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Everybody Knows Vampires Are Dead

by Amanda C. Davis

 

You are so totally over vampires, you tell everyone, just totally over them, and then one afternoon, on a stone bench outside of the junior/senior parking lot, one of them promises to come to your room one night while you are asleep, if you want him.

“Say the word,” he whispers, one fang brushing the rim of your ear. “Any time.”

“Then what?” you whisper back–trying not to sound as awkward as you feel, but having trouble hearing yourself over his scent and your heartbeat. “You watch me sleep?” A joke, but it doesn’t sound silly, not when the players are you and him. You: willing, trusting. Him: quiet, watchful.

He grins–he knows it’s a joke–and leans in again. “No.”

Other people’s vampires are so easy to laugh at. Their prancing and their hair; their shimmer, their accents, their opera capes, their crazy little deviations from the rules. Not your vampire. On some level you understand his ridiculousness is not only equal to all the others’, but part of a lineage. One tiny capillary fed by a rich vein. You know you two look stupid together. Your friends have informed you. Still–you’ve completely bought into this one specific vampire, not just because his hand has been a hair’s breadth from yours for the past ten minutes and if your skin touches, you will probably instantly die.

“Well?” you say.

He catches your eye, which you have been trying to prevent. The rhythms of your body change in significant ways. “What do you want?”

Oh, if you say it aloud, you or he or something (maybe your parents?) will burst into flame. He sees this. He is all the best of youth and age. Beauty and wisdom, energy and stillness. He says, “Here’s what I’d like.”

You are probably on fire right now.

He says, “I’d like see what shape you make under your sheets. I’d like to see the way your pillow cradles your head. I’d like to push away your hair from that…irresistible neck.”

He raises a hand and lets it fall before it reaches your apparently resistible neck, but your throat leaps as if he has touched it. Such a cheesy line. So typical. Isn’t there an equally huge vein on the back of your knee? You never hear about vampires fetishizing that. You realize you would be completely okay with his hand on the back of your knee. Or elsewhere.

“I’d like to nuzzle you to the cusp of waking,” he says. You would also very much like that. “I’d like to kiss your throat until I find where your blood rushes closest to your skin.” You think all your blood is surging toward him at that exact moment. “I’d like to cup your face while I open your throat, fold the wound in my lips to not waste a drop, and drink you in until you wake.”

“Does it hurt?” you say. Then you wonder how he would know. Then you remember it must have happened to him once. You are embarrassed for you both.

“Only once,” he tells you.

Horrifying, but not when your vampire says it. The sinister mixes with the sweet.

“Then what?” you say. You are stupidly aware that except for the brush of his fang on your ear, he hasn’t yet touched you.

He grins again. “Your turn.”

You wish your vampire was telepathic. You are drowning in scenes of “then what”. Some of them are contradictory, you aren’t yourself in some of them, and some are stolen from other people’s fantasies (a few of which seemed dumb when you first heard them–not when it’s you, and your vampire). Many of them take place immediately after where he left off. A few of them leap forward, years and centuries beyond.

He says, without hearing your brain-locked answer, “Any time.”

It could be tonight. It could be any night.

You look at your hands so you can think more clearly, breaking his gaze just long enough to notice a couple of your classmates stroll past. One of them snorts high in her throat. “God, vampires are so lame,” she says to the others. “I am so done with them.”

You wonder if this is cyclical, if you will have your vampire and then tire of him. If another vampire will come after that, or if one is all you get. You glance at his face to see if he might tire of you first, but you are somehow certain vampires don’t work like that.

You think you will whisper something in his ear. Not everything, just something. You’re the one with the pulsing blood, after all, and he’s the one who must be invited.

The moment before you speak is the most delicious agony in the world.

No wonder vampires live forever.

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More stories, and poems too: Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Anthology

Check out all my free-to-read work–including podcasts!–here.

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Here are some quick links to my most popular posts!

The Total Beginner’s Guide to Submitting Short Fiction for Publication

How to finish and format your stories, find markets that want to read them, and send them out in ways that make you look and feel professional.

Poetry and Prose Pieces for Forensics Competition

Stories and poems from serious to humorous, listed by category and reading time, for class, competition, or just reading aloud.

Magazine Art and Illustration Markets for Cover Artists and Illustrators

Some of the many fiction magazines looking for artists and illustrators for their cover art, banner art, and illustrations, both reprints and originals.

