“A Void City Halloween”
©J. F. Lewis
I'm not happy with my Halloween costume, and everyone can tell. Even if I tell them who I am, half of them have never heard of this guy. Yet here I am, all dressed up, standing in front of my strip-club-turned-bowling-alley, the Demon Heart, waiting for the others. I'm drawing stares. Although I usually don’t bother, I check to see if they're thralls. Any vampire who's made a thrall can run this kind of magic background check, but you have to think about it and thinking isn't always my strong suit.
A glowing stylized "P" blips into existence over the forehead of a middle-aged woman dressed as a Ghostbuster. Fair enough, Lord Phillip wants to keep an eye on me. This is his city. I can deal with that. I spot a teenage boy and girl, both dressed in Battlestar Galactica Flight suits, who belong to him as well. There are others, too. A glowing rose, shows that the Marie Antoinette who has circled the block twice works for Lady Gabriella. I see others I don't recognize but too be honest, I don't care to know them, even though the guy dressed as Slave Leia does raise an eyebrow. His vampiric master, whoever uses the sign of the ankh, must be an interesting fellow. I count at least twelve different thralls spying on me, and it's too much.
For the record, I'm a vampire. We come in four different varieties. In Halloween candy terms, the breakdown goes like this: the lowest level, Drones, are peppermint, still candy, but not what you want to find in your bag at the end of the night. They count as vampires, but can be killed just like a normal human. Soldiers are the bulk candy: Toostie Rolls and Sweet Tarts, festive enough, but not the cream of the crop. Being a Soldier isn't bad, but the normal vampire methods will take them out. Master vampires, jump up to the miniature candy bars: Kit Kats and the like. The candy that makes a little kid smile and brings out the little kid in grown-ups. Killing a Master is harder, and their powers are better. Often, they have one traditional vampire weakness that doesn't affect them at all. Last up (or so I thought for years) are the Vlads. We're talking whole candy bars: Snickers or Hersey's special dark. Generally, there is only one way to kill a Master, one special and unique way. Most have a really rare power or ability that makes them stand out from the pack. Truly last are the Emperors. They’re so rare that it's hard to even put them in candy equations... they’re like the urban legends you heard about and didn’t believe… about the kid who knocked on the door and the little old lady handed him a hundred dollar bill and a bag of imported chocolates, only more amazing than that, more like Summer Glau answered your neighbor’s door and invited you to join the Firefly cast Halloween party already in progress..
I announce myself psychically (the way a lion might roar to mark its territory). I'm not bragging when I say that I'm an Emperor, but it explains why, when I do take the time to notices thralls, they're willing to concede the point, bow, and get the hell out of Dodge. If it was just me, I wouldn't care, but I'm taking my little girl trick or treating and I really don't want an audience.
Greta shows up wearing a late seventies outfit. You wouldn't know who she was if she wasn't standing next to me. My costume is little more than a prop for hers. She's dyed her hair brown, but she's still gorgeous... a tall, powerful woman of Amazonian proportions. Despite my stupid costume and how much I hate it, the look on her face and the way her eyes sparkle when she sees me make it worthwhile. I'm a monster (in real life, not my costume), but I love my little girl. I rescued her from a bad situation when she was nine and refused to turn her until she was twenty-one. Sometimes, I wish I'd left her human, but I have a history of failure when it comes to saying say no when someone I love asks me turn them. I try, but I always cave.
"Hi, Dad!" Her fangs peek out from her gums a little, a visual sign of her already obvious excitement.
I mumble something in response.
"Cheer up!" She hugs me, then steps back to admire Magbidion's handiwork on the costume, "Your costume isn't that bad. Mags did a great job!"
I shrug. Mags is one of my thralls. Technically I'm against the whole idea of thralls. It seems like slavery to me, but occasionally it can save someone's life or protect them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hero or anything. I frick'n eat people and I'm not sorry about it, but I draw the line at the whole slavery thing and at hurting children.
"I would have rather gone as Pee Wee Herman..." I grouse.
"Or Wonder Woman."
I nod. "She's the most powerful hero in the DCU universe."
"I thought that was Superman... or Batman."
"But Dad," Greta crosses her arms, "Superman can-"
"Wonder Woman has almost all the powers that Superman has."
"She doesn't need heat vision or super breath, she's got boobs."
Greta snorts and I smile. Like we haven't had this conversation before. My memory is bad, has been even since I died, but some things I remember. She's keeping up the banter to cheer me up, and its working.
"Breasts beat heat vision and super breath?"
