Day 6 out of 5 in daily Flash Fiction for October
"Not all old wives' tales are false. Yes, I know that isn't the politically correct way of saying it, but really, so what? You and I both know who spreads gossip and rumors the way bees spread pollen, buzzing about all day and not getting all that much done. Not that there are any bees around here, but there used to be. Long ago, before this scrap of city rose, tumbled again, started to half-rise before staggering along. It's as good a place as any to learn."
I nodded, listening to him hear himself talk. My mentor. My fellow monster. This wasn't the part of the city where I'd have gone, ever. Certainly not long past sundown, with not even the yellow sodium glare of old streetlights to guide our way.
Not that he and I needed much light. Not anymore. I nodded, he continued.
"Like I was saying, the old wives' tales aren't all wrong. The bit about invitations especially. Oh, you can feed without being invited, but it's a struggle more than it's worth. The can have power over you. If you're not invited."
"So we should ask? Doesn't that go against the first thing you told me? Yesterday's lesson?"
His voice was low, measured, "No, don't be stupid. Please. Eternity is a long time, and I don't want a halfwit hanging around me that long. I really don't."
I know it didn't happen this way for me anymore, but out of habbit I could feel the heat rising to me ears, feel something tighten in my chest. I took a deep breath that I didn't need - force of habit again - and forced my voice to be calm, to match his, "then what the fuck do you mean? How do we get permission if we can't ask for it? Sir."
He chuckled. "You have so, so very much to learn. Really. The trick isn't to ask for an invitation, the trick is to see invitations when they're offered."
He paused a moment. "Take that window."
I looked. It was an ordinary window. A bit cleaner than some around it, with plain white curtains half-drawn. I said as much, then asked what he saw. That's always a good way to keep him talking.
"You're exactly right. The glass is clean - cleaner than the neighbors'. And the curtains aren't tightly-drawn, but at three quarters. It's a window open to a bit of the night. To us."
He paused dramatically. A big part of getting along with him is knowing the dramatic pauses from the times he just stops talking.
He continued. "It's an invitation. Definitely".
I knew the thousand ways that this was wrong, but we'd been out a long time already and the hunger was growing in me. The window didn't seal tightly so for those, like us, who could travel as mist it was no barrier.
We accepted the invitation, and began to feed.
Window by Daniele Marzocchi