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The end. At last!

Yes, I did it.  I finished the vampire book.  There’s a tab, you may notice, at the top of this page, entitled “Interlude”, where you can read the full thing.  I realize I will have to rewrite large sections of it, since I’m not very happy with the opening and I just realized that there’s one major logical inconsistency in the plot.  (The behaviour and properties of the potion change halfway through the book.  Oops.)

Anyway.  It’s done.  Whether it’s good or not is another matter.

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Aha!

I “found” about 2000 words that I hadn’t included in my word count total. Serves me right for writing on two different computers and making each day a separate file. So I’m over 42000 words now. Getting to 50000 by Sunday? Piece of cake.

* Here is a massive installment – yesterday AND today*

The ritual fire was laid, the flames already leaping into the spring night. The ceremonial potion was ready to be scattered, and the goblets prepared for us to drink. The branches were cut and the crystals prepared. All was ready.

I stood by my chamber window, already dressed in my robes, watching the crowd filter into the garden. It was almost time. The seeding ritual was only performed once every ten years, and only under the right conditions. Tonight everything was perfect – the potion could be restored and the cosmic power source kept in motion. All was well.

Gervaise came to fetch me once he’d robed the girl. “Come on, mistress,” he said. He always calls me that, I don’t know why. “It’s almost showtime.”

I turned and looked at him. His eyes shifted under my gaze, a guilty look. Soon enough, though, whatever his plan was would be at an end.

“Very well,” I said. “I’m coming.”

*

“Do we have to hide in the bushes?” I whispered.

“Yes,” the dude said. “Be quiet.”

“I can’t see anything,” I said.

“Justin,” he hissed at me, “shut up. We have to wait for the right moment.”

How we were going to know what the right moment was when we could only see the backs of a crowd of people and some smoke was beyond me, but what do I know?

“How much longer?” one of the others said.

“Not long, once they get started,” he answered. “Now everyone stay quiet and let me listen. We’ve got to catch them at the right moment.”

*

I took my place in the half circle around the flames and watched as Gina came out of the house. She looked so beautiful, and I was so proud of her. She smiled at me as she walked slowly along the path lit by torches to where we stood.

It would have been perfect except for the two women on either side of me; it’s hard to stay euphoric when your former girlfriend is watching you admire your new girlfriend, and the killjoy mistress of your order is watching her for any mistake or slip-up.

“I hope the old man did his job,” she hissed at me, not losing her fake smile. “Everything depends on her.”

“She’ll come through,” I replied. “She’s like a new person now – she’s been transformed.”

And she had. She was a princess, an angel, a queen of light.

“Where is the old man?” my neighbour said. “I don’t see him.”

“Oh, he’s in the back somewhere,” the other said. “I saw him a minute ago.”

Gina stood before us. “I am here,” she said. Even her voice sounded different, a new, low, silvery tone.

“We are here,” the three of us replied.

“Where is the wine of togetherness?” she said.

At this sign Gervaise handed goblets to each of us. Steam rose from each one in elaborate swirls. He was holding a fifth goblet on the opposite side of his tray. “For the old man,” he whispered to me, and disappeared into the crowd.

The mistress eyed him suspiciously.

“All must drink,” she announced, “once the wine is blessed.”

More ushers moved through the crowd with trays, distributing goblets of wine.

“We will drink,” said Gina, “to the power and beauty of life.”

“To the harmony of the universe,” all replied.

“To the flowing of energy from all to all,” she said.

“To the everlasting source of all power,” we replied.

“We drink to the music of everlasting life,” she said.

“To the beauty of the world to come,” we replied, and raised the goblets to our lips.

(more…)

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New vampire novel problem

I’m not going to post the latest installment today, because I have a problem: The story’s pretty much over, but I’m 14000 or so words short.  You have to get up to 50000 to “win” National Novel Writing Month.
So what do I do?  Tell them to stuff it and consider the thing a novella?  Or see if there isn’t something which needs to be longer?
I think I’ll read the whole thing tonight and decide.  I’m sure there are a few parts which could use some more meat.

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So does Shostakovitch. I listened to some symphonies today when I was writing, and it came much more easily than it did yesterday. Weird.

* It’s all coming together now – I will shortly return to my usual aimless blogging style, but bear with me until Sunday*

Interlude: A detective story

It was a cold night, a crisp night, a spring night that felt more like fall than anything else. I was walking down a damp and empty street, thinking about nothing but the next whiskey and the next cigarette when I saw her.

She pulled up in a car next to me, a convertible with its top down in spite of the cold. She was one helluva hot dish, if you know what I mean. Long blonde hair and a swell fur coat, and lips to die for. Not a bad catch, if you ask me.

“Are you the private dick?” she asked in a low, sexy voice.

“Who’s asking?” I said, not losing my cool.

“Never mind that,” she said. “Hop in, sweetie. I’ve got a job for you.”

