Baggage Claim

Kate Knox

Cottey College, Nevada, MO, USA

There is a small moment that few people dwell on when a plane lands. After it has touched down but before a point where it is appropriate for passengers to start gathering their things, there is a moment of unified peace throughout the cabin. The safety of the ground has been secured, and one is either home or almost there– wherever there may be. Most don’t pay attention to this moment; they are either groggily coming to thanks to the bump or itching for the opportunity to grab their carry-ons and go. But for some, this moment is pivotal– an end and beginning of a journey. 

This moment finds all who seek it, regardless of class, gender, age. It found the tallest woman of the three occupants of the first-class cabin gazing vapidly out the window. She was watching the tarmac around her, sipping in her last moments of peace before departure, and trying not to think about what she had left. Her companions were of the groggy camp, grumbling about how horrible they felt- 

That’s what they get for eating so much before a nine-hour flight- the leader thought. 

Screams erupted as the trio left their arrival gate, flanked by their bodyguards. The barricades did their best to hold the crowd back physically, but nothing held back its passion, its want. Hunger followed the women as they walked calmly towards baggage claim. It was in every single pair of eyes that gazed at them; sometimes accompanied by tears, sometimes not. Hands reached for those who were untouchable. They were all very used to this exchange: world-famous pop stars can’t just go as they please, especially in an age where their blood types were not only available to the public, but merchandisable, hanging from some of the crowd members’ bags as little personified charms. However, the leader always felt a cold pit in her stomach every time she saw those hands. 

They- the crowd- it- had no actual grasp on who they were reaching for. They had ideas of course: Knives, the leader in all of her ice princess glory, iconized for her cutthroat bars and devil-may-care attitude, Void, the vocal lead, beautiful and sweet as her voice and known for her fanservice, and Glitch, the queen of choreo, hailed for her dance skills and charisma. Goddesses amongst royalty. The top of the charts. The it-girls. Knives pitied them. All the members of VIXEN pitied them. The fans thought they looked at the group with so much love and adoration, but they couldn’t understand that their eyes betrayed them. 

The members of VIXEN knew hunger. They understood how quickly those hands, innocently splayed, hoping for just a brush with success personified, could turn into claws. The women kept close to each other within the body walls of security. They had no energy to give the vampires today. Knives was the only one who walked with her head high enough to see the hunger reflected back at her. She could smell the sweat, taste the desperation in the air, even through her mask. It made her sick, but not for the usual reason. These people-besides their unhealthy obsession with her- were ordinary, probably. They were probably going to get in trouble with work or school for skipping to watch the pop stars claim their baggage, probably had aspirations of their own to do something more than fawn over the life of another. Probably. 

Knives shook herself, feeling bile rising in her throat as she and the others kept going. They were not him. Statistically, they all couldn’t be like him. The group’s luck couldn’t be that bad. But… hunger is a state of fluidity, as unpredictable as water when left to its own devices. It can be a gentle wave pushing someone forward in their life, or it can be a tsunami, leaving nothing but destruction in the wake of its feeding. Her mind once again made the flight back to where they had all just come from, though she tried to force it back. 

He had a hunger that was tsunami-like. One would assume that being one of the biggest pop groups in the world would ensure safety, but stardom and money can’t buy experiences that make one feel human again, so the group had snuck out of their room to go take a walk. They were well disguised enough, and, for once, their hotel location hadn’t been leaked, so they took the opportunity as it presented itself. They had wanted a simple walk by the river of the city they had just played in, maybe to watch the sunrise together before their flight. They figured the worse they would have to deal with would be another lecture from their security head. They had not expected him. 

He was unfortunately large; athletic in a way their diet and weight restrictions wouldn’t allow. He was a starving tsunami, assuming that because they had chosen to be in his vicinity at his time, they had chosen him. His hands reached, as the crowd’s had done that night at the performance, but he had also misjudged. The members of VIXEN knew hunger. They had given their lives, their flesh, their talents, to satisfy the hunger of their fans and the industry. They, themselves, were hungry. They were just better at hiding it. But, like water, hunger can only be pulled back so far before it breaks, overflows, drowns. They were starving.

The moon averted its eyes as Glitch and Void made short work of their target, the ripping, chewing of flesh hidden under the soundscape of the busy city. He had been smart to corner them in the back alley they had taken to avoid the public. The coppery scent of blood caressed Knives’s nose– the girls were being sloppy, but Knives couldn’t blame them. It had been a while since they had actually gotten to eat– the injections just weren’t the same, especially when their blood supply was already running thin. Her own mouth began to water instinctively, but she swallowed it down. There was a suitcase in her room that could satisfy her needs, and she had always had a higher tolerance than the others. She had also made a point to snack incessantly before they went out– she had a feeling they would not be allowed to be women living their lives that night. Besides, someone had to be alert while the others got to have their gluttonous daze. Still, Knives could have a little treat without getting drunk off of the meal. 

 She flicked her wrist, blood spattering off of her hand. Whoever came across the scene would find a couple of blood drops, but no body to which they belonged. True hunger teaches one to leave no scraps. True hunger makes one smart. They had taken off their heavy jackets before carving him– giving him a little glimpse of getting what he wanted before ripping it away. Knives loved the moment of realization for those starving folk. The ones who thought they were hungrier than her companions and she. That they were smarter, entitled to feast on the women. They were always so shocked when the women’s eyes rushed full of hunger all at once. 

The members of VIXEN had blood stocks-ethically obtained- to keep themselves strong enough to perform without becoming unattractive in the eyes of their label, but nothing tasted sweeter to them than food sovereignty– especially when the meat was lean with its own ungodly hunger. When given the right motivation, mixed with anger and starvation, anyone can be strong enough to feed themselves, even if the feast seems to be bigger and stronger than them. They were illusionary Goliaths to society– giants untouchable with their wealth and fame, but still weak little girls, probably. Probably. 

Knives’s black suitcase was set at her feet. She met the guard’s gaze, sunglasses to sunglasses. 

“You all seem out of it today. Jet lag getting to you finally?”

“Yeah. Long tour. Glad to be home.”

He nodded, satisfied. They all made their way to the exit, still flanked by barricades and the crowd. It surged at them as they slipped into their separate cars to take them to their condos, but none of the women flinched. The women of VIXEN knew hunger well. 

Knife’s driver whistled, keeping chit-chat to a minimum. He knew better than to ply her when she was getting off of a world tour. As they neared her home, he did ask,

“Happy to be home, Miss?”

“Very. It was a good tour, but I am exhausted.”

“I bet. It’ll be nice to be in your own home again. A nice, warm dinner will do you well.”

Knives smiled under her mask, eyeing her suitcase through her sunglasses. Along with the vials that would keep her wine glass full tonight, she had, with skill, patience, and a lot of sealed bags, snuck in an extra snack. Her phone chimed at the same time, popping up with hashtags that fans were trending for the group: #ourheartsarewithyou #enjoyyourbreakVIXEN. Her smile grew wider as saliva flooded her mouth. She exited the vehicle at her gates, throwing her response out with a final wave to him. 

“A warm dinner sounds great, but I’m really just craving some tartar.”