by Valerie Brown
It’s winter, the lonely season. Opportunity only comes a few times per night and the competition is fierce…
You’ve heard of the Boogie-Man? Well, I’m his Boogie bastard. While he’s creeping beneath beds, I’m out working the streets. No easy pickins here, and no glory either. All my work gets chalked up to heebie jeebies and bouts of hysteria. It’s just not fair. I didn’t ask to be born.
Hold on … victim at two o’clock. I crouch behind a low cement barrier, the elderly woman approaches. This is insulting. I shuffle closer, balanced on the balls of my feet. The woman’s glasses sit perched on the bridge of her nose. She’s carrying a bag with a giant apple on it.
I leap up, eyes glowing red, fangs descending. Holding my arms in the air, my sharp claws shine in the moonlight. The woman shrieks and falls backwards, spilling her notepads and number two pencils on the sidewalk. She’s grabbing her throat with one hand, pulling herself away with the other. Her lips are quivering, her eyes wide and dilated, but she can’t see me anymore. I stand there in the middle of the sidewalk, just watching as she scrambles to her feet. She yanks a set of car keys from her purse and darts into the nearby parking lot. I go back to a crouch.
If my father was any man at all, he would have taken me under his wing, brought me into the family business, but no—victim at eight o’clock. A man in a long dress coat walks towards me, trying to light a cigarette. The flame licks up suddenly and he stops. I snap my fingers and the lighter fluid spews upwards, causing the red flame to kiss his glove. He drops the lighter, dancing away as he tries to put out the small fire.
I follow him casually, until the hairs standing on his neck cause him to pause. He looks around, looks behind him. He doesn’t see me, at least, not with his eyes. His heart rate is up, his breathing shallow. I exhale, causing his skin to prickle. He swallows and turns quickly, trying to escape. I follow him to his car. He gases it into oncoming traffic.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m living The Dream. I can travel anywhere I want. I never need to sleep or eat. Flawless fashion sense, great with cats … But you’re wrong. I’m the lowest grade demon. Cast out of House Boogie for being anything less than a full-blooded spook.
A girl is crying in the next block, I can hear her. She’s sitting on the steps of an old Brown Stone, rubbing her swollen eyes. She’s covered in filth. I should walk away, but I don’t. If I’m ever going to prove I can take over the family business, I have to be serious. I lean in and whisper into her ear. The girl’s head snaps up and she looks around, eyes wide. My eyes slowly take shape in the darkness, first pale red, then more brilliant. I smile, allowing the moonlight to glint off my sharp teeth. The girl screams and stumbles down the bottom two steps. Her tiny feet whack the sidewalk as she runs out of sight.
I slump back against the vacant steps, watching the moon’s light play with the shadows. All the other street-pounders are out tonight, too. I can hear a goblin’s laughter on the wind. I can smell the dank residue of Ol’ Grim, making his rounds. A ghost flows by, heading for the attics of an old complex.
And here I am, wasting away when I should be living it up in the mansions of L.A. or stalking the bed-skirts of the Queen of England. I hear a fender-bender two blocks away and jump into action. It’ll be prime real estate for whoever gets there first.
It just ain’t easy, being Boogie-Man’s bastard.
Valerie is a hardcore coffee drinker who loves writing about anything but reality. She creates character driven pieces revolving around aliens, monsters or demons, and if she can winkle in a little romantic twist, then she will.
Having grown up on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, she likes to give her home city a shout out in most of her writing—though she failed to do so in this piece—and often sets a portion of her storyline in that historical city.
She married her high school sweet heart and has an amazing two year old daughter.
With the completion of her first—and totally awesome—science fiction novel, Valerie will seek representation later this year.