Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good Tidings and Cheer, and Dash of Blood

It's the time of year for Christmas carols, cookies, awkward family gatherings and the occasional bloodsport. In the spirit of that, I thought I'd release the excerpt for Vampirism and You! in time for Christmas revelry/emergency room visits.

I'm rather confident that a vampire family Christmas will involve a lot of bandages...

Well, have a safe and blood-free holiday!

Vampirism and You! - Excerpt

Duncan brought me to a house. Like most of the houses in this town, it was white, two storied and slightly dilapidated. There was an attempt at gardening at the front with potted petunias and floral curtains hung in the downstairs windows flanking a door covered in peeling green paint.

 The upstairs window to the left was open, and had no curtains. That window, Duncan pointed to.

 “You’re going to learn how vampires settle disputes. This is the home of one of those boys you beat up.”

 “Okay. You brought me here why?”

 “Tonight, you are going to feed. On him.”


 He gave me one of his patented looks. “Get your ass on the roof.”

 Clearly he wasn’t in the mood for argument. Getting onto the porch roof was easy and meant I could just step through the open window without issue. The benefits of my condition were outstanding, I will admit that.

 I crept into the window, grateful that at least one part of vampire lore was false on this occasion. I was pretty sure Mr. Football was not going to invite me in, and I hadn’t exactly gotten to glamouring yet in the book.

 The guy’s room was a mess. Sports posters hanging on the walls with masking tape and gum, a dart board on the back of his door had the coach’s face attached, and there were dirty clothes all over the floor. I was being lazy about reading it. I know.

 It smelled. Duncan joined me in the room as soon as I cleared out of the way, surveying everything with a predatory air that reminded me more of a cat stalking than the spider grace I was used to from other vampires.

 I looked at the sleeping teenager and wrinkled my nose. “He snores.”

 Duncan rolled his eyes. “And I suppose that’s going to change how he tastes? You did read Chapter Two, didn’t you?”

Well, I’d skimmed it, surely that counted for something. “Yeah.”

 My surrogate sure looked unconvinced. “What’s first then?”

 I had to think about it, which did not further my cause. “Don’t drink from the jugular unless you’re trying to kill…”

 “Very good, and?”

 “The wrists, ankles, and shoulder are ideal for minimal damage.”

 “Go on.”

 “Lick the skin first to numb -- vampire saliva contains anesthetic properties -- and make an incision to drink from with your nail, or bite down.”

 “And how much blood do you take?”

 “Never more than you need to survive.” I was not remembering the precise amount, but I would give myself a B for effort here.

 “Which is?”

 “Uh -- ” I shrugged.

 In the moonlight coming from the window, and with my super cool night vision, I could see Duncan frown and rub his hand over his face. “One pint, Louis. Not hard.”

 “So it’s just like going to the pub on Sunday. Except this isn’t beer. It’s blood. Human blood. From a smelly bugger I don’t really like. I don’t think -- ”

 Duncan, I noted, could hit really, really hard. I managed not to stagger or cry out. You didn’t live your whole life with vampires without learning to take a hit and now that I was one myself, well, taking a hit got even easier.

 “Feed, now,” he growled. Well, so Duncan’s patience could wear thin. Good to know.
 I leveled a menacing glare at him and then looked back at the slumbering teenager I was to snack upon. It wasn’t just that he snored, he also smelled. I wasn’t a neat freak or anything, but three-week-old pizza? Really? There was this tiny little doubt in the back of my mind too, that if I did this, there would be no going back.  

 Which was stupid. There was already no way of going back. It was done.
 He slept deeply, and a hand dangled invitingly over the edge of the bed. I knelt down and licked the inside of his wrist. I could taste his sweat, feel the pulse beating against my tongue as I pulled away.   
His sweat tasted like three-week-old pizza, making me very skeptical of what his blood would taste like.

 I took Duncan’s offered knife and whinged a bit before I cut into the flesh to form a wound the width of my thumbnail and pressed my lips against it to drink. The blood reminded me of a beer I’d tried once, strong and a bit sour. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t something I wanted all the time.

 But I drank my pint like a good little vampire and licked the wound to help it close as the book had said, before rising. I felt a bit dizzy, like my head was feather light.

 Duncan reached out a hand to steady me and flashed a smile. “Easy does it.”

 “He tastes like beer.”

 Duncan shrugged. “Everyone tastes different. Now that you’re fed, we’ll try some lessons from chapter three.”

 I hadn’t read past two. Honestly I didn’t know a thing about the rest of the book beyond the title of the last chapter, as it was still bothering me. Chapter Twenty, Killing. I had no plans to kill anyone. I don’t think I had it in me to kill people. But then, I’d just drunk a sleeping teenage boy’s blood, never thought I’d do that either.

 “Ah -- chapter three? Already? I don’t know, I’m ready to crash.”

 “Nonsense. First off, we’ll try ghosting and then a bit of fog raising in the cemetery.”

 “I suppose this is where I should admit to not having read chapter three.”

 Duncan rolled his eyes and grabbed my arm. With a burst of speed he leapt out the window we’d come through to land on the lawn outside the house -- dragging me along with him. From there he sped us off so fast I thought my arm was going to pull loose from the socket.

 When we finally stopped, I heaved for breath and he watched me with arms folded across his broad chest. Oxygenating the blood was essential to vampire survival. Sure, I could hold my breath for twenty minutes, but I’d been at this all of a week; human responses were still ingrained in me.

 That was ghosting.”

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