Eric Miller, Stoker nominated editor of the Hell Comes to Hollywood books has a new trucker-themed horror anthology, 18 Wheels Of Horror through his Big Times Books imprint.
NEVER LOST AGAIN by Joseph Spencer
DOWNSHIFT by Daniel P. Coughlin
WHISTLIN’ BY by Shane Bitterling
HAPPY JOE’S REST STOP by John Palisano
BEYOND THE BEST SEASONING by Meghan Arcuri
TAKE THE NIGHT by Janet Joyce Holden
CARGO by Tim Chizmar
THE IRON BULLDOGGE by Michael Paul Gonzalez
She gushed a lot, babbled out to him her whole life story, all her daydreams, her secret surety that some of them were real, her boundless delight in vindication. When she was finished, she begged to know his story.
He told her his name was Brendan, but that he had once had another name back when he’d been mortal, ‘in Bible times.’ He told her he had come from a wealthy family of merchants. He had befriended a young Roman soldier named Messala who one day rose to the position of provincial governor. When the Romans had marched into his city, Brendan and his mother and sister had been standing on a roof and accidentally knocked a loose piece of tile down into the street. The tile had hit Messala and for the offense, Brendan had been sentenced to slavery, chained to an oar on a warship while his family was imprisoned in a Roman dungeon. During a sea battle with Egyptians in which their ship was sunk, he had saved the life of the Roman captain and been freed, then granted Roman citizenship in gratitude.
Soon after he’d learned that his family had died of leprosy while he’d been away. He renounced his newfound citizenship and instigated a revolt, leading an army of gladiators to the palace of his former friend. He ran him down with a chariot.
As he told her this, tears spilled down Gwendolyn’s face. What tribulations he had faced! His life could have been a book itself, maybe even a movie.
Heartbroken by the death of his mother and sister, Brendan had for a time found love in the arms of a slave girl he had freed from Messala’s house, but the gladiator army was ambushed by the Romans and they were both taken prisoner and crucified. He said the greater suffering had been to watch her die slowly just out of his reach. Then that night as he hung on a cross, a pale traveler had come upon him. Seeing he was still alive, he had taken a ladder from his cart, set it up against his cross and climbed it. Brendan had thought the man intended to cut him down and save him out of pity, but he had been a vampire, looking for an easy meal. A passing cohort of legionnaires had surprised the stranger, and he had run off, but not before his bite had infected Brendan. Using his new supernatural strength, he had agonizingly freed himself from the cross and hid from the rising sun in a cave.
He said he had never been back to Italy since.
“And that’s why to this very day….I still hate wops,” he finished, brushing her hair from her face. “You know, you remind me of her, the slave girl who died. She was a Trojan.”
“What was her name?” she asked.
Then, as it was near dawn, he got up to leave.
She begged to see him again, and he swore that she would, sealing the immortal promise by leaning in and kissing her softly. It was like licking an ice cube, or a patch of snow. His breath smelled metallic, like the groaning pipes beneath the sink. When they parted from that first, wonderful kiss, her breath roiled in a little white cloud in his sad smile, across his deep dark eyes, brimming with a pain and sorrow that seemed to span the ages.
She knew right away that she loved him. Who else could she ever love?
That night she dreamed of him in green tights and a red feathered cap, circling the ceiling of her bedroom and smiling down at her.
She went right back to work because she knew he would be there at the end of her shift. She knew because of the kiss.
And he was. Every night afterwards he met her in the parking lot. Sometimes they drove, mostly they walked, and talked, and kissed. He told her all about the long life he had lived all over the world, about all the people he had known through history, Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, even Sherlock Holmes.
He held her till she shivered in his cold arms (but he was always a perfect gentleman, even though sometimes she sort of wished he wasn’t), and he answered every question she had about vampires.
All but one.
“When will you take me to your lair?”
“Soon,” was all he said, and drew her closer, taking in her scent with a flare of his nostrils, then kissing her deeply.
She always knew the time would come.
And tonight it had.
She had somehow woken in the morning knowing this would be the night they would be together at last. She had packed an outfit in the car and changed before she clocked out. A sexy black top with lace trim and her best jeans, her Victoria’s Secret panties, the red ones with the matching bra. She had worn perfume for him too, something with a name she didn’t dare try to pronounce in front of him for fear he’d laugh at her.
She’d brought condoms. She wasn’t sure if she could get pregnant, but it was best to be safe. Did vampires cum? She didn’t honestly care if he did get her pregnant. She would gladly have his child, but she didn’t know how he felt and thought it best to wait until another time to bring it up. She thought she might like to bear his child before he made her a vampire, just in case vampire women couldn’t have babies.
She wondered if Brendan’s baby would be a half vampire, like Blade.
If he was, would other vampires hate him? She would teach him or her to be good, to love both halves of him or herself, to accept him or herself first.
She had never thought to ask him about other vampires. Had he met any in his travels? There would be time enough to ask later. All the time in the world.
Brendan would turn her, and they could travel the world together, all three of them, see the things she never thought she’d see.
Well, everything except Italy maybe.
Saturday, October 3rd, I’ll be signing copies of 18 Wheels Of Horror along with several other authors at Dark Delicacies on Magnolia in Burbank, from 2-4pm. http://www.darkdel.com/store/p224/Sat,_Oct_3rd_@_2_pm:_18_Wheels_of_Horror.html
Hope you’ll swing by and say hey.