It was almost unsettling how quiet it had become. Mere minutes ago, the cramped space was filled with so many sounds. The chaos of crisscrossing conversations. The distant background music. The clanking of coasters, mugs, and spoons. And now the neon ‘OPEN’ sign has been unplugged. Its buzz, the last vestige of unnatural sound, has been stripped from the ambient soundscape. Leaving nothing but absolute silence.
Jasmine stood behind the counter, resting on her elbows. She usually enjoyed this part of her shift. The silent tranquility between the hustle bustle of the open hours, and the arduous task of cleanup that was soon to come. As she struck a match to her American Spirit, she couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling the silence brought with it tonight. Like some kind of dreadful omen. She decided she would turn the music back on and make sure the front door was locked, just as soon as she finished her cigarette.
The silence was suddenly broken by the swooshing of the front door, followed by a surge of frigid air. Without picking her eyes up from the ashtray, where she was snuffing out her cigarette, Jasmine unenthusiastically said, “we’re closed.” The sound of persistent footsteps was coming nearer, but just as she was about to look up, her cellphone started to dance and buzz on the counter right in front of her. Oddly, the display showed it was her little brother calling. She reached for the phone, completely forgetting about the person rapidly approaching her from the other side of the counter.
“JAZZY! YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF THERE! YOU’RE NOT SAFE. HE’S COMING!”
Jasmine took the impact of a blow, like that of a sledgehammer, off the side of her face. The hit was so powerful, it sent her cartwheeling sideways into the wall ten feet back. She crashed squarely on her shoulder, adding a stinging pain, to match the numbing heat on her swollen face. She slowly raised her stunned body to her hands and knees, but her aggressor was already on top of her. Delivering a swift kick to her face, flipping her over backwards, an arc of blood splattering the wall. Before she had a chance to react, he was on her again. Lifting her off the ground by her messy hair. He drove her head into the wall, decimating the sheet-rock, as her head pounded through, stopping only at her shoulders.
At least temporary, her attacker seemed to stop. “Good evening Jasmine,” he sarcastically spat out. “Where’s the fucking kid?”
Jasmine pulled herself back through the wall and sat on the floor, looking up at the speaking voice. “What kid?”
“Don’t fuck with me Jazzy. You know exactly who I’m talking about. Where is he?”
“He hasn’t been around for a few weeks. He won’t be back. You have nothing to worry about.”
“Liar!”, he yelled, delivering another swift kick towards Jasmine’s face. Only this time, she was prepared for it, as she deflected his leg to the side, with her arm. She sprung to her feet, and crushed his leg, at his knee, snapping it rudely the wrong way.
He screamed out in agonizing pain, gripping both sides of his destroyed leg. “Fucking bitch!”
“You could have come in here and talked to me and this wouldn’t have happened. But no! You come in here and trash the place and try to muscle me around. You piss me off! What the fuck? I should drag you into sunlight, you little bastard. I swear, all you youngsters are the same. YOU! Don’t stand a chance against me. Try it again and I WILL kill you.”
“Y…you can’t protect that boy. I will find him, and I will kill him.”
“You had your chance the night you got sloppy and let him see you,” Jasmine responded, now standing over the cowering boy.
“I sent your little brother to do the job, and he couldn’t get it done. Not my fault,” he shot back weakly, slowly scooting along the floor. Suddenly regretful of the way he chose to get his information from Jasmine. He knew he screwed up before, and with his foolish act tonight, he made his situation far worse.
“It IS your fault. You should have known better than to send Timmy to do that work. He’s too young and too inexperienced. He still hates to feed, and you send him to murder a child? You’ve got to be crazy. He wanted to sire the kid for fuck sake.”
“The kid has to die. He keeps sniffing around.”
“I told you, he won’t be back. I scared him off. Trust me. His vampire hunting days are over.”
“I can’t take that risk. You and your brother can’t protect him forever. I will find him.”
Jasmine grabbed her unwanted guest by his throat and dragged him across the floor toward the back of the building. She tossed his teenage body into the alley, while saying, “come here again and I will kill you. Got it? You’ve made a big mess here and you better get the fuck out of here before I change my mind and kill you now. GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”
The boy tried to struggle to his feet, but his damaged knee wouldn’t allow him to stand up. Glancing back at Jasmine, he saw her eyes starting to glow red. A warning that she was prepared to end him, and there would be nothing he could do about it. He dragged his damaged body along the frozen alley, mindful of the fact that he only had about four hours to find himself some shelter from the approaching day.
Jasmine smirked as she watched the frightened boy crawl so pathetically down the dark alley. She had no intention of killing him, but when it came to her brother, she would do anything. Even if it meant ending the life of his sire. She definitely got her point across, but she would have to be more careful, in case he decided to try something again.
She went back inside to assess the damage of his destructive invasion. Aside from an upturned table and a couple broken chairs, it didn’t look too bad. There was the head-sized hole in the wall, and some blood splatter to deal with, but a couple of concert advertisements and some cleaning spray would take care of that. As Jasmine went back behind the counter, to gather up some cleaning supplies, she heard her phone buzzing again from somewhere in the shop. She followed the sound to a corner, under a table. It was her little brother, again.
“Oh my God! Jasmine, are you ok?”
Umm…yeah. What. You think I can’t handle your little friend?”
“Well, if you didn’t know what he was gonna do…I mean, he really scared me when he told me what he was going to do, you know?”
“Wait! Where are you? What did he do to you?”
“The shithead locked me in room.”
“What!? How did you let that happen?”
“He tricked me.”
“Are you still locked in?”
“Yeah…I can’t get out.”
“Where are you? I’ll come get you.”
“But what about Skyler?”
“Umm…he won’t be getting too far tonight.”
“What’d you do to him?”
“I showed him it was a bad idea to fuck with me. So, where are you? I’ll pick you up and you can help me get this place cleaned up.”
“You didn’t…kill him…did you?”
“No. He’ll live. So where are you?”
“The warehouse. In the basement.”
Jasmine locked up the coffee shop and made the fifteen minute trek to where her brother was held captive. From the outside, the place looked like something out of your worst nightmare. Layers of faded graffiti covered the ancient, crumbled brick. Not a single window was left unbroken, from so many generations of bored hoodlums. The place was a dump in every way.
Jasmine worked her way into the cavernous basement of the long abandoned warehouse, and quickly located the room Timmy must be in. One door had been barricaded with heavy industrial tables and random broken machinery. She pulled all the debris aside and swung the door open into what looked like a large utility closet. Sitting on a big pile of shop rags and towels, was Timmy. He looked the perfect combination of disinterested and embarrassed.
“How did you let him talk you into getting in here?”, Jasmine quizzed.
“Shut up. He tricked me. He told me he cleaned out a good room to sleep in.”
“Timmy, I warned you about him. You can’t trust him, ok?”
“Yeah but…what am I supposed to do?”
Helping her little brother to his feet, Jasmine threw her arm around his shoulder and guided him out of the little prison cell. “We’ll figure something out. For now, you’re staying with me. At least until this blows over.”
“No buts. I’m in charge here.”
Defeated, Timmy could only hang his head and softly utter, “ok.”
They walked in silence most of the way back, lost in their own thoughts, when Timmy suddenly lifted his head with a startled expression. “Jazzy! You didn’t, you know…tell Skyler where to find…you know.”
“Of course not. Your little boyfriend is still safe.”
Timmy gently punched his big sister on the shoulder. “Shut up! He’s not my boyfriend.”
“Whatever. Anyway, he’s safe as long as he doesn’t come sniffing around again. But it might be a good idea to warn him, somehow.”