Vampires walk among us. Appraising our houses, policing our neighborhoods, crossing our borders. We understand there will be biting and an occasional conversion. These are small sacrifices for the sexy thrill. We do worry about vampires popping up in positions of power. They are evolved, difficult to slay, not as sexy. A backlash grows; but are we far too late?
Victor Thetherson is nearly cured. The treatment buries the charisma and confidence that only vampirism seems able to resurrect, and snuffs his rekindled love affair with ex-wife Barbara. Victor can’t trust himself as a vampire and doesn’t want to live with himself otherwise.
Eugene Foreman dispenses wisdom on his Sage Slayer site, offs vamps when convenient, and romances Victor and Barbara’s daughter, Amberly. His sensei, the Civil War Soldier, begs Eugene to slay Victor before he realizes his deadly inheritance.
Victor versus Eugene, round two in an ancient war. With Morbius Reborn, our time at the top of the food chain is coming to an end.
The old Civil War Soldier didn’t believe in anything other than live-fire training. Because modern-day vamps had evolved to thrive in broad daylight and insinuated themselves into the daily lives of their human prey, Eugene Foreman, Vampire Slayer, only hoped to minimize the collateral damage.
He also hoped to close on a nice three-bedroom row house in Cassis before it hit the south-of-France real estate listings.
His filthy vamp target ran the Chenonceaux Castle visitor center. The CWS briefed Eugene as they ate crepes on the TGV bullet train southwest out of Paris, CWS’s assistant Hilda three seats back and as always on high alert.
“It breaks my heart to have to kill him,” the CWS drawled, drinking hard apple cider—a cold beverage, but the old slayer slurped it like a cup of piping hot tea. “Charlie Valery was a fine young man. He has a wonderful family.” He smacked on a shrimp-filled crepe. “But for as long as I’ve lived, yesiree, I’ve had my heart broken more than once. I always get over it.”
Just how long the CWS had lived was hinted at but never quantified, left open to Eugene’s speculation thanks to Hilda and her extremely tight lips.
“Has he been terrorizing the countryside?” Eugene pictured the French landscape as the foothills of the Swiss Alps, dotted with thatch-roof chalets manned by striped-shirted mimes who provided wholly inadequate protection to rosy-cheeked, goat-milking women in Dutch hats, all in the shadow of a vampire’s castle. This despite the broad, gentle Loire valley outside their window, field after field of row crops, gleaming steel corporate farming complexes, and wind turbines strung along the valley’s rim.
“Not so much. I could use a Perrier.” The CWS doffed his floppy white hat, wiped his high forehead with a once-white hanky, and pulled the bellman cord, which was in fact the “next stop” signal.
Eugene was distracted by his BlackBerry, the businessman’s communication weapon. He had received an email from a young Gypsy boy he paid peanuts to be his finger on the local Cassis pulse. “Dammit,” he muttered, now perturbed for the umpteenth time with the device, which was taking forever to load the picture from young Milo the Gypsy. He cast a covetous glance at a man in short pants across the aisle, watching a funny cat video on his Galaxy.
“Focus, Gene,” the CWS said calmly, ominously. He looked into his hat.
“It’s Eugene.” He couldn’t help himself; he craned for a look. He had no idea what was in that hat, only that what the CWS saw always portended poorly for him.
Eugene set what he now thought of as his CrapBerry on the seat and put down his crepe. “I am listening.”
“You are all ears.” The CWS took a last look into his hat before reluctantly putting it back on his head. “This vampire, Charlie Valery, he’s not formidable to look at. Very French.”
“So I need to make sure I kill him before he surrenders.” Eugene waited for the belly laugh.
Hilda leaned over the seat, studying him. The CWS leaned back, the wide brim of his hat in Hilda’s face. She stared one-eyed at Eugene. “You wonder why the other slayers dislike you?” said the CWS.
