I have some updates regarding my WIPs, a new site for aspiring authors, and a call for guest bloggers and maybe someone who might be interested in having me guest blog. Read on, dear friend.
Here’s the truth behind this story: I was running behind on posting a blog post, and I thought, well, I have some short stories, I could just do a quick revision and then post it up, done and done.
My “quick revision” turned into a longer one, and I decided that the narrator wasn’t very likable, so I wrote what happened after that: Jess goes to Lai’s place. And then things get exciting from there.
The thing about Lai is that he’s been a character of mine for a long time. The way I started out writing was through forum-based prose role playing (RP). So he’s been in all kinds of stories before, but my favorites have been with friends I’ve become close with through RP. So this story is going to take what he’s already been through, make it into something consumable by everyone and not just us, and you’re going to get to love and understand Lai the way my good friends and I do. And since it’s not just Lai, but also some fantastic other characters along the way, you’re going to get to understand my collaborators’ characters and fall in love with them as well. We’re so happy to have you along for the ride. (I’ll reveal who my collaborators are when we’ve made things more official.)
In other news, I went to a writing conference last weekend! Even though I don’t have any finished manuscripts, I still was able to pitch my works-in-progress to two agents, and they both requested I send them multiple chapters when I’ve completed my story! This is most certainly a triumph. For one of them though, it was even more of a victory for me because the agent doesn’t represent fantasy, and I had even heard from other fantasy authors that she didn’t make a request when they pitched and instead she gave them contact information for other agents they could query. I gave the agents business cards and Shailo Satór stickers and they seemed excited about them! I’m excited!
The conversations with agents were a bit eye-opening. One of them, who is also an editor and an author, gave me some advice about writing from multiple POVs in fantasy. She said it’s usually best to limit it to two, and I was planning on doing… far more than that. I still might, but her advice was based on the observation that many authors don’t realize how much their own voice carries from character to character and can make the whole cast sound too similar.
So because of that advice and because of some other things I’ve been considering for a while concerning my WIP, I have decided to break Destroying Eden into two separate books, effectively making them entirely separate stories both set in the same universe. I don’t have any of this set in stone yet, but it does mean that the vampire chapter you may have read that you can download here, will most likely be a different book than the one about Jane and the Garden of Eden. I’m not sure of much at the moment other than that Jane’s story won’t change much because of this, and it’s possible I could finish a novel even sooner because I’ve taken some of the complexity out of the situation, which makes it far easier for me to jump back in on the writing process.
But since the two books will still have a whole lot to do with each other in terms of world-building, much is still up in the air, but I’m very excited to work on it all. If possible, I think it would be awesome to release both books at the same time and allow readers to choose where they start.
If you have any input on any of this, I would love to hear it! Though I can’t guarantee I can take all suggestions or advice. I’m very excited to get it all delivered to you, and I intend to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in July, so with any luck, I will make some large strides toward completion of Jane’s story if not also the other story.
My next bit of news, which you may have already gathered from my previous post about dialogue, is that I have started another website called OkayWriter.com. It’s geared toward new writers as well as writers who identify as “aspiring authors” or “aspiring writers.” The Shailo Satór blog will continue to be geared toward readers of fantasy, vampire fiction, and Shailo fans, but I intend to save my writing advice for Okay, Writer!, and you can go there to follow me. If you’re interested in a free author starter kit from Okay, Writer!, check it out.
And finally, I want you all to know that I am looking for guest bloggers and for opportunities to guest blog.
If you want me as author Shailo Satór to guest blog, or you have a topic to blog about concerning vampires, paranormal fiction, fantasy, horror, or something related, contact me at email@example.com and we’ll discuss guest blogging.
If you want me as Stace, creative writer, editor, and instructor, to guest blog, or if you want to guest blog about writing, editing, marketing, publishing, or graphic design, and you have a topic geared toward beginners, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about guest blogging.
Finally, some fiction from me! This begins the first chapter of a serial novel I’m going to be winging. I don’t know how often I will actually update it, but at this point, I hope to do so once a month.
