A vampire's bite sucks, but it's also quite powerful...
When Las Vegas Paranormal Police Chief Ian Dex is injected with a healthy dose of vampire venom, he gains access to power like he's never known. He's faster, stronger, and his ability to do magic is on the rise, too.
The problem is that he's becoming too powerful. That makes him a target, and there is no shortage of people who'd love to see the Vegas police chief pushing up daisies.
But it gets worse...
The venom has made Ian grumpy, demanding, and dark. Normally, this would be fine, but Rachel Cress is finding his newfound brooding angst to be rather sexy indeed. When he growls and roars, she coos and melts.
But it turns out the venom has infected more people than just Ian Dex. It's surging through supernaturals all over the Vegas Strip.
Translation: someone is building a venomous army.
Ian and his crew have to stop them before the Strip sinks into a hedonistic blood bath. If that happens, all bets are off.
The question is how long Ian can hold out before his mind is consumed...
THOUSANDS OF BOOKS SOLD. MILLIONS OF PAGES READ. DIVE INTO THE WORLD OF THE PARANORMAL POLICE DEPARTMENT TODAY AND LET THE FUN BEGIN...
Release date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Crimson Myth Press
Print pages: 228
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Curse of Fangs
John P. Logsdon
One of the things I loved most about living in Las Vegas was the ability to find food day or night. I don’t just mean fast food, either. I’m talking pretty much anything you want.
Rachel Cress, my longtime partner at the Las Vegas Paranormal Police Department (PPD) and my girlfriend for the second time in seven years, had been going to see the PPD shrink every few days as of late. She claimed Dr. Vernon was really helping her to break through some relationship issues. I hadn’t noticed a difference, to be honest, but I wasn’t about to say anything to point that out. Rachel was already quite snarky with me. I saw no reason to make it even worse.
I’d just finished up a cup from the Bones Coffee Company, needing a bit of a pick-me-up before heading into the office. Rachel preferred their Chocolate Raspberry Blend, but I was more into their Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee. It just had that refined smoothness that I liked to believe fit best with my personality. A fella could dream, right?
But I was also pretty hungry. So I headed out of The Martin, the high-rise building on the Strip where my sweet condo was, and took a stroll toward Tommy Rocker’s. They made a Big Ass Burrito that had my name on it.
The night air felt great and since Rachel had taken my Aston Martin, I just padded the back way to get to the restaurant.
Just as I was cutting through the little shopping center next to Tommy Rocker’s, a fellow in a multicolored outfit approached me.
He was a djinn with pale blue eyes and long dark hair. I would have placed him to be around thirty-five years old, but it was tough to tell since he was covered with ink. I only saw his tattoos because of my ability to see things like that. To a normal, though, he would have just looked like a thirty-something dude who had a flair for wearing loud clothing. The only tats they’d see were ones that were drawn by normals.
While I was a little annoyed to be interrupted, I wasn’t surprised that he approached me. There was a branch of the Djinn Ink Club in one of the hidden zones nearby, after all. These clubs were where normals who were in-the-know went to get a mental fix. Supers also used them, but not quite as often. The clubs were perfectly legal and the djinn community had done well to keep to the rules and regulations. There was a time when that hadn’t been the case, but over the last twenty years, they’d run a tight ship. Frankly, if all the other supernatural races and factions would only act like the djinn of today, there’d be a hell of a lot more peace in the world…at least as far as supers went.
“Good evening, friend,” the dude said in a sales voice that demonstrated practice. “Fine evening, no?”
“Sure is,” I said with a quick smile before holding up a hand to stop him from continuing his pitch. “Before you start, let me just say I fully appreciate that you’re just trying to get customers, but I’m not someone who can actually be affected by the touch of a djinn.” He gave me a once-over. “Yeah, I know it’s difficult for you to believe that, and I’m sure you’re wondering who I even am.” He said nothing. “Right. Well, I’m the chief of the Vegas PPD, and I’m also an amalgamite. Translation: the dream stuff sounds sweet, but they don’t work on me.”
“Ah,” he replied with a slow nod. “It could also be that you’ve simply never had someone of appropriate skill to lead you on the journey.”
This happened from time to time. A new djinn came into town who didn’t know about me and my history. Therefore, they made the assumption that they were the one who could bring my dreams to life in their unique and somewhat disturbing way.
I typically allowed myself to get into a debate with them about this, but tonight I just wanted to eat.
So I rolled up my sleeve a bit, held out my arm, and gave him a go-ahead-and-try-it look.
He grinned and closed his eyes for a moment.
Now, I’ve seen a lot of things in Vegas, but there was something really cool about watching a djinn’s ink move around as they worked their skills. Sometimes there would just be some slight migration and other times the entirety of their ink would flow to a single point. That’s what this guy’s tattoos did. All of them poured like a river down his face and neck. He was wearing a jacket, so I couldn’t see where else it was moving in from, but when he reached out his hand to touch my forearm, it was liquid black…almost like looking into an inkwell.
