Happy Halloween, kiddos! In our long-running tradition of providing a scary story or two on our favorite holiday of the year, Episodes from the Zero Hour! is proud to unveil the latest from our Managing Editor, Jay Butkowski, entitled, “The Fix.” Jay has been writing a lot of gritty crime fiction lately, so this is a little bit of a genre mash-up. Hope you enjoy!
By: Jason Butkowski
The moment the needle pierced the soft skin on the inside of a junkie’s elbow was always the hardest part for Dmitry.
Keep it together. Stay cool, bro. Don’t let him know…
“Hey, man, you good?” asked the latest junkie, his attention diverted from his pending high, the needle dangling uselessly from his arm. “You’re staring… and licking your lips. It’s kinda weirding me out a little.”
“Is all good, bro. Is premium stuff, you’ll see…”
“Yeah, whatever,” said the junkie. “You eastern European cats are weird mother fuckers…”
The junkie pushed the syringe plunger down with his thumb, and loosened the rubber hose tied around his arm to let the drugs flood into his system.
Even behind his dark sunglasses, Dmitry could see the warmth spread through the man’s arm and into the rest of his body. The flush of the junkie’s cheeks was like a solar flare to his light-starved eyes. The pounding of his pulse was like a jack hammer in the back of Dmitry’s skull.
Dmitry had to clench his jaw hard to keep from exposing his extending fangs. The junkie was oblivious enough, but as it was, his protruding teeth buried themselves deep into the pink flesh inside of his lower lip – almost a rebuke for denying his instincts – and his mouth was flooded with the familiar coppery-salty taste of his own cold, dead blood.
Not yet. Have to let him metabolize it a little first. Otherwise, you’ll be puking up blood and heroin for a week.
“Is good stuff, bro?”
“Man, Dmitry, you might be a weird son of a bitch, but you’re a fucking wizard at getting high.”
In life, Dmitry Bazarov was a failure at almost everything he touched. He botched careers, ruined friendships, fucked up relationships beyond all hope of repair. But when it came to getting high, Dmitry was a genius – a virtuoso of the highest order. He knew just what to mix, and how much you could take to skirt that fine line between the ultimate high and an untimely overdose.
After he had turned, the first and only time Dmitry shot up nearly killed him. His new physiology wasn’t equipped to process drugs in the raw. It was a cruel and ironic twist – the one thing that defined him in life seemed to be almost completely out of his reach in death. But Dmitry, being the resourceful junkie he was, had an idea.
“Something’s not right. Never felt… like this before…”
“You have heart condition?” asked Dmitry. “You shoulda said if you have heart condition.”
“Nah, man, but I gotta take a shit. What, you cut this shit with laxatives or something?”
“Baby laxatives. Is cheap… shouldn’t affect big guy like you.”
“Fuck, man… my insides want to be on the outside. I gotta get to a toilet before I shit my God damned pants.”
The junkie shuffled off to the nearest Port-a-John in the park where they were meeting.
After that first disastrous attempt at getting stoned, Dmitry decided if he couldn’t get high directly anymore, he would try a more indirect approach. He set himself up as a drug dealer, peddling his greatest hits to the always-in-supply population of dope fiends in this city. At the precise moment when the drug had been absorbed into the blood supply – still potent, but tolerated by his new body – he would feast.
The other vampires warned him against it. They had rules, like ‘Never get high on your own supply,’ and ‘Fly below the radar – stay inconspicuous.’ But Dmitry was never much of a joiner. He made a rotten communist. He didn’t care about camaraderie or solidarity with his fellow creatures of the night. He just wanted to get his fix.
This guy, though, with his case of the runs, was throwing a wrench in Dmitry’s plans. Dmitry knew from experience: if he missed the sweet spot, the high wasn’t going to be as good.
“You cool, bro?” said Dmitry, knocking on the door of the portable toilet.
“Not… feeling… good…”
“You still gotta pay for your drugs, bro.”
The stench coming from inside the Port-a-John was overpowering to Dmitry’s new delicate senses. He nearly wretched at the odor of months – maybe years – of accumulated human waste collected in the makeshift latrine. Shit on top of piss, on top of shit … and … wait. Was that the smell of wet dog?
A pair of thick, fur-covered arms batted the spring-loaded door open and grabbed the surprised vampire in a steely grip, claws sinking into his cold flesh.
“Shit, bro…” exclaimed the surprised vampire.
Dmitry tried to pull away, but he couldn’t break the vice-like grip. Inside the Port-a-John, salivating jaws gnashed their teeth. Eyes flashed red. Dmitry swung his arms like a rag doll, drove his fangs into the animal’s arms, but fighting back was futile. The berserker beast had gotten the jump on him, and all that was left for Dmitry Bazarov to do was accept that death – real death – had finally caught up to him.
After a few moments, the animal had regained its human faculties. Dismembered limbs were strewn around the corner of the park like so many forgotten candy bar wrappers and empty soda bottles. The inside of the Port-a-John was painted in Dmitry’s blood. The junkie, no longer controlled by his lupine rage, felt around inside the remnants of his tattered coat for an old burner flip-phone. He snapped it open and dialed up a contact.
“It’s done,” said the junkie into the burner phone. “This oughta send the message to the rest of those fang fuckers. Chaney Park is wolf territory – always has been – and unless those blood suckers want a full-blown turf war, they better respect the mother fucking boundaries.”