As I have said in the last couple of Blog posts, my Urban Fantasy Novel The Hunger is free on KDP Select for this weekend. It will continue to be offered free until midnight on October 9th, after which it will be on sale for $2.99 on ebook, or $12.95 for paperback. I called The Hunger a different kind of vampire novel. This is the middle of the promotion, and so far 575 copies have been given away. Not bad. Not in the same ballpark as The Deep Dark Well, of which 3,800 copies were downloaded. But I think Urban Fantasy is just a different beast, and Vampire lovers can be divided into several different camps. I invite those who have grabbed a free copy to read the novel and write a review. If you want a sequel I need to know the book is well received, and the only way I will know that is if I see reviews posted. No reviews, no sequel, simple as that. The Heroine, Lucinda Taylor, is an Avenging Vampire who only kills evil men and women. She is still a killer, one who will mercilessly put down a victim and make sure he stays down. While actually doing service to society by cleaning out the scum on the streets, Lucinda knows she is not a permanent solution. There will always be people willing to step into the shoes of the last guy. Her only hope is that some will think twice, and all will look over their shoulders at the dark should they choose the life of a hard core criminal.
I developed the character of Monsignor John O’Connor using a variety of sources. Even though there is scandal in the Catholic Church on an almost daily basis, there are still, in my opinion, some very devout priests who are holy men. Monsignor George Cummings was both our Parish Priest at Epiphany Catholic Church in Venice Florida and the director of Good Council Camp in Inverness, both of which I attended as a child. Father Cummings was a good man, but also a rugged outdoorsman who used to hunt in Alaska every year. I always wondered why he didn’t make Bishop. So I made my priest someone who had been a Bishop and stepped down to become a vampire hunter. In my opinion anyone in the clergy who turns their back on power to follow a calling is holy, not just in the trappings of the church they carry with them, but their very persons. The priest seeks to destroy the woman who is a mockery of his savior, having come back from the dead after three days in the Earth. DeFalco, the FBI agent, is of course modeled after Fox Mulder from the X-files, and in fact there is a reference in the book to that agent. He has seen something he cannot really believe, and has developed unshakable convictions because of it. The agency also knows something supernatural is afoot, but cannot afford to be seen as one of those crazy UFO believing agencies. DeFalco gives them both the agent they need on the spot and the crazy fall guy if needed. One learns and changes during the novel, the other doesn’t. To find out which, read the novel.
And now for the excerpt:
Monsignor John O’Connor could smell the telltale odor of the lair from down the tunnel. He had been walking through the miles of accessible storm drains for many hours, starting before the sun had disappeared. The priest had some trepidation at going underground in search of a creature that made the night her home. But, as he put his hand on the large, ornate cross hanging from his neck, the cross that had been personally blessed by the Pope, he felt armored in his faith. The vampire that touched him would be a creature of Satan struck down by the power of the almighty.
O’Connor was dressed in his normal short-sleeved black shirt and white collar, but wore a thick set of black denim jeans and black high top athletic shoes. The better to work his way through the close confined of the tunnels. A holstered PPK was attached to his belt, his untucked shirt over the top of the pistol. The concealed weapon’s license the Papal legate had arranged for him sat in his wallet. He took comfort in the pistol, and in the seven bullets that sat in the magazine. Each round was tipped with an inlaid silver cross, and the leads had soaked overnight in holy water and then blessed by O’Connor himself.
His other weapons and equipment were in the common student’s backpack he carried over his right shoulder. O’Connor knew that he was as well-equipped as a man could be to hunt the undead. Whether that was equipped enough remained to be seen, but the Monsignor was sure that the Papal Authority would not have sent him into a situation where his soul would be imperiled beyond his ability to protect it.
O’Connor switched off the powerful police flashlight as he pulled the night vision goggles from where they sat on his brow to back over his eyes. A flip of a switch powered up the Starlight lenses. A slightly grainy image appeared to his view, as the glasses amplified the tiny amount of ambient light in the tunnel ten thousand times. The flashlight would have given a clearer picture, but also would have given him away to anyone waiting in the tunnel.
The sickly sweet smell hit his nostrils again. He had smelled it many times before. It had permeated the lairs of the dozen vampires who had fallen to him. And it had lain like a miasma of death over the lairs he had reached too late, after its occupant had already moved on.
O’Connor stopped and listened for a moment at the small entrance to the service chamber that led off of the tunnel. He pulled the PPK from the holster and made sure the safety was on, then hunched over and shuffled the couple of feet into the chamber. As he made it through the entrance he stood and raised the pistol in front of him, sweeping it back and forth to cover the chamber.
When nothing moved he let out the breath he had been holding, taking in a deep breath that almost gagged him on the odor. He walked slowly to the coffin, and breathed another sigh as he saw that it was empty. He reached his left hand into the box and felt the thin layer of soil within. He scanned the room one more time, feeling a bit of disappointment come over him, even though he had known that she would be out and about her evil tasks.
With his left hand O’Connor pushed the Starlight glasses up to his forehead and turned them off, then pulled the flashlight from his belt and flipped it on. He swept it around the chamber, wondering yet again why there were never any bodies in her lair. Every other vampire home he had been in had at least a body or two hanging from the ceiling or lying in a corner. But her lairs were always well ordered, clean even, with none of the detritus normally found among the undead.
If she’s out then she is going for another victim, thought the priest. He said a quick prayer for the soul of the man she was going to kill tonight, wondering how much good it would do. Unlike other vampires this one didn’t allow her victims to rise. And the people she killed tended to be the ones that were on their way to hell in the first place. Which didn’t make her any less the evil spawn of Satan, and his sworn enemy.
O’Connor pulled the backpack off of his shoulder and placed it against the coffin, unzipping it open. After digging around for a second he pulled a small flat metal container from the bag and twisted it open, revealing a number of small discs of unleavened bread. The hosts he had blessed himself after an all-night vigil mass he had said for no one.
He took a couple of the wafers out of the container and twisted it shut, placing it carefully back into the pack. Standing back over the coffin, O’Connor began to break one of the wafers into small pieces and place them on top of the soil in the box. When one was gone he started to break the other one, until both wafers were spread among the soil, sterilizing it against the undead and making it useless as a resting place.
Next O’Connor pulled a spray bottle from the backpack and walked over to the large chest that sat against the wall. The priest opened the chest, cringing for a moment as the hinges squealed. He looked around the chamber, which was still empty, then turned his attention back to the chest, which was filled with women’s clothing. He pulled some of the clothing from the chest and aimed the spray bottle at the remaining clothes, squirting liquid over the clothes. The fabric absorbed the holy water quickly. O’Connor then put some of the clothing on the floor back into the chest and sprayed it, repeating the procedure until it had all been treated. When the vampire returned she would find nothing in the chamber of use to her.
Again, thanks to all my Author friends at the Independent Authors Network (#IAN1) for retweeting, as well as all the wonderful free book sites that also tweeted, and my friend at Indie Author Anonymous (#IndieAuthorAnon). I could not have done it without you.