Bodies…Chapter Three: Can’t Ever Go Home

The dream detonated in her mind like a bomb. Heat. Pressure. The burning. A small room full of night closed in around her, a big window of light exposing a pregnant moon. Shadows hugged her, and Jenna was both repulsed and seduced by them. Part of her wanted to let go and stay shrouded in darkness, never to see the light again, but she also wanted to fight the emptiness before it took her away.

A gun exploded in the distance. Something moved outside the large window of her dreamscape, flittering in the moon light. Startled, she jumped, tripping, one foot entangling the other. It took a lot of effort to regain her balance. The silhouette of a creature came into creation on the floor like a painting brought to life with each new stroke of a brush.

Heartbeat loud in her ears, Jena stared as the monster grew to mammoth proportions: fuzzy, distorted, and utterly terrifying. She looked away, even if it meant her death. Nothing happened.

When she finally found the courage to return her gaze to the window, a large black crow perched on the windowsill, highlighted in the silver moonlight. No monster, just a bird.  Yet, it stared at Jenna with wicked intent, cackling, like the three witches eyed Macbeth.

Crows don’t speak but Jenna was sure that this one could. “Eric.”

Upon hearing it, she jumped back, while the indifferent and unflustered crow took off causally into the night just as the voices erupted around her.

Jenna recognized one voice in the crowd.

Eric wailed.

“Eric!” Jenna screamed and started a desperate search for him. 

The scenery shifted and he was in front of her.

Eric turned. His eyes were empty sockets, dripping maggots.

“Don’t you remember me?” he asked.  “I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve come to be with you always. Why did you leave me?” Eric’s looked at Jenna, vacant sockets somehow finding her face.

In her dream, events from the past unfolded like a damp dish towel. After the world had ended,  Jenna had joined up with Caleb, Eric and his twin Billy, and a group of survivors who had found a safe haven at the High Point Inn in Virginia, but even there, the group was never free of the undead.

Jenna stomach churned like she was on a carnival ride when the scene in her dream changed again. Eric and Billy squabbled loudly on a roof, looking young and innocent. When she had first joined up with the small band of survivors, Eric and Billy had been some of the youngest members at fifteen, and being twins, the only people with family still alive.

Fair-haired and optimistic, the twins formed a special bond with Jenna. She was happy to take on the role of big sister. The gangly twosome looked like they ought to be anywhere but in the middle of the apocalypse. The twins should have been driving a tractor on a farm in the mid-west with their freckled, homegrown, innocent faces. They were Jenna’s new family.

Again the landscape changed. An old fashion silent movie played.  The twin’s heads bouncing in unison, Eric throwing pebbles from the roof, the boys trying to outdo each other at target practice, both getting into trouble. Billy telling stupid knock-knock jokes. Eric playing cards with Jenna and making her laugh when she had been mourning all she lost in her previous life.

Blurred images, chaotic and violent, erupted like a volcano. Eric in dirty overalls fighting the undead; Eric trying to rescue Victor, another member of the group, in a dilapidated movie theater;  stalkers ambushing him; and finally, Caleb telling Jenna of Eric’s death.

Eric screamed in her dream and his body surged out of a mass of stalkers.

Someone followed behind him,  walking out of the murkiness.

 “Stop making so much noise,” Lilly murmured. “You don’t know what’s around. Try to think about getting out of here. We need you.”

Lilly reached out to touch Jenna, but Jenna moved away, and watched as Lilly’s skin beginning to decay. After the virus had hit and her family died, Jenna never thought she would be able to get close to anyone again. She tried so hard to remain distant, but the twins, Caleb, and then Lilly had found their way into Jenna’s heart. Lilly had been one of the last people to join the group. Already settled at the High Point Inn, Lilly had arrived with a group of strangers. Of all the new additions, Lilly, had become good friends with Jenna.

In the dream, Lilly beckoned for Jenna to follow. The movement caused a chunk of skin from Lilly’s arm to fall to the ground. From where the skin fell, the arm oozed black blood. Muscles and bone began to protrude. Lilly smiled, but her lips cracked.

“You have to find me and Eric or this is what we become,” Lilly said.

 “Can you show me the way?” Jenna asked, wandering through the haze. Darkness fell and Jenna stopped. “I’m scared to follow.”

“You need to follow me.” Lilly beckoned her forward, but the fog and darkness deepened and Jenna briefly lost sight of Lilly. When Jenna found Lilly again, she grabbed her hand, determined to find a way out. It slithered against Jenna’s fingers.

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Forrest Wollinsky: Vampire Hunter Vol. One by Leonard D. Hilley II

Vampire

Genre: YA Friendly; Urban Fantasy/Paranormal

Publisher: Nocturnal Trinity Press

Date of Publication: March 13, 2016

ASIN: B01CZ4LKBQ

Number of pages: 266
Word Count: ~83,000

Book Description:

“Killing Vampires Since 1888.”

I was born in Bucharest in 1880 in the heart of the vampire population. At eight years old, I was considered a freak of nature since I was already the size of an adult male. Other children my age, and some of my teachers, shunned me.

