06 Jul Adventures in piracy and other delights
- Today I discovered that a copy of “Maquech,” a story of mine which was published online and which can still be read here, has been pirated and is for sale on the Chapters (a Canadian book-chain) website. I, of course, did not authorize the re-sale of this story, it was released with Creative Commons to be shared freely.
- A couple of weeks ago writer Nick Mamatas discovered that two versions of his novel Move Under Ground (Jack Kerouac meets Cthulhu) were being sold illegally at the B&N website. The authorized e-pub edition of Move Under Ground is here.
- Which leads me to number three. If you love me (and I hope you do) please buy, review or ask your library to purchase my debut novel Signal to Noise.
- Support me on Patreon. I post stories and bits and bobs there. Like the following story called “Fanged,” posted here in the hopes that you will become my backer. Enjoy. Just…uh…don’t try to re-sell it for a dollar.
By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
“Vampires pay for virgins, you know,” David said.
“That is ridiculous. Virgins are no different from anybody else. It’s not like virgin blood is going to taste different,” Amy Ming told him.
She didn’t go by her first name. Her name tag said ‘Ming’ because there was always some pervert trying to pick up the employees at the burger joint, trying to get cozy with them and no one really gave any of the patrons their full, real name. You do and all of a sudden they’re looking for you online. Who wants to get an instant message from HornyDragon475 at midnight? Not Ming.
“I’ve seen the ads on the Net.”
“Probably a practical joke.”
“No way. They pay for the blood. They lick it. You know…from down there.”
“So what, you gonna sell yourself to a vampire dude?”
“I just told you it’s the girls they want. Virgin girls.”
“Assuming there’s a big-bucks vampire looking for virgin pussy, so what? What, now you are going to be pimping?”
“I’m trying to make conversation. Christ, you’re pissy.”
The rain was growing stronger. They huddled beneath the tiny bus shelter. Damn express was late as usual. Ming took out a cigarette and lit it, giving David a chance to take a puff before she began smoking in earnest.
On the walls of the plastic shelter someone had written the words “SUCK ME” with red marker and doodled a little bat with fangs. Ming threw her head back and looked up at the ceiling of the shelter which was also filled with graffiti.
“But if I knew a virgin—”
“All you gotta do is look in the mirror,” she said.
“You know very well Wanda doesn’t count. She gave you like what, half a handjob?”
“How’d you know that?” David said, frowning.
He was skinny and dull, with his lame red and white checkered shirt from Wong’s All Canadian Hamburger Emporium. Not that Ming didn’t realize she didn’t look also utterly lame in her Hamburger Emporium Mountie-inspired uniform, but it didn’t clash as badly with her hair. David just looked like a clown.
He was a fry cook, she worked the register.
They were both broke.
“Teddy told me,” she said.
“Fucking Teddy,” David muttered.
“Well, why’d you tell him? He’s a blabbermouth.”
David looked sullen. He accepted the cigarette when she handed it to him.
“It’s okay that you didn’t fuck her. Bitch has crabs.”
“Why’d you have to tell me that?”
“Just in case you’re considering it. Wouldn’t want you getting crabs your first time, would we?”
Ming grabbed the cigarette and took a long drag, curled her lips into an ‘o’ shape and let the smoke out in a series of impressive rings.
That’s when the car pulled over. It was one of those old cars, a cherry-red convertible with the top up. The guy inside smiled at them.
“Hey,” he said.
Fuck. If there was anything worse than a vampire it was a vampire hipster. Ming just looked at her chipped nails.
“Hey, you two. Do you want to make a bit of money?”
“Go drink a hobo in the alley, will ya?” she replied.
“It’s not that kind of money, little darling,” he said. He had an accent. Sounded…Dutch? German? Some weird shit. Looked like he was twenty-something, maybe early thirties. ‘Course, he could be an 80-year pervert. You couldn’t tell with them.
Ming proceeded to ignore him, but the guy didn’t shut his trap.
“Look, I need to get into Pavlov’s and I can’t go there without a human escort.”
“That’s that club,” David said turning towards her with a stupid smile on his face. “That’s that hot joint that was in the papers. It opened up a little while ago. Yeah, I heard it’s not vampire exclusive.”