I felt the same tingling sensation I’d always felt when they tried this on me. I’d been told that the tingling made them believe it was working on me. Sadly, it wasn’t. They just wouldn’t know it for a minute or so. I kind of felt like a tease, to be honest.
But there was one thing different this time.
My arm burned.
That was new.
It was as if he were holding a lighter under my wrist from about six inches out. Not excruciating or anything, but certainly uncomfortable.
Still, it was obvious that he had no…
I suddenly felt a bit woozy.
That was odd.
Nausea began to build and I could feel myself sweating. Whispering words began to bounce around in my head along with what sounded like wind chimes. I couldn’t understand anything that was being said, and the wind-chimes thing was just weird, but clearly something exceedingly discomforting was taking place.
“What the fuck?” I groaned, barely able to talk.
“The end is near, Officer Dex,” cackled his ominous voice. I forced open my eyes to see the djinn staring at me with a sinister smile on his face. “It’s time for you to die.”
Did I know this guy?
No time to find out.
I kicked out as hard as I could in order to dislodge him from me. It was a terrible kick, but it worked. He fell backwards, hitting the ground with a thud as I stumbled forward and fell over, smacking my face on the asphalt.
It hurt a fair bit, but my survival mechanisms were engaged, doing their best to keep me from feeling the pain.
The physical pain, anyway.
My emotional well-being was completely fucked.
Worse, I was starting to see things.
There were shadows moving all around me and paranoia was doing its best to dig in and make me its bitch.
“This isn’t happening,” I panted as I struggled back to my feet. “It’s not possible.”
“Oh, but it is,” the djinn sneered, jumping back at me and locking on again, sending searing pain into the very core of my being. “You are under my control.”
I kicked him again.
He fell again.
Honestly, you’d think he would have seen that coming the second time around.
But it didn’t matter. His poison had somehow penetrated my defenses and I was in a world of hurt. My blood felt like it was boiling and I had the intense desire to pass out. But I couldn’t. I had to fight through this if I didn’t want to end up in a never-ending dream dictated by this dude as he fed on me for a very long time.
So, I did the only thing I could do. I fought.
Too bad I was losing.
I knew this because the shadows that had been swarming around started forming into the body of a vampire. He was about my height and build, but he dressed more like Chuck. Very Matrixesque.
“Hey, dickhead,” I slurred, “I don’t suppose you have any aspirin on you?”
He stepped directly in front of me and smiled, revealing that his fangs were out in full.
While I was still struggling with what was happening here, it seemed incredibly real. Of course, that was the trick of the djinn. It was how they wrapped you around their fingers and siphoned your life away for years and years.
Fortunately for me, I knew how the djinn worked. Unfortunately, it was becoming more and more clear that I had finally succumbed to the game.
Just as the vampire’s eyes began to turn red, I held up a wavering hand in warning and grumbled, “Stay back or I swear I’ll fall over on you.”
Even in my dazed state, I wasn’t someone you wanted to fuck with, unless you had a penchant for being hurt.
The vampire, real or not, was on me like stink on shit. We hit the ground and were rolling around like a couple of dudes in an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at the Mandalay Bay on fight night, except neither of us was wearing shorts.
He’d brought his fangs toward my neck more than once, but I kept dodging. I wasn’t worried about being infected by vampire venom or anything. I was already genetically a bit vampire, though I loathed to admit that, but imagining the joy of having two long-ass pearly whites embedded in my neck was not pleasant.
“Get off me, asshole,” I raged through my hallucinations, rolling over and lashing out at him with my fist. It was a great punch. One of my best, in fact. Too bad it hit the pavement instead of his face. “Goddammit!” I yelled, clutching my now broken hand.
He kicked out at me, launching me to the side. My head hit the ground again.
This little game of fight-the-vampire was certainly not making me better looking.
It took some effort, but I finally got back to my feet. Blood from my forehead started to drip down into my eye. It stung and made the world blurry.
“Where are you at?” I choked, spinning this way and that, trying to spot him. “Come on, dude. Let’s do this.”
Honestly, I felt like I had gone on a bender and downed a solid ten Rusty Nails…on an empty stomach. If they were filming an episode of Drunk History in town, I’d have been at the top of the list for a guest spot.
“You can’t win, Dex,” I heard the djinn say from my right. “You’re under my control.”
That pissed me off.
It was one thing for me to give up control to someone, like a succubus, for example. That was fun and usually had a happy ending, if you see what I mean. Being taken over without my permission, however, was not something I found tolerable. I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling, but the difference between me and most people was that I fought like a crazed demon when I felt trapped.
