Jun 22, 2014

The Hunters and the Hunted - A Worlds of Bill Fanfic Contest Entry

I am pleased to present to you the second entry in the World's Of Bill Fanfic Contest.

Note: This one is pretty long (albeit the payoff is more than worth it). I've included about the first 2000 words here with the rest available via PDF.

The Hunters and the Hunted

By Patrick Christensen

I had already known that even in the best case scenario this weekend was going to suck, however fleeing for my life before the Wild Hunt took my expectations of disaster and laughed at them for not being hardcore enough all the while rolling them for their lunch money.

Normally you couldn't convince me to venture into a forest for love or money, except I'm here because my dad guilted me into it and bought me a sweet new desktop as the lure for his trap. Let me try again, you can get me to wander into a forest with love and money but you better have a goddamn lot of both.

My dad and I get along great I swear, it's just, I'm a geek and my dad... isn't. In fact my dad is an avid outdoorsman, which makes us something akin to oil and water. Mostly we accept each other as the flawed individuals we are, but occasionally we try to get one another to appreciate our hobbies which is why my dad has seen all of Firefly and I can light a campfire using steel and flint. Don't judge me, I resisted as best I could, but some knowledge just seeps in.

Anyway, when I moved to California for college I swore that I was done with nature. Trees? Who needs 'em. Fresh air? Overrated. Sunlight? Bah, at least indoors I'm at less risk of skin cancer. My dad on the other hand gave me several recommendations for good hikes in the local area. I ignored him, but over the years his hints became more insistent until last week he finally took action.

I'd just graduated this year with a comp-sci major and managed to get a job in an electronics repair shop. Yeah, not the most glamorous use of a degree, but it was a job and I'm kinda desperate moneywise. Fucking student loans.

So by chance my birthday was last week, only a couple weeks after entering the workforce and my dad decided to buy me something nice as a combo birthday/graduation thing. That something nice was a new high end desktop. Okay my dad didn't actually buy the computer, he told me to pick what I wanted and he paid for it. Neither of us are idiots. Anyway, along with my nice new toy he bought me top end camping gear, I mean tent, backpack, portable stove, the works. Now just when I was about to smile and politely put the gear in a closet until I could throw it out my dad looked at me and said, "Son I'm proud of you, you've started out on your own and as much as it pains me to say you don't need to rely on me anymore. This is a moment every parent knows is coming, but when it arrives we aren't ready for it."

Crap, I was tearing up a little. I mean sure I'm not really an emotional guy and all, but he was looking so lost as he was saying this I couldn't just look away. Embarrassedly I shuffled my feet a little and started to mumble something about how he'd always be part of my life, even if we didn't see each other quite as much when he looked at me and said.

"I hope the gifts I've given you remind you of me and you put them all to good use."

The slight emphasis on all gave away the game. He was guilting me! On my birthday! I was preparing to angrily tell him off for pushing his expectations on me when I reconsidered. Damn it, this was my dad, the guy who went along with my hobbies just to find a way to connect with me. The guy who actually sat down with my D&D group and gamed with us for a session just to understand what I was doing with my time; which, while hugely embarrassing for me at the time, was actually pretty cool of him to have done.

I looked my dad in the eye and said, "You got it dad."

That was all it took, some things can be communicated with only a look and a tone of voice. My dad graciously acknowledged his victory by not mentioning it any further. The rest of the day passed and we made small talk until it was time for him to go.


A week later I'd looked through some possible hikes and selected a two day backpack through a trail not far from where the I-5 meets the 89 in Castle Crags State Park. So it was going to pretty much be: drive in, hike for half a day, set up camp, spend a night outdoors, hike out, go home and get blitzed. My dad had actually bought equipment for both me and my friends on the idea that misery loves company. I wouldn't actually mind company as a night alone in the woods wasn't all that appealing, but when I explained the situation to them they just laughed at me.


Okay fine, if our positions had been reversed I would've found the whole thing hilarious, but I wouldn't have laughed in their faces. Probably.

So maybe my friends and I aren't the outdoors type and expecting them to join me in my exile was a bit much. Still they're good people as evidenced when my buddy Mike expressed his concern for my safety.

"Hey, haven't a lot of people gone missing on hiking trails lately?" He asked, "maybe you shouldn't go out right now. I could see you being abducted on your own and butt-raped by hobos or something."

