Billy, that little asshole, sat in the backseat with his arms crossed and stared at Laura Wells-Robinson in the rearview mirror of her Lexus Hybrid SUV. Her reflection was perfectly visible and undistorted thanks to a deep, dark spray tan that she refreshed weekly. She believed the spray tan to be one of the most ingenious inventions of the last century of her life.
Laura was one of the designated carpool moms on Fridays, and Billy was her last stop. The kids were in ninth grade, and after campaigning for independence would likely secure their after-school freedom soon. Luckily, Laura only needed this one last ride with Billy.
Senses sharpened in anticipation, her nostrils flared at the scent of the sweat and cheap deodorant that stained the armpits of his oversized gray t-shirt that featured a Rolling Stones logo, the one with the red lips and giant tongue. An odd choice for the boy, and she wondered if it had belonged to his father, the real one.
The neighborhood rolled by her driver’s side window in scenes of suburbia. A woman clad head to toe in Lululemon pushed a jogging stroller, a shirtless man with the beginnings of a paunch mowed his lawn in neat rows, and a pair of shrieking children ran through a lazily spinning sprinkler.
“Sam sick or something?” Billy asked, not bothering to stop the smirk that curled his mouth and made him look quite ugly.
She squeezed the steering wheel with fingers tipped by blush-pink nails and felt a section of the steel rim bend. “Just a bit of a stomachache. I’m sure with a little TLC over the weekend, he’ll be good as new by Monday.”
Billy rubbed his knuckles, which were crusted over with scabs. Laura wondered if he was remembering the feel of her sweet Samael’s soft abdomen yielding beneath punch after punch.
She looked both ways at the stop sign, then glided smoothly through the intersection of Olive and Vine. “Have you had all your shots? Vaccinations?”
“Silly me, those are required for school aren’t they. How’s your health otherwise, have you ever been admitted to the hospital for any illnesses or allergies?”
His brow furrowed. “No.”
“That’s good.” Guiding the vehicle with one hand, she fiddled with the charm that hung in the hollow of her throat, a picture of her miracle baby enclosed in the gold locket. Her kind rarely brought a pregnancy to full term. Very rarely.
“You’re weird,” Billy said.
She flashed him her best, most sincere smile in the rearview mirror, one that didn’t match her words in the slightest. “And you’re a bully. An ugly, stupid, bully.”
“Fuck you, bitch.”
She pulled the car into an empty space at the curb. Just ahead, a school bus deposited a group of kids at the curb, and they ran past, backpacks slung over shoulders and books clutched to tiny chests, paying no attention to the Lexus with the heavily tinted windows.
“Is that really the only response you can think of? Like I said, you’re stupid.”
He scooted up on the seat and pulled his cell phone from his pants pocket. “I’m calling my mom.”
In a movement so quick he didn’t even register it, she unbuckled her seatbelt, turned, and stretched over the center console to grab his wrist, twisting until the bones bent but didn’t break. She had enough practice to know exactly how many pounds of force human joints could withstand before snapping.
“Let go of me, you bitch!” he screamed.
She released him, settling back into the driver’s seat. “We’re not done talking. Put your phone away.”
Billy shoved his phone back in his pocket and cradled his arm. His face and neck flamed red, but she didn’t see any tears, not yet. “I’m telling my mom you did that.”
“You grabbed me, tried to break my arm.”
“Oh, dear. You are quite a troubled young man, aren’t you?”
“You’re a fucking psycho.”
“It’s no wonder. I mean, we’ve all heard about how your father left, abandoned you. And then your mother remarried so quickly.”
“You don’t know anything about me.”
“And your stepfather, well…” She heaved a sigh. “He likes to drink, doesn’t he? A bit too much, from what I understand. I mean, I’ve been known to have a glass of Chablis with dinner, but whole bottles of whiskey?”
Billy began to shake and glanced out the window on the passenger side, as if just noticing that they’d parked. “This isn’t my house. Take me home.”
“No. I’m not done with you yet.” Her voice flattened, losing the sugary sweet lilt. “Do you like hitting people, Billy?”
“Sometimes.” He glared at her.
“Did you like hitting my Samael?”
He gave a harsh laugh. “I knew that little pussy would tell.”
“So, did you? Like it?”
“Yeah. So what?”
She ran her tongue beneath her lips, as if checking for lipstick, but she knew her strawberry gloss was still perfect. “He’s young yet, hasn’t fully grown into his strength or his bite.”
“His bite?” He frowned.
She smiled her real, predatory smile this time and her fangs lowered, pressing into her bottom lip with sharp points.
Billy’s shoulders relaxed and he laughed again. “Nice try. Like I’m going to fall for some Halloween bullshit.”
A growl built in her throat, a low rumble, and she locked her gaze with his, made sure he saw as the whites of her eyes shifted to pure black.
He shrieked and lunged for door handle, grasping with hands she knew had held down and hurt many of his classmates, including her son. Those hands liked to, needed to, hurt.
The door didn’t open. “Child safety locks. You can never be too careful.”
His chest hitched, and his face glistened as tears ran down his cheeks.
