the wall and bouncing on the alley floor. Suze moved her hand, cupping Moira's breast through the lacy black bra. When the kiss broke, Suze rested her head against the brick wall and let Moira kiss down her throat, licking and nipping at the tender flesh. Her head swam, her body vibrated, and all she could think about was that first, luscious drink...
"Ready, my darling?"
Suze heard footsteps, unnaturally loud on the boardwalk. She pushed Moira away, her body still vibrating with anticipation. Moira smiled and stepped into the shadows while Suze dropped to a crouch beside a garbage can. She wanted to touch herself, wanted to finish the job Moira started, but she wouldn't. Not yet.
The girl stepped into the alleyway, stumbling drunk, humming under her breath. She put her hand out to brace herself against the wall, hanging her head as she tried to keep the world from spinning under her feet.
Suze straightened and touched the girl's arm. The girl jumped and spun toward her, a gasp half-dying in her throat as she saw it was a woman. "Hello," Suze said. "Are you lost?"
"Just... a little tipsy," the girl said. She swallowed hard and looked into the darkness ahead of her. "I thought this might... be a shortcut home..."
"Sorry," Suze said. "No one here but us monsters." She pulled her lips back over her teeth, revealing the fangs she had hidden for so long. The girl's eyes widened, but Suze attacked before she could scream. Her sharp teeth tore into the woman's throat, spilling hot, fresh blood into Suze's waiting mouth. She pressed her tongue against the flow, swallowing desperately, sucking at the wound. Her nipples were hard against her blouse and she moved her body so that the material moved against them.
The girl's voice was a whistling groan, music to Suze's ears. How had she gone almost two years without this, without the fresh, warm flow of blood down her throat? Since her change in 1912, she had flirted with sobriety, wanting to overcome her weakness but always falling short of success. She had fought the urges brought on by being a vampire, disgusted with herself every time she took a life just to feed. But without this, what was her existence? Dragging her body from day to day, drinking fucking pig's blood... refrigerated and warmed in an oven or microwave, using each meeting as a crutch to get through the next week. Counting down days and weeks and months like a prisoner marking the walls of her cell. This was freedom. This was what she was, who she was, and this was right.
Moira was on the other side of the girl now, standing behind her, keeping her from falling. Her teeth tore into the flesh of the girl's throat and drank, the flow of blood slowing now. Suze's eyes flashed red around onyx pupils, burning with life now that she had finally, finally given in to her desire. She licked up the last trickle of blood, and she climaxed with a frenzied tremor. She drank her fill and then stepped back, wiping her fingers over her mouth and sucking them dry as Moira finished feeding on the girl.
She stepped back, watching as Moira drank, easing the girl down to the ground. The girl, her skin pale, her throat torn in two places, fell like a rag doll. Moira let her go and looked up, eyes red with streaks of black when she looked up. Blood smeared her mouth and fangs, and dripped onto the open collar of her blouse. "Well, my dear? What say you?"
Suze's eyes flashed, and her voice was a hoarse snarl when she said, "More."
Moira took Suze's hand and led her out of the alley, into the night. Suze no longer felt the sleet, no longer gave a damn about anything. Her thirst was slaked, and she wanted more.
The coffee was sludge. Suze stared into the cup as she listened to another member drone on about fighting the urge. How it was a constant struggle, but the rewards were worth it. Rewards? What fucking rewards, that's what she wanted to know. She took another drink of the coffee and grimaced as the group politely applauded the man who was now sitting down. She barely heard Alan saying her name, and glanced up to see him raise his eyebrows at her.
"Would you like to share?"
Suze put the coffee down on the empty chair next to her, smoothed her hands over her thighs, and forced herself to stand. She cleared her throat. "My name is Suze. It's been... three days since my last... drink."