She had a job for me? I could think of a couple of jobs I had for her, but never mind. Because I also had a stack of unpaid bills as tall as the Empire State Building, and I’m not too proud to take dough from a dame. As long as she has dough, that is. But since convertibles and fur coats don’t come from the five and dime, I figured it was a good bet.

“What’s the job?” I said, hopping into the car. “Some guy giving you trouble? Ex-husband, loony little brother, heavy father?”

“No,” she said, peeling away from the curb, “nothing like that. I need you to find something for me, that’s all.”

“What is it, doll? Jewellery? Love letters? A yappy little lap dog?”

She shot me a killer look with those baby blue eyes. “Think you’re a funny guy, don’t you? No, I’m not one of those girls who gets her pearls nicked or gets blackmailed and I don’t like little dogs. I have a Doberman back at my house, and I’d like to see someone try to kidnap him. No, it’s something else. Something very special.”

I waited for her to spill her guts and tell me what it was, but she wasn’t exactly forthcoming.

“I need a few more clues than that, sister,” I said. “So it’s not a ruby or an IOU or a Pekinese. That only leaves a cool million or two other things in the world it might be. Care to fill me in?”

We’d driven a good way out of downtown into a sprawling neighbourhood of swell old houses with curving driveways.

“Nice digs around here,” I said. “I bet the servants’ quarters in these would sure beat my little two room flat. You live around here?”

Still she didn’t say anything. For such a good-looking mouth, it sure didn’t say much.

“Look, lady, you gotta give me something to go on here,” I said. “Either dish the dirt or let me out. I ain’t going any farther until I know the score.”

She pulled up the car in front of the biggest house on the street. Lordy, but did it look like a mansion from one of those English movies. It oughta have had deer roaming in front of it and footmen in wigs standing on either side of the door.

“Nice little shack,” I said. “Maybe they’ll let me use the phone and call a cab. Thanks for the scenic drive.”

“It’s my daughter,” she said quietly.

“Your what?”

“My daughter,” she said more loudly.

“Listen, sweetheart, I don’t do custody cases. You want your little daughter back, you take her daddy to court and do it the right way. I don’t get mixed up in -”

“She’s not a baby, she’s fifteen.”

“Huh?”

“I said she’s fifteen. You don’t listen too well, do you?”

“Hey, you just don’t look old enough to have a grown-up kid,” I said.

“I was a child bride,” she spat at me. “Anyway, that’s none of your business. About my daughter – she thinks she’s in love. She’s holed up in that house with an old scoundrel who’s promised her the world. She thinks he’s going to marry her and they’ll live happily ever after.”

“But he won’t?”

“No,” she said sadly. “I know a thing or two about him. He’ll throw her out when he’s sick of her, or worse, he’ll pass her on to one of his scumbag friends, and the scumbag will pass her on to another scumbag, and on and on until…” She paused. “And I’ll never see her again. I have to get her out of there before it’s too late. Please, won’t you help me?”

She turned her big round eyes on me. I could see the tears shimmering in them.

Dammit, I’m such a sucker for the dames.

“Alright, alright,” I said. “You got me. Can’t let a lady down, now can I?”

“Thank you, oh, thank you,” she sighed, and kissed me on the cheek.

“Yeah, yeah,” I said, though I can tell you my heart skipped a coupla hundred beats. “So what’s the plan? This place looks pretty solid to me. How the heck are we getting in and getting the girl out?”

“I have it all figured out,” she said. “It’ll be easy as pie. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

(more…)

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It’s like I’m gouging the words out with a pickaxe. Time for Nyquil and bed, I think.

*It’s starting to ramp up for the climax. Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ll get to the really fun part.*

I could see at once that the kid needed watching – the little dark-haired one, the one I’d watched go to the old man’s tower room for three days in a row. She had that look about her, that hungry, weary look. She was in deep trouble and she didn’t even know it.

And time was running short, for me and for her. Fortunately, my years of hunting had so sharpened my detective skills that it was simple for me to get hold of what I needed know.

I’m lying. I had no clue. To be perfectly honest, I had more or less written the girl off with a mental shrug of the shoulders – hey, she’s young, she’ll get over it – until a lucky chance made me change my mind.

I was sitting in my car in the university, watching the girl and the piano player with my binoculars – just the usual surveillance, you know – when something hit me on the head.

It was a rolled-up paper Starbucks bag. I turned and saw a young man glare in through the driver’s side window at me.

“I saw you, you creep,” he said. “Staring at girls through binoculars? What do you think you’re doing?”

(more…)

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I have about 10,000 words to go before the climax…I now know how I’m going to draw the whole thing together and make it a devastating ending. It’s tempting to just skip to the end now, but I should make sure it’s fully fleshed out.

There may be another installment later tonight. I’m feeling much better, so I haven’t had nearly as much cough syrup today as I did yesterday – I’m sure my prose is much clearer, too.

