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MIDNIGHT SNACK
 
Jonathan Raines slowly awoke from a deep sleep to a severe pressure on his bladder. It was screaming for him to release the vast amount of water he’d drank right before he crawled into bed. He lay thinking the force wasn’t that bad and he would be back asleep within a few moments. But the constant barrage of piss on his lower extremities pushed him further to the stage of wakefulness. He knew he would never get any more sleep if he didn’t do something about it soon. He gingerly pushed himself to a sitting position, hoping he wouldn’t wake his wife, Irene, who was sound asleep beside him.
          He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment before he stood. He wanted to make sure his mind and body were in sync and and that he wouldn’t topple over in a sleepy stumble from getting up too fast.
          He looked over to the bedroom windows and saw the sheer curtains blowing faintly by a cool summer breeze. Irene had raised the windows again as she did on most summer nights. Jonathan had always thought it wasn’t the safest thing to do but their bedroom was on the second floor. He knew if anyone or anything tried to get in, they would hear it in some way. It was always so damn relaxing to fall asleep listening to the night sounds outside their window. It was like they were camping again. So open windows had become a necessary sleep habit for them both during the summer months. They slept for years with open windows and without incident, other than a bat flying in one night about a year ago, screeching and flapping about in an attempt to find an escape. That had scared the ever-loving shit out of them.
          He chuckled to himself over the crazy memory as he scratched his messy hair.
          Jonathan was an imposing man. He wasn’t fat but he wasn’t the chiseled god of thunder that he mentally claimed. The term ‘stocky’ was how most people described him. He was much heavier than he should be, but he carried his weight all over his body, not hanging around his mid-section like the majority of men his age. Even though he looked healthy at first glance, he wasn’t, plain and simple. That is why for the past five weeks, he and Irene had both taken steps to eat healthier, cutting out the beloved soft drinks and drinking more water.
          Hydrate. You have to hydrate your body. Jonathan thought, replaying what the medical professional slash dietitian guy had said on the online weight loss program video they were required to watch. They both had signed up for the courses to gain a reduction on their insurance premium through Irene’s work. Your body is comprised mostly of water. Most people are severely dehydrated and they don’t even realize it.
          Jonathan muttered softly to himself, “I got your hydration right here, buddy.” Realizing the pressure was imminent and feeling he had his bearings under him, he eased himself from the mattress.
          Irene Raines, who was laying on her side facing away from her husband turned toward him and in a sleepy slur asked, “What did you say, dear?”
          Irene saw the hulking presence of her husband in the darkness. His outline and some of his physical and facial features were highlighted by the blueish tint of light shining from the numeral eight of the ending track that had been playing earlier on Irene’s CD player. The soothing sleep aid of guitar solos mixed with beach waves rolling up on an invisible shore had long since stopped playing. There was also the combined soft blue glow emanating from the essential oils diffuser that was huffing away from its perch on Irene’s nightstand.
          “Nothing, babe,” Jonathan said. “Just talking to myself. Go back to sleep. I’m just going to pee.”
          “Ohhh, okkaaay.” she said in a barely audible whisper. She turned back to her original position and closed her eyes. The corners of Irene’s mouth curled into a slight smile as she dropped over the edge into deep sleep again. She had just one thought before sleep possessed her completely. So proud of him. He’s doing so well with his diet thing. He’s drinking a ton of wate—
          And she was gone.
          Jonathan moved out of the bedroom and down the short hallway to the guest bathroom that he always used during the night so he wouldn’t wake Irene. The master bathroom was Irene’s domain anyway; he rarely used that one as a courtesy to her. And he didn’t mind doing that. He was perfectly happy having his own bathroom—albeit a smaller area—all to himself.
          As he neared the bathroom, his stomach gave a barely noticeable growl reminding him the refrigerator was downstairs. The light rumblings told him there would be no harm in just looking to see what was down there to eat. A bit of light sustenance wasn’t going to harm the weight loss he’d worked so hard to achieve in the past five weeks.
          Jonathan rubbed his stomach to sooth the growling within, “First things first, big guy. First things first. Then maybe I’ll go see if anything looks appetizing.”
          He moved on to the bathroom to rid himself of the pressure threatening to piss himself.
          Irene’s sleep induced body made a U-turn away from Sleepyville back into a wakefulness when the mattress started to move. She smiled again to the motion of Jonathan laying back down beside her.
          That’s odd, she thought dreamily. He’s being awfully careful in settling. Usually his body gives the bed much more movement. Bet he’s trying not to wake me as he always does.
          Another odd thought encroached on her wakefulness. To her, it seemed like an enormously long time had passed from when Jonathan had left to pee to the time he’d come back to bed. I really hope he didn’t give in to temptation and raid the fridge. He’s been doing so well. Her thoughts were jostled from her mind as her husband’s arm slid into the small space between her shoulder, neck and pillow and the mattress.
          Ahhh, so nice. I love it when he gets close to me like that.
          Jonathan’s body carefully inched in beside her as his other arm slid over her waist and up between her breasts. His hand engulfed one of hers and she instinctively took hold of it and squeezed it tight.
          Another thought came to her from out of the fogginess of sleep. His body doesn’t exactly feel the same. He doesn’t feel as bulky as he normally does. Her haziness was messing with her mind. Wow, that diet and the little bit of exercise he’s done must really be working for him.
