Nu Pulp – “Leech” by Ben MacConnell

The scattered nature of this series of fiction stories will often find scenarios divorced of complete context, or of how it fits into the kind of overall canon I’m developing. What I’m saying is these are meant to be readable on their own, but in such a way that it informs the mise en scene or the characters. More on that later.

“What a splended party, Monty dear!”

Monty and Mary strolled through the lit streets, one in a dashing tuxedo and navy blue necktie, the other in a bright red dress. The two chuckled to themselves as they meandered towards their hotel. The entire night had gone off without a hitch.

Enter the vagrant.

The figure stumbled from a side street, shaking and hanging its head morosely. Swaying drunkenly, the wretch fell to its knees in front of the passing couple. She breathed weakly.

“Oh no!” said Mary, startled at the sudden appearance of a despondent young woman in tattered rags. “Dear, are you all right?” Mary offered her hand in aid.

Wearily looking up from behind a sheet of dull dark hair, the vagrant revealed a thoroughly melancholic face. But more prominent than the depressed expression (here marked by mild surprise at the promise of assistance) was the singular large of color anywhere on her face. Not simply was this woman pale, but utterly devoid of any visible pigmentation on her skin or lips or eyes. Those ocular orbs betrayed gray, just as the rest of her visible body.

This was only vaguely noted by Mary as she said, “Poor thing, are you ill? Monty dear, doesn’t she look awful?”

“Honey, maybe you shouldn’t…” began the man, realizing now that not only were the vagrant’s face and hands lacking in color, but her rags were muted as well. Muted more than even the finery of the chronically destitute have habit to wear.

“Nonsense, Monty,” responded Mary, bending down to better offer her hand. “Take my hand dear, and tell me what’s…”

The homeless woman seized Mary’s hand. Upon contact established, an immediate, subtle effect began. Mary, previously concerned and of charitable disposition, suddenly flinched. Her entire red-clad frame stiffened, and she rolled her eyes back. Only a barely audible sound issued from her mouth as she began to shake.

“Mary!” exclaimed Monty, reeling from the sudden escalation. “What are you doing you…?” Instinctively, Monty thrust his hands forward to grip the unknown woman’s arm.

In equally instinctive response, the woman grabbed the man’s arm with her free hand. With this, Monty flinched, stiffened, and shook in mirror to his date. His legs grew weak in a moment, yet the woman held fast her grasp after he’d weakly relinquished his. Mary joined Monty on their knees as the vagrant woman rose.

At last, the vagrant let the two accidental victims loose, towering above their spent forms. To her surprise, the two had lost almost the entirety of their color. Not just on their skin, but their clothes now draped them with singular absence of vibrancy. Once bright scarlet dress and dark azure necktie now stayed a drab stone gray. A complete desaturation, and a depleted reserve of good cheer to go with it. The two could only lay on the concrete, exhausted and apathetic.

It’s here the vagrant woman, suddenly energized, stared at her offending hands. No more did they lack color, but were now a defined shade of peach. The veins beneath her skin were actually blue. A miraculous transformation, and she could only start to laugh in anxious, manic glee.

“So that’s how that is!” She exclaimed, alternating gaze from enlivened digits and sapped victims. “I like this! This color! This feeling! How wonderful!” The Chromatic Vampire swayed drunkenly as she walked into the night, a bright smile plastered on her visage, with bright red eyes beaming from their sockets.

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