Bought in Blood – Extract

Shudder still

Within the dark

Blood reigns over

The cagéd lark

Caught in a web

Silk and stark

Blood-woven lace

The shrouding dark.

–                      Devika Templeton, 1999, Blood

 

The hallway is dark and dingy. More so than I remember.

There’s a light fitting, but no bulb or cover, above me and further down the hall it’s more of the same. The paintings I can make out along the diminishing walls with the slight orange glow from behind me bear little resemblance to those in the rest of the house. Their regal setting and refined postings are missing. Instead they sag lopsidedly as haughty faces seem twisted into grimacing haunts.

It’s like some sort of night-vision tunnel and it reeks of neglect.

There must be other showers. Or even a bath-tub. One easily located and lit with actual lights.

I suspect he would rather watch me stumble over my own feet. Undoubtedly, this serves as some form of punishment in his mind.

I had asked Seth if I could get cleaned up and he had directed me down this hallway. I’d been traumatised to see unblemished skin upon my chest as I undressed in the room I am assigned to. Not a single mark, not even any blood to prove my story sane. I can’t explain it. I want to, but I can’t. Seth’s refusal to agree with me that there is an unnaturally unsettling red-haired man tormenting me within and without of this building only stresses me further. What if he isn’t toying with me this time? What if I really am unravelling? Seeing ghosts in a house filled with vampires.

Visions of my mother prance through my skull as I prepare myself to get cleaned up.

Focus on the task at hand, Devika.

Mild trepidation ensues as I pull the towel – fluffy to the brink of opulence – tighter around my chest and leave the comfort of distant music, warmth and voices floating up from downstairs, wading with bare-footed stealth in the direction Seth steered me.

As my filthy fingers (sliding along the wall for stability) brush the edge of an unseen portrait I pull it straight without question before the cellar swims to mind at the graze of wooden framework. A Technicolor memory in swathes of red and brown inspires me to rip my hand away. My fingers itch where they touched the darkened canvas.

The air here is not musty as one would expect from such a claustrophobic cube. A cold breeze ripples along the flesh of my shoulders and I can smell roses and jasmine from the garden. But still I can’t locate a window with my shadow-drenched eyes though there must be one. My pupils strain, aching against the sides of my skull to find a way out. Any escape at all. But all I can see is night as it gnaws at the courage that would have allowed me the liberty of searching further, reminding me of how such a traitorous act could end in a display of brutal authority. My cheek still stings from his slap. It could have been so much worse.

The paintings flood my thoughts again and I balk at the memory as a familiar giggle riddles my thoughts with fear.

My fingers finally slip into air as I reach the bathroom door which stands open and I fumble until I find a light switch. White spots buzz across my vision as the fluorescence flares to life.

Correction.

There is no door to stand open. Just two uneven empty brackets speckled with rust, and one lonely nail poking out of the door’s frame like the snapped arm of a rambunctious child.

I would sigh. But to be honest, this is to be expected.

The dilapidation within challenges me with its obnoxious insistence on being less than extraordinary.

The shower door is covered in some kind of dusty, dry substance, making its transparence an opaque white decorated with unintentional art, and the floor’s tiles bear dirt-smeared cracks. Near the sink, an entire tile is missing, exposing the concrete beneath. The basin seems clean enough, but the mirror above it has been sliced in two and the surface is in desperate need of a polish. Some kind of moss has begun to make itself at home along the edges of the glass – creeping in from the tiles – clearly considering the musty condensation to be an invitation. The toilet seems clean from this angle, but I would rather not find out and I tiptoe over the cracks towards the shower, trying to avoid uncomfortable travel lacerations (one of those lesser-known ailments).

I peer over the edge of the shower to find that the drain has no covering.

Fantastic.

With warranted cynicism at whether or not the shower will even work, I remove the towel and gingerly drape it over the sink; a splash of violet against the stark off-white. If it touches the floor I think I may have to walk back to the room sopping wet and naked.

Out of the corner of my eye I can see that my reflection has faded away to a degree sharp enough to make me seem gaunt and I turn back to the shower without stopping to inspect my new anorexia-chique. It’s bad enough knowing that my distaste for food has turned to incessant waves of nausea and a chronic loss of balance without having to stare the outcome thereof in the hollowed-out face. Even the small meal provided to me over the last few days made me sick to the point of pain. My stomach responded near violently at the smell.

The water shudders in the pipes as I turn the handle and step back, expecting to be drenched, but no semi-arctic stream erupts to drown me, despite my suspicions.

