Tomorrow is the day. I have a new novel launching, and between you and me, I think it is probably my best piece yet. It was a hard one to write, but at the same time the more rewarding.
Six gruesome murders in two days, a farm house burned to the floor, and panic on the streets. For Sheriff Ian Raskin, this is just the start of a nightmare ride that will take him to the edge of his own abilities where a monster lies in wait.
With his once quiet town being terrorized by an unseen force, Ian finds help in the strangest of places. Simon Pertwhistle, a pathologist from the city, arrives in town proclaiming the murders to be the work of a lone vampire searching for its queen.
Sceptic until proven otherwise, Ian Raskin finds his world turned upside down and when the fate of his town hangs in the balance, he finds a fighting resolve he thought to have been long gone.
Can the monster be stopped in time, or will he find his queen and the immortality that has long eluded him?
Pre-order your copy of BLOOD OF THE TAINTED today from Amazon and Smashwords.
The clock struck nine and the mist that had gathered on the outskirts of Dermouth began to spread, and on it sailed death.
Erica Roberts tugged on Harvey’s lead. The golden retriever stood staring down the road in uncharacteristic stubbornness. “Come on, now. We’ll just go round the block and then back home.” She tugged again in an attempt to get the dog moving.
It was early spring and the air was crisp and cold. Erica was happy to keep the walk short. She had survived a long day at work and the last thing she wanted was an hour-long fight with the dog just for the sake of giving it the daily quota of exercise.
“Good boy,” she remarked as the dog sped ahead of her, tugging on the lead with an urgency that was at the other end of the character scale. “What’s gotten in to you tonight?” Erica asked as she quickened her step to keep pace with the animal.
At the same moment, a blast of Arctic wind ran down the street, ushering with it a wailing cry and an even further drop in temperature. Erica felt the cold wrap around her, chilling her to the bone. It cut through her clothes making her feel as though she was nude.
As the gust died away, Erica was sure she heard someone calling her name; a whisper on the wind. Erica spun around, her skin two sizes too small. The street was empty. Beside her, Harvey sat and gave a whine; a lonely sound that echoed through the street. Movement in the corner of her eye caught Erica’s attention. Squinting, she stared into the distance. The mist floated over the ground like a ghost, consuming everything in its knee-deep path. It flooded down the street, tendrils rising and licking at the air like albino flames.
Erica heard her name whispered once again. It rolled with the mist and caressed her ears, making her shiver.
“Come on, Harvey, let’s get home.” Erica turned back to her dog, but he refused to move. “I said come on, Harvey.” Erica felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Another cold whisper traced her spine.
Erica froze. The feeling that she was being watched consumed her. Out of nothing Harvey gave a deep growl, his hackles rising. His lips pulled back as he bared his teeth.
“Harvey, quiet boy,” Erica called. The dog paid her no mind and continued to growl. “It’s ok. It’s just the wind.” She bent down towards the dog, reaching out to pet its golden fur.
With a deep snarl and a savagery that she had never seen before in the animal, it snapped its jaws shut around her arm, puncturing her flesh. Blood flowed from the wounds, staining the dog’s white teeth red. Shocked, Erica jumped to her feet, the pain yet to fully register in her mind. Grabbing her arm, she looked at the wound. It was hard to see in the darkness. The night air made the blood look black like oil. “Shit!” She growled, turning around hoping to get a better look under the street light she had just passed.
Erica gave another scream, for behind her, close enough for their bodies to touch, stood a man. He wore a long coat, and although he stared at her, the darkness somehow hid his face from view. She could see that he was middle aged, the skin of his face still tight, but beginning to crease as life took its toll. “Christ fuck, you scared me.” Erica gripped her throbbing arm tight while her heart thundered in her chest.
“Forgive me. It was not my intention.” The man spoke with a gracious tone; his voice was gentle with a strange, sexless quality. The pitch was too high for most men, but too deep for it to belong to a woman. He was taller than Erica, standing at least six feet. When he spoke, the only thing Erica noticed was his teeth. They seemed too white, too straight in his mouth.
“It’s fine. You made me jump, that’s all.”
Beside her, Harvey continued to growl. Snapping his bloody jowls, he bit at the night air. “Harvey, shut up!” Erica snapped, whipping the leash that she held against the dog as if she were a coach driver trying to encourage the horses to get moving.
“Quiet,” the man whispered. Harvey stopped barking and sat back down without resistance.
“How did you do that?” Erica asked. She had never seen the man before, and Dermouth was a small town. Everybody knew everybody.
“I understand animals.” His voice had a heavy accent to it, yet his words were not difficult to understand. “You are bleeding,” he said, posing it not as a question, but as a statement. The lack of compassion in his voice was obvious.
“Yes,” Erica stammered. The flow of blood was heavy, but not dangerous. Although, even she understood that a visit to the hospital was where her night was heading.
