Cheese and Chorizo.

Submitted into Contest #228 in response to: Start or end your story in a bustling street food market.... view prompt

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Fiction Fantasy Funny

As a vampire, Street Food Markets are not my normal hang out. The smell of fruit and vegetables is frankly disgusting, although the colourful display of tomatoes and red peppers does cause my heart to momentarily miss a beat, while I have to take a long circuit round any stall selling garlic. Even onions make me queasy. On the other hand the butchers' section makes me drool in a most unattractive way.

All that raw meat, dripping with bl....., bl..... No! I must not even think about that delecious, warm, red stuff. Eyes front and try not to inhale.

   There are so many people around, picking up the produce and squeezing it to determine if it is at the precise point of ripeness that they require. Luckily for them I have already passed the fifth stage of my programme. I am able to tune out any thought of their proximity and not even feel that shiver of longing when I notice an especially inviting neck

with the pulse beating where the jugular is exposed. No, I don't even give my lips a surreptitious lick as they pass.

     Today I am in training for the sixth step in beating my addiction. I must fight to overcome my yearning for b....., that hot red liquid. I will eventually even find its smell as unpleasant as I currently find that of garlic or cheese.

That, however, is still several steps ahead. Today I am tasked with spending time around the stalls displaying raw and cooked meat without becoming excited or leaving hurriedly before the desire to sink my fangs into a juicy steak becomes too great to resist.

    Absent mindedly, I realise that I have been elbowed by the eager shoppers into a position much closer to the glass-topped counters. I can clearly see the butcher deftly slicing stewing steak into cubes for an elderly customer. With each pass of his blade, succulent liquid flows into a pool and the smell becomes stronger. I swallow hard and try to push back into the crowd, only to find my path blocked by a shopping trolley. Someone mutters angrily at me and I feel a rising sense of panic. I begin to pant and my eyes blur until I can no longer distinguish what surrounds me.I reach for the nearest surface to grab and stop myself from falling, only to feel something warm and wet under my fingers.

    Hurriedly I pull away as if I had been burnt, but it is too late, the damage has been done. I am powerless to stop my hand as it moves to my lips and I suck the sweet blood until my fingertips are dry. After so many weeks of abstinence the small amount acts on my system in a similar way to a taste of brandy to an alcoholic. 

    Losing all self-control, I throw myself across the counter and stuff my mouth with the freshly cut meat, sucking it until I have extracted every sumptuous drop of moisture and then wolfing down the meaty remains. This barely takes the edge off my newly awakened appetite and I rip headless chickens and rabbits from the meat hooks behind the stall, tearing into them with unquenchable thirst and sucking each one dry.

    Around me I am vaguely aware of the cries of shock and horror, not least the fury of the butcher whose stock I am shamelessly plundering. He seizes his machete and I suddenly realize the danger I am in. Jumping over the counter, I race through the path that opens up before me. Thankfully it takes me away from the butchers section of the market and back into the maze of cooked meal stalls. I look frantically for a hiding place but the continuous influx of food scents confuses me. I try to ignore the sensory overload but my mind is in a state of turmoil. I feel overwhelmed with guilt, terror and a growing desire to feed on what I love best.

   For the moment I need to make myself invisible.

   Stopping briefly to sniff the air I recognise two unmistakable scents, overpowering all the others in this section of the market. From the tapas stalls, garlic wafts strongly. People would not think to search for a vampire in that area but, in my present shaken state, I did not feel that I could bear the hideous odours for more than a few seconds.

Slightly further off I recognised the repellant smell of a pizzeria. Few people realise that the smell of cheese, especially cooked cheese, is almost as unpleasant to a vampire as is garlic.

     Sticking to the shadowy side of the street I forced myself to edge nearer to the wood fired oven where a queue of hungry shoppers awaited their Margueritas and Quatroquesos. The stench made me nauseous but there was a dark booth adjacent to the stall where I could blend unseen into the background until the hue and cry from the butchers' area had passed by. I slipped in and wrapped myself in my cloak, trying not to think of the smell.

   For what seemed like an eternity the market area resounded with shouts, screams, whistles blowing and the sounds of running feet. Eventually the hubbub died away and the crowd returned to their shopping and queuing. Still I was scared to come out too early, even though my stomach was rumbling with my newly aroused appetite. 

   Cautiously I sniffed the shelves around me. Amongst myriad smells I could detect traces of something salty. It reminded me again of blood, but combined with other scents that I could not put a name to. Peering from under the folds of my cloak I saw something dangling from a hook. Something that looked and smelled distinctly appetizing.

    I was just about to grab it when a man's voice from the stall yelled

     " Oy, Mario. Get some more chorizo out here. "

I just had time to cover myself when a youngster in a blue and white striped apron dashed in and, stretching right past me, grasped my intended meal and whipped it away.

Well, at least now I knew what it was called but that didn't do much to fill my tummy.

   The market was quieter now and it was approaching closing time. Taking a deep breath I sidled out of my hiding place and, for the first time in my life, joined the queue at the counter. There were only two people in front of me so the wait wasn't long.

   When it got to my turn I was the only customer left. I tried hard not to drool and choked out a single word.

   "Chorizo."

   "You're in luck mate, just got the one left. Here, you can have it. No one picked up the order."

    The man handed me a cardboard box and pulled down the shutter on his stall. I could hardly wait and felt myself dribbling as I clutched my prize and raced off to find somewhere private to eat.

   Outside the closing market the streets were getting dark. I retreated into an abandoned building and ripped open the box. The hot, salty, meaty aroma of chorizo filled my nostrils. It was thinly sliced and resting on a bed of some kind of bread thickly coated with...melted cheese. Disgust fought hunger and hunger won. I took a tentative nibble.

'Not bad.'

Another bigger bite.

'Not bad at all.'

In fact it was totally delicious. Better even than the best blood I'd ever tasted. In minutes I had wolfed it all down.

    And that is why I no longer attend ten step meetings. For the rest of my life I have vowed to eat nothing but Chorizo topped pizza.

December 13, 2023 21:19

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1 comment

Grace Morning
21:29 Jan 03, 2024

At the beginning, this story had me panicking for "myself" and, at the end, chuckling. Who doesn't love a conflict resolved with pizza? You did so well telling this story from the first person POV. I felt my own senses observing the other shoppers, seeing the blood "I" was looking at and smelling the garlic. I saw myself lose control and felt the sense of urgency to hide while getting it all back together. The only critique I have is small and is related to setting. I adore vampire stories but feel most stress that vampires cannot tole...

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