Less than five minutes past Magic Mirror junction, the Honda rammed a pothole and bucked to the left. Agustin pitched against the door, but kept a firm grip on his beer. Tariq wasn’t so lucky-a frothy explosion pooled across his lap. He released the wheel and swiped at the splatter, cursing as it soaked into his jeans. Rob and Jimmy cackled in the rear, but the laughter was cut short with the rumble of a deflating tire.
The jolting rattle grew louder, and Agustin dropped his beer into a cup holder. The Honda lurched past a row of houses with chipped paint and boarded-up windows. An overturned grill rested in the matted grass of one yard. In another stood the rusted shell of a pickup truck. On the sidewalk, a shabby sofa was propped against a bone-dry fire hydrant missing its top.
“You should’ve opened the beer before passing it,” Tariq said, forcing the trembling car ahead.
“You’re the one who wasn’t watching the road,” Jimmy protested. “Whatever. We should wait for a gas station or streetlight.”
“Sure, plenty of those around.” Rob shot Jimmy a look. No streetlights existed in V-Town. Both cops and vampires preferred it that way.
“You really want to stop?” Tariq passed a barren dirt lot with a mangled chain-link fence.
“No, let’s keep driving until the axle snaps.” Rob smirked and sipped his beer.
“Fine.” Tariq jerked the car off the road next to the dirt lot. “That better?”
“You’ll want to straighten the wheel,” Rob replied, chugging another gulp.
“Anything else, ma?” Tariq ground to a halt.
“Yeah, watch out for piners. Heard those monsters have a vicious bite.” Rob pitched the empty beer can at the fence. It hit a loose portion with a loud rattle.
Tariq stepped onto the splintered asphalt. Outside of a few parked cars, the street was empty.
“Kill the headlights,” Jimmy suggested. “They’re like homing beacons for piners.”
“This is your fault, so you’re going to help me.” Tariq yanked Jimmy’s door open.
“All I did was hand you a beer.” Jimmy crossed his arms and remained planted in his seat.
“Bet you don’t even know how to change a tire,” Tariq said.
Agustin turned, glimpsing a silhouette sprinting across the dirt lot. He squinted, attempting to confirm the sighting. The crunching footsteps drew closer and he identified not one, but two figures galloping straight toward them.
“Guys,” he muttered.
“Of course I know how to change a tire,” Jimmy replied.
“Prove it.” Tariq popped the trunk, but Jimmy didn’t budge. When Tariq tugged on Jimmy, he slipped and toppled onto Jimmy’s lap. They wrestled in the back seat, neither gaining the upper hand.
“Enough,” Rob said, opening his door. “You two swap out your diapers and I’ll change the tire.”
“Wait,” Agustin yelled, pointing at the fence. Two shadowy figures were climbing through a loose portion just to the rear of the car. Both sported pitch-black sunglasses, a flashing signal they were piners.
Rob lunged into the car, slamming the door shut behind him. Tariq scrambled over Jimmy into the front. He reached underneath the seat and yanked out a bulky flashlight.
“Lock the doors,” Jimmy yelled, but instead of clicking the locks, Tariq rolled down his window. He aimed the flashlight.
“Let’s party.” Tariq’s thumb hovered over the switch.
The fence snapped into place as the piners scrambled onto the sidewalk. Neither glanced at the Honda before racing toward a ramshackle car parked at the end of the block. They piled in and sped off without turning on the headlights, engine squealing.
“That’s right. Run away, you ragmouths.” Tariq honked, but the ramshackle car didn’t slow.
“Should we call a tow truck? Or the police?” Jimmy asked.
“Let’s call your mama. She can drive to V-Town and pick up your scaredy pants,” Tariq quipped.
“You’re the one who looks like you peed your pants.” Jimmy pointed at the damp spot where Tariq had spilled his beer.
“That’s the wet spot from your mother.”
“Jerk.” Jimmy whacked Tariq’s headrest.
“You looking to scrap again?” Tariq whirled around. “Step outside and ragmouths will be the least of your worries.”
“Guys, tonight’s for loving, not fighting,” Rob interrupted.
“Yeah, I bet Jimmy can’t wait for a Snow White’s smooch to finally wake him from that virgin sleep,” Tariq said.
“I’m not a virgin,” Jimmy replied, but they all laughed, Agustin included, though he’d never been with a girl either.
Tariq was jacking the Honda when a red Ford truck pulled to the corner. The driver started to head in the opposite direction, but hit the brakes and switched into reverse. Tariq stood as the truck rolled closer. From the pale skin and glowing green cat-like eyes, no doubt the driver was a piner.
