What follows is the unedited, unpublished, and nigh unreadable prologue for my novel, Lucifera's Pet. I am posting this for those of you who have already read the book and those of you who get a kick out of bad writing. I actually wrote this nearly a year before I decided to write the novel.
The events depicted in this prologue happen shortly before the novel, but I thought it best to just throw the reader into the story without providing this bit of background. More fun that way.
Plus, this is just really, really bad. Like, eyes bleeding kind of bad. I don't mean Evil Dead 2 so bad it's good kind of bad. No. We are talking Ishtar bad.
That being said, please enjoy!
Five blocks. That is how far my apartment is from the theatre. In broad daylight, I would think nothing of walking the sidewalk back there after a movie. At night, the idea doesn’t exactly thrill me. My friend Danielle just had to go to the late show tonight, though. Pushover that I am, I couldn’t just say “no.” I had already shot down her last two offers for girls’ night out, and I knew that one more rejection would mean I lost my spot in our little clique.
The plastic surgeon’s office where I work as the receptionist / bill collector, is another ten blocks in the opposite direction. On occasion, I have spent the night in the makeshift apartment that Dr. Denton has for when he finds the need to work extra late. It has been nice on those nights where the girls and I have found ourselves out on the town with a few too many martinis under our collars.
I would like to think that I am pretty. I mean, would a plastic surgeon hire someone to be the face that greets his clients if he didn’t think she was at least reasonably attractive? His offer to supplement my meager salary with “a nip here and tuck there … just routine beauty maintenance … no charge, of course,” sure didn’t do much for the old self esteem, though. I just have to remind myself that this is a forty-two year old father of four who drives a two-seat convertible sports car, and calls everyone “dude.”
The work apartment is way too far for any of us to walk to at 1:30 AM. Danielle has the brilliant idea to split a cab. I just paid $50 for dinner that wasn’t good, a movie I didn’t want to see, on a night I didn’t feel like going out, on a week where the good doctor told me I could either get some Botox in my cheeks or wait until next Monday for my paycheck because of a slow month at the office. Considering that I usually end up getting stuck for the entire cab fare, I decided that I would rather walk than get the short end of the stick, yet again.
“Fine … be that way, Joanie. At least be careful. I’ll call you tomorrow for martinis! Kiss kiss!”
I have to fight to keep my smile in place at Danielle’s words. When the cab full of my friends finally pulls away, I let out a breath and rolled my eyes. Great. Yet another evening on the town that I do not want.
I was only vaguely aware that the words “be careful” had been thrown into her statement as an afterthought. This is Los Angeles. I have lived here for five years. I have also made this walk at all hours of the night, at least two dozen times. As far as parts of town go, this is as safe as any.
Still, I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry. I took one of those self defense courses when I first moved here from Indiana. What I learned in that class has probably kept me from getting hurt a couple of times. One of the most important things they talked about was avoiding potentially dangerous situations, i.e. don’t walk around by yourself at 1:30 AM in the middle of L.A. Still, I figure that if I don’t act like a victim, I won’t be a victim. I hold my head up, pull my shoulders back, and walk with confidence and purpose towards my destination. If someone gets near me, I’ll scream my head off and run. If that doesn’t work, I’ll use the pepper spray, then, I’ll run.
I get about a half a block into my trek when a police car slowly cruises by, going the opposite direction from my apartment on the deserted four-lane street. I wave as the officer in the passenger seat shines the spotlight in my eyes. Surely I look neither threatening enough to be a mugger, nor slutty enough to be a prostitute in my black, pin-striped pant suit and heels. The car passes by and the shadow on the wall indicates that the spotlight has moved down from the back of my head to my butt.
“Gee, thanks, guys. I feel so much safer with you patrolling the streets.”
The LAPD continue their nightly rounds and go elsewhere to look for the bad guys, completely oblivious of my less-than-enthusiastic praise.
I had just rounded a corner by one of the few dark, deserted alleys on my path home when I heard the voice.
“You’re a terrible liar, you know.”
I turn in the direction of the deep, male voice, but see only darkness in the alley. Impossibly-strong hands push me from behind. It felt like a truck hit me squarely between the shoulder blades. I must have flown fifteen feet before slamming into the brick wall inside the darkness of the alley. The first thing I do is find my key chain with the pepper spray canister. I haven’t tried the stuff since I bought it two months ago. Dear God, please let it work.
I scramble to my feet, opening my mouth to scream. I never see him coming. The icy cold hand closes over my mouth before I can make a sound. He is already in my face, pinning me against his body with his other arm. His grip is like a vise. I can barely breathe, let alone scream.
The oxygen had been forced out of my lungs when he grabbed me. I have to take short gasping breaths, just to get what little air I can. The pepper spray is in my hand, but both of my arms were pinned by my sides in his freakishly-strong hold. As he holds me, I finally am able to get a good look at him.
He looks normal enough. He is a little taller than me, with a shaved head and earrings. He is wearing a stylish t-shirt and jeans, with rings and bracelets galore. He looks like a thousand guys you might find in any night club in L.A. That is the problem, though. He isn’t a “guy.” As I look into his face, I know he isn’t even human.
His eyes are glowing yellow as they bore a hole into my own. I have seen the ravers and their freaky contacts, but I have never seen anything like that. His skin is like ice. It is as if he were a dead body. The most terrible thing about his appearance is his teeth. They are long and jagged, and already coated with red. Is that blood???
“Why, yes it is.”
He just answered a question that I never spoke aloud. Dear God, he is in my head. What is he? What is he going to do to me? Am I going to be raped and killed by this … thing?
“The ‘what’ is a vampire. That is what I am. No offense, toots, you’re cute and all, but what I want is not in your pants. Instead, I think I can find it right … about …. Here.”
