This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Never, in her life, had she spent so much time alone. At the clinic, there was always the constant din of people bustling about so that she always yearned for peace and quiet. Funny because, now that she got it, she hated it. Starr sighed long and loud as she stared at the snow on the old, cracked television in her dim, dark dingy motel room. Across the room, she could hear something scraping at the floor, but she didn’t bother to get up and see what it was; it was probably another cockroach, anyway. Since she’d been turned, her senses, including her hearing, had improved, dramatically. Before, she would have never heard a bug, let alone a cockroach, digging around a floor. Starr decided to go for coffee, as she’d done twice already that day. She laced up her knee high, black leather, steel toed boots, grabbed her black
leather jacket, and then turned to leave. But, just before she went to the door, she kicked the little television, which shattered into 100 broken bits against the wall and down onto the carpet. For Starr, who had become superior in strength, since being turned, shattering the television was the equivalent to a human breaking a water glass. According to L.S. Credenza, an author and expert on Starr’s condition, each person, who was turned, would experience an increase in their natural abilities. For example, Starr’s ex best friends: Shane, was already kind of a mind reader before she died, and was now adept at empathy as well as telepathy; Marla, was a serotonin deficient insomniac, and now she could go weeks without sleeping; Mica had exceedingly good hearing – even better than Starr’s - , now, and could hear conversations through walls as well as blocks away, since being turned. Starr couldn’t do any of these things, but she had become so strong that she could take on more than few men at once, and, just last week, in the middle of the night, she ran a few miles in fifteen minutes. The only thing they all had in common, being what they were, was quicker reflexes, stronger senses of smell, and a thirst
for blood. Fortunately, they didn’t have to drink it, like the myths said. They could go months without blood, really. For Starr, if she was really craving it, there were plenty of butchers in the city. Starr found that an uncongealed blood pudding, or an uncooked haggis, was especially satisfying to her red craving. She walked, quickly, through the hallway and down the steps. Starr didn’t want to be seen by any of the residents of the flea bag motel because they were all bums or drug addicts; that and she, herself, was squatting. Like she’d done every day, since she’d left the clinic, she walked to the corner of the building and sat outside the fence, for a few minutes, before going on her way. From there, she’d use her superhuman senses to determine who was inside, and what was likely going on. Starr could have returned to the clinic, but she thought it was best to stay away from Shane, who had confessed to thinking that she was a danger to others. Last week, when her friends and the kids were held hostage by drug dealers, Starr
lost it when she accidentally cracked open a man’s skull. Although they didn’t need to drink blood, like legends say, they did crave it. When she saw part of the man’s brains, visible through a missing piece of skull, it incited fever in her, like catnip to a feline. Instantly, she went into a psychotic feeding frenzy, and she couldn’t stop. Of them all, only Starr had this reaction to the sight of blood and body organs. Starr shivered, not because she was cold, but because remembering the taste of those brains excited her, once more. Of her comrades, she was the most ‘animal’ of them all. Animal was a term coined by L.S. Credenza in one of the books she wrote. It meant that some people lost part of their humanity after being turned. For Starr, this was somewhat true, for she still had her morals, but she struggled, daily, with her new desires which were, not to drink blood, but to hunt. Credenza concurred that the fables were wrong; it wasn’t blood that was irresistible to Starr’s kind, but it was the scent of fear, and fear was everywhere, in the city.
