Tainted Blood

Tainted Blood

by James M. Thompson

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Overview

Tainted Blood by James M. Thompson

A Miracle Cure

At long last, Elijah Pike has procured a vaccine powerful enough to purify his vampire blood, and hopefully bring an end to his insatiable appetite. He shares his findings with those of his kind who also wish to heal their eternal torment.

A Bloody Rebellion

But the vampire, Theo Thantos doesn't want to be cured. He doesn't care if vampires spill innocent blood to ensure their own survival. He will not allow Pike's vaccine to drive the nosferatu to extinction. With a cadre of fanatics devoted to his cause, Thantos plans to transform America's most powerful people into vampires under his control.

A War Between Immortals

The battle lines have been drawn. Thantos' army appears unstoppable, but Pike's experiments on vampirism go beyond mere treatment. He has found a way of increasing a vampire's mental and physical abilities. It's a discovery that could provide his brood with an edge they so desperately need against Thantos' forces of darkness. For unless Pike and his followers can crush their enemies, the mortal world be transformed into a living hell . . .

"If you read one horror book this year, read this one!" -William W. Johnstone on Night Blood

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786016150
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 08/28/2004
Pages: 354
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 6.92(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

James Thompson, eastern Kentucky born and raised, has lived in Finland for the past decade. Before becoming a full-time writer, Thompson studied Swedish and Finnish, in which he is fluent, and worked as a bartender, bouncer, construction worker, photographer, rare coin dealer, and soldier.

Read an Excerpt

Tainted Blood


By James M. Thompson

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2004 James M. Thompson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5161-0409-3


CHAPTER 1

Elijah Pike stood at the window in the loft of his cabin near North Waterford, Maine, and stared at the loons floating serenely on Jewett Pond just beyond his backyard. He sighed. Lately, there had been too much going on to allow him many moments like this — quiet contemplation of the beauties of his home state.

It'd only been a few weeks since the battle in Canada, where he and his friends had defeated Michael Morpheus and his band of killers in their quest to keep the Vampyre vaccine from being produced.

As one of the baby loons paddled up to its mother and climbed up on her back to nestle down between her wings and garner a free ride, Elijah smiled and turned back to his desk. His leather-bound journal lay on the blotter, still open to the spot where he'd quit reading the night before. He'd carried the journal with him for over two hundred years and it chronicled his life as a Vampyre.

He took a deep swig of his coffee and sat down, idly thumbing through the pages, his mind elsewhere. When he got to the beginning of the book, where he described how he'd been transformed into a Vampyre while trapped overnight in a blizzard not too far from this very cabin over two hundred years before, the words written in India ink on pale, yellowed parchment caught his eye: "My name is Elijah Pike," the book began, "and the story I am about to put down is strange and incredible, but true nevertheless."

Pike chuckled as he read the words. It was still strange to be once again using his real name. When he'd found out what kind of monster he'd become those two hundred plus years ago, that he'd have to kill for the blood he needed to survive, he'd left his wife and family behind and had gone on the run, crossing the nation while leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him.

In order to survive without being apprehended, he'd begun using aliases and had carefully documented and arranged dozens of false identities. He only recently had gone back to his true name and it was still taking some getting used to.

I changed back to my own name, he thought, when I decided to never again kill an innocent Normal to satisfy my hunger. Only when I pledged to never again dishonor the Pike name did I feel justified in using it again.

He glanced back down at the journal and thumbed ahead to the pages he written when he'd finally discovered how he'd been transformed; how by drinking the blood of another Vampyre creature, one could be infected with a mutated virus carried by bacteriophages that would change one's own DNA and forever make him a monster. The infection with bacteriophages brought on an illness that would cause the never-ending hunger for human blood, the extreme sensitivity to sunlight, the body's amazing ability to heal itself of almost any wound, the psychic abilities, and last, but certainly not least, the virtual immortality that was oftentimes more a curse than a blessing.

