“It’s a nice business. Shame something like this had to happen to it.”

It was Johnny Pallid, still in his fancy suit, and leaning against a lamppost in the pool of weak radiance it gave off. Tony had no idea how he’d gotten there; the street had definitely been empty before, and a big guy like Johnny ought to have been audible a mile away in those wingtips he was sporting.

Tony, still, shaking, broke open his shotgun, ejecting two smoking shells. “You know something about this?” He said, gesturing to his shattered storefront.

“I know that bullets won’t work against those animals,” Johnny said. He held a hand up to his face as if to light a smoke, only to place a toothpick there instead. “They’re just gonna keep coming back, smashing and grabbing, until you give them what they want or there’s nothing left.”

“I’m a simple butcher,” said Tony. “What can I do?”

“Easy. Protection. The cops won’t believe a word of this. They’re not wise. But my boys? We can keep this place safe.”

“And I guess you want money in return, is that right?” Tony said. “You’ve been around for a while, Johnny, you know I’m just scraping by.”

“Not money. Blood.” Johnny tipped down his sunglasses, revealing a pair of red-rimmed junkie eyes.

“F-from my animals? The blood is taken out at the slaughterhouse.”

Johnny grinned, deliberately letting a pair of elongated canines rest outside his lips. “The human body can replenish a pint of blood in 48 hours, and we’re just asking for a few ounces.”

A blood bag plopped weakly at Tony’s feet. “First week’s free. After that, fill ‘er up and my boys will make dead sure nothing happens to this place every again. Might even get you some new business, too.”

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