Highly organized vampire hunters have brought the hidden realm of vampires to its knees. Tension between vampire territories builds as city after city falls to the hunters. Refugees head for Boston, vampirekind’s strongest remaining refuge, while New York suffers as the nerve center of the hunters’ operations and as a domain oppressed by a powerful rogue vampire.
Jonny prepares to put a badly misspent youth behind him, and makes the journey from London to New York for his band’s first high-profile gig with an engagement ring in his pocket, a determination to set things right, and a barrage of nightmares that just won’t let him be.
But before Jonny can take the stage, he gets tangled up with a vicious vampire who torments her victims before dining on them, a practice condemned by vampire society.
Will Jonny escape and make it back to his friends in time, or will he let his friends down again with this worst and final screw-up?
The difference between good and evil has little to do with who drinks blood and who doesn't in this urban fantasy set in the 1970s punk scene. Show Less
Part One, Section 1 - Prelude
Jonny had fucked up a lot of things throughout his short life, it was one of the few things he was quite good at. He’d also paid dearly for it, with plenty of scars across his body, mind, and friendships as proof. He couldn’t take full blame for all of the mishaps, but even when not directly responsible, he had a knack for attracting really bad luck and rather unsavory people.
Jonny wasn’t all that savory himself, all things told. Spiked blue hair and piercings along his ears placed him in the newly hatched punk rock scene, if the ripped clothes and attitude didn’t make that clear enough. Life had squeezed an awful lot of bollocks into his twenty years of age, and the wear and tear had taken a toll. Something dark and haunted gnawed at him from within and, with only some success, he did all he could to hide it under a burning anger.
A headache sprang out from behind the jagged scar that adorned his left eyebrow and temple – a souvenir from getting hit in the head with a broken bottle. That debacle, now three years past, had gone down in the middle of a riot he’d started halfway through a show – his own band’s. The blow had brought a struggle with the police to an abrupt end. Three years later, most of his headaches still seemed to sprout from there. This one sure as hell had, and brought with it a nicotine craving he could feel in his teeth. He’d need several cigarettes before he’d see the other side of this one.
He’d just woke to find himself someplace strange, when a moment ago he’d been at a bar with Paul, one of his very few friends. It had fallen upon Paul to keep Jonny occupied while the rest of the band got ready for tonight’s gig at DeeDee's Anti-Disco, their first show in America. Paul had left him just for a minute, and Jonny had felt the headache creeping in, fast. He’d more or less blinked and found himself here. Not good. Not good at all. So he panicked. He couldn’t do much else, anyway.
In his panic, Jonny sat up too fast and sent the pain in his head screeching. A dark, stinking room spun wickedly around his head before he could make anything of it. He clutched his head and scrunched his eyes shut as his stomach jumped into the swirling mess.
Before he could try for another look, a sharp pain hit his forehead from the outside, complete with a shattering sound.
The punk startled Nancy by waking up way sooner than she expected. Hardly fifteen minutes since she’d bagged him at the bar at DeeDee's, slipping something into his drink. The drug should have lasted longer.
She hit him in the head with a lamp and sent him back to la-la land, lickety-split. She didn’t worry so much about him escaping the dark and dank room she held him in. It just made things easier if he stayed under while she got things ready.
Nancy shouldn’t have hit him, but she’d panicked. She shouldn’t have had to hit him, he woke up way too fast. She had to keep him under control while she got him set up, and now, he might be damaged. Nancy didn’t care about him so much, but her vampire, Marion, would not be happy with the condition of dinner when she got here – shit – any minute now. Nancy had to make the most of it, and set about securing him to the bed, getting him ready for the butchering he’d soon face.
She'd picked him out because his blood smelled extra good. That and his funny accent. Out of town, he'd have fewer friends around here to miss him, probably just that one at the bar. But more, he gave off a sort of special vibe, a sense that he was somehow more alive than most. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it made her believe he had more to lose than your average asshole. By a lot.
Marion loved that flavor the best, it delivered an extra kick when they realized they were about to die. They hung on longer through the torture. Marion went to great lengths to tease out the most fear and adrenaline from her prey. Nancy loved that most about serving Marion. The bitch might be ugly, but she could really make a masterpiece out of suffering.
But these days, the vampires of New York here thought Marion had gotten out of control, that she was addicted now, to Fear. Nancy didn’t care about that, most of those chickens didn't even kill, but maybe the Fear thing had got boring. Marion used to let Nancy abuse the victims, but now she was stuck just doing the tracking and trapping. And the cleanup. Marion hogged all the real fun for herself now.
Nancy didn’t need the blood, other than what she got from Marion. She was just a sunshade, human but with some small special abilities from the blood of her vampire. But Nancy did like to play with the meals she snatched for Marion, and she didn’t get to anymore.
She reached for his nearest hand, and got a look at the necklace he wore. A key hung from the long chain, among other things, and she found that funny.
She chuckled as she cuffed him to the bed’s iron headboard, shaped into a complicated spider design, spiders being Marion's mark and sign. She touched the carved spider cameo on the choker around her own neck. Now he was caught in Marion’s web, too. Whoever he was, he was dinner for the spider now.
