Blood and Cherry Syrup
aka 'Vampire Edgar'
It was sort of an unpleasant sensation, being dragged across the floor. Though, maybe the unpleasantness wasn 't from the dragging so much as from the dragging in many directions. Logically, there should not have been sensation at all since his parts were no longer connected, but his body rarely let itself be kept in place by logic.
He wished it hadn 't resulted in such a mess, though.
His clothes were a lost cause, and his glasses were just as far gone. His skin, which hadn 't been perfection even before he was shredded, was now even less so. He 'd have marks for a long time before he 'd recover from what the machine had done to him.
When he was solid again and had regained most of his flesh, he attempted movement. He 'd lost a lot of blood if the color and texture of the floor were any indication, not to mention the smell. The same copper smell lingered through every room around him, and probably the ones beyond that. His limbs were shaky, but he managed to stand and survey the machine behind him. It looked different when he wasn 't inside it.
The man who had put him there had wandered off to the upper levels of the house. The path he 'd taken was clearly marked in a specific scent, and without another lead as to where to go in a house full of dried blood, Edgar followed it.
Recently dead bodies he encountered on the way served to keep him moving with what little blood they had left, but it was still not enough. His head felt cloudy and his joints were uncooperative. He 'd need something fresher if he was to function normally. He thought, as he combed over a few bodies wearing crucifixes that were too old to eat, that the religion routine he had given while still on the verge of becoming ribbons in an attempt to appeal to Johnny 's humanity had been sort of overdone and had probably led to this unfortunate turn of events in the first place.
"I should definitely try something else next time," he said to one of the bodies he passed.
The light on the upper floor was not appreciably different from the light below. Edgar was only sure he 'd reached the top when the scent of grass and fresher air became stronger than mildew.
Johnny, the man who had kidnapped Edgar for blood, sat across the room, reclined on an old torn couch, watching a fuzzy television show. He looked as though he was hardly there, and was simply flowing into the television and letting it shape his head anyway it wanted.
It meant that he didn 't notice the presence of someone else until that someone was within stabbing range.
"Holy fuck!" Johnny screeched suddenly. "Now they 're getting back up!"
There was some dull pressure in Edgar 's head and his vision blurred in one eye for a moment. Johnny 's knife, which he 'd been keeping Edgar didn 't know where, now stuck out at an odd angle from Edgar 's skull. When Edgar blinked, Johnny blinked back at him.
"Yeah ...," Edgar said. "Not so much with this, actually."
"Fuck, you 're right," Johnny said, though not to Edgar. "No, it can 't." He turned from Edgar as though he were only the television and began talking furiously to himself.
"No! Shut up! I just did!"
"Are you okay?"
He turned to Edgar and glared. "Just wait your turn, alright?!"
Johnny argued with himself for a minute or two, while Edgar stood beside the couch, bracing himself against its torn upholstery. Everything smelled like blood and it was making him dizzy. When Johnny turned back to reality, Edgar nodded in acknowledgement and waited for Johnny to say something. Something about anything relevant.
"I 've already killed you," Johnny said.
"Not really. It was a spirited attempt, though. You really couldn 't have if-"
He was interrupted by a scream and more dull pain near the blade in his head as Johnny attempted to end Edgar 's life a second time.
"Seriously," Edgar said, poking at the wound. "This is not going to work." He left the knife in to avoid losing more blood out of a gaping hole, though he wasn 't thrilled with the idea of healing around it.
"Are you like the others?" Johnny asked.
"I guess not."
"Alright, look, about my blood "“ did you get whatever you wanted?"
"I don 't want it! I don 't even like it! It 's all that thing!"
"Okay, just wait. Look, I 'd ... really like some back, I mean."
Johnny folded his arms over his chest and scrutinized Edgar 's face. "Well, this is a little awkward," he said.
"Right, the clothes. They were shredded in the- "
"I 've never had to talk to people I killed before."
"- machine. Oh. Well, uh, nice to re-meet you, I guess. I 'm, uh, still Edgar."
Johnny, apparently, hadn 't even noticed that Edgar had said anything.
"I mean, really," he said, perhaps to no one at all, "what is the social protocol for something like this? Do I get you a gift basket or something? "˜Thanks for the blood, happy you made it. Love, Murderer Guy '? That sounds tacky, don 't you think? Not to mention completely insincere."
