Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 6 WIP, part 4

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

There used to be a window in one wall. I can see the outline, like a porthole. The opening has been chinked up with fresh-sawn logs and mud. It is new work, and does not have the same craftsmanship of the rest of the cabin.

In the fireplace, a cauldron hangs from a hook that can swing the heavy iron pot in and out of the fire. I smell flesh and blood in that pot and move to look inside. I appears clean and scrubbed within. The outside is caked with soot. He has wiped it clean with water and a rag, but not enough to take the evidence of cooked human flesh beyond my seneses.

I know now there is more than I see here!

Vampires do not cook, and neither do they devour the flesh of their prey. Were-creatures, likewise, do not cook. They eat flesh, but prefer it raw, even when they are in human form.

Someone — something — cooks human flesh over this fire, boiling it in the cauldron, and roasting it over the fire. That thing is dangerous, but I still do not sense it here. I would feel such a predator. I would know the animal if it was in its den. It is not here, but it is not long gone. I smell it. Male: its pheromones speak rage.

The blood is female. The scent in the cabin is male.

And more scents, now. They filter through my conscious mind. Odd that I did not catch them earlier. I must pay more attention. Yet, I taste in the air at least three other human females. Their blood is not as fresh, and it is their blood that I taste. Theirs is older. It has been weeks — months — since any other woman than the first was here.

And she is here.

I taste new blood in the air. She is cut and bleeding. But where is she? This tiny cabin is too small to hide her: the cabinets; the fireplace; the coffin bed. She is not in any of them, and they are the only places to hide. There are no closets or drapes, nothing else to hide inside or behind. But she is here. Somewhere.

There! A groan?

The floor planks are smooth from a century of a hunter’s steps. But some of these planks look new. They fit too well into the grooves.

There it is again. A muffled groan, and it comes from beneath the floor.

These planks move. They come up, not nailed nor pegged into place. She is under the floor. A grave, perhaps? Shallow like those in front of the cabin?

I will find her. These planks weigh nothing.

Now this is a surprise. A basement, hand-dug long after this cabin was built. A narrow shaft, braced with new timber and lights below. The room is off-center to the shaft. Better that way, I know, to hide the cries. But I hear her plainer, now. Still not screaming, her voice is muffled, as though gagged. Mewling sounds.

Goddess, the stench from this hole! This is a slaughterhouse into which I descend. Butchery, plain and simple. But no animal scents: not deer, nor pig. All of carcasses below are human. This is no hunter that lodges here, not even vampire hunter is so casual. This man is an animal. A were? Some of them prefer to butcher even in their human forms. No. Weres do not cook. Whatever this man is, he is human.

The ladder is cut into the earth, and it takes me into bowels beneath the cabin. It angles sharply to one side, then the steps end. I drop into the hole: it is larger than I expected.

Kerosene lamps provide a smudgy light. There must be a vent somewhere, else the lamps would steal the oxygen and go dark. None the less, the air is stale in this hole, rank with blood and sweat and piss. Burning kerosene competes with the meaty aroma.

I see her. The back wall. A cage. She is bound hand to feet. Pulled backward, her belly bows out. She is blindfolded, a rag-gag tied around her head, a sodden mass in her mouth. She is naked and bleeding. Hundreds of cuts, some clotted and old, others fresh — only a few hours old.

She does not hear me. Not yet.

It must have taken years to dig out this room. I am tall, and I have head room. Shovel marks score the earth as though he is expanding the room. Yet, already it is large enough for a butcher’s table, stocks and pillory, and a wall of whips and chains. That explains the headroom: Swinging a whip requires space.

He is not here, yet reminds me of someone.

Jack?

No. I killed him!

Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 6 WIP, part 3

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

Towering around the cabin, coned pine trees crowd needle and branch against thin red oak. But close to the cabin, a tiny circle is clear of even scrub brush or wild blueberries. It is not as clean as the yards in the Southern portion of the country, where tired residents daily sweep the dirt in their yards to keep down the growth. Here, around this cabin, clots of grass grow near the porch.

Even with the bogs so close, it is quiet, but for the constant whine and buzz of flies and other insects. Flickering above, bats are silent, like small demons swooping through the feast.

A dozen yards in front of the cabin I see graves. Ten of them closed, one more lies open. The earth around the open grave is fresh. It has been recently dug, the dirt packed to one side and covered with a blue tarp. Someone means to use it soon.

