American Drama Horror

MLM spoof with a twist. You’ve been warned.

Molly pushed open the door of the conference room. It was a loud, heavy, metal one that left her fingers smelling of dust. She brushed them on her colorful leggings. The conference room wasn’t well lit, but it was in a cheap motel on the side of the highway, so Molly hadn’t expected much. It smelled of stale coffee and sugary pastries that were piled like faux gold on the table pressed against one wall. Sadie turned and smiled at her. The women embraced each other. 

“Thanks for comin’ out, Beautiful!” exclaimed Sadie. Molly nodded back. Her eyebrows slightly raised at the memory of her husband asking why she was bothering to come at all. She had explained that Sadie did help them move in and she was always inviting her to things, but Molly always declined and it was just preposterous and the kids had sleepovers so they were occupied and…and…and he had stopped listening. 

“I was happy to,” said Molly. She released Sadie from her hug, but found that she held on. Awkwardly, Molly attempted to re-wrap her arms around Sadie’s long, thin body. That girl just never seemed to gain any weight. Sadie chuckled a bit and gestured at the pastries and coffee. “Coffee at 9pm, Sadie?” teased Molly. 

“I thought people liked coffee,” protested Sadie.

“We do, it’s just a bit late, don’t you think?” said Molly as she approached the table. “Sadie? Don’t you think?” she repeated her question. “Sadie?” Molly spun around, but found her friend had walked off to the computer. She shrugged and snagged herself a cup. But the burnt smell put her off a bit. She grabbed a cherry danish and a napkin before taking a seat on one of the black, plastic chairs. 

“Oh!” exclaimed Sadie, “Oh, Sweetie, could you please sit in that chair?” She indicated the chair on the end of the row at the right hand side instead of in the middle where she could clearly see the presentation. “Sorry, Babe, it’s just, you know, more gals are comin’ so…” she let her “O” drag out uncomfortably and pursed her lips and then smiled at Molly who was scrambling with her pastry and purse. 

“Who else is coming?” asked Molly.

Sadie spun on her heel, “What?”

“Who else is coming?” repeated Molly as she settled into her new chair. 

“Oh, some gals from the book club, I hope. And some friends of mine…” her words trailed off. 

Molly began throwing her hair into a bun, an old habit she had when she got nervous. She tried to be polite and asked, “Do I know any of these friends?”

“No, Doll. But you’ll love ‘em. I promise,” said Sadie as she marched over to Molly. “Gawd, I do love that dress with those leggin’s. Just so cute! Perfect for fall,” she added, pointing with a polished red nail at the brightly covered leaves that dotted her friend’s legs. Sadie grabbed a napkin. She dusted off the chair Molly was just in. Molly, for her part, opened up her mouth to protest that she wasn’t dirty when another guest burst through the door.

It was quite clear to Molly that Sadie knew this girl better than her because they squealed at the exact same decibel. Molly overheard Sadie mention something about work. At that word, Molly frowned. She remembered work. She remembered lunch with friends, gossip in the break room, and feeling like she was actually contributing to something. Of course, that was all before motherhood.

Molly rolled her eyes to keep from crying and raised her pastry to her lips. A few tantalizing flakes fell off, but when she went to bite down, she found the treat rock hard. Disgusted, she removed it from her eye line and wrapped it up in the napkin. She sniffed her coffee warily, but found a similar level of grossness at the sight of shiny oil circles catching in the light flickering above her head. Molly sighed, longing for her warm bed and beloved husband’s soft protests at random news articles that flashed by on the silent TV. 

She noted Sadie’s new friend was permitted to sit in the middle and that the woman didn’t take a single snack or cup of tar. But hey, it wasn’t like she was missing out. She was rail thin, just like Sadie. Perhaps, she was part of the same spin class. A calendar without extra curricular for the kids certainly has more time. Molly sighed.

