It took a lot longer to get this second Vampire Daycare story out than expected. Still, it’s done and ready for your Halloween enjoyment. There will definitely be a future novel coming out of the stories about Cuckoo Michel. It has already pretty much outlined itself out in my head in amazingly short time. Sadly, it has to wait for me to finish work on the third Blackstone novel, which will be titled Masquerade of the Midnight Sun and which I will be working on for NaNoWriMo 2012.
Please note that the story, “A Cuckoo in the Nest“, should be read before this one. Please give me your feedback, I really enjoy it and I would like to know what people think of the character of Michel.
Note: The story was re-edited and a new posting of it put on December 6, 2012.
The Cuckoo’s Nest Invaded
It was a case of being blindsided. Michel was flipping through channels on the cable television on a Friday evening in October, trying to find something worth watching. It was at times like this that he wondered how it was that America had won the culture war. The nation had gone from Coca-Cola and Disneyworld to reality television and cartoons that were fashioned for people who had trouble scoring double digits on an IQ test.
For a centuries old vampire masquerading as an average teenager who had been “adopted” by his current family in the Omaha, Nebraska suburb, it was sad to see the fall of a once impressive culture such as America’s. As for the current situation in France, he preferred to pretend that nothing had happened in the country of his origin since De Gaulle had been elected president.
The doorbell rang and Michel set down the remote to go open the door. “Aunt Wendy,” he said with a smile as he opened the door and saw his adoptive mother’s sister. She smiled back warmly as he stepped aside and held the door open for her. She was lugging the baby carrier in one hand as her daughter, Caroline, was getting the baby bag out of the car. Little baby Hunter was in the carrier, looking drowsy and half asleep as Wendy climbed the stairs of the split level to the living room.
“Hey, Sis,” Michel’s mother called as she came out of her bedroom at the sound of the doorbell and Michel’s welcome. “Oh, who’s that little handsome chap you have with you?” The two sisters devolved into cooing and womanly banter over the baby. Cousin Caroline hurried up the walk and through the door.
“Thanks, Michel,” Caroline said with an exhausted voice as she entered the house, she leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. She had a purse over one shoulder and the baby bag over the other. Gah, Michel thought, having a baby looks to be such a pain.
Michel took his time closing the door and heading back into the living room. He made faces at the baby, but the child was too tired yet to make any response, though Hunter usually smiled and giggled at Michel’s aping.
“So, Michel, any plans for tonight?” his mother asked. Here was Michel’s fatal mistake. He was taken by surprise by the question, his attention focused on trying to get a response out of Hunter. When a teenager, even one that is hundreds of years old, is taken unawares they find themselves answering truthfully whether they want to or not.
“Nope,” he said, sticking his tongue out at Hunter and wiggling his eyebrows. Then he realized that as soon as he had answered he had been doomed. There was a look that passed between the three women before they focused on him again. He swallowed slowly, waiting for the firing squad to discharge their rifles.
“Well, if you’re going to be home anyways…” his mother started.
“Would you mind watching Hunter for a few hours?” Caroline finished hurriedly, giving him her endearing smile. The secret weapon had been loosed upon him and he felt his defenses breached, the walls of his teenage castles crumbling.
“Er…” Michel responded as he attempted to rally.
“Hunter really likes you, you know,” Caroline continued. And at the corners of her eyes Michel could see the tiredness and exhaustion that a new mother suffered from. Hunter was her first child and while she had been doing admirably as a new mother, he could guess that the responsibilities of parenthood were dragging on her.
“I’ve never really…” Defenses down, artillery lost and the enemy host implacable, the only hope would be surrender or flight. Flight would result in a shot in the back.
“You’re French and the French are supposed to be really good with children,” Aunt Wendy said, smirking. He doubted she really believed what she said, but she was sugaring the trap. And besides, he was a good Gallic French male. They loved their children, yes, but it was still the job of the women to take care of them. The men had more manly things to do, like hunting, fighting, drinking, whoring and killing Italians, Englishmen and each other out of boredom.
