Monday, May 3, 2010

Unwrecked

Author’s note: While eating dinner after work at Reuben’s Empanada’s on First Avenue in the East Village, I notice a young man and woman having a fairly intimate conversation, but speaking quite loudly. I’m not trying to listen in on them, but, I can’t help but overhear snippets of what they are saying due to the decibel level they’re speaking at.

Man: (playfully) So you wouldn’t sleep with me under any circumstances?

Woman: No!

Man: What if I was going to die unless we had sex?

Woman: (sheepishly) Well, then, I guess. Yeah, I would then.

I’ve heard people ask questions like this to platonic friends before. A woman I knew even asked me something similar once.

But it’s ludicrous. How exactly would a circumstance like this arise? It’s a ridiculous concept that one person could die unless another would reluctantly agree to intercourse with them. Still, if this situation would exist, how would human beings react? It violates so many of the taboos of our current Zeitgeist.

I start walking home, and pass the Tile Bar, once my frequent haunt. No one I know goes there anymore. My mind wanders to the many little cliques and circles of friends I’ve seen float around over the years, and circulated near, and the interplays between the members of each. I become intellectually curious about the strange parallel world the man at Rueben’s proposed to his friend, and a strange tale begins to be borne in my head. I find the story writing itself, and even then, in a strange first person present tense dialogue like an old hardboiled detective story:

While my non-fiction work is being edited, and Ophelia book III comes along in dribs and drabs, ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you a short short story to explore a subject we so often avoid. Let fantastical characters pull back the veneer of our collective unconscious. Dedicated to all my dear friends in Newcastle, England area…. I give you this humble submission:

Unwrecked

Headache.

It‘s definitely a headache. I remember them well, but, how could I be experiencing pain? I open my eyes, and see I’m strapped to a gurney, still fully dressed, and an IV is in my arm.

Soma. The only thing that will give a vampire a headache is a massive dose of Soma. The last time I was in a place like this was right after I was turned. Fuck… I must’ve gone berserk. But how did I?

Now I remember. Andy. He put human blood in my drink. If you drink human blood it will block the effects of Soma. And then I remember why he did it. He wanted me to go crazy, so that I would bite him, and turn him. He thought being a vampire would be a fate better than the one which was coming for him.

Did I turn him, or hurt him? Or Hurt Lisa? Shit… right before I lost my rational mind Andy had Lisa tied to that chair. And if I didn’t hurt Andy, what if that thing got to him?

I think I remember someone else in the room, tackling Andy after it threw me out of a window, while Lisa was still tied in that chair.

Supposedly, Succubae and Incubi were even stronger than vampires. If my half lucid memory of being thrown six stories down onto East Sixth Street like a rag doll was correct, then they were definitely stronger than us. A lot stronger.

If that thing had its way with Andy, the first thing he would have done after he transformed would be to mark the first female he found. And that would’ve been Lisa. Then he would’ve come back for her three days later.

Wait. She must’ve gotten unmarked by now. I mean, she’s Lisa after all. How hard could it be for her to get unmarked if her life depended on it?

Unless…. I remember being thrown back against a wall by that thing, before it picked me up again and tossed me out the window. I think it threw me into Lisa. If she wasn’t up and around, then she couldn’t get unmarked.

I snap back to the present. I tug at the restraints, and clearly whoever put these on me hadn’t counted on me waking up so soon. Vampires are usually out for days with a heavy Soma dose. I’m able to break them with ease.

I run through a few corridors, and find a stairwell, and run out the back through the emergency exit. The damn sun is still out, albeit low in the sky. Not enough to kill me, but enough to hurt like a bitch. Twice in one day I get to experience pain. A rarity for a vampire.

I find an alley to dart into, and some shade.

I realize I need a phone, and some metrosexual douche happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I hit him with a good sucker punch, which with my enhanced strength easily knocks him out.

I search through the dude’s pockets, and find one of those touch screen phones.

“Sorry fella”, I say to him. He’ll be out cold for awhile, but he’ll be all right.

The phone tells me it’s the 23rd. I’ve been out for three days. If Andy is an Incubus now, and marked Lisa, he’ll becoming for her tonight.

I dial Lisa, and a Verizon recording tells me her number is temporarily disconnected. Same thing with Andy. I try Kate next.

She answers.

“Hello?”, she says.

“Kate, it’s Owen”, I say.

“What number are you calling me from?”, she asks.

“I stole some guy’s phone”, I reply.

“You stole someone’s phone?”, she asks.

“Where’s Lisa?”, I interrupt her emphatically.

“You and Andy have both been missing for three days, and Lisa is hospitalized with head trauma after they found her in his apartment, and you think I should just tell you where she is”, Kate says flabbergasted.

“You just told me where she is”, I reply, “Just tell me which hospital now”.

“I’m calling the cops”, she says.

“I didn’t hurt either of them. A Succubus came for Andy”, I tell her.