"Don't worry about it," I replied. Sure it was cool he was worried about me in his own way, but he was questioning my manhood and that couldn't be allowed to stand. "It's the beginning of hiking season, there's always some idiot who overestimates his orienteering prowess and gets his dumb ass lost."

"Alright," he sighed, "but you better not get bit by a werewolf."

I laughed. Yeah Mike may be a bit rough around the edges, but I know he'll look out for me. Not enough to, you know, actually go camping with me, but he'll be there in spirit.

"You're way too much of a wuss to be a werewolf. You wouldn't do anything cool if you were turned. If something that awesome happened it should happen to me."

Yeah, I don't know why I hang out with him either.


So Saturday found me dragging my skinny carcass up a trail carrying the weight of the world on my back. Alright so maybe it was more like 60 pounds, I'm not exactly a bodybuilder; anything over 20 pounds took effort.

The hike was like every other pointless expedition I've been on. Lots of exercise punctuated by repetitive scenery. Look a tree! Some sort of squirrel thing I'm pretty sure isn't actually a squirrel! Another tree! Excitement!

Fortunately I managed to straggle into a campsite before daylight was completely gone, nothing sucks more than trying to set up camp in the dark. I even managed to get my tent set up before nightfall. Hah! A triumph of man over his environment! My stomach grumbled to remind me that I'd been burning energy lugging Sisyphus' stone on my back all day so I started making an extra large pot of pre-made stew. Iron chef I am not.

She appeared just as the stew was ready to eat. From the moment I saw her I knew there was something about her that drew me to her. That would ensure I would follow her every whim, even if it had me braving the depths of hell, just that she might look at me with favor or perhaps turn her smile my way. Perhaps it was the way the firelight reflected in her warm brown eyes giving the impression of overflowing vitality. It could have been her shy smile that looked like it might either flee or embolden itself into a different aspect. Mayhap it was that her every movement flowed with an otherworldly grace. Or maybe it was because she was half naked.

I'm a guy, sue me.

For a second I thought I was hallucinating because there is no way any sane person would wear what she was wearing. Her outfit, and I shit you not, was a medium length skirt and a short top, what's the word for it? Oh yeah, a jerkin. Both of which were made entirely from animal skin. When I say that I don't mean she was wearing an ensemble of fur or leather. I mean someone, probably her, had hunted down small four legged critters, killed them, skinned the little bastards, and stitched their dead hides together into what I could only describe as an Animal Rights Activist's worst nightmare using what I strongly suspected was sinew. I also suspect she hand-sewed it together herself; the stitching was uneven causing the hides to push together and pull apart creating a tapestry of gaps that revealed tantalizing glimpses of her bare flesh.

She drifted slowly into the light of my fire and asked, "Would you mind if I shared your fire?"

Alright, was she suspicious? Possibly. Was she crazy? Probably. Was she hot? Definitely! Decision made I stood and welcomed her, "Fair lady be welcome at my camp, for it is truly fortunate I am to share such a wonderful evening with one so beautiful as you. Please find a... rock and be seated."

Gah, okay not the smoothest beginning. I'm a little out of my depth when it comes to the opposite sex. My strategy in these situations is to be as dorkishly amusing as possible in the hopes that chicks would find me charming enough to stay around and hopefully go from there. It wasn't exactly the best plan, but it was what I had and now it was making me sound like the lead of a bad romance novel.

"A gentleman!" She exclaimed, "I've been forestbound for some time now and most I approach aren't so kind as you, it was what made me so cautious in approaching your camp." She smiled as she dragged a rock to the fire. Whoa! She chose a large one for her seat, weak she was not.

So apparently when a crazy chick approaches you from nowhere at night, talking like you grew up in a Renfaire was the way to go. Learn something new every day I guess. I was about to reply in the same vein as I had started when the act of sitting teased open a slight gap in her skirt around her waist and I found my attention riveted by what was revealed. Or more accurately what wasn't revealed, for one second I got a flash of thigh and nothing else. I think she wasn't wearing underwear.

I tore my gaze up to her face, fortunately she was looking at the stew instead of at me. That was good because I'm pretty sure gazing at a woman's crotch like you have x-ray vision pretty much precludes any chance you have of dancing the horizontal tango. My thoughts raced, I hadn't seen any cloth through the gap in that one instant but maybe she was simply wearing a thong or something skimpy like that. On the other hand, what if she was starkers under there? Maybe if I played this right I would have the opportunity to find out for sure.

