Short Story
  “You Can Really Misjudge People!”
                                                         By Rose Titus

I guess I first learned about them on my first night on the job.  God, that was a
strange night.  It was only gonna get stranger, too...

There was talk about it in other precincts, of course. Where I was before, there
was talk about "that section of the city."  But I thought it was just that.  Talk.  
Stupid talk.  Hell, was I wrong.  I took the job because I got sick of working the
suburbs where nothing ever happens.  Now I know that was a dumb move.  I
should have stayed where I was.

So I took the job.  First night I was there the Sarge comes to me before I hit the
road in my cruiser, "Hey, how yah doin'?  You know we got a city filled with
vampires, right?"  No.  I didn't know that, I said. I heard rumors, I said.  But
didn't think...  "Yeah," he laughed, "We got 'em.  Lot's of 'em!  Well, good luck,
your first night on the job!”  I was like, what the--?  I asked around and he
wasn't joking.  "Yeah," said Rodriguez, "A few in town all right.  You'll be workin'
the night shift, right?  Just stay calm if you meet one, everything will be fine."
Then he goes and says, "Hey, just think of them as a pale minority."

I still remember the day this stuff hit the news.  Coincidentally, that was my first
year as a cop.  It was after that awful spring and summer of 2031 when people
were dying all over every major city...
Terrorists had finally gone and done it, finally achieved all their crazy Death to
America shit.  Crazy bastards.  Not with stolen jets or with guns or bombs or
even poison gas.  No.  They had to be smart enough to use something we had
no way to cope with.  They released the Plague, damn it, into almost every
major American city.  It was Death to America!  For real this time.  We all were
doomed.  Scientists and hospitals struggled to keep up.  But people were
dropping dead in the streets.  It spread to the suburbs, to the farming
communities, everywhere.  We were all going to die.

Then that fall there was suddenly a cure.  A cure!  Thank God, everyone was
so relieved.  But where the hell did it come from, all of a sudden?  After people
began recovering and the dying stopped, the scientist who was credited with
inventing the cure called a press conference to announce its source.  On TV,
the guy was so obviously visibly nervous when he began to talk, like he was
about to reveal something really heavy.  So where did this cure come from?  

No, not from aliens...

The scientist went on with describing how a group of people contacted him,
that they were immune to many of the diseases that historically killed off vast
numbers of humanity.  There was, he said, a race of people living among us
and yet had remained hidden from society.  And they offered their help.  The
cure was synthesized by studying their highly evolved immune systems.

Since then books have been written about it, documentaries made.  Before,
most people didn't believe in them anyway.  Now, everyone did.  I read a little
of the stuff in magazines.  Just a little.  Never was much interested.  Never
thought I'd ever meet one, anyway...   The ones the magazine found to
interview claimed their kind have been hunted and persecuted for centuries.  
They claimed to buy blood from slaughterhouses, or some even owned cattle
ranches and drained it out of livestock, and never harmed people.  Naturally,
they presented themselves as peace loving and civilized.  We helped save the
planet, now let us just live in peace. Yada-yada-yada.

Yeah, right.  I didn't spend my career dealing with drug lords, thugs, rapists,
junkies, wife beaters, and the occasional terrorist to believe any of that kind of

The military finally rounded up the terrorists.  Took them long enough.  The
world was safe now, they said.  Not in my opinion, it's not.

They were out there.

First night on the job there was a disturbance in this shitty run down apartment
building.  A wild party out of control.  Neighbors called to complain.  I drove
around and it was really out of control.  Big time.  The music was so loud the
walls were shaking.  This guy answered the door and had a million and a half
tattoos, eighty million piercings, purple and green and red hair, fake leather
clothes...  Shit...  I thought that went out of style in the twentieth century.  I
advised him that there had been a complaint and that he should turn down the
music.  Now.  He stuck out his pierced tongue and waved it around like a
snake, as if that was somehow cool.  Then he shut the door on my face.  The
music went off, though.  He was crazy, but not stupid.  He wasn't such a
complete asshole that he wanted to risk being tossed away for the night in a
cage next to a big guy named Mongo who was feeling sorta lonesome...  

Next there was a woman calling because she found her live in boyfriend
molesting the five year old.  A bar room brawl.  A mugging.  Some gang
activity.  A break in.  It was a busy night.  No vampires yet.  I was almost
disappointed.  Nope, I really wasn't.  Wondered about the guy with a million
piercings, though.  What the hell was that?  Was it human?  Yeah.  Probably
was.  Probably he worked in a warehouse or a mailroom at minimum wage
somewhere and spent all his money on hair dye and cheap dope.