“What?”, she asks

“He was marked Katie”, I tell her.

“Nolan was marked”, she says.

“I know”, I say, “And you slept with him to unmark him. But Andy got marked too, the same night as Nolan. He went to Lisa to get unmarked, and she wouldn’t do it. He had me over to his house to ask me to turn him. He thought being a vampire would be better than that thing coming for him. He put human blood in my drink to try to block my Soma treatment, but it didn’t totally berserk me. I think the Succubus got him, and if it got him, after he came to, he would’ve marked Lisa. It’s three days. If he’s an Incubus, he’ll come for her tonight. And the hospital wouldn’t have checked if she was marked”.

“I’m still calling the cops”, she said.

“Kate, the cops don’t try to fight those things, they don’t have the resources. All they’ll do is put Lisa out in the street so there’s no property damage”, I say.

She knows I’m right.

“They say nothing can stop them, not even vampires”, she says.

“You have a better idea?”, I ask.

“Lisa’s in Pelham General, room 214”, she concedes.

I hang up the phone, not knowing what to say next.

I probably can’t stop him, this thing that was Andy, from hurting Lisa. If she gets turned, she can’t mark me. Vampires are immune. And if I try to get in Andy’s way, it’s not like he’s going to have a stake, or even still retain enough of his rational mind to use it if he does. But they say there is a way to kill vampires besides stakes through the heart or direct sunlight. Supposedly the government did tests and found that incredibly extreme physical trauma all over the whole body can kill a vampire. And a pummeling from an Incubus that a vampire got by being in the way of it and its mark might just do the trick.

If I’m going to get to Pelham in time, I’m going to have to fly. I was never good at flying, and there’s still a tinge of daylight in the air. I bump into buildings, and look like a drunken goth Superman stumbling over the rooftops.

How the hell did I get here?

I started going to that damn bar for one. Back when I was human, I needed a drink or two after work sometimes. I started to know the regulars, and then I made the acquaintance of the Fab Five, as I called them.

Three woman and two men. There was Nolan, a sort of relaxed Alpha mail, sophisticated and sarcastic. I had a lot of good conversations with him over the years about pop culture. Then there was Kate, a spunky little wise ass whose ethnicity you could never place. Everyone thought she and Nolan were an item, but, they insisted they weren’t. There was Gina, who seemed to have a new man every week. Rounding it out were Andy, a kind hearted but meek little dude doing his best to fight the middle age spread, and Lisa. Lisa was an incredibly beautiful woman, but there seemed to almost be nothing sexual about her. Everybody at the bar knew Andy was in love with her. She was oblivious, but, probably would have rejected him if she knew.

I never breeched their inner circle, but, I did become friends with them all. More than any of the other regulars at the bar. After I changed, they were among the few who accepted me as if I was still… well…. A human.

That’s the other part of how I got here. When monsters that belonged in movies started coming out of the shadows and into the real world. Nobody knows how it started.

Werewolves started showing up in the Midwest. They were the first supernatural creatures the government confirmed the existence of. They never made it to the city.

Vampires did though. I found that out the hard way when I got thrilled by some girl at a club. I thought I was going to get laid. Instead, I got bitten. Luckily for me, I was one of the later victims to be turned vampiric. By then, the government had found Soma.

If you took your Soma injections, your bloodlust would go away, and you would retain your human mind. I missed sex, and food, and the sun. Pleasure was only an intellectual concept to me now. I eventually started going back to the bar. Of course, three shots of whisky in ten minutes would only buy me a fifteen minute buzz. The vampire physiology sobered me up to fast. But I liked going to the bar, and talking to the five almost made me feel…. Human. Eventually, the bartenders even got used to me shooting up Soma at the bar. One sort of questioned me once, but, I pointed her to the mirror and when she saw I had no reflection, she knew immediately what I was doing.

But the most fearsome creatures were the Succubae and the Incubi. Like the first vampires or werewolves, nobody knew where they came from. They too, had been human once, but no more. They retained no rational intelligence. They were sexual monsters. The Succubus was the female, and the incubus was the male. They were incredibly powerful. The army couldn’t stop them. The government didn’t bother to do anything about them anymore. They couldn’t be hurt by material weapons.

The only thing Uncle Sam did was a public awareness campaign that if someone you knew got marked, you should unmark them. Even if you weren’t attracted to the person, or even if you were in a relationship. The government never made it a law mind you.

That was how the Incubus and the Succubus worked. They scratched you and placed a mark on you. Then, like a venomous snake, they left you alone for three days. After that, they would come back for you, and force themselves on you, draining the very humanity from you in the process. You yourself would then become a Succubus or Incubus.

There was a way out though. There was a way to remove the mark. You had to have sex with someone you truly loved. That was the catch though. You couldn’t hire a hooker, unless you loved the hooker. Lots of people who got marked were married or in relationships. For them, it was no big deal. Their significant other just did the nasty with them, the mark was gone, and the creature would never come for them. Other people convinced people they loved who didn’t love them back to have sex with them, as a matter of life or death.

