Being a vampire is more complicated than it used to be.
The sun went down. Lenore crawled from her shallow grave, listless and hungry. At the same time, Baron Latos rose from the coffin in his castle crypt, driven from the dreamless sleep of death by a most unholy craving. And, on the other side of town, Daniel got out of bed, went to the kitchen, and mixed himself a smoothie out of pig's blood and cherry Kool-Aid. (Because drinking blood straight gave him gas).
Lenore wore the ragged cerements of the grave, smeared with dirt. She crept along on all fours, hiding in dark alleys and behind hedgerows, skulking and stalking. Baron Latos wore his finest tailored suit and most expensive black cape. He called his inhuman servants to prepare the carriage and horses, as he was going out to mingle with unsuspecting mortals. Daniel put on sweats and an old Invader Zim t-shirt with a bloodstain on the sleeve and sat down to watch the Futurama marathon on channel three.
His phone rang. It was Jenna. "Hi, honey!" he said.
"Where are you?"
"I just got up," he said, taking a swig of cherry-flavored blood. "Are you coming over?"
“You're supposed to be taking me to Lianne's party tonight! It's Halloween and I want everyone to see that I'm dating a vamp-iiiiire! They'll all be super jealous."
"I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that."
Jenna made a little “Uck!” noise. "Just get over here and put on your costume.”
"You vampire costume!"
"But I'm a vampire already?"
"But I want everyone to be able to tell."
She hung up.
Lenore followed the sound of music and people. The streets were crowded and she couldn't drag away a victim without being seen, but perhaps this house full of people and strange noises would afford an opportunity. She slipped in the bedroom window. An unsuspecting mortal was sleeping here. In the dark, she followed his scent. As she came closer the smell grew stronger. She bared her fangs. The smell was—
The drunk man rolled over and belched, scratching his hairy belly. Lenore moved on. Even she had standards.
Latos arrived on foot because the police kept pulling his carriage over for obstructing traffic. He followed two delicious-looking girls for a few blocks and saw that they were going to the two-story house on the corner, the one alive with lights and music and conversation. He chuckled at the young people in their Halloween costumes. "Ah, mortals," he said, running a gloved hand along his black goatee, "how foolishly they embrace the trappings of death, never realizing how close they really are to the true and final touch of—
"Wait, are they playing Chris Brown? Really? That’s so inappropriate..."
He waited at the door for 20 minutes trying to find the correct person to invite him in. Finally he settled on following the pizza guy in, on the grounds that getting permission from someone with permission was probably good enough.
Daniel arrived in his girlfriend's Hyundai. She led him in by the hand, but he tried to linger by the door. "I don’t want to do this,” he said.
"You look fine."
"Why did you have to put all this heavy white makeup on me?"
"You need to look pale and dramatic."
"I look like an anemic mime."
"You could pull the look off if you tried. Bare your fangs."
“I don't have fangs."
"Then bare your dental work. That bridge is pretty scary."
Daniel did his best. He looked like he was perpetually just about to sneeze. Jenna was dressed as a cat, and she flicked her tail as she appraised him. "You're doing it wrong. Try smoldering."
"It's a kind of glower. Only sexy. It's a vampire thing."
"I don’t think it is. If it was, I’d be doing it."
"Oh come on!" she said, dragging him inside.
Lenore sat on the stairs. She was confused. She picked grave mold from under her ragged fingernails while assessing the nearest partiers. This one over here smelled like a hemophiliac, and those were never filling. These other ones had a lot of rum in their bloodstream, and she was going sober this year. Her stomach growled. This was looking to be a long night. A drunk teenager sat next to her and looked at the torn winding sheet wrapped around her body. "Cool costume!" he said.
"Do you want to go upstairs?"
She sniffed him. Leukemia. He probably didn't know. She patted his head once, gave a little nod of pity, and crawled away. There had to be something around here she could eat.
Latos was finding that this was not the kind of party he was acclimated to. For one thing, when he dramatically swept into a room nobody stopped what they were doing to stare at him, transfixed. They didn't even turn down the music. "Good evening," he said to a pretty blond thing, "I am Baron—"
"Oh my god, Jell-O shooters!" she said, and ran to the bar. Okay, strike one. He flagged down a group of girls near the window. "Listen to them," he said, "children of the night!" He waited. Usually when he said that a wolf howled, but it didn't sound like there were any out tonight? He cleared his throat and said it louder: "Children of the night!" He waited again. The girls looked at him. "I said, children of—WILL YOU TURN THE MUSIC DOWN PLEASE?"
