The last person 25-year-old junkie, Steven, expected to meet was Anna Marie, an alluring stranger who turns out to be a fellow junkie . . . and a vampire. Anna Marie senses an inner steel deep inside Steven, and offers him a membership in the seductive world of The Morphia Clan, a group of vampires as devoted to using narcotics as much as they are to drinking blood. Steven soon falls in love with Anna Marie, whose vampire throne is threatened from outside forces and from within. There are hidden dangers everywhere and treachery and betrayal lie just around every corner. Soon Steven finds himself not only in a fight to save his own life but also the life of the vampire he loves.
|Publisher:||Intrigue Publishing LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Billy Lyons is the contributing writer of book and movie reviews at Muzzleland Press. His work has been published in the High Strange Horror anthology and the Another Realm e-zine. He lives in Doran, Virginia.
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Blood and Needles
By Billy Lyons
Intrigue Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Billy Lyons
All rights reserved.
On the night Steven Jameson became a vampire, he was lurking inside a dark corner of Church Street Station, desperately seeking someone to rob.
Even though it was a Saturday night in July, it might as well have been a Monday or a Wednesday as far as Steven was concerned. Other twenty-five year olds might spend their Saturdays and Sundays grilling burgers or drinking beer on the beach, but Steven spent his getting the money he needed to feed his arm. It was his unfortunate truth that junkies don't get weekends off.
Thirty years ago the shops and restaurants of Church Street Station were a major Orlando tourist attraction, but the arrival of newer venues such as Downtown Disney and Citywalk had rendered them unfashionable and low rent. The only tourists who came there today were those who either didn't have enough cash for the finer spots or didn't know any better. The place was decrepit, the current owners did little in the way of providing security, and the police had better things to do. This made it the ideal place for Steven to find a victim.
It had been eight hours since Steven's last fix, and beads of cold sweat that had nothing to do with the heat or humidity were just beginning to dot his brow. His pale skin clashed with the dirty, disheveled jet-black hair that clung to his bony shoulders. He felt no pain just yet, but knew that he would soon find himself deep in the throes of withdrawals, a condition that must be avoided at all costs.
It didn't take long for Steven to find what he was looking for. Across the street, a middle-aged couple stood arguing outside a tavern that looked like its last renovation had occurred sometime during the first Bush administration. The man was short, bald, and morbidly obese. He wore khaki shorts, Jesus sandals, and a gaudy red and white Hawaiian shirt. The unlit cigar in his mouth was so long and thick that Freud could have written about it for years. His wife was a tall, thin woman who wore a white sundress that clashed with the blaring sunburn that covered her from head to toe. The two of them were Jack Sprat and his wife, only in reverse.
The couple stood in front of the tavern, arguing in an accent that came straight out of New Jersey (or somewhere just as deplorable). "Don't blame me, Ralph," the woman whined. "This place is your fault. It's always your fault."
Watching them, Steven got the idea that even if a mad suicide bomber appeared out of nowhere and blew everyone in the place to hell and back, the woman's last thought would be that somehow it had been Ralph's fault.
"We get two weeks out of the year to take a vacation," she complained. "Two weeks, that's all, and you make the brilliant decision to bring us to this dump. I want to go to Disney, Ralph. Take me to Disney!"
The look Ralph gave his wife suggested that what he wanted to do more than anything else was drive her to Lake Jessup and feed her to the alligators, but he said nothing. Ralph looked like the longsuffering type, if nothing else, and Steven supposed the poor bastard had figured out a long time ago that married life would be much more tolerable if he simply held his tongue.
Steven continued to watch them, and soon things started to look up. Ralph lifted his shirt to scratch his considerable gut, and when he did, a bulging money belt came into view. Steven's eyes locked onto it like heat-seeking missiles, and he reached into his pocket to make sure the switchblade he carried for just such occasions was there. He took out the knife and was just getting ready to pounce when he caught sight of a much more promising prize. It was Mandy Peterson.
Mandy wasn't exactly someone that Steven would call a friend, but he did hang out with her from time to time, when it was beneficial. A couple of weeks ago she had shown up at the abandoned house he called home, dope-sick as hell, and hurting bad. Steven had split a shot with her, but not out of any sense of pity, benevolence, or all-around goodwill. Such concepts are absent from the junkie world.
The real reason Steven had shared his dope with Mandy, the only reason, was because she had agreed to give him head before she shot up. Junkie or not, Mandy could suck a mean dick, and she had performed this particular blowjob with a relentless fervor, knowing that once she'd finished she would get her own reward, one that came from a dirty needle instead of a cock.
Steven vacillated between Mandy and the tourist couple. What if Mandy wasn't holding? He felt sure the fat man and his shrew of a wife had plenty of cash on hand, but it would take time to convert it to dope, and he was feeling sicker by the minute. Still, if he let them get away and it turned out that Mandy didn't have anything, he would really be fucked.