Contents: Mature language, cigarettes, nudity, blood, violence.
This story is updated monthly. You can be the first one to know when new chapters have been published.
Jess showed up at my apartment wearing nothing but a long white t-shirt and some high heels. I couldn’t tell if her eyes were all glassy from weed or from crying.
“Just a sec, all right?” I said through the tiny space I’d opened up to talk to her. I shut the door again after she gave me a quiet nod.
I turned back to the bedroom, but stopped short and turned to go into the bathroom. I’d made a mess. Looking at myself in the mirror, I found I’d managed to spill blood down my chin and neck and—fuck, did I get blood on my dick? Goddamn it.
I did a rush job of cleaning up and finally put some clothes on, just throwing on a t-shirt and a pair of athletic shorts in lieu of underwear. I checked in on the lump in my bed. I could still hear Seth’s heartbeat, even if it was kinda weak. He needed the rest anyway. I shut the bedroom door to give him some space.
Finally I made it back to the door only to realize Jess was already curled up and sobbing on my couch. I raised an eyebrow and came to sit by her, yanking a blanket from the back of the couch and covering her up. She didn’t say anything to me, only pulling part of the blanket up to her face.
I watched her for a moment, but when I realized she wasn’t going to volunteer any information, I sighed.
“All right. What the fuck happened?” My eyes darted over her while I assessed her current state. “It was fucking Johnny, wasn’t it? Piece of fucking shit. Need me to kick his ass?”
“I don’t want to talk about it. Can I just sleep here?”
“I don’t have any food,” I said.
“That’s okay. I’ll just eat this Luke Skywalker blanket.” Even though her eyes were puffy and red, a genuine smile touched them and she put it into her mouth to chew on.
I returned the look with a scoff and a playful push to the back of her leg since I was sitting with her ass pointed at me. I tugged the blanket out of her mouth. “Don’t make fun of me, or I’m not getting you any tacos.”
She gasped and lifted her head out of her fetal position, eyebrows high. “You’re getting me tacos?” she asked. From the way her lip quivered, I thought she was about to cry.
And then she did.
“What? I’m—Did I do something?”
“You’re getting me tacos,” she whined, tears falling down her cheeks.
I stared at her with my mouth open, uncertain how to take that.
She breathed in through a stuttering gasp. “I just thought you’d be mad I came over, but you’re going to buy me tacos, and I just—Oh, Lai, thank you.” She sat up and leaned toward me.
Understanding, I relaxed some, putting my arm around her and allowing her to lean against me while I rubbed her arm. “You’re so fucking drunk right now.” I chuckled. It took her a few minutes of otherwise comfortable silence for her crying to die out completely, hiccups too. I had to wonder if it was only tacos that she was sobbing about.
“Cigarette,” she demanded, holding her hand out.
I snorted. “Demanding little beast, aren’t we?”
“I can be a big beast, if you don’t get me a fucking cigarette.”
Laughing, I eased away from her and stood up. “Want some pants while I’m up?”
“Give me your shorts,” she said.
I looked down at my shorts. “Pretty sure they won’t fit you.”
“Uhm, I’m a fucking shifter, duh. There’s not a pair of pants in the world that don’t fit me.”
Huh. “Good point. Just wait right there.”
“You’d better come back with tacos too!” she called when I’d made it to the bedroom.
I rolled my eyes in an endeared way and quietly shut the door, glancing at the bed again. I took a few careful steps over to Seth and looked at his face. Still asleep. Who knew the hot mailman would be so open to dating a vampire? I wondered how long I could make it work for.
When I came back to the living room, I passed Jess the lit cig and then held up a pair of black gym shorts.
“For you, ma’am,” I said before tossing them into her lap. And then I held up a pair of pink lacy panties. “And I’m pretty sure these are yours too.”
She snatched them from me. “Are they clean at least?” Her cigarette bounced between her lips while she flipped the blanket out of her lap and stood up.
“I wouldn’t just keep a pair of dirty panties around—Actually, that’s not a bad idea.” I shrugged.