When I ran into Rodriguez again I said, "Nope!   Didn't arrest any yet!" He
laughed and said they tend to be real quiet anyway.  "Good," I said.  So I

Another new distraction was this girl who worked the switchboard.  God she
was beautiful.  A head turner.  I kept trying to get an excuse to ask her name.  I
saw her going out to the parking lot at the end of her shift.  I figured, this is it.  I
can find out her name.  Yeah, like I could just as easily ask someone, "Hey,
yah know the fox at the switchboard...  ?"

So I see her going out to her car...   "Can I walk yah out t'your car?"

"That's okay." She had this quiet little girl voice.  She didn't even look up at me.

"Gonna walk out with, yah, little honey, if yah don't mind.  Never know what's
out there on a dark night."

"Don't worry.  I think I know where I'm going.  And I don't think I'll trip and fall."

I followed her out, "You're not even worried?"

"About what?" she finally looked at me.

"You know, the vampires."

She laughed.  And what the hell was so funny?  "Okay, if I see one, I'll let you
know." She turned away, still laughing like there was some joke I wasn't in on.  
Suddenly she turned around, "It's Tiffany."


"My name is Tiffany."

"Jeff!" I said.  I held out my hand, "You can call me Jeff."

She came back and held my hand, "Jeff," she said. "Worry more about the
drug pushers and street gangs." Then she left.

Later I figured I should utilize Plan B and ask around about Tiffany.  In this way,
I could find out if she was married without asking her and looking like an
asshole.  No she wasn't married.  Sometimes her friends thought she had this
on and off relationship, but she didn't talk much about it.  And she lived in That
Part of Town.

Oh shit.

Now I was really worried about her safety.  I didn't want anything to happen to
Tiffany.  To be truthful, even if she was ugly I wouldn't want anything to happen
to her.

Still I wondered how a girl like her could survive that kind of neighborhood.

I wished I had a partner to go around the city with.  It would be safer to have
back up.  Make the job easier, too.  With the population cut in half, there
weren't enough people to fill jobs.  I drove around and half the places were
empty, abandoned.  Windows boarded up or broken.  Decent looking homes
empty.  Real sad.  The world was recovering, but slowly.  

I got home that night and didn't sleep.  I just ended up watching this dumb late
night talk show.  You know the one with this blonde hostess wearing a mini
dress walking among the audience taking comments.  The Shelby Show.  This
girl is on TV complaining about her family's reaction to her new significant
other...  "They just don't seem to like him!  The refuse to even get to know
him.  And he's really a nice guy.  He respects me!  You know, he waited six
months into the relationship before he even tried to bite me—“  I wanted to
puke out my beer when I heard that.  Then this fat dude in the audience gets
up and asks, "Hey, I'm Tim from Ohio. Question for Jake?  Ah...  That girl is
pretty hot.  Why did you wait all that time to bite her, man?"  Then the guy
says, "Well, at that time, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be in a committed

What in the hell was this world coming to?  It's been ten years since the Plague
ended.  Do we all still have to put up with them?

Then the girl's parents came on.  The mother says, "Well...  I just don't know
about all this. I mean, I don't know if it's right and all.  What will the neighbors

The next night there was a complaint about a disturbance in an apartment
building.  And unluckily enough, it was in that Best Section of Town.  The
landlord called saying a tenant might have dope in his place, and there was a
rumor about weapons.  I was like, sheesh.  This is gonna be good.  This time I
had better have back up.  Rodriguez came pulled his car up before I went in.  
We went first to the landlord.  He opened the door and Tiffany was in his
apartment with him, along with several other people, men and women and kids,
some African American, some Hispanic, a few Asian, some white, and a few
were, I noticed, real pale.   Like there was this multicultural crowd hanging
around the landlord's place.  He told me and Rodriguez that the other tenants
were all clustered together because they were scared of their neighbor Big
Bad Bob.  So what was up with Bob?  Rumors of heroin, coke, meth, guns,
bombs, chemical weapons, a few vials of leftover Plague, fun stuff like that.

Fortunately, Bob was out for the evening.  We supposed he went to some hate
group meeting, and we hoped he'd be out all night so we could search the
place.  After all the wars, fortunately the system no longer made you need a
warrant, you could just go and bust right in.  And we did find evidence.

Let's see if I can remember the whole grocery list correctly... Yeah, he did have
coke, heroin, meth.  Lot's of strange chemicals.  Some stuff we contacted both
HazMat and the bomb squad about.  There were guns — shit — lots of guns.  
Big ones.  Military terrorist type shit.  Scary looking damn guns, and I've seen
plenty in my face.  Yeah, some stuff we suspected was some leftover Plague.
HazMat picked that up, too.  Then we needed to get Animal Control.  Bob had
a lot of cuddly pets.  There was a cobra, a rattlesnake, an alligator, and also
something unidentified ran under the couch before we could figure out what
the hell it was.  He had devil posters all over the walls, which were painted
black.  Oh, yeah, and there was one more thing.  The dude had a stockpile of
wooden stakes in the closet.  Plus also in the same closet, before I forget to
mention, there were a shitload of really expensive looking business suits.