“It’ll just be for a few hours,” his mother said, deciding the matter with a smoothness that had been obtained from years of raising Michel’s adopted sisters and brother. “Just don’t drop Hunter, put him in the dishwasher or let him eat anything that he shouldn’t.”
“And a feeding,” Caroline chimed in, adding her own auxiliary reserves to her aunt’s forces. “He’ll go right to sleep after a bottle.”
He was trapped, the enemy forces ranged about him, his back to the wall and his own forces dead or driven into the wastes.
“Uhm, sure, yeah, not a problem,” he said, putting on a winning smile. If all else failed, seek favorable terms of surrender. “You ladies just going to dinner or doing some shopping, too?”
“Uh oh, what’s he going to ask for?” Aunt Wendy said, giving him a quick wink.
“Heh, a bottle of Bergerac?”
“Not even,” his mother replied, blowing out her cheeks in mock exasperation. “Way too young.”
“But I am French!” he declaimed, giving a self-effacing shrug, trying to sum up all the mystique and haute couture of the French. It’s easier said than done and Michel’s performance this night was not at its top form.
“And living in the States,” his mother replied. “Sorry, hon, a glass of wine with dinner once in a great while, but other than that the legal age is still 21. So no bottles of expensive French wine for babysitting.”
“Ice cream?” Caroline suggested.
“New hat?” Wendy suggested. Michel made a face and gave a shake of his head. Never let older women shop for your clothes or accessories. But at least Aunt Wendy remembered the genetic sensitivities to the sun that he had invented to explain his aversion to sunlight. That was nice of her.
“We’ll think of something,” his mother said with a decisive note in her voice. “Let me go get my jacket.”
With that Caroline took up Hunter from the carrier and rocked him in her arms a bit as she launched into the instructions for him to follow, including feeding, napping, diaper changing, the whole spiel that made Michel’s adolescent brain spin. Before he knew it, Hunter was in his arms and the baby was looking up at him with his big, blue, round eyes that seemed to assess him coolly. Had Michel surrendered one battle only to find himself pulled into a worse campaign?
The women said their good-byes as they all but rushed out the door and pulled it firmly closed behind them. Michel waved at them weakly as he still held Hunter in his arms, his body doing that minor jumping around that people who held babies found themselves doing whether they realized it or not.
Then he was alone with the baby in his arms and he looked down at Hunter again and saw the baby continuing to size him up. Michel smiled nervously at his little cousin and the baby finally broke out into a smile, his toothless gums showing.
“There is just one major problem with this,” Michel muttered to himself as he made his way back to the couch and the remote control. “I am really, really hungry.” With that, Hunter giggled.
“Laugh it up, Poop Monster,” Michel shot back. “Keep in mind, you are nothing more than a hors d’oeuvre. Not like I could really tell Mom or the others that it is a bad idea to ask a hungry vampire to babysit. Especially since they are not supposed to know that I am a vampire…”
Michel suddenly wished one of the girls, Dad, or even Eric was there with him. Dad was out bowling with the league. Shauna was out with friends who, like her, were home from out of state university for Fall Break. She had taken a gap year break from schooling and done a backpacking trip across southeastern Asia. Michel had talked her into taking a year off between finishing high school and going into college, though she really hadn’t needed much convincing. She was determined to become a psychiatrist and that involved many years of college and medical school. Taking some time off to see the Great Wall of China and a slew of serene Asian countrysides had seemed like a good idea to her.
Alyssa was out with her boyfriend, Scott Jockstrap. Michel couldn’t stand the guy and had been tempted to make a snack out of him more than once, especially at times when the jerk was trying to bully him. Alyssa liked to play dumb, but she was anything but and Michel would have bet that her IQ was at least twice that of her boyfriend. She was just going for the beefy jocks for now while she was still young, being more horny than worried about a good marriage partner.
