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Populate the Moon (Naughty Reads)
Misty Arva has been sent to the moon for one purpose. She is to help populate it along with three other women. Founded as a mining colony, the United Republic of States is no longer willing to spend the money it takes to transport new workers to the moon. Instead, they’ve devised a new plan. Send women to the moon to entertain and relax the men. As a result, they should become pregnant and help populate the moon and provide new workers.
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The Tiny Vampire From Outer Space That’s Bitey XVII: The First Vampire City
Marcus, Shadow, Oliver and Alera are making progress on their takeover of Beach City, and they are starting to expand into Ocean City. So far, the majority of humans seem to be oblivious to the slow takeover of Earth by the vampire off-worlders, and that’s only working to Marcus’ advantage. In fact, the only group that seems to realize that Earth is being colonized by vampires are a new group of hunters, but so far, Marcus and his clan have been able to burn them out before they could get a foothold.
Chapter 1 – Leaving the Jungle City
Marcus woke early the next evening and started packing his and Shadow’s belongings. He started looking for the rookery when he remembered that the sacs were staying, and the jungle food would be looking after them. It’d be the first time he’d ever left part of his clan behind, but it was in the best interest of himself, Shadow and the sacs.
By the time Marcus finished packing, the sun was down, or at least, it was down enough for him to put on a cloak and carry their belongings to the RV.
Marcus walked down to the main level of the pyramid with his and Shadow’s belongings.
“Master Marcus, are you going outside?” a jungle food asked.
“I need to put these in the RV,” Marcus said.
“We will do it. It’s still a little light out,” he said.
Marcus handed the jungle food his and Shadow’s bags. He wasn’t going to argue with them over whether or not the sun was down enough for him to walk outside. They knew the jungle and the days and nights better than he did.
“Is little master awake?” a female jungle food asked.
Marcus chuckled. “No, she’s still asleep. If you want to get her some food and wake her up, that would be helpful.”
“Of course,” the female jungle food said.
“And everyone who’s coming with me needs to grab their things,” Marcus said.
“I’ll let them know,” a male said.
Marcus did have a bigger RV this time, but it was still going to be a tight fit.
Shadow hopped downstairs a few minutes later.
“The food table is right there.” Marcus motioned.
Shadow grabbed a blood and a bloodcake. “Did they pack some snacks?”
“Snacks for the road?” a jungle food asked.
“Yes,” Shadow said.
“I’m working on it now,” he said. “Your snacks and the food for us.”
“Good idea,” Marcus said. “We always stop and get some living creature food along the route, but that’ll be better.” He walked over to the food table and grabbed a blood.
Shadow ate cream-filled bloodcakes.
Marcus drained his blood then grabbed a couple bloodchocolates.
“These snack sacks are filled.” The jungle food put them on the stone table.
“Thank you,” Marcus said.
“The bags are in your vehicle, and everyone else is also putting their bags into the vehicle,” a male jungle food said.
“Good. Is Ester aboard?” Marcus asked.
“She is. She’s helping to organize the bags,” he said.
“We should be ready as soon as Marius gets down here,” Marcus said.
“I’m right here,” Marius said as he stepped off the last step of the staircase.
“There’s food on the table.” Marcus looked toward Shadow. “If Shadow hasn’t eaten it all.”
“She’s trying,” one of the jungle foods said.
“I’m full,” Shadow said after swallowing a bloodcake.
“She left some for me,” Marius said as he walked up to the table and grabbed a blood. “Have you eaten?”
“I have,” Marcus said as he grabbed a bloodchocolate. “But there’s always room for bloodchocolates.”
Marius shook his head. He set his empty bottle on the table and grabbed a bloodcake. “I can’t believe how much you’ve changed.”
“Blame that little thing over there,” Marcus said between bloodchocolates. “She has shown me that indulging in a little luxury every once in a while is not a bad thing.”
“It’s about time,” Marius said after he finished his bloodcake.
“Are we ready?” Marcus asked as he grabbed the snack bags.
“I’m ready,” Shadow said.
“I think everyone who’s going is inside your vehicle,” one of the jungle foods said.
“Then, we’re heading home,” Marcus said. He picked up Shadow and walked out of the pyramid and down the stairs. Marcus set her on her feet just outside the RV. “Is everyone inside?”
“We are,” Ester stepped to the doorway.
“Do you have everything you want?” Marcus asked. “You’ve got time to check one more time if you need to.”
“We have everything,” another jungle food said.
Shadow hopped inside the RV. “Oh, crowded.”
Marcus peered inside. There were eight jungle foods, instead of five and all their bags. He was happy that the bags were organized and stacked well. There was a path to the bathroom. “Do you guys need instruction on how to use that bathroom in order to relieve yourselves?”
“We do,” Ester said.
Marcus made his way carefully through the RV to the bathroom. “That is a toilet.” Marcus raised the lid. “You sit on that. Do whatever you need to do. Then, flush it.” He pressed the button on the wall.
“Oh,” Ester said. “How incredible.”
“How do you clean yourself?” another jungle food asked.
“That is that white roll.” Marcus pointed. “You clean yourself with that.” He turned. “Wash your hands at the sink.” Marcus turned on the water then turned it off.”
“Is that roll for one use?” Ester asked.
“No.” Marcus leaned down and pulled on the roll. He tore some of the paper off. “You use the sheets.” He passed the paper to Ester.
Ester looked at it. “Oh, it’s like leaves on a roll.” She folded it in her hand. “Like this.” She showed the other jungle foods.
“We can use that,” a jungle food said.
“I’m afraid the details are lost on me, but that’s the basics,” Marcus said.
“We’ll figure it out from here,” Ester said.
“Where am I supposed to sit?” Shadow asked.
“On a jungle food or Marius,” Marcus said.
“Marius.” Shadow squeezed up front and got into Marius’ lap.
“Just what I always wanted. A bony little vampire,” Marius said.
Marcus chuckled as he closed the side door and locked it. He walked up front and got into the driver’s seat. “She’s not that bony.”
“Yes, she is,” Marius said.
“Pillow?” Ester held a pillow through the gap between the two front seats.
“Yes. Thank you.” Marius put the pillow between his lap and Shadow. “That’s better.”
“I guess she really doesn’t sit on me like that,” Marcus said as he started the engine and turned the RV around so they could drive out of the jungle.
“I’m sure when she gets into your lap, it’s not to use you as a chair,” Marius said.
“You may have a point.” Marcus drove down the jungle road.
He drove to the beginning of the bridge they had crossed when driving to the jungle pyramid and pulled off on the side into a small parking lot.
It was just after two in the morning, but Marcus didn’t want to exit the bridge at sunrise.
He stood and stepped into the back. “You guys can stretch your legs. Cook some food. We’ll be here for the day,” Marcus said.
“It’s only two,” Shadow said.