Quickly to make up for my slight preoccupation I offered, "Um, I'd offer the rest of the stew since you seem hungry, but I, uh, don't have any extra bowls or eating utensils."

"That's no problem!" She exclaimed happily and proceed to grab the pot and eat from it with her bare hands.

Okay that was unusual. The pot was off the fire, but it should still be hot enough to burn. I guess it wasn't as she wasn't screaming and flailing her hands about, instead she was sitting there devouring stew as if it was her last meal on Earth. Still it wasn't weird enough for me to ask her to leave. To be fair she could have walked in and announced she was the sovereign queen of the moon and then proceeded to attempt to find out what this thing humans call love is from me and it still wouldn't be weird enough for me to ask her to leave. Actually if that was how things went tonight I'd be completely okay with it.

I was just finishing my portion, watching her eat may have been fascinating but it grew awkward after a bit, when she slurped the last from her cupped hands and looked up at me. Realizing I had seen her lapse of etiquette she immediately grew embarrassed. She coughed a bit looked, down at her hands, seemed to decide that since she'd already lost it she might as well continue on, and licked them clean.

"I'm really sorry about that." She apologized to me, "It's been so long since I last had cooked food I forgot myself. Most of my meals I take raw. Still it was an inexcusable lapse and as your guest I am ashamed."

Raw? I guess she was some sort of back-to-earth vegetarian or some other such nonsense. Wait, that couldn't be right. She'd eaten the beef along with the veggies so meat probably wasn't an issue. Maybe she lead some kind of hunter-gatherer lifestyle? Eating plants she harvested, hunting animals for food. No, she'd still need to cook the meat, unless... raw? No let's not think about that, back to the situation at hand and no time to spare for what only happened in my imagination. Probably.

"It's no problem, if you were willing to risk cooking your own hands along with the stew just for a meal I can't fault you for it," I allowed. I faltered for a second then recalled basic social graces and scooted forward a bit offering my hand, "My name's Robert by the way."

"Where have my manners gone?" She wondered aloud, "I'm Ruth and it is my pleasure to make your acquaintance." With that she took my proffered hand and shook it firmly.

"So you're a Bobby, huh?" Ruth continued, "So Bobby what brings you up this way?"

"I'm not a Bobby." I explained seriously. I knew it probably didn't seem that big a deal, but I was no Bobby. It's important to stick to your principles a after all. Otherwise you get stuck as Bobby for the rest of your life. "I am a Robert or if you must shorten it, a Rob."

Ruth pouted cutely, "But that makes you sound like such a fuddydud."

Fuddydud? Who used fuddydud anymore? "That's fine, so long as I'm a fuddydud named Robert," I countered. "Anyway I'm up here because-"

"That really doesn't matter," Ruth interrupted, looking sharply at the sky.

Wow, that was rude.

"I hadn't realized the time," she continued, "I was going to talk with you some more, but my friends are going to be waiting if I stay here much longer."

Oh. Yeah of course she had friends, this was starting to feel familiar; a hot girl had walked up to me out of nowhere, smiled a little, and then asked me to do her homework... I mean share my stew. Fuck, I was back in high school! Now would come the part where she was happy to get to know me, but she had things to do as far away from me as possible and she would appreciate it if I didn't tell anyone she had ever talked to me.

"You see my friends and I are having a party out here," damn it here it came, "and I was wondering if you would perhaps like to accompany me?"

There it was- Wait, what? She was actually inviting me? Holy crap I'd never been invited to a party by a hot chick before! Oh man I could actually score tonight, I mean she must like me at least a little if she was inviting me to her party...

In the middle of the forest...

During the dead of night...


Fuck me. I had almost fallen for it. I had almost been stupid enough to walk off into the woods with an obviously crazy woman wearing animal hides. I was an idiot. I looked that treacherous bitch right in the eye and stated as firmly as possible, "I would love to come."

What the hell? Maybe all that sparkled really was gold. Maybe to get what you want in this life you simply had to take what chances would come no matter how insane they seemed. Maybe as she was carving out my heart in sacrifice to her dark gods I'd get a chance to cop a feel.

