Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Chapter 90: Mission Accomplished

As the door closed and the siren stopped, two vampires immediately headed towards the armed soldiers, who both fired silver bullets but failed to make contact. The soldiers were lifted off their feet and carried high into the air before being dropped. They both hit the ground on their heads, breaking their necks with a loud crack, leaving their heads pointing at an unnatural angle.

Commander North was shouting obscenities and taking pot shots with his pistol. His shots hit one of them, then another, then a third. For all his apparent faults as a leader, he was a good shot. He was certainly a man to be feared, whether you were human or vampire.

The remaining two vampires flanked the commander and flew in a circle around him, making it difficult for him to aim. He fired shot after shot from his pistol but failed to hit them. Before long, he was out of ammunition.

As soon as he started to reload, the vampires swooped down and grabbed him, lifting him off his feet. Hanging in the air only ten feet above us, one vampire held the commander’s legs, the other held his arms and they fed on his aging body.

He screamed in agony and dropped his pistol, which shattered into many pieces as it hit the stone floor. Commander North’s blood poured from his body and collected in large pools on the ground. When there was no more energy left in his body, he stopped struggling and screaming but the vampires continued to feed.

‘What are we going to do?’ asked Agent Simpson, ‘As soon as they’re finished with him, they’ll come for us.’

The pain in my stomach hadn’t subsided completely and my new instincts were telling me to join my brothers above and feed on the commander’s convulsing body but I knew deep down inside me that I had to protect our small band of resistance. The four of us were a mismatched group of humans and vampires but we all shared one motivation: to rid the world of the conflict between vampires and The Brotherhood.

I saw the commander’s silver sword hanging from his belt and knew I had to get up there. I had to kill the last two vampires and get us out of here.

I felt the blood drain all the way down my body to my feet. The muscles in my legs felt hot and tight, like they had been pumped up after months of training. I jumped into the air and immediately felt the blood rush back up through my body to my fingertips. I felt like I was flying. My body kept rising and rising. I reached the commander and drew the silver sword from his belt. The vampires looked up with shock on their blood-drenched faces. They didn’t expect to see anyone else up there with them.

In one fluid movement I spun round, slicing through their heads with the commander’s silver sword. They let go of the commander’s body but I caught him by his collar before he fell. The blood spread evenly throughout my body and I slowly descended to the floor through a flurry of ash falling from the burning vampires.

The commander was still alive when I touched down. He was struggling to breathe though, let alone talk. We looked into each other’s eyes.

Something struck me. If we were to leave this place and try to survive on the outside, we would need some leverage over the vampires and The Brotherhood.

I gripped what little hair the Commander had on the top of his head and swung my sword through his neck, separating his head from his body.

His body landed in a heap on the floor and I held his head in front of me, looking into his dead eyes.

Mission accomplished.

‘Tom, what have you done?’

‘I have an idea.’ I said as I walked over the doctor, still with Commander North’s head in my hand. I threw it to him and he caught it with both hands, splattering blood all over his coat.

‘Put it in the box, we’re taking it with us.’ The doctor looked scared and confused but he did as I said.

‘Trust me,’ I said. The look on everyone’s faces told me it would be a while until they trusted me again.

‘What are you going to do now?’ shouted Captain Stein, ‘You’ve killed a commander of The Brotherhood. There are almost certainly more troops on their way here now and it’s only a matter of time until they track you down. They will kill you all. You’re too dangerous now.’

‘I know,’ I said and walked over to Captain Stein, still holding Commander North’ silver sword. I swung the sword and cut off Captain Stein’s legs just below the knees. He sunk to the floor screaming in agony.

‘What are you doing, Tom? Stop it’ shouted Agent Simpson. Private Skinner ran over and grabbed me by the shoulders but I turned round and pushed him away.

I returned to Captain Stein and held him down. ‘Don’t worry,’ I said, ‘your legs will grow back.’ On that note, I opened my mouth to reveal my extended canine teeth and sunk them into his neck. Captain Stein screamed again. His painful cries satisfied my lust to inflict pain on him.

The blood pouring down my throat was warm and sweet. I had never tasted anything like it. I felt as if I could feed forever but it was short-lived. I felt many hands on my shoulders and I was pulled away from him. I wiped the blood from my mouth and I lay on my back on the cold floor of the hangar.

With the hunger of the vampire in me satisfied, the human in me started to talk to me again. I had killed four people in cold blood and cursed another with a terrible infection.

Dear God, what have I done?

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Saturday, 28 July 2007

Chapter 89: Help Arrives

‘Answer me, Captain,’ screamed Commander North as the soldiers grabbed the guns from our hands, ‘what’s going on? Why are there vampires in my base?’ His voice echoed around the massive stone hangar.

‘The vampires are casualties from the attack on Hartley House,’ said Captain Stein, ‘They were brought to the base by a vampire who had infiltrated the ranks.’

Commander North moved towards us but didn’t lower the volume of his voice. ‘And where are you going in such a hurry? Why aren’t you armed?’

‘The doctor, the detective and Private Skinner want to leave the base,’ Captain Stein answered.

‘The guinea pig? Not a chance.’ Commander North walked up to me and looked my directly in the eye. ‘Do you know how much pain we’ve been through to get to this point? Do you know how long we’ve waited for the doctor to complete his work?

‘There’s never been anyone like you, someone we can learn so much from so don’t think you’re ever going to get out of here. The contents of your body are more important than your life. The doctor is going to cut you up into as many tiny little pieces as it takes to find a way to kill these fuckers.’

The doctor stepped forward. ‘I’ll do no such thing.’

The commander moved over to stand toe-to-toe with the doctor. ‘Yes you will, because if you don’t, you’ll end up just like your lab assistant.’