"Do you think they make Hallmark cards for this kind of thing? Nothing would express my feelings quite like someone pre-writing them for me."
"Maybe a sympathy card," Edgar said. "Or one that said, "˜Please put some pants on. '"
"Oh. Oh, fuck. God, why 'd you have to say anything?" Johnny turned away in disgust, somehow only now noticing that Edgar was naked.
"It 's sort of weighing on my mind a little."
"I don 't have anything you can wear. Are you sure I can 't just kill you again? That would be a lot faster."
"I 'm starting to think I 'd prefer it, but no."
"Well, I 'm not gonna buy you anything, Mister ... Guy, so find someone else to give you sympathy pants. Cards. Whatever."
"About an hour ago, you said I was your best friend. This doesn 't earn me a pair of pants?"
Johnny sat on the arm of the couch opposite Edgar, giving the naked man some modesty he 'd happily have traded for a fresher version of the blood he 'd found in torturous abundance downstairs.
"I don 't have any," Johnny said.
"You 're wearing some."
"Fuck off, you can 't have the ones I 'm wearing."
"I mean," Edgar said, trying to even out his tone, "that you obviously own some or this would be a far more awkward conversation."
"You still can 't have any."
"That 's ..." Edgar paused to consider the situation. "That 's fine. I can deal with that, but I have a problem."
"I need your help."
"Everyone needs my help. No one else is going to clean up this bullshit."
"I didn 't realize you were the messiah."
"No one else notices this shit!" Johnny yelled, pointing wildly at a boarded up window. "Do you see what goes on out there?"
"Living, mostly. Look, I really need-"
Johnny was not interested in what Edgar needed at the moment and launched into complaining about high fructose corn syrup, despite the snack food wrappers which had previously contained nothing but strewn about his house.
"You see?" Johnny asked at the end of his rant.
"Sure," Edgar answered. His head was feeling heavy and he thought he might have trouble standing soon.
"I 'm feeling charitable," Johnny said suddenly. "What is this dreadful problem of yours? Maybe I can give enough of a fuck to be of assistance."
"I just need some blood. You took ... kind of a lot from me."
"You should have thought of that before you were born human."
"Okay, about that, did it not occur to you that if I was human I wouldn 't have slithered back up here to have a chat?"
"Hadn 't given that much thought, actually," Johnny replied, tapping his chin. "What am I looking at, then?"
"Just me. This place reeks of blood. Don 't you have a cliché bathtub full of it somewhere or something?"
Johnny narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Have you been watching me?"
"No, it just smells li - please? This is sort of important."
Johnny stood up without a word and wandered across the room to a door. He disappeared inside for enough time that Edgar thought he 'd been forgotten about and left to his own devices. As his vision blurred and he became re-aware of the knife in his skull he began seriously contemplating licking the floor. Right then, Johnny dropped a warm freezer bag in his lap.
"Will that do?"
"Fuck, thank you, I 'll ... could I use your bathroom?"
Edgar looked around, baffled at what he 'd just heard. "On what?"
"Are you planning on actually using it or breaking out of the windows? Because I should warn you about the dog."
"You have a dog?"
"No, but some bastard I got rid of a month ago does. The dog just sits out there and waits."
Edgar stood up with considerable effort and backed away from Johnny as quickly as was polite. "No window jumping. Just-"
"Down there, on the left. Don 't open the closet."
Edgar thanked Johnny, probably too quickly, and used his last remaining strength to escape to the bathroom. Everything inside had been stained with one fluid or another. He thought he detected some traces of hair dye, and maybe several varieties of paint, but the vast majority of the discoloring and staining had been from blood. How, Edgar wondered, did a man who screamingly claimed to need blood have so much extra just lying around?
The blood in the bag was still warm, and that both relieved and concerned him. Had Johnny done away with someone else so recently? Someone who couldn 't put themselves back together? The blood was also thick, and Edgar found it a little disgusting. However, when his current state was taken into consideration, any blood was better than none at all.
In the old mirror he saw Johnny 's weapon in his head, admired for a moment that he was actually able to stare into a mirror with a knife in his head and not be hallucinating, and removed the offending blade with a cracking sound that used to sicken him. The hole ached for a few moments and then began to close itself. Satisfied that it would heal properly, Edgar searched for something in the room to help with his other problem.
