The Roaring Times


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Looking across the street, submerged in muddy slush and crowded by irritated New Yorkers, Sasha questioned whether he really wanted to cross or not. Because of two weeks of snow, the pedestrian crossing light had failed.  Because the city commission consisted entirely of conceited jerks, it still wasn’t fixed a week later. With four normal lanes, a bus lane on the far side and a bike lane on the near, this is what he considered a problem.

 Why God? Why, exactly do I of all people have to deal with this?, the committed atheist demanded. There wasn’t a choice. He had to get home before dark. If he didn’t, he could expect his lovely fellow Manhattan vampires (who called themselves Manhattan Manics for some reason no sentient being could discern) to warmly welcome him into their territory by taking his head off. That, at least, was the traditional way of killing vampires.

Taking a deep breath, Sasha put his headphones in, pressed play on his playlist, and plunged into the six lane abyss. A small sedan came screaming up the first car lane and, like most Manhattaners Sasha had met, had no idea brakes existed. Cussing, Sasha jumped forward to prevent becoming a hood ornament. It was only Thanksgiving and people were already trying to decorate. Despicable.

Reaching the other side with only a few other, minor incidents, Sasha turned right onto Farland Street. He picked up his pace as dread began settle in his stomach. His apartment was still miles away and the sun was beginning to go down.

“Have you seen my mittens?” A little girl stopped in front of Sasha wearing a pastel yellow jacket, pink hat and … mittens.

“ I think they’re on your hands,” Sasha supplied, amused.  

The girl looked down, then smiled up at him. “No, I mean Mittens my kitty.”

“Oh, well…” He looked around nervously. “I don’t see a, uh, kitty.” He paused. “Shouldn’t you be getting home?” Before angry supernatural creatures come to tear apart the idiot you’re talking to? Also, it’s Thanksgiving. When all the family was supposed to be together and not wandering the streets. What kind of parents did this kid have?

“I need to find Mittens first. He might be cold.”

Why do kids have to look so innocent? Sasha had always had a soft spot for kids, and this one, unfortunately, was no different. He sighed.“ We can look for Mittens after we get you home. Where do you live?”

Halfway around the block was a small two story house. A nice little place with a small yard that harbored a large tree and a flower garden, it was pretty, quaint and utterly boring. As they strolled up the walkway, a blonde woman in a beige turtleneck and jeans rushed down the steps to meet them. “Kathy Jane Thomson! Where have you been?”

Looking like the world had just fallen apart, the little girl threw herself at her mother and whimpered, “Moooomm! I didn’t mean to but I wanted to play with Mittens so I opened his pen and then he just ran out the door and I couldn’t stop him and I’m so sorry! I had to look for him. It’s okay though ‘cause he brought me home.” She pointed at Sasha.

The mother put her arm around the girl as she turned to Sasha. “Thank you for helping Kathy Mr…?

“Sasha works fine.”

“Well, thank you Sasha. I’m Tiana, and that’s my husband,” she said, gesturing to the soccer dad.

Tiana turned toward the house.“ I should let you go. Your family’s going to be very happy to get you home.”

There had been many moments in Sasha’s life where his poker face had gotten him into trouble. The problem? He didn’t actually have a poker face. Everyone, from that British soldier in 1782 to the bird guy in the roaring twenties, knew Sasha’s  heart was permanently showcased on his sleeve. So when the nice woman with the adorable child told him his family should actually care about him, his face showed his despair.

Tiana paused. “Did I say something wrong?”

“Oh, no,” he quickly reassured her. “I just, ah, don’t really have that great a relationship with my family.” At least I didn’t when they were alive.

Kathy piped up. “He should eat with us then Mom! You always say people should be with family on holidays, but he has none, so he should be with us!” Tiana nodded to this then looked at Sasha, who hesitated. People who randomly decide to invite someone they just met to thanksgiving dinner? Even if I helped their little girl out, that’s a little to Hallmark for me.

Before he could give a polite no and escape though, Kathy ran up to him and took his hand. “Will you stay with us? Please?”

Sasha sighed in defeat. At least he could make a little girl happy.

Brian was much like the other two members of the Thomson family. Which was to say weirdly happy and accepting of everything. Kathy’s parents started setting out plates and food as Kathy delegated herself host and tour guide. Sasha was shown around one perfectly idyllic room after another, until Tiana called them to the table. Predictably, the food was perfect as well. And Sasha would know because he had traveled around the world for a couple hundred years tasting all different kinds of food. He still loved human food despite the fact that what kept his body running were humans themselves. Tiana’s turkey, gravy, stuffing etc. wasn’t mind blowing, just a forgettable good. Mittens had yet to turn up, but apparently he had a habit of running off to return within a couple days. After dinner, they played Sorry for a couple rounds, with Kathy giggling all the while.

For the first time in a long time, Sasha was happy. Even before he was turned, no one from his little village in England ever really acknowledged the fact that he was a living being, let alone been nice to him. After his turning, it was much the same. Vampires weren’t the most social type.

After the third game, Sasha finally decided he should quit while he was having a good time. “I’d love to stay and play more, but I should be getting home.”

“Ohhh. Do you have to? We were having so much fun!” Kathy wined.

“I’m afraid I do, Kathy. Everything good has to come to an end, and its best to let it go without too much protest. That way, the last memory is a happy one.”

Kathy didn’t look convinced, but hugged Sasha and said her goodbye.

The world was red with sunset when Shasha walked out of the Thompson’s’ house. He had never understood why people made a big deal of seeing your last sunrise when sunset was always more vibrant.  As he got back onto Farland street, he was met with four shadows blocking the way. God damn Mani- Blood showered the street as the shadows fled.

Darkness fell as a small, sleek figure emerged from the darkness. It walked up to Sasha’s head and sniffed, poking the slick red with it’s tiny pink nose. Slipping away, the figure turned towards the Thompson house as a car went by. The gleam of headlights reflected off a small, heart-shaped tag around the figure’s neck that read Mittens.

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