Tag Archives: blood

#SampleSaturday – Excerpt from Playing Dead

“Who else is involved?”
“It doesn’t matter,” he replied and the same exhaustion laced his voice as it did my own.
“Of course it matters. My pictures were plastered all over your wall. Someone had been watching me, for weeks, months maybe. Don’t you think I have a right to know who else you enlisted to help lure me to my death?”
“And what would be the point, Megan, huh? So you can seek revenge on them also? All you need to know is sitting here, right in front of you.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “You said there was a plan. I remember now. You said turning me wasn’t a part of that plan, but you did it anyway. What plan did you mean?”
“The plan was to kill you, I told you that,” he snapped.
“So do you have these little galleries of all the people you choose to kill? Did Margaret have a gallery? Did you send someone to stalk her during the day, take sneaky creepy pictures to hang on your wall so you could sit here and get off on just what you were going to do to her?”
He ran a tongue over his teeth, curling his lips back over his gums before wrinkling his nose in disgust and looking away.
“What? What Harper? You had pictures of me on your wall which someone else clearly took for you. You obviously don’t do this for all your supposed victims and yet you did it for me. Why? And then you turned me, instead of killing me, except that wasn’t part of the plan. Whose plan? Yours? Mr Creepy Photographer? Where is he by the way? Do I get to meet him?”
“Stop it.” His voice was a low menacing warning and he looked at me, his eyes narrowing to cold emerald slits.
“Why? I have a right to know.”
“Not this you don’t.”
“Bullshit!” I shouted, slamming my hands down on the floor and picking up handfuls of torn photos and brandishing them at him. “This gives me the right. Now just tell me!”
He sat up, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees as he cast his eyes over me, chewing thoughtfully on his bottom lip. “Okay,” he said. “But I warn you, you may wish you had never asked. You have learned so many unpleasant things recently, I wonder if you are strong enough to withstand anymore?”

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2013 All Rights Reserved

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#SampleSunday Excerpt from Playing Dead

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Sitting up straight on his lap, with my hands on my thighs, I turned and looked out of the window; the same one that just a few moments ago I had stood on the other side of, looking in at this man so full of life and now motionless and extinct. I could see nothing beyond the window pane. The street was gone. The world seemed filled with shadows; so many shadows pressing themselves against the glass, crushing into every space until there was nothing but a grotesque mass of their twisted black bodies, writhing and undulating as they watched me. Leering faces painted with wicked grins and a thousand terrible teeth were grinding themselves against the window, licking their lips in lustful appreciation.
The old Megan would have been shrieking in undiluted terror now. The old Megan would have literally lost her grip on her sanity as reality was ripped violently away from her. The old Megan was lost and as dead as the thing now laying beneath me.
The new Megan was here now and as I slipped silently from the house, grinning with dark menace, I felt the cool hush of night air soothe my burning skin and I opened my arms wide and embraced the waiting shadows, welcoming their company and wondering how I had ever lived without them.

- taken from Playing Dead, now being posted on Wattpad.com

http://www.wattpad.com/story/7745041-playing-dead

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2013 all rights reserved.

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#SampleSunday “I know what you are” – excerpt from Playing Dead.

“You don’t have a clue what’s happened to you, do you?”
There was something cold and menacing about his voice, as if there was some underlying threat in what he asked, something I did not want to know. I didn’t answer; just continued to watch him warily, feeling the loud beat of my heart filling my head with a rush of noise that made me think of the bright red timer of a bomb, ticking away to zero. Only what happened when the bomb got to zero, I had no idea but the prospect of the explosion, scared the hell out of me.
“Do you know what I am?” he asked.
“N-no. Y-yes. I don’t know,” I stammered, trying to concentrate on breathing in and out deeply.
10.
“You do know. You just don’t want to say it.”
“I know what you did to me.”
9.
“And what was that exactly?” That smug look again. That same infuriating, gut-churning smug look.
8.
“You…you bit me.” The thought of it, of feeling his teeth pierce my skin, spilling my blood, made me want to vomit and yet thrilled me at the same time.
7.
“Yes. Yes I did. And why would I do that? What am I?” He leaned forward and placed both hands on the floor, rising onto his knees and he began to slowly, carefully, crawl across the floor towards me. His movements were fluid, considered and there was something very animalistic about them.
“Stop,” I pleaded, my chest racked with laboured breaths. “D-don’t come any closer.”
6.
“Then answer the question. What am I?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. Please.” I edged along the wall, closer and closer to the hole. Throwing myself into the blackness seemed more tolerable than this.
5.
“It’s not a difficult question. I bit you. I drank from you.”
Blood. My blood. Seeping out onto my skin and he was lapping it up, revelling in the taste on his lips.
The thirst was ripping into me again. Such terrible thirst.
No, not now. Please. Not now.
“So. What am I?”
4.
I clutched at my stomach and clawed at my throat. I edged backwards until I was right on the edge. Maybe some great hellish tentacle would reach out and drag me into the abyss. I hoped it would.
Harper stalked closer still; his eyes glistening with pure malevolent blackness.
“You tasted so damn good.”
3.
The pains twisted and consumed me. I licked my lips. I was burning up again.
“Stop,” I hissed. “Just stop.”
He was almost upon me now. If I reached out, I could fall upon him. Attack him.
Bite him.
2.
He smiled. I saw his teeth again. Elongated and so very sharp.
Burning, burning, burning. With anger. With thirst. With want.
“All you have to do is say it.”
I groaned. Something between pain and desire.
1.
He was right there. In front of me. I felt his fingers touch my bare toes and I wanted to recoil at his touch and wrap myself around him all at the same time.
“I know what you are,” I whispered. “You’re a demon. You’re a monster.
His eyes flashed and he moved his face dangerously close to mine. I felt his breath on my skin. Reaching out, he ran his thumb down my cheek softly, igniting the fuse and sending sparks exploding through me.
“No, Megan. You’re the monster.”
I stared at him, wide-eyed and breathless. And I knew. I knew.
0.

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2013

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#SampleSunday “You don’t think I belong amongst the demons?”