So I backhanded the djinn and swung wildly at the vampire, broken hand and all.
The djinn fell down again. He was clearly not very good at fighting. But the vampire ducked my punch and sent an uppercut that made me glad I hadn’t had my tongue sticking out. If I had, it’d have been half its current length. That wasn’t something I’d want to break to Rachel.
My teeth vibrated as his fist slammed in again, this time driving me to my knees.
This was simply not a fair fight.
“You guys are being real dicks,” I wheezed as the vampire connected with another right. “Dude! What the fuck?”
I tried to reach for him, but my mind was simply too far gone.
Bottom line was that I was screwed. This fight was a complete loss. My only hope was that Rachel and the rest of the PPD crew would be able to find me.
That’s when I had the thought to use my connector.
Sometimes, though, timing was everything.
The instant I went to contact to Lydia for help, the vampire bit into my neck, bringing forth a level of pain that not even a safe word could manage.
“Biscuits,” I whimpered, trying anyway.
It didn’t work.
Nor did it stop him from unleashing that vampire venom of his into my veins. The world threatened to close down, leaving me in a pit of darkness. My eyes struggled to stay open.
But then clarity began to come back.
It was slow at first, barely a flicker. It still wasn’t me, exactly, but at least I wasn’t sinking into oblivion. The intensity grew and grew until I felt a ferocious focus that required blood to be sated.
With a heave and a roar, I flung the vampire away like he was nothing.
I threw him so far, in fact, that even I was surprised by my strength.
My blood burned and the sounds in my head were threatening to drive me insane. Something in the back of my mind begged me to contact Lydia, but it was like I’d forgotten how.
I was hemorrhaging madness.
My eyes locked in on the djinn.
He was the one who had done this to me. He was the one who had to pay. He was the one who would pay.
“Now, wait,” he said, putting his hands up as I began to stalk him. Clearly he saw what lay behind my threatening eyes. “Just stay back. I’m your master, remember?”
“Death,” was my response, and it didn’t even sound much like me. “Death.”
The me who was still living in my head felt like he was getting smaller and smaller. It was as though I were being taken over by something far more powerful than I could even imagine. I couldn’t explain it, nor did I really want to. I just knew I needed to escape it somehow.
That was one of those words that Gabe the vampire had fed to me. His mystical no-user-manual words were a thing of legend at this point. He gave me such treats as Flashes, which allowed me glimpses into someone’s past; Time, which was great for watching a woman have a really slow orgasm, and also for slowing time in general; Sniff, which had helped me have the scent-tracking capabilities of a wolf; Words, which was the one I’d used to battle against a pixie in a Joke-Off; and now Antitoxin, which I could only hope would heal me from whatever the fuck was going on right now.
“Anusflopsin,” I attempted, sounding like a drunken sailor. “Oh, come on!”
“Stay back,” screamed the djinn. “I’m warning you.”
That wasn’t the right thing to say, apparently, because the beast inside of me only took that as a challenge. Contrary to popular belief, using bravado against something that can kill you is only slightly less dumb than using bravado against something that can kill you and really wants to kill you.
He raised his hand in defense as I attacked, but there was no use.
My fangs came out and I bit into his neck with reckless abandon, nearly ripping his head clear from his body.
He fell limp as his blood spilled from my lips.
I spun around and saw the vampire who had attacked me. With the djinn being dead, that meant he hadn’t been a hallucination. I was kind of amazed I was able to deduce that in my current state.
The vampire’s face turned white as he stood there staring at the fallen djinn.
Slowly, his eyes came up to meet mine and he looked terrified.
“What happened?” he said, clearly baffled. “Why am I here?”
The beast within me wanted to lunge out and crush the life from him, but there was enough of me left to sense that this poor vampire had been duped by the djinn just like me. We were in this nightmare together.
My breathing was becoming labored, and I sensed this was because I needed to kill again. Obviously, this is what being a frenzied vampire felt like. I don’t recommend it.
“You need to run,” I warned the guy in the trench coat as my drunken stupor continued to be replaced with pure focus. My voice was hoarse. “I cannot control this for much longer.”
“I didn’t know,” he stammered, taking a step toward me.
“Run!” I stormed.
He shrieked and then took off, bolting toward Tommy Rocker’s.
I had to wrench my gaze away because the chase was incredibly tempting. When I turned, though, I saw the fallen body of the djinn and what I’d done to him. At least I no longer craved that burrito.
“Ew,” I said, indicating that there was at least a little of me left inside my quickly deteriorating mind.
“Yeah, yeah,” I grumbled, working hard to focus. I could either think or say these special words as long as I did so intentionally. Out of sheer determination, I stared at an indent in the asphalt and whispered, “Antitoxin.”
I convulsed, screamed, and then fell flat on my face.
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