A few more women entered, they came in pairs like on Noah’s ark. Two women in all black dresses. Two women in bright leggings that sent a bolt of envy up Molly’s spine. Two women in fur coats who didn’t greet Sadie, but joined the first woman with bright red hair in the middle. Sadie kept looking at the door and checking her watch. At exactly 9:15, Sadie flicked the lights off and wobbled to the front in her high heels. The presentation had started.

“Welcome Beautiful Souls” flashed up on the screen. The words were decorated with pretty pink sparkles and brightly lit up the room. “Thank you for joining me so late tonight, my darlings. But as you know, I didn’t want a single excuse about work running late!” She clapped her hands together and it echoed around the room. The side chatter stopped.

“I wanna talk to you about an exciting opportunity that has just changed my life for the better,” began Sadie. She looked like a creepy ghost behind the bright light of the presentation. Molly suddenly felt very cold. “Before I get into the nitty gritty details, I wanna share all of the perks that this lifestyle has given me!” said Sadie. She flashed the next screen where bullet points began to zoom into focus as she read them out, “It has given me eternal youth, a low calorie diet(which is totally customizable), incredible investment opportunities, and life long friendships!” 

Suddenly, the door burst open. In walked two women, clearly late to the party. But Molly was relieved because their hair was in messy ponytails, they looked around the room and mumbled apologies. She thought she noticed a fruit pouch from the same brand she purchased sticking out of one woman’s person. Sadie directed them to the chairs next to Molly with a sour look on her face. Molly eagerly made room for the women.

Sadie cleared her throat. “Now that all of our guests have managed to arrive,” she paused for dramatic effect, her gaze barreling down at Molly’s row, “We can continue the presentation.”

Molly’s eyebrows furrowed with concern as she heard the words of her husband echoing back at her that this whole night was a bad idea because she, “didn’t even know these women.” But she missed the community of her old city. They had picnics in the park with the kids, a carpool schedule, neighborhood block parties. Of course, that was before it all fell apart.

“How can you get these opportunities and more you may ask?” Sadie’s bright voice brought Molly back to the present, but got real screechy at the end of that question. Molly felt a cold shiver run down her back. “It starts with me! My name is Sadie Malone,” Sadie clicked the next slide and a beautiful professional photo of Sadie in a power suit beneath a weeping willow appeared. “And I have been involved with this group for well…” Sadie let out a giggle, “Centuries!” 

She flashed a winning smile and clicked to the next slide which showed an image of an acrylic painting of her flashed on screen. She was dressed in a Medieval gown. The artist had captured the beauty of the very same tree from the previous slide-only smaller. Sadie seemed the same exact age. Her skin was less smooth, but the artist still captured it creamy color against the backdrop of the rushing river. Molly listened for the sound of bird chirping, insects as they flew past her ear, it was as if she’d travelled back in time. The piece felt familiar and she placed it as one she had seen during a visit to the art museum. A sense of dread began to fill her.

“Yep! That’s me! Can you believe it?” she asked. Sadie seemed to grow taller as she leaned into the audience. “It’s like I haven’t aged a day! And neither will you if you choose to join our three step program!” her voice seemed to echo in Molly’s ears. She felt herself growing tired and colder with each passing second. She readjusted her position in the chair and pinched herself to stay awake.

The next slide showed a photo of Sadie embracing a woman in a side hug. “This is Bee Bee,” said Sadie, “She looks kinda sad, doesn’t she?” Sadie’s clicker turned into a single red laser dot which darted over the woman’s frumpy dress, unappealing limp hair, and sad teeth. “Well, after one month with me, she went from this,” Sadie clicked to the next slide, “To this!” Before them was a bright photo of a drop dead gorgeous model who Molly swore she recognized from a red carpet or two. She wore a long, red ball gown, her hair was curled into beautiful waves, and her smile was now white as bone. 

“Now, I will warn you ladies, that if you don’t follow every step of this program, deadly consequences await you,” Sadie’s voice seemed to drop an octave and the image of Bee Bee faded. Molly felt Sadie’s icy blue eyes lasering into her. It felt like everyone left the room except the two of them. She felt safe and warm in her friend’s gaze. The cold of the conference room had melted away, giving into the promise of eternal youth. 

