The following is a chapter from my current WIP. Please read and enjoy. I will give an advance copy to one random person who leaves a comment or feedback on this page, so remember to leave feedback.
The deed is done. the book is now up on Smashwords. I am quite proud of this one. The Two winners of the comment contest are Debra Kristi and Ashley. Thanks everybody for the feedback. Now, here's the lady hiding in the shadows and where to find her.
For millions of years a rogue meteor hurtles through space towards Earth, glowing from the vast fields of radiation through which it has passed. A primitive human female gazes in wonder as the burning invader hurtles toward the ground, unaware of the great beast stalking her. All three meet in an instant. Flash forward to the present, yes, she is still here, she has always been here, stalking us, feeding off us, and so have those she has created.
Now, here's the final version of the first chapter.
Smashwords edition, all right reserved.
Copyright, Prudence MacLeod, 01/01/ 2012
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In the beginning there was need. She was only dimly aware of the world around her, a world filled with wonder, and yet fraught with danger. She was only aware of need; the need for food, for drink, safety from attack, fire for warmth and protection.
As she grew there came a new need, a need to mate, but that was not to be, for she had grown too tall and strong too quickly, and thus she was shunned by the others. Eventually she became insistent and was driven away from the clan, for her sheer size and strength frightened them.
Alone and hungry, she sat beside a small tree near a stream, mourning, and trying to warm herself as she filled her empty belly with sweet grasses. Slowly she became aware of a fire in the sky. Gazing in wonder at the thing that grew steadily nearer, she was unaware of the danger stalking her. The fire from the sky hit the ground and exploded just as the great beast pounced. The beast tore at her body, but was itself shredded by the exploding fireball.
Wounded and terrified, she lay beneath the body of the great cat, its life blood pouring out across her lips, while a strange glowing mist fell upon them. For a moment she drank greedily of the blood, and then fainted away.
The body of the long toothed cat was still laying half across her when awareness returned, but the glowing mist was gone. The sun was up, and for some reason it disturbed her, and hurt her eyes. With a mighty heave she thrust the beast’s carcass away and leaped to her feet, her wounds healed, and her great strength returned, redoubled. She wrenched a long fang with which to make a weapon, from the jaw of the cat. A moment later she found shelter from the sun among the trees. She would wait for darkness, and then she would hunt. She wanted, needed, the taste of the blood again. Now there was a stronger need than any she had ever known.
“Vampire? Preposterous.” John West met the eyes of all four of his friends and the stranger. “I don’t believe a word of it.”
“Please John, I know you think you love your wife, but do you really or is it just some compulsion she has laid on you?” The tall man began to sputter, but his friends hurried on. “John, how many times have you awakened to find your bed empty?”
“Ella often walks the gardens at night…”
“Yes she does,” oozed the stranger in the room, a man with dark skin, cruel eyes, and a scar down the side of his face, wearing the garb of a priest. He’d said his name was Mobutu. “Don’t you find that habit a bit odd, Mr. West?”
“Vampire. I just can’t believe that my wife is a vampire.” John West was visibly shaken and he was beginning to waver.
“Has she ever injured herself, Mr. West?” asked the priest. “If so, does she heal remarkably well? Do things that should damage the body seem to leave her unaffected? Has she aged in the fifteen years of your marriage?”
The harangue went on for hours and eventually they wore him down. John West sat, his head in his hands, shaking as he finally accepted what he was being told. “What am I going to do?”
The priest rose and passed him a vial. “This is laudanum, it will induce sleep; make certain she drinks it all. You must do this tonight before she goes for her walk. We shall be waiting for your signal. Once she is unconscious we will come to you and deal with the rest.”
* * * * *
“Ella, I know you prefer to stay indoors during the day. Thank you so much for accompanying me.”
“My skin burns too easily, Margaret, but it is a dark and cloudy day today, I will be fine.”
“Ella, what is it? You’re sniffing the air like my husband’s old hound.”
“I thought I smelled something vile.”
