"Angela, I can't believe you're a vampire." Patty smiles from across the yellow laminate McDonald's table while her Big Mac cools and chocolate milk shake melts. Luckily she wasn't there when I nearly killed Dr. Gail and Linda. It's a long story so I'll try to shorten it up a bit.
Patty was in the kennel putting away Penny the six-month-old West Highland terrier who'd just woken up after being spayed when D'Ogie the black and white cocker spaniel going to sleep so he can have his teeth cleaned stopped breathing. Unfortunately, Deb had asked me to explain Sophie, a beagle, with pancreatitis take home medications. As a vet tech, it's part of my job description to do all sorts of stuff at the clinic like surgical assisting and dismissing patient. But there is only Patty and me; Linda's an awesome assistant but she just doesn't have the training.
I should have had Deb find Patty to dismiss Sophie and stayed with D'Ogie. It's not that uncommon for Deb to watch a patient while I spend two minutes away from them. It's better than leaving the dog or cat alone. Next thing I knew, Deb is screaming CODE BLUE at the top of her lungs, Dr. Gail is doing chest compressions and injecting drugs at warp speed while Linda is doing artificial respirations. I rush in and Deb collapsed into tears in the corner. I touched D'Ogie on the nose and he started breathing on his own. I'm sure it's a coincidence.
Dr. Gail looks up at me, her face switched from relief to angry in a split second. Linda and Dr. Gail both start laying into me as fast as words can fly from their lips. Linda had already accused me of not doing my job when I first walked through the door this morning. It totally ruined my good morning. I had finally gotten eight hours of undisturbed sleep. I wish I could say that the worst thing about working for Riverview Veterinary Hospital is the late night emergencies. No. It's the nightmares. And I've had them for almost ten years. Ever since I lost my memory.
My most common nightmare is the one where I'm a vampire (yeah, that's the theme of most of them) and I'm hunting. Sometimes I'm great big orange and black tiger hunting deer and other animals. They typically scare the crap out of me. I'm a vegetarian, no not a vegan, a vegetarian. There is a difference. So the last thing I want to do is harm a person. If it was only feeding, I think I could handle that. Oh no, these dreams are worse than watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Joe Bob Riggs would be proud. Sorry, back on topic.
Deb still cowered on the floor and Dr. Gail and Linda are letting all their pet peeves about me out full force. I had no idea they'd been holding so much in. And it flipped a switch. I got angry too. Only worse, much worse. My body felt like it was on fire, my heart raced and I couldn't get a word out to defend myself. I felt my arm rise up of it's own accord and I stepped forward, my hand wanting to grip Linda's throat and squeeze. I'd had enough. My fingers touched her soft warm flesh and I realized what I was doing.
I slump to the table and push away my own milkshake. I took one sip and spit it back out. "Don't remind me." My strawberry milkshake tasted nothing like the bag of cows blood Dr. Dean Jacobs handed after I'd ran out into the mid-morning sunlight in a cold February day. It didn't feel cold and it didn't feel like February. It felt like August. I ran into the dark room to escape. I sat there for a few minutes trying to calm my nerves and then it happened. My heart stopped. What have I forgotten? What happened to me ten years ago?
"Dean's a vamp and he's a good guy. And honestly, if Linda was in my face as much as she is in yours, I'd think about killing her too." Sometimes I hate it that Patty's so understanding. Yeah, I know there are good vampires and my boss is one of them. They wouldn't have risked going public if most of them weren't already upstanding citizens. Some of them haven't 'come out of the coffin' yet. Like witches come out of the broom closet, gay's just get a regular whatever closet. No, vampires are stuck with cliché. Coffins.
Listen to me, I'm already talking like one and despite having fangs for a decade, I'm still such a newbie at this. I'm lucky Dr. Dean Jacobs followed me a few minutes later. I was sitting on the floor in the dark room leaning against the washing machine trying to get my racing pulse from under control. My senses were going wild; I could smell every living animal and human in the building and hear their heartbeats and I wanted to eat them all. My dormant fangs chose that moment to reappear and my heartbeat vanished.
A knock on the door startled me off the floor and I found myself clinging to the ceiling. I scolded myself as I dropped back to the floor.
