The dumpster dog scrabbled at the pile of used pizza boxes, jumping back when this prompted an avalanche of red, white and green cardboard. A hand appeared.
Darren emerged from under the pyramid of fast food cartons, gnawing on a still twitching rat. It was two months after his Blooding that night outside Coffee Land. No one had missed him. No one had ever noticed him when he'd been alive, so no one was going to be likely to miss him now he'd disappeared from the world at large.
Being a vampire had been a disappointment from the start; he'd not magically gained height, grown leaner, developed piercing bright green eyes or discovered how to fly. He'd not become irresistible to women or able to morph into a raven or a bat. He not gained telekinetic powers or the ability to deliver ironic put downs. No, none of those.
What had he gained from his 'experience' then?
Well, he had lost weight. His clothes hung on him now, but he still managed to look plump and round faced. He had become irresistible to rats and small vermin, which was a bit of a plus, since there was a severe shortage of pale willowy damsels being magnetically drawn into his clutches. But he had now developed the ability to become truly invisible.
Before, he'd only been hard to notice; your eyes finding nothing to focus on until you looked past him and saw a brightly coloured doorway, or a small child kicking a football, or even a local religious preacher desperate to add to his followers. But now he could fully disappear from view.
This wasn't the immediate advantage you would think it was though. Being able to stalk a victim unseen until you were within inches of their pumping neck veins would have been a huge help for any wild ravening predatory creature. Or at least you would think so. However, becoming fully invisible without the control to choose when it happens is not so cool , and Darren had suffered numerous injuries when taxi drivers had side-swiped him while he was crossing the street, and also when a flock of pigeons diving down into the market place anxious to peck up breadcrumbs hadn't seen him in their way.
'Shoo, dog!' Darren kicked out at the dog, which appeared to have no discernible breed or pedigree, 'Leave me alone!'
The dog growled menacingly and shuffled backward three steps, haunches high and back bristling.
'What're you doing to my dog?'
Darren turned to see a pink sweaty beach ball of a man approaching him from around the corner, dressed in a black track suit and wearing wraparound sunglasses beneath a green bandanna
'You! Leave my dog alone!'
Darren hesitated, then drew himself up to his full 5 foot 9 inches.
'It attacked me first. Shouldn't you have that thing on a lead?'
The squat guy grinned, displaying an impressive set of porcelain white teeth. 'Seems to me that he was only foraging for dead meat. Seems to me that he found some. Seems to me that he recognises you for what you really are, bud.' He stuck out a fleshy hand with a huge gold ring on each finger. 'Name's Kenny. We've already met, by the way! Thought I'd look in on you, since you're gonna be working for me from now on.'
'What do you mean we've already met? What do you mean working for you', Darren blustered. 'Who are you, and what are you to me?'
Kenny laughed, obviously enjoying putting Darren at such a disadvantage. He idly fingered the bandanna that covered the top of his head, then began.
'I'm your sire, I made you what you now are. That means that you answer to me, whether you like it or not. If I tell you to jump, you'll not ask me how high, you'll just do it.'
'What do you mean,' Darren asked, not liking this. 'You think you can threaten me or beat me up and make me do what you want that way?' He stopped suddenly, looking at his right hand which begun to clench into a fist.
Darren: A tale of life, death, and whatever.
'What's going on?'
'It's simple', Kenny continued, watching Darren's hand alternatively opening and closing, 'I think, and then you do.'
There was a loud crack as Darren's open palm suddenly slapped him across the left cheek, knocking his head to one side.
'You see.' Slap! 'You really', slap, 'have no', slap, 'choice.' Slap!
Darren looked up at Kenny from where he was now kneeling, looking stunned and confused.
'I can be a good boss or a bad boss' Kenny glowered, gripping the shoulders of Darren's over large and dishevelled suit and leering directly into his face. 'The choice is entirely yours.' He replaced the floppy hat that had fallen to the floor. 'I think your head's starting to smoulder, by the way.' He stepped back again, smiling while Darren got back to his feet. 'I've so much to teach you about your new life too. Things you'll need to know to survive.'
Darren felt crushed. 'What do you want me to do', he mumbled, feeling defeated.
Kenny smiled even more widely. 'I'm so pleased with you. I'm gonna give you a day off. I'm gonna give you the benefit of some of my knowledge and experience and I'm gonna take you shopping.'