Getting into the spirit of things with the Paranormal Day at the Eternal Press Authors Blog...
...I've decided to post a new excerpt from The Vampire Family! This story within the story is a bit lengthy to hog the EP blog, so I've posted the entire selection here. A bit of a teaser taster is at the EP Blog. 80)
The Vampire Family, spanking new excerpt to tempt ya!
St. Louis, 1876
Victoria arrived fresh from an eight-year sleep—recuperation from a little incident back in North Carolina. She stepped off the train wearing a fashionable silk red dress customary to the time, right down to the lace trimmed hat and gloves. Victoria always made a fashion statement—anytime, anywhere.
Theodore sat on a bench by the telegraph office—young, alone, crying. He wore only rags, and there was a little carpetbag on the ground next to him.
“Are you all right?” Victoria walked to him.
This boy could be something special!
“My father told me never to talk to strangers.”
“Well.” Victoria unbuttoned and removed her gloves. She offered her hand to Theodore and sat down on the bench next to him. “My name is Victoria. And your name is?”
“Theodore.” He blew his nose. “Theodore Plunkett.” He blew his nose again. He shook Victoria’s hand, and she tried not to show her disgust at his snot’s newfound place on her hand.
Victoria cleared her throat. “Well, now, Theodore, we’re not strangers any more, are we?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Now.” She handed him her handkerchief. “What is the matter?”
“My father died recently, and I’ve come to live with my great aunt.”
“You sound like you don’t want to live with your aunt.” Victoria smiled. “Would you like to come live with me instead?”
“My great aunt is expecting me in an hour.” Theodore checked his gold pocket watch.
“Theodore, would you rather live with me?”
You want to live with me. You do.
“Well.” Theodore paused for a moment. “Yes’um. You’re much nicer than that old hag. Prettier, too.”
He’s much too young. I already made that mistake with Angelo.
“Then, it’s settled. You’re coming to live with me.” Victoria put her arm around Theodore and smiled.
“What about the old hag?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of her.”
* * *
Victoria crept out of the mansion she “inherited.” She wore all black, a simply cut nightgown and cape. Nothing like what the time period indicated. The old hag’ s house was a few miles away, and Victoria reached the home in good time. The house was big, very big.
Why didn’t I pick her as my benefactor?
She breathed out deeply, and Victoria watched the cloud of gas disappear into the night. She looked up at the smoke coming from the chimney and smiled. Victoria relaxed and turned herself into the mist. Victoria wasn’t even sure how she did it, but she did know that for some reason, only she and James shared this strange power. Where she had altered her dark powers for deception, James seemed to gain the ability through his shyness and desire to be invisible.
The mist made its way up into the sky. It circled around and climbed up the chimney, then spiraled down its opening. Down it went brick by brick until the mist came out into a quaint little living room. The old hag Auntie sat in the rocking chair by the window, knitting an ugly sweater. The mist swiveled around the chair, and good old Auntie paid it no mind. The mist went through the old hag, wrapping itself around her windpipe. It squeezed. It pulled. It twisted. The hag coughed and cackled violently. The mist pushed, twisted, squeezed harder and harder. The gagging and gurgles continued. The mist further strengthened its grip, and then there was silence. Old Auntie was dead.
* * *
Victoria never told Theodore what happened, and he never asked. For three years, the two of them lived together in the mansion, and Victoria even legally bought a shop that made coffins. It somehow fit and amused her. For those three years, Theodore never questioned, but then he began to wonder. Victoria spent much time with the dead patrons when they first arrived and was very . . . well . . . hands on with the bodies.
“How come you never eat with me?” Theodore asked one evening. The two of them sat at the ornate dinner table. “All I ever see you digest is the wine.”
Theodore continued his display of evidence. “My father used to say grace before we ate, but you never do. You give me everything I ask for, and I have the finest teachers, but…”
Victoria was angry. “But what? I give you everything you want and more. You have the finest education money can buy, and I do not have to explain myself to you.”
“Yes, the money. Where does it all come from? You never work beyond your toying with the dead. The coffin shop doesn—”
“I have a large inheritance.”
“I didn’t ask you to explain yourself.”
“I’m not going to, either.” Victoria crossed her arms. Theodore was just too inquisitive.
