Who can forget that classic line from the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula. Before great special effects there were great vampire movies, with atmosphere making up for vamps turning to dust. Dracula , the invention of Bram Stoker, was the first well known vampire of film (and yes, I know that Nosferatu was before Dracula on film). And Lugosi was the best known Dracula. He played the bloodsucker in many movies, as well as some other vampires, and a mystique grew up around the actor from Eastern Europe that was perpetuated by the studios. Christopher Lee was also a well know Dracula, acting like a rational man until he saw blood, or the cross, at which time he turned into the mindless beast, reacting purely on instinct. There have been other Draculas, but almost all of them portrayed vampires as they were supposed to be, evil bastards out for the life force that would keep them going. It didn’t matter where that life force came from, babies, elderly people, strong men in their prime. The vampire would take it, and three days later another vampire would walk the Earth. No turning necessary.
Even in modern times there have been some great vampire tales, though the settings seem to have changed to that of the party and the club. The Lost Boys showed that though they could live forever (which almost never happens in vampire stories) they had to feed. Had to. No option to do otherwise. We Are The Night showed partying women vamps who left a trail of bodies behind that even an idiot policeman could follow, and they did. Let The Right One In was more of the classical vampire story, in which an immortal girl may seem innocent and depressed by her existence, but is still the predatory beast inside when it comes time to feed. And King’s masterpiece, Salem’s Lot, was a classic vampire story that showed the monster as death incarnate to an entire town, moving in and turning everyone into one of his minions, then moving on when the area was wiped clean of life. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a variety of vampire tales, as long as they aren’t Twilight. Blade, Buffy, Forever Knight all showed vampires that were not evil (though the majority of them were even in those tales. There was only one Angel, one Blade, and Nick Knight was the exception even though there were some vampires who were not really that harmful to society). But through all of this I still had a love for that old Dracula character.
When I decided to write a vampire story I wanted to make it different from most of the offerings that were out at the time. And to make them different I decided to go back to the roots, to the type of vampire that used to be the norm and no longer is. But I also did not want to write about a pure monster, a stone cold killer whose only motivation in life (or unlife) was to get enough blood to make it another night, so they could go out and do things the same way tomorrow). So I came up with the character of Lucinda Taylor, vampire, stone cold killer, but with other motivations. I thought vampirism was somewhat like drug addiction in its behavioral component. Vampires had to have blood, no matter what, and would revert to really self destructive behaviors to get it (like making a kill in public, not the smartest thing for the living or the undead). I made Lucinda an addict in life, fighting cravings while trying to get what she needed from men who were stronger than she was. And now that she was undead she could use that strength, the strength of the craving addict, to fight the cravings for blood that was part of her new heritage. She wanted blood, she needed blood, but she could fight off the urge long enough to avoid the baby, child, or mother that had conveniently come into range, and hold off until she could take the prey she preferred. Criminals, drug dealers, pimps, cruel men who gained their pleasure from the torment of others. She hated what she was, having gained some of her humanity back in the refusal to take innocent life. And she wasn’t about to make more like her, so her kills are destroyed by taking their heads or burning them, so they would not rise again and perpetuate the plague that is vampirism.
The Hunger is a gritty tale, one with sex and violence and street language as befits its setting. It is not a story for the prudish or the faint hearted. Not so much like the other books I have written. Still, I enjoyed writing this story, trying to come up with twists to the vampire tale that would delight other lovers of the fantastic. It will be offered for free on KDP Select on October 5th through the 9th. I hope a lot of people will download this Different Kind of Vampire Tale. Reviews are appreciated as always.
Lastly I want to thank all the people who have been retweeting my tweets about this novel and this event. And a special thank you to IndieAuthorAnonymous. They did a feature promotion on my science fiction novel The Deep Dark Well. They have grown in the month since, but were still more than happy to do the same for The Hunger. Thank you. And now for an excerpt:
Marcus’ eyes opened as the sun went over the horizon. He had felt no need to wake this day. The odds of finding her in the city during the day, when all of his infernal abilities were inactive, were remote to say the least. So he had slept through the daylight to make sure that he was at his strongest this night.