The landlord and Tiffany got real upset about that one.  And I don't mean the
business suits.  "Why?  Why?" Tiffany kept saying. "Maybe because I yelled at
him for being late with the rent, Tiff," said Mr. Landlord.  This black lady kept
going on, "That damn fool had alligators in an apartment?  How am I supposed
to raise my kids with alligators running around, huh?"  Then the Asian dude
said something not one of us could ever comprehend.

The Hispanic guy kept yapping and Rodriguez translated, "He said he would
be safer in his own war torn country.  But he needs to stay here, because
there are no jobs."  This white guy was yelling at the landlord, "How can you let
that shithead move in here?"  He said, "How was I supposed to know he was
planning to blow up the city?  He said he was a stockbroker.  He looked like a
decent person when he signed the lease."

Tiffany said, "Hi Jeff.  All the excitement, I forgot to say hi."

I said hi back.  Then suddenly I got it...   

That was why she worked the night shift.

I couldn't really look at Tiffany in the same way anymore after that.  No longer
was she like this cute helpless girl I wanted to know, maybe even protect.  Now,
she was someone I did not want to know.  At all.  I didn't talk to her anymore, or
about her.  She ignored me, too.  What the hell...  

I kind of got addicted to watching that stupid late night show.  The hostess had
a nice ass,  good legs...  Yeah.  Okay.  So I like ass.  I'm a guy, so I look at ass.

Anyway, this stupid show had on a special for the tenth anniversary of finding
a cure for the Plague.  First they interviewed people who lost family, whose
lives were destroyed by the tragedy.  Then they interviewed military personnel
who went after the terrorists, some of whom were exposed to the Plague and
almost died of it.  Last they interviewed test subjects for the medical
experiment.  I didn't want to hear it, so I got up to shut the damn thing off.  But
then — and I still to this day cannot believe what I saw — Tiffany was on
television right in front of me...

"In order for our immune systems to be able to fight off the Plague, we first had
to get the Plague, which meant several nights of misery for all of us.  In
experiencing the Plague, we built up immunity, then Professor Aubrey was able
to synthesize the cure.  He tested it on monkeys first.  I felt bad for the
monkeys, but none of them died, so that was a good thing.  It meant hope that
they lived. When the animals lived, he said he knew he had it right."

A lady got up and Shelby went over with the microphone.  "I just want to thank
all of you for what you did for all of us."

The audience applauded.  And I really wanted to puke at that.  I was at this
point getting so damn sick of the whole lot of all of them.  The world was now
having this sick love affair with these people.  Just wait until one of them
forgets his manners and bites somebody's little kid.

Then Tiffany smiled and said to the audience, "Well, yes, and I just want to
also thank Professor Aubrey.  All through it, he was so kind to all of us.  He
treated us no differently than anyone else.  That really meant a lot.  Especially
to me.  A lot of people are still prejudiced in this world, even though things are
changing.  But it really means so very much to me when someone treats me
the same way they would just treat the next person.  I mean, it's even really
hard for me to come on TV and talk about these things, knowing that people
might recognize me now...  "

She went on talking, and I felt like a big asshole.  Not only was I an asshole for
looking over Shelby the Hostess' cute little ass, but I was a really big, super-
sized asshole for how I behaved toward Tiffany.  Later on during the show —
and then I really felt kicked in the stomach — she introduced this guy as her
husband.   And yah know who that was?

It was the Landlord!

Then the both of them started talking about the trouble they had in society
dealing with the way people viewed vampires, and even how one of the tenants
in their apartment building was giving them trouble since he was found to have
a closet full of scary looking sharp pointed things.

"But to be fair," he said, "The man was also keeping crocodiles and cocaine
and a few guns and other odd things like that."

Hey, wait a minute, buddy...  He had more than a few guns!   In fact, he
confessed to wanting to destroy the entire city, plus its surrounding suburbs.

Well...  if that's the way he wants to see things, fine.  A few guns, my ass.

Later on I ran into the guy who had the million piercings and tattoos.  Guess
what?  The dude is a cop.  Yeah, that's right.  He was there that night working
under cover to bust a drug ring.  They figured a dude with fashion sense like
that would be perfect for the job.  Hey, yah know....  you can really misjudge
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.