Jennifer’s room glows purple with LED lights and our sleeping bags form a star around Lilith’s where she sits cross-legged leading a game of Never Have I Ever.
“Never Have I Ever been used as a virgin sacrifice to make a boy band famous.”
We clasp our sweaty glasses, vodka crans but the cran is blood. Craig from biology class. Naamah harvested it after Craig cheated on her. “Jennifer! Take a drink!”
Truth: when Jennifer was a girl, she pretended to be a slut, because she liked watching boys do tricks to get her affection. She tells us she was a virgin, but won’t tell us why the sacrifice didn’t go as planned, didn’t tell us how she became one of us. Jennifer has the least fingers down. Her pinky finger is curled into her palm, pink polish hidden.
Agrat starts tweeting smoldering selfies, and Jennifer laughs at her. Truth: Agrat knows that fitting in is what it takes to be a queen. That’s why she doesn’t hang out with the dorky girls Jennifer hangs out with, like frizzy-haired, math-whiz Needy. She tells Jennifer this, but Jennifer never listens to any of us about Needy. She spends more time with Needy than she does with us, even though we’re the only ones who really get her.
“Let’s go out,” says Lilith. None of us want to say no, but none of us want to say yes either. Naamah has been transitioning into a vegetarian diet, and Jennifer feels bad about the boys she’s killed. But Jennifer gets up and opens her bedroom window anyway. We’ve gotten into the habit of following Lilith without question. We don’t know what would happen if we said no, but we aren’t going to find out. We jump out of the window, landing noiselessly on the grass below.
The sky is indigo, the perfect amount of night to hunt. The time of night when people are most vulnerable; snoring alongside their partners or cats, or some of them taking long insomniatic walks. We turn towards the center of town sauntering through buttoned up suburban neighborhoods, passing an array of copy and paste houses until we arrive at a yellow house and Lilith stops. We collectively realize it’s Needy’s house.
“I thought Jennifer might want to visit her girlfriend,” Lilith says
“Please,” Jennifer says.
Lilith creeps towards the back of the house, feet dragging through flowerbeds. The rest of us follow, because that’s what we do. Jennifer looks at us desperately— we pretend not to notice. If demons felt shame we’d all be feeling it now. Truth: demons do feel shame, but we feel everything else more, making the shame irrelevant. Naamah looks at her feet and shame almost wins, until she sees how pale she is from weeks of abstaining from hunting. Sometimes we think we know each other, think we are friends, but really we are just together by circumstance. Except Jennifer. She wasn’t always like us. She used to be a girl who fit in easily, but still felt out of place.
As we approach Needy’s bedroom window, Lilith looks back at Jennifer, hoping for some sort of reaction.
“Lilith, this isn’t necessary.”
“Who says everything has to be necessary? Sometimes I just like to have fun.” Lilith moves towards the house, sticking a hand through Needy’s bedroom window, shattering the glass. Jennifer lunges at Lilith, biting her shoulder, black goo pouring from it. Lilith shoves Jennifer and goes into Needy’s room, grabs her by the hair, and drags her outside. Needy screams when Lilith grabs her and cries when she sees Jennifer, blackened and bloody.
Jennifer stands on shaking legs and goes for Lilith again. Looking bored, she puts her hand out to stop Jennifer, one hand holding Needy by the hair and the other one Jennifer’s forehead, keeping her in place. Needy keeps screaming so Lilith throws her to the ground.
“Agrat! Shut her up,” she says. Agrat pins Needy to the ground and puts her hand over her mouth, baring her teeth. Tears spill from Needy’s eyes onto Agrat’s hand and she licks them off. Jennifer stops struggling against Lilith’s hand, making Lilith lurch forward. Jennifer kicks Agrat’s ribs and bends down to Needy.
“Are you alright?” Jennifer cups Needy’s cheeks in her palms.
“Get off,” Needy says, and Jennifer removes her hands from Needy’s face, leaving behind black sludge. She wipes it off, gagging. Truth: if Jennifer was still a girl, she’d be crying right now.
Lilith regains her composure, but doesn’t strike at Jennifer or Needy. She stands there with her arms crossed.
“I’m on your side,” Jennifer says to Needy, ignoring Lilith.
“You’re this– this thing, and you pretended to be my friend? I always knew all of you were freaks.” Needy says.
“I’m not like them.” Jennifer says. Truth: it kinds of hurts us when she says this. “I don’t want to be like this.”
“But it’s what you are.”
Jennifer tenses up, bares her teeth at Needy, lunging for her throat, but stops and looks at her.
“Needy I’m in–,” Jennifer starts, but Needy pulls a large wooden stick off the ground and lunges it into Jennifer’s chest. Black goo spurts onto Needy’s face as Jennifer falls. Her body hits the wet grass with a squelch. Needy stares at Jennifer, realizes what she’s done, and crumples.
We swarm towards her, finally ready to do what we came here for— finally ready to feed. But Lilith stops us with a look, signaling us to retreat. She wipes the sludge off Needy’s lips and kisses her long and hard, Needy too in shock to protest.
“For Jennifer,” she says and leads us away from Needy’s house, away from the suburbs where we aren’t supposed to dwell, and back to Jennifer’s room where we finish our game of never have I ever without her.
Téa Franco is a writer based in Indianapolis. She has work published in Barrelhouse Magazine, Barren Magazine, Foglifter Press, and others. Read more of her work at teafrancowrites.wordpress.com.