His icy tongue runs up and down my neck, directly over a major artery. I don’t know if this guy is for real, but I can only assume that he is. Even if he is not, I realize that he didn’t specifically say he wasn’t going to kill me.
I feel those horrible, jagged fangs brush against my throat. Dear God, please help me.
As I am readying myself for this … this thing to bite into the side of my neck, a blurry black form slams into both of us, then disappears. For the second time in less than a minute, I find myself on the ground. I stare at the asphalt and struggle to regain my breath. The man’s grip had been so strong that he might have cracked a couple of my ribs. The pain that shoots down my torso with each breath does not ease my fear.
When I look back to the man, he has already gotten back to his feet. He is no longer looking at me. Instead he is looking away from the dead-end brick wall of the back of the alley and back towards the street with what I can only describe as an animalistic snarl. I swear to God, it almost sounds like he is hissing like those cobras at the zoo, right before they attack the mice at feeding time. I don’t know if he is what he says he is, but I am finding it easier to believe that he is not human.
I realize that my chances of survival are far better if I am standing. Despite the pain in my ribs and my inability to take a decent breath, I drag myself back to my feet. I manage to make it to the wall and brace myself against it. I know if I end up on the ground again, I may never leave this place alive.
I chance a quick look to the mouth of the alley. It is in that moment that I see her.
She could not have been more than 5’4”. I can’t decide whether the word “terrible” or “beautiful” is better suited for her. Her long, ebon hair is the kind of shade that you just can’t get from a bottle … and the curves of her figure are something that the plastic surgeon I work for would never be able to reproduce, no matter how much money his clients throw at him. She is definitely attractive, but the one feature I cannot get over is her eyes. She looks no older than I do, but her eyes are so very old. Even stranger than that, they appear to be glowing with green fire. The black, sleeveless dress she is wearing looks very much like the dark shape that separated me from the vampire only a moment earlier. Dear God … she’s not human either.
This “woman” stands there, staring down my attacker. For one full of such bravado, the strange man has made no move to attack her. He seems … fearful.
“Do you know who I am?”
Her voice had the faintest hint of an accent, but I can’t quite place it. Spanish? Romanian? Though very feminine, there was a confident and commanding tone to it. The man makes no effort to answer her, so I take a shallow breath and open my mouth to do so.
She turns and locks eyes with me. She holds a finger in front of her lips. “Shh.” It is like her fiery green eyes grabbed a hold of my very soul. Not only am I unable to talk, but I also cannot move. My whole body simply stopped at her command.
The man replies to her question. “No. I don’t know who you are. Should I?”
I can only watch with morbid fascination as the scene unfolds. If his lack of knowledge bothers her, she doesn’t let it show. She just stands there with her arms crossed over her ample chest, looking very much like she owns everything and every one around her. I have never been in the presence of a queen, but I would imagine she would carry herself like this woman.
“I am Lucifera. This is my city, now. You are most unwelcome here.”
There is no humor in her tone, but the man laughs. At least, I think he was going to laugh. The sound never had a chance to fully form. One second, this Lucifera was standing in the mouth of the alley. Then she was gone. I see the same blur of black as it circles the man, then comes to a stop by my side. The man is still standing there, but something is wrong. It takes me nearly a full second to realize that his head is gone. It must have taken his body that long as well. Once we all figure it out, a spray of blood from his headless neck showers the alley in crimson. It is like some terrible geyser of blood that paints the wall and ground red. Finally, the body falls over and the stream ceases to flow.
I feel something heavy hit the ground next to my foot. I do not need to look down to know it is the man’s head. As quickly as my paralysis hits me, it is gone. I take a wobbly step towards the woman.
A movement in the mouth of the alley stops me. I can barely make out the dark shape that is getting closer to my odd savior. At first, I thought it was a large dog, but it was as big as a bear. No dog could be that big … nor would a dog have glowing red eyes.
Just when I thought the night could not get any stranger, the thing stands up on two legs and begins to speak.
“I took care of the other two across the street. You sure you don’t want me to stick around till this is done?”
The horror of that voice is nauseating. It is deeper than a fog horn. I feel like a thousand spiders are crawling down my spine with each word from that … thing. This cannot be real.
The woman is unfazed. She simply laughs and looks towards me as she inexplicably replies to the monster.
“No, Wolf. You have business to attend to, and so do I. The month will pass quickly and I shall be in my rightful place by the time you return.”
The monster grunts in affirmation, then turns its glowing red orbs on me. A spine-chilling smile forms on its canine face as it stares down at me from its towering height.
“Should I take care of this one, then?”
Involuntarily, tears form in my eyes from the mere sound of its words. Please, make it stop.
The woman holds up a hand. “No. That will not be necessary.”
The beast nods and turns is gigantic shape back towards the mouth of the alley.
I don’t know what is going on, but I am going to at least have my say. I take an unsteady step away from the monster and towards the woman.
“Thank you … Lucifera, is it? I … I don’t know how I can repay you for saving my life … Is there anything I can do?” The trauma must be making me delirious, as I start to giggle softly at the absurdity of the night’s events.
My laughter is cut short by a tiny hand that is suddenly wrapped around my throat. Dear God … her grip is even more terrible than the man’s was. I am finally beginning to black out from the lack of oxygen. I find myself pulled close to the woman’s face by that same hand with strength she should not possibly possess.
“Yes, there is. I find myself quite thirsty.”
In the space of a single syllable, I finally see them behind her ruby-red lips, hanging like two tiny ivory daggers. I see her fangs.
My world goes black as I feel the sharp pain of those same teeth tear the vein my first attacker had so coveted. The last thing I hear before darkness takes me completely is the sound of someone sobbing. I am oddly detached when I realize that the sound is coming …