* I may only have eight days to write another 25000 words, but I’ll get there*

For three days I did nothing, thought of nothing but the power I felt with my hand in the thundercloud. Every night I went to the old man’s turret room, where he taught me more and more about the order and its secret powers. I called in sick at the coffee shop and the church choir with excuse after excuse.

“They’re going to fire me soon,” I said to the old man.

“No need to worry about that anymore, my dear,” he said. “The order will look after you.”

And the next day I found in my mailbox a fat envelope full of $100 bills.

For three nights we worked feverishly. “You are far behind,” he said, shaking his head. “The seeding ritual is of the greatest importance, and the keeper of the keys must perform it perfectly.”

“What’s the deal with the keys?” I asked him. “Why aren’t you the keeper?”

“The first master of our order is said to have forged them,” he said. “They are the matrix through which the power of the cosmic source is focussed. Without them the potion can’t work, and all of our power is nothing.”

“But why do they have to be in my body? Where were they before?”

“For a long time the keys had no keeper,” he said. “They were kept with other holy objects in our temple at Antioch, then at Byzantium, then at temple after temple until perhaps four hundred years ago. I have forgotten the precise date, but the keys were transferred to my body for safekeeping. Our temple was raided by hostile forces, and it seemed the best way. All of the other objects are replaceable, but not the keys.”

“And did you keep them until he was given them?”

“Which ‘he’ do you mean, my child?”

I blushed.

“Ah. Your young man. No, they were passed from one keeper to another. Some were volunteers, some I thought might possibly have been the one we were waiting for. All carried the keys for a time, but as you have found out, they are not without side effects. You have carried them for a mere week and a half, and you have eaten and slept little, am I correct?”

I nodded.

“And you are getting headaches and dizzy spells? Of course. It’s to be expected. It is a great burden to bear, but a glorious one.”

“Does it get better?” I asked.

“It may,” he said. “It depends on this Friday’s ritual, among other things. If your body can adjust to the keys, then we will know without a doubt that you are the one. If not -” He shrugged eloquently.

“You’ll find someone else,” I said, a little disappointed.

“But the fact that the keys jumped to you spontaneously is a very good sign,” he said encouragingly. “Don’t despair, my dear.”

And we went back to crystal-gazing and divining and meditation.

As I was leaving that Thursday night, the old man stopped me as I paused on the windowsill.

“Be careful,” he said, “our order has enemies.”

“Enemies?”

“Read this,” he said, thrusting a tattered old book into my hand. “It will explain everything. And be careful on your way home. They may have found you.”

I started down the ladder.

“And don’t be late tomorrow night,” he called after me. “6 PM sharp.”

As I walked down the silent and deserted streets – it was after 3 AM – I heard a car start up and drive slowly behind me. I turned and looked at it. Its driver rolled down the passenger side window.

“Cold night,” he said cheerily. He was middle-aged, with sandy hair, a mustache, and blue eyes. I memorized as much of his appearance as I could in the dim streetlight. “Awfully late to be out alone. Can I give you a lift?”

I gave him a cold look and shook my head.

“Aw, come on,” he said. “It’d be my pleasure, really. It’s no time for a little girl to be out by herself. Just hop in the car -”

“Leave me alone right now or I’ll call the police,” I growled at him.

“OK, OK,” he said, throwing up his hands, and drove off.

Seriously. Men are such pigs.

I walked quickly home with my head held high. I had a power now that no man could take away. I wasn’t going to let him or anyone make me afraid.

(more…)

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Another installment – this is from last night. See if you can tell when I took Nyquil.

*I don’t know what’s up with the fonts, but I can’t seem to change them*

Well, you know best, I guess,” Justin said. He sounded unconvinced. “They’re not, like Christian vampires or something, are they?”

You are impossible,” I said severely.

*

The old man was starting to scare me. All that “silence, death, defeat” stuff. Now I, personally, have always liked being alive. That’s why I chose to change. There is nothing better than a summer afternoon or a long night’s sleep. All those things the others go on about, art, eternity, the cosmic power source, the meaning of life – I’ve never thought much about them.

But I’m not an artist. I was a mere laquais, a footman/flautist when the old man found me and changed me. He was bending the rules of the order a bit, since they’re not supposed to change people unless they have the potential to be great, and I have never pretended to be anything but a hack, at least musically speaking. He needed a confidential servant, someone to talk to who wouldn’t talk back. The order isn’t the noble meeting of minds the old books make it out to be, you know. People are people, and musicians are the most self-absorbed and immature bastards imaginable. Out of all those he changed over the centuries, I don’t think he found one who could be his loyal companion for more than a few years. Eventually they all turned on him in one way or another, founding colonies in different countries, even brewing their own potions and setting up their own rituals. That’s why no one knows how many of us there are. Like the Catholic Church – so many schisms and popes and antipopes and heretics and sects, no one quite knows how many breakaways there are.

(more…)

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