QSFer Andrea Speed has a new queer fantasy book out: “Darlings of New Midnight.”
There’s more than one way to interpret destiny.
The Son of Satan, a demon hunter, a mummy, a witch, a harpy, and the messenger of an elder god walk into a bar… and try to prevent the apocalypse? The devil isn’t thrilled, and frankly the angels aren’t either. But from the bowels of Hell to the chilly Halls of Heaven, from Thailand to Tacoma to the bottom of the ocean, this ragtag group of supernaturals plans to fight the prophecy and save the world or die trying. With enemies among the most powerful beings ever to exist and allies they can’t trust as far as they can throw, they’d better get their act together fast.
LOGAN KNEW he must be getting close, because he got vampires thrown at him. Well, they were throwing themselves at him. Still counted, right?
One minute, he’d been alone in an abandoned sewer tunnel, and now he had a bunch of the yellow-eyed bloodsuckers attacking him. But he was always prepared and had his handy minimachete with him. He’d sewed a special holster for it inside his jacket, which was probably one of the craftier/nerdier things he’d ever done.
The first vamp launched itself at him, flashing its fangs and showing razor-sharp nails, and he met it with a smooth arc of the machete. Logan sliced through its neck cleanly, sending its head one way while its body continued its suicide trajectory toward him. The thing about garlic and stakes through the heart? Bullshit. Like most monsters, they were most susceptible to decapitation. Very little survived without its head.
Logan sidestepped the corpse, but another bloodsucker grabbed him from behind. It attempted to bite his neck but hit the silver collar he wore whenever he went into dark, possibly monster-infested places. Yes, it looked like a choker, therefore pretty ridiculous on him, but it was just for these eventualities. Silver didn’t hurt vampires, but they didn’t like it, and it hissed and recoiled as he threw back a hard elbow and crushed its nose before turning around and hacking its head off with his machete.
It would have been so nice if real vampires were like most pop-culture vampires—rich, vicious effetes who lived in mansions and penthouses. In reality, they were nocturnal predators that liked to hide and not draw too much attention to themselves. So they loved dark, grotty places, like sewer tunnels and crumbling basements. It was really disappointing.
One of the vamps got smart and kicked him hard in the back, sending Logan stumbling into the arms of two other vampires, who stripped him of his machete. He would have worried if he didn’t have his peashooter.
Of course, that wasn’t what it was. It was a bit of do-it-yourself ad hoc weaponry that he and Ceri had gotten great at improvising. It was essentially a pellet gun that shot iron nails, which, if decapitation wasn’t a current option, would do as a neutralizer when fired into the head.
The bloodsucker that had Logan was a real ugly-looking one, with a face like a wood knot come to life and too many needle-fine teeth crammed in too small a mouth. It screeched at him, and its breath was rank, like it had been washing abandoned bus station socks in kerosene in its gullet. Logan pulled out the peashooter and put a nail point-blank in the center of its forehead. As it fell away, yellow eyes rolling up into the back of its head, its friend had grabbed him painfully by the hair and started dragging him, perhaps to its nest. He glanced up long enough to get a general idea of where its head was, and fired the peashooter again. In what was impressive good luck on his part, or bad luck on the vamp’s part, Logan got the bloodsucker right in the eye. It screeched and let him go, clawing at its own face to try to get at the offending piece of metal.
Logan shot another one coming for him and was able to shove himself against a wall so nothing could grab him from behind. He shot a fourth in the face while looking for the machete and found it a few feet down the way. Dammit.
He was plotting the path to it when a booming female voice asked, “Where is your hellhound, Logan?”
Ceri really hated that nickname, which was why pricks like the vamps liked to use it. “Now why the hell would I tell you a goddamn thing, your highness?” She was the queen of the vamps, so she deserved some respect. Not much.
The uninjured vampires had ceased their attack because when she spoke, her people listened. Or they got killed. She ran a tight ship. “Is he not here?”
“Yeah, ’cause I’m known to go into monster-infested places alone.” He wasn’t. Like he wasn’t known to go places without several redundant backup weapons. Because in a fight, assholes like this went for your weapons first thing. Multiples were good.
“Sarcasm impresses no one.” She was a tall shadow with glowing yellow eyes. Vampires couldn’t shape-shift, save for the queen. She could make herself a shadow or a bat or a column of smoke. It made her almost impossible to hurt in any meaningful way, which is why she was the queen, and all the others followed her orders.
“Like I give a shit. I came here for the Amulet of Azrael. You can give it to me and I’ll stop killing your people and leave, or we can continue to do this, although I’ll ask Ceri to join me and we’ll be done in ten seconds. Maybe throw us a palace coup as well.”
Her voice took on a cold, sharp edge. “Are you threatening me?”
“Do I have to?” Considering how things had been going all topsy-turvy lately, he had no idea if the vampires were generally for or against the end of the world. It seemed like they changed their minds every other day. “It’s not your property. Hell, it ain’t mine either. It’s Ceri’s, and he wants it. And if you’re not willing to give it to me, I’ll call him down here and you can give it to him yourself. Or he can take it.”
She made a noise of disgust, and the amulet came flying from out of the darkness and crashed at his feet. Considering what it was, it should have looked special or impressive, but it looked exactly like an old, tarnished necklace. The gold chain seemed like it had seen better decades, and the pendant part looked like a glass eye embedded in a flattened bottle cap. How was this an icon of power? But Logan wasn’t in charge of this. He was a lowly human who’d never wanted to get in the middle of this insanity. He simply didn’t have a choice.
The conscious and uninjured vampires seemed to disappear into the darkness, a neat perk of being one of their kind. “Take your necklace and go, Fox. The next time we meet, it’ll probably be your last.”
Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)
In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men.
Viva la revolution!