“We’d get to the other side around dawn,” Marcus said. “I’d rather not be on the bridge that late. There’s no rush to get home.”
Shadow looked at Marius.
“My only updates have been from Oliver and Alera. Valeria hasn’t called me,” Marius said.
“I thought she called like two hours ago,” Shadow said.
Marius shook his head. “That was Alera.”
“Did she say anything important?” Marcus asked as the jungle foods filed out of the van.
“Not particularly. She said Valeria was still using the jars. She thought she had maybe an inch distension.”
“That’s not much,” Marcus said.
“Especially since Shadow’s already expelled,” Marius said.
“It doesn't necessarily mean the sacs aren’t viable,” Marcus said. “Is this her first set?”
“Given her reaction, I think so,” Marius said.
“I’ll take a look at them after she expells, but it’s usually pretty obvious if they aren’t viable,” Marcus said.
“Don’t worry too much about it. We’ll find you a good female vampire when we get back,” Shadow said.
Marius grinned. “Another one of you.”
“The redheads bite,” Marcus said.
“Well, maybe not so red, more of a strawberry blonde,” Marius said.
“We’re going to make our food out here. We brought a little cooking setup,” Ester said. “Your food is in the fridge.”
“We’ll get it,” Marcus said. He walked over to the small refrigerator and opened it. “Blood for Shadow.” He handed it to her. “Blood for Marius.” He handed the bottle to Marius. “Blood for Marcus.” He grabbed a bottle for himself.
Shadow laughed as she uncorked her bottle. “Were there any bloodchocolates in there?”
“Plenty.” Marcus drained his blood then grabbed a bloodchocolate container from out of the fridge.
They spent the rest of the night playing cards and eating snacks. Marcus carried Shadow to the bed and laid her in it before tucking her in.
“How do you want to arrange everyone’s sleeping?” Marius asked.
“I’m going to pull out all the beds and see what we have.” Marcus walked over to the couch and pulled out the bed. Then, he turned the seating area at the table into another bed. “I think we can put two jungle foods with Shadow. One with you. One here. I’ll sleep up front, but we still have four other jungle foods.”
Marius looked at the beds. “Two can sleep on the floor. I can sleep in the passenger’s chair.”
“Maybe we can fit three jungle foods in with Shadow,” Marcus said.
“Are you trying to figure out sleeping arrangements?” Ester asked as she stepped into the RV.
“We are. If we can fit three of you with Shadow, two can sleep on that bed. One can sleep where the table was, and two on the floor,” Marcus said. “But I think I’m still short a spot.”
“We can fit two other little bed,” Ester said. She turned toward the rest of the living creatures. “It’s bedtime. Three of you can pile in with the redhead.”
“She’s not going to mind,” Marcus said. “You’ll just keep her warm.”
“I’ll sleep there. Who else wants to sleep with the little vampire?” Ester asked.
“I will,” one of the males said.
“I will too,” a female said.
“Everyone get comfortable.” Marcus closed the side door after everyone was inside. Then, he put the window shields up before making himself comfortable in the front seat, or as comfortable as possible.
“Here’s a couple blankets.” Ester handed Marcus and Marius each a blanket.
“Thank you,” Marcus said. He settled into the chair just as he heard Shadow.
“Was that words?” Marius asked.
“That’s that old language that her breed first learns,” Marcus said. “She’s just happy I finally got her enough warm pillows.”
Eventually, everyone fell asleep.
- Hits: 446
The Tiny Vampire From Outer Space That’s Bitey XVI: Beach City Takeover (Shadow Conn Tiny Vampire Book 16)
Marcus' plans for Beach City are coming to fruition. Julian is set to take over as the new mayor. Unfortunately, they have a new threat. A new order of hunters has infiltrated Beach City and the mayor's office. Marcus must remove the hunters in order to keep Beach City safe for his family and move forward with his plan to make Earth a vampire-friendly planet.
Chapter 1 – The Mayor’s Domain
Shadow jolted awake and looked around. “Marcus…”
“Marcus is in the other room,” Sabina said as she stood from the coffee table where she was playing a board game with Cris.
She walked over to Shadow and watched her for a minute. Shadow was sitting up, but she wasn’t awake. “Little sire, you’re not awake yet.”
“How do you know that?” Cris asked.
“Her eyes are closed,” Sabina said.
“What?” Cris looked. “Huh…”
“I don’t know what she’s seeing, but it’s not this room.” Sabina hugged her.
Alera stepped into the doorway. “Is Shadow awake?”
“Not really,” Sabina said as she stepped back from Shadow. “She knows Marcus isn’t in here, but I don’t know what she’s looking at. A hug didn’t help.”
“I’m sure it helped.” Alera scanned Shadow’s surface thoughts. “Her bedroom with no Marcus.” She walked over to Shadow with an Umbra One. “Shadow, I have food.”
Shadow opened her eyes and inhaled. She didn’t readily recognize the room. “Where am I?”
“The back parlor of the cabin,” Alera said.
“And I needed a hug?” Shadow asked as she took the blood bottle.
“You were yelling for Marcus,” Sabina said.
Shadow drained the blood. “I slept terrible. It was all nightmares.”
“Nightmares that the house was attacked and someone was shooting guns?” Alera asked.
“How do you know?” Shadow asked.
“That wasn’t a nightmare. It really happened,” Alera said.
Shadow jumped off the couch. “Then, Marcus is really hurt. And the jungle food.”
“Hold on there, speedy. The jungle food are healing, and Oliver is trying to get Marcus to let him check for more wounds.”
“There’s a side wound, and something is wrong with his chest,” Shadow said then turned her head. She could hear Oliver yelling.
“Let me see that rib!”
“It’s fine,” Marcus said then snarled when it looked like Oliver was ignoring his decree.
“When have you ever had a lump on your rib? Come here,” Oliver said.
Oliver ran toward Marcus with vampiric speed, sliced the area with a nail and pulled the bullet out.
“Found the bullet!” Oliver said as he ran out of the room before Marcus could get a hold of him. He slammed the door of the office shut.
“That was excessively painful!” Marcus said.
“You wouldn’t hold still, and you’re body won’t reject that thing while you’re drinking Umbra Ones,” Oliver said as he held the door until he felt like Marcus wasn’t going to come tearing through it.
Shadow looked at Sabina. She was shocked. “It’s okay. I think.”
“Is big sire okay?” Sabina asked.
“He will be now,” Oliver said as he walked down the hall. “That was one hell of a bullet.” He walked into the back parlor and showed it to Sabina, Cris, Shadow and Alera.
“Where was that?” Alera asked.
“It got stuck in his rib,” Oliver said.
“That’s probably a good thing,” Alera said.
“He would have been asleep for at least two weeks had that gone all the way through him,” Oliver said.
“Why are you in here?” Shadow asked. “Doesn’t he need to be bandaged?”
“Not right this second. He was trying to bite my hand off.”
