“No thanks. I don’t drink.” The boy tapped his fingers along the bar, drumming along to the beat of the band in the corner of the run-down pub. The bartender looked momentarily confused. The boy had been sitting there for a few minutes, staring intently at a girl sitting down the bar from him, and people didn’t usually show up in bars to just look at girls they’ve never spoken to before, unless he was just making a serious misjudgement, and that this boy was showing up just to find a girl to walk out with.
“Stop eyeing that girl.”
The boy turned around on the barstool to address whoever was obviously trying to get his attention. He was faced with a middle-aged man with a cigarette between his lips, and an air of laziness about him, which seemed to irritate the boy further, as his eyes widened in what appeared to be distaste. He turned back to the bartender, snapping his fingers to get his attention, when he got it, he asked for a glass of bourbon. The bartender poured the boy's drink; he couldn’t help but be intrigued by this bizarre conversation which seemed to be about to properly unfold in front of him.
The boy locked eyes with the bartender, which immediately caused a funny feeling to wash over him, like those green eyes had frozen him in time. It was a strange feeling, like he’d suddenly been submerged in warm water, and his head had been stuffed with cotton. The green-eyed boy leaned forward a little, not allowing their eye contact to be broken, then he spoke, “your shift is over. It’s time for you to go home.”
He watched as the bartender walked into the back room, he kept the eye-contact for as long as he could, just to make sure it had worked. He was getting it back, he’d lost the ability for a few months. It was an intentional loss, he’d made himself forget how to do it, just out of sheer guilt.
“Of course, it’s Roman fucking Godfrey.”
The boy turned back around to give his attention back to the older man sitting a few seats over from him. He produced a crumpled up tissue from his pocket and held it to his nose, which had suddenly started bleeding. He shrugged, like he hadn’t a clue what could possibly be amiss about this whole situation. “Do you have a problem?” The boy called Roman asked; he sounded bored, as though there were a million other things he’d rather be doing, which there probably were.
The older man raised an eyebrow, he picked up his drink from the wooden top of the bar, got off his stool, and closed the space between him and Roman Godfrey. He sat right next to him. Roman wrinkled his nose, the man smelled like he hadn’t showered in a while, or had been doused in something foul. Roman looked over the man, he was dressed in a way that seemed familiar to Roman, and wore cheap-looking rings on a few of his fingers. This immediately made him distrust the man, he wasn’t sure why.
“I know what you want to do to that girl, and I advise that you go find Olivia, and tell her to keep a tighter leash on her son.” Roman scowled at the mention of Olivia, she was very obviously someone Roman didn’t enjoy being brought up. It wasn’t uncommon knowledge that Roman and Olivia had fallen out, because he’d suddenly picked up everything and moved into a modern style house on the edge of town, and Olivia hadn’t been seen since. It was a strange situation, but everyone in town knew Roman was a strange kid; the whole Godfrey family had something off about them.
“I’m not Olivia’s fucking dog,” Roman replied, making sure to get the message across to the older man that he was really starting to get pissed off by putting as much stress as he could on the word ‘fucking’. He took the tissue away from his nose, and wiped the remaining blood off his face.
“The hell you aren’t,” the man growled, clearly annoyed that Roman had decided to swear at him, and quite possibly more agitated by the influence of the alcohol he’d been drinking. “Now, your mother owes me. Do you think you could get the message to her?”
Roman shook his head. “No.” Him and Olivia weren’t speaking, and hadn’t been for a while, not since Roman had picked up his stuff and moved out of the Godfrey Manor. “Olivia’s not in town.” He leaned over the bar, and threw the bloody tissue onto the floor behind it, making sure none of the people working were looking his way when he did it. “What work did you do for her?” Roman asked, just out of sheer curiosity. Recent revelations about his mother led Roman to ask, because he finally knew what she was capable of, and he wanted to know what shit she’d dragged the Godfrey name through, because it was his name as well.
“Work?” The man asked. Roman immediately wanted to hit him, because everyone fucking knew what work was, and it wasn’t a difficult concept to grasp. “It’s only work if you’re paid for it.”