“My man here knows what I’m talking about.”
“So what if there is a club called Pavlov. What’s that concern us?” Ming said, shrugging.
“I’m expected with a couple of human friends but they bailed on me. It’s a costume party, I got the costumes in the trunk. Look, I need two companions for the evening.”
“You need two snacks, you mean.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t snack on you, my dear. If those arteries of yours are not brewing with a rare cancer I bet you have an STD or two. I only eat certified organics goods.”
She could totally believe that, judging by the smarmy guy’s outfit – a turtleneck sweater with a popped up collar underneath – and his annoying facial hair.
“So, what do you say? Would you care to spend a couple of hours at Pavlov’s? I can pay you for the hassle and throw in money for a taxi to get you home. Wherever that may be.”
“How much you’d pay us?” David asked.
Vampire asshole took out his wallet and flashed a wad of bills at them.
“Five-hundred dollars each. US, not Canadian.”
“Fuck, that’s a lot of cash.”
Ming fixed her eyes on the money as she whispered back to David. “And you wouldn’t even have to give him your v-card.”
“Wishful thinking. So?”
“I say we take him up on the offer.”
“What if he tries to eat us?” Ming asked. Not that she was one of those paranoid nerds who walked through town with garlic bulbs around their necks and a rosary in their hand, but you still had to take precautions.
“Got the garlic mace in the backpack,” David assured her. “Two cans.”
“Got a better idea for cash?”
Ming finished her cigarette and stomped on it.
“Okay, hipster boy, we’ll go to your stupid party but you better keep your fangs out of our necks,” she said.
Ming didn’t know who the friends of Vampire Hipster were, but they sure had picked some idiotic costumes for the club. Even the Hamburger Emporium uniforms seemed a better choice than the ridiculous 18th century ballgown she was wearing. Vampire Hipster hadn’t let her keep her sneakers on, which was a bunch of bullshit, and now she had to walk around the crowded club in a pair of ridiculous high heels. David didn’t fare any better. He was supposed to be a “cavalier” but Ming thought he looked just like that painting they’d seen in Miss Preet’s 12th Grade class: Little Boy Blue.
Vampire Hipster had some kind of Admiral Nelson thing going on, like in that other portrait she remembered. Not that she was entirely sure who Admiral Nelson had been. She wasn’t an ace at history and a year after finishing that whole education thing (okay, she got kicked out of school so not quite ‘finished’) she hadn’t picked a book even by mistake. Didn’t matter. Ming might not have been the best student in high school but she had clobbered a “proper” education, anyway.
If the clothing was lame, the music was lamer. It was stupid Euro techno, as though nobody had informed the vampires that the 90s were over. To make things worse, Vampire Hipster was yelling in her ear.
“Okay, so this is the deal. I’m here on business with Ludmilla Iorga. The thing is, vampires have to have human escorts. The whole familiar bit. Nobody who is anyone goes out without their familiars. So if anyone asks you’ve been with me for the past six months, right? Now, behave and I’ll get you home soon enough.”
“You’ve told us that same shit twice in the car. We’re not retarded, alright?” Ming said.
“Fine. You got it. Any questions before we go up?” he said, pointing at the staircase that led to the second floor of the club.
“What are we supposed to call you?”
“I’m Albert Lavud but everyone calls me Alby, so you’ll call me that, alright?”
“Alby. What a fucking gay name,” Ming said.
“Just…talk the least possible,” Albert-Alby Lavud muttered. “Any other questions?”
David raised his hand, as though they were still in high school. Alby sighed and nodded.
“You said you’d buy us drinks,” David reminded him. “When’s that gonna happen?”
“I’m sure there’s drinks where we are going. It’s the private section.”
“Nah, buddy, we need a fucking drink now because these damn outfits you’ve got us stuffed in are all itchy,” Ming said. “I’m damn suffocating in this and so is Little Boy Blueballs here.”
“Yeah,” David said.
“Fine. Alright,” here Vampire Hipster said taking out his wallet and handing David a few bills. “Go buy a pair of Blood Marys or beers or whatever the hell you like to drink.”