“There we go,” she said, an approving note in her tone.
“I want to go home. My mom will call the police if I’m not home soon.”
“Oh, don’t be such a pussy.” She cringed. “That’s a terrible word, you know, just awful. You really shouldn’t use it.”
His panicked breathing filled the quiet of the car with an echoing pant, the only other sound the gentle hum of the idling engine.
“Calm down and breathe, I don’t need you fainting in here like some damsel in distress.” She waved dismissively in his direction. “You’re going to make it home just fine, perfectly unharmed.”
“Of course. I picked you up from school, so everyone knows you’re with me. I’m not a complete idiot, unlike you.”
“I’m not an idiot. And you are in so much fucking trouble when I tell my mom, when I tell everyone what you are.”
She batted her eyes, which had returned to normal. “Mommy, Ms. Robinson-Wells is a v-v-v-vampire,” she said, her voice pitched high and whiny. “She has scary eyes and pointy teeth, and she grabbed me, and she threatened me. Mommy, you have to save me from the monster.”
“I don’t talk like that!”
“But that’s how you’ll sound, dummy. And no one will believe you.” She smoothed the front of her immaculate white polo. “Because there’s no such thing as monsters, and even if there were, they don’t look like me. I’m the president of the PTA. The co-chair of the JC’s Spring Garden Tour. The top fundraiser for the band’s fall trip to Washington D.C. Did you know my Samael plays the violin? They’re competing in the national ensemble competition, and I think they have a shot at winning.” She raised one hand with fingers crossed.
Billy gripped the door handle again and pulled.
“I’m not finished with you.” She growled.
“No one will believe you because you are a disturbed boy who has a history of lashing out. And your mommy, well she doesn’t really care about you, does she? You learned about hurting from someone, probably your stepdaddy, maybe your real daddy, too. And your mommy never stopped them from hurting you, did she? She won’t protect you.”
He let go of the door handle and curled his hands into fists. “I’ll fucking kill you.”
“No, I’ll kill you,” she said, her voice a shard of ice. “If you say anything about what’s happened today, about what I am, I will kill you.”
A muscle pulsed in his jaw, and she knew he wanted to try and attack her, but some deep part of his brain, some survival instinct, stopped him.
“You may be stronger than my Samael, for now, but I’m much, much stronger than you are. I’ll come to your house in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping, and I’ll climb into your window. It’s on the first floor by the lilac bushes, right? I won’t just bite you; I will latch on to your neck and tear at your flesh, ripping out your throat so I can lap up your blood. And after I’m done with you, I’ll go up the stairs for your precious mommy. Her, I’ll wake up, so she can see my face, see what I am before I kill her very, very slowly.”
The sharp stench of ammonia filled the car. Urine. A seeping darkness stained the crotch of Billy’s cargo shorts and pooled on her leather upholstery.
Wrinkling her nose, Laura reached over and flicked the switch for the door locks. “You can walk the rest of the way home. And don’t ever touch my son again.”
Billy said nothing, just scrambled from the car, slamming the door behind him. She watched the boy run down the sidewalk. He shoved a little girl in a blue-checked dress who was playing with a bright red bouncy ball in her driveway. The girl fell to the rough cement on her hands and knees, crying, and the ball bounced and rolled across the street.
“Yuck,” Laura said and rolled down all the windows to let in the cool breeze. Her duffle bag sat on the passenger seat, and she pulled out her gym towel and tossed it on the pooled urine, hoping it would soak up most of the mess. She’d have to remember to drop off her car for detailing in the morning.
Several tawny wrens chirped excitedly as they flitted among the leaves of the Oak tree that grew from the neatly trimmed berm, its branches shading the car from the late afternoon sun. An older gentleman in a straw sunhat walking a fluffy, white Bichon glanced toward the vehicle and tipped the brim of his hat in her direction.
“Nice day, isn’t it?” he said.
“Just perfect.” She smiled and gave him a wave before buckling her seatbelt, shifting into drive, and pulling away from the curb. When she passed Billy, now traveling at barely a loping jog, she honked. He jumped as if shocked.
Laura giggled, picturing the look on his face when she showed up in his bedroom. Not tonight, or next week, or even next month. Let him stew in his fear, always wondering if and when she might come for him. Samael was developing quickly and should come into his power by spring.
By then, Billy would have himself convinced he was safe. They wouldn’t maul Billy as she’d threated, that would put their entire clan at risk of exposure. A knife would do just fine to cut him, to allow them access to his blood. He might be an asshole, but he was young and strong and healthy. A fine first meal for her sweet Samael.
Angela Sylvaine is a self-proclaimed cheerful goth who writes horror fiction and poetry. Her debut novel, Frost Bite, will be released October 2023. Her novella, Chopping Spree, an homage to 1980s slashers and mall culture, is available now and her short fiction has appeared in various publications and podcasts, including Dark Recesses, What One Wouldn’t Do, and The NoSleep Podcast. Angela’s poetry has appeared in publications including Under Her Skin and Monstroddities. You can find her online angelasylvaine.com.