Monday, November 7, 2016
Story: Who's the Monster
Addison was no stranger to the reference of ‘monster.’ She was a vampire, what more could people call her? She lurked in the night, savoring the blood of passing strangers, leaving the carcasses to rot in back alleys. It didn’t matter their age, gender, ethnicity. She did try to take out those who held evil in their hearts, however. Sort of her style of being a superhero, in her warped little brain. She would then take her time in looting their pockets of valuables and cash as well.
She wasn’t a nice little creature of the night. Yet, to look at her, you would swear she was the picture of near innocence, with her long black hair, somewhat tanned skin, and adorable smile. Her behavior was often …odd. Quirky, if you will.
The little Southern Bell of a vampire also prided herself on her knowledge and accomplishment as a voodoo practitioner.
Until a week ago, that is.
She had finally come across a voodoo curse she couldn’t counter.
The situation that evolved was not intended. Addison had simply wanted to go shopping, and the Mambo of the secret little shop in New Orleans took offense to her vampiric nature and knowledge of the arts that should have been forbidden. The Mambo felt that whether in life-or-death, the likes of Addison had no business knowing the ancient arts.
The result of her work? Addison was more monster now than ever. She couldn’t show herself in public, even at night. She no longer passed as human. She could barely speak with how her flesh hung from her jaw and her throat seemed open to the elements.
The beauty she once had was gone.
She looked long and hard at herself in the mirror in the abandoned gas station restroom. She attempted to make an appalled face, though nothing but a mere twitch of old skin came forth.
The Voodoo Priestess she had tangled with had developed a powder of some sort, blowing it into Addison’s face. The powder then reverted Addison to what she would have looked like had she never been turned by that vampire so long ago before New Orleans was even a city. A simple dead girl, one that had been in the ground for a few years. She looked like a dried up husk. A scarecrow of stretched and weathered flesh. Her hair had fallen out here and there; one eye had sunken in and what hair she was left on top of her head had turned gray and white.
Her body had gone from athletic and lithe, to nothing more than gray dried skin and bones. It was hard to move around. Every movement she did make was almost agony, and that set her to vocalize that feeling with small moans and groans. Was she a zombie now? She wasn’t craving any brains.
She desperately needed to either make this Mambo reverse the powders effects, or find a way to correct things herself.
There was one upside to it all. Thus far, Addison had felt no hunger. No need for fresh blood… or brains.
There was also a downside. Insects and rodents started to look tastier and tastier. Addison refused to give in to those cravings. It was a bit of a struggle at times. Given any other time, Addison was terrified of insects.
She hated to admit it, but for any progress to be made to restore herself, she was going to have to ask someone for help. She pulled her cellphone into her leathery, boney fingers and scrolled through her contacts. This was made difficult, as the screen did not want to accept her near fleshless, bone fingers. At least she still held some body heat or electrical impulses from her brain through her body enough to make the screen even work.
As she scrolled through her contacts, she frowned. She could find no one. Well, there was one exception. He was a demon, and Addison did not like him. She had done him a favorite once, and he owed her one in returned.
She dialed his number, trying to speak when he answered. Dirt or something fell from her mouth, and she choked. With a damaged windpipe and useless vocal chords, this just wasn’t going to work.
She hung up and started texting him as fast as she could. She abbreviated what she could, misspelled things and auto-correct would be the death of her. She managed to give him her location, pleading for him to bring her some select spices, powders, herbs, roots and petals. And a bats heart. Yes, that was exactly what she needed. Even better if said bat had rabies.
With that done, she sat down on the closed lid of the filthy toilet. She didn’t know what smelled worse – her, or this old run down rest room. The bugs skittering here and there sure did look enticing.
After about an hour’s wait, a young man had entered the restroom, slowly and cautiously. Addison peeked out to see the devilishly handsome human appearance of the demon.
She opened the door to the stall and stepped out slowly.
“Addi?” The man’s deep, smooth voice questioned.
She backed herself into the shadows more.
His piercing blue eyes sparkled as he lifted an arm, his olive skin glowing into a small ball of flame in his palm, illuminating them both.