Roman grimaced at that. It was a weird thing to imply, especially to a kid you barely knew. The idea that his mother might’ve had sex with this man was horrifying, and the polar opposite of what Roman actually wanted to be thinking about. “Gross.”
The older man began rolling up one of his sleeves, which made Roman uncomfortable; partially because he’d rolled one sleeve over three times, and the other only twice, which added up to five, which was a number that wasn’t divisible by two, and because this man was undressing himself in front of him. His forearms were covered in lots of small, circular scars, like he’d been putting cigarettes out against his flesh, or had some mutant catfish suck on his arms, an idea that Roman couldn't help but be amused by.
Something about this situation told Roman he had to leave. He spun around on the barstool and stood up, his vision dipped out for a moment, and he had to steady himself against the bar. The older man got to his feet as well, he put his hands on Roman’s shoulders in an attempt to steady him. Roman shook him off, and took a few steps away from the bar. The older man was making Roman uneasy, the fact that he knew Olivia was enough to make him uncomfortable, but he’d put his hands on Roman’s shoulders, and that was enough to send him straight out of the pub. He usually didn’t mind people touching him, or getting into his space, but recent developments had Roman wanting to be as far away from people as he could.
The only streetlights in the area were out, there had been some sort of freak electrical accident that had fried the bulbs in this area. The Hemlock Grove council being the Hemlock Grove council were under the impression that if they ignored the issue for all of eternity, it would simply go away. Roman had parked his car around the back of the building, where there was a small parking lot, and a lot of abandoned cars. He liked that about Hemlock Grove, which was odd, since Roman hated any form of disorder, and the abandoned cars were a good sign that something was amiss, or not how things usually were. This particular parking lot was a good place to hide. He’d fucked Amber Caulfield in this parking lot, he’d fucked her in broad daylight, and not a single person had seen them. Seeing Amber at a high school reunion would be odd, considering they’d hooked up in a public parking lot for no reason, other than because Roman was lonely; and because Roman would look the same way he did on the day that he’d decided she was going to suck his dick in his car, but Amber would be going grey, maybe she’d have kids. It was fucked up that people around him would get older, and he wouldn’t.
Roman stopped walking. He couldn’t turn around, because there was a crack where he wanted to put his foot down, and he couldn’t stand there. He took another two steps towards his car, and then awkwardly manoeuvred himself so that he was facing the person who’d called out for him. It was the man from the bar. Roman couldn’t make out his face, but he seemed pissed off, and was walking towards Roman at a deliberate fast pace. He was standing on the cracks in the patchy asphalt, which made Roman grimace.
“Just say the word, Godfrey, and I’ll do for you what I did for your mother!”
Roman frowned at that, because he didn’t have the faintest idea what his mother could’ve done to this man, aside from letting him feel her up, which Roman really wasn’t interested in. “I don’t know what your fucking arrangement with Olivia was,” Roman replied, trying to make his voice sound as clipped, and level as he could make it; only because if he sounded the least bit intrigued it would come down to telling this random man that he had a weird feeling that the ‘arrangement’ consisted of being jerked off.
The man took a few more steps towards Roman, who instinctively pulled away. He was beyond confused at this point, because the ‘arrangement’ definitely couldn’t have been sex, which was what he’d silently been hoping it was, as a simple answer of ‘I’m straight’ would be enough to get this man to piss off, and leave him alone. He had a sinking feeling he knew what this was really about. Roman had really thought Olivia was better at covering her bloodstained tracks than this.
He eyed Roman, eyes narrowed, and his mouth drawn into a tight-lipped line, like he was looking for something in him. He took another step towards Roman, who took an even bigger step backwards, having to awkwardly place his foot at an angle to keep from standing in a pothole. He shuffled to the side, and stepped around the hole in the asphalt. The hopscotch Roman would have to play to get himself over to his car was the only thing keeping him from bolting, that, and his curiosity.
