tagSci-Fi & FantasyCelebrating Monsters

Celebrating Monsters


***Author's Note: This is my submission for the 2014 Halloween contest, so if you like the story, please give me your vote!***

Aaralyn walked into the Tooth and Nail tavern and sniffed the air, picking out the scent of several different species as she strolled through the room. She walked with the grace of a dancer, and all eyes were on her, if only briefly, as she made her way to the back, near the kitchen.

"Aaralyn, babe, how's it going?" Justin, a waiter, asked as he passed by. "Your usual table, sugar? Or I can move some wraiths around, if you prefer to sit at the bar..."

"My normal spot is fine, Justin," Aaralyn said, and she continued on to her normal table without a second glance at him. She sat down at the table closest to the kitchen, her back to the wall, so that she could see everyone in the room. This was her normal spot because near the kitchen, the scents from all the different foods wafted out and helped to mask Aaralyn's own scent from her enemies, if any of them happened to come in. Aaralyn had another sniff of the room and looked around, making sure there was no one nearby who might threaten her.

There were a couple of wraiths at the bar, as Justin had mentioned. There was a group of humans at two separate tables near the front of the room, their scent strong and spilling out into the street, no doubt attracting the attention of many monsters as they passed by, enticing them to come into the Tooth and Nail that night and try to get some easy prey.

There were no werewolves in the room yet, but there were a couple of vampire ladies in another dark corner, not very far from Aaralyn. She glanced at them and then looked away. Vampires were not her natural enemies as werewolves were, but still, as the only werecat in town, Aaralyn was not fond of mixing with their type.

"Hey, sweetie, here are your usual drinks--one glass of water, and one glass of milk," Justin said, placing the glasses in front of her. Aaralyn studied the young man for a moment before she took a sip of the water. Justin was about her age, somewhat muscular, with dark hair and deep brown eyes. He had sparkly white teeth that he flashed at her often, when he smiled. He was seven-eighths human and one-eighth something else, supposedly imp. He had told Aaralyn once that he was the seductive kind of imp, but she had promptly put him in his place by telling him that no imp was seductive, and she'd just as soon cut him into little bite-sized pieces and eat him as go home with him. Aaralyn had never really meant that, but it helped to keep Justin's flirting a bit more under control. He had always hit on her, but he had never really been serious about it since that discussion, knowing that Aaralyn was usually a loner.

"So, we have a couple of different types of fish on special tonight," Justin said.

"Fish?" Aaralyn said. "It's Halloween. Who eats fish on Halloween?"

"Actually, all the meats are on special, tonight," Justin said. "Steak, ribs, pork chops, chicken, you name it, if it originally had legs, it's on special tonight. Halloween is one of our busiest nights of the year."

"I can imagine," Aaralyn said. "It's the one night when all the monsters can just be themselves, in front of humans or anyone else, and no one thinks twice about it."

"Exactly," Justin said. "So what can I get for you?"

"I'll have tilapia tonight," Aaralyn said. "With my usual white rice and fried bananas on the side."

"Palate cleansers," Justin said, winking at her. He and the owner were the only people who knew what Aaralyn really was. She had never officially told them, 'Hey, by the way, my species is werecat,' but they had seen her around enough, and fed her enough times, that they had figured out some of her habits. For example, Justin knew that the glass of milk she drank, just one glass, never refilled, was her special treat that appealed to her cat side. And the glass of water, refilled often, was to clear out her mouth of the taste of her food so that she could keep her senses very alert. She was always quietly smelling the room and picking up the identity of people who walked in, always on the lookout for werewolves, her enemies, and exercising extreme caution around them. Fish was her favorite food, and she ate different kinds--catfish, tilapia, sea bass, whatever, depending on her mood. With it, she always had white rice and a few slices of fried bananas, palate cleansers, again to help keep her sense of taste and smell pure and alert.

Aaralyn watched the room again, noting how many of the creatures seemed to be pairing off. The two wraiths at the bar seemed to be a couple. The large group of humans was composed of a mixture of men and women, and many of them, as they got deeper into their drinks, seemed to be showing preferences toward certain members of the opposite sex. The two vampires in the corner were both female, but that didn't necessarily mean anything... There was just something about the freeing power of Halloween. It had all the monsters wanting to find kindred spirits and make a bond for the evening.

"Here's your fish, babe," Justin said, bringing Aaralyn her plate from the kitchen.

