Blood and Champagne

I’m going to try something different. I want this to be an ongoing story you get only here on my site. Keep in mind, it is pre-editor status. (What do you think you get for free! :D)

Once a week, I will post a new addition to the story. If you enjoy it, please leave a comment, share, and subscribe.

As always, everything included on my blog and posts are © Lisa Vasquez and may not be reposted or used anywhere without my written consent. 

 

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(All credit and rights  for this image belong to Drew Posada)

 


Blood and Champagne

by

Lisa Vasquez

Pleasure Principle
The sound of her breath caught up with the tempo of her heart rate. In out, in out, in-out-in-out. Closing her eyes, Fay allowed her head to fall back into the rapturous abyss, its arms around her like a lost lover. The night was black. No moonlight due to the clouds of the incoming midnight storm. It was like falling in love. Fingers splayed, the sticky fluid ran slow and freely down her arms and she let out a slow exhale like an orgasm rising from deep in her womb, up through her lungs and finally escaping from between her lips. Staring up at the blanket of space, starless and silent, tears of ecstasy fell from the corners of her eyes. A release of all the rage finally melted away until she was quivering like a virgin on prom night. This … she whispered to the voices chattering deep in her mind, mmm, this.

There were no words to describe the feeling. So she closed her eyes again and leaned forward against the cooling body of the man beside her. His eyes stared back at her, pupils dilated into large black dots against a backdrop of blue. She needed to touch him again and lifted her hand to do so. Tracing his jawline, she smiled as the rough stubble from his five o’clock shadow brushed against her fingertips. His lips were soft and full, still wet from the kisses he trailed along her neck. When her thumb brushed over his mouth, it opened, and he let out a breath, jagged and shuddering. He tried to speak but it was nothing more than a croak.

“Shh,” Fay whispered, leaning in to speak the words against his mouth, “Don’t speak. Just feel.

Sliding her hand over his chin, she pressed against it, so her tongue could easily push inside. With a low moan she trailed her hand further down his chiseled body, hard from years of dedicated military training, and finding the trail of soft hair over his naval, she continued until she found it. It was hard and stiff against her palm. Still wet from when she left it. Tightening her fingers around its girth, she pulled slowly, and he moaned deep into her mouth. Fay hissed in pleasure, pausing to savor the moment until she could hold back no longer. Adjusting her grip once more to ensure her hand wouldn’t slip, she gave a thrust and sent the hilt of the hunting knife straight back into the gaping wound it came from, forcing more blood to gush over her fingers.

The man’s body spasmed and his eyes widened with a sudden influx of life, pulling him back from the grasp of death. He still had a little fight left in him, after all. The excitement coursed through Fay’s body, tingling across her skin underneath the leather bodysuit, and her temperature rose most notably between her legs. She had wrapped them around one of his, the one jerking and trying to kick at her. Flexing the muscles between her thighs, she held onto him. His limbs tangled between hers; in her mind she transformed into an anaconda, gripping so hard he could feel his bones ache just before his knee popped. Before he could scream, Fay eyes stared into his and she gripped his tongue with her teeth, pulling until the muscle was stretched into a thin, rubbery band. Her date for the evening struggled with a renewed, fight or flight vigor, in an attempt to survive. Throwing her head to the side with a rough tug, the man’s tongue snapped and wiggled in her mouth, slippery with blood and intermingled spit. Fay released the hold she had on the man, shoving him onto his back as she rose to her feet like a steam from the earth. Tipping her head back once more, she let the piece of flesh slide down her throat with a thick swallow and tuned out his waning, gurgled screams.

With her arms outstretched, she let the cool night air rush over her, blowing her hair back from her bloodstained face and announced to the world, “This is who I am.”

I am, she declared to black sky, the voices in her head clamored with excitement, Everything you want to be, and more.

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Blood and Champagne

She walked by and the heads of every red-blooded male turned. Toxic, with her blonde hair loose like strands of fine silk and a body that would make angels weep. I kept thinking to myself how I’d like to die and come back as leather the way it clung to her hips then melting down to firm thighs all the way down her calves. She was dangerous; we all knew it. It’d be safer to try your luck kissing a pit viper than touching those red velvet lips.

