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I know the truths about monsters.
I know if a vampire can walk in the sunlight or not (they can’t.) I know if a werewolf loses control during a full moon (they don’t unless you count how drunk they get as they’re losing control.) I know how fast a zombie can go (fast.) I know if ghosts fly everywhere or if they walk (they can do both.) I know about monsters because monsters surround me.
I’m a human slave in a monster world.
“Work!” The werewolf official snarled as we carried in cargo he could’ve easily carried with his strength. “Faster!”
“Ah, go easy on them Moonbiter,” another official chuckled. “They’re only humans after all.”
I bit back curses as I passed with flour and a bag of pots. Werewolves were a topic I knew well. By now I knew all the confirmed truths on their kind. Were they fast, strong, and did they contain great senses? Yes. Could the all shift into dog form? False, only the ones lucky enough to get bit during a full moon. Did they all behold six packs? Very false, both my officials had large pot bellies.
Werewolves also went by annoying names.
“I’m going on break Barkarms.” Moonbiter grunted. “Keep them in line.”
As if he had to. I was put with the broken ones today. The ones who seemed to barley acknowledge their surroundings. The ones with the slack faces, dull eyes, and trembling hands. The ones I swore to myself I’d never be. By the time the fifty of us were done moving more than a thousand supplies, morning had turned to nearly midnight. I stared at the sky with a bitter taste in my mouth, another day wasted and now it’s time to head back. The night belongs to them and so do we…
The rules were pretty simple: keep your head down and listen or you’ll end up in a goblin’s stew or something else. Still, I could never resist peeking out of the corners of my eyes. I saw a goblin man give me a leery grin and quickly averted my eyes. Goblins weren’t short and funny looking like you’d think. Actually, they had the same structure as a human. Along with ghosts, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and witches they had human structure. That was the big lesson I let myself learn and brand in my mind at a young age.
Monsters looked just like me.
Well, just like me with added aspects. Goblin’s skin is usually a pale mint green or a dark bruised blue. Their eyes were fully black and their hands held sharp claws. Their hair came in normal colors or more so exotic colors like rainbow, milk white, and ocean blue. From what I saw they held no warts or blemishes. Like all things undead, they were beautiful.
I saw a batch of little ghost girls giggling and talking. The ghost species loved their fun in possessing humans to do physical things their mist forms cannot. That’s why I tense as we pass them for I have never been possessed and never planned to be. The girls giggled with their eyes dancing and their shoulders shaking, but as we passed their eyes turned blood red and their arms fall limp at their sides. The warning not to mess with them was clear.
Finally, after passing many sneering monsters we arrived at our barracks and stood in line. The line stretched out, but went quickly after the officials checked their marks. The marks on our wrists told them what we were and where we should go. There were four marks you could have and one job that you had as a human. A Possession was marked with a smoky wisp image on their wrist. I shuddered at the thought of being one of those whose body was possessed by a spirit to be used for…physical pleasures.
Others were marked with a coundrol on their wrist and were known as Samplers. Samplers were tortured souls that were taken home for the weekend by witches or warlocks. The monsters used them as, well, samplers to sample deadly poisons. The witches and warlocks always had to heal them after they began burning or turned into a toad, but the process was brutal and ongoing. The monsters usually avoided killing their Samplers as much as possible or they’d have to pay more, but their had been times when the witches and warlocks made move to heal them too late.
If you had a dollar sign on your wrist you were a Night Shift. Night Shifts didn’t go to the barracks, but to the bars. Where they were ordered to serve the drunken goblins and wolves. A dangerous jobs for the ones called Night Shifts. A lot of them came home with bruises and scratch marks on their cheeks. Or worse they came home with a dull edge of nothing around their eyes that would slowly expand until they became a broken one.
Then there’s the ones with a mark like mine.
“A Sapling?” The Official grunted as he checked my wrist. “Go on then. You know where to go.”
I nodded and headed for the pathway that led to a pitch black hall with a blood red velvet carpet and glowing numbers on the door. I found my door and walked inside feeling dread engulf me from inside out. It was nothing much but a room the size of a small kitchen with a mattress on the floor and a few old books. My prized possessions were the pictures of my brother and mother. It wasn’t a fun picture, but their mugshots. Every year we had a picture day so they could put our faces in a file and use if we ever went missing. The wolves also took a piece of clothing from us each year to use to track our scent. I had yanked these photos out of the trash at the last second when they weren’t looking.
