by Lee A. Forman
Rodney pestered me for weeks about asking Jennifer LaRoe to the Valentine’s Day dance. I didn’t see what was so important about it, especially not to him. Why the hell did he care if I went, or who I went with? That’s how friends are, I suppose. They worm their way into your personal life and try to ‘help’ you make the ‘right’ decisions.
Tired of his constant nagging, I finally caved and asked Jen if she’d go. If I hadn’t been sure she’d decline, I would never have bothered. I figured I could get Rod off my back. It wasn’t like I would actually have to take her.
But she said yes.
“Yes?” I mumbled. She caught me off guard. I didn’t know what to say.
She smiled and nodded. “Of course I’ll go with you. I was hoping you would ask.”
“Oh,” I said.
“Are you okay?” Her eyes squinted and she tilted her head closer to me.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
“Here’s my number. Give me a call.”
Tearing a page from her notebook, she wrote her number on it, handed it to me, then smiled and walked away.
Rodney ran up and grabbed my shoulders. “Holy shit, man. You did it. You asked her. She said yes?”
“See? I bet you didn’t think she would.”
“You’re right, I didn’t.”
With my plan backfiring, I had to come up with an excuse not to go. It disturbed me that I cared about rejecting her. I never had a conscience before that day. Maybe I’d been around people too long. It must have had an unexpected effect on me. As much as I wanted to cancel my date with Jennifer, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Every time I picked up the phone, I put it down before dialing.
I tried convincing myself that I should just go to the dance and try to have a good time like everyone else. Then I remembered I wasn’t everyone else.
Maybe the dance was an opportunity; I figured it was time to move on anyway, especially considering the ill effect my prolonged contact with humans was causing. At least I’d have a hefty meal before slinking into hibernation again.
I picked Jen up at seven in my surrogate mother’s Honda. I anticipated hunger, temptation, but instead found intrigue. There was something about Jennifer LaRoe that set her apart from any human I’d met in centuries. We rode to the dance in complete, comfortable silence. Neither of us felt the need to talk, which was fine by me.
We walked into the gym where the dance was held, side by side but not hand in hand. Before I had a chance to unleash my true self, she’d already begun. Her skull split gracefully, releasing a set of three tentacles. Each bore long spikes at the tips. Her skin tore and fell away as the gargantuan wonder within burst forth. Bodies were lifted from the screaming masses, speared through the abdomen. She brought them into the air before curling her tentacles inward, sucking them into her gorging body.
My mouth watered as I watched her feed. Then, I transformed and joined the feast.