Eric was at a catechumen group. Michel’s dragging his adopted brother into prayers and attending mass with him had resulted in Eric deciding to become Catholic, or at least give it a try. While the family was mostly agnostic, Michel felt that he was having a positive effect on them. At first Mom and Dad hadn’t been certain about Eric becoming Catholic. Michel wasn’t sure what it was they feared the most about Catholicism, though the Church had not done itself any favors with the sex scandals of the past few decades. Or maybe they feared he would go into seminary and not carry the family name on to the next generation. Then again, there were those who just feared Christianity. At any rate, Eric’s catechumen group was doing a bonfire and sleep over on this early October weekend for young converts. Michel would have loved to join them but since he was considered much further advanced in his catechumen studies than Eric, who was a recent convert, it had been suggested that he not attend. It was too bad, the group would have been fun to be with and would have also offered plenty of snacking opportunities for him.
“They hated it when I converted back to Catholicism,” Michel muttered to Hunter who was grabbing at Michel’s shirt. “Jean-Pierre nearly ripped my head off. Calixto had to intervene and he was not happy with me, either.” Michel shrugged at the reminisces of his early years of being a vampire as he tickled the baby lightly. Hunter gurgled and took Michel’s finger in his hand.
“I was born Catholic and besides, I didn’t really believe in Calvin’s predestination theology. I cannot really say I wanted anything to do with the wars of religion, or the oppression of the Huguenots.” Michel startled as the baby dragged Michel’s finger into his mouth and began gnawing with his toothless gums.
“Oh, funny,” Michel said, sticking his tongue out at Hunter. “I am the vampire here, not you. At least you cannot draw blood with those gums of yours. Drawing blood would be really, really bad.”
As it was, things were going to be really bad as Michel felt his stomach knotting in hunger. He had not fed on any of the family in the past few nights. Like many teens, he simply lost his appetite for a short time and now that it was back, it was coming back with a vengeance. He could feel his canines sliding slowing forward from his gums even as Hunter gnawed on his finger.
Becoming a vampire meant a person’s instincts and thought processes changed. A vampire hungered, and it was not just a hunger for physical sustenance. It was a hunger for life itself and only with time and practice could a vampire learn to control such yearnings that resulted in horror stories and dark folk tales that the Brothers Grimm had liked to write about. Vampirism also brought a hunger for sexual intimacy, but that was a difficult subject for another time.
“So, let us see what is on TV,” Michel said, looking to distract his growling stomach. A human baby really was little more than a snack, even for a teenage vampire who was shorter and thinner than normal, modern day teenagers. Early 17th century peasants didn’t grow as tall as modern day people did. And having nearly died of starvation during the Siege of La Rochelle had helped to stunt his growth a bit more. Lastly, being turned into a vampire meant that he could no longer grow physically. It was one of the reasons he had to be like a cuckoo and find new nests to invade every few years. In another year or two he would have to leave this family, wiping their memories of his existence from their minds. He really didn’t want to have to leave; he liked his adoptive family, even “Body Slam” Shauna.
And there wasn’t anything worth watching on the television. What was the Bruce Springsteen song, “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”? It would have been nice if the Travel Channel had had something about France on, but the only thing they were showing was something regarding Chinese mummies found in cliff faces. He had seen it before, but he left the television at that station. It would provide background noise if nothing else.
Michel could smell Hunter, the scent of plastic diapers, clean baby flesh and baby oil. “If olive oil is made from olives, what is baby oil made of?” went the joke. He suddenly had an image of babies being put into a duck press, the kind used to make the Pressed Duck dish made famous by the restaurant La Tour D’Argent in Paris, and ‘baby oil’ coming out of the spout. With his hunger, the baby oil quickly became baby’s blood and his entire body quivered as his canines slid forward once again, this time painfully fast.
Hunter was on his back on Michel’s lap and the baby kicked his legs even as he laid his head back over Michel’s knees to see the changing colors of the television screen. Panting, Michel slid one hand under Hunter’s head and the other under the baby’s rump and lifted him up. He set the baby on his back in the middle of the living room floor and fled to the bathroom.
“Cannot–, cannot–, must not eat him,” Michel growled to himself as he braced himself on the bathroom sink and hunched over, fighting both the need to pierce the baby’s flesh and suck him dry and the need to retch from revulsion of what he wanted to do to his little adoptive cousin.