Now I stop, every sense wide open and alert. Perhaps I assumed too quickly that the hunter has taken a wounded friend to the hospital. I stare hard into the trees and strain my ears for the slightest sound that would be out of place in the night.

buzz. whir. screech. snap.

Normal enough, and the shapes moving in the darkness are all night creatures. A mouse tittering to itself as it chews something tiny in its paws. A fox slinking near the rodent. An owl twisting on a limb high above.

I hold in silence for a moment more, then continue.

The blood trail I follow skirts the open grave, though there is a small pool near what could be the foot of the pit. I remember the perfume and consider the movements of the two. If she was dead, it’s possible that he paused here and considered dumping her body into the open grave.

But then, why carry her? Why not simply drag the body? Indeed, he has a vehicle. He could have driven the woman to wherever he needed. Have they left together?

Something is wrong here. The scent of blood from the cabin. Ten graves, the eleventh open. And the pool of blood by the grave, not near the Jeep track. If he loaded her into a vehicle, the blood should be closer to those ruts, not here on the raw earth.

The scent of fresh blood hangs heavy outside the cabin: It calls me.

A rough-hewn pine door is bolted to the cabin’s door frame. It padlocked from the outside, a hunter’s caution against thieves. I know where I am in this forest. Vandals and looters would be rare this far out of the city. No matter, and with the hunter gone, no need for silence. The lock twists easily against the hasp as I pull it from the wooden frame. My hands are much tougher than they used to be. The lock gouges my flesh, but my skin heals as quickly as it is ripped.

The door swings outward and creaks as it does so. It is silence inside. No one is here. Just one tight room, cluttered with broken wooden furniture. On the back wall, near the fireplace, is a long box. It is a bed, almost like a coffin. From here, I can see old blankets stuffing the box. A warm nest on a cold night. The hunter could burrow down into the blankets and shield himself from the cold.

There is no kitchen, just an area for cleaning dishes. There are a few cabinets on the wall and a small shelf. Two large pots, likely one for washing, one for rinsing sit on a another cabinet below the first two. No dish drainer. A couple of rusty knives held to the wall on a magnetic shelf.

Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 6 WIP, part 2

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

Despite the cold, there is no smoke pouring from the chimney, yet there is no doubt that someone has recently used this dilapidated dwelling as his lodging. The scent of death is here, though much of the scent that hangs in the air is human blood. I expect the odor of deer or wild pig, but the scent is predominantly human. That peaks my curiosity.

Death has an odor, and most humans shy away from that scent. In doing so, they miss the subtly of the textures in aroma. The death of a skunk is quite different from that of a fox. And a human has a completely different kind of smell when left to rot. And though there are animal scents here, most are vigorous with life. It’s human death that gives this area its unique scent.
This hunter is clearly more than he seems, and I approach the cabin with care. I am accustomed to human death, but it’s out of place here in the forest. Something is wrong. I scent the air cautiously for anything that might hint of vampires.

Nothing.

There are hunters of my kind, though they, like so many of my kin, stick to the cities to carry out their slaughter. Vampires and hunters are rare in a deep forest. But then, so too, should human death be uncommon.

Not far from the cabin, I see bogs that would slow entry to this place. Anyone not mindful of where she places her foot would find herself mired in muck and snarls of roots in the dark water. Yet there is a jeep trail that winds neatly off to one side of the bogs to avoid the standing pools of black water.

This hunter has as been here recently, though he is gone now. There is no vehicle nearby, and the scent of gasoline hangs in the air. The vehicle and hunter were here not long ago.

That realization offers an answer. A wounded hunter, one carrying the other back to the cabin and vehicle for the trek back to the city. That might explain the scent of death in the air.

But there’s too little blood. A few drops in the forest. A few more here at the cabin. None of it having the richness of arterial blood.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 5

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

“You’re late.” Tom tapped his beer bottle on the table and glared at Laura. The bar was dark and smokey, and Tom seemed to be a part of the gloom.

Five empty beer bottles were pushed to the far end of the table, against the wall. Tom was drinking more these days. When he drank, he got mean. “Sorry,” Laura said. “Homework and Monica.” Laura slid into the booth opposite Tom. “You know how she gets.”