He snorted. The unwanted but permanent infection was responsible for the creation of another race, one whose members often considered themselves to be superior to the Normals on whom they fed.

An infection, furthermore, that up until now had neither cure nor any amelioration other than death by beheading — something not many Vampyres would willingly endure to rid themselves of the curse.

There had been no cure for thousands of years, that is, until he and his friends had come upon some new research by Dr. Bartholomew Wingate at McGill University in Canada that offered, if not a cure, at least a chance to cause the sickness to go into hibernation, to stop the hunger and keep it hidden — to prevent the need to kill in order to survive.

In sudden anger, Pike slammed the journal shut and gnawed on a thumbnail as he stared unseeingly out the window, his mind a jumble of thoughts. How could he have been so blind as to believe that all other Vampyres felt as he did — full of self-loathing at their murderous thirst for blood? Why hadn't he realized that some members of his race actually relished their bloodlust, in fact even living for the thrill of the hunt, the quick satisfaction of the kill?

He'd naively offered up his serum, his "cure" that would enable all Vampyres to once again lead normal lives, though not actually become normal again. He'd told them joyfully that they would never have to be at war with the Normals again, would never have to hunt and kill, to rend and tear and suck the life out of innocents ever again.

He tasted the coppery saltiness of blood and took his finger out of his mouth without looking at it. He should have known there'd be those like Michael Morpheus and his cohorts: Animals who relished their superiority over Normals, who considered humans to be their rightful prey, monsters who could never allow his vaccine to become available — at least not without a fight.

Thus, the first battle in what Pike had come to call the Vampyre Wars had been fought in a snow-covered forest in Canada a couple of weeks ago. The first battle had been won, but the war was just beginning and Pike knew it was going to be a long and bloody one, for there were many of his race who feared the vaccine would be the end of their race as well as their way of life.

He leaned back in his chair and thought about his friends who'd given up their professions and their own way of life to help him in his quest to make the vaccine available to all who wanted it. They were the only allies he had to fight the Vampyre army, and he wondered if they were enough:

TJ O'Reilly was short, standing only about five-feet-two-inches, and had tousled black hair that was usually covering half her face. The beautiful and brilliant internal medicine doctor had been in her third year of residency when Pike, going by the name Roger Niemann then, kidnapped her and began to transform her into a Vampyre, intending to make her his mate for life.

Samantha Scott, a doctor of pathology, was TJ's best friend and roommate. She was five and a half feet tall, with reddish brown hair, freckles, and emerald-green eyes. She was on the fast track to become the youngest head of a department at Baylor College of Medicine when Pike came into her life.

Matt Carter stood five-feet-eight-inches tall and had an average build and a pleasant though not handsome face. He'd been an emergency room physician and assistant professor of emergency medicine when he and Sam had been drawn into Pike's web of killings back when he was still living off the blood of Normals. In his defense, Pike had even then tried to take only the lowest dregs of society — criminals, prostitutes, and those he determined deserved to die.

Shooter Kowolski, Matt's best friend and a homicide detective on the Houston police force at the time, had joined in the hunt for Pike after he'd kidnapped TJ. Shooter was twenty-five at the time, dark-skinned with a perpetual five o'clock shadow, and was of medium height and build. His dark, curly hair and blue eyes made TJ think he looks like a young Tony Curtis.

As it turned out, Pike remembered, with an involuntary shiver, they'd found him living on his boat, the Night Runner and had almost succeeded in killing him as they rescued TJ from his lair.

He shook his head ruefully. The experience had changed Pike's life. He decided to never again allow himself to kill for his food, electing instead to put all of his energies into discovering some way, some magic potion or elixir that would allow him to conquer the hunger that invaded his every waking moment.

Now, here they all were. In a strange twist of fate, the doctors and the cop had come to be friends with Pike and to sympathize with his desire to help other Vampyres to stop having to kill to survive. The doctors had given up their practices and Shooter his career in law enforcement to help Elijah make his vaccine available to all who needed and wanted it.

