EXCERPT: Fangs over America

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from Chapter One

[two]
You can jump into this book even if you didn’t read the first three. Mak­ing this your first read is like play­ing a musi­cal record­ing real­ly fast just to lis­ten to the last verse. It seems like it is cheat­ing some­how. I mean, shame on you for skip­ping ahead, but this book will still make sense to you. I think. I hope (knock on a wood­en coffin).

My name is Mårten Larsson, and my lit­er­ary agent said that I swore my Vamp Camp auto­bi­og­ra­phy was a tril­o­gy. The sexy cov­ers on each of the pri­or Vamp Camp vol­umes claimed that it was a tril­o­gy. Books don’t lie, of course. Lit­er­ary agents nev­er ever lie, except when they promise to pay an author.

Cross my heart, my agent told me about send­ing a check a few years ago. I was wait­ing for the sec­ond half of that old say­ing. Say it, lady! “Hope to die” is some­thing I can help with, being a vam­pire and all. I wait­ed, but she nev­er said it. One day, she’ll let it slip.

The prob­lem with the vol­ume you’re read­ing is that it would be book four of the tril­o­gy. It’s a tech­ni­cal­i­ty. Minor. Micro­scop­ic. Given the tur­moil and prob­lems in the world as a whole, nobody was ever going to notice.

Her: It’s your agent.

Me: Hi, are you call­ing to say you’re send­ing me a check this mon­th?

Her: (dis­re­spect­ful snick­er­ing) I’m call­ing to say that I got your man­u­script.

Me: And?

Her: And I notice that it claims to be the fourth book of your auto­bi­og­ra­phy. That’s impos­si­ble, right?

Me: Why?

Her: Why’d you write it?

Me: I have bills.

Her: But you… because it… it is book four.

Me: You can count!

Her: Your auto­bi­og­ra­phy was a tril­o­gy.

Me: It’s way too impor­tant to be con­tained in three books.

Her: You know what a tril­o­gy even is? It is a col­lec­tion of three books.

Me: Sure, like The Lord of the Rings? That was a four-book tril­o­gy.

Her: I knew J.R.R. Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien was a friend of mine.

Me: You are not going there, are you?

Her: Mårten, hon­est­ly? You write like Kil­go­re Trout.

Me: That is so harsh. I’m a sen­si­tive artist, and you are bor­der­line car­nap­tious.

Her: If you nap on my car, I’ll have you arrest­ed.

Me: I’ll shop the book around by myself if you want.

Her: That’s not what I’m talk­ing about.

Me: Do you want it or not?

Her: I think you don’t know the dif­fer­ence between a three and a whole case of Shi­no­la… blah-bum-blah-blah-blah….

Con­tempt was drip­ping out of my tele­phone ear­piece. It was brown, gooey con­tempt — well known to be the worst kind.

She went on and on. I think she was afraid that her lit­er­ary big­wig my-ink-don’t-stink golf bud­dies would notice the issues with the math and give her a hard time about a four-part tril­o­gy.

At one point, I sug­gest­ed we call it “Vol­ume 3.14159” to keep the num­ber under four. She said that num­ber was already tak­en. Who knew?

Vol­ume three. I know about the num­ber three. I am proud to say that I ful­ly grasp three-ness. I know that the num­ber three nev­er grows fat enough to be a num­ber four, even when it goes on a crème brûlée binge over three weeks. Every three is exact­ly the same. You can have three hors­es and three lit­er­ary agents. The num­ber three would be exact­ly the same in both places, although the three with the lit­er­ary agents would be try­ing to bribe the oth­er three to switch places. The three could be ashamed or embar­rassed, but it would still be a three.

Num­bers nei­ther age nor die. Nobody can step on three and squish it into a two. If you throw one of the lit­er­ary agents into a bar­rel of sul­fu­ric acid, you have to stop using the num­ber three. The three itself wouldn’t change, but it would cease being accu­rate. I may be run­ning that test at some point.