You might also be interested in my published works, my book cover designs, or my contact information. Thanks for stopping by!

My excellent sister, Megan Engelhardt, sold an excellent short story to the excellent Rhonda Parrish, who today revealed the excellent cover that will go on top of it:

CORVIDAE-cover-resizedI love it, and I love her story specifically, about an odd couple of globetrotting monster-hunting ladies and their adventures with an expanding entourage of charming weirdos.

Watch for it on July 7.

So I was updating my Amazon profile the other day with my recent releases, and it turns out there are kind of a lot of them! Here’s where I’ve appeared in the past month or so.

not_our_kind_tinyNot Our Kind: Tales of (Not) Belonging – January 25
My story: Good Neighbors [Check it out on Amazon]

When you talk about outsiders, it’s easy to think about that sense of isolation when you’re not one of the “popular kids” in high school, when you’re the new person on the job, when you stand out in a bad way.

But there’s more than that.

There’s the sense of wonder at a new, alien place. There’s seeing everything you know through a new, different point of view.

These stories defy expectations and easy genre boundaries.

But if you want that sense of wonder and amazement when you first encountered speculative fiction, that idea that there is something different, something more just around the corner, just out of sight, that sense of coming home to the unfamiliar, then this is the book you want to read.

faed_tinyFaed – January 31
My story: Away and Below [Check it out on Amazon]

The good neighbors, the folk under the hill, the fae. Spirits, ghosts, and outsiders, often thought to be gods. They step into the real world to play, not caring or knowing how humans live.

And like children playing with dolls, they have the power to completely change the story.

Fantastic Stories of the Imagination – February 1
My story: She Opened Her Arms [Read free]

Amber was hunched on the playground swing, watching Michael chalk meticulous, artless nonsense on the blacktop, when a woman came up to watch. Amber eyed her warily. Her brother couldn’t tell bad strangers from good ones, so it was up to her.

phobos_troublemake_tinyPhobos: Troublemake – February 8
My poem: When I Am Eighty-Three [Check it out on Amazon]

For our third issue of Phobos, “Troublemake,” we called for stories about biters of the hands that feed, timid folk acting out against their tormentors, unlikely disturbers of the status quo, hell-raisers both literal and figurative, and creatures who just plain don’t like being told what to do.

An incredible, international collection of writers responded with stories about the various hungers of a corrupt food critic, a clandestine embalmer on the run, suburban botanical troubles, a desperate politician in a haunted town, casual witchcraft gone wrong, casual witchcraft done right, a working dreamer and a dreaming worker, the obstacle course of a disintegrating family, and the clever, web-fingered, eponymous main attraction of our final piece.

thetimeithappened_tinyThe Time It Happened – March 1
My story: Xenofabulous [Check it out on Amazon]

Time. We feel it march by, seeming to gain momentum with each passing year. Some physicists argue that it might not actually exist. We have only our recollections to depend on, and sometimes those can fool us, becoming fogged, like overexposed film.

“The Time It Happened” from Third Flatiron Anthologies contains 15 short science fiction adventures and flash humor pieces that explore world-altering events, both real and imagined, ranging from alien invasion and space wars to fantastically unpredictable science experiments. Seemingly minor crises, such as missing your morning cup of coffee, or a network glitch, can ruin your whole day, but what about forever? Historical events, like Lincoln’s death, the Apollo 11 mission, or Sputnik, may not have happened quite like we remember. Yet surely the most important memories, like love, are permanently etched on the walls of time.

“The Time It Happened” proudly showcases an international group of new and established speculative fiction authors.

Mirror Dance – March 1
My poem: Crown of Bells [Read free]

If we had only known earlier–
We whisper on the linen, nose to cheek–
If we had guessed the witch for what she was,
If we had resigned before the mess began–

But a servant’s no advisor,
And a cook’s no fool.
Let the master handle his own witches.

xiii_tinyXIII: Stories of Transformation – March 16
My story: Why Ulu Left the Bladescliff [Check it out on Amazon]

The thirteenth Tarot card is Death, and he is a symbol not of the end, but of transformation and rebirth. This is the genesis and root of Thirteen: Stories of Transformation. The twenty-eight authors of this collection are voices—new and old—who are not afraid to explore what comes next. Whether it be a life after death, a life without love, a life filled with hunger, or the life shared by a ghost. These are stories of the weird, the mythic, the fantastic, the futuristic, the supernatural, and the horrific.

