Warning: This book contains language and graphic violence. It is not geared for kids or people with sensitive dispositions. Sorry!
What do you think of the title?
What of the concept?
Do these first couple pages catch you?
I am very seriously thinking of self-publishing this one. Would you buy it?
Please let me know in the comments below.
Here is the opening of the book, hope you enjoy!
The clearing was dark and quiet, the full moon hidden behind a bank of clouds. Four youths sat in two vehicles at the edge of the clearing. At first glance it would appear that this was the local make-out area. Both vehicles contained two young people. However, there was more than meets the eye to these two vehicles. The first was a black Saturn. The driver, a young man just entering manhood, sat quietly; his eyes half closed, as if he were listening to some inner voice. He was oblivious of the young woman sitting next to him, clenching a knife in her tense fist. Every muscle in her body was strung as tight as a bow and she anxiously chewed on her lip.
The second vehicle was a 1974 ford pickup truck. The occupants of this vehicle weren’t much older. A man of twenty four with a marine cut, black hair and a tight cropped goatee sat listening to an mp3 player. One ear bud was tucked in his ear, the other dangled in his shirt. The platinum blond sitting next to him glowered at him.
“You know Chris would be pissed if he knew what you were doing. Lucas told us not to!” She hissed, gesturing angrily at his mp3 player.
“Chill the fuck out. It helps me relax. I’ll hear anything coming, I only got one bud in.”
The blond put on a full pout, her pink lips glistening. “What if they hear it or something?”
“Hell, you’re making more noise than this is. For all we know they can hear us breathing, hear our heart beating. Fuck it! I’m tired of living in fear of them.”
“Why do I always have to get stuck with you!” she hissed then sat silently, holding her breath. Ricky knew it was in fear of what he had just said. He smirked. It really was the simple pleasures in life.
Suddenly the young man in the Saturn sat up, gesturing to the two in the truck to listen. The girl next to him tensed beyond what could be believed as humanly possible.
“What is it Chris?” She asked in a squeaky whisper.
She strained her ears and her eyes went wide with the intense effort. After a moment she looked at him blankly. “I don’t hear anything.”
“Exactly.” He whispered back. Suddenly it dawned on her that the clearing only moments ago had sounded quiet, but had been full of the subtle sounds of the night; crickets, owls and other critters scurrying about. Now it was as silent as a tomb. Chris gestured to the others and slowly crawled out the window of the Saturn. The young woman with him suddenly felt terrified and scrambled to exit through the window as well, desperate to not be left alone. She stumbled on the uneven ground and fell. Moments later the platinum blond was silently beside her, offering a hand.
“ Thanks Bianca,” she mouthed silently, afraid to speak, so afraid she probably couldn’t speak even if she had to. Bianca nodded and they all crouched down next to Chris in the shadows of the Saturn. Another few agonizing moments were spent with all four pairs of ears straining to hear anything in the darkness. Gradually the sounds of the night returned. Chris cocked his head.
“False alarm?” Ricky whispered.
“I don’t think so,” Chris shook his head.
They all sat quietly waiting for Chris. The young woman began crying silent tears.
“Please, let’s get out of here. I have a really bad feeling!” She was trembling uncontrollably. Chris held up a hand to silence her, and listened intently. Bianca patted the young woman’s hand reassuringly then crept forward to Chris’s side.
She leaned in close to his ear and breathed, “We should go. She’s cracking up. We’re too vulnerable.”
“Too late.” Chris pointed across the clearing. Just as they all looked in the direction he was pointing the moon peaked out for a brief moment revealing clearly what he was indicating.
Two beings were dragging a third across the far end of the clearing. They all could hear clearly now the shh…shhh sound of the body being dragged across the ground.
A gurgled scream suddenly erupted from across the clearing. They all shuddered at the sound. The young girl was frozen in perfect terror.
“Now!” Chris hissed, “while they’re distracted on their feeding.” He bolted low across the field. The others followed him, everyone except the young woman. She was still frozen in fear. She tried to move, but her muscles absolutely refused to respond.
Chris was halfway across the field when he felt a strange sensation, a tingling in his spine; as if someone had just tap danced across his grave. He paused and an instant later was driven into new action. From behind them a howl ripped through the night. Without even looking he knew what had happened. Terah had been attacked. In front of him he saw two more creatures rise from where the other two were feeding. In that split second he knew.
“Ambush!” he yelled, immediately veering to his left, moving in a zig-zag pattern. He could hear the other two following behind. More screams erupted from their fallen comrade and he was blinded with rage.