“They hate me, actually.” Eugene had just come from a Bucharest convention, his first chance to meet the other guardians of humanity previously known only by their code names on the slayer sites. “They hated me before they met me. The local slayers in particular.”
“Yep.” Into the CWS’s mouth went a cracker dripping with ripe, runny Camembert. “Your name is legendary for slayers. Maistru, in Romanian.” Through cheese and cracker the CWS pronounced the name like he had grown up in Bucharest. “Foreman was an Ellis Island translation. One of the better, actually.”
“‘Infamous’ is what they said.”
“Trust me when I tell you,” said the CWS, slurping cider. “Your great, great, dot-dot-dot great-grandfather Trubadur Maistru was the best slayer I’ve ever seen. He went up against the evilest vamp of them all. Morbius. The vampire who will bring the other vamps together to enslave humanity. Your gran-pappy killed Morbius.”
Eugene swelled with pride. The slayer chat boards always lit up when the name Morbius was mentioned. Slayers at the convention barely dared speak the vampire’s name, while in the same breath having no problem besmirching the name Foreman. Eugene’s research on Ancestry.com revealed references to the vampire but with frustratingly little context. “Are you saying you knew my great-great-whatever grandfather?”
“Slayed Morbius,” the CWS repeated. “Saved humanity. Only the most talented and committed slayer could have pulled it off.” He stared intently at Eugene. To reinforce the moment, and even though Eugene was staring back, Hilda snapped her fingers beside her boss’s head, like a photographer drawing her subject’s attention to the camera lens.
“Morbius is dead,” said Eugene. “What does it matter?”
“Morbius’s heir is alive.”
“Are you talking about Victor Thetherson? Again? He’s a putz. I doubt he’s evolved, and if he wasn’t already cured, I could slay him in a second.”
Victor was a trigger for Eugene. The CWS and his mean, swashbuckling henchwoman Hilda rode him mercilessly after discovering he had a thing for Amberly Thetherson and then erroneously deducing that he must then have a soft spot for her father.
The train pulled into the Chenonceaux station. “Where’s my Perrier?” said the CWS. Hilda took a break from glaring at Eugene to glare at her seatmate, who merely turned his knees so that Hilda had to squeeze past to gain the aisle.
She seized the man by the forehead and peeled back his upper lip. No fangs. “You are lucky.” Fists clenched and jaw muscles dancing, she stalked off in search of a Perrier.
The CWS shook his head slowly and closed the gap between them. “Victor Thetherson is not cured.” Pungent, putrid fumes poured from his mouth. Eugene used to love French cheese. “He will never be cured. Some say he’s the second coming of Morbius.” The CWS finally sat back in his seat. “And they would be correct. If you want to go down in history like your ancestor, you will need to slay him. And you are nowhere near ready.”
About Harris Gray
Harris Gray combines the writing talents of duo Allan Harris and Jason Gray. Together, they have written three novels, two screenplays, a Christmas play and a collection of stories from Jason’s younger days. An early version of their novel Java Man was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers contest. Allan is a former guest columnist for The Denver Post and Jason owns Crowfoot Valley Coffee and Crowbar, land of rumor and embellishment.
Their collaboration began in Jason’s coffee shop. Allan wrote and eavesdropped as Jason entertained his customers. One day, Allan found a little yellow notepad waiting for him, crammed to the margins with Jason’s exploits. Allan typed them, touched them up, and called it good; but Jason had other ideas. As their tales converged and became inseparable, Harris Gray emerged. While the two couldn’t be more different in how they think and write, Harris says, “There is something wonderful and incredibly cohesive when we create a story together.” In Gray’s words, “We’re something less than Sybil and more than Siamese twins.”
Vampire Vic, the first installment in the darkly funny and relatable trilogy, launched in March 2013. Readers can add the follow-up, Vampire Vic2: Morbius Reborn, to their bookshelves this fall. Harris Gray also released their standalone novel Java Man in November 2013.