Warning! This contains swearing, and a couple disturbing but awesome bits that I don’t want to ruin for you. Read forward with caution!
I run. Clouds hide the sliver of moon, leaving the forest pitch black, and I run, reveling in a world of scents and sounds. Naked and nimble.
A gust of wind carries with it the smell of death. Rot. I change course, racing along the edge of a stream. Jagged rocks nip at my hands and feet, but it’s a feeling of pleasure, not pain, like a deep itch finally scratched. My panting becomes laughter and I run faster.
After a few miles the scent becomes strong enough to recognize. A deer. Adult. Male. Dead from disease, and left for the better part of a week. Excited, I leap up the side of the embankment and tear through the brush. I’m close.
I eat regularly and well, but there’s something about this that’s different. A civilized meal might nourish the body, but this nourishes the soul.
As I approach the carcass, I slow. It isn’t the presence of the other scavengers that keeps me from the feast; they know their place in the pecking order, and as I get closer they begin to scatter, until only the most desperate and foolish remain. But there’s another fear out here in the night. Rare though it might be, researchers occasionally set up cameras, observe the nightlife. Especially near food sources, like dead deer.
Circling the body, I test the air for any trace of humanity.
Only when I’m certain that no human has set foot in this part of the woods for over a month do I approach, sending the last of the scavengers running. Whatever is left of the body is for me. Me and the insects, who know no fear.
Most of the meat has been torn away, and the pieces that remain are riddled with maggots and beetles. Just the way I like it. I lean forward, biting into the neck of the carcass, my teeth cutting skin and crushing bone. Larvae squirm in my mouth as I chew, savoring the subtle flavors of death and decay. The smell of it surrounds me.
I move closer still, sinking my hands into the writhing mass, pulling dead flesh to my
mouth a chunk at a time, enjoying the sound of cracking bones and crackling beetles. Maggots pop with each bite, their juices an explosion of flavor.
A gap in the clouds lets in just enough moonlight for me to see the animal’s empty eye sockets staring up at me. I smile.
For a ghoul, the best meals are enjoyed with all five senses.
By the time I’ve eaten my fill, the first whispers of dawn are wrapping around the horizon. I roll away from the remains, my swollen stomach aching from overindulgence. I need to get back to camp while there are still shadows deep enough to hide my nudity. It takes time to scrape open a hole, and more time to fill it, but emptying my bowels alleviates the discomfort, letting me move faster.
The stream cleans away the evidence of my fiendish meal, but it slows me down, and I can hear movement in the campsites surrounding my own. I shouldn’t have let myself get so involved. I should have kept track of the time.
There are only two campsites within sight of my tent. One is filled with college students who spent the night drinking and fucking. Nothing short of a marching band will draw their attention. But the elderly couple in the camper trailer is wide awake and hard at work preparing their breakfast on a small grill.
I stare for a moment, trying to find some path that won’t put me directly in their line of sight. Sadly there is none. I chide myself for my poorly placed tent, and take the only path available.
The couple glances up as I emerge from the brush, then do a double take.
I smile and pretend to shiver as I shake off the water from the stream. “Nothing like skinny dipping in mountain water to wake you up.”
The man looks thoughtful for a moment before responding, “I think I’ll stick to coffee.”
I made a show of cooking some fresh fish for breakfast, even nibbled at it in case anyone was watching, and got rid of what was left as soon as I could. The rest of the morning was spent at the lake, pretending to fish. In truth, I didn’t even have a hook on the line; I was there to enjoy the smells, the constant play of life and death, sex and birth that humans are so oblivious to. That, and I wanted to make sure that I looked like a normal tourist for anyone who might take the time to notice. No one ever did, but it was part of the ritual.
At noon, I started packing and was on the road by one. It was a day earlier than I had intended to leave, but the weather had shifted, bringing with it the warning of woken Wendigo. They were out and about earlier than usual this year. They’d begin their post hibernation hunt soon, and I’d find myself less than welcome.
I’d cut loose more than usual once I realized my trip was going to be shortened. It had been fun, but it left that much less time to slip back into character.
