Fast Food

d7a006bde69e7e6cda5bec18a217cffdCassaga thought it was peculiar. Rugged was a beast of the shadows. He generally hid.

He would sometimes prey on the girls at the establishment Gorgeous Nightmare in a

playful fashion, but he would always disappear before anyone in the counsel could

interrogate him or bring him into Evan.

“It wasn’t a crime for living,” he once told her.

She hated fights with him. He always made sure to play up the sexual tension and the

innuendo and while there was no doubt that he was attractive, he was a vampire! A

lecherous old creep.

He liked to toy with her in front of her husband when they had their excursions and she

could never seem to work up enough nerve to capture him. But today would be different

if she found him.

It shouldn’t be hard.

He was leaving quite a blood trail today. He must have been ravenous. He had already

drained four victims. She couldn’t imagine how any beast could get so hungry. She knew

every creature had to eat, but this seemed excessive.

Rugged wasn’t known for having much of a conscience. He watched the girl from the

shadows. She could sense him, but she couldn’t see him. He could hear the speed of her

heart thumping loudly in her chest. Such a beautiful drum.

Poor pretty little bird thought she had a chance of getting away. He had to hand it to

them, no matter how pathetic they may seem, humans had a tenacious spirit. They always

had the desire to live and sometimes they could even surprise him with a strength they

didn’t seem to possess. Their fear, their anger seemed to make them stronger than their

usual weakness in every day life. He had to admit that it made the thrill of the hunt a little

more exciting than it otherwise would be.

“Damned beast, where did it go?” she demanded to thin air. “Dear God—.”

Rugged snorted. “I’ve never believed in Him, but if He does exist then He’s left this

alleyway quite some time ago,” he whispered in the girl’s ear, suddenly appearing from

nowhere. “Ever since I laid eyes on you, you didn’t have a prayer.”

“RUGGED!” snarled a voice. He turned to see a gold haired woman with gold eyes

standing before him with guns drawn. The daughter of the great gun maker. Cassaga. He

had tangoed with her before, but he was not in any mood to do any dancing that night. He

was hungry, and like any creature when he was hungry he would need nourishment.

“Sorry, Cassaga, as much as I love taking bets on who gets more dances with you—me or

your husband, I really don’t have time to tango tonight, love.”

“I am not your anything let alone love, and don’t flatter yourself. You’re not that great a

dancer,” she scoffed, eyes flashing.

“No need to be rude,” he sneered, smirking. He used magic to form a wall that Cassaga

could not pass. “But I don’t have time for you tonight so you may as well go back to your

husband. Don’t worry, I’m sure the head of the counsel will love to hear how you let me

get away again. Weren’t you axed for a promotion last time this happened? Can’t wait to

see what he does to you this time.”

“You monster!”

“What gave it away, the fangs?” Rugged snickered. He then turned his back to Cassaga.

The girl was getting away, but he knew just what direction she had just went. Her fear

was rancid and her heart was beating so quickly it was a wonder she hadn’t collapsed yet.

He walked into a building and walked to the top, and he saw the woman’s hair bobbing in

the near black pitch, the red dancing in the pale gold of lamp light. He loved how his

vision made all the vibrant hues more visible to him, all those things that the humans

couldn’t see. Pitiful insects. So easily smashed and crushed like insects beneath his boots.

He watched as the girl turned to see where he was.

Smirking, he gave her a few seconds to think she had outfoxed him before dropping

behind her as she continued looking behind. “Boo,” he breathed in her ear. “Isn’t that how

Orpheus lost Eurydice, by looking behind? Silly humans, you never really learn your

lessons, do you?”

The girl slashed at him with her nails before running away.

“Fiery, eh?” he laughed. “I do like them when they fight back.” He felt the blood rush

down his cheeks. Few had actually scratched him that hard. He loved the feeling. He

knew the wounds would soon heal themselves so he didn’t bother trying to exert energy

on that now.

“Leave me alone.”

“Sorry, love, I’m hungry. I can’t do that. You could make this easier on yourself, just

succumb. I am stronger than you could ever hope to be, you know that, right?” he

whispered.