I mean, you never know, right?...

“The Tome of Bill is copyright Rick Gualtieri. This story is licensed under the Creative Commons as derivative, noncommercial fiction.”

Wow, 60 pages of story set in another slice of Bill's universe. Both ambitious and awesome - a kind of parallel to Bill's own origin story with a really fun twist. Thank you so much for both your entry and for helping me kill an afternoon, Patrick! Your effort is most certainly appreciated.

Have a story idea of your own? There's still about a week left to go in the contest.

So what are you waiting for? Get writing!

Jun 20, 2014

Picking Sides in a War of Giants

Within the publishing world the ongoing contract turmoil between Amazon and Hachette is well known. It’s caused quite a stir and has most definitely raised a lot of emotions on both sides.  Now before I go any further, let me just say I’m only talking about the two multinational giants in this fight.  My heart goes out to any authors caught in the crossfire who are seeing their livelihood suffer as a result.  My hope is that this gets resolved one way or the other quickly so we can all get back to competing based on the strength of our stories not on how much muscle either titan chooses to flex.

Recently, published an article detailing why it was in the best interest of self-publishers to support Hachette. Personally, I found it to be a bit too condescending for my tastes and the logic behind this conclusion to be questionable at best.  However, it did stir up a lot of intelligent debate across the various forums I frequent. Even more so after I declared that I was on Amazon’s side in this.

Interestingly enough, this is a controversial choice even amongst self-publishers, but to me it makes perfect sense.  Hachette is a completely neutral entity to me.  They’ve neither harmed not helped me in any way.  On the other hand, I have seen great personal benefits working with Amazon over the past three years of my publishing career.  To that end, I wanted to dispute some of the arguments that I've seen presented in this.

1: Amazon isn't your friend. They’re a corporate behemoth who cares nothing for you.
And Hachette isn’t?  Seriously, let’s not be silly here.  I liken this to job recruiters I’ve worked with.  I don’t fool myself into believing that any of them care about me beyond what dollar amount I represent.  However, some of them put forth a much better effort than others.  The truth of the matter is Amazon gives me access to great online marketing tools (Author Central), their customer service is top notch, they've given me a chance to reach their top 100 via offering Bill The Vampire as a Kindle Daily Deal, and whenever I've seen their booths at a convention the people manning it are always super friendly and enthusiastic toward authors.  All of that counts in my book.

2: If Amazon wins, they’ll drop royalties, kill the KDP program entirely, and/or start eating babies.
I am reminded of the phrase “If pigs had wings, they'd be eagles.”  I've stated on more than one occasion that I'm here for the long haul.  To do so, one must plan for the long term.  That includes keeping one's eyes open and tracking which way the wind is (or will be) blowing. What I won't do, though, is panic at every potential doomsday scenario.  I'll keep my options open, my eggs spread across multiple baskets, and adjust my plans accordingly. Right now the waters are fairly pleasant and my goal is to keep on the current path and avoid unnecessary freak-outs until such time as it makes sense to adjust course.

3: If Amazon wins you might find your sad little independent books next to $5 James Patterson offerings.
*Gasp* you mean I might have to...compete!? Say it isn’t so!  Here’s a little tidbit of information, I’m already competing. I take this job very seriously.  I don’t price my books the way I do as an apology for being independent - as my way of saying “I charge less money, so you shouldn't expect much.”  No. I price my books the way I do because I find it to be fair.  I don’t charge $9.99 or more for a single novel because frankly I don’t want to pay that much myself when I buy an ebook. I consider my current prices to be a fair trade-off of value for the customer vs. a royalty rate for myself that I’m quite happy with.

Should I wake up tomorrow to find myself competing on price with the big boys, then I shall do my best to compete. Assuming I’m not already there, I fully plan to keep challenging myself so that when you see my book on a shelf (virtual or otherwise) next to a multi-million selling author the only real difference that will catch your eye will be the title and author name.

If I fail in this, it will not be for lack of trying.

4: Amazon is playing dirty pool in these negotiations.
Uh huh, and Hachette didn’t conspire to fix ebook prices with their cronies a while back.  Let’s not be silly and assume either side is up for sainthood here. This is a corporate starship battle and both sides are trying their respective Picard Maneuvers.