“Do you know why the type of men in that place can’t resist you? Because you stand out from the rest of the crowd. You might as well dress all in white and stick a pair of fucking wings on your back. In fact, your wedding ring makes a damn good halo. You represent something forbidden, something….untouchable and when you come across something so untouchable, well, it just makes you want to touch it even more.”
Hands now. His hands. Touching me. We were in that hotel room and his hands were on me.
“Men don’t really want what they are allowed to have. Where’s the fun in that? It’s easy. It doesn’t fuel their ego. It doesn’t turn them on. They want the chase. They want the hunt. They want the battle. They’re all warriors at heart, or at least some like to think they are. They wander around that club, decked out in their battle garb, too much hair gel, way too much cologne, and there are plenty of women who will make it so easy for them, because they want the same thing. But those women blend into one, same clothes, same hair, same make-up, the same faces over and over again. And then there’s you. Tucked away in some corner, so desperate for them not to touch you. And they can sense that, you can see them all, sniffing at the air, trying to find you where that sweet smell is coming from. You don’t belong there, you’re an angel amongst demons.”
I swallowed, wishing my mouth didn’t feel so dry. “Well, no offence to you, but you don’t look like you belong in a place like that either.”
His emerald eyes sparked with interest and he leaned forward again, closer this time. “You don’t think I belong amongst the demons?”
I held my breath for a moment.
His lips were on mine and he was sucking gently on where I had made my mouth bleed.
“It’s just….and please don’t take this the wrong way….it’s just you don’t look like the guys that hang around in there. You’re……” I cast my eyes over his tattooed neck and beard. “Well, you’re just different that’s all.”
“Slightly less hair gel?” he teased.
“Only slightly,” I shot back, smiling now. “Sorry, I’m not being rude, you understand?”
His smile broadened and I felt something tickle in the base of my stomach. He really was very handsome, under all that hair of course. And as for his hair, under the bright Starbucks lights, I could see it was thick, dark and glossy, cut slightly into the neck at the back, but longer at the front. If I was any closer, and if I had dared, I would have leant forward to see if it smelled as good as it looked. Tonight, he wore a grey t-shirt emblazoned with some band name that I didn’t recognise under a black leather biker jacket. And he really did have the longest eyelashes for a guy, something I always thought quite unfair considering the amount I spent on mascara.
“Of course,” he replied. “I admit, it’s not usually the type of place I would hang out.”
“So what were you doing there?” I said, my curiosity burning. “Fancied a change of scene?”
He looked at me from under those long lashes that I envied and he chewed pensively on his bottom lip. “Hmmm,” he pondered. “I want to tell you, but I’m afraid that view over my shoulder will suddenly become irresistible and you’ll run for the door.”
“I’m not sure whether to be intrigued or nervous,” I smiled but I already knew the answer to that one. My heart had picked up a rather frantic beat.
“Okay, well, the first time, I was there on business.”
“What line of business are you in?”
“Removals,” he replied quickly and I wondered if he was lying. After all, why would someone in removals be at a nightclub for business?
“Okay….” I said, trying to ignore the little alarm bells that were now resounding loud and clear in my head.
He hesitated for moment before continuing, exhaling deeply before he spoke as if the confession was a heavy load for him to admit. “Anyway, the truth is, I saw you and I went back this week, hoping that you might be there again.”
I stared at him and quickly dropped my hands into my lap, wiping the moisture on my palms on the skirt of my dress. Okay, so I wasn’t just nervous now, I was downright scared. I didn’t want him to say anything else. And I certainly didn’t trust myself to say anything.
“You want to run, don’t you?” he said, the glint in his eyes challenging me to do just that.
“Yes.” It came out in a whisper. I felt the walls closing in, sweat peppering the back of my neck and I clenched my fists, digging my nails into my palms in an effort to focus and not give into wild panic.
“If you want to, I’ll understand. I won’t stop you.”
“You said this was just coffee,” I said, shooting him an accusatory look. It was a pathetic response and I wanted to curl up into a ball as soon as I had said it. I sounded like a kid, naively piling the blame on him and yet what girl goes for coffee with another guy without knowing it is probably more than just coffee.
“And it is. We’re in a coffee shop drinking coffee aren’t we?” he smiled reassuringly, but the challenge was still there. I could see it, burning across the surface of his eyes.
“But, you said….” I furrowed my brows, feeling confused and embarrassed.
“I wanted to see you again. I want to continue seeing you. There’s no point in me saying otherwise, after all, we’re both adults so why bother pretending?”
“You think I’m pretending?”
“Not at all. On the contrary, you’ve been quite clear. Probably more than you realise.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I met his challenge with one of my own, irritated by the intonation in his voice.
“Well you’re here aren’t you?”
“So in other words you think I’m like all those other girls at the club? An easy target?”
“If I thought you were that then I wouldn’t be here,” he replied, shrugging. “And neither would you for that matter. We’d have no interest in talking to each other over coffee of all things. In fact, we’d have no interest in just talking at all. But I’m not going to lie and neither should you.” He leaned forward again, almost conspiratorially. “I wanted to see you again and I think maybe you wanted to see me too. There’s nothing wrong in admitting that.”
“Yes there is,” I said, wanting to scratch at the guilt that itched under my skin. “You don’t understand.”
“But I do. Really I do and I respect you for your need to stay true to what you think you believe in.”
“I do believe in it. And I don’t think you respect me at all, if you did, you wouldn’t push the issue.” I felt my face flare in anger now and resisted the urge to reach out and slap his arrogant face.
He met my anger with a small smile, but his eyes were serious and flashed darkly as if he sensed the aggression threatening to spill to the surface. “There’s a big difference between disrespect and desire. Experiencing one doesn’t automatically cancel out the other. I do respect you, Megan, but it doesn’t stop me wanting you.”
I flushed furiously at how candid he was being with his words and glanced around anxiously, sure that everyone in here must have frozen and were now listening intently to our conversation.
“No one can hear, Megan. No one cares. You can say whatever you want and the world will continue to turn just as it did before. The heavens will not collapse into the sea. God will not send his armies to battle the legions of the Underworld. Try it out. Just this once, say what are thinking. Let down your guard.”
“I can’t.” I could barely breathe.
“Say it.”
“If you already know, then why do I need to say it?” The panic gripped me now, vice-like around my throat, cutting off air and making my head fuzzy.
“Because I want to hear you say it. Please.”
He reached out across the table, almost imploringly, holding his hand palm up as if he wanted me to put my hand in his. I was scared to touch him and he knew it.
“Megan. Just say it.” His tone was softer now, pleading and when I stared deep into his eyes, I felt my resolve begin to crack and peel away.
Lifting a trembling hand, I watched as it crept tentatively into his, almost as if I were on the outside looking in. This wasn’t my hand. It couldn’t be.
“I want you,” my traitorous mouth confessed.
His fingers interlocked with mine and he turned my hand over, running his thumb gently across my palm, making the skin there tingle furiously.
“You see, even the best of the angels was capable of falling.”
“If I’m an angel, what does that make you?”
His eyes never left mine and for a split second I saw a glimpse of that fire-breathing beast I had seen on the first night we had met. I saw the darkness rippling under his gaze but still I couldn’t let go of his hand. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to let go anymore.
“The one who is going to catch you, Megan.”
The demon smiled and I fell instantly, plummeting, plummeting, no longer wanting to prevent the fall and yet inside I was screaming. Hopelessly, desperately screaming, only I knew that no one would hear me.
No one cared and the world still turned.

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2013

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“This is a vampire.” – excerpt from Blood Wars