“It is the instinct of a lion, or a wolf, to pursue fear, to squash the weak, and to challenge the strong (Credenza, 1955).” Couple her new animal instinct with her unstoppable strength, and she was nothing more than a lion in a jungle. Starr, who was a natural athlete, a runner, a black belt in karate who could bench press like a man when she was human, was now, potentially, an unstoppable killing machine. Sitting on the sidewalk, she sensed that Lily, her favorite abandonee, was there. Despite being the most ‘animal’ of them all, Lily was the only one who incited a feeling of caring, inside her. Lily reminded her of herself with the way she looked up to Starr; she looked up to her sister the same way, before they killed her. Using her superhuman sense of smell, she could tell that Shane was there, too. Starr hated to leave Lily without saying goodbye. She depended on Starr the most, but Shane was always there. It was she who chased Starr from the clinic, made her feel disgusting for being who she was, and accused her of ‘vamping out.’ Vamping out was also a term Credenza used to describe when their kind lost human consciousness. The vampire,
within, would take over, making the person completely ‘animal,’ but whereas an ‘animal’ was simply devoid of human feelings and human instinct, the vamped out were unable to mimic being human. For example, the minions in the movie, Dracula, were vamped out: brainless, zombie-like creatures that were only driven to drink blood and eat organs, endlessly. According to Credenza, the effect was usually temporary, but it was possible that one could vamp out long term or forever. In the case of a long term vamp out, it was best to kill the vampire with a wooden stake through the brain, fire or dismemberment. “Contrary to the myths, smashing a vampire’s heart would do no good because it stopped working, after being turned, anyway. In the case of vamp out, destruction of the brain’s cortex is a must, to ensure death on the spot (Credenza, 1955)” Starr hated to think of it. What if Shane was right? What if she was capable of vamping out? Deep inside, Starr knew that what happened with her and the brains could happen again, and that’s what kept her away from the clinic. She didn’t want the others to
know what she was, and especially didn’t want to disappoint Lily. She would have given anything to be more feeling. Not that Starr couldn’t feel love, hate or anger but she hadn’t felt complex human emotions since being turned. Feelings like anxiety, nervousness, sadness, excitement or surprise were nearly impossible, for her. According to Credenza, it would take a large memory jolt for a person, like Starr, to feel love, to remember it, which was probably why she went out of her way for Lily. Lily made her remember her sister; she made her remember love. Maybe, she supposed, she was more ‘animal’ because of what she went through, right before she was turned. If Marla was permanently conditioned by lack of serotonin in her brain, making it so that she now never needed to sleep, then what would being turned at the peak of a psychotic break do? What would being turned after finding one’s sister dead and lying in a pool of blood, on a street lord’s bed, do? What if the shock, the numbness she felt at that moment, would be with her forever, just like Marla’s insomnia? It wasn’t that crazy, she thought to herself. After all, it was the balance of a brain’s chemicals and synapses that were responsible even for feelings.
To that day, though, Starr still wasn’t sure what happened after she’d discovered her sister’s body. She stood there, feeling numb yet, at the same time, a desire to kill so deep, so furious, and unlike anything she’d ever felt before. She could feel the pressure of wanting to hurt someone welling up, pressing against her chest, raising the hairs on her scalp, making her eyes bulge out, when something, too quick for her vision, swooped around the room. She turned around, and, though she couldn’t see them, knew there were a few people in the room with her. There was a brief pain, on her lower neck, and she passed out. Starr supposed that that’s when it happened; that’s when someone turned her life around forever. Starr? A voice whispered into her mind. Another thing Shane could do with her telepathic ability was communicate with others, mentally. She’d tried to talk to Starr several times since she’d left the clinic, but she ignored her, and walked on.
Come back, Starr. We need you; this is your home, too. That was for certain. It was Starr who first found the abandoned clinic and it was her idea that they should stay there; that they should bring Danny and the others who were either abused, or had nowhere else to go. So why was she leaving? She should kick Shane out? Because she knew, deep inside, that Shane had something on her. She saw, and probably told the others, what she’d done with the drug dealers; how she’d torn apart their bodies, and how, like cracking an egg, she cracked their skulls open so she could feel the brains, soaked with blood, run through her fingers, feel the soft sweet salt and spongy texture of the meat slide down her throat. She wandered into the Bean Buck Café for, what would be, her twentieth coffee in the last two days: it was all she could do. She was bored, concerned about cutting off her friends, and she needed a job. She ordered her usual double mocha. The fables would have you believe that vampires only drank blood, but it just
wasn’t so. In fact, there was something about chocolate and coffee that was just as fever inciting as blood. One time, when she’d passed a Godiva’s, she broke out into a sweat. She went inside and purchased over two dozen chocolates, and then proceeded to shove them into her mouth the way she ate the brains, like a dog. She could control these behaviors around these substances, but it was very hard when the substance was especially pure. A bar of dark Hershey’s would make her sweat, but a Nestle chocolate chip was negligible; a Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee bean would make her shiver, but a handful of Folgers was like a handful of dried soil. She sat down and started reading the morning paper, which she’d already read twice that day. Another advantage of being turned was the quicker reflexes and mind. For example, she could now read three times as fast as she did when she was human. She could read the entire newspaper in ten minutes or less, or do all her homework in less than thirty. Someone sat down across from her. “Hey,” said a guy with bleached out hair.
