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By McKenna Casey

There’s a vampire sitting at the bar. She’s got red lipstick on because she thinks it’s hot and kind of ironic, like eating jam donuts or wearing her necklace with the little silver cross on it. She had considered ordering a Bloody Mary, as well, but thought the red lipstick was probably enough. It’s a nice shade. It leaves little marks on her mojito glass when she pretends to drink.

The vampire is considering eating the man four seats down. He’s wearing a baseball cap and a plaid shirt that has never been in style, and she would know. He’d stared at the bartender’s chest as she had taken his order, then stared at her ass as she made it. He had also complimented what he saw, which was never a compliment. The bartender had only rolled her eyes and gone back to drying glasses. The vampire had watched this exchange with a detached sort of curiosity. Now, she taps her nails on her glass, stirs her drink, and thinks. She’s been alive for several lifetimes, but hadn’t even gotten to the second one before getting tired of men.

A synth-heavy song comes on then, and the girls at a table across the room shush their conversation and begin to sing, laughing and pointing at each other as they recite the lyrics. The vampire takes her eyes off the capped man and swivels in her seat to watch them. She smiles. It’s this kind of paradox that makes her love humans. These girls hadn’t even been born when that song came out, yet they all knew the words and loved them enough to sing them at a bar. A bright spot of humanity, only feet away from a dirty one.

The vampire turns her attention back to the man down the bar. He isn’t singing, which she thinks was a shame. It’s really quite a good tune, and the band had been very talented when she saw them live in the 80’s. The man downs a beer, then snaps at the bartender for another. Snaps, with his fingers, like it’s a poetry recitation. The vampire looks at her nails and decides to kill him.

She’s not a vigilante, or anything. She just likes killing annoying people better. Less strain on her ancient, weathered moral compass. She’s dead, after all, not evil. The vampire watches as the bartender brings the man his drink, smiling a sickly sweet smile as she sets the drink down in front of him. The vampire figures if more women had fangs, there’d be a lot less men.

The song finishes. The table of girls let out a symphony of giggling and go back to their French fries. The vampire takes out her phone and checks the time: five hours until dawn. Plenty of time for a late-night snack. She’s very good at this by now, knows to check all her boxes, cross the t’s and dot the i’s, so to speak. The vampire hadn’t come to the bar with this goal in mind, but she knows not to pass up a good meal when it practically falls into her lap.

The man in plaid finishes his bottle off with a grunt, then ruffles through his things to pull out a dollar bill. He throws it on the counter, taking one last long look at the bartender’s cleavage as she bends down to grab something under the bar. Then he gets to his unsteady feet and makes his way to the door, eyeing the table of girls as he goes. The vampire leaves a few bills of her own, two hundreds that she slides beneath the full mojito glass. Money is easy when you’ve had centuries to collect it, and don’t have to pay taxes on account of being long dead. She leaves before the bartender finds the tip, following her meal out the door.

It’s a cold night, with a chill wind out of the north that rustles through the vampire’s hair. She watches as the man in plaid shivers and tracks the plume of his breath as it floats toward the moon. He stumbles towards his truck, parked at the edge of the lot, away from the lights. Perfect. She steps lightly after him.

As he fumbles for his keys, hands probably numbing in this temperature, the vampire goes right up to him and taps him primly on the shoulder. He whirls around, the motion nearly taking him clean off his feet.

“What the hell?” His breath is pungent.

The vampire sighs. She doesn’t like the tang of alcohol in the blood, anymore, but will make do.

“Hello,” she says, smiling a bloodred smile. “Would you like to go into the woods with me?”

The man grunts again, which seems to be his primary method of communication. The vampire finds herself desperately exhausted by this. She, as a lover of languages, knows several. She has spoken with dozens of accents, lived in hundreds of places, learned countless dialects and quirks of speech. Grunting is boring.

She repeats the question. He acquiesces. It’s quite a quick conversation, really. She’s very convincing - another thing she’s perfected over the years. As they walk side by side into the woods beyond the bar, the vampire considers taking off her dress. It’s a fun little silk number she’s had since the 60’s. She doesn’t want to get blood on it. She stops when they get far enough into the trees that she can’t hear the music from the bar anymore and slips it quickly off. The man approaches her, clearly taking her state of undress as a signal.

“Aren’t you cold, baby?” he asks, bringing his rough hands to her pale arms. The vampire considers him. Eyes his throat, where his pulse jumps underneath the skin.

“I’ve been cold for a very long time,” she replies simply. “But I think you can help make me warm again, at least for a little while.” She smiles again, and this time he sees all her teeth.

His eyes widen. He doesn’t even make it three feet before she’s on him.

Afterwards, she cleans herself up a bit. Puts on her dress. Steps daintily over the mess. Walks out of the woods. As she fixes her lipstick in the sideview mirror of a truck, the vampire starts humming that song, the catchy one from earlier in the bar, and smiles, a real one this time. She really does love humans.

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