In so doing, they'd crossed paths with Michael Morpheus, who in his insane desire to stop the vaccine's production, had kidnapped Sam and managed to transform her into a Vampyre like Elijah and TJ before she was rescued.

Pike's lips pressed tight as he thought about the sacrifices his friends had made to help him on his quest. They were very special people indeed.


* * *

Downstairs, Samantha Scott was leaning over, stirring the coals in the fireplace with a poker, when a pair of hands caressed her hips.

"You know you shouldn't bend over like that in front of me," Matt Carter said from behind her, his voice husky with lust.

A light laughter from the kitchen door on the other side of the room caused Matt's face to blush furiously. TJ O'Reilly just shook her head as she laughed and tried to cover her mouth.

"Jesus," she said between chuckles, "I thought Shooter was the only one who went berserk at the sight of a woman's butt."

Trying to regain his dignity, Matt glanced over at her and said, his voice dripping with disdain, "I wasn't berserk, I was only ... uh ... mildly stimulated."

Sam straightened up and turned, her hands on her hips and her right eyebrow cocked as she stared at her lover. "Only mildly stimulated, huh?" she said, her voice rising to that dangerous pitch where a man knows he'd better tread lightly or risk losing an important part of his anatomy.

Just then, Shooter Kowolski came out of the bathroom door, wearing sweatpants and a towel draped over his shoulders. His dark, curly hair was still damp from the shower. "Uh-oh, Matt," he called, winking at TJ, "Sounds like you've dug yourself another hole, podnah."

In spite of himself, Matt laughed. "Oh, and I guess you'd know, Shooter, since you're the resident expert on putting your foot in your mouth."

Unfazed, Shooter ambled over to put his arm around TJ's shoulders. "Yeah, but I'm cute enough to get away with it, Matt my boy. You're not."

Sam's face softened and she let her eyes drift down to the front of Matt's pants. "Oh, I don't know, Shooter," she said, not looking up. "He is sort of cute, standing there, all mildly stimulated."

At that, Matt crossed his hands in front of his lap and all four friends broke out laughing. After a minute, TJ managed to say, "I've got hot cocoa in the kitchen, if anyone's interested."

Shooter, who'd never been known to pass up a chance to eat, said, "Hell, yes, I'm interested," and started toward the kitchen, followed by the others who were still laughing together.

CHAPTER 2

John Ashby sat at a table in a dark corner in a small bar on the outskirts of Banff. Other than the fact that he was almost six-feet-four-inches in height, John looked perfectly ordinary. His hair was brown and slightly thinning on top and he had broad shoulders and a thick chest, but he wasn't so big that people took notice. In fact, he had the ability to completely blend in with his surroundings, a feat he'd used to his advantage many times in his previous occupation as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force.

He took an occasional sip of a whiskey and soda as cover while he watched the other patrons closely. He had come to his particular bar because he wasn't known here, and he was looking for a special couple — the kind of people who did frequent this particular establishment.

He wanted a young couple that did drugs for a couple of reasons. First, their abrupt absence wouldn't be too unusual in those circles, and if they were eventually missed or their bodies were somehow found, their deaths would just be put down as a hazard of their living on the edges of society in the Canadian drug culture. Druggies in Canada weren't known for their long life expectancy.

He narrowed his eyes to concentrate and cast out with his mind, searching for just the right people in the crowd on the dance floor. There were no shortage of drug users among the patrons, in fact, the majority of people in the bar fit that description; but he needed some who were in need of a fix, some who wouldn't look a gift horse who offered them one in the mouth.

Suddenly, he found them. Both the man and the woman dancing off in a corner by themselves were bored and slightly anxious from not having scored any dope yet this evening. They were already starting to feel the first twangs of withdrawal as their habit made itself known. John could smell the woman's anxiety sweat from across the room and the man's fidgety movements and darting eyes gave his need away as clearly as if he'd worn a sign saying, "Will work for dope."