“Scatter!” He shouted the order and immediately turned back the way they had come. If he was going to die tonight, he was going to kill at least one of these bastards! As the moon peeked out again, the scene before him became grotesquely animated. Terah’s body was pinned on the truck, her entire chest ripped wide open. He knew she was dead, but his body refused to stop this course of action. His mind exploded with fury as he watched the creature rip Terah’s heart out of her chest.
The creature held the heart up savoring the blood as it poured into the awaiting mouth and splashed over its face. Chris could see in his peripheral that two of them were already halfway across the field, closing off any escape if he continued on his present course, but he didn’t care. He pulled a gun from his left pocket and a cross-hilted dagger from his right. As he dove at the creature devouring Terah, he shot blindly at the ones coming at him. As his blade embedded to the hilt in the monster’s back he prayed that Bianca and Ricky were getting the fuck out of here. Maybe his distraction would save their lives. The monster arched back trying to reach behind and dislodge Chris and the knife. Black blood oozed from its wound. It struggled to turn, but clearly the knife had hit the spine. Surprised that the other two weren’t upon him yet, Chris aimed the revolver into the creature’s face and pulled the trigger.
At that same moment two other shots rang out in the clearing. Chris pulled his dagger free and leaped away from the body as it burst into flames. He turned, preparing for the attack that should have already been upon him. Looking out in the field he saw Ricky stand up about center point and fire at the vampire that was headed straight for him.
“Run!” Ricky screamed, but it was too late. The woman dove at Chris, knocking him to the ground. He immediately recognized her as she pinned his arms over his head. It was Ms. Frost, his old high school teacher. She looked ten years younger and had the strength of a football player.
“Hello Chris, so good to see you again,” she whispered in a sultry voice.
“Wish I… could say… the same.” Chris groaned, trying to hold her back. Her breath was putrid!
“Come, come Chris, you always were a difficult child.”
“Gifted was the term you used back then.”
“You know you want me,” she laughed evilly.
“Of course.” Chris twisted his wrist and cut her fingers with a blade that was hooked on his cuff. She hissed and began lapping at the wound as it poured blood. She was obviously newly made. Too bad for her. Even with one hand occupied, she still managed to hold him down, but no more!
“I want you dead!” Chris growled, ripping his crucifix from his neck and stabbing it into her throat. She gaped in shock and tried to physically force the blood back into the wound, causing it to widen. Suddenly her skull was obliterated before his eyes.
Bianca stood there holding a small-caliber gun. Chris quickly shoved the body away and Bianca pulled him to his feet, yelping when the body suddenly burst into flames. Chris looked around the field for Ricky. He was running like a bat out of hell in the opposite direction with two vamps on his tail.
“Bianca the car!” Chris yelled, tossing the keys and running after Ricky, hoping to get there in time. His legs were pumping as hard as they could, but he wasn’t catching up enough. Ricky was starting to waver and the two vampires were gaining ground. Chris didn’t dare shoot at them, for fear of hitting Ricky. He’d been lucky Bianca’s shot hadn’t gone right through Ms. Frost’s skull and into his own.
Directly ahead of Ricky two figures rushed into the clearing. Ricky stopped short frozen like a rabbit, unsure where to go, then quickly made a ninety degree turn. In the moment he was clear of the two vampires, Chris pulled his gun up to line up a shot. He popped off two shots, hitting one. It went down, but Chris didn’t believe for one moment it was dead. The other continued to hurtle after Ricky. Just as Chris had lined up the next shot he felt a sudden gust of wind and smelled death. Whipping around he found himself face-to-face with another creature. He pulled the trigger and the creature’s shoulder exploded. It grabbed him around the throat with its other hand, laughing a high-pitched maniacal laugh.
“So you are the one making all the trouble. Well, no more!” It lifted Chris clean off the ground squeezing hard.
“Who the fuck are you?” Chris gasped, struggling against the grip, trying to find a foothold to help him breath, maybe gain some leverage.
“One who is older and stronger than the others you’ve disposed of here. I will be your executioner!” Chris clawed at the hand that now had a vice-like grip on his throat. He noticed that the shoulder wound hardly bled at all. He kicked out at the creature’s stomach and felt the inch long spikes he’d added to his boot tips embed itself there. The monster roared and threw him on the ground like a used-up rag doll. It flung itself forward, clawing him with its long nails in rage. He struggled to crawl away, but the creature continued to maul him. Searing pain tore through his chest and shoulders as the creature grappled with him. This was it. He knew he was going to die; but a part of him refused to go out alone. This bastard was going to be coming along for the ride, if Chris could help it.
