Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hunting Canned Cranberries: A Freak Sorority Short by Stephanie Beck

Pammy muttered to herself as she rifled through her cupboards looking for a missing can of cranberries. Thanksgiving dinner was T-minus fifty minutes away and she had a set schedule if things were going to be ready when her father arrived. Since her mother died, every Thanksgiving was the same. She opened the cans of corn, green beans, carrots and cranberries. Her father bought a cooked turkey from the deli along with mashed potatoes and a pumpkin pie. No matter what was happening in their lives, Thanksgiving was their thing and if she didn't have cranberries there would be hell to pay.

She reached to the very back and with a triumphant shout pulled out a dusty can of jellied berries. The date was barely good but definitely within use proving once again that she was smart to take advantage of the two for one offers. She shopped half as often and any time-saver was good. As a kindergarten teacher and demon slayer, her minutes were at a premium most days and waiting in line to buy toilet paper and cereal pissed her off.

The bowls of her offerings were set out and ready to nuke, the small kitchen table set with the finest in paper dishes and a glance at the clock said she'd made it with twenty minutes to spare. She dumped the cranberries and managed to keep them in their can-ribbed perfection and pulled out one of the long necks she'd bought for her father. They would, eat, drink and talk about killing demons. Happy Thanksgiving.

She was about to turn on the Stones when her trip wire rang. The fish line across her end of the hall was too low to be tripped over but it alerted her to everything outside her apartment door. It was never a good thing for a demon hunter to be taken by surprise. She checked her Blackberry for the instant feed recorder and scowled at the top of a brown head that wasn't her father. The stranger smelled human and knocked politely. Just what she needed, a Jehovah's Witness or magazine salesman to bug her before her father came. If Big Jim were here they'd terrorize the interloper together but since it was just her, she'd make it quick.

"Delivery for…hell."

"Wow, Bricker, still as charming as ever I see," Pammy said, eye to eye with a set of baby blues she hadn't seen since high school.
"Pamela Dickerson. How did I not put that together?" He held out a warm cardboard box. "Thanksgiving dinner from Jimmy Dickerson. Happy holidays."

"Huh?" She held the box in one arm and grabbed his surprisingly firm bicep with the other. "Did he say anything else?"

She watched him roll his eyes, the same ones that back in the day had always been below hers but sometime in the last ten years since he'd grown six inches and become shockingly good looking. He fished out a paper from his coat.

"There was a message," he admitted. "'Sorry honey, Uncle Ed's in town and we've got a hunting party by the light of the moon.' Huh, he shouldn't be hunting at night."

"I see," she said, undeniably disappointed but if her uncle was in town that meant he was chasing a dangerous demon and needed her dad's help. "Well, thanks for dropping this off. I suppose you'd better get back to work. Do I tip you? I've never had a grocery delivery before."

"I'm the owner so don't worry about the tip," he said magnanimously. "And you were my last delivery so I'm heading home to watch the game, drink beer and fall asleep in my chair."

Her surprise must have shown because he blushed a little and stepped back further into the hall. "Well that was too much information. It was nice seeing you Pammy, maybe we can do this again in another ten years."

"Wait," she said as he began down her hall. "Are you really just going home to do what you said? I mean, because if you are then you might as well stay and watch the game while you drink my beer and eat."

"Really?" Hesitantly he took a step toward her.

"Yeah, I mean, I've got a ton of food and like you said, it's been ten years. Why not catch up?"
Peter looked around the little apartment and wondered why the hell he wasn't home. The place was packed with things belonging to a woman he'd barely spoke with in high school. She'd been a freak and he'd been a loser. High school common law would have them bonding but she'd been a scary freak and he'd been a wimpy loser. The decorative knives and swords that didn't look so decorative hanging above plastic drawers full of craft supplies told him he was once again over his head.

"So are you still afraid of using public restrooms?" she asked, running the microwave like a pro while he looked at a picture of a bunch of scary looking women and one dog, wait that was just a really hairy woman. Yikes.

"Do you still give blow jobs in janitor closets?" he replied and winced.

She laughed out loud and he was relieved. His mouth had gotten him in trouble on more than one occasion and freak or not she'd invited him for Thanksgiving when he'd have spent it alone.

"Not nearly as often as I'd like," she said, still laughing. "Mostly I teach kindergarteners to read and help Dad with his company in the evenings. You?"

"I still prefer to use the bathroom at my house, which I bought last year. I took over Mr. Harrison's grocery a couple years ago and have sold my soul to the produce supplier," he replied and picked up a strange piece of hard, blue plastic. "What is this?"

"Ah, maybe put that down Bricker." He scowled at the stupid nickname. "No I'm serious, you don't want to touch that."

"What is it?" he asked, rubbing his hand over the smooth surface.

"It's a demon penis."
She watched him drop the demon tool like it was hot and bit back a laugh. He'd found her favorite trophy and now he was wiping his hands on his pants. Poor guy. She put the dishes on the table and handed him hand sanitizer.

"You are still weird as hell, aren't you?" he muttered, accepting a squirt.

"Some things you don't outgrow," she agreed. "Let's eat."

Pammy couldn't believe how well Bricker had grown up. He had great manners and since her dad and most of the men in her life had horrible ones she recognized the thought he put into eating. He kept his mouth closed unless he was speaking and when he spoke he said things that were moderately intelligent and non-demon related. For the first time in her life she enjoyed a meal and didn't resent the fact that wasn't out hunting, discussing hunting or thinking about slamming the next demon that came across her path.

"What is that?" Peter asked when her alarm bell rang.

She caught demon stench and pounced to the door, palming her the knives she had attached at her back.

"Whoa," Peter said but she ignored him, launching out of her apartment door before the demon tried to enter.

"Hey bitch," she snarled at the little hunched over `woman' waiting in the hall.

"Hunter." The demon's eerie, toneless voice filled the hall but Pammy didn't flinch because she was trained not to. Peter, on the other hand was cursing from her kitchen floor.

"Don't you assholes ever learn?" she demanded and launched.

The demon didn't try to run, not that she would have let it. Mindful of the ordinary humans living down the hall Pammy wasted no time plunging her knives into the demon's throat even as the creature tried to bite. Blood poured over her arms, blue, smelly and thick and she loved it. There was nothing better than being elbow deep in demon guts. She cut off its head and stood back with a satisfied sigh.

"What the hell was that?" Peter demanded and she looked over, glad he was no longer withering in pain.

"Demon," she answered and pulled out her phone to text in the pickup. "Can you step back for a minute? I can't leave it in the hall."

She pulled it to just inside the kitchen and closed her door. The grin on her face had to be huge. Her dad said she never looked as happy as she did just after a kill. Even Peter, who looked a little shocked, pleased her because he wasn't freaking too badly.

"So?" she asked. "Questions? Comments?"

"That, that," he stuttered then she watched as he shook himself. "That was hot. Can I call you next weekend?"

"Next weekend?" she said, wiping a glob of blood from her cheek. "Works for me."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stephanie Beck

No comments:

Post a Comment