Steven thought some more and was about to abandon Mandy for the tourists when her eyes met his. As soon as they did, she turned and started running away as fast as her skinny legs would carry her. Steven knew then without a doubt that she had something on her, because if she hadn't, she most certainly would have bum rushed him looking for a fix. He changed his mind one last time and took off after Mandy. There would always be a few unsuspecting tourists walking around Church Street on a Saturday night. He could rob one of them after he had gotten high.
That particular evening there wasn't much of a crowd, so it didn't take long for Steven to close the distance between Mandy and himself. She cast frightened glances back at him as she ran, like a slasher movie heroine fleeing Freddy or Jason. Steven got to within an arm's length and raised his hand to grab her, but stopped short when he felt someone lay hands on him instead.
Oh, shit, he thought. Five-O! Thank God I don't have anything on me.
"Hey, man!" Steven said, his voice filled with righteous indignation. He turned, and fully expected to see a cop, but instead came face to face with the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
She stood almost an inch taller than Steven's five feet eleven, yet couldn't have weighed more than a hundred pounds. Her facial features were striking: high, prominent cheekbones, a thin unassuming nose, and tiny dimples that bookended full, pouting Angelina Jolie lips. Long, snow-white hair hung in loose curls along her shoulders and blended seamlessly with the color of her eyes, a sharp shade of blue that resembled icicles drenched in Aqua Velva. All in all, the woman standing before Steven was nothing less than a Norse goddess.
She also had an air about her which was more than a little bit unsettling. Steven gazed into her eyes and felt a strong, undefined power enter him and drill all the way down into his soul. He trembled as he stood before her, inherently understanding that as stunning as the woman might be, she was also someone to be feared. Still, he somehow managed to muster enough courage to speak.
"Look, bitch, get your hands off me," Steven started to say, but only got as far as "Look, biii" because she cut his words off at the quick by lifting him a foot off the ground with one hand. Steven thrashed with the manic resistance of a cat being forced into a bathtub full of water, but his efforts ceased once she tightened her grip on his throat and he could no longer breathe.
Steven looked again into the woman's eyes. If he had been able to scream, he would have. Her icy-blue irises were still there, but now they were joined by dark red and black specks. Steven stood transfixed as the colors danced around the periphery of her pupils. He became dizzy and almost blacked out, but eventually the woman's eyes returned to normal and she lightened her grip just enough for him to remain conscious. "Who are you?" she asked. It was phrased like a question, but Steven recognized it as the command it was. "And if one more insolent word comes out of your mouth I'll empty your intestines onto the streets." Steven believed her, but refused to allow her the satisfaction of knowing just how afraid he was.
"I'm Jack. Jack Meoff. My buddy, Mike Hunt, is waiting for me across the street, so let's make this quick, okay? We wouldn't want Narnia to be without its Queen for too long."
The woman's eyes narrowed and a low growl emerged from somewhere deep inside her. Steven cringed, said goodbye to his digestive tract, and prepared to die, but the anger in her eyes receded as quickly as a summertime thunderstorm, and she actually laughed.
"You can't resist being a smart ass even in the face of death. I like that. I like that indeed. A junkie with guts is a rare thing in this world, my friend. You might just do, but first tell me your name, and this time, hold the jokes." Steven knew there would be no reprieve if he disobeyed her a second time, so as best as he could with her holding him by the throat, he simply said, "Jameson. My name is Steven Jameson."
Steven's feet dangled a foot or so off the ground as he hung in the grasp of the alluring stranger, who continued to stare into him with her magical, haunting eyes. What in the hell does this crazy bitch want with me? He wondered. Several minutes crept by before she seemed satisfied with what she saw.
"Well, Steven, we'll talk later," she said, and closed her grip on his carotid arteries. Everything went dark.CHAPTER 2
When Steven came to he had no earthly idea where he was. The only thing that was clear was a terrifying realization that his situation was dire. His withdrawal had reached the point where it was almost unbearable, which told him at least six hours must have passed since he met the crazy woman on Church Street.
"What the fuck is this place?" Steven wondered. He tried to look around and get his bearings, but before he could move his head, more than an inch, he threw up onto the bare concrete floor. Almost simultaneously, a massive wave of stomach cramps hit him like a trip hammer, and he drew his body up and into itself in a desperate attempt to stop the pain. The move eased the cramps somewhat, but came with the downside that the entire right side of his body now rested inside a putrid puddle of puke. A few seconds later, just when he thought things couldn't get any worse, he shit his pants.
This pathetic scene repeated until Steven's bowels were finally empty, and he was physically and emotionally spent. Gasping heavily, he summoned what little energy he had left, and cried out to anyone who might take pity. "Help! Can anybody hear me? Please! Somebody help!!" There was no reply.
The pain in his stomach made it impossible to stand, so Steven crawled forward, covered in puke and shit, looking like something out of one of the darker, more perverted corners of the Internet. Before he had gone more than a couple of feet forward, however, his progress came to a halt. He turned and saw that a thick iron chain attached his left ankle secured him to the wall. He stopped crawling and prayed for a firearm, one powerful enough for him to blow his brains out in one shot and end his suffering once and for all.