"Justin," Aaralyn said, touching his arm. "When is your shift over?"

"Not long," Justin said. "Why? Will you miss me when I go home and leave you here all alone?" He smiled with those dazzling white teeth.

"I just wondered if you might sit down with me," Aaralyn said. "It's been a while since we just had a meal together and talked."

"Awwww, babe, don't tease me," Justin said. "You don't like when I sit down with you. You always want to enjoy your meal in peace and quiet and watch out for that big werewolf with the leather jacket that you like to spy on."

"I'm not spying on him," Aaralyn said. "You know he eats humans sometimes. I watch him to make sure he doesn't walk off with any of your customers."

"I'm sure he's pretty busy elsewhere tonight," Justin said. "Halloween is probably his favorite time to go trolling for prey, but he doesn't have to come down to the local bar for that. He probably has his own favorite haunts somewhere."

"Exactly," Aaralyn said. "Which is why I don't have to worry about him tonight. Will you sit down with me or not?"

"Maybe later, babe," Justin said. "Right now I have to go take care of those two ladies in the corner. They have a lot of demands tonight."

Aaralyn watched Justin walk away. He chatted and laughed with the two vampire women and topped off their drinks. Aaralyn knew that Justin had worked at the Tooth and Nail since he was a kid, and he knew how to handle the monsters and weirdos who came in there. But something about the way the vampire women were looking at him unsettled her. They had meat, very rare, on their plates, but they weren't eating it. They had some kind of red drinks, but they weren't drinking them. When Justin came around, they smiled and touched his hands and arms and acted every bit as if they were mesmerized by Justin. Aaralyn was used to him flirting with her and giving her all his attention, so this made her a little jealous. Yet she was happy for Justin when other girls paid him genuine attention. However, this just didn't seem genuine to her.

As the hour got later, more people began flocking into the bar. Aaralyn had finished her fish, but she still sat at her table, not wanting to leave yet.

"Aaralyn, my dear," Marlon Fitzgerald, the bar owner, said, coming out from the kitchen. "How are you? It's been a while since you've come by to see us."

"Hello, Mr. Fitzgerald," Aaralyn said. "I couldn't possibly stay away on Halloween."

"Excellent," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "Have you eaten yet? Where is Justin?"

"He's over there with those vampires," Aaralyn said. "I've already eaten. I was just enjoying sitting here and people-watching."

"Ah, my own favorite past-time," Mr. Fitzgerald said, winking at her. "I should go say hello to everyone, but you stay here as long as you want and watch everyone coming in." He patted Aaralyn on her shoulder and then walked away, making his way around the room and stopping at different tables to chat with the patrons.

Aaralyn waited around for a while longer, watching the people come and go. Finally, Justin came back by her table.

"Hey, sugar, you still here?" Justin said. "I figured you'd be long gone by now."

"It's Halloween," Aaralyn said. "Like I said, all creatures can just be themselves tonight." She looked at Justin, staring into his eyes.

"Be themselves, huh?" Justin said. "And what do werecats do on Halloween?" He leaned in close and touched Aaralyn's golden-brown hair.

"Shhhh, don't say that word. Someone could hear you," Aaralyn said, whispering in Justin's ear.

"Which word?" Justin whispered back. "Werecat?" He laughed softly into Aaralyn's hair. "What's the matter, cutie? Don't want all the other monsters knowing what you are? I thought you said monsters could be themselves on Halloween."

"That's right," Aaralyn said. "We can be ourselves. Are you done with work yet?"

"Yeah," Justin said. "I just have to finish with the two ladies in the corner. My shift is ending now, but I've been their waiter this whole time, and I should make sure they're satisfied before I go."

"Justin!" Aaralyn said, grabbing his hand before he could walk away. "Please be careful. Those vampires give me the creeps."

"Oh, babe, don't worry," Justin said. "I've handled vampires before. You know those ladies don't bother me."

"I just don't have a good feeling about them," Aaralyn said.

"Awww, babe, don't get jealous," Justin said. "You aren't getting jealous... are you?" He smiled at Aaralyn, a mischievous sparkle in his eye.

"I... Why would I be jealous of some trashy vampires?!" Aaralyn said. She quickly looked around to see if anyone had heard her say that.

Justin laughed. "Alright then, babe. I'll just go get rid of them."

