Writing sample from my novel April Curran Storms Vampire Camp

This is a work of fiction.


     Brief synopsis.

     In this second book in the April Curran Series, school’s out for the summer. April’s sophomore year has ended, she’s passed ( whew! ) and since tenth grade took place in a boarding school, the students are back home and have separated.
     April, quite wealthy, plans to take it easy for the summer. Her main exertion will be lazy days swimming in one of her family’s two fancy pools. Or so she thinks.
     Dutch, quite poor, plans to locate summer employment. Or so he hopes. 
     Lucian, a vampire but not yet a certified, official vampire, waits to go away for two weeks to a very special summer camp for vampires-to-be, as some refer to the camp located in spooky, hilly Scarecrow Valley. Or so he expects.
     Alas, things don’t quite go as planned. 
     Lucian arrives at camp and finds a few old enemies who intend to make his two week stay as memorable as possible, and not in a good way. Lucian learns after he arrives, of course, that camp might be more trying and dangerous than he ever expected. 
     Dutch finds in a down economy when one is a teenager, job opportunities don’t exactly appear at every corner. Much to his chagrin, he finds himself behind a cash register or applying for minimum wage jobs working a fry machine. Dutch, frustrated by the low pay and lousy working conditions, devises a plan to take a photo of the elusive, deadly chupacabra and sell it to a tabloid for money. Dutch invites April along, realizing it’s dangerous in the woods where the beast hides. Will April go along? 
     April’s father will soon have a trial date in court on two counts of manslaughter of a ghost, so April understands her plans for a typical rich-girl’s carefree summer might not go on as scheduled. But even April’s surprised when a telegram arrives requesting she run away to camp and help Lucian who, the telegram claims, is in trouble and needs her assistance immediately. Sixteen year old April, a mere mortal, loves Lucian. How can she refuse to run to his side in a time of need? 
     April runs away to the camp and along the way encounters big trouble, when Lucian’s former girlfriend Andreea, an official, certified vampire,  devises a sneaky, dangerous scheme to get April out of the way so Andreea can again claim Lucian as her love. 
     Will April survive her encounter with Andreea? 
     Will Lucian survive summer camp? 
     Will Dutch survive trying to get an up close photo of the dangerous chupacabra?

__________

 

Deep in Scarecrow Valley’s woods with little signage flare

 

There’s a camp for vampires-to-be in the moonlight’s glare

 

The name of this summer camp is hardly gnarly

 

And twice a week soup is served heavy on barley


__________


 

     As soon as Constable Brattbak left, April and Mum rushed Father for information faster than an ace in a tennis match. Both barked questions into Father’s face. April’s breath smelled like a cheese pastry. Are they going to serve a search warrant? What if they find the ponytails? What if the police discover our family’s secret? Did the officer believe you? Will Constable Brattbak be returning? Did the constable seem suspicious? Have things been ironed out?

     “April, please,” Father said. “Alastrina, please. You’re throwing questions at me a mile

a minute. You’re exceeding the verbal speed limit.”

     “Are they going to search for the wands?” Mum asked.

     “As of now, no,” Father said. “It looks good on that front.”

     “Why do you say that front?” Mum asked. “There’s another front we have to worry about?”

     Father turned to April.

     “April, Lucian swears he saw the ghost of Mary Fay take the three sorcery wands?”

     “Father he can see Mary Fay. Vampires can see ghosts often. I told you that months ago when we had him over for dinner last November.” 

     “Lucian’s quite sure?” Father asked. “Quite sure.”

     “He’s positive what he saw,” April said. “She took the three wands. After the sorcerers vanished, he saw Mary Fay grab the three wands and run out of the ballroom.”

     “Constable Brattbak said he read that when a ghost grabs hold of an illegally acquired sorcerer’s wand it can cause the ghost to act childish. Foolish.”

     “What do you mean?” Mum asked.

     “Pranks and stuff?” April asked.

     “I don’t know,” Father said. “I just don’t know. But for the next few days, let’s be on the lookout for a, well, a prank is as good a way of saying it as anything else.”

     “We can search and locate the wands,” Mum said.

     “So many rooms,” Father said, “so many crevices. Hidden walls. The basement. The attic. And Mary Fay’s a ghost. Maybe she has a hiding place in another realm of time.”

     “Nothing’s happened so far,” April said.

     “And maybe nothing will,” Mum said.


__________


 

       Lucian stared into the beast’s mouth.

     The mouth snarled. Beastly saliva drooled from one corner.    

     The beast’s eyes were black, cold, naughty, bold.

     The beast’s breath was rancid.

     Lucian, standing on a sunny, ocean-side African cliff with the wind chugging through his dark hair, could only stare and not move a muscle. This was a Barbary Lion standing before him. In Latin,

Panthera leo leo. Lucian had done a book report about extinct lion species in eighth grade science. Miss Tibble’s class. There was no doubt this was a Barbary Lion. 

     The tail.

     The mane.

     The nose.

     The sturdy body shape and powerful legs.

     Yes, this was a Barbary Lion.

     Extinct since the nineteen twenties.

     That was the key.