“Did he get you?” Alera asked.
Oliver looked at both his hands and his arms. “No, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Did anyone realize he’s got a double set of fangs in his upper jaw?” Oliver asked.
“What double set of fangs?” Shadow asked. “He’s got some long lower fangs when he lets his vampire out.”
“He’s got his canines then he’s got a second set right next to them,” Oliver said.
“Never noticed. He must not use them often,” Shadow said.
“Open your mouth, Shadow,” Oliver said.
Shadow opened her mouth.
Oliver looked at her fangs. “Interesting. Must be part of their lineage.”
“Does she have two sets of fangs?” Alera asked.
“Not exactly, or maybe not at her age. She’s got her primary fangs. Then, the ones next to them are extra sharp and slightly pointy.” He turned to Sabina. “Let me look at you.”
Sabina opened her mouth.
“Nope, not on her.” Oliver examined Cris. “And he’s barely got his primary fangs.”
“Must be an age thing,” Alera said.
“Or an anger thing. He’s madder than Hades in an ice storm,” Oliver said. “With that being said, I’m going to try and get him into a hot bath upstairs.”
“Hot bath!” Shadow hopped.
“Come on, tiny,” Oliver said as he walked out of the room to the office. “Marcus, I found something you want.”
Marcus stood from the couch and walked over to the door. He started to pick Shadow up and thought better of it.
“You better not,” Oliver said.
“I thought better of it,” Marcus said. “I don’t know if I’m going to make to to Beach City with Julian.”
“Let’s see how you feel after a bath,” Oliver said as they walked upstairs.
“Are you in pain?” Shadow asked.
“Very much so, especially since Oliver removed a bullet from one of my bones,” Marcus said.
“I don’t feel it,” Shadow said.
“I’m making sure you don’t,” Marcus said as he climbed the stairs.
Shadow hopped up onto the last step. When she turned, Marcus was only halfway up the stairs.
“Shadow, start the bath in the master bedroom,” Oliver said. He walked down the stairs then helped Marcus up them. “I’ll see if there are any bottles of blood leftover from last night.”
“I would appreciate that. I’ve had three Umbra Ones tonight,” Marcus said. “They’re not helping.”
“I’ll check the mix on the Umbra Ones too,” Oliver said. “We’re not connected to the global system, but you never know. They could have put in an update to find random units.”
Shadow turned on the water to the bath and stopped the drain.
Marcus walked into the bathroom. “Oliver is checking for better food.”
“I think you need it,” Shadow said as she tested the water. It was a little cool for her, but she thought Marcus would like it.
Marcus leaned down and felt the water. “You can make that hotter.”
Shadow turned up the hot water.
“I hate to ask, but…”
Shadow helped Marcus into the bathtub.
Marcus sat down and leaned against the back of the tub. “That’s better.”
Alera knocked on the bathroom doorframe. “Marcus, I found some medicine, and Oliver is bringing the last of the stuff the jungle food made yesterday.”
“What kind of pain medicine?” Marcus asked.
“I called Dr. Jones. He recommended something in the replicator at ten times the maximum human dosage,” Alera said.
“It’s a dropper.” Alera filled the dropper. When Marcus opened his mouth, she squeezed it in. “He said you’ll feel better, and you may fall asleep, but he’ll be here in about forty minutes, depending on the roads. He wants to look at the jungle food and you.”
“Send Shadow with Marius and my sire,” Marcus said.
“What!? You want me to leave when you’re injured?”
“No, I want to review your head when you get back since I can’t be there,” Marcus said.
“Oh,” Shadow said.
“In that case…” Alera walked over to the shower and set it on the steam setting before turning it on. “Steam for a minute. I have a couple things I need to do. Then, I’ll wash you.”
“I’ll be healed by the time you get back,” Marcus said.
“You will be. Dr. Jones is bringing his medicine,” Alera said.
“Good,” Marcus said.
“I’ll be back. Both of you relax,” Alera said.
Shadow stepped into the steaming shower and sprawled across the bench.
By the time Alera got back to the master bathroom, both Marcus and Shadow were asleep. [Is Julian ready?] she asked Oliver.
[Almost, and Lucia should be here with the boys any minute. Why?] Oliver asked.
[They’re both asleep,] Alera said.
[Did Marcus drink the food I brought up?] Oliver asked.
[He did,] Alera said.
[Let him sleep. Wash Shadow’s hair. After spending 20 minutes in that steam shower, she’s probably clean,] Oliver said.
“Shadow, are you taking a steam-nap?” Alera asked.
Shadow opened her eyes and turned her head. “Maybe.”
Alera grinned. “Come on. I’ll wash your hair in the sink.” She grabbed a towel and wrapped it around Shadow as soon as she turned off the water and exited the shower.
Alera washed and rinsed Shadow’s hair in the sink then wrapped a towel around her head. “I have clothes for you on the bed.”
Shadow started to hop into the bedroom before stopping and looking at Marcus.
“He’s okay, and Dr. Jones will look at him in about an hour or so,” Alera said.
Marcus opened his eyes. “Come here, tiny.” He raised an arm. When Shadow leaned over the tub, he pulled her closer and kissed her. “I’ll be fine by the time you get back. I love you.” He whispered the latter into her ear.
“He really will be, but we need to hurry,” Alera said.
Shadow hopped into the bedroom.
“I don’t know how she ever functioned without you,” Alera said.
“I don’t either,” Marcus said. “For that matter, I’m not sure how I functioned without her.”
“Just rest. I’ll get her dressed,” Alera said.
“Thank you,” Marcus said. “If she starts getting grumpy, call me.”
“I will.” Alera walked into the bedroom.
“Stop and pick her up some lamb bones!” Marcus yelled from the bathroom.
Alera laughed and shook her head. Even in extreme pain, he was still trying to take care of Shadow. “We will.” She turned her attention to Shadow who had already put on her shirt and fuzzy pants. “Do you need help?”
“No.” Shadow put on her socks then grabbed a boot.
Alera kneeled down. “Let me do this. It’ll be faster.” She put Shadow’s boots on her feet and tied them.
“How’d you do that so fast?” Shadow asked.
“I have to put shoes on half the childer every night,” Alera said. “And most of them have little feet just like you.” She stood. “You’re dressed. Let’s go. I think we’re running late.”
Shadow hopped out of the bedroom and down the stairs ahead of Alera. She walked into the kitchen and looked around. “Where’s the food?”
“All the food is injured,” Alera said as she walked over to the refrigerator. “Let’s see if there’s anything left from last night.” She found one in the bottom shelf in the door and pulled it out. Alera opened it and smelled it. “Oliver saved you one. Let me heat it up.”
Shadow watched while Alera pulled a pot out of the cabinet and set it on the stove.
Alera dumped the bottle into it and turned on the burner. “This’ll just take a minute.”