I immediately knew what he meant by that comment. We had been completely wrong about who had killed Danny Johnson and destroyed the lab at Mantek.

‘It was you!’ I exclaimed. ‘You blew up the lab! Why?’

‘The secondary treatment, Detective. It was a pointless diversion that was wasting our time and money. We had to take extreme measures to get the doctor’s work back on track.’ Commander North talked about killing the innocent lab assistant like it was nothing. Just the means to an end.

I was starting to feel intense heat flowing all over my body. More than anger at the methods of The Brotherhood, I could feel something unnatural happening inside me. I was terrified that I would turn into a full-blown vampire in front of the Commander. Even though he wanted the doctor to experiment on me, I was convinced he wouldn’t think twice about turning me into ash if I became unable to control my urges as a vampire.

‘But why kill my assistant?’ the doctor asked.

‘An acceptable loss. Your work on the secondary treatment had to be destroyed to refocus your efforts. He happened to be there. It was unfortunate but necessary to cover our tracks.’

‘You’re crazy,’ said Agent Simpson, ‘this is not what The Brotherhood stands for. Doctor Owen’s work has shown that we can find a vaccine that will allow us to co-exist. That must be the primary treatment. The Brotherhood was formed by the need for the two species to co-exist.’

‘That is no longer the view of The Brotherhood and you know that, Agent Simpson. The directives come from the top.’

‘But you’re a Commander,’ she pleaded, ‘You have influence over the decision makers. Tell them what we are working on and once they see what we have learned and achieved so far, they will allow us to continue.’

‘I can’t do that, ‘ said Commander North, ‘it is the widely held view that the primary treatment can be developed a lot quicker and it will be more effective. I don’t even know why I’m arguing with you. You’re staying here and that’s the end of it.’

When it felt like all was lost, I felt a new sensation surge through my body. It was the warm feeling of belonging and it was getting stronger. I looked at the door that led down to the lab. Just as it was about to finish closing, five bodies flew through the gap.

My vampire brothers are here to help me.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Chapter 88: Wiped Out

Things weren’t going much better for the squad trying to deal with the vampires deep in the heart of the base. They had managed to kill seven of the bloodsuckers, but now the remaining five had split up and each had headed in different directions down the maze of corridors. Instead of a full head-on assault, they now had to search the labs and pick them off one by one.

The soldiers’ numbers were also dwindling. There were bodies strewn all over the floor, some of them lying dead, their necks broken, others screaming in agony as they failed to pull themselves onto their feet with broken legs, arms and deep gushing wounds. The floor was awash with blood, which squelched under the feet of Colonel Evans as he edged his way along the corridors.

The attack had been swift and brutal. As soon as the first squad of soldiers had entered the morgue, they were wiped out almost immediately. The vampires had pounced on them from all angles, beating them with their newly discovered strength and flew out of the morgue to find their next victims.

The next squad to arrive managed to kill a few of them but didn’t last much longer. Once they had turned the corner of the corridor, they scattered in many directions.

Colonel Evans knew that splitting up would leave them vulnerable to attack. If the vampires made a move from their separate positions towards the summit of the base, a soldier could kill some of them but one or two might be able to get past them. If that happened, then they would be chasing them towards the senior officers at the surface rather than holding them below ground.

If that happened, it would spell the end of the base. Everyone would die and there would be five new vampires on the loose. It would soon be getting dark outside and the vampires would be able to make their escape back to the city.

Evans opened the door to another lab, pointing his rifle in every direction until he was satisfied there were no surprises waiting for him. He stepped back into the corridor and saw one of his men at the end.

‘This room’s clear,’ Evans announced.

‘All clear up here as well,’ the soldier said and waved to him. As soon as the words had left his lips, a vampire launched itself through the window of a lab further up the corridor. Before the soldier could fire a shot, his head had been turned a full one hundred and eighty degrees by the vampire’s powerful hands, which then picked up the soldier’s rifle and disappeared around the corner.

Colonel Evans gave chase. As he turned the corner, he wasn’t expecting to see the vampire immediately in front of him, pointing the rifle at his chest. Eight silver bullets penetrated Colonel Evans’ body before he hit the ground.

* * * *

The vampire felt the presence of approaching soldiers before it heard their footsteps. One was approaching from directly behind him but he could feel the presence of one of his kin in the same corridor. The sound of footsteps and a weapon being loaded was closely followed by a smashing window and a voice letting out its last scream.

That’s one less soldier to deal with.

Another soldier was running down the corridor, directly ahead. Before he could shoot, another vampire had jumped out from a corner and with one hand, cracked his head open against the wall. His body slipped down the wall, leaving a bloody trail behind.

More soldiers were killed to his left and right. One had his neck broken and the other blew his own brains out while pinned in a corner.

Humans are so weak
, the vampire thought to itself. How could I spend so long as a human when I could have had powers like this?

With all of the soldiers in the area dead, the five remaining vampires gathered together and started to run in the direction of the summit. They could all sense the faint presence of more vampires. Their sixth sense was guiding them towards two of their brothers.

As they got closer and closer, a deafening siren sounded and heavy metal doors at regular intervals along the corridors slowly began to close. They darted around the closing doors until they saw the red glow of the outside world disappearing behind a closing door.

If they were quick enough, they could just make it.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Monday, 23 July 2007

Chapter 87: Reaching The Summit

We ran as fast as our legs would carry us up the long sloping corridors of the base, working our way towards the summit. We managed to avoid all the soldiers running to help the squad trying to fend off the vampire invaders by ducking in and out of various rooms along the way.

As much as I didn’t want to believe him in the lab, Private Skinner was right. The pain in my stomach was starting to subside. The buzzing in my brain that told me vampires were nearby had relented but I didn’t know if that was because the virus was wearing off or if it was because we were just getting further away from the machine gun fire and screams behind us. The pessimistic realist in me suspected the latter.

