Uneasy Purchase

De Soto Pharmacy

Large windows on the front and sides of the building allow outside light to shine upon the grey walls with a festive green horizontal stripe. Two cashier centers have been set up on either side of the entrance, though generally only one is occupied at any given time. Neatly lined rows of shelves comprise the majority of the pharmacy, carrying a vast assortment of over-the-counter medication, herbal remedies, bandaging, greeting cards, junk food; pretty much everything one could expect to find on a pharmacy shelf.

At the very back of the De Soto Pharmacy, is the actual pharmaceutical department. A pharmacist is on duty here twenty-four hours a day, filling out prescriptions.

It's a very dreary night. The stars and moon are blocked by dark, whispy clouds. The type that tease the senses, making a person think it may rain even though it actually shows no signs of doing so.

The graveyard shift started about an hour ago, which means that Alexa is seated behind the back counter. Though the pharmacy is open all night, there are very few people within it at the moment. The cashier up at the front who sits there buffing her nails and smacking her bubblegum. A few EMTs come in to grab sodas or coffee to keep them awake while work their own night shifts.

One person comes in for a prescription about every two hours or so — sent from the Medical City Hospital as they have no pharmacy on site.

It's hit a quiet lull though, and so Alexa just has a book open on the counter, and seems to be engrossed with whatever is written on the pages.


As Tucker enters the pharmacy, he holds up one hand to avoid being blinded by the lights. You immediately feel this vampire has not seen a shower for some days. His skin is pale, really pale, even for a vampire, and he looks weak. The full hair could probably look beautiful, but it is just a mess. He looks at the shelves for a while, then shaking his head as if he just realized he is in the wrong place. But then he proceeds to the counter, his movements smooth and cautious. He puts both his hands at the counter and seems to think of the right words. You get an smell on earth and something that smells like water, or ocean, maybe.

Hesitantly he opens his mouth and asks: "You got any of that… synthetic blood or… True Blood? How do you call it?" His eyes are wide open, staring with a cold glance at you but trying not to meet your eyes. You can see he is insecure, like a boy that buys condoms for the first time in his life.


While Alexa can see that the man looks unkempt, she doesn't wrinkle her nose, or take a deep whiff of anything to know what it is he smells like. She does glance up from the book, using her finger to bookmark the page and blinks twice.

"We have both the generic synthetic and the brand name True Blood." She points to a refrigerated unit beside the pharmacy counter. "The generic is probably just as good for half the cost, I guess. I can tell you how it's made, but I can't direct you to how it tastes." Nor would she want to.


Tucker frowns and scratches his neck as he looks over to the refrigerator. As he sees the red bottles of True Blood standing there he lowers his head, hand still on his neck. He takes a deep breath, giving the woman a short glance and a smile. "Thanks, erm…" He turns back to her. "Is there a difference?"


"Well the big difference is that True Blood is the original. It's created at laboratories in Japan, and imported. The generic synthetic is made here, so the cost obviously will be less, but like I said, I couldn't tell you which one tastes better, or more like actual blood." All Alexa knows is that they use the Japanese synthetic in hospitals for emergency blood transfusions and the like.

"But then I suppose the taste is subjective. Something like a pulpy orange juice versus a non-pulpy one. Some prefer the pulp, some don't."


Obviously still undecided the vampire pats the counter two times. "Thank you for your help." His voice sounds a bit raspy and grave, like the voice of a human after a long day of work.

He turns to the refrigerated unit with the blood and starts walking again. His right hand wanders to his chest, while he seems to be a bit absentminded since he walked into the pharmacy. Sometimes he still breaths for some reason and if he did, he felt so stupid afterwards, maybe even a bit embarrassed. 'Did humans recognize that?' he thinks to himself.

As he reached the refrigerator, he opens it and takes one bottle of each brand and reads the labels.


The labels pretty much state the same things: the same ingredients, the same nutrition information. Both seem to boast the same 'Tastes just like real blood' type of slogan.

Alexa smiles, "Oh, you're welcome." Vampires may still make her a little uneasy, but the more she works the graveyard shift, the more she gets used to their presence in the pharmacy. Too bad that wasn't something they trained her for back in school.

"We don't carry any of the higher end brands, you would have to go to the liquor store for those. I've heard tell that there are one or two brands that mix the synthetic with donated blood from the royal families, but I'm not really able to confirm that."


While he reads the label of one True Blood bottle his eyes wander to the top edge where the blood type is printed in big letters. He giggles almost inaudibly. "They even sell all blood types bottled." You cannot tell for sure if he mumbled that to you or himself. He takes an O neg bottle of True Blood and the same type from the generic.

As he turns to come back to the counter you can see his face again, showing something between disgust and fascination. The cold glance in his eyes is gone and made room for a more friendly look, as he raises his head and his eyes meet yours. "I guess I have to find out if I like… pulpy?" His voice is now very soft but still raspy. You can see he is not that tense anymore as his shoulders changed to a more relaxed state. As he watches you he starts to smile. Liam could tell it looked posed but at least it was something… warm.


"I don't know if it's actually pulpy versus non-pulpy or not. I've never had the… erm…" Running her fingers through her hair, she twists the hair about them in a nervous manner. "… displeasure of having to try the synthetic blood." Alexa pauses, clears her throat, and turns slightly pink. "Nor have I ever had to ingest human blood either."

Glancing over at the cashier, she exhales a sigh. Looks like the girl is still more interested in buffing her nails rather than taking care of a customer.

"I can probably ring you up over here," she says, pointing to the pharmacy computer.


Raising one eyebrow as she did not get his joke Liam restrains a laughter and looks over to the cashier. He shrugs and looks back at Alexa. "That would be great." While his right hand wanders in one of his pockets, looking for money, his other hand runs through his hair. His movement freezes suddenly as he notices the conditions on his head and you could think the skin around his cheekbones start to turn red.