A low growl issued from Michel’s throat that built into a sobbing wail. “I do not think Caroline would appreciate an exsanguinated son when she gets back,” he said, laughing with a touch of the maniacal in his voice. Oh, to be a normal human again, so that he could just snack on something from the fridge instead of the desire to snack on family members.
He wondered if any of the neighbors might have gone to bed early this Friday evening. Not very likely. And it was too early in the evening for him to be slinking around the neighborhood.
“If ever I wanted to have a Fuller Brush salesman to come by…” he moaned. He turned on the water and caught some of the cold liquid into his cupped hands and splashed his face. It didn’t really help. When your body is perpetually at room temperature a splash of cold water doesn’t do as much for you. “I do not suppose there is a homeless freak walking the streets of this neighborhood whom I could mug?” Not very likely, this was an upper class neighborhood and vagrants were not looked upon favorably.
“Gotta do something,” he muttered to himself as he took the hand towel and daubed his face. “They said a few hours, but you know they are going to be gone longer than that. Rosary.” He gave a wan smile as he tossed the towel back on its rack and raced out of the bathroom and down the steps to his basement bedroom.
The Church had made use of East European vampire folklore as part of its conversion tactics in those early days of Catholicism’s spread. It was mostly folklore that said that vampires were cast away from the sight of God, cursed to walk the world in undeath and feeding off of the living. True, most of the vampires outside of the Cuckoos that Michel had come across were not very Christian, but he had known plenty of living men and women who had had no desire to know the love of Christ. And there was a good deal of truth to the old French folktales that intimated at unwanted children being left exposed in the woods by the starving peasantry.
He and his family had been besieged in La Rochelle because they deigned to love God in a way that did not comport to the beliefs of their sovereign. Actually, if Louis XIII’s mother, Marie di Medici, hadn’t been such a narrow minded Catholic bitch surrounded by Italians in her court during Louis’s minority things probably would not have turned out so bad for the Protestants in France at the time. Of course, Cardinal Richelieu had not helped matters any by being true to his clerical vows.
“Ascribe not to God the actions of men,” Michel muttered to himself as he snatched up his rosary from the bedside table. He crossed himself and launched into the Apostle’s Creed as he made his way back upstairs.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth.” Hunter was looking disgruntled at having been left alone with nothing to play with. “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” Michel fished in the baby bag with is left hand and found some of the teething toys. He put one into Hunter’s hands and spread the others around the baby. “He was conceived of the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.” Michel sat near to Hunter and continued through the Apostle’s Creed, then began on the three small beads of the rosary that came after the Apostle’s Creed, doing the Hail Mary prayers of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Michel had completed the rosary two full times before he felt his canines completely recede back into his gums and he was able to exercise his will upon his hunger. Feeling exhausted mentally as well as physically, he collapsed onto his back, arms outstretched in cruciform as he stared at the ceiling. Out of the corner of his left eye he saw that he had curled himself around Hunter’s playing, squirming form on the carpet of the living room. Michel’s nose told him what Hunter had been up to while he had been praying the Rosary.
“Never choose a family that has very young children or babies Calixto said when he sent us out to be cuckoos,” Michel groaned, covering his eyes with the palm of his right hand. “I did not realize that included the extended family as well, darn it.”
Something tugged his Rosary out of his left hand and he glanced over at Hunter, who was happily gnawing on the beads of his Rosary. “Nooo,” Michel cried out softly. “Those were blessed by Cardinal…” he had to stop to think which cardinal it had been who had blessed them. To be honest, he had met quite a few cardinals over the past 400 years. It was rather easy to make such a large acquaintance of the Princes of the Church, especially when Calixto’s coven of cuckoos had traveled through Italy and Rome. There had always been good money to be made in Italy, especially if they could convince archbishops and cardinals to be their sponsors, keeping their Protestantism hush hush. Calixto’s coven had served itself well by disguising itself as a performing troupe of comediennes and circus. Yet another reason why the television was the bane of humanity for it kept people in their homes and kept them from going out and paying proper respects to performers and artists.
