by J.E. Deegan
361 days a year Rudy Phillips was a normal young man with normal
drives, interests and ambitions. Tall and ruggedly handsome with dark
eyes, bright smile, and a swarthy complexion inherited from his Italian
mother, he had used these biological bequests to full advantage on a
rapid climb up life's social and professional ladders. At twenty-seven,
he had everything a normal young man could want - including virtually
any woman he fancied, and for the most part, Rudy was attracted to
women for the same reasons other young, good-looking men were, but
there were occasions when he fancied them for reasons that would
horrify normal young men.
Like this occasion...one of four days each year, one per quarter,
when the rapacious need endowed by his father took unconditional
control of him. At such times Rudy coveted women for their blood, which
fed an exquisitely demanding hunger that swept aside the need for
To not feed before midnight on a night when he altered meant death.
Within seconds after the new day, he would curl up like a cheap shade
and dissolve to dust. No one had told Rudy that fact. He simply knew
it, as surely as a man knows that stepping in the path of a speeding
train meant being splattered all over the tracks.
Rudy's father, now deceased, had been a full vampire - one mutated
by bite not birth. After some 400 years of being, he had been damned to
a lifeless eternity by a drunken derelict who with a wild, mindless
lunge had driven a splintered two-by-four through his heart as the
vampire, negligently reckless that night, sought the man's throat with
his sharp hollow teeth. Only eleven at the time, Rudy witnessed this
hapless incident while standing guard at the mouth of this same alley
while his father went to feed.
Rudy learned a valuable lesson about imprudence that night, and
vowed that when puberty awakened his own need, he would take care to
never be negligent or reckless when hunting.
Rudy was a Eulick, a hybrid male vampire begot by fruitful coitus
between a full vampire and an ordinary human. Had he been female, he
would have been a Eulieux, a hybrid capable of consuming any type blood
- male, female, even animal. An Eulick, however, required female blood.
Nothing else could drown the hunger. Nothing else could save him from
Yet Eulicks and Eulieux did share one extremely propitious
characteristic. Neither carried the genetic defect that robbed full
vampires of unequivocal immortality. Daylight and wooden stakes were
lethal to full vampires, but they inspired no more fear in half-breeds
than did lightning, venomous snakes, or falling off tall buildings. To
live forever, all an Eulick or Eulieux need do was appease the need for
blood four times a year.
When the need arrived, Rudy sought his prey in Limboland. He was
wise enough to spread his hunting around this filthy, sordid sector of
the city, but his preferred spot was the alley where his father had met
his end. Narrow, deep in the shadows between the streetlights, it
offered an unobstructed view of pedestrian traffic at the intersection
of Fenneman Avenue and White Rock Road. Fenneman was one of a number of
crossing veins that fed Limboland's corrupt heart. White Rock, a major
artery, ran the length of the city and for five blocks formed the
western boundary of Limboland. As such, White Rock was for the city's
chaste souls a barrier between hope and hopelessness, decency and
depravity, and deliverance and damnation. Limboland's side of White
Rock overflowed with crumbling warehouses and rubble-strewn vacant lots
where the lost and demented sought shelter from the elements. On the
other side began a buffer zone of sorts, a less seedy district which
gradually brightened into more appealing neighborhoods. A lone female
crossing Rudy's view along White Rock would live to endure another day.
One moving toward him on Fenneman would die, her blood his nourishment
for another three months.
More often than not, Rudy fed upon prostitutes. Slick with make-up
and perfume, they used Fenneman en route to Limboland's street corners
and dingy bars where they sold themselves for next week's rent.
Not always though. Over the years Rudy had taken respectable women
who for one reason or another had strayed from the relative safety of
their customary paths.
The type of woman didn't matter to Rudy. Only her blood was
important, and in that respect, all were the same. Before long, one
type or another would come his way.
One always did.
* * *
It was well past five when Linda Matthews gathered her fifth-grade
students' papers and dropped them in the top drawer of her desk.
Tuesday's History test was finally graded; the scores recorded in the
grade book now locked away with the papers.
