Mia is hosting this Very Merry Halloweeny Blogfest today! Check out the other entrants here, and have a read. This is very much a WIP, which I just came up with in the last hour and a half. I kept going back and changing things, but I very much love Phil, and I hope you do, too.
I apologize for length. Skim, if you'd like. Oh, and don't forget to join my Blogfest Retold, set for November 16!
Phil didn’t hate Halloween, really. But he wasn’t especially partial to it. Why should he be? Smelly, terrible children running from house to house, begging for sweets and threatening tricks if they didn’t get them. The caricatures they drew of the unknown. The way they preened.
And they were coming. It was tradition, after all. Every year, residents of the M-wing of the Rehab center had to see children on Halloween—like it was a therapy of some sort, and not torture. He never trusted children. Even less than he trusted the Government. And look how that had turned out! Granted, some of the residents here had checked themselves in, but most had arrived after the Government mandate that they all register. Of course, Phil had been forced to enter after he was found in that last blood bank. But at least he wasn’t actually attacking people and sucking up their blood. Not that he could have. How many times did he tell them that his teeth were not like straws?
In any case, most of the other residents looked forward to Halloween. They enjoyed the parading around of costumes, the love of the dead, the obscene, the craziness. They picked out their clothes carefully, trying to find the best outfits to wear. The traditional clothes of their people, some of them said. It was a good excuse to be who they really were. To let their true characters out.
Phil didn’t dress differently. He didn’t need to advertise what he was. He certainly didn’t have to—Lewis Smithson, the burly guard who had been assigned to him, did that for him already. Phil had no doubt that Smithson would stay sitting on his chair, reading his newspaper, the entire time the children were there. He could already hear him calling out, “That’s the Vamp. Don’t get too close to him. He’ll suck your face.”
It was to be expected, though he hated it. Hated what had happened to his kind. He hated this hall, where he was always watched, even when he was on his own. He hated Smithson, at least sometimes, and the way he smelled. Phil had no choice but to do his time…but he didn’t need to take part in any show.
For a moment, in desperation, he considered staying with Crazy Wanda, who lived down the hall with about ten thousand cats. Her room smelled of their urine and treats.
“It’s not safe out there!” she cried, as he passed by, back from getting last-minute candy. The only thing left on the shelf in their store—black licorice. His favorite, though, because kids hated it, and the sticks were long enough that he could tuck the candy into their bags from a safe distance.
“Mrs. Weems,” he said, because he always addressed her as such to her face, “There’s nothing to fear. Halloween comes but once a year.” He grinned a little, though he guessed the rhyme was lost on her.
“You say that now,” she said. She held a gray cat, stroking it dolefully. “But you don’t know what it can be like.” She shuddered. “The children…”
He sighed. “I don’t want them here anymore than you do, but shouldn't you get ready?”
“I’m not home.”
He tilted his head. “I think they might know you are.”
“They won’t know.” She slammed her door shut. “Not if they know what’s good for them.” It was muffled through the door, and meaningless. They had taken her magic away. Part of her mind had gone with it. She was a lifer…a useless witch.
He continued onward, ignoring the décor the other residents had slipped into the hallway. Luckily, it was almost deserted. Only Aquina was across the hall, adjusting her mat. She was wrapped in thin green filaments of cloth, which were almost transparent, sequined with fish hooks, seashells and seahorse bones. “Phil!”
He raised a hand, and tried to make his escape.
“Phil! Phil Drakes! Phil!”
He cursed inwardly, but turned. “Ah, hi, Aquina.”
“They’re almost here!” She giggled, and it sounded like pouring water. He noticed a puddle around her feet. Well—now they were feet. Once they were fins. “Where’s your costume? Don’t you have a nice cape somewhere?”
“Oh, I’ve got to—to put it on,” he mumbled, and he quickly shut the door behind him.
As the time drew near, Phil poured black licorice into a basket and began pacing. The first knock sounded at 6:02. It was a girl, dressed as a princess in bright purple, with canine teeth more finely pronounced than his own.
“Happy Halloween,” he said. She smelled terrible. Her blood was too young.
“Are you the vampire?” She puffed up her cheeks and blew between her teeth.
“Don’t talk to him, honey,” the mother said. She laughed, nervously. She smelled much better than the girl.
Phil stared at her. “I won’t hurt her.” He was more concerned about the opposite.
The mother looked surreptitiously back at the guard.
“We keep ‘em locked up well,” Smithson assured her. “He can’t go out of the building, without one of us following him.”
“I wouldn’t even be here, but she begged me,” the mother said, almost apologetically.
“Yeah, well, it’s good for ‘em. To see normal.” He chuckled.
Phil hadn’t seen anything normal yet.
“Say it! Say it!” The girl grabbed his hand, and he recoiled. “Please, say it?”
“Elizabeth!” the mother scolded.
Smithson fidgeted with his paper. “Aw, he can do it. Go on, Vamp. Say it for the little girl.”
Phil narrowed his eyes. “One.” He swallowed. “One stick of licorice.”
“Laugh. Just like on Sesame Street!” She clung to him. He was starting to feel dizzy, with her scent so near.
“Get her away, please,” Phil said, and the mother, eyes wide, snatched her lilac-clad daughter and ran the other way.
It was going to be a long night.