I lean in to poke at the nozzle and fling myself out of the way as hairy, black sticks creep out to clutch at the sides. They are followed by the rest of the spider’s undulating body as a steaming spray is released from the pipes in its wake.

The little monster, now perched on top of the pipe attaching the shower-head to the wall – none too perturbed as it glances at me with its myriad of glassy eyes – seems to hunker down for a second and then scurries up the tiles and through a crack in the ceiling.

Vampire Exposé: Damon Salvatore

Here there be spoilers…

Now, I will be the first to admit that I do not much admire The Vampire Diaries. I have my reasons, first and foremost amongst them being the contrived manner in which characters that should have been long dead already are written back into the story because of the script-writers’ (and possible author’s) inability to create a newer kind of terror.

That said, Damon Salvatore has to be one of the most appealing not-so-bad bad boys in vampire history.

Let us see – When first we met Damon (in the televised series, that is) he was a wicked antagonist, settling himself into Mystic Falls with the pure purpose to make his brother’s straight-laced life a misery, while simultaneously marking the territory as his own. However, already at this point we saw a softer side to the more attractive of the Salvatore brothers. His long lost love, Katherine, still lay claim to his heart and she was the ultimate prize in his race to win over Mystic Falls. Somehow he ensconced himself in the very centre of vampire hunting itself, the council of founding families: hell-bent on keeping their home town safe from vampirism at all costs. Of course, he managed all this through sheer manipulation and charm enough to make any girl gag. Instead we swooned for him.

In comparison with his brother, Damon is suave, debonair and bound to surprise and horrify the viewer with his unpredictable reactions and (what some might call) nihilistic decision making skills.

Through all this, Damon holds a candle for his brother’s love, Elena, who looks surprisingly like his long-lost Katherine, even though she behaves nothing like her doppelgänger. This is where I have difficulty fuelling the flames of my devotion for this character. He claims to be in love with Katherine (even though the woman is a flaming psycho bitch), but also to have an undying love for Elena…… Okay fine, blame it on teenage infatuation… And maye the fact that Nina Dobrev is superbly lovely to look at. Regardless, the story fails to entice me, but Damon somehow keeps me watching.

And I must say… After the last episode I was made privy to of season three (it may or may not be the season finale, can’t say I’m sure), my little fan-girl heart is breaking for  Damon. If you believe someone may die… That this is the last time you will ever speak with them… Get to express how dear they are to you… Don’t you lie and SAY YOU LOVE THEM?! Elena – You selfish cow…

A Bounce Book

I have posed this idea to friends and fellow writers before, but lately it seems to be an insidious bother. Much to my dismay, my intrepid chipping away at The Key has been failing me. Sadly, as I am truly fond of this concept and wish to do it justice. I just find that if I punt away at a piece, instead of allowing the creativity to strike me at the appropriate times, my writing suffers. So, although I would love to simply force myself to create the perfect novel, it seems wholly impossible.

Consequently, I have started looking into why I feel lackadaisical toward my baby, the apple of my eye, insofar as novel-writing is concerned. Having encountered this same dilemma with Bought in Blood, from time to time, I have reached the conclusion that it must be due to close proximity to the material. The longer I spend working on a novel, the less time I want to spend near to it because I start to discredit my decent writing by convincing myself that it is terrible and should be deleted. Unfortunately, I am somewhat impulsive, and these moments of self-depreciation do, in fact, lead to me deleting my work, an action which results in me tearing my hair out in frustration once I have regained my sanity.

My solution to this problem is to create a bounce-book, a remedy for a certain strain of writer’s block. I have always wanted to write a romance (but sadly I tend to add in non-romantic themes, such as BDSM and emotional abuse) and so, I think I shall take this opportunity to do so. I will attempt (not promise, as this is a rather large undertaking I am considering, based on everything else I need to do) to write the standard thousand words a day on The Key, but if I should find myself wanting to eradicate my work, I can switch to the bounce-book to alleviate my distress.

Anyhoo, here is my proposal for a YA romance:

Twyla Landry is beautiful, fifteen, popular, and standing on the precipice of a canyon of possibilities. She is planning her future as a marine biologist, impatiently awaiting her sweet sixteen birthday party, and weighing the virtues and dangers of losing her virginity.

But she is also dying.

Diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, Twyla is working at correcting the wrongs she has committed in her young life before her time runs out. But coming to terms with her fate is not the worst challenge facing Twyla. With the fortuitous meeting of the debonair and peculiar Griffin Templeton, she must contemplate an entirely new possibility – being allowed to live.

Oh… Kay… So maybe it isn’t quite as easy-going as I had intended for a simple piece of literature, but I look forward to it, nonetheless.

 

Lafaeyette