"What?" I asked.
"Are you alright?" He asked. The bathroom scene in Teen Wolf flashes through mind; the part were Scott first turns into a wolf. I can so relate right now.
"Are you kidding me?"
"Open the door. I know what you're going through." Dean says. At the time I didn't know I worked for a vampire. I knew vampires existed and that one of the local attorneys, Alexander Richards, is one.
"No, the light, it hurts."
"You didn't run outside did you?" Of course I did. They were predicting another 2-5 inches of snow today with overcast skies all day. I was running from the awful feeling I was experiencing.
"I panicked alright." I said with anger, mostly at myself. I reached up and unlocked the door.
I spent the next ten minutes drinking cows blood while listening to Dean tell me a he was expecting this to happen much sooner. The reason the hunger had been dormant is because I have a silver bullet in my skull thanks to Police Detective Russell Ford whom I killed before I lost consciousness and all of my memories.
I have a whole new set of worries besides second guessing myself when it comes to anesthesia dosages and x-ray machine settings. Now I get to worry that I'm the monster in my dreams. That thought just fills me with dread so deep my stomach feels like it in my toes.
Dr. Dean Jacobs has been my boss for the past seven years, is a good friend and frequent visitor in my nightmares. I'm trying to run away from my hunger, heading across the railroad tracks to the river and trying not to kill any more people when he stops me. He tries to convince me that I'm a good person and I'm strong enough to control the hunger. I look at him and see the blood coursing under his skin. I'm attacking him when I wake up.
"Did you know Alexander Richards is a vampire too? Dean says he's an elder. I wonder what that means." It probably means that if I do something wrong, he's the one who'll dole out my punishment. I know who Alexander Richards is. He's the local divorce attorney. Yeah, that's right, the one and only divorce attorney. So if you and your spouse decide to get divorced one of you gets to drive a minimum of sixty miles to find another. Don't ya just love small town life?
Riverview is in southwest Nebraska along the Republican River and twenty miles from the Kansas / Nebraska border. They say I grew up in this town but nobody claims to know me. I know it's all lies. When there are only two grocery stores and three fast food joints, you run across people you know all the time.
In fact when I first started working for Dean, some people wouldn't let me touch their pets and even request I leave the exam room. I still tried to be friendly. It eventually worked. I now have people that prefer to see me, let me take their patient history, do blood draws for heartworm tests, and nail trims. How are they gonna react now? I pound my head on the table.
"I'm going home," I sigh. I grab my dinner, the extra I'd bought for Brendan my boyfriend and my purse. At least somebody will eat it. I'm gonna have to take all my groceries to Brendan's since its obvious that I'm not eating anything solid and doesn't have anticoagulants in it, well, in for forever. The thing is, Brendan is a total meat guy. There is never anything green in his fridge and yet he somehow keeps a totally tasty body.
Patty grabs my hand. "Ya still doing Pilates with me tomorrow?" Pilates. It's what Patty got me into when I got really mad at Linda one day. It was a pretty good stress reliever. I'd have preferred something with a punching bag like Tae Kwon-do but there aren't any instructors within eighty miles. It's probably a good thing. I might have done something worse to Linda than try to strangle her.
Night fell as I walked out of McDonald's with my left-overs and Brendan's dinner. I can already smell the bags of cows' blood sitting in the seat of my red Nissan Frontier. My truck makes me smile. It has all the features I love: leather seats, 4 wheel drive, black interior, 6 disc cd changer, bucket seats and a super charger. It's got the super cab so the box is pretty short so whenever somebody asks about it, I call it my heavy breathing half-assed truck that is grand fun to drive.
It looks as if I've missed a spectacular sunset. There is still a hint of the pinkish orange color reflecting off the snow and the clouds above. This night feels different than any I recall before. Before, the night was just something to pass through until the sun came up again and I could go out and play in my free time. Now I feel connected to the night. This feeling of belonging is unlike anything I've experienced in the nine and a half years. The clinic, Brendan, they all feel a little like family but this is so much more. The darkness wraps around me like silk against bare skin, the stars and the moon above illuminate the shadows like the brief flash of lightning in a summer thunderstorm that highlights the sky from horizon to horizon. What I wouldn't give to sit out under the moon and watch the nature of the night until the sun came up.