Sighing, Michel levered himself up and crawled over to the baby bag. On the plus side, cloth diapers were mostly out of fashion in America, though some traditionalists still made use of them. Wendy, thankfully, was not such a traditionalist. Engaging in the cleaning and changing of his tiny cousin, Michel realized that there was something worse in the world than a vampire’s bodily wastes, that of a baby’s. Fearing the toxicity of the poop bomb, he held the folded, soiled diaper at arm’s length and hurried to the trash cans outside, near the garage.
He paused and looked at his watch. It was still too early to expect any of the neighbors to be asleep yet. Despite that, he reached out with his enhanced senses and touched on the houses near to his own to see if he could detect whether anyone was asleep or near sleep. Nothing, not even the older neighbors were going down for an early night. Thumping his head on the hard plastic of the trash can a few times he groaned and turned to go back into the house.
Michel had let Hunter “air out” a bit while he disposed of the toxic diaper. Getting a clean diaper he began the work of fitting it onto the baby. He discovered that while Hunter had finished clearing his bowels, he had not finished emptying his bladder. Michel sat back on his haunches and regarded his wet shirt and raised an eyebrow at the baby. The little monster deigned to gurgle cheerfully around a mouth full of Michel’s rosary.
“Maybe I should drain a bit out of you,” Michel muttered as he cleaned the baby once more. “That would take the cheek out of you.” He finished securing the diaper with the sticky strips and retrieved the rosary from the baby. When Hunter fussed at the loss of his new favorite toy Michel handed him a teething ring. “I should not have left these with you in the first place. I am just lucky you did not choke on them while I was outside getting rid of your poop bomb.” With that he rose and went downstairs to change out of his wet shirt and find a clean one.
Hunter was fussing and kicking emphatically when Michel came back upstairs. Evidently, with the clearance of his bowels, Hunter felt that he had room for some supper. So did Michel, but his version of supper would have been a bit more final for the baby. Taking up the bottle and dry formula from the baby bag he marched into the kitchen to prepare the baby his meal.
“It is not as if Confession is not bad enough, being a vampire trying to blend into the normal, human world,” Michel muttered to himself as he measured dry formula, ran the tap water to lukewarm and filled the bottle. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned, I contemplated eating my baby cousin last night… That ought to provoke an interesting response.” He really, really should have insisted on being allowed to attend the catechumen trip with Eric.
He returned to the living room and gathered the baby into his arms. Hunter was declining towards ill temper, so the sooner the nipple was in the baby’s mouth the better. Thanks to various science channels and late nights of boredom, Michel knew how to properly bottle feed a baby. The Travel Channel was no longer looking into the mysteries of Chinese mummies. Instead, they were now in Peru, tracking down the mummies of the Incan rulers. He wondered how long it would be before the usual shows on Dracula and Transylvania would be on. Probably later in the night. Never mind that Dracula wasn’t from Transylvania or that he had been definitely killed by his boyars at the end of his third reign. If any of the Draculesti had been a good candidate for vampirism, it would have been Vlad’s older brother, Mircea, who had been buried alive after his eyes had been seared from their sockets.
“Lovely thoughts while feeding bébé,” Michel said to himself. Hunter managed to down most of the bottle before he refused to take any more. With baby blanket over his shoulder, Michel burped his cousin and went to work clowning to the infant. He received a good response from Hunter as the baby smiled happily and cooed in response. Then Michel made the mistake of bouncing the baby boy high into the air. Babies aren’t that good at keeping food in their stomachs when turned upside down and Michel received a thin stream of warm formula to the face.
Spluttering, he crooked the baby into his left arm and wiped his face with the baby blanket as Hunter laughed and bounced in Michel’s hold.
“Little cousin, you are warm and vibrant and your heart pitter patters oh so fast as to be more enticing to my senses than the smell of charbroiling burgers at a Burger King is to a fat man. I think it is about time you slept before I really do stretch my mouth around what little neck you have…” He cradled Hunter and began to rock rhythmically on the couch. The baby, naturally, resisted the attempt to rock him to sleep. “Heh, you are not going to resist me for long, mon cher.” With that, Michel softly began to sing the nursery rhymes he remembered in French.
“Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!
Din, dan, don. Din, dan, don.”