She stopped to look into the glass window of the café. Her reflection was a cold mirror of the woman staring in. It all happened in slow motion yet faster than my small mind could register. Her small hand rose up to remove the dark shades that sat high on the bridge of her nose revealing the most feral blue eyes the world had ever seen. I mean, I was literally hypnotized from where I was sitting, and I was at least 40 feet from them.

I heard the screams before I could tear my eyes away from them. Glass fell like rain around her, the lights shimmering off the pieces like diamonds in the light and all I kept thinking was, “champagne “.

Time caught up with me and I ducked low with the rest of the crowd. Shots were fired and the screeching of the cars along the street drug me kicking and screaming from my reverie back to reality. The bullets came from the inside; seems I wasn’t the only one that noticed she was there. The woman barely flinched as they skimmed by her head and then, like a cat, she leaped up onto the cafe’s front window display case. She walked through the lead fire toward this fat man in the back who was scrambling toward the kitchen on his stomach, sliding in the blood all over the floor.

Her boots sounded like thunder hitting the floor in sure, steady steps. I watched as she moved like a dancer; elbow to the tall man’s groin, dropping him easily and slamming his nose into her knee. The blood exploded all over her leather and her hands left his twitching form with a soft caress along his jawline. She moved through them like nothing. The next man’s wrist was snatched from the air as it came toward her. A sick “pop” and it was dislocated before her foot thrust like a speeding car into his chest.

My heart raced and I stumbled forward as I tried to keep my eyes on her but every movement was a blur. The more men that came at her, the harder she put them down. A small Asian man came out of the back, hair slicked back like a cliché, pretty-boy gangster and almost shot her. She jumped onto the counter then slammed his face down on the bar with the force of her body when it fell into a crouch. Another spray of blood stained her face, mimicking the lash of a whip across her cheek. Her hand rose again to wipe it off then stopped, suspended in air as if time froze. Her eyes caught mine.

I felt like a deer in the headlights.

“My God, ” I thought, “She’s going to kill me”.

She smiled at me instead, then disappeared into the kitchen. I sat there stupefied among the chorus of the fat man’s horrific cries.

I heard him die.

I heard every plunge of her knife into his body. The wet slap of blood against the walls. It was gruesome and all at once…

It was beautiful

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Standing there, soaked in blood, Fay trailed her eyes along the body count until they reached the man shivering in his own piss behind the bar. Feral blues locked onto his like a machine zoning in, assessing him for threat levels. She’d already decided he was as harmful as a piece of lint before she turned and closed the distance between them.

“What did you see?” she asked when she was looking down at him. Blood was sliding down the leather and he could smell the scent of both filling his lungs.

“W-what?” he stammered, “I-I didn’t see shit!”

A blast of pain sent his world into an explosion of fireworks behind his eyes. What the fuck was that? he asked himself before her voice interrupted.

“No, you pathetic waste of flesh,” crouching in front of him, Fay’s eyes narrowed in warning, “I want you to recount what you saw happen here. Do you understand what I am saying?”

The coward stared at her in disbelief. Snatching his chin in her gloved hand she squeezed until the pain registered in his mind, dragging him out of shock.

“I ..” he gulped and closed his eyes. This was going to go one of two ways. Either he recounted it, verbatim, or he played stupid. He had a fifty-fifty chance of coming out alive if he failed, “Saw a blonde woman murder everyone.”

When he recounted the event he was witness to, Fay released her grip and shoved her palm against his face. The strength of her push sent him on his back, and he could feel the shards of glass bite through his shirt like tiny teeth. He was belly up, with his legs spread open, like a submissive dog. The smell of fear in his urine was pungent, mixing with the bullets of sweat soaking the pits of his shirt. Fay’s nose scrunched, and she looked to the door.

“Make sure they get the message, or I’m coming back to finish my work.”

The coward nodded and watched as she exited the bar. Sobbing, he rolled over to his knees and whimpered as new glass found its way into his skin. When he finally made it to his feet, he stumbled to the old phone near the cash register. His bloody, swollen hand, trembling from pain and adrenaline, picked up the receiver and he dialed. A voice came on the other end.

“What, now?”

It was the assistant.

The coward recanted the tale then listened to a long silence before the phone line went dead.

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She Walks Among Shadows

The office was dark, lit only by torches leaning out from their sconces on the brick wall. The assistant turned and faced the woman behind the desk whose facial features were concealed by shadows.

“It appears, Mistress, your plan worked.”

“Make the arrangements,” her voice was soft, echoing through the compound walls, “We’ll leave tonight.”