Nancy never wondered or cared who they were, her only job was to get a tasty meal ready for Marion.
She didn't know it, but this punk was a nobody on the verge of being a somebody, and really did have a lot to lose.
When Jonny came to again, his panic surged higher and faster than before. He still wasn’t where he was supposed to be, and now one of his hands had been cuffed to something.
Yep, he was fucking things up again. He'd been in the clear, what, three weeks, maybe? Three weeks of bollocks-free existence, that started with the formal end of rather oppressive probation terms and continued through his and the band's exit to another country. They'd dared to hope for a fresh start, to put who they’d been firmly in the past, and stand a chance at becoming everything they might be.
Only to end here? Not if he could help it.
He lifted his head and the whiff of filth, mustiness, and decay nearly sent his head spinning again. He managed to fight it off for now. He was flat on his back on a bed, with a strange blonde woman turning to him in surprise, holding another set of handcuffs.
He had to act fast.
A problem of this magnitude could trigger one of his crippling flashbacks, and rapidly at that. If that happened, it would leave him completely at her mercy while his mind got tripped up in old enemies and nightmares.
Nearly anything could set the horrors off, but certain situations practically guaranteed to provoke them, and badly. Handcuffs, and well, restraint of any kind, provided a particularly powerful spark for the mess in his head.
He couldn't tell why they happened, because he didn't know. He couldn't guess or imagine, because why the hell should he want to? He’d endured something so horrible his mind had been trying to evict the memories from his brain for two years now. It succeeded most of the time while he was awake, with the help of his friends and music and a steady stream of cigarettes. But the terrible impressions still attacked randomly by day, and ruled completely and ruthlessly over his sleep by night.
When the damned things were gone, they were gone, he had no recollection of whatever knowledge or event they had subjected him to. His head skipped around like a heavily damaged record playing through an earthquake. It made for a pretty miserable existence.
And to think he was the lucky one…
Nancy had only got one of the guy’s hands cuffed to the headboard when he came to his senses again. She’d pulled out another set of cuffs and was reaching for his other hand when he grabbed her wrist, completely freaking her out.
"Oi! Get the fuck offa me!"
What the fuck was it with this guy? He just wouldn't stay down, and she was out of lamps. The good news was that he'd put up an extra good fight for Marion, if Nancy could just get him locked down. She straddled his chest and tried to force his left hand to the headboard.
"Shit! Marion will be here any second!"
"What the fuck d'you think you're doing!"
The punk did every panicked thing he could to fight her, but Nancy was stronger. Thanks to Marion’s blood, she’d win no matter how hard he thrashed. He might get in a lucky punch, but even if he did, she’d already chained one of his hands to the bed. He wasn’t going anywhere.
"She'll kill me if you're not ready!"
She punched him in the gut, forcing the air out of him and keeping him quiet for a few seconds. This guy had a loud set of lungs, and things had gotten noisy. Nancy didn’t worry about anyone listening in, she just didn’t want to hear it.
Dark and evil symbols covered the walls that, among other things, made sure sounds didn’t get far. If those didn’t do the trick, the building was condemned and surrounded by other deserted, empty properties. Marion loved to hear them scream, but of course didn’t want the world to know. Only piles of abandoned junk and filth might overhear what went down in here.
"Let me go!" he wheezed.
Nancy raised her hand to back-fist him. She didn’t hear the door open, but she did see the lighting on the wall shift. Marion had arrived.
Nancy hesitated. Her catch took advantage of the distraction and kicked, hard. Nancy and the handcuffs hit the floor with a thud and a clatter.
Marion’s long shadow bled across the floor to where Nancy had landed.
"I see dinner's not ready yet."
"Fuck," said Nancy and her captive, in unison.
Nancy scrambled to her feet and rushed to Marion.
"He woke up too soon!" she blubbered. She didn't have to see or hear Marion to know she was pissed. Marion made you feel it in the air.
"He's damaged. First blood has been drawn. Perhaps you pretend to be like me now?!"
"No! The drug didn’t work right, he woke up too fast!"
Nancy could usually count on the average sucker to stay down for a good hour before starting to stir. By then she'd have them set up in one of countless creative displays. Marion had usually arrived by then, too, ready to greet her meal when they woke up.
Nancy hadn't even had a chance to decide what to do with this one yet, before she'd had to rush and wing it. Maybe something from the ceiling, Marion liked to shower in the blood sometimes, and she hadn't done that in a while.
She and Marion had tortured so many bloodbags in so many unusual and truly cruel ways over the years, Nancy couldn't remember them all. Something as simple as cuffing him to the bed was an embarrassment. But he'd woken up before she'd even got started. Nancy had no idea how this one had pulled himself out of it so quickly.
Marion closed and locked the door behind her. She was in a bad mood again, the usual lately, the hangover that came whenever she wasn't jacked up on Fear.
For the first time, Nancy wondered if the other vamps might have a point.
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