Series: The Clanless, Book 1
By J. A. Campbell
Genres: YA Urban Fantasy
Published: July 7 2014
Untold Press www.untoldpress.com
Word count: 54 000
eBook Buy Links:
Goodreads- book link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22669934-senior-year-bites
Senior year is supposed to be fun: boys, dances and graduation. It's significantly harder to enjoy it when you're dead.
Thanks to an innocent game of Truth or Dare, I wound up sleeping in a graveyard. Probably not the brightest thing I've ever done, but thanks to a couple of well-placed fangs, I'm here to tell the tale.
Vampires might stalk pop culture, but they’re just myths, right? Yeah. Not so much...
Everything seems a lot more difficult when you’re a nocturnal creature of the night, especially school. I was managing, but couldn't keep it hidden from my friends. Steph decided that we should be cool, like superheroes, and fight crime.
I’m a vampire, not a hero. Living in a sleepy New England town, crime is a little harder to come by. At least it is until a serial killer moves into the area. He’s got the authorities stumped, but then again, the cops don’t have a teenage, blood-sucking, non-hero on their team. It doesn't take long for me to discover the world is full of monsters. I may be one of them…but will I turn out to be the hero, or the killer everyone is looking for.
I had plans for my last year of high school. I was going to find a boyfriend, go to a few dances, and though I hadn't told my mom yet, take some beginning paramedic courses in the spring. I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life– wasn't that what college was for? I liked the idea of being a hero, like my dad, and saving lives every day. That had been the plan anyway, but a sleepover and a late-night dare had changed everything.
"Megan, time for school," Mom called up the stairs.
I peeked out the window, squinting at the sunlight glinting off the windshield of my Jeep. It was too damn sunny for me to get from my house to the Jeep without third degree burns–or worse.
My newly sensitive ears could hear the soft brush of her socks on the carpet as she walked up the stairs. I crawled back into bed and did my best to look tired and sick. It wasn't hard with my pale skin, and I hadn't been eating well. If I didn't let her get a good look at me, she might buy that I had a cold or something. Another thought tickled at the back of my mind. I could make her think I was sick. I shoved the thought away in disgust. I wasn't going to use mind control on someone I loved.
The door creaked open and Mom walked in. My heart would have been racing–if it still could.
"Megan?" Mom's voice sounded full of concern.
I groaned and pulled the covers down off my head. "Mmmm?"
"It's time for school. You didn't come down for breakfast." Her flat tone covered her worry with annoyance.
"I don't feel well."
"I don't." I tried to make myself sound hoarse.
"You've been eating so poorly. Try to eat, and then go to school. I'll write a note for you."
I faked a cough.
Mom sighed. "You've been sick so much recently. Maybe you should go to the doctor."
"No, it's just a cold." I hadn't been "sick" that much. We rarely saw the sun this time of year. As long as I wore sunglasses, a hat, and long sleeves, I didn't burn. It was simply really uncomfortable. I felt horrible for the deception, but what could I do?
"It's beautiful outside for a change. Go outside and get some fresh air."
I panicked at the thought. "No, I just want to sleep." And I did. So very much.
It was hard enough to be awake at all on cloudy days; sunny ones were pure torture.
My stomach sank at the worry in Mom's voice, but I couldn't tell her what was wrong. Not only wouldn't she understand, but I didn't want to end up in the freaking loony bin when I claimed I was something that didn't really exist.
"All right, honey. Sleep well. I'll call in sick for you."
"Thanks." I mentally shrank away from her concern and fought tears of frustration. I didn't want my life to be full of lies, which put distance between us. We had to take care of each other, but I could only hide from her.
She shut my door and left, quiet footsteps strangely loud in my ears. I sighed and pulled the blanket over my head again.
My life changed several weeks earlier at my best friend's ill-fated birthday party. Well, ill-fated for me, anyway. Steph had a great time.
Truth or dare, a stupid game everyone I knew played at least once in their lives. Afraid of the truth, I had chosen the dare–spend the rest of the night in the graveyard near Steph's house. Easy enough, right? Well, it had been up until the point where I was attacked and killed. It wasn't something you normally walked away from, but for better or for worse, I had.
Vampires were in books, movies, and on TV, but I'd never believed they were real. Still, it hadn't been hard to figure out what had happened to me. Dealing with it was another story. It had taken several almost disastrous mishaps–going for a walk in the bright sunshine had been particularly painful–to convince me. Now, the cloudy New England days that had been the bane of my existence provided my only semblance of a normal life.