There are only a few major physical discrepancies between ghouls and humans, and most of them aren’t large enough to create a problem. I hide my pale skin, and my unusually long arms and legs in baggy clothing and stunted movements. Tinted glasses hide my oversized eyes. Even without these precautions, I look more like a genetic improbability than a fearfully made predator, as evidenced by the elderly couple’s response to my nudity.
The one physical characteristic that separates me most notably from humanity, however, is among the most difficult to hide.
We ghouls are devourers of the dead, scavengers who can survive in any terrain and consume the remains of any creature. We do so quickly and efficiently, thanks, in no small part, to the unique design of our mouths. Unlike the simple hinge of a human, a ghoul’s lower jaw is composed of four separate bones and about a dozen muscles. Our lips are larger than a human’s, and our skin stretches to accommodate a maw that can wrap around a man’s head. All of that without ever mentioning a tongue so long I can use it to clean behind my ears.
Some of my brethren simply cover the lower half of their face, feigning hideous deformity or unspeakable accident, while others only come out at night or in the deepest part of winter, killing anyone unfortunate enough to stumble across them.
Having been raised by humans, I learned from an early age to maintain control over my muscles. While keeping them tense for the better part of a day can be draining—like being forced to hold both hands in tight fists for hours on end—it allows me to move about in human society in a way that most ghouls never can.
Still, for all my discipline, I can only make myself look human. Not attractively human. The bones and muscles are still there, even if I’m not using them, which lends my features a lumpy, misshapen appearance. I look like the victim of a vicious car accident or a boxer who spent too many years in the ring.
But the hardest part of my disguise, by far, was learning to hold myself properly. Standing up straight for more than an hour at a time makes my back ache. Pretending to rely on visual cues when I’m more inclined to pay attention to sounds and smells is time consuming and frustrating.
And then there’s the talking.
Ghouls are among the more laconic of the supernatural community. We spend most of our time in solitude, and the few creatures of the night that we bump into don’t usually feel the need to engage us in conversation. Those that do tend to have hearing nearly as good as our own, and little desire to draw attention to themselves. Add to that the fact that we have only recently begun ‘playing human,’ and the problem becomes quickly apparent.
A ghoul trying to fit in with mankind has to speak louder than he’s used to, while barely opening his mouth. It’s like learning to shout tongue twisters without moving your lips. It can be done, as any good ventriloquist will tell you, but it takes practice.
Everything about living with humans takes practice. It’s wearying.
My excursions to the wilderness helped ease my frustrations. It was coming back from these brief reprieves that I struggled with.
The trip from the park to my home was the only time that I forced myself to drive with the windows rolled up. Blocking out as much of the smell as I could, with the radio turned up loud enough that I had to watch the road instead of listen to it, I went through my plans for the week. It served to reintroduce me to the trials of false humanity.
“Three bodies to be embalmed, two bodies to be incinerated,” I murmured. “I need to double check my bank account before I write out the checks for this month. If I have anything extra, it should go towards the credit card bill.”
At a bend in the road I caught a whiff of fresh roadkill seeping in through the air conditioner. I swallowed my sudden excess of saliva and concentrated harder. “Seventeen payments before I own my home. Might be able to cut it to sixteen if business picks up. Then I can focus on paying off the mortuary. Mother’s birthday is next week, and I haven’t bought her a gift yet.”
It was a raccoon. It had died within the last hour. Less than a day old was fresher than I normally liked, but raccoons are particularly flavorful.
I gritted my teeth. “I haven’t talked to Simon in a while. I should see how he’s doing. And the truck needs an oil change.”
It took a concerted effort not to stare at the body as I drove past. Within a few seconds the smell started to fade and I was able to relax. Anywhere else, with roads this empty I would have stopped and shoveled the carcass into one of the garbage bags I kept in the back of the truck. Unfortunately, re-integrating into my chosen lifestyle was hard enough after an excursion in the woods without reminding myself of the options I’d foregone.