Being rejected by one’s peers cuts deeply. Then I met my first werewolf and discovered a master vampire was plotting to kill me because of what I am. From that moment, my destiny stole my future aspirations all men grow up wanting.

This is how my destiny begins.

 

Amazon

 

Excerpt:

Chapter One 

The Beginning

Bucharest, 1888

 

The wind howled like an awakening banshee as it swirled and lashed around our snow-covered cottage nestled in the barren trees at the edge of the forest. I was only eight years old, but it was the harshest winter in my one hundred and thirty-odd year memory.

My father had been gone for several days, which wasn’t unusual. Mother had said that he was hunting and should return soon, but the blizzard had set in with a fury, burying the roads, fields, and the forest floor beneath several feet of snow. Wherever he was, he’d be stuck for quite some time.

Snowdrifts lined three sides of our meager cottage and the snowstorm had barely started. The outside layers of snow helped insulate our rugged home. The warmth of the fire felt like the heat of summer, making it almost easy to forget about the freezing howling winds outside.

The hearth fire crackled softly under a black bubbling pot of rabbit stew. Garlic cloves were strung together above a basket of dried yams. We had enough food to last out the week, which made me wonder why my father had chosen to hunt during the worst of the blizzard.

My mother sat in her creaky rocker and was sewing a new coat for me from rabbit hides. Only eight, I was as husky and tall as a young man in his teens. It seemed that I outgrew my clothes about as quickly as she could make new ones.

While she sewed, I sat near the fire and sharpened a long curved dagger my father had given me. He had traded fox hides for the blade, and I expected to soon use it whenever my father returned with his kill.

A slight pause in the winds caused my mother to stop rocking. She leaned slightly forward and cocked her head to the side. The curious frown on her face caught my attention. I set down the whetstone and rose to my feet.

A gentle rapping at the door was faintly noticeable since the winds had quieted, and probably would have gone completely unnoticed had they continued to whistle. But there it was again.

Rap-rap-rap.

A bit bolder, but not overly pronounced or with desperation.

With my dagger gripped in my hand I eased toward the door. Confusion furrowed my mother’s brow. She set her quilt aside and held her scissors to her side, ready to help fend off whatever danger awaited outside that door.

Stepping to the side of the door, I lifted the metal latch that secured the door and eased it against the door panel, careful to be silent.

Rap-rap-rap.

Without fear, I grabbed the large oval handle and yanked open the door. A whoosh of cold air sprang forward, sucking out our much-treasured heat.

On the path directly outside the door, the snow was stained crimson beneath the gray overcast sky. A trail of blood cut farther down the path into the forest. Large heavy snowflakes dropped, steadily trying to erase the blood path. No other tracks were in the snow. No bandits or attackers were visible amongst the snowy tree trunks. The bloody path ended at the door where the body lay.

A desperate weak hand shook, reaching up for me.

“John!” my mother shouted, running across the room to the door.

In terror I stared down into my father’s haunted eyes, barely recognizing him. His face was battered, and his eyes were swollen nearly shut. Blood caked in his graying beard. His useless legs twisted behind him. How far he had crawled or how he had managed to do so with the amount of blood he had lost? It was a mystery then, and remains so even to this day. By every means he should have been dead, long before he got to the door, but his stubborn determination enabled him to ignore his pain and fight to pull himself back home.

I sheathed my dagger and grabbed his nearly frozen hand, heaving him out of the snow and across the threshold. Mother quickly closed and secured the door when we were safely inside.

My father’s cold hand fell from my grip and a huge sigh gushed from his mouth as he lost consciousness.

“Father?” I asked, dropping to my knees in front of him. Blood trickled from his nose. I glanced toward Momma. “What happened to him?”

“Get him to the bed,” she said, wiping away tears.

Placing my hands beneath his underarms, I lifted, pulling him up enough to wrap my arms around his chest until he was upright. His body was cold, but the heat of his leaking wounds stuck to me. I cringed. So much blood. I fought tears. He was dying. Had to be. Nothing lost so much blood and survived.

My father wasn’t a massive man, like he and my mother always insisted I would become. He actually weighed less than I and was several inches shorter. In spite of his stature, he was a crafty fighter, capable of defending himself against men twice his size. Stout and thinly muscular, he had incredible strength and feared no one.

For once, I was proud of my abnormally large size and his lack thereof. I hefted him and walked toward the bed, his boots scraping the wooden floor as I moved. Gurgling sounds rumbled in his throat.

“A bear?” I asked, looking at her. “Was he attacked by a bear?”

Mother brought a pail of lukewarm water and set it by the bed. She shook her head and tore strips of cloth.

I eased my father onto the bed and laid him back. He gasped and groaned in pain, but his eyes never opened.

“Strip off his coat,” she said. “His boots, too.”

I quickly obeyed.

She peeled back his shirt, revealing long gashes across his chest and abdomen. The lacerations were too narrow to be from bear claws, but the cuts were dark and deep. Older white scars were visible. On his chest above his heart was the singed outline of a cross. Two puncture marks near his shoulder were swollen, bruised. Two dark dots.

“What did this?” I asked, pointing at the wound. My fingers almost touched the marks, and she slapped my hand away.