Ricky was running as hard as he could, but his strength was quickly waning. He could hear one gaining on him and he knew the other two weren’t far behind. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end! He was about ready to give up when he saw the Saturn come barreling toward him. Bianca leaned out the front window, and Ricky saw the muzzle flashes exploding in the night as she fired on the vampires behind him. He veered toward her, hoping she wasn’t too late; praying he had the stamina to stay ahead until she got to him.
He risked a glance back. There were only two pursuing him, the third had turned back toward Chris. Ricky looked back and realized he couldn’t see Chris. Bianca was closer, but Ricky couldn’t keep his speed up. He didn’t think he would have time to get in before they would be on him. In which case he would be risking Bianca’s life too, and he couldn’t do that!
A howl erupted from behind him and he glanced back. What he saw stopped him in his tracks. The one nearest him, only five hundred feet away now, was frozen in its place with flames coming out of its chest and arms flailing at the sky.
A powerful voice yelled, “Get down!”
He dove to the ground and rolled over. A moment later a shock wave hit him. Rocks, sand and other debris scorched his skin. As soon as it passed he leaped back to his feet. The other figure was just rising as well. Where the vampire had stood was a burned out hole. Ricky prepared to dive back down so that the other didn’t see him, but realized that it wasn’t interested in him. It had turned and faced the other figures across the field. There were two running ahead of a third. Ricky was pretty sure that one of the two was Chris. What the hell?
The one nearest him pulled up what looked like a cross bow and shot a flaming arrow at the third creature. The third creature pulled up short and turned and fled.
Ricky leaped in shock as Bianca pulled up in front of him and yelled at him, “Get in the fucking car! Chris needs our help!”
Ricky was shaking. What the hell was going on? His brain couldn’t process everything it had just seen. He dove in the back of the car and Bianca revved the engines, pulling the small car around and heading toward Chris. As they looked through the window another vampire rocketed up. The other figure with Chris leapt toward it, grabbing for its ankle. They hit the ground together and the vampire attempted to flee, but something pulled it back. Some kind of rope? It looked like the two mystery figures were on their side, but where did they come from?
The vampire attempted to flee again and this time broke free. Ricky realized that Bianca had stopped the car and gotten out. She was heading toward a heap on the ground… Chris. Ricky started to get out too, but a woman’s deep voice shouted for him to get back in the car. He looked up and saw the figure coming toward them. How had she gotten so far so fast? Before he could even react she was shoving him back onto the car. The other rear door opened and a man got in pulling Chris with him. Bianca jumped in the front passenger seat as the woman climbed into the driver’s seat. Something slammed into the roof of the car, denting it.
“Shit!” Ricky couldn’t help himself. The man fired a gun into the roof. The thunderous sound deafened him and as the car spun out a howl ripped through the air as a body flew off the roof of the car. Ricky looked back and saw the vampire standing behind them shaking his fist at them as they hauled ass.
Ricky’s ears were ringing and his head was spinning. The woman shouted something, but Ricky was so disoriented that he couldn’t understand anything. The man next to him was leaning over Chris. Ricky sat back numb. What the fuck was going on?!
The car hurtled out of the woods and spun out onto the highway. The woman driving was tall and solidly built, clearly in control even though the car careened madly.
“Is he alright?” she called to her partner in the back seat. Their eyes met in the rear-view mirror and he nodded once tersely. She glanced at Bianca in the front seat. The blue eyes burned into Bianca before passing on and looking out the window.
“Are you alright?” the woman asked. There was no warmth or concern, merely evaluation. Bianca hesitated before nodding.
“I… I think so. Ricky?” She looked back at Ricky. He was staring out the window dazedly. “Ricky!” He turned and stared at her dumbly. “Are you alright?” Bianca demanded. He finally seemed to focus looking at her, then at the woman driving and the man in the back seat. They were tall, dark and exotic looking.
“I’m not hurt,” he finally responded. “What are you doing to Chris?” he asked, looking at the man.
The woman answered from the front seat. “Your friend is badly hurt. He is healing him. Now, be quiet and watch the sky.” She was doing just that, only occasionally glancing at the road to keep the car on it. The speedometer crept past 85 mph and the engine began to whine.