“The childer are fed and studying,” Oliver said as he walked into the kitchen. “Did you see that bottle I left?”
“I did,” Alera said. “Thank you.”
“We really eat a lot,” Oliver said.
“We have a lot of fangs to feed,” Alera said as she stirred the blood so it wouldn’t clump. “How are the jungle foods?”
“They’re okay,” Oliver said. “Mia’s up. She’s tending to the males. Changing and inspecting bandages.”
“Good.” Alera turned off the burner and poured the blood into a large glass.
Shadow grabbed the glass and drained it.
“How are the childer doing?” Alera asked.
“They’re okay. I let them ask me any question about last night, and I answered them,” Oliver said. “That seemed to help. Most of them were just concerned about Marcus. I told them he just needed rest, and he’d be fine later tonight.”
“If he feels well enough, he’ll probably go outside with them,” Alera said.
“Is there a bloodpudding?” Sabina asked as she stepped into the kitchen doorway.
“Extra lumpy?” Oliver asked as he walked over to the replicator.
“Yes!” Sabina said.
“Coming up.” Oliver programmed Sabina’s bloodpudding and pressed the start button.
“Are you staying here, Oliver?” Alera asked.
“I am,” Oliver said.
“We’re here,” Lucia said as she walked through the front door with the boys.
“Good. You and Alera and Shadow are going with Julian to town,” Oliver said as he stepped into the hallway after handing Sabina her bloodpudding. “I’m staying here with Marcus and the childer.”
“I can watch the childer if you want to go,” Lucia said.
“Marcus would feel better if you went with Shadow,” Oliver said.
“Oh. Is she all right?” Lucia asked.
Oliver stepped further into the hall. “She’s fine, but you’re going into town where you could potentially run into people associated with Marcus’ injuries.”
“He’s afraid she’s going to final them,” Lucia said.
“He’s worried she’ll tear them apart,” Oliver said.
“I understand the job duties,” Lucia said.
“I thought you might,” Oliver said.
“Where’s Julian?” Alera asked as she walked out of the kitchen with a sack slung over her shoulder.
“He was outside,” Lucia said.
“Good,” Alera said. “I have snacks, but we need to stop by the shelter for some lamb bones.”
“We can do that,” Lucia said. “Are we taking my van?”
“I think yours would work better,” Alera said.
“We can take mine,” Lucia said.
“How are the roads?” Alera asked as they walked out the front door.
“Mostly clear,” Lucia said as she spotted Julian. “We’re ready, Julian.”
Julian walked over to the van. “Are we still going to the mayor’s mansion?”
“We are,” Alera said as she opened the side door of the van.
“How’s big sire?” Julian asked as he helped Shadow into the van.
“He’ll be fine,” Alera said. She stepped in on the passenger’s side.
“Are we stopping at the shelter first?” Lucia asked as she started the engine.
“We are,” Alera said.
“We’re off,” Lucia said as she turned the van around and drove down the driveway. “Did Marcus want us to stop anywhere else?”
“He didn’t say, but I’m sure he’d appreciate any and all updates,” Alera said.
“We can stop by the construction site too, if they’re there,” Lucia said. “Unless. Julian, were you given a time to show up tonight?”
“I was not,” Julian said.
“That’s unorganized,” Lucia said. “But it works to our advantage.”
“After last night, there may not even be anyone at the mansion to notify Julian.” Alera opened the snack sack. “Shadow, do you want bloodchocolates or bloodcakes?”
“Bloodcake,” Shadow said.
Alera opened the container and handed it to Shadow.
Shadow took the container and grabbed a bloodcake out of it.
“What?” Alera turned her head to look.
“She just ate half of it in one bite,” Julian said.
“Here’s a couple wetwipes,” Alera said as she handed them to Julian.
“I no longer wonder why my siblings are messy eaters,” Julian said.
“They get it honestly,” Alera said.
Shadow ate the bloodcake and another one. Then, she handed the container back to Alera.
“Julian, are you hungry?” Alera asked before she put the lid on.
“No, I’m fine,” Julian said.
Alera closed the container and put it away.
“We’re coming up on the construction site,” Lucia said.
“We should stop,” Shadow said.
“I can turn in there. I see some vehicles,” Lucia said.
Julian opened a wetwipe. “Little sire.” When she turned to look at him, he quickly wiped off her face and hands.
“My childer are sneaky,” Shadow said.
Julian grinned as she threw the wipes away in the trash can. “You should see me catch Sabina.”
Lucia parked near the edge of the property and turned off the engine.
Shadow hopped out of the van.
“Good evening,” the construction manager said as he walked over.
“How’s it coming?” Lucia asked.
He looked around and spotted Shadow. “Where’s Marcus?”
“He’s got some business to attend to tonight,” Lucia said. “I’m Lucia. This is Alera and Julian, and you know Shadow.”
“Indeed I do,” he said. “Well, I can give you a tour of the place so far. As you can see, we’re building the wall.”
“How long is that going to take?” Lucia asked.
“We should be done with it tonight. Up front, we’ll place the human grocery store.”
“Marcus is insistent about that,” Shadow said. “But where’s the real food entrance?”
“It’ll be at the back of the store,” the contractor said. “It’ll be marked with something. Probably Service Exit with some fangs or some decal we all understand.”
“Send the picture ideas to Marcus,” Shadow said.
“I will,” he said.
They walked the property while the contractor pointed out the major features. Currently, there were only red markers indicating where everything would go and a few poured foundations.
Shadow looked around.
“Marcus is still at home,” Alera said.
“Oh. Right,” Shadow said.
“We should probably head on,” Lucia said.
“We should. We still have a lot of stops,” Alera said. “Thank you. We’ll let Marcus know.”
Shadow climbed into the van behind Julian.
Alera and Lucia stepped into the van.
Lucia drove to the shelter. “Shadow, go get your lamb bones. Be quick.”
Shadow hopped out of the van and into the shelter.
“Welcome back,” Sadie said. “Where’s Marcus?”
“He’s got things to do tonight. Are there any lamb bones?” Shadow asked.
“We just got a meat shipment. Go ask Silvia in the kitchen,” Sadie said.
Shadow walked into the kitchen.
“There she is,” Sylvia said. “I have what you want.” She walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out a bag.
Shadow hopped over and grabbed it. She unzipped it and pulled out a bone before sticking it in her mouth.
“Those just came in tonight, so they’re fresh,” Sylvia said.
“Thank you. We’re in a hurry,” Shadow said.
“Enjoy your night,” Sylvia said.
Shadow walked out of the shelter and got into the van. She closed the door. “I got the lamb bones.”
“They’re all yours,” Alera said. Then, she heard a crack and Shadow gasp. “What was that? Did you break a tooth?”
“Not that I know of,” Shadow said.
“Lean up here and let me see,” Alera said.
Shadow moved between the front two seats.
“Open your mouth,” Alera said. When Shadow did, she looked inside. “Nothing’s broke. What happened?”
