THE VAMPIRE IN FREE FALL
“I’m one of those monsters nobody believes in.”
If only they did! One moment, he’s a soldier in Vietnam – the next, a vampire on a bloody rampage through the troops. Caught between a human who can bend him to his will and a night stalker who tempts him to freedom, he begins a quest that spans two centuries and takes him from Saigon to the moons of Saturn. His life becomes an adventure packed with car chases, Russian agents, bank heists, assassinations, robots, even a space walk – not to mention a passionate love affair ... and gallons of every vampire’s favorite drink.
Author Jim Hull brings to the genre a dash of spy thriller, a dollop of detective noir, and a dose of science fiction. It’s a tale that’s sardonic, hard boiled, and heart wrenching.
“It will appeal to anybody who enjoys vampire books . . . I did not want it to end!”
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Here's a dang-exciting excerpt from the book, as our vampire hero tries to steal info from the Russians in the late 1960s
(some graphic violence, so prepare yourself):
I couldn’t find the papers anywhere. I was about to leave the room and search all the other offices when I noticed a rather large pile of files resting on a desk in the corner. On a hunch, I went to it and flipped through the files. There, toward the bottom, was the one I wanted.
I pulled out the camera and took a snap of every page. Then carefully I replaced the file exactly where it had lain in the pile.
The way out was simple
enough. I retraced my steps upstairs to the rooftop door,
keypad, opened the roof door, stepped into the cool evening
air ... and
got shot three
The bullets smashed into my chest and abdomen, slamming me against the stair house. I bounced off and lay stunned on the gritty asphalt roofing. A silhouette with a gun spoke Russian into a walkie-talkie. A staticky voice answered. My ears could hear the same voice from the street below. Apparently they had posted guards at all the exits, and the roof guy had made the hit. From the chatter, I gathered that the rest of their team was heading our way. This was going badly. Jager would not be amused.
Two of the bullets had passed clean through me. I glanced over and saw the small holes in the wall. One of the bullets had bounced around inside my gut, causing God knows what damage to my corpse’s innards. But I had no time. I rose to my feet. Already the wounds were healing. I heard a plop as the third bullet worked its way out of the front of my stomach and dropped onto the roof. The silhouetted man turned, saw me standing, and raised his silenced pistol toward me once more. But I leapt forward, twisted the gun from his grip, and struck a blow on his chin that whipped his head around and snapped his neck. His body crumpled in a heap.
It was too late to hide evidence, so I left the body there and, at a full run, jumped up and across the street to the next building. I landed just barely on the edge of its roof, teetering over the street for a moment before catching my balance. I looked back; the other Russian team members were spilling out onto their roof. Two of them ran to the body of their comrade while the others scanned the area. One caught sight of me as I turned to go. He fired his weapon. I could hear bullets zing past my ears as I escaped.
I leapt to the next roof, and the next. As I ran, I heard more gunshots behind me. I wondered if our team had engaged the Russians, but I had no time to double back and investigate. I jumped down to the street and raced to my car.
When I got there, I found a young man trying to pry open the door with a jimmy. I materialized next to him. He looked up at me with a start. “Jeez! Where’d you come from?” he asked.
“This is my car.”
“Hey, it belongs to whoever found it. But we can always work together. You take the tires, I’ll take the radio and the gauges.”
I glared at him. “I mean, I own this car. I parked it here.”
He stared at me a moment. Then he struck me hard in the face with the metal jimmy. That smarted. I picked him up by the neck until he dangled above me, gagging and clutching at my hand. “Go steal something else,” I snarled, and threw him against a nearby wall. He tumbled to the sidewalk and lay motionless. Blood began to pool beneath his head. The blood gave me an intense desire to walk over and, I dunno, see if he had any left. But I thought better of it.
I climbed into the car and began to drive away. At the end of the block just ahead, a gray sedan skidded around the corner and headed straight for me. My vampire’s eyes could just make out a couple of faces through the windshield above the bright headlights. They looked like the men I had seen on the rooftop. I braked, slammed my car into reverse, and backed up at about fifty miles an hour down the street. At the next corner I spun the sports car into a bootleg turn, shifted to second, and blasted off into the night.
The gray sedan followed, gaining on me. I floored it and the car’s engine howled, pressing me into the seat. I headed west to Vermont Avenue, where I roared left through a red light, barely missing a hobo walking across the street, and sped south.
I looked in the mirror. In moments, a pair of lights wobbled into view, steadied, and began to widen. They were gaining on me again! That was some kind of souped-up vehicle they had. I gunned it, racing along Vermont as it rolled up and down on the uneven geography. I ignored stoplights, relying on my reaction time and the excellent car to get me through. Also, it helped that there was very little traffic at two in the morning.
As I drove, I wondered, How did they know I was there? Did I trip a silent alarm? Then my suspicious side wondered if I had been set up.
But I had no time to ponder. Behind me I heard a siren. In the mirror I saw a steady red light above a set of headlights. I sighed with relief. I guessed I could outrun him while his patrol car ran cover between me and the Russkies.
Ahead loomed the freeway overpass. I skidded right and up the onramp. The police car followed. I couldn’t tell if the Russians were still behind us.
I raced along the frontage lanes until a gap in the divider appeared. I barreled onto the main portion of Interstate 10, heading west toward the ocean. In moments I had the Porsche screaming along at about 140. The cop car couldn’t keep up; its lights narrowed to a tiny point.
