Ghoul

The bell tinkled over the door, the chime bringing Cassidy out of her reverie and back into the bakery. She stood behind the counter and arranged her face into what was hopefully a pleasant, welcoming expression.

The woman had scraggly blonde hair, wet from the downpour outside, and a gaunt look about her, like she hadn’t eaten recently. She made her slow way toward the ‘yesterday’s bread’ rack, limping slightly. Cassidy watched, curious.

“Terrible about those murders, innit?” the woman rasped, dumping a loaf of wholegrain on the counter along with a pink, spangly purse that she proceeded to rummage through. Up close Cassidy could see her eyes, dark-rimmed with blue bruises, irises strangely colourless. She wrinkled her nose, too late. The stench of death followed the woman, sticking to her grubby coat and wafting from her soaked hair.

A ghoul. Vampires tended to take better care of their undead servants in the films- it was always portrayed as glamourous, to serve a Nightchild. Butlers in smart attire, beautiful women in low-cut red dresses. Those were drones, however. Prospective, future vampires being groomed by their masters for eternal existence. Ghouls were the behind-the-scenes servants, unfortunates picked off the streets and tamed with a few extensive mind-control procedures who were turned into little more than a coherent zombie. They were breeding grounds of death and disease, and stank to high heaven.

Cassidy had only ever met a ghoul once before, at Echo. It had been with it’s master, and the looks it got from the bar and the other patrons made it clear how highly they were thought of in society.

“You okay there, dear?” the ghoul asked, genuine concern in her eyes.

Blinking, Cassidy processed the bread. She registered vaguely the oddness of an undead slave buying food. “Yes, yeah, I’m fine.”

The ghoul raised an eyebrow but said no more. Cassidy passed the bread back to her, took her money- exact change- and nodded as she left. The ghoul smiled widely, showing off rotten, broken teeth, and tottered out into the rain.

Cassidy shivered. She’d been running into a lot more of the supernatural set of late… She didn’t know what to think about that.

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