“Of course you did; we’re not that far from London. Ah, here we are, Dr. Lawson’s surgery. Just make yourself comfortable, Ella. I’m sure I won’t be long.”
The tall woman settled into a leather-bound chair to wait for her friend to be finished with the doctor. She tried reading, but could not focus on the print. Her mind wandered back over the years, thousands of years beyond anything a human could remember. She remembered the first time she had caught that scent. “Mobutu,” she snarled as she ran that first meeting through her mind.
The world had been younger then and far from civilized. She had discovered there were others like her, but not quite the same. She had managed to gain control over the killing lust, but the others had not. Ella had stalked and killed them, one by one. He was the last.
She’d come upon him in a small clearing. He was tearing his victim apart slowly, trying to elicit more screams. An errant draft of wind had taken her scent to him just before she charged. He escaped. Snarling in rage at the miss, she dispatched the poor broken female he had been torturing. His scent was strong in her nostrils for she had raked him down the face and his blood was on the ground.
She had stood snarling, testing the breeze for his scent when his voice drifted down to her from the cliff above. “I have escaped you, you murderous old hag,” he’d shouted in a thick accent. “I will hunt you now. I am Mobutu; I will become your death.”
Ella had hurled herself at the cliff face, but he was long gone by the time she reached the top. It was several hundred years before they met again.
Over the centuries she’d encountered him again and again. She could always tell when he was near. The sheer savagery of the slaughter would give him away. He could only control the killing lust for a short time. Ten he would go on a murderous rampage. Mobutu had attacked her several times, but each time she slew him and sent the bones to Africa, hoping he would stay there.
Ella was becoming civilized and was loathe to permanently destroy the last of Tegra’s line. Mobutu, on the other hand, was driven to greater madness with each defeat. Throughout much of Africa he was feared as a demon, many villages made human sacrifices to him to keep him away. It rarely worked.
Shaking off the mood, Ella laid aside the book; Margaret was returning. She rose and left the building with her friend chatting happily about her illness. Margaret continued to prattle on, but Ella was barely listening, she was on the alert for Mobutu’s scent once again.
At length they arrived at Margaret’s door. “Ella, thank you for accompanying me today. It is nearly dusk and I am so afraid of walking these paths alone after dark. Will you be all right alone, or shall I send for a carriage to take you home?”
“I have no fear of the dark, Margaret,” smiled Ella. “I will be fine. You get some rest; I will see you again tomorrow.”
Ella soon left the road and took the path through the woods to her home. She’d hope to encounter Mobutu, but he was not to be seen. Laying aside her cloak and gloves, she went into the study where she found her husband nursing a glass of sherry. “Ah, there you are, Ella. Will you have a glass of sherry with me?”
“Of course, John. Are you feeling well? You look exhausted.”
“Rough day at the exchange, my darling; I don’t want to burden you with it.” He passed her a glass then held up his own for a toast. “Here’s to a better tomorrow.”
They clinked glasses and drank. “This sherry tastes a little off, John.”
“Nonsense, Ella, it will do you good. You’ve been out in the dampness again; I don’t want you to catch a chill.”
Somewhat dubious, Ella drank the sherry. A few moments later she was feeling unwell. “I think I shall retire to bed, John. I do not feel well.”
“Of course dear.”
She made it to her bedroom and fell onto the bed. Something was terribly wrong, Ella had never been sick in all her unnaturally long life. To her horror, her limbs stopped responding to her commands, but her mind was clear. John stepped into the room to check on her. “John, send for the doctor, I cannot move my arms or legs.”
“What? Ella, how is it that you are still awake? You should be unconscious by now.”
“John, what have you done?” Ella fought to keep the panic from her voice.
“Forgive me, Ella, but I have done this to save your immortal soul as well as countless innocent lives.”
“What are you talking about? John, what have you done to me?”
Her pleading fell on deaf ears; he did not answer. Trembling, he took the lamp and signaled at the window then fled the room. A few moments later she heard voices from the bottom of the stairs. Mobutu!
