“Look, Jacob, I’m telling you, this is all your fault! If you hadn’t brought that girl home, we wouldn’t be hiding in these basement caskets!” Tina whisper-yelled at him, her voice carrying her annoyance across the room with nearly the same force as the howling winds they’d run through to get into the crypt. “Mom and Dad told you that dating was against the rules!”
“How’s it my fault she saw me without my shirt on in gym class and decided she wanted the hot goth kid all to herself?” Jacob called back, a tone of derision hanging heavily on every word. “The coach said it was shirts versus skins. Blame him!”
Tina rolled her eyes and shook her head slightly. “You could have told her you were gay!”
“Then it would be my fault for bringing that guy home, and you’d still be mad at me.”
Jacob had a point, but Tina wasn’t going to admit it out loud. Why their parents had chosen to move to this particular small town in the first place was completely beyond her, but now that they were in Stratonville, they were stuck, at least for the next year. Tina knew her parents’ work was important, but they could have picked a town with uglier people living it, couldn’t they? She’d already had the conversation a dozen times with her mother, begging and pleading to get away from this obnoxious little hamlet tucked away in the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere, but her mom had explained—repeatedly—that they had to stay to avoid attracting attention.
Avoid attracting attention. As if that was going to be possible with an older brother who stood nearly seven feet tall, had long, black hair, vibrant blue eyes, and an outgoing personality. Everything came easy to Jacob. Looks, girls, guys, sports, studies—he had it all. She had to spend an-hour-and-a-half getting ready for school every morning just to look presentable while Jacob seemed to step out of his coffin, walk upstairs, shake his head a couple of times, and voila, ready for school! She’d stake him through his heart if he weren’t her brother.
“Look,” Tina finally called out again in the same loudly hushed tone, “you’ve got to do something to get rid of her. She can’t keep coming around like this. Something bad is bound to happen someday if you don’t get rid of her.”
“Right,” Jacob answered. “What do you want me to do? Suck her blood? Turn her into a vampire? Shoot her with a silver bullet? I mean, come on…”
“Oh, yeah, that’d be great,” Tina snapped back, turning her head away from Jacob’s voice, staring into the darkness, envisioning the violet velvet that lined her sarcophagus. “That’s exactly what this town needs. A vampiric werebeast.”
“Shhhh!” she heard Jacob call out. In the distance, she could hear heavy footfalls coming down the stairs and she started flopping her head from side to side in time with the beast’s every step. She’d seen Veronica once before, a huge, lumbering baboon with extremely long reddish-brown hair. In fact, Tina had seen Veronica almost twenty-eight days previous, sitting out in the gazebo with Jacob, laying with her head in his lap as he stroked her auburn locks with his hand. Their relationship was starting to annoy her, not so much because it existed in the first place, but because of the huge inconvenience to her own life it was becoming. She could be upstairs in her room, video-chatting with a couple of her friends from her old school right now, or laying with her phone in the dark and talking to her ex-boyfriend whom she still loved very much.
But no. No, every time that subpar gorilla came traipsing over to their house, the perimeter alarms would sound and the whole place would frantically rush to put on an air of normality. That meant she and Jacob had to head down to the crypts and pretend to be asleep. All so…
“Jacob! Jacob my love, are you awake?” the beast howled, her voice as about as pleasant as a wolf gargling marbles while shouting at the moon. The loud tone in which the hairy creature had asked almost made Tina laugh. If he wasn’t awake before you gave him your mating call, he is now.
Stuck in the dark confines of her not-so-final resting place, Tina could nonetheless imagine the lumbering hulk standing over Jacob’s coffin, opening the lid with all the grace of a mutated baboon looking for its next meal. In fact, she mused, perhaps Veronica was looking for her next meal. Who knew with werebaboons?
There was a loud yawn in the direction of Jacob’s coffin, and then his overly masculine voice answering the beast’s hideous call. “I’m awake, my love!” There was a brief pause, and then Jacob’s voice changed slightly, a tone of regret filling it. “You know we have to stop meeting like this. The council’s not likely to let us marry, and if they find out we’re dating, it could spell trouble for both of us.”
A loud crash sounded from near Jacob’s coffin, and Tina attempted to bolt upright to see what had happened, immediately slamming her forehead into the roof of her casket with a cry of pain. She cursed slightly under her breath, realizing it was probably Veronica sitting down that had caused the sound, but now she had to pretend she was awake. Well, not so much pretend she was awake as to pretend she had been asleep. Throwing the lid open with a forced anger, she sat up and looked over to the auburn-haired baboon in whose lap Jacob was now sitting, stroking her long locks of hair. “Oh geez,” Tina called out, “will you two get a room? Some of us undead are trying to sleep down here!”
“Sorry,” Veronica howled, looking down at the marble floor of the crypt. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Tina smiled internally. At least Veronica was a passive werebaboon. The other locals of Veronica’s extended family were not exactly well-known for their calm demeanors. “It’s okay, but you know we’re supposed to be sleeping at night now so we can begin to build up a tolerance for being out in the day.”
“I know,” the baboon nodded, looking back at Jacob. “But he’s so cute in this light. I don’t want to see him with tan skin looking all…” Veronica paused, her lips curled in disgust. “…human.”
