Stretching out, I felt my body snap and crackle to awareness. I'd say life but that would be a misstatement of my reality. I hadn't chosen my current state of affairs but it was ironically the result of an affair. My mother always told me I would be damned -- and damned if the old witch hadn't been right. She hadn't actually cursed me per se but I often mused that she'd been forewarned about me and hadn't bothered to let me know. I wasn't able to change my path even back then, but I wasn't great about listening to my elders growing up when I had. Another little bit that definitely spun around to grab my ass -- fangs-deep, as it were.
Here's where I could whine and complain about how I'd been raised by wolves or some other claptrap, but in actuality I didn't have anything or anyone to blame but my own little self. Nope, not misunderstood or misguided but willful and cursed by my actions and lack of self-preservation. Not one iota of sense could be tramp-stamped on my skin, even if I was one to ink. I hadn't been tattooed before the transformation and from what I knew, not able to since that dark little event. Pre-existing conditions as it were went only skin deep. Books, television, and movies didn't come close to traumatizing kids in my worldview. Twisted and shadowy were the prettiest words I'd use and still be miles from what was dancing in the night. We children of the night were anything but that -- children or confined to the hours after dusk. Hells half acres daylight wasn't pretty, but it was doable for me and plenty of others.
Feeling for the remote control once I plopped onto the couch, I flipped on the local news to see how bad it was. I mean if it wasn't captured on a cell camera or one of the other visual electronic devices readily available embedded in ATMs, cars, and storefront to the muddled masses -- not to mention the damned Ring and Nest home recording doorbell devices spawned in CostCo, Walmart, and delivered easily by Amazon -- I very well might be in the clear. Focusing, I watched the 55-inch television screen and waited, not bothering to hold my breath, again not something we really had to do.
The local news opened with the prerequisite pretty blonde anchor who batted her lashes, properly glued to an unnatural length, and breathlessly burst out with, "Three bodies were discovered strewn around a neighborhood playground," she took a deep breath and her implants defied gravity as she exhaled as if shocked by what she was about to impart -- not that her Botoxed features allowed for any expression except for that slightly naïve pout that didn't cause more lines -- "What happened there, Vivian?"
Camera cut from the news desk to a dark-haired, tall but curvy woman standing in front of a few green bushes and rather large pines that I vaguely recognized. Not because I was big on botany, but because my mind was racing through my scattered memories of my evening and the local Torrey Pines trees were utterly a big deal. The neighborhood park wasn't inside the protected state park reserve that was endangered, rather closely monitored along the coast, but within a few miles from the bluffs and cliffs. The oddly misshapen pines were easily identifiable and supposedly rare, but the wild overgrown hillside serving as a backdrop for the story left me suspicious of that piece of alleged fact. I'd seen tons of those sharply needled pines during my time in Southern California. My eyes immediately jumped to a spot four feet above the reporter being filmed. Yup, I could see bits of human flesh dangling that apparently nobody else had noticed yet. I was pretty sure I'd been there just a half dozen hours ago deep in the night. Fog and shadows created the best haunting desperate backdrop for my little fun. Well, fun for me at least -- not so much for those I hunted. In my defense it had been extremely foggy last night.
Someone else had been watching the live broadcast as carefully as me because I watched Vivian put her left hand to her ear obviously listening to someone unseen and she went pale before jumping up half a foot into the air and frantically moving out of the frame. The cameraman actually was skilled and had swung around keeping her in the camera frame while a bit of Bob, I think that was his name, fell from the sky missing a now green Vivian. Damn entertaining. The studio manager, I quickly concluded, was a wuss because the picture went black and then cut back to the studio where the male anchor, Trevor Someone, if I was not mistaken, a fact then confirmed by the white letters quickly scrolling beneath the station's logo, was busy rustling faux paperwork in front of him on the glassy desktop. I couldn't see any actual writing on the pages, but my large screen and good vision gave me an advantage denied most of the viewers. Damn entertaining television; I wanted a bowl of popcorn to munch.
"Sorry, we just had some technical difficulties. We'll get back to Vivian, in the field, as soon as that gets fixed." His hair was a nice steel gray and with his bright blue eyes he looked like he sincerely gave a fuck about that little green gal who was probably busy puking out her early morning smoothie breakfast into the native chaparral. Decisively tapping the pages in front of him he automatically found the camera with a red light and took a deep breath, and meeting the viewers' direct gaze said, "Bodies were found by a local jogger just after daybreak. Police have closed off the area while they access the problem, and please stay tuned for more breaking news." And that was all he did, without actually adding anything to the story I noticed, and then he nodded somewhat reassuringly while the station went to a plethora of commercials.