     Extinct.

     Lucian knew his lion species like he knew the back of his hand. And he knew he was having a nightmare. How else could he be standing on a cliff on a sunny day with a long since extinct animal sizing him up for dinner? For the kill? He’d never seen such large, sharp teeth before, and that was saying something considering all his relatives and many of his friends had two long, sharp teeth.  


_________



 

     Lucian’s mother Marta was on the computer in their tiny apartment’s living room inside The Castle with Tall Red Spirals on Dead Whisper Cliff. Yes, even vampires used computers and the Internet, although the ancient, overcrowded castle did not provide high speed Internet connections. She had to put up with slow research results because she used dial up, and the phone lines into the castle were not optimum. Actually, the lines were lousy and outdated. The phone company did not like to send out repair representatives after one repairman had his blood sucked while he ran a line check. Or so the rumor went.

     The slow Internet was not the most frustrating part. The pop up advertisements were. They kept popping up. No sooner did she X one off her screen than another appeared for some product she had no interest in. And for some strange reason, it seemed to take much more time to remove the pop up ads than it took for them to appear and clutter up her computer screen. The ads were for a variety of products including textbooks, pencils, an inflatable earth globe, cheesecake, itching powder, fireworks, breath mints, appliances, aluminum foil, vitamins, teeth whiteners and, of course, pantyhose. 


__________



      Dale Cluck’s Fish Fillet restaurant owner ran an ad in Sunday’s want ads and Dutch answered in person on Monday. Reluctantly. After the -- in-Dutch’s-opinion -- undeserved, traumatic firing the previous week, the last place Dutch wanted to end up was at the fry machine or behind a cash register. The fry machine left him feeling greasy and standing at a cash register all day bugged his big toes and tickled his shins. And it didn’t do much for his knees or lower back.  

     Guess what position burly, deep-voiced, tattooed, head lice-afflicted, scalp-scratching

restaurant owner Dale Cluck was hiring for?

     Yes, the cash stand or the fry machine.

     Dutch couldn’t win. He just couldn’t win. Plus he had to wear a goofy uniform and a funny-looking inflatable hat resembling a flounder. Heck, even the restaurant’s official address was off-the-wall. One Ninety One Switchtrack Junction Avenue.  

     The job interview in a back room at the restaurant went well, although the smell of fish was overpowering to the point of causing Dutch’s eyes to water. Dutch was hired on the spot, after he overly assured the tough-guy owner the watery eyes were due to the fish smell and he wasn’t crying. According to macho, heavily-tattooed, gravely-voiced Dale Cluck, there was no crying in the fish business. There just wasn’t.

     Dutch was given the opportunity for a brief tour of the box shaped fast food joint, complete with large picture windows plastered with sale posters for various fish products, including a poster of a grinning cartoon halibut. Just his luck. He would be starting tomorrow, Tuesday, and Tuesday happened to be

two-catfish-sandwiches-for-the-price-of-one day. He knew crowds of bargain hunters in seventies’ style bell bottom jeans would converge.   

     Dale Cluck walked toes out, muscular arms firm by his side and with long pants tugged so high that he didn’t show much shirt. His belt was so tight Dutch kept his distance,

afraid it would snap and swat him in the gut.

     “Kitchen back here,” Dale Cluck said.
     “I knew that,” Dutch said.

     Dutch could smell the lard.


__________


     April was gingerly floating in the family manor’s large outdoor pool when the first bat appeared. She was floating atop her parrot-shaped raft sipping a lemonade in a tall frosted glass delivered minutes earlier by Mr. Charles, who, as usual, made it to her exact specifications. Extra sugar. A straw. Five ice cubes. One lemon wedge plucked free of seeds and sunk to the bottom of the glass. Wealth had its advantages, one of which was a hand-delivered perfect glass of lemonade. The other, of course, was she could paddle a raft in a giant, deluxe pool instead of earning lousy summer money as a lifeguard or working the fry machine down on Dove Street at Captain Capricorn’s Charred Cheeseburgers, open eleven to seven six days a week. Minutes earlier she had received a text message from Dutch stating he had been fired an hour ago for mentioning the word paprika. This further lowered April’s already low view of menial, low wage, hot, sweaty service jobs in the food industry. 

     What the heck? she thought.


__________


 

     Sixteen year old Andreea Maria Hanescu sat in a beautician’s chair nervously tapping the fingers of her right hand on the armrest while reading the glossy magazine Silly Vampire Tales magazine. She was restless and wasn’t smiling, as she had sat in this same exact chair late last week and read the exact same article titled Why Must My Girlfriend Flaunt Her Fangs? Now here she was on a Tuesday afternoon near dinner time

paying to have her hair done yet again at Vamp Maggie’s Cuts and Cool Styles hair salon. The salon was located in a new, box shaped building on the grounds, but far away from, The Castle with Tall Red Spirals on Dead Whisper Cliff. Andreea had flown over, a mere five minute trip by air, if the wind’s direction was in her favor. 

