Here is the 18th chapter of my vampire novel. My question is, would you pay $3.99 to read the rest? That's the price-point I'm shooting for on Amazon. Or is it so bad that I should just give it away for free?
I think about taking off. But where would I go? It's daylight outside, and I don't know the terrain.
I look around the room. All told, there are about twenty people in here, with maybe ten more in the bar. And four of us are vampires.
And I'm not even in the top half of that group.
Maybe it's the effect of my sun exposure. Maybe it's the presence of both Sammy and Curt. But I now realize things are even worse than I thought.
Standing just inside the door from the kitchen is another vampire, twice as big as the one standing next to me. He's black, and he's got sunglasses on. He's wearing a bright purple sportcoat and jeans. Curt's bodyguard. He came in behind Curt and stationed himself where he can see the whole room.
How could I have missed him?
And how does a vampire get that big?
And now he notices me staring at him.
I give him a nod. He's hard to size up, which probably means we're evenly matched. Except I bet he has a gun.
I should have kept Miles's pistol. If I had, I wonder how many shots I could get off before Curt or Sammy get to me.
Five vampires, all in the same room.
This is what I get for letting Elmore's housekey bait me into coming to this town.
Hennessy is now seated in the booth between Curt and Sammy. There's an old-style radio microphone on the table, as well as two guys holding boom mikes. The camera is stationary, though there's a fat man behind it with a headset on.
As Hennessy interviews his guests, I watch them take their turns, telling anecdotes and tossing jokes at each other, playing up their roles as friendly rivals.
At one point, a couple of waiters bring in trays of refreshments. Iris gets up and comes back with a little plate of food for herself and bottles of water for me and the security guard.
After about ninety minutes, Hennessy begins moderating a question-and-answer session with the group. This lasts another half-hour.
When one of the reporters asks Sammy about his eyes, he answers, "Well, the good news is though they're not getting better, they're not getting worse. Bright sunlight really bothers me. Which means my dreams of one day taking up golf are pretty much dashed."
"Mine are just bad from old age," Curt cuts in.
This gets some weak chuckles from the reporters, and Hennessy hams it up with a loud belly-laugh.
Throughout the interview, both Curt and Sammy shoot glances right at me, even though I'm sure they can't actually see through the glare of those floor lamps. But they don't need their eyes when I'm this close.
Finally, the three of them get out of the booth. They pause to have their pictures taken. There's scattered applause, and Hennessy and a large portion of the group leaves. Iris trots up to Sammy and, just as quickly, comes trotting back.
"Sammy says to wait here," she tells us. "He and Curt are going to talk."
I see Sammy and Curt turn and head towards an entryway leading, I presume, to another dining room. I see Curt raise a hand when his bodyguard starts to follow.
I turn to the security guard.
"Really," I say to him. "What the hell is your name?"
He just looks at me.
"Don't make me make you," I say.
"His name's Edgar," Iris says. Her phone buzzes and she presses it to her ear as she gets up and walks away from us towards the bar.
"Edgar," I say. "Tell me, our driver, is he related to you? I only ask because you two look so much alike."
"Fuck off," Edgar says.
"You know you're going to do what I tell you," I say. "So quit pouting and answer my question."
Edgar's shoulders slump a little.
"He's my cousin," Edgar tells me.
"Does he know about how you've changed?" I ask.
It seems to take a while for Edgar to get what I'm asking.
"No way," Edgar says.
"You thinking of recruiting him?"
"No way," Edgar repeats.
Edgar's jaw is clenched, he's gritting his teeth and his eyebrows are all bunched up. This line of questioning is really getting to him. Or it could just be that he hates me. Edgar may be farther along than Pike or the late Miles, but it isn't by much.
I see the young woman with the clipboard walk out of the dining room, following two of her fellow crewmen, each of whom is carrying a couple of cases and a boom mike. This leaves only the fat cameraman, who is busy breaking down his camera. I don't have long before the whole crew is back for the rest of their stuff.
I look across the room at Curt's bodyguard. I motion for him to come over.
"What are you doing?" Edgar asks.
I keep my eyes on the other vampire as I ask Edgar, "You got a weapon?"
"Of course," he replies.
I motion again, and now the other vampire takes a couple of steps towards us, which excites Edgar.
"What the hell?" Edgar mumbles.
"Take out your gun," I tell him.
I see Iris coming back from the bar. She's almost to us.
"Take it out," I hiss at him.
As Edgar pulls his pistol from under his jacket, I come out of the booth. Edgar's eyes are on Curt's bodyguard, so he doesn't react to me as I reach around the back of his neck, grab his chin and twist his head. I put my other hand over his pistol and jerk up so the gun is pointed at the ceiling. I use my own finger to make sure Edgar can't reach in with his and pull the trigger.
Edgar's neck snaps and I turn his head almost all the way around to make sure the spinal cord is severed. Then I quickly turn his head back and pull him against me and stagger back a couple of steps, still holding Edgar's pistol hand up high.
I keep staggering backwards, holding Edgar to me and yelling, "Help! He's having a seizure!"
Curt and Sammy appear, though they stop a few feet off, as does Curt's bodyguard. I purposely bump into Iris as I keep walking backwards with Edgar. She was already shocked. Now she's disoriented and stumbling.
"Get the limo!" I yell at her. "We've got to get this man to a hospital!"
She turns and runs. I continue to half-carry, half-drag Edgar from the dining room into the bar, with Curt, Sammy, and Curt's bodyguard shadowing me. Everyone else seems frozen with shock or panic. The sight of Edgar's pistol helps.
"He's having a seizure!" I yell again. "Let's get him to a hospital!"
I feel the heat from the open door behind me as I back into the lobby and then out into daylight. Iris helps guide me into the waiting limousine, and I heave Edgar's body into the front part of the cabin. Iris follows me and is in turn followed by Sammy, who slams the limo door shut.
The limo lurches onto the street, and I hear honking horns and screeching tires as we accelerate away.
Comments? Questions? Criticism?