As if to emphasize the point, a man covered in dust and wearing ragged clothes, stepped out of the woods. He glanced up, his eyes finding me almost instantly. His lips curled back in challenge.
The only other ghoul in a hundred miles, and this was the closest we’d ever come to a conversation.
I didn’t know his name, but I’d seen him before, and I’d smelled him every time I passed this way. He wasn’t as territorial as many of my kind, but he definitely wasn’t thrilled to see me on his road. It was a good thing I hadn’t taken the raccoon. He’d have considered it theft, and might have forced a confrontation.
That was how most of us lived. On the fringes. On the edge of society. About one in a hundred had a home, a car, a job, but even they lived in isolation, in run-down shanties that could only be reached after fifteen minutes on a gravel road. Most still lived in caves, or the crypts of long forgotten graveyards, playing human as rarely and for as short a time as they could.
Among humans or inhumans, it didn’t matter, I was always the freak.
I lowered my gaze and accelerated the truck, acknowledging my trespass.
Let me tell you a secret everybody knows: swallowing your ego sucks monkey balls.
Admitting defeat without a fight, or admitting fault without a reason caused the beast in my belly to howl with frustration. Images of the other ghoul plastered to the hood of my truck flashed through my mind, but the battle my beast longed for would net me nothing, and passion played second fiddle to logic. My mother had taught me that.
About halfway home I was able to switch over to one of my favorite radio stations, and by the time I got to town, I was very nearly in a good mood.
At the first stoplight in town, it occurred to me that since I was a day early, it might not be a bad idea to check in on my business. More to the point, it was about time to check in on Percy. It had been a while since he’d done anything particularly stupid, so he was about due.
Like many funeral homes, we didn’t have a big sign announcing our presence. A modest, faux stone structure stood next to the road, and the sign on the front door confirmed that we were in fact a mortuary.
Death is one of the few businesses that doesn’t get many walk-ins. It’s important to have an eye catching but dignified ad in phone books, and to be on good terms with people in the local hospitals, but you need to be wary of too many frills and banners if you want to maintain an image of dignity and respect.
The parking lot outside of my business rarely has more than two vehicles out front, unless there is a service in progress. As there was no service planned that day, the twelve cars in front of my building told me not everything was as it should be.
The exterior of the building was brick and mortar, though I’d had several of the rooms reinforced with cement, and I’d specifically had the outer walls insulated against sound as much as temperature. It wasn’t enough to keep me from hearing the shouting inside.
I slipped in through the side door and made a beeline for the viewing room.
Two years before, in an effort to keep up with the competition, I’d let Percy talk me into installing a projector television. Mostly, families used it for slide shows of loved ones or old home-movies. A few times we’d had requests for religious montages, and once an elderly woman had left a video farewell for her family and friends.
Percy had, however, found another use for the hardware. About a dozen men filled the room; some pacing, some sitting on the edge of their seats, others leaning forward, clenched fists pumping as they urged on the images of racing horses.
At the front of the room, sitting in front of a drawer full of cash, shouting along with the rest, was my only employee.
I contemplated my options for a moment, then, after a long slow breath, made my way forward, unnoticed by any of the gamblers.
“I’d like to place a wager.”
“You know the rules.” Percy’s eyes remained locked on the screen. “No new bets until–”
He stopped mid-sentence, and turned towards me, his face shifting from an excited red to a terrified shade of white. “Walter.”
“So …” he cleared his throat. “How was your vacation? Relaxing, I hope?”
I scooped up the bills sitting in front of my assistant. “It was surprisingly profitable, actually. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to my office, count my earnings, maybe get a drink of water. When I come back, you and I are going to have a private conversation.”
“Uh …” Percy cleared his throat again. “Walter, I’ll need some of that to pay off the winners.”
I gritted my teeth and let out a low, soft growl.
What little blood was left in Percy’s face drained.
I turned and strolled out, taking a left at the end of the hallway til I reached my office, the last room on the right.