She stepped from her classroom into a dark corridor. The floor was a
strip of scarred, polished wood patched with fuzzy blotches of
brightness cast by the school's nightlights. Walking quickly, her heels
clacked crisply and echoed along the hallway like cracks from a cap
pistol. She headed for the faculty lounge where she kept her coat.
Nearing it, the stream of light from the opened doorway advised her
that some other teacher had remained after school this day.
Not Sandra Dobson...please, she thought during a hitch in her
step. Though a pleasant sort, Sandra could talk the ear off a tin
monkey, and Linda wanted to but grab her coat and hurry home from
It was while approaching the lounge that Linda felt the nearly
imperceptible shift deep in her chest...the all-but-undetectable
modulation of heartbeat and respiration that years of regular
recurrence had sensitized her to. Next came a gradually escalating
exhilaration followed by the familiar warm flush spreading with her
blood to every nook of her body. Her time, which she knew was near, had
arrived. The first stage of the inexorable need that both excited and
horrified her had been activated.
She was altering.
Sandra Dobson was in the lounge, stuffing messages and memorandums
into the teachers' pigeonholes on the back wall above the coffeepot.
Her broad beaming smile as Linda entered heralded conversation as
surely as lightning heralds thunder. Forcing a smile, Linda stepped
into Sandra's verbal web.
Ten minutes later, she was fighting an overpowering urge to take
this incredibly long-winded woman while she talked, but it wouldn't be
wise to engulf the school in needless notoriety which might jeopardize
her position there. She had learned ages ago to honor the adage: Don't get your meat where you get your bread.
It took her nearly a half-hour to escape Sandra Dobson, but there was plenty of time to satisfy the need.
* * *
Shoulders hunched, hands wedged deep into the pockets of her
threadbare overcoat, Clarise Paul plodded steadfastly through the
gathering darkness. Cold November air soughed down the street, swirling
a steady drizzle that was rapidly turning to sleet. She was homeward
bound from Pennyworth's Department Store where she worked as a File
Clerk, a job she detested and considered demeaning. Not that she was an
educated woman driven by ill fortune into employment beneath her
abilities - but she did hold the conviction that a woman who had
single-handedly raised two ailing children to adulthood had certainly
acquired credentials worthy of more than a $8.25-an-hour job moving
papers from one file cabinet to another.
Clarise was angry, but she was always angry. Angry at her parents
for letting her drop out of school after the eighth grade; angry at the
captivating but enigmatic man who fathered her twin daughters - now in
their twenties but still dependent on her; and angry at a wretched
existence she could not change and could barely control.
On most nights, she walked the twelve blocks between Pennyworth's
and the dreary two-bedroom flat. The half-hour trek each way afforded
the only time during the day that she had totally to herself - time
needed to brace herself for fresh assaults from a pitiless world that
didn't give a sedulous, hard-working woman a moment's peace or hope.
Moreover, she seldom could afford bus fare.
Still eight blocks from home, Clarise realized that she couldn't
endure the full journey this night. The temperature was falling by the
minute, and the swirling drizzle had strengthened to an icy rain, each
drop a plummeting lead pellet. A hungry chill was worming through her
coat and would soon devour the little warmth that had retreated from
her flesh to her bones.
She stopped at the corner of Fenneman Avenue and Bluemound Road to
consider her options. She could backtrack the four blocks to
Pennyworth's and the adjacent bus stop; labor along her regular route
and hope her legs didn't give out; or, she could take a shortcut
through Limboland, which would clip the distance to home in half.
The thought of Limboland made her shiver.
If Hell existed on Earth, Clarise believed its fires burned
unchecked within those five square blocks of sin and depravity.
Limboland, a steaming cauldron of iniquity where blatant murder,
deviant sex, drugs, and every other form of perversion known to man
proliferated like poisoned weeds in a contaminated field. More than
most, Clarise knew of Limboland's salacious seductions. She felt
certain that her daughters' father had fallen prey to them, and she
long ago had conceded the girls to them as well. When they were born,
she vowed she would spit in Satan's face before she again entered the
maze of misery and malevolence that was Limboland.
