Thinking about submitting vs. self-publishing. Thoughts? Would you keep reading?
Ed’s not sure why he think’s push-ups are gonna help. But there he goes.
Over the course of the six days they’ve been in this… dormitory… she thinks she’s probably seen him do more than a dozen variations. She wouldn’t have guessed there were that many different kinds of push-ups.
One-armed, of course.
The handstand variety, with various arm spacing.
Maybe the most impressive were the ones where he unfurled his entire body horizontally, parallel with the ground, and balanced on just his hands. He managed by leaning his weight far forward on his wrists until his body made something of a 7 turned sideways. And then…
It’s been a comforting sort of hypnotism, she supposes.
It’s not like she’s had anything better to do than watch him.
At least Ed’s smart enough to know:
She’s waiting to die.
They’d been ‘briefed on their situation’ the first night they were brought in, rounded up like lowing cattle, shoved into a sad and sick mockery of an elementary classroom. There were tiny desks, composition books if they wanted to take notes, even the classic green chalkboards, though they looked like they’d never been written on. It was all so out of place in the white-on-white facility. It was almost funny.
Because then the ‘teacher’ walked in and she was…
But, clearly, not dead.
Ed has seen a lot of fucked up shit in her time. She’s been on the streets four years now and she’s seen shank fights break out over the last needle, men crowded around something curled and whimpering with their flies down, feral dogs with red snouts and gleaming eyes and Ed not looking too closely at whatever they’re tearing up. She would have told you she’d seen everything.
As if the world she’d know as ‘real’ wasn’t fucked up enough.
Now she’s got to consider if all the monsters from mythology are real.
Werewolves? Elves? Goblins? Trolls? Fairies? The fucking Kraken? The Leviathan?
“Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?”
She supposes it’s only appropriate she’s quoting from the Bible at a time like this. And quite literally muttering to herself in a corner.
As their undead teacher had explained it, the vampires have gone and gotten organized about this whole bloodsucking debacle. Apparently it’s been almost four hundred years now since someone has been ‘Turned’ successfully. Four hundred years since the last new recruit.
Four hundred years since the human race was “strong enough”.
Since the 1700s we’ve gotten electricity, indoor plumbing, modern medicine; out of the shit jobs of the agrarian and then industrial eras, we’ve grown a mighty service sector where we sit at desks and talk into telephones and type our poor little fingers to the bones in safe, nine-to-five jobs.
We’ve gotten flabby.
We order pizza for delivery and videos streaming to our Internet TVs so we never have to leave the fucking couch.
In four hundred years, no one has been Turned successfully.
So now they’re rounding up humans like cattle for branding.
Sucking them dry and doing the voodoo they do.
And the latest batch includes Ed and push-up boy.
Delusional, push-up boy.
As though the only thing that’s been missing in four hundred years is a body-builder.
There are about thirty total in their roundup. A good twenty from the streets like Ed; she supposes they’re hard to miss, hell, the city will probably thank their lucky stars. Ten that were probably just loners. No family or friends to miss them. Not really. Not enough to call the cops.
Or, Ed doesn’t know, maybe the fucking Vampires are the cops. Maybe they’ve got a leech in every branch office to scoff at any theory that dares to come even remotely close to the truth. Fudge a little evidence. Create a few mass-murderers bewailing their innocence as they’re walked to a chair with straps and a needle to put them to sleep.
Leastwise no SWAT team has burst in yet. From the time they drove and the bumps in the road for the last half-hour, they’re somewhere in the country. Something about the dank that lingers in the air has her convinced they’re underground, which makes sense.
No one is coming.
No one except the ‘Elect,’ as Professor Vampire called them.
Gonna come choose, each their own fuck buddy for the night.
Fuck ‘em. Kill ‘em. Dispose of the corpse.
They’ve been doing it for centuries.
Professor Vampire told them to do what they could to prepare.
Hence push-up boy.
Hence the guy who maybe really was a professor once, sitting across the common room now in a torn sweater with elbow patches, trying to ferret his way through a thick tome on medieval history, maybe smart his way into keeping a pulse.
There’s one girl who’s been running on a treadmill pretty much since the moment they got here.
Everyone eating huge slabs of meat and all their veggies each meal.
Fuck. Ed wants none of it.
It’s all lies.
This whole fucking life has been lies.
That her father, “really does love you”, her mother whispered.
That one day she’d go to Oxford and study whatever she wanted, as long as it was a hard science, and finally figure out the cure for cancer, or Alzheimer’s, or invent a prosthetic that moved with your brain waves or the tiny electrical pulses from the nerve endings in your stump…
That she was expected to do more than brush her hair and dress nicely, find a husband and fuck him and have nice, boy babies so at least her father could hold out hope the family name would be honored in the next generation…
Why had her mom stayed?
Why hadn’t she come when Ed begged her to, begged her to…
…How did it all end here?
Too many questions.
And, in the end, they won’t matter any more than all those push-ups.
So when the lights flicker on and off, curfew for the ‘recruits’, Ed shuffles back to her cot and lets the door bolt behind her.
The final, frantic screaming starts down the hallway.
Someone else has finally realized.
That it’s useless.
That they’re all gonna die.
Ed pulls the pillow over her head.
The Elect are coming in the morning.