     In the approximately nine months since Gray Harbor Village was flooded and rendered uninhabitable, hundreds of homes and businesses had sprung up on the massive castle grounds thanks to over five thousand construction workers who flooded the area each day. Every week more buildings and progress became apparent. A new city was forming brick by brick, stone by stone, board by board. Being mere mortals, most construction workers started work early and left well before sunset, due to fears of having their blood consumed. In addition to homes and businesses, a dozen new roads had been built as well as an artificial pond, three parks and a few illuminated statues of great vampire warriors from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Of course, a half dozen guard booths had been placed up and a full vampire police force had been relocated to protect the citizens from crimes and, naturally, vampire hunters. And an aircraft federal no fly zone below five thousand feet existed for thirty miles any side of castle grounds to protect flying vampires. Death by airplane propeller was the forty-seventh leading cause of death among vampires and usually it wasn’t a pretty way to go.


__________


     Upon exiting the store, April noticed the cloud cover hadn’t lifted it actually had become thicker. That was okay because she didn’t see any storm clouds. Even though the seashell was inside a wrapped box with a big bow and the box was inside a bag, the last thing April wanted was her seashell to get wet. It might shrivel up or something. She spent three dollars on it after all, and to arrive at a party without a gift was quite the tacky thing to do. Mum told April’s two sisters, Tuesday and Megan, this when they were ten. Mum told April this when she was eleven.

     After placing her hat on and tying the ribbon, April unlocked the bike from the pole and jumped on. She pushed away to get moving and started to pedal. The pedals --zing! -- spun around very fast, almost knocking April off the bike. Startled, it took all her strength to keep from going out of control and running over a fake potted plant outside a French

bakery. An angry chef holding an egg whisk glared at her.

     “What the heck?” April said as she glanced down at her bike’s chain.

     The chain was broken clean through.

     “How the heck that happen?”

     April jumped off the bike and sighed. In all her years of biking, once the brakes failed and she bumped the license plate of a parked convertible. Once she got a flat tire. Once a rear reflector fell off and broke on the pavement. A chain malfunction? Never.

     April looked over the bicycle. There wasn’t a bike repair place nearby and she certainly couldn’t glue the chain back together. Stranded four miles from home! How delightful.

     “I guess it’s you and me walking side by side,” April said between sighs. “Kinda like when you’re out for a horse ride and the horse throws a shoe you walk home with the animal.”

     For the first time all day, she was happy the sun was hiding behind the clouds. It would help keep things cooler.

     From the roof of a nearby building, Zina stood, hunched over, peering over the edge at April. Dressed in the cape, she was sweating and affected by the sun, even when behind the clouds, but she didn’t dare wipe sweat from her brow. Both her hands had grease from the chain on April’s bicycle. The broken chain was no accident, and not easy to accomplish even with a vampire’s strength and some novelty store cheap one dollar pliers.  

     As April started walking home with her broken bike at her side, Zina silently lifted into the air, following at a decent elevation, mostly flying over one or two story buildings to avoid being spotted by pedestrians or drivers.


__________



 

     The nearest train station to the The Castle with Tall Red Spirals on Dead Whisper Cliff was in the modest city of Nottingwood, population one hundred sixty thousand mortals and zero vampires, located approximately fifteen miles to the northwest. The Abingdale Train Company operated three lines -- six trains a day -- from this depot, so it was modestly crowded, although not swamped like the international airport’s main terminal a half hour’s drive from here. A true and enforced vampiric no fly zone, vampires were not, absolutely not, allowed to fly into the international airport to catch a flight. Andreea had taken a bumpy, smelly transit bus down to this train depot not to catch a train but to buy a train ticket, albeit not for her. If she had a credit card -- she didn’t -- she could have made a purchase online. Her mother had a credit card, but Andreea’s mother -- a pacifist who abhorred violence -- would not approve of her daughter’s sneaky, tricky, not to mention sinister plan. So instead Andreea had to pool her allowance money and take a smelly, bumpy transit bus full of drunk, singing bums down to the train station. Andreea could have flown here. But that tended to attract attention and with what she was doing, Andreea wanted as low a profile as possible. Such wouldn’t be easy. The busy train depot had two bathrooms, a snack bar with a belching cashier eating potato chips, six bums sleeping on the floor, a lost hat in a corner, loudspeakers announcing arriving trains, an angry wife screaming at her dull husband, too few benches to sit upon and, by Andreea’s count, six high resolution security cameras mounted on walls. The video cameras filming every moment of activity were what really got on her nerves. She regretted she hadn’t worn one of her mother’s spring hats, all the more better to avoid identification by a camera. She also regretted she left her identity-hiding sunglasses at home.

     There were three ticket buying window booths. One was temporarily closed because somebody had vomited on the floor directly in front of that booth. The other two windows were open and Andreea picked the cashier who looked the most frumpy, grouchy and underpaid. She wanted to be waited on by somebody who didn’t care about their job or passengers. She wanted an employee that wouldn’t ask questions and wouldn’t remember her five minutes later.

     “Hello,” Andreea said, stepping up to a window staffed with a middle aged female ticket seller reading a supermarket tabloid while yawning like a tired hippo.

     “Headed to where?” the cashier asked as if she could truly care less.