It’s Finally Safe to Go Outside

“Let’s get some food. I’m starving.” Mihaela’s fingers disappeared as she slid them through her long black hair, emerging moments later covered in grime. She frowned. “Plus, I’m dusty from having spent the past six months inside.”

Alexandru looked at his wife, his coral blue eyes glowing as if lit by a spotlight. His stomach rumbled like a thunderstorm coalescing over the horizon.

“Your belly speaks for you,” Mihaela continued. “You look gaunt, my love. Your cloak flops around your shoulders, your feet wobble in your shoes.”

“I don’t disagree, sweetheart. It’s been a long half-year. The pandemic has been especially hard on us. I didn’t mind the rest, but this is the longest we’ve gone without a meal since we moved here.”

Mihaela smiled, her bone-white teeth shimmering in the candlelight. “Yes. But it’s over now. We can feast.”

“Do you think there will be people outside? It’s only been an hour since they gave the all-clear to go out. Surely restaurants and pubs haven’t opened so quickly. People have nowhere to go, especially — ” he glanced at the pendulum clock — “at 11 pm.” At that instant, the clock rang the first of eleven discordant chimes. Alexandru briskly rubbed his hands together, trying to mask his borborygmus. “I want to eat as much as you, but it’s a waste of energy if the streets and alleys are still empty.”

“They’re out already.” Mihaela took Alexandru’s hand and walked him to the open window, through which a slender breeze blew the bouquet of human blood.

Alexandru’s chest expanded to nearly twice its size as he took in a deep, satisfying breath. “I smell humans, too.”

An American writer in Japan, editor of The Binge-Watching Cure books, author of the bestselling book, Outwitting Squirrels. Occasional pilot, 24/7 cat owner.

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