“Rehab” #27 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

“Rehab” #27

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days
junk
So, I’m on a plane headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Mind you, I’m in my traveler’s coffin, the one with the tacky sky-blue lining and extra pillow to help me sleep (I have neck and back issues).  I don’t want to go, but my vampire posse staged an intervention and threatened to kick me out of the group house and report me to my maker, something I fear more than being homeless in a city known to be hostile to derelict vamps.

My drug of choice is heroin, or more accurately, heroin addicts’ blood.  The first time I got high I was at a party and I ended up feeding on this frat boy who I thought was drunk.  I didn’t realize he’d snorted some heroin/oxy party powder in the kitchen earlier.  I almost puked the blood out the first time, but after a few minutes I felt like I was floating into space.  He didn’t even feel me biting him again, but I was careful not to drain him.  I wanted to keep my drug cow healthy enough to keep me high.

It worked for about two months.  He’d score the drugs, and I’d pay him to let me feed on him after he snorted or injected himself.  Then, after a two month run, the frat boy dropped dead from an overdose.  According to one of his frat mates at the frat house where they found him, he thought he could do more of the drug and not get sick because he believed I was sucking away his addiction.  Maybe I was, but if I did, I ended up with an itch that burned through my core stronger than my urge to drink blood all by itself.  It set my hunger on thermonuclear, and made me a danger to not just humans, but other vampires who smelled like they recently fed on addicts.
opium
When my friends found me I was staying at a motel with a recently deceased prostitute who, like my frat boy supplier, OD’ed after spending two weeks with me on a heroin binge.  He sat on the toilet with a glassy-eyed stare, the needle still stuck in his arm.  I’d already fed on him, but I guess he wanted to top off his waning high to augment what my feeding had done to him.  He looked disappointed, a corpse not happy to be a corpse.  The vamps quietly wrapped him in sheets and dumped him into the river.

Clearly, I am not the only one dealing with this issue:  human junkies have been showing up in ER with gaping bite wounds and severe loss of blood by the dozens over the last six months.  The human authorities still don’t know we exist, but it’s only a matter of time before that changes.  If that happens, the Vampire Council will put me down like a rabid dog for sure. That’s why right now I am packed away in the baggage area, waiting for the plane to land so I can be transported to the vampire rehab facility just outside of Santa Fe.

I hear detox feels like you’re being exposed to the sun.  So not looking forward to that.

No bloody sunscreen.

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Follower #20 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days My bank is stalking me.

Follower #20

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

My bank is stalking me.
shadow
I don’t have a credit card with them (though they’ve tried and tried to get me to take one from them), and I don’t overdraw my account.  I don’t owe them money.  They follow me everywhere, monitor my movements around town, listen to my phone calls.  I know my house is watched by them.

When I go to restaurants I see them sitting near my section, monitoring my menu selections and conversations like vultures ready to pounce on a perceived slight or miscalculation in the affordability of the bottle of wine I have selected for my table.  When I mention my plans to travel to my lover they stand over my table, waiting for me to mention an expenditure they have not yet anticipated.  When I hail a taxi, they watch me tell the driver of my destination, calculating the mileage of every trip I make around town.

I cannot shake them off, nor can I complain.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  I’ve even tried to close my account, only to discover to my horror that I cannot do that without restraining order from the court, and that will not happen unless I can verify that I have successfully connected with yet another banking monolith that is just as controlling and obsessive as the one who is now tormenting me with follows, phone calls with meaningless messages, phone calls with heavy breathing, inexplicable interruptions of transactions, and even worse, invasion of my home through virtual presence.  I threw a chair at the binary ghost the first time I saw it, thinking it was a thief or maniac.

From what I understand, most people do not experience such torment from their bank.  Even those human representatives I’ve spoken to say that something in their Supreme System may have taken a personal interest in me, something akin to an obsessive focus normally associated with a human pathology.  An investigator has been dispatched from human management to determine the origin of this “glitch.”  I am hopeful, but uncertain about the outcome of their efforts to contain the power of the machine that owns their bodies and souls.  A resolution cannot come soon enough.  They are escalating, no longer hiding.

A more drastic course of action may be necessary if this does not work.