“You’re disgusting.” She pulled on the underwear before I could remember I wasn’t supposed to be watching. She didn’t seem to care, though.
I turned my back to her and got my cigarettes back out to light another one, this time for myself to keep.
“So did you get laid tonight?” she asked.
I heard her plop back onto the couch, so I turned back around, letting the smoke roll out of my mouth slowly. I sat next to her and readjusted the Luke Skywalker blanket to cover us both. “Would I have come to the door naked if I hadn’t?”
“Don’t try to act like you wouldn’t. I’m surprised you got dressed at all.”
“I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate.”
“That’s a fucking first,” she said with a laugh.
I glanced back at the hallway. When Jess noticed me being dodgy, she did the same.
“I’m just seeing someone right now,” I said.
“Ohoho. That sounds like commitment.” She nudged me hard in the side with her elbow.
“I don’t know.” I took another long drag of the cigarette and checked again to make sure the hall was clear. “It’s still kinda new—”
“And he lets you feed on him. That must be nice.”
“Exactly!” It was a bit of a relief that she must have seen the blood and understood. It wasn’t easy to keep non-vampire friends all the time, but Jess was a true goddamned blessing. I turned toward her more, resting my elbow on the back of the couch. “It’s just nice to not call up a clean up crew. I’m not all about killing, but damn, I gotta eat. And then what are you supposed to do when you suck their blood and leave them alive?”
“I thought that’s what that subscription service was for? The Red Tech place? The people you feed on go to the police and no one takes them seriously and it never matters. You’re still paying for that, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, but then they still might send their beefy boyfriend or brother after you, and then you’ve either got more bodies on your hands or you get shot, and I ain’t fucking dealing with all that.” I shook my head and took another drag while Jess did the same. “I’d rather drain ’em, and call the number on the card—or! Have a hot boyfriend who lets me have snacks in bed.” I wiggled my eyebrows at her.
“I can’t believe I think this is a normal conversation.”
“What’s Johnny do when he feeds?”
“I try to stay out of that part of his life.” She sighed. “I pissed him off tonight. I’m sure he took it out on someone else. S’what he does.”
I looked her over, trying to remember the last time I’d even talked to Johnny. I knew she lived with him—or rather, that he was staying at her place because he was a fucking bum. I guessed that she was so sick of dealing with him that she didn’t even have enough energy to kick him out. I could only imagine how that would go.
“I’m really fucking surprised you hang out with that guy.”
“He’s a good guy.”
“Is he?” I asked, eyebrows coming together.
Jess ashed her cigarette onto the floor. “Fuck off, Martire. You don’t know shit.” She said it calmly, yet somehow that made it more unsettling.
“Do you realize how many times you’ve come by to cry about Johnny over the past few months? Over just the last month alone?”
“I do not cry about him,” she spat.
“Fucking really? Jess, you look like a fucking mess. Your makeup is running. You—”
“Fuck off, Lai!” she shouted. She rubbed the cigarette out on my blanket.
I yanked it out from her grasp and looked at her with the most offended look I could muster. “Motherfucking shit, Jess! You’re a goddamn psychopath.”
“A psychopath? I’ll show you a goddamned psychopath!” She kicked off the couch and climbed onto me to strangle me. My cigarette fell to the floor, still lit while I tried to grapple with her hands.
A normal woman, I could have bucked off of me with little to no effort, but Jess being a shifter allowed her arms to swell into those of a bodybuilder—until realized they were sprouting fur and she was becoming awfully gorilla-like.
I had to roll back and use my feet to kick her off of me, knocking myself to the floor and sending her tumbling over the coffee table and onto the floor with a crash as the TV fell down on top of her. She screamed some mixture of woman and gorilla screams while I rolled straight onto my cigarette. The good news was that I put it out. The bad news was that it burned like hell.
“Jess! Come on. This is just straight up fucking unnecessary!”
She launched herself toward me again, this time in full gorilla form, and I tipped the coffee table over to put something between us, still on the floor. A plastic ashtray spilled all over the carpet along with a day’s worth of cigarette butts. I picked up the table and used it like a shield, shoving it at Jess’s face and trying not to get smacked by her massive fists in the meantime. It worked well enough that I managed to get back on my feet, though my arms felt like they were bruising.