“You boys need some assistance?” The piner plucked his long fingernails against the truck’s window frame.
“Keep rolling, piner.” Tariq sparked a flashlight and aimed the beam into the air.
“Hey, I was only offering help.” The piner wrenched back.
“Get out of here, piner,” Rob said, clutching an industrial-sized flashlight. Agustin rolled his finger across the rubber switch of his LED one, but waited to ignite it.
“Goodnight, boys.” The piner inched the truck forward, but paused. “For the record, we don’t sleep in pine boxes.”
“Like I care.” Tariq swiped the flashlight’s beam over the truck. The piner ducked, but from the way he hollered, Agustin knew he was hit. The truck lurched forward and rammed over the curb. The piner peeked up and swerved back onto the street. He slammed the gas and faded into the distance.
“Let’s bounce before that ragmouth comes back,” Tariq said, tightening the spare to the wheel studs. Agustin stood frozen, staring down the street.
“Don’t be frazzled,” Rob said, pulling him to the side. “First trip to V-Town, so you might feel a bit conflicted. Just remember, any hesitation can get you killed.”
“I know,” Agustin replied. “I brought extra beams, just in case.” He tapped his pockets, feeling the flashlights inside.
“But as long as you keep your head, the piners will obey. Any animal heels to a leash, even a blood-sucking corpse. Remember, a hot punch gets the cold munch.”
Agustin nodded and Rob patted him on the back.
“Good. V-Town is our town tonight.”
The spare hummed a bit, but held as they weaved through the pitch-black alleyways in the heart of V-Town. Unlike the outer thoroughfares, headlights weren’t permitted here, so Tariq was forced to proceed at a slow crawl. He complained and smacked the steering wheel a few times, but Agustin didn’t mind, figuring it best to avoid stressing the spare.
A set of blinking red lights attached to a razor-wire fence marked the Count’s outer perimeter. On the other side of the barrier, a line of arches connected to what had once been a boxy three-story warehouse. The front façade was embroidered with frilly patterns and stone gargoyles. A giant statue of a voluptuous vampire stood provocatively at the entrance.
Tariq turned into the driveway and proceeded through a motion-activated gate. As the entrance buzzed open, a pair of blazing spotlights swiped over the car. Agustin rubbed his eyes, blinded as they drove inside. The lot was mostly empty, but Tariq parked in the first available spot a bit back from the entrance.
“Check out that ride.” Rob pointed at a stylish stretch-limousine. “Bet it’s a politician. They love the Count’s, since the piners blur the cameras so they can’t be photographed.”
“Heads up, fire in the hole.” Tariq motioned toward a piner boy seated on a nearby concrete parking block.
“All good. I bet momma is working inside.” Rob approached and the piner boy stared up with glowing green eyes. “Isn’t that right, buddy? Does she spit a little sloppy seconds for you?”
The piner boy lunged to his feet, exhibiting a pair of finger-sized fangs. Normal for adult piners, they appeared mammoth on such a young boy. The only children piners Agustin had ever seen were on those silly TV commercials asking for charity. Of course, they never sported fangs on those. For good reason-the sight was repellant.
“Don’t aggravate him,” Jimmy said, but Rob inched closer.
“Maybe he’s the one who works here,” Rob continued. “You want a little taste?”
The piner boy moistened his lips with a long pale tongue. A bit of drool dropped onto his T-shirt, which was emblazoned with a crimson skull.
“Okay, I’ll be your daddy,” Rob said, tugging at his shirt collar.
The piner boy bolted at him. Agustin jammed his hand into his pocket and fumbled for a flashlight. Rob smirked and a beam sparked on. The piner boy dropped after only a couple steps. Rob clutched the flashlight out in front of him. Agustin stood shaking, his hand still wedged into his pocket.
“Put on the brakes, kid.” Rob swung the beam away from the piner boy, who was writhing on the pavement. “Slowly, and you can feed.”
“What are you doing?” Tariq asked, but Rob waved him back.
“Come on.” Rob motioned to approach. The piner boy crawled to his feet, dusting off his injured side. Half of his face throbbed a bright red, but as he inched closer, the wound faded. Rob craned his neck, tapping the side.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.” Rob placed his wrist to his lips in a faux-feeding gesture. The piner boy inched closer. He was only a few steps away when Rob hit him with a second blast.
