Netheniel clutched his coat tightly around himself and gripped the small handle of his duffle bag. His narrowed gaze drifted around the building's fronting, and with a soft sigh, he continued towards the entrance.
It had been two hours since he left the Holy Lutheran Church. David never truly left Netheniel's mind since then, and for that Netheniel was irritated. He wanted to forget about the man’s face, his words, and the awful sound of his office door slamming shut.
Of all his sixty years of life, Netheniel had yet to leave his town of Bethrick. Not when he graduated high school—not even after that creature took a chunk out of his neck and changed him forever.
Bethrick and David was his life. Now he was forced to take a new one.
Netheniel came up to the glass door and grabbed onto the metal handle. A bitter cold had coated the handle with frost. The frigid touch didn’t bother Netheniel as he pulled the door open. As he continued into the room, a frown crept onto his face.
A strong stench of alcohol and sweat floated around Netheniel in the air. The sour smell caused his nose to sting. Netheniel covered his hand over his nose and proceeded through an arc that led to an open floor of tables and chairs.
It was dark within the bar. Netheniel didn’t even know why he was there, yet he made his way to the bar and settled onto a stool, stashing his small bag under it.
He leaned his elbows down on the surface and glanced over the large amount of alcohol bottles. Swallowing, Netheniel looked towards the nearing bartender, a young woman. She looked about twenty years old, just two years under his body’s age. His eyes trailed over her figure, which resembled a slender hourglass.
“May I help you?” The woman asked with a tender smile.
Netheniel’s gaze darted towards the shelves of liquid before he let out a sigh. It had been weeks, maybe even months, since he had something to drink. His immortal body didn’t crave humanly things such as food and drink. The irony was that Netheniel had yet to find anything that satisfied the deep burning in the pit of his stomach. He had yet to try anything but human drink and food—and that’s as far as he would go.
He glanced over the woman once more before shrugging. “Eh...what is the special?” He had come into the bar with the intention of stalling time, and if he had to waste a few bucks and a polite conversation, he would do so.
“The Midnight Nectar is pretty special tonight if you’re interested, sweetheart,” she winked at Netheniel before gesturing to the preparation counters behind her. “I’ll quickly stir up one for you.”
Netheniel didn’t object as she turned from him and started on his drink. As he waited, a few more men stepped slid onto the stools around him and waited for her to get done. Netheniel’s hearing picked up the quietest of whispers from the farthest man.
“Is that who I think it is?” All the men’s gazes darted towards Netheniel as the man said so.
The woman came back and sat the drink before Netheniel, sending a suggestive wink towards him before moving on to the next costumer.
More whispers continued between the men beside Netheniel, all which he tuned out as his lips caught the edge of the glass.
Netheniel tilted it back in his mouth, and as the bitter liquid trickled down his throat, he winced. An immense urge to heave passed over him as he swallowed down the scorching liquid. The last time Netheniel had a drink, he vomited over all of David’s papers.
As he stared at the glass, Netheniel reckoned he could keep it down, for there was less amount.
He grimaced at the feeling of his throat and breathed through his nose, hoping the air passing through wouldn’t sting as much.
“Can I get you another one, sweetheart?” The bartender asked as she stood before Netheniel.
He quickly shook his head as the woman gathered his glass and walked away. Netheniel settled back in his seat with a short sigh, glancing around the room absently. Time was ticking; he wasn’t ready to leave. Not yet—not now.
“Hey, you,” someone called out from the side. At first, Netheniel didn’t take anything of it, until they repeated their words closer to him.
He glanced towards the noise and immediately regretted it. The men from beside him had taken a table just a few yards away while the woman distracted Netheniel. Now, they had gotten enough courage to call him out, and Netheniel didn’t want to be bothered by them.
There were four men in their late forties, sporting stress lines among their faces and small streaks of grey in their hair. The men were familiar, but in a way that Netheniel couldn’t depict.
With a sigh, he turned towards them and nodded in acknowledgment. “Yes?”
“Aren’t you related to the Baters?” The man in a red coat asked, rubbing at his chin in thought. “I could’a sworn you look familiar.”
Netheniel narrowed his eyes. “Baters?” He assumed they knew more than they were asking.
“Yeah, y’know,” the man egged on as he scratched his chin. “David Bater, Charlotte—”
Resisting the urge to grit his teeth, Netheniel shrugged stiffly. “No.”
“Yeah,” another man spoke up and exchanged a look with the other. “You do kinda look like one of them. Kinda like that one boy from a decade or two ago. Hm—what his name?”
“Neth—” the other piped in, nodding in agreement.
“Oh, come now, boys,” the bartender cut the man’s words off in irritation as she patted Netheniel on the back. “Leave the poor man alone.”
Netheniel’s teeth clenched. The men continued on, as if rubbing salt into his personal wound wasn’t enough.
“Ah, Macey, we’re just curious is all,” the third man grumbled as he took a swig of his beer. “I mean—a new guy in this town? Unheard of. Especially when the guy looks extremely familiar.”
Why is this fucking happening to me? Netheniel groaned inwardly as he glanced over his shoulder at the woman. She seemed to second-guess herself as she analyzed Netheniel. He let out a sigh and dug in his pocket for a few dollars to give her.
He was ready to leave.
“Yeah, he does kind of look familiar,” the woman said after a moment of watching him. Netheniel felt like throwing the money at her face, but sat it down and quickly stood up. The woman quickly spoke up as he turned away from the five. “Wait, what’s your name?”
Stalling in town had been a horrible idea—extremely. Netheniel took a deep breath and thought of the first name that came up in his mind. “Frank.”
The others didn’t reply for a few seconds as the name sunk in. It amused Netheniel that all their faces fell ashamed.
“Sorry, man,” the fourth man spoke up as he nudged the first roughly. “These guys are just idiots.”
Netheniel flashed them a tight smile before nodding in forgiveness. “It’s okay. Nice talking to you.” He turned on his heel and exited the building.
His eyes settled on an alley off to the side. Netheniel didn’t know where to go or what to do; his only thought in mind was to get somewhere dark and stay there until something new pops up into his drifting mind. He set off towards that alley, quickly ducking into the first strand of darkness within it.
Breaths came out short as he sunk to his knees. David had been right; it was time to move on, to leave this town where he could actually have a life.
But where would I go?
Netheniel closed his eyes and sighed.
If only he had died forty years ago.