Friday, 10 July 2009

Night Shift

Blake was new on the graveyard shift; from 11pm to 4am. Even though he wasn’t that much to look at, it was his hazel eyes that captured the attention of all the girls. The bad-boy look about him was something they seemed to love; long dark hair, pale features; and he appeared to dominate a room when he entered even though he was only around 5ft tall.
By the end of the first two months, this quiet young man had worked with every person from all the shifts; they had simply changed their lives around to work with him. All of them had tried to make a pass at him but he hadn’t shown any interest. However, there was one who didn’t act like a lost ditsy schoolgirl every time he was around her: Ellan. She arrived at work, punched in her timecard, did her time there and left. This stoic redhead never said much to anyone and a lot of the time, the girls treated her like an outsider. The few times they had worked together, he found she talked to him openly about anything he asked her without blushing, flirting or putting on airs. Blake liked this about Ellan and he could sense that she liked him; but couldn’t – or wouldn’t – show it. When they began a job together, he found that she knew the dirtiest jokes, had been around the world and had the funniest things to tell. As soon as one of the other girls came within earshot, she went quiet and would cast him a wary look before putting her head down again. It wasn’t long before the boss put the two together permanently on the graveyard shift; he found them a good team and knew they got along well enough that if anything came up they’d deal with it together.
One evening, they arrived in the lunchroom around the same time. Neither of them had clocked in yet. Blake leaned back against the sink as he watched her sitting at the table looking nervous.
“You’re quiet tonight.” He observed.
She looked at him: “I want to tell you something. But I don’t want to scare you.”
He sat next to her. His hair fell over his shoulders. Flicking it back, he looked straight at her and touched her hands: “I don’t scare easily.”
She looked into his beautiful eyes and felt so comfortable with him; as she always did and smiled: “But what if they find out? They already hate us working together.”
“Whisper it.”
She leaned in close to his left ear, smelling his scent that drove her crazy, “I’m a vampire; I’d like you to be with me.”
He smiled whispering back, “I’m one too; that sounds great.” He reached up and touched her cheek gently as he moved back and looked at her, “I would hate anything to happen to you.”
“And I you.” She stood, kissing his head as she touched his soft hair, then walked out of the room just before some of the girls walked in. Blake turned and watched her as she left the room. He loved how she was so confident in her own way in his company; yet so shy around the rest of them.
When their shift was over, Blake was found leaning against the railing at the bottom of the steps of the loading bay. He watched all the girls leave and knew that Ellan was on her way. But something about the way the girls all had smug expression on their faces told him to go back inside; it was fortunate that he did.
“Ellan!” he called out in the locker room, “Where are you?”
Her crying was heard from one of the cubicles in the Ladies toilets and he rushed in to find her in the last one beaten up, “Don’t look. Please… don’t.” she held her hands up.
Blake took off his jacket and gently wrapped it around her shoulders as she leaned on him sobbing, “Come on. I’ll take care of you.”
“Who’s in here?” the boss’ voice called out and he walked to where they were, “Oh, shit. Who did that?”
“I can’t point fingers.” Blake said as he helped Ellan to her feet and she limped into the brighter sink area, “But the rest of them left looking very smug.”
The boss nodded, “I bet. Listen, Blake you take her back to your place and clean her up. Take a night off and make sure all the wounds are healed properly.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“I can’t go back to your place.” She whispered, “I can’t.”
“Sure you can. Where else… well, except yours.”
She swallowed, “I don’t want to be a burden.”
Blake looked at her, “You’re not. You’re beautiful.” He adjusted the jacket and wiped her face gently with a wet tissue so that Ellan looked a little better, “I’ll let you come back with me. Sleep there while I get stuff from your place for an overnight stay.”
“Okay.” She smiled, “I’d like that.”
They walked out towards the loading bay, finding it was getting light and time wasn’t on their side. Blake had to rush home. He had to make sure neither of them was burnt and also that she was safe before he went to her place to collect her things.
Once he pulled up to the drive, turned off the engine, Blake found Ellan snoozing. He had to shake her awake and assisted her inside. He called up the boss and asked for her address and got it easily.