“Are you paranoid?”
Victoria stood up and flung the table over. The chairs tipped, and the dishes shattered. Theodore was stunned—such anger. Such power.
“What are you hiding from me?” he whispered.
* * *
Shortly after, on his nineteenth birthday, Theodore received his answer. The sun just set on the cold winter day in 1880.
“Victoria!” Theodore called her and hung his snow covered outer garments on the coat rack. Hat, gloves, scarf, cloak. Victoria came around the corner, dressed in a short-sleeved gown. Theodore spoke to her in Latin.
“I see you have been keeping up on your studies.” She took his books and set them on a nearby table. “I have to tell you something.”
“Can it wait?” Theodore reached for the books. “I have a quiz on Medieval English tomorrow. I must study.”
“You do not need to study. You won’t be tutored any more. Come, this way, please.”
Victoria led the shocked and confused Theodore to the lone tree in the backyard. Theodore felt the chilling winds and high snow, yet he noticed Victoria seemed unaffected. Wearing s ans gloves, Victoria dug through the snow beneath the tree and felt the cold door handle below. Theodore watched in amazement. Victoria yanked open the snow covered door, pulled out an oil lamp, and lit it smoothly.
The light shined on a set of stairs, and the stone steps seemed to lead even farther into darkness. Victoria led the way down the steps, and Theodore followed. Once he was clear of the door, it slammed shut and locked. Theodore saw the small bolt on the inside of the door.
How could she have opened the door from the outside if it was locked on the inside?
Victoria and Theodore continued down the dark stone stairs. Theodore grew colder and shivered. He felt the smooth, stone, cold steps beneath his leather boots. Despite their swift descent, he felt the arid air in his very core. A chill tingled up his spine and remained there until they came to a square stone room.
“Where are we going?” Theodore’s whispers echoed in the stone room.
“You will see.” Her booming voice sounded unnatural, and it hurt Theodore’ s ears. He said a small prayer for his ears, and Victoria gave Theodore a dirty look.
She handed him the lantern, and Victoria pushed the wall to the left of the stairs. Her pale and bare arms flexed against the stone. At first, nothing happened, and then Theodore heard the faint rubbing of rock against rock Victoria gave one final push and the wall slid back.
Victoria squeezed through the opening, and Theodore followed. He looked back at the stone slab, but through some unknown power, it slid back into place. Theodore’s fear grew. Thoughts ran through his head like water. He was terrified, but a calming sensation ran through his mind. A voice in his head calmed his fears.
Don’t let fear stop you. Keep going.
Theodore knew these thoughts were not his own, yet they were in his head. He followed the thoughts, entranced. Theodore continued to follow Victoria as well.
Theodore held up the lantern. “Do you want this?”
“I do not need it.”
They walked for infinity it seemed. Theodore was cold and tired, but Victoria was unfazed They reached another door. Theodore saw the elaborate writings on it, and Victoria put her hand up to the center symbol. The door fluctuated and ripples appeared. The marble appearance dissolved away, and the door became clear.
Is Victoria a witch? A wizard?
Victoria made no comment and simply walked through the door. She turned and looked at Theodore. He could see Victoria on the other side, yet Theodore was afraid to cross to the mystical room beyond.
There is nothing to be afraid of, Theodore.
Victoria reached through the mysterious plane and offered her hand to Theodore.
She uses her mind to do these tricks. Fascinating!
“You can do these tricks, too,” Victoria spoke. “If you come with me.”
Theodore slowly put up his left hand, for he still held the lantern in his right. He lightly touched Victoria’s fingertips. They were cold. Not like the snow above, but like a corpse, and Theodore knew the feel of the dead. He withdrew his hand.
“No,” Theodore said aloud. “If God wanted to give me these gifts, he would have already done so. No.”
Victoria reached out farther and grabbed Theodore’ s arm. She yanked him through the watery door, and Theodore dropped the lantern. It burst on impact, setting the hall ablaze. Theodore looked back at the hot blaze, then turned to the room that now unwilling housed him.
The room had a soft red carpet, and it was quite warm compared to its stone entryways. A fireplace crackled on the other side of the room.