“Still too fast.” Rob chuckled as the piner boy screeched and rolled onto the pavement. Rob swung the beam closer and the piner boy scurried behind a parked car.
“Stop hiding. This time, I promise a taste,” Rob said, but the piner boy raced across the lot.
“He’s getting away.” Tariq motioned to chase.
“Don’t worry, he learned his lesson. Watch this.” Rob sliced the beam over the lot and the piner boy tripped. They all had a good laugh at that.
“Children, learn them well or they grow up to be monsters,” Rob said, holstering his flashlight.
“We should stake that despicable creature. Imagine having eternal life and choosing to spend it like that. It’s sick.” Tariq pointed his own beam, but the piner boy had disappeared.
“Easy now. The Count awaits our arrival.” Rob wrapped his arm around Tariq and nudged him toward the front archway.
Agustin followed a few steps behind, his eyes locked on the voluptuous statue out front. The sight of a thirty-foot tall stone piner was intimidating, but at the same time, he couldn’t break his stare. If the Snow Whites inside were even half as pretty, it was going to be one damn fine night.
They entered through a pair of wooden doors into a sweeping lobby. A sleek fountain poured from a giant urn and flowed behind a dozen suits of armor. Faded tapestries hung from the walls and a variety of swords spiked up from the stone floor. On the far side, a pristine mirror spanned the entire wall. It spilled no reflection as the Count crossed to greet them.
The Count was more informal than the gothic décor, sporting a black tank-top and jeans. A blazing red do-rag topped his head and he grinned through a bushy goatee. He towered almost seven feet tall, yet appeared to float with gliding strides. A colossal gold crucifix swung across his chest as he approached.
“Evening, bros,” the Count boomed in a deep baritone.
“Nice chain,” Rob said. “Don’t relics ward off your kind?”
“I’m Muslim,” the Count replied. “Deboed it from a patron, who brought it in under the mistaken belief it’d protect him from paying his tab. It didn’t. Feel me?”
Rob nodded and reached for his wallet.
“Business is with the Snow Whites.” The Count flicked his wrist and a line of female piners entered, each in a skimpy vamp outfit. Agustin smiled, though his hands were shaking.
“Jimmy chooses first, since he’s never been with a girl,” Tariq announced.
“Don’t use my name.” Jimmy smacked Tariq’s arm, but he didn’t hesitate in gesturing at a plump but voluptuous piner near the end of the line. She appeared a bit surprised to be chosen first and pointed at herself to confirm. They all had a good chuckle at this and even Jimmy grinned while being escorted through a doorway in the rear.
Tariq picked next, leaving with a cute piner who had a girl-next-door appearance. If he hadn’t selected her, Agustin would have. Rob chose the meanest one of the lot, a rail-thin piner with slick black hair, narrow lips, and a death-inducing scowl. Her expression didn’t change after being selected.
The remaining Snow Whites looked at Agustin with those glowing green eyes as he scanned the line. He narrowed his choice to a seductive older piner and a more age-appropriate one who was homely and wore horned-rimmed glasses. Unable to speak, he pointed at the one with the glasses.
She approached and reached for his hand. He shook as though introducing himself and she giggled, refusing to release her grip. She led him through a beaded curtain into a narrow hallway. Sounds of creaking beds, moaning, and snippets of conversation littered the air. They entered a small bedroom.
As soon as the door clicked shut, Agustin tugged the piner to him. He’d never been with anyone, so he was a bit unsure where to begin-his first instinct was to paw at her chest. Before he could get much of a grope, she wrenched away.
“Aren’t you frisky.” She gave a playful smile and sat on the bed, patting the place next to her to indicate he should sit there. The sheets appeared clean enough, but the idea others had used them kept him perched on the edge.
“What’s your name?” she asked, pressing against him.
“Does it matter?” he replied, remembering Jimmy’s hesitation in revealing his name. She leaned close and inhaled.
“I’m Carmilla. Most guys like to talk beforehand, but if you want to be mysterious, okay. I’m glad you decided to visit. You smell amazing.” She pecked his neck and Agustin twisted back. He touched where she’d kissed him, but found no wound.
“Don’t be nervous. I always ask permission before feeding. That’s the policy here. Is this your first time?”
“Yes,” Agustin answered, still rubbing his neck. “I’ve never been with a girl.”
“I meant is this your first time at the Count’s?” She giggled. “Your honesty is sweet. Most guys lie about that.”
“I figured if you knew, then you could tell me if I was doing something wrong.”
