This story is by Andreea Borcea and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
An unusual hush comes over the normally rowdy bar. All eyes fixate on the man confidently walking in. Snickers and jeers follow Martin’s every move. The glint of his police badge scatters rays of light across the room.
“We don’t serve your kind here, bud,” The bartender barks, but no one dares stop him.
“Calm down. I’m here on personal business.”
“Then I expect you to buy a drink.” A wry smiles appears on the bartender’s face.
“Gotta find my seat first.” Martin responds with the confidence of 30 years on the beat.
He spots her. A young woman hiding in the back booth; eyes down, so lost in her drink she barely notices him take the seat in the open bench across from her.
Bitterly she growls, “That seat’s taken.”
“I know. It’s mine.”
She looks up, hissing at him, “No. I said I’m waiting for,” she chokes slightly, “my dad.” The words feel poisonous and foreign in her mouth.
“I know. It’s me.”
Three men make their way over to the booth, “Jeanette, you want us to get rid of this guy?” the greasiest of them chuckles as speaks.
Jeanette’s eyes stare intently at the stranger in the booth, searching his face for hints of familiarity while a tense silence overtakes them. Without breaking her stare she responds, “Please, Victor, you know I could destroy all of you with my drink in one hand and not spill a drop.”
Victor pouts, clearly offended, “I was just trying to be helpful.” One man pats him on the shoulder as they walk away, “Why can’t I be the one to destroy someone? Everyone assumes cuz I’m so big I get to do the destroying…” Their conversation falls away into the reinvigorated bustle of the bar.
The bartender walks over to them, “Like I said bud, if you’re here, you’re drinking.”
“He can’t drink…” Jeanette starts, but Martin cuts her off.
“A Sangrine Sammy.” Jeanette cocks her head and stares at him curiously.
“That’s my kind of drink!” The bartender laughs hoarsely, but noticing Jeanette’s unimpressed expression he scurries off and returns with the drinks before his attention gets pulled into a brawl.
The only stillness in the room lies in this booth. Without breaking his gaze on her, the cop smiles widely showing his fangs.
“You really are my…?” Her face contorts awkwardly as she goes from surprise to anger and back to the strategic control of her emotions she’s built a reputation for.
“I’m here to tell you it’s time to knock it off.” He says firmly.
“Seriously?! My first conversation with my father and you lecture me?” Her words push through an animalistic scowl, “In what world do you think you have any right to tell me what to do or not do?”
“I care about you.”
She looks away, then with the determination of youth stares back at him harder.
He continues, “There’s another way, Jeanette.”
She cuts him off, “What other way could there be? How did you think my life would go when you left me on the steps of a church? A CHURCH?! You cruel bastard. You knew what I was and you left me at a church? Who does that?”
He reaches for her but she pulls away. He continues warmly, “I didn’t know what you were. Your mother wasn’t like us. There was a 50/50 shot.”
“I’m just lucky, I guess.” She mumbles under breath. They both wait in silence until she finds her confidence to continue. “Wait? I thought you were supposed to be the Bloodbag. Mom was the Bloodbag? How does that even work?,” Realization hits her face suddenly and cruelly, “Is that why she’s not around? I killed her…from the inside.”
“It’s best not to think about it too hard. It happens.” He downs his drink.
“You are one sick bastard. You knew this would happen if you hooked up with a Bloodbag. You are the sickest of us all.” Venom flows through her voice as her eyes narrow, “Look around this place. These are my people, we may live in the shadows and forcibly take what’s ours, but we know the limits. You parade yourself out there in the regular world in this pathetic costume of yours.”
“That’s enough.” He straightens.
“Enough of what?! I’ve had enough of you being a fraud. You could have raised me. But you’re ashamed?! Aren’t you?! That’s why you hide in plain sight. So you can pretend that you’re a Bloodbag. But you’re not. You’re disgusting inside just like me. But I embrace it and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about that.”
“Knock it off. You don’t live in the shadows. Don’t play high and mighty with me! You don’t think “Bloodbags” know about this place?! You’re causing too much trouble. You and these disgusting bats are getting noticed. It’s coming to an end. If you get out now, you could be safe. Start over.”
“And what? Assimilate? You want me to embrace the world that tortured me for years. That. Will. Never. Happen.” Jeanette gets up to leave. His gloved hand shoots across the table, but just as his fingers close around her wrist, it turns to black smoke. Each limb disintegrates slowly curling around itself in smoke until only a small bat remains.
Fumbling out of the booth, he pulls out a small cross-shaped silver bottle. The bat shrieks, attracting Victor and his crew. They tackle Martin but he’s already removed the cap. Victor screams out as the holy water reaches his skin. The men scatter staring down at Victor. Martin runs out as the men pick up Victor, cautiously avoiding his wounds, and lay him on the bar. The bartender wraps his hand attentively with black cloth while dripping thick red liquid on the wound.
“You’ll survive it.”
As the commotion dies down, they turn to look at Jeanette who has returned back to her natural form.
“He’s coming for us bats. Time to scatter.”