My Young Adult urban fantasy, Blood Family ~ Quest for the Vampire Key, has been gestating in the coffin for quite a while now. Many of you know about its inception, its close call with a big publisher, and how I came to decide to bring this story of one teenage boy’s quest for his supernatural heritage to your e-reading device.
By the end of March, 2013, Blood Family will be well-and-truly ‘out there’. Look for it on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and (later on) other good book outlets.
First, an overview.
A vampire father, an imprisoned mother, and one perilous journey…
Urban fantasy for Young Adult readers and beyond.
Lazy, goalless New England teenager Daniel Dark never intended his life to change so dramatically. It starts with the arrival of a mysterious package, and the revelation that his true father was a master vampire named Dominus. As his own fearsome powers begin to emerge, he sets out to rescue his birth mother, still imprisoned in Dominus’ stronghold. Strange clues take Daniel to the deep forests of southern Mexico and then to the mist-shrouded moors of England. Hot on his heels is his adoptive father – Pastor Nathan Dark, determined to find and kill he boy he had once called his son.
Read on and discover the world of Daniel Dark.
Strapped down, like a lamb for the slaughter.
The boy didn’t know what he hated more, the coldness of the slab he lay upon or the tightness of the leather straps that bound his four-year-old arms and legs.
On this occasion, Dad was accompanied by an older man – an elderly priest with a seriousness that made the lines in his face taut and frightening. His hands held an open book, The Rituale Romanum.
Both men began intoning strings of words that the boy did not understand, words that scared him. They reverberated off the walls of the empty church, the same church that his mother took him to every Sunday to watch his father talk to the people and say prayers. He liked the church during those times. The singing soothed him. When his Dad preached, he would quietly listen and try to understand. It was, after all, his father up there. At the end of the service, the congregation would file past Dad, who stood at the door, and say nice things to him, sometimes shaking his hand. Old women liked him a lot. Children smiled at him, showing him their colored pictures that they had done in Sunday school or during the sermon.
Then the old priest opened a black valise and took out some containers. From one he scooped out a small amount of ointment with his fingertips and drew cross shapes on the boy’s forehead. Repeatedly he made them, shouting his strange words. Dad just looked on, tight-lipped and grim. The boy struggled mightily, yelling and crying. The two ministers looked at each other as though satisfied that something they were doing was working.
After an hour the ministers sighed, mopped their brows, and brought the torment to an end. His father kissed the boy tenderly on the cheek as he unbound him – saying how sorry he was that he had to do this to him. Saying that it was necessary. Saying that he loved him.
The boy stood upon the altar to which he had been strapped and looked across the chancel to the church of empty pews. The old priest was walking away down the aisle, his work done. This wasn’t his church, or even his denomination. Dad had called the man in from some other place. There was no doubt that he would return when needed.
“Daniel,” said Dad. “Come on, jump down from there. We’ll do something fun. We can go for some ice cream. Or McDonald’s, how about that?”
But the boy remained, concentrating on the receding back of the old priest. After a moment, the priest stopped. Turned.
The old man sensed the boy’s red-hot stare. Reaching into his vestments, he clutched the secreted wooden cross …
The boy flung himself through the air, eyes blazing, an unearthly roar gushing from his mouth. In a blur he was upon his target. Newly formed fangs clamped on to the priest’s neck, puncturing his carotid artery. The boy’s small nails grew into claws, tearing at the vestments, shredding them from the man’s body and covering his victim in glistening red gashes.
A strong pair of hands wrenched the boy away. His father was distraught beyond consolation, using every ounce of strength to haul his son back to the chancel. He dragged the child to the small, sunken pool, square and shallow, situated behind the altar.
“I was afraid to put you in here before, Daniel,” Dad said, “but now I have no choice. May the Lord decide if you live or die!”
The child continued to roar and thrash. Then…he was abruptly calmed. A voice sounded within his head. Deep…reverberating…familiar…
“Kill him before he kills you…my son.”
The rage built again. The face of the man he had called father for all of his life now seemed to be nothing more than a mask. The voice in his mind was one with which he felt strangely comfortable. It was within that voice that he put his trust.
In five seconds, it was over. Teeth and claws – as well as strength far in excess of a normal four-year-old – tore the life from his father, all before he could wet the boy with even the slightest drop of blessed water from the pool.
The boy stood up, shaken and … exhilarated. He looked down at the slain body of the one he’d known as Dad and felt no remorse. Quietly, he watched the blood that slicked the pastor’s hand seep into the pool, a silent ribbon of red. Then, something caught his attention. He looked up.
An odd thing was happening to the large portrait of the Savior that hung at the back of the chancel between two stained glass windows. The painted figure seemed to be moving. No, not moving – a dark and misty shape had superimposed itself over it. Wraithlike arms stretched outward in the same way as the Lord’s. The black ghost-figure broke softly away from the canvas and floated down towards him. The boy felt no fear.
The tall, infinitely black figure hovered before the child and put forth huge, semi-transparent dragon wings, practically dwarfing the figure from which they sprang. An angel?
It was then that he saw its fangs.
The entity flew around him faster and faster. It was exciting as well as confusing for the boy. He didn’t know where he was, what end was up, anything at all, until finally –
The set of super-sharp teeth snapped down hard on to his neck. The boy screamed with pain, with ecstasy, with sheer childish delight. Screamed until –
CHAPTER ONE WILL BE POSTED TOMORROW!