“I am here to kill everything I see!”
The madman roared his oath as he dragged the carbine from a dingy-brown gig bag, yanking back on the charging handle. The crowds gathered there on that wet suburban Saturday began to scatter, or to hide, or to simply stay there frozen in terror, as Ralph Stevens started jerking the trigger, sending several rounds toward the assembled masses, thankfully missing the people as bullets shattered windows or pockmarked the fake-marble tiling. Ralph had hoped to bring fear and terror, and he had brought that in spades. Those who could run did, and those who couldn’t were surely condemned to die a death they did not deserve, a death they never saw coming that day.
And there our hero was, walking up to the guy as though he were going to ask him on a date. Not that he would have actually asked the guy out, as he didn’t really swing that way. Besides, loud, angry, violent menwouldn’t have been his first choice even if he were that way. His ex-wife was angry enough for him, thank you very much. What I’m trying to say is that he walked up to the guy casually, confidently, with no fear of death at all. Not of his death, certainly. Death was now a moot point for him.
So, how did he get here? Why was he walking right up to an armed madman, unarmed and completely void of fear? After all, fear dominated his life—up until now. But now, everything hadchanged for him.
Of course, I’m leaving a lot of questions unanswered. Perhaps we should start at the beginning. After all, that’s where everything starts—the beginning. But even before that, I should probably introduce you to our hero: His name is Scott Campbell. And he is a vampire.
We cannot start this story without introducing you to a guy named Jack. Tall, dark, and creepy. Chiseled good looks and flowing, long black hair in a fitted black jacket and slacks and a long leather coat overtop all that. Jack is really into black, but then, most vampires are. That’s right—Jack is also a vampire and, in fact, is Scott Campbell’s sire. If you weren’t sure, a sire is the vampire who turns you into another vampire. After all, you have to catch it from somewhere.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself the same questions Scott himself did for a long time: Why Scott? Of all the people Jack could have forcibly convertedinto undead monsters, why did he choose Scott Douglas Campbell, middle-aged slacker and humble nobody? And how did he choose him? You know, the whole vetting process for accepting a candidate for vampirism (and yes, there is a vetting process for this, but more on that later) was a big mystery for Scott, especially considering he didn’t know such things were even possible. Scott probably wouldn’t have qualified anyway, if he were processed through legitimate means. (Legitimate, at least asfar as vampires go. I know, the two concepts together—legitimacy and vampires—are probably causing you a slight case of cognitive dissonance. Oh well.)
The simple fact is that Scott Campbell was chosen. He was set up for conversion into the world of the vampire by someone at his place of work. Scott is an IT clerk at a small liberal-arts college in Portland, Oregon. The guy who set Scott up, who set Jack on his trail, also works there but is not exactly a coworker.
It was a dark and stormy afternoon (no, really, it was—this is Portland, after all) when Jack strolled into the lecture hall at Simeon College. The class had just adjourned, and students were leaving the arena-like facility, packing books and laptops into already overly burdened backpacks as they scattered out into the night. The man at the lectern was a chubby, jovial-looking older fellow with a full white beard and mustache and black-framed spectacles. The guy looked like Santa Claus—infact, many of his students called him Professor Santa. He always had a smile on his chubby face and a welcoming and open demeanor, which further endeared him to his students. However, he was not tolerant of failure and would verbally brutalize anyone who annoyed him or challenged his world views—always with that smile and those chubby cheeks. Professor Robert Malheur looked up from his lecture notes at the strange, handsome man who was walking down the steps of the hall toward the lectern aseveryone else exited.
“Well, well,” Malheur said. “Four o’clock? You’re out a bit early today, aren’t you?”
Jack stepped up to the lectern. “This is about the only time I can catch you,” he said in his typical Texas drawl.
“Well, you could arrange to meet me at any time. Just call the department secretary and make an appointment.”
Jack shook his head. “Yeah, this ain’t the kind of thing you make appointments with secretaries to talk about. I mean, you know why I’m here, don’t you, Doc?”
“Of course I know why you are here, Jack. You are here to ask for a favor yet again. And yet again, I’m wondering why I should be concerned with your schemes.”
“And yet here I am.”
“And yet here you are. And yet here I am, wondering why I should be concerned about the hobbies of vampires.”
Cat’s out of the bag, right? But then, that bag waspretty empty, as far as Malheur was concerned. Jack smiled and then asked, “Look, Doc, you have authority in this city, do you not?”
“Not enough. I should like to remedy that. But I suppose that for now I will settle on being the demon prince of Simeon College.”
