Monday, 2 January 2012

Sixth Prologue: The Vampire

Welcome to the latest instalment of the prologues for my horror work in progress. So far we’ve had The Monster, Wendy parts One and Two, The Killer, and The Wolf. This is the vampire prologue. It's not pleasant. Please be advised that this is, if not horrifically graphic, rather dark and nasty. I don't know if it would be an 18, but it definitely would be compared to the other prologues. Please bear that in mind. This has the "If you don't like horror, wait until the next post" caveat.

If you fancy a bit of dark, unpleasant vampire horror fiction, please: Enjoy.

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Garrett came to with a start. He must have dozed off. All those years and he was still so sloppy. Still, not too much to worry about. It was after three, no one would be prowling around checking on rooms this time of night. He peeled the sheets off himself and shuffled out of the bed and into the bathroom. He turned the water pressure as high as it would go and stretched out his arms. The hot water was more than welcome. The puddle around his feet turned red quickly as he stood, head bowed, as close to the shower head as he could get. It was the good thing about the more expensive motels rather than family owned places or apartments, he noted, that you could normally get a decent shower.

When he was satisfied that he had cleaned himself up properly he draped a towel around his waist and went back to the bed. Something felt different. Something was missing.

The realisation of what had happened came upon him suddenly. He removed the towel and looked down at himself. His penis hung useless, limp between his legs. Garrett briefly attempted to make it respond before running dates through his head, trying to make some sense of the last three weeks.

Three weeks ago he had been in a bar somewhere in Maryland when he had realised the pretty redhead he had been working on was a witch. In an effort to avoid any unpleasantness he’d come clean instantly and apologised for his intentions. She’d assured him that there was no harm done and they’d spent an enjoyable evening comparing world-views, at the end of which she drunkenly agreed to give him what she assured him was a temporary but very real solution to the problem that had plagued all vampires since the dawn of their existence: The fact that when a vampire came back, his manhood did not, that his manhood died with his heart. It had come at a considerable price, and with the warning that the effects wouldn’t last more than 18 days from its use.

A couple of days passed before Garrett actually decided to consume the concoction. It couldn’t have looked less like a traditional herbal remedy. He knew for a fact that no store that sold Echinacea carried sexual aids containing the preserved sexual organs of at least four different members of both human genders. The foul crimson mess had been crammed into a jam jar and sat in Garrett’s duffel bag until he told himself that it was, at least, worth a try.

He had forgotten how strong desire could be. He understood need, the impulse to feed, but this was something else. It was sexual, which he had expected, but it wasn’t just that. It was aggressive, it was violent. Seduction was still a part of his method but the final act had changed dramatically. The ferocity of his attacks now that lust was part of the equation had unsettled him. No longer were his victims left pale and wan with a couple of pin-pricks on their necks to show that something had gone wrong. Now whoever found the body would be hard pressed to tell that they had been human, let alone women. But there was something else. As he debased and ruined their bodies he was assailed by memories that were more than a hundred years old, memories he’d thought he’d forgotten. The face of a whore in a lamp-lit Montana brothel who had laughed at him. The mocking laughter of his companions. The freezing snow-covered woods he had trampled shamefully through on his way home. Their return was unwelcome. He had thought himself above things such as guilt and shame. He would sit at the end of the bed and wonder if this was a tenable situation.

Not that he had any trouble with killing. That wasn’t what kept him at the scene of the crime for hours longer than was sensible. No. He had been like this, in the same state, for so long that this new thing, this new impulse gave him pause. It was possible that the witch had slipped something into the concoction, though he doubted that. Was this something that had always been with him that he’d repressed, or was this something new? Then there was the aftermath. It was impossible to clean up the mess by himself, and he had left the bodies for whoever would come to clean the room. Someone would notice, someone would catch on. But this new aspect was too urgent.

His time was up, and he wasn’t ready. He’d realised that, although it was unnerving and impractical, it was utterly addictive. It rose so quickly and it carried him away. Actions he wouldn’t have even considered before came to him naturally now. After taking the witch’s remedy he’d gorged himself on women as he headed West. It had seemed only appropriate to head for America’s heartland with this renewed vitality. He had completely lost track of the days as he haunted the motels along the quieter highways until he had arrived here. There was a convention in town. Accountants were meeting to discuss how best to adapt to the harsh realities of the current recession. It had been too perfect. Garrett had seen a couple of recessions in his time. He had checked into the motel, stolen a name tag, and assumed an identity not his own. As he scanned the room for the right sort of woman he had felt that he was where he was supposed to be.