John's mouth watered as his habit also made itself known. The hunger was getting insistent and needed to be assuaged sooner rather than later. He needed some blood and he needed it now!

He pulled a small pad out of his jacket pocket, wrote a few words on it, and got up from his table. As he walked to the door, he brushed past the couple and pressed the note into the man's hand so no one could see.

John proceeded out into the parking lot, walking slowly toward the car he'd parked in the far corner, away from all the other automobiles.

He could hear the couple's footsteps crunching on the gravel parking lot as they followed him, and he smiled to himself. He'd written on the note that he had some good shit out in his car if they wanted to party with him. He could sense the man's excitement and hostility building behind him and smiled again. Perfect. The couple was planning on ripping him off and stealing his dope. Good, he thought. The little shits would deserve what they were about to get.

John fancied himself a good and honorable man and always tried to take prey that were somewhat bent, that he could at least pretend deserved what he was about to do to them. It was a matter of pride with him that innocents had nothing to fear from him, only those with larceny, or worse, in their hearts would ever be his victims.

John had his hand on his car door when the man behind him stuck a gun in his ear.

"Hold it right there, you son of a bitch!" the man growled, easing back the hammer on the small revolver to punctuate his demand.

John put a worried look on his face, raised his hands and turned around to face the couple.

"Hey, what is this?" he asked, pretending to be frightened. "I just asked if you wanted to party," he added. "Didn't mean to piss you off or anything."

The girl grabbed the man's left arm and snuggled up tight against him. "Hurry up, baby," she whined. "Make him give it to us. I'm startin' to hurt really bad."

"Give us your shit, asshole, or I'll blow you head off!" the man said in a harsh voice, the barrel of the gun shaking as if the man had a chill. He was sweating and the acrid smell of his need surrounded him like a fog.

John had to force himself not to smile at the man's tough-guy act. He could read the man's fear in his mind as clear as if he'd spoken it out loud.

"Sure, sure mister," John said. He turned his head. "I've got it in my trunk."

"Well then, hurry up and open it," the punk ordered, pointing toward the rear of the car with the pistol.

"Okay," John said and he pulled out his keys and moved to the rear of the car. "Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked. "After all, I didn't do anything to you."

"Make him hurry baby," the girl whined. Her nose was beginning to run and she sleeved it off on her arm. "I need a hit real bad." She was almost jumping up and down in anticipation of a needle to quench her pain.

As the trunk lid popped open, the man shoved John out of the way and bent over to look inside. He straightened up and whirled around aiming the gun at John's stomach. "Hey, what is this?" he almost screamed. "There's nothing there!"

John smiled and shrugged as he glanced around the lot to make sure no one was watching. "Sorry, buddy," he said in a friendly voice. "I lied. I don't have any drugs."

"You son of a ..." the man started to say, his finger tightening on the trigger.

Quick as a rattlesnake striking, John snatched the pistol from the man's hand and whipped it backhanded across his face, slashing his cheek and knocking him to his knees. John sighed and raised the pistol and brought it down hard on the top of the man's head.

The man dropped like a stone. The terrified girl put her hands to her mouth and started to scream. John grabbed her throat in his left hand and squeezed just hard enough to cut off the blood supply to her head but not hard enough to crush her larynx and kill her. She made a few gurgled cries, and her legs flopped around as John held her up off of the ground, and then her eyes rolled back and she fainted.

John hurriedly stuffed them both into his trunk and shut the lid. He climbed behind the wheel of the car he'd stolen just for this occasion in case someone managed to get a license plate number and he pulled slowly out of the lot. It would have been easier to kill the couple, but he wanted them both alive. It would be much more fun that way.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Tainted Blood by James M. Thompson. Copyright © 2004 James M. Thompson. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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