Tom spun the longneck bottle between his hands. It was almost empty, and the beer in the bottom of the bottle turned to froth. “No, I don’t know how she gets,” Tom said, his voice dropping to a growl. “Why don’t you tell me?” The last was a challenge.

“Don’t be angry,” Laura said, motioning to the bartender. “It’s just–”

Tom reached out and grabbed her hand. He yanked Laura hard into the table so that her face was only inches from his. “I said you’re late.” Tom jerked her arm with each word.

“Tom–”

“Just shut up.” Tom shoved her back into the booth. “I told you to be here at 6, and it’s quarter after.” Tom swallowed what was left of his beer and signaled for another one. “Where were you?”

Laura rubbed her wrists. Tom rarely acted this way. She wasn’t sure what to do. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t think–”

“You’re right.” Tom spit the words out. “You didn’t think. I told you when to be here. You’re wasting my time.”

The waitress came up beside the table. Her voice was high, and had a lilt to it. “Two-fifty,” she said. “You want something?” she added, nodding to Laura.

“She doesn’t want anything,” Tom said, throwing three one-dollar bills onto the table. “But I might, later on.”

Laura’s mouth dropped. Tom had never been so crass, nor so cruel. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“I’m fine.” He bit the two words off one at a time. “I’ll be better after I’ve had this beer.”

The waitress winked at Tom, and slipped him a small piece of paper with the bottle. Laura saw it, but didn’t say anything. Tom took both the scrap and bottle in one hand. He didn’t appear to notice the paper, but when he put the bottle down, the note was gone.

“Look,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’m just wound up. Finals next week.” He tipped the bottle back and swallowed about a third of its contents. he put the bottle down. “And you know my sister is sick.”

Laura watched Tom’s hand, not his eyes. She didn’t see the scrap of paper and thought it had probably fallen to the floor. She looked up. He was staring at her.

“My sister,” he said. “You know, the one with cancer?”

Laura was still waiting to meet Tom’s family. She had hoped for a dinner at local restaurant, or at her home. But one crisis after another had prevented them from sitting down to a meal and conversation. Tom’s grandfather had died just a few months ago. He was a private man, Tom said. The kind of person who wanted only family around the coffin — only family to cry and remember. Laura tried to offer what comfort she could from an emotional distance. She wanted to help Tom get through the death of a man he so plainly loved, but Tom was private about the death.

“He would have wanted it that way,” Tom had said. “It’s family. It’s who we are. That’s what Papa taught us.”

Then, not long after, Tom’s brother was hit by a car and spent a week in critical care. “It’s his face,” Tom said. “He doesn’t want anyone to see him this way.” Apparently the boy’s face was crushed in the accident. He would live, but with scars that would make living a normal life difficult at best.

Tom was depressed about how his brother would have to live, and he drank more than usual through the time his brother was in the hospital. Tom was angry and unforgiving of mistakes. But nothing like this.

Tom swallowed another third of the beer and sat the bottle down carefully on the table. “I’m sorry, Laura,” he said. “I just–” He stopped and toyed with the bottle again. “I don’t want anything bad to happen. When you were late, I thought–” He pushed the bottle around in the wet circle condensation had left on the table from earlier drinks. “I just thought, well, that you didn’t–” He looked up at Laura. “I love you, Laura. I don’t know what I’d do if you ever left me.”

Laura’s ribs hurt from being pulled into the table, but she put out one hand. “Tom, I know it isn’t easy. If I could do anything to help, I would.” She took his hand in hers and thought about Monica. “I don’t know what I would do if I ever lost my aunt. I know–”

Tom interrupted her: “You don’t know,” he snapped. “You don’t know what it’s like when someone you love dies.”

Laura gripped his hand tighter for a moment, and her eyes glazed. Something she almost remembered — something she almost knew: someone close to her had been murdered. But the memory eeled away.

“I’m sorry, Tom.”

Divine Wine – excerpt from a vampire’s story

DivineWinefullThe night turns brutal in Atlantic City when a serial killer who indulges in necrophilia crosses paths with a vengeful Vampire. Cyber punks and tourists make way for the Vampire and killer as they square off in a blood-soaked romp under the harsh glow of neon and a full moon.

In the light of day, Atlantic City is like a war zone. At night, city’s glitzy exterior of neon and multi-billion dollar casinos masks the grime that lies just below the surface.