The woman’s name had been Joanne and she was now spread over the surprisingly comfortable double bed. She had been slightly older than he had been going for recently. He would have said she was about fifty, appearing about ten years older than Garrett. She’d made an effort. She looked a little sad, was a little overweight, a little past her prime, and she’d seemed genuinely flattered that Garrett would buy her a drink. She was perfect. She was looking for a bit of comfort. But she had fought like a monster when she’d realised what he was doing. It was a popular misconception, Garrett would tell anyone who was prepared to listen, that the lonely ones offered their necks up willingly, that they’d secretly been hoping for this anyway. Bullshit. Garrett knew from experience that the lonely ones were even more determined to cling to life. Still, the scratch marks on his chest and back had almost completely disappeared. The same could not be sad for the wounds he’d inflicted on her. The only part of her body that had been detached was the head, but to say that the rest of her was intact would be inaccurate. Three weeks ago he would not have thought himself capable of such visible cruelty. The sexual aspect of the violence troubled him. He knew what would be interpreted from what he had done to the body, the wounds he had created. Ripping, tearing. It hadn't stopped when her heart had. He hadn't even slowed down. And all with his hands and teeth.

But back to the problem at hand. He told himself that it was possible that the spell was still working, that he was just temporarily unresponsive, but he knew that was wrong. He could feel something missing. Whatever had been woken in him was slipping away and was being replaced by anger. Obviously it may not have been tenable but he was not ready to let it go. It was too soon. Moving quickly over to the bed, he lifted Joanne’s head from the pillow and crushed it against the headboard. It may have been a small and pointless gesture but it calmed him nevertheless. He took a deep breath, drawing his hands across his face to feel the gore, now only lukewarm, dribble across his features. He stuck out his tongue as it made its way towards his mouth. He would find the witch and make her give him more, make it permanent. Of course she had told him that it would be temporary, she wanted more money. And if she wouldn’t help him, then he would just have to show the greedy bitch what she had done to him. He picked up his towel and got back in the shower.

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Hello there. Well, I promised a vampire, and this is him. Garrett comes from a couple of ideas that I was working on, and has been heavily influenced by a lot of the research that I've been doing lately for a mostly unrelated project.

So, vampires and sex. Put simply, if you take the classic vampire with no heartbeat, clearly he has no use for his penis. No circulation. No...engorging. This has not been a problem for a lot of modern vampires. The vamps in Buffy, Angel, True Blood, even Twilight are obviously able to perform. If you look at other vampires such as the ones featured in Anne Rice novels, they aren't. They are lovers, but they do not perform the physical act of love. As far as my reading goes, none of them seem especially put out by this distinction. Clearly, Garrett's sexual organ is central to his story, and finding the right way to write it was very difficult. The idea that an immortal is still worried about his ability to perform is funny in a sad, human way, but Garrett’s not a sad character, he is a monster. I wanted the idea that when he lost his sexual urges the first time some horrible part of his nature was actually sublimated, and has now been awoken. Garrett is a serial killer who murders and mutilates women. This led to the second tricky part of this, which was writing the violence. In the end I decided that it wasn't necessary to write the murder itself and to not describe the gore in too much detail. I’ve written before on this blog that writing explicit gore isn’t something I find particularly easy, and I decided that it wasn’t necessary here in any case.

I was also keen to write a vampire who would not be desirable. We all love vampires to be the alluring, beautiful creatures that plant a delicate bite on a proffered lovely neck, and I've written a few of them myself, but if I was going to have a vampire be a main character in what I was writing (which is my intention for Garrett), I wanted him or her to be different from that. But I also didn't want him to be purely animalistic. What I'm interested in is the idea that he's experiencing a second change, and for him to be as excited by it as he is scared, like human characters are when they're turning into monsters. I will try and do this is in a well-judged and well-written manner, unlike my explanation here. I wanted him to be American, and as I’m sure you guessed he’s named after Pat Garrett.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. This was more of a challenge than I thought it’d be which is why I’ve gone on a bit more than I usually do in these postscripts. I don't whether I made the right judgments. I hope you liked it. Oh, aside from the writers I already referenced, big influences on Garrett are Poppy Z. Brite’s killers in Lost Souls and Exquisite Corpse, and my favourite motel hell would have to be the cereal convention in The Doll’s House, Neil Gaiman’s stunning second Sandman volume.

Recently, I told someone that The Novel That Nobody Wanted is actually called Lovely Creatures, and she asked if it was about women. I nicked the title from this Nick Cave song:

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