“What did you do for my mother?” Roman asked, he was obviously still torn over getting into his car, and running this man into the ground, or hearing him out. But he was young, and desperate to know how his mother had managed to keep the body count low enough to not be caught. Roman regretted leaving home before he could’ve learned what in the fuck he was supposed to do now, because Olivia had clearly wanted to help him, in her own way, but Roman had rejected her for what she’d done to him, and for what he’d done to his own cousin.
The older man held out his arms again, showing off the scars all around his forearms, which caught the light from the moon; the skin was pulled so tight that it was reflective.
Just as Roman was about to ask what the scars were from, the man rolled up his sleeve further to reveal something that had every appearance of a black slug stuck to his arm. He grimaced, absolutely revolted at the large, slimy thing stuck to this random man’s arm. “What is that?” He asked, his voice raised slightly in alarm, which was unintentional, because Roman didn’t want to give off the impression that he was at all unnerved by this. “Who are you?”
“Odin,” he said, raising his eyes from the thing on his arm, to Roman, taking obvious care to avoid eye contact. Roman took this as a sign that he was lying about his name. The man peeled the black slug off his arm, he held it between his thumb and forefinger. Roman saw a little hole in Odin’s arm, almost in the crook of his elbow. He saw the blood dripping from the open sore, he turned away before he could be reminded how hungry he was.
“Fucking leeches…” It had clicked in Roman’s brain. All the pieces of the weird puzzle that this man, who called himself ‘Odin’, had thrown at Roman’s feet and demanded that he put together seemed to have fallen into place. “You farmed leeches for my mother,” Roman said, repulsed by the thought that eating the disgusting black creature would do him any good.
He turned back to Odin, who was holding the leech close to his face, like he was admiring it. The air was thick with the metallic smell of blood, which was dripping onto the asphalt, from the sore on Odin’s arm. Roman felt sick. His hands were shaking, and the only thing distracting him from the feeling that his stomach was caving in on itself was the sound of Odin’s heartbeat. He had a sinking feeling that once he was alone, he’d get down onto his hands and knees and lick the blood from the ground, if he didn’t kill Odin first.
Roman regarded the triumphant smirk Odin seemed to be wearing, he wanted to hit him, wipe that stupid look right off his face. He wanted to tell him to go walk in front of a train, or to suck his own dick bloody, and he wanted to know Odin would do it. Roman knew he could make anyone do whatever he wanted. But that wasn’t what he wanted. He took a step closer to Odin, one of his feet dragged on the ground, like he was a zombie in one of the old horror movies that him and Shelley used to watch. Roman’s eyes were unfocused, and he had this vacant look about him; he wasn’t there anymore. Roman Godfrey was gone.
“How much?” Roman asked, impatiently waving one of his hands, an obvious show of desperation. He was still zoned-out, his brain was on auto-pilot. “How much do you want for the leech shit?”
Odin shrugged, careful not to disturb the leech he was holding. “Depends. Small crop is $2000, large is $5000.” He said it with the air of a businessman striking up a fairly normal deal, not like someone who was willing to sell his blood to sustain immortal teenagers, and their strange diet requirements. “First, you need to show me what you’ve got.”
“What?” Roman asked. The vacant look was quickly replaced with one of confusion; anyone who didn’t know Roman had more money than he knew what to do with, in his opinion, was an idiot, and that seemed like what Odin was talking about. “The only thing I know I have is the chance of getting Malaria from your diseased ass.”
Odin extended his hand to Roman, the leech wriggling between his thumb and index finger. “I need to see your teeth, Godfrey.”
“Is this prostitution?” Roman shot back, “using my ‘talents’ for personal gain?”
Odin drew his arm back. He didn’t need to say anything, Roman got the message. He was to reveal his true nature to one more person, or go hungry. He knew this would be the only offer he’d get, the only way to be what he was without hurting anyone. Roman was fucking tired of hurting people.
He took his phone out of his pocket and angled it so that he could see his reflection on the blank screen, there was barely enough light to make out his features. He began muttering under his breath, stopping for moments at a time to change the angle he was holding his phone at. Roman pinched the bridge of his nose, then he put his phone in his blazer’s pocket, and used his other hand to try to stop the flow of blood from his nose. There was absolutely no way to do this without it being painfully awkward, and weird for everyone involved, mostly on account of Roman having no clue how to go about this.