It was Antony from her school. Only, last time she’d seen him, he was avoiding her for some reason. She sighed, loudly, and said, “What do you want, all of a sudden?” “All of a sudden?” “Don’t pretend. You know something about me, and that is why you acted strangely toward me at school; that’s why you’ve been avoiding me.” “Wow, Starr, always so direct. If you want to make me uncomfortable, I’d prefer if you just punched me in the stomach, really.” He was silent for a moment. Starr wasn’t going to be the one to speak first, so she just stared unblinkingly into his crystal blue eyes. “Well, I,” but Starr stood up and walked off. She wasn’t going to be lied to; it was one of her pet peeves, and she could sense by the bitter sweet air of pheromones that he was about to spew some random nonsense. She didn’t think he was, necessarily, a threat to her, but until she was sure, it was best just to stay away. The second she exited the shop, she knew someone else was anticipating her. Unable to pick up a scent, she continued,
cautiously, along the street, looking about for the source. “Hey, Starr,” said a girl. To her left, standing in a space between two walls, stood a tall brunette with a shaggy hair cut and heavy black eyeliner around her marble blue eyes. In her hand dangled a cigarette and, the other, a flask. A few weeks back, the girl helped her out when she was corned by two girls from school, not that she needed her help. Starr was simply engaging in a game of cat and mouse with the girls, or should it be mice? Starr hated cigarettes. To her preternatural sense of smell, it was worse than a toilet. Normally, she would have kept on walking, but she was so bored that she decided to engage the girl. “Hey.” Starr grasped for some conversation to make, but all she could think of was, “Have you been painting graffiti on all the walls at school?” “Why would I do that? I don’t even go to school.” One thing about the girl, that made Starr uneasy, was she didn’t have a scent. Most people had a distinct pheromone that
would change from foul to high notes of sweet, depending on what they were up to, or how they were feeling. At the same time, some people didn’t smell of pheromones at all. If it wasn’t for Starr’s unexplainable ability to sense, simply, the presence of other people, she would not have known that the girl was standing there. What really bothered Starr about ‘no scents,’ as she liked to call them, was not being able to tell when they were lying or up to something shady. Despite the girl being a ‘no scent,’ Starr knew she was lying. Her instincts were extremely sharp, even without the girl’s body chemistry giving her away. “I was just curious. I see you hanging out with Antony, and I’m pretty sure he’s involved. Are you two here, together?” but the answer to her question came as he walked out of the shop with two coffees in his hand: one he handed to the girl. “I’m Bielz,” the girl said. “Nice to meet you.” “Yeah,” she smirked. “Sorry about that night.” Starr caught Bielz following her the evening after she’d helped her out. When Starr confronted her, she pretended not to know what Starr was talking about. It was
this behavior that, initially, made her avoid Bielz and Antony, but seeing as she was so bored, she decided to be friendly. Maybe she could make some new friends. “So, uh? We’re going to a party over on the avenue. You want to come?” Starr looked at her a moment and, though she had mixed feelings about the girl, she said “Uh, sure.”
Terrible Friends Chapter 2 They walked along the avenue, Bielz and Antony drinking spiked coffee, and Starr walking alongside them, trying not to inhale cigarette smoke. “So how have you been?” asked Bielz. “Well, thanks, but bored, actually. I guess that’s why I’m tagging along, and I hope you don’t mind.” “You don’t need to apologize,” said Antony. “We invited you,” and he handed her the flask. “Take a sip. You look like you need it; you look so intense, all the time.” “What’s up with your names? They are different. Are you from another country?” asked Starr. “Our parents are Eastern European, but we were born here. We live a few blocks over,” answered Bielz. “So you’re siblings, then?” “Yep.” “Oh,” said Starr.