Though the back room was officially my ‘office,’ it served more as a place to store the paperwork I didn’t want to deal with. Four filing cabinets, each with about a year’s worth of paperwork on top waiting to be filed, filled up about a quarter of the room. The only other furniture consisted of a pair of towering shelves filled with books that I desperately needed to read but couldn’t bring myself to touch, a desk, and a chair. The room was lit by a single, bare light bulb, which produced just enough light to make the shadows seem that much deeper and darker. It reminded me of an old family crypt I used to play in when I was a boy. I set the chair on top of the desk to get it out of the way and sunk into a comfortable crouch, hunching over my knees and staring at a blank wall as I contemplated Percy’s latest offense. I should have caught on after my last vacation, when I came back to a freshly vacuumed building filled with flowers. In retrospect, I realized he’d just been covering up the smell of his unapproved activities. He claimed he was prepping the area for the service the next day, but I’d known Percy long enough to know he’d never go out of his way to make life easy for anyone but himself.
When I first met Percy, he came across like a sleazy used car salesman. My instincts told me that he was comfortable lying, cheating, and stealing to get ahead, and that if I paid him enough money, he’d let me borrow the key to his mother’s house, then help bury her body after.
It wasn’t until I really got to know Percy that I realized I was doing a disservice to used car salesmen. Percy wasn’t just comfortable lying, cheating, and stealing: he preferred it. He wasn’t just the sort of man who would sell someone out for personal gain; he began every relationship trying to figure out how much he could get out of his new ‘friend’ before it became more economically viable to stab them in the back. Percy was slime, and every time he used my name I found myself feeling dirty and a little nauseated.
And this is coming from a creature who is perfectly comfortable sleeping in a hollowed out carcass.
I didn’t like working with the man. Frankly, I didn’t like knowing the man, but I didn’t have an abundance of options, either. Ghouls are low on the supernatural totem pole. Very few creatures are willing to work with us, and almost none are willing to work for us.
Those that are, are either too hideous, or too stupid to be allowed access to customers, and the main reason I needed an employee was to deal with the customers.
That meant I had to rely on humans. And since ‘playing human’ was too taxing for me to pull off for an entire workday, I needed humans who were already ‘in the know,’ and wouldn’t freak out when I went all ghoulish on them. The problem is that the supernatural community is a brutal, unforgiving place, and humans who aren’t willing to accept that disappear quickly and permanently. There are a few out there who are semi-decent, but most of them were recruited into our world by powerful forces who keep the rest of us away from their pets. Someone like me has to choose between psychopaths, madmen, and people like Percy.
I should have gone with a psychopath.
I took a deep, calming breath and sorted through the cash Percy had made. It wasn’t a bad haul, I had to admit. And if I had less to lose from a conflict with the police, I might be tempted to let him continue his illicit little enterprise in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. But as I was in no position to have my life closely examined, there was no way in hell I was letting him commit so much as a parking violation on my property.
I thumbed through the cash one more time before tossing it onto the desk and heading back to the viewing room. I didn’t know how Percy had gotten everyone out, but frankly I didn’t care. What did matter was the mess that his friends had made.
On the bright side, he was doing his best to clean it up.
While Percy could not be trusted to act based on any goodness or decency intrinsic to his nature, my assistant could be trusted to act in his own self-interest, and, thankfully, he was in a position where his self-interests included staying in my good graces. Being a conniving, low life, rat bastard, Percy had managed, several years before, to end up on the wrong side of one of the more powerful members of the local vampire community. I wasn’t clear on the details, only that my assistant had been involved in a scam that had gone south at the worst possible moment, and that his mark had found himself publicly humiliated. The bloodsuckers, being arrogant assholes who saw every non-vampire on the planet as a second class citizen at best, defend their honor with the unforgiving ferocity of an active volcano.
In order to survive, Percy had needed to put himself under the protection of somebody higher up in the vampire hierarchy.
While vampires are arrogant bastards who see my lot as the lowest form of life on the planet, they can also be a practical people when it comes to their own needs. And one of their needs is disposing of bodies. A ghoul with his own funeral home is, to vampires, like a top-of-the-line garbage disposal system, and my services were highly prized. Though nobody deigned to speak to me personally, every vampire for a hundred miles knew better than to make trouble for me.
