Excerpt from “Scale”

I haven’t printed any excerpts in a while, so here’s a nugget from the 2nd book in the Trials of a Demon Prince series.

Again, I’ll have this and the first book available Apr 23rd-24th at Chase Con at the Saratoga City Center.

 

scalecover

He was firmly convinced that New York City was overrun with vampires.
It was an ideal haven for them, with an endless supply of victims, victims with no ties. Homeless, winos, dope fiends, prostitutes, and strangely enough, the elite working class, those so intent on pursuing their careers that they allowed no one else into their lives. These were the people society never really missed. To a degree, they’d never existed in the first place.
A regular blood-sucker’s paradise, this overpopulated den of iniquity.
Anyone with a basic grasp of psychiatry could have traced Keith’s problems with ease. Born in Queens, raised in a strict Catholic environment with a mother fanatical about religion, and no father, the seeds of mental illness had been sown early. Most things a normal child enjoyed, even needed, was taboo by his mother’s definition.
For some people, his mother included, life was too hard, and so they concentrated their efforts on what was to come after.
Said taboos included all literature save the Bible and most of the textbooks condoned by his parochial school. But Keith was a bright child who loved reading. Unable to indulge at home, he spent hours in bookstores and libraries, gorging himself on horror fiction and detective stories.
At nine years old, he made the mistake of purchasing a copy of Eerie. His mother found it, as he’d known she must eventually. She had marched him right outside and made him burn the comic on the trash heap.
A copy of Hustler would not have offended her sensibilities more.
When the burning was finished, she locked him in a closet with her rosary beads. He was left there for the night to say his penance.
The incident didn’t deter him. Instead, it heightened his taste for forbidden material. He learned to make brown paper covers to disguise books brought into the house. He spent entire weekends in the public library, memorizing his favorite tales.
Already less than stable, brimming with an imagination that was allowed no healthy outlet, he stumbled across Polidori’s The Vampyre, a novel he now considered his own Bible. He understood on an intellectual level that the story had originally been published as a slam against Lord Byron. On the gut level, however, he felt Dr. Polidori had intended far more.
He was also fond of Sheridan LeFanu. Stoker he considered a poor imitator.
Keith left home on his eighteenth birthday amid his mother’s histrionics. Freed of her psychological bonds, he could now pursue what he’d decided was his life’s labor.
He was thirty-four now, with six kills under his belt. His supplies were always at hand, stashed in a filthy duffel bag: chair and table legs painstakingly whittled down into stakes, aspirin bottles of holy water taken from fonts across the boroughs, a pair of leather gloves, a small hatchet from the hardware store, and a .38 caliber stolen so many times that tracing the original owner was next to impossible.
The old ways, as passed along by the masters, worked without exception: a stake through the heart, followed by decapitation. Some authors proscribed placement of the Host in the monster’s mouth, but stealing the Eucharist was more than Keith would dare.
Most of his victims disguised themselves as harmless winos. One, a teenage male, wore the glassy visage of drug addiction; he’d been the only one to offer real resistance. When the grisly task was finished, Keith took the heads away for later disposal. The staked corpses were left behind.
The gun was not for vampires. It was reserved for those unholy mortals who chose to serve them. To date, Keith had never fired it.

 

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