A sunrise was never more beautiful to me than today’s. I bolt my door and walk to Gerard’s place. My windows are still wide open. The barely surviving fern in my apartment will most likely die, but it must be done. I’m not sure that the smell will ever go, even when no one else can detect it.
I pound on his door like a mad woman. “Gerry! Open up! You got some explainin’ to do!”
He opens the door completely stoic, like I had knocked politely for a social visit. He is entirely too put together for six in the morning. It makes me that much angrier. I don’t even get the privilege of ruining his morning sleep. Mine was ruined. Probably won’t ever sleep again; not at night anyway.
“Hello Pennelope, what a pleasant surprise. Please come in.” He moves aside and I stomp past. He’s not going to kill my fire with kindness.
Sarcastically, I answer in an equally polite manner. “Why thank you Gerard. Would you like to know the reason for my visit?’ I’m sure the smile I give him is a bit deranged. He’s looking worried now.
“I would. Please sit. Would you like some…uh coffee perhaps?” He points to the kitchen and looks like he would like to escape there.
“No. Thank you…Well I had an acquaintance of yours come by my place. Sure do wish you would have warned me that a MONSTER.. might be coming around to sexually assault me in my bed!”
I am raging by the end of my rant and want to hit him so badly. I settle for throwing a pillow at his face. Gerard is shocked by my statement and lets it bounce of his chest. I wish my aim was better.
He sits. “Did he… oh, Pennelope..I never thought…Are you all right? That’s stupid. Never mind. Of course your not alright..
“Things didn’t get that far, thank god. He smothered me, bit me, then licked my hand. Which I have so many questions about. Oh, and he kissed me. That was a treat I wish to never happen again. Breath like the back end of a corpse. So I take it you know who or what he is?”
He nods and runs a hand ruffly through his hair. “I’m not positive it was the leader but I’m familiar with the tribe in this city. They are Blood Souls. They don’t just feast on blood. They eat the soul.”
I plop down on the sofa, “Are you telling me, that the monster that attacked me ate my soul?” I don’t feel soulless. Not that I would know what it felt like.
Gerard shakes his head, “No, no. Your fine. From what you described, he didn’t’ get much and it won’t effect you. They’re naturally creatures that don’t have to kill to eat. If they’re careful, they can feed from the same human their whole life without ill effects.” I let out a giant sigh of relief.
“Your soul isn’t limited. If taken slowly, your body replenishes what is eaten. The problem comes when they take all the soul and blood at once. It has been described to me as the greatest high imaginable for them. After even one kill, they are soul junkies, there’s no going back once they steal a whole soul. Cravings drive them mad, that’s when Slayers come in.” He points to himself.
“So, your some kind of monster too? What do you eat?” I scoot to the opposite end of the couch. This was all too weird to take at face value. But how could I deny what I’ve already seen to be true.
He smiles at my question. “You’ve seen what I eat. I am like any other human. Slayers are just stronger, faster, and live much longer than everyone else. That’s all”
“How much longer? Like twenty years longer? Or a thousand years longer?”
Gerard winces and looks away, “I’m one hundred and eleven as of last month.”
“What! You don’t look a day over ninety six.” I give him a little push, “Come on stop pulling my leg. Your like, only..hmm maybe 30.”
“It’s how Slayers age.” He shrugs, “Blood eaters are immortal as long as they eat and stay in the dark, so we are made to live longer in order to monitor them. Blood Souls generally agree that when one of their tribe goes feral they need to be taken care of. We don’t get backlash from them because they know we’re essential for the continued secrecy of their race and tribe.”
“Well this guy was pissed that you had killed “James” on Thursday. You never called the cops and he fried in the sun. He said it was too cruel.”
“Hm, well I didn’t have much choice. It wasn’t possible to decapitate him with you there. It’s the usual method, but I was trying not to involve you. Also, you would have thought I was a lunatic.”
“I’m up to my neck in it now, aren’t I Gerry!” I’ve raised my voice louder than I meant to but I feel like Gerard has miraculously managed to mess up a life I figured was pretty crappy already.
“I recall, asking you not to call me that.” He says calmly.
I put a hand on his shoulder, “Frankly Gerry, I don’t give a damn. You sir. Are on my shit list right now. Now where’s that coffee?”
I walk into the kitchen and help myself to a cup. Four sugars, lots of milk. He gives me some space and doesn’t follow. I need time to calm down. I’ve never been in here. There’s lovely morning light that shines on the small table set. Sipping at my coffee, I watch the pigeons out the window, pecking away at the seed covered snow. Gerard has hung a bird feeder in the center of his tiny backyard.
I’m not sure why, but this makes me view him differently. He’s just a man. A man with some bizarre characteristics, but still just a man. Thinking about how lonely his years must have been is sobering for me. People make mistakes. I can forgive.
Gerard is still sitting on the couch, deep in thought. I hand him a black coffee, and sit beside him. Leaning my head on his shoulder, I sigh. “When should we go get my stuff?”
“Hmm..what?” He asks, totally lost in thought.
“You didn’t expect me to stay at my place tonight did you?” I stare at his confused face waiting for my answer. “I mean, you could sleep at my home. But it’s tiny and smells like a full porta potty at the moment. Naturally, I was thinking to bunk here. Yeah?”
Finally catching on, he nods. “Yes, of course Pennelope. I will work to get this straightened out and until that occurs, I insist you sleep here. There is a guest room upstairs. We will have to share a bathroom, I hope it will be acceptable?”
“One year, I shared a bathroom with twelve other people. I think I can handle it. And thank you for saying yes. My only other option was getting a night job and sleeping only in the day.” I hug his shoulder and yawn loudly.
Gerard pats my head, then gets up to let me lie on the couch. “You nap here for a bit, I’m going to arrange the guest room and then we will go gather your belongings.”
More to come….