The above is a sample from the rough draft of my next novel, or at least the one I've been working on - I may never publish it though I've personally had a lot of fun writing it. Regardless, it's way too early to share this as I have just now finished the rough draft (and by rough, I mean, dear God avert your eyes and hide the woman and children rough), but what the hell, nobody really reads this page anyway! So here's a preview to my second novel tentatively title Adventures of Braxton Revere. Check it out, and let me know what you think.
I warned them. Nobody can say I didn't warn them.
Course, it didn’t do any good, because nobody listened. I expected as much. After all, they never did before.
But that’s never an excuse to not do the right thing. So I said my piece and was ready to leave it at that, but was it appreciated? Course not. They laughed at me, and threw things, and all around just made life miserable. And they kept right at it on the few occasions I ventured into town for food and supplies. That didn’t stop the shop keeps from taking my money, but that should surprise exactly nobody.
Still, even after being treated poorly, I felt awfully bad when word came that the Brown family had been murdered, even though I could clearly remember the oldest daughter being one of the many laughing faces that taunted me. But it was no matter. Nobody deserves to die the way they did. Nobody.
I wouldn’t be a Revere if I felt any other way.
Sure, it proved I was right all along. I’d be lying if I said that a small part of me wasn’t happy for that, but hell man, I didn't want to be right that badly. Besides, I didn’t need to hear about a family being killed by a murderous pack of vampires to know I was right. I knew I was right, and that was good enough for me.
Still, after all these years filled with scorn, ridicule, and worst of all, pity, maybe people wouldn’t think I was crazy. Anyone with any sense would’ve made plans that day to do what needed to be done to stop the impending rise of evil. I could see it clearly - the entire town would take up arms and join me on a vampire hunt, the likes of which would once and for all eliminate Ralugard and his ilk in one swoop. It was time for war. And me, Braxton Revere, the Vampire Killer, would be the general.
When I heard about the Browns, I swooped into New London on the back of my horse Midnight. As soon as I arrived, I listened as the coppers swore to me that they fired no less than thirty shots at the murderers only to watch the bullets go right through their targets and disappear into the void, with the killers vanishing into the cloak of darkness like nothing had ever happened. Right then and there the cops vowed to join me. They were shaken up, but determined to put an end to it. All were in agreement - the next morning, we would set out to do what needed to be done.
It didn't happen that way.
I went home and spent the rest of the night preparing. But when I rode back to town, ready to take arms per our agreement, the cops all pretended that nothing of the sort ever happened. The whole story changed, and when I tried to talk to them about it they gave me those looks again.
It was all there, etched on their miserable faces.
All of the sudden, not only did they not fire any shots, but they had never even seen the killers.
Now, the story from the police was that when they arrived, the killers were long gone. I tried to get at the truth, reminding them of what we talked about last night, but they all stood there staring at the ground with their hands buried deep in their pockets, kicking at the dirt.
But, of course.
So I was on my own after all, and with a heck of a mess to clean up. Because as bad as I felt about the Brown family, I was well aware of the consequences of being done in by vampires.
Perhaps I should explain, seeing as I don't know what you know about vampires. You may be reading this a hundred years from now, and by that point, it's very possible that every other book on the shelf is about vampires. So you might know everything there is to know about them, but I don't want to assume.
So let me explain. The funny thing about vampires is when they kill someone, that person don’t stay dead. Not for long, anyway. You might head down to the funeral parlor fixing to bury grandma but you won't be finding grandma, you'll be finding what used to be grandma. You see, to be a victim of a vampire means to become one yourself, unless someone took care of it before they did.
That someone was usually me. And it was going to be me again, all alone. Like usual.
That evening, I did what anyone sensible would have done. As soon as the sun set and dropped below the mountains, I made my way down to the morgue. I found a nice little spot to lay low in the woods, a place where hard for someone to see me but easy for me to see them.
Then I waited.
It was a dark, chilly night in early October, the first really cold one of the fall, with just a sliver of moon for light. All around me I could hear the wind blowing, which set the leaves to rustling and falling from the trees. Somewhere far off I heard a coyote yowl, and somewhere closer an owl hooted, then pretty soon the whole world was filled with all of those little night sounds that you all know so well though you can't exactly describe them, yet you know them all the same, and just when I started to get real comfortable some little kitten happened along. It started rubbing against my leg, which was kind of cute but rather bothersome too, and I was hoping it would grow bored and leave me be, but it just kept right on purring away.
