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.
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