“I think Marcus got stabbed in the side again,” Shadow said.
“Oh, Dr. Jones is probably treating him by now,” Alera said. She touched Shadow’s side. “Does it hurt right there?”
“Yep. That’s Marcus. Let me fix that,” Alera said.
Shadow inhaled. “How’d you do that?”
“Put another muffler on your bond,” Alera said. “I’m sure that was accidental. He doesn’t want you to feel how much pain he’s in.”
“If that was only part of it, I’m worried,” Shadow said.
“I’m sure Dr. Jones will give him some medicine in a minute,” Alera said. “If you’re still in pain, I have some medicine I can give you.”
“I’m okay,” Shadow said.
“We’re almost to the Mayor’s mansion,” Lucia said as she turned a corner.
- Hits: 4522
The Tiny Vampire From Outer Space That’s Bitey XV: Beach City Election
Marcus and Shadow have returned from their Beach City Vacation. Now, it's time to help Julian with his Beach City Mayor election campaign. Marcus sees it as a large step in the correct direction when it comes to taking over Beach city in the name of the vampires.
Chapter 1 – Hunting Grounds
Marcus woke to his wrist device dinging. He looked at it. The construction crew had finally emailed him the plans for the hunting grounds. The timestamp said they’d emailed it an hour before dawn.
“Long night.” Marcus had long since stopped trying to work that late into the night, and most nights, he had his watch set to silent from the hours of 4 in the morning to 9 at night. That last hour was meant for him and Shadow so he could get them both fed, showered and in bed and possibly watch a movie until the sun rose.
Marcus slid out of the bed. He leaned back over the bed and tucked Shadow in before grabbing a pair of sweatpants out of his dresser and putting them on.
He looked around the room. No Shari with food and hugs and no Mia. Marcus made a contemplative sound, then turned his head when he heard a knock on the doorframe.
“My apologies,” Mia said. “I’m running a little late tonight.”
“Shadow’s not usually up for another forty minutes or so,” Marcus said.
“I have blood and bloodchocolates. The bloodcakes didn’t turn out. That’s why I’m late. I have a new batch curing in the oven,” Mia said.
“What was the problem with the bloodcakes?” Marcus asked as Mia set the food on the vanity.
“I’m not used to modern ovens. I had the heat too hot. They turned into bricks,” Mia said.
“Alera can probably help you with the oven,” Marcus said.
“She actually stopped by to see how I was doing just as I took the first batch out,” Mia said. “She worked on the oven temperature while I described how we usually make them.”
“Good,” Marcus said.
“Bloodcakes?” Shadow sat up in the bed and looked around. “I smell bloodcakes.”
“Not yet. Not even you would have been able to bite through the first batch,” Mia said. “I have a new batch baking though.”
“I’ll get Shadow fed and dressed if you want to monitor those bloodcakes,” Marcus said.
“Thank you,” Mia said.
“Is it cold out?” Shadow said from inside her closet.
“It’s snowing,” Mia said as she started to walk out of the master bedroom.
“Snow,” Marcus said. “I thought we were too far south on this planet for that.”
“There’s white stuff on the ground,” Mia said. “And it’s cold out. I don’t know why it snowed.”
“I’ll have to watch the news when I get downstairs,” Marcus said then turned to Shadow. “Wear your fleece.”
Shadow put on some fleece leggings, thick socks and a long-sleeved t-shirt.
Marcus grabbed the jugs of blood off the side table. When Shadow emerged from the closet, he handed her one. “It’s open.”
Shadow drained the jug while Marcus drained his. “I think that was an extra-large blood.”
Marcus finished his. “That is good. That puts my blooddolls to shame.”
Shadow laughed. “We’re not selling these are we?”
“No,” Marcus said. “The jungle food is for us or whoever books a stay at our jungle resort.”
Shadow grabbed a couple bloodchocolates and ate them. “They’re warm.”
Marcus grabbed one and ate it. “She did manage to heat those a little bit. I think they’re even better.” He grabbed a few more and ate them. He reached for another one and realized there was only one left. “Did you want this one?”
“Go ahead. I’m waiting for bloodcakes,” Shadow said.
Marcus ate it. “Let’s see what’s downstairs.” He picked up Shadow and carried her down to the kitchen. “The bedroom ran out of bloodchocolates.”
“I have more,” Mia said. She motioned to a bowl on the table. “Fresh from the stove.”
Marcus set Shadow on her feet and walked over to the bowl. He sampled one. “How’d you heat these?” He grabbed two more and ate them.
“Really carefully. They have to be cooked to firm, but if you leave them in just a little longer, they end up staying warm for a few minutes,” Mia said.
“These are great.” Marcus ate a couple more. And then another one. “I’m done.”
“Shadow wanted to know when the bloodcakes are going to be finished,” Marcus said.
Mia looked at the timer. “Twenty minutes.”
“We can scan the news while we wait,” Marcus said.
Shadow followed Marcus into the back parlor.
Marcus turned on the TV to the news. He hadn’t had a reason to watch the news since the riots. He wasn’t entirely sure what was going on in Beach City other than the election, which he was fairly certain Julian would win.
The first newscast was a blurry shot of the spaceship that left the pyramid city.
“They don’t know anything,” Shadow said.
Marcus listened to the reporter then laughed. All the man could say was that it was presumably some off-worlders that decided to go home. That was true enough.
The second news program was of the election. It showed a picture of Julian and the current mayor. It briefly announced their platforms and showed the candidates answering questions. The mayor was first. He claimed he would treat off-worlders better and make Earth a more welcoming planet. Marcus heard many members of the audience laugh and a few gasp.
“There’s no way that’s true,” Marcus said.
“He unintentionally let everyone know that there are off-worlders here,” Shadow said.
“I’m not sure he was believed,” Marcus said. “But I didn’t think that they made that news official either.”
“There’s Julian. How’d they do that?” Shadow asked as she pointed to the TV.
Marcus looked. Julian was on the screen. “Maybe…” He started to say maybe the same way they got him in the commercials, but Marcus didn’t think that was possible. “I have no idea.”
“Is that Julian’s commercial?” Oliver asked as he stepped into the doorway.
“It’s a speech of his, but I don’t know how he’s appearing on the TV,” Marcus said.
“Special suit,” Oliver said. “And some pretty fantastic software.”
“I’m sorry I missed the development of that,” Marcus said then paused his words as Julian started talking.
A man asked Julian how he’d clean up the city. Marcus wasn’t surprised when Julian gave a no-nonsense answer that amounted to increasing the police budget, especially for the overnight hours.
Then, he was asked how he could increase employment for those who could only work at night. Marcus wasn’t surprised when Julian had to think about that question. Finally, the answer amounted to increased safety will help businesses extend their hours.
“Not bad answers,” Marcus said.
