A few years from now, the people in my critique group will still be trying to get signed on HachHarpMacmilPengRandSimoSchuHouse, or whatever the “Big One” will be called. 😈
Here’s a previously unreleased snippet, © September 2010,
from the original version of Vampire Syndrome:
Who’s knocking? I hope it’s not Lilly.
What’s she saying? “Turn on the juice?” C’mon, sweetheart, I’m still half-asleep.
Wait, that’s not Lilly’s voice. It’s Zetania.
She knocks again and yells, “Turn on the news, Damien.”
“Be there in a minute,” I reply
The news? Did the Normals find Jack? Holy shit.
I reach over Stella, grab the remote and turn on the TV. Stella wakes up and asks me in a groggy voice, “What about the news?”
“Next on Eyewitness News,” the anchorman says, “A rancher has reported a mysterious cattle mutilation, north of Fort Morgan.”
Stella whispers, “Uh-oh.” She’s awake now.
Great. A Pure’s out in the sticks. Hopefully just one.
I put on my pajama pants, and rush to the door. Stella’s slips on her pink silk négligée. I let Zetania in, and she places her black duffel bag on my antique wood dresser.
“Hi, you two,” Zetania says.
I glance at the TV. A used car commercial.
“Tell those damn Pures to stay in Romania,” Stella replies.
Zetania unzips her duffel bag, and reaches inside.
“I’ll tell them with my Uzi,” Zetania retorts.
Look at that. The mini-Uzi made for the Romanian Military Police. Zetania didn’t even bother to paint over the “Poliţia Militară” logo.
“Do you need that just to hunt Jack?” Stella asks.
A news reporter comes on. “Last night in north Morgan County, cattle rancher Martin Rodriguez discovered the carcass of one of his cows, Mizzy. Mizzy was last seen alive around 7PM. Martin’s daughter found Mizzy’s carcass the next morning. The eyes, tongue, udder and tail had all been removed with surgical precision. The carcass was entirely drained of blood.”
The cow’s body appears on the screen. Zetania studies the TV picture.
“See how there’s not a drop of blood on the ground?” Martin asks the camera as he points to the grass.
“The Pures may have found out I left home,” Zetania says,”and one of them might be here in Colorado to ‘welcome’ me.”
“Maybe,” I suggest, “that secret airstrip of yours isn’t secret to them anymore.”
“They’ve never attacked it.”
“They’d be smart not to. They can just watch it from a distance. I bet they saw Lilly’s Gulfstream pick you up.”
“We have Security agents all over the area,” Zetania replies. “None of them have reported contact with any Pures.”
You’re focusing on the obvious, Zetania. A Venator needs to be a detective, not just a hunter.
“In Cluj, you all expect Pures to attack you, not evade you. My worry is when they don’t attack. That means they’re up to something. And at least one of your pale white shark-toothed friends made it here.”
“Do they still hide in shipping crates?” asks Stella.
“Yeah,” Zetania and I reply in unison.
They have to. They can’t pass for Normals, and their skin blisters and pops in direct sunlight. One reason why we moved the World Headquarters to Colorado back in 1904. Three hundred days of sunshine a year, average. A Pure’s worst nightmare.
“I’m worried there might be a group of Pures here,” I state. “They might be planning to hit this compound again.”
“No way, Damien,” Zetania snaps, “When Gl’Ag’s raiding party came here in 1904, you and Lilith killed his wife and three other Pures with your Gatling guns. And now you’ve stockpiled enough weapons to arm everyone here. Over five hundred of us.”
“Gl’Ag’s not gonna try and sneak up the main road again,” I say. “He barely made it out back in ’04, and we put a few bullets in him. We chased him as he ran away, but we couldn’t catch him. I’m still amazed that he made it back to your country. Today we have two guards with Miniguns, 24-7, in those same turrets Lilly and I used.”
“Gl’Ag? Didn’t you wreck your STI chasing him last year?” Stella asks Zetania.
