Chapter 8 Page 62
Posted May 10, 2024 at 05:17 pm

*EDIT EDIT* I'm sorry to report I need another week to rest. Thank you for your continued patience and support!

*EDIT* Hey all! I couldn't finish an update for this week, unfortunately. My hand is fatigued from other work and I need to rest it. Thanks for waiting in the meantime!

Thanks for waiting! It's time for some positive role modeling, I'm sure. HEY YOU! Support Paranatural on Patreon!



        Cody’s heightened senses had left him astray. Fixed upon the approaching footsteps like a bat on a bug in the dark, he’d missed the subtle slurp and quiet heartbeat in the stall he’d just barged into. One could hardly blame him; as Cody leapt into action, a strange chill rushed across his skin, the low rumble of an ocean’s darkest depths swam in his ears, and a muffled, phantom pulse echoed like distant whalesong in his chest, filling the silent absence of his heart for the first time in years.

        Cody was stunned. Mayor Bill Spender was also stunned. He’d been sitting on the toilet in the stall that Cody had just entered, sipping sadly on a juice box. Its straw sprung from his lips as they parted in shock; the cookie he’d been holding shattered to crumbs on the tile floor.

        Most donors gave blood—Mayor Spender’s drained his. For years, Davy Jones and his wealthiest thralls had been the mayor’s meal ticket; as an equal partner at his patrons’ table, it was his just deserts, therefore, to be their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. His stock was rich and pure, they all assured him, a well-aged, well-bred blue blood vintage. He was lucky, if anything, that his body was a font of worthy payment for a portion of their services. If it weren’t, Davy’s wages and consulting fees would well exceed the mayor’s income, instead of merely nearly matching it. Besides, any upfront investment was worth a return from the grave—all the nibbling he’d endured was bound to make a sucker of him any day now, a deathless, breathless, ichor-sipping ubermensch (Mayor Spender, despite having met several zombies, still thought vampire bites were a one-and-done deal just like that of their brain-eating brethren, and blamed his lack of fangs thus far on his robust immune system; Davy and his minions hadn’t bothered to correct him). Once Bill was Count Spender, looking down from a Dracula castle at the summit of success, the price he’d paid to get there wouldn’t seem as steep as it did now.

        The climb to greatness was exhausting, though, and he’d been feeling quite anemic. All the mayor had wanted was some peace and quiet and a chance to replenish his blood sugar. He’d chosen a private stall for just that purpose, one that was purchased, plaqued, and theoretically off-limits to vampires who hadn’t been invited in by one Sir Goldsworth “Ponzi” Vanderbuck the Millionth.

        Mayor Spender’s nerves were quite unprepared, therefore, for Davy Junior’s sudden vampire-rule-defying arrival. He began the first few high notes of a scream.

        Both Hijacks reacted in an instant—RB in a panic, and LB after carefully consulting pros and cons within a real-life QTE that he had conjured into being with pure intellect. Their disparate paths led to the same conclusion. The Hijacks dove into the mayor, and his scream stopped short with the staggered squeak of a clown car with two drivers.

        Cody came to his senses. He clutched his empty chest. Its pulse had fallen silent once again. He blinked, dumbfounded. For a moment, Cody had felt his father’s presence fall upon him, cast larger than life like a shadow at sunset: a vast, protective love, stitched back together, scarred and twisted, from the ruins of something lost. He’d felt the weight of a sword in his hands, the weight he’d felt when he’d cut Hijack. He’d felt his missing heart... and something else. Something far less familiar.

        Something... something had been watching him. Staring at him for minutes in less than a second. He could still feel its white-hot gaze upon his back, slowly cooling like a lightbulb’s fading filament. Cody shuddered. It was a stare that wanted something, a lonely and envious stare... a cavernous question desperate for an answer.

        Mayor Hijack’s stare was no less striking—he was moving each of his stolen eyes independently and erratically, like a chameleon on his fifth cup of coffee, while he flailed to keep his balance on the toilet seat. His left half only realized it had dropped his juice box when his right half caught it inches from the ground. One fearful eye met Cody’s, then another unperturbed one. The young vampire released a silent sigh, then brought a finger to his lips. Mayor Hijack nodded strangely and brought two to his mustache.

        Across the bathroom, footsteps stopped. A faucet squeaked, and expensive branded water began to pool between the new arrival and his missing reflection.

        For a moment, all of the hiding and hubbub seemed quite pointless. The vampire slouched over the sink was already well aware that Cody was here at the PTA’s party, and he was far too distracted by teen drama to pay attention to strange sounds or mind-jacked mayors. Gage’s grip on the sides of the sink carved a gash in its porcelain.

        It wasn’t fair. Paige WAS ice cold, and tough as nails. Paige only looked at him when she was mad. That’s how it had always been. Why did THIS have to be the first exception?! Why’d she have to go and look at him like that?! It wasn’t fair! When he did what Paige wanted, it was like he wasn’t there—!

        Gage’s eyes met the vacant space of his reflection. He raised a fist to break the glass.

        “That’s expensive, son,” an empty suit said from behind him, “but talk is cheap. Why don’t we chat about what’s biting you instead?”

        The hook of Davy Jones came down to rest on Gage’s shoulder. Cody and Mayor Hijack shared a silent, startled glance.