David went towards the bar while Vampire Hipster and Ming lounged by a cement pillar, the music going wooo-wooo-wooo with some chick yelling in German “We want the moon, nachtnachtnacht.” She examined her nails, which were painted neon green with sparkles, courtesy of her little sister. The nail polish was starting to chip and she idly scratched at it.
Meanwhile, Vampire Hipster looked uncomfortable. Maybe his costume itched too.
“Hey, you know it’s the funniest thing,” Vampire Hipster said, leaning down to speak to her.
“You resemble a girl I used to know.”
“Really,” she replied, only he must have taken it as some kind of green light because in a flash Vampire Hipster seemed a lot more comfortable. He smiled and leaned down a bit more, gave her a glimpse of white fangs. But in a nice way. A sexy, kind of way. Like a wink.
It made her want to barf.
“I can’t believe you fuckers are still trying that shit.”
Vampire Hipster’s face turned sour. The fangy smile disappeared.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it’s always ‘God, you look like my dead fiancée, I bet you’re her reincarnation, let’s marry and be in love forever.’ Bullshit. You think I was born yesterday? Think I fancy a case of 19th century vampire herpes courtesy of you? We’re here to keep you company buddy, but not that kind of company.”
“Hey,” he said raising his hands in the air, all innocent-like. “I was trying to pay you a compliment.”
“Look, you must think I’m real dumb just because I work in a burger joint, don’t you? But let me tell you Mr. Tall and Fangy: I’ve got a feeling your friends didn’t ditch you. I’ve got a feeling you got no human friends, no familiars. You are not as big a hot shot as you say you are. So we are here just to help you pretend you are, like fake Prada bags you’re trying to pass off as the real deal. Now I have no trouble being a vampire’s accessory if he buys me a drink and pays me what he promised, but I’m not a bargain bin sex toy. Are we clear, asswipe?”
“You know, somewhere between 1965 and now you ladies got very mouthy, and not in the good way,” Vampire Hipster said and Ming thought maybe she ought to rebrand him as Misogynistic Vampire Hipster, but that sounded kind of long. She wondered if he had taken any of those vampire seminars they had nowadays, for Alpha Vampires. If he told her “You have a pretty face, but you’d be even prettier if you’d lose the attitude” she decided she was going to punch him in the balls, pay or no pay.
Just then David came back. He handed them each a beer. Vampire Hipster drank his in bitter little sips, eyeing them with narrow eyes while David and Ming chugged down. When they were done Vampire Hipster told them they had to march upstairs with him for his all-important meeting.
The private section of the club was all classy, with red velvet couches and glass chandeliers. Alby led the way to a group of vampires and humans who were chattering in a corner.
What the fuck is that, Ming thought when she saw Ludmilla. “It” was a kid. Like, an eighteen year-old girl dressed in a pink dress wearing a lot of bling. Gold necklaces, gold rings, diamond brooch. She’d dyed a strand of hair pink and her mouth was painted red. She sat atop this really big chair, more a train than a chair, and popped her bubble gum.
“Alby Lavud,” the girl said. She seemed utterly bored. Ming couldn’t blame her. Alby looked like a douche. “What strange conjuring has brought you to me?”
“No strange conjuring. Can’t a friend say hello to a friend?”
“Ludmilla, beloved, I have business to talk to you.”
“Business. Last I heard you were having problems with Hans. Is it a loan? Blood bank is closed today, Alby.”
“Hans, that’s old history. Dead and buried,” Alby said. “I’ve got a new thing going on. Just thought you might want in on it. But if you’d rather not…”
He trailed off. Ludmilla reached out for a pink cellphone covered in rhinestones and checked her messages, yawning. Then she looked back at Alby.
“Mmm…five minutes, let’s go in the back.”
A human helped Ludmilla off her chair and she motioned to Alby. They all walked behind purple velvet curtains, to a section with giant cushions. Quickly someone handed the brat a drink, while vampires and humans plopped themselves down on the cushions. There were a total of six people in Ludmilla’s entourage, three fangy ones and three familiars.
They all looked like assholes.