Predictably, I felt better once night fell. I waited until my mom had been asleep for a while before I dressed, pulling on the same pair of jeans I'd worn earlier and a sweater over a fresh T-shirt. My hiking boots completed the practical outfit. I liked practical, especially for hunting.
Sliding open my window, I climbed out on the ledge. I crouched there for a moment before ducking to slip through the small opening, inhaling the crisp fall air. I shut my eyes, letting my senses stretch out, getting in tune with the night. No one was around. I couldn't fly, at least not yet, but I could slow my fall, which allowed me to jump lightly to the ground out of a third-floor bedroom window.
I stalked out into the night, ravenous. Unable to resist the hunger, I allowed it to drive me, guide me to prey. Tonight, as with most nights, I headed to the next town over. It was less likely I would run into anyone who knew me.
There were bars in the college town, and bars meant easy prey, even for someone underage. Mind control allowed me to get in, and I wouldn't stand out among the other young patrons.
I started to run, faster in death, or undeath, than anyone alive. My new speed was one of the few advantages to being a vampire, especially since I couldn't take my Jeep. It was more likely I'd get caught if I took it, since Mom would notice its absence if she got up at night.
The ground sped past and trees flashed by; their shadows unable to hide their mysteries from my sharp eyes. The night sounds–laughter here, the snap of a twig over there–and smells assaulted my senses. The extra senses had been the hardest thing to get used to: the extra perception. Well, that and having to drink blood.
Both revolted and enraptured, I pondered what I was about to do, drinking someone's blood, taking away a little bit of their life to sustain my own. I wasn't a killer. I couldn't bring myself to go that far and saw no reason to. The alcohol in their blood didn't affect me, and it did half the work for me. Their intoxicated brains gave my new mind control powers enough of an edge that I could make them forget.
The power made me feel strong and dangerous, but it also sent shivers of terror through me. What if I wasn't strong enough to control it? What would happen?
Loud country music and the reek of stale beer hit me as I flashed my ID at the bouncer, batted my eyes, and tweaked his brain. He nodded and waved me into the crowded bar. I pushed into the tightly packed mass of humanity and started hunting for likely prey. A small dance floor took up space in the back, and several giggling women were trying to line dance.
I needed someone male, alone, and drunk for this to work properly in my head. Getting that close to a girl was something I couldn't yet bring myself to do. I spotted a potential subject in the back. He appeared to be in his early twenties, cute, and drinking heavily. I started his way and jumped when a hand touched my shoulder. Some cool huntress of the night I was.
"Yes?" I turned to face the owner of the hand. Young enough to still be in college, he had dark brown hair and eyes, and a nice tan. His winning smile made me feel butterflies all the way down to my toes.
"I've seen you in here before. I'm Gary."
He smiled again, apparently trying to be friendly, but he wasn't drunk enough to suit my needs.
"Hi. I'm Bridget." I didn't want to give him my real name. I did smile back, unable to resist his grin.
Then what he said clicked. He'd seen me in here before. Damn. Sloppy. It looked like I wasn't going to find dinner here tonight.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
I improvised. "No, thanks. I was looking for someone, and she isn't here. I need to get going."
"Maybe next time?"
"Maybe. It was nice to meet you." I headed for the door, watching Gary out of the corner of my eye. He went over to a table with a couple other guys his age and gestured once at me before shrugging.
I put them out of my mind, hunger driving me to the sports bar and my next meal.
"Well," Ann paused, "do you have fangs?"
"Cool. Let's see."
"Hi, Johnny. How are you?"
"Fine. Mom tells me you've turned into a vampire."
I choked. "What?"
"I can probably teach you some, but it will be different for you. Vampire society is more lethal. The Sidhe are not less dangerous, just less quick to kill. There are plenty of other things they can do to make your life miserable. Death is too easy. Vampires, well...they are killers. That's what they do. Staying alive is a complicated dance through politics." ~Alexander
Julie has been many things over the last few years, from college student, to bookstore clerk and an over the road trucker. She’s worked as a 911 dispatcher and in computer tech support, but through it all she’s been a writer and when she’s not out riding horses, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer. She lives in Colorado with her three cats, her vampire-hunting dog Kira, her new horse and Traveler-in training, Triska, and her Irish Sailor.She is the author of many Vampire and Ghost-Hunting Dog stories and the young adult fantasy series Tales of the Travelers. She’s a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Dog Writers of America Association and the editor for Steampunk Trails fiction magazine.