I was originally just going to post the first chapter of Demonica, but I've relented so here's the next chapter.
"Hey, Alex, look sharp." I snapped out of my tired trance, eyes wildly searching till they rested on the figure beside me. Mike, my colleague, scowled at me.
"Sutherland's watching you. If you don't keep up, you'll be out of a job."
"Sorry…I'm just tired." I rubbed my eyes and tried not to look at my watch.
"Being tired isn't an excuse, especially if you want to be sacked." He turned away to serve a customer.
Mike wasn't a harsh person. He just cared about the fact that I needed the money from this job, and that if he didn't push me I'd lose it.
I busied myself with clearing dirty glasses from the wood bench. The bar I worked in was a jungle of people, purple and white strobe lights splashing off their bodies. Cigarette smoke hung like a toxic cloud, drifting into my nostrils. It was tough to get the smell out of my clothes after each night. My ears identified the constant hum of conversation, loose words and shouts as others attempted to hear themselves over the pounding music. The air was rank with deodorant, perfume, sweat and drink. It was a relief once my shift-six till twelve-was over.
"Two Bacardi Breezer oranges." The voice took a while to grab my attention. A customer leaned at the bar, tapping their fingers impatiently. I looked over at Mike; he was busy dropping coins into the till.
"Yeah…just a moment." I reasserted an air of efficiency. The Breezers were in the fridge behind me. I fetched two and banged them on the bench. I bent down for a couple of clean glasses, my face flustered as I rose back up.
"Getting on alright, Vine?" Startled, I dropped the glasses by accident. They shattered on the floor instantly, and I felt my cheeks reddening.
"Shit". I said, through gritted teeth, forgetting who had just spoken to me.
"In my office. Now." Sutherland stared at me angrily. I'd sworn in front of him and customers, and broken his property.
"I'll take care of these." Mike had come over. His expression was grave. I'm screwed, I thought to myself as I followed my boss through a back door marked 'private'.
"What the hell was that?" He asked in a sharp tone that couldn't be called a shout, but contained the same amount of emotion.
"It was an accident…I apologise." I stammered, praying that he would spare me.
"Not the first accident." He expelled an exaggerated sigh. "I was patient to have held onto you this long. I gave you plenty of second chances."
"Please, I need this job-"
"Does that bring in customers? Look, I'm not a charity. Go. Just go, and don't make it nastier for yourself."
Despondency written all over my face, I trooped out. I plucked my coat off a wall peg and nodded to Mike as I passed. "Thanks for looking out for me." He shrugged in reply.
My breath rose in white plumes when I stepped outside of The Sunray. It was cold, even for February. The pale orb of the moon cowered behind a few frayed clouds, the stars seemingly nonexistent. I shook my head at the sky, memories of when I had flown on leathery wings flowing into my mind. Sometimes I missed the flying. I mean, the purpose of the ability to shape shift to bat form had been a curse, yes, but to actually become a different creature, and tame the air-that was a strange, almost wonderful thing. A few nights after the fall of the Under-earth, when I'd been cured, I'd tried to shape shift. Nothing happened. Not that I expected anything to happen. I guess I just had to check, so that my final link with my past was gone.
I drifted like a ghost through busy streets alive with people. I felt cut off from the rest of the world, unable to make contact with it. I hated what the vampire race had done to me. It had marred my life forever.
I reached a Thames embankment, staring at the quiet waters. Gentle waves lapped at the stone wall beneath me. Every now and then, a boat sliced along the river past me, a dozen intrusive lights imprinting on my eyes.
The water was so beautiful, so appealing…it called to me in sweeping washes, beckoning me. It was far more welcoming than the people around me, who were wrapped up in their own, undamaged lives, never appreciating what they had.
A part of me wanted to end it here. The jump wasn't too high, and the river would simply caress me with a hundred liquid arms, smothering me painlessly. But my strongest part knew that to give up on life would mean failing April. She would've wanted me to carry on living, and I had no doubt that she was in Heaven, watching over me every second.
"I know you want me to keep strong. It's just so hard." I whispered. I spoke to a phantom April a lot now. Somehow, it felt as if she listened. And that comforted me in a small way.
I yawned and turned away from the river. The two-roomed flat I rented wasn't too far away. I would be safe from my worries till the cruel morning came.