I watched for some time as all the lights in town blinked off, one by one, until the whole town was black. It was late, and I could just barely make out the outlines of small buildings and houses against the night sky. It was time. I needed to get in there before 3 AM, the witching hour, and I was trying to time things just right so that I wasn't seen doing it.
So I stepped out from the forest, stuffing the little kitten into a front pocket on my duster. The poor little thing was half-frozen so I'd figure out what to do with him or her later.
When I stepped into the road in front of the morgue, my mind was so caught up on the task at hand that I nearly bumped into old George Sanders, who was stumbling around town, drunk, like always. But somehow I missed him, I don't know how, so he just kept shuffling right along down the road and pretty soon he was gone and out of sight, off to fall asleep in someone's barn somewhere. Though he was stone drunk he didn't waste much time getting along, which was good because I didn’t have a lot of it, judging by how far the moon had already moved across the night sky. I might have waited just a bit too long to make my move, so I picked up the pace.
My best guess was that it was just a shade before three, so I needed to move fast. I lifted the window, real slow and cautious like, as every little creak and crack sounded like thunder in the nighttime silence. When it was open, I pulled myself up and slipped inside. I removed a stake from underneath my duster, then felt my way along the wall until I made it back to the parlor. That was where the bodies were fixed up, made up to look all nice and pretty before they were shoved into the ground. I'm sure the worms appreciated it.
I found the first body laid out on a slab of stone. I lit a match and shielded it with my hand, naturally not wishing to draw too much attention just in case someone happened to wander by – George Sanders wasn't the only drunk in town, not by a long shot. I shone the match down upon the body and lifted the sheet that covered it. It was the youngest daughter, all of about 15 - the one that had laughed at me. But I didn't hold a grudge, and felt right badly for her.
She was all pasty and bloated looking, freezing cold to the touch the way a corpse that has been a corpse for any amount of time always is, and I brought the match up her body to shine it on her neck. In no time at all, I found exactly what I was looking for. Two tiny little bite marks, just two little pricks you wouldn’t ever notice unless you knew where to look. And I did.
I sighed. The ghastly reality of the situation was setting in. Ralugard was back and I was going to have to stop him. As for this young gal, there was nothing more to do but take the stake and drive it through her heart. So that’s what I did, a grisly bit of work, but it had to be done. And so it was.
I moved on down the line and this time it was Mama Brown, and so I did the same to her. Just two left.
Next was sonny boy, and I couldn’t help but think what a perfect little family they once made as I held the stake to his chest. Mama, papa, a son, and a daughter. If only they had listened, they might still be around!
Now you might think I’m stretching the truth to make things more exciting, but I assure you I am in earnest when I say that when I held that stake to his cold heart, his eyes opened. Well, of course I wasted no time in taking care of him, and I didn’t feel a pang of remorse neither when he screamed out, though it was just about the most awful thing I’d ever heard.
But I had to hurry, because Papa was still waiting and I was running out of time. You see a vampire becomes a vampire exactly at the witching hour, so if you can beat it to the punch then you’ve made things a lot easier on yourself. Killing a vampire that’s cold on a slab and one that’s walking around with its fangs bared is two different things. I guess that seems pretty obvious, but like I said, I don’t really know how much you know about killing vampires, so I’d rather just kind of spell it out. There are some awfully slow folks out there and sometimes we’ve kind of got to talk real simple-like to accommodate them, and the rest of us more normal-thinking folks have just got to kind of put up with it. I’m sure you find yourself having to take it real slow with some folks yourself so just bear with me, and if you are one of those slower folks, well, then, I hope you've been able to follow along all right so far. But if not, I can only dumb it down so much.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way.
So as I said, I took care of sonny, but before I could finish the job and put daddy under, the sheriff and his men came barreling into the morgue with their guns drawn. Of all the luck. And with all of this going on, Papa Brown got up and ran right out the back door. Damn them, and damn me, for somehow I never heard them coming.
Idiots. Now you might think the sheriff would've taken notice of the stiff rushing out the back door, but all they could focus on was locking me up. So not only was I heading to jail, but there was a vampire on the prowl, and no doubt he was awful thirsty and ready to sink his teeth into someone. But there wasn't much I could do about it, shackled in irons and all.
The next morning, the judge sentenced me to three years for something called mutilating a corpse, which was one year per corpse. Well, that was just great. I couldn't afford to spend another night in jail let alone three years! And still nobody bothered to try to explain why Mr. Brown's body up and walked away of its own accord that night. Seemed to me they just swept that little fact under the rug, and to keep it swept up, they didn't even mention it during my trial.