5: But Amazon doesn't deserve your blind loyalty!
Who said anything about blind loyalty?  I haven’t renamed any of my kids Amazon Gualtieri or gotten their logo tattooed on my body.  I’m well aware of the work and expense I put into my books.  If I've been lucky enough to earn a following then I’d like to think it's due to the enjoyment they get out of my stories.  However, to ignore Amazon as a major reason that I was able to connect with those wonderful people would be both silly and revisionist history.

I'm simply stating that in a struggle between them and a faceless entity that I owe no allegiance to (and that doesn't affect me, my kids, or the environment in the short term) that I’ll stand behind the company that has done right by me.

Too many authors, indie or otherwise, decry Amazon's policies and practices these days without giving them proper credit for revolutionizing this industry and continuing to be at the forefront of it. I choose to remember those who have empowered me to reach as far as I have.

What does the future hold? Who can say?  The whole indie book revolution could end tomorrow for all we know.  Would that make me sad?  You bet.  Would it take away from what I've been able to accomplish?  Not in the least and no matter what happens going forward I will never forget the opportunity I was given nor those who had a part in it.

Jun 17, 2014

The Trouble With Tom - A Worlds of Bill Fanfic Contest Entry

I am pleased to present to you the first post-worthy entry in the World's Of Bill Fanfic Contest.

The Trouble with Tom

By Antonio Perez

The screech of wheels on tarmac and the bumpy landing jolted her awake. After her oh so relaxing trip to Vegas with Sally she hadn’t been able to muster enough magic to teleport home and a nice long plane ride sounded like exactly the rest she needed. After only a mildly frustrating trip through baggage claim Christy stood trying to flag down a cab when the theme to Thunder cats started blaring from her purse.

“Hi sweetie”

“Where are you?” He was speaking loud and fast, he sounded frantic.

“Tom, what’s wrong?” She asked with instant concern welling up inside her.

“I need you here, I have problem” he started to whisper. “There is something here”

“Sweetie slow down, I thought you were at your nerd fest?” finally having flagged down cab she was sliding into the back while the driver loaded her bag.

“It’s comic con Christy!” His voice rising. “New York Comic con is one of the bi..”

She cut him off starting to get frustrated “OK, Ok I’m on my way. Where is this place?”

“It’s at the Javits Center, 655 West 34th Street. I’ll be out front, I have your ticket. Hurry please! He’s moving I have to go!” The line immediately disconnected.

It seemed to take forever to get from the airport to downtown Manhattan. The entire ride she grew more and more worried. After trying to get Tom back on the phone and getting nothing but voicemail she spent the remainder of the trip trying to keep her errant magic under control. After what seemed like an eternity the cab finally pulled up in front of the Javits Center. Christy’s eyes scanned the crowd of cosplayer’s until she landed on Tom. She groaned quietly and rubbed her left temple.

Tom bounced up and down causing his chest armor to come close to hitting him in the chin. He held his helmet under his right arm while his head swiveled back and forth looking for Christy.

“Yo Optimus, how about a picture?” He spotted the speaker, a teen ager maybe 15. “Ok real quick I’m waiting for my girlfriend”

“Yeah, sure you are dude” The kid said with a sneer.

“You know what man? Fuck you and your picture!” Tom’s voice was rising again. Something Christy normally associated with someone trolling him on some forum or video game.

“Christy!” He reached about and grabbed her hand in a firm almost painful grip.

“C’mon, c’mon!” he began dragging her into the hugely crowded convention center.

“Stop!” She put some power into the word and brought him totally to a halt.

“Christy, he. Is. Here!” Just then there was a beep and crackle from under Tom’s armor. “Red leader this is Red Two. Subject is on the move. If you’re going to do something about this it has to be now!” Christy didn’t recognize the voice coming from the walkie talkie Tom pulled out from his chest piece. Franticly he spoke into the device. “Where is he Red Two, and is the package in play?”

“The package is in play. Subject is heading to the north cosway towards the bathrooms” the unknown voice quickly replied.