As he softly sang he forced his will upon the small baby’s mind. The difference in thoughts between a baby and a full-grown adult was like the difference between a child’s finger painting and a Rembrandt masterpiece. Michel almost found himself lost as he tried to identify the thought patterns and determine how best to force the baby into sleep.
“Dors, enfant, dors.
Papa garde les moutons,
Maman, sur son poupon,
Agite la branche d’or,
Qui fait tomber sur les enfants
Des rêves de perles et diamants.
Dors, bébé, dors,
Car j’entends au dehors
Un mouton blanc, un mouton noir,
Qui disent : Enfant, enfant, bonsoir.”
Et si l’enfant ne veut dormir.
On verra bientôt accourir
Un noir ou blanc petit mouton,
Pour picorer le pied mignon
De mon joli petit poupon.”
Expressive, breathy yawns came from the baby as the final jerks of his limbs quivered his little body before he fell asleep. Relief swept through Michel as he continued to gently rock the baby in his arms for a bit before laying the child onto another baby blanket on the floor. Michel turned down the television before returning to the couch and laying himself out along its length. His stomach started gurgling again and he put a hand over his midsection and groaned as he felt the hunger pangs that signaled the increasing need for him to feed. His overactive imagination started playing with the words to Frère Jacques. “Baby, young and tender. Baby, young and tender. Yum, yum, yum. Yum, yum, yum.” He turned himself into the back of the couch and smothered his face in the cushions.
Someone was pulling into the driveway. Had Mom, Aunt Wendy and Cousin Caroline come back so soon? Did they take pity on his plight and decide to return to relieve him so that he could go out and play in the early night? Better yet, were they already drunk and would they be easily susceptible to mental influence so that he could nip a sip or two from each of them? Well, the last part was desperate wishing, but that’s what made the world go around.
Then the he heard the voices and he moaned in consternation. It was Alyssa and Jockstrap Scott. He heard Alyssa’s footsteps coming up to the door, followed by Scott’s. The car that they had arrived in was not leaving, but idled in the driveway. So Alyssa was just here to get something (either the bag of weed at the back of her panty drawer or the condoms she kept hidden in the closet) and then leave again.
If she was going to use the bathroom or even take a shower Michel could easily overcome Scott and he would need some Viagra to get it up for her again. But there would be no way he would have enough time to overcome Scott, feed and then heal the bite mark if they were just here to pick something up. And Alyssa was a lot more strong-willed than Michel had initially given her credit for. There had been a few nights when she had almost awakened while he fed despite his taking the precaution of putting her deeper into slumber.
Michel rolled off of the couch and padded to the top of the stairs overlooking the entry door of the split level house. As Alyssa opened it, Michel put a finger to his lips and shushed them dramatically. “I have baby Hunter here and he just went to sleep,” Michel stage whispered to his adopted sister. Alyssa nodded her understanding and shushed Scott, who was pushing his way into the house behind her.
“Ah, what a good little French nanny you are,” Scott whispered loudly with a sneering smile. Michel just returned a humoring smile to the dumb jock and went back into the living room.
“Hush,” Alyssa said as she hurried up the stairs and made her way down the hallway towards her room. Michel was putting money on her going for the weed. Scott ought to have at least the minimal good manners of buying his own condoms.
Michel sat tailor fashioned on the floor near to Hunter, feeling protective of the baby now that a stranger was in the house. Okay, so Scott wasn’t a stranger and the jock would never actually do anything to harm a baby, but Michel was already hungry as hell and becoming territorial went along with it.
“Whatcha watchin’?” Scott whispered loudly as he waited for Alyssa to come out of her room. If Michel weren’t here he assumed Scott would have followed her in.
“Corpse preservation,” Michel replied with an appraising look at Scott’s muscled form.
“Huh,” the jock responded. He took in the image of Michel with Hunter nearby and sneered again. “Yeah, you’d make a good housewife, you know.”
“Don’t try to bully him, Scott,” Alyssa said as she came back into the living room. “He’s a pretty good savateur and put the last guy who tried to bully him in the hospital. Mom and Dad had to get a lawyer and threaten to sue the school when they tried to expel him.”