Normally, she could sense when people were related, and especially siblings, sometimes cousins too, but because Bielz was scentless, Starr was completely fooled. “Well, you’re certainly close, for siblings.” Briefly, Starr had a flashback to a time when she and her sister fought because Starr wouldn’t stop following her. It made her cry, to be rejected by her. “Yeah, well, we got no one, so we take care of each other,” said Antony. “So your parents aren’t around anymore?” “We have a useless uncle.” “What about you? From around here? Got family?” asked Bielz. Starr remembered when her parents didn’t come home. It had been over a week, she and her sister were scared to tell anyone they were missing. “No, not really” “So you’re all alone?” “Yeah.” “Sad, really.” They continued on for a few more blocks before turning up the steps to a shady apartment complex. Someone buzzed them
through and they continued up a stack of urine smelling stairs. At the back, there was an open door they walked through. Inside, music was blaring and a few dozen college kids were hanging about. “Eh! Antony,” said one beefy looking guy. “Bielz,” a girl called from across the room. Bielz grabbed Starr on the elbow and lead her to the girl. “Hey, girl,” they hugged. “Hey, this is Starr. Starr this is Jenny.” “Hi,” said Starr, but the girl merely looked her up and down. The girl’s dismissal incited the sort of fever that Credenza described. Instead of being offended, as she would have if she were alive, she was turned on. She wanted the girl to challenge her, that way she’d have an excuse to make the girl fear her. Bielz and Jenny talked for a minute while Starr stood there like a jerk. Finally, she walked off to see if there were any interesting people in the room.
Someone tapped her on her right shoulder, and she knew it was Antony, but pretended to be gullible by looking right even though she knew he wouldn’t be there. “Haha,” he laughed. “I can’t believe you fell for that.” “Tuh, lame.” “You are no fun, girl.” “I can be fun,” said Starr, indignant. “Yeah, sure.” “It’s just because I don’t know you.” “Hey, Antony,” said a guy in passing. They talked for a few minutes when the sound of broken glass was heard through the loud music. A guy fell through the window onto the small fire escape. “You guys!” a woman shouted. “The cops are gonna come, if you don’t stop.” “Too late,” said Antony from behind. In came two bright beams of light that temporarily blinded Starr. Her first instinct was to panic and run, for the last thing she wanted was to be picked up by cops. “Man!” exclaimed Antony. “We just got here; now we have to leave!”
“I gotta go, now,” said Starr, moving through the crowd, passed the cops. “Wait,” said Antony. “I’ll come with you.” Starr didn’t wait. Quickly, she walked to the door as the cops searched the party for the apartment’s resident. “Where’s Bielz?” she asked. “She’ll be off with her friends, tonight.” As they walked down the front steps, a dozen other partiers flowed out and around them. They walked to the end of the block. “Well, I gotta go home,” said Starr. “Wait! Let’s hang out a bit more. I know where everyone’s going.” Starr’s uncertainty must have shown on her face because he then said, “Come oooon,” and, grabbing her hand, attempted to drag her. When he bounced back into her, like a pong ball to a paddle, he said “Damn, girl! You must be made of rock.” They continued through the dark alleys, and into a grass clearing. It was the place where Bielz thought she was protecting Starr from getting beat up.
There was a small fire going behind a large dumpster, where a dozen youths sat on a cement slab, huddled together and trying to stay warm. Antony put his arm around Starr and rubbed her shoulders; a sweet gesture, but Starr rarely felt cold anymore. The only thing she felt was warmth, when exposed to rays from the sun. One time, she stuck her arm under direct sunlight to see what would happen: her skin burned to a deep brown and gave off a foul smelling odor, like burning trash. As soon as she pulled her arm away, it healed almost immediately. Fortunately, all Starr needed was sunscreen to deflect the ultra violet rays. Credenza claimed it was his - or her, as they were not able to determine the sex of the author - , research that first discovered that it wasn’t sunlight, per se, to destroy vampires, but it was the ionizing radiation within the spectrum of electromagnetic waves. That they could, in fact, live by daylight, if they wanted to; it was just easier, in the old days, for them to live by night because there was nothing to deflect ultra violet, like all the SPF lotions that are on the market, today.