“I thought they were okay,” Oliver said. “He’s not a politician yet, so he doesn’t quite sound like one.”
“I think that might be to his benefit. A lot of the mayor’s answers seemed cliché,” Marcus said. “When was this done?”
“I think a night or two after you left. This is one of Julian’s commercials. Though, they took out the before and after in this version to make it look more like a news story,” Oliver said. “It’s been running for a couple nights.”
“When’s the election?” Marcus asked.
“A week,” Oliver said. “Well, technically the election cycle is two weeks. The week before and the week of the election.”
“Fast campaign season,” Marcus said.
“It doesn’t run on for years,” Oliver said. “They try and get it done quickly.”
“How’s Julian looking in the polls?” Marcus asked.
“We’ll have that answer later tonight. Julian is leaving to meet with them in a few minutes,” Oliver said.
“Does he need me to go with him?” Marcus asked.
“Let me ask. Alera was helping him with his suit,” Oliver said.
“He said he’d love it if you could come tonight,” Oliver said.
“I better put some better clothes on,” Marcus said.
“What am I doing tonight?” Shadow asked.
“I’ll call my sire. You can go with her to Ocean City if she hasn’t left yet.” Marcus dialed his sire on his wrist device.
“Marcus, what can I do for you?” Lucia asked.
“Are you still bringing the boys by?” Marcus asked.
“I should be at your house in five minutes,” Lucia said.
“Shadow would like to go with you to Ocean City,” Marcus said as he walked out of the parlor and into the kitchen.
Shadow followed Marcus.
“Of course. I can pick her up when I drop the boys off,” Lucia said.
“Thank you. We’ll see you in a minute,” Marcus said. He ended the call. “She’s coming up the driveway.”
“I’ll pack you both some snacks for the road,” Mia said.
Marcus watched as Mia replicated two bags then proceeded to fill them with jars of blood and bloodchocolates. “Did you learn to use the replicator?”
“Alera showed me again when she helped me with the bloodcakes.” She paused. “Oh, the bloodcakes.” Mia opened the oven.
Marcus handed her a padded glove.
Mia put on the glove and took the tray out of the oven. “These look better.” She set them on the stove. “They just need a minute to cool.”
Marcus wrapped his arms entirely around Shadow when she reached for one. “Not yet.”
Shadow squeaked and huffed.
Mia turned around. “Oh.”
“You have to watch her like a hawk sometimes,” Marcus said. “She has been known to grab things out of hot pans.”
“Oh, little vampire. Don’t do that,” Mia said. “You’ll get burned.” She tested the bloodcake at the edge of the tray. “It’s going to be a couple minutes yet.”
“Come upstairs with me. You can help me pick out a suit,” Marcus said. He picked Shadow up and carried her upstairs to the master bedroom.
Marcus opened his closet and turned on the light.
Shadow hopped inside. “Professional suit?”
“Something nice,” Marcus said.
Shadow sifted through Marcus’ suits. “I didn’t know you had this many.” She grabbed a dark gray suit and a dark purple shirt with purple gold cufflinks. Shadow walked out of the closet.
“Are you trying to tell me something?” Marcus asked as he took the suit from her.
Shadow looked at the suit then laughed when she realized the color combination she had picked out. “I wasn’t.”
Marcus chuckled as he dressed in the suit. “I know what’s on your mind. We’ll try and get some private time when we get back.”
“We could get some private time real quick right now,” Shadow said.
“I’d have to wear a mutto shield,” Marcus said.
Shadow grumbled. “I’m not in the mood to feel fake real mutto.”
Marcus looked at his wrist device. “The full moon is tomorrow. We’d make a mess otherwise.”
“Nevermind,” Shadow said.
“I thought you might change your mind.” Marcus led Shadow downstairs. “Is my sire here?”
“She’s getting the boys settled in the cabin,” Oliver said. “I think Julian is ready.”
“You’re snack bags,” Mia said. “I put bloodcakes in both.”
Marcus grabbed his and handed Shadow hers.
“And here’s a bloodcake for the walk.” Mia handed Shadow a bloodcake in a napkin.
Shadow took a bite of it. “Thank you.”
Marcus led Shadow out of the stone house to the cabin.
They entered through the back door.
“Are we late?” Marcus asked.
“Nope. Right on time,” Alera said as she walked into the kitchen.
“Have Marc or Shari made an appearance tonight?” Marcus asked.
“I haven’t seen them,” Alera said.
“Has anyone else woken up?” Marcus asked.
“We think we have two that might be up later tonight or tomorrow,” Alera said.
“What are their names?” Marcus asked.
“Marcus the third and Agnes,” Alera said.
“Agnes?” Marcus asked.
“It means sacred. Sabina liked it,” Alera said. “We sat around trying to think of a good name for her the other night.”
“Agnes is fine,” Marcus said. “We may want to give Marcus the third a gans.”
“We could. We didn’t think of one,” Alera said.
“I don’t want us to start getting them confused,” Marcus said.
“We could just rename him,” Shadow said. “He’s not awake yet. He doesn’t know his name.”
“Good point,” Marcus said.
“We could name him Maro,” Shadow said.
“That’s not bad,” Marcus said.
“Maro Carboni,” Alera said. “That has a nice ring.”
“Do you think it’s too close to bone marrow,” Marcus asked.
“Oh, it might be,” Alera said.
“What about Cris?” Shadow said.
Marcus chuckled. “Are we trying for joke names?”
“That would be short for crisis in English,” Alera said when Shadow looked confused.
“Let’s keep that on the burner,” Marcus said. “Have the childer do some more brainstorming.”
“I can do that,” Alera said.
Lucia stepped into the kitchen. “I have the boys settled. They’re playing with the other childer. Are you ready, Shadow?”
Shadow finished her bloodcake. “I’m ready.”
“Did you remember a bag of snacks?” Lucia asked. “We may be gone a few hours.”
Shadow held up the sack. “I have my snacks.”
“She’s ready with snacks,” Marcus said.
“Great. The food is still limited in Ocean City,” Lucia said.
“We haven’t set up a shelter there yet,” Marcus said.
“Actually, there in the process of getting one ready. I ran into Sadie the other night,” Lucia said.
“Oh, that’s right. I did tell her to open one,” Marcus said.
“She’s got the building. They’re moving equipment and supplies in,” Lucia said.
“I should probably check my email. I bet all that information is in there,” Marcus said.
“It probably is,” Lucia said. “She was very busy and tired the night I spoke to her. I suppose she also thought I’d tell you. She probably gave me too many details about the project.”
“Well, I trust my family, so that’s fine, and if she tells one of you, it’ll get back to me,” Marcus said. “However, I should get out there sometime in the next couple nights and see how it’s going.”
“It’s right downtown,” Lucia said. “You’d love the location.”
“I may try and get over there tomorrow night,” Marcus said. “Maybe later tonight. It depends on how long this meeting is with Julian.”
