Game Registration

“I thought we were going to the blood bank?” Drake said. He and Max stood under the broad awning of a small two-story office building. The awning provided enough shade for the two vampires to pull their hoodies down as they approached the door. A neon-red sign read “Sharp Medical Services” in the window. Max nodded as he held open the heavy glass door for Drake.

“We are, but we need to register you first before you’re eligible for blood. And…,” He winked at Drake as he walked into the white, sterile lobby. “…if you register here instead of at the blood bank, you get a node.”

“Cool,” Drake grinned. He couldn’t believe how much his life changed for the better thanks to a small mix-up. He considered Max the best roommate he’d ever had up until last night. They almost never saw each other, except for game nights once a month. The common areas were kept clean by both of them and his share of expenses were always paid on time. It was the perfect situation for a vampire to keep to themselves. He didn’t question his luck but it all made sense once he learned Max was a vampire too.

Drake had been subsisting on cow blood thanks to a friend at the slaughterhouse; but, somehow Max had access to human blood regularly. Sharp Medical Services seemed to be the provider. His best roommate became his best friend over-night once both secrets were out. Though, it did leave Drake wondering. Who else was a vampire that he didn’t know about? The thing he appreciated most about Max was that he never judged Drake for any of his questions once they started talking about vampire life. Drake discovered that in his weakened state, he had been missing out on many of the perks that come with being undead.

“What’s a node?” he asked.

“A ticket to the best entertainment you’ll ever have,” Max said as they approached the main desk. A pale, dark-haired woman sat behind a glass window; her white nametag read: Ambrosia, in red letters.

“May I help you?” Ambrosia sat up straighter in her seat. Despite knowing why they were there, Drake flinched when Max spoke up.

“Drake here’s a vampire. He needs blood and a node, please,” Max smiled. Ambrosia nodded and whirled around in her chair to grab several forms. She added a clipboard and pen, then handed it to Drake.

“No problem, just fill these out,” she smiled. The pair of friends retreated to a row of white plastic seats and Drake got to work filling in the information. He paused at the top of the third page, then looked at Max.

“How do I know what race of vampire I am?” he asked.

“Huh?” Max glanced down at the sheet, then chuckled and shook his head.

“Nah, you finished the vampire stuff; that’s,”.. he tapped the sheet. “… for your node. You don’t have to fill it out yet, we can make your AlterNet character later if you want.”

“Make my character?” Drake tilted his head. “Like… in an rpg? Can I use the one from our campaign?”

“Wow!” Max’s eyes widened. “I kind of forgot about that; I set up a reminder for a few days before the game. Man, the guys are gonna be jazzed you’re a vampire too. But nah,” he shook his head. “The AlterNet is a little bit more D&D than Vampire. Uh..,” Max reached over and flipped the sheet over to look at the next one, then he nodded again. “Yeah, here are your options. 25 races and 25 classes.” Drake glanced at the list for a moment, then looked back up at Max.

“Wait, the group is vampires too?”

“All except Josh. He’s a werewolf.”

Withdrawal? Withdraw.

At three in the morning, a loud retching sound filled the quiet, dark apartment.

“Oh god, that’s disgusting!”  Max gagged again; his lean form was illuminated by the refrigerator. He turned around and spat into the sink. Something resembling red cottage cheese landed in the sink; it was full of chunky clots.  Max shuddered and turned on the faucet to cup water into his mouth. It would take too many precious seconds to get a glass. He reached over to turn the light on and get a better look, but the light came on before his hand reached the switch. He turned and found his roommate, Drake, standing just inside the kitchen with a concerned look on his almost emaciated, pale face. His sunken eyes only made the bags under them darker and more pronounced.

“What the hell is that?” Max asked, then rinsed his mouth with one final handful of water before closing the faucet. He spit into the sink then turned completely to give Drake his full attention.

“Cow blood…,” Drake said quietly; his eyes focused on nothing on the yellowing-white linoleum floor.

“Gross, why?” Max asked. Drake sighed, and seemed to be debating something before he answered. He continued to stare at the floor so Max moved to the fridge and pulled out his own thermos. It was a short white thermos, almost identical to Drake’s; except Max’s had a red scissor logo on the front. In his half-awake state, Max didn’t notice the missing logo until the disgusting blood in his mouth woke him completely. Max had time to open his own thermos, take a sip, then sigh contentedly before Drake answered.

“I’m…,” Drake looked up from the floor and met Max’s eyes. “…I’m a vampire.” His eyes filled with a dull, dark red glow, and a pair of small fangs appeared under his top lip.

“But why cow blood?” Max asked. He took another sip from his thermos. Drake’s head tilted. The glow dissipated as he narrowed his eyes at Max.

“I’m a vampire! You know, I drink blood…why aren’t you more concerned?” Max shrugged.

“A good roommate is a good roommate,” he chuckled. “I get you drink blood. But why cow blood?”

“I’m trying to live a normal life here, I can’t go killing people every time I get the munchies. You’d have been dead long ago..,” Drake felt more relaxed now that Max knew and didn’t seem to care. He tried to make a light joke and was glad when Max chuckled. “I have a hookup at the slaughterhouse, it’s kept me alive so far,” Drake shrugged.

“Pfft, barely,” Max made a wide gesture to indicate Drake’s pasty, gaunt appearance. “I had no idea you were a vampire; but, on the plus side, this is awesome,” he grinned.  “I don’t have to hide it from you either.” Max’s eyes glowed with brilliant red light, and a pair of large fangs protruded from under his lip. “Here,” Max handed his white and red thermos to Drake.

He accepted it with wide eyes and peeked down inside. It was filled with a rich red liquid that shined under the fluorescent kitchen lights. Drake quickly brought the liquid to his lips and took a big gulp before Max changed his mind. Drake shut his eyes in bliss as he took a second swallow. He didn’t want to be rude and drink it all, but even cold it was miles better than what he was drinking before.

He could feel his insides coming to life as strength filled his arms and legs. Drake managed to pull away from the half-emptied thermos and offer it back to Max. He shook his head.

“It’s yours man, you need it. I’ve gotta resupply tomorrow morning anyway.”                                                                                        

“Resupply?” Drake asked. He peeked back into the thermos in his hands. “It’s… human, right?” Drake didn’t want to kill anyone. He wouldn’t turn Max in, but he didn’t want to encourage more bloodshed. The blood in the thermos was already his. He promised himself no more deaths on his behalf as he lifted it and took another sip. Max’s eyes widened and he smiled.

“Oh wow!” Max smacked his own forehead. “Of course you don’t know, you’ve been drinking cow blood. Man, you lucked out having me as a roommate!” Max said. “You’re coming with me tomorrow.”

“I’m not killing anyone,” Drake said firmly. Max chuckled and shook his head.

“Me neither,” he said. “We’re going to the blood bank.”