Alice slid through the small crowd in the kitchen. All she wanted was a Diet Pepsi but she couldn’t get to the fridge without being waylaid a half dozen times. She wished Mom and Dad’s friends would just leave her alone. She wanted nothing to do with them. They were freaky and ridiculous to the point where Alice would feel embarrassed for them if she didn’t hate them so much. It wouldn’t be long before Alice could escape all this and either go to college or simply move out and get some sort of job of her own. Whatever it would take to separate herself from them, that’s what she would do.
Alice didn’t remember when she first realized her parents were weird and not like other parents, but she had known since before she was five. It wasn’t like she’d had a lot of opportunity to compare her family with others at such a young age, but there had been enough interaction outside her house by then, even just going to the supermarket, for her to realize that things were very different with her mom and dad, and not in a good way.
Sure, Dad being a writer made him odd compared to the regular dads who went to the city for work each day, but Mom, being a nurse, should have been ordinary and she wasn’t. Ordinary moms didn’t wear dark eyeliner at night. They didn’t decorate their kitchens in wild candlelight and animal skins. And her parents’ friends were even weirder than her parents. It was not unusual for Alice to greet a man shrouded in studded leather and sporting multiple piercings when she answered the door. And Mom’s best friend, Sophie, wore dresses called caftans and wrapped her jet black hair in shiny turbans. An assortment of odd strangers would mingle with the familiar weirdos that congregated at Alice’s home on the weekends so that Alice, being seventeen now, felt almost tortured living there. Of course, she could never let any of her friends (like she had any) come over. No one could set eyes on these ridiculous adults.
Her dad, she was convinced, was crazy. He was way past eccentric, even for a writer. Her ludicrous dad believed he was a vampire. He didn’t broadcast this to people, thank god, but he certainly didn’t go to great lengths to hide it. Dad told Alice he had first come to accept that he was a vampire back when he was in middle school. Of course, he hadn’t started drinking blood then but he knew he needed it. By high school he had started to date girls who were willing to let him take their blood – enough to keep him going. Dark minded girls, confused girls, girls who were morbidly curious, there were many. But, he said, Mom wasn’t at all like them. Mom, being a nurse, was able to safely satisfy his blood thirst in a sensible way and she was willing and happy to do it. It grossed Alice out to imagine. She didn’t want to know the details but Dad had decided full disclosure would be a ‘bonding experience.’ A sterilized scalpel could make an effective incision into Mom’s flesh and Dad could feast.
Of course, Alice was familiar with vampire lore. She had seen the old black and white Dracula movies flicker across the screen at Halloween. And she’d caught a showing of Twilight late one evening. If Dad had been like either of those vampires, even the evil one, he wouldn’t have been so repulsive, but Dad was just Dad… flabby, old, and growing fragile. He was not vampire material. And the other so-called vampires who came over for the vampire-parties were no Edward Cullens either (or even Bela Lugosi). Some joked with her as if they were friendly uncles, others liked to stroke her shoulders or back with seemingly innocent affection. Either way, she wanted nothing to do with them. And their women came bearing odd casseroles or adult brownies or strange smelling concoctions to drink. Some of the women wore bras that made their boobs pour out over their shirts, others wore no bras and sported wildly sprawling gowns. Several might have been pretty if they would have washed the drastic makeup off their faces and let their hair grow a natural color. Many of them would offer Alice “womanly advice” like, “Don’t ever take up with a drinker, Alice. They’ll always love their bottle more than you,” or, “Pay attention to your school work because you’ll want to get a job where you don’t have to depend on a man.” Alice would nod and escape to her bedroom trying to forget these peoples’ very existence.
Tonight was just like so many of those weekend nights. Alice lay propped up on her bed eating pizza and reading, headphones covering her ears while she tried to drown out the sounds coming from downstairs. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Wasn’t she the one who should be having loud parties and her parents be up in the bedroom getting old and watching television? Alice threw her book across the room then, annoyed at herself, tore off her headphones and got up to go get it. A faint shadow outside her bedroom window caught her attention as she passed by. Great, now they’re doing things in the backyard too. That’s all we need, the neighbors calling the police.
Alice put her hand against the glass and peered out, trying to get a better look. As she did, a pair of glowing eyes turned and focused an intense stare in her direction. With a little gasp, she pulled away then shook her head and told herself she was being ridiculous. All her parents’ stuff was getting to her. Still, she hugged herself, rubbing her arms as she retrieved her book from the floor. She needed a drink, not the alcoholic kind (although there was plenty of that around and they wouldn’t stop her if she grabbed a beer or two), she just wanted another Diet Pepsi. She clomped down the stairs and headed for the kitchen.