He left the bathroom with a towel around his waist and blood in his system that left him feeling like he 'd done nothing but consume hamburgers his entire life. The towel only barely qualified as clean, but it was the least stained and discolored of the towels Edgar could find, so it would have to do. Considering he was covered in blood and dirt, the towel was the least of his worries.
Johnny remained in the main room, suspiciously eyeing Edgar 's movements as he returned to the couch.
"You wouldn 't know where I could get some clothes by any chance, would you?" Edgar asked.
"Really? What 's next door?"
"The neighbor kid. If you promise to take Squee away, his dad might just strip naked and offer you all the clothing he 's ever owned."
"You mean if I promise not to take him away?" Edgar asked.
"I meant exactly what I said. You 're not quite as much fun to talk to when unrestrained."
"I 'm fairly sure you 're just as charming whether I 'm in a machine or not. What was that even about, incidentally?"
"I think you owe me an explanation as to how you made it out of there."
"Did you miss the knife to the brain thing that didn 't do any damage? I can 't die."
"Seems we have something in common."
The scent Edgar had used to find Johnny came back to him then, as though responding to what Johnny had said. The smell attached to Johnny was his own blood buried under the stench of the blood of many others that had dried or been mixed quickly with some kind of cleaner. Johnny 's clothes smelled of everywhere he 'd been in the last few days, sweat, and grease from a brand of potato chips that Edgar had once greatly enjoyed. Layered over all of this was a tinge of something foreign and alien that lingered in Johnny 's blood and soaked into every cell of his body. Edgar couldn 't identify it, but wondered if it was only an additive to the final component of Johnny 's scent: cherry syrup.
"Well then," Edgar said, still clutching the towel at his waist. "I guess I 'll be on my way. This whole back from the dead thing did get a bit awkward, didn 't it?"
"Thanks for the blood, you 're welcome for mine. I think that means we 're even, so on that note, I 'll see you around."
Edgar walked out of Johnny 's house still sporting the towel, and considered talking to the neighbor guy about trading away his child for his clothing. It was evening, though, and while his need for pants was great, his desire to not be ripped to shreds twice in one day was greater. So, for several hours, Edgar sat in a shadowed corner of the world, waiting for a more opportune time to steal clothing from someone who might want to be dinner.
Dinner came in the form of a passing jogger, who loaned his t-shirt and a good portion of his blood to the Naked Vampire Foundation. The meal and outfit were completed by a stoned teenager whose pants Edgar didn 't get to wear until the bleary effects of the kid 's blood wore off. Recent years had produced a crop of poisoned food in the world that Edgar did not appreciate in the slightest. Usually, he was good at catching who was injecting themselves with strange chemicals and who wasn 't - he 'd learned to avoid people on meth very well - but in times of desperation, high homeless kids didn 't smell as bad as they typically should. He always paid for drinks from these people with bouts of crazy and delirious that hit quickly and with little mercy. Luckily, this time, the episode was mild and not long enough to get him in any kind of trouble.
Dressed, and only lacking the glasses he didn 't really need, Edgar spent the remainder of the night picking off a few snacks and wondering how he 'd ended up in Johnny ' s torture machine earlier that evening. Trying to retrace his steps was met with some hazy recollections of being in several pieces - pieces that he was still impressed he had managed to recover from. Before being in the machine, before trying to convince Johnny to let him go by appealing to him on several levels, Edgar had been doing what he was always doing: looking for someone to eat. What happened then, he could only imagine, was that Johnny had smelled like a smorgasbord just as much then as he had a few hours ago, and Edgar had wandered too close.
The more he considered Johnny, the way he had smelled and the wound in his own head, the more Edgar found himself considering a return visit to Johnny 's house. Every floor board had been soaked with blood at one time and the house 's odor still hung near Edgar 's brain. Johnny had casually handed Edgar enough blood to get him reliably back on his feet, and Johnny 's bathroom had such a distinct fade of brown on everything that it was impossible not to consider going back to arrange some kind of deal. Johnny needed blood, Edgar needed blood. Would it simply be easier if they shared the load of the task?