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Title: The Vampire Clause
Author: jsblume
Style/Genre Prose / Fiction / Fantasy
Description: What would you do about a vampire in the apartment
Notes:

Colleen watched the sugar and cream dissolve in her coffee. She was a spindly wisp of a girl who managed to look scared all the time. Her waist-length brown hair was streaked with blond and had earned her a rather unflattering nickname.

"Hey, Collie," Malcolm said as he walked into the kitchen and dropped his backpack onto the table. He was nerdy looking in a cute way; his chubby cheeks had a way of dimpling when he smiled, and he smiled a lot.

At the kitchen sink, Malcolm pulled a cup out of the pile of dirty dishes, wiped it carefully with a sponge and rinsed it out.

"How's the coffee?" he asked as he poured himself a cup and then sat down at the table. "Boy, you look like crap."

"Thanks," Colleen mumbled. Her face was thin and drawn more than usual. Dark circles adorned puffy eyes.

"Sleep well?"

Colleen shifted in her chair, added another teaspoon of powdered cream to her coffee and stirred it. The granules swirled around and dissolved into the dark liquid.

"Ugh!" Malcolm exclaimed. Getting up and walking over to the sink, he dumped the coffee and rinsed the cup, and then placed it upside down in the drainer.

"Gotta run," he said and grabbed his backpack off the table. "Early class today."

"Hey, Malc?"

"Yeah?" Malcolm paused in the doorway between the living room and the dining area of the kitchen.

"Did you hear anything... strange last night?"

Malcolm scratched his chin. "Nope. Slept like a rock. Why?"

"I thought I heard something."

"Gotta run," he said, and hitched the falling backpack higher onto his shoulder. He was out of the apartment in a flash.

Colleen downed her lukewarm coffee in one gulp. She carried it over to the sink and pondered washing a stack of dishes. There was hardly a clean dish left and the kitchen was beginning to smell.

"It's not my week to do the dishes," she said.

Colleen left the kitchen through the back, which led into the main hall. The hallway nearly split the apartment in half and was anchored by the front and back doors. On one side of the hall were three bedrooms, and on the other were the living room, bathroom and kitchen. The kitchen was an "L" shape around the bathroom with doorways to both the living room and the hall. Her bedroom was the back room and its door was directly opposite the bathroom. Malcolm's room was in the middle and their new tenant had taken the front room two weekends ago.

After checking her makeup one last time in the bathroom mirror, Colleen retrieved her backpack from her bed and rushed down the hallway. She didn't spare the closed front bedroom a glance. The new guy gave her the creeps.

* * *

Malcolm was sitting on the couch watching television when Colleen got home. She tossed her backpack onto her bed as she walked passed her room and into the kitchen. Looking at the pile of dishes, she took a deep breath and counted silently to ten.

Colleen returned to the living room, picked up the remote control from the coffee table and turned off the TV.

"Hey!"

"You were supposed to do the dishes!"

"Oh, yeah." Malcolm grabbed the remote from Colleen's hands and turned the TV back on. "After this show."

"I'm hungry and there's not a clean dish in this apartment!"

"Don't be such a cranky ape."

Colleen huffed and walked back into the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator, wrinkled her nose, and pulled out some deli meat, cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise and the loaf of bread. After putting those on the table she opened a drawer in search of a knife. None were to be found; at least, none that were clean. She stood at the table and prepared a dry sandwich. Colleen returned the unused portions to the refrigerator, took a can of soda, and carried her dinner to the living room. She sat in the chair as far away from Malcolm as she could.

He barely noticed Colleen. His eyes remained glued to the TV set.

"This one was just on two days ago," Colleen said around a mouthful of food. She swallowed. "How can you watch this show over and over again?"

"It's a funny show!"

"I don't get what's so funny about a bunch of geeks and a blond waitress."

"It just is." Malcolm laughed at one of the jokes on the show. He pointed to the screen. "See?"

Colleen shook her head and took another bite of her sandwich. She decided to stare out the window rather than watch the antics being played out on the television.

The last of the waning crescent sun had just dipped below the horizon.

Colleen turned at the sound of a door opening, and nearly choked on her sandwich. Brett stood in the doorway to his bedroom and looked about the living room. He had a ghastly pallor about him that made Colleen want to throw up. She grabbed her cola and took a hasty sip, trying to force the food down her throat.