“A saboteur?” Scott said, his voice a little louder than Michel would have liked. But then, Michel imagined that the rusty wheels in Scott’s head were already turning faster than they were used to and the jock was more excited than usual. Now that he thought about it, Michel could smell the pheromones that Alyssa was putting off. Maybe she had retrieved the condoms after all. There was definitely going to be sex going on between the teenagers shortly.
“Savateur,” Michel corrected as he yawned and stretched. He wasn’t really sleepy, but he had noticed that yawning and stretching was a good way of annoying people who were annoying. It was also a good way of showing a lack of concern that the threat of another posed. “French kickboxing.”
Scott gave a chuckle. “Right,” the jock said as he turned to put a possessive arm around Alyssa, utterly dismissing Michel and the idea of the French boy’s kickboxing prowess being a threat to him.
“Later, Michel,” Alyssa said with her stage whisper as she waved around Scott’s oversized frame. Michel gave her a smile and waved back.
“Night, night, French nanny,” Scott called, throwing a nonchalant wave over his shoulder. His voice was way too loud and Michel responded with a glower even as Alyssa elbowed him in the ribs and scolded him. Alyssa then shot Michel and Hunter a worried look, but Michel just shook his head and rolled his eyes.
Michel had just enough time before the two got back into the idling car to work on Scott’s brain a little bit. He skipped around the conscious thought centers and focused in on automotive responses. Yeah, there was going to be sex yet this night between the two teens, but it was going to take a while before the brainless brute could get it up. It was the small bits of revenge that kept one going, Michel thought. Near him, Hunter heaved a sigh in his sleep and Michel found that he was back to climbing the walls as he made his way back to the couch and tried to block out the desire to suck the infant dry. “Baby, young and tender. Baby, young and tender. Yum, yum, yum…” he moaned into the cushions at the back of the couch.
By the time Hunter woke again, fussing and hungry, Michel had curled into a fetal ball with his arms wrapped around his stomach and he was now gnawing lightly on the beads of his rosary. His eyes were narrow and his face pinched as he continued to fight the hunger cravings that were wracking his body.
He couldn’t take it anymore. The pain and overriding hunger was simply too much for him. He had to at least draw a little blood from the fussing blob. And if he lost control and drained the baby dry? Well, hopefully, he would have enough time to pack and run before any of the rest of the family showed up and started screaming in horror and despair.
Michel crawled off of the couch, going onto all fours on the carpeted floor of the living room. It was so easy to surrender to his inhuman hunger. Just let it take control and drive you to stay alive, to feed as needed and move on to the next night. It was just simple survival.
The rosary dropped from his mouth as he opened his jaws wide and let his lips curl back from his teeth and gums. The upper canines of his mouth slid down, long enough to pierce through flesh and muscle to reach the life carrying arteries in a human. He would hardly need them so long for this little, pudgy, squirming meal.
As he drew closer, Michel realized that he had let his concentration slip and he had stopped breathing. It didn’t really matter; he wasn’t going to need to be breathing when he began to suckle on the baby. Before him, Hunter kicked and flung his arms about, crying and agitated.
Michel’s form loomed over the baby and he prepared to strike. But first he wanted to take in the delectable scent of the baby and the blood and flesh that made it such an enticing meal. He inhaled — and stopped dead in his tracks.
“Again, Poop Monster?” he asked disgustedly as his nose wrinkled.
* * *
The three women were loud and laughing as they opened the door and came in. In the center of the living room floor they found Michel and Hunter, Michel’s form bowed low over the quiet baby.
Michel looked up as his adoptive mother crested the stairs and surveyed the scene. Hunter was gnawing away contentedly on Michel’s rosary beads as the Gallic youth finished securing the sticky strips of the diaper.
“You owe me ten bucks, Wendy,” his mom said with a satisfied smile.
“Meh, he probably just heard us pull up and decided to make a quick change so he wouldn’t get called on it.” Wendy gave a furtive wink to Michel even as she talked him down.