“I….I…I can’t sleep…can’t give in,” mumbled Molly under her breath. “If I sleep, I’ll die,” she continued and gripped the cheap plastic chair with all her might. 

“But I know you gorgeous, gorgeous gals aren’t dumb enough to not listen to me, right!?” exclaimed Sadie. The spell was broken. Bee Bee was back to being bright, as was Sadie’s tone. “Now for the nitty gritty, darlings. And I want you to know, I’m only sharing this opportunity with you because I just feel so close to all of you!” she said as she clutched her hands into a fist around her heart. There were soft murmurings of agreement. 

“The first step to this whole thing is to let me bite you!” Sadie’s voice had a tinge of glee at the very end. “No, seriously ladies. I’m not joking! I summoned you because I just think y’all will make the very best vampires in the whole gosh, dang world! Because when I bite you, you pledge your undying loyalty and servitude to me! Your BFF! And after that, you can host vampire parties of your very own! So you, too, can create your own vampire communities! Isn’t that great?” 

Then, she used that icy gaze again, the world faded around Molly and she was left in the embrace of her friend’s warm spell as she said, “Just remember, you’ll always be a part of mine. And loyalty to me always comes first. Best. Friends. For. Life.”

Molly sat stunned in her chair. Her heartbeat pounded like in the movies. Sweat formed on her neck and dripped down her body. She felt like a child who had put too many blankets on the bed too early in the fall. It was just so hot! And Sadie…Sadie had the solution! Sadie could cool her down. Sadie could fix her. 

She blinked her heavy eyelids a few times. Her face was fully relaxed. Subconsciously, her hand drifted to her neck. She felt it drift up her face, pull back, and slap her cheek as hard as it could. It was a technique her father had taught her as part of her driving lessons. Suddenly, as the room came back into view, something inside her screamed at her to run! Grab her purse and run! But it was like her legs couldn’t or wouldn’t move. 

Instead, she found herself staring at the presentation before her. Like zombies, the women beside her began to stand and join the line in front of Sadie. It was a horrible, perverse version of communion. Desperately, Molly looked around for the exit. But the darkness around her made it quite the challenge. She reached down for her purse, coffee, and pastry. Slowly, she stood up, suddenly thankful Sadie had forced her into the aisle seat.

Molly was careful not to turn her back and was slightly transfixed at the sight of Sadie pulling the women in closer around herself. She seemed to be whispering soft words as she stroked one woman’s long, red hair. Molly inched past the final row of chairs, careful to have it between her and the group of hypnotized victims. She used one hand to feel behind her, looking for the edge of the pastry table, but she backed in too quickly, and the table hit the wall. All eyes turned to Molly.

“AAAHHHHH!” screamed Molly. She decided at that moment to turn her back and look for the door. She sensed that the mob had turned and began to stumble over the chairs, reaching for her, grabbing at her. Their arms and hands were like vines. Molly searched her memory desperately as she replayed the night. She had moved chairs. She had been at the center. She had gotten a pastry and coffee. But which one had been closer to the door. 

Sadie’s voice rang high above the moans of her servants, “Molly…Molly….come back, Molly. Please? Won’t you be the best Vampire Babe in the world?”

The coffee! The coffee had been closest to the door so Molly turned herself around again and was face to face with the girl with red hair. Her eyes were glazed over. Her mouth hung open. And she was blocking Molly’s path. As the other women began to draw closer to them, Molly scrambled with what to do. She felt a bit of coffee slosh over her hand so she threw that in the girl’s face. When she remained unfazed, Molly threw her pastry at the woman. This seemed to stun her so she grabbed more pastries. Each one hit like the rocks they were and slowly, the stranger stumbled back. Molly bolted to the coffee, but was greeted by the pair of women in black dresses.

