Archive for July, 2013

Deadly Conversations : First Chapter

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2013 by dcmclaughlin

PROLOGUE

The room smelled of blood.

Mykhalo staggered to his feet, drunk with the rush that fresh blood brought. Time always stopped for him right after a kill. The world around Mykhalo moved in slow motion while the emotions inside of him spun and jumped in a wild, chaotic dance. He gasped as the new blood swam through his veins, infusing him with strength and power, sating his insane hunger and at the same time drowning him in the memories of the person he had just fed on.
The problem was he was part of them.

The feelings that came threatened to overwhelm him. He held his head and tried to shield his heart. But the rush of blood strength was stronger than the bonds on his emotions. The flood of powerful feelings was too great. He was drowning under their torrent. He felt his heart would break. He looked about the room, desperate for some way to slow the barrage on his feelings.

A baby grand piano beckoned him from across the room. And then the keys were under his fingers, cool to the touch but soothing and welcome to his jumbled state. The contrast of black and white gave his mind something else to focus on. He closed his eyes against every other sensation and thought of a single note. He was well practiced in the art of music. Muscle memory took over and a stream of melancholy notes flowed outward.

He played what he felt. The music translated the myriad of dark thoughts racing through his mind and heart into a tune low and sad. The notes rang out soft but clear into the silence of the room. The feelings tumbling about inside him began to slow. He squeezed his eyes shut forming grooves into his perpetually forty year old face and played on until the notes grew louder reaching into every corner of the darkened room.

He played his grief, his sorrow, his loneliness. Here he was in this same damned position, crazed with turmoil while the blood of a dear friend raced through his God forsaken form. He had killed another friend. The reason didn’t matter to him. He knew what he was.

It still didn’t make the ache in his heart hurt less.

The victim’s words echoed in Mykhalo’s mind.

“It would be a mercy killing,” Bill Gibson had told him just moments before. Mykhalo gasped and his eyes snapped open. He remembered his reply, laced with anger and dread.

“Not to me!” Mykhalo retorted. “How many times have I saved your life Bill?”

“I’ve lost count.” Bill said with a smile.

Mykhalo’s fingers trembled as his mind relived what had just happened. He continued to strike the keys and the piano continued to sing. His thoughts came slower. He forced himself to face the memory.

“We all die.” Bill had said to him.

“Not me.” Mykhalo growled with anger. “That blessing is denied me.”

“Maybe not,” Bill said softly.

Mykhalo glared at him, pacing the room like an angry lion in a cage.

“Please,” Bill pleaded with him. “See reason. Mykhalo I’m dying, slowly, painfully.”

Mykhalo turned his back on him and shuddered. He did not want to do this. But at the sheer mention of what Bill was proposing, to end his life, Mykhalo could feel the change within him taking place. His hunger and his teeth were growing.

Bill heaved a great sigh which turned into a spasm of coughing. Mykhalo couldn’t look at him. He waited until his friend eased and he was able to speak again.

“I’ve lived my life. I’ve survived a war that claimed many of my friends. I came home, married, raised my children to adulthood, built a home and a family for myself. It’s all over and done with save the dying. And I will not leave this earth a doddering idiot who can’t even see to his own bathroom habits.”

Mykhalo shook his head. “If you want to commit suicide, why don’t you just use your gun? Why do you need me?”

Mykhalo said.

Here Bill reached out and grabbed his arm.

“Because I don’t want to be alone! Mykhalo, I trust you. And I know that you won’t blab this to the police. You are a person that is invisible to society. That’s why.”

“You trust a vampire?” Mykhalo said softly. “Do you know how reckless that is?”

Bill smiled.

“I think we would both agree that as a vampire, you are unique among your kind.”

Mykhalo tore his arm free from Bill’s grasp.

“I don’t want to kill you, Bill” Mykhalo resisted. “Please don’t ask me to.”

“It won’t be killing. It will be releasing me. It is the one gift I want. You’ve saved my life so many times. Now
I’m asking you to take it.”

The insane hunger inside of him was growing.

Mykhalo said nothing. He refused to look at his friend.

“Please. It’s my choice. I want some dignity to my end.”

“It’s not dignified!” Mykhalo insisted. “It’s horrible and brutal!”

Bill had only laughed.

“I’ve lived through horrible and brutal when I was young. Now it takes too long. I want a quick end.” There was a long silence between them. Finally Bill said the one thing he knew Mykhalo would understand.

“I miss Carol.”

He was speaking of his wife.