He turns aside and takes the few steps to the cash desk quite fast. And there he thought asking for True Blood was embarrassing moment…

He takes out his wallet, going through it. As he notices he has absolutely no clue how much a bottle of True Blood costs he stops and looks at the womand again. "And that would be…?"


Alexa doesn't seem to get many jokes, though that is generally because she's continually keeping her mind on other things. Haunting things.

Distractedly, she hides the book on poltergeist activity beneath the counter, and takes the bottle of True Blood. Nipping her teeth against her lip, she slides the bottle down the counter. Then she twists it around to the point-of-sale gun, and presses the button.

"Four dollars and fifty cents," she says quietly. "I find that it's a bit expensive myself, but I guess it's considered a premium beverage."


Surprised by the numbers Liam's eyes widen and wander down to the small bottle.After a moment he rolls his eyes, "Oh, what the h…"

His fingers search for the right dollar bills. As he found them he pulls them out, looking up again. "This gets better and better", he whispers, now definitely to himself, and hands her the money.


"Consider it this way," Alexa offers as she takes the bills, and returns the change. "It would cost me at least twice that much for dinner." That is, if she were to eat out at a restaurant which is not something she does often due to her unique problem.

"If you figure out which of the bottles is better, would you mind dropping back in and letting me know? I would like to be able to aid the other vampires who come into the pharmacy if they happen to ask."


Liam just wanted to cry. He would pay fifty dollars each meal for the rest of his life, maybe even more, if he still had one. Just the thought of drinking blood again gave him the creeps but life's a bitch. Unlife even more so…

"Yeah, I guess you're right." he answers as if he was slightly offended, taking the change.

"I don't know how long I'll be in the city to deliver a proper taste evaluation, but if I stay… Sure, why not?" He tries to smile again and puts his wallet back in his trouser pocket.

Liam already startet to turn away to the exit but stopped again. "You don't know by any chance where one can get a cheap room here in the city?"


It is not surprising that Alexa would make a slight social blunder. Even were the man human, chances are she would have misspoken.

She is about to apologize when the question is asked. "I am not entirely certain. There is the Belmont hotel over in West Dallas, though I'm not certain if they erm…" She mulls over how to say it without seemingly being insulting again. "… well if they allow vampires. Besides, I don't know if they have sun-proof rooms."

Reaching under the counter she pulls out her book. It is given a look, then she reaches down again, this time coming up with a phone book.

Flipping through to 'H', then looking up hotels, she nods. "There is also the Hotel Carmilla. That is a vampire hotel over in Deep Ellum."


Tucker looks as if he makes some mental notes. He turned back again and looks down on the phone book. "Deep Ellum", he says, speaking the words slowly to remember them. "Carmilla, of course. Sounds like a B horror movie come alive" Liam chuckles and looks up again. "Thank you again. You're a life safer. Or… undead safer. Or…" he shakes his head. He really needs to get used to the vocabulary, this unintended jokes get old pretty fast.


Taking a pen from the cup by the computer, Alexa jots down the number and address for the hotel. Slipping the piece of paper over to him, she smiles, "It's no less than what I would do for anyone else were they new to the city and looking for some place to stay."

With a quiet laugh she nods. "I think that most of the older vampires take great delight in making us believe that they live in horror films. Perhaps they just enjoy the irony of it."


Irony. Now that was just great. Vampires and irony. How could a creature like a vampire ever have fun? And how in gods name could he think consider something that cheap funny?

Liam sighs, another residual human habit, and picks up his bottles again. "I did not get your name." he says, taking the piece of paper and putting it in the pocket where his wallet is.


Pointing to her nametag, Alexa smiles. "It's Alexa. I'm happy that I was able to help you, Mister…?" He asked for her name, it is only fair to request his in return.

"You carry more human traits than those of your kind I've had dealings with before. If it weren't for you asking after the True Blood, I would have believed you to be human."


"Oh, I apologize.", Liam says. "Liam Tucker. You can call me Liam, though some my…", he stops for a quick pause before hestitantly saying the next word, "friends call… or called me Tux. Just some joke on a poor penguin."

He frowns as Alexa compliments his humanity. "Yeah, human, thanks." He denies himself a comment on all the dead skin and tries to look thankful instead, smiling again.


"It was a pleasure to assist you, Mister Tucker," she says with a smile, choosing to address him formally rather than with familiarity. After all she has spoken with him for all of, what, fifteen minutes at most.

"Would you like me to call you a cab? They could likely get you to the hotel without any issue, and swiftly." Though it is still hours before dawn, so speed is not necessarily important.


After a short consideration Liam shakes his head. "No, thank you. I'm good.", he replies. "Well, then… it was nice to meet you, too, Miss Alexa." he continues with a bold smile. He turns towards the door again and starts walking.

Just when he opens the door he turns his head back to her for a last time. "The novel…", he says, "You know in the end the woman is the only survivor?" His smile turns to a grin.


"I…" Alexa's smile falters a little at that, but she is still smiling. "Thank you," she says, glancing down at the book on the counter. Her mood starts to slide as well, but rather than allow her own poltergeist to full out attack the pharmacy again she simply starts to rub her temples and forehead. All in an attempt to keep the ghosts at bay so that she can finish out her shift quietly.


Startled by the woman's reaction Liam frowns, trying to put some sense into why she is seemingly flipping out a bit. He never understood why people could get angry over a little spoiler on a movie or TV series. Deciding that he probably would not understand it today, too, he just shrugs.

"Hey, just kidding. I did not even get the title." he says in an apologizing tone, still trying to smile. He turns back to the door walks out, leaving the woman to her business.

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