But then, there were the Unwrecked. I don’t know where the word came from. I guess it referred to those who had Unrequited love for another, and then got marked. There were some people who wouldn’t do it for others, even if it meant the other person would die. It happened more often than you’d think it would. Hell, that’s why the Succubae and Incubi could reproduce at all. And the rules were specific, while the person didn’t have to love you back, you needed to love them, and you couldn’t force yourself on them. It was the only way to remove the mark. So, for those unlucky few who couldn’t find anyone to pity fuck them even if it meant there life depended on it, the creature that marked them would get them and ‘wreck’ them. Only you didn’t die. You became one of the creatures.

Unrequited. Wrecked. The unlucky men and women in this category who could only wait three days for their doom became known as Unwrecked.

Nolan got marked by one. But he guilted Kate into sleeping with him, and so he got unmarked. The whole Succubus and Incubus thing wasn’t really big on my radar. As a dead creature, the Succubae and Incubi were not interested in vampires. We were already nonhuman. And we couldn’t unmark humans even if we wanted to since the dead can’t have sex.

There was some gossip at the bar about what happened to Nolan.

One night I got a desperate call from Andy. The sun wasn’t quite down, but he insisted I stick to the shade and come to his apartment immediately.

When I arrived there I found him agitated.

“Do you want a drink?”, he asked.

“Sure”, I said.

He handed me a Powers Rocks. I drank it out of habit, mostly, as it’s effect on me would be minimal.

It tasted off, but, he continued.

“I was marked”, he said.

“Oh my god”, I replied.

“The same night as Nolan”, he said.

“Andy, that means, that thing will be coming for you tonight!”, I said.

He began to tear up.

“I asked Lisa to help me, like Kate did for Nolan, but, she wouldn’t”, he said both sad and angrily, “My life means that little to her that one awkward moment is worse than me dying to her”.

“I’m sorry”, I said.

“I didn’t ask you here for pity I need your help”, he said.

“Andy, I’m not gay and vampires can’t have sex. I couldn’t unmark you if I wanted to”, I replied.

I tried to get up, but, I felt woozy.

“No”, he said, “You can put humans in a trance. Put Lisa in a trance. Make her help me”

“I won’t do that”, I said, “Besides, I can’t put a human in a trance on Soma, and I wouldn’t do that anyway”.

“Then turn me!”, he said.

“What?”, I asked.

“That thing will be back for me tonight!”, he said, “But they aren’t interested in vampires! I’ll go on Soma, like you!”.

“Soma doesn’t work on everybody, I’m so sorry but… if I changed you… and you killed people…. I’d be responsible”, I said through a fog.

I knew at this point I knew something was wrong. He opened the door to his bedroom, and there was Lisa. He had her duct taped to a chair and her mouth gagged so she couldn’t speak.

“I brought her here in case you’d agree to the trance. But I knew you wouldn’t”, he said.

He now held up his bandaged hand. I knew why I felt wrong. He had put his own blood in my drink. Blood could interfere with Soma. Even as I looked at him and Lisa, the desire to feed began to assert itself.

“You idiot”, I said, “You have two monsters to contend with now”.

But before I could do anything else, through his picture window burst a caricature of a woman. It was grotesque, with slimy skin and no mouth. It had large black eyes, and huge clawed hands. And angry red opening gaped between it’s legs.

This was a Succubus.

I had heard they were stronger than vampires. I put myself between the thing and Andy, but it threw me hard, and into Lisa. I heard something crack as I hit her. It picked me up again, and threw me ut the window I had come in.

It wouldn’t have been interested in Lisa. Or me after it got me out of the way. It had come for Andy. But after it changed him into an Incubus, he would mark Lisa and come back for her three days later.

Lisa was vivacious, bubbly, and gorgeous. Getting unmarked would normally have not been an issue for her, but, if she was out cold in a hospital bed, that was another story. I must’ve wandered around and been taken to a Soma Treatment Facility by the Vampire Control Agents after I was thrown out that window.

It’s dark when I get to Pelham. I find Lisa in her room. I need to pull her covers off and examine her. Her body is gorgeous, but to me only appreciable in an artistic sense now. On her upper shoulder, I find the mark.

She seems to rouse slightly for a moment, then sinks back into slumber from the pain meds.

I couldn’t unmark her of course, being dead. The only thing I can do is try to physically fight the Incubus that had been Andy when it comes.

I don’t have to wait long. He is even more hideous than the Succubus that changed him. I remember the rumors I’ve heard incredible physical trauma can kill a vampire. I realize I’ll probably find this out in a few seconds.

I place myself between the thing and it’s mark.

“Hello Andy”, I say with both sadness and fear.

As it grabs me all the thing that was Andy can do is roar a scream of inhuman rage.

2 comments:

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