It was almost like a dance the way she tried to grab me, and each time, I had to pivot a little more to get away from her. I had half a mind to run, but I didn’t know what she would do if she was left alone with Seth. Or even just my stuff. I was pretty sure the Xbox would get smashed next.
Eventually, she figured out that she could hold the coffee table, and she ripped it from my grasp. She reared it back and swung it down hard. I put my arm over my head to block it, but the table broke, and I think so did my arm. I stumbled back until I fell on the ground. I could have taken her, maybe, but I didn’t want to kill her and I didn’t know what to do with a gorilla once I had it in my possession. “Come on, Jess! Just shift!”
“Stay down!” Seth stood at the end of the hall, looking feeble and shaky. He pointed a gun at Jess, and with that look of concentration pulling his eyebrows to center, I knew he thought he was protecting me.
Jess stopped swinging and turned her attention on Seth.
I clambered to my feet, feeling dizzy. I must have taken more of a blow to the head than I’d realized.
The blast of the gun thundered in my ears.
The first line of your story— whether it’s a novel, short story, or work of nonfiction—must hook the reader. It’s probably the most important line in the entire book. It is the first impression, the easiest line in the book to find, the easiest line in the book to say “no” to. A good first line is in itself interesting, and makes the reader wonder, and to fulfill their curiosity, they’ll read the next sentence or two, and on and on until you’ve convinced them to trust your storytelling and that they should read the whole book. At least that is the dream.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single line of a book. It’s the kind of pressure that feeds the blank page, building it into the scary beast we all fear as writers. If you already have a story started, hopefully you’ll revisit your first sentence before you submit it. The good thing is that your first line does not have to be perfect until the book is done.
For most of us, the fear of failure is hard to overcome. And if you want to write a story, but you don’t even have an idea for a story, that can intensify that paralyzing fear. I urge you not to let it keep you from writing the first line of a new story.
I’m here to help you start a new story! Below are 20 first lines to new stories that haven’t been written yet. Feel free to use any of them to write, to change them however it suits you (different names, POV, etc.), and by no means do you have to keep this line as your first line by the time you’re done with your story. Don’t let anything limit you.
If you need a jumping off point, here’s 20:
If none of these really work for you, that’s fine! The key is to come up with a tiny mystery or to mash together things that you wouldn’t expect together or to toss in a person doing something that isn’t normal. There’s no wrong way to do it. Use these however you need in order to get the juices flowing!
Already have a story written, but don’t know how to talk about it? Boil your story down to one sentence you can memorize and have at-the-ready, by using this worksheet to make the perfect elevator pitch/logline.
Fangs for reading! Snatch ya later. UvvU
The following is an important poem from my upcoming novel Destroying Eden. It’s a prophecy. Who do you think wrote it?
Angel of Exile, cast out from the sun;
Caring Dominion, old Lord of the Land;
Orchard fruit bitter, iron on the tongue:
become Corruption; New Fall of New Man.
Race of new creatures with only one rule:
Rise again Man, no Original Sin,
taste not of Knowledge, a Garden of Fools.
Tempts not the Serpent the simple within.
Bastards the living, half-breeds their own race,
drink Adam’s Blood, curse upon Eden’s Lord.
Bring each together, each kingdom, one place
strange sense of Duty, a break from the war:
Truce proposed now, till the Point of the Fall,
Name her and feed to her The Fruit of All.
I’m still working on this novel, but you can read a full chapter of my work-in-progress! This chapter is especially fun for vampire lovers. UvvU
Writers’ Biggest Fears Revealed is a blog series where we commiserate about all the things that get writers tripped up, and I talk you through how to alleviate those fears so you can move on to the next one. Stick around to the end of the post to get your hands on a free tool to help you face your fears.