“Fucking fine.” Roman pulled back his lips, his teeth were smeared with blood, which wasn’t something that didn’t happen often, but he knew he wasn’t dying, or anything, he’d just forced himself into doing something he didn’t need to do.
Odin closed the gap between himself and Roman, who didn’t pull away. He stood his ground, trying not to let this man get to him, which proved to be a difficult task, since he could barely comprehend what was going on, let alone who this ‘Odin’ character really was. Odin leaned in, he had to stand on his toes to be level with Roman’s eyes. He examined his face, which was enough to make any person uncomfortable, but Roman was about ready to move to another town.
He finally pulled away when Odin reached out to touch the little scar on his cheek. His fingers caught Roman’s jaw before dropping back to his side.
Odin held out his other hand, the leech still wriggling between his thumb and forefinger. “Take it.” He flicked his wrist as a clear way of encouraging Roman.
Roman didn’t have a handle on any of the supernatural shit he could do; it was all relatively new to him, and he was trying to figure it out on his own. All he knew was that he was so goddamn fucking hungry all the time, and that he was starving to the point where he could barely see straight. He reached out and took the leech from Odin’s hand.
“I just eat this?” Roman grimaced at the little creature writhing about on the palm of his hand, trying to find somewhere to latch on. He could barely string a comprehensible sentence together, and his tongue caught awkwardly on his canine teeth, which had been the subject of Odin’s interest, since the people Odin clearly dealt with all had the same characteristic: fangs.
“You could take up staring at it. Hemlock Grove needs more tourist attractions, and you make a right good one. People would pay to see a young upir, such as yourself, standing around with everything on display.”
Roman swallowed whatever was left of his pride and put the leech in his mouth. He bit into it, blood spilled onto his tongue, he could smell the metallic tang of it, he could hear Odin’s heartbeat in his chest. Adrenaline sharpened his senses, but filled his head with jittery, scrambled thoughts. He was hungry. Roman licked the blood off his fingers. He found himself looking down at Odin, his shaking hands pulling at the man’s sleeves, his eyes scanned every inch of bare flesh he was exposing, looking for another leech. He pulled the fabric of one of Odin’s sleeves, tearing it up the seam, he saw another black smear against his skin, and another, and another. Roman pulled them all off, and swallowed them whole.
He hated himself for it.
There was a moment where Roman realised what he was doing, and that he’d lost all control over himself, which, to him, was unacceptable. He always did bad things when he didn’t have complete control, and he always had. For as long as Roman could remember, he’d been very much in control of himself. When he was around eight, he realised he could control those around him, like they were his little puppets. The power had scared him at first, but then it began to fit into his routine more and more, which made him feel more comfortable using it. Roman knew now that all of that was part of this bigger part of his nature, which he was definitely very afraid of. He blinked, finding himself back in the parking lot. Roman backed away from Odin, who looked satisfied with what Roman had just done. He’d proved that he needed Odin’s services, and that he would pay any amount of money to use them as he required.
- - - - -
From across the street, a girl stepped out of a convenience store. She had a plastic bag in one hand, and the other was holding a shred of fabric to her nose. She was filthy, her clothes were torn, she only had one sneaker on, and she appeared to by hysterically crying; her dirt-streaked face made the tears on her cheeks stand out more.
She ran out onto the road, not bothering to look to see if there were any cars coming in her direction. She was in the middle of the street when she saw the red Jaguar pull out from behind a building. The driver was a boy, who looked to be in his late teens, or early twenties. Roman. He was the only one with a car like that, which made him all the more recognisable. Roman Godfrey locked eyes with the girl, and just for a moment, a flicker of recognition lit up his green eyes.
The girl took the rag away from her nose, which was red from the cold, and the pressure she’d been putting on it, as a sort of encouragement to get it to stop bleeding. She looked at Roman Godfrey with an expression of longing on her face. She wanted him so desperately to recognise her.
But not even Roman Godfrey was crazy enough to stop his car for a dead girl.