They smiled at her, holding their hands out like friends. Their fangs glistened despite the lack of light. Molly smiled sweetly back just so she could open the top of the silver carafe and push the coffee over. The women wailed in agony as burning hot coffee poured out. Molly found her door and pushed with all her might into an empty hotel hallway. She ran past the bewildered guests and the bored concierge. She considered telling them to call the cops, but knew from experience no one would believe her anyway.

The burst of cold, night air filled Molly with adrenaline. She pushed the alarm button on her car and ran to it. In the safety of her vehicle, she locked all the doors. She let out a gutteral sob. “I just want friends!” she wailed into the night. After a few moments instinct kicked in and threw the car in reverse to get her home. 

James was asleep when Molly returned. She was shocked to find it was after midnight. She double, triple checked all the lights were on and the doors were locked. So were the windows. As she approached the bed, she reached beneath her husband’s pillow and wrapped cold fingers are the wooden stake. Then, her excuses Ted body wrapped itself in the warmth of her husband and attempted to fall asleep to the rhythmic sound of his beating heart. 

Morning came and went. The work week came and went. By the following Saturday, the nightmares of the last week felt like a scary dream. Of course, that’s when the letter came. It didn’t come by postman or dropped off at work. It was nailed to Molly’s front door one night when she got home from work. The letter’s envelope wasn’t like the normal white one you find at the office. The paper was rough and slightly yellowed, like when her son, Jake, had a school project so they soaked paper in coffee to make it look old. And when Molly flipped it to the front, it bore a pretty, pink, sparkly seal with the letter “S” on it.

Her husband told her wait for him to open it. So after the kids went to bed, they sat up in theirs, and slowly broke the seal. Inside was a sheet of paper which had Sadie’s beautiful calligraphy that matched Molly’s original invite to the conference. The message was short and sweet: I really think you should reconsider, Babe! For your family’s sake. Call me! S

Molly crumpled up the letter. “You gotta admit, it’s a new tactic. They usually just invite us over for a BBQ and a few cheap beers,” James said with a laugh. Then, realizing his wife wasn’t laughing with him, he added, “Guess it’s time to move again.” Molly remained quiet. A few tears gathered in her eyes. James once again tried to lighten the mood, “You think one of them would figure out I’m a descendant of the Van Helsings before inviting you over.” 

“Eh, maybe that’s why they keep trying, like some sick cat and mouse game,” she replied, her voice trembling. Then, with a frown on her face she added, “I just wish I could find some real friends.”

He offered her a warm embrace, much more comforting than last night as he whispered into her hair, “Someday you will, I promise.” James was wise enough to let her pull away. She marched into James’ home office she he couldn’t see her eyes and turned on the shredder. It roared to life, grinding the letter into tiny pieces of confetti.

November 10, 2023 16:30

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05:44 Nov 16, 2023

Multi-level marketing is def great material for a satirical story! "pledge your undying loyalty and servitude to me" def seems to be what some community organizers are expecting when you join their club. I def encountered a few people that went to a 'fun event' and then spent the next several years promoting a questionable product like zombies.


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Michelle Oliver
22:52 Nov 15, 2023

What a fun read, with a darkly ominous ending that leaves you on the edge of your seat. Sadie is still out there and we get the feeling that she will come for Molly at some point. I love the hubby, so pragmatic. Guess it’s time to move again.” (Missing an inverted comma at the beginning of this line.) Would love to see the husband, take on the vampires Van Helsing style. That would make a great follow up story.


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Michał Przywara
22:32 Nov 15, 2023

Ha! Definitely a horror, but also quite funny, what with being able to weaponize the pastries. And also quite adventurous, from the POV of the protagonist. She recovers her wherewithal and actively fights, instead of just ending up another meal. The twist, with her husband being a van Helsing, was unexpected but also amusing. The whole scenario has the makings of a horror comedy, like Death Becomes Her or something. Or Desperate House Vampires :) Of course, there's another horror under the hood here: “I just want friends!” It's hard enou...