Allow me to paint a scene for you:
It’s mid-June in 2017. I’m at a conference for writers in St. Louis known as Gateway Con. I’m here because I’ve decided to get serious about writing. I love learning, but I’ve never been to a writer’s convention before. This one offers workshops, opportunities to pitch your novel to literary agents, a keynote speech, a gala dinner, a book fair, and plenty of opportunities to connect with and get to know other writers. I only sort of know what to expect. I’ve tried very hard to find someone else willing to put up a few hundred dollars to keep me from being alone, but there’s just not anyone else who can put that sort of money toward this sort of thing.
So I’ve spent my two-hundred bucks, and I’m at the conference. I find it’s actually not hard to just talk to people, and we’re all here because we’re serious about writing or getting published, so there’s one question that is guaranteed to get you an answer: What are you writing about?
Is anyone else’s skin crawling?
The truth is, this question is super easy to ask someone else. It’s so easy, that you can do it without thinking. You’re expressing genuine interest in another writer and looking to establish a connection with someone who must also be here to connect with people or else they wouldn’t have convened at the convention.
But have you ever had this question turned around on you?
Someone who’s had a book published might have this down already. They’ve already thought about how to talk about their book to other people. They probably had to query an agent or an editor, and they probably had to be good at it. They may even have written the copy on the back of the book meant to convert browsers to buyers to readers.
In 2017, this isn’t me. I have what I’ve approximated to be a third of one novel, and a handful of short stories. I know what my story’s about. I could spill all of the juicy details about the struggles my character is facing, but I keep changing my mind on who the antagonist is; I have no idea what happens throughout any of the middle of the book; and I very well know that whatever I have planned for the end could drastically change based on whatever middle I vomit out.
So when asked, “What’s your book about?”… What’s my answer?
The easy answer would be to say, “I don’t know.” It’s not quite accurate, but perhaps to some extent it’s true.
But if I—the author of this mess I’m daring to call a “book”— don’t know what I’m writing about, then why should anyone else care?
So the answer I give? I put on a big smile, a nervous laugh. I say, “That’s a good question!” (which doesn’t sell books), and then I go on to ramble about my main character and throw in a few other details as they pop into my mind (which also doesn’t really sell books), and then I only know I’m done talking when I can’t stand the lifted eyebrows bobbing up and down to the polite nods of my listeners anymore.
It’s sloppy, clumsy, and I just don’t feel like I’ve represented my story in the golden light I feel it deserves. Despite my terrible description of my own work, I’m proud of where my story is going, and the development my main character has undergone. It truly is my baby, and I let it down.
The good news about this fear is that all it takes to alleviate it is to be prepared! Putting a tiny bit of work into really understanding the story you want to tell is going to keep you from missing out on opportunities to connect to other writers or potential readers—or even potential agents or publishers! The truth is, if you’re serious about making your manuscript into a real live book and you want people to read it afterward, you need to put in the effort to truly understand how to talk about your work-in-progress or the book you’ve already published and wish to promote.
Here are the basic components you need to understand in order to have a simple, yet intriguing conversation about your own writing.
OKAY, OKAY. We’ve decided on a genre. We’ve written down a few scenes and characters we’re excited to talk about, and we have a perfectly crafted logline. What now?
Great job! You have everything you need to survive The Question without sweating visibly or suffering so strongly from dry mouth that your lower jaw crumbles to ashes.
Conversations are always going to be unique, so you’re going to be ready to navigate them mostly on your own, but when it comes down to The Question, I’ve got you covered. Here’s how to use your newly developed weapons on the battlefield.
Start with the genre. “I write horror.” “I’m a romance writer.” “It’s a coming of age story.”
Continue with your logline. “The ghost of a meteorologist wakes up in the past, three days before the hurricane that killed him…and everyone else in New York City.”
Keep 2-3 interesting facts about your story on deck for answering follow-up questions. Use them or don’t use them. Just be familiar enough with a few that they’re there to pull from when you need them.
It’s that easy. Or at least you’ll be making it seem that way when you show up prepared to a conference or the next writers group you attend.
The best news of all: From here on out, if you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to just… not have an answer to a question. You have proven you have a command of where your story is headed overall, so you’re not going to look like a fool, you’re just having the same struggles all writers are—but also please let me know when you figure it out because your little spiel has got me all interested.
