Date from Hell by Shanna
Joan glanced up from her wine glass and stared at her date sitting across from her. “What did I get myself into,” she wondered. “I should never have trusted Patrick to set up that dating profile.” Sure, it had seemed like a good idea when Patrick had suggested it and they had a lot of fun answering the profile questions one night after drinking too much wine. They had giggled and snorted, thinking up answers to questions such as “Who should Goofy date?” and “If you were an alien, who would you abduct?”. Patrick had guaranteed that this dating app was the one to use if you wanted to find love, spouting off statistics and the names of numerous couples who had met through the app.
“Leave it to me,” Patrick had said as he started scrolling through profiles. “I’ll find you a date.”
A couple of weeks later, Patrick had knocked on Joan’s door. “I found you the perfect guy!” he said, one hand waving his phone in the air. “His name is Mike, he’s funny, and he wants to take you to dinner.”
Joan gasped and grabbed the phone from Patrick’s hand. “Ohmygosh! What does he look like? What does he do?”
Patrick grabbed the phone back and started swiping through the screens. “He works the graveyard shift at a hospital. His photo is a little blurry and he looks a little pale but that’s probably the lighting. He wants to meet tomorrow night.”
“Tomorrow night! What am I going to wear?” Joan had hurried to her closet and was flipping through hangers, trying to decide on the perfect first date outfit.
Which led Joan to where she was now. Her date, Mike, sat silently across from her, head bent as he studied the menu. The ambient restaurant noise surrounded them and Joan sighed as she took another drink.
Mike looked up at her. “Everything okay?” he asked.
“Everything’s fine,” Joan said with a strained smile. “Yeah, everything’s fine,” she grumbled to herself. “Everything’s fine if you don’t mind your date is a vampire.”
Unlike most people, Joan was not a fan of vampires. She did not worship vampires like others did, nor did she view them with the celebrity status they seemed to obtain. Joan couldn’t understand why anyone would want to live forever. And while fruit bats were cute, there was nothing cute about the nose-less, big teethed vampire bats that vampires turned into. Joan could not imagine what she would do if she woke up and saw a vampire bat on the pillow next to her.
“Stupid Patrick,” Joan thought. “This is the last date he’ll ever set up for me.” She watched Mike as he chatted with the waitress and ordered his dinner. The lights from the chandeliers above reflected off his enlarged canines and only seemed to emphasize the paleness of his skin. The waitress laughed and flirted with Mike. She seemed to find the fact that Mike emphasized the rare order of his steak hilarious and Joan rolled her eyes at the spectacle.
“I can’t believe I wore my second favorite dress for this date,” Joan thought. The problem with vampires, Joan believed, was that because they slept all day, they were then up all night. Joan knew this only too well since the next-door neighbors in the apartment she used to live in were vampires. During the day, everything was quiet as the inhabitants were asleep. But at night, as soon as the sun went down, the noise went up as everyone awoke.
Numerous nights Joan was woken up from the racket coming from next door. Complaining to the building management did no good; most apartment buildings considered it an honor to have vampires living in their high-rises. Because of the allure of the vampires, some management companies would raise rents when vampires moved in, knowing that they would soon be at full capacity due to the popularness of the vampires. Joan however, couldn’t wait to move out and soon found another place to live where she wasn’t forced to wear earplugs all night.
Mike rearranged the silverware on his side of the table, placing all his utensils on the left of his plate as he picked up his glass and moved it to the right. “Hey, I really appreciate you agreeing to meet me for dinner,” he said. “Seeing as how I can’t go out in the daylight.”
“It’s no problem,” replied Joan.
“I hope this restaurant is okay,” Mike said looking around the room. “You said you liked Italian in your dating profile. I’m not much of a garlic eater but…” Mike shrugged his shoulders.
Joan looked at him and relaxed a little. She could tell that Mike was trying, which made her feel a little bad for how she had been acting.
“I guess not all vampires are bad,” she thought and she decided to make an effort to be nice. “I like your suit,” she said aloud.
Mike glanced down at his suit and smiled. “Thanks,” he said, straightening out his cufflinks. “It’s the suit I was buried in. You would not imagine how hard it is to clean mud off of a wool jacket.”
Joan stared at Mike. She couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not so she just smiled and took another drink of her wine.
Mike sat up a little straighter and starting patting his pockets. He reached into his inner breast pocket and pulled out a cigarette case. The top flipped open and Mike grasped a cigarette. “Do you mind if I smoke?” he asked.
The other problem with vampires, Joan believed, was that they all smoked clove cigarettes. There was something about the ingredients in a clove cigarette that seemed to draw vampires to them. Joan had never met a vampire that didn’t smoke, including her old neighbors. In fact, her neighbors had smoked all the time and during the day, when they were asleep, they had rigged up some sort of contraption so that the clove cigarettes would burn all day long.
It had gotten to the point where Joan would smell cloves all the time, no matter where she was. The smoke had infused her clothes and her hair and her skin. After she moved, Joan had bought an entire new wardrobe and it had taken at least a month before the smell washed out of her hair. So yes, Joan thought, she did mind if Mike smoked.
She brought her fist up next to her mouth and coughed. “Sorry,” she said. “I’m allergic.”
Mike hurriedly put the cigarette back in its case and placed the case in his pocket. “That’s okay,” he said. “I can wait until we get outside.”
The waitress arrived back at their table, plates in hand. She placed Mike’s bloody steak in front of him, dipping low to show off her cleavage. Joan rolled her eyes again at the waitress. Typical vampire groupie, she thought. Her own salad didn’t get the same chest baring attention.
“Besides,” Mike said as he dug into his steak, the blood oozing out, “no time for smoking when the food’s here.”
Joan grabbed her fork and stabbed at the lettuce. “I am going to kill Patrick when I get home,” she vowed.