Eric slept fitfully that night, tossing and turning in a bed that he’d long outgrown. The sheets tangled around his legs and the sweat seeped into the mattress underneath him as his eyelids fluttered while he dreamed.
Flashes of light blinded him and metal crunching assaulted his ears as he struggled to wake from the dreams plaguing his subconscious.
He shot up in bed, wrenching his shoulder in the process. Gritting his teeth, he laid back down as gingerly as he could manage. Glancing at the nightstand, he grabbed his phone to check the time.
6.53 am. It was too damn early for people to be alive. So why was he? Then the sounds of the house filtered into his mind and he groaned.
Why were his parents up at such an ungodly hour?!?
Huffing, since they were making far too much noise for him to stay in bed, he threw his legs over the side of the bed, standing unsteadily.
Shuffling slowly, he managed to make it to the kitchen. Blinking with bleary eyes, he stared at his parents cooking in tandem.
“What the fuck? Why are you guys dressed at this hour?” he shook his head to clear the fog.
“Do not use that language in this house, young man,” he cringed at his mother’s admonishment. “Your father has to be at work by eight and I like having breakfast with him. And you, my darling son, need to call your parole officer in a little while.”
He rolled his eyes and dropped heavily into one of the chairs around the kitchen table.
He rested his head on his folded arms, shutting his eyes once more and trying to ignore the muted sounds of cooking. What he couldn’t ignore, however, was the scent of bacon permeating the air as his mother pulled the oven open.
“Smells great mom. Thanks for breakfast,” his tired voice carried over to Sophie Anne, who shot him a look.
“Are you actually thankful or are you feeding me some bull so I’ll go easier on you? Because I hate to tell you Eric, but I’m not going easy on you. You will call Mr. Pardloe at eight sharp and hopefully we can get in to see him today,” she cleared her throat. “Plus, I already have your paperwork for community service. All he has to do is sign off on it.”
“Are you at least going to tell me where it is?” he sighed as his father slid a plate to him.
“Nope,” she popped the ‘p’ and smiled a creepy grin as she sat down, followed by Andre and began digging into her breakfast.
“Does this look okay?” Eric fidgeted nervously as he yanked on his button down shirt.
“You look fine. This isn’t exactly like you’re going on a date,” Sophie Anne rolled her eyes as she put the car in park and began gathering her purse.
“I know, but still,” Eric didn’t want to admit it, but he was still hoping he’d be able to charm his way into a lighter sentence or at least an easier assignment than what his mother had arranged.
They walked through the shabby door and signed in at the check in window, Eric eyeing the woman in the cheap Kmart suit. He huffed as he threw himself down in one of the rickety chairs that creaked as he settled his weight into it.
He flipped absently through a magazine about some sort of redneck pursuit (fishing? Hunting? Eh, it was all the same to him) and glanced at the clock on the wall, willing it to move faster.
Jumping up and cringing when his shoulder tweaked, Eric stomped to the door leading to the offices, followed closely by Sophie Anne.
They were ushered into a cramped office stacked with papers to the ceiling by the woman in the unfortunate Kmart get up and Eric threw himself gracelessly into the only chair in front of the desk.
Sophie Anne rolled her eyes at her ingrate of a son as the chair behind the desk swiveled to face them.
“If I were you, boy, I’d give up your seat for the lady.”
Eric raised his eyes slowly, taking in the man before him. He wasn’t all that tough looking, although there was a certain menace in the air around him. Rolling his eyes, he stood and leaned against a rusted file cabinet. Sophie Anne lowered herself daintily into the plush chair and reached her hand over the desk to shake Mr. Pardloe’s.
“I’m Sophie Anne Northman. It’s very nice to meet you, although I wish it were under different circumstances.” Eric scoffed as his mother deliberately didn’t glance his way.
“Now, here’s how this works. You need to check in every week so that I can make sure you’re following the rules,” he glared at Eric. “I highly suggest that you do NOT make me report an infraction, boy.”
Eric gulped loudly before forcing his body to relax, trying to appear nonchalant. Mr. Pardloe’s Irish accent was really freaking him out, especially when he call him ‘boy’.
“Now, the fee for appointments is $57.85, an odd number, I know. I understand that you already have a location lined up for his community service,” Preston asked Sophie Anne, smirking as his eyes scanned the page she’d handed him. “Oh, yes I think this will work well, boy.”
That wicked gleam in everyone’s eye when they were talking about this mystery place was really freaking him out too. Why, oh why, couldn’t someone just tell him where he was going?!?
“Now, let’s set up your appointments and get payment taken care of.” Eric tuned out everything as his mother pulled up her calendar on her phone. The adults began discussing days and times for her to drive him there, all while thoroughly ignoring him.
“Wonderful!” Eric was broken out of his dazed state at Mr. Pardloe’s exclamation. “We’ll see you back next Wednesday and I’ll give her a call to say you’re on your way. Just take care of your payment out front with Courtney.”
He shook Sophie Anne’s hand as she stood up gracefully, then gave a much more forceful handshake to Eric, who cringed and shook his hand out afterwards.
The duo retreated to the front hallways, giving Eric’s Amex another workout after Sophie Anne produced it from the depths of her purse.
“So, we’re off to the mysterious community service place now, huh?” Eric reclined the seat as far as it could go, but his long legs were still woefully cramped.
“Yes. And you had better behave. I had to pull so many strings to get you a place here. They don’t just let anyone into their facility,” Sophie Anne’s warning was clear and Eric rolled his eyes once again.
Eric’s eyebrows raised as Sophie Anne pulled onto the highway, clearly heading out of Shreveport. He let his eyes drift closed as the hypnotic motion of the car pulled him into sleep.
He was startled awake as the car jolted. Eric bolted upright in his seat, exclaiming as the seatbelt tightened over his already bruised torso. The dip and sway of the car moving over potholes was apparently the cause of his sudden awakening and he groaned as he took in his surroundings.
“Where the fuck are we?”
“Language!” Sophie Ann huffed at her son. “This is the Bon Temps Animals Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Come on.”
Reluctantly, Eric followed his mother out of the car, slowly climbing the front steps as she knocked on the door of what looked like an old farmhouse.
The door creaked open and Sophie Anne stepped inside. “Sookie?”
“What’s a sook-argh!” Eric’s ankles were suddenly on fire as two small blurs began attacking him. “What the FUCK?!?”
He kicked out, not managing to hit anything except air, struggling as the burning bites traveled to his calves.
“Godric! Amelia!” came a voice from the room situated to their left.
Thankfully, the stinging stopped as the blurs moved towards the voice as Sophie Anne followed.
Eric staggered after them and stared in disbelief, both at the spectacle before him and the blonde beauty presiding over it.
“Did I just get attacked by penguins?!?”