The ghosts of the past have been eaten by the children of the future: this endless cycle of birth, death, and renewal is the magic of thirteen.

Do not fear change. Embrace it. Let Thirteen be the handbook for the new you.

There was a stone in Paul’s mailbox instead of a newspaper.

In Good Neighbors, my story for Not Our Kind, a town is flooded with new residents of the faerie persuasion, all of them beautiful, capricious, and wildly powerful. They have magic, but we have a complex and fascinating human society. They like us. They want to be us. Unfortunately, sometimes we already are us, and then the position, shall we say, must be vacated.

My favorite Twilight Zone episode is “It’s a Good Life,” and it’s possible that fed the swirl in the back of my head while Good Neighbors was coming together. I love how that episode skips the usual twist in favor of a growing, overbearing dread. “It’s a Good Life” depicts a town under a tyrant, but Good Neighbors takes place under a whole class of tyrants. One monster might be defeated. If a thousand monsters suddenly and delightedly move in next door, you have to learn to live with them.

Not Our Kind is Kickstarting right now, with preorders for electronic and print copies along with the backlist of Alliteration Ink (pick up What Fates Impose for another great set of stories containing me, also edited by Nayad Monroe), and a table of contents featuring some of the most exciting short fiction writers working in speculative fiction these days. Check this action out:

Wes Alexander, Alex Bledsoe, Maurice Broaddus, Jennifer Brozek, Amanda C. Davis, Sarah Hans, Janet Harriett, Tyler Hayes, Michael Haynes, Erika Holt, Gary Kloster, Marissa Lingen, Remy Nakamura, Andrew Romine, Ekaterina Sedia, Lucy A. Snyder, Reinhardt Suarez, Juliette Wade, Tim Waggoner, Damien Angelica Walters

Right? The best part of anthologies is the contributor’s copies, and I am beyond excited to read this one. If you want in on this, you can help make it happen here. There are also some fun backer levels. I understand there are brownies.

Good Neighbors is one of my favorite things I’ve written this year. Can’t wait to share it.

Not Our Kind: Tales of (Not) Belonging

I’ll be in London for LonCon soon, by sheer chance, because I’d signed up for a bus tour in the same area that happened to be ending the day before the con. Sweet Providence! Which means I’ve had two weeks to acclimate to travel around the UK and the handful of little things different from US hotels. Since they might save LonCon attendees a tiny amount of grief, here you go.

– Energy-saver boxes by the door use your keycard to allow power in your room. Until you put it in & leave it in, the lights don’t work.

– Low-flush toilets with dual flush buttons, like a lopsided yin-yang.

– Plugs. Everyone knows they’re different. American appliances do need an adapter. They probably DON’T need a voltage converter: most modern devices are rated for about 110-220V, so work in both places.

– Coffee: very strong everywhere! Room accoutrements: electric kettles, not coffee pots! Raw sugar (Demarara sugar, “brown” sugar): very popular apparently!

– Nobody puts ice in your drink unless you specifically ask for it. Ever.

– They like to hide the blow dryer in a drawer for some reason. There also never seem to be washcloths, which I don’t use, but this vexes some of my older traveling companions.

– Boy, do I love the pound coin. Also awesome: London taxis must be certified & have set meters, so they are fast and reliable and not bad rates if split with friends; cheaper than the Underground, for how we used them. The ones I’ve seen fit four comfortably in back, five if you’re thin or friendly.

– Crappy wifi seems the norm, and has usually required some kind of login, the stuff of nightmares. Almost none of our hotels have had AC; none had a fan in the bathroom. Windows tend to open.

– The tap water seems fine to drink.

This is probably kindergarten stuff for seasoned travelers, but it took me by surprise. If you’ll be at LonCon on Friday, let me know. Happy travels!

2014-summer-sale-banner copy

World Weaver Press, the publisher of Wolves and Witches, is holding an ebook sale through August 10. That means our collection of fairy-tale retellings is down to $2.99 on Amazon, and 50% off direct from the publisher, with coupon. There are some terrific books in the mix, and rolling freebies, so be sure to check it out!

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