The assistant bowed his head and exited. When the door closed behind him, Ophelia lifted the cup of tea sitting before her and held it in both hands under her chin. The warmth of the steam caressing her face, she opened her eyes. On the desk, a dagger lay in its sheath. At any given time, the woman had an arsenal of weapons on her-but this weapon was reserved for one purpose. The death strike.

Taking a sip of her tea, Ophelia let the warm liquid relax her. She set the cup beside the dagger on the desk, then stood. This plan was in the making for years. Careful, pain-staking details put together for this one moment; She was coming. The thought of plunging the knife into her heart is what lulled this woman to bed every night and woke her in the morning. Revenge became her heart, pumping its toxic venom into her bloodstream for over ten years. Tonight, she thought, staring down at her weapon, it will bleed all over this bitch.

When the assistant knocked on the door, Ophelia slid her dagger into the harness at her lower back. She made her way through the shadows with silent footfalls and opened the door. With a final look over her shoulder at her office, she reached out for the handle and opened it.

“Transportation is waiting.”

“You have all the paperwork in case I do not come back?”

“Yes, Mistress,” he assured her, his eyes not daring to look up.

“And you sent messenger to deliver the invitation?”

“Yes, as per your original instructions,” he nodded, “In the event the woman were to reach Underboss Benitzi, a messenger should be dispatched with a black envelope to be found in the safe. He should find her, hand deliver it to the woman, then wait for further instructions.”

Ophelia waited.

“The messenger has been eliminated.”

“Excellent. Let’s go meet our esteemed guest,” Ophelia said, sliding her gloves from her belt. Pushing her fingers into place, she led them down the hall in the direction of the car. Exiting from the fortress set high in the mountains, the assistant stepped ahead to open her door. Ophelia slid into the backseat and waited. Once the assistant closed her door, she gave the driver the address to the meeting place.

The sleek, black car made the winding descent toward the base of the mountain for several minutes until Ophelia lowered the window. The scent of the fresh, pine-infused air rushed in against her face as she lifted her eyes back toward the peak, foreshadowing the night sky. As if on command, the fortress exploded. A mushroom tipping a pyre of bright red and yellow roared into the horizon, swallowing her hideaway, and the assistant, into its infernal belly.

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The Messenger

Standing in the shower, Fay let the scalding water wash over her body until the water pooling around her feet was dark with blood. She closed her eyes and savored the pricking, needle-like pain against her skin, and face. With her arms crossed in front of her, between her breasts, she pushed her hands up along her face and through her hair. The bitch wasn’t there, she thought, clenching her teeth until her jaw squared, I will not stop until she pays for what she did.

Opening her eyes, Fay looked down and traced her fingers over the star-shaped scar over her heart. A constant reminder of the day she nearly died at the woman’s hand, only to wake up and learn her sister had not been so lucky. The tension in her neck returned, making her head throb. Not even the heat of the shower would work this time. Letting out a sharp exhale, she felt the pain ride down the nerves, through each vertebra, until it spread through her hands. Opening her fingers, she fought against the trembling in otherwise steady hands.

Closing her eyes, again, she took in deep, meditative breaths through her nose. Using the muscles in her stomach to blow them out in attempt to subside the pain took years of practice. Even now, it wasn’t easy.

When the pain became tolerable, she grabbed the soap and finished washing the bits of brain and flesh off, using her thumbnail to dig under the nail beds. She was still shivering when she slid into her robe and exited the shower but at least the pain went back into its dark hole.

I need to … the knock at the door put her at high alert. When she spun, she could hear the plastic she’d used to line the bathroom, rustle. No one knows I’m here. I made sure I wasn’t followed.

Fay already had her dagger in hand when she moved toward the sound of the second, soft tap against the door. Her grip on the weapon’s hilt tightened, and she leaned forward to look through the peephole. Standing outside was a man in black fatigues, holding a black envelope below his chin where she could see. One word was handwritten in gold leaf lettering.

“Fay”

Smirking, Fay unlocked the door and stood back, allowing the man to enter. She closed the door behind him, not bothering to close her robe and reached out for the envelope. Letting her eyes scan it, she couldn’t help but chuckle at its final words.

I’m sure you’re aware of the baggage which comes with leaving witnesses. The messenger is disposable. I trust you will not be late for the rendezvous I have scheduled for us. Let’s end this, once and for all.