“Oh, the first rule is you’re only doing it right if you’re doing it wrong.” She grinned and kissed him on the cheek. This time, he didn’t flinch.
“I’m Agustin.” He returned the embrace. The kiss lasted only a moment, but he was instantly aroused.
“See, introductions aren’t that bad,” she said, running her fingers across the bulge in his jeans. “Since this is your first time, I’ll explain how this works. You start by paying for the room.”
“How much?” he gasped, almost unable to speak. She whispered the number into his ear and he fumbled out the cash. She placed the bills inside a lockbox at the foot of the bed.
“Now we can relax.” She dug her hand into his jeans and rubbed outside his boxer shorts. “It’s also customary to tip if you enjoy your stay. Cash is appreciated, but so is a nibble.”
She nipped and tickled her tongue across his neck. He moaned as her hand stroked faster within his jeans.
“Nothing turns me on more than a full stomach,” she whispered. “Can I feed?”
“Yeah,” he panted, craning his neck. A frigid pinprick sliced across him, followed by a balmy wave. He shook and dropped onto the bed, no longer caring one iota about the cleanliness of the sheets. She straddled him, clasping their bodies together. Her hips pulsed, joining in his quaking rhythm. He didn’t want this bliss to ever end.
A slurping noise jarred him to attention. How long had this been going on? Too long? Was this some evil piner trick to use his inexperience to her advantage?
Agustin whipped out his flashlight and shone the beam into her face. Carmilla shrieked and toppled off the bed. She thrashed on the floor and yanked the covers over her head. Agustin ran his fingers over the pinhole bites on his neck. The pounding convulsions faded into a dull throb. He felt woozy, but nothing more than if he’d spun around a few times.
“What the hell?” Carmilla cried out, peeking from underneath the covers.
“You were feeding too long,” he replied, still clutching the flashlight.
“Just say so. You didn’t have to beam me.” She rubbed the blistered side of her face. White ooze dribbled from the wound.
“You’ll heal,” he said, and the wound began to fade.
“That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt,” she cried.
“Get back on the bed.” He waved the flashlight into the air. “I paid for the room.”
She appeared ready to protest, but he flicked the beam closer and she remained quiet. He recalled Rob’s warning how every animal heels to a leash.
A hot punch gets the cold munch.
“Now,” he yelled and Carmilla climbed onto the bed.
“We can have fun without that.” She smiled, but her strained expression only infuriated him more.
“You’re the only one who’s had fun so far.” He aimed the beam and she scrambled closer. “Take off your glasses. Then everything else.”
She did as she was told. Agustin grinned, unbuckling his belt. A hot punch gets the cold munch indeed.
Agustin rolled onto his back, his heart pounding. So that’s what all the fuss is about, he thought, loosening his grip on the flashlight. Carmilla curled into a ball at his side. She sniffled as tears watered her cheek. He touched her shoulder, but she recoiled into the sheets.
“You were incredible.” He hoped the compliment might improve her mood, but the tears kept streaming.
“My name isn’t Carmilla,” she said between gasps. “It’s a literary reference, but nobody ever gets it.”
“That’s okay, I don’t need to know.”
“No, please listen. Thought it’d be ironic compared to the flowery ones the others use like Candi, Honey, and Bubbles. Something dark, alluring, exotic. A similar sentiment to what drew me to be like this in the first place.”
“Trust me, you were perfect.” Agustin glanced at the door, wondering if the others were also finished.
“I hated my life before. Nobody understood me, nobody loved me. And I believed this was the answer. To embrace the darkness and show the world I just didn’t care. That it couldn’t hurt me any more than I hurt myself.”
“If I want to go again, do I have to pay extra or is that included with the time?” Agustin felt that twitching sensation rising anew.
“You can do whatever you want, but promise me something.”
“No more feeding,” he insisted. He’d been too enraptured the first time and didn’t dare a repeat.
“Feel this.” She placed his hand on her frigid chest. Agustin moved it lower and groped her. Maybe the encore was included with the room. She shoved his hand back up and held it steady against her skin.
“No heartbeat. No pulse. No life,” she said. “But I still have feelings, so much pain. I need you to stake me.”
“What?” He yanked his hand back.
“My real name is Leonore. Funny, it means light.” She removed a stake from a dresser drawer. “You have to do this.”
“I-I…” Agustin stuttered. “It wasn’t that bad, was it?” He tossed a wad of bills onto the bed and started to dress as fast as he could.
“I can’t stake myself. It has to be a human. Please, the pain never ends. I need it to end.”
