EXCERPT from the Next Book in the RELICT VAMPIRE SERIES —
SHADOWS IN THE LIGHT
She pushed the front door open and was surprised that there was no odious smell to welcome her return.
Beth had not been back to her home since the vampire takeover. Walking into the living room, she immediately saw the reason the place was tolerable to her nose — the glass pane that took up most of the wall facing the street had been shattered, allowing for clear ventilation that swept away the stench of death.
During the first days after the vampire takeover, Beth opted to stay put, hiding her house while everyone else living on her street made a different choice. Every one of her neighbors packed their belongings in their cars and left. Each one she spoke with had a different reason to explain their flight from their homes, but none made any sense to her.
Later, when the vampires began their first sweeps of the neighborhood, Beth was the only one left on her block. She hid in the house’s underground cellar to avoid being taken prisoner by the blood patrols. After being there for more than a week, she took a chance, during the daylight, and responded to a voice that sounded like it was still part of the Living.
“If there’s anyone down there, you need to shout out now… or be left behind for the blood suckers…”
That’s how she met Ryan, and the other members of the resistance group she eventually joined. Every time there was a reason to go back to her house — to retrieve supplies, tools, even weapons that would help in the resistance — Ryan would volunteer to go instead of her.
As Beth moved through her living room, what she saw took some time to process. Clearly, there was some kind of confrontation, one involving a wounded vampire. Blood was splattered all over the walls. The furniture lay scattered across the floor. The stain in the
carpet revealed that someone had fallen and bled, but did not stay down. Beth’s flashlight then revealed gummy bears laying on the carpet. Inches away were more gummy bears next to her open jewelry box.
Matt had definitely been in the house. Her ex-husband probably thought he could take down the vampire with bullets. The entire world had changed overnight, but Matt was still stuck in the only world he felt comfortable living in; one where bullets stopped any immediate threat, but didn’t necessarily address the larger problem.
Beth shut off her flashlight, but she was not able to shut off all the thoughts that rushed across her brain begging to be recognized.
He had come back.
Or so he said.
It was the same Matt that had made her life a living hell even before the vampires took over the world.
Coming back to the house had been a huge mistake. What was she thinking?
There was nothing here.
Now or… then.
She needed to leave immediately.
But after taking just a few steps toward the front door, Beth stopped.
The garden room.
Beth thought to herself, that if she did not check it out now, there would probably never be another chance.
In the dark, Beth made her way to the middle of the garden room with only one thought — all around me is death.
She couldn’t smell it. Even when a flower dies, the smell of its’ death eventually disappears into the surrounding air.
Beth turned on her flashlight and panned it across the garden. Her eyes saw the devastation she felt the moment she entered the room. When she could stand the sight no longer, Beth switched off her flashlight.
Standing in the darkness she began to tear up.
A long time ago Beth had taken over the tending of a garden, because she wanted to show her husband how much he meant to her. She assumed a responsibility she had never asked for, but accepted as the price for love.
Beth began to cry.
What she once sincerely believed to be true, Beth knew now was all bullshit, nothing different than the manure she had habitually spread all over the room to make everything grow. How in the hell could she not know what she was stepping into years ago?
A cold breeze hitting her face finally caused Beth to stop crying. She wiped away her tears and switched on her flashlight. The garden room door leading to the back yard was wide open. Beth moved across the room to shut the door, but then discovered the door’s glass had been shattered. Before she could form a theory about what had happened, Beth’s eyes caught sight of movement in the backyard.
She switched off her flashlight and quickly ducked down.
There she held still long enough to rearrange her emotional state. Then she ignited the torch in her flamethrower.