Stephen unlocked the door and stepped inside the room. He beckoned for me to follow him and I did so, wrinkling my nose as the sour smell of urine mixing with the sweet sickly smell of blood.
The vampire did not even look up as we entered but from here I could clearly see the bruises and cuts that marked his bare arms. His ankle was a furious red where he was manacled to the wall and his feet were blood-stained and encrusted with dirt, particularly around the toes.
“Dinner time, fuck-face,” smiled Stephen and then the vampire did look up, staring at us through his greasy knotted locks.
I couldn’t help but swallow when he laid his eyes on me. They were a startling blue and reminded me of another pair of blue eyes that I hadn’t seen in months. The vampire ran those blue eyes over my face and then down my body, only resting momentarily on the cat that continued to purr softly in my arms.
“Do I get the cat or the girl?” the vampire said with a soft Irish lilt.
“Think of it as a fast food dive, not Gordon bloody Ramsey. You only get the cat, I’m afraid,” Stephen laughed.
“Shame,” remarked the vampire, shrugging his shoulders and resting his head back against the wall, still not taking his eyes from me.
“Go on then,” said Stephen nodding is head at the cat and then over to the vampire.
“You do it,” I quickly said, thrusting the poor creature into his arms.
Rolling his eyes, Stephen took the cat and holding it by the scruff of the neck, walked over to the vampire who held up his thin, pale arms and took the animal, not once looking like he might attempt to grab his captor instead. He held the cat in his arms, much like Stephen had, stroking it gently and holding it up so he could look intently into its big, saucer-like eyes. The cat miaowed sweetly.
In one quick movement, the vampire buried his face into the cat’s neck and the animal shrieked as its throat was pierced and the sound was so like a baby’s cry that I wanted to put my hand over my ears and squeeze my eyes shut so I wouldn’t see it struggle in his grasp. The sucking noise was almost too much to bear but the whole time Stephen just stood, leaning against the wall with his legs crossed at the ankles and arms folded across his chest, never taking his eyes off of the feeding vampire.
When the cat stopped moving and the vampire was done, he tossed the poor thing’s body into the corner, wiping his mouth and chin with the back of his hand.
“Your new recruit is squeamish, Stephen,” said the vampire, smirking. “Where is Nathaniel finding these people? Or maybe his training isn’t quite what it used to be?”
“Oh she’ll learn, don’t you worry,” Stephen replied. “Anyway, she’s not as fragile as she looks. Feeling better, Fergus? I can see a little colour coming back into your cheeks already.”
If there was, I couldn’t see it. The vampire – now known as Fergus – looked just as pale and deathly as he had when we had walked in.
“I’d feel better if I had the girl, but I guess the cat will have to suffice for now,” replied Fergus.
“Good,” said Stephen and before I could register what was happening, he walked quickly over to the vampire and kicked him hard in the kidneys. The vampire fell to the floor, clutching at his side and breathing heavily as he fought to control the pain he so clearly felt.
“What the hell are you doing?” I cried, grabbing hold of Stephen’s arm and trying to pull him back. Instead, Stephen kicked him again, this time in the leg and the vampire rolled onto his back, knees drawn up, his eyes squeezed shut and teeth set in a skeletal grimace.
I stared at Stephen, horrified. “What is wrong with you? He wasn’t doing anything. He was just sitting there. You didn’t have to kick the shit out of him!”
Stephen shrugged as if it were nothing but then I heard croaky, wheezing laughter and looked down to see Fergus still on his back, hand melded to his side, but laughing as he looked up at us. He carried on laughing until finally he sat up very slowly, shaking his head and smiling.
He’d just been kicked twice and he thought it was funny?
“Oh dear,” he chuckled. “Oh dear, oh dear. I’m starting to think Nathaniel is losing his touch. If this is the calibre of sensor he is now training, I think we vampires have very little to worry about.”
Stephen said nothing now to defend me, not that I thought he would mind you, but I at least expected him to jump to the defence of his leader. Instead he just leaned back against the wall again and smiled.
“A sensor who hates to see a vampire in pain,” Fergus grinned. “Now this is a very interesting development indeed.”
“More than that, my twisted Irish beast,” Stephen laughed in return. “Get to know her a little better and she might give you more than cat blood. This one has a thing for you animals, believe it or not.”
I stared at Stephen dumbfounded. What the hell was he doing? And how dare he bring that up?
Fergus looked at me, his eyes widening as he took in Stephen’s words. When he ran those eyes over me this time, he didn’t look like it was my blood he was interested in.
“Oh, so you’re that sensor are you? I’d heard about you. Marcus’ daughter, right?”
God how I hated hearing his name spoken out loud.
“How on earth did you end up with this lot, eh? Last I heard you’d taken off with your fella. Sebastian has had people out over most of the south looking for you. Where’s your boy now, eh? Where’s Michael?”
Hearing that name felt even worse. I felt a stab of pain rip through my chest, one laced with the unmistakable touch of guilt. I tried to ignore it but heard Stephen snort with laughter.
“Nathaniel thinks he can get her to join the dark side, Fergus. Can you believe it? The great Michael’s girlfriend a fully-trained vampire killer?”
They both laughed now and I stood between them, feeling my cheeks flush angrily.
“I’m glad you both find me so amusing,” I hissed.
“Ah darling, don’t be so snappy,” said Fergus, holding out his hands in a placating gesture and groaning slightly as he shifted his body so he could lean against the wall again. “We’re only playing. I’m assuming your boy isn’t around anymore because I’m quite sure you wouldn’t be holed up with these bastards, would ya?”
I said nothing. I wasn’t about to discuss Michael’s whereabouts with anyone. Not that I knew his whereabouts anyway.
Fergus sniffed and wiped away a thin line of snot that had descended from one nostril. “Well, wherever he is, I don’t think he’ll be too happy when he finds out where you are. Rumour has it he’s quite the big man when it comes to killing sensors. Bet you don’t fancy being on his hit list, do ya? If I were you I’d run from this lot as fast as those shapely pins will carry ya.”
He looked at me now with eyes so solemn that I did want to run, I could feel pinpricks of fear ripple up my spine.
“I’m fine here, thanks,” I frowned.
“No,” mused the vampire. “No, you’re not. Any bastard with eyes can see that, girl. You don’t belong here with them. Something tells me you’re a slightly different breed of sensor. I actually feel sorry for you, darling.”
When he looked at me now, I saw none of his previous mocking stare. His face was serious and somewhat sad. Here he was, battered, tortured and stinking of his own urine and blood and he felt sorry for me!
I was aware of Stephen drinking in this exchange between Fergus and myself, looking from one of us to the other. He laughed softly before gesturing towards me.
“Oh I wouldn’t feel too sorry for this one, Fergus, she isn’t the innocent vampire lover she makes out to be. In fact, she’s far more dangerous than she looks. Didn’t you know she burnt down Marcus’ den? Burned them fuckers alive. Lit a match, poured a bit of petrol and then sat outside, watching as the vamps fried like barbecued pork.”
“It wasn’t like that….” I started to say.
“Oh Sarah, don’t be so modest. You became the poster girl for the sensor cause that day. And lets not forget your achievements since. After all, you killed the big man himself. The head honcho. Your own father. I mean, you’ve got to have some fucking gall to do that!”
Fergus raised an eyebrow, the sadness fading from his eyes as he seemed to appraise me in a new light.
“Wait a minute, that wasn’t me!” I gasped. “I would never….”
“Come on, Sarah. Marcus wanted to make you a vampire and when you said no, he tried to have you killed. Only you and Michael got to him first. We all know that. Nothing to be ashamed of. You killed a den leader. Now that’s a trophy to hang over the mantelpiece, eh Fergus?”
Now the vampire was glaring at me, his face darkening and mouth set in a small, hard line.
“Doesn’t end there either, Fergus. Our Sarah here kills regardless of gender or age. She’s not bothered. Killed a young girl the other week you know.”
I turned on him now. “Stop it! Just shut up!”
He smiled a tight cruel smile. “Hungry as hell this girl was. Picked on the wrong sensor though didn’t she? Got her a good one, eh Sarah? Should have seen it Fergus, a knife right in the neck.”
“A girl?” Fergus said, eyeing us warily. “How old?”
“Eighteen, nineteen maybe. You might have known her. Pretty little thing. Dark hair. What was her name now?” he smirked and scratched his head in mock-contemplation.
I didn’t like the way this was going. I didn’t like the way this was going at all. Whatever Stephen’s agenda was, I was sure it was nothing good.
“Hmm, began with an E. Not Emily but something like it. Give me a second and I’m sure it will come to me,” he said, tapping at his skull.
“Emilia,” whispered Fergus, looking directly at me, his eyes red and watery.
“That’s it!” laughed Stephen. “Well done, Fergus. Emilia! The girl that Sarah killed was Emilia. I think she was from Juliette’s den too. Did you know her, Fergus?”
I looked from Stephen to the vampire, whose chest was moving in and out in great heaves now and I could hear his breath hiss dangerously between gritted teeth.
“Yes, yes I knew her,” he said and his voice trembled. Another small rivulet of snot run down his nose and upper lip, but this time he did it wipe it away.
“What? Wait a minute…” I began but before I could finish, Fergus’ face twisted into a molten mask of hate and with a tortured wail he launched himself with a strength I didn’t think he could possibly still possess. I heard the jangle of the chain, attached to his manacled ankle, as it dragged quickly along the floor behind him and before I knew it I felt his hand grip my shirt and his face was just inches from mine, contorting in fury as he howled his rage at me.
I cried out in shock and grabbed his wrist with both hands, but as I pulled he wouldn’t loosen his grasp and I stumbled backwards hearing the rip of fabric, releasing me from his clutches as I fell to the floor. Desperately I scrambled backwards across the blood-stained floor as he flailed and strained on his chain to try and reach me. The veins in his temples bulged. His fingers clawed at nothing but air as he screamed, his mouth open wide revealing awful fangs and spraying saliva everywhere.
Now I sat with my back pressed to the wall, gasping for air as Fergus continued to fight and struggle to get to me, his face rippling with hatred as he screamed obscenities at me. I was sure that at any moment that chain would break, so powerful was his fury.
Stephen had moved out of Fergus’ reach but his eyes gleamed with that same zeal I saw in the sensors’ eyes the day we went to The Black Cat. He side-stepped towards me and crouched down next to where I sat. With his mouth close to my ear, he spoke, never taking his eyes off of the raging vampire.
This is a vampire, Sarah. Take a good long look. See them for what they are. Blood-thirsty. Relentless. Evil. Never forget this. Never let down your guard. And never, ever trust them.”
The vampire continued to scream.