‘You’re not going to get out of here,’ said Captain Stein, finally breaking his silence as we slipped into an empty dormitory to keep out of sight of another squad of soldiers going to meet their maker.

‘It’s only a matter of time until Commander North hits the button to lock down the base. Every security door will close and you’ll be trapped down here along with the rest of us.’

Captain Stein had been keeping far too quiet to not be hiding something from us. He knew the procedure all along and was biding his time waiting for the lock-down, but I suspected that we were close to the top of the base. We had been sneaking around for a while and I thought Captain Stein was trying to put us off as a last resort.

‘But won’t that trap your men in the same rooms as the vampires?’ asked Agent Simpson.

‘That’s right. When they turn, they’ll feed on the soldiers but all we have to do is leave the doors locked and wait for them to starve. Then we can pick them off one by one.’ There wasn’t a hint of regret in Captain Stein’s voice.

‘That’s barbaric.’

‘That’s life, Agent Simpson. Can you think of a better option? Another more humane way of getting rid of them? God knows these guys won’t be able to kill all of them.’

Agent Simpson didn’t say anything. She just stared at Captain Stein like her eyes were burning a hole in his head. ‘I thought not,’ he snarled.

‘Come on,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘we’d better keep moving. We’re nearly there.’

Private Skinner picked up the pace and we kept up with him until we turned our last corner. We found ourselves in the main hangar, where we had entered the base only a matter of hours before. Ahead of us a cloud-filled red dusk sky peeked through the open door at the top of the ramp leading out to the summit.


With a metallic clunk, the door to the summit started to close and a loud repetitive siren started to wail.

‘There it is,’ said Captain Stein, ‘we’re now on lock-down. You may as well turn yourselves in now.’

I heard a gravely voice behind us bellowing over the siren. ‘Captain Stein, what the fuck is going on?’

We spun round to face Commander North, who was standing with two soldiers. All three of them were armed to the teeth and had itchy trigger fingers.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Saturday, 21 July 2007

Chapter 86: Watching The Massacre

Commander North stood in the operations room, his blood boiling as he witnessed the massacre of his men. With every scream he heard over the radio, he knew the vampires were making their way towards the summit of the base.

The two men in the operations team were trying to guide the soldiers around the corridors but the vampires were too fast for them. They would have sent more soldiers down into the base if there were any more to send. Within a matter of minutes they would all surely be dead.

Then North saw a small group running in the wrong direction. ‘Why are they coming back up here?’

‘They’re not soldiers, sir,’ said one frantic member of the operations team as he rubbed his eyes and stared at one of the many screens in front of him. ‘That’s Captain Stein, Private Skinner, Doctor Owen and the civilian male and female that arrived earlier, sir.’

‘Shit,’ North remarked, ‘why are they coming up here?’

‘Stein is unarmed, sir. It appears that Private Skinner is leading them towards the summit at gunpoint.’

‘How many men are left down there?’

‘Not many sir. There’s only two or three left and the vampires won’t take long to reach us.’

‘Has Private Skinner made contact?’

‘Negative, sir. He has not answered our attempts to contact him.’

Commander North weighed up his options and knew he had to take drastic action, even at the expense of Doctor Owen. The vampires must not be allowed to escape, but there’s something else going on here with Captain Stein and Private Skinner.

‘Lock down the base.’

‘Sir, are you sure? That means…’

‘I know what it means, soldier. Lock down the base then pick up your guns and follow me.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Beginning, Middle and End

I've just done my first guest blog post for a very cool site called Novelr. They focus on blog publishing of novels and have a lot of good tips for aspiring writers.

I've thrown in my two cents about the need for everyone who is publishing novels in a blog to make sure they keep going to the end. Just follow the link below...

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Chapter 85: New Instincts

‘You’re with them?’ Captain Stein shouted at Private Skinner, but the soldier and everyone else in the lab ignored him.

‘Have they been reborn?’ asked Agent Simpson.

‘Yes,’ said Private Skinner, ‘they’ve just woken up and they’ve already fed on one of the men. A squad is holding them back down the hall but they’ll be on top of us very soon.’

Skinner looked at me, seeing something in me that the doctor and Agent Simpson hadn’t mentioned. ‘My God, you look terrible. Are you okay?’

‘I’ve felt better,’ I said.

‘You’re really starting to turn. We have to get you out of here before you’re completely consumed.’

‘Wait,’ said the doctor, ‘we need to take the samples with us.’

I yanked Captain Stein’s rifle out of his hands and pointed it at him. Doctor Owen removed the scalpel from his neck and started to work with Agent Simpson to put as many samples as possible into the steel boxes.

Private Skinner was standing at the opening to the lab where the door used to be. A squad of soldiers ran down the corridor to meet him.

‘What’s going on?’ one of them asked him.

‘Vampires in the morgue,’ said Private Skinner, ‘they sneaked in and now they’ve woken up.’

The soldier spotted me pointing the gun at Captain Stein and the tone of his voice changed. ‘What’s going on in here?’

‘The Captain is one of them. He smuggled the vampires into the base with the dead bodies from the attack on Hartley House. We’ve arrested him.’

I was sure the soldier didn’t buy it but more gunfire distracted his attention and he led the men down the corridor.

‘Have you got everything?’ Skinner asked.

‘We’ve got enough,’ said the doctor, ‘let’s get out of here.’

I took a step outside the lab and immediately saw the flashes of gunfire from the end of the corridor. Private Skinner led everyone away from the commotion. I saw the limp, bloody body of a soldier fly through the air, hit the wall and land in a heap on the floor, followed by another flash of gunfire.