David quickly attracted the attention of two vampire women. Not very attractive but they were twins and Ming knew how idiotic men were when it came to two lookalike women. She rolled her eyes as he sat down to chat with them. Ming walked around, snatching a glass of champagne from a human who looked like he was at the bottom of the totem pole, with the most ridiculous bowl-cut haircut ever.
“I see you have new followers. What happened to your twins?” Ludmilla asked, still more interested in her cellphone than Alby.
“Twins are out of fashion,” Alby replied.
Douchey thing to say, but it made Ming grin because the pink vamp made an annoying face at that.
“What’s your new gig, Alby?” Ludmilla asked, pulling Alby towards her by his gigantic tie. Seriously, it was more like a big floppy scarf. “You haven’t texted me in ages. I thought you were hiding from us.”
“I’ve just been so busy. I went down to Toronto to do business and it took forever.”
“So no bad blood with Hans keeping you away, cupcake?”
“Told you. Ancient history.”
“A little birdie told me Hans killed your last two familiars and you couldn’t afford new ones.”
Ming almost spit the champagne she was drinking when she heard that. She turned her head, trying to see if David had heard that bit about “killed” and “familiars,” but the vampire twins were now sitting super close to him and David had gone deaf from their proximity.
Ming clutched David’s backpack tight and quietly unzipped a side of it.
“Yeah, we had a fight. But as you can see I’ve got new ones. And a lot of cash to spend, darling. It’s a new operation. Very exclusive. Do you want the details?”
“Tell me, Alby.”
“It’s land, baby.”
“How boring. I’m not a developer.”
“Land in the Mexican Riviera. A new resort, vampire exclusive. All the usual trappings: dark windows, interior pools, the works. Very classy. People going into this stand to make a killing because it’s in a new town, something fresh. First to get in there wins.”
Ming could picture it as the guy spoke, down to the room service which must include local Mexican studs for the bleeding. Damn vampires with their fancy third-world vacations, seeing how much local brown plasma they could suck.
Frankly, she was getting tired of this talk, so she tried to reposition herself closer to David and gave him the signal that meant “come on, let’s go.” But he shook his head in a stern “no.” One of the vampire chicks was sitting on his lap.
“The problem is there’s been a wee bit of issues with the new road that’s going to take people to the hotel. You know what it’s like down there, Ludmilla. You’ve got to bribe everybody. So, the resort is almost done but we’ve got to bribe the government of Yucatan. Get the road finished. But you’d have shares in the hotel and stand to profit immensely from it.”
“Mmm,” Ludmilla said. Didn’t seem she knew another sound.
“I can show you a brochure,” Alby said cheerfully, whipping out a glossy piece of paper. “Here’s pictures of what it’s going to look like.”
Ludmilla grabbed the brochure and looked at it for a minute before tossing it at one of her assistants.
“It’s very pretty, Alby, but I think I’ll pass.”
“How come?” Alby asked. “I thought you wanted to diversify.”
“Because, cupcake, I texted Hans when you arrived and he texted me back to say this is a Ponzi scheme you were trying to pull off in Chicago. He’s been keeping tabs on you since you ripped him off last year and he’s on his way to kick your behind.”
Alby turned more pale than was possible considering he was a fucking oyster-white vampire. Immediately the two vampire women next to David hissed, showing their fangs and a vampire dude began walking towards Ming, giving her his best Christopher Lee impersonation.
“Oh, fucking piece of shit,” Ming muttered as she whipped out the can of garlic mace and sprayed liberally into the guys eyes. He immediately flopped onto the floor screaming like a bitch.
Vampires. They didn’t make them quite like in the movies.
She stomped towards the vampire twins who were holding David down as he screamed real loud.
“Hey, morons,” she yelled.
And they both turned to look at her, like she’d had called their name, their fangs showing real big. But Ming had already taken out the second can of garlic mace and she sprayed them at the same time. They sure didn’t like that, but they let go of David and he stumbled to his feet.
“What the living fuck!” he yelled.
Thankfully Alby was dealing with the humans, having knocked the shit out of all three of them, but then the Ludmilla kid got her angry face on and screeched and launched herself on top of David, which really was super bad form because poor David was still shaking from having been held by those two blood-sucking leeches.
“First I kill your familiars, then I kill you!” the vampire roared.