Starr could hear Antony’s heartbeat, feel his blood pumping through him, feel his warmth, and the pulse of his blood flow. She liked it, and she settled back into his chest where he wrapped his other arm around her. He gently kissed her ear, and then her cheek. She could sense that he was getting aroused. His fingers touched her neck as he pulled back her long black hair, and kissed her. They kissed for a good while until there were more flashing lights and the sound of a dog barking. Another cop was coming to chase them off. “Listen, I’m going home, but I’ll see you at school.” “Okay,” and he kissed her lips.
Monday, Monday Chapter 3 As she walked up to the school doors, Marcus Rent was there to greet her, as usual. “Hey, Satan! Hahahaha.” And, as usual, Rachel and Chloe, her sworn enemies, were on par. “Hey, Starr! What did you do this weekend? Did you see your daddy in hell?” asked Rachel. “Yeah,” chimed Chloe, “did you see your slutty, soul sucking succubus mother?” “Hahaha,” said Marcus. “Nice! A tongue twister!” The school had endured another heavy dose of graffiti over the weekend. The front doors of the gym said “die, die my darlings,” an ode to the Misfits, Starr supposed, and the cafeteria wall stated that someone had peed in the macaroni. Pictures of toilets were painted on several of the bathroom doors, not to mention all the bad words everywhere. Now there were fliers on
every wall, stating that whoever was caught would be persecuted as an adult. At break, she followed Starr and Chloe down the hall, in between class, because they seemed to be especially engrossed in a conversation. Starr hadn’t forgotten about Rachel and Chloe and their attempt to intimidate Starr. It was Rachel and Chloe that Bielz had attempted to rescue Starr from being ganged up on. They were up to something, and Starr was determined to find out what it was, not because she cared about them, but because she could tell that whatever they were up to was bad. Although ten feet back and surrounded by loud talking, Starr’s hearing was still good enough to get that they were meeting someone, later that day, named Jacque. “Did you pick out a couple outfits?” asked Rachel. “Yeah, I’m bringing the pink Wang knock off and the white Calvin Kline.” “Okay and do me a favor? Try not to look like a total bum, this time? Your make up was horrendous.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Chloe but they caught Starr watching them and got silent. Chloe opened her mouth to say something, but Starr cut her off with “I know what you’re up to. Better be careful, or else I might just let that something slip.” Although she really knew nothing, her comment put Rachel and Chloe on guard. They tried to look tough, like Starr’s words hadn’t affected them, but they did. Their perspiration picked up and they put off a slight scent of fear in the air. Starr could have stood there and basked in that scent all day. She didn’t see Antony until after school. Walking out of the last class of the day, she caught him standing beside the door of her afternoon classroom. From behind, Marcus was making jokes about Starr as usual, until Antony jump-kicked him in the gut, sending him backward into the students behind him. Like dominoes, he and all the students, behind him, tumbled to the floor. Starr laughed hysterically as Antony said, “Come on,” and grabbed her hand. They ran just in time, too, for the teacher nearly got out in time to catch them.