A vampire soldier ran round the corner towards me. I looked closer and saw one of his arms was burning, leaving a trail of ash on the floor behind him. He was still running towards me as the burning took hold of his entire body. I raised my gun to shoot but his body had completely disappeared before I could pull the trigger and a cloud of ash hit me in the face.

A soldier appeared at the end of the corridor. ‘Where did he go?’

‘You got him. He’s dead,’ I shouted.

‘Thanks.’ He noticed the Captain being marched down the corridor by Doctor Owen. ‘Hey, what’s going on there? Where are you taking the Captain?’

‘He’s being arrested,’ I said, trying to look convincing again, ‘don’t worry about it.’

‘What do you mean, he’s being arrested? For what?’ He started to walk towards me.

‘He’s one of them. He’s the reason we’ve got vampires in the base.’

‘I don’t believe you. What’s going on?’ He pointed his rifle at me.

‘Look, we’ve got all this in hand. We’ll take care of the Captain and you take care of the vampires.’

Trying to give an order to a soldier isn’t a good idea at the best of times but it’s definitely not recommended if his squad mates are being taken apart by a team of invading vampires.

‘Don’t you talk to me like that, you little rat. Who the hell are you to be giving me orders? I want to talk to the Captain.’ He spoke into his radio. ‘Colonel, get another squad down here, the Captain has been captured by the cop. Something funny’s going on.’

‘We’re on our way,’ was the reply from his radio.

Private Skinner tried to back me up. ‘He’s right. Captain Stein has been showing the signs of becoming a vampire.’

All this time, Captain Stein was keeping his mouth shut. Either he was resigned to helping us get out of the base, or, which I thought was the more likely option, he had something else up his sleeve. After all, this was only one soldier against four of us.

I pointed my rifle at the soldier. ‘Get back to work, soldier.’

‘Don’t point that at me, you…’ I didn’t give him chance to finish his sentence before pulling the trigger and blasting his body with silver bullets.

‘Oh my God, Tom. What are you doing?’ said Agent Simpson.

I didn’t say a word. I’d killed three soldiers without thinking twice about it. I’d have no problems killing more of them if they stood between us and freedom. Doctor Owen had told me the future of the human race depended on both of us staying alive, and I believed him.

We have to survive. Whatever it takes

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Monday, 16 July 2007

Chapter 84: The Voice

I was lying on the bed, strapped down and looking up at the armed soldiers who were frantically looking at each other, desperate for someone to tell them what they should do. They were shouting at the doctor, telling him they wouldn’t shoot him if he put the scalpel down. I heard Captain Stein shouting, saying we were all going to die anyway so the doctor may as well let him go.

Through the commotion, I heard the hushed voice of Doctor Owen. I couldn’t see him but I could hear his voice echoing in my mind.

‘You can break free of your bonds, Detective. You saw how the vampires channel their energy. Channel your energy to your arms and break free.’

I thought of the vampire the doctor had chopped up, then I concentrated on my arms. Do I have the same power? Can I break through the straps with the same ease?

I pictured my arms breaking free of the straps. As soon as I started to struggle, I felt a warmth flow through my arms. It wrapped around my bones and muscles and my arms felt like they were ready to burst with the pressure.

Without really struggling, the straps ripped like they were made from paper and my arms were free. I looked down at my feet and pictured them breaking free of the straps. The warmth moved from my arms, down through my body to my legs. The straps binding my legs also ripped apart.

‘Holy shit!’ exclaimed one of the soldiers, and turned his rifle towards me. No sooner had Stein shouted ‘Shoot him!’ than I leapt to my feet, snatched the rifle from the soldier’s hands and smashed him in the face with the butt. With one blow, blood sprayed from his mouth onto the wall and his neck made a loud crack. He fell to the floor unconscious, his legs and arms twitching.

The other soldier took a step towards me and before he knew what had happened, he had received a blow to the nose from the butt of my rifle. Following up with a kick in the chest, he flew backwards, crashing through the lab door. That just left Captain Stein to deal with.

I turned to him. His face was a contorted mix of horror and anger. ‘You won’t get out of here, Detective. You won’t even get down the hall. As soon as my men find you, they’ll kill you.’

‘That’s why we’re taking you with us,’ said the doctor.

I heard the sound of gunfire from outside the lab. Private Skinner appeared at the door. The look on his face told me exactly what he was about to say.

‘We have to leave. Right now.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Rebirth wins Book Of The Year award

I am very pleased to report that Rebirth has been awarded the Unpublished Book Of The Year award by Spinetinglers.

"I am delighted to announce that the winner is Rebirth by Scott McKenzie. Rebirth is an excellent book, the type which draws you in from the very beginning and holds you until the very end. In fact if you manage to put it down at all you will be doing something which our reviewers couldn't do."

"Congratulations Scott on writing Rebirth and we'd like you to hurry up and write another book, so that we have another excellent book to read."

Don't worry, the sequel is well underway...

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Chapter 83: Feeding

Private Skinner could sense the presence of vampires. They were very close. He heard a commotion from the lab as he turned the corner at the end of the corridor.

He considered turning round to go to his new friends’ aid but realised that he was the only person who had a chance of taking care of the imminent threat.

The heavy metal door to the morgue was open. Not only was it open, it was hanging from its hinges and the soldier that had been standing at the door was no longer there. Private Skinner raised his rifle and moved forward in small steps.

There were no other rooms near the morgue, no other doors lining the corridor. The vampires had been reborn and the morgue was the only place they could be. There was nowhere else they could have gone without being seen by everyone in the lab.

Light was spilling into the morgue from the fluorescent lights in the corridor, illuminating the room and casting a long shadow of Private Skinner as he reached the doorway. He looked into the morgue, trying to adjust his eyesight to the darkness from the clinical white glare that lit the rest of the base.