Some vows, however, simply cannot be kept.
This bitter night, Clarise turned south on Fenneman Avenue,
estimating that by angling across Limboland's northwest corner she
could be home in ten minutes. Breathing rapidly, her heart pounding,
she walked quickly and tried to concentrate on the warm salted bath she
would enjoy after attending to her daughters.
* * *
Pressed into the shadows of the alley, Rudy Phillips waited. The
need was growing steadily, nipping at his gut like a school of
impatient fish. It was a persistent but pleasant sensation, the savory
ache of appetite waiting to be appeased.
* * *
Despite its reputation, Linda Matthews had no fear of Limboland. It
was, after all, her hunting ground, the place where she sated the need
for blood when it arose. Quarry abounded there, scores of useless,
nameless people she could feast upon without commotion. Death visited
Limboland often and in many forms, and the authorities routinely
disposed of the dead without investigation.
Even when the blood-need was not upon her, Linda at times would
prowl the streets of Limboland to pacify another craving which now and
then consumed her. There were occasions when a bewitching attraction to
Limboland's tumbledown ambiance, gaudy lights, and blazoned aberrations
overpowered her; times when she was drawn into its infected heart by a
wicked yet captivating allure that tightened her skin and quickened her
blood. There were times when the vile underside of her mind swiveled
into consciousness with a host of lusts and longings that only this
evil hellhole could satisfy.
At such times, Linda particularly reveled in eavesdropping on the
street-corner hookers as they bartered themselves. She envied their
skillful haggling, their talent for squeezing every possible dollar
from their tricks before sealing the contract with a quick nod of their
heads. Listening, watching, she imagined herself painted and perfumed
and negotiating the terms of prurient pleasure. The bargaining, its
wickedly luscious promise, the sweet temptation of potential menace
made her skin crawl and tingle with another frightening yet tantalizing
In her deviant dreams, she was one of them.
Tonight, after feeding, that need too would be filled.
* * *
Shivering, Clarise Paul huddled around herself as the wind's bitter
breath bit through her worn coat to rake at her chest. Though no
stronger than earlier, the wind had turned colder and was noticeably
soured with the odious bouquet that drifted outward from Limboland's
core like perdition's breath. Tucking her nose into her scarf, she
trudged on and issued a silent prayer that her aching legs would not
crumble beneath her like icicles loosed from a roof.
* * *
At the mouth of the alley, Rudy Phillips anxiously sniffed the air.
It was there. The lovely, musky redolence of flesh. Rich, greasy,
blood-filled female flesh. Still some distance away, but moving toward
him. The scent had him shivering. His blood began to warm, his skin
stretched, muscles rolled and bulged. He felt his pupils swell and he
looked raptly around with eyes now able to find light even in the
deepest shadow. He pulled his hand to his face and saw the purple blush
beneath his fingernails deepen to black. His tongue shrank back,
allowing room for his lengthening incisors. The tip of his tongue
danced eagerly about the sharp hollow ends of those fangs. His mouth
* * *
Linda Matthews caught Clarise's scent before she saw her. Her
nostrils flared with the thick sweet scent of human meat. Juicy,
blood-filled female meat. Her keen eyes swung left toward Fenneman
Avenue, the dark shaft that ran perpendicular to White Rock Road. Her
sharpened teeth found her tongue. She tasted her own blood and felt her
stomach turn with anticipation. It took her full reservoir of willpower
to restrain further physical alteration until she had trapped her prey.
* * *
They met at the corner; Clarise Paul with a startled intake of
breath; Linda Matthews with an anxious glint in her eyes and a brief,
careful smile that did not expose her teeth. Clarise stepped back, a
hand at her throat, her face crowding with misgiving. Linda, with
enormous effort, was able to stand her ground. Her limbs trembled
ravinly, ever-warming blood sprinted through her to soak every cell
with the familiar demanding need, but she forced herself to wait, and
then to speak, warmly and cordially. She asked Clarise if they might
walk together, implanting an appropriate measure of concern for their
individual well-being in such a nefarious neighborhood.