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2013

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Blood Shadows by Lindsay J Pryor

I have to say that despite writing vamp fiction myself, I have found myself recently getting a little tired of the genre.
Yeah. I actually just said that.
I know. I know. But before you throw my traitorous backside to the baying hounds, lets just say that when you want your vamps a little darker, a little more menacing and a little grittier, it’s pretty hard to see them through a sea of Edwards.
Okay, I have no issue with Edward, but if you want to know the vamps in Twilight who I really wanted to see more of, it was Garrett and Alistair. Now there’s two vamps who deserve a spin-off all of their very own. Mysterious, dark, menacing and enough sex appeal to fuel the fire. These guys interested me far more than Edward ever did. If I’m being honest, basically I just want my main vamp to be a bit of a mean bastard.
Step forward Kane Malloy of Blood Shadows by Brit paranormal romance writer, Lindsay J Pryor.
Kane Malloy, master vampire of the murky world of Blackthorn, has enough brooding menace to make you shiver and sizzle at the same time. With a vicious reputation and a status as the Vampire Control Unit’s Most Wanted, there’s no doubt he’s the vampire I have been waiting for.
Blood Shadows has a vibe reminiscent of J.R Ward’s Black Dagger series, both sexy, unrelenting and blood-thirsty, but the significant difference between the Black Dagger vampires and Lindsay’s Kane, is that he stole my heart right from the beginning. Whilst I enjoyed all the Black Dagger vamps, none of them burrowed deep under my skin as Kane did.
It certainly wasn’t lost on me that, as the reader, Kane slips stealthily into your veins, in the same way he slowly works his indisputable charms on ass-kicking VCU agent, Caitlin Parish. All the way through the book, you know you’re falling in love, yet you can’t help but think there’s something not quite right about feeling that way. It’s an uneasy love. A love that makes you squirm uncomfortably. And the reason for that is Lindsay’s canny ability to make the book unpredictable until the very end. Just when you think you’ve sussed out the plot, Lindsay has a way of turning everything on its head and throwing you this Kane-sized curve ball that keeps you on the edge of your seat, practically begging for more.
And of course, we can’t forget Caitlin. Strong, sassy and smart with a perfect balance of tough versus vulnerable, Caitlin is the kind of female lead that stands her ground against the most captivating of male characters. When you have a novel that is destined to always have a higher volume of female readers than male, it’s always hard to create a female character who shines just as bright as her male counterpart. You might like her, but you’re never really rooting for her in the same way you’re punching the air for him. But, because you’re never really sure what Kane is all about, you want Caitlin to win. Life has dealt her a crappy enough hand to make you sympathise with her and yet, at the same time, she is just the right amount of heroine to make you wish you were a little bit more like her.
In bringing the fantastical world of Blackthorn to life, Lindsay has created a heady mix of intense page-to-page action, blistering heat and blood-curdling chills that literally grabs you by the jugular and keeps you guessing until the very last word. It’s gritty, gripping, captivating and unrelenting and will leave you begging for the next white-knuckle ride into Blackthorn’s dark and disturbing streets.
Five stars! Finally, a vampire novel I can get my teeth into!

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Filed under Writer Wednesday, Writing

#TasterTuesday – Excerpt from Chapter 7 of Blood Wars

Tunnels, tunnels, tunnels. Why did my life always seem to lead me back to tunnels? Tunnels with dank blood-stained cells. Dark, smoke filled tunnels. Running from vampires in tunnels. Tunnels with trains. Fleeing mysterious assailants in tunnels. Running and tunnels. Endless, torturous tunnels.
I sped off the platform, doing my best not to appear too panicked and unhinged as the last thing I needed was to alert security to what was happening. Oh yes, I needed help, but theirs was not the kind of help I wanted. How easy would it be for them to link me back to the crazed knife-wielding redhead of Hyde Park Corner? And then, what about the murder of a young girl in Belgravia? I wasn’t convinced that ghost had yet been laid to rest.
Cutting past people, I reached the escalator and began walking as fast as I could on the left hand side. Nearing the top, I glanced back to see Green Eyes and Brown Eyes following on the left hand side, but instead of speeding up the steps, they took the escalator in a calm, collected manner. Just two normals guys going casually about their day.
Nothing to see here, ladies and gents.
I had no doubt in my mind that this was a hunt yet they seemed like the most unlikeliest of hunters. Nothing about them screamed serial killer. Nothing about them screamed bogeyman. Although that didn’t stop them from being the bogeyman’s henchmen. And who am I? Nothing. A nobody. I knew no one in the human world apart from those that worked at the bookstore and I was pretty sure none of them wished me any harm. These hunters were obviously some vampire’s pets. But whose? There was only one vampire who wanted me now. Only one willing to do whatever it took to save his own skin. How foolish had we been to think we had escaped his clutches?
I knew Sebastian. Knew him enough to know he hadn’t given up his search. He always got his own way. Always.
I tripped off the end of the escalator and headed towards the turnstiles, where I swiped my Oyster card across the scanner. Green Eyes and Brown Eyes were still there, taking separate turnstiles at a leisurely place; their faces a picture of maddening calm.
I didn’t know what to do. Could I lose them in the Oxford Street crowds? Could I slip into a shop unseen? Or should I head towards work and shroud myself in the protective cocoon of the bookstore? The faces of my colleagues flitted across my mind. I could see them melding with other faces; faces from my past, faces of people who had been my friends and who I had led into danger. Faces of people who now lay in the ground or burned to nothing. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lead my hunters there, although part of me knew instinctively that these guys already knew where I worked. They had been following me. Of course they had. How else could they have known I would be on the tube at this particular time?
As I took the steps up to the street above and the daylight hit me full force, the realisation of the situation blinded me almost as much as the dazzling sun did. If my hunters had been following me, then they didn’t just know where I worked; they also knew where I lived and that meant the others were in just as much danger as I was.
Glancing across the road, I made a quick decision on the route I would take to try and escape Sebastian’s pets. I zipped across the road, narrowly missing the front end of a double decker bus and almost falling straight into the path of a cyclist, who shouted a stream of obscenities at me, and somehow I made it to the other side unscathed. Looking back, I saw Green Eyes and Brown Eyes about to cross the road and finally I felt relieved to see their masks of calm slip and anxiety mark their faces when they saw my chosen destination.
“That’s right, you bastards,” I smirked “have fun catching me in the chaos that is Topshop. And it’s sale time too!”

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2012

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Filed under Dark Sanctuary

The Stairwell

‘Yesterday, upon the stair,

I met a man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today

I wish, I wish he’d go away…’

Antigonish – Hughes Mearns

 

Shaun stumbled out of the cab, tripped and hit the concrete much harder than he would have wished.

“Shit,” he hissed, feeling asphalt imprints on his palms and a sharp pain wrench his knee. Behind him, in the eight-seater mini-bus, his friends cackled and whooped.

“Shaaaaaauny you fucking loser,” howled Daz, his head appearing in the light emanating from the open door. “Fucking lightweight, can’t handle your beer, son!”