But three is only one of so many oth­er num­bers. I can actu­al­ly count at least to forty-eight. That’s the hon­est and com­plete truth. Just to make sure, I did that just now.

I think I can prob­a­bly go to six­ty or beyond, but I didn’t want you to wait on me to run tests. You want to read, so I’ll skip tak­ing the time to prove myself.

Yes, Vamp Camp is (or was) a tril­o­gy. This is book four of the tril­o­gy. Frig­gin’ deal with it.

In my defense, gobs of shit has hap­pened since I wrote Sil­ver Mask. Some tru­ly weird shit. Beguil­ing doo-doo if there ever was any. I was dodg­ing shit every day as it was flung out of my elec­tric fans, so I had to get it into a book.

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Let me catch you up, in case you for­got what my life was like before now.

I was born in the late 1800s, fought in World War I in the AEF, got shot down while strapped to an obser­va­tion blimp, and was turned into a god­damn vam­pire by an ass­hole guard in a Ger­man POW camp. The guy just left me a note of instruc­tions: drink blood and avoid sun­light. The ass­hole wrote it in Ger­man, so it might as well have told me how to play the sax­o­phone. With­out help from my orig­i­nal mak­er, I sur­vived. Fuck­wad. Most days I’d say that I thrived, but that was because of a vam­pire men­tor named Menz who found me and taught me how to sur­vive.

I went on to become a mem­ber of a vam­pire assas­si­na­tion squad that enforced vamp laws. Vam­pire lead­ers would hire Oberon and me to kill a vam­pire who couldn’t be con­trolled. If some vam­pire goes nuts and lash­es out at chil­dren, we get called when the local lead­ers can’t off the vam­pire by them­selves. Give me a sniper rifle, and I don’t miss. It isn’t brag­ging if you can do it.

Oberon — my lover and my assas­si­na­tion spot­ter. He gives me weath­er and range infor­ma­tion. The two of us became a dead­ly sniper team and mem­bers of a world­wide group of vam­pires that get called in to han­dle impos­si­ble sit­u­a­tions. We are real­ly expen­sive, and the pow­ers that be try every­thing else first. The vam­pire lead­ers would much rather take care of their own vam­pires, because they’re cheap bas­tards. They don’t want to spend their per­son­al mon­ey on a hit squad unless they real­ly have to. Plus they don’t look tough and scary when they have to admit they have trou­ble that is beyond their measly abil­i­ty to con­trol. And if they knew they were reach­ing out to a cou­ple of fairies, they’d be beside them­selves in shame for hav­ing to crawl to a cou­ple of gay guys to bail their sor­ry ass­es out of a bad sit­u­a­tion. Yup, they’d be beside them­selves, which is a real­ly dif­fi­cult thing to pull off. Most vam­pires are light­ning fast, even the fat-cat lead­ers, but no vam­pire is fast enough to pull off being beside him­self (or her­self, even though the wom­en hon­cho vamps are usu­al­ly more trim and fit).

I am going to call our group the Obscu­rati (as in obscure or hid­den or secret). That isn’t the real name, because it’s secret. If I used the real name, I would anger the kind of vam­pires it isn’t safe to anger.

Let’s say that if I told you the real name of our assas­si­na­tion group, I would have to kill myself. Pow­er­ful vam­pires would hire the Obscu­rati to kill me, and that’s where things get real­ly dicey. Because I’m the Obscurati’s best sniper, I would be hired to kill myself. Com­pli­cat­ed: my sniper rifle is far too long to point at my head or heart. If I had to assas­si­nate myself, the only thing I could fig­ure out is for me to fire a round and hus­tle to the busi­ness end of the rifle before the round emerges. Can you imag­ine fir­ing a rifle and scam­per­ing to the oth­er end before the bul­let blasts its way out? I’m a light­ning-fast vam­pire, but I’m not that fast. And how do you aim on a shot like that? It’s eas­ier just to keep the secret from hit­ting ink (or elec­trons, if you are read­ing an e-book).

