Urban Fantasy Fantasy Fiction


             I rolled gracelessly out of bed at 5pm on a Saturday starving, with a dry mouth and a raging headache to find my alarm clock ringing (still, since 8am) and a phone full of missed calls and angry texts. Damn, I’m too old for this shit. I didn’t even drink that much last night, did I? My head is pounding so hard it feels like it wants to explode. It would hurt less if it did.

             More than one of the angry messages was from my mother. There’s some paperwork leftover from my father’s estate that needs my signature she’s been chasing me about, she mailed it weeks ago. Once again, I’m going to have to call her and remind her my mail is slow. (This city has a lot to offer. It’s an art school town so there’s a killer gallery scene and great bars, right on the lake for water sports, and the forest just outside town is actually a national park. The mail, and the other municipal services, though? Less than stellar.) May as well check the mailbox before I call her, on the off chance it actually came.

           I shrugged on a hoodie and yesterday’s jeans, and stumbled out the front door. Pulling the hood up, reflexively, as I stepped out the door because the entire world just seems way too bright to me. As I reach out to check the mailbox, I feel a sharp pain on the back of my hand. It’s empty, as I expected, so I hurry back inside.

             What the hell? Now I really want to know what I did last night. I’ve got some strange rash on the back of my hand. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was a burn. There's no way I got a sunburn in 30 seconds, never mind that that's exactly what it looks like. I must have done it last night, except... I’d remember burning myself, right? I really need to figure out what the hell I did.

             Going to bed early to just start tomorrow on a better note and not throw my entire weekend in the garbage would have been sensible. Going out since I was wide awake (if still miserable) because Saturday night is a great night in this town would have at least been fun. Instead, I spent the night on my couch, watching bad television. Cooking shows were usually my late-night thing, but somehow even watching food was making me sick to my stomach. I watched sad reality tv until nearly dawn and then collapsed into bed as the sun came up.

             FML. I slept through the day again, there goes my entire weekend. Great job, Ashley. Back to the grind on Monday with no real break because I’ve somehow screwed up my body clock. I wish it was as easy to reset as the alarm that I’d shut off in my sleep. Looking over at my nightstand I realize I didn’t just shut off my alarm clock, I’d managed to smash it entirely. Good thing I didn’t do the same to my phone, it must have been ringing and buzzing all day as well. I’d slept clear through a brunch with the work friends I’d gone out with on Friday. Too bad, I could have asked them what happened. The last thing I remember was dancing with some wickedly handsome guy with an old-fashioned name.


             Sundays are just another day at the office when your business is death. Sundays at a funeral home is either deathly quiet or chaos, depending how many of your kind died the week before. The Director took Sundays mostly off, which left me running things as the eldest on the premises. Although what he wanted it for, I had no idea. It’s not as if our kind can go eat brunch. There’s no sense putting on SPF 90 to go out just to stare at food we can’t digest. Some other things are still worth going out for, though. I’m still not sure that the stuff your lot plays lately counts as music, but it’s fun to dance to even if you wouldn’t know what actual dance steps were if they bit you.

             I must be a bit lost thinking about Friday night, because the client is looking at me expectantly when I snap back to the present.

             “Yes, of course,” I look down at the paperwork in front of me and regather myself. “The bill is, unfortunately, the only thing certain when we’re talking about death. We can set up a payment plan, though, we wouldn’t want to bleed you dry.”

             “Thank you,” the client looks down at the desk, eyes rimmed with tears. “The Director told me. You all have been nothing less than kind to us. It’s silly, but I feel like paying this bill means finally admitting he’s gone.”

             “Take your time then,” I put some of my persuasive power in my voice to soothe her. “Our loved ones never really leave us, they’re always in our hearts.”

             I get her calmed down and walk her out the door, trying not to chuckle to myself. Her loved one is literally in my heart right now, his blood is the thing currently warming my veins. Don’t look at me like that. Any funeral home that does embalming removes blood. Your lot is obsessed with recycling lately, you should be happy we’re using it. Vampires need to eat too, you know.


