Vampires on the Eastern Shore By Andy Nunez
An eerie, hair-raising story of everyday people who become both the prey and preditor. Handsome young men were dying in the dark alleyways, expressions of bliss on their faces. Old women, prostitutes, and policemen, all were disappearing in a reign of terror, blood drained from their bodies. The problem was, they wouldn’t stay dead. Police Sergeant Junior Gale was caught up in a web of deceit and destruction as two powerful forces battled in the dark streets and sewers of his city. Who was the mysterious High One unleashing a wave of undead creatures in a small town, where bored adulteresses and powerful businessmen mixed with evangelical revivalists and the dregs of society? Junior Gale had an eclectic mix of allies, but any one of them could be the High One, or the next victim. No place was secure from the evil that pervaded the city at night, not homes, not prisons, not even churches! Love, lust, revenge and murder mix in this tale of vampires and victims, all to satisfy the High One’s Crimson Need.
ISBN 1-59431- 360-1 Fiction/Horror
Cover Art by Maggie Dix
Also available in RTF and HTML formats.
It Begins --- The Prophetess
Darkness had completely enveloped Mary Copeland's house. She carefully removed her powder blue suit and pillbox hat with veil. Her prayer meeting had been long and exhausting. Next, she took off her white ruffled blouse. It was stained with sweat and would need cleaning. "Mom Mary", as she was better known to her fellow church members, was a devout woman whose main excitement at the age of sixty-seven was the joy she experienced from her relationship with God. She put on her night clothes, then sat in her favorite easy chair to read the Bible in order to relax before going to bed.
She opened the window a bit because it was getting stuffy in the oncoming summer weather. Then she opened her leather-bound Bible to find a comforting passage. As she did, a chill ran through her, emanating from the open window. Her gauzy curtains rustled like restless snakes, and the pages of her Bible fluttered, causing her to struggle to hold them down. The lights flickered, then went out for a few heartbeats before coming back on. Mom Mary shut the window with a nervous quickness, then went back to her Bible. She found it turned to the Book of Daniel, Seventh Chapter, Seventh Verse: "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it."
Fear sent its chilling probes into her soul. She looked up to God, pulse throbbing.
"The Beast is coming!" She wailed. "Dreadful and terrible! Help us Lord!"
From somewhere in the dark thickness of the woods came the howl of an animal. It was not the mournful howl of a dog, but the heralding call of a hungry predator, its stomach empty, warning its competition. Mom Mary hurriedly checked all the doors and windows to make sure they were secure, then turned out the lights and went to bed.
Sleep eluded her. She filled the scary voids between nightmares of stalking, red-eyed creatures by praying to God. The Beast was coming.
Police Sergeant Junior Gale hadn't puked in a long time, and certainly not since he had gotten this position after his stint as a deputy sheriff over in neighboring Somerset County, Maryland. There, Junior had been a big fish in a little pond, and when he helped break the Miguel Ramirez case, dubbed the "Migrant Mutilator" by media hacks, he had also garnered enough notice to land a cushier berth in Salisbury's larger, more efficient force.
Salisbury wasn't a bad place in Junior's opinion. It was growing rapidly, but still kept its small-town charm. Recently, it had earned its nickname: Hub of Delmarva. Salisbury was a crossroads for all traffic, commercial, recreational, and criminal. Luckily for Junior, though, criminal had, until now, not caught up with those other sorts, and big-city ills seldom plagued Salisburians.
Murder of course, was becoming more familiar. Crimes of passion, they were usually called by a still unsophisticated local media. A man found his wife in the arms of another, etc.--this was the usual case of murder on "the good old Eastern Shore."
Dawn turned Salisbury's cloudy sky ashen, shot through with orange and white streaks. Occasional drizzle pelted Junior's windshield, just enough to make him use his wipers and have them annoy him with their squeaking. Added to the strobe effects of his warning lights, the situation was giving him a colossal headache.
Garbage men had discovered a body in an alley behind the medical center on Riverside. Evidently it had been there a couple of hours, and Junior had been instructed to coordinate with the medical examiner upon his arrival at the scene. An ambulance had also been dispatched. He arrived to find all the pieces in place: an orange-striped white ambulance with another damn blinking light, and the M.E.'s car nearby, a beat-up 1980's Chevy with oil dripping through worn-out gaskets.
Junior got out, slipped his nightstick into its loop and snatched up his Stetson. He paused to check its rakish angle in his side mirror, then sauntered past the other vehicles and into the alley. It was a narrow passage, sided not only by the medical center, but several abandoned waterfront warehouses that were home to colonies of rats, mice, and seagulls, not to mention their predators. Junior had been here before, rousting out drunks and crack-heads.
The alley was still dim and shadow-draped, except for one pool of glaring white light projecting from a hand lantern held by an assistant to the medical examiner. The M.E., Amos Gantry, knelt like a votary within that pool. Beyond him, partially hidden by Gantry's ample body, was the corpse. From Junior's vantage, it looked like a twisted wad of cloth.
Amos Gantry half-turned. He was drawing the familiar chalk line around his discovery.
"Kinda reminds me of one of those sorcerers when they draw chalk figures and circles to call up devils and demons and such," Junior said.
Amos grunted, but his jowly face didn't change. He had grizzled hair that matched his metallic eyes, flat and shiny. He shoved his chalk into a wide coat pocket and wobbled to his feet. His gangling assistant continued to bathe the corpse with light.
"Well, what do we have here?" Junior asked.
"Take a real good look before I explain, so you'll be sure and believe me."
Junior stood beside Amos with hands on his wide hips and stared at the corpse. It was a man, that was for sure, and somebody that looked like he could handle himself in a fight. Junior wished he was in so good a shape. Junior didn't see any obvious marks on the corpse, and he didn't see any blood or torn clothes. Harsh lighting gave the body an even paler bleaching, so that its flesh looked paper white. The man had been handsome in a rugged sort of way, with short, curly black hair over wide olive-tinted eyes. His expression was what got to Junior the most. The man's face seemed permanently set with joy.
Junior shook his head. "What can you tell me?"
"He's been dead for about three hours, and he was killed right here by the car." Amos gestured at a black'99 Dodge Prowler about twenty feet away.
"Nice set of wheels," Junior said. "Way out of my budget."
He went over and glanced inside the car, admiring its many options.
Junior turned back to Amos. "This doesn't make sense. It can't be robbery. Nobody would mug somebody and leave a car like this lying around."
"His wallet is intact," Amos said. "This is a Mister Ian Carter. Lives in a nice condo by the park."
"That limits the jealous husband theory. If he had a condo, he probably would have taken care of business there, or would have been caught at his lover's bedchamber and killed there. Cause of death?" Junior looked around again.
"Loss of blood," Amos said.
"I don't see any. You said he was killed here?"
"Oh, he died here, all right. His footprints are perfect from his car to here. I found a set of footprints coming from that warehouse to meet him. I think they might be a woman's, but I'm not sure."
"Leave that stuff for forensics. I'll get their report later. You explain to me how he could die of loss of blood and there not be any on him, or any wound that I can see."
"Wound's on his neck. Look here."
Amos stooped over the corpse and indicated its pale throat with a stubby forefinger. Junior could see two tiny slits, as if somebody had made two incisions only an eighth of an inch long with a razor blade. Junior removed his Stetson, smoothed back his uneven blonde hair and put his hat back in place.
"Okay, his throat was cut, right?" Junior asked.