Sitting on large bed of the master bedroom, Blake watched her sleep under the covers before she woke, “Hi there.” He smiled, “I’m going to get your stuff.”
“Aren’t you going to risk being burnt?”
“Well, you know we can put up with sun for a little while; so I’ll be back soon.”
She reached out and touched his face, “You be careful. If the place has been burnt down, come back straight away. Don’t talk to anyone.”
“You have my word.” He leaned down the kissed her forehead, “I’ll be back here as fast as I can and join you in there.”
As Ellan had told him may have happened, he found her house burnt to the ground. Blake pulled up to the curb staring at the gutted, smoking building and sighed. He pulled on his gloves and got out of the car to find the fire chief who told him it was arson and the police were still finding out who had done it. Blake wasn’t impressed. He had to find a way to tell the boss about it and told the police who were sifting through the rubble which workplace to start with first – excluding his name and Ellan’s as she was at his place right now. Then, he drove home and called his boss and told him what happened.
“What?” the boss asked, “I can’t believe they’d do it!”
“Well, I said to start with the workplace and filled them in with what’s been happening there.” Blake said yawning.
“Dude, you sound stuffed. Go to bed.” The boss said, “Come back in a few days.”
“Thanks boss.” He hung up the phone, had a shower and climbed into bed next to Ellan. Sleep took him quickly.
Her eyes opened and Ellan found Blake was laying next to her in a large bed in a strange room. Her body ached and she felt terribly hungry. He was awake and looking at her, she knew this, and turned and looked at him. Blake propped himself up on one elbow and gently touched her face. Her hands moved on his cool skin, around his body and the kiss they shared was soft and gentle and loving; making her almost forget what had occurred to her. Then, she caught a mingling scent. Smoke.
“My house.” She said, “You went by there.”
He looked at the foot of the bed for a moment, “Somebody burnt down your house, Ellan. You’ve lost everything.”
“Oh, no.” tears came unabated as she crumbled. She leaned against him, “Not my house. All my ancestors’ things were in that house.”
He hated seeing her this way. Not only did the girls at work hate her; but they hated their relationship. What they’re going to hate more is that they are immortal, “Ellan, honey. You can stay here as long as you need to. I have old stuff here too that I’m terrified of losing; we can share it.”
She shook gently against him as he whispered to her, “I had so much there I was working on. I almost had it right.”
“You mean everything in the house? You life?”
“Yes.” She looked at him, “But you’ve stuck around.”
“Well, that’s a good thing.” He smiled kissing her again. This time they didn’t just stop at the kiss.
Over the next few weeks, Ellan became more comfortable with Blake and decided to find a place nearby. Once she found a house that was partially furnished, she promised to be in touch. However, she became less social inside and outside of work. He knew things were going from bad to worse.
One night, Blake arrived at work earlier than usual. He needed to talk to Ellan about how the girls were treating her. He wanted her to talk to the boss about their attitude toward the two of them as workmates and partners in their shiftwork together. This was starting to affect their relationship too; she was becoming more withdrawn.
The jokes that used to be harmless pranks were now turning into dangerous games designed to hurt and - at times – attempts to kill Ellan. These girls’ jealousy was getting too much. Soon, it was going to turn into mutiny and Ellan was going to be the one they were going to beat up; but then they all didn’t know her secret. He did. This concerned him because it was hard for a vampire to find an honest job and to mix in with mortals; to make a living without being spotted.
On this night, he noticed from the loading bay shadows Ellan filling up the bins for collection the next morning. There were only three or four bags to go. She took her time as they were heavy and she didn’t want to give away her strength. But she didn’t get time to get to the last few as the door opened and five girls came out and circled her. The redhead knew she was in trouble by the way these ones all took turns catcalling and smacking her around. She was finding it hard keeping track of where the next attack was going to come from. They took great pleasure in this game; but Ellan kept her temper and did very little to fight back; as to do so would mean to sire or kill. But Blake could see she was finding it hard to stop herself. Then this little five-on-one took a turn he didn’t expect. One of the girls grabbed Ellan roughly and threw her into an unseen corner. This was when they all jumped on her and beat, punched, scratched and pulled her hair. He couldn’t see her and so had to move to a better position to watch this catfight as it progressed. As he climbed the side stairs next to the massive air conditioning unit, he witnessed a proud moment. Ellan’s demon showed its face. From her crouching position, she leapt forward and emitted an inhuman growl and the girls all ran screaming from the loading bay. Quickly, she grabbed one by the boot and didn’t let go for a few moments. The girl bucked and screamed; terror etched on her face as she clawed at the concrete to get away. The girl saw Blake standing there doing nothing to help her… just smiling at how Ellan had her.
