I had spent the next three weeks and a half just staring at the ceiling as Haruto’s pleading face got played on loop multiple times in my head. During that that I had also started working at the pound—something I was grateful for because I hadn’t eaten in a while, and my attempted hunts often ended up with me running away when I was in close proximity to a human I had been stalking for food.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t feed on someone when my mind was jammed with thoughts of Haruto and the traumatic memories that poured out of his very being. Eating a human would do nothing for my hunger for him. I would also get upset that they weren’t him and get sad at myself for even daring to consider hunting him.
I had been working in the pound for just a few days and I had already fed on a few dogs that we had to put down. There had been one that had been too weak to fight us and had just closed its eyes as I watched a co-worker shock it with a stun gun before euthanizing it. I had quickly gone about consuming its memories when I had been left alone to clean up after the procedure. If people knew how many animals were put down, I don’t think pounds that rounded up strays would be allowed to exist.
It was one of those days when we had to put down an animal. My stomach was full, but my mind was numb as I walked back home in the evening. I would think of Haruto and fondle with my phone, trying to figure out if I should give him a call or not. It was already seven in the evening, but the path I was taking would lead me to the apartment complex that the government used for subsidized housing. I knew Haruto lived there and I wondered if he would come downstairs to speak to me if I called him.
I didn’t reach the worn-down building until later into my walk. I had stopped by it, staring at its work out architecture. The building had a ‘vibe’ to it. I wasn’t a vampire dependent on auras, but I could sense that broken people—food—was at the other side of the wall,
I gritted my teeth. I never used to have issues with these instincts, but ever since I started talking to Haruto—ever since I started to crave him in a confusing and nerve-racking way—guilt had attached itself to my natural survival instincts, but I couldn’t not eat. Eventually, I would have to eat something more filling than the memories of a traumatized dog.
I needed a human.
I looked up, looking for the person that had called out to me to find Haruto standing right in front of me with a perplexed look on his face. His hair was laid back, and he was in loose black clothes that still had their crisp lines from ironing.
I tried to guess where he had been, and after arching the cross on his necklace, and the black book tucked under his arm, it clicked.
Church? I frowned at the thought, a bit confused at that. I knew there were gay people who believed in God. When I ate them, I saw the struggle of trying to reconcile their sexualities people told them was inherently sinful with their want to be loved by God. Though, I wasn’t sure why anyone would be that desperate to be in God’s good books. He had made people like me, and he was punishing us for the sin of an ancestor that was separated from us by a millennium.
To me, God was far from good, loving, or kind. I don’t know how humans could still yearn for him. He was going to put ninety-nine percent of them in hell anyway.
“Wern?” Haruto repeated my name, reminding me that I hadn’t spoken up in a while.
“Sorry,” I said, rubbing the back of my neck. “I wanted to call you, but you’re here so—” I paused, not knowing how to finish my sentence. Haruto didn’t seem to mind. He was smiling at me.
“I was just starting to give up,” he said, sucking on his bottom lip. The lights from the above streetlight kissed his pale skin as he looked over at the apartment building. “What’s it been, four weeks?” He squinted, making the skin around his eyes crinkle. It was moments like this that I remembered that Haruto was physically older than me. He was in his thirties but somehow managed to hold to his boyish enthusiasm.
“Yeah,” I said, tucking my hands into my pocket. “I’m sorry,” I muttered in a low tone. We both fell into a comfortable silence. Haruto started to whistle, and I frowned, realizing something. There has been something off since our exchange started. I hadn’t heard anything—none of his memories were hissing or yelling. He seemed at peace. Calm. I wondered if going to church had anything to do with it.
“I have some stuff to do today, so I can’t invite you in, but if you call me, I could get your number, and maybe we can go for lunch someday?” Haruto asked, pulling me out of my thoughts.
I blinked, nodding my head at him.
“I’ll get going then,” he said, starting to walk away.
“Haruto,” I called out, not being able to fight the urge to ask my question. “I didn’t know you were Christian...” I trailed, suddenly feeling my question was stupid and out of place. If Haruto felt that way too, he never showed it. He smiled as if it was the most asked questions he received.
“Yeah, I’m a Quaker,” he said, playing with the cross dangling from his chain. I pursued my lips, trying to figure out where I had heard that before. It was a Christian denomination. That was the least I knew. “I converted about two years ago. They’re the ones who helped me with government assistance,” Haruto explained.
I nodded. “Oh.”
“Yeah,” he sighed before giving me a smile again. “I’ll be going then,” he said waving at me before turning around and making his way towards the building’s entrance. Haruto stopped in his steps before turning to wave at me one last time. I smiled, returning the gesture before watching him walk into the darkness.
You’re playing with fire. A voice said in my head as the smile I had been wearing faded into a thin line.
Haruto was approaching me with such a boyish innocence. He liked me, and the fact made my chest warm-up—but so did my stomach. I was still figuring out if I could stop myself from eating him. I was still wondering if my will to preserve him as he was in the world would somehow beat my curse of hunger and desire to eat him.