“Who are you?” Bianca whispered. The woman seemed to ignore her, continuing to scan the sky.
“Why the sky?” Ricky asked angrily. “What are we looking for?”
“That is where they are most likely going to come from,” the woman answered matter-of-factly.
“They can fly?” Ricky gasped in shock. No answer seemed forthcoming
“Chris said he thought they could,” Bianca whispered.
The woman looked at her, clearly startled for the first time. Once again she and the man in the back exchanged glances in the mirror.
“You know what they were?” she asked hesitantly.
Suddenly Ricky exploded in anger. He had been able to process part of what had happened and the realization he’d come to infuriated him.
“We were fucking ambushed!” he yelled.
“How could they have known we were coming?” Bianca asked wide-eyed.
The woman’s eyes continued to roam, but she took yet another glance at Bianca and Ricky seeming to size them up.
“You were hunting them?” she asked, not entirely expecting an answer.
Ricky had come to another conclusion. He held the gun up to the woman’s head. She did not flinch, but the man next to him did. He did not stop whatever he was doing to Chris, though.
“Who the fuck are you two and where in the hell did you come from?!” Ricky demanded.
Bianca turned and saw the gun. “Ricky, stop it! They saved our lives!” she yelled at him.
“Why? How!? What the fuck are you!!!”
The woman replied frostily, “We’re hunters. We didn’t realize you… were… also.”
“For God sakes, Ricky, put the gun down!” Bianca snapped.
Suddenly the man next to him spoke. “He is healed.” He pulled Chris to a sitting position. Chris began gasping for breath, which sent him into a coughing fit and the man thumped his back as if he were burping a baby.
Ricky hesitated, the gun wavering.
“Fuck!” Chris gasped, holding his hand up to the man. “I thought for sure that was the end. How?” He looked at the man sitting next to him, then at the woman driving recklessly.
The silent tension continued for several minutes, the woman pushing the car as fast as it would go, taking hazardous turns. After a few more minutes she began to slow to a more normal speed.
“I think we’re clear of trackers.”
“Trackers?” Bianca asked.
“There does not appear to be anything following us,” the man concurred, speaking past the three in the car. They seemed to be ignoring the three in the car, including the gun Ricky still held to the woman’s head.
“Thank you for healing me,” Chris finally said.
The man simply nodded. He was tall and lean, but muscular like a panther, with long black hair braided down his back. He looked Native American, but Chris couldn’t be sure.
“I don’t know how you did it, but thanks. You saved us out there.” He watched carefully, but the woman didn’t react to his statement at all. “So, you guys are hunters too?” Chris asked casually. He looked them both over carefully. They were both tall and muscularly built, wearing tight black tank tops and black cargos with black combat boots. Both wore seemingly matching silver pendants shaped like a dagger. The hilt had an amber liquid encased in a small vial. It appeared that both the dagger and the vial could be detached. Interesting.
“So, you’ve come to get rid of the vampires?” Chris asked nonchalantly. There was another exchange in the mirror. This exchange lasted quite some time; easily two or three minutes. Finally there was a subtle nod from the man and the woman sighed.
“We came for one, but I suppose we’ll have to clean up his mess before we leave.”
Chris tried to quell his excitement, but he could still hear it in his voice when he spoke. “That’s great. We could use the help. With all of us there is no way they stand a chance, especially if you can teach us…”
“Woah!” The woman held up her hand. “Us? No. Havoc and I work alone.”
Chris was numb with the sudden refusal. “But…but we could help you.” He hated the whine in his voice.
“Nothing personal, kid,” she said matter-of-factly “but you guys would be more of a hindrance than a help. You should just lay low for a couple of days and we’ll take care of the problem for you.”
Ricky burst out in derisive laughter, but an icy glare from the woman caught the rest of his laughter in his throat. “Sorry, but how do you expect to kill… what was the last estimate Chris? Fifty?”
“Those are conservative estimates. We know of thirty for sure… sorry, twenty nine after tonight. Then there are at least twenty with strong suspicion and another thirty or so that are likely.”
The woman seemed to mull this over for a moment. “You say you know for sure that thirty are vamps. How do you confirm?”
Well, the first five died of seemingly natural causes and were buried, but I’ve seen them up and walking since then. We checked the graves. They’re empty. The others are people we’ve observed changes in. The thirty confirmed don’t go out during the day... ever. We’re still working on the list. We follow those we suspect for several days, until we’re fairly sure.”
“What is the population here?”
