This post was originally written as part of a blog tour. Posting it here as well. 🙂
A crack of lightning streaked across the sky as Andy Lane pulled up to the three-story monolith. A light rain had started to descend, giving the glow of the Philadelphia street lights an extra sheen and bringing with it a chill harsh enough to settle into the marrow. Andy cut out the car’s ignition and paused, hands resting on the steering wheel as he repeated the instructions written out on the invitation. “Come to this address. Come alone. I have something you might find interesting.”
He rolled his eyes. “I swear if he’s selling a time share I’ll toss him out a window.”
Andy opened the car door. Normally, he didn’t follow leads like this, but being a reporter in the digital age made it difficult to be picky. Even as a new addition to the Inquirer, he didn’t have the same stars in his eyes other rookies might. There would be no Deep Throat summoning him to a garage; no CIA informant leading him into an espionage thriller. What he hoped more was that he wouldn’t wake up in an ice-filled bath tub with a phone taped to his hand.
Fetching his laptop case from the back seat of the car, Andy drew a deep breath inward and sighed.
It was show time.
He didn’t need to press any buzzer or fiddle with any intercom. The moment he stepped into the vestibule a click sounded and the door leading to the main hallway opened without any intervention. He raised an eyebrow, but shrugged and followed the path to an elevator, stepping inside and mashing the button with the magic number two. Within seconds, Andy was on the correct floor and standing in front of an apartment marked number 211.
The door creaked open when he pushed it. Thunder rumbled somewhere in the distance. Another flash of lightning tore apart the heavens and though the room was dark, he caught a glimpse of someone seated at a table, feet propped on an adjacent chair. Tendrils of smoke wafted from a lit cigarette and embers flared orange as the figure drew from the filter. Andy stepped into the apartment and slowly shut the door behind him.
Through the darkness, he swore he saw the man smirk. “Good evening, Mr. Lane,” he said, “Nice of you to join me.”
Andy cleared his throat, clutching the laptop case tight against his body. “Thank you for the invitation,” he said. Something about the way the man smiled unnerved him. It looked almost… inhuman. “Mind if I turn a light on?”
“Go right ahead.”
With a nod, Andy felt the wall for a switch and flipped it on. The room filled with soft fluorescence. He sighed again, unaware of how fraught with relief it sounded. “You’ll have to forgive me. I’m a little…”
“Afraid of the dark?”
“Something like that.”
With a light on to guide him now, Andy saw the figure more clearly. He looked tall, about 6’3” with a thick, but athletic frame, and short brown hair. His features suggested he might be Germanic, but the few words of dialogue exchanged revealed a formal, if American, accent. A pair of emerald green eyes tracked Andy from the entryway into the dining room and settled when Andy pulled out a chair and sat across from him. The man grinned again. “A wise thing, being afraid of the dark,” he said. “Monsters reside in the shadows.”
“Muggers and rapists, too.” Andy allowed the leather case to slide from his shoulder and come to a rest on the floor. He pulled his wire-framed glasses from his face and used his shirt to wipe away droplets of rain. “Anyhow, you said you had something interesting to share.”
“I do, indeed.” He gestured toward a metallic cigarette case on the table. “Do you smoke?”
“Trying to quit.”
“Suit yourself.” The man shrugged and brought his cigarette to his mouth, indulging a deep drag and exhaling the smoke through his nostrils. He nodded as he tapped the ash into a tray. “You shall have to forgive me. I am rarely let out of the cage, and for good reason. I tend to wreak havoc whenever I am. My keeper is unaware of what I am doing.”
Andy furrowed his brow while slipping his glasses back on. “You’re going to have to unpack that for me, Mr…”
“Flynn. Just Flynn. No last name.”
“Alright… Flynn. Now, what do you mean you tend to wreak havoc?”
A cold glint crept inside his gaze. “I am assassin.”
“A rather infamous one, at that.”
Andy failed to suppress the snicker. “You’re an infamous assassin?” ‘Yeah, right.’
“I heard that, Mr. Lane. You might wish to mind your thoughts.”
“I beg your…” Andy blinked. “Heard what?”
“Your doubt.” Flynn chuckled. “I can read you like a book. I know you live with your college roommate and were born in another state. I know that while you believe in the extraordinary, you have only failed to hear of me because you lack certain knowledge.”
“What knowledge is that?”
As Flynn’s mouth opened, his incisors extended until they formed two long, sharp fangs which rested just above Flynn’s bottom lip. “I am also a vampire.”
Andy bolted up from his chair, tipping it over in the process. He inched away and stopped only when his back met with a wall. “You… How… How did you do that?” He issued a nervous laugh. “Are those prosthetics?”
“I would invite you to see for yourself, but I might demand a pint of blood as the price for admission.”
A smaller, much more apprehensive sound preceded a hard swallow. “You take this whole thing seriously, don’t you?”
Flynn shook his head and looked away at last, drawing one final time from his cigarette and snuffing it out inside the ashtray. “Humans these days. When I was more prolific, you used to scream like banshees. The cinema and this… Edward Cullen fellow have taken all of the threat from being a vampire.”
Andy raised an eyebrow. “My apologies for not screaming.”
“Hardly unexpected. Merely a disappointment.”
Andy inched away from the wall. A sense of warning screamed from within, but his curiosity got the better of him. He slowly picked the chair back up. “I’m not sure what it is you’re driving at, but fine. You’re a vampire assassin.” He slid onto the seat. “Is this what you called me here for? Am I supposed to be your Daniel Molloy?”
Flynn scoffed. “Equating me with Louis? I would have preferred a comparison with Lestat.”
