Most people know me through my work on Vampire: The Masquerade or White Wolf/Onyx Path RPG books in general. Not many know that I also do a lot of work in fiction and on other RPGs, covering a range of topics. This “A Taste Of” series features samples of my work from areas most people might not know about, along with places you can buy the book to read more!
This taste continues the World of Darkness theme, but moving into the new World of Darkness. Matt McFarland wanted me to do something interesting and creepy while setting up the (then) upcoming God-Machine Chronicle setting and rules update. I remembered an article I found about zombie ants, and the story just evolved from there. It’s a story of unrequited love, archaeology, and not-at-all sexy biting called “Just A Bite.”
If you like this first part and want to read the rest of the story, you can pick up The God-Machine Chronicle at DriveThruFiction!
I swallowed a bite of my Portobello burger and looked at Allyson. “What do you mean Lance is acting weird?”
“I mean he’s being weird, Vinny. He’s not acting like himself.” She propped her chin on her hand as she leaned on the table. Her hair was just long enough to fall over her eyes as she pushed around the hummus with a slice of pita bread. She’s not normally big on vegetarian food, but this place was one of the best vegetarian restaurants outside of Chicago, and I ate here whenever I had the spare cash. Allyson had texted me “WANT A BITE?” which meant she wanted to talk. If she wants to talk, I get to choose the place. Those were the rules.
I washed down another bite with a zero calorie soda. “Look, Ally, he just got back from a three month trip to Thailand, studying rainforest fauna in….”
“… Khao Sok National Park.” She rolled her eyes and pushed her hair out of her face; both were a shade of dark brown that she thought was boring, but I thought was rich and eye-catching. “Yes, Vinny, I do know that much about my own boyfriend, thanks.”
I snorted and continued. “I’m just pointing out that he’s been in a foreign country for months, probably working 12-hour days in insane heat. That’s bound to mess anybody up for a while.”
She gave up on the pita. “And I get that, too. I do. But I expected after a few months he’d be more… I don’t know.” She suddenly frowned and her eyes glittered as she glared at me. “You’re going to mock me.”
“What? What you’re talking about?”
“Promise you won’t make fun of me.”
“I don’t even know what I’m…”
“Promise me, Vincent.”
Oh shit. She’s using the Mom Voice, full names and all. She only did that when she was pissed off at me or Lance about something. I put my hands up in mock surrender. “Okay, okay, I promise.”
Her expression softened again. “I just… expected he would be more… affectionate, you know? Especially after three months.”
I felt a chide about her needing love and affection rising up, but her hard glare and the forcibly-extracted promise stopped me. And as I thought about it, it was a little weird. Before he left, Lance and Allyson were inseparable. They would go everywhere together, and more than once I got really uncomfortable as their displays of affection went past PG-rated and started to drift into R. I figured Ally would be too sore to walk after Lance got back, instead of sitting here and pretending to eat at my favorite restaurant.
“Okay,” I said, “that is weird. I don’t think he’s said more than two words to me since he got back, either.”
She nodded. “Do you think he’s sick or something?”
I chuckled. “You’re the biologist, not me. I just study pottery from dead people. Once he dies, I’ll let you know.”
She threw a slice of pita at me. Luckily, it wasn’t one with hummus on it. “Not funny, Vinny.”
I dug out my phone to check the time. “Look, I have to spend a couple of hours categorizing the pottery shards from the trip. You give Lance a call, and we’ll get together tonight to see a movie or something. I’m sure we’ll find out what’s going on then.”
She nodded, but she didn’t look convinced. I took her plate over to the counter with mine, and tried not to hope that Lance and Allyson were through.