From the shadows,
~O~

Guest Blog: Mark Matthews

Addiction Horror ebookcover-3Horror Is At It’s Best When….

by Mark Matthews, editor and contributing author to “Garden of Fiends”

Horror is at its best when it reveals a larger truth about the world we live in. Either through metaphor (ex: Godzilla as the atom bomb, The Blob as communism) or simply through shining the light in the dark places that other genres may avoid. Horror is not afraid to go there, and when it does, it has capacity that other genres do not. Right now, opioid addiction is an epidemic. Everyday we hear horror stories such as toddlers found in the back-seat of a car with overdosed parents in the front or a batch of fentanyl-laced heroin killing scores of people. Such is the theme of the newly released anthology:  Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

Addiction as horror in film is nothing new. We’ve seen plenty of addicts exist in horror movies already. How can we forget the plight of the heroin addict in Saw? Or the protagonist in the Evil Dead remake trying to detox in an isolated cabin. Her detox is indeed frightening.

The Exorcist is tops on many lists as the most frightening movie (and novel) ever made, and one can easily see it as a metaphor for a mother fighting the demon of addiction in her daughter. The spitefulness and cunning of the possessed Regan certainly resembles that of an addict. The coldness of her breath seems the disease of addiction. The way her skin changes, same way a heroin addict’s flesh shows track marks. Underneath all her maleficence, the true Regan is suffering underneath and needs saving. The mother makes desperate attempts to get help from every professional possible, but feels more and more powerless as things get worse and nothing helps. Her last resort is something spiritual, and the treatment feels like warfare.

What parent wouldn’t beg to the addiction possessing their child: “God damn you, come into me! Take me!” and then fling themselves to their death, all in order to save their daughter.

Horror and addiction go hand in hand, and a helpless parent trying to save their child from addiction is the theme behind my own title (and the title track) in the anthology, Garden of Fiends. Other stories feature the monstrosity of what it means to be chemically dependent, where the compulsion to get high causes true horror.  The craving for a substance is not much different than a vampire who craves blood.

Most mirrors can’t reflect things in the dark, but horror can, and is at its best when it does. I invite you to spend some time in the garden.

Check it out Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

with stories by; Kealan Patrick Burke, Jessica McHugh, Max Booth III, Glen Krisch, John FD Taff, Johann Thorsson, Mark Matthews, Jack Ketchum

“There’s something here to scare anyone and everyone. Garden of Fiends pushes all the wrong buttons in all the right ways!”

-Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of Dogs of War and Mars One

“Garden of Fiends is scary in the realest of ways. What fertile ground for horror; stories that already, by nature, take place in the Twilight Zone; where lies and shady acts are the rule; where men and women step out of one world and into another; a place where addiction is king. John FD Taff’s ‘Last Call’ is worth the price of admission alone.”

Josh Malerman, Bram Stoker nominated author of Bird Box

“A brilliant and original concept, Garden of Fiends captures the struggles of addiction and the horrors they inflict on those affected by it. Yes, it is dark and visceral, but with moments of hope throughout that make this a memorable collection of stories.”

The Horror Bookshelf

 

GUEST BLOG! Stuart R. Brogan!

thumbnail_Stuart R Brogan - Author PicHorror authors aren’t real authors. Are they?
By Stuart R Brogan

Having spent the last few years concentrating on my non-fiction, Heathen and Pagan works, it was time to take the tentative, yet exciting steps towards writing my debut horror / thriller. Something I had been eager to do for a very long time.

As I sat in front of my computer, staring blankly at the screen, my head full of sinister plots and monstrous acts, it suddenly occurred to me that not everyone would understand the burning need to write something that contained violence, murder and gore. The fact that I hadn’t read any horror since the early nineties had made me somewhat insular, so in effect, I was weaving my words in a vacuum.

As I began the first chapter I was acutely aware that not everyone would enjoy or endorse such a book. But why? Was it down to personal taste, or something deeper, such as social dogma and genre misconceptions? As the doubt began to merge with my own insecurities, I found myself thinking if the anti-horror squad had a valid point. Is writing horror a sub-standard form of literary prowess or is there an art to creating life and death scenarios with heart stopping protagonists, that make some people scared to read the book alone and others to shy away completely?