Flipping to another station, as I was pretty irritated by the lack of actual news, didn't yield anything different than bodies found and all touted they had exclusive 'breaking news' to soon follow. Nothing followed but half-assed weather predictions along with low lights from the previous night's sports teams' failures. A few more faces fumbled with the lack of actual facts, trying to keep their share of the viewers glued to their newscast. I muted the sound while snatching up my cell phone. I happily discovered that I actually had a fully charged toy -- not a guarantee in my little slice of the world -- and started searching online to see if there was any real news not being captured by the locals. Nope, not a single fact, just a list of the various roads shut down and the promise of a story at the top of the hour. Not that any hour was specified, but I knew numerous human fools would stay tuned.
Sighing, I clicked on my email icon and saw there were quite a few unopened pieces for me. No spam in my inbox, but a few heavily punctuated and capitalized items with my current name the focus of the unopened items. My eyes went quickly to the times and senders and a chill ran down my spine. Oh yeah, this wasn't going to be pretty. Given my history -- I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.
The first one was from Jason to Bethany (the current me) subject line "OMG are you totally nuts?" And that was the nicest from what I could see of the choices currently available; like I'd said there were lots of swear words on the subject lines of my unopened missives. As I was pondering which, if any, would I read, four more emails popped up with even more caps and different senders. What a way to start a Sunday. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.
I'd gotten up from the couch to get my phone once the television didn't provide any real information so looking at all my freshly minted emails with another deep sigh, I flopped onto the overstuffed chair I currently favored as my nesting spot and I brought up Jason's email first. The initial paragraph illustrated the lack of education that particular creature wasn't able to hide with icons and capital letters. Damn, the man was stupid before he was turned, and the passing decades hadn't helped his education in the least, but truth be told, he really had the survival instincts of a cockroach.
Please, Bethany, tell me this isn't like your craft?
I mean are you fucking nuts? [there was the swear word he'd avoided in his subject line, maybe he wasn't totally stupid -- yeah, no, who was I kidding? There were a bunch of stupid frowny faces and some other of those emoji things I hadn't a clue what they meant in current pop culture and no desire to waste any time researching. Give humans a minute, and it would all change; I knew that very well.
The council will have your oh so sassy head on a platter for sure this time. There's totes like talk they are sending in a fucking specialist to clean up the coast. Seriously that's what they are calling the latest sanctioned torch and burn a 'coastal cleanup' heading West like we are just fucking pieces of trash to be picked up by tourists and the grey hairs.
Bitch, you hit me back the second you can. No, fuck that. Burn your phone and meet me at the Park tonight. Totes obvi your phone's gonna to be tapped harder than the hookers hanging out on B Street. Jason Shrugging my shoulders, I looked at my cell in disgust. Jason wasn't big on favors or sharing unless there was something in it for his ass. I knew my cell phone wasn't easily hacked, but wasn't stupid enough to ignore his warning. Damn it all, I just got my apps perfect. I really hated changing phones. Not bothering to read any more emails or online news I walked into the kitchen and stuck my tainted cell into the microwave on a Pyrex dish designed for those quick meals humans were too lazy to cook. A couple jabs at the buttons turned the cell into little more than black remains of lifeless lumps of dead electronics bits and useless pieces. I noticed that it didn't exactly do much for the microwave either.
Oh yeah, and thankfully in my home, the scattered cream-colored plastic inactive alarms were just for show, it was not like I actually would have had any real alarms functioning in my world. I shook my head at that idea. Those pesky devices tended to phone home quickly to fire departments and other interfering humans, and with my merry band of misfits and miscreants interacting in and out of my evenings, it was not certainly advised. Swearing, I clawed the plug free from the wall and dealt with the mess I'd created. Black smoke poured out of the micro with a thick passion scented with plastic and fried metal, that wasn't good, but at least no shrill screams from the fire alarms. Yanking the fire extinguisher out from beneath the kitchen sink I pulled the pin and foamed away the flames. Crap, I had really jumped the shark on this one. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought ... As if mocking me, the now totally crispy phone snapped and sparked inside the microwave, semi-animated by the foam covering its shell. Shaking my head, I tossed the nearly empty canister into the sink and mentally added 'new fire extinguisher' to a quickly growing shopping list. The microwave was also history -- not designed for cooking cells, go figure, right?
My head was throbbing from the nasty air quality, and the rather sharp memory of my fingers tearing at the flesh of good old Bob and his companions. Memories were pushing at me even while I struggled to become fully wake. Yep, this wasn't going to be something easily ignored. Not having a current Master was probably the largest issue I needed to fix first. Never did my life go as planned, so what I claimed as first rarely got completed in a timely manner. Hell, that's part of why I didn't have a current Master -- that and lack of any real interest -- but with an execution squad heading out, I really needed to fix that item sooner rather than later.
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