That seemed to be all Tom needed to hear. With that firm grip still on her hand he pulled her into the convention center proper. He dealt with the ticket booth operator rudely and as fast as he could. Christy frowned at his actions but whatever was going on here had to be bad. She loved Tom but he wasn’t the brightest star in the sky. Still though to act like this and to involve someone mundane like whoever this Red Two was it had to be important. He pulled her through the dealer room as fast as he could while continuing to check in with his man on the floor. Christy couldn’t help but be fascinated at the things she passed. Toys, booths, and comics from all eras surrounded her. But it was all nothing compared to the smell. Being pregnant had heightened her sense of smell and that in this crowd was not a good thing.

“Ugh, don’t they know what a shower is?” Tom only gave her an irritated look as they entered a tiled hall mostly devoid of people.

They came to a corner and Tom with his back to the wall slowly slid forward and looked around the corner.

Christy drew her power about her ready to strike.

“YOU!” She heard a man yell then saw Tom quickly leap back while something whizzed past his face.

Her nerves were frayed after Vegas and after having Tom lead her through Hell’s sweaty armpit that he called a comic con.

“Hell with this!” She strode about the corner her hands out stretched towards the large red haired man at the end of the hall. She let both spells loose at once. The first a silence spell, the second a binding spell. Both spells took effect in a moment. All noise ceased and the large mans arms and legs snapped together causing him to fall backwards to the floor. Luckily for him, his rather large behind would protect him.

At the moment of impact a silver case fell from his fingers to the floor but thankfully made no sound due to her first spell. Tom rushed out immediately, even going so far as to try to make the dive for the case. He didn’t make it and went face first into the floor.

Christy watched stalking at the end of the hall while Tom retrieved the case and shoved something into the coat of the man she had disabled. He said something but she couldn’t tell what because he’d put himself in the range of the silence spell. She motioned him forward. He came but slowly his eyes never leaving the case in his hands. When she could hear his raspy breathing she spoke. “Tell me what the hell is going on Tom? What did you shove in his pocket? And what is that thing? Her voice was rising with each word and it was echoing off the tile walls.

He finally looked up at her a strange smile on his face. “Oh..that was nothing. I gave him what it was worth! Well maybe not completely but still a very fair deal!” His fingers were clumsily opening the locks on the case.

“Wait.” Comprehension began to dawn on her “WHAT, WHAT WAS WORTH?” She was yelling now and little purple sparks of energy were playing off the nearby tiled walls.

Tom was oblivious of all of this as he opened the case. “It’s a Generation 1” His voice rose with each word, getting closer and closer to a true geek squee. “Chrome plated Megatron with no orange barrel end, mint in package.” He was breathing hard now, like it was difficult to get the words. Each one was higher pitched than the last. “And signed by Frank Welker!!” He was nearly jumping up and down at the end with no idea of the peril he was in.

* * *

Ed wasn’t sure what had pulled him out of his coding trance. It was a sound but it was so out of the ordinary he couldn’t place it. He wasn’t about to take any chances though. Since Bill had become a fuck up on a legendary scale instead of the normal one, life had gotten a lot more interesting. Just as he lifted his shotgun from its resting place by his door he heard it again “CROAK”.

“What the hell? If there is some goddamned frog monster out there or Bill has turned another member of the animal kingdom I am so fucking done!” Ed tore open the apartment door waving his shotgun back and forth and saw…nothing. “CROAK” Ed looked down. Sitting on the “Go the hell away” mat that Bill had though was so funny was a silver case with one of the biggest damned toads he’d ever seen splayed over the top, almost protectively. There seemed to be some note. Ed reached down for it. The entire time watching the toad watch him. Was this thing seriously giving him the evil eye?

Ed, He should turn back in a few hours. Tell him when he stops craving bugs he can call me.

- Christy.


“The Tome of Bill is copyright Rick Gualtieri. This story is licensed under the Creative Commons as derivative, noncommercial fiction.”

I don't know about you, but I thought that was pretty awesome. All couples have their little spats, but adding a witch into the mix always ups the ante in new and interesting ways. Thank you so much, Antonio! I hope you had as much fun writing that as I did reading it. Good luck! (although currently your competition is a little light ;)

Have a story idea of your own? There's still a few weeks left to go in the contest.

So what are you waiting for? Get writing!

Jun 7, 2014

Goddamned Freaky Monsters (the Tome of Bill, part 5) has been released.

I am pleased to finally announce that Goddamned Freaky Monsters (The Tome of Bill, part 5) has been released! I've been waiting a while to write that and damn does it feel good.