Aaralyn watched him walk away, noticing the ripple of Justin's muscles beneath his shirt as he loaded the vampires' untouched dishes on his tray, piling them up and bringing them back toward the kitchen. He had to walk back by Aaralyn, since she sat there near the kitchen door. On a whim, Aaralyn reached out and pinched Justin's butt as he walked by her.

"Ouch!" Justin cried, jerking around and nearly dropping the tray of dishes. His eyes landed on Aaralyn, and she put her face down, drinking from her glass of milk that was almost gone. "Did you do that?" Justin asked, leaning low, his face at Aaralyn's ear.

"Do what?" Aaralyn asked, as if she didn't have any idea what he was talking about. "Did something happen to you?"

"No," Justin said, standing up straight. "Nothing at all." He went on into the kitchen and dumped the dirty dishes. When he came back out, he stopped by Aaralyn's chair. "It amuses me that you're feeling like being such a bad girl tonight," he whispered. "But I'm afraid you're too late. Those nice ladies in the corner have already asked me to walk them out. If only you were nicer to me the rest of the year, I might have felt like being nicer to you tonight..."

"Justin," Aaralyn said. "I'm not sure what you're accusing me of. And good for you, I suppose. Those are pretty ladies. But usually I'm the one you want to walk out."

"Yeah, and usually you ditch me right at the door," Justin said. "I'm just learning to respect your wishes, dollface."

"Is 'dollface' a compliment or an insult?" Aaralyn asked.

"Well, for most people, it's a compliment," Justin said. "It means you have a beautiful face just like a doll. But I'm sure you're offended by it. You're usually offended by me and the things I call you." He smirked and pulled a strand of Aaralyn's hair in a playful way.

"I'm not offended," Aaralyn said softly, staring into Justin's eyes again. His warm chocolate irises looked like they were melting right in front of her. His face was very close to hers, and for a moment, she wondered what his lips tasted like...

"You're quite the tease tonight, you know that?" Justin said, soft and deep. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to hit on me. But that's just not your style."

"It isn't?" Aaralyn asked. "How do you know what my style is on Halloween?"

"The moon isn't full," Justin said. "But you definitely aren't acting like yourself. If I let anything happen tonight, I'd feel like I was taking advantage of you. You never let me get anywhere... Like..." He reached down and put one hand on Aaralyn's leg, stroking upward gently, slowly... Aaralyn wore tight jeans, and he could feel the warmth of her body through the fabric. She didn't stop him, and this surprised Justin. "Seriously... what's gotten into you, kitten?" he asked.

"I... I don't know," Aaralyn said. "Just tired of being lonely, I guess. You get out of here and do whatever you were going to do with those vampire girls. Forget about me. You're right; I'm not being myself."

"Or maybe..." Justin said, taking his hand up from her leg and placing one finger at her navel, then tracing a slow line up to stop at the base of her bra. "You're being completely yourself for once and showing me the real you at last." He dipped his head down and placed a soft, hot kiss on Aaralyn's neck, and then he was gone before she could say anything in response.

Aaralyn watched Justin go over and chat with the vampires again, still laughing as if he were having a really good time.

I've got to get out of here, Aaralyn thought. Justin has a much better shot with those girls than he does with me. They couldn't see him touch me from this angle. They think he's just being friendly to me the way he's friendly to everyone. I better leave before I ruin something for him. He's totally right, this won't be me tomorrow. After Halloween has passed, I'll be right back to my old behavior, hiding in corners and rejecting people because I can't let anyone get too close, can't let anyone see the real monster on the inside. I'm the only werecat around, and only another werecat would understand me. Justin isn't one, and if I did anything with him tonight, we would both just end up hurt tomorrow, because nothing can ever come of this. She stood up and put some cash on the table. It was enough to cover her meal and a nice tip. Then Aaralyn walked back across the bar, waved a goodbye to Mr. Fitzgerald, and went out the front door.

Outside, Aaralyn climbed up into the nearest tree. Her preferred method of traveling was running through treetops like a giant squirrel, in her big leopard-like cat form. In her human form, she just looked a bit ridiculous pouncing from tree to tree. But near the bar, she could never be sure who might see her, so she usually stayed in human form for a while, until she could be certain she was out of sight and scent range from the other creatures who frequented the area.