“I will have you know this is his second stink bomb since you three left,” Michel said as he picked up the baby in his arms and stood quickly. Without conscious thought he was bouncing on the balls of his feet. Babies invoked strange instincts in humans. Michel was also jittery from hunger pangs as well.
“That’s my boy,” Caroline cooed as she smiled warmly and took Hunter from Michel. The teen boy had to fight with Hunter to retrieve his rosary and the baby fussed and reached after them as Michel finally extricated them. “No doing, you grinning drooler, these are mine,” Michel chided as he began wiping the beads on his shirt.
“You changed shirts?” he mother asked with a slight frown. She was holding a cake box in her hand, the name of the city’s most famous cupcake shop blazoned across its top flap.
“Old Faithful erupted,” Michel grumbled as he stole the cake box from his mother and danced with them into the kitchen. There was a moment of silence from the living room and then the three women breaking out into laughter.
Michel opened the cake box and surveyed the collection of cupcakes within. It still amazed him that people were able to build successful businesses out of selling sweets; such as cake shops, coffee shops, ice cream parlors, soda jerks and the old chocolate drink shops of London. Wine shops and cafes, at least, he could understand.
The front door opened again and his oldest adopted sister came in, waving one last time to her ride.
“Shauna!” Michel crowed as he ran out of the kitchen and threw himself down the stairs and into her arms.
“Oof,” she replied as she caught him, stumbling back a single step. Michel wrapped his legs around her and hugged her tight. His mother, aunt and cousin had paused in their discussion in the living room and were watching the strange tableau. “Okay, Goofball, what do you want?” Shauna all but growled in his ear.
“Will you tuck me into bed?” he asked plaintively. “And tell me a story?”
“How about I just throw you down the stairs?” she replied, her eyes narrowing with meaning.
“They made me babysit all night and it was horrible,” Michel whined.
There was a long pause and then a chuckle from Shauna. “When I had to babysit Eric it was bad enough. Thank goodness we adopted you as a teenager. Compared to how you are now, I can’t imagine what you would have been like as a little kid.”
Michel leaned back in her embrace and stuck his tongue out at her as she started down the steps to the basement. Short of the bottom stair she threw him into the air and he landed barely on his feet on the hallway floor as she shooed him along.
“Was it really that bad?” she asked.
“Hunter? No. Alyssa and her jerk boyfriend stopping by, yes.”
“Gah, is she still seeing that dumbass?” Shauna asked, shaking her head.
“She is polishing his knob and toking,” Michel snickered. He got slapped upside the head for that comment.
“Mind your tongue, li’l brother,” Shauna admonished.
“Yeah, yeah,” he replied, rubbing the back of his head. “Anyway, I am just glad Mom and them are back. Hunter likes leaving toxic waste behind.”
“Yup, typical boy,” Shauna said as she followed Michel into his bedroom. “So next time you’ll make a fuss when the church group refuses to let you go along on an outing that Eric has been invited to?”
“Pretty much,” Michel said as he poured his rosary onto the bedside table. The room grew quiet as he focused all of his mental energy on Shauna. Alyssa was deceptively strong-willed, but there was nothing deceptive about Shauna’s strength of will. She was extremely hard to control when she was awake. He would have to feed quickly and the hunger pangs were making him antsy as it was.
She broke his control as he was licking away the wound on her neck, letting the natural healing abilities in his saliva do its work. He could smell the alcohol on her breath, but it wasn’t a lot, just a night out with some of her local friends while home on Fall Break from college.
“What the hell…?!” she said as she came to the realization that he was licking her neck.
“I’m home,” Michel’s adopted father called as he came in the front door, carrying his bowling bag in one hand.
“Ow!” Michel howled from the depths of the basement.
“Shauna,” their father called down. “Don’t kill him; we haven’t paid the life insurance premium yet.”
“So stop at bruised and battered?” she called back as the sound of Michel whimpering rose up the stairs.
“Sounds good!” their dad replied jovially as he looked up at the women in the living room and caught sight of Hunter. “Well, who’s that handsome little fellow you have there, Wendy?”
“Help me…” came the whimper from Michel’s bedroom. In his grandmother’s arms, Hunter gurgled in amusement.