Mrs. Alsgood glanced at her distorted reflection in the microwave door, adjusted her rimless glasses, and pushed back a stray lock of gray hair. With a sigh, she adjusted the ruffled apron around her ample middle and surveyed the room.
Sun streamed into the spacious kitchen and bounced from the white walls and white curtains. On the window sill, in small flower pots, thyme, garlic, and majorum strained toward the light. The room crackled with frying bacon and smelled of baking rolls. The table, with crisp white linen, was set for one.
Before she could turn her attention back to the sizzling bacon, in came Brad Sedley, her only guest today. Not more than twenty years old, tanned, muscular, he was what the outfitters called a river rat.
“Good morning,” said Mrs. Alsgood. “Did you sleep well, dear?”
“Yeah,” he said, stretching his arms and looking a tad groggy. “I was dog tired after that drive last night, gettin’ in so late and all. Man, that bacon smells good.”
“It’s best to start the day with a hearty breakfast,” she said. “How do you like your eggs?”
“Sunny side up.”
“Do have a seat, dear,” she said. “Orange juice is on the table. Are you here for rafting with friends?”
“Naw, I’m here by myself, thought I might hook up with somebody and jet ski down to the lake. Your web site says the river’s a block from here?”
“Yes, and there’s a jet ski rental on the right when you get to the river. We have so many jet skiers here. I wonder they aren’t all deaf.”
She placed the bacon and two eggs before him along with a basket of warm rolls.
No one here with him. That was good. She could have taken care of things last night, but she liked to talk to her guests first, in case there were any complications, and a hearty breakfast added zest to the meal.
“Coffee?” she asked.
“Yeah, sugar and cream.” He mounded butter on a roll and attacked his breakfast. “I wanna get my own jet ski pretty soon,” he said.
“Oh, my,” she said. “They’re so noisy. And use so much gasoline.”
“But they’re fun!”
“And they always have leaks and spills,” she said. “So polluting.”
She picked up the coffee pot and savored the aroma for a moment. Although Mrs. Alsgood didn’t like the rafters — they littered and fouled the river — she really hated the jet skiers. Two birds with one stone, she thought. She poured his coffee and said, “Enjoy. I’ll be back to tidy up in a bit.” She stepped out the back door into the garden where she filled the bird feeder, refreshed the birdbath and watered her petunias. When she returned, Brad was finishing the last of his bacon and buttering another roll.
“More coffee?” she asked.
“Naw. I’m good.”
She studied the hall door intently, focusing her powers on it. Slowly, the door responded to her wishes and began to swing shut. Just as it closed and the lock turned, she put the coffee pot noisily on the counter and said, “Now then, to finish up.”
Brad stood to leave. Mrs. Alsgood raised her hand as if to signal, stop. She summoned all her concentration and could feel power rumbling like molten rock in a volcano. Brad’s knees gave out and he collapsed back into the chair. “That’s very good,” she said. “Nicely done.”
“What’s goin’ on?”
“Nothing, dear.” She stepped toward him and bared her teeth to reveal two enormous canines.
“What the…!” For a moment he was paralyzed, staring wide-eyed and uncomprehending. He leapt out of the chair, turned and ran to the hall door. He hit the closed door with a thud, then rattled the handle. He threw his weight against the door, but it was solid and had heavy hinges. He turned to face her. Back pressed into the door, he shrieked, “NO!”
She approached him, caught and held his eye, again focused her energy on him. She could feel him fighting her, like a river bass on a tight line. He was strong. This would be good sport, too.
He grabbed the chair and slid it between them. “Wha… Who are you!?” he asked.
“Nothing to worry about, dear.”
“Go away… What do you want?”
“It won’t hurt. It will be over quickly. You won’t feel a thing.”
“What’re you doing up in broad daylight?”
“Broad daylight?” she said, puzzled. Then comprehending, she laughed. “Oh, that’s in the movies, dear. Real life is nothing like the movies. And don’t bother looking for a stake,” she said, holding his eyes and focusing her energy.
“What’re you gonna to do?”
“I think you know.”
“Why not? I need nourishment. The earth needs less noise, less pollution. Think of it as your contribution to combat global warming. Cap and trade. You’re capped; your allowance traded to me.”
“You won’t get away with it.”
“Oh, I’ve been getting away with it for centuries.”
He shoved the chair at her and made a break across the kitchen for the outside door. Thud; it too was locked. He threw all his weight against it again and again. But it too was solid. He turned to face Mrs. Alsgood. She could feel him wearing down.
She again raised her hand, renewed her focus. He dropped to the floor. She sprang, bared her fangs, expertly pierced his jugular vein.
When Mrs. Alsgood was satisfied, she walked to the door, looked out toward the garden, where she had already dug a hole. The shovel stood upright in the soil. He’ll be biodegradable, too, she thought.
B. J. Adams is a freelance writer in Southeast Texas. She writes fiction and nature articles. When not at the computer plugging away, she enjoys feeding, watering and grooming her small menagerie of bonsai.
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Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.