It was that late point in the night where only the stars and the local bars were still going strong. The local restaurants, however, were shutting down for the night. Melanie had just finished with the side work all waitstaff at The Bay Restaurant were required to do. Unfortunately for her, she had been the closer, and got stuck much later than she anticipated.
Melanie walked back to her car, practically skipping, and checked her phone. A few missed calls and texts from friends telling her to come out. She had no desire to do so after the night she had, not that she ever really did want to go out. She had a bed, a good book, and a long night’s sleep waiting for her at home.
Her boss watched her leave, leaning lazily against the back entrance as he did every night to make sure the employees got to their cars safely. The night had been chaotic, as was every Saturday night at one of the main town restaurants. It was even worse that night for Melanie because she had low blood sugar, and of course her lovely boss didn’t quite understand why she needed to sit for a moment and shove a candy bar in her mouth mid-shift. All of her tables were still well taken care of, she had made sure of that, so she hadn’t seen the problem. Diabetes was a pain to deal with, especially when dealing with blood sugar fluctuations in the middle of a rush, but she had a handle on it.
Melanie clicked the button on her keys and the car responded with a flash of its lights, ready to bring her home. She turned around briefly and waved to her boss, wishing him a goodnight, though still a bit angry with him.
The car was cool from the chilly October night, but not cold enough where the car objected to starting up and heating up.
Something made Melanie stop. She felt strange. But it couldn’t be her blood sugar – she had the candy bar. If anything now, her blood sugar was probably high and she’d need some insulin. But she decided she would check when she got home.
No, it was definitely something else, triggering her senses. Instinct. There was a breeze coming from somewhere it shouldn’t. One of the doors was open, and then closed with a quiet click.
There was someone else in the car, she could feel it.
The hairs on the back of Melanie’s neck stood up, her pulse began to pick up its pace, all senses were heightened. She was afraid to look in the back seat. The breeze had come from there.
She took a gamble and glanced in the rearview mirror and her fears were confirmed. A pair of bright golden eyes stared back at her above an eerie smile and before she knew it that smile found its way to the flesh in her neck.
Melanie woke up in her bed the following morning with no recollection of how she got there. She was still dressed in her work clothes and had an ache in her neck.
She spent the day in her room, avoiding everyone except the dog. She spent hours pouring over the bit of memory she had of the night before and checking the strange marks on her neck. She could only come to crazy conclusions no matter how she thought of it, until she had to go to work again.
It was Sunday, slower than Saturday, but a busy day nonetheless. She was thrilled moreso by the fact that it was an earlier night. On Sundays, they closed at nine, and since they were short staffed, Melanie had been closing every night. She had school the next morning, and was elated when she could get a few more hours of sleep. But as the time approached, she started to feel anxious. She did not want to tread to her car.
“The tables won’t wipe themselves, you know,” The boss called from across the restaurant. But wiping tables meant leaving, something Melanie was no longer prepared to do.
Reluctantly, she grabbed the towel and the spray bottle. The front of the restaurant had the most tables and was usually the best place to start. It was sectioned off, was filled with booths, and had large windows looking out to the bay.
Melanie was halfway through her third booth when she spotted a figure at the end of the row. She froze and stared. Was she going crazy? She had to wonder, it was the only thing that made sense.
The figure waved back and moved into the dim light, just enough so that his golden eyes showed beneath a head of black hair. “Hello,” the stranger began. His voice was deep and welcoming, yet it put Melanie on edge. “I believe we met last night. My name is Gene.” He smiled. It was that same eerie smile from the rearview mirror.
“Yes,” Melanie said in barely a whisper, her mind calculating the best way to get out the situation.
“We need to talk,” Gene said and pointed at the seat across from him. When Melanie didn’t move, he prodded. “I won’t hurt you, relax. I already did that. Besides, you couldn’t get away fast enough if you tried.”
That was true, Melanie realized, she had been thinking it. She put the cloth down and cautiously glided over to the table, never taking her eyes off of him. “What do we need to talk about?”
“I’m a vampire,” Gene said, matter-of-fact.
“Yea, I figured that one out for myself thanks, though I’ve been toying with the idea I might just be crazy,” Melanie said and she started to get up from the seat, almost knocking over a recently abandoned piping hot coffee. No one was supposed to be there anymore, the last clients had left. Where was her boss?
“No come back, I’m not done.” Gene shifted in his seat.
“It better be important because I have no intention of staying in this secluded part of the restaurant alone with you,” She said impatiently and huffed. “I have half a mind to dump this coffee next to me on you in the hopes it actually burns you. But due to the fact that I am not so sure it’ll work in my favor I have restrained.” Melanie was surprised at the confidence in her words. Where on earth did that come from? She couldn’t talk back to her boss – but a vampire, no problem?
“It is, relax. I want to help you, Melanie.” He paused at the surprise on her face. “You are diabetic. To be honest you do have a different…lure than others. So to speak. The sugar in your blood…I can sense it when it changes. It draws me in. You know, I’ve never told anyone before I’m a vampire,” Gene admitted. “You are taking this fairly well.”
“So you are saying I’m like dessert to you?” Melanie couldn’t process what she was hearing.
“Yes, and if you don’t take better care of yourself you are going to wind up dead.”
“Excuse me?” Melanie leaned back in her seat, ready to bolt.
“Not by me!” He held up his hands in peace. “ Show some gratitude! Like I said, I don’t want to hurt you, I want to help, cut me some slack. It’s not easy for me, just for the record,” Gene said, pointing a finger at her.
He seemed so normal. There was no sign on his person that indicated Gene was a monster. It was amazing in every sense of the word, a trick on everything the world had taught people to believe. The creatures from stories and nightmares were real.
“You know, I’ve prepared for this. I read a lot of books, hoping one day I might discover life isn’t only what seems, only, I had hoped it wouldn’t be a vampire attack,” Melanie quietly teased, letting out a hint of a smile.
Gene smiled back, apparently pleased with the way things were going. “Well, lucky for you, I am the best monster you could hope to meet in this world, you don’t know the half of it.”
“Then, thanks? I think?” Melanie wasn’t too sure how to respond.
“Your welcome,” Gene said with a smile and a bow of his head. “Meet me in your car after you are done here. As I will every night – I’m keeping tabs on you. I promise it won’t be the same as last night.”
With that, the vampire named Gene got up from the table at The Bay Restaurant and left Melanie alone. About an hour later, she returned to her car to find a black rose on the hood with a note that said ‘forgive me?’. The same fear trickled through her as she got in the car and was met by the same pair of golden eyes.
“I was hoping to start over,” He said, “And please get home, your number is dropping, you need to eat something.”