Addison shrunk away from the light. The demon, however, stared at her. The light of his flame danced off his black hair and plain black hoodie and jeans, until he let the façade fall away. With a slight gasping noise, the once 6-foot male with olive skin and dreamy blue eyes was suddenly a 7-foot obsidian-colored demon with those same icy eyes. A jagged tail whipped behind him and his once normal looking hands were replaced with long talons. His black hair was still there, though a crown of bone protruded from the hairline. His mouth didn’t set right with his facial features either. It now seemed larger, especially when he opened his mouth, all rows of fangs, much like a shark. Derek was his human name. Valkor now stood before her.
“Addi? Is… is that you? What trouble have you gotten yourself into? Would be more merciful to allow me to kill you…” He said, his voice rough and gravelly.
Addison tried to speak. Tried, but couldn’t, so she started typing on her phone again, showing him the screen, trying to explain the situation.
Valkor laughed heartily at Addison’s folly. He also resumed his human façade. ‘Derek’ was much easier on the eyes, for sure.
As Addison typed here and there and showed him the screen, he started showing her what he had brought to her. All the ingredients she had asked for, neatly packed into Wal-Mart bags.
Addison moved to look down at the materials. Giving a nod, she slowly sat herself down on the floor and set them next to a large bowl she had taken. Derek stood behind her, looking down over her to watch her, and watch over her. She was in a vulnerable state. While there was no love lost between the two, Addison did make for a good ally.
Mixing a pinch of this and handful of that, Addison ground the dry ingredients in the bowl before adding the liquids. She had asked for blossoms and petals in hopes the mixture would smell nicer, though sadly nothing covered the stench of alligator dung. The bat’s heart, which did indeed have rabies, made the concoction a disgusting color.
Derek waved a hand before his face and made a noise of disgust. “Whew, that’s rank. Let me guess… you have to put that on yourself?” He asked.
Addison heaved a sigh of sorts and nodded, dipping both hands into the bowl and stirring it all up while quietly chanting something that was made unintelligible by her damaged face and throat. She then scooped up the muck and spread it all over her face and arms, moving to stand and lurch her way to the restrooms single stall once again. She had to put it all over her body, and even though she currently looked like a cordwood scarecrow, she had her modesty.
She put the foul mixture all over her body and waited. As it dried, she could hear Derek waiting patiently, playing a game on his cell phone. It always amused her. Vampires and demons, werewolves too, having changed with the times and played on silly gadgets to kill their unending time and boredom.
When the layer of her ‘treatment’ had dried, she moved, bending her joints, letting the dried husk to fall away to the floor in chunks. She dusted herself off, knowing what needed to be done next and dreading every second of it. She took the lid off the toilet cistern and scooped the water out with her hands, clearing away the dusty debris from her body.
With what was supposed to be a frown, Addison looked at her arms and hands. “Oh no…” she uttered.
Derek perked to her voice. “Not go as planned? Come out, let me look.” He said, lighting the restroom again with his demonic flames.
Addison redressed and came out of the stall, shoulders slumped. “Thupid thpell didn’t work right. I need to thee the Mambo for her to fixth thith.”
Derek laughed, not just at Addison’s new lisp, but at her appearance. “At least you look a little more… how should I put this… gooey? Squishy?” He chuckled, pressing a finger into the still grayed flesh of her arm, noting that it was no longer a dried scarecrow feel. She had ‘plumped’ a little.
The wounds were still there, however, giving cause for her voice to be off and lispy.
Addison glared daggers at her demon cohort. “Did you bring the needle and thread? I have to fixth theethe woundths.”
Derek then beamed a radiant grin. Addison would not be happy with what he brought, but it was all he could find. “I brought you something to do some stitch work.” He pulled from one of the bags in the corner a skein of blue yarn and a chef’s needle.
Addison looked at him, one eye still a little sunken into her head. “You have to be kidding me. I thaid needle and thread. What am I thuppothed to do with that?”
Still chuckling, Derek replied. “You will mend all those rips and tears in your flesh, and you can wear my hoodie to walk out of here. Besides, you didn’t say you needed a hospital grade stitching kit.”
Addison snatched the yarn and needle from him, moving to the mirror. She stitched up her face, neck, a line on her forehead; various little tears and holes in her flesh. She looked ridiculous when she was finished.