For a few moments, he saw nothing but his senses told him something was lurking in the shadows. He closed his eyes and listened for a sign.

There it is.

He heard the sound he had dreaded but all the time knew was coming. The sound of tearing flesh, the slurping of blood.

Someone, some
thing is feeding in here.

Private Skinner’s eyes adjusted to the low light and he laid eyes on what he had heard.

Twelve vampires, all feeding on the body of the soldier that had been standing outside the morgue not five minutes ago, thinking that guarding dead bodies was the easiest job in The Brotherhood. The uncontrollable hunger of twelve newborn vampires meant that they had already reduced the body to almost a bare skeleton. Only a few pieces of dry flesh hung from the soldier’s bones.

It was only a matter of time before the new vampires felt something click in their minds. They were becoming aware of a new talent: the ability to sense the presence of their new brothers and sisters. All at once, the twelve of them turned their blood soaked heads around to look at Private Skinner.

They all got to their feet and started to take steps towards the door. One more new talent hit them: the ability to sense danger. Even though they instinctively knew the man at the door was one of their brothers, he was not to be trusted.

Before Private Skinner could squeeze the trigger of his rifle, all twelve of them had scattered around the morgue, heading for the darkest corners they could find. The machine gun fire lit up the room for a second and the bullets rattled off the metal fixtures but failed to find a target.

Private Skinner knew he wouldn’t be able to hold his own against these vampires with a rifle that was quickly running out of ammunition so he turned on his heels and made his way out of the morgue as quickly as he could. Unable to lock the door behind him, he kept peppering the doorway with bullets, hoping to keep the advancing vampires at bay but it wouldn’t be long before they broke out of the morgue and overran the base.

As he turned the corner, he met a squad of four soldiers coming the other way. ‘What the hell’s going on?’ one of them asked.

‘Vampires in the morgue,’ Private Skinner replied, ‘Twelve of them. If they get out of there, we’re all dead.’

‘We can’t let them get out then,’ said the soldier as he flicked his rifle’s safety catch. Private Skinner continued running in the opposite direction as gunfire behind him echoed down the corridor.

If he and his new friends in the lab were going to make their escape from The Brotherhood, it was now or never.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Thursday, 12 July 2007

Man beats "vampire" peacock to death

No joke...

"Police say they've collared the man they believe administered a fatal beating to a peacock because he thought it was a vampire."


Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Chapter 82: Strapped Down

This is not happening. This is not happening.

First I get bitten by a vampire, then I get forced to join a fanatical group of killers and to top it all off, I’m going to be sliced open in the name of science.

One of Captain Stein’s soldiers held me down while the other strapped me to the bed. Stein was wide-eyed and manic, brandishing his gun, threatening to shoot anyone who tried to help me.

Private Skinner was still armed though, our man on the inside from the other side. He was our only hope.

‘What is your problem? Why are you doing this?’ I asked Captain Stein, not expecting a reasonable answer.

‘You’ve been bitten, Detective. You will turn into a vampire and I can’t take the risk. Just over a year ago I lost an outpost in a vampire attack. It happened again last night. I swear I will not let it happen again. All you are good for now is parts for the doctor to run tests on.’

I had resigned myself to that fact several hours ago but I didn’t want all my parts to be separated and experimented on at the same time. Dying wasn’t part of the plan. Not at this point anyway.

‘But the doctor can help him,’ pleaded Agent Simpson, ‘he’s working on the treatment and we have already used it to slow down the effects.’

‘How many times do I have to tell you, Agent Simpson? The primary treatment is the only way forward and it is the only treatment the doctor should be working on. I will not rest until every vampire is turned to dust. Now use this man’s body to find a way for me to rid the world of this curse.’

Captain Stein was not going to change his opinion. He had already gone too far down the path of The Brotherhood and killing vampires was all he knew. His hatred was etched into his mind by ignorance and endless brainwashing by his superiors. It was too late for him to begin questioning his orders.

‘There has to be another way. Killing this man will not bring us any closer to any kind of treatment.’ The doctor tried in vain to bring a sense of reality back to the proceedings.

‘Chopping this man up will provide you with more samples. The more samples you have, the better your chance of finding the primary treatment. You said that yourself. I don’t want any excuses, Doc. Get to work.’

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, there was a series of loud bangs and a painful scream from outside the lab.

Is it the vampire soldiers? Have they been reborn before Private Skinner could dispose of the bodies?

‘What was that?’ exclaimed one of the soldiers.

‘I’ll go and check it out,’ said Private Skinner, and headed out of the door after getting the nod from Captain Stein. He gave me a passing glance as he walked past me. This vampire was our only chance of getting out of here and he had run away to look for his brothers. I hoped he knew what he was doing.

Captain Stein ordered one of his men to strip me. The soldier leaned over me and ripped my shirt open. Doctor Owen reluctantly leaned over me with a look on his face that told me he didn’t know how to get out of this situation. He looked into my eyes inquisitively and placed a finger on my lower jaw, opening my mouth. When he was sure no one else could see his face, he winked at me then reeled backwards.

‘What’s wrong, Doc? Stop stalling,’ said Captain Stein.

‘Look at his teeth,’ the doctor said, his voice trembling.

Captain Stein leaned over again, but before he could look into my mouth, Doctor Owen grabbed him by his shirt collar and held a scalpel at his neck, pressing it against the flesh next to his Adam’s apple. The soldiers gripped their rifles and pointed them in the doctor’s direction but the looks on their faces told me they had no idea how to handle this situation.

‘Get back!’ the doctor shouted at the soldiers.

‘You’ve no idea what you’ve just done,’ said Captain Stein in a cool, assertive voice that contrasted the predicament in which he found himself, ‘you can forget about your work now, Doc. You’re a dead man.’

