On the 7th Day of Halloween, my true, creepy love gave to meeeee:
SEVEN POUNDS OF CANDY,
SIX FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTERS,
FIIIIIIIVE MOANING GHOSTS!
FOUR CACKLING WITCHES,
THREE SHAMBLING ZOMBIES,
TWO SERIAL KILLERS,
AND A VAMPIRE BITING MY NECK!
You know one of the great ironies of the publishing industry? Here I am, in the depths of my orgiastic love of the fall and Halloween season… and I have to start not only planning, but WRITING my HOLIDAY/CHRISTMAS STORIES.
I mean, I’m in the mood for horror movies and scary crap, and I have to shift my focus to squishy feelings and nostalgia and vision of sugar plums and shit. Don’t get me wrong, Yule/Christmas is my SECOND favorite holiday (unless you count birthdays as a holiday, then it goes Halloween, Birthday, Christmas. Although, I don’t know… I think maybe Christmas might beat out my birthday, now that I think about it.)
ANYWAY… it’s just downright bizarre to be making that creative switch.
My kinky alter-ego got her first round of edits on the upcoming BDSM Vampire Menage-a-trois short today. Much work to do! I’m really looking forward to writing more under that name. It’s a fun chance to really dig into my dark side, which I haven’t gotten to do since my fanfic days. There’s also just something about having another persona that I really dig.
But I still have to decide how much I want me, PNR/UF writer H.A. Fowler, and HER, kinky, BDSM hardcore erotica writer X are going to mix.
Finally before I get back to work, I have a little Halloween gifty — a scene from a short Ghost Story Romance I’m writing for THE day (Halloween, in case you didn’t catch that), called “All Hallow’s Eva”.
We enter near the very beginning of the story. Our hero is Donovan Sterling, a “Natural” vampire (in other words, Born this Way, baby), who was supposed to be the grand heir of a great vampire family. But he’s never wanted any of it: the power, the money, the complicated social and political games. He’s the black vampire of the clan. With the death of his tyrant father (they’re not exactly immortal-immortal. They just age really, really slowly, and there are things that can kill them.), Donovan is still the technical heir to the entire massive Sterling estate. He leaves running the company to his younger brother, doing the philanthropy to his sister, and he takes nothing but the things he earned from his own business… and Sterling Hall, the ancient Scottish castle that was once the family’s main estate. It was abandoned 100 years ago in his father’s youth, and has stood (or rather, slowly crumbled) abandoned ever since.
Donovan is a contractor. He loves nothing better than to bring old houses back to life. He’s decided to take Sterling Hall and give it new life, a literal and metaphorical rebirth for himself, and he hopes, for his family.
He’s just arrived in Sterlington and comes to the house…
He carried his pack, toolbox, and bedroll into the east parlor immediately to the left of the entrance hall, silently cursing himself for not thinking to put on a filter mask. As excellent condition as the structure was, it was also as filthy as you would expect a house that hadn’t been occupied in a century to be. The air in the place was foul with the dust and other microscopic debris generated by the slowly decomposing opposite wing. It was like walking into the Munsters’ parlor.
Which comparison just kept on growing as he walked through the grime, leaving his own ghostly footprints behind: the motes of dust sparkling in the moonlight, networks of cobwebs that could house and feed several continents worth of spiders. But the dust and webs were just natural things found in any old abandoned house. It was the vibe in the air that weirded him out — the tension, the sense someone or something was watching him. Something evil that meant him serious harm. And there was an audience of dozens less threatening things besides.
Maybe he shouldn’t have laughed off those villagers back at the pub quite so quickly.
“You’re a vampire, asshole,” he muttered to himself as he threw down his pad and unrolled his old army sleeping bag on top. “You’re the top of the scary food chain.”
A sudden, loud beeping echoed through the empty room, making him jump half out of his skin before he realized it was incoming call signal from his tablet. He plopped down on his bedroll to turn it on. The boy-next-door-gone-middle-aged face of his lifelong best friend and business partner Michael Barkley, award-winning architect and beer pong champion, grinned like a loon from the screen.
“Weel ‘allooo, ma fine wee laddie! How’s the Hoose a tha Baskervilles!” he called in absolutely the worst imitation of a Scottish accent Donovan had ever heard.
Donovan rolled his eyes. “That’s ‘Hounds,’ asswipe. And the house is, uh…” he glanced around, looking for a kind word to use. “Not on fire?”
“Oh, dude. That’s not all it has going for it, is it? Because if that’s the case, maybe you really should just set it on fire and start from scratch.”
“Say that a little louder. Maybe Interpol will hear you.” Donovan had actually considered that possibility — a great ritual of breaking down and destroying what the clan of his birth used to be, and rebuilding it literally and figuratively from the ground up.