“This is so stupid looking.” She huffed out, smacking Derek in the arm.
There was a little snap and her eyes widened as she watched in horror as her hand and most of her forearm fell to the floor. Addison squawked “AH!”
“HA! Why Addison, you’re just going to pieces over me. Not so tough right now, are you?” Derek barked out in laughter, retrieving her broken limb. He grabbed up the yarn and needle and went to work sewing it back onto Addison’s arm.
She was taken by surprise when she tried to wiggle her fingers, and they responded. “Great. I went from a disgusting dried up scarecrow corpse to a living voodoo doll.” She grumbled out. “And I look absolutely hideous.”
“I won’t argue with you there. You still smell like a fresh crap, too.” Derek said, smiling at her. “At least that lisp is gone. So what is it that went wrong? I thought you were a pro at this stuff.”
Addison crossed her arms and paced for a minute. “No one is ever truly a ‘pro.’ There is always something new to learn.” She paused in thought for a moment before speaking again. “We’re going to go to that Mambo and try to appease her someway.”
Derek gave a curt nod. “I’ll back you up however you may need.” He said, lifting his white hoodie off and tossing it to Addison. “Here, slip that on. And, when this is all done, we’re burning it.” He chuckled.
Addison slid the hoodie on, sinking into it as it was three times too big for her. She looked like a child playing dress up, and everywhere she touch it, her hands and fingers left dark smears. “Gross.” She pouted. “I guess we should get going. Obviously, it’s not far. I couldn’t have made it any further away than this in the condition she had put me in.”
Derek gave a simple nod and went to exit the old gas station restroom. He didn’t notice Addison deftly pick up the rest of the skein of blue yarn and slip it into the pocket of the hoodie. She pulled the hood over her head and joined Derek, walking towards the voodoo shop she had visited.
The shop would be closed at this hour, but this was New Orleans, most people lived above their shops, and had courtyards for gatherings. It was a full moon, so there would no doubt be a gathering for ritual work.
They passed other pedestrians along the way, some looking oddly at Addison, others outright covering their noses at her stench. “Geez, lady, ever heard of a shower?” Someone had rudely said. Addison made a mental note of them so at a later date she could find them and kill them.
They arrived at the shop, knocking on the door. The guard looked out. “What do you want? Haven’t learned your lesson yet?” He scowled.
“Please, let me speak to your Mambo… I have an offering for her…” Addison said in a polite tone.
She turned to Derek and slipped the yarn from the hoodie pocket, quickly binding his wrists with it. “Just humor me…” She said softly to him. He simply shrugged.
The guard returned and opened the shop door and gate before leading them through the back of the shop to the courtyard. A bonfire raged in the middle of a circle, and the Mambo sat in her High Priestess chair as others danced about, paying homage to the voodoo deities.
“What do you want?” The Mambo said, leaning forward in her chair.
Addison removed the hood from her head, showing the attempted transformation. This made the Mambo laugh. “Please… fix me. You are more knowledgeable than me… I concede to your greatness and offer you a gift.” She said, moving to shove Derek towards the Mambo.
“He’s a demon. A true hell-born demon. Don’t worry, I’ve enchanted his bindings, he can do no harm.” Addison added, giving a bow.
Derek turned to face her, struggling in the yarn around his wrists. “Addison… you double-crossing wench!” She had indeed enchanted the yarn. He couldn’t transform into his true self or use his mighty powers.
The Mambo stood, inspecting Derek. “A true demon. An impressive catch for a little abomination such as yourself, eh, Addison?” The Mambo asked as she circled Derek. “Take him away, all of you, just to be safe…” She waved a hand to her five bodyguards.
The Mambo then approached Addison, making a sour face at the little vampire, turned rotted corpse, turned living doll. “Look at you. You look just like one of my dolls. For the demon, however, I suppose I could remove the hex. You have to give your word you will stop practicing voodoo in my district. I don’t want to see you in my territory at all. Deal?”
Addison looked up at her with her dead eyes. She tried to offer a smile through the yarn stitching of her face. Her eyes then moved to watch as the five bodyguards were escorting Derek away. He was cursing her, the bodyguards, the Mambo… but he kept coming back to Addison. Wow… was he mad. Oh, well.