I put my key in the door and turn the lock. Call me old fashioned but I hardly ever use the remote that came with the keys. I slide onto the cold black leather seat and marvel at the fact that I'm not shivering and think about my day.
I also needed several darkroom breaks so I wouldn't feed on the clients. Doc told me to take a week off. Linda nearly exploded when he told her then came to her senses when I ran for the darkroom again.
Working as a vet tech leads to lots of unexpected hours. There are the 3 am c-sections on pugs or poodles or whatever and hit-by-car's at any time day or night and hunting dog injuries in the fall among many more unexpected problems. I never have a dull day. At least we don't do cattle work.
I pull my cell phone off my hip and dial Brendan's cell number.
"Hey honey." I hear his DJ voice sounding pleased that I called. "How's your day been?" I sigh and smile at his welcoming voice. I'd hug him if we were together. If he ever decides to get out of the detective business, the man could easily go into radio.
"Fangs and Furry." It's my usual response but today he won't know how fangtabulous it was until I get a chance to explain. "Have you had dinner yet?"
"No and I doubt I'll find time either. I'm currently interviewing the witness of a homicide. But if you could pick something up I'll stop by and spend ten minutes with you." He's so sweet. Most likely he'll be shoving food in his face as quickly as he can in an effort to avoid the questions I tend to ask about the cases he works on. I love a good mystery. If it sounds like we're married, it's because we've been dating for the last 3 years. I'm afraid of marriage because of my unknown past. How do you give yourself to somebody when you don't know who you were? I try not to think about it and don't push.
"Okay. What are you hungry for?" Just the sound of his voice is the next best thing to curling up next to him and falling asleep.
"Actually not much. The corpse bled everywhere." Probably not the best thing he could have said. "Surprise me. I hate to say this but maybe something not red." My fangs drop and my stomach growls. I hope he didn't hear that. I reach into the passenger seat and fumble for a bag. My hands just don't seem to want to work right at the moment.
"I can do that." I say trying not to let my fangs make me sound as if I have a lisp but my voice changed to reflect the hunger he stimulated with the blood comment. If I can hear the hunger in it, I'm sure he can as well. I finally get the blood bag out of the sack but I'm on the phone and talking with a bag is more difficult than talking with fangs.
"Are you alright?" Sure, nothing a little blood won't cure, maybe a lot more than a little. My stomach growls again. Will this never end? One day and I feel like an addict you hear them tell stories about. Do they have interventions for vampires who refuse to drink?
"I'm fine. Really." Be nice to him I tell myself before he comes running to help and you'll find your fangs in his neck.
"Are you sure?" Hurry up so I can fang the bag damn-it. God, what's wrong with me?
"Yes. I'll explain later. I've gotta go. Good luck finding the killer." I smile in an effort to make my voice sound less stressed, less hungry, less desperate. He chuckles and hangs up. Good luck finding the killer is one movie quote we been hoping to use and wishing it would never happen. It's not very often we have a murder in Riverview.
I drop the phone on the seat beside me and had the bag in my mouth before the phone lights shut off. I feel the blood trickle down my chin and I barely catch it before it stains my shirt. I feel like an addict and I hate it. After a few swallows, my hunger subsides, my fangs retract but the world doesn't return to its usual darkness until the bag is completely empty. I look around to see the parking lot empty, the security lights on and the nearly full moon shining in the back window. My eyes could not leave the moon in all its blinding splendor. I pull myself away from the beauty of the night and start the engine.
I head home with my sunglasses on. It seems as though everybody has their headlights on bright. I think I'll give Dean some time with Sally before I interrupt their evening.
I walk up my cracked front walk and into the shadow along side my single bedroom little house that I rent. I look up to the moon and twinkling stars high above. The darkness envelopes me and I feel safe for the first time since I first tasted blood today. It feels like the shadows and darkness are wrapped around me like a blanket against the scary things that are so scary that they don't go bump in the night. They go bump anytime. And I'm one of them.
UPDATE 7/19/09 I've been working on grammar, spelling, and getting the plot line right, any comments on characters (motivation and emotions) would be greatly appreciated.