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It was typical Southern weather. Hot. The days were scathing, and the nights were warm and sticky. Nothing,
Emmet reflected happily as he placed the glass of ice tea to his lips, was more pleasant than a summer evening in the good ol’ deep Sawth. The sky was painted with all sorts of vibrant reds, oranges, and pinks, which promised to give way to a graceful black night sky, patterned with stars with crickets chirping nearby and the sound of the old rocking chair’s creaking as he rocked back and forth. Delight – pure delight – it created a warm feeling in the pit of your stomach that grew and spread throughout all your limbs. True Southern comfort.
Emmet sat out there until all the world around him had died down, and now the only sound was the nearby warbling of a nightingale, and the sky had darkened and everything around him was at peace. He dropped a hand down and scratched behind his dog’s ears. “Let’s go inside,” he said. The dog obligingly stood and made its way through the screened porch door. Emmet’s dog didn't have a name, and the dog had been living under his roof for nearly twelve years. He didn't think it was right to name a dog, any more, he had always said, than a human would appreciate being named by a dog. He followed the dog in, the empty glass in his hand, and dumped the ice into the sink before shutting his door and locking it for the night.
The next thing he knew, there was a knock on the door. He cracked one eye open, having apparently stretched out and fallen asleep on his couch, he glowered at the door. “I don’t know who could possibly need me at-“ he glanced at his watch, which was always an hour off. “Two in the morning.” Getting up, he stomped across the floor and hit mute on the television remote before opening the door.
A man stood in the doorway, one of those delicate types who was more suited to pianos and T.S. Eliot than anything a man was good for. Milk-toast, Emmet liked to call them when describing the “gang” that hung often around town. Lily white, with soft feathery blonde hair that hung in perfect curls around his heart-shaped, smiling face. His eyes were a very unusual color, like rust. He was dressed like anyone else in town, in a plain brown collared shirt and worn faded jeans. His smile grew even wider when he saw Emmet. “Sorry to bother you so late, sir,” he was incredibly soft-spoken, and he spoke with a thick Southern drawl, even thicker than Emmet’s. “But I wondered if I might borrow a cup of sugar.” He extended both hands, cupped around a small glass measuring cup. Emmet stared at it, and then looked up at Ashley in disbelief.
“You come… to my house… to borrow a cup of sugar… at 2 o’ clock in the fucking morning?”
“One o’ clock,” the man replied with an innocent blink.
“Fine, one. It’s still an ungodly hour.”
“What does God have to do with this? Does he regulate your kitchen hours?”
“What in the hell do you want sugar for at this hour anyway?”
“Baking,” he replied, with another grin.
“Of course,” Emmet snatched the cup from the man’s hands and walked back into the kitchen, his booted feet making no noise as they clunked over the ancient carpeting on the path to the kitchen. “That makes all the sense in the world-“ he removed the lid from the sugar bowl and dipped the cup in.
“Lovely place,” the man shoved his hands in his pockets and stepped into the house, looking around. “I remember when they built it, I’m surprised it’s held up this long.” He ran a finger over the dusty TV surface.
Never mind that the house was fifty years old and this boy looked no older than twenty. “Yah.”
“My name is Ashley,” he looked down and spied the dog, curled up in a corner right on top of the air conditioning vent. “And who are you?”
“He doesn't have a name, he doesn't particularly care about yours-“ Emmet came back, bearing the glass cup filled to the brim with sugar. “Here you go,”
“You’re very kind,” another easy smile, it was beginning to prick on Emmet’s nerves. He didn't move.
There was a long, awkward pause. They just stood there staring at each other, those smiling rust-colored eyes boring straight into him. Emmet shifted uncomfortably, and broke the silence. “Well, goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” it was as if by magic, Ashley went bouncing back out onto the porch and the last thing Emmet saw before slamming the door was a mass of feathery blond curls bouncing up and down.
“I don’t get it, either.” He looked at his dog and shook his head before lying back down on the couch.
Emmet awoke yet again that same night to a high keening wail coming from the corner of the room. An animalistic cry so full of pain that it was very nearly human. Emmet was so startled he nearly fell off the couch, but he was restrained by a single hand. He twisted violently, and found himself staring into a pair of rust-colored eyes.
“Shhh,” Ashley put a hand to his lips.
Emmet’s head reeled, and he fell back against the arm of his couch. What was the man doing in his house NOW? He did he even get in? And what was that noise?
It was silent now, eerily silent.
“What was that?” his voice was coarse with the roughness of sleep.
“Nothing,” Ashley said softly. Emmet’s eyes darted to the corner of the room almost on instinct, and he felt a knot tighten in the pit of his stomach at the sight of blood, where the dog had been resting.
“YOU BASTARD! What have you-?”
“Nothing, lie down.” The hand pressed more forcefully against his chest, even though he was already lying down. Emmet licked his dry lips, his fist clenching, longing for his shotgun. The sweet, angelic face lowered itself to hover just above his, lips hovering inches above Emmet’s. “Don’t be afraid,” he whispered against Emmet’s lips. “This isn't going to hurt.”
Emmet squirmed underneath the smaller man’s surprisingly strong grip. “What–“ as soon as his lips parted, it was as if the very breath was being pressed from his lungs. His eyes widened in surprise, but of course he wasn't able to protest.
Pain. Right on his neck. Ashley had lowered his lips and had them against Emmet’s neck, leaving behind small red puncture wounds. Only one thing flashed through Emmet’s mind as he tried his best to breathe. Vampire.
“I am not just a vampire,” Ashley said indignantly, producing a small silver knife. He placed it to the puncture wounds and began to make a long red line down the shoulders, pulling back the loose plaid button-up as he did so. More stinging, more burning redness running down Emmet’s shoulder. “I am a specific type of vampire. I, my dear sir, am what they call a boo hag.”
The silver knife slipped under the skin, and it began to peel back, excruciatingly slowly. Emmet fought the urge to scream, and he writhed underneath the pain. Ashley quickly recovered from his offended manner at never having been heard of, and was humming as he worked, slowly peeling back Emmet’s skin and lapping up whatever blood that managed to get on his fingers.
“I guess you've never heard the saying,” he continued, peeling back a wide strip of Emmet’s sweaty skin, revealing the muscle and bleeding veins beneath. “Don’t let the boo hag ride ye?”