So if there’s something you haven’t thought about yet or that you can’t make a decision about, it’s okay to be honest and just say, “I don’t know.”
More than it being okay not to know, it’s also okay for you to just not share. If you’re not ready to talk about your story, please feel comfortable saying, “I’m not ready to say yet.” To keep it personable and to come off as more confident, even if maybe you’re not actually all that confident, drop a teaser. It doesn’t have to be much: “I’m not ready to say yet, but there’s definitely a dragon in it.” Fake it ’til you make it, Honey Bunches.
If all else fails, talk about what makes you excited about your story, and talk about it confidently. You deserve to be heard, and if you truly believe in your work-in-progress, your excitement is going to rub off on others.
Are you still uncertain about how to answer the question “What’s your book about”? Do you want to feel more confident about your story? Learning How to Craft a Logline That Hooks Your Audience, is a great place to start, and you can have it for free RIGHT NOW. What are you waiting for? Get your FREE DOWNLOAD.
You may have heard about my quest to become a vampire fiction aficionado. This month, I’m reading Dracula by Bram Stoker.
I’d like to invite you to join me on this journey. If you’ve been meaning to read this book, the time is now! If you’ve already read it, get prepared to chat about it. I’m going to be hosting #vampchat LIVE on Twitter on Wednesday, May 29 at 4PM CST.
Fangs for reading! See you next Satórday! And don’t leave without your FREE DOWNLOAD of How to Craft a Logline That Hooks Your Audience! You’re going to need it for more than just talking about your book.
“Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?”re: May 4th. Old lady at Bistritz—Dracula by Bram Stoker
Wouldn’t it be nice to understand your relationship with written words? I bet you have a great understanding of what sorts of elements you get excited about in a story. Maybe you love prophecy stories. Or you can’t pass up a paranormal romance. Perhaps you can’t wait for your next bout of self-inflicted insomnia from a horror story that made your skin crawl all the way to the neighbor’s house.
For me, that thing is vampires. I love me a good dark fantasy series. If a story projects itself in my mind with a gray filter over everything, I’m hooked. Beyond that, I’m driven by some mysterious force to write stories that involve vampires too!
But I’ll be the first one to admit that I haven’t read enough vampire-involved fiction. And that’s not me saying, “I’ve read a bunch and it’s still not enough LOL.” That’s me saying… I just don’t read often enough.
So with that in mind, I am here to commit myself to understanding my own relationship with fiction and with writing and reading about vampires, in particular. Sure, I love a story focused on change, but what is it about me that drives me to the fangers?
And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll get to learn why the Hell people cringe when they hear the word vampire.
These are some of the things actual people have said to me in senior-level creative writing workshops. That’s right. Somebody required to read my story for a grade, saw “vampires,” and chose to forego the assignment. He left one line of feedback on my story: “I didn’t read it.”
Oh well! I would argue that his feedback wouldn’t have been much more useful than “why don’t you make this story about AIDS instead?” But I guess we’ll never know. Aw, shucks.
If I sound salty, it’s because I am! But not just about undergrad writing workshops.
This stigma that fiction about or including vampires is somehow to be hated just for the presence of vampire characters prevails not just in higher education, but throughout the literary world. I get that there’s no genre that’s for everyone, and I’m not here to convince anyone that vampire fiction should be exciting or interesting to them if it’s just not their thing. I totally understand!
But the fact that there’s a vampire in a story is hardly a limit on plot possibilities or even genre possibilities. So what is it about vampires that repulses people before they even bother to get a gist of the story?
I have a few hunches, but I want to find out for myself. I’ve developed a mission that I’m going to explore right here through this blog.
Here are my goals in regard to this blog:
I know that I have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to get on it right away! First up? Dracula, by Bram Stoker. You’ll see a review coming through and my first attempt at cataloging all the mechanics of the story in their most stripped down form. Quick! Someone get me a pic of naked mechanics!