Lucia nodded. “Let’s go, Shadow. I’m running late.”
Shadow walked out of the cabin with Lucia and stepped into the passenger’s side of the van. She closed her door.
Lucia got in on the driver’s side. She closed her door, started the engine and turned the van around so they could leave the property.
“Was Marcus not doing anything interesting?” Lucia asked.
“It’s not interesting to me,” Shadow said. “He’s going with Julian to a campaign meeting.”
“Oh, you wouldn’t like that,” Lucia said. “It’s a whole lot of talk about speeches and strategies when it comes to winning political campaigns.”
“That sounds more boring than I thought it would be,” Shadow said.
“You’ll like this better. You can pick out some outfits while I check out the store. Then, we’ll stop by that hotel I might buy, and I’ll take you over to the new shelter,” Lucia said.
“That’s a much better night,” Shadow said.
“What was your other option?” Lucia asked.
“Entertaining myself or studying with the childer,” Shadow said.
“This was definitely the best option,” Lucia said. “Plus, we never get to spend any time together. I see all the other grandchilder all the time but never you.”
“I’m usually busy with Marcus,” Shadow said.
“Well, let’s have some fun tonight while we do a little business.”
Shadow watched the road while Lucia drove. “Isn’t this where Marcus’ old boss lives?”
“It is,” Lucia said. “But he’s not the same vampire he was. I’ve ran into a few more vampires that worked for him since I tried to drop off Ortho. They have all said that when they worked for him, he was the best employer they ever had. Generous. Understanding. He’s none of that now.”
“That’s too bad. Marcus liked him,” Shadow said.
“He’s a greedy, uncaring son of a bitch now,” Lucia said as she glanced at the clock on the dash. “Do you want to take a shortcut?”
“What kind of shortcut?” Shadow asked.
“This kind of shortcut.” Lucia opened a portal and drove the van through it.
“We’re running really late,” Lucia said as they drove in a straight line through the Umbra.”
“This is a little more excitement than I wanted,” Shadow said as she hung onto the armrests. The Umbra wasn’t known for its smooth ground.
“You’re okay. We’ll be leaving in a second.” Lucia opened a second portal.
They landed on the road with the Ocean City sign twenty feet in front of them.
“What was that?” Lucia asked.
“What was what?” Shadow asked.
“Did you see a castle in the Umbra?” Lucia asked.
“Oh yeah. Marcus and I visited it during the storm. Some vampire named Seneca owns it,” Shadow said.
“I need to look him up. That name sounds familiar,” Lucia said.
“Do you have Umbra history books?” Shadow asked.
“I have them for both Umbra and Chivitas,” Lucia said. “I found them the other night when I was unpacking in the new house.”
“Marcus might be interested in those,” Shadow said. “Actually, both Marcuses.”
“I’m going to look up Seneca when I get home,” Lucia said.
“Marcus didn’t know who he was. He said he was ten thousand years old.”
“He might be if it’s the Seneca I’m thinking of. Hell, he might be older than that,” Lucia said as she drove into Ocean City.
“Is he older than Jaq?” Shadow asked.
Lucia glanced at Shadow. “Don’t ever say that name in front of Marcus. But, I think he’s older than Jaq. Maybe not by much, but I do think he’s older.”
“This is making me feel like one of my childer,” Shadow said. “Everything is older than me.”
“At two thousand, you’ll stop counting,” Lucia said.
“What happens at two thousand?” Shadow asked.
“Well, a lot. You’ll see twenty-five generations of living creatures. You’ll see entire governments form, grow and collapse. Your entire way of life will change about ten times. You’ve already lost a planet. You may see that again. Although, we hope not.”
“Does anything good happen?” Shadow asked.
“Oh, of course,” Lucia said. “You’ll get to see all your childer grow up and get their own lives. Or in our case, expand the clan. You’ll get rich then richer.”
“Was Marcus rich?” Shadow asked.
“His lifestyle, from what he’s told me, was much the same as it was centuries ago, but I don’t think he was hurting for money, and I think he had quite a bit put back.”
“So, he didn’t have to work,” Shadow said.
“I don’t think he did, but I do think it gave him a sense of purpose, and it kept him up to date, which was why he did it. Now, he’s working to rebuild that fortune and provide for you, your childer and all of us, but you should have seen all that when you bonded.”
“Not really. His lifestyle was never extravagant, and the bonding doesn’t really show you the motivation. Although, you can feel strong emotions.”
“Interesting,” Lucia said as she drove. “We’re almost to the hotel.”
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The Tiny Vampire From Outer Space That’s Bitey XIV: Vampire Vacation
Marcus and Shadow finally take their vampire vacation, but it isn't to a luxury vampire resort. They haven't purchased that yet, but Marcus' sire is working on it. Instead, they travel back to the Jungle of the Vampire and the Pyramid City where they first met the Jungle Food. There's only a few things standing in their way, like a sudden tropical storm, some dehydrated vampires, Area 51 and the Space Agency.
Chapter 1 - The Umbra
Shadow looked out the uncovered RV windows. Outside, there was an inky, hazy blackness. She thought it might be a lot like standing in the middle of Earth's new purple clouds if they were darker and black. She turned to Marcus. “You said we shouldn't go in without an exit, or we'll get trapped.”
“I said you shouldn't go in without an exit. I didn't want you to get trapped. It can take a long time to find someone down here if you don't know where they landed,” Marcus said.
“Do you know how to get us out of here?” Shadow asked.
“I do,” Marcus said. “So long as we don't move the RV.”
“I'm not sure that makes me feel better,” Shadow said. “What happens if we move the RV?”
“I'll still open a portal, but we may land further down the road or anywhere on Earth,” Marcus said.
“What about landing on another planet?” Shadow asked.
“I've never heard of that happening,” Marcus said.
“Why is this even here?” Shadow motioned to the outside. “I thought this was exclusive to Umbra.”
“We have the ability to move through the darkness,” Marcus said. “It would make sense that there would be something on the other side of that darkness. Regardless of the planet. Our abilities were the same on Chivitas too, but I have no idea if these are connected. Even if they are, I'm not sure what age vampire could actually jump through a portal to another planet. They'd have to be older than me. I doubt even Jaq could do it.”
“But what else is out there?” Shadow asked.
“I don't know,” Marcus said. “Did you want to take a walk?”
“How would we find our way back?” Shadow asked.
“The wrist device has a local mapping feature. I'll just set it to this location,” Marcus said.
“Do we know that it works down here?” Shadow asked.
Marcus looked at his wrist device. He set the home location to where he was standing. “Let me walk outside.”
“Do you want some real clothes first?” Shadow asked.
Marcus looked down at his sweatpants and t-shirt. “Maybe some shoes.” He grabbed a pair of socks and athletic shoes from his suitcase and put them on.
Shadow put on a pair of sweatpants and her socks and shoes. Then, she followed Marcus to the side door of the RV.