Well, that wasn’t true. I was freely and openly mocked and harassed away from work, but every vampire for a hundred miles knew better than to interrupt operations at my establishment. Which meant that as long as Percy was under my employ, he had the de facto protection of the biggest baddest neckbiter in the land.
I knew it, Percy knew it, and the old bloodsucker whom he had offended knew it.
Unfortunately for Percy, vampires are patient creatures. Which meant that my assistant couldn’t afford to lose his job. Not even for one night.
“Sorry about that, boss. I just invited a few friends over, and things got a bit out of hand.”
“Tell me, if one of your ‘friends’ gets picked up tomorrow and has to choose between selling you out or doing twenty years, how loyal do you think they’re going to be?”
Percy swallowed, though his fear was likely directed at me, more than the scenario I’d presented. “Good point, boss.”
I shook my head. “So, did you at least prep the bodies for tomorrow?”
My assistant remained silent.
Honestly, I hadn’t expected him to. I always made a list of things for Percy to do while I was on vacation, and I always came back to find the list untouched. I forgave him his inaction based on the assumption that he’d kept out of trouble in my absence. Knowing that he hadn’t stayed out of trouble, however, changed the terrain.
“Dammit, Percy! It isn’t like I ask you to do any real work around here! Hell, most weeks all you have to do is stand out front looking pretty. Prepping bodies is simple, basic shit, but you can’t even do that for me?”
“Sorry doesn’t fucking cut it! Come on.” I turned and headed towards the stairs that led down into my prep room.
“You don’t want me to finish here, first?”
“Oh, you’ll finish with that before you leave. Count on it. But I want to make sure you remember how to prep a body before I go, because you’re going to be prepping all of them for a fucking month.”
“Yes sir,” Percy murmured under his breath as he followed me.
The prep room was the second coldest room in my facility, after the refrigerated storage room connected to it. Normally kept as empty as possible, I had several bodies laid out on tables, waiting to be worked on. I didn’t like having them out like that. Unfortunately my refrigerator was on the fritz, and until I got it fixed I ran the risk of freezing any bodies I left inside. So instead I’d turned the temperature down in the prep room.
As soon as I stepped through the door, I knew something was wrong. Moving as quickly as I could, I grabbed my shocked assistant and tossed him back through the door he’d just entered, closing and locking it before I turned my attention back to the smell that had been waiting for me.
It had originated from one of the corpses. Specifically, one of the two brought in after I left for my vacation.
Moving past the bodies I remembered arranging before I left, I approached the new arrivals. The smell was coming from the smaller of the two. I ripped away the sheet covering her naked body.
At this point, I should pause for an aside.
There are very few ghoul enthusiasts in the world.
I say enthusiast because, if I were to state that there were very few ghoul experts in the world, the rest of the supernatural community would immediately argue that there are no experts on their kind either. The werewolves would point out that there are so many different kinds of shifters that calling someone an expert in all of them would be like saying that an entomologist is an expert in all animal life. Wizards would undoubtedly argue that magic is such an intensive field that the only people who understand what they do well enough to call themselves an expert would be wizards themselves. And, of course, vampires like to think that they’re mysterious and inscrutable.
Thus I say again, there are very few ghoul enthusiasts in the world.
There are a number of reasons why. We’re intensely solitary creatures. Even compared with the supernatural community at large, we’re hermits and loners. I live on the edge of town, work in the back room of a funeral home, rarely talking to more than three or four people in a given week, and I’m probably one of the most sociable of my kind. Then again, it could be that there are so few of us. There are seven in the state of Colorado, making it the densest population in the western hemisphere. Worldwide, there are estimated to be less than three thousand of us. The reason most cited by the supernatural community at large, however, is: who would want to study a ghoul?
Whatever reason you choose, the fact remains that our habits and peculiarities are largely unexplored. Which might explain why so few people have realized that there are no female ghouls.
I’ll repeat that. There are no female ghouls.
