WIP Wednesdays | We Don’t Bite (Much) Excerpt | 11/30/2022

To the Americans in my audience, I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving! Nano may have gone down in flames for me for the last week and a half, but I still wrote a substantial bit for this story that I would like to share before I reattack with writing and art development next year.

In the meantime, I’ll be focusing on getting my novella Monstress rewritten and peer reviewed this December. I hope to—no, I will!—get it to the point that I feel comfortable starting to attempt to submit it to some magazines in January at the latest.

This prologue featuring the werepire was written fairly early on and features some old terminology (i.e. the town being named Brambleton before I had settled on Bethorn). I’m not sure if I like it given how prose-heavy it is, which is at war with the rest of the otherwise dialogue-heavy script, but it also has some fun imagery that I would like to keep. Please bear in mind that this was written during Nanowrimo so it almost certainly has some rough edges I have yet to smooth out.

The night that the werepire attacks you is warm and wet, uncharacteristically muggy for the time of year. That’s what you’ve been told, over and over, by the locals. It should be cold this time of year. It shouldn’t be wet as a monster’s maw.

You almost don’t feel its breath on the back of your neck. You’re distracted, face inches from your phone, trying to read your shopping list. After moving in, our refrigerator has nothing more than a moldering carrot and an expired carton of milk that you kept in a cooler you took across the country.

Brambleton’s downtown is cute in a cozy sort of way you couldn’t have expected, warm, buttery light from shopwindows and streetlights showing the way. It also drew attention to the massive, mishapen shadow that swallows up your own.

An ugly snarl, wet and hungry, sounds off as you start to turn. You don’t, can’t, get a ood look at it as a result. Still, ou get an eyeful of wings, ears, and bloodred eyes.

Somewhere in the back of your adrenaline-filled mind as you start to run, you think: that’s not what vampires are supposed to look like. Granted, you’ve never met a vampire in person, but you’ve seen them around town at this point. They kept their distance, stayed in the shadows, but you could see they were shaped like humans, save for the tapered points of their ears and longer-than-usual teeth.

This is not like that at all. It’s more like a werewolf. But who’s ever heard of a werewolf with wings?

You fumble with your phone to call the police, then register what you think is a store that’s open ahead of you. IKt must be one that services vampires, open at 11 PM.

The creature makes a snap at your forearm, teeth clicking way too close for comfort. You have no doubt it could take your entire hand off.

You burst through the door of the shop, slamming it behind you in time to catch the creature’s wing. It screeches and reels back. There’s a deadbolt on the store’s door. You throw it shut, putting little more than the structural integrity of the silver-lined door between you and the massive creature.

Now, in the bright white light of the store, you make out the creature. Its appearance is juxtapposed oddly with the scent of sugar warm in the air in the store.

It’s the size of a bear, albeit frailer, more delicate, defined less by the size of its torso than the breadth of its wings. There’s an animal hunger in those eyes that you thought, wrongly, was reserved for werewolves.

It beats at the door, then scrabbles, smashing its face into the glass. Abruptlu, it stops, rearing back, and slams its wing against the door like a swan. The glass rattles but stays whole. It roars at you one last time, then turns, takes a few running steps, and flies away.

You exhale hard, then gulp in air, becoming painfully cognizant that you had not been breathing properly. It had almost caught you. Somehow you doubt that it would have been anything like the intimate little nips your old high school sweetheart had done, skirting the line about what a vampire and a human were allowed to do. As a teengaer that danger felt daring, thrilling. Now… well, that thing wasn’t a vampire, was it, so maybe it isn’t fair to compare.

You back away from the door, unsure of turning your back on it. Once you bump into a table, however, you are forced to turn around and look properly at the shop that you are in. Everything is a garish Barbie doll pink, from the frilly tables to the walls to the menu on the far wall behind a counter.

The sticky scent of warm sugar is overpowering to the senses, but not so much that you can’t detect something else. An undercurrent of blood. Its own sweetness is metallic and cings to the roof of your mouth.

Bethorn has already made that a familiar scent to you. You’ve seen vampires tip their heads back and swallow it from bottles and plastic packages. More often than not they grimace after like they’ve swallowed some kind of bitter medicine. You’ve speculated to yourself that it’s because the blood is old, badly-preserved in bottles with chemicals or somesuch, but you’ve also seen fake blood advertised. The commercials for it make it seem the wrong texture and shade, even to your untrained eye.

The blood-smell seems real enough, though. It intermingles with the melty sugar aroma until they seem one in the same. It almost makes you feel dizzy.

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