The girls walked away. Strike two. Maybe I'm out of practice, he thought.
Jenna kept pulling Daniel into new rooms and insisting that they stand in a prominent place and pose with her back to him and his arms around her. Then, once she was sure everyone had seen them, they moved on. "I get that this is important for you, but I don’t think you’re actualizing my needs too,” he said.
"Are you feeling any dark and unholy cravings right now?" she said.
"I could go for a Butterfinger."
"You need to try harder.”
Daniel counted to three in his head and reminded himself that he needed to prioritize his partner's immediate and circumstance-specific goals over his general and non-specific ones. "I'm sorry, baby," he said. "What do you need me to do?"
"Could you have a crisis of conscience over whether or not you're going to drink my blood?"
"Would it help?"
She nodded her head vigorously.
"Okay. …how do I do that?"
"Just run out of the room and yell at me to stay away from you. Then brood around for a while, and maybe find some other girl and almost attack her instead, but then come find me when you realize you can't go through with it."
"It sounds like you put an awful lot of thought into this.”
"Just do it, okay? For me?"
Daniel shrugged and ran away, looking as dramatic as he could. People in the room assumed, judging from his expression, that he had a stomachache. He heard Jenna talking very loudly to another girl as he left: "Oh God, he's doing it again! I'm so afraid, but I know he loves me. You just can't imagine how conflicting this all is."
Lenore was about ready to give up when she caught a whiff of someone on the stairs. A young man who was apparently suffering from a stomachache ran by. He smelled delicious. Very sweet. Almost like...cherries? She followed him.
Latos was reminding himself that this kind of thing happens to every guy sooner or later and he shouldn't let it get to him. He just had to push through it. Eye of the tiger, he told himself. He overheard a redhead in a cat costume talking in a knot of women: "It's just one of those things you have to deal with when you're dating a vampire. It’s hard, dating a vampire I mean. All the vampirism you have to put up with."
He approached. "Pardon me," he said. Someone bumped into him and spilled beer on his cape. He sighed, then started over. "Pardon me? Did I hear you say you had an interest in...vampires?"
Jenna turned around. "Oh yes. It's so incredibly complicated, because my boyfriend is—" She looked up. A very tall, very handsome, very well-dressed man was smiling at her. “Actually, he's not really my boyfriend," she said. "It's kind of a casual thing. We're just good friends really. In fact, I don't even know him. Who are you?" She leaned on his arm.
"I am...Baron Latos."
"I LOVE your accent," said Jenna. "It's so ambiguous."
"And I could listen to you talk for...eternity," said Latos. "Perhaps we should—"
"Go upstairs? Alone? Right now? Yes!"
Latos had never had his prey drag him away before. But at least someone was talking to him now.
Daniel was upstairs, trying to figure out what to do next. A girl dressed as a cheerleader was half-passed out on the bed in the spare room. He sat down next to her, feeling awkward. She rolled over onto his lap. "Um," he said. "I think you should know that I'm feeling very conflicted about drinking your blood." She left the room. Did I do it right? he thought. He figured that was good enough, and now it was best to just wait.
The door creaked open. Someone else came in. She was very pale, and her hair was wild, and her clothes were ripped and smeared with dirt. Daniel jumped up. "Oh my God, are you okay? Did someone hurt you? “ The woman put her arms around his neck. "Uh...can I help you?" She put her face against his neck. Was she...smelling him?
Lenore inhaled. Yes, his blood smelled like cherries and processed sugar. Her stomach growled. Perfect. Daniel backed away. "Do you need me to call an ambulance, or your parents?" She locked the hall door and then blocked the door to the adjoining room. "I could drive you to the hospital?" She advanced on him. "Um...I think you should know I'm feeling very conflicted about drinking your blood," he said.
In the next room, Latos posed by the window, one arm holding his cape back. "Listen to them," he said. "Children of the—"
Jenna threw herself at him and pushed him against the wall. He bit his tongue in mid-sentence. "You're a vampire, right? Like, a real one?"
"Well...yes," said Latos.
"Are you going to ravish me?"
"I was getting around to it."
"Would it help if you hypnotized me? I'm very hypnosis-prone. Watch, I'll be completely in your power." She swooned and fell, hitting her head. "Ow!" she said. Latos winced. He guessed she’d meant for him to catch her.
He lifted her ("Oh God," thought Jenna, "he's totally draping me across his arms! We must look so good!") and laid her on the bed. He clawed at the collar of her costume, tearing her top ("That was brand new!"). He cupped her voluptuous white bosom in his hands ("Here we go, Mr. Grabby…"), and the sight of tender, naked flesh awakened his inhuman hunger. He bared his fangs and growled ("What's that noise he's making? He didn't get his already, did he?").