My mother’s picture showed her blond and grey streaked hair and her sad brown eyes. She had been so lively until life as a Possession broke her. Then my mother barely looked at me and my brother. One day my brother and I were waiting for her on one of our days off and we were told by a Possession that she had died. My mom had killed herself at one point before another customer could come in.
My brother was eleven when he was taken from me and I was nine. He was a Sampler and marked with a cauldron. He was killed on the weekend after his birthday during a sample. The last thing he ever had time to say to me was, “ show them what you’re made of.” As a Sapling I knew, and they knew, very well what I was made of.
I picked up my brother’s photo with trembling hands and took in his shaggy brown hair and blue eyes and tan skin he inherited from a father we’ll never meet. I had my mom’s pale skin, blonde summer hair, and brown doe eyes. I was almost made a Possession because of my looks, but back then my mom was strong enough to demand and plead for another role for me. My brother got another role too and it did nothing to keep him safe in the end. I sighed holding the photo to my heart, “happy birthday August. You were supposed to be eighteen.”
A lot of people were supposed to be something.
Five hundred years ago the futures for humans halted. Five hundred years ago was the start of the monster kingdom. The start of the end of humanity, but we are still here at least. We can still have a miracle and a chance if we’re still kicking. I myself needed a miracle because tomorrow I was to escape. Or die trying.
I took a deep breath that came out as a sigh as I opened the door. The vampire man looked rich in a expensive jacket with matching shoes. His hair was perfectly made, his skin was perfect, his teeth held fangs as he smiled. “I paid for a full minute.”
“Yes,” I nodded numbly. “Let me get ready.”
I let him sit down on the velvet soft cushioned chair and fought the urge to attack him as I went to the cabinet and swallowed a handful of M&Ms without tasting. I then sat in the seat in front of him and held out my wrist to expose my mark as a Sapling. The mark that cursed me with my role I took every weekend and all weekend. It looked like a drop of blood falling towards a pond of blood and causing a ripple. I tried bracing myself as he took my wrist, but as soon as he bit down I let out a strangled moan. This was my mark’s curse. For vampires it was no myth that, even though they can eat food and animal blood, nothing is as fulfilling as human blood.
I am one of those that fulfill their want.
A minute later I was pale, clammy, hungry, thirsty, lightheaded, in pain, and on the verge of dying. It was true that if a vampire bites your neck you’d turn into one, but if they bite into your wrist you’d be left at the edge of death and begging for it. I knew I only had ten minutes to prepare myself for my next customer so I forced myself up and tried hard not to pass out as a head rush slammed into me harshly. I went to the fridge wincing in pain and trying not to moan as I took out a witch’s potion. It was called the Bloodlust potion and I used to try to refuse a potion made from a witch, but I needed it and August forced me into a promise that I’d take it. The potion gave us Saplings back the blood we lost and the sugar stocked up gave us the blood sugar we needed.
It was not kindness. The food and the bed and items that they provided for us was not kindness. Some fools tricked themselves by saying it was. Telling themselves and others it could be worse and at least they didn’t whip us and I thought those people were brainwashed morons. The only reason they fed us and kept us pretty was so we could look like the pretty toys and delicious snacks we were supposed to be. Today would be the last time. I would be gone tomorrow…I had to be. I was done being a slave.
“I paid for a minute.” The woman informed me as she walked into the room without being invited. “Make this quick girl I have places to be.”
I was done being a toy.
“Yes,” I forced out. “Let me get ready.”
I completed the same process again aching for my brother, for my mother, for my freedom. Two of those things I would never have again and the last thing I would obtain. I went to the cupboard and devoured a pop tart before going back to my seat. This time when the vampire took my hand roughly and without care for my pain I didn’t flinch. When I felt her breath on my wrist I didn’t move. When she bit down I didn’t allow myself to gasp. I just let the same thought roll over and over in my head making me stronger.
I am done being food.
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