That day I spent in jail was just about the worst day I ever had, with people coming to bother me. The cell window was facing outside which was real handy-like for those that wanted to come along and point and stare and so forth, and everyone seemed to have a joke. When I say a joke I mean they had the same joke. It wasn't too funny to begin with, and it got a whole lot less funny the hundred and eightieth time they told it.
But as bad as the day was, the night was even worse. I imagined that every sound I heard was a pack of vampires, and every coyote's howl struck me as being a werewolf. And all I could do was lay there on my little cot and wait for the morning sun to peek through. It was real lonely, too, and I got to wondering where my little kitten had went to. I hadn't seen it since they chained me up.
I did finally drift off to sleep, and it was early the next morning when I heard keys jingling as they were pressed into the lock of the cell. I watched as the sheriff, Taylor Andrews, slipped in with my morning breakfast, piping hot and steaming. I was damn near starved and it smelled wonderful, which I didn't expect from jail food. But the sheriff wasn't a bad sort, just kind of misguided, and I could see he took his time to try to fix me something decent. That said, I didn't expect him to actually walk into the cell with the food, and I cussed myself for not thinking of a plan to escape. Here was a golden opportunity, and I was so surprised that I was squandering it.
Before he gave me my breakfast, he started yapping about something or another, and all the while I kept getting hungrier and hungrier, and my stomach was growling something fierce. I was about to go bust when he finally got to the point - which was something I wasn't expecting, and I wished I had listened to all of his jabber beforehand, because his point was that he believed me.
“You what?” I stammered.
Taylor took a deep breath. “I believe you.”
He sat down on the cot, right beside me, and sat my breakfast on a little end table. He looked like he wanted to be sick. He had clearly given this quite a bit of thought, but couldn't seem to believe he was going through with whatever it was that he was planning on going through with.
The sheriff took another deep breath and went on. “I know I shot those murderers four or five times, and nothing. Nothing! They kept running and the bullets just disappeared, swallowed up by a mist!”
He stared at the ground with a hollow, worried look on his face, looking rather pathetic truth be told. But I let him have his moment, hoping he had something worth saying when he was done. I guess it's a big shock when you don't grow up the way I did, not knowing of vampires and skeletons that come to life and zombies and witches and such. It was quite the thing to get a handle on. But he finally got it together.
“Well, it's like this,” he said. “You were right! I don't know if they were vampires or what, but they weren't human, that I do know. And if you were right about this, maybe you're right about being the one who can stop it.”
I swallowed hard at that. “Well, maybe I can stop it, and maybe I can't,” I said, pausing to let the words register. “But I damn sure can't do it from here! That much I do know.”
He looked at me with the saddest look on his face. I suppose you would call it a quiet desperation. “I'm getting to that,” he said. Then without another word he shuffled through his keys, found the one he was looking for, and undid my leg shackles. Just like that I was free. It felt awfully good to have them off and the first thing I did was scratch a spot on my ankle that had been bugging me off and all night long.
“Here's the thing,” he said. “We're going to make it look like you escaped, but we've got to make it look real.” He handed me my breakfast, served on a tin pan.
“Can I eat first?” I asked. “I'm plum starved. You did go through the trouble to make it, and it looks awfully good.”
He shook his head. “There's no time. I was still making up my mind on what to do when I cooked it, so listen. I can make up a story but you've got to make it look good.” He leaned down slightly and showed me the top of his bald head. I guess the idea was he wanted me to hit him there with the tin pan.
But there was no sense in wasting the food, so I grabbed my duster from the cot where I had been using it as a blanket, then scooped the scrambled eggs and sausage off of the plate and into my jacket pocket. Like I said, I was hungry. “Make it look good you say?”
“Yeah, but not too good,” he pleaded.
“Not a problem,” I said, then BAM! I hit him across the top of his bald head and he slumped to the ground, out cold. It was already swelling up as he lay there breathing heavy. It sure looked good to me.
I gathered up a few things from the cell, then locked the door behind me. I threw the keys off into the woods - they'd find them some time, but until then he could use a little time to see what he thought of jail from the other side. I appreciated him coming to his senses, but if he had done it sooner, I'd be a day closer to Ralugard.
Besides, he said to make it look good. Would an escapee not lock up his jailer if he had the chance?
So I gathered up anything I might be able to use from around the jail, and lifting a little money from the wallet the sheriff left at his desk. In no time at all I was on my way.
There wasn't a moment to waste. There were vampires that needed killing.