Today we’ve got an excerpt of An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel. An Unattractive Vampire is an Inkshares project, which means that authors pitch a book, readers pre-order, then once the preorder threshold is met, Inkshares offers a full service publishing experience. You can read more about Inkshares at their website.
An Unnatractive Vampire is one of the top five books in Inkshares’ Sword and Laser Collection contest, and every week throughout the contest, Inkshares will post chapters from the works that catch their eye. Enjoy this excerpt of An Unattractive Vampire, and be sure to support the project if you like what you read!
Here’s what An Unattractive Vampire is about (via Inkshares): “A darkly comic urban fantasy. These ARE your grandparents’ vampires.”
Read on for the excerpt!
Yulric Bile awoke from death to find an eight-year-old boy shooting him in the head.
“That’s not supposed to happen,” said the child as it reloaded.
Yulric shook with surprise and rage. If this bothered the freckle-faced child, it didn’t show. The boy merely climbed up a small step ladder and walked away. How could. A child. Do that. To HIM? The enraged vampyr leapt out of his grave and let out a fierce and terrible shriek.
His lips had been sown together. He raised a finger to his mouth and carefully cut the thin metal wire. He spun to face the child as it was rummaging through a bag.
“Ytheh oo ee oy….?”
Salt poured from his mouth. Yulric froze in confusion. There were many herbs, weeds, and random objects to which his kind had an aversion. Some were common, others downright peculiar*. Salt, however, had never been one of them.
The child turned back to face the puzzled vampire. In one hand, it held a magical dagger that moved on its own, in the other, a small green serpent wrapped around its fist. Yulric smiled and matched the child’s aggressive posture, letting his nails grow to claw-like lengths. The boy crouched. The vampire followed suit. One yelled, one hissed and they both leapt into battle.
*Yulric had once known a vampyr who was repelled by the smell of peppermint. She would also stop to count any mustard seeds she came across. She had problems.
The combatants froze as they turned toward Amanda. Amanda who was filled with fear and rage and about to commit bloody, vicious murder. Amanda who had just found her eight-year-old brother trying to kill the creature from last night with an electric turkey carver and a rubber snake.
“Put him down!” she ordered. Yulric roared in response. Without thinking about it, without consulting her reason or belief, acting solely on instinct, Amanda pulled out her compact and began reflecting sunlight at him. He dodged and flailed halfway around the room before finally giving in. He lowered the boy to the ground while giving Amanda a glare that was known to wilt flowers, a glare that was mirrored two feet down and several inches to his left. Neither the vampire’s nor the eight-year-old’s gaze phased Amanda. She was immune. She was a caregiver.
“Over here. NOW!” she commanded. They both started. “Not you. Him.”
The boy marched over to the cellar steps where his sister waited, leaving the vampire standing alone amongst the knick knacks, bicycles, and boxed up Christmas ornaments.
“What did I say about the cellar?” she asked, reciting lines from the parent’s handbook chapter entitled “When Your Child Breaks the Rules.”
Simon’s eight-year-old mind paused. It had recently discovered sarcasm, and several cheeky answers were considered before he decided to stick to the script.
“Don’t go into the cellar,” he intoned.
“And what did you do?” she asked, hands on her hips now.
“Went into the cellar.”
“No,” she corrected. “You went into the cellar with a knife. What have I told you about knives?”
“Technically, it’s a turkey carver,” he pointed out.
“What was that?” Amanda’s voice hit a pitch that was reserved for dogs and bats. Yulric, who could become both, checked his ears for blood.
“Don’t play with knives,” replied the returning dutiful child within Simon.
“That’s right. Don’t play with knives. What if you had tripped and fallen down the stairs? You could have impaled yourself on this, and then where would you be?”
The vampire envisioned exactly where the child would have been. And where Yulric would have been. And what condiments he would have used. He was very hungry.
“What did you think you were doing?” asked the adult.
Simon mumbled his reply, pulling from the eight-year-olds’ handbook chapter entitled, “When You Are Caught.”
“What was that?” replied his sister, not having any of it.
“Vanquishing a zombie,” he reluctantly repeated in full voice.
Both humans turned to the eldritch voice in the middle of the basement.
“A what?” it asked.
“A zombie,” Amanda told it.
“A what bee?” it asked again.
“A zombie. He thinks you’re a zombie,” blurted Amanda who was growing ever more frustrated with this thing. Bad enough that it had ruined last night’s planned rendezvous by turning out to be a hideous monster, but now it was throwing her off her disciplinary stride.
