Flash Fiction Friday’s prompt for this week was:
Well it’s time for one of our most unsung holidays: Groundhog’s Day. So this weeks challenge is to write a story that takes place on or around Feb. 2nd. Will it climax with a happy ending and the oncoming of spring or will it plunge into the bleak despair of six more weeks of winter? And just to make it a little more interesting, you have to include the word “salad” in your story, just to prove our picture wrong. Keep it under 1500 words and have it submitted by Wed. Feb. 1st. Get cracking and watch out for your shadow.
For this prompt, I wanted to try something I hadn’t done before– my own take on those tired, trashy Vampire/Romance stories. (I’ve never read one, of course. Ever. Nope.) I tried Pulp the first time the pulp prompt came up, last year – and utterly failed. I figured my story could be no worse than that one… right…?
Ahem, well, here I made an effort to go overboard with adverbs and description (except I only now realize that those descriptions for hearing things are lacking a bit). I wanted slutty and trashy, but I don’t think it went far enough for that.
One last thing, the salad scene is in, just because the prompt included a photo that says “No great story ever started with someone eating a salad.” I very freely admit this story isn’t great, but it demanded to start with a salad anyway! (I eat salad every day and absolutely love it.)
Oh, and there is a ground hog in here somewhere.
The Jolly Season
The hunger that drives
Fades as it fills;
Explores, tempts and thrives,
Can do aught but repulse as it kills.
The creamy whiteness dripped leisurely over the bulging mounds of exposed red and orange, almost pulsating in its need to be touched and savoured. To be enjoyed and penetrated. Small globes of juicy redness vibrated it its urgency to be devoured.
Admittedly, there was quite a bit of green in there as well, if you really must know.
Kristy took aim at an innocent cherry tomato hiding among the lettuce leaves and stabbed, watching with a twinge of guilt as its insides erupted to coat the greens with flavour. At least it wasn’t all over her face, she thought. Even though it resembled an overgrown lawn, her salad was more than endurable, it was downright delicious, littered as it was with cuts of slightly wet Romaine, Endive, and dandelion leaves and then topped off with embarrassingly tight, red cherry tomatoes and fetchingly dressed with Italian vinaigrette.
But the coup de gras, well… that belonged to the nuts. Oh, they were glorious–– toasted and golden and just begging to be tasted.
A light snowfall crossed the employees’ cafeteria window, unnoticed by the four other occupants of the large room. They picked at their French Fries and sandwiches and were quickly gone with few words, back to stocking shelves or answering questions they were sick to death of hearing. Ball-Mart didn’t stimulate much more than ‘do it and get out’ with those that had to work there.
“That,” A purring voice made itself known of a sudden behind Kristy, just slightly breathy, “is the most disgusting, revolting thing I have ever seen.”
Kristy didn’t stop chewing or turn around as she heard the words. She took her time to swallow before answering.
“I would be very pleased to give you proper introduction. I made this salad myself, actually, and you might be surprised by how much you like it.”
“The day I enjoy salad, is the day I hang up my non-existent fangs. That,” a finger pointed toward her plate, “was made for cows, not for intelligent creatures.”
Kristy would have continued the discussion, but a very warm kiss made an appearance on her neck, pushing away her long locks to expose sensitive skin, his fingers brushing her skin as he moved her hair. His lips advanced to her throat, lightly and softly, and then moved up to her cheek. There they stopped, much to Kristy’s chagrin. The cafeteria was empty, with just a few sounds of dishes being washed in the walled-off kitchen area, but people often wandered in throughout the day. It wouldn’t do for them overdo it while she was on the job.
Daniel’s face was still next to Kristy’s as he announced his plan.
“I’m going to show you what a real meal is, my love. You will come with me tomorrow morning. Dress warmly.”
Resisting the impulse to answer ‘Yes sir’, Kristy finally turned her head just enough to look in Daniel’s eyes.
In doing so, she very nearly forgot the question she intended to ask. Those blue-grey eyes took her breath away every single time; it was like looking into the universe, and it frightened her sometimes that she might not find her way back.
“Uhm, yes… where are we going, then?” Honestly, Kristy, at least make an effort not behave like an obedient pet, she thought quickly. “Assuming I decide to go with you, of course?” There.
“Tomorrow is a very special day for the vampires in this country. I will tell you all about it along the way, after I pick you up. Don’t forget, a warm coat would be a good idea. What you wear under it, I will leave up to you. Now, back to work with you!” And he was gone.
No one had ever told Kristy how pushy vampires really were, before she had met Daniel. And overbearing. And terribly condescending, for that matter. When he was not around, Kristy could see very well what kind of a person – if one could call Daniel that – really was. Why then, why did she do as he said as if she were no more that a puppy to be trained?
Putting away her lunch containers and returning to her exciting job stocking shelves, Kristy considered the question.