“Sorry,” Antony said. “I’m not afraid of those guys, but I can’t get into trouble again,” he panted. “Well, thanks for sticking up for me.” Antony’s actions made her feel a little tickle in her brain; she was impressed that he went out of his way, for her. Was she feeling flattered? “Come on, let’s get some pizza.” “I can’t. I gotta run across town and meet someone, real quick. Wanna come?” “Sure. Can we get pizza after?” “Yeah.” Starr felt a certain satisfaction at the idea of them eating together. Am I attracted to him? She wondered if she was experiencing an emotion. Is attraction animal or human instinct? Both, she supposed. Lust was a basic instinct necessary to procreate, to bring together under the laws of natural selection; it was hardwired into animals, and humans
were animals, though further along in evolution than other species. If what she supposed was correct, than lust was completely possible. It’s important not to confuse lust with love, Starr told herself. Lust is only physical attraction, but love is a human instinct. Love is valuing a person’s virtues, and Starr didn’t value anyone, not even Lily, technically. Once again, she was simply following her instinct. The scent of pheromones, she got from him, made her skin tingle, but it was only lust, an animal instinct. “So where are we going?” “To visit my friend, Lily.” They walked up to the middle school fence where most of the kids were being let out. Lily was a twelve year old girl she’d found shivering on a stoop in the middle of the night, months ago. Apparently, her mother had locked her out of the house. Starr, suspecting drugs, for who could accidentally lock their kid out, brought Lily to the clinic and, from that night on, she’d been a regular. Starr inhaled deeply, hoping to catch Lily’s scent. All the students, together,
confused her, though, so then she tried to sense her presence, the way she sensed Bielz at the coffee shop. “Come on,” said Starr to Antony who followed her as she followed Lily’s presence all the way to a classroom. They sat on a stone bench and waited for it to let out. “Starr!” she shrieked. Lily ran up to Starr and gave her a big hug. “Hi, Sweetie,” she rubbed her head and shoulders. “I missed you. Why aren’t you at the clinic anymore? They won’t tell me anything, just that you thought it was for the best. I didn’t buy it though.” Lily was always a sharp girl, which was another reason why she reminded her of herself; Starr rarely took anything at face value, let alone people’s words. “Well, let’s just say that we had a falling out, and leave it at that.” “Are you gonna come back?” “I don’t know, maybe, but not right now. Want to go get some pizza?”
They walked along to the pizzeria that was a few blocks nearer to their part of town. “So, let me get this straight. You all live in that abandoned clinic?” asked Antony. “Yes, but you can’t tell anyone,” stressed Starr. “Or else they’ll take us away,” said Lily. “I want to move in. Can my sister and I live there?” “There’s no more room. Besides, we only take in those who literally have no place to go, or are being abused in some way. You, both, have your uncle, even if he isn’t all that great. He’s not beating the crap out of you, and you have a bed to sleep in. But us? We have no place to go, except into the crappy system.” System was a short name to describe the networks of foster homes, adoption agencies, and orphanages for kids without families. “I’m going to tell you this, just this once. If you tell anyone, I will come for you as well as the person you’ve told. The last person who tried to squeal on us is now missing three toes. Be forewarned.” In truth, however, the person who told, on them, was now dead, as was the cop
who attempted to stake out the clinic. Starr thought it best. How else was she to guarantee their silence? Also, another reason why Shane and Starr didn’t see eye-to-eye: to Starr, anything was better than the system. Besides, the people she killed were both as dirty as feasting fecal coliform. If they had fed them some line about why they couldn’t live in the abandoned clinic, rather than harass young Jenny, she would have let them go. Shane argued that they had families to take care of, but given who they were, weren’t their families better off without them? “Jeez, Starr. Okay, I get it.” Although Antony pretended to be affronted, Starr knew he actually liked her scary toughness. It occurred to Starr that, in some ways, Antony was just as sadistic as she was. He was attracted to Starr because of her tough exterior; although that might make him more masochistic, it occurred to her. They sat at the table eating their slices. Lily continually begged Starr to go back to the clinic. When she wouldn’t she begged Starr to let her come live with her. “Trust me,” Starr said, “it’s a dump. It’s also the size of your room; we’d be noseto-nose all the time. When, or if, I can get a
big enough place, then you can come and live with me.” Starr and Antony walked Lily back to the clinic. “Will you come for Thanksgiving dinner?” Starr had forgotten all about the upcoming holiday. “I don’t know. But I’ll come see you next week, sometime. Okay?” Antony, who seemed to have taken a liking to sweet Lily, too, ruffled her blonde hair and said goodbye. Starr hugged Lily and watched her duck under two boards nailed across a small walkway that lead to the clinic’s glass door.