On that night, Aaralyn had just gotten up into a tree and moved out of sight behind the leaves, when she saw Justin come outside with the two vampires. Aaralyn sat very still, watching them. The two women were all over Justin, one on each of his arms, whispering in his ears and kissing his neck. Aaralyn instantly felt pangs of jealousy to see their vampiric lips on Justin's smooth, tan skin. She shifted quickly into cat form, her clothing disappearing and being replaced by silky grayish-white fur and dark brown spots. She dug her claws into the tree limbs to keep from lashing out at the vampires as they walked beneath her tree with Justin. Aaralyn followed carefully, her large paws silent against the bark of the tree as she stalked along above the three people.

Justin and the two vampires walked down the sidewalk and out of sight of the bar. They kept going for a little while, until one of the vampires said, "Let's turn in here." They were in front of an empty parking lot that no longer had any building associated with it. There were tall grasses and bushes and weeds growing up in cracks all throughout the pavement. There was barely even a parking lot still there, nature had so thoroughly retaken it. The streetlights along the sidewalk at the entrance to the parking lot were broken, and the whole place was shrouded in gloom. Aaralyn thought it was almost too cliche to be real, but nonetheless, here it was--an abandoned place where these vampires were about to take Justin to prey on him.

"What are we doing here?" Justin asked. "This place looks dirty, and it isn't even lit up."

"Come on, sweetie," the dark haired one of the vampires purred at Justin. "You know our kind doesn't like light. Don't you want to come in here with us? We'll show you our secret place..."

"Okay," Justin said. "But I can't stay long."

The other vampire with light hair laughed. "Don't worry, sugar, you won't have to," she said. "Just long enough to have a little fun with us. You DO want to have fun with us, don't you?" She ran her hand through Justin's hair.

"Yeah, of course I do," Justin said. He grinned at the vampire and leaned toward her for a kiss, but she wiggled away before he could make contact with her face.

"Not so fast, waiter-boy," the dark haired girl said. "Kelly doesn't kiss on the lips."

"Neither does Karen," Kelly said. The two of them looked at each other and fluffed each other's hair. Aaralyn decided maybe they were lesbians after all, and this was just another way that they were toying with Justin, luring him into their trap.

The vampires led Justin over to a beat up empty dumpster. Behind it, there was a lumpy mattress with lots of old brown stains on it. Aaralyn could smell it from where she sat in a nearby tree. She was completely grossed out, and she couldn't believe Justin was still standing there with those sleazy vampires.

"Um, ladies," Justin said. "You seem like nice girls, but I really don't think a dirty mattress behind a dumpster is sexy."

"Sure you do," Kelly said, hooking one leg around Justin and kissing along his neck.

"You don't have to get on the mattress if you don't want to," Karen said, running her hands over Justin's chest and hooking herself around his other side. "But you'll probably want to lie down after we drink all your blood." She sank her fangs into Justin's neck before he had time to react. Kelly bit him on the other side, both vampires pinning Justin in place with their legs and sucking hard, making his face go pale. Justin tried to struggle, but he was no match for the strength of the vampires.

Aaralyn had seen all that she needed to see. With a loud wildcat screech, she leaped from the tree and smacked into the closest vampire with her claws out, shredding at the girl, as she bit at the vampire's neck.

The vampire in Aaralyn's clutches screamed, losing all her grip on Justin and falling away from him.

"Yeah, how does it feel having your neck bitten, bitch?" Aaralyn asked, slapping the vampire in the face with her big paw, cutting off her scream. Then she whirled around and lunged at the other vampire, who released Justin before Aaralyn landed on her, causing him to fall back onto the dirty mattress. Aaralyn gave the second vampire a bit of a mauling to match her friend. "Get out of here," she hissed, "before I decide to finish you off. And don't come back around Tooth and Nail, or I'll hunt you down and burn you inside your own coffins." Aaralyn wasn't even sure if vampires really slept in coffins during the day, but she seemed to get her message across because the two blood-sucking bimbos scraped themselves up off the pavement and beat a hasty retreat, disappearing into the night.

Aaralyn went over to Justin and stood over him, still in cat form, her face close to his as she checked his wounds. He had two large vampire bites, one on either side of his neck, and he was already getting some dark bruises that were appearing where the vampires had sucked some of his blood before Aaralyn had been able to stop them. Justin was very pale compared to his normal warm shade of tan, and Aaralyn wondered if he was in pain. She leaned down and began licking the wounds on Justin's neck.

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byMonster_Kitten© 4 comments/ 12030 views/ 19 favorites

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