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7.6% Blood & Juniper (A Vampire Tale) / Chapter 7: Unrecognized (Part 1)

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Chapter 7: Unrecognized (Part 1)

Accounts of Ashlen, First night of Fall, year 2017.

I can see the end of the beaten path, lamp posts dazzling in streams, marking the way out. The trail spits me out pretty close to my apartment. I'd never realized I live so close by, I should really get out more.

I immediately recognize the small mom and pop shop that always closes early in the evening. I make my way down the empty, hushed streets seeing the glow of the sign for Gus's Gas Station in the distance. It's my Star of David for locating my humble abode, being just kitty corner of my small studio apartment, right under the Chinese takeout place. That place is my usual go too whenever I'm too lazy to cook, which is pretty much all the time. So much I'm almost sick of Chinese food, *almost*.

This small, underpopulated part of the town has a different feel from the woods. It doesn't seem to breathe life and spirit, it's more like a haunting painting on the wall of an abandoned house. Making one feel uneasy and out of place, but also intrigued with it's strange secrets.

I can smell the past wafting of cement where thousands walked. The shadows are harsher here with sharp edges in between alleyways and the looming gray buildings. It gives off a sensation of uncertainty, like being watched.

Staring into the bulb of a gangly street lamp, I'm mesmerized with how it's light appears to be in a battle with the dark, dueling with it's illuminated daggers. It stabs in deadly jabs rather than dancing in harmonious sway with its black counterpart.

I continue to examine my little corner of town I had become so familiar with over the months. It has transformed into something almost unrecognizable.

Advancing to my apartment engrossed in the endless stream of new sensations being offered, I'm almost distracted by the most ordinary things, like cracks in the cement and the interesting sounds that bounce off the walls of brick and payment.

The forest was comparable to a conversation between close friends and family but this low traffic area is strangers whispering and gossiping as they sneak stares your way.

I watch the live-wire fluorescent sign of Wild Lotus, that Chinese cafe I'd constantly pour money into, wiggling and squirming as it tries to be free from it's cylindric, glass cage. The orange lines radiating like hellish coals. I never imagined my boring little corner could be so fascinating and dynamic!

Out of nowhere I'm sucker punched by an overpowering scent. A wave of delectable aroma hits me hard in the face, and it isn't the Chinese food. I'm nearly drooling and that ferocious need grows rapidly. The perfume pairs with a delicious rhythm making it too unbearable to stay away.

I feel pressure in my eyes as they dart in the direction of that agonizingly appetizing sound. Clamping down on my nagging teeth, I try to think through the haze. I must have whatever that freakishly enticing *thing* is.

I hone in on the repetitive tune, stalking the smell like a visible trail to the lone car parked next to the gas station pump. I'm nearly floating to it, hardly aware of my automatic strides. The anticipation makes me ache but euphoric knowing it will be mine soon enough.

I bite my lip thinking about sinking my teeth deep into that heavenly meal. My teeth seem to be sharper and more lengthy, stabbing into my lower lip. I ease up, I must be biting down too hard.

I creep closer, hunting down the tempting odor, almost there.

Ba-Dah Ba-Dah Ba-Dah

Soothing like waves on a beach but invigorating as a deep bass beat at a club you can feel rumble your bones. Filling me up with the low beats, drawing me in with the highs and driving me absolutely mad.

*Clank!*

My eyes flick over to the large pumping station as it shakes, shuddering to a stop. A man leaning on the wall of the machine strolls forward to retrieve the hoes. It's *him*! He's the overpowering, mouth-watering scent, the irresistible pulsing.

I come to a screeching halt and the action is abnormally difficult.

I want nothing more than to pounce on him like a predator to prey. My body fights me, screaming at me to jump his bones and rip him apart, dig my way to his crunchy center like a Tootsie pop.

I find I'm no longer locked in place as I see myself sprinting for him thinking about how many licks it will take. My body is yearning, squirming just to get one taste.

I *need* him. I must have him.

''NO!' I scream inwardly, skidding on my heels and throwing myself into a crouch, squeezing my eyes tight. I dig my fingers into the asphalt which surprisingly gives way under the tips.

I hear him step over to click the handle of the hoes, dropping it into place.

'My prey is getting away!' I mourn the thought, tense and utterly distraught. Half of me jerks in his direction and the other digs my finger tips deeper into the road.

'NO!' I demand, remembering the doe. It's one thing if it's a wild animal but I'm not going to kill an actual person. 'Why is it taking him so damn long to get in his car!'

'Maybe I'll just have a little bit, I would never kill someone. Just... one.... bite...' I convince myself. His blood is pounding in my ears, his musk burning throat with it's obvious emptiness. I feel my fingers ease and I'm ready to dart over.

The car door opens, 'He won't get away!' I launch myself off the ground speeding at him now. I see myself drowning gloriously in his rich innards. 'Every drop...'

That snaps me back to my better half. I know all too well, I won't stop. There's something in me that doesn't care if he lives or dies, it just wants his blood at all costs and I'm not going along with that!

'I'm in control! I won't do it!' I command in my head. I steer myself away from the guy, slamming into the back pumping station wall. The material shudders as I dent the metal coating the machine, making the aluminum cover sound off with a metallic pop.

Even being on the opposite side of the machine I feel the man jump in alarm, hear him sucks air through his mouth in a rough gasp. The car keys ting like a dinner bell as they drop on the pavement.

I squeeze my eyes shut, grinding my teeth together but it doesn't help. I hear his heart ramping to an extreme pounding. I want to scream, smashing a palm on each ear. No sound should be so glorious and so intolerable all at once. I feel the rapid thumping vibrating through my entire being and I yearn for it.

I freeze, locking myself in place, knowing if I move an inch, that guy is done for.

The seconds drag by painfully slow. I smell fear on him mixing in with his delectable life force. It's all too exciting, so I hold my breath. My muscles convulse as that *need* rages like a fire that's impossible to snuff out.

'Get in and leave. Get in and leave.' I chant over and over in my head trying to distract myself from the torment of not glutting on his sweet liveliness.

"Hey!" The man barks defensively with mock intimidation.

'Don't be stupid, just leave!' I beg him internally, my hands are crushing into the sides of my head so hard it hurts, but it barely holds a candle to what that incessant heartbeat is doing to my sanity.

His heart is throbbing, roaring like a furnace. I can see and feel the lively aura with my eyes shut. It feels like I'm slowing dying, as if my body is crushing in on itself all because I'm not guzzling down on that fluid pouring through his veins!

I don't know how much longer I can hold out, I'm losing to this unbridled urge.

It's as if the man is stuck in slow motion, I hear the keys scrape on the ground as he stoops over to pick them up. I want to cry out from misery and frustration! Why can't he just go? Damn him!

Ba-DAHH Ba-DAHH Ba-DAHH

It's calling out to me like a siren's song, reaching for me with open arms. Hooking metal chains under my skin and pulling me. The beat, rapid and strong.

My eyes reel in despair and tears roll forward. I plead silently to whoever is listening to make him drive away. I can't take one more second of this!

The tighter I attempt to hold that failing willpower the quicker it seems to slip.


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