“She is awake, but paralyzed. That was not laudanum; what did you do?” Her husband’s voice was shaking with barely controlled emotion.
“Forgive me, Mr. West, I had to deceive you. She must be awake when I exorcise the demon within her,” oozed Mobutu’s voice. “First I must drive out the demon to save her soul, and then I must destroy the body to permanently rid the world of the vampire. I will not ask you gentlemen to observe this, but I must ask you to ignore any and all sounds that come from that room until I call you to enter.” He stopped speaking and there were footsteps on the stairs.
The door to her room opened and his maddened eyes met hers. “You will not escape me this time. I knew I would eventually succeed. There can be only one immortal, only one god.” He laughed cruelly as he walked to her side and dropped a huge bag on the bed. Her mind screamed for movement, but her body refused. She thrashed her head wildly, but all to no avail. “Struggle all you wish, I will enjoy it. You cannot move, and you cannot transform. The effect of the drug will wear off in a few hours, but you will not be alive by then.”
He pulled a long wooden stake, a hammer, and a rusty short sword from his bag. “The stake will not kill you, but I must because those gullible fools below believe that is how you kill a vampire. I will then cut off your vile head for I know that is how I can truly destroy you.”
“No,” he hissed as he smashed his fist into her face. “The only sounds you will make are screams. His eyes were wild and his body trembled with the effort of controlling the rage that burned within him. Mobutu seized up the stake and, ignoring the hammer, drove the stake through her body. Unable to move or make any sound except a screaming moan of pain, Ella fought for unconsciousness, but it would not come.
“I know all about your eight little children,” he slavered right at her face. “My next task will to kill them all, one by one. I will erase all your line from the earth. I am the only god.” Ella could only moan and watch in horror as he swept up the rusty blade and began hacking at her neck. As he finally severed her head, consciousness left her.
“It is done,” declared Mobutu as he descended the stairs carrying her head by the hair. Two of the men below were instantly sick, losing their last meal. “You must bury the body without a marker and disguise the grave. Burn this house to the ground and declare Mrs. West perished in the fire. I will take the head far away so the vampire can never return.”
“No!” John West faced Mobutu, a double barreled shotgun in his hands. “I betrayed Ella, and she loved me. I will take her head to our country house in the Lake District. I will bury her there where she loved the view. That should be far enough away.”
“That is unwise. You are distraught…”
“Yes I am.” John leveled the gun right at Mobutu’s head. “I have already committed one murder this night, priest, another will matter little. Put her down and get out of my house.”
Mobutu trembled with the effort of controlling the killing lust within him, but that damned shotgun could take his head off. “As you wish, Mr. West, but I caution you all to follow my instructions. Should the vampire revive, she will go on a killing rampage. The last thing you want is a vengeful vampire on your hands.” He left the house, but slipped into the trees where he watched as the men buried the body, disguised the grave then set the house afire. John West, an ornate box under his arm, saddled his horse and rode away.
Mobutu nodded in satisfaction, tore the priest’s collar from his neck, and slipped away. “Now for that accursed Saxon; I believe he is in Germany.”
* * * * *
John West finally arrived at his estate in the Lake District. Tears streamed down his face as he buried his wife’s head where she could see the view.
Over the following two years he drank heavily, a fact remarked upon by the locals. After one bright full moon he vanished from the area.
A few weeks after John disappeared from the Lake District, a ragged man staggered up to the remains of a burned out house. He drank deeply from a bottle then tossed the empty aside. He searched for a while, and then took out an ornate box and a small spade from his pack.
“I know this isn’t the exact spot, my love, but I cannot find where they buried you. This will have to be close enough.” He buried the box and disguised the place. He pulled out a fresh bottle and drank deeply. Down the hill he went until he reached the narrow stone bridge over the stream. Another deep draught from the bottle then John West pulled a pistol from his pack, stuck the barrel into his mouth, and pulled the trigger.