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Squatter #19 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Squatter #19

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

You are breaking the rules.
squatter
You find this squalid space while crawling your way through the remains of the old city not yet submerged into the seawater, desperate to escape the floating shantytown that surrounds the shiny new city like a rusty, filthy ring stuck on a finger too fat to let it slide off.  It’s a fair analogy:  the people who live in this shantytown come via ferry to work as cooks, servants, cleaners, and low-level office workers in New Manhattan, only to float by to makeshift squats, large floating structures made with scraps of metal, styrofoam, and melted plastic.

You are already aware that this building, formerly a factory turned into condos, has been condemned as a harbor for unsavory elements not seen by most humans.  The empty rooms of one of the corner units are mostly empty, save for a mattress crusty with blood and other dried fluids, a chair, a set of drawers, and a beautiful Persian rug that seemed out-of-place.  You find yourself wondering who would leave such a beautiful rug to rot away like that.

You hear whispering in one of the back rooms, telling you that you are not alone, and that if you want to squat here for more than just a night, you need to clean house.  You begin the ritual, a series of chants, smudging, then silent sitting within a circle to draw out and carefully banish each unholy spirit.  You have been told by the beggar-witch who sold you the ritual kit that under no circumstances are you to allow yourself to fall asleep while performing the Zari-koozhari banishing ritual.   The one ritual you have been carefully instructed to follow to the letter in order to fully rid your squat of wretched haunts, spirits, demons, and listener-familiars loyal to the Phorzhicoa is the very same one that you are now breaking as you nod off to sleep in front of the makeshift altar space you just drew.

Your impatience and unwillingness to wait through the night till morning has borne foul fruit.  The candles flicker as your sleeping body is surrounded by a merry band of evil-doers who see you as a gift of sorts, a gift of “food.”  And like so many predators who come upon a tasty meal only to find their competitors there at the same time, these merry entities soon turn on each other, prepared to tear each other apart.  You keep your eyes shut, waiting for the winner to emerge, waiting to banish the one strong enough to destroy the others, but not strong enough to defeat the Word.

You know by morning you are not meant to survive by following the rules.  You start cleaning up the remains of the destroyed, and begin settling into your new home.

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The Red Room #18 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Red Room #18

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

You can’t get there from just any place.  You have to be in the right place at the right time.  You have to be standing in the right place at the right time.  Look for a red carpet.  The first time you learn about the red room is when you realize that the red carpet is where you die just a bit.  The red carpet is the abyss, where you become invisible.
redroom
The first time I saw someone become invisible was when I worked as a personal assistant for Stacy Mandan, Princess of Pop, and I watched her strut the red carpet wearing a yellow Versace plunge dress for a gala screening of her latest star vehicle movie.  The paparazzi blanketed her every step and every blink of her eyes as she edged towards the entrance.

She turned her head towards me and in a second I saw her disappear.  No one else noticed, but I saw it.  She reappeared with what looked to be tendrils hanging from her slender arms and legs.  The tendrils seemed be like grayish white smoke pulling from every limb of her body.  Her life force was leaking on the red carpet.  I motioned to security to move her past the photographers and the press, who had hoped for a word from her.  They rushed her inside before she could speak–or collapse.  I looked at the edge of the crowd and saw the Watchers among the frenzy, unmoving, unsmiling.

Rushing inside we encountered more people, more glamour, and as I looked at other entertainers I noticed the same sense of life force drain from their bodies, only less extreme.  Stacy touched my shoulder and held on as we made our way to a side hallway.  Her hand felt like ice.  I looked into her perfectly manufactured face and eyes, wondering if she was able to speak.  She motioned for me to lean over, and as I did, she whispered, “I saw the Red Room for the first time.”  She trembled, then fainted to the floor in a heap.

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”Hank” #17 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

“Hank” #17

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days
nightlight

 

 

 

“There’s a ghost in your bedroom.”

“I know.”

“Well, if you know, what have you done about it?”

“Done?”

“You have a spirit in your house.  Have you done something to get rid of it?”

“Should I?”

“Are you serious?  I could hear things moving on your bookshelves last night.”

“Did you get enough sleep last night?  Did anyone bother you while you slept?”

“No.  Well, no.  It just felt….it felt like someone was watching me sleep.  It felt creepy.”

“Creepy how?”

“I don’t know, you don’t seem to be too worried about it.”

“Why should I be worried?”

“Who is it?”

“Hank.”

“Who’s Hank?”