He filled the doorway with his presence alone. Impeccably dressed and immaculately groomed, Colleen figured he must have used the bathroom just before she got home.

Brett nodded at her, and then turned down the hall and walked to the kitchen. Colleen could hear the sound of water and the clinking of dishes.

Another episode of Malcolm's show had nearly run its course when Brett came back down the hallway, nodded at them again, and left the apartment.

Colleen put down her plate, jumped out the chair and rushed to look out the front door window. Their first floor apartment sat in the middle of a large residential neighborhood. She watched as Brett, without looking up for traffic or pedestrians, crossed the street and moved swiftly up the sidewalk. He disappeared from sight in moments.

Colleen walked to the bathroom and eyed every detail for several minutes.

"When was Brett in the bathroom?" she asked. Colleen sat down in her chair and picked up her sandwich.

"Huh?"

"It doesn't look like it's been used in a while."

"I don't know."

"I don't think I've ever seen him eat. And I've certainly never seen him out of his room in the daytime."

"What are you babbling about?"

Colleen stood up. "Never mind. Just watch your show."

The kitchen sparkled. Colleen hesitated to sully it by placing her dirty dishes in the sink. How could Brett have cleaned it so thoroughly in such a short period of time? Not only were the dishes clean, but they were all put away as well. The counter tops and table had been wiped clean, and even the floor shined as if it had been recently mopped.

Her heart sank. Dejected and uncertain what to do next, Colleen walked into her bedroom, shut the door and locked it. Maybe it was nothing. She had no proof; just the wild speculations of an over-active imagination.

* * *

Colleen tossed and turned. Her mind kept playing short scenes over and over again. Brett standing in his doorway. The strange flapping sound she thought she heard at night. Brett coming out of his room just as the sun set. Her mind kept repeating the same questions over and over again. Why have I never seen him eat? Why have I never seen him out during the day? Where does he go in the evening? Why doesn't he ever talk?

A faint sound, like flapping wings. Colleen froze and listened intently.

A creaking door, barely audible. Colleen waited, shivering under her covers, as her clock marked the passing seconds.

Slipping out from under her covers, Colleen eased open her bedroom door and looked down the hall. The apartment was silent as a tomb. The full moon cast an eerie light into the distant living room. Squeezing past her door, Colleen sidled along the hallway and paused at Brett's door. She put her ear to the door and tilted her head down, listening for the slightest sound. She noticed a small, dark spot on the floor. She knelt for a closer look. Was that a drop of blood?

Colleen jammed her fist into her mouth to stifle a scream. She turned and hurried back to her room, closing the door behind her as quietly and quickly as she could.

* * *

Mr. Calvert knocked on the apartment door. He looked at his watch and knocked again. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other to ease the strain of his weight on his right knee.

Malcolm opened the door.

"Hey, Mr. Calvert." He paused a moment, panicking over the condition of the apartment before remembering that Brett had cleaned the kitchen last evening. Malcolm stepped back and invited Mr. Calvert in.

"Good evening, Malcolm," Mr. Calvert said. His eyes inspected the living room in a single glance and he nodded faint approval. "Thank you for making the time to meet with me."

"Not a problem, Mr. Calvert," Malcolm said. "My classes are usually over by midafternoon anyway."

Mr. Calvert walked across the living room and glanced into the kitchen.

"As I mentioned, I received a rather strange call from Colleen."

"Yeah, what was that about? Her room is cleaned out."

Mr. Calvert crossed the living room again and stepped far enough into the hallway to glance into the bathroom. He turned to look at Malcolm.

"I'm not certain. She babbled something about the lease needing a 'vampire clause' and made it clear she would not set foot in here again."

"Huh."

"I understand the dynamics of strangers residing in an apartment. There is a clause in the lease that allows a person out of the lease, with thirty days' notice, if there is an incompatibility."

"That's cool."

"Colleen has agreed to pay through the end of next month. However, you and Brett are still responsible for the full amount of the rent. I will do my best to find another, but if you have any college friends in need of a room please let me know."

"Okay."

Mr. Calvert had returned to the front door again. He turned up his nose slightly and sniffed.

"You may want to get a deodorizer."

"I will, Mr. Calvert."

Malcolm closed the door and returned to his TV show.

Copyright @2012 by jsblume. All rights reserved.
jsblume has granted JS Blume Publishing™ non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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