His hands fastened on the windowsill, fingers digging in like claws and he hung his head. Mykhalo stopped in front of a window which overlooked the back yard of Bill’s tiny little house. He remembered what it was like to be in love. It had been a long time since he had felt this way. For centuries he had guarded his heart against loving any woman in spite of his desire for a relationship. He knew too well how dangerous it would be for him give in. He might kill the poor girl.

Yet Bill Gibson never had to worry. He didn’t need to. He was just a mortal. He had married and raised a family.

And two years ago his wife had died.

“I want to see her again. My life hasn’t been the same without her. Please.”

Mykhalo’s shoulders had slumped as he sighed.

And he relented. He gave Bill the release he so desperately wanted.

Mykhalo squeezed his eyes shut as hard as he could. The brutality of the act was still too fresh. He could taste the skin of Bill’s dry wrinkled neck in his mouth as he buried his fangs deep into his throat. He could smell Bill’s sudden fear at the pain and feel his old hands grasp at him trying to fight him off. And he could remember the taste as his lifeblood rushed in a red torrent into his mouth and down his hungry throat, slaking his
monstrous thirst.

And now Mykhalo had to deal with the aftermath.

The piano keys sang under the expert dance of his long white fingers. He felt tears spring to his eyes. He blinked several times. Vampires never could weep real tears, only blood.

He bowed low over the keys as he coaxed a more dramatic melody out of the great instrument. He tried to concentrate on the notes and the tune only and just let the music sweep him along in its rush of power and pain.

It didn’t work.

Two days ago Mykhalo had picked up the phone from his home in Germany.

“Mykhalo,” Bill had said. “I need you to come to the States. I have a couple of things to go over with you.”
His brow furrowed as he remembered the conversation and his fingers hammered on the keys in reflection of his emotions.

“Why do I have to hop a plane?” he asked not understanding. “Just tell me now.”

Bill sighed in exasperation on the other end.

“Because you won’t be convinced if I tell you over the phone.”

Mykhalo snorted in disbelief. He shook his head as he remembered and the piano’s keys laughed at him under his fingers.

“Try,” he dared. He could picture Bill shaking his head on the other end.

“All right. But you’re not going to like it!” Bill told him. “I think I’ve found her.

He dreaded the words to come.

“Found who?” Mykhalo said already suspecting the answer.

“C’mon old friend.” Bill said. “You know exactly who I mean. I’ve found the witch that will heal your shattered soul.”

Mykhalo was silent for a long moment. He remembered wishing he hadn’t trusted Bill with that one deep secret. He had felt betrayed. Why did he tell Bill he had a shattered soul and only a special witch could heal it and he had been searching for her for centuries?

The piano sang his betrayal.

Bill had no idea what it felt like to have a shattered soul. He was only trying to help.

“You’re mad at me, I can feel it.”

Bill was right; he was angry he had trusted him and that he persisted on this pointless quest.

Mykhalo’s fingers hammered on the keys in a dramatic show of force and the piano’s notes reflected what he felt.

“Bill, I’m no longer interested in finding or talking to any more witches.” He said flatly.

“And why the hell not?” Bill countered.

“You know very well why not!” Mykhalo had tried to control his anger but it was beginning to bleed through into his words. “Because today’s witches are useless, each and every one of them! I’m tired of looking for the right one. I don’t think she exists. The prophecy was just a tease, a lie. I’m not talking to this or any other witch ever again.”

There was a very long silence from the other end of the phone line.

“Then I guess I have my answer.” Bill said pointedly.

“What answer? What was the question?” Mykhalo said.

He could sense Bill smiling even though he couldn’t see it.

“How long it takes a vampire to give up. Three hundred years.”

Mykhalo’s eyes narrowed and he growled at Bill’s words.

The memories finally ceased to torment him and his fingers stilled on the piano. The notes thrummed into silence.

Mykhalo was completely alone.

One single bloody tear slowly ran down his face and spattered on a white piano key. He looked down at it. He watched the tear as it sat there, a shiny wet bubble of color until it went from fresh to dried and dark.
Mykhalo rose and turned his back on the piano.

He came around the side of the easy chair where Bill’s lifeless body sat with his throat torn out and blood soaking through his clothes and dripping down to the carpet below.

Mykhalo placed a hand on Bill’s shoulder.

“I will miss you dearly, my friend.” He whispered softly.

D.C. McLaughlin

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Book Launch

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2013 by dcmclaughlin

“Deadly Conversations” will be available for purchase on e-readers Wednesday July, 31 2013 at Smashwords. The book will be available in print sometime after this date.

D. C. McLaughlin