“Help me, Blake.” She pleaded, “Please. Please!”
He looked at Ellan calmly, “Darling, it’s wrong. You know that. Wait until the boss is here.”
She cast him a sour look before pulling on her leg one more time; thus pulling another scream from the already traumatised girl then letting go. They watched as she staggered to her feet and ran from the loading bay hysterical sobs choking from her throat. Blake loved that smell of fear that humans put off; it was such a turn-on.
As the door slammed, he grinned and walked to Ellan’s side: “You really know how to scare the shit outa people.”
“I wish they wouldn’t pick as they do.” She sobbed leaning against the wall, “Now I’ve done it; I’m going to lose the only good job I’ve had in years.”
“By the way you held onto that bitch, you haven’t fed tonight.”
She looked at him, “I don’t get time.”
He glanced at the door before pulling off his jacket and slicing his arm, “Here have a little.”
“Where do you get it? When it’s walking around all the time?”
Blake smiled, “I have friends at the blood bank, the morgue, butchers. There are parties I go to where humans actually pay to get bitten.” As Ellan drank, he felt the turn-on this exercise gave him one time when a vamp went too far on him, “Not too much dear, just a little bit.”
As she finished up, Ellen could see it brought back memories for him. She smiled as she reached up and touched his face, kissing him; her fingers tangled in his hair.
Suddenly the door swung open and the group of five came back out with the boss. Some hangers-on were there too; to see what was going on. They knew those ones had been invited. Blake helped Ellan to her feet as he grabbed his jacket and put it back on.
The one who Ellan had held onto walked to her and shoved her with a broken fingernail: “She’s a monster. She turned into a monster and growled at us.”
“Don’t touch me.” The redhead mumbled, “You touch me again, I’ll show you what I was going to do to you.”
Blake took her hand gently, “Settle down, Ellan. Do you want this job or not?”
The boss walked to them in his grubby blue overalls. His dark eyes flicked from Ellan to Blake then back; regarding them calmly. He smiled as he looked down and pulled from his pocket a remote control and pressed a green button on it. The roller doors began to descend. He kept his back to the humans and his eyes on the two in front of him.
“Boss, aren’t ya goin’ to do somethin’?” one of the five asked.
“What were you five doing out here?” he asked as he turned around, “Ellan is on clean-up; she has authority out here and you don’t. Her partner in crime on this job is Blake. I put them together because you lot treat her like she’s leper; and when I gave her him,” He shook his head, “you got worse.”
The initial five looked at each other and one of them stepped forward, “You don’t understand, she’s a monster. She turned into something else when we …”
“When you made her angry.” He smiled knowingly.
Some of the girls looked at the roller door as it clanged home and locked. The door to the loading bay was suddenly closed too and they heard the deadlock clunk home. It was then, they realised something else was going on. Blake knew they all thought they were going to get a lecture and lose their jobs.
The boss looked at how many were on the loading bay and smiled, “I hired two new people and you lot don’t like them because they’re different.” He half-turned to Blake, “Tell them how you and Ellan are different, Blake.”
He regarded the boss before he looked at the girls: “Ellan and I have been keeping secrets from you all. The fact we’re together isn’t it. We’re vampires.”
The girls all burst out laughing as though he had told a fantastic joke. The boss, Ellan and Blake all joined and the boss walked up and patted one of the girls on the shoulder as he wiped away an imaginary tear, “You think he’s joking don’t you?”
By the time she looked at him, she realised Blake had told the truth and tried to back away, “No!”
The boss grabbed her roughly, pushed her against the wall and fed on her without a second thought. As he dropped her corpse, he turned and grinned, “Dinner time!”