Passing through the living room, Alice was a little shocked to notice that the usual rowdy folks were sitting very still and silent, just staring at each other, eyes blank. And in the kitchen, no one was talking, even Mom and Dad sat quietly. They didn’t look up at her, their gaze was unfocused and their hands lay on the table, unmoving.
Alice pulled the can from the fridge and popped it open. “Having fun?” she asked, and peered at them. “Mom?” She looked from her mom to her dad. “Dad?” No response. She reached out and snapped her fingers in front of their faces. Nothing. “What the heck?” She shook each of them. “Mom? Dad?” Her voice took on a frantic note. That’s when she noticed the pin pricks on their necks. Well, they weren’t exactly pin pricks. She looked closer. Were they? They were like the bite marks in the old vampire movies. Had one of these crazies gone around and bitten the other crazies? And if they did, was it some sort of disease they had spread, something that caused all of them to go into a coma like this?
Alice moved through the house trying to wake each of them, but every person sat unaffected and immobile. She wondered if she should call 9-1-1. But it would be so embarassing. How would she explain the whole vampire thing? She didn’t even know who some of these people were. Well… she knew most of them. They were old friends of her parents. There was Sophie, Dr. Thompson (the dentist), Chadwick (the grocery store guy), Daniel Lustig (a pretty famous writer), Orville Sands (hosptial administrator), she continued inventorying the guests in her head. Then there were about six folks whose names she didn’t know. Four of them seemed vaguely familiar and two were strangers.
She patted down the six, looking for IDs. If the men didn’t have them in their shirt pockets, she wasn’t going to check their pants. That’s where she drew the line. These guys could be creeps. Even stuck still like this, she didn’t trust them.
Everyone seemed extremely stiff except for one, the youngest one. He was almost good looking, dark hair, dark eyes, a shame someone so hot could be into this absurd stuff. What a loser. Once more, no ID. Well, she wasn’t going to go digging in pockets, even if the guy was cute.
She was heading back to the kitchen when she heard an intake of breath behind her. Spinning around she knew there was movement but just couldn’t tell where it was from. It was unnerving but the issue was fairly obvious as she peered around the room. All these folks were sitting there with ‘Son of Dracula’ marks on their necks. One of them had to be ‘Bela Lugosi.’ That was the only answer.
Alice turned and continued into the kitchen. She did what she had to do then began to check neck after neck after neck. She looked at each flabby scruff, nape, and bodice, then moved into the living room. She was ready to begin with those folks but there was no need. The handsome stranger was gone.
She should have guessed. Nobody like that ever came to her parents’ parties. “Shit.” She plopped onto the couch. “What now?” She supposed she had no choice but to call emergency services. Maybe they could pump all these people full of blood or something and bring them back to normal. But as she stood, he was on her.
“Damn,” she yelled at him, “I’m not involved with this crap. That’s my parents’ thing. I don’t do vampires!”
He ignored her, knocking her to the floor and beginning to descend upon her. Alice was not completely unprepared. She raised her arm and slid her hand back so that the blade of the butcher knife she had hidden in her sleeve could rise just as the monster threw himself down to bite her. It skewered him, exactly where Alice had aimed, and like in the movies, the vampire screeched then writhed. She pushed him off then watched as his red eyes widened. His body thrashed and grew skeletal then finally turned to dust and blew into nothingness even though there was no wind. All that was left was a knife lying on its side on the floor.
Alice caught her breath then heard the buzz of conversation all around. Her parents’ friends were talking and laughing as if nothing had happened. The bite marks were gone from their necks.
“Alice,” Dr. Thompson (the dentist) called, “what are you doing with that knife over there? That’s dangerous, girl.”
“She’s a wild child,” Sophie chimed in, laughing.
Alice shook her head, picked up the knife and went into the kitchen. The party continued on in there. Alice slid through the small crowd. All she wanted was that Diet Pepsi she had opened earlier but she couldn’t get to the counter where she had set it down. She was waylaid half a dozen times. She wished Mom and Dad’s friends would just leave her alone. She wanted nothing to do with them. They were freaky and ridiculous to the point where Alice would feel embarrassed for them if she didn’t hate them so much.
About the Author: Luann Lewis is a Chicago native who has had short stories, non-fiction, flash and poetry published in print and online as well as had flash performed professionally. She has facilitated numerous flash fiction classes and recently signed her first book contract.