Tina rolled her eyes. “Trust me, none of us wants that. He already attracts enough attention as it is.”
Jacob shot Tina a sidelong glance, contempt in his eyes. Tina knew what that look meant, but he knew how she felt about his popularity and easy life. It was difficult enough dealing with a brother who had everyone fawning over him. If he suddenly got a tan, she’d never get any sleep down here ever again. It was haunting enough to have to listen to him and Veronica making out for hours on end. If it became a non-stop parade of his victims, she’d never get any sleep again.
Veronica reached up and took Jacob’s chin in her giant, hairy hand—which, to be fair, didn’t look that large against Jacob’s head—and stroked the side of his face with long, hairy fingers. “You’re all mine, aren’t you, Jacob? We could run away together, right?”
Jacob slowly shook his head, and Tina knew he was about to break her heart. She steadied herself for whatever reaction was going to come from the four-hundred-pound simian as Jacob ended their relationship. “We’ve got to call it off, at least for now. Maybe in a few years, we can get back together and run off into the night, but not tonight.”
Surprisingly, Veronica took the news extremely well. Her lips were pouting, and her eyes draped in sadness, but there was no anger, were no tears. “I understand, my love. One last kiss, then, before I go?”
Jacob nodded and leaned in. Tina turned away in disgust as she saw Veronica extending her tongue. She could hear their lips smacking together, both moaning softly as they kissed, and could take no more. Plopping back down into her coffin, her head landing on her pillow. She had to admit, part of her was jealous that Jacob could attract anyone he wanted to be with. On the other hand, she was revolted by the sight of man and baboon together. She shuddered slightly and wiped the vision away from her mind.
Then came a hideous shriek, and Jacob’s voice, loud and worried. “Oh, shit!”
Tina sprang upward and out of her casket, looking immediately toward her brother. He had backed up a few paces from Veronica, and Veronica was standing there, mouth agape, looking back and forth between her hand and Jacob. Holding out a pair of vampiric veneers, Veronica screamed, “What are these?”
“It’s not what it looks like!” Jacob cried out, holding his hands up defensively. Tina could see Jacob’s teeth now looked normal and shook her head.
“Then what is it?” Veronica howled. “Tell me I haven’t been kissing a human!” Veronica started to lumber forward, standing upright on her legs, her full height now exceeding Jacob’s large frame. “Tell me I haven’t fallen for a disgusting sapien!”
Jacob continued to back away, coming very near to a pillar at the edge of the crypt. Tina shook her head, looking up at the golden chandelier hanging with brilliant opulence above their heads. She knew what was coming next. What always came next. What could eventually lead to suspicion in this tiny little town.
“I swear, I love you!” Jacob pleaded.
“I cannot love a human!”
Veronica exploded in a fit of rage, raising her hands, looking every bit ready to lunge forward and smash Jacob to a pulp. Without warning, Jacob leapt toward the pillar, and in one swift grab-and-turn maneuver, snatched the rifle that had been safely hidden from sight—the fire extinguisher, as their parents liked to refer to it as—and shot a blast right into Veronica’s chest. There was no blood as Veronica was struck by the silver bullet, but rather an almost magical glow of light as the projectile pierced her skin. The look of disbelief on the werebaboon’s face was appropriate, and Tina almost felt bad for her. Still, the secret had to be protected. As the orangish-yellow light exploded through Veronica, her hairy form began to dissipate into thin air.
“This,” Tina said, waving her hand at the last vestiges of Veronica as she vanished from the world, “is why Mom and Dad said no dating. You know you’re supposed to glue those things into your mouth, right?”
Jacob shrugged as he reloaded the rifle, preparing it for the next time it would be needed; Tina knew there would be a next time. “I don’t like the taste of the glue.”
“Just baboon tongue, right?”
Shaking his head, Jacob narrowed his eyes. “Not funny, sis. You should have seen her killer body when she wasn’t transformed.”
“Yeah, well, I guess you’ll just have to keep that in mind when you’re ‘showering’,” Tina sneered, holding her fingers up in air quotes on the final word. “You realize if we have to keep killing your boyfriends and girlfriends, our parents are going to run out of creatures to study, right?”
“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” Jacob said as he slid the rifle back into its hiding place. “Besides, even you thought Tom was hot.”
“Not the point,” Tina said, shaking her head as she headed for the utility closet hidden by another pillar. She’d be nice and at least sweep up Tina’s remains to add her ashes to the pile of Jacob’s other lost loves. “The point is, if Mom and Dad can’t find a cure for the virus, these things may be all that’s left of the human race.”
She heard Jacob let out a long sigh. “I know, Tina. I know.”
“Then can you please stop trying to mate with every hottie you see at school?” Tina asked as she looked toward her brother.
“I’ll try,” he answered with a shrug.
But no. No, Tina knew, he wouldn’t.
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I liked how the story opened in the middle of the action, left me wondering what had led up to the two characters hiding in the crypts and wanting to read more. Loved the twist that they weren't actually monsters and were a family there to study them, incognito. Starting to wonder if their last name is Vanhelsing. Good story.
Thank you! I had a lot of fun writing this!
I could tell! 🙂