That means you have even more potential story fodder to enter the
The Worlds of Bill Fanfic Contest.

So what are you waiting for?

Need more incentive? Oh okay, well how about another teaser chapter to whet your appetite?"

I stepped back out of the office, still a little wobbly, but infinitely better prepared.


The ass end of the compulsion whispered in my mind. It had obviously been directed elsewhere, probably to my three bewitched comrades. Sure enough, I caught Firebird’s tight little rear disappearing just as the stairwell door closed on it.

The fucker who’d made the compulsion faced the doorway where he’d sent his new minions. He slowly turned back toward me, no doubt sensing my reappearance.

That same bemused grin appeared on his face, and he spoke once more. I didn’t need to be a linguist to appreciate the mocking tone. Once more, he ended things with that annoying father-sounding word.

“Oh yeah? Well, Daddy’s here to give you a permanent timeout, asshole.” A grin appeared on my own face as I lifted the massive weapon and pointed it straight at him.

I’d gotten lucky. Starlight hadn’t really changed much of anything, including the contents of Sally’s drawers. One of them had still contained my former partner’s favorite response to unwanted pickup lines - a Desert Eagle loaded with silver-tipped bullets. Oh yeah. Now we were cooking with gas.

I grasped it with both hands, remembering how I’d almost knocked out my own teeth the last time I’d fired it - ending up looking like Dirty Harry’s dipshit cousin.

Tarzan the Ape Vamp raised one eyebrow, but continued grinning. A small shiver of fear crept up my spine. Did this guy think he was so tough that a load of high caliber...

Then I remembered he’d spent God knows how long locked away like a prisoner. It was quite possible he didn’t even know what a gun was.

Well, if that were the case, then it was time to go to school.

I put pressure on the trigger. I’d seen this guy move. If he went to warp nine and appeared in front of me again, I wanted to make sure there was a photon torpedo waiting for him. Fuck that Picard Maneuver bullshit.

He stepped forward and blathered more nonsense. Another idea hit me as he continued yammering. If it worked, then it was surely lights out for Mr. Muscles. The time for taking chances was over. I’d accidentally let this guy out to play, and my friend had paid for it with his life. He was going down, and I was making sure he stayed there this time.

“No habla, hombre,” I said, taking a step to my left.

Come on...

He took a step to mirror my own. Yes! No matter what timeframe you might hail from, the rules of a standoff apparently apply.

“That’s right, gruesome,” I continued, keeping my voice steady. One of the lessons I’d taken to heart as a vampire was that appearance was everything. Play the role of the bad cop convincingly enough, and people will fall in line to believe it. Show a bit of weakness and the masses will be all over you like hyenas on a rotting corpse. “Be a good little vamp and papa will let you play with his Red Rider BB gun.”

We continued to circle in a clockwise manner.

Just a wee bit more.


The compulsion was subtle, with no force to it. It seemed that Ator the Fighting Eagle had likewise come to the conclusion that it was the only way we were going to communicate.

Little brother? What the fuck kind of family issues did this shithead have? I swear, if he called me “Mommy” next, I was outta there.


The big dummy took one more step, which put his back to the windows he’d blown out upon his arrival. It was time to pay the piper.


I smiled ever wider. “AND THIS IS MY BOOMSTICK!!

There are reasons we fear the night. Now he's trying to stop them.

Three months have passed since the fateful encounter in New York City that ended with the disappearance of Bill Ryder - gamer, geek, and legendary vampire. Now he's back - reawakened halfway across the globe with no allies, clothing, or clue as to how he got there. The only thing he's certain of is that his captors plan to use him for their own nefarious ends and don't care how much blood they spill in the process.

Escape might be the least of his worries, though. Civilization teeters on the brink of chaos. Mythical beasts, once thought the stuff of fantasy, are breaking through the veil, intent on waging war against mankind. At their forefront stands an ancient evil, the last remnant of a people thought long dead, and it's about to cut a swath of destruction through the world not seen since biblical times.

Bill's only chance is to reclaim his life, reconcile with his friends, and muster every bit of attitude he can - because if he fails, Hell on Earth will become far more than just a corny saying.


Goddamned Freaky Monsters (the Tome of Bill, part 5) is 105k words of foul-mouthed horror hilarity by Rick Gualtieri, author of Holier Than Thou and Bigfoot Hunters

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