In “Vampire Conspiracy”, Jack gets a ride to the Vampires’ secret airstrip, in style. The classic Soviet-era-design Zil limousine is the very definition of “imposing”.
Former Special Olympics champion sprinter and 400-meter sprint national record holder. Now the world’s fastest running Vampire, able to run at over 100mph for long distances. Retains his sincerity and good will towards others while living and interacting with a Vampire population generally not known for these qualities. Jack gets his first girlfriend in my trilogy’s second novel, “Vampire Conspiracy”. Jack’s heroism and unique abilities gradually become known to the world’s human Vampire population… and others. 😈
Chief Venator (law enforcer) of the United States region. Targets Jack for termination, as Venators traditionally do when they discover a new special-needs Vampire. Jack escapes two of Damien’s assassination attempts, eventually causing Damien to reconsider his position about Jack. Damien enjoys fast cars and fast women. Damien has been married for over 250 years, and has had several mistresses as well.
President of the world’s human Vampire Community. Breaks with her own Venator past by protecting Jack from her husband Damien. Feels some maternal instinct for Jack, but Lilith realizes she would not make the best adoptive mother for him. The conflicts over Jack push her relationship with Damien to a breaking point.
Physical Age: 25
Calendar Age: 135
Chief Venator of Romania. Summoned to Colorado by Damien, to help him hunt Jack. Lilith over-rides her husband and orders Zetania to protect Jack from Damien and the other Venators. Zetania gradually realizes Jack’s incredible potential, and discovers that Jack may be the key to help Zetania and the Romanian Vampires end their dispute with their most feared enemy… one way or another.
Ronald and Diane Pepper
Ron Pepper, Jack’s former Special Olympics coach, and his wife Diane are the closest that Jack has ever had to a real family. Damien and Lilith come to a rare agreement and choose the Peppers to be Jack’s new adoptive parents. Damien and Lilith turn the Peppers into Vampires and hire them as private investigators. The Peppers’ longtime hobby of investigating cattle mutilations becomes their full-time occupation, as they finally uncover the mystery of who is behind all of those mutilations.
Lilith’s presidential secretary and Damien’s current mistress. Over the last 250 years, Lilith has killed Damien’s previous four mistresses (and several other women who had short-term flings with Damien). The fact that Lilith hired Stella to be her secretary suggests a major change of strategy on her part, in which she plans to heighten her control and influence over Damien.
The human vampires’ worst nightmare. And he realizes Jack’s true potential far more than any human Vampires can.
Chief Mechanic, the MacGyver of Vampires. Owner of Roman Auto Salvage. His kindred’s predilection towards fast cars ensures Fred’s job security. Enjoys customizing pickup trucks and hunting deer. Owns a large collection of vintage film prints, including an original print of “Nosferatu” acquired during his vacation to Germany in 1922.
Mute autistic Vampire, native to the city of Debrecen, Hungary. Pursued by Hungarian Venators upon his change to human vampire in 1991, reported “missing, presumed dead” that same year. Confirmed sighted by several U.S. Venators in Colorado twenty years later. Possesses a unique superpower that could be dangerous to the human Vampire community.
Here’s a deleted scene from Vampire Syndrome, taking place at the same time as the first scene in Chapter Thirteen, “Black And Blue Mustangs”…
Unmarked silver Charger in the Jacksons’ driveway. Yep, Curtis finally got a night off. Between us and the Normal police, I’m amazed poor Curtis gets any time at home.
Always liked this little Victorian of theirs in Park Hill. Been re-painted 32 times, in every shade of the red rainbow.
I still remember when those young gang-bangers tried to rob me on this very sidewalk a few decades ago. Now, fixie bicycles are parked on the neighbors’ front porches, unlocked.
Gentrification marches on. Too bad. Ripping heads and limbs off those little gangsters was much more fun than walking past roving packs of hemp-and-jeans-clad hipsters in Civil War beards talking about indie bands.
I march up the Jacksons’ front porch steps and tap my knuckles on the door screen thirteen times.
Curtis whips open the door. “Oh, come on, brother…”
“Chill, C.J., I just want a beer.” I pat his shoulder and smile.
Curtis’s wife Tamika saunters up behind him. “Don’t be givin’ him that ‘I just want a beer’ shit, peckerwood.”
I add fangs to my smile. “A beer and a chat, Tammy. Off-duty, of course.”
Her eyes blacken as her fangs extend. “What’re you up to now?”
“I have a new plan. Gotta keep Curtis in the loop.” I smirk at Curtis.
“Who you gon’ fuck up now, white boy?” Tamika demands.
“More like who else will fuck who up.” I reply. “May I?” I wave my hand toward the living room.
Curtis and Tamika lead me into the room. Their old posters always catch my eye. Scream, Blacula, Scream! Super Fly. Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off. Shaft in Africa. Dolemite. And my favorite.
Coffy. She’s the godmother of them all. “I’m not worthy,” I whisper.
Tamika touches my cheek with a handkerchief. “Here, lemme help you with some of that drool, Damien.”
“Pam Grier.” I smile.
Tamika playfully nudges my shoulder.