Marcus sat up in the marble sarcophagus and let his gaze settle on the quartet of naked thralls kneeling beside his resting place, their foreheads to the floor. Two large men and two petite women, they guarded him in his sleep. And provided food when he wished to hide his presence from the world. Marcus climbed from the coffin and onto the floor, allowing his thralls to continue to grovel for a moment. He savored the rank smell of their fear, for it was a sure indication that they would continue to serve him to the best of their abilities.
“You may rise,” he said in his deep resonant voice. The thralls came to their feet, their wide eyes locked on his face.
“Any news of the quarry?”
“Yes, master,” said the large black male, Frederick, handing Marcus the newspaper he had been holding.
Marcus snatched the paper from his hand. His lips curled back to bare his fangs as he read the headlines and the story beneath.
She has again given us away to the mortals, he thought. So far the idiots, or most of them at least, think it is nothing but a human playing at vampire. But how long before they begin to believe? And begin to seek us out and destroy us?
“Frederick. You are to continue monitoring the media for news of the quarry. Matthew,” he ordered of the muscular blond man standing next to Frederick. “I want you to shadow the dealers and the pimps of the city, so I may know their daily movements.
“Tonya, Gloria,” he said, turning to the shrinking females. “I will need to feed at nights end. If I don’t find a source tonight in the city…”
He knew what they were shivering about as he made the statement. They would provide his food tonight if he didn’t think it was safe to make a kill. They knew that he would not kill them. He would bring them to the brink of death, and then let them heal for several days, building up their blood levels and life force for his use again.
Marcus turned away from the mortals, sure that they would follow his wishes to the letter. He walked from the room with the heavy draperies to one that overlooked the bright night sky of the city, thinking of where the quarry might go tonight. To one of the high crime districts, he was sure. But there were many in every city, and he must guess correctly if he was to find her. Not the neighborhood she had frequented the night before. Of that he was sure. She would worry about police patrols staking out the streets, and the other hunters she had attracted.
He looked at the map of Tampa tacked to the wall, a red pin showing where she had hunted last night. There were nine other areas outlined in red marker. The high crime districts of the port city. The places where drugs were dealt, women were sold, and life was cheap.
So much like the cities of my time, he thought. Despite the superficial changes in technology. Still the scum of the empire congregate on its streets, while the rich dwell in their guarded enclaves and ignore the problem, as long as it doesn’t land on their doorsteps.
Tonya and Gloria came into the room with his clothes for the evening. Marcus raised his arms over his head and allowed the thralls to undress him, until he stood naked before them. Gloria rubbed her hand over his tight body, and Marcus wished he would feel himself stirring physically, even as psychological lust grew in his mind.
It is not to be. The hunt is the only thing that arouses me. Only the feeding leads to satisfaction.
Marcus nodded and the women began to dress him. Soon he was clothed in something that would pass as normal in the warm night streets of the Florida city. Khaki slacks, boat shoes, and a green Izod shirt. Tonya handed him a silver headed cane to complete the ensemble.
Marcus twisted the head of the cane and pulled the slender sword from its sheath, slashing it through the air to his front. Satisfied that he was prepared he pushed the blade back into the cane proper and twist locked it into place.
The vampire lord walked up the stairs to the rooftop. He had rented the entire building through Matthew, so he had no worries that anyone would be on the roof. He came out into the soft night air under the full moon on the horizon. Pulling the sweet smell of crowded humanity, his cattle, into his nostrils he bared his fangs again.
He spread his arms wide and willed the transformation. He could feel his bones changing, growing smaller and changing shape, as his skin and muscles followed suit. He could feel the clothing absorbed into his skin, even the cane, as fine hair grew all over his body. He made to roar his pleasure and a hypersonic screech came from his throat as he flapped his wings in the cooling air.
Marcus clawed the air with his fur-covered wings as he gained altitude, until he was high over the city, looking down on the streets filled with cars below. He wheeled around his building for a moment, getting oriented to the city. Then, with a strong flap of wings he headed to the northwest, reveling in the freedom of flight.