The first question that probably comes to mind is, if there are no female ghouls, where do baby ghouls come from? The truth is, you probably don’t want to know.
I wish I didn’t.
The most pleasant way I can think to explain it is to tell the same story my adoptive father told me when he felt I was old enough to know. About thirty five years ago, my father got a contract to care after a large graveyard at the edge of the city. Things had gone smoothly until, one day as he was mowing, he noticed a small spot where the earth appeared to have been turned over. It wasn’t the kind of thing someone walking by would notice, but he’d spent enough time in the area, and was observant enough, that he did. He assumed, at first, that it was the work of some animal, and he set up a few traps and waited. But the traps were never touched, and as he looked closer, he began to notice more and more of these holes. Always next to graves, usually away from the streets.
The holes didn’t look like the kind animals made, so my father, concerned about possible grave robbers, took to visiting the cemetery at night, watching for anything suspicious. But night after night he found nothing. And when he came back the next morning he would find new holes next to graves on the far side from where he had been patrolling.
When he told the story to a friend they directed him to a local woman, a single mother who claimed psychic powers and made a modest living out of her living room reading palms and tarot cards.
She listened to my father’s problem and gave him a foul smelling concoction to mix with his bath water before his next stakeout. Sure enough, that night he caught sight of the miscreant responsible. Though its features and frame bore strong resemblance to a human, it moved like an animal. Stalking through the graveyard, testing the air every couple of steps, the thing found its way to a grave, tunneled in, and, after a few minutes, reappeared, a bit of flesh still hanging from its mouth. It took a moment to refill the hole it had come through, then left.
My father returned to the psychic and told her what he’d found. She made a second potion for him, this one quite a bit more expensive, though not as foul smelling. At her directions he sprinkled it throughout the graveyard. The beast never returned.
I had known that part of the story for most of my life. The part that came next, my father waited to tell me until I was nearly a man.
Several months passed, and my father had begun to date the psychic. They were making plans to move in together. Then one evening, he stayed late to tend to one of the graves, and he heard something strange. An odd, mewling sound that seemed to come from underground.
He ignored it at first, finished what he was doing, and left. But a few days later he found himself in the same part of the cemetery, again late in the evening, and again he heard the sound.
Not certain what to do, he called the psychic. Together they hunted down the source of the noise, the grave of a woman who’d died about a year previous. Waiting until it was dark enough to evade detection, they dug up the grave and found me, playing with one of my mother’s ribs, a few feet away from where I’d gnawed my way out of her.
For the record, we don’t impregnate every corpse we fuck, just the women who are in the right part of their cycle when they die.
I can’t help but wonder if it would affect the female suicide rates, knowing that the younger they are when they die, the more likely their bodies are to suffer defilement at the hands of an inhuman monster. And the more likely they are to become, post mortem, the mother of an abomination.
Maybe I should make up brochures and pass them around college campuses.
Also, for the record, I haven’t screwed any corpses. Not yet, anyhow. Being raised by humans, I’ve adopted some of their codes of behavior. But sex is a violent thing for ghouls. Even if I could find a human willing to sleep with me, I’m not sure I could do it without killing her in the process, or at least horribly maiming her.
So I can’t sleep with living women, I won’t sleep with the dead, there are no females of my species, and the various creatures that go bump in the night think I’m disgusting. If I didn’t live fifteen minutes away from a brothel filled with truly monstrous hookers and catering to supernatural clientele, I’d never get laid.
The corpse which had inspired my violent expulsion of my assistant would have pushed my resolve farther than most. She was beautiful. Five foot five, give or take an inch, with creamy skin and jet black hair. She had full lips, firm breasts, and the body of a dancer. And she was dead. Beautifully dead. Still, and cold, not that odd, awkward warmth of the living, with its constant moving and pulsing. She was beautifully, quietly, dead.
I took all of these details in, but without the enjoyment I would normally have experienced. Any pleasure I might have felt was marred by the scent, the all too familiar scent of vampire.