I have to admit that my curiosity was running wild, so in a blink of an eye, I found myself surfing the net and absorbing forum after forum, searching for the answers.
The first thing that struck me was the number of experts declaring that writing horror was inferior and that any author who partook in such pursuits was nothing more than an amateur, a second-rate pretender who failed to make the grade at writing more intellectual works. Of course, these paragons of literary excellence conveniently negated to mention the likes of Stephen King or Dean R Koontz, and the swathe of other big name authors plying their, very successful, trade within the genre. As I followed the threads, I couldn’t help but be somewhat dismayed by the lack of respect levied at such authors, in fact I started to get a little wound up.

To attempt to answer such questions, we must first rewind the clock.

Regardless of genre, the publishing world has gone through a seismic and radical change since the 90’s. I can vividly recall reading about big advances, multi book deals and reasonably high sales figures, as well as publishing houses willing to take more risks regarding the books they released. Fast forward to modern times and it doesn’t take a genius to see that the big boys are now playing it safe and that it is now even harder to secure a traditional publishing deal, let alone hit the big time with a best seller.

Could this be due to the rise and ease of self-publishing. or is it cyclic in nature? With this in mind, and faced with a sudden influx of availability, it is obvious that the big boys would want to streamline their assets and only back the books that will guarantee big returns. Obviously, movie tie ins are a sure-fire way to get the cash registers ringing, but was there any specific genre that could deliver when others were found floundering and was there some sort of magic formula?

As with everything, the answer was, timing. As we all know, the publishing world goes through phases or crazes, one week it could be adult erotica (such as Fifty Shades) and next month Young Adult (Twilight). As frustrating and soul destroying as it is, the cold stark truth to having a hugely successful novel is all about having the right product, at the right time, regardless of the quality of such material.

So how does this affect those of us that dwell on the fringes of modern literature? The ones creating nightmares and shining the spotlight on mankind’s darkest fears? The answer may very well be subjective but in my humble opinion, the time of the horror novel will once again rear its ugly and demented head, thus becoming a viable and lucrative product for the masses.

Just take the monumental explosion of horror based fictional programs flooding our television screens; they are without a doubt fuelling the public’s appetite for darker material. One only has to look at the popularity of The Walking Dead or American Horror Story to see what I mean. I wonder if those same doom Sayers berating the genre are eating humble pie now, for someone had to write the episodes and get paid big for doing it!

Between the surge in self-publishing and the publics new found craving for terror, not to mention the readily available technology to promote and sell our wares, is it any wonder that there are more and more authors’ not only releasing their material but releasing horror?

Granted, most could be considered subpar and below the level required by the most ardent fan, but the fact that the genre is growing at an exponential rate is both exciting, and encouraging for authors and fans alike. With the scene once again flourishing it is only a matter of time before the big boys once again see the merit in snapping up the hottest new horror authors and show the world that it cannot only be a money maker, but a genre worthy of praise, not ridicule.

When all is said, and done, there will always be authors who specialise in horror, and fans who demand it. Regardless if they are self-published or backed by some corporate monster. From a personal perspective, my journey writing horror has only just begun and to say I am nervous is an understatement.

As I look around at today’s scene, I am blown away by the talent on offer. Back in the 90’s, if you weren’t signed to a big publishing house, no-one would ever have heard about you. Now, everyone can get their name out there, myself included.

I tried the big boys, in the hopes of scoring that elusive multi book deal but was unsuccessful for the most part. I did get one offer but turned it down due to terms. Some may call me foolish but I dance to no-ones tune but my own. Will that be to my detriment? Only time will tell, but for now I am happy to write and to get my work out there to people who enjoy a good story. Extreme, supernatural, contemporary the list of sub-genre choices is endless, as is the quality of the genre as a whole and those who create it.

So then, are horror writer’s real authors?
Damn right we are, and our time is coming.

thumbnail_Jackals - CoverFrom the aftermath of a brutal massacre at a rural police station, two survivors leave behind a swathe of bodies and a cryptic sigil painted on the wall, in blood.

A disgraced Detective Inspector begrudgingly starts to investigate the crime scene but as the facts begin to emerge the trail appears to lead into the highest echelons of power, making the policeman himself the next target.

As the conspiracy spirals ever deeper and with no-one to trust, both prime suspect and policeman are forced into an unlikely alliance to prove, not only their innocence, but the existence of a force so ingrained into our society, it could rewrite the very fabric of human nature.