CLOCKWORK STORYBOOK: One in a Million – Chapter 8

by

Here’s the part where everything starts to go blooey.

NOTE: If you are not up to date on the story, the first two novels have been run in their entirety at revolutionsf.com.
The Transformation of Lawrence Croft: http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.php?id=1827
Chance of a Lifetime: http://www.revolutionsf.com/fiction2/condorks2/condorks2_00.html

One in a Million – Chapter 8

Jane’s Addictions

Jane Callow was having one of those days. She was irritable, cranky, needy, clingy, edgy, and generally out of sorts. If she still got her period, she could have blamed her mood on her monthly cycle. Now that she no longer got a visit from her “Aunt Flo,” there was nothing to do but go down her Vampiric Checklist and try to figure out what was bothering her now.

This condition she’d had violently foisted upon her several years ago came with no instruction manual. The vampire who turned her had died before he could take her under his…what? His wing? Arm? Membrane? I didn’t matter. The point was, Jane had spent more time, energy, and effort into researching, studying, and experimenting with her newfound state of being than she did biting people on the neck, or mesmerizing them with her hypnotic gaze, or any of that old school Dracula shit. Taking all of plusses and minuses into account, being a vampire pretty much sucked.

 

She’d felt like this ever since she had woken up two hours ago. Hazel Medrick, her best friend since middle school, and now also her thrall (which was vampire-speak for “administrative assistant”), had already laid out her morning’s “to do” items. Morning being relative, as Hazel worked for Jane from 10 AM to 4 PM every Monday through Thursday, as the publishing industry, despite all rumors to the contrary, did not run on Vampire Time. Hazel had written notes as needed on the assorted stacks of paper and mail. Only the last item on the countertop interested Jane today: it was an oversized manilla envelope containing a finished copy of the sequel to her first book, The Spell of the Blood.

The book had done amazingly well, even for a mediocre vampire novel about a young girl suddenly given the gift of immortality and being forced to work out living as a vampire for herself. Her creative writing teacher told her to write what she knew, so she did. Sort of.
The Spell of the Blood, then, was what Jane had hoped a life of Vampirism would be like, if her circumstances were largely unchanged. When it became apparent that her life wasn’t going to get any better without some direct intervention on her part, she made the conscious decision to sell completely out and write another vampire novel that would fulfill the innermost desires of her readers: that someone would come along and scoop them up and make Vampires of them, too. Even as she was working on the sequel, titled The Lust of the Blood, her first book got optioned to be a movie. She didn’t even have to charm anyone. Shit.

Now as she looked at the finished artwork on the front cover, she felt in her heart a yearning to be more despised, more ostracized. Positive attention was never her forte, and this much of it was galling. Still, there was an upside to her newfound success: dough, and lots of it. The first thing Jane did was buy herself a split level duplex in swanky Nob Hill and move Hazel in on the ground floor. This was partially because Jane still held out hope that at some point in their relationship, a torch-bearing mob would show up demanding retribution and it would be Hazel who keeps them at bay long enough to let Jane escape. They both agreed, that would be so cool.

Jane dialed Hazel’s cell and heard it ringing downstairs. “Pick up, Bitch!” she screamed.
Click. “Hey, Sleepytime,” said Hazel.

“Hey yourself.”

“You slept in,” Hazel said. “You okay?”

“Yeah. No, I got up a while ago. I’ve just been feeling…blagh.”

Hazel tsked. “Do you need to feed?”

“Probably,” said Jane. “I’ll go out later.”

“Want some company?” Hazel sounded hopeful. Jane smiled to herself. The only thing they had successfully deduced about Jane’s condition was that as a vampire, she needed to ingest some sort of carbon-based energy, and lots of it, because she couldn’t produce her own bioelectricity anymore.

Blood was actually the easiest way to absorb the bioelectric energy signature that Jane needed regularly. Hazel suspected it was because of the iron in blood. She was better at chemistry than Jane ever was. The problem with blood was that it was so good, so immediate, so direct…and really very illegal if Jane did what was necessary to ensure her survival. One human was enough for a week, but Jane would have to kill the person. Stray animals weren’t so good for this; you needed to drink a dozen squirrels to equal one human, and it always left Jane feeling bloated and gross.

Luckily, they found other ways to give Jane what she needed: crowds. Especially noisy, energetic crowds who were all in synch, or dancing, or even singing in church, gave off the right bioelectric energy that recharged Jane’s batteries. She could go to a club and literally “feed” off of the whole room, and aside from making everyone a little more tired than normal, no one ever even realized they’d been had.

The reason why Hazel wanted to go with Jane was twofold: they inexplicably still enjoyed each other’s company after all this time, and Jane could (and usually did) share this energy charge with Hazel. It didn’t confer vampirism, per se, but it seemed to have a renewing and regenerative effect on a live human. Hazel’s acne had cleared up within minutes after her first feedback. Jane had always been the prettier one in their friendship, but with Hazel on the vampire juice, they looked like sisters. Properly dolled up, they looked like hot slutty sisters, which they both agreed was infinitely better.

“Yes, let’s go out later and feed, Hazel.”

“You’re awesome,” Hazel said.

“None of this is in dispute,” Jane replied. “But I think I know why I’m in the dumps.”
“Do tell,” said Hazel.

“I’ve not been adored by my fans in over six months.”

Hazel clicked her tongue. “Has it been that long?”

“Yes,” said Jane. She opened the refrigerator and removed a T-bone steak, and sliced the plastic with her fingernail. “But I just got this copy of book two, and…”

“You like?”

“Eh, yeah, it’s okay. But never mind that. I want to do a signing. Can you set one up for me?”
“Of course,” said Hazel. “How many do you want to do?”

“Just one, to start out. Let me get my sea legs back.” Jane grabbed a cast iron skillet and plopped it down on the stove and turned the burner on and up.

“Well,” Hazel said, “you’ve got the graphic novel coming out in two weeks, and the book hitting the shelves on Tuesday. What about if we double dip and hit a store that sells both?”

“You know of such a place?”

“I do indeed,” said Hazel. “It’s called Comix Comix Comix.”

Jane scrunched up her nose. “That’s not the one with all of the cats, is it?”

“No, thank Sappho. This is that shop over at the edge of the Tenderloin. Good selection. Decent staff. The store is pretty effing big, and they have room for a production such as ours. What do you say?”

Jane dropped the steak into the hot skillet, where it grabbed and smoked and made a hell of a racket. “Sounds good, but then after that, let’s shoot for something a little more highbrow, okay?”

“Hey, you said you wanted to be worshipped.”

“That I did,” said Jane. She peeled the steak up with her fingers and flipped it over. More smoke and spatter ensued. “That’s why you’re my go-to, Haze—to remind me of how sometimes my brilliant ideas have flaws.”

“Miniscule flaws,” said Hazel. “I’m going to get tarted up. Meet me down here…when?”
Jane looked at the kitchen clock. “Give me two hours.”

“Cool. Love you.”

“Smooches.” Jane hung up and tossed the phone aside. She picked up the charred and still bloody steak with her fingers and ate standing over the sink. Hot juice ran down her chin and she moaned appreciatively at the decadence of tearing into dead flesh with her teeth. She ate until the bone was scraped clean, and then produced a very un-lady-like belch. Eating meat always helped stabilize her. She now had the bare minimum amount of fuel necessary to go out and hunt. Jane turned on her shower, ice cold, and got inside, humming to herself.