It was stupid of Theodore to look for a window, for he knew how far below the ground they were. However, he had hoped for some means of escape. Although there was no way he could push the stone rocks or the snow blocking his way to freedom. No, not as Victoria had done.
Theodore heard a whoosh behind him, and the transparent door was gone. Theodore stepped forward but landed on the soft plush rug.
“Only I know the way out.” Victoria stood by a table next to the fireplace and poured a glass of wine from the ancient and handcrafted bottle. Victoria drank the liquid in one gulp.
Theodore got up and approached the plush and pampered bed in the corner.
How did Victoria create this lair for her dark practices? When?
“Tell me, Theodore.” Victoria poured more of the wine. “Do you want to live forever?”
“It is unnatural. If God wanted man to live forever, he would have made our fragile bodies unbreakable.”
“Your fragile body. Not mine.” Victoria poured more of the wine to replenish the already gone last shot. “And didn’t your own Moses and Noah, Abraham and Adam, didn’t they live to be nine hundred and some? Wouldn’t you like to prolong your life as they did?”
“How long?” Theodore asked. All fools want to live a moment longer, especially when they feel they are near the time of death, as Theodore felt he was.
“However long you want.”
“No.” Theodore was a man. “Dying is a part of life. Why prolong the inevitable?”
Victoria drank every last drop from her glass and then smashed it in the fire. “You are absolutely right.”
Victoria leaped to Theodore’s side and plunged a piece of broken glass into Theodore’s chest. She held his neck and twisted and turned the glass until it was embedded terribly deep. Theodore gasped at the pain.
“I‘ve pierced your lung. Within the hour, you will die.” Victoria released Theodore, and he fell to the floor on his chest, further embedding the glass.
“How does it feel?” Victoria taunted. “T o know you are a fragile being? A being whose life can be taken at any moment! Your precious God will take you whenever he wants, and no one can change his mind. My God is not like that. He makes me powerful and strong. I can prevent your God from taking you away.”
Victoria picked up another hot shard of glass and slit the palm of her hand. Before she was done making the burning incision, it had healed. Theodore was awed.
“I can take the pain away, Theodore. I can make it so pain can never come to you again…if you let me.”
Victoria put out her hand as Theodore reached out and collapsed in her arms. Victoria grabbed the bottle from the table and ripped off Theodore’s jacket and shirt. She poured the wine onto his wound.
Theodore felt the liquid rush into his body. It was warm, yet cold. Foreign, yet his body could not fight it. The liquid shattered the glass, and Theodore could see all this happening when he closed his eyes, yet he did not know how. The foreign molecules attached themselves to his lung. The pinhole forged by the glass was closed.
“Now, Theodore, do you want this?” Victoria asked so sweetly.
Theodore spoke softly, “Yes.”
Victoria tilted his head back. Her long teeth extended farther, and her eyes turned into black slits surrounded by swarms of colors from brown to red to orange to yellow to green and back again. Victoria sunk her teeth into his neck. Theodore winced but made no effort to stop her.
Victoria took in his blood—young, sweet, salty. Images passed through Theodore’s mind. He was flying. He flew through the clouds and up to the stars and beyond. Theodore could feel his heart racing and knew his heart could not go much longer.
Victoria dug her teeth in farther, sucking in more of Theodore’s sweet juices.
I feel my life draining from me!
Victoria sucked harder and harder, and Theodore’s heart pounded and pounded and then . . .
Theodore felt a deathly silence in his body. It was as if he had no body. He saw only darkness. He felt only darkness. Slowly, Theodore heard blood flowing. He heard it rush into his body. His heart pumped again. Theodore’s arms tingled at the filling of this new blood. Victoria held her wrist to Theodore’ s mouth, and her blood ran down his throat. Theodore’s eyes changed colors. Green became red, and a single tear of blood trickled from his right eye.
Theodore screamed in pain and fear. Blood poured from his eyes, but as quickly and suddenly as it had come, the blood stopped. Victoria took Theodore’s hand and led him to a mirror.
Theodore saw himself as a vampire for the first time. His skin had paled and seemed tighter to his bones, and Theodore’s body seemed to be better built than before. Theodore was too awed with himself to notice that Victoria cast no reflection.
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