‘That’s wrong and you know it, ‘said Doctor Owen, ‘you need me to complete the work on the primary treatment. If that’s what you want then that’s what you’ll get but I will not cut this guy up for no good reason. He doesn’t deserve it.’

‘Doctor Forrest’s still out there,’ said Captain Stein, ‘you’re not the only expert in this town. It’s not like you’ve produced anything useful anyway.’

‘How can you say that after all we’ve seen today? We have made giant leaps in understanding vampire anatomy. If that’s the way you feel then I quit. I’m getting out of here.’

‘You quit? You can’t do that. I won’t let you leave here. Agent Simpson, shoot the doctor,’ Stein ordered.

‘I’m afraid I can’t do that,’ she said, ‘I agree with Doctor Owen. We should be focusing our efforts on the secondary treatment. I can’t go along with your methods any more either. We’re getting out of here right now.’

Doctor Owen turned to shout at the armed soldiers with a renewed sense of vigour in his voice. ‘Put your weapons down or the Captain dies! Put them down now!’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Amazon US - $16.95
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Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Chapter 81: Reborn

The door to the morgue had been locked and the soldier standing guard outside thought nothing of the two piles of body bags lying in the cold darkness in the room behind him.

One pile of bodies was decomposing.

The other twelve bodies were regenerating.

The pool of blood that had gathered in each body bag was slowly reducing in size. Vampire blood was finding its way back into the open wounds of the dead soldiers, which closed and new skin grew over the top, sealing wounds within seconds and removing all sign of scars. To look at them, no one would know they had been bitten.

No one would know they were now servants of the undead. Even the soldiers themselves didn’t know why they had awoken. The last image in their minds was of a vampire bearing down on them and sinking its teeth into their neck.

One by one their eyes flicked open and quickly closed again as they gripped their stomachs with both hands and moaned in pain. Their insides were on fire. It felt like their internal organs were dissolving, sending intense heat to all corners of their bodies. The body bags shook as the newborn vampires writhed in agony.

They could sense each other’s presence. Each soldier lying in a zipped-up body bag knew he had eleven blood brothers in the room. They all ripped open the body bags with little effort and felt a powerful warmth spread down their legs as they struggled to their feet.

Each one of them was being driven by one desire. The need to ensure their survival.

They had to feed.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Sunday, 8 July 2007

Chapter 80: Defection

‘What the hell are you talking about?’ Agent Simpson demanded, ‘Any dead bodies recovered from battle sites are treated so they will burn if they turn into vampires.’

‘The guy you chopped up is the one who treated them,’ said the soldier, ‘he was supposed to shoot the bodies with silver bullets but we switched the ammo with regular bullets.’

‘So why do you want to help us if you’re ready to set vampires loose in here?’ asked Doctor Owen.

‘I was carrying out my orders because I didn’t know any better. As a vampire, I didn’t think I had a choice. Now I’ve met you three and seen what you can do, I want to help. You’re not like everyone else here.

‘I had heard of Doctor Owen’s work but the message I got was different. We were told that you wanted to kill all of us. I always hoped there was someone out there that could help us and now that I know there is, I want to be part of it. I don’t want to be part of this pointless war any more.’

Agent Simpson thought to herself for a second and turned to Doctor Owen. ‘That makes two of us.’

‘I was hoping you were going to say that,’ he said, ‘I’ve had more than enough of these macho assholes.’

‘Okay,’ I piped up, struggling to get my words out, ‘now we’re all friends, what do we do? I’m lying here with my guts turning into mush, we’ve got masses of vampire bits to sort through and a squad of vampires in the morgue down the hall are starting to get hungry. How the hell are we going to get out of here?’

‘We need to take care of those vampires first,’ said the doctor, ‘Private…?’

‘Skinner, sir,’ said the soldier.

‘Private Skinner: go down to the morgue and finish off the vampires. I take it you can pilot one of the helicopters on the roof?’

‘Yes, I’ve got one fuelled and ready to go.’

‘Good. Agent Simpson and I will pack as much equipment and as many samples as we can fit into the steel cases we brought back from Hartley House. Detective Ryder: unless Private Skinner here tells us otherwise, you’re just going to have to ride it out for now.’

That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. The thought of getting an injection and waking up far away from The Brotherhood a few hours later was very appealing to me.

‘You said the pain would go away, didn’t you?’ I asked hopefully.

‘It certainly won’t get any worse. It’ll subside in a while. As soon as we get out of here, the doctor can give you a shot.’

‘I can hardly wait,’ I said, remembering last night’s dreams and questioning whether I would rather be unconscious or not.

Private Skinner checked his gun was loaded and made his way to the door, but was stopped by Captain Stein who bounded into the lab, followed by a pair of soldiers.

‘Where the hell are you going, Private?’ Before he could answer, Captain Stein spotted me perched on the edge of the bed clenching my stomach. ‘Jesus Christ, he’s turning, isn’t he?’

‘I can’t say for sure,’ said the doctor, ‘I’m just going to have a look at him now.’

‘Bullshit! Look at the state of him. He’s turning into a bloodsucker and you know it!’ Captain Stein’s rage knew no bounds. Only he really knew what he was capable of.

‘Then leave us alone to treat him!’ the doctor shouted.

‘Not a chance, Doc,’ said Captain Stein, ‘Strap him down.’

‘What?’ Agent Simpson exclaimed.

‘Detective Ryder is your next subject, Doctor Owen,’ said Captain Stein as he drew his gun and pointed it at the doctor, ‘The son of a bitch is a vampire. Chop him up.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Friday, 6 July 2007

Chapter 79: Hunger

I fell to the ground and rolled over, trying not to scream or do anything to alert the soldiers outside the lab to my suffering. The pain in my stomach was excruciating. I had never been stabbed but I suspected that having knives thrust into my guts over and over would feel something like this.