Well, let’s see. What is it I like about him? Refilling the extra-soft toilet paper shelf was her current menial task as she thought. He is… he is good at… Well, he is good kisser. Really good.
The toilet paper rolls went on the shelves a bit faster.
What else, she asked herself, what does he do that makes him irreplaceable in my life?
Kristy moved on to the ‘Looks Like Butter’ area in the ‘cold’ section of the store. One of the few customers on this weekday looked at her strangely as he passed by. She must have been talking to herself again, darn it. Mentally zipping her lips, she started her imaginary list of reasons why no one else could take Daniel’s place.
Half an hour later, as she refilled the ‘Looks Like Food’ area of the store (it always took longer to refill this area), she hadn’t come up with a single reason. Not even one.
The dawn cracked brightly, even if it was nearly six o’clock when it did so. Kristy couldn’t wait for summer to arrive… Sunrise at ridiculously early hours were her favourite time of day. Anything could happen, even if it didn’t.
She slouched in the couch of her apartment, ruminating, as Daniel arrived. He appeared out of nowhere, as always, and her heart skipped a beat as her brain matter turned to mush when she saw him, as always.
Daniel looking approvingly at her unzipped winter coat and slid his arms inside it and around her waist. His hands slid possessively up her back as his lips approached hers, ever so slowly.
“I have missed you.” Was all his deep voice said before his mouth became busy making sure she could not reply.
Daniel’s hands began their smooth descent down her back, making every nerve tingle, until they passed her waist and descended further still.
Kristy leaned into Daniel’s chest, and though his heart beat metronome-steady (vampires just can’t shuffle), she was satisfied to hear it beat stronger as her hands found the skin of his chest, cool but taut.
At that, Daniel reluctantly pulled her hands away and released her lips. His eyes made sure her mind was useless as he gently declared:
“We will miss the grand event. Zip yourself up and off we go.”
Daniel’s flaming red Jaguar drew numerous hungry looks as they drove through the small town. Kristy had never understood how the vampires could think they would stay unnoticed when they drove cars few people could afford. And drove them fast.
“So am I ready to know more about what is happening today?” Kristy was sure her bum was hitting every rock on the road, the car was built so low.
Daniel looked at her, considering.
“I suppose you should know. But you humans are frail…” He stomped his foot on the brake a moment as they approached a car unfortunate enough to be respecting the speed limit, and then floored the Jaguar to pass the carload of kids, watching the streak of red fly by them.
“As you know,” Daniel glanced at Kristy with a crooked grin, “Vampires don’t celebrate Christmas. We don’t celebrate much of anything, really. But when we moved to this country a few centuries ago, it was pleasant to watch people prepare for different events and actually enjoy themselves. Back in the Old Country, it was just a given that we could not partake in anything because of all the superstition linked to us.
“When we moved here, though, people didn’t know much – or even really care – about all the baggage that came with us, they were much too busy trying to survive.
“Then this new tradition began. Well, new to this country. There are similar traditions in some European countries. The townspeople would gather around a hole in the ground in February and watch an animal come out. It was quite amusing! And then we came to understand it was yet another celebration, one to help predict the Spring.”
Kristy thrust in a word, or two.
“Groundhog Day! We are going to see that?” She rolled her eyes. How exciting.
Daniel chuckled at his girlfriend’s reaction. She was such a human… He would have to teach her everything.
“Ah, but over time, Groundhog Day became very popular among us. Can you imagine why?”
“You were bored?”
“All these groundhog celebrations meant humans were breeding larger numbers of groundhogs to watch on February 2nd. Then, in typical fashion, once the Day was done there were all these groundhogs abandoned, with nothing to do.”
Daniel turned briefly to Kristy again, but his smile this time was considerably fiercer.
“This Day has become like Christmas for us. A feast of massive proportions, and you should be proud. You have been considered worthy to join us. You have been accepted.” Glee was just pouring from Daniel’s face; Santa Claus was making another visit. “Kristy, your salad days are over, my sweet.”
Three hours later, after hundreds of vampires had gathered in a large open field (guaranteed seclusion due to a few well-paid land-owners), to celebrate togetherness and Love of Blood, the scene was red and white.
There were heads of ground hogs everywhere, and entrails littered the snow for meters, leaving little red roads of death. Blood had indeed been sucked and shared, but not without spilling. And the little feet, oh there were so many of them.
Drunk with pleasure, the vampires had slowly retreated to a large cabane, where they could sleep off the after effects of their over-indulgence.
“Wasn’t that glorious, Kristy? Finally, you were able to witness the wonderful difference between simple humans and powerful vampires. And tonight, my precious, tonight you will feel side effects of today’s events, you will know the true power of my love for you. And you will beg for more!
“Kristy…? Where are you…?”
The sound of snow melting echoed emptily over the bloody field.