The rusted ’78 Nova’s door clanked shut behind him. Crinkled in his hand was his green unwashed apron. He threw it on, flattened it, and headed in the back door at Crystal’s Cafe. His Name tag read, “Chance”, and had a pair of red dice on it. The ladies knew him by his tagline: “Take a Chance on Me.” As stupid and corny as he knew it was, he was never alone on a Saturday night.
“What’s up ladies? I’m here; you’re going to have to stop talking about me, now.”
He winked at Bella who had her phone glued to her hands – as usual. He knew that within 10 seconds flat she would have already posted his “dork-factor” for the day on both Facebook and Twitter.
He sighed. This was his life. This was ’Gap, and his time here was almost up.
He had heard all the stories: werewolves, zombies, mummies, vampires, fairies – all that crazy stuff. In truth, he knew at least half of it was likely true, but the less he let on he believed, the more likely he could get out of this crazy town and take his brother with him.
Until Chance got the job at Crystal’s, he had no idea how many ways there were to say, “I’d like a coffee.” There was battery acid, bean juice, cupped lightening, drip, elixir of the gods, high octane, jitter juice, life blood, morning mud, plasma, rocket fuel, turpentine, warmer upper… The list went on.
His job was actually fairly simple: He stood at the register, took the order and the cash, and called the order to Bella or Crystal. They would make the go-juice, and sometimes he would see them reach under the counter for bottles without labels. Then, he’d hand the beverage to the local regulars.
Rounding the corner into the work area of the café, Chance looked up to see the hottest girl he had ever seen walked through the door. This was a girl he wanted to take more than just an order from, but before he could get to the register, Bella stepped quickly between him and the sexy blonde.
“Crystal says you forgot to punch in,” she whispered and pointed to the back room.
“No biggie. I can do that after taking this order. Let’s not be rude to our new customer. Sorry, Ma’am, I’ll be right with you.” He looked into the eyes of the girl with red-rimmed glasses.
“No, you won’t.” Bella pushed him aside. “I got this. Go clock in before I clock you. Get it?”
He didn’t get it, but he wasn’t going to push it; he needed this job.
“Sorry about that. I’m Bella. What can I get you today?” Bella smiled sweetly at the woman as he sulked to the back room.
“Why, yes, thank you. I’m Mrs. Underwood. I’m new to the area…” was all he heard before he felt a tight pinch at the tip of his ear and realized Crystal was dragging him after her.
“Ow, Ow, Ow, Crystal! OWWWEEEE!” He finally managed to pull his ear free and rubbed it.
“You MEN will never learn. Did you look close at the blonde bombshell in front of you? No? Didn’t think so, or else you would have seen that she wasn’t thirsty for our coffee, but your warm skin and what rests within.” She paused and eyed Chance as he tilted his head like a puppy.
“Blood, my dear. I know you try not to see what goes on in this town, but it’s going to kill you if you aren’t careful.” She slapped the back of his head and pointed to the time clock. “Now go punch in, and thank Bella for saving your life. I don’t like that lady’s kind, but everyone is welcome here – as long as they play by the rules.”
Chance walked up to the register just in time to see his little brother, Timmy, come slamming in through the front doors, oblivious to all the paying customers.
“Make it quick, little man. I’ve got orders to fill and a stockroom to count tonight before I can leave. So, unless you are on the brink of death, maybe you should talk to Todd and Linda.” Not out loud, Chance continued in his head: “That’s what parents are for, right? Even foster ones.” He puttered behind the glass cases, while looking down at the already perturbed boy bending eagerly over the counter and faux-whispering.
“We had a sub today: Mrs. Underwood. I think she’s a vampire, and she may have already killed Paul!”
Chance stared at his brother firmly. Shut up little man, he thought to himself.
“You never believe me!” Timmy shouted as Chance grabbed an order from Bella and plopped it on the counter.
“Order for Mr. Arctor: Monster Double Drip!” He looked down at the 12-year-old.
“Seriously, dude? I’ve told you! The post-woman is not a werewolf, the diner’s cook is not a shape-shifter, our foster dad is not a grave robber, the mayor is not hiding a secret government conspiracy with Dave’s Auto Service and Tire to do alien autopsies in the back part of his garage, and your substitute teacher is not a vampire!”
Chance caught the glint in Mrs. Underwood’s eye before she could slip out the door. The fuming 12-year-old was completely oblivious to her presence and ran out the door only a moment after her.
Chance slumped against the counter. What was he going to do? His loud-mouthed little brother was going to ruin it for both of them; he was sure this tall glass of fangs was going to kill them both.
“Bella?” He looked to her for help but she, was once again, texting. “Can you get off your damn phone for a second here? That blood bag is going after my brother.”
“I know. I was texting Ash to see if he could come in and cover for us. She’s going to try something, and that’s not playing by the rules of this town.”
Five minutes later, Ash came through the back door, complaining about how “This better be good” because he was missing some band practice.
“Thanks, man, I owe you.” Chance clapped him on the shoulder as he and Bella ran out the back door, with Crystal yelling after them to be safe.
“My car!” Bella sighed, rolling her eyes at Chance’s “Classic” – or as she preferred to call it, his P.O.S. “Where would Timmy have gone?”
“I’ll call Tamara; if he’s not hanging out with her, she’ll know where he is.” He hit the speed dial while Bella started down Main Street.
Tamara didn’t disappoint. “Thanks! …No! You stay home! I’ll call you later, and let you know he’s okay.” He hung up the phone and pointed backwards. “He was on his way to meet her at Community Park.” The car screeched and turned as Bella pulled the wheel tight against her. “What do we do when we get there?”
“Kill her before she kills Timmy!” Bella shouted. “Are you really that stupid? She’s not here to throw him a party!”
“Kill her? With what? I don’t have holy water or garlic hidden up my ass. You have a stake up yours?” He laughed. It was all he could do. She only shook her head at the poor joke.
“It’s a park. Grab a tree branch, break it so it’s sharp, and stab it right through her heart.” The car ran the stop sign at the entrance and Bella turned her lights off, rolling to a stop with the engine already off.
“Have you done this before?” Chance looked at her, wondering how she knew how to stalk a vampire.
Before Bella could answer, Chance saw them about half a city block away; Timmy was cowering under a street lamp and the tall blonde was skulking toward him like she was on solid ground.
“Crap!” He grabbed the door and ran, heart racing, adrenaline pumping. He was no hero. He was no vampire slayer. He shouldn’t be doing this, but it was Timmy out there. He would do anything for his brother… anything. He ripped at the closest branch, using all his strength and his momentum to pull it off as he ran. He heard Bella, close behind, doing the same.
Chance saw Timmy throw his bike at the vamp, only a hundred feet away, but she was already on his little brother. Chance watched as those porcelain teeth sunk into his brother’s skin and Chance’s heart. He felt shattered, angry, and defeated, as he hurtled his entire body at the woman in front of him.
She let out a scream that was more animal then human, as the makeshift stake pushed through her chest and left her a huddled mass of blood and flesh.
“Timmy? Timmy? … Stay with me, little man!” He looked down at the puncture wounds on Timmy’s neck. Blood flowed slowly out of them.
“Shit!” was all he heard behind him. Chance looked up to Bella, searching for some kind of hope, but she only handed him her makeshift stake.
“It’s up to you…” she said callously. “One stake or two.”
Chance studied her back as she retreated, head hung low. He was left alone in the street light, holding what little humanity was left of the boy once known as Timmy.