Starving

It took a special kind to survive this far north.  When Randall was a child, they almost never ventured into the northern states.  Only in the summer, and rarely then. Mostly, vampires congregated in places like Key West and Rio and Bangkok.

But things started to warm – imperceptibly at first – but unmistakably. Some of the best party towns found themselves underwater. And the numbers of the dead started to swell. In hot towns, they nearly outnumbered the living, though they never stopped partying long enough to bother with organizing.  In colder climates, the dead learned to hibernate during the winter months.  Those that forgot were liable to freeze solid, which could result in embarrassment - as was the case for an inexperienced dead who decided to trade pants with the man who provided his lunch, only to find himself frozen solid in a most unflattering position, hunched and squatting with one foot in a swiped pair of Dockers. A brash photographer at the Tribune managed to catch a photo and ran it in the paper the next day. The dead man was still around – though he never wore Dockers after that incident – but the photographer vanished within the week.

Because of this, a small coalition of dead – or non-dead as they began calling themselves - tough enough to survive the strange weather fluctuations in the city of Minneapolis, sued first for the right to vote – since none of them had death certificates, the law had to assume that they were still living, and therefore still in possession of their rights as citizens – and then for the right to field their own candidates.  As a result, five of the nine members of the Minneapolis city council were non-dead, and if current trends prevailed, it would be eight by the following year.  Granted, it was generally assumed that many of the dead were simply voting more than once, as they were able to present the drivers licenses of those caught out where they should not have been, but as yet had not been officially declared deceased.  And no election judge wanted to get into an argument – especially so near the end of a long day officiating ballots.

Randall had just started junior college when the dead first proposed to have rules for both hunters and hunted. Quickly, the proposals became bills which became laws. Granted, the law said, that hunters have the right to hunt when it comes to the protection of family, business and property, and granted, the hunted have the right to what can reasonably be described as a fair fight. Therefore, the process of hunting and evading hunt was defined, regularized and codified.  The law was specific, maddeningly precise and an utter snore to read.  Randall had never read it.  But he was never busted either.

So far, two had sidled past him, their eyes hungrily focused on the darkness behind the door, and intently avoiding even a sideways glance at Randall.  He memorized what they looked like – one with burgundy fingernails, the other midnight blue.  Both wore leather bomber jackets that were several sizes too big, that could have been assumed belonged originally to a possessive boyfriend if either of them were a typical college student.  Or even human.  When the second one handed him her I.D. (an ancient thing, probably belonging to an early victim, a girl named Keisha) his fingers accidentally brushed up against hers, and he nearly gasped with cold.  Though he knew it was against the rules, he had half a mind to collar her right then, make an example for the rest of them.  She did not notice, and slipped inside.  Shoving his hand in his pocket, he continued to screen driver’s licenses.  The cold on his middle and index fingers burned, and if he was not careful, he could end up with frostbite.

“Nice ink,” a voice said behind him. Randall turned, paused, and turned away.





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