Need to sink your fangs into a story with vampires that you’ve never read before? Explore your own relationship with vampire fiction with this FREE chapter from my upcoming novel Destroying Eden.
You might remember Nathaniel from last Satórday’s post. You can expect to see more of this precious boy in my novels one day, but since those are still under construction, here’s your sneak peek.
I do not consider the following snippet to be canon. The events of my canon universe may be vastly or slightly different from this, but Nathaniel’s character remains the same. Please enjoy.
Nathaniel shut the door to the old Boston brownstone with more force than intended. He turned back toward it, pushing his shoulder against it—the deadbolt refused to lock without some pressure. His tired green eyes browsed the room as he stepped away from the door, slowly taking his bag off his shoulder and setting it against the wall in the foyer. He reflected on the day, taking his keys and his university faculty ID from his pocket and setting them on the counter in the kitchen. He didn’t much need the kitchen, so it was covered in file boxes, storing old drafts of stories and poems he intended to return to one day. Nathaniel felt one of the boxes with his fingertips, trying to remember what works he’d put in this one. It had been too long since he’d written. Perhaps it had been some sort of blessing to have been approached by Ira that day. A reason to write again. He didn’t even have a word down or an idea of his own about it before being guaranteed payment, assuming anyone bothered to buy a ticket to the show when it went on in the winter.
He’d slept at the theatre, so he could have been more tired. It wasn’t as though he wasn’t used to staying up until sunrise or later, but he’d made the mistake of staying at the theatre until the sun had risen and beyond. So here he was at 8:30PM finally returning home. Perhaps it was only because Ira’d had something he needed to do elsewhere that he even managed to escape him—not that Nathaniel had minded the company.
Penelope would be by soon, he realized. He took his phone from his pocket while he kicked off brown dress shoes in the middle of the kitchen, checking to make sure Penelope hadn’t tried to contact him. No word yet. He pocketed the phone again and sighed in relief. He loved Penelope; she proved herself loyal and caring over and over again. However, he didn’t enjoy how he had to behave around her.
It wasn’t that she had imposed a set of behavioral rules upon him. She loved him no matter what. Nathaniel’s dissatisfaction—no, his fear—of the way he acted stemmed from a change he could not control, but that was an inevitable outcome of his existence. He didn’t know any other vampires with the same condition.
Penelope would bring a “friend,” and Nathaniel would feed off of said friend. Then he wouldn’t be Nathaniel anymore.
It always happened that way, no matter how often they fed him or how much he drank. They had come to learn that feeding daily had consistent outcomes. It meant he became that Other Him every day, but it was briefer, and generally milder, than if he waited in between feedings. And Penelope was there to keep him in line, keep him in the house, out of trouble.
Of course that was no small part of why he hadn’t been laid in years, and he had to wonder if the long drought had anything to do with his sudden, very strong attraction to Ira, whom he’d just met. Ira, tall, handsome and just… charming. And married.
Nathaniel sighed, diving into his light purple sheets. He pressed his cheek against the cool, unslept in sheet and stared at the wall. It was too quiet here. He didn’t have to be lonely. He had Penelope and her… well, Nate didn’t know what Trevor was to Penelope, but he considered himself friends with both of them. There were the other vampires in the area, the ones who were capable of feeding responsibly, the ones that told Nate if he couldn’t control himself, they would find out, and they’d make sure he would never do it again. When he was alone in his home like this, when it was quieter than quiet, and he became conscious of the slow beat of his heart and the breath that powered the dangerous machine that he was, he could admit to himself that part of him welcomed the solution: to just terminate him and end everyone’s suffering at his hands, including his own.
He closed his eyes and rolled onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. Life had become monotonous. Everything was expected to happen just as it did. He expected Penelope to show up every day. He expected to go to work during the week. He expected his student Teresa to ask unnecessary questions after each class. He expected to spend from 1:00AM to 3:00AM answering emails and grading homework, and to spend his time until bed reading or writing or talking on the phone with Penelope. Lately, however, he’d received a few calls from Sam during those hours. He found himself surprised he enjoyed it. A change of pace. Sam took interest in what he had to say, no matter how mundane and boring Nathaniel’s stories about his own life had been lately. On the weekends, he expected to visit the bookstore and read there until close, and sometimes Penelope would come over for a social visit and not just to feed him.