I had just breathed a sigh of relief when I saw two more sets of lights behind me. Both were gaining. One had a red light off to the side. The other must have been the Russian guys, though they lurked well behind the red-light car. The city police couldn’t keep up with me, but the Russians and this vehicle were doing just fine. I wondered who was driving the new one. Then I recalled, while doing map study, some Auto Club brochures that had sung the praises of the highly skilled officers of the California Highway Patrol, whose beat included the freeways. So the pros had been called in. I accelerated once more, this time pinning the needle on the speedometer. Our little caravan zoomed through the 405 interchange. The freeway, I knew from the maps, would empty out onto the coast road in a few miles. In less than two minutes, I would have to make a decision.
The Lincoln exit was fast approaching. I worked my way into the left lanes; the Highway Patrol cruiser followed about two lengths behind. Further back, the Russians in the gray sedan gave chase. At the last possible moment I swerved violently to the right, just making it onto the Lincoln ramp. The patrol car was large and powerful, but it simply couldn’t corner like the Porsche, and it blazed off down the freeway, out of the game. But the Russians had time to adjust, and they followed me up the ramp.
I careened right at Lincoln and hurtled along the street. We weren’t far from Jager’s office, but I had no intention of going there. Instead I sped north. I was beginning to realize that these guys weren’t going to get lost. So I decided it was time to be a vampire.
At the top of Lincoln, I dog-legged through a posh residential area and swerved down the curving road into Santa Monica Canyon. The Russkies were close behind. Idly I thought, I really want a look at that car’s engine! I wasn’t disappointed at all in the performance of my little 911. But somehow it had met its match. Tonight I would have to rely on powers of a non-mechanical sort.
The canyon road emptied onto the Pacific Coast Highway, where I swerved right and dashed north. After about a mile I saw what I wanted, a large lot on the ocean side of the road, meant for the parked cars of sunbathing tourists. At an intersection, I swung across and onto the lot, driving to the far end and spinning around to face my pursuers. I put the high beams on – I wanted my pursuers as blinded as possible – shut off the engine, and stepped out.
The gray sedan pulled up and stopped about twenty yards away. I waited. Nothing happened for a few moments. Then the doors opened and three burly men piled out.
They advanced on me slowly, guns drawn. The lead man held up a hand and they halted. He said in a thick accent, “You steal from us. Please to give back.”
I shrugged. “Hey, I couldn’t find a damn thing worth taking! I was looking for cash, but all you guys got is papers and desks.”
The Russians glanced at each other. The leader said, “You are schpione! You spy for Americans. Give us what you steal. And we will let you go.”
One of the men behind him sniggered. The leader shot him a look. I said, “Guys, guys! The chase was fun, but really I didn’t take anything.”
The leader sneered at me, then turned to the men and spoke quickly in Russian. I heard the word “Smert” – death – so I knew they meant to start shooting. The man to the leader’s right raised his silenced weapon and fired.
But I was already standing at his side. I yanked the gun away and slugged him hard in the chest. My fist crushed his sternum and flattened his ribs, pulping his heart. He dropped off my hand and hit the pavement. I stepped over to the leader, grabbed him by the hair, and pulled his head sharply down against my upturned knee, smashing his face. I lifted his head and checked: the nose was punched inward, the nasal bones shoved into his brain. I figured he’d be dead within a minute.
I let him drop and turned to the third Russian. About a second and a half had passed since the first gunman had fired his weapon. The third man only had time to gape. I grabbed his shoulders, pulled him to me, and enjoyed a light dessert of blood from his neck. Oh my God, it was lip-smacking good. I’d missed that taste.
As usual, I stopped before I went too far. I pulled back and looked down at him. He was still conscious, staring groggily up at me. He mumbled something like, “Vampeer!” Then I remembered he was speaking Russian.
“Yes, I’m a vampeer,” I leered, “and you three screwed with the wrong dead guy!” I broke his neck.
Quickly I went to the car and looked inside. I found a camera in the glove compartment. I opened it and unreeled the film, exposing it to the light from the street lamp. Then carefully I wound the acetate back into the camera and left it on the floor, its back slightly ajar. I stuffed the three dead men into the car. I walked out to the beach, took off my shoes, and packed them with sand. I brought the shoes back to the gray sedan and poured the sand onto the bloody pavement, spreading it out with my foot until all signs of struggle had been covered. I fussed with my shoes and socks for a moment, making sure all the extra sand grains were removed – I didn’t want to wear grit – and put them back on.
I leaned into the sedan and pulled the hood lever, then raised the hood. The engine was huge, a 442 or something like it, probably bored out even bigger. No wonder they’d been up my rear. I slammed the hood shut, climbed into the driver’s seat, and drove slowly and carefully – no need to meet any more policemen tonight – back down the Pacific Coast Highway. I turned onto the incline that led up to Santa Monica, made my way past the cliffside park, and took the short bridge down onto the city pier. I drove past the carousel to a large empty area away from the tourist shops. I stopped near the edge of the pier, got out, moved the chief Russian’s body into the driver’s seat, put the car in gear, and shut the door. The car began to roll forward. With my foot I gave it a shove; it was doing maybe thirty miles an hour when it sailed off the pier. I blurred to the edge and looked down in time to see the sedan hit the water with a great splash. The car bobbed for a moment, flipped over, and disappeared.
I was feeling good. Tonight I had photographed enemy documents, evaded assailants and the police, killed three men, destroyed evidence, and treated myself to a little fresh human blood. I must have broken dozens of laws tonight, and gotten away with my first vampire kill in America. All of it made me feel ... jaunty.
You're in for an adventure!
© 2010, 2011 by Jim Hull
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