“He fell over, he fell over,” chanted Dave and Bubble before collapsing into hysterical laughter and banging on the sides of the taxi.

Shaun stood up, trying to pretend his palms didn’t sting like hell and brushing down his jeans. Was that a hole torn in the knee? Fuck. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a crumpled five-pound note and threw it at Daz.

“There you go, geezer, that’s my share for the cab. Or you can give it to you mum and tell her here’s that fiver I owe her for that shag the other night,” he smirked and ducked out of Daz’s reach as his mate tried to swing a playful punch at him. Dave and Bubble howled even louder and as the cab began to pull away, Daz shouted out the door. “I’ll fucking have you next time, son!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever mate,” Shaun called, but the cab was already pulling out of the car park and he could just about see his friends faces, flashes of pale pressed up against the window, as they turned the corner and out of sight.

Shaun laughed softly, giggling at his own joke and knowing he would definitely be on the end of one of Daz’s pranks next time they went out. Still, he was a big man, he could take it.

Turning, he looked up at the block of flats behind him, rising out of the ground like some black monolithic beast. Lights were dotted here and there over the face of the beast showing that not everyone in this rank building were asleep.

I bet that fucker next door is still awake, playing his fucking shitty metal music all bloody night, thought Shaun, glancing up to see if his neighbours light was still on. Not that he had any chance of seeing anything from here. The fifteenth floor was out of sight from where Shaun was standing.

God how he hated this place. And he hated Gail more for forcing him to live in a shit-hole like this. If it wasn’t for her and that slimy fucker she was now dropping her knickers for, Shaun would still have been living in her nice house out in the suburbs. Instead now Slimebag ate meals at the table where Shaun should have been eating, slept in the comfy bed where Shaun should have been sleeping and screwed the woman who Shaun should have been screwing.

“I can’t do it anymore, Shaun,” Gail had said, that sickening self-pity in her eyes as if it wasn’t her who had been fucking someone else. “I can’t cope with the drinking, and the lies and having to do everything around here. I’m tired of paying for everything and I’m tired of your bloody idiot mates.”

And so that had been that. Out with Shaun and in with Stephen The Slimebag, who had probably been poisoning Gail’s head for months at work, complimenting her on her hair, buying her lunch and telling her how she could do better. Sly fucker.

Fuck him, thought Shaun, and fuck her too. He walked over to the entrance to the flats, shaking his head when he realised the security lock was busted yet again; the keypad was hanging from exposed wires and giving anyone access to the building. He went in, making a mental note to call the caretaker in the morning, although little good it would do as the security system had been vandalised four times since Shaun had moved in three months before. Cutting across the entrance lobby he pressed the call-button on the lift and waited, leaning his head against the wall and closing his eyes, praying for the alcohol haze to disappear soon. A few seconds passed and he realised there was no sound coming from the lift shaft, so he stepped back to check the light. Dimly lit numbers showed the lift was still on floor fourteen.

“Come on!” Shaun groaned and hammered at the call button with his fist. When still nothing happened, he cursed and aimed a kick at the lift doors. “Doesn’t anything work in this fucking building?”

He stomped over to the stairwell, grimacing as he opened the door and a strong stench of urine hit him full on in the face. Shaun hated having to take the stairs. Not only did he have to try to climb his way up endless flights of steps, the stairwell was poorly lit and only had very small, narrow windows all of which had been covered with spray paint.

Shaking his head and muttering curses to Gail, Shaun started up the stairs, gripping the handrail to steady himself. He avoided looking into the dark corners, where dank puddles of piss and rain water pooled together, reaching out across the floor with watery tendrils threatening to grab at his ankles.

By the time he reached the fifth floor, Shaun was already out of breath. The booze wasn’t helping either. He felt the woozy storm cloud infesting his head and he stopped for a moment, praying for it to fade but knowing that nothing but a good few hours sleep was going to lift this feeling. Gritting his teeth, he carried on, feeling the weight of each step bearing down upon him.

Just as he reached the tenth floor and he thought he was about to burst a lung, the light above him began to flicker. Shit, he thought and then all the lights in the stairwell went out completely, plunging him into darkness. He waited in the gloom, hoping that they would flicker back on. Suddenly he heard footsteps from somewhere above in the stairwell and he felt his heart skip in panic. He didn’t really like coming across the building’s other inhabitants during daylight, let alone on a darkened stairwell where anyone could and probably would pull a knife on him. The estate was rife with gangs, and the Dalston Boyz – named after the apartment block, Dalston House – were notorious for hanging around and intimidating the residents, despite being little more than teenagers.

A light from one of the floors above flickered back on and Shaun looked up through the gap in the middle of the stairwell. For a moment he thought he saw a shadow pass overhead, then more footsteps echoed down.

“Hello?” he called up and regretted it immediately. Way to go Shaun you prick, he cursed himself, why don’t you just announce that you’re on your way up, give whoever it is ample opportunity to jump you? He was definitely in no fit state to defend himself.

Creeping halfway up the staircase, he stopped and craned his neck to look upwards, listening intently for any signs of movement coming from the floors above. In a split second and appearing so quickly it made Shaun cry out, a hooded figure flashed into his line of sight, before the lights went out again and the stairwell was shrouded in darkness once more.

Shaun shrank back against the wall. Fuck-fuck-fuck!  He hadn’t been able to see clearly enough to tell whether it had been a kid or a man, the lights we just too dim and all he had seen was someone wearing a dark hoody. He hadn’t even been able to see the hoodie’s face. He waited, with his back up against the wall and heart hammering in his chest. With a buzz, the light on the tenth floor flickered back into life, making Shaun jump and he stumbled and fell back on the steps. He lay there for a moment, trying to catch his breath which seemed stuck in his throat before exhaling deeply and letting out a low giggle.

Fucking idiot, he thought, shaking his head at himself for getting spooked so easily. If the fellas could see him now they would literally be pissing in their own pants. He would never live this one down, not in a million years.

He struggled to get up and glanced up the stairs, straining to listen for any signs of movement from the floors above. He was going to just have to front whoever it was. If it was just one kid, surely he could look after himself, drunk or not? Creeping as stealthily as his alcohol intake would allow, Shaun carried on up the stairs with the lights now flickering sporadically, lighting up the stairwell for mere seconds before throwing it back into darkness.

Eleventh-twelfth-thirteenth. No one lurked on these floors. Shaun felt his muscles slowly beginning to relax and his heart beat stopped racing as he passed by the door to the thirteenth floor. He climbed the next flight of steps, nose wrinkling in distaste as a sweet stench pervaded the air. On the mid-landing, the dark puddles had stretched out from the corners and reached almost to the top of the steps. Shaun grimaced as his feet squelched in fluid he didn’t even want to think about. Fucking great, he thought, he could see these shoes going straight in the bin together with his ripped jeans. Carefully stepping through the puddle, he stopped at the bottom of the staircase, immediately noting the wet, dark footprints leading up the steps. Following the trail with his eyes, Shaun jumped at the sight of a dark hooded figure standing on the next landing, right at the top of the steps and with his back to Shaun.

The hoodie didn’t move. If he had any idea that Shaun was literally just behind him, he didn’t show it. He just stood, perfectly still, with his hands by his side. He was fairly tall, but there was still no way of knowing whether he was a teen or man. Everything else about him was pretty nondescript; dark denim jeans, worn slightly baggy, white trainers although from the back Shaun couldn’t tell the make. That was it.

Shaun stared up at the hoodie, his lips moving wordlessly as he struggled to know what to say or do. He felt stunned into stillness himself, just standing there, with his wet shoes and now-ripped jeans, staring up at the immobile figure. Water dripped somewhere behind him and the noise of droplets spattering against the floor made Shaun blink. When the hoodie still didn’t move or acknowledge he knew Shaun was there, Shaun finally said the first thing that came into his head.