Curtis, carrying three brown bottles, strides to the couch. He places the brews on the coffe table and motions us over.
Tamika and I sit down at Curtis’ sides.
I state, “This Jack thing is getting out of hand.”
“You’re mad cause he got away,” Curtis says.
“No,” I reply, “I’m mad that he’s still at large. And I intend to correct this state of affairs.”
I fetch my phone from my coat pocket.
“Who you calling?” curtis asks.
I answer Curtis and Tamika with a smirk as I dial Lilly.
She picks up and says “I’m almost there, honeybun.”
“Thanks for picking up Zetania, sweetheart.” Curtis and Tamika’s expressions change to quizzical, yet mean, stares. I knew they’d like this. Tamika taps my shoulder, wanting to speak, and I wave her silent.
“Mamuwalde’s showing off the new gold caps between his fangs,” Lilly says. “They’d look pretty good on you, honeybun.”
“Practical, too,” I reply. “If he ever ran out of Normal money, he can just go to a We Buy Gold shop and pull those caps out with pliers.”
I shake my head and whisper “No, not Jack” to Curtis and Tamika.
“I think he’d sell his gold necklace or rings first, don’t you?” Lilly asks. “Anyway, I gotta go, honeybun. I’m almost at the entrance.”
“Bye,” I say before I hang up.
Tamika fangs out. “Why the hell is Zetania Vinescu coming here?”
“I decided I need some outside help.”
“To kill innocent Normal bystanders and cause massive car wrecks?” Curtis asks. I can see my face reflecting in Tamika’s raging black eyeballs.
“Zetania doesn’t fuck around,” I state.
“She hunts Pures,” Tamika snaps. “That shit’s okay when you’re chasing Pures, but she can’t come here and pull that crap just to get some handicapped kid. Zetania might give us all away by accident.”
I fang out. “And Jack will give us all away by accident.”
Tamika and I leap off the couch. Curtis slips between us, fanged out and ready.
“As you heard, Tammy, I have Lilly’s okay.”
Curtis glances in our directions, then sits down. Tamika and I reluctantly seat ourselves.
“That bitch has lost her mind,” Tamika whispers to Curtis.
“I don’t think so,” I reply. “Even she couldn’t catch Jack last night.”
Time for me to try something new in the new year.
A character interview, a concept inspired by Joleene Naylor,
but written in my own style.
Spoiler Warning: This interview takes place between the end of “Vampire Syndrome” (book one) and the beginning of “Vampire Conspiracy” (book two).
Welcome, readers of the Vampire Syndrome blog. Today we are proud to feature an interview with Jack Wendell. Currently Jack is between novels one and two, flying in the Council of Thirteen Presidential Jet on his way to Romania to rescue his dear friend Zetania Vinescu from the alien Pure Vampires who kidnapped her in the last chapter of “Vampire Syndrome”. Accompanying Jack in the Gulfstream G550 are Damien Tepesh, Chief Venator of the United States region, and Jack’s new adoptive parents, Ronald and Diane Pepper.
Interviewer: Good evening, Mr. Wendell, I’m (redacted), official record-keeper of the Council Of Thirteen. So nice to meet you. (Interviewer and Jack shake hands)
Jack: Hey, wait a minute, how’d you get on this plane?
I: The same way you did, through the door.
J: How come I didn’t see you?
I: I’m Stacy Burnside’s co-pilot. I was in the cockpit until now.
J: Oh, okay.
I: Now let’s get down to business. Tell the Vampire world about yourself.
J: My name is Jack Wendell and I’m nineteen years old. A few months ago, I became a Vampire cause a girl named Janine Perrino got Vampire rabies and bit me.
I: Not the most pleasant way to become a Vampire… (chuckles)
J: Tell me about it! President Lilith told me most of us become vampires from sex.
I: Yes, indeed, sexual intercourse.
J: That’s how Damien and Lilith turned Coach Ron and Diane into Vampires.
I: Ah, yes, Ron and Diane Pepper. Ron was your Special Olympics coach until his recent recruitment into our community.
J: You call that a recruitment? They didn’t get much choice about it.
I: Well, more like drafted, I must admit. And how do you feel about Damien and Lilith turning the Peppers?
J: Why didn’t they ask me first before they did it?
(Damien interrupts): Lilly never was very good about asking people before she…
I: Uh, excuse me, Chief Venator, sir, I’m interviewing Jack here. For the Council record.
(Damien): My apologies. Carry on.
I: Okay, so Jack, let me re-phrase the question. Ron and Diane, now they’re Vampires: Is this good or bad?
J: Good, cause they’re my new family. I guess Lilith wanted to be my new mom, but it didn’t work out. She said she might not be the best mom for me.
I: Indeed, Damien and Lilith did seem to agree that they might not be the best candidates to be your new parents.
J: I love Coach Ron and Diane, and I’m so happy they’re my Dad and Mom now, but I’m scared we’re all gonna get hurt.
I: The Pures. 😈
J: That’s the bad thing. What if the Pures find out about us?
I: The Pures know about your new parents. They’ve been monitoring the Peppers’ cattle mutilation website with a stolen laptop that we’re monitoring.
