I like how you make all these plans and Life just laughs and laughs and laughs and...well, you get the idea. I'm still going to try to get you as many stories this month as is humanly (and humanely) possible.
Janelle was a homebody by nature. As an introvert with an innate shyness no amount of forcing herself to socialize could cure, she rarely left the comforts of her home.
When she did leave, it was for short periods of time and only when strictly necessary. Ever since her illness, those periods were growing shorter. Janelle simply didn't have the energy most of the time to deal with the outside world.
Yet, here she was in the grocery store at nearly midnight. She found that going late at night meant she could minimize social interactions. She knew she was lucky that this particular 24 hr grocery store was not only well lit but had a police presence. She didn't know if she would dare walk through a nearly empty parking lot on her own.
She was in front of the frozen pizzas when she saw the man out of the corner of her eye. In the nearly empty store, she had managed to 'run in' to him nearly 4 times. Her unease grew as she finally admitted he was following her.
The man pretended to be studying the frozen vegetables but she knew he was building himself up to approach her. She was mentally begging him and the universe at large for him not to do that, but, as she knew would happen, her silent pleas went unanswered.
"Hello!" The light haired man pushed his cart up right in front of Janelle's. In order to get away, she would have to back her cart up several steps before going around him. "Nice night for shopping, huh?"
Janelle gave a halfhearted smile but didn't make eye contact. She was trying to plan her escape route.
"I'm Harris." He leaned his forearms on the handle of his cart. "I think I've seen you here before. Shop here often?"
Janelle groaned inwardly. She just wanted to get her groceries and go home. She purposely came when she had the least chance of meeting people so things like this wouldn't happen.
"Janelle." She still kept her eyes on the items in her cart. "I...I don't come here that often."
"Janelle! Cool name!" Harris said. "Like in that movie?"
Janelle gave a laugh but even to her it sounded hollow. She moved her cart and attempted to go around the man.
"Whoa! Hold up!" Harris turned his cart just a fraction but because of the closeness it was enough to stop her egress. "I want to get to know you more."
"Sorry," Janelle wanted to kick herself for the word but it was ingrained. "I need to finish shopping so I can get home. My boyfriend is waiting for me."
Harris' face stiffened but he didn't move.
"Lucky man." Janelle could see him grip his cart a little more. "You're a very beautiful woman."
"Thank you." Janelle squeaked the words out and tried again to go around the man's cart.
"You got that pale kind of beauty." Harris smiled wide. "Kind of like a noblewoman."
Janelle looked around but no one else was in the aisle. Even though she knew there were cameras and people within shouting distance, she felt trapped.
"I..I have a condition." Janelle knew this was too much information but it came spilling out. "Anemia. It's...it's pretty bad but I'm treating it."
"Oh." The news seemed to surprise Harris but only for a moment. "I guess this sounds weird now, but I find your paleness really sexy. Like, it's mysterious and hot with your dark hair and eyes."
Janelle finally looked at the man full in the face.
"It's a medical condition." She repeated. "I'm sick."
The man didn't have the decency to blush or back down.
"Yeah, but on you it looks hot as hell." Harris continued. "Like a gypsy or vampire."
Janelle had lost a little of her unease as her utter bafflement at this guy's
"That's a racial slur." Janelle said, unable to figure out another way to tell the guy that telling her she looked sexy as a sick person was not a good way to flirt. "An exonym, really, but one that's inaccurate, like saying 'Indians' when referring to a native tribe. Plus, the Romani are traditionally a darker skinned people--"
"Whatever." He cut her off, dismissing the rest of her comments. "You still look hot."
"I'm going to go now." Janelle backed up more and tried for a second time to go around Harris' cart.
For a second time Harris moved his own cart to block her. Instead of keeping up the fight, Janelle backed up until she could turn her cart completely around and went the opposite way down the aisle. Having her back to him made her nervous again but she had to get away.
"It was a compliment!" Harris called after her. "You don't have to be such a bitch about it!"
Janelle moved even faster out of the aisle. When she reached the checkout lane, she threw her items on the belt. There were still several things she needed but she felt she had to get out of the store before true panic set in.
Items paid for, Janelle pushed her bagged groceries out into the parking lot. It seemed darker than she remembered. When she looked back towards the store, the policeman that usually stood outside was in the store talking with one of the cashiers.
Janelle took a deep breath and beelined for her van. She sighed when she reached the vehicle and pushed the sliding side door open to dump her groceries inside. Since she had yet to grab the much needed eggs and bread, she wasn't worried about smashing anything. In her heightened state of fear, she doubted she would have cared even if smashables had been purchased.
"You didn't have to run away like that." Harris' voice was right behind her. "It's not like I was doing anything but talking to you."
Janelle pushed the bag in and stared out hopeless towards the grocery store. Her van's side door was facing away from the store. No one could see the exchange happening.
"Please leave me alone." Janelle turned to face Harris. He was smiling down at her, arms crossed over his chest.
"I just want to talk to you." He took a step towards her, pushing her closer into the van's open door. "You don't have to be like that."
Janelle felt her chest constricting and her breath was coming in short gasps.
"Leave me alone." Janelle said again. "I want to go home."
Harris laughed and Janelle could smell his breath. It wasn't exactly rancid, but she could tell he hadn't brushed after he'd last eaten.
"To your boyfriend?" The sarcasm oozed from his voice. "I don't think anyone's waiting for you, sexy lady."
Janelle was near tears, too frightened to scream out for help.
"Please go away." Her voice was small, barely a whisper. She wanted to sound strong, but she couldn't force it out.
Harris laughed and reached out a hand to Janelle's hair. His wrist past close to her mouth and the thing she feared happened.
Pure animal instinct caused her to turn her head and sink her fangs into his wrist. Before he could scream, her deceptively strong hands reached and twisted Harris' head sideways. The snap was audible and his dead weight immediate.
Janelle could feel the flush come into her cheeks as it always did when she fed. She leaned Harris' dead body into the open van and continued to drink, unable to stop herself, for several minutes.
When she'd had enough to allow her more rational self to take the wheel, Janelle looked around the parking lot. There were no cameras in the lot itself, that she was sure of. No one had come in or out of the store since the attack and she was glad.
Janelle pushed Harris' body the rest of the way into her van, once again glad she had no groceries to smash and closed the door. She would have to take him back to her place. Isn't that, ultimately, what he had wanted?
My lofty dreams of being a famous & brilliant writer were literally smacked out of my head. Now I plan to fill the void with copious amounts of subpar writing!