“Wait here,” Marcus said as he opened the door.
Shadow watched as he stepped out and walked a few feet from the RV. She was surprised at how clearly she could see him. She'd expected him to disappear in the fog-like haze that seemed to always permeate the Umbra.
Marcus walked about fifty feet from the RV. He could still see it when he turned around. In fact, the visibility was quite good. He looked down at his wrist device to make sure it was tracking his course. It was. “It's working. Come on. Don't forget to close the door.”
Shadow hopped out of the RV. She closed the door and walked over to Marcus. “Are you sure it's working?”
Marcus showed her. “But just in case.” He took Shadow's wrist and set her device to track their location with her current spot as the 'home'. “Yours is now set too.”
“Okay,” Shadow said.
Marcus took a hold of her hand and led her further away from the RV. “It is an interesting landscape.”
“Rocky,” Shadow said.
“It's almost like steps,” Marcus said as they walked. “I see something up here.”
“Is that a house?” Shadow asked.
“Looks like a castle,” Marcus said. “Or a palace.”
“Is that possible down here?” Shadow asked.
“Maybe. Let's take a closer look.” Marcus led her down what looked like a path to the front door. It was lined with black trees that had dark purple leaves. Darker than Marcus had ever seen.
“Could anyone be living in that?” Shadow asked.
“No idea,” Marcus said. “But if we run into anyone and they're not friendly, I'll deal with it.”
“How?” Shadow asked.
Marcus released Shadow's hand and stepped back a few feet from her. He let out his vampire. “Because I look like this down here.”
Shadow screamed and jumped backward. Marcus was nine feet tall with twelve-foot wings with horns and claws that made him look even bigger.
Marcus grabbed Shadow with a tendril before she fell into a tree and scuffed herself. “Guess you didn't see the mutto.”
Shadow laughed as she steadied herself. “No, I saw the fangs and horns first.” She looked lower. “Whoa. That's a mutto.”
Marcus reverted back to his normal form. “I'm guessing you don't want that one.”
“I think that's too big,” Shadow said. “Also, that's absolutely terrifying.”
“Which is why I'm not worried about whatever might be in here,” Marcus said as he took her hand and led her the rest of the way to the building.
“How did they make this?” Shadow asked.
“Probably used tendrils to move the stones,” Marcus said. “Probably took more than one vampire too.”
“Like fifty,” Shadow said.
Marcus climbed the stairs with Shadow. He turned around and looked back the way they came. He could just barely see the RV in the distance. “At least ten.”
“Do we knock?” Shadow asked.
Marcus turned and looked at the doors. They were fifty feet tall, and the knockers were halfway up the door. “I guess so.” He created two tendrils and used them to lift the knockers.
When he dropped them, the sound echoed.
“Those doors are heavy and so are the knockers,” Marcus said.
“How heavy?” Shadow asked.
“Heavier than every spaceship we've been on put together,” Marcus said.
“I hear something,” Shadow said.
Marcus stepped back and pulled Shadow with him. “They're opening.”
“No one is on the other side,” Shadow said.
“They didn't vibrate open.” Marcus looked beyond the doors into the foyer. There was a massive staircase at the far end.
“It's not dusty,” Shadow said.
“It's immaculately clean,” Marcus said.
He stepped to the edge of the doorway to get a closer look at the interior.
“I don't think anyone's home,” Shadow said.
“I don't think so either,” Marcus said.
“Are we going in?” Shadow asked.
“I haven't decided,” Marcus said. “I don't know what opened those doors, and I'm not sure what opens them once we get inside if they close.”
“I don't want to get trapped in there,” Shadow said.
“Neither do I,” Marcus said as he stepped back and scanned the exterior of the building. There were windows, but they looked like they were all sealed with some type of glass. He looked higher up the building. It did look like it had walkways on the roof, and there were probably stairways that led up there.
“What do you think?” Shadow asked.
“I'm not sure,” Marcus said. “Do you want to explore it?”
“We are stuck here for a few hours, and it's the most interesting thing I've ever seen down here.”
“Well, let's see what it is and if there's anything left from whoever built it,” Marcus said.
Shadow walked into the massive foyer with Marcus. “Smells good.”
“Smells like Umbra and food,” Marcus said. “Though, I can't tell which direction either smell is coming from.”
“Do you want to go up, down, left, right or straight ahead?” Shadow asked.
“Straight ahead. Let's see if there's a backyard,” Marcus said.
Shadow walked past and under the massive black stone staircase. A set of glass paneled doors resided behind the staircase. “Whoa.”
“That's an incredible backyard.” Marcus pushed the door open. He looked down and saw a stopper. Marcus flipped it down with his foot. “That'll keep the door open.”
Shadow stepped into the backyard. It was full of purple and red-leaved trees and all kinds of flowers. “Someone really spent a lot of time on this.”
“Someone brought seeds down from a planet,” Marcus said. “Though, I wasn't aware the ground here could grow anything.”
“I wonder what they're watering it with...”
Marcus looked around the enclosed backyard. It seemed the house wrapped entirely around it. “No idea. Whatever's feeding it isn't visible.”
“There's a hammock and a gazebo,” Shadow said.
“It's large enough to be a family estate,” Marcus said.
“Seems empty now,” Shadow said.
“It's possible this thing has been here for thousands of years,” Marcus said. “They may have eventually left to live on Earth.”
“Could Lord Blackwell have lived here?” Shadow asked.
“It's possible,” Marcus said. “And he is on Earth now.”
“Didn't you hide him?” Shadow asked.
“He's in a hidden room in the basement,” Marcus said. “We covered it with a tapestry to stop the childer from trying to open the door. We don't want them to accidentally spill an Umbra One on him.”
“Oh, yeah,” Shadow said. “Knowing Sabina, she'd drop a bloodpudding on him.”
“She probably would,” Marcus said as he looked around. “I don't think there's much else to see out here. This is just a private garden.”
“No, but it gives me ideas for our property,” Shadow said as she turned to walk back into the massive house.
Marcus walked back into the house with her. “Let's see if we can find the kitchen. I want to know what they were eating.”
They turned right and walked into another large room off the entrance room.
“Gallery?” Shadow asked.
“It would seem so,” Marcus said. “I think this is actually a large… Very large hallway.” He motioned to the doors on either side.
Shadow walked down the corridor to a large door at the far end. She opened it. “This is a kitchen.”
Marcus stepped into the kitchen and looked around. “Looks like a living creature kitchen.”
Shadow opened the refrigerator. “It's empty.”
Marcus looked. Then, he opened a few cabinets. “Also empty.”
“They couldn't have stayed here if there was no food,” Shadow said.
“It could be that they took it with them when they left,” Marcus said. “Let's look at the bedrooms.”
Shadow followed Marcus out of the kitchen to the foyer and up the stairs to the second floor. The