Oi, oi fella, y-you gonna get out of my way?” He had hoped for a voice of steely bravado, but in the cold, darkened stairwell it sounded small and weak. Still the hoodie didn’t move nor make any sound in response. Shaun could feel his guts flipping and his bladder twitching in fear. He could look after himself, but this was ….. just creepy. What the hell was this guy doing just standing there? And why didn’t he turn round and confront Shaun?

“I – I’ve got a blade you know,” Shaun stammered.

Suddenly the hoodie moved, making Shaun flinch, except instead of turning around and brandishing a real, not imaginary knife, the hoodie walked forwards across the fourteenth-floor landing and disappeared through the door leading to the flats. Shaun watched amazed as the hoodie simply walked away, before he scuttled up the steps to the landing and peered anxiously through the window that looked into the corridor beyond.

No one was there.

 

**************

The next day, Shaun was awoken by the shrill sound of his phone ringing, cutting through his head as if some demon animal was raking its claws over his skull. At first he couldn’t catch his bearings and feeling cold and wet, he half-wondered whether he had fallen asleep in the stairwell. Wrenching open his eyes, he realised he was cold because he was naked except for his underpants and lying curled up on the floor in his bedroom, with his back pushed up against the closed bedroom door and he was wet because he was drenched in his own sweat. Somewhere in the bedroom, the phone was still ringing.

Shivering and aching all over, Shaun tried to sit up, feeling waves of nausea swim in the pits of his stomach as he moved his head so he sat very still for a moment, clutching his temples and trying to fight off the sick feeling. Still the phone kept ringing.

Crawling very slowly across his bedroom floor, Shaun slithered in search of his phone and realised that the noise was coming from his jeans, that had been discarded next to his bed. Rifling through the pockets, he found his mobile just at the point when whoever it was decided to end the call.

“Fucking typical,” he groaned, checking the caller display and seeing Daz’s number on the screen. He hit the call button and Daz picked up straight away.

“Shauny you fucking lightweight, where are you? Thought you were going to meet us in time for kick-off?” Daz boomed down the line. Shaun could hear laughing and jumbled chat in the background.

“What?” grumbled Shaun, rubbing at his eyes and trying to focus on the alarm clock by his bed. “What time is it?”

“It’s bloody half three already. Don’t tell me you’re still in bed? Fucks sake, Shauny, you must be getting old, you really can’t handle it anymore can you?”

Raucous laughter, unmistakably coming from Bubble and Dave, drilled in Shaun’s ears and he held the phone away for a moment, feeling as if any more noise might make him throw up on the bedroom floor. It took a few seconds to realise that Daz was still talking, his voice sounding tinny in the receiver.

“What did you say, mate?” Shaun asked “Sorry, couldn’t hear above Bubble and Dave’s big gobs.”

Daz sighed. “I said, get down here fucking pronto, you loser, you’re missing the game. If you hurry, you might just make it in time for the second half.”

Shaun winced. He didn’t even know how he was going to stand up, let alone make it down the pub within half an hour. “Alright, alright, mate, be there as soon as I can.”

“Put your fucking knickers on, you big girl and just hurry the fuck up.”

The line went dead.

Shaun reached over for his jeans and then remembered tearing the knee out of them last night when he fell outside the cab. Oh yeah, fuck, he thought, before noticing his trainers lying underneath his crumpled jeans. Frowning, he grabbed one of them and lifted it up in front of his face, turning it over and examining the sole.

“What the …..” he gasped. Blood stained the entire sole of the shoe. He picked up the other one, noticing the same. It had also smeared up the sides as if he had just dipped them both into a vat of blood. Or a puddle of the stuff.

Unwanted images flashed into Shaun’s mind: a darkened stairwell, lights flickering above his head, feet squelching in a puddle of water and piss that had engulfed the mid-landing. Except it hadn’t been water and piss had it? Shaun shook his head.

“No,” he whispered. “No. No. No.” He threw the trainers, one after the other and they hit the bedroom wall, patterning the blue paintwork with dark red streaks. Feeling the tidal wave reaching up from his stomach and drowning his throat, Shaun stood up quickly and catapulted himself out of the room, only reaching the toilet just in time, where he threw himself down in front of the bowl and released a torrent of foul-smelling vomit against white porcelain. He retched and retched until long lines of bile and saliva hung from his open mouth and trailed across the toilet seat.

After the sickness had cleared, he showered quickly, relishing the sting of the hot water as it washed over his skin, then he dressed, grabbing anything that didn’t need ironing and shoved his phone and wallet into his jacket pocket. Putting the crumpled, ripped jeans and bloody trainers into a plain white carrier bag, Shaun left his apartment, with the intention of chucking the bag into the large communal bins outside Dalston House. He didn’t want those things anywhere near him and he couldn’t imagine anyone rifling through Dalston’s bins unless they wanted a used needle in their skin.

Rushing along to the end of the corridor, Shaun smacked his palm against the call button and waited for the lift to make its way up to the fifteenth floor. His leg shook impatiently as he stood there.

“Come on,” he hissed. Suddenly the door at the end of the corridor swung open and Mick, Shaun’s metal-loving neighbour, huffed through the door, beads of sweat peppering his wide forehead. He sniffed when he saw Shaun standing in front of the lift.

“Not fucking working again, is it. Better take the stairs. Still at least you’re going down and not up. Those stairs are a fucking killer.”

Shaun stood back and let Mick pass, watching as his tall, burly neighbour stalked down the corridor, wheezing with every step. Seeing his neighbour in distress would usually raise a smile for Shaun, but not today. All he could think about was having to take the stairs again. He waited, staring at the door to the stairwell which was still swinging slightly from Mick’s entrance. In his jacket pocket, his phone rang again, the sudden noise making him jump. Fumbling to get it, Shaun saw Daz’s number flash up again. He stabbed at the receive button with his thumb.

“I’m on my way, stop bloody calling me.” He hit the end-call button before Daz could say another word and pushed at the door, shaking his head. If Mick had managed the stairs, then there was obviously no one hanging around out there, but Shaun did think it was strange Mick hadn’t mentioned seeing all the blood just before the fourteenth floor landing.

Fuck it, he thought, if Fat Mick can do it, so can I.

Pushing through the door, Shaun stopped on the landing, hearing nothing but the creaking of the swinging door behind him.  Were the lights out again or did they just not come on during the day? Shaun couldn’t remember for sure; all he knew was that the stairwell was dark, uncomfortably dark, and he didn’t remember noticing before how dark it was in the stairwell during the day. Cautiously he stepped forward, peering over the side and looking down. Everything was still and quiet. No shadows moved. No lights flickered.

Put your fucking knickers on, you big girl. Shaun could hear Daz’s words whispering in his ears and he shook his head and laughed to himself. If only the fellas could see him now. He could imagine their cackling and the tears streaming down their faces in hysterics at how scared and how stupid Shaun was feeling. He smiled, hating how false and tight it felt on his face.

Go quick. Don’t stop to look at anything. Just keep your eyes ahead and keep going, he thought, taking the first flight of steps two steps at a time. He glanced up momentarily as he reached the mid-landing and saw the door to the fourteenth floor below him.

Don’t stop. Keep going.

He clattered down to the fourteenth floor landing and refused to look through the window in the door to the corridor beyond, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on his feet and making sure he didn’t miss his footing in the gloom.

Oh god. Oh god. Please don’t let there be any blood. Please.

Treading carefully down the next flight of steps to the mid-landing, Shaun exhaled deeply when he looked down and saw the floor was free of blood. In fact, it was completely dry. No puddles of water or piss, although dark putrid smelling stains in the corner told him that someone had no doubt relieved themselves here. Still, he thought, smirking, it’s gotta be better than blood.