“Around 5,000,” Ricky answered quickly.
“That is an awfully high vamp count for such a small population,” Havoc said thoughtfully. Another meaningful exchange in the mirror.
“When did you realize there were vamps among you?” The woman looked at Chris.
“About a year ago,” Chris responded.
The woman looked at him closely gauging his response. His whole body itched at the scrutiny, but he didn’t dare squirm. She was measuring him up and he would not be found wanting if he could help it.
Seemingly satisfied, the woman continued her interrogation. “How long have you been hunting them?”
“As a group?” Chris shrugged. “About six months, but that’s because it took some work convincing the others this was really happening.”
“How many others?”
“Nine, all together.”
“Eight after tonight,” Bianca mumbled as she stared out the window and fingered her cross. Chris blushed. He’d forgotten about their fallen comrade. Poor Terah; they hadn’t even tried to turn her, they had simply butchered her.
“How many have you killed?” the woman continued. Chris looked to the others, but both seemed to avoid his eye contact. The interrogation was exhausting him.
“Five,” he muttered when the others didn’t volunteer. The woman arched one perfectly shaped eyebrow at him. He knew five wasn’t impressive, but it was better than none at all. “That’s beside the point. We’ve learned a lot and are ready to learn more. Besides, we can show you which ones are vamps. It’ll save you a lot of time.”
“We have our own methods of determining accurately who is a vamp and who is not.” The woman seemed to dismiss the conversation.
Bianca, not able to bear the silence, quipped. “What do you do, dunk them in water and if they don’t drown stake them?” She was clearly flustered.
Chris rolled his eyes. “That’s the legend of witches!” he snapped.
Bianca rolled her eyes back. “Whatever!”
Chris turned back to the woman. “Listen, this is our town…”
“Oh, by all means, then we’ll leave you to it!” the woman scoffed. “As I have already said, Havoc and I work alone. End of discussion.” She whipped the car into a motel on the highway.
“What are we doing here?” Ricky asked, snapping out of his silence. He was always better at asking questions than at answering them.
“Parting ways.” The woman jumped out of the car moving lithely towards the nearest door. She withdrew a hotel key card from her hip pocket. Chris scrambled out of the car and rushed to catch up with her long strides.
“At least come back and meet the rest of our team before you write us off,” Chris pleaded. He sensed Havoc right behind him. The man moved swiftly and silently. Chris couldn’t help but think that he would hate to meet either of these two in a dark alley. Here in the empty motel parking lot he could sense that they were primal predators. “We aren’t just going to stop what we’ve been doing just because you’re here. At least we should coordinate our moves. We’ve got a system set up already.”
“What, kill a few a year ‘til you’re all dead?” The woman responded flippantly. “Look, just stay out of our way. We know how to handle these bad asses. Go home and pretend this was all a bad dream. In a week you’ll wake up and it will be almost as if it had never happened. Then you can go back to your normal life.” There was something in the way she said it that made Chris pause. All his life he’d never wanted to be normal. He wanted to be just like these people. Yet here this woman was practically pleading him to have a normal life. She reached out to open the door to room thirteen.
As the door opened a shadow crossed the lamplight. Chris heard the woman gasp and as she slumped forward Chris got a glimpse of blood red eyes and a pale face. Even then he was only just beginning to understand what had happened. Suddenly her arm came up in an ark and the head of the ambusher rolled over her shoulder landing right between Chris’s feet. He recoiled in horror recognizing the face of his newspaper carrier. Fuck, he’d never have thought of him!
He stared numbly and was unable to react as Havoc shoved him aside to grab the woman before she fell. “Move,” Havoc growled. “Move, get back in the car!” He shoved Chris toward the car where Ricky and Bianca were sitting oblivious of the violence that had just occurred as swiftly and silently as the wind.
Even though he was carrying the woman, Havoc moved fast. Chris heard the sizzle and pop as the vampire’s body began to burn. Only then was it becoming clear to him what had just happened. He jumped in the front seat and could only shake his head to Bianca’s unspoken question. Havoc was already setting the woman down in the back seat.
“Fury? Fury!” Havoc whispered hoarsely. There was no response.
“Is she dead?” Chris asked, turning in the seat. She hadn’t even made a sound. Unbelievable!
“What the hell is going on?!” Ricky snapped, the confusion making him angry.
“Watch out the windows. They may attack again at any moment.” Havoc ordered. Chris was already on it. Every shadow seemed alive, yet when he looked closely it was only his imagination.