It pleases me to have author Nathan Squiers visiting the Vampire Flynn blog today. Mr. Squiers, beyond being a fellow wordsmith, is also an enthusiast of my kind, with his own spin on the genre. But allow me to say no more. He has brought with him an excerpt from his book Crimson Shadow: Sins of the Father with him today. It is our genuine hope you enjoy…
Xander narrowed his eyes, unsure if his mind had just been read or if Harper was just astute. “Has the old fart really become so desperate as to ask a vampire for help?” he chortled—a sound that made Xander’s insides wretch—and shook his head, “My my! The lengths a desperate human will cross.”
Xander nodded once as he reached for Yang’s handle, “From what I’ve been told he’s traveled with far stranger company. And besides,”—he pulled the bone-white, custom-made, eight-chambered revolver from its holster under his left arm and held it at his side—“the priest knows when it’s time to admit defeat and call upon someone who can get the job done before something like you can get out of hand.”
Harper leered at that and stood upright once again, trying his best to appear regal despite everything about him working against the effort. His misshapen head rolled about on his twisted shoulders before cocking to one side as he sized-up his opponent. “And for this he sent you? You? A boy; nothing more than a fledgling? The priest must be far, FAR crazier than I’d guessed!” he snickered, “That, or you are far stronger than you seem. Strong enough to be called upon to handle an exorcism of such”—he paused to look at his own hand and grinned, making an example to wave the mutated limb at Xander—“grand proportions.”
Xander smirked at Harper’s assumptions. He understood that his appearance wasn’t at all intimidating, especially not to a creature like Harper. Having been changed into a vampire only a year earlier on his eighteenth birthday, he still retained the same boyish features he’d had as a human. And though he wasn’t short, his scrawny frame—hidden beneath his bulky jacket—and his wind-licked shaggy black hair did make him look like an overgrown child who’d just woken up and decided to play dress-up with his biker-daddy’s clothes. The only menacing feature he could think of that might work in his favor was his blood-red right eye and its pitch-black pupil that, along with its hazel partner, now narrowed at Harper. “There’s not going to be any exorcism.” Xander tapped the gun against his hip several times, “And I can’t vouch for being something special, but I guess it got Tennesen’s attention”—he smirked—“when he heard that the son of Joseph Stryker was taking on jobs.”
There was a flash of intrigue in Harper’s sunken eyes and he gave Xander a once-over in this new light, “You are of Stryker’s blood?”
Xander smiled, letting his fangs extend and fall past his lips, “That’s right,” he said in a mocking tone, knowing full-well that he had heard of his late-father, a powerful and world-renowned auric that had co-created the once-proud Odin Clan. “Does that mean anything to you?”
Harper growled deep in his throat, “Only that your blood will taste all the sweeter!”
The monster tensed its legs and pushed off, lunging at Xander with a roar. His speed was more than Xander had expected, and the young vampire barely had time to react before Harper’s elongated fingers were on him, forcing him down to the street.
“Get off of me, you ugly FUCK!” he screamed, pulling free of the twisted creature’s grip and kicking out at it. As the heavy boot drove forward and caught the hissing monster in the sternum with a loud crunch, Xander felt a wave of satisfaction.
Harper howled in pain as he was thrown off and crashed into the street a short distance away. He rose, letting out an enraged roar that opened his mouth wide enough see down his gullet. In the distance, with Harper’s inhuman wail carrying into the woods, a large, startled animal crashed through the brush, distancing itself from the road and the warring monsters occupying it.
“After I finish with you, I shall tear out the priest’s heart for insulting me in this fashion!” he swiped out with his gnarled hands and hooked one of his talons on Xander’s jacket and hurled him into an evergreen tree, which bent under his weight before catapulting him and dropping him to the forest floor. “Sending a boy—nothing more than a mockery of his father!—to kill me?” With that the demon jumped into the air and disappeared in the treetops.
