I pushed my way through the bodies shuffling around in front of the warehouse where I attended twelve-step meetings. The place was always packed the night after Halloween. Most holidays presented temptations to an addict, but for a Supe, Halloween was the worst. It was just so easy to blend in.
Inside, my friend Ozzie held court at the coffee machine, a cup of joe in his hand. He was addicted to the stuff like most everyone here, me included. Ozzie said it caused him many a restless day in his coffin, but the caffeine rush was worth it.
“Zeke, my man, you look like death warmed over,” said Ozzie.
“Thanks, dude,” I mumbled. Ozzie wasn’t one to hand out cheap compliments, so coming from him, that meant a lot. “Those are some dope threads, Oz. What’s the occasion?”
Ozzie wrinkled his nose, either at my unnatural hygiene or my babbling zombie-speak, I wasn’t sure which, but knowing Ozzie, probably both. “I don’t need an occasion do I?” he said. Not everyone can pull off the whole grunge thing like you do.” Puffing his chest out, Ozzie ran his hands down the sides of his red velvet smoking jacket and leered at a cute vamp across the room, his fangs gleaming under the bright fluorescent lights.
Ozzie and I had very little in common past the absence of a beating heart and an extremely unhealthy addiction. Like most vamps, Ozzie was a player. Sure, he came here for the recovery, but that didn’t stop him from chasing the ladies. As his sponsor, I spent half my time reminding him that relationships during the first year of recovery were a big no-no. Staying clean was hard enough without throwing the complications of love into the mix.
After pouring a cup of coffee, I looked over the usual selection of snacks and grabbed a handful of slimy grubs. Drool pooled at the corners of my mouth and I began to tremble and grunt with anticipation.
“You really are disgusting my friend,” said Ozzie, then he turned on a heel and walked away.
I followed him to the rows of fold-up chairs and had just settled in to one next to him when I felt an elbow in my side.
“Watch it. You’re gonna knock another chunk of meat off my ribs,” I grumbled.
But Ozzie wasn’t listening . . . because he had his eyes trained on the door where two chicks had just walked in. I was pretty sure the one that had Ozzie’s attention was the sexy young vampire with pasty white skin and a cascade of long copper hair. She had on skin-tight gold satin pants and a low-cut black bustier. Boy did she have a set of jugs.
And next to her was . . . was . . .
Oh. My. Demon. Next to her was the ugliest zombie I’d ever laid eyes on. If my heart were still beating, it would have thudded its way right out of the peeling dead flesh of my chest.
She was young, dead maybe ten years if I had to guess from the amount of wispy black hair still on her head. She had the whole goth thing going on—from her muddy black combat boots to her tattered black t-shirt dress that said Flesh-eater boldly across the front. I felt guilty but couldn’t stop myself from imagining the rotten skin underneath.
Stop it already, you’re acting like a damned vamp, I told myself.
I watched the girl shuffle clumsily behind her friend as they found seats on the opposite side of the room. I wondered how long she’d been clean, maybe not even a day based on her general state of dishevelment. If she stuck around, though, she’d clean up her act like the rest of us. Hellfire, I’d even started washing my clothes every few months.
“Fresh dead meat,” whispered Ozzie. Then noticing my stare, he leaned over and said, “Tsk Tsk. It’s not nice to gurgle over the newcomers.”
Jerking at his words, I covered my mouth to stop the sounds. This was worse than getting caught with my hand in the organ donor jar. But I managed to straighten up haughtily in my chair for a good ten seconds before my torso slowly listed to the right. I did envy vamps and faeries and all the other Supes who were lucky enough to have such precise control of their body parts.
“I’m not interested in her that way, wise-ass,” I said, thankful that my dead skin hadn’t flushed in years.
From the front of the room, a cranky old ghost named Winchester cleared his throat and said, “Okay, please, everyone. Let’s get this meeting started.” All the regulars had jobs at the meetings and Winchester’s was to lead the activities. We had to put him to use somehow since he couldn’t hold a broom or a coffee pot in those whispy, good-for-nothing hands of his to save a life.
“Oswald, why don’t you come up and read the twelve steps for us,” said Winchester. Then he glided over to a seat on the front row.
As Ozzie stood up to go to the lectern, I couldn’t stop myself from peeking over at zombie-girl one last time.
And unholy crap: she was staring right back at me with those big, dead eyes. As I watched mesmerized, the left side of her mouth lifted slowly in a lop-sided smile showing the rottenest teeth I’d seen in years. Damnation, she was hot.
My mind, what was left of it, began to spin out one reason after another for me and zombie-girl to hook up. Yeah, she was a newcomer, and yeah, I knew the rules. But as Ozzie would say, since when did a respectable Supe care about the rules? A cup of coffee and a nice plate of road-kill after the meeting couldn’t hurt. Just one concerned addict helping another.
From the front of the room Ozzie cleared his throat and began his reading of the twelve steps. His deep, throaty voice instantly silenced every grunt, gurgle, and growl in the room.
“One. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction to humans and that our lives, deaths, and every state in-between, had become unmanageable.”