We are like you. We live in your cities, we laugh at your jokes, we share your good times and your bad ones. We meet you in clubs and back alleys, at glamorous parties and dive bars. We need you, to sate our endless hunger. We are your Kindred.
They are the smoke and the darkness, things that could have been you or us, creatures of hunger that humanity stole the night from. They are the Strix.
The Strix Chronicle Anthology is the second World of Darkness anthology I’ve contributed to, and it contains my longest short story to date: “Second Chance.” It’s a noir story about a vampire criminal given a second chance to track down a murderer.
It’s available now through DriveThruFiction.com. If you’re still on the fence, here’s a very small except from my story.
I was dreaming of shafts, of vanes, of the calamus and the rachis when I felt them pull the stake out of my chest. The rough wood snatched and dragged at my skin, and a large splinter stuck to the wound. My back ached from laying on a hard, cold surface. My stomach knotted and my mouth felt as dry as the desert. I could sense a thin trickle of blood diffused through my body. I was hungry. Not so hungry that I would have to murder someone, but hungry enough that it seemed like a really good idea. I opened my eyes, and the situation didn’t get much better.
The meaty hands still holding the dripping wooden shaft were scarred and knobby, as was the bald face leering over them. Poor fucker clearly wasn’t Embraced for his looks. Mirrored sunglasses covered his eyes, although it was hard to tell if this was a half-assed protection measure against Domination or a half-assed attempt to look intimidating. The worn, black trench coat hung loose as he leaned forward, revealing a knife in a scabbard at one hip and a pistol in a holster in the other. I pegged him as a Hound, and one who probably learned more from bad fiction than actual fighting.
The ceiling was gray concrete, and a single bulb swung right over my eyes. Glasses tossed the stake aside, and the bounce echoed hollowly in the room.
“Sit him up,” a man said off to my right, and Glasses moved towards me again. I put my hand up to protest, but he grabbed me anyway and pulled me into a sitting position on the metal table. I noticed I was naked, and my pale skin was covered in small cuts and tiny wounds. I didn’t go calmly before I was staked. Glasses grabbed my hair and pulled my head up to look.
The speaker sat in an ornate chair completely at odds with the sterile concrete room. Long, dark hair fell in waves to his shoulders, and his clean-shaven face was flawlessly beautiful. He brushed imaginary dust from the knee of suit trousers that looked simple, but probably cost more money than us mere plebes would ever see in one place. To be fair, the Invictus pin on his lapel may have biased me on that point. All hail our lord and master, the Prince.
Next to him stood a woman. She had blonde hair cut into short spikes, with long pink tips falling over one eye. She wore a black dress in a 50s style, sleeveless with a high scoop neck. One bare arm was covered in colorful tattoos, swirling images of cards, dice, and chance that danced as the light in the room swung back and forth. She leaned lightly on the Prince’s chair, but with a regal grace that made her look like a punk rock queen, not a piece of arm candy. Her lipstick was as dark as her eyes, which stared at me with… what? Anger? Need? Probably just reading my aura, or maybe my mind. I dropped my eyes, closed my mind off reflexively, and started thinking about pointless trivia. There are more than 325 species of hummingbird in the world.
“My dear Master Davis,” the Prince purred in soft European syllables as he steepled his fingers. “So good of you to join us.”
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