The Mambo moved around Addison, moving to the outside tables gathering things, as well as collecting powders and other items and bringing them to the bonfire. She scooped some of the outside ash into a small jar and filled it with the other items she had collected. She then carefully held the jars bottom into some of the fires flames, watching the contents shrivel into a fine dust.
The Mambo pulled the jar to her and let the contents cool before opening the jar and walking around Addison in a circle, sweeping the fine dust all over her as she chanted. She stopped, looking at Addison. “Now, walk through the bonfire. You come out the other side; you’ll be back to your original state. A disgusting vampire.” She sneered.
Addison offered a nod, trying to remain humble looking. She did as told, walking through the flames of the bonfire. She had her doubts. She expected just to go up in flames. She didn’t, though. She shimmered rather, the dust catching into little sparks around her, her body transforming.
She stepped out of the flame, hole and back to herself. Even the various yarn stitching’s were gone.
From the other side of the bonfire, the Mambo look at her with a sneer. Addison smiled back, but it was deceptively wicked.
Addison raised a hand high and snapped her fingers. “DEREK, NOW!”
At the snap of her slender digits, the enchantment on Derek’s bindings fell away. He wasted no time in transforming into his rightful flesh and devouring the bodyguards in flame. He then stomped his way to Addison.
“You could have told me your plan to begin with.” He snarled at her, all sharp teeth and monstrous visage.
She shrugged, watching as the Mambo’s face was overcome with horror.
“It’s my turn now.” Addison said, moving to circle the bonfire. The Mambo tried to run, but Addison had left enough enchanted yarn where she had stood before to trip up the Mambo. The hefty woman fell in a heap.
Addison approached the plump black woman, moving to kneel at her side. “You know, what you did wasn’t really gracious. I mean, I know I’m not very nice, but I’m supposed to be a monster of sorts. You’re a human, and in my book, that makes you the worst kind of monster there is. You rejected my presence, cast a hex on me… for nothing more than my white skin being in a voodoo shop. Oh, and being a vampire. You do realize that humans kill more humans every year than all us ‘monsters’ combined?” She questioned to the woman.
She leaned into the woman’s neck. The Mambo struggle, praying and pleading. “I don’t want to die… please…”
Addison shook her head. “You won’t die. Not until I want you to.” With that said, she bit into the woman’s neck with her perfect little white fangs, drinking the woman’s blood. Not much, just enough to sate her hunger.
Derek watched all, curious as to what Addison was playing at.
Addison moved on the other woman, sitting on her chest and drawing a voodoo sigil around the woman’s head. She then reached for the discarded jar and set it on the woman’s forehead. She waved and weaved her hands in intricate designs in the air over the Mambos head, a white light shimmering around them before she finally got off the woman and let her skitter away.
“What did you do to me?” The Mambo asked, a hand clutching her wounded neck. “I feel… different. Please, what did you do?”
Addison grinned and tapped the jar, which she was now placing a cap on top. The jar held within it a small crystal that flickered with light from time to time, like a firefly.
“I’ve taken your soul. You won’t die until I want you to die. Do you realize what that means right? It means you have to take care of yourself now. I hope you learn to stop being a racist. If you’re going to be a hater, hate indiscriminately.” Addison chuckled. “Now, eat right, exercise and don’t let anything happen to that body because it won’t heal. I’ll be seeing you…” Addison winked, tucking the jar into the hoodie pocket and giving a waggle of her fingers before moving to Derek.
“Come on, big guy. I’m sorry for the deception earlier, but I wanted to be convincing.” She said to the demon, who was now moving to take his human form.
“It’s alright Addi. At least I am out of your debt. You know, we could make a good partnership.” He said, patting her shoulder as they walked out of the place and back out down the sidewalk.
Addison huffed. “Don’t push your luck.” She said though she did smile. “Thank you, for your help. I should head home.”
Derek gave a vigorous nod. “Yes, please do. Man, do you stink. Like, REALLY stink!”
Addison turned to him and glowered, but then moved to him, taking the man into a deep hug, leaving some of her stink all over him as he protested.
She then turned and scampered away into the night, snickering the whole time.