             I still don’t know what the hell I was sick with this weekend. It’s Sunday night, and since Friday all I’ve done is sleep all day and watch reality tv all night. Last night I caught myself actually caring who got voted off the island. I meant to go out and buy a new alarm all afternoon on Sunday, but I couldn’t drag myself out of the house until well past sunset. I just couldn’t deal with the light, somehow.

             Three alarms should do it, right? I don’t know what’s going on with my body clock, but I work on Monday. As much as they allow for engineers to keep strange hours, coming in at 7am and leaving early if they wake up with a big idea, we’re at least supposed to overlap core office hours. If I wake up at 5 again and go in at 6 that won’t work.

             Except all three alarms do is drive my neighbor’s dog up the wall all day. Poor thing is barking its head of in time to the beeping when I finally wake up. Today’s concerned angry texts include half my colleagues. I still don’t know what the hell I did Friday night that I’m still this out of sorts. Somewhere part way into my third marathon tv session I realize I haven’t eaten anything since Friday. When I open my fridge to sort out dinner it just smells off to me, like I let something go bad. Trying to sort that out what the science experiment is and what’s edible is too much work. I’m not even hungry, but I know I ought to eat something so I order some soup and a salad. May as well get some nutrition in, right?

             I didn’t think I was hungry, but when I answer the door for the delivery driver I’m suddenly starving. Salad usually doesn’t have a smell, but I’ve never smelled something so delicious in my life. Maybe it’s the soup? I massively over tip him for bringing something so delectable and start eating straight out of the container standing by my kitchen counter like a savage, too starved to even get a bow.

             I’m immediately sick. I’ve never been this sick in my life. Luckily, I manage to stumble into my bathroom when the wave of nausea hits me. The tile floor is smooth and cool against my skin as I retch up, seemingly, everything I’ve ever eaten in my life. Between rounds, I get a text off to my manager, something tells me tomorrow’s going to be a loss as well.


             We always look forward to Tuesdays around here, they’re rations day. Mind you, cold blood siphoned from corpses isn’t as delicious as the real thing, hot and fresh from a beating heart. It’s still enough to sustain us, though. A hamburger isn’t as delicious as a steak but they’re both proteins, right? We share our rations once a week so that we’re hungry enough to deal with the fact that it’s leftovers (again, forever) but not so hungry that we’re tempted to hunt between.

             I had gotten a little out of hand on Friday, dancing with that girl. Without meaning to I’d worked my persuasion on her, she was all but grinding her neck into my fangs as we danced. I don’t think I’d actually bitten her, though. There were no dead bodies in the news on Saturday (I watched to be certain), and the number of people who actually change when bitten is so small as to be not worth thinking of. I wasn’t some neonate who couldn’t control himself, really. There’s no way I bit and turned that girl.

            Except… I’ve had my glass of blood in my hands for 20 minutes now. Just swirling it like your kind swirls a fine red wine in the glass, never mind that aerating this does nothing to help the taste (quite the opposite). I wasn’t going to be able to stop worrying without checking in on this girl. I’d bring the blood with me, that would be the tell.


             I didn’t bother setting useless alarms, this time, and slept past 4pm again. When I wandered into my kitchen – more because I knew I ought to eat than because I wanted to – the stench of the food on my counter nearly made me retch again. What the hell? That smelled so delicious last night but clearly it was rotted to smell like this. It can’t have rotted in a day; it must have been bad when I ate it.

             Something is pounding. Something other than my head, I mean. Who the hell is at my door? I’m so unfit for human consumption right now but whomever it is isn’t going away, so I eventually slouch over to open it.

I open it a crack and see the gorgeous guy I was dancing with on Friday. He’s the only thing I remember clearly from that night, now that I think about it. I don’t want to open the door and let him see me in this state except somehow something he’s carrying smells more delicious than anything I’ve ever smelled in my life. I need whatever is in that glass more than I need air.


             The greedy look on her face when she smells the glass of blood in my hand tells me that I did, indeed, mess up and turn this girl. She’s so starving that she can’t control herself, and wretches it out of my hands to drink. Well, The Director did say we should think about updating the funeral home’s website. Maybe I can convince him I meant to do this. 

May 05, 2021 22:32

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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