But today—no, it was yesterday—class ended, and Teresa asked her question. Then Ira dragged him away to the theatre and gave him a new job. It was anomalous, to be sure. He knew on Monday he would teach the same course, and Teresa would ask her question, and he’d answer other students’ questions, and then he would go home, press his shoulder into the door to lock it, set his keys and his ID in the kitchen, and flop into his bed, wondering if life would ever come to remotely reflect his ideal version of it.
But tonight—yes, tonight—the sun went down, and Ira smiled at him for the hundredth time in twenty-four hours, and Nathaniel felt his heart beat faster than it had in years. He drank brandy, and he enjoyed himself with someone new—the beginning, he felt, of a new friendship, one he hopefully wouldn’t ruin with feelings. It had just been so long since—
The phone rang and Nathaniel sat up to answer it. “Hello, Penelope,” he said with a soft smile.
“Hey, baby. You thirsty? Trevor’s still resting up, but I can bring Sasha. She’s always excited to see you,” Penelope replied, a big smile in her voice.
“I remember Sasha. Bring her, I guess. I don’t have a preference.” He picked at a fuzzle on the sheet, his voice falling flat.
“I know you’re not excited about this, baby, but just be happy I can find these people.”
“I just hate to put anyone in danger. You know that.”
“All right, sweetie. What happened to you yesterday? I thought we was gonna do this last night. I mean, we done it every night for four-and-a-half years, ain’t we? What’s going on, baby boy?”
“I got a new job. I mean, I still have the old one, but I was offered a gig as the author of an upcoming play for a local theatre. We started work right away, and I should have paid better attention to the time, but I had to spend the day there.”
“I didn’t know you was looking for a job.”
“I wasn’t, actually,” Nathaniel said, eyebrows raising as he recalled Ira’s arrival in his class. “I was approached just after class by a man who’d walked in while I was lecturing. He didn’t really even ask much. He just literally dragged me to his theatre and told me how much he paid and that it wasn’t really even my writing that made him want to give me the job.”
“Hoo boy,” Penelope said with a laugh. “If it ain’t your writing and you ain’t looking for a job, then what—oh no, Nathaniel-baby, you didn’t…”
“Didn’t what?” He knew what, but wasn’t really willing to suggest that he got a job because of his looks or simply because Ira was just weird or… because he’d performed some sort of sexual favor. He liked to think he had professional merit, perhaps in the way he conducted himself or… something else. Just not his hot bod. Did he even have a hot bod?
“You ain’t fuck him, did you?” She laughed again.
Nathaniel laughed. “No! Of course not. He’s married.”
“And that’s the only reason you didn’t do it.”
“Oh, you sooo wanted to!” She cackled through the phone, causing Nathaniel to pull the phone from his ear.
“It’s not like that,” he said, putting the phone back to his ear with a bit of a laugh he couldn’t help. “I just met him. Plus, our relationship is strictly professional… despite all the brandy we drank and spending the night and day together…” He chuckled at himself. “Okay fine. I would have enjoyed it if it were to happen, but it didn’t and it won’t. It’s not really an option. Even if I was okay with it being not just professional, he’s still married.”
“You know, people think vampires ain’t real. Anything’s possible, baby.”
“Married, Penelope. That means something to me, and to him too, I hope.”
“Aight, baby. Well I’mma get Trevor taken care of. I’ll be there in an hour. Love you, babe. Bye.”
Nathaniel hung up and set down the phone with a small smile. Aight—…all right. Time to find something to do. He breathed in deeply through his nose and looked around to see if he had a book nearby.
I beg for a moment,
a lingering eternity in your grace, denouncing the cyclical revolution of my own
a soul for one more day of spineless perpetuation,
joyless survival colliding with the blazing
forest He made and yet will not Himself quench.
Shailo note: This post is made in-character. The author is a fictitious creation.
All rights for this material go to Shailo Satór.