Since the content was a little too intense for most indie publishers I’m familiar with, I’ve opted to publish the book under my own imprint. I’ve discussed publishing a few other volumes by other authors, some of which are part of this anthology and others which aren’t. I’m looking forward to this new venture!
Currently I’m operating a Kickstarter to help fund the book. To this point I have invested all of the capital required myself, and although I can certainly put the book out within the month (as anticipated), I would much rather get some of that investment back. The quicker I can return my already invested capital, the sooner I can put out another book!
So please, share the link far and wide and help me welcome Spooky Words Press into being. Be on the lookout for future posts about the progress of the book and plans for the future! In the meantime check out this excerpt from author Benjamin Sperduto’s piece in the anthology, “The Harvester”. It features a disturbing and entirely unique take on the vampire mythos.
Nolan rolled over in his makeshift bed, disturbing the large rat next to him. When he had climbed into the dumpster the previous morning, he noticed the rodent sitting in a corner nibbling on a pile of rotten vegetables. On most days, he would have taken pity on the defenseless creature and tossed it back into the alley, but the previous night’s hunt had yielded him little and he knew he would be hungry when he awoke.
The rat looked at Nolan with its large black eyes, its small animal brain perhaps realizing it had spent the entire day next to its killer. Before it could react, Nolan’s clawed hand shot out and snatched the rodent in a powerful grip. It would taste foul, he knew, but he was far too hungry to care.
The blood of the rat far from satisfied him, but it did ease the hunger pangs slightly. Once his head cleared, he pushed the lid of the dumpster open to peek outside. The cold air stung his eyes, but the sun had long since set. There was no one around to see him as he pulled himself out of the dumpster. It had snowed while he slept and his bare, clawed feet sank into the newly fallen snow. Nolan pulled his tattered coat tighter around him and shivered. Although he didn’t have to worry about frostbite, the cold winter weather was still uncomfortable. The long nights were the only positive part of the season.
A grim silence draped the alleyway. He had hoped that some vagrant would have wandered down and fallen asleep during the day, but it appeared he would not be so lucky. Grumbling, Nolan brushed the small bits of trash off his coat, stuffed his clawed hands into its pockets and made his way to the end of the alley. As he expected, the street beyond was quiet as well. A few dilapidated cars sat parked next to the sidewalk, but they were all empty. Carefully avoiding the light from the streetlamps, Nolan pulled his coat’s hood over his head and started down the deserted street.
As he approached the entrance to another back alley, a scent caught his attention and he stopped in his tracks. Though he could faintly sense the people inside the run down apartment buildings, this scent was very distinct and clear. It was someone outside. Slowly, he crept up to the street corner and peered between the buildings. Two shoddily dressed men stood warming their hands over a small fire they had made on the sidewalk, no doubt fueled by combustible bits of trash they had gathered up.
Nolan cursed to himself.
Things were always more difficult when there was more than one.
Cautiously, he stepped into the alleyway and moved towards the two men. They didn’t see him immediately, partially due to the brightness of the fire and also because they were engrossed in their own conversation.
He overheard them saying something about baseball. When he was young, Nolan developed a healthy dislike for the sport by playing little league ball. Since his condition overtook him, that dislike had turned into hatred as it reminded him what he had lost.
Hearing the men talk about baseball so enthusiastically made it easier to hate them. That was the way Nolan dealt with killing. He found it was much easier to kill someone if he hated them for some reason; any reason. It helped him to forget the horrible things he did to people.
As he neared the two men, he caught a familiar scent in the air. He almost paused to investigate it, but he was too committed to the men before him to break off now. There was no time for distraction.
“Hey, there, fella,” one of the men said.
Nolan stopped a few feet short of the firelight’s reach. If the men saw his face, they would cause more trouble than he wanted to deal with.
“Evening,” he said. His mouth and teeth made it difficult to speak intelligibly.
“Hey, uh, you ain’t a cop or something, are you?” the other man asked.
“Well, then, why don’t you come over here and warm yourself? It’s too damn cold to be without any heat.”
Nolan lowered his head, hoping the hood would hide most of his face. His sized the men up, trying to decide which man would put up more of a struggle. Both were at least in their fifties and neither appeared particularly formidable. Still, the second man looked a bit skittish, as if ready for some kind of trouble. Nolan guessed he carried a gun or a knife. Best to dispose of him first and then go for the other one if he had a chance.
He stepped into the firelight, but neither man reacted to the sight of him. Their carelessness bought him the precious time he needed to close the distance between them.
“So, fella, what’s—”
Nolan knew then that the man had seen his face, seen the wide, fanged mouth, narrow nose, and bulging hourglass eyes that comprised his horrifying visage.
Without hesitation, he leapt at the man he regarded as a greater threat. The hood that partially masked his face fell away, fully exposing him for the feral thing he was. His claws and fangs tore into soft flesh. The man’s eyes widened when he tried to scream and found that his throat was already slashed open. Nolan fell on top of the man and sucked down the blood surging from the wounds, driven forth by a still beating heart. It was rare that he fed on someone untainted by drugs or disease, and the taste of pure, clean blood was euphoric. His senses were drowned out by the pure ravishment of the experience.
When the man was drained, Nolan relinquished his grip and turned to the other vagrant. To Nolan’s surprise, the man was no longer standing. His body lay dead in a broken heap of splintered bones upon the snow-covered pavement. The cooling blood that seeped from his wounds smelled foul, polluted by an abundance of drugs and alcohol. A few feet from his body, a handgun had fallen into the snow.
“You’re lucky I was nearby,” a familiar voice said from behind him with slightly garbled words. The scent he had noticed was much stronger now. Nolan looked down at the gun next to the vagrant.
“Nothing I couldn’t have handled,” he said, allowing his large fangs and misshapen mouth to distort his speech.
“Oh, I don’t doubt that, Nolan. I’m sure a bullet in your back wouldn’t have been a problem at all for a big, strong man like you.” A clawed hand touched his shoulder and Nolan felt hot breath upon the back of his neck.
To see the rest of this piece and learn more about this new take on the vampire mythos, you’ll have to read Bad Neighborhood. You can find more of Benjamin Sperduto’s work on his website, BenjaminSperduto.com. You can also find his first novel The Walls of Dalgorod from Curiosity Quills Press.