“Even still I will never give in,” she snarled, promptly tripping and falling on her rear.

Still, the woman glared at him with such intensity if looks could kill then Rugged would

have instantly keeled over.

Rugged raised his eyebrows. “You, love, are as stubborn as they come. I do love the fire

in your eyes. It’s a pity that they’ll no longer be that lovely shade of blue October once

I’ve killed you. They’ll probably fade to something pale and cloudy.”

She pulled out a gun with shaking hands.

“Do you even know how to use that?”

She shot him hard in the shoulder, causing Rugged to take a few steps backward.

“That hurt,” he pouted. “Why should you hurt me?”

“Are you serious?” she asked. “You’re threatening to kill me and I shouldn’t hurt you?

What special kind of psychopath are you?”

“The type that supersedes even your mother’s imagination,” he winked.

“You’re disgusting.”

Rugged gave her a twisted smile. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” He then appeared

beside her. “Such a pity. You really are a pretty little bird.” He grabbed her by her

shoulders, pulling her into a standing position before biting deep into her throat.

She screamed and clawed at him, but he barely felt or heard anything she did. Her blood

was the only lullaby he could hear. It tasted so sweet his eyes flickered open and closed

in ecstasy. Once she was dead he threw her dead body to the ground. “Just as I

suspected,” he remarked, savoring the last drop of blood that fell from his fangs. “They’re

cloudy and pale.” He frowned, “And I’m still hungry.”

He eyed a man stepping out of his shop. He didn’t seem to have heard the chaos of the

girl’s death as he looked perfectly serene.

“Hello,” Rugged smirked. “Today seems as good a day as any to die, doesn’t it?”

“Who are you?” the man stammered.

Rugged smirked viciously. “Your worst nightmare.” He snorted as the man slashed at

him with a blade. “I forgot that men can put up such horrid fights. They claw more

tenaciously for life than women but with far less passion.” He sighed, grabbing the man

roughly by his shoulders. “But I don’t have time to chase you. I’m hungry.”

“Rugged!”

He turned to see Veronique standing there, her mismatched eyes flashing with fury. She

was the only woman with whom he had left alive that knew his true name. Yet she didn’t

use it. “I knew my secret was safe with you, beautiful,” he cooed. “But I’m a little busy

right now, perhaps, we could catch up later.”

“Put him down.”

“Not a chance, I’m hungry.”

He saw as she pulled out a stake in one hand and a blade in another.

“Veronique, I thought we were friends, love.”

“I am not friends with monsters.”

“Oh, really?” Rugged challenged.

“Of course not,” Veronique retorted.

“That’s not what you said when we shared that bed together,” he winked. The rage on her

face amused him. “Oh, that look of fury. I wish I could indulge it more, but I have no

time. Do tell your brother if he doesn’t stop sniffing around he will meet the same fate as

his mother. I do hope for his sake that he values his life more than she did. Looks like I’ll

have to take out some fast food.” He bit deeply and savagely into the man’s shoulder,

disappearing in a cloud of magic, but not before spilling the man’s blood upon the

ground.

Veronique hissed as Rugged disappeared. She hated vampires. They were really the worst

of the monsters. They always seemed to combine food and pleasure together and they

seemed to find themselves astonishingly witty.

She cursed out loud.

“What now, Lady Veronique?”

“We tell Evan that Rugged is trying to send him a bloody message.”

“Any need for the vulgarity, lady?”

“I was being punny,” Veronique scoffed, without turning. She glanced at the blood

spilled on the ground. “Let the games begin. Evan may be the one to kill the beast, but he

didn’t say I couldn’t maim him. Should he cross my path again, he’ll be lucky if he can

even kill again.”

Cassaga blinked. “You almost seem more monstrous than he does.”

“Trust me,” the elf smirked darkly. “Not all monsters have fangs. Sometimes the

monsters are just you and I.”

By Linda M. Crate
Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. Recently her two chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press – June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon – January 2014) were published. Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015.
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