“I’m sure you’ll find someone.” He slipped on his shoes, not taking the time to do the laces.
“You’re all the same.” She flung the stake. Agustin dodged and it bounced against the wall. “Go, just go.”
Another round of tears exploded and she slumped onto the bed. Agustin slipped past, thankful she didn’t reach out to stop him.
“Left her in tears, right on.” Tariq slapped Agustin’s back as they marched outside. Agustin hadn’t expected this response-he’d only brought it up out of a stinging guilt. Tariq whooped and jumped down the steps, so Agustin didn’t elaborate on Leonore’s suicidal request. Perhaps it was normal for piners.
“How about you, chubby-cheese?” Tariq asked Jimmy. “Let’s see the hickey.” Jimmy craned his neck, displaying two circular scabs. Tariq howled again, pumping his fist into the air.
Agustin slowed, trailing further behind. He stared back at the arches, wanting to return and tell Leonore to get help. Other guys would have no problem staking a piner, so it was only a matter of time. Still, in her shoes, he might make the same request. He took one final glance and crossed the parking lot. “Why in the world did you choose that angry hag?” Tariq asked, wrapping his arm around Rob.
“I enjoy the challenge. It’s one thing to bucking bronco a girl, but a piner is an entirely different experience. While doing her doggie style, you beam her in the face and hold on as she thrashes. The spasms create the most amazing sensation.”
“Damn, you for real?” Tariq asked, but before Rob could answer, they both stopped short. The driver’s side window of the Honda was smashed, and the stereo was missing.
“That little ragmouth bastard.” Tariq stared for any sign of the piner boy, but the lot was empty.
“Are you sure it was him?” Jimmy asked.
“Who else? Outside piners can’t get past those spotlights. My mom is going to kill me.” Tariq slammed the car door, showering the remaining shards onto the pavement.
“Easy now. If he can’t get out, he must be inside. Let’s chat up the Count,” Rob suggested.
“Forget talk. Time to light up his ass.” Tariq waved a flashlight in either hand. Before Rob could protest, Tariq was sprinting back through the arches. They all clutched their flashlights and marched inside.
“I know you’re back there,” Tariq shouted, shining his beam at the giant mirror. Agustin scanned for piners, but unless they were hiding inside those suits of armor, the lobby was empty.
“Put your weapons away,” a voice buzzed from an overhead speaker. “This is your only warning.”
“Count, get out here.” Tariq started to bash the mirror with the butt of his flashlight.
Crack. Crack. Crack.
The gunshots sounded like firecrackers, but the ricocheting dust signaled they were the real deal. Jimmy collapsed and his flashlight rolled across the floor. Was he shot? Agustin dropped to his knees and froze until Rob yanked him behind a pillar. Tariq stood in place and flicked the birdie at the mirror.
“Beams on the floor,” the voice from the speaker buzzed. Agustin exhaled as Jimmy crawled over, unharmed.
“Only if the Count comes out,” Tariq said.
“If you want to live, beams down.”
“Fine.” Tariq switched off his flashlights and placed them at his feet. Rob and Agustin followed suit, rolling their flashlights out from behind the pillar. Only Jimmy’s remained illuminated because he’d left it wobbling on the floor. Tariq reached down and flicked it off.
“Now that wasn’t so difficult.” The Count emerged with an armed guard on either side. Agustin glanced back, noting three more circled around, each clutching an assault rifle.
“One of your Snow Walters stole my car stereo,” Tariq said.
“Is that so?” The Count slid his fingers through the curly hairs of his goatee.
“Yeah, the young one you keep for deviants.”
“I don’t employ children.” The Count snatched a flashlight and switched it on. He scalded his hand without flinching and raised his charred palm. “Scout’s honor.”
“I don’t care how old he is in piner years, he looks like a child in human ones,” Tariq said as the Count’s flesh molded back to normal.
“Most times I never repeat myself, but in this case I will. I don’t employ children, piners or otherwise. Feel me? Now if you don’t have nothing else to say, best you roll out of here.”
“How did one get into the parking lot then? Explain that, ragmouth,” Tariq said.
“Don’t mind him, Count.” Rob shoved in front of Tariq. “What my friend meant to say was that we encountered a piner boy earlier and now the car’s busted up and the stereo’s missing.”
“Why didn’t you lead with that instead of drawing beams?” The Count shook his head. “Yeah, that buck creeps around some, but he don’t work for me.”
“You know where we can find him? Give us an address and we can settle this ourselves. No need to bother you any further.”
