They've met in the woods, five miles from the base. I stand in shadow, cloaked, the light bent around me, watching them. The girl is a large-breasted, blonde Homo sapiens tramp in a low-cut dress. She's sitting in my worthless son's lap and playing with his hair. I wonder what he offered her. I wonder what she thinks she can take from him.

I knew something like this was going on, had to be. I sent my daughter to find out what he was doing with his time, but she, of course, reported that he was only taking long walks in the woods. I'll have to beat her for lying to me, later. But I might have known she'd lie to protect her fool of a brother. If you want something done properly, you must do it yourself. So I've followed him myself, and seen.

At least they're fully clothed. The last thing I need is for him to get some human cow with child, and have that as a millstone around our necks.

They laugh. He plucks a flower-- some common local weed-- and tucks it behind her ear, and she giggles. Fool of a boy. I know what you want, boy, because I knew your father, and I know men. And I know what she wants, because I know women. And I know you'll fall over yourself to give her what she wants, letting her vampirize you for brief moments of pleasure.

I remember other men who've made that choice.


In my memory I'm on my knees in front of him. The hard ground cuts into my flesh. I have no padding anymore to keep my own bones from digging into me. He's almost as thin as I am, but in the calculus of Hell "almost" means he's doing better than me. He's found somewhere to organize food, black market goods. Enough that he can spend food on momentary pleasures.

He can damn well spend it on me, then.

One of my hands is supporting myself by digging into his buttock. The skin hangs loose from it. Repulsive. The other hand clutches my payment in a death grip. A handful of bread, paid in advance, though I won't eat it until I'm done; instead I clutch it so that if anyone stronger than me tried to take it from me while I'm vulnerable, down on the ground, they would need to break my fingers to take it from me. Few people are desperate enough to fight the desperate, not when there are so many weak-willed, broken Musselmanner around to take from instead, people who will give no resistance at all.

He moans, breathing in quick, harsh gasps. His flesh is dry and salty, and I'm thirsty, but it doesn't matter. Soon he'll give me something to help quench the thirst. My best friend is a doctor. She says that in a healthy man it's the equivalent of an egg white. This isn't a healthy man but I'll take what I can get.

He's feeding me from his body, from his life and flesh, and paying me more food for the privilege. All for a moment of pleasure. Fool.

If we are caught at this, we might be shot, or otherwise punished. The bread is why I'm willing to risk it. I can't imagine why he is. I can't imagine any amount of pleasure being worth risking your life, or giving up your food, not in this place.

I am taking from him. I am using him. I will survive better, with what he gives me.

My mother would have called a woman who did this a whore.

My mother is dead.

It's done. The taste is bitter, but I don't mind anymore. There was a time when the taste made me gag, but I wasn't as hungry then. It's warm and moist, not so good for quenching thirst as water, but better than nothing.

"That was good," he says, and runs a hand over the stubble on my head.

I look up at him with contempt and stuff the bread into my mouth, devouring it in two bites. When he says I am good at this, he means I am a talented whore. He means to degrade me. He doesn't realize I've just taken life from him, that I am surviving at his expense, like a vampire. Who then is doing better in this trade?

"Can I have your cunt, next time?" he asks as I stand up and brush myself off.

And waste an egg white's worth of seed, not to mention risk pregnancy, and thereby, death? The contempt in my look increases until I imagine I'm burning his flesh with it. "No."

"What if I got you a whole orange?"

"If you got me a whole orange, we'd talk." He won't be able to get a whole orange. And if he could, it might be worth the risk.

He nods. "Until next week, then. If we live."

"If we live," I repeat, and walk away.


He didn't live. I did.

I wasn't a child then, except in years-- no one in that hellhole was-- but as well-schooled as I was in pain, I was almost entirely ignorant of pleasure. I couldn't imagine, then, why a man would risk his life, and give up his ration of bread, and let life-giving fluids out of his body, just for a moment of pleasure. But now I am an old woman, one who's known pleasure and its price, and I understand better.

It is still not a choice I would make, myself. But I am not a man. They're all fools, that way. They'll all risk everything they value for momentary pleasures. And all of us will let them, if we're unscrupulous and we have no other means of getting what we need. We'll use them for everything we can get, drain them dry, so long as we have no other way to protect and provide for ourselves.

The blonde looks like a moron. I doubt she can provide for herself.

And she's not draining my son.

The thought occurs to kill her, but she's only a girl, and I cannot blame her for trying to seduce him. It's in her nature. A stupid human cow like her would dream of catching a prize like my son, fool though he is. No, I won't kill her, but I won't allow this to go on, either. We've been at this base too long. Time to move on, somewhere else where there are no Homo sapiens witches to try to turn my boy against his people and saddle him with providing for them and their babies.

At least I can trust my daughter in that regard. The men who are good at the game take girls and women for the pleasure they can get, and give nothing in return but empty promises. But she will have a man of her own kind, and no other, and so I needn't fear for her. It's him I worry about.

Still wrapped in invisibility, I return to my base, home. After I've punished them both, we'll move-- tonight.