Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Finding You by Santino Hassell

October 31, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Finding you image

Note: This is a follow-up to STYGIAN and contains spoilers.

 

The world had changed a lot in forty years.

There were fewer trees and more people, and most had developed addictions to mobile telephones.

In the time it had taken Hunter to stagger through the department store, his unkempt appearance had barely garnered any stares. Everyone was too busy staring at the slim piece of technology that ran lives.

He’d never noticed this in the young men he’d lured into the woods over the past few decades. But those boys had all been dreamers. Fragile people with creative impulses and gentle souls, who were easily enraptured by something like Hunter. They’d mistook his oddness and isolation as a reflection of themselves only to realize too late that you could not be kindred with a monster.

Your drama won’t help you find the little drummer boy.

Laurel’s voice was so vivid that he nearly turned to see if she’d risen from her shallow grave by the river to follow him from Logansport. But it wasn’t so. It couldn’t be. Her skull had been crushed to bits by—

—his beast of a boyfriend.

Hunter’s canines throbbed. His nostrils flared.

The need to inflict violence on Kennedy tripled even though Jeremy was the real prey.

Drummer boy is just as guilty if not more so, you damn fool. There’s nothing romantic about revenge. Stop thinking with your barely beating heart, and go have a drink before withdrawal kicks in.

It was the best advice Hunter had ever received from an auditory hallucination. Blood withdrawal would just take him to the gray place in his mind, and then he’d never find Jeremy. The blood connection was a necessity to keep him reasonably functional around people.

Lashing out at strangers in a big city was out of the question. What he needed was a willing victim.

But first he needed clothes.

Look to the left, and you’ll find your way to both.

“Hi.” He spoke so softly the sales clerk didn’t even turn. “Hello?”

This time, the clerk spun on his heel. He was the same height as Hunter but with an aggressively curly halo of light brown hair, reddish-gold eyes, and a wide mouth that, again, brought back memories of Jeremy. The vague resemblance shattered once the clerk cocked his head, raised a brow, and looked Hunter up and down with brazen intrigue.

“Yeah?”

Hunter closed his hands into fists. Speaking was harder than he’d expected, but he hadn’t been in society since the 70s.

Speak, fool. Ask for help. You’ll never pick anything on your own, and you know it. Decisions aren’t your strong suit.

“I’m slightly overwhelmed and wondered if you could help.”

“Overwhelmed?” The guy looked around the clothing section of the store. “I guess it is a little messy.”

“No, I—“ Hunter swallowed with difficulty. His throat was dry. “This may sound strange, but I need clothing and I don’t know what to buy. There’s so much.”

“I’m not a personal shopper or anything but you’re hot, so I guess?”

There was a certain amount of insolence in the hip-swaying youth that both appalled Hunter and turned him on. The boy was gum smacking, bubble popping, and had a little jaunt to his step as if a secret song played in his head. He was also shamelessly and blatantly queer.

How must it feel to live in a small town and be so oblivious, or uncaring, about the judgment of your peers? That question had plagued Hunter through his youth—before Laurel and the turning of his humanity—and it had returned constantly during his slow journey from Logansport to Center. The vampirism had melted away his serotonin, his impulse control and humanity, but it had also turned him into a more androgynous version of the person he’d once been. And he’d worried… that someone would identify his queerness. Lean out a window and lodge a rock or swerve in his direction for a laugh, and then he’d become an animal and leap onto the roof to tear them through the windshield.

A police pursuit would severely hinder his ability to find Jeremy.

“Formal or casual?”

“I’m sorry?”

The clerk—Jaret according to his nametag—glanced over his shoulder. “You wanna be fancy or you just need something that doesn’t look like you’ve spent the day rolling around in the grass?”

“The second. Please.”

“Kay.” Jaret whistled to himself and led Hunter through packed aisles full of denim, plaid, T-shirts with large colorful graphics. “I’m thinking black. Black and silver. Or black and red.”

“Why?”

“Because you look like the guy every Goth kids wants to grow up to become.”

Hunter didn’t know how to take that comment, so he said nothing. He trailed behind the clerk with his hands in his pockets and his shoulder slightly hunched, and wished it were possible to not stand out so much. He had a plan, and that plan would be impossible if he drew unnecessary attention. The tricky part was that he’d been isolated so long, he had no idea how to blend into this world. It was familiar and foreign. Things had been much simpler in the woods stretching gently along the Sabine.

And more boring. We should have been out of the hellhole of that town all along. We could have found others.

He silently shushed Laurel’s voice. Being around others like them, like him, was frankly terrifying. The creature that had turned her had been a monster.

Jaret held up a pair of jeans, scowled, and tossed it back to the rack. He repeated this three more times before heaving a tragic sigh.

“Everything here sucks.”

Laurel’s voice murmured an encouragement so vague all he got was a hint of the suggestion. His heart sped. Anticipation caused his canines to extent slightly.

“Maybe you can take me somewhere else.”

Jaret didn’t need to be drawn into a mind-controlled daze to nod in agreement. His sassy smirk made it clear he was more than willing. And when their hands clasped, and their fingers squeezed together, Hunter allowed Jeremy to drift from his mind.

There was time to find him later.

***

Find out more about Santino Hassell here!

2 Responses to “Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Finding You by Santino Hassell”

  1. Carla says:

    LOVED IT!! And a bit worried with that last sentence! Thank you Santino!

  2. Ooh, I very much enjoyed that! Thank you. :D

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