The Obscu­rati made Oberon and me a cou­ple of the rich­est vam­pires any­where. It kills me that I can’t tell every­one how I got so much mon­ey, but that would make the Obscu­rati way too pub­lic. We just enjoy our wealth with­out mak­ing too much of a big deal.

The vam­pire queen of Europe knows about the group. Queen Cécile is the one who gets noti­fied that some­thing is wrong. She tells us about the job. I guess you could say that the queen is our pimp, and she doesn’t even take a finder’s fee.

Oberon and I have three homes: Lech­mont Manor in Bavaria (south­ern Ger­many), a whole island in the Paci­fic, and an office build­ing in the Chelsea area of Man­hat­tan (New York City). Things got so out of con­trol that we had to hire a human to take care of our prop­er­ties. That worked pret­ty well until I fell mad­ly in love with the human.

I was smit­ten. It could have been the end for Oberon and me as a cou­ple, but Oberon fell in love with Lon­ny too. He’s an amaz­ing young man, which you’d already know if you’d read my oth­er books. Tight­wad. We first met Lon­ny when he was an engi­neer­ing stu­dent at a uni­ver­si­ty in Munich. He was liv­ing at our Lech­mont Manor estate while he stud­ied. We provide room, board, and schol­ar­ships to dozens of stu­dents, and we only ask that we be allowed to drink their blood from time to time.

Back then, Oberon was com­plete­ly over­sexed. I didn’t mind him hav­ing sex with the humans; they enjoyed it. If we had had a closed rela­tion­ship, my ass would have been rubbed raw sev­er­al times every night. After a few hun­dred years, I’d need a butt trans­plant. Ouch.

Then every­thing changed. Some­time after Lon­ny became our mutu­al hus­band, Oberon decid­ed to change his ways. He is no longer a sex fiend, and he rarely has sex with any­body oth­er than Lon­ny and me. I think we still have an open rela­tion­ship, but we act like we are exclu­sive to each oth­er.

All mod­ern vam­pires are extreme­ly care­ful not to cause harm to humans. I’m still a preda­tor; I love rip­ping off body parts. If I don’t rip out the throat of every human I see, it is because I’m trained not to go with my first impulse. I’ve learned to hunt and kill vam­pires who break vam­pire laws.

We have to drink blood from a liv­ing being, but we don’t kill. We are more humane than any human you’ve met. The Obscu­rati takes care of those who give in to the preda­to­ry lean­ings deep in each vam­pire.

Keep­ing col­lege kids around makes it eas­ier for us to keep our blood-food flow­ing, and they get a free edu­ca­tion. At Lech­mont Manor, all the human donors are col­lege stu­dents. When they grad­u­ate, they move on — after we tweak their mem­o­ry just enough to keep our fangs a secret. We have swarms of col­lege grads who think we’re the kindest, sweet­est hops farm­ers in Ger­many, and it’s been going on for more than a hun­dred years. The guys make an informed choice (even if they have trou­ble recall­ing the specifics years lat­er). All our blood-schol­ar­ship recip­i­ents are male. Most are gay. Sex was avail­able, but it was nev­er forced on any­body. There’s some­thing erotic about a vampire’s bite. Even if the human isn’t up for sex, he usu­al­ly gets hard while we eat. I think there’s some­thing in our sali­va.

Even­tu­al­ly we agreed to turn Lon­ny into a vam­pire, and we wel­comed him into our life as an equal. They all request it, don’t they?

Our ménage à trois works, and I think that is a rar­i­ty. Oberon and Lon­ny are the loves of my life. If I love one more than the oth­er, I’m cer­tain­ly not going to type that into a word proces­sor.

I’m the ten­der preda­tor with two hus­bands. I kill bad vam­pires and pro­tect humans. I love two men, and they love me.

So this is book four of my auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal tril­o­gy. It grew a fourth book because my life keeps get­ting more and more “inter­est­ing.” (Read: Mårten is a type-B vam­pire pressed into a type-A lifestyle).
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