“No!” she gasped.

“What kind of animal could do this?”

Her dark eyes were hollowed from fear. She was paler than normal and seemed more delicate.

“Mother, please tell me what did this to Father?”

She took a damp cloth and washed blood from his nose and beard. With another cloth, she washed his forehead. Tears heated her eyes. She spat out a word with complete contempt as she whispered, “Vampire.”

My chest tightened. Anger rippled inside me. “A vampire attacked him while he was hunting game?”

“No,” she replied. “He was hunting the vampire.”

“Why?”

“It is his calling, his duty. Magistrates and governors seek him out to kill vampires. They pay in gold and silver coins.”

I stared at my father’s frail body. His chest rose and fell with shallow breaths. “Why has he never told me?”

“To protect you.”

“From what?”

“Them.”

“Vampires?”

She nodded.

Frowning, I asked, “Why would they wish to harm me? My schoolmates tell tales that are quite scary. I’d never venture into one of their lairs.”

“You’re like your father, but you’re too young. In time you’ll be as fearless as he.”

“Too young for what, Mother?”

“To train to hunt the vampires.”

My eyes widened and fastened upon my father’s incapacitated body. He was barely alive. The possibility that he would die during the night was greater than the chance of him surviving his injuries. I didn’t think I was foolish enough to pursue the fanged demons of the night. Trained or not, hunting vampires was destined to become a short-lived profession.

“His legs are broken,” I said.

She nodded. “I know.”

Tears streamed down my mother’s cheeks. She cried quietly without calling attention to herself. I took a damp cloth and pressed it against one of the lacerations across my father’s stomach. I hoped the pressure might stop the bleeding. Some of the cuts were scabbing, but the two puncture wounds pulsed softly, in rhythm with his faint heartbeat. It was unnerving to witness, as if the injuries were alive, feeding off of his body.

While I held the cloth, her eyes widened. She rushed from the side of the bed and ran to black water pot near the hearth. She was back in seconds.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Momma was too frantic for words. She turned my father’s head to the side, pried open his mouth, and black blood oozed out. She took the damp cloth and inserted it into his mouth with her finger. She swirled her cloth-covered finger around the inside of his mouth like one washed a dish. When she pulled out the cloth, it was saturated with more of the dark blood.

“Is he bleeding that badly?” I asked.

She shook her head. “It’s not his blood.”

“What?”

“Under the bed,” she said softly. “Get the box.”

I lowered to my knees and peered under the bed. I grabbed the handle and pulled the heavy suitcase box out, scraping the floor loudly.

I lifted the heavy box and set it on the edge of the bed.

“Open it,” she said.

I did.

Inside of the box were several sharp wooden stakes, a wooden mallet, a silver cross, glass vials filled with powder, and more glass vials filled with clear liquid. My mother took one vial of the liquid, read the label, and popped the cork. She walked around to the other side of the bed.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“The puncture marks have to be purified and cleansed. Or your father will become a vampire.”

“How?”

“The bite somehow causes the victim to turn. Don’t ask me how. Your father would know but—” Her voice broke into sobs.

I wanted to tell her that he was going to be okay, but I couldn’t tell a lie that convincingly. His condition was severe. No way to deny it.

Then the revelation gripped me. I suddenly realized his injuries were intentionally far worse than I had imagined. The vampire who had inflicted the damage upon my father intended for him to die so that he, too, would become a vampire.

“What’s in the vial?” I asked.

“Holy water.”

“That will cure him?”

Mother replied, “If we can fully cleanse the wound, it’s possible that we can save him. But, it’s painful for him to endure. In his weakened condition, the cure might well kill him.”

“And if that should happen?”

“You will have to drive a stake through his heart. I can’t . . . I simply can’t do it.”

Stunned, I looked into her eyes with uncertainty, questioning. She nodded solemnly. I knew the depth of her love for my father prevented her from killing him, even if he were to turn, but I wondered if I was capable. Could I drive a stake through the heart of my father? In the matter of age, I was still a boy, struggling with a problem that only an adult should have to consider. I had to shoulder the responsibility but how?

 

 Vampire 2

About the Author:

 

Leonard D. Hilley II grew up in Fort Payne, AL, where his never-ending curiosity introduced him to the world of biology and books. During his youth he was an avid insect collector and reared butterflies and moths. His love for science eventually merged with his writing. He currently resides in Marietta, Ohio, where he writes science fiction thrillers, epic high fantasy, and YA mysteries.

Education: B.S. Biology; MFA in Creative Writing

Leonard D. Hilley II is the author of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath, Beyond the Darkness, The Game of Pawns, Death’s Valley, Shawndirea, and Devils’ Den.

Leonard D. Hilley II also writes short stories for YA. Two books were inspired by his love of biology: Rearing Dragons in My Backyard and Fiddling Worms. He also writes a mystery series for YA: Dee’s Mystery Solvers.

@Deimosweb

http://deimosweb-hilley.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Leonard-D-Hilley-IIauthor-page-157289854329916/

 

Tour giveaway 

 

10 digital copies of Forrest Wollinsky: Vampire Hunter

Enter Here:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc1327

 

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