“The issue is bothering me in the first place.” The Count stroked his goatee again. “If you’d come with words, I would’ve owned up and done you right. That’s trust. But you fronted.”
“Does this sound about right?” Rob removed a stack of bills from his wallet.
“That might jog my memory.” The Count reached for the money, but Tariq grabbed Rob’s arm.
“You get nothing. Tell us or we’ll call the police. If they find those guns, everyone here will be staked.”
“Who do you think provided them? You really don’t understand how this works, do you?” the Count asked, snatching the money. “You in V-Town now, motherfucker.”
“Of course, all we want is that address,” Rob replied.
“His cheese too.” The Count nodded at Tariq. The guards swung their rifles, aiming at his chest.
“Whatever.” Tariq grabbed the remaining cash from his wallet, but when the Count reached over, he refused to let go. “Not until we get the address.”
“Fair enough.” The Count scribbled out a note. “Pleasure doing business, punk.”
Tariq raced through the narrow streets of inner V-Town, headlights blazing. He slammed a beer, the third one on their way to the address. The spare wheeled louder as he cut a sharp corner, but even Rob lacked the heart to tell him to take it easy. The lurching made Agustin nauseous, so he closed his eyes and concentrated on the brisk nighttime breeze.
Tariq rounded a corner, slowed and flicked off the lights, signaling they were close. A row of dilapidated high-rises towered on either side, blocking any view outside of the street. A piner girl stood next to a pair of pit bulls shackled to a fence. They nipped at each other, but their short leashes prevented a full-on fight. The girl whistled as they passed.
“Damn, we’ve been made,” Tariq muttered.
“Let’s bounce,” Jimmy suggested.
“Only thing bouncing is these ragmouths over my hood.” Tariq hit the gas and reeled down the street. The crowd of piners scattered toward the high-rises.
“That’s him,” Rob declared, pointing at a piner boy who was cowering next to a set of concrete stairs.
“Same red skull shirt.” Tariq hammered the brakes and lunged out. He rushed the piner boy, slamming him against the building. Rob chased right behind, a flashlight blazing in either hand.
“Do you have the faintest idea what you cost me tonight?” Tariq yelled. “Did you think I wouldn’t find you? What do you have to say, you menses-mouthed punk?”
The piner boy choked an inaudible reply as Tariq jammed an elbow against his throat. Pinned to the wall, his legs wheeled in the air. Tariq released and he dropped onto the sidewalk, wheezing. Tariq stomped his chest before he could inhale a single breath.
Rob hovered to the side, shining a light in either direction in case the piner boy attempted to run. Agustin scanned behind them, warding off any heroes who might decide to intervene. A sprinkling of heads gazed down from the high-rise, but the street remained empty.
“Where’s my stereo?” Tariq pressed the piner boy’s face against the brick wall and scraped like a shredder.
“I sold it,” he screamed.
Tariq released and the piner boy rolled back. Before he could get too far, Rob beamed him. The piner boy shrieked and pressed against the wall. Tariq pinned him and Rob tore off his pants, shaking out the contents. A pack of cigarettes fell out along with a roll of bills.
“Look at those tiny balls. Wonder if they still deliver a big hurt.” Tariq beamed the piner boy’s privates. He wailed and thrashed across the ground.
“Sounds like a little girl. Zip it,” Rob added, beaming his face. The piner boy snapped his mouth closed and sniffled through his nose. Rob blasted him again.
“This country was so much better before your type moved in.” Tariq slammed his foot on the piner boy’s leg. A sharp crack of splintering bone echoed out. He kicked again, ensuring the fracture was complete.
“Hey, get in on this.” Tariq motioned for Agustin to join. The street was empty, so he turned toward the writhing piner boy. A soupy line of blood dribbled from the boy’s mouth along with a frothy white foam. No sign of those wretched fangs. He peered up with those piercing green eyes, almost pleading.
“What are you looking at?” Agustin smashed his shoe against the piner boy’s stupid face with a squishy thud.
“V-Town,” Tariq yelled, tossing an empty beer can out the car window. “Best part is how piners heal so you can beat the shit out of them over and over.”
“We sure showed him, didn’t we?” Jimmy clapped, rocking in his seat.
“We are so coming back next week,” Rob added.
“I fucking love V-Town,” Tariq whooped. “Perfect, if not for all the monsters.”
Everyone laughed except Agustin, who just stared out the window.
“What’s up with you?” Rob tugged at Agustin’s arm.
“Yeah, they sure are monsters,” he replied.