He just didn’t really have the energy to deal with an arson investigation at this particular point in his life.
“Nah. You know I’d rather preserve than start a new build. Waste of resources and history. She’ll do. She’s got good bones. ”
“Do they rattle?” Michael teased. “Woooo… the ghosts of vampires past walk the walls of Sterling Halllllll. Wait. Do vampires even have ghosts? That seems kind of redundant in the world of the supernatural, doesn’t it?”
“Shut up, Barkley. There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Donovan snapped, his exhaustion from the events of the past few months and today’s travel finally catching up with him. He really just wanted to roll into his bag until the sun woke him and he could get to work.
“Oh, the irony of that is so freaking rich, Sterling. A vampire who insists there’s no such thing as ghosts. I love it.”
“Mike, I’m signing off now. I need to get to sleep. Thanks for checking in.”
“Well, hey, I wanted to make sure the house didn’t eat you or the villagers didn’t form an angry mob when they heard you were coming or what have you. And… not to go all pink and girly on you, but do you realize this is the longest we’ll have been this far apart since we were twelve years old? I mean, in actual human time.”
Yeah, Donovan knew it. Too well. And it was squeezing his heart pretty damn hard right now in the oppressive loneliness the house gave of like waves through the dust. Donovan and Michael had met the first day of their snotty Cambridge prep school, and they hadn’t made a major life move without each other since.
“I’ll buy you a Teddy Bear and play you the world’s smallest violin, how about that? I mean, you must be so lonely, what with your beautiful family and all.”
A loud crash blasted from somewhere in the west wing, followed closely by a piercing scream and a chorus of pained moans, as though a lot of people had been trapped.
“What the fuck was that?” Michael cried, which was somewhat of a relief, because it meant that Donovan wasn’t hearing things. Not by himself, anyway.
Of course, it also probably meant that half the house had just collapsed, and there might have been people in there when it had. Half of him was happy his insurance was up to date. Half was terrified what might be the human cost of his selfish need to find himself and make some kind of twisted amends for his ancient, deadly family.
“I don’t know, man. I hope kids or junkies or something haven’t set up a squat in there. I better go check it out. I’ll give you a call tomorrow and let you know.”
“Wait, dumbass! Don’t you know the horror movie rules? Don’t go TOWARD the scary noises! Run AWAY from the scary noises! Watch your ass, not-so-immortal guy. I joke, but a nice beheading will end your eternity as quick as any of the rest of us.”
“Goodnight, Michael.” Donovan saluted him and clicked off the tablet. He grabbed his lit hard hat and threw it on, donned a heavy-duty pair of work gloves, took a pick and shovel just in case, and headed for the direction of the west wing, wanting to at least get an idea of the problem before he called the local constabulary.
There were no more sounds after that first burst. No crying, no sounds of pain or people who might be injured, just a slow drip… drip… drip from the roof. As he took a look at it, it didn’t look in any worse shape than it had been upon his arrival a little while ago. No sign that any more of it had caved in, at least from this angle.
“What the fuck?” he asked no one in particular.
“HELLLLLLLLLLLLL…” came an ear-splitting screech in reply. Donovan couldn’t tell where it was coming from — east, west, up, down, nowhere, everywhere inside his head, and the horrible sound kept right on ringing, echoing until it drove him to his knees. He threw off the helmet and clapped his hands over his ears, but it made no difference.
“JESUS CHRIST, SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he finally screamed, afraid he was totally going to lose it if that freaking noise didn’t stop.
The sound stopped, but his ears kept ringing, and the sound itself seemed to have imprinted on his brain. The weird silence was almost as loud in contrast.
Now, this was the part of a horror movie when the protagonist had a choice to make. One: keep wandering around looking for the source of the scary noises and probably be eaten by some bloodthirsty Hellbeast, or chopped up by a chainsaw wielding serial killer. Two: they could do what any smart, sane person would do, and run like a fuck as far and as fast as they could and wait until full daylight to bring a large group of people to investigate.
Donovan Sterling graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard, thank you very much, and he might be a fool in a lot of ways, but superstition or no, he had seen enough horror movies for this not to be one of them. He bolted back to the parlor, grabbed his bedroll, tablet, and overnight bag, and poured on all the extra vampire speed he could muster while getting the hell out of that house — kicking the demon-carved doors on the way through — and didn’t stop until he got to the bottom of the drive where he’d parked the Land Rover.
The SUV would do just fine for a bed tonight, parked a whole hell of a lot closer to town that didn’t quite want him there than to the freaking House on Haunted Hill.
Feedback is appreciated — this is the first draft!