Even if you're sick to death of vampires, you owe it to yourself to check out "The Food in the Basement" by Laura Davy, in the latest issue of Apex Magazine. It doesn't just make vampires scary again — it makes them alien.
In "The Food in the Basement," a young girl named Sondra is locked up in a basement by a man named Kaden, who mostly treats her really well. He gives her nice food and watches movies with her. And sometimes, he needs to drink her blood. It's a horrifyingly intense portrait of captivity and exploitation, and Sondra's struggle to hold onto her identity and her links with the outside world are really well drawn.
Here's how it begins:
Kaden mostly fed Sondra frozen meals and salads, though he made a point to buy her favorite snacks and desserts when she was behaving. She had a small kitchen in the basement and he would restock her food supply about once a week. When he left she would hide part of the food, in case she was punished by only being given bland food again. But no matter what, Sondra always had food, probably because Kaden wouldn't get much nutrition when he fed on her if she was starving.
Sondra was reading Rabbit at Rest when she heard the locks of the door being released. She glanced at the page number and shut the book. She placed it back on the bookcase, so it looked like it had never been removed. She sat back down on the couch and stared at the wall as she heard the last lock unclick. Kaden entered and looked at her, then turned back around and set the combination lock.
He sat down on the other side of the couch and turned on the TV. They watched in silence while chefs tried to compete to make the best dish using tofu.
Kaden asked, "Are you hungry? I can order pizza." Sondra just shrugged and Kaden frowned. "Are you still pouting?"
Sondra continued to stare at the TV and said, "I was sick for three days."
"And you've been fine for four days. I had a one–night stand on Saturday, but I need to drink again. Are you going to be difficult?"
Sondra didn't say anything but held out her wrist. He walked into the kitchen and dampened a paper towel and wiped her wrist even though it was never dirty. He sat next to her and Sondra felt his thigh touch her thigh. He brought her wrist up to his mouth and bit it. She felt his fangs sink in with a sharp pain before the sedative in his saliva dulled any feeling. For the first few months when he drank from her she wouldn't even remember being bitten, but her body appeared to be building up an immunity. Now, although the pain was dulled and the bite would still heal quickly, she was aware he was drinking her blood.
He drank for a few minutes then pulled back with his mouth still unhinged and touching his chest, revealing his fangs. His fangs were like snake fangs and descended behind what looked like human teeth. They weren't like a mammal's fangs; they were thin and incredibly long. When they weren't in use they folded into the top of the soft palate of his mouth. Once Kaden had showed her that he didn't swallow the blood. When he fed he raised his tongue to block his throat and an opening below his tongue collected the blood. What happened after that Kaden didn't say.
Read the rest over at Apex Magazine.