“Yeah. Demon prince. I wonder why you don’t put that on your business cards. You know, right under where it says ‘Chair of Philosophy Department.’ That would be epic. Anyway, if you’re too busy todo me a solid here, maybe I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
Malheur’s cherubic face twisted with anger, only slightly revealing the true nature of the beast within. “Yes, Jack, I am the demon prince of this institution, and I do have authority in this city. As for your insolence, I could call right now upon a legion of demons to come and rip you to pieces. In fact, I could call on Legion himself. He does owe me money—”
Jack backed away from him. “Okay, okay. Look, if you don’t want to help out here, I understand. It’s just…I’m looking for special recruits for my, um…my band. Yeah, my country-rock outfit. They have to have…talent, I guess…or I’m afraid this won’t work. I’ve heard you may have a good candidate or two.”
Malheur nodded. “Yes, indeed I do. Now, Jack, you could have made things go a lot more smoothly had you just told me what you wanted. The fact is, I have the perfect candidate right here.” Hereached down beside the lectern and picked up a leather portfolio, from which he removed a single manila envelope. He slapped the envelope on the lectern and pointed at it. “There, Jack. There is your man.”
Jack picked up the envelope, opened it, and removed a photograph. The man in the photo was unremarkable in terms of appearance—male-pattern baldness, glasses, slightly overweight. Not the kind of person who would look like a good candidate for a “country-rock outfit.”Jack glanced over the picture. “Damn, he looks…boring.”
“Yes, Jack. Boring. A good description. And exactly what you are looking for, is it not?”
“Maybe. Give me the skinny on chubby here.”
“His name is Scott Campbell. His friends call him Scotty, a nickname he finds somewhat annoying but is far too genteel to say otherwise. He’s staff here, a desk clerk in the IT department. He’s the only evening-shift employee for IT. Answers calls that come in about various computer issues, and either passes them off to on-call techs or tries to handle them himself, with varying degrees of success.”
Jack laughed. “A cubicle job? Seriously? Evening shift? Let me guess: he probably spends most of that time surfing the net.”
“Indeed he does, and not even for porn, if you can believe that. Mostly websites on history, politics, religion, and stuff like that. Forty years old as of last summer. Very recentlydivorced after a marriage of ten years. I tried to look more into that, but there was nothing untoward involved—no abuse, drugs, infidelity. Just plain old irreconcilable differences. He actually goes to church and even reads the Bible every now and then!”
“Church? Oh, that’s too rich. Tell me more!”
“He lives with his mother and apparently hasn’t dated since the divorce came down. I’d call him a slacker, although he’s actually fairly good at his job,but has never tried for a promotion or a transfer to a different position.”
“Slacker, churchgoing, unmotivated…I’ll bet he struggles with self-image issues, maybe depression or some other nagging inner problem like that. Dang, Doc, you’re making this too easy!”
Malheur’s posture stiffened. “Need I say more, Jack?”
“He’s pretty damn close, Doc.”
“He’s more than close. He’s your man. I have foreseen it. That, and I, too, am familiar with the prophecies.”
Jack gasped. “Now, Doc, why would you go say something like that? Prophecies? Really?”
“Do not take me for a fool, Jack. I know what you want. But as I said before, I do not care about the hobbies of vampires. Do with Campbell what you will. Do with the House what you will. I couldn’t give a good goddamn. But know this: you owe me.”
“What payment do you want? It’s not like I can sell you my soul.Bit too late for that.”
Malheur stepped up to Jack. Although he was quite a bit shorter than the vampire, Malheur’s commanding presence made up for the difference in height. “You have your purposes for Mr. Campbell, and I have mine. When the time is right, we shall discuss the matter in more detail.”
Jack nodded. “Sure thing, Doc. You’ve been a great help.”
Malheur nodded in response. “I know. I will contact you later. You may go now,Jack.”
Their transaction concluded, Jack the vampire went out into the fading day, and Professor Robert Malheur, the demon prince of Simeon College, returned to his office Office worker and ordinary guy Scott Campbell is probably the last person you’d suspect of being a vampire. His new supernatural enemies may underestimate him, but this suburban vampire is much stronger than anyone thinks.
The trouble begins when another driver runs Scott off the road. Scott survives the car crash, but the other motorist immediately attacks him in the wreckage.
The assault changes Scott forever. He suddenly has heightened senses, supernatural strength, and an insatiable hunger. The truth is undeniable: Scott is a vampire. Soon he’s immersed in the arcane, highly ritualized, and surprisingly bureaucratic world of the supernatural.
After Scott foils a mass shooting at a local mall, he’s ordered to stand trial by the House, the rulingauthority among vampires. The group plans to condemn him to death for being an unregistered vampire who has potentially exposed vampire kind to an unsuspecting public.
Scott’s heroism also catches the attention of Detective Grace Montoya, who’s obsessed with uncovering his secret and exposing him to the world!
Will Scott’s new superpowers help him win his trial and dodge Montoya’s investigation? He’ll have to fight against a system that’s been ingrained invampire society for centuries, but he may find supernatural allies willing to join in the struggle.