“And what exactly is a zom-bie?” it inquired, unabated by her rising anger.
“How can you not know what a zombie is?” Amanda barked.
“A zombie smart enough to know it is a zombie would not be a zombie,” Simon whispered to his sister. He stepped toward the creature that had been ready to rend him limb from limb and explained, “A zombie is an undead creature that rises from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living.”
“Like a ghoul?” it replied.
“No,” said Simon.
“Ah, a revenant then.”
“No, listen. An undead creature…”
“That feasts on the flesh of the living,” interrupted Yulric. “That does not narrow it down.”
“Indeed,” said Simon. Zombies of any kind weren’t known for making reasoned arguments. Kicking himself over his misidentification, he turned to his sister. “I deserve to be punished.”
“For?” she prompted.
“Going into the cellar when I was expressly forbidden and the wielding of knives outside of mealtimes,” he said with a suspicious lack of hesitation. “I’ll be off to my room then to think about what I’ve done.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” Amanda stopped him. “Outside.”
Simon stomped his feet and made the scrunched up face of children everywhere. “But why?”
“Because you’re grounded you little snot,” Amanda gloated. “I want you to go…play.”
“Play?” whined the boy.
“Play,” she smiled. “With children.”
“Mom and Dad never would have made me play.”
A pall fell over the room. Yulric was intrigued by the sensation. Usually, he was the pall that fell over a room.
“Library card,” Amanda said coldly.
“I’m sorry,” said Simon sheepishly. He knew he’d gone too far.
“Library card,” she said again, her hand outstretched.
“Amanda, I’m sorry,” he moaned.
“Give it,” she demanded. Head bowed, the boy reached into his pocket and with reverence pulled out a little laminated card. He placed it into her hand where it was quickly and without ceremony snatched up.
“You’re right,” she continued. “I’m not Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad pretended not to notice that you liked being sent to your room. They did it because they loved you. But I’m your sister—your big sister—and it’s my job to call you out on your crap. So, I want you to go outside. I want you to play. And when I come out in ten minutes, I expect to see you engaged in some sort of team sport or imaginary adventure, because if I don’t, it’ll be all TV for a week. Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” muttered a low voice somewhere in the vicinity of the child.
“Alright then. Go.”
Simon rushed past her up the stairs. She listened carefully to his footsteps and when she was reasonably sure he had left, turned back to the remaining combatant.
“You!” she spat. “What do you think you’re doing fighting an eight-year-old?”
No one talked to Yulric Bile this way, and because no one talked to him this way, he found it difficult to respond. “He started it.”
“Oh, and how exactly does an eight-year-old start a fight with a werewolf?” she asked, her arms folded across her chest. She was baiting him. She had spent the night coming up with all manner of argument to prove he was a werewolf. All he had to do was rise to her challenge.
“By shooting it repeatedly in the head with your firearm,” he said. Amanda’s eyes grew wide, first with shock, then with anger.
“SIMON!” she didn’t yell so much as simply raise her voice. But the tone hit the key of trouble major, which amplifies the sound to the intended listener, in this case, the small boy who had snuck back to listen at the top of the stairs. In the silence that followed, both the creature and the girl heard small footsteps rush through the house, slam the door, and peel out on a bike with training wheels if such a thing is possible*.
Amanda turned around to face the creature. Normally, she would apologize. That was the polite thing to do when you accuse someone wrongly, not to mention when your brother shoots them in the head. Then again, you don’t exactly apologize to an abomination whose very existence is an insult to nature. She settled for a questioning tone. “What are you doing here?”
“It is daytime,” he said dismissively.
What does daytime have to do with being a werewolf? Amanda thought.
Or a zombie? added the Simon in her head. It took her a moment to work it out.
“Oh, right. I forgot. You’re a ‘vampire’,” she said, using air quotes.
“Yes, I ‘am’,” Yulric retorted, imitating her hand motion, though he did not know why. He supposed this was how people talked now.
Amanda glared her most effective, motherly glare. “You have till night fall. Then, you’re gone.”
“I can come or go from this house as I please,” Yulric smiled back.
“Riiiight,” she rolled her eyes. “Because of the ‘invitation’.”
“Invitation?” he chuckled mockingly. The chuckle turned into outright laughter. He walked past her as if she wasn’t even there. “Silly girl I do not need an invitation to enter my own home.”
And with that, he climbed the stairs and entered the house. The effect would have been more dramatic if it hadn’t been midday. As it was, he came hissing back down, somewhat singed and could not go back up until after Amanda had pulled all the shades. After that, the questions remained, but the mystery had certainly died.