“So you’re more of a Lestat?”
“Perhaps. A bit of an Eric Northman as well and… What was his name? From the other television show?”
Andy chuckled and reached for the cigarette case. “Which one? There were a lot of them.” Plucking a cigarette from the case, he lit the end and placed both case and lighter back onto the table. “If you’re talking Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there’s Angel or Spike. If you mean The Vampire Diaries, there’s Damon Salvatore.”
“Damon. That would be the one. Spike, too.” He sneered. “Do not ever dare liken me to Angel. That would be my keeper more than me.”
Andy laughed and drew from his cigarette. “Alright, so if you’re a vampire, you’re at least familiar with pop culture. How old does that make you?”
“Nice of you to play along.” Flynn pivoted in his chair and draped his arm across the back. “I was turned in 1983.”
“No kidding. I was bracing myself for a lecture on the Renaissance.”
“Sorry to disappoint. I am a young vampire, admittedly.”
“Almost the same age as me.” Andy nodded, narrowing his eyes at Flynn. “So, when were you an assassin?”
“For five years. From 1983 until 1988.”
“And you were pretty notorious?”
“They called me the Black Rose Assassin. Nobody saw me whom I did not allow and each time they did, they knew their time on earth was finished.”
“Scary.” Andy reached for the ash tray and slid it closer to him. “You killed other vampires?”
“But only for five years.” His eyes fell briefly to the table as he flicked the ash from the end of his cigarette. “What led you to pursue another career?”
“A calling.” Flynn smirked, his eyes distant as Andy looked up at him again. “I met a sorceress named Monica. She was not very keen on my maker and sought to have me change employers.”
“Oh, so you worked for your maker.”
“My mistress Sabrina, yes. She was quite ambitious. Sought to make her coven the most powerful in the entire area and would have succeeded.” His smile softened. “I would still be her right hand if not for Monica.”
Andy silently regarded the assassin. Flynn’s fangs slid back into place and a much more human expression bled its way through the surface. “Am I prying if I ask about this Monica?” Andy asked.
“Why would you do that?”
“I don’t know.” The corner of Andy’s mouth curled upward. “Seems you took a shine to her.”
Flynn sighed. “We might be dull to emotion. We are not entirely devoid of it.” His eyes found Andy’s again. “You humans see us either as stoic monsters or emasculated fallen angels. The truth is far more nuanced than either. We are killers and we are not mortal any longer, yes. It does not mean we lack feeling altogether.”
“Fair enough.” Andy reclined back in his chair. He tilted his head. “You know, vampire or not you have a pretty vivid imagination. You should write a book.”
“Funny you should mention.” The softer expression bled away, allowing the cunning, devious one to reemerge. “It would seem I chose wisely. You do not ask the questions I expect most humans to ask.”
“What brand of toothpaste do you use to polish your fangs? What do you like about yourself? Men or women? Boxers or briefs. You people are connoisseurs of the banal at times.”
Andy laughed. “You never know, maybe your fans might like to know some of that.”
Flynn rolled his eyes. “Women. Boxers. Whatever is at hand. I am a smart and devious bastard. Any others you would add to the list?”
“None I would, at least for now.” Andy’s eyes fell to the ashtray again, his mind attempting to process the entirety of the conversation. With each tap of his cigarette against the glass, he felt something crawling around the back of his mind – an itch he couldn’t scratch. The room fell silent as he turned it around and examined it. What about this was so troubling? What risk could there be in indulging an otherwise harmless lunatic? “Why did you invite me here anyway?” he asked just as the question came to him.
“I thought you would never ask,” Flynn said.
He moved like a blur, like lightning crossing the sky with the rumble of thunder. The table tipped and just as Andy summoned the presence of mind to stand, he felt himself being pinned against the wall, a hand at his throat squeezing hard enough to silence him. The cigarette dropped to the ground and cool breath hit Andy’s neck. “First, attend to this: I might be tame, but I am never domesticated. Think me insane if you will, but never think you take company with a docile creature.
“Secondly, know if you did not serve any further purpose, I would end you right this minute.” Andy felt something slide into his pocket, but couldn’t see what. It was as he stole a glance downward that Flynn flashed into his line of sight, his fangs exposed again.
‘Those aren’t prosthetics.’
“I have a job for you,” Flynn said, “And you shall see to it as though your life depended on it. You shall place the contents of that flash drive into the hands of a publisher. If they will not take it, you shall continue onward until you find one who shall. The moment it is accepted, you shall walk from the building and promptly forget even having encountered us. Am I clear?”
Andy managed as much of a nod as possible. Flynn smirked and just as Andy thought himself safe, the face disappeared and a blinding pain overwhelmed him, finding its genesis at nape of his neck. The sickening noise of draughts of blood leaving his body turned his stomach. The taste of bile rose into his mouth just as the world turned black and faded altogether.
Three weeks later, a letter arrived in the mail, addressed to Peter Dawes. Peter perked an eyebrow at it, examining the postmark and turning the envelope around before opening it. His emerald green eyes traced across each word contained therein.
Dear Mr. Dawes,
Thank you for the submission of your manuscript, Eyes of the Seer. We would like to talk with you further about the possibility of publishing this and the subsequent books in your Vampire Flynn trilogy. If you or your agent could call to arrange a meeting at your earliest convenience, we would greatly appreciate it. We look forward to speaking with you soon.
Crimson Melodies Publishing
P.S. – You might need to hire a new courier. He looked a little dazed when he spoke to my secretary.
Peter pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Damn it,” he said. Turning his head, he raised his voice to call into the other room. “Lover, I think we need to have a chat.”
“Flynn snuck out again.”