She was recently turned. Very recently. I could still smell her sweat, and the lingering traces of a recently consumed meal. The undead don’t sweat, and they certainly don’t eat pizza. Unless I missed my guess, this was what the bloodsuckers would call her ‘first sleep.’ It was the rest she took immediately after she’d been turned, as her body changed.
And that was a very bad thing.
I’ve never gone out of my way to learn about vampires. As far as I’m concerned, the only really relevant details about them are their constant sense of self importance and the fact that they regularly find themselves with bodies that they need to dispose of. But we ran in the same circles, so from time to time I found myself stumbling over bits of information.
Newly made vampires wake from their first sleep in a state of madness. They are driven past the edge of sanity by an unspeakable hunger. Sometimes highly prized recruits are allowed to feed from their sire, who can handle the blood loss with little discomfort, but most are given a human to consume. And consume them they did: those feedings are inevitably fatal.
Which raised the possibility that somebody had put this vampire in my establishment with the hope of killing Percy.
The cadaver on the table in front of me stirred, probably reacting to the presence of a living breathing creature. I’d have to deal with her immediately and figure out the who, how and why later.
Her eyes shot open, and the naked girl turned her head in my direction.
“Well fuck,” I muttered.
Vampires claim superiority, not just over humans, over all of us. They claim to be the strongest, the smartest, the longest lived. All of their claims are supported by case studies, but like so many humans, they select their evidence as though they were buying groceries: they find what supports their beliefs, and ignore the shelves of data that contradict it.
The truth is that bloodsuckers become more powerful as they age, and as they claim more victims. That means that while a five century old vampire might be able to rip a human limb from limb, a newly made one is only marginally more powerful than they were before they were turned.
By human standards, her attack was viciously fast, but I caught the girl easily enough, pinning her up against the wall by her wrists. Unfortunately, what she lacked in strength, she made up for in crazy. Her feet slammed against my ribs, a dozen shots in a few brief seconds, and though I held her arms still, she was able to lean forward, snapping her jaw at me, a hair’s breadth from my face.
If vampires actually had fangs, hers would have cut me.
After less than half a minute, I’d had enough. I swung her around, slamming her face first into the wall while I wrapped my arms and legs around her limbs, locking her into immobility.
The naked girl squirmed, screaming so loud I was afraid the other corpses would begin to rise.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” I adjusted until I could pull one arm free without releasing any of her limbs. “Let’s see how hungry you really are.” I unhinged my jaw and used a tooth to make a jagged slit down my wrist, which I pressed to her mouth.
The bloods of other supernatural creatures are considered delicacies in vampire circles, and are often bought and sold like precious commodities. Depending on the rarity of the creature in question, and how flavorful they are considered to be, a vial of the right type of blood can go for a king’s ransom.
Given that rarity and flavor are the two most important factors, and that ghouls are one of the rarest of supernatural creatures, the fact that there is no interest in our blood as a commodity should be adequate to describe its flavor.
If it isn’t, then let me quote one of the few vampires I’ve ever met who actually did sample my blood. ‘It’s like someone mixed raw sewage with tar and added a few dashes of salt and ash.’
The young vampire sucked hard, pulled away, gagging, then leaned in and sucked again.
“Wow. I guess you really are hungry.”
Her body spasmed in what was clearly not pleasure, but she continued to suck at my wound.
It was an oddly intimate moment, pressed against her naked body. I realized suddenly that I was salivating. I fought the urge to sink my teeth into her delicate flesh.
The odd, and somewhat terrifying thing, was that I wasn’t sure if I was hungry or horny.
After a few minutes the girl released her grip on my arm and slumped. Whether she was exhausted, or if my blood was somehow incompatible with her and she had died, I wasn’t certain, but I didn’t see any reason to take a chance. She didn’t so much as twitch when I altered my grip on her and carried her into the walk in refrigerator. I backed out of the room, keeping a cautious eye on her prone form until the door clicked shut.
For obvious reasons, the door was designed so that it could be opened from the inside. I grabbed a cart and wedged it between the refrigerator door and the cabinet where I kept my work tools.
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