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Danie Holland
16:10 Nov 15, 2023

Amanda, I kept reading and reading and waiting and waiting to get to the part of the story that was a spoof. I made it all the way to the end and all I can say is this story seems factual. It IS this hard to make friends. Not a single part felt exaggerated. (Kidding) ... mostly. I love the voice you used for Sadie. This was a very humorous thriller all while touching on a very relatable conflict. For me anyway. A sense of community is wonderful gift for those of us who have it. I loved this story, thank you for sharing!


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Tom Skye
16:49 Nov 14, 2023

Spooky stuff Amanda. The whole auditorium setting reminded me a bit of the scene in the Witches, when the grand high witch is giving her speech. Really entertaining plot running through this. The Sadie character was well drawn and menacing. On top of that, it had the spooky danger elements. Especially knowing they are all still out there 😬 Great work and a lot of fun to read. Thanks for sharing


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Mary Bendickson
07:24 Nov 13, 2023

Such an appealing pitch.🤢


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Karen Corr
15:24 Nov 12, 2023

Yup. That's exactly what it's like. Time-share presentations are the worst. Only top-level vampires deliver the pitch, and they are sooo hard to resist. Thanks for the fun read, Amanda! 😂


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Aubrielle Smith
16:17 Feb 21, 2024

Doesn't start with "I can't sleep." Why?


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Malcolm Twigg
11:12 Nov 24, 2023

Interesting story, diluted somewhat by the trigger warning/spoiler - i never use them personally other than to satirise. Intrigue was maintained throughout but the ending with the ironic Van Helsing reference fell a bit flat for me if you don't mind my saying so. I would much rather have seen a more traditional ending with Sadie, perhaps, turning up in person to continue where she left off. I loved the historic timel3essness element - I felt the story was really taking off then and should have teased that out a bit more. Enjoyable, neverthe...


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David Sweet
23:06 Nov 23, 2023

Who knew vampirism could be a Ponzi scheme, but I guess in a way, it is the ultimate Ponzi scheme! Didn't see the Van Helsing angle coming. Very enjoyable story.


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Sarah Saleem
08:06 Nov 23, 2023

The ending was unexpected, honestly I never thought she would escape.


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16:13 Nov 20, 2023

Good job. Nice twist.


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Robert Egan
22:33 Nov 19, 2023

Very cool story, Amanda, and I liked the progression that led up to Molly's escape! I think Anton Chekhov said it best: "If there are pastries and coffee on the conference table in the first act, then they must be thrown at the vampires by act three." (Or something like that—I haven't read Chekhov in a while). The humor and tension complemented each other nicely here, and I was rooting for Molly the whole time.


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Hazel Ide
13:48 Nov 19, 2023

Oh man I loved this! Such a fun premise, and I love when a trope is kind of knocked around. Well written and funny, a delight to read. Thank you!


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Janet Severn
01:30 Nov 19, 2023

Loved the ending! Also really creative how you made the prompt your own :) I also liked the analogies with vampires as sucking more than just literal blood haha. My favorite part was when the mob was chasing Molly. And how so many people are "fake friends", acting nice when their true motivations are much more sinister.


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Kailani B.
19:43 Nov 18, 2023

Truly these women are villains for not serving soft, tasty pastries.


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Helen A Smith
14:04 Nov 18, 2023

Hi Amanda, How accurately you portray these semi “gruesome” conference events - with everyone acting falsely like they are all best friends, and being pressured to respond to what feels like a hyped up crusade. There’s a sort of weird competitive edge to it which makes you feel like throttling someone. Scary stuff when Molly was trying to escape the hands that were surrounding her like vines. However, the pastries were put to good use. Definitely not what I was expecting, especially the revelation when she returned home. What a bunch o...


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Marty B
07:43 Nov 18, 2023

And I thought the Amway salespeople were tough! Fantastic twist on the prompt. The alure of the MLM companies is you build a community around you, as you build wealth and respect. Most of it is as fictional as Reedsy, but like the best stories the kernel of truth is there. I hope I would be able to throw pastry grenades, instead of giving in. Vampires isn't too far off from the horror stories I have heard. Thank you for this!


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