“That is a shame… it’s such a waste.” The man reached out and stroked her injured arm, his fingers tracing down her arm and over her hand like a lover. His hands were cold, freezing cold. Erica could feel it through the sleeve of her jacket. His touch on the back of her hand seemed to burn.
“What do you mean?” Erica asked, her legs shaking, while her heart increased its already frantic beat.
The mist swirled around them. Erica felt the tremble worsen. The man traced his fingers back up her arms, coating them in her blood. He brought it to his face closing his eyes as he inhaled the scent like a connoisseur. “So fresh,” he moaned. When he opened his eyes they had turned yellow. He smiled at her, and that was when Erica noticed his entire face had contorted. His grin stretched his lips to the point of non-existence. His mouth had changed. The neat, white teeth were gone, replaced with sharp, dark yellow incisors. He licked the blood from his finger and when his eyes settled on Erica, she felt her body tense in panic. Fight or flight.
Turning, Erica fled. She ran as hard as she could.
Dropping Harvey’s leash, she pumped her arms willing her legs to move faster, ignoring the flying droplets of blood that painted the air and her face with flecks of crimson.
The man made no attempt to move. He looked down at the golden retriever which still sat patiently. He stared at the dog, and the dog returned the gaze with an intense loyalty. “Get her,” he whispered.
The moment the words had been uttered, the creature turned and ran after its mistress. Only it was not running to catch up… it was merely running to catch.
Erica heard her dog, her faithful companion ever since she had moved to the town some four years previous, chasing after her. She heard the snarls and growls. She did not need to turn around in order to see the look on the creature’s face. Sprinting, with lungs that felt as though they were filled with fire, Erica headed toward the town high street. Thursday night was late night shopping and most people would be gathered at Logan’s Diner. A late meal at Logan’s was a town tradition for many of the locals.
It was not just the dog that followed Erica, the mist, too, kept pace with her strides. She could feel the white cloud lapping at her heels like cresting waves chasing after the feet of paddling children. Only they fled out of pleasure, not terror.
“Help me,” Erica screamed as she saw the lights of Logan’s in the distance. She could see the crowd gathered, as she had expected. The dog, for that was how she thought of it – it was no longer her Harvey – drew ever closer.
Nobody in the diner heard, not even those milling around outside.
“Help! Help!” Erica cried out again as the mist hid the road from her view. Her legs buckled as she reached the street. Nobody else seemed to notice the mist. Not one person turned to give it as much as a glance. What’s wrong? The thought flashed in Erica’s mind at the same moment her legs gave out beneath her. Arms flailing, she fell to the ground, just a few meters shy from the diner. She crashed into the ground, the concrete tearing greedily at her skin. Spilling fresh blood… Such a waste, Erica heard the man’s voice echo in her mind.
She rolled as she fell, an instinctive reaction, but one that put her in a prone position. The dog was on her in a flash. With teeth bared it snapped at her throat, the craving for blood still fresh on its tongue.
“Harvey, Harvey, stop this. Somebody help me.” Erica used both arms and all of her strength to hold the dog at bay. Around her, people continued eating their meals and walking the streets heading home, their arms laden with bags. None paid her any mind.
The animal’s breath burned against her face, hot and sour smelling. It was then that Erica saw the color of its eyes. They were yellow; the same color as his had been.
“Sit,” the sexless voice commanded from the darkness. Without hesitation Harvey stopped snarling, and sat beside his former mistress. The yellow eyes began to fade, as the creature entered a trance.
Around her, Erica felt the mist cool, and suddenly it was going. Pulling back it rose into a pillar, stretching into the night sky, as if a vent had opened in the ground and steam from the fires of hell itself were releasing itself into her reality. The mist swirled, slowly clearing to reveal the same man she had just seen. His yellow eyes stared at her, and while she wanted to scream, Erica found her voice frozen.
“There is no point to screaming. Nobody will hear,” the voice spoke inside her head. “Now rise and come to me,” he commanded, and Erica found herself powerless to resist. The compulsion to obey was too great.
“Why are you…what do you want?” she stammered, fully capable of speaking, but unable to filter the numerous questions and pleas that were echoing in her mind. Her brain and other faculties were her own; it was only her body she had no control over.
Against every ounce of her cerebral control, Erica strode confidently into his open arms, and as his face changed once more, he smiled at her. “I wanted to play,” he told her coldly.
“Let me go… I’ve got a baby at home, and a husband. Please, just let me go.” Erica felt the hot tears scald beneath her flesh, for they were unable to fall from her frozen eyes. She was lost in his gaze.
The man opened his mouth, and with a flick of his wrist, Erica’s head was twisted to one side, pushed against her shoulder. Her neck was exposed. “No.” The man laughed as his teeth pierced her flesh. He drank until Erica’s body grew cold in his arms, draining every drop from her body. Letting her lifeless form fall to the ground, he had disappeared before her descent had ended.
Life returned to the world, and as Harvey began to howl at the feet of his dead mistress, screams rang out through the diner as everybody noticed the desiccated body that lay in their midst.