"Hers do. Besides," I roll my eyes. "Look at the facts. Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite and magic. So, Wonder Woman shows up with a green K bracelet and he's toast. She also has a magic lasso, so she can rope his alien ass and he's suddenly powerless and has to tell the truth."
As we're talking, Talbot comes walking up dressed as a MIB. He's taller than me and more muscular than me, but he's a Mouser not a vampire, so I like to think I'm more powerful than he is, even if he does look better in a suit. Hell, Talbot manages to do bald, black, and dangerous better than Samuel L. Jackson. "Are we-?" he begins to ask.
"Wonder Woman," Greta says with a grin.
"Well, Batman has a bat cave and Alfred and all his bat gadgets, and Superman has the Fortress of Solitude." Talbot chimes in. He's heard this before, too, and the smile on his face is the same kind of rapt amusement cats might display while playing with string... if cats had more emotive faces.
"Screw the Bat Cave and The Fortress of frick'n solitude!" I'm in the zone now. I'm smiling so much that I barely notice the weird symbol on my chest as I glance down at the street, then back up at Talbot in a sidelong glare. My tacky white gloves are hardly bothering me at all.
In that slight lull between exchanges, I hear the heartbeats of my other thralls gathered up against the door behind me. Listening. They haven't heard this before.
"Wonder Woman," I continue, "has frick'n winged armor, a golden sword, a damn invisible jet and, as if that weren't enough, she has a whole magic island full of magic lesbians all almost as powerful and attractive as she is who are willing to don their armor and open up a can of whoop ass on 'man's world' if their precious princess gives the word. Oh. Oh. Oh. And who is their mighty princess?" I snap my fingers as I answer my own question. "That's right, it's Wonder Woman herself."
I'm drawing a crowd now, with lots of folks I don't know, mostly patrons taking place in the beer crawl sponsored by a few of the bars in Void City. Beatrice signed the Demon Heart up to take part because we have a liquor license, but I'm a lot happier about the Cosmic Bowling.
Tabitha, my fiancée, arrives at the edge of the onlookers and, as if to prove my point, she's dressed as Wonder Woman. Her costume doesn't need any padding. She even has the right hair. She looks great and is foolish enough to put up with me. I guess I love her, but really, I think I proposed just to prove a point. That she said "Yes" is a sure sign that she has issues. Then again, she’s not the one wearing the silvery boots and the red uniform.
"But Superman can fly around the world at super speed and back up time," Tabitha chirps.
It's not her fault. She doesn't know that's one of my buttons. To be honest, I'm surprised she's even seen the movie. But the moment she says it, my eyes glow red and my claws come out. Have I mentioned that I have serious rage issues?
Mwahaha. “A Void City Halloween” has become a dastardly cliffhanger. Look for the next installment in about a week. There will be flaming pumpkins, mayhem, and evil(ish) spirits. But… in the meantime, here’s a contest: I’ll give away a “Welcome To The Void” t-shirt or signed copy of ReVAMPED (winner’s choice). All you have to do to enter is comment on this blog post and take your best guess: What is Eric’s costume? This contest is open to commenter’s in the continental U.S. and comments must be in no later than 11:59 pm, CST on October 27th.
Thank you to J.F. Lewis for stopping by Paranormal Haven during our Halloween at the Haven event. Make sure to continue on to Pocket After Dark's website to read the second part of his Void City short. Here at our blog you can enter in to win a "Welcome To The Void" t-shirt or a signed copy of ReVAMPED. Winner's choice.
Eric has lost his strip club, his Mustang, and even Marilyn, the love of his (mortal) life. Even his body was obliterated. In short, they almost got him. But when you're a vampire, "almost" is a very important word. With a little magical help from his friends, Eric is restored to corporeal form, but his treasured Mustang gets caught up in the sorcery as well and ends up with an unlife of its own. Now, along with "Fang the Stang," he's out to save Marilyn from one of Void-City's most powerful soul-stealing demons. But salvation comes at a high price, forcing Eric to venture into his own worst nightmare, Vampire High Society, to uncover the truth about the origin of his powers.
At the same time, Eric's ex-girlfriend Tabitha, has begun to wonder exactly what it was that she admired about those High Society vampires in the first place. Her quest to find her own place in this deceptively vicious circle may lead her right back to Eric's side, if her little sister Rachel doesn't kill her first.
Eric will need all the help he can get, because it looks like someone is out for his soul, too. Blood will flow, fangs will be bared, and the claws will come out, because revenge is never pretty... and Eric has plenty to pass around.