The best part of Atlantic City is the number of disposable teens that stalk the night streets with sneers and baggy pants. The former is a result of the bravado of perceived invulnerability. The latter slows the little youths down to a pants-yanking shamble. Many of Atlantic City’s youth are cheap, wanna-be gangsters who know nothing about real life and death. They’re the kind of punks who brag about guns and murder and their plans to one day move to the Big City, where they’ll be players, with plenty of whores and drugs in easy reach. These little thugs beat and rob tourists, rape girls and boys in back alleys, and fight endlessly over perceived territory violations.

They are the kind of scum that the police would just as soon quietly disappeared.

She’s the vampire for that particular task.

Enjoy this excerpt from Divine Wine:


A hard rain pounds Atlantic City as I stand in front of a pawn shop under a rusted metal awning and wait for the little fucker to make his nightly visit to the screamo bar across the street. It’s too early in the evening for his arrival, so I take the time to scan the streets for other potential meat scrambling through the city. My thigh-length black leather jacket is zipped to my neck. I keep my eyes low and face averted so humans don’t see my face – porcelain white and pale as a scream. My black hair loose around my shoulders.

A wiry little black man approaches and flashes a toothy, but wholly human grin. “Got a match?” He’s got one hand in his pocket and tries to appear threatening. I make eye contact and show my fangs. His eyes widen. He shakes his head and moves on.

The rain is relentless, and it lashes both the streets and the crowds of nightlife seeking shelter and a euphoric release from their lives. Atlantic City doesn’t have quiet nights. Gamblers and hookers, tourists and punks: they all flood the streets at night, looking for a score. A quick fuck. A needle. A bag of cash, or a sucker. The streets of AC are garish with graffitied walls and casino neon flashing come-hither messages like fuck-me dolls. Huddled under umbrellas, the passing crowds are like mushrooms scurrying into casinos, pawn shops, strip clubs, bars and restaurants.

Some of the steady stream of passersby keep to the streets and sidewalks instead of ducking into a building, as the night is steamy with the day’s leftover heat, despite the rain. I don’t give a fuck about the weather one way or the other. Dead flesh doesn’t suffer the elements.

In front of me, an Asian couple, sheathed in leather, latex and chains, stops long enough to maul one another. He gropes her ass, and she responds by grinding her pelvis against his thigh. Each has multiple facial piercings, and I wonder whether they lock themselves together at night and fuck like jangling clowns. His hair is bright red and splayed from his head in short spikes. Her lips are painted black. She’s wearing a blue, leather corset over a tight, white latex catsuit.

A vagrant white man, his thin coat soaked through, stumbles up to the couple. As he does, he grabs the girl’s arm: “Spare a dollar?” the bum mutters. His eyes are wild and unfocused. “Spare a dollar? Spare a dollar?”

The Asian boy snatches the vagabond’s hand from his girl’s arm, and bends it back to force the bum to the ground. “Fuck off!” The Asian boy spits the words out and emphasizes them with a kick to the downed man’s chest.

I mentally mark both the old white man and the Asian boy for their potential: one is easily forgotten, the other easily violent.

I love Atlantic City, and I’ve hunted here off and on throughout much of the last six decades. The city has a low profile, because crimes that would be national news anywhere else are kept off the media’s radar by sleazy politicians greasing palms with cash, drugs or prostitutes – sometimes a combination of all three. Those same politicians talk about the rebirth of the city and the changes made possible by gambling and the wealthy Middle Eastern and Asian tourists. But what the politicians really do is jam as much cash into their pockets as fast as they can, fucking over the island’s neighborhoods and screaming poor-mouth when the actual decline of the city does make the news.

In the light of day, Atlantic City looks like a war zone. Not that I venture into sunlight, but my current lair is in just one of dozens of abandoned buildings that blight the south side of the island city.

At night, Atlantic City’s glitzy exterior of neon and multi-billion dollar casinos masks the grime that lies just below the surface. Mobsters and slavers made the city their home long before gambling was legalized in the 1970s.

Just beyond the neon lights and casinos is Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk, where whores, drug addicts and schizophrenics live under the planks, fighting and fucking beneath the feet of tourists and teenagers. Occasionally a dead body turns up, the stench rising through the slits in the boards. But most times the city’s small population of ghouls take care of the corpse long before the tourists are inconvenienced by the vaporous rot.

Ghouls are necessary to a city like this one. They’re smarter than zombies and more efficient than werewolves.


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