Latos climbed onto the bed and pinned her down. He was hungry for the warm blood of the living, but this woman's unearthly beauty had awakened an older desire, one he thought forever extinguished. He ripped the rest of her costume off and spread her legs, running his hands over her creamy white thighs. So young, so fragile. So much like his lost love. How beautiful she had been. But that beauty was gone now, blown away on the winds of time like the petals of the roses she'd loved so—
"Excuse me, I'm sorry, could get my purse?" said Jenna.
"You're supposed to be hypnotized.”
"I totally am, it's just, really quick, my diaphragm is in there."
Latos paused. He grabbed her purse. There was a banging and a crash from the next room. "I wonder what that is?" said Latos.
"Maybe we should be making some noise of our own?" said Jenna. "Ya know? Hello? Hell-ooooo?"
"Oh yeah." Her head lolled.
Next door, Daniel grabbed another picture frame from the wall and threw it at Lenore. It didn't faze her. He went for the framed class photo, but dropped it on his foot. He looked around for anything else to defend himself with. He'd already run out of lamps. Lenore grabbed him and threw him on the floor. She ripped his shirt off and bared her fangs, plunging them toward his neck. He used both hands to push her away. "I really think it's better if we just stay friends," he said.
"I'm in a committed relationship right now. You're a very attractive ghoul and I'm sure any number of guys—"
She gave up on the neck and tried biting his wrist. Daniel was digging through his pockets with his free hand. Where was that rape whistle?
Meanwhile, Latos ran his hands over the entranced (??) girl's naked body and prepared to enter her. It had been so long, and he thought he would never enjoy this human pleasure again. He thought he would never again feel...never again...never...ahem....
"Do you need a little help?" said Jenna.
"No, I got it," he said.
"I have lube?"
"No, I'm just at a bad angle. Put your leg up a little?"
"No, the other leg."
"Wait, what if I go like this?”
“Oh yes, that works.”
“Is it in?”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I was just checking.” She posed again, eyes closed and mouth parted. Yes, this was the moment she’d been dreaming of for so long. Her Dark Prince had come to induct her into the unholy rites of his lust. He was a dark raven, flown from the night’s Plutonian shores on wings of longing. Together they would explore boundless new limits of need and desire, tonight and tomorrow night and every night—
“Wait a minute,” she said. “Can we change positions?”
“What’s wrong with what I’m doing?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I just thought…look, is this how they always did it back in whatever century you were born in?”
“The Ancient Dacian girls never complained.”
“Maybe they didn’t have enough to compare it to. Look, I’ll sit up and you get behind me.”
“Yes, but slow down. No, slow down. …all right, not THAT slow.”
"Enough!" said Latos, seizing the naked girl by the throat. He bared his fangs. "The time has come! You will yield up your life to me and you will forever be my bride, for all the rest of the long nights of eternity."
"OH-EM-GEE, for serious?!"
"Lianne is SO going to be jealous now! How big is your place? You're not one of those guys with like three wives in coffins in your basement already, are you? Because it's like I told Count Niklaus if you're asking me to make a serious commitment then I need you to at least meet me halfway because, HELL-OOOOO, I've got prospects and I'm not going to—where are you going?"
"Who, me? Nowhere, I'm not going anywhere."
"Why are you inching toward the door?"
"I thought I heard someone calling me."
There was a crash and a thump from next door, and a muffled voice screaming "No means no!"
"Yes, that's definitely for me," said Latos. "Be right back. Stay hypnotized, okay?"
Daniel finally pushed Lenore off and ran to the adjoining door. He pulled it open and walked right into a tall man in a black cape with no pants on. They both fell over, and Lenore ran in, tripping over the both of them. They landed in a pile.
"Daniel!" said Jenna.
"Jenna!" said Daniel.
"Who is this woman?"
"Who is this man?"
"That's not important!" said Jenna. "He had me hypnotized."
"I really didn't," said Latos.
"Well she tried to kill me!" said Daniel.
"Grrr!" said Lenore.
Jenna put clothes on and stomped out of the room. "Come on!" she said. "We're going to go have a long talk about my needs and then you're going to ravish me."
"Can't we just cuddle?" said Daniel. They closed the door behind them.
Baron Latos looked at Lenore. Lenore looked at Baron Latos. Outside, a wolf howled. "So," he said. “Do you come here often?"