J: I meant, when they find out Coach Ron and Diane are Vampires!
I: And working as Council investigators, I might add.
J: That’s not funny.
I: No humor intended, Mr. Wendell. We’re in a tough situation here. And you’re heading right into the eye of the storm.
J: But I’ve gotta rescue Zetania from the Pures!
I: Which will put you in grave danger…
J: I don’t care!
(Damien): Cluj Napoca Team has already surrounded the Pures’ hideout.
(Diane Pepper): Oh my, aren’t we confident, Damien?
(Damien): We’ll hit ’em after sunrise so they can’t come out of their cave chasing after Jack.
I: Excuse me, I’m trying to conduct an interview here!
(Damien and Diane, in unison): Sorry!
J: If I can get Zetania out of there, maybe she won’t declare war on the Pures.
I: Her number one enemy for 122 years? You’re quite an optimist, Jack.
J: I’m gonna talk her out of it.
I: Jack, I hate to play devil’s advocate here, but if the Pures killed Zetania, she wouldn’t be able to declare war on them.
J: But then all the rest of the human Vampires would want to kill the Pures cause they killed Zetania. There’d be a big war anyway.
I: Great point, Jack. I can see why Damien and Lilith accepted you into our community.
J: After Damien tried to kill me a couple of times.
(Interviewer continues): And why are you so willing to risk your life to rescue Zetania, Jack?
J: She would do it for me. I know she would. Maybe if I save her, she won’t want to go to war with the Pures cause she knows how bad she could lose. If I get her out of there, she won’t want to be captured again. See?
I: Yes, actually, I do. If you’re right, that is. If Zetania doesn’t see your rescuing her as a golden opportunity to re-group the Romanian Vampires and…
J: Then I better talk her out of the war harder!
I: I wish you the best of luck with your mission, Jack. You’re gonna need it.
J: Thank you.
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.
Can’t you hear me knockin’, yeah, down the gas light street, now
Here’s a snippet from Chapter Five of “Vampire Syndrome”, in Damien’s point of view:
Interrogation Room Four. Taylor’s blonde girlfriend Lauren Heinrich has been chewing gum and filing her fingernail tips during my entire round of questioning. Vanity or nervousness? Probably both.
“Distinguishing characteristics?” I ask.
Lauren stops filing her nails.
She puts the nail file in her purse, then spits her gum into a tissue. Lauren fixes her gaze on mine.
“The kid had Down Syndrome,” Lauren says. “I used to live in Kansas City back in the forties, so I heard all about what you did to that one girl.”
Not only that, a bunch of damn loudmouth Vampires there are still yapping about it. Kansas City, Missouri. Home of great barbecue and “Damien killed the retarded Vampire girl” stories.
“When you were living there,” I ask Lauren, “did you happen to hear any rumors about who may have sexually assaulted her?”
“No,” she replies. “Kansas City Security never even named a suspect. Sorta like Jack The Ripper.”
I snicker, then say, “The Normal detectives at London Metro never considered the possibility of a Jill The Ripper.”
“No way,” Lauren gasps. “She was a Vampire, right?”
“Who?” Lauren asks.
“Classified,” I reply, with a wink.
Lilith Morrigan. Our president. Also known, only to me, as Jill The Ripper. She didn’t seem to think any of those London hookers I was scouting out were worthy of becoming a Vampire and keeping me company.
Lauren asks, “Was this Jill The Ripper using her surgical tools to cut out her victim’s bite marks?”
Great. Lauren’s now interrogating me.
“Possibly. We don’t know for sure, Miss Heinrich.”
I had to love Lilith’s use of surgical instruments as the signature clue to throw off the Normals. “They say I’m a doctor now,” ha ha. Lilly carved their bodies like Pures cutting body parts from cattle. A clue only I would get. And she knew it.
Lauren leans in closer to me, smiles and asks “Is Jill The Ripper still alive?”
I really shouldn’t be answering Lauren’s questions, of course, but I admire her thirst for knowledge.
“The Council of Thirteen ordered the Venators, including myself, to conduct an official investigation. The results were inconclusive.”
No wonder. Lilly was Chief Venator back then. Our dear boss. She even had me scribble the From Hell letter and post it to George Lusk. That same letter is now framed on my desk, and Lilly’s Saucy Jacky postcard is locked in her wall safe.
Lauren asks, “How could the investigation be inconclusive when you knew she was female?”
Good question, Lauren. You might be a candidate to become a Security detective like Betty when you get older. Then you could investigate your boyfriend’s stupid pranks.
“The only Vampire who witnessed one of her killings didn’t provide us with enough details to make a positive ID. Our report states only that the suspect was an unidentified female Vampire.”
That Vampire hooker who caught Lilly in the act was not about to report who the killer was, even to us. Lilly told me afterward she “swore that whore to silence or death.”
“Well, Mister Chief Venator,” Lauren says, “I sure hope you catch this Down Syndrome kid.”
“Thanks. And don’t worry, Miss Heinrich,” I reply. “He’s handicapped. Once I find him, he’s done for. It’s not like he’s gonna be another Ripper giving us the slip.”
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