Agent Simpson was the first to my aid. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘It’s my stomach. I don’t know what’s wrong, it just started this second,’ I stammered.

‘It’s the hunger,’ I heard Doctor Owen say, ‘I feared this would happen.’

‘Give me another shot,’ I pleaded.

‘It’ll probably knock you out for a few hours again,’ the doctor said, looking very concerned.

‘I don’t care how long I sleep for. The longer the better. Just do it,’ I pleaded.

‘No, wait!’ shouted a voice that I didn’t recognise.

I looked up and saw the soldier who had been left in the lab by Captain Stein walking over to me. He lifted me up and sat me down on an empty bed.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ asked Agent Simpson.

‘Fight through it, Detective. The hunger will subside,’ the soldier said to me.

‘What do you know about it?’ asked Agent Simpson.

‘Listen to me, I know what I’m talking about,’ said the stranger.

‘You’re a vampire, aren’t you?’ said Doctor Owen, more calmly than the situation dictated.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but I want to help.’

In a flash, Agent Simpson drew her gun and pointed it at the soldier, who raised his hands and took a step back. ‘Look, I just want to help,’ he said, without a hint on insincerity in his voice.

‘How long have you been here?’ she asked.

‘I’ve been a member of The Brotherhood for almost a year. I’m not the only one, you know.’

‘We know there have been infiltrators. How many of you are there?’

‘I’m not sure. I’ve sensed another two or three here but we’re never told who they are. We have our missions and we carry them out, that’s all.’

I’ve sensed another two or three
, he said. I cast my mind back to the line-up of eight soldiers and my suspicions about the vampire infiltrator.

Do I have the same power to sense the presence of other vampires?

‘What is your mission?’ she demanded as I screamed again. It felt like my insides were burning away to nothing. The doctor walked over to me, carrying the syringe that I hoped would take me away from this agony.

‘Don’t give him the treatment, Doc,’ the soldier said.

‘Don’t listen to him,’ I shouted, ‘I’m dying here. I know you want to help me but I can’t take it any more.’

‘This will hold back the effects of the virus,’ the doctor said, ‘why shouldn’t I give it to him?’

‘Don’t listen to him,’ said Agent Simpson, ‘he wants him to turn into a vampire.’

‘No, it’s not that. You said it would knock him out for a few hours,’ said the soldier.

‘So what?’ The doctor stopped to listen to the soldier for a moment. I really hoped everyone would get to the point so I could get the injection and go off to sleep.

‘If you want to get out of here, I can help you, but we have to keep him awake and leave now.’

‘How do we know we can trust you?’ shouted Agent Simpson, still pointing the gun in the soldier’s face.

‘I guess you can’t, not one hundred percent, but you have to have faith in me. I’ve already told you who I am. All you need to do is say the word and the Captain will come back in and force you to chop me up like you did to him. I take it you lot aren’t here of your own free will? Don’t you want to leave?’

Agent Simpson looked at the basins full of internal organs. ‘Okay,’ she said, ‘the doctor will give Detective Ryder the treatment and we’ll get out of here after he wakes up.’

‘We can’t wait that long,’ the soldier said, raising his voice. He had an air of urgency that Doctor Owen and Agent Simpson weren’t picking up on.

‘Why not?’

‘Because any minute now, the dead bodies recovered from Hartley House will turn into vampires and they’re going to be just as hungry as your friend.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

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Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Chapter 78: Second Thoughts

Private Skinner was shocked. Standing in the medical lab with the recovery crew, he had witnessed the death of one of his brothers, but for the first time he believed the death wasn’t in vain. He had witnessed the massacre of many humans and vampires, all of them killed for no good reason that he could fathom. Every battle was a futile exercise that resulted in a pile of dead bodies without any advancement for either species.

This time the death seemed to have some value. The people doing the experiments wanted to help everyone, not just the humans. They wanted what was best for all species. Private Skinner was a sworn enemy of The Brotherhood but these people weren’t like the others.

These people, Doctor Owen, Detective Ryder and Agent Simpson, weren’t bloodthirsty animals. They had a measured approach towards these experiments. Not once had they mentioned the primary treatment.

He had only been a vampire for a relatively short time and could still remember life before his rebirth. He hadn’t chosen this life. It had chosen him one drunken night when he fell over on the long walk home and passed out in the street. When he woke up in hospital he had a bandage on his neck and a splitting headache. The hunger set in and he fought it for a few days, thinking he was just suffering from the worst hangover of his life.

Then one day he had a craving. No amount of Alka Seltzer or full fat milk could quell the burning in his stomach. Without thinking, he went to the fridge, took out a large beef steak, ripped open the packet and started to feast on the raw meat. The old Skinner, somewhere in his head who liked his steaks well done, was repulsed at the thought of what he was doing. The new Skinner finished it off within seconds but the pain did not subside. He wanted more.

From that day forward, he had a compulsion to eat only raw meat, but while this felt natural to him, it failed to keep the hunger at bay. Visits to the doctor were fruitless: they couldn’t diagnose his problem. It had been the height of summer but he seemed to suffer from sunburn a lot more than he usually did and he decided to change his shift as a security guard and work nights instead. He stayed inside all day, either sleeping or searching the internet for people with similar problems.

Eventually he made contact with a mysterious character on a chat room who said she could introduce him to hundreds of people just like him and make the pain go away. He had no choice.

Roxy was her name and she was very welcoming. She showed him a new life with people of his own kind. She showed him the superiority of his brothers and sisters and he bought into the whole way of life. She had given him his first taste of human blood. Part of him had been repulsed but it was the only thing that could satiate his hunger.

The new Skinner had ruled his head ever since but in the past few minutes, the old Skinner had started to talk to him again.