He almost skipped across the mid-landing, turned to go down the next flight of steps  and came face to face with the hoodie who stood at the top of the steps, head bowed and quite still, with his hands by his sides. Shaun gasped in surprise and horror, stumbling backwards, bag flying out of his hands and landing on the floor with a sharp crack to his lower back. He cried out in pain, but could not take his eyes off of the figure in front of him.

The figure slowly stepped up onto the landing and Shaun desperately tried to scramble away but found he could not move. Reaching down the figure touched Shaun’s leg and immediately Shaun felt his bladder loosen. Oh no, he thought, feeling the dampness soak through the material at his thighs and he looked up as the hoodie loomed over him.

Staring into the hood and seeing nothing but impenetrable blackness within, Shaun began to scream, and scream and scream.

 

*****************

Shaun’s eyelids fluttered. Somewhere far off he could hear banging. Constant, un-relentless banging that seems to resound around his head and make his teeth judder. He felt cold again. Really cold, as if his very core had been replaced with a block of ice that was freezing his innards and spreading out to touch its cold fingertips to bone and muscle. As his eyes finally flickered open and unable to ignore the banging any longer, Shaun ran his hands down his chest to find he was fully-clothed and not practically naked like the last time he had woken up freezing cold. When was that? Today? Yesterday? Last week? He struggled to remember but the memory was hazy and jumbled as if he had spent another night on the beer. Maybe that was it, maybe he had too much to drink again yesterday.

Gail was right. The thought spiked into his head, however he couldn’t quite think who Gail was. He could remember the name and he knew it was someone he should remember, but thinking about this Gail – whoever she was – made the pain blast across his temples as if his very skull was trying to burst through the skin.

Stumbling to his feet, Shaun found that he had thankfully passed out on his bed, although the dull ache in his body told him it had not been a very comfortable sleep. Following the sound of the banging, he shuffled towards the front door, seeing a dark shadow moving through the frosted glass. The shadow moved and this time hammered against the door so hard that Shaun could see the door moving in its frame. He stopped, closing his eyes and seeing flickers of images in his head; a dark shadow was reaching for him, he was on the floor and he couldn’t move and the shadow was touching him, actually wrapping its cold fingers around his leg and touching him. Shivering, Shaun’s eyes flew open, trying to banish the images from his mind. He didn’t want to open the door. He didn’t want to let the shadow in. He didn’t want it to touch him again.

“Shaun!” The shadow’s voice sounded muffled through the door. “Shaun, for fucks sake I know you’re there, I can fucking see you. Now open the bloody door will you!”

Daz! Shaun remembered the voice of his friend and pulled at the latch, opening the door slightly to see his friend’s face, eyebrows knitted together furiously and mouth set in a thin, grim line, before it softened visibly and the anger turned to one of clear shock.

“Fucking hell, mate, you look bloody awful,” Daz stared.

“What? Do I?” mumbled Shaun, rubbing his knuckles across his head as if he could massage the pain away.

“Yeah you do,” frowned Daz, shoving at the door and forcing Shaun to take a step back.  “What’s going on? You sick?”

Daz pushed into the hallway, closing the door behind him. Even the sound of the door shutting echoed against Shaun’s skull and he leaned back against the wall to steady himself. Daz stood back and studied him, his eyes wandering over Shaun’s face.

“So what’s going on? You had flu or something? You look fucking terrible.”

Shaun forced himself to focus on his friend’s words but his head was spinning in some deep whirlpool and he was sure he must still be horrifically drunk.

“Sick? Flu? No…..no…just, you know, too much to drink I guess,” he murmured. His tongue felt thick and dry in his mouth, making his words sound slurred.

“What?” Daz snapped “you mean you went out last night? With who and why the fuck didn’t you tell me? I’ve been trying to reach you all bloody week. Look at the state of you, Shaun.” His eyes narrowed. “Were you on something? Is that it? I fucking told you to go easy on that shit.”

He stalked off into the living room, muttering something under his breath and Shaun followed, hearing the sound of his feet shuffling along the carpeted floor. Every footstep felt  like he were wading through water.

Daz was standing in the living room, shaking his head as he looked all round. “Bloody hell, Shaun, look at this place. I knew you were a lazy sod, but this is just disgusting. How long have you been on the smack and who the fuck are you doing it with?”

Shaun just stared at Daz, puzzled. “What are you talking about? I’m not doing anything. I just had too much booze that’s all. I think you were right, I can’t handle it anymore.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you haven’t answered my calls? What’s going on?” Daz glared at him.

“Nothing’s going on, nothing at all,” Shaun said, suddenly feeling so tired he knew he would have to sit down before he fell down. Shuffling over to the nearest sofa, he collapsed onto it, frowning at the pile of clothes and newspapers stacked up across the cushions. Daz was right, this place was becoming a right shit-hole. If he still lived with whats-her-face then she would have cleared all this up. Who was that again? Shaun blinked, trying to picture her face. His mum? Yeah, that’s right, his mum. Although the thought still niggled at him as if he knew deep down that it wasn’t quite right.

“You expect me to believe that? I don’t hear from you all week and you say nothing’s going on? You were meant to meet us down the pub. I called you. You told me you were on your way but you never showed. What the fuck happened? Now I turn up here and you look like you’re at death’s fucking door or something and you tell me everything’s fine?”

Shaun looked up, confused. “What are you talking about? I did come and meet you. Didn’t I?” As soon as the words left his lips, Shaun knew that wasn’t right either. He remembered leaving the flat, remembered seeing Mick, remembered speaking to Daz on the phone…but the rest? Shaun desperately tried to reach into his head and unlock what was nothing but a dark blur. He must have met them. He must have.

“I don’t understand…” he began.

“No nor do I, but whatever it is you better fucking sort yourself out. I thought something had happened to you. We all tried calling you but you never answered. I even came round on Sunday night to see where you were but you must have been out, doing whatever it is you’ve been doing.”

“For the last fucking time, I haven’t been doing anything!” Shaun practically growled the words out and his voice didn’t sound like it was his own. It was deep and menacing and he immediately saw a flicker of fear pass across his friend’s face. “Sorry, sorry mate. I didn’t mean to….look I just don’t know what’s going on but I swear to you I haven’t touched anything. I just thought….I don’t know. Maybe I have been sick. Maybe that’s it, maybe I’ve had a fever or something?”

Daz bit on his bottom lip, eyes laced with uncertainty before shaking his head. “Well whatever it is, maybe you should go see a doctor or something. People just don’t lose a whole week from the flu. It’s not right. Just sort yourself out will you, Shaun?”

Shaun watched as his friend walked over to the door before turning and giving the room the once over again. “Get this place cleaned up. The council would have a field day if they came in and saw what a state you’ve made this place.”

He started to go before looking back at Shaun, his face a mixture of pity and disgust. “For god’s sake Shaun, get yourself cleaned up too. And stop wearing that fucking hoodie. You look like one of them little bastards from the estate.”

And then he was gone, leaving Shaun to stare down at what he was wearing; a dark blue hoodie, a hoodie that he didn’t remember ever buying, a hoodie that he didn’t even know he had. Somewhere, in the black recesses of his mind, a memory sparked into life; of someone else, something else wearing the very same hoodie and the sound of someone screaming, screaming, screaming. Shaun covered his ears with his hands and squeezed his eyes shut.

 

***************

 

When he opened them again, sometime later, he was foetal, curled up in a ball on the sofa, with the hood pulled up over his head. Sitting up, he looked around, taking in the jumbled piles of clothes, dirty dishes and crumpled up old newspapers. Frowning he stood up and wondered where the hell he was. He vaguely remembered someone else being here but couldn’t remember who. Maybe this was their flat? But he didn’t recognise anything and trying to remember just made his head explode with splinters of pain that made him want to collapse again. Probably better off not trying to remember, he thought.