Ming did what she usually did when situations got hairy around the block: she gave the vampire a good kick. Ming had never been awesome at school but she had taken karate for ten fucking years, courtesy of her grandma, who thought it would keep her out of trouble. Karate was Japanese, not Chinese, but Takahashi’s was the nearest martial arts’ studio. It was that or dancing as the tail of a lion and the lion costume was super stuffy.
Well, it hadn’t kept her out of trouble but it had its uses, like just now as she sent Ludmilla rolling across the floor which gave Alby ample time to deliver a rather fierce couple of extra kicks to the gut.
“God damn it, that was nice,” Alby told her as he helped David to his feet. “Bit of a cliché, though, no?”
“Cliché your ass. Let’s roll out of here,” Ming said.
“I was thinking exactly the same thing.”
So they ran out through the kitchen, which seemed like the most brilliant idea ever, until a couple of vampires appeared to block their path, all big and beefy.
“Oh shit,” Alby said. “Gentlemen, gentlemen, let’s be civilized,” he said, raising his hands.
Before he could start with some boring shit speech like he’d done back with Ludmilla, Ming gave David the look. He grabbed a fryer, she held on to the mace and whip-quick David tossed the hot oil in the vampires’ faces while Ming finished the attack with a liberal spraying of garlic.
That kitchen was going to smell like garlic and fried vampire skin for a while.
While the brutes were screaming and smashing into walls, and generally making the staff run out in a panic, Ming, David and Alby rushed out of the club.
“Come on, here, here,” Alby said urging them to jump in the convertible which he’d parked out the back. Ming had thought it was because he was being cheap but turned out it was in case of a getaway.
Would have been nice of him to tell ‘em.
Alby sped out of the downtown core like a literal bat out of hell and hollered loudly as they made a sharp turn.
“Wonderful performance back there, kids, wonderful,” he said.
“Yeah, it’s been a blast. Drop us off somewhere near a bus stop and pay us, will you, pal?” Ming said as she took off the high heels she had been wearing and slammed them upon the dashboard. On the seat behind her David was taking off his Blue Boy jacket.
“Come on baby doll, you can’t tell me that wasn’t a tinsy wee-bit exciting?” he asked.
“Great,” Ming said, dryly.
She began peeling off her dress. Beneath the costume she had a tank top and biker shorts, the stuff she wore every day at the burger joint, but the vampire still smiled at her as though she were stripping naked.
“David, pass me my Emporium uniform, will ya?” she asked him.
“I’m trying to find it. The back of this car is very messy.”
He did find it at last and Ming buttoned the red jacket and slipped on the matching skirt. The socks seemed to have gone missing in action, so she stuffed her shoes into the sneakers just like that.
“Hey kids, there’s a bus stop right there,” Alby said.
He veered to the right and stopped the car.
Ming turned towards him and held out her hand for the money.
“Wow, you’re to the point aren’t you? Here, love, have your money.”
He gave her a hundred and Ming frowned quite a bit at that. “That’s not what you promised us.”
“Look, as you could see by our performance back at the club, I’m not in a very good situation right now.”
“You god damn cheat!” David yelled from the back seat.
Alby turned his head to look at David and smirked at him. “At least you can tell your friends you had an experience. And I have given you something for your efforts.”
“Yeah, thanks a lot. I’ve got fucking vampire hickeys. How am I going to explain that to my mom?”
Ming might have suggested that they mace the hipster and run off with his car, but they were all out of garlic mace. She took the bill and stuffed it in her pocket, then got out of the car and slammed the door real hard.
David followed her.
They both stood by the bus stop, glaring at the vampire.
“Look, kids, sorry about this. Shit happens, you know?” the vampire said.
Ming gave him the finger as he rolled away.
They sat on the bench under the shelter, two cans of mace gone and only one hundred fucking dollars in their possession.
“What a crock,” David muttered. “Vampires really do suck.”
“Maybe we can still sell your virginity,” Ming replied.
“Oh, fuck off.”
Ming took out a cigarette and lit it. Wordlessly she passed it on to David after she had taken the first puff and they waited for the express to pick them up.
It was starting to rain again.
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