Steven had no idea why he had been brought to this place or exactly what was planned, but since the chain bound to his leg meant his chances of escaping the room were nil, he became resigned to his fate. "So this is where it ends," he muttered to himself. "Twenty-five years on earth and I'm reduced to a pig stuck in a pen, forced to wallow in its own shit before being led to the slaughter."
"Let's not get so dramatic," a female voice called out. Somewhere above, a door creaked shut and soft footsteps echoed off the walls of the empty room.
How the hell did she hear that? I was barely whispering to myself.
"I hear very well." The mysterious woman he had met earlier in the evening came into view. "You will also find that I can read your thoughts," she said.
Fuck you, then.
She stopped a few feet from Steven and laughed. It was an annoying cackle that grated on his very last nerve. "Let's have that talk I promised," she said. "I suppose you have a few questions."
"Questions?! Bitch, are you crazy? Of course I've got questions!" As soon as Steven said the words, there came another explosion of bodily fluids, and any fight that remained inside him vanished. "Forget the questions. Just kill me."
She knelt and placed a hand on his cheek. "I'm sorry," she said. I had forgotten just how terrible the sickness can be." She reached inside her bosom and withdrew a vial of white powder. The sight of it vanquished all thoughts of death from Steven's mind. Jesus. That has to be at least three-quarters of an ounce of smack!
She laughed again. It's an ounce and a half, and it's pure. Not ninety percent, not ninety-five percent, but one hundred percent. Pure. Steven noticed that she wasn't moving her lips, and as crazy as such a thing might seem, he knew he was hearing her with his brain instead of his ears. At the moment, however, the wonder of such a thing held absolutely no importance, because the only thing he could think about was the sweet salvation she held in the palm of her hand.
She carelessly tapped out a more than ample bump of the pure white goodness onto the back of her forearm. As she did so, a tiny amount spilled onto the tops of her stilettos. If Steven could have reached them he would have licked the dope off the top of them. Hell, he would have licked it off the soles. She snorted all the powder that remained on her hand and repeated the process twice more before she seemed satisfied that it was enough. Steven looked at the vial. Sadly, only crumbs remained.
I never saw anyone snort that much dope in my life, he thought wildly. How is she even standing? That much smack would kill anyone, junkie or not. No one has a tolerance that high.
The woman ignored Steven and tilted her head towards the ceiling. Her face reflected the all-encompassing euphoria that comes from the massive release of endorphins heroin so aptly provides. She issued a long, languid sigh. Steven expected her to nod out, if not pass out and die, but she remained fully conscious and eventually her attention returned to the here and now.
"Well, Steven, that's what we need to talk about," she said. "You wonder how I can snort so much dope and still live. I'll answer your question by asking you one of my own. Do you believe in vampires?"
Despite his growing fear, Steven replied automatically, giving absolutely no thought to any possible consequences. It was this reckless insolence that served as his primary defense mechanism in all things. "Of course I do," he said, the words as sharp as straight razors. "Vampires, Santa Claus, and Chupacabra. Hell, I even believe in The Easter Bunny, so why not vampires?
The woman struck so quickly that Steven never saw her hand as her nails slice through the baby-soft flesh of his cheek with the precision of a surgical scalpel. Then she leaned forward and brushed the surface of the makeshift incision with her lips. Steven gaped as he felt her lap up the blood, swallowing as she went.
This bitch isn't crazy, she's fucking nuts, Steven thought. Dope-sick or not, I've got to get the hell out of this insane asylum before I turn up dead in an alley somewhere.
After a few more swallows, she removed her lips from Steven's cheek and looked upwards, as if she was giving something her utmost consideration. "Let's see what we've got. China White, cut with dry wall, and shipped here from Nuevo Laredo by the Sinaloa Cartel. About seventy, no, sixty percent pure. Pretty shitty dope in Orlando these days, huh, Steven?"
Jesus, can she really tell all that about my dope just from the way it tastes in my blood?
She reached back down into her cleavage and withdrew another vial, rolling it casually between her thumb and index finger. "Would you believe there's fifty kilos of this stuff upstairs?"
Any trace of insolence (or self-respect) left Steven's voice at this news. "Please. If you're a junkie, then you know what I'm going through. Give me just a little taste. I'll do anything."
She opened the vial and waved it slowly back and forth in front of Steven's nose. He easily recognized the bitter, acidic scent of high quality heroin. It smelled like home.
"Anything? Are you sure about that?"
Steven felt something moving around inside his head, as if a massage therapist had been shrunk down and placed inside his skull. The sensation wasn't entirely unpleasant, and in different circumstances, he might have actually enjoyed it. "I see that you've already committed most of the usual junkie crimes," she said, scanning his mind. "You stole your dead granny's cancer meds? Steven, I'm shocked!" she said with mock surprise and chuckled again.
Excerpted from Blood and Needles by Billy Lyons. Copyright © 2016 Billy Lyons. Excerpted by permission of Intrigue Publishing, LLC.
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