Just a Little Crick in the Neck

The first thing Shaun noticed was the way his head burned like fire.

The second thing he noticed was that he couldn’t move.

Have you met my associate, Seraphina?

Shaun opened his eyes with a yelp, trying to move. Trying to get away. Danger, yes, he was in danger, that woman was part of it, and-

“-down, calm down,” a voice was saying. He was frozen in darkness, his eyes weren’t adjusting as fast as they should. Eventually he found the shape next to him. He tried to pull away, succeeded in only moving his head. Finally, his pupils opened up enough for the dark.


“Yeah, Honey. Quiet down, I don’t want someone hearing us.”

They were in some sort of storage room, surrounded by cleaning supplies, cheap art, and repeats of the same pieces of furniture. Side tables. Dressers. Old tube TVs. And about half a dozen mattresses leaning against the wall nearby. He realized he was laying on one, leaned up against the wall.

A motel. By the water. And Honey…

He glared at her. “You pushed me. Cracked my head open. Broke my spine, probably, which is why I can’t move.”

Honey shushed him and pointed across the room. There were two doors on opposite walls. Light streamed in through cracks between both, but one was obviously sunlight. The other lightbulbs. The rest of the motel.

It doesn’t make sense. Why would she try to kill me? Why would she still be here?

He tried to remember. He couldn’t remember anything before she was there, next to him on the roof.

Wait, the roof? Why had he been on the roof? On the roof…waiting for sunrise.

Waiting for it.

Have you met my associate?

“Perez. Seraphina,” he said. Shaun looked at Honey, still waiting patiently. “What happened?”

“You didn’t come back to the apartment two nights ago,” Honey said. She was sitting next to him, legs crossed underneath her. “I figured you got stuck out and were holed up somewhere, waiting for night. Then the sun went down, and you still didn’t come back. I went into your room – sorry – and found your board of targets or whatever you want to call it. Saw you were going after Perez. And if you were going after Perez, I figured there was a good chance you didn’t know about Seraphina.”

He tried to shake his head. “I didn’t. I still don’t, I guess.”

Honey raised her eyebrows. “You don’t remember meeting her?”

“No. Maybe? Sort of.”

It was all blurred over, like a lens out of focus. He had gone to confront Perez. Been let into his mansion. He had been getting ready to fight. And then…

Have you met my associate, Seraphina?

“She had purple eyes,” he said. “That’s all I can remember. Then…I was on the roof. And then you were on the roof, and then you pushed me…because the sun was coming up.”

Shaun could remember it, now. The sun lighting up Honey’s face a split second before she pushed him into the darkness.

“Perez keeps Seraphina close to the vest,” Honey said. “He likes to keep her a surprise, a secret weapon.”

“She’s a witch?”

Honey nodded. “Got into your brain. Told you how much you missed seeing the sunrise, then they plopped you down upstairs.”

“How do you know all this?”

“Because that’s how I ended up with Rousseau in the first place.” She was working her fingers together, staring as one covered the other covered the other. Shaun didn’t interrupt her. “She pissed Perez off. Honestly, I don’t even know what she did. Maybe she didn’t, either. We got invited to a ‘party.’ And then…Seraphina. They tied me up. Up there. Made me watch. Then they gave me to him.”

She sniffed, and Shaun could almost see her physically push the memory away. “They gagged me, too, so I couldn’t make a sound. That always made me wonder. Why bother?”

“Unless you could have talked her out of it,” Shaun said.

“Yeah. That was my guess.” She forced a smile. “Guess I was right.”

“Thanks,” he said. “For breaking my back.”

She grimaced. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean for you to land on your head like that. I just needed you to get out of the sun.”

Shaun looked around. “They own this place?”

“They have cameras up there,” she said with a nod. “If no one has come yet, they won’t until tonight. We’ll need to run as soon as the sun goes down.”

“Hopefully I can,” he said, squirming. Or trying to, anyway. There was still no feeling, no response from his body below the neck.

“You’ll heal faster if you drink.”

“I’m not going to bite you,” he snapped.

“I wasn’t offering,” she snapped back.

She glared at him for a few seconds before pulling a backpack from behind her. From the backpack came one of the mason jars from the fridge. It was half filled.

“Hope you don’t mind drinking through a straw,” she said, rooting around in the bag. Based off the clinking, there were a couple other jars in there. “I was afraid blood would be too viscous for a regular straw so I stopped by a 7-11 when I was coming here and got one of those fat straws they sell for Slurpees. If I can just…ah!”

She held the green and yellow striped straw in front of her with a triumphant smile and then tore off the plastic with her teeth.

“We’ve got hours,” Shaun said, eyeing the jar as she twisted off the top. “I’m sure it’ll heal before night.”

Honey dropped the straw into the jar and held it out to him. He only stared at it.

“Dude, what?” she asked.

“I’ll be fine,” he said.

“No, you won’t. Not fast enough.”

She held the straw in front of his face. He only looked at her.

Honey scoffed. “Are you, like, embarrassed?”


“Because you don’t have to be.”

“I’m not embarrassed!”

“Then what it is?”

“I don’t want to make you do this!” he spit at her.

She looked at the jar, swirling the blood to make it stick to the edges. “It’s not mine.”

“I know, it’s just…I don’t want to drag you down. Keep you in all this.”

“In all what?”

“In the darkness! All this vampire shit.”

Honey stared at him, gaping.

And then she was laughing. At first a bright, barking laughter. She glanced at the door, and put a hand over her mouth, giggling into her sleeve.

“What is so funny?” he asked.

“Is that what all of this has been about?” she asked, still tittering. “You think, what, once I’m healed and have, like muscle mass and hair again I’m just going to re-enter society? Get an apartment and a car and a job and pay taxes?”

“I mean…yes?”

She laughed for a few more seconds before she was able to get herself under control.

“Okay, part of this is on me, because I never told you.”

“Told me what?”

“I’ve been…I was slowkiss for ten years.”

Now it was his turn to gape. “Ten years?”




“But that would mean you were taken-”

“When I was sixteen. Yeah. Before I was able to do anything. You know I had just gotten my driver’s license? Now I don’t remember what I was doing. I think I knew how to parallel park? I’ve never had a real job. Never done taxes. Didn’t go to college. Didn’t even finish high school. I can’t go back to society because I don’t have a place in it. If you don’t want me around anymore, that’s fine, but don’t go thinking that by pushing me away you’re, I don’t know, pushing me back into the light or something. I think I’m stuck here. Just as much as you are.”

Ten years. A teenager. She’d never even gotten a chance to get started. The life he had been imagining for her, with the little house and the cat in the window, went up in smoke. Suddenly, he could only see her as she really was. Sitting in front of him with a mason jar half filled with blood, a green and yellow Slurpee straw sticking out the top, scars from bite marks covering her neck and her wrists.

She put the straw in front of his face again and said, “Drink.”

This time, he did.

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