“He used to live here back in the 60s and 70s.  He died in this very apartment sometime ago.  He started showing up about six months ago after I had the apartment renovated.”

“You’ve seen him?”

“Yeah.  He comes around to listen to my jazz music, watch t.v.  He watches the apartment while I’m on travel.”

“Why is he watching me sleep?”

“Maybe you need watching.  Have noticed that your back and neck pain are gone?”

“How’d you know about that?”

“He told me after he chased off that bad spirit following you around.  Hank’s good for that too.”

“Does he hang out in your bedroom when you bring your boyfriend here?”

“Hank’s a bit of a voyeur.  And by the way, your vibrator was a bit loud last night.”

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Haunted Hair #16 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

Haunted Hair #16

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30days

I probably shouldn’t have switched from my usual brand just to save some money.
hair
Three weeks ago I bought a few packets of hair for my redo of my weave from a sale bin at a hair and beauty discount shop I found near Prince George’s Plaza.  The other hair shop in the same area, my usual stop, was closed, plus I really needed to pinch some coins this month.  I spent half of what I would usually have to pay for real hair, and when I looked at the tracks, they seemed almost lifelike.  Quality product, I thought.  I wondered why it ended up in the sale bin.

The next morning I showed up to the hair salon and handed the hair packets to Carol, my hair stylist, who raised an eyebrow when I told her I found a cheaper product.  She pulled out the long, spiraled tracks and laid them flat on the work counter.  I thought I saw something move beneath the strands.  Must be the wind, I thought.  I sat down in the chair and closed my eyes as Carol began to detangle and comb my hair before washing it and braiding it into cornrows for the weave sew-in.  Three hours later, I walked out of Carol’s Salon with long, wavy hair that seemed to have a life of its own.  Driving on I-495 with the windows down, I let my hair dance around my head with the howling wind flowing all around my head.

Except for the black shadow that keeps showing up in my mirrors and all of my photographs, I think my new hair style is fabulous.

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“Quitting Smoking” #11 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Quitting Smoking” #11

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

2012-07-29 20.24.50
#30days

 

The first thing I noticed the night after I turned vampire was that I no longer felt a need to light up a cigarette.  That was stranger than having to sleep in my walk-in closet to keep out the sunlight.  Contrary to the myth, the sun rays don’t kill vampires, but it makes us weak, sleepy, and more than a bit itchy.  I work as an online writing instructor for a virtual university, so it’s not like I have to worry about missing work time.

I sat up, walked into the bathroom, and looked into the mirror, expecting to see nothing.  Instead, I saw my twisted hair in somewhat of a mess.  My eyes were bloodshot, and I looked somewhat gray in skin tone.  I opened my mouth and saw….nothing but teeth and a tongue.  Okay.  A couple of other myths destroyed there.  I jumped into the shower and washed quickly.  I found some jeans, a tee-shirt, and a pleather jacket, along with my usual lace-up boots.

I thought it odd to not feel a need to smoke.  I grabbed the gray pack of American Spirits and stuck a cigarette at the corner of my mouth.  I lit it and slowly pulled smoke into my lungs.  And held it.  After about ten minutes I blew a cloud of smoke into the dark room. Well, it seemed I discovered two things: 1) I no longer felt a buzz or tasted the cigarette and 2) I no longer needed to breathe.

Instead, I felt a craving for something else, something I could not satisfy from my kitchen or even from delivery.  Suddenly, I felt a hunger so painful it seemed to turn my insides into liquid metal.  Falling to the carpet, my body began to shudder and twist.  I felt my teeth sharpen and push out from my gums, as a strange, beastly growl emerged from my throat.  Cold hands suddenly grabbed me and calmed me, while a warm, coppery liquid filled my mouth and throat.  I swallowed greedily, wondering if the hunger was always this painful.

“For young ones, yes, but not for long,” spoke my rescuer, reading my thoughts.  He pulled me up as he stood, a tall, balding man with dark, piercing eyes and full lips.  His fangs flashed as he smiled at me, warmly.  “I don’t abandon my children, and you have much to learn before I send you on your way.  I will teach you how to live among humans without drawing attention to your true nature.”  He gestured to my laptop.  “You already know how to support yourself without stealing or killing.  You won’t have too many issues living among them in this city.”  He walked to the door and held out his arm for me to take.

“Let’s take a walk.  I feel like eating out for a change.”

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