          Jonathan’s lower body shifted closer; his waist, lower torso and knees spooned in next to her slightly curled fetal position.
          She smiled as his rock hard erection pressed against the top of her ass crack.
          “Ooohh nice,” she said sleepily. “Someone is awake and ready to go.”
          Jonathan didn’t reply.
          “Are you wanting to play around a little?”
           No answer.
          Coming more in to the waking world, Irene also wondered why he hadn’t laid down completely. She never really felt his arm slide all the way in and up under her. She had the odd perception that he was perched upon his elbow leaning over watching her sleep. That was strangely uncharacteristic of Jonathan. Not that he wasn’t romantic, he was; it was that he seldom did anything like that. And it wasn’t that he never wanted to get intimate or never initiated sex, he did; he always rocked her world. It was just once playtime was over and they cuddled for a little while, he just wanted to get comfortable and zap out.
           In a lazy tone she said, “Jonathan, please don’t take this the wrong way…but…let’s just sleep right now.” She patted his arm and squeezed it tight once more. “We can make love in the morning…and I’ll make it extra special for you then, okay?”
          Jonathan remained tomb silent.
          His warm breath played over her neck and wafted around her face. She smiled as she breathed him in. As she smelled his breath, her brows furrowed slightly in confusion. What was that smell? It wasn’t…bad breath…not exactly. But it was strangely acrid with an underlying metallic scent.
          As she mulled this over in her mind, a wetness dropped onto Irene’s neck first and then another drop landed on her cheek. Her eyes flew open, sleep dissipating further from her body.
          What the hell? she thought as a slight panic started to set in. Why the hell is he drooling on me?
          All of the eerie feelings she’d wondered about earlier instantly solidified in her brain and her mind fired into hyperdrive. She quickly jerked her head toward her husband.
          "Jonathan?”
           Irene’s breath caught in her throat as she saw what her mind was already telling her.
          In the blueish tinge coming from the CD player and diffuser, the figure leering down at her wasn’t her husband at all.
          Adrenaline spiked fear erupted from deep within her body and pushed out in to every ligament of her body. She pressed her head and upper body deeper into the mattress and tried to slide away from the intruder who was clutching her.
          “No Jonathan here,” the dark figure said in a husky tone as his arms began to tighten their embrace.
          She tried to speak or scream but nothing about her body would work. She didn’t know if it was that sleep paralysis thing happening to her body or if it was just simple fear that had locked her joints and limbs.
          The figure spoke again. His voice had lowered, producing a guttural quality. “I just drank the life out of Jonathan. I opened him up on the kitchen island downstairs. He was a good start, but now I’m going to finish by drinking your adrenaline-laced blood wine.”
          Knowing she had to fight with all her might to get away from this thing, she finally cast off the remaining paralysis and began to thrash about; she tried to lash out. One of the figure’s legs rotated over hers and clamped down hard subduing her.
          “That’s right,” the figure whispered. “Be scared. The more scared you are, the sweeter your blood will taste.”
          Irene felt his hand—the one she still grasped in hers—elongate from its human form in to a longer, thinner boney appendage. The thing’s feet had also changed as well, although she hadn’t felt the transformation; she just now realized that one—if not both—was now more of a talon-like claw and had clamped down hard on one of her ankles.
          Even though she was trying with all her might to escape the intruder’s clutches, she couldn’t look away from his gaze. Tears slid out of her right eye and down the side of her head in to her hair. The tears from her left eye pooled within the corner of her left eye.
          As she stared at the figure above her, she saw him slowly open his mouth. Her own mouth mimicked his in a confused wonder, but where her mouth stopped, his mouth continued to grow. As his mouth unhinged at his jawline and opened in to a gigantic maw, she saw his teeth—blue in the wash of nightstand sleep elements—elongate into long ivory spikes.
         From deep in the back of the creature’s throat, a monotone guttural click laughed down at her.
         His head tilted and his gaze lusted over her exposed throat.
          Even in the blue-tinged blackness, the creature’s eyes could see the future blood river that was churning in horror under her skin. He could hear the spiked thump of her dread-induced heart rate.
          As his mouth wrapped around her neck and began to bite down, Irene screamed out to Jonathan for help. As the creature ripped in to her delicate neck, her scream immediately dissipated to a bubbling gurgle. He rolled her over on top of himself as each of his clawed limbs took Irene’s arms or legs in each of their own. He held her up in as high of an angle as his body would allow as the river of blood was released from its dam. It flowed freely out of her body onto his lips, over his tongue and down his gullet. He sucked and drank deeply until her body was completely empty.
          Disappointed there wasn’t more of her to consume, he tossed her limp and ravaged body away from him.
          Irene sailed through the air and landed in a crumpled heap on the floor a few feet from the bed.
          The intruder sat up, swung his clawed feet off the side of the bed and stood again. Without even a backward glance, he shambled to the open bedroom window and crawled out as easily as he’d crawled in earlier that evening.
          With a sampling of what this neighborhood had to offer, he was ready for the main course. He moved on to another house in the cul-de-sac to feast on the patrons that dwelled within who were nice enough to leave their windows up on this nice summer night. After all, an open window is so inviting. It’s practically a verbal invitation.