WARNING: This chapter contains strong language and sexual references!
“Welcome to Stop and Shop,” Allanna said in a cheerful manner, though inside she was thinking, “Kill me now.”
That was her typical day at Duskwood’s little convenience store. The Stop and Shop store had almost everything anyone needed, with the exception of food, which had to be bought at the grocery store across the street. This job was the only one that Allanna had been able to obtain, not having any college education (there was no way she’d be able to afford it, and her father’s construction job made too much money for her to qualify for a grant).
The days were so tedious, with people coming in, Allanna greeting them with a fake smile plastered onto her face, all the while wearing a hideous orange and white uniform. Plus, an hour before the store closed at 9, she had to do all the heavy-duty work while her boss sat on her fat ass and did nothing. She had to sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms (sometimes rubber gloves weren’t even provided for some asinine reason), and mop the entire store. If she weren’t so accustomed to running for pure pleasure, she’d probably be so out of shape that she’d get overheated and pass out.
Her boss was a real bitch, thinking she knew everything when in reality, Allanna was ten times smarter than she was. Yet she was making the big bucks as the supervisor. It was so infuriating, but Allanna couldn’t do anything about it. If anything, her boss saw her as a threat, and took this phobia upon herself to make Allanna miserable, probably in an attempt to make her quit out of spite. But Allanna had nothing else she could do, so she was stuck.
The door chimes tinkled, signaling the arrival of another customer. Allanna looked to see her mother and father there with her three younger siblings. Lupe had been married to Darius for only two years when Allanna had come along. Then came Byron, Raquel, and little Lacey. There had always been the inevitable sibling squabbles, and even some occasional domestic fighting, but all in all they were a good family.
Darius headed to the auto section of the store while Lupe approached the counter.
“Hi, honey,” she said to her oldest daughter, “how are you?”
“Oh fine, except I hate my job, my best friend has to work as a stripper to make ends meet, and last night we almost got raped by two guys.”
“Mom, what’s rape mean?” Raquel wanted to know.
“Byron, take your sisters,” Lupe said hastily as she handed Lacey over to her only son. Byron rolled his eyes, muttered something under his breath, and took his sisters, the older of which was still asking for a definition of the word rape.
“Are you insane?” Lupe wanted to know. “Why did you say those things in front of your siblings, especially your little sister?”
“Oh please, kids these days know all about sex. Girls are getting their periods when they’re 10, and Raquel’s 8.”
“I don’t care, she doesn’t need to hear that. And what do you mean you were almost raped? What the hell happened?”
Lupe had to step aside as Allanna rang up a customer on the cash register, pretending to be enthusiastic the whole time. When she finally turned back to her mother, she said, “Oh, just two horny perverts jumped us in an alley last night, but we got away.”
“You didn’t…you know…”
“We didn’t give into our animal instincts,” Allanna confirmed, keeping her eyes on the human shoppers. “We didn’t have to. Some guy actually saved us.”
Allanna almost slapped herself. Why did she tell her mother that? As she suspected, Lupe’s eyebrows went up and her eyes got a bemused tint to them.
“What do you mean, some guy saved you?”
“Just what I said. But I can’t talk about it now, I have to work.”
“Fine, but I’m telling your father about this, and we’re going to have a talk later.”
Lupe then went off in search of her other kids, leaving Allanna to continue scanning and bagging items for customers. She was smiling so much, she felt like her cheeks were going to burst. She was sure she resembled a Barbie doll.
When there was a slight pause between customers, Allanna looked heavenward and asked herself if this was all her life would ever be. Was this her destiny, to be a part of a species that was becoming extinct due to vampires all over the world trying to destroy them? And to spend her human hours working at a dead-end job that wouldn’t pay one rent bill on its own?
Sadly, that’s how it appeared.
The hours dragged on, and finally at 9:30, Allanna escaped the hellhole that was her place of employment. She had to rush back to her place and pick up Cynthia, who had a late shift at the Strip Tease. She felt so bad for her friend, having to parade around like some whore in order to make money. What’s worse, she did the most demeaning work but made more money. There had to be something Allanna could do.
After she dropped Cynthia off at the Strip Tease, Allanna decided to test her luck at a nearby casino and hotel, called the Regency Arcade. Knowing her luck, she’d spend much more than she’d win, but it was worth a shot.
The casino had several different slot machines, as well as a bar, lounge areas, poker tables, and even hot tubs in the hotel rooms upstairs. Several patrons were already playing the slots and table games, but there were still a lot of machines still available.
Allanna approached an Aces Gone Wild machine. She inserted a quarter and pulled the lever, crossing her fingers. Not surprisingly, it did no good.
“Stupid piece of shit,” she grumbled as she put in another quarter. After about 12 of them, she finally gave up in frustration. If she had enough money, she’d pay to have the entire pack moved to some chic neighborhood by the woods where they’d be safe and free.
Unfortunately, she doubted that would ever happen.
As she was walking back toward her car, Allanna thought she felt another presence close to her. She turned around but saw nothing. Wrapping her arms around herself, she kept trudging toward the parking garage, where she’d once again been forced to park her car.
She passed the same alley where the two men had grabbed her and Cynthia so few hours ago. She wouldn’t let that scare her, so, after debating for only a few minutes, she turned down the alley to take the shortcut.
She’d deeply regret that decision, which she found out when a dark shadow appeared before her and a strong arm wrapped around her neck.
But before she submerged into unconsciousness, there was no mistaking the stench of a vampire.