Xander had learned early-on in his “career” as a mythos bounty-hunter to keep a grip on his weapons. His mentor and sole-surviving companion from the late Odin Clan, Marcus, was sure to make this lesson a priority from the beginning. However, the unexpected speed of the demon-Harper and the fall from the top of the pine had been enough to—despite all his training and effort—throw Yang from his grasp and several meters off. Groaning and rising to his feet, he pulled a wayward pine needle from his ear and tossed it aside before reaching with his left hand into the other holster under his right arm for Yin, Yang’s solid-black twin.
Illustrating his surprising—and, quite frankly, unsettling—speed and agility once again, Harper dropped down from above, grabbing the young vampire’s face in his monstrous claws and slamming the back of his head into the trunk of a nearby tree.
Xander, distantly aware of something snapping and hoping it wasn’t his skull, struggled against the grip and gasped for air from behind the creature’s suffocating palm. Finding his efforts at pulling free in vain, he extended his fangs until the edges of his gums ached from the strain and bit down on the rancid flesh cupped over his nose and mouth; retching at the resulting torrent of bitter blood. To his dismay, however, Harper’s tolerance for pain proved higher than he had anticipated, and he only succeeded in earning several more harsh impacts against the trunk he was pinned against.
Feeling his oxygen-starved mind begin to cloud, he gathered what focus he had left and extended his aura from his heaving chest. As the crimson streak shot from his chest like a Hell-born bolt of lightning and drove into Harper, the demon let out a furious shriek and was hurled back, tearing the earth beneath him as he landed on his side, writhing and scrambling around on his own twisted limbs.
Finally free, Xander dropped to one knee and clutched at his burning chest, coughing and hacking from both his enraged lungs and the lingering taste of the demon’s tainted blood. Harper, finding his footing and extending his wings, took to the air with another enraged screech; the current from his takeoff whipping a cloud of dusty air into Xander’s face.
“Flight’s delayed, fucker!” Xander heaved with a growl of annoyance as he cocked Yang and fired three times into the night and watched with satisfaction as two of the shots pierced one of the creature’s wings. As Harper’s lopsided attempts at staying airborne failed him and he began to spiral from the sky—his body twisting and spiraling under the frantic efforts of his single wing—Xander retrieved Yin from the ground and holstered the pair as he started to sprint forward. Not patient enough to wait for his target to land, Xander leapt into the night sky and closed the distance between them. As he rose over the top of some of the shorter trees, he met Harper’s flailing body and snagged the beast’s leg and pulled him down. When he had successfully positioned the snarling monster beneath him, he drove both of his feet into his sternum in a powerful kick that rocketed it towards the Earth.
Crashing headfirst to the ground, Harper’s shoulder separated noisily from the rest of him as his body twisted even more—if such a feat were possible—under its own weight; the vertebrae shifted and distended until Xander was certain Harper was about to snap himself in half. Instead, the crumpling mass simply folded to the side as a row of ribs snapped under the stress. Smirking at the sight, Xander landed a short distance away and began to approach it, pulling out Yin in his right hand as he did.
The creature wasn’t dead.
Not yet, anyway.
He had read enough to know that it wouldn’t be that simple.
Taking Yang into his left hand and thumbing back the twins’ hammers, he stared at the broken and disfigured pile. The demon’s warped back twitched and heaved as it tried to pull itself up, its herniated muscles bulging under its gray, bruised flesh.
“You audacious little shit!” Harper hissed, lowering his head and baring his fangs like an enraged snake, “Stryker was a REAL vampire; a proud and powerful warrior! Anyone—ally and enemy alike—who gazed upon him knew this to be true! But you…” the creature took a tight hold of his own arm before he popped the shoulder back into place and hissed in pain, “… you are not what he was; never will be! Whether or not you are of his blood, there is nothing left of his legacy! You’re a stubborn clot-chewer, I’ll give you that, but the priest made a mistake in—”
Curious to read more? You can purchase a copy of Nathan’s book on Amazon.com, or find out more about him through his website. Mr. Squiers also has additional work available through Smashwords and Amazon. (And can be… stalked, shall we say?… via Twitter.)