“He snuck up on a Roma wagon camp,” Zetania replies. “That’s why I still check up on my distant relatives. They would have been easy prey for him, if I hadn’t been there.”
“Guess what Zetania was doing when Gl’Ag came?” I ask Stella.
“What?” Stella leans head toward me.
“The Gypsies were gathered around the campfire,” I explain, “and Zetania was reading them Vampire Moonlight: Bewareness.”
“What’s so funny?” Zetania asks.
“If there was such a thing as an irony meter,” I say, “you would have broken it. A real Vampire, reading a fictional vampire book to Gypsies who tell tales about real Vampires.”
“Better yet,” interjects Stella, “By chasing Gl’Ag away, she accidentally created a new Vampire tale for Roma folklore.”
“Lady Dhamphir in the Black Subaru,” Zetania replies, “I’ve overheard it twice.”
Zetania’s so proud of herself. For blowing her cover, no less.
“Lucky you,” I growl. “Gypsies don’t tell their stories to outsiders,”
Zetania smiles and extends her fangs.
“Must be nice to live around Normals who don’t run their mouths,” I continue. “That lady in Grand Junction who backed her TrailBlazer into the ditch probably called the media before she called the tow truck. ‘Oh, I was getting away from a Vampire!’ Good thing no one believed her.”
“Normals don’t know about the hideout in Colorado National Monument,” Stella says, “Damien and I went there the next day, and we had a little talk with the squatters.”
“I told them if I had to come back again,” I state, “I’d bring Lilly with me.”
That sure got those little brats’ attention.
Jack discovers he is a Vampire
My front teeth still feel like they’re sticking out. I better go in the bathroom and look in the mirror.
Wow, I haven’t even turned on the light yet and it’s bright in here. It’s usually a bit dark in the bathroom before you turn on the light.
My eyeballs are black.
That’s impossible, my eyes are green.
Four of my teeth are sticking out, and they’re pointy. They look like fangs. I touch my fingertip to the point of one. Ouch! It’s sharp.
They are fangs.
My mind flashes back to the crazy Mexican lady in the pink shirt. The one who bit my neck.
She was a Vampire.
No, that can’t be right. Vampires don’t exist. And I’m not dead. I can feel my heart beating. It’s beating fast right now, cause I’m nervous.
That’s why those people came up and pulled her off of me. If they hadn’t, she would have drank all my blood and killed me.
I don’t want to have fangs. I wish they would go away.
I feel my fangs pulling back into my mouth. In the mirror, my eyes are green again. Now it’s darker in here. But it’s back to normal light, not like a big fluorescent light was on.
There’s blood stains on my shirt. I lift the fabric to my nose. It’s from the steak. Oh, that blood smells so yummy.
The bathroom becomes brighter as I feel my fangs come out again. My eyeballs turn black.
No, no fangs!
My fangs slide back into my mouth.
Hey, I can do this.
Out. There they are. Nice. Bright in here again.
In. They went back in. Cool. The light’s back to normal, but I’m not.
I’m a Vampire.
Can I turn into a bat?
I flap my arms and yell, “Bat. Bat. Bat.”
Nothing happened. Guess I can’t turn into a bat.
Oh my god, I better get out of here. Coach Ron and Diane will kill me, for real. Everyone always kills Vampires, at least in the movies. I better go find some other Vampires, ’cause at least I know they won’t try to kill me.
I dash to the bedroom and put on my blue jeans. I grab my wallet and put it in my pocket. Since I can’t turn into a bat and fly, I’ll still need my bus pass.
Shirt, I need a shirt. I grab my black t-shirt from the dresser. The one I got at the 10k run in San Francisco. “Special Olympics Changes Lives.” Not as much as my life has just changed.
I run to the front living room and grab my track jacket from the coat hanger. Coach Ron has several pairs of sunglasses on the table. I grab the darkest pair and put them in my jacket pocket.
Wait a minute. Will I melt if I go out in the sunlight? I don’t think so, I’m already by the window and sunlight is coming in. I’d be burning up by now if this was a movie.
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