Help them
, said the voice in his head, you have to help them because they can help you. It’s what you really want.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Monday, 2 July 2007

Chapter 77: 'Butcher Him'

The vampire soldier’s eyes darted around maniacally in their sockets then locked onto mine. He opened his mouth to reveal extended canine teeth. The muscles in his arms and legs tensed but the straps tying him down were holding him to the bed. For now.

‘Jesus Christ! He’s woken up already, shoot him!’ Captain Stein exclaimed and the armed soldiers clicked the safety catches on their rifles.

‘No, wait!’ shouted the doctor as he reached across me, picked up a syringe full of anaesthetic and injected it into the soldier’s neck. Within a few seconds, the soldier’s eyes and mouth closed and his body lost its powerful energy.

‘This is too dangerous, Doc,’ said the Captain, ‘if that happens again, I will shoot him.’ The doctor turned to Captain Stein, ready to start an argument but soon realised that he wouldn’t have a chance of winning. Instead, he turned to me once again.

‘We’d better do as much as we can before he wakes up again. My original estimation of four to five hours of unconsciousness was way out. I now estimate around twenty to thirty minutes before he wakes up.’

‘So what’s the plan?’ I asked.

The doctor thought to himself for a few moments. ‘We butcher him. As fast as we can.’ He turned to the soldiers. ‘Gather up all the basins and buckets you can find.’ They all turned to Captain Stein for guidance.

‘Don’t look at me,’ he said, ‘Do what he said. You heard him, we haven’t got much time.’

Doctor Owen leaned over the body of the undead soldier with a scalpel and reopened the chest cavity. As the soldiers ran around the labs gathering together all the vessels they could find, the doctor was dipping conical flasks into the chest cavity one after another, collecting as many samples as possible, and putting corks in the tops of the flasks to stop the vampire blood making its own way out. He knew this soldier would die very soon and wanted to get as much data for further examination as possible before our time ran out.

The basins piled up on the bench next to us and the doctor ordered me to stand by and hand him a new basin for each organ that he was going to extract. I held the first basin in front of me. In one quick move, the doctor yanked the soldier’s stomach out of his abdominal cavity and sliced it free from the rest of his digestive tract. It landed in my basin with a watery splat, followed by the order: ‘Get ready, here comes the liver!’

For the next few minutes I managed to catch all the organs that Doctor Owen threw at me. The organs were all drenched in blood and splashed drops onto me as they landed in each basin. The doctor stopped and we both looked at the organs lined up on the bench next to us. He had extracted the stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, heart and lungs.

‘Very interesting,’ he commented.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘If we assume that a vampire’s body turns into ash when it dies, we can therefore assume that this man is still quote-unquote alive, even though all of his vital organs are sitting over there. Look, the blood is still active.’

He was right. This was a very unsettling experience. In each of the basins, the drops of blood that had splattered around the organs were making their way back into their host. Every drop of blood was alive, with a mind of its own dictating its movements.

‘What does that mean?’ asked Captain Stein.

‘It means that this man has no use for his internal organs. The biological processes required to sustain human life cease to be relevant once the virus has consumed the body. It is safe to assume that the muscles are still required by the limbs in order for them to function but it appears this body runs almost solely on blood. That must be why vampires feed on human blood: nothing else provides them with the sustenance their bodies need. It is as if the virus has taken control of the blood completely and is using the body as a home.

‘When we saw the blood drain from the chest cavity, it must have been moving to the brain to provide the energy necessary to overcome the effects of the anaesthetic.’

Everyone in the lab stood in silence. Doctor Owen had just delivered a bombshell. As long as the human race had walked the Earth, vampires had always been the enemy and now, for the first time in recorded history, we had biological evidence of the differences between them and us. The first step on the path to rid them from our world.

Something else occurred to me. What if vampires are the superior species? Are we trying to rid the world of the next step in human evolution? The anatomy of a vampire seemed so much simpler, so much more elegant than that of a human body.

I looked at the body of the soldier and saw the blood start to drain away from his chest cavity. Just as it had before, the chest cavity closed like an invisible zipper was being done up.

‘Doc, he’s going to wake up again.’

Captain Stein picked up his gun but the doctor stopped him.

‘No sense wasting another bullet,’ said Doctor Owen as he picked a bullet up from the petri dishes and casually lobbed it into the soldier’s wound just before it closed completely. As the soldier’s eyes opened, smoke started to rise from his chest and the burning spread around the body.

The soldier screamed and tried to shake himself free. The bed rattled and he managed to rip one of the straps and release one of his arms but it was too late. As he tried to reach over to free his other arm, it turned to ash, along with the rest of his body. Within seconds, nothing was left of the soldier other than a thick layer of ash.

‘Good work, Doctor,’ Captain Stein conceded, ‘keep at it. Looks like you’ve got a lot of samples to get to work on.’ He marched most of the soldiers out of the lab, leaving one volunteer behind to keep an eye on us.

Doctor Owen, Agent Simpson and I looked at each other and assessed our surroundings. We were faced with a bed covered in ash from a dead vampire and a row of basins filled with live organs. The organs had not turned into ash. They looked exactly the same: fat, moist and full of vampire blood.

‘Very interesting,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘the organs haven’t died, even though the vampire’s body has died.’

‘What does that mean?’ asked Agent Simpson.

Doctor Owen smiled. ‘To be honest, I’ve no idea. It feels like we’ve discovered penicillin, cracked the human genome and discovered the triple helix all on the same day. I think we’ve earned a five minute break.’

We all nodded in agreement. Unfortunately, it was that very second that I felt a burning in my stomach like nothing I had ever felt before but I instinctively knew what it was. I gripped my stomach with both hands and doubled over in agony.

Like the doctor had predicted and I had feared, I was suddenly unbelievably hungry.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25