Clarise looked nervously about then agreed, knowing that any coalition with this odd, edgy woman would last but a single block.
They crossed White Rock Road and entered Limboland.
They walked quickly and wordlessly; Clarise focused on the next
intersection where she would turn left on the final leg of her journey
home; Linda fixed on the narrow alley just ahead. She would take this
toothsome catch there. Her skin tightened; the soft muscles of her arms
grew taught with burgeoning strength.
A few more steps.
* * *
Rudy Phillips waited, pressed against a wall of the alley and barely
able to constrain the ravenous compulsion raging within him.
Just a few more steps.
* * *
Clarise heard the woman's raspy, ragged breathing and simultaneously
felt her legs become lead and her feet mortar which anchored themselves
to the pavement. Her eyes swung to the woman, to a scowling,
powder-white face with lumps of coal for eyes and a pair of dagger-like
fangs arcing out from a spit-filled mouth. Terror like molten metal
surged through Clarise's chest, squeezing her purely involuntary cry of
raw dread to a paltry squeak that barely escaped her mouth. She took a
clumsy step backward into the alley. The woman-thing followed, then
stopped and stiffened.
Linda Matthews' coal-black eyes shot past Clarise Paul and into the
coal-black eyes of Rudy Phillips. Clarise cowered between the seething
horrors, her throat, tongue and mouth working feverishly to generate
nothing but a series of choked, gagging sounds. She fell to her knees
and threw her arms over her head.
Eulick and Eulieux stared at each other. Each watched bewilderment
shift to rage as they recognized what the other was. The alley filled
with savage howls as each reached for Clarise Paul. There would be no
sharing of spoils, no equal division of parts, no divvying up this
succulent prize. Each wanted all.
Their struggle became frenzied. Clarise was pulled and tugged upon,
jostled and jolted about like a cork in a riotous river. Her shabby
coat split at both shoulders and she shrieked at the sick rip of
fabric, certain that her arms had been torn from their sockets.
Suddenly she was released, and the two fiends flew at each other,
cursing and grunting, scratching and clawing as they tumbled into the
depths of the alley. White teeth slashed through the air, arms and legs
flailed wildly in a fury of chaotic motion.
Clarise labored to her feet and backed slowly toward the street. Try
as she may, she couldn't pull her eyes from the enraged demons that
were twisting around each other like copulating snakes. They pounded
and pummeled each other with monstrous strength. Each seemed intent on
ripping the other to shreds.
The battle ended with no forewarning, and for a moment, the two
horrors simply stared wistfully into each other's eyes and smiled their
sharp hollow teeth. Then they embraced and gently caressed each other.
They even kissed before their teeth found the other's neck and sank in.
Eager, sucking, slurping sounds filled the alley.
Clarise stared wide-eyed with wonder then spun gracelessly around and began a mad dash for home.
* * *
When Clarise returned a short time later, the two vampires were
still there... just as she hoped they would be. Both had re-altered to
human form and were deeply asleep, nestled together like lovers amidst
the refuse littering the back of the alley. They were covered with
blood, but their contented smiles and steady breathing evinced a plane
of pleasure and gratification mere mortals could never attain.
Their need, Clarise saw, had been satisfied.
But others, too, had needs.
Clarise stepped back and motioned her daughters into the alley. The
twin Eulieux lurched ahead, jousting selfishly to be the first to sink
teeth into such juicy plunder, but there was plenty for both and
Clarise knew their spat would be short-lived. She let them squabble and
walked to the mouth of the alley to stand sentry.
She never could stand to watch her daughters feed.
© 1993, 2017 J.E. Deegan
Bio: Mr. Deegan's work has appeared in various online and print
magazines and anthologies, including Aphelion. He has two short story
collections in print, Limboland (science fiction, fantasy, and horror) and When I Was A Little Guy (children's stories), both available through Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. His last Aphelion appearance was Do Not Read in our December, 2011 issue.
E-mail: J.E. Deegan
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