Blood Trouble

by Shelagh Smith © 2001

"Good evening. I vould like to buy two pints of blood please."

Damn! There it is, the accent of my homeland creeping back into my speech. You would think two centuries would erudite it from my manner.

You'd be wrong.

Fortunately for me, the receptionist at the counter doesn't appear to notice. But then in America, accents are everywhere.

"Huh?"

The human behind the counter looks up. A middle aged man his chin shows evidence of stubble, as if he has not shaved for several days. He looks at me with dull eyes. Not a very appetizing specimen of humanity. I repeat my request.

"Oh," the man glances around the desk until a stack of Post-it notes catches his eye. Removing a pen from his shirt pocket he jots down something on the top Post it note then glances up at me expectantly.

"What organization do you work for?"

"Organization?" Perhaps I have missed something. The man looks irritated at having to explain. "We only donate blood to hospitals and relief organizations, Mr..."

"Count," I fill in for him, "Count Dracula." The man opens his mouth, then closes it again.

"Organization?" He says at last.

"I work for the red Cross."

If the human recognizes the irony, he doesn't show it.

"Papers?" he asks instead

I let out a short sigh. So many rules and regulations. If I knew it would be this difficult to obtain what I needed, I never would have come here. Visions of snapping this man's neck like a new pencil rise into my brain. With an effort I discard them. I have to keep a low profile. Having gone though six countries in as many months, I hope to stay here longer than that. No matter how much questions irritate me when I'm low on blood. I gaze at the man's neck longingly. So hungry...

A door closes somewhere in the building and I reluctantly remove my gaze from the man's neck, sensing rather than seeing another human enter the room. A small shriveled man with white hair, he approaches from back of the room, leaning slightly on a cane. Despite his age, he seems alert, and I am instantly on guard against this new threat.

"Frank. What seems to be the problem?"

Frank actually jumps before turning around. I allow a faint smile to cross my features; even when not at full power my senses are far greater than those of these puny humans.

"This- this customer. He wishes to pick up some blood but he is unable to show me the papers from his organization."

The old man raises one bushy eyebrow. "Is that so? Come right this way, I'll see what I can do. Frank, you can leave now, I'll handle the rest of the shift tonight."

"Thank you, Mr. Smythe."v Frank pushes past me and grabs a coat lying discarded on one of the chairs. Quickly he is gone, out into the dark and rainy street.

I meanwhile, follow Mr. Smythe into his office, allowing a wide smile to cross my face as I do. He doesnít look very appetizing but I am very hungry. And, I suppose, when youíre hungry enough, anyone will do.

* * *

Later, much later, I exit the office. Rubbing one hand across my lips to wipe away any traces of blood I close the door and lock it, using one of the keys I took from Mr. Smythe. That should delay the police for a short time.

So much for keeping a low profile. I head out into the wet parking lot. Now, does Mr. Smythe have a car? He does.

A 1996 Oldsmobile, it's not quite my style but at it will do. The third key I try opens it and Iím off, zooming away into the night. And what a wasted night it was, Mr. Smythe barely yielded enough blood for me to get any power, much less up to full power.

Hours later I stop the car and flick on the radio. News of Mr. Smythe should have been discovered by now. Sure enough, it has.

"A vicious killing was discovered at a blood bank on Fifth and Elm tonight," says the announcer, "In a murder unexplainable to all who knew him, the owner, a Mr. Smythe, was found dead of blood loss in his office. An anonymous tip has recently been given claiming the killer was Dracula," the announcers voice showed the idiocy of such a statement, "Of course, any real tips would be welcomed by the police. In other news..."

She continues but I am not listening having been distracted by other things namely, a woman walking on the sidewalk a short distance ahead of me.

Her short, golden curls bob slightly in the breeze, giving me a fleeting glimpse of her smooth, white neck. Grinning, I speed up the car and halt beside her, flashing her a dazzling smile.

"Good evening," I say Perhaps this won't be such a wasted evening after all.

x x x




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