Shuffling across the room, he stared into the mirror above the old fireplace. Inside the hood, his face looked dark and sallow. His skin looked almost grey and engrained circles shadowed his eyes. Did I always look like this? he wondered before feeling that now all too familiar agony pulse through him whenever he thought too hard about anything.

Stop thinking, stop thinking.

He looked round the room again, knowing that this wasn’t his place. If it ever was, he didn’t really care. He just knew he didn’t belong. He knew instinctively that another place waited for him now.

Heading out of the strange flat, he walked down the corridor, past the lift and ignoring the buzz and hum of the machinery as it pulled and pushed the lift up and down in the shaft. He pushed on the swinging door, ignoring the creak as it swished back and forth behind him. As he entered the stairwell, lights flickered overhead and from somewhere came the drip-drip-dripping of water in some dank corner.

Fourteen-fourteen-fourteen, he thought and for the first time in what seemed like an agonising eternity, the pain did not shatter through his skull. He pulled the hood down so it almost shrouded his face and smiled.

 

 

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Sample Sunday – Excerpt from Dark Sanctuary

Suddenly he was upon me, lifting me up and slamming my head up against the cell wall. I kicked out in a panic, desperately clawing at his hands which had locked around my throat. I was struggling to breathe as his grip tightened. Laughing, he threw me across the cell and I landed not far from the door and automatically headed towards the light, crawling pathetically in the dust. He launched a swift kick to my mid-drift and then slammed the door shut and together we grappled on the floor in the pitch blackness.
I couldn’t fight him off. Slumber had left me too late and my body was not fully alert to his attack. I tried so hard but my struggle was weak and futile and he batted away my every attempt to hit him.
He punched me full and hard in the face and I felt my nose explode under his fist. The force reverberated through my skull and made me want to vomit instantly. I felt his hand fumble at the waistband of my jeans and I felt the panic rise to a crescendo in my chest.
No, no, no!
In an instant, he had removed my jeans but just when I thought he would go further and this attack would turn into something much more awful than I could ever have imagined, he moved his head down and sunk his teeth fully into my exposed thigh. I screamed. The pain was excruciating. It felt like he was almost chewing on my flesh. He lifted his head away and then did the same to my other leg. I heard that sickening sucking noise and I began to sob, the tears running quickly down my face and mixing with the blood that flowed freely from my inflamed nostrils.
I tried again to kick out at him and must have caught him on the side of the head as he lost his balance and toppled off of me and quickly I tried to scramble up. My legs were throbbing and felt slick with blood. I tried to lift myself up but my arms just wouldn’t support me. They felt like jelly under the weight of my body.
I felt his hand grip my hair and he was dragging me across the floor and growling in rage. He threw me again and I landed against the wooden door, feeling it rattle against my backbone.
I couldn’t fight him. I just couldn’t. He was way too strong and I was – well, I was just me. The same pathetic cowardly creature I had always been. Not Tomb Raider. No relation to Van Helsing. Just plain old Sarah Jacobs. The one who had caused the death of her own mother and grandmother. The one who had caused the deaths of her friends. The one who hid herself away in a little grey cottage in the country because even life scared the hell out of her. What could I possible do against a vampire hell bent on the most awful revenge?
I could feel the fuzzy cloud returning. It wanted to take me down and I welcomed it. Anything was better than this.
He lifted me up and I felt my feet rise up off the floor. His hands gripped me roughly and he wrenched back my head. As he sunk his teeth into my neck for the second time, I let the cloud take hold.
As the darkness came, I could hear the sound of my feet hammering against the door as my body still instinctively struggled against the pain of his attack.
As I felt myself falling into the blackness, I could hear the sound of my screaming echoing off the walls of the cell.
As my world faded into nothingness, I thought I could hear Michael screaming with me, except his voice was one of searing deep rage that seemed to go on and on and on and had I managed to stay conscious I would have known that his wrath had continued on into the night, never relenting for one second and growing with a furious energy, like a blazing inferno that refused to be tamed.

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2010

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Dark Sanctuary: A Love Story?

Welcome friends, readers and weirdo’s. Are you ready to get all warm and squishy with me?

Now don’t go getting all excited. Today’s post is about love. L.O.V.E. The Big L. Luuuuurve.

Why I have been thinking about love this week, I couldn’t tell you. In fact, it comes as somewhat a surprise to myself as I am without doubt quite cynical when it comes to all things warm and squishy. Maybe cynical isn’t the right word, I don’t know, but I think I am definitely more of a realist than a romantic.

I believe in love but I don’t believe in love at first sight. It doesn’t exist and anyone who says it does is a liar. Love isn’t forever. I’ve seen enough relationships come and go and for people to move onto the next ‘soul-mate’ to know this is true. Love won’t stop heads from being turned. Love does not conquer all.

So you see……I am a cynic, a realist…..or am I?

Paranormal romance is all the rage these days. When I was growing up and just starting to get a grip on the type of fiction I liked, I read either paranormal fiction or horror fiction. And I can tell you now, romance was never part of the plot. Okay so there was often a romantic interest thrown in, but mostly this was just for the author to chuck in a random sex scene. But let’s not kid ourselves; it was never about love. Just a bit of raw physical contact to keep the reader titillated between the horror scenes. Blood and sex. Sex and blood.

These days it’s a different story altogether (pardon the pun). We want spooky romance. We want spooky sex. We want heart-felt love and unbridled passion between a human and supernatural being, usually a vampire because let’s face it, coughing up werewolf fur balls isn’t quite as appealing is it? And in the majority of cases, we have to have the love with the passion. Penetration is wholly acceptable but we want the characters to be in love, or eventually fall in love. Even J.R Ward’s stallion vampires fall in love. Quite why we can’t have one without the other anymore, I don’t know? Are we striving for perfection? Is it the ultimate fantasy? We want Mr Darcy to have fangs. But we have to have love. Love is the key. We crave love. Without it, Darcy is just another hero in tight trousers with the obligatory hard-on.

And yet despite being educated in original old-school horror and believing myself to be a cynic in all matters of love, hearts and flowers, I find that I might just have created my very own fanged Mr Darcy. Michael: he of the broad shoulders, slim hips and a smile most women would die for. He’s undoubtedly a hit in the sack and he’ll give you a killer orgasm (particularly if your bank balance is healthy). But what’s more is that he is in love with my heroine, Sarah. Despite fighting tooth and nail not to create a love story, that’s inadvertently just what I’ve done.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with paranormal romance. I’m a Twilight fan. I’m not going to lie about that. I got sucked in just like millions of others did, only I did find it madly frustrating that they didn’t get it on until Breaking Dawn. I mean three novels is too long to wait for Mr Darcy to get the obligatory hard-on. But I’m a fan none the less. I just never intended to make Dark Sanctuary a love story.

Now, of course, it’s not just a love story. In fact, if I had to categorise it, I would still say its urban fantasy with elements of horror. I always sought to make it as real as it possibly could be. I play with the vampire myth for that very reason. I don’t shy away from the gore, blood and violence. Life is gritty after all, why sugar coat it when you write? But, from feedback I’ve had from those kind enough to read it, the love element still shines through. A friend of mine, who is not a fan of vampire fiction or horror, told me that she did see it as a love story. And weirdly, I’m becoming more accepting of that. I don’t mind if that’s what people get from it. I’m oddly at ease with it.

Maybe I’m becoming soft in my old age. Maybe Michael and Sarah will make a romantic out of me, after all. Maybe I’m just a much a sucker for a damn good love story as everyone else seems to be. I don’t know. I just try and create a healthy balance. A smattering of squishy-ness with a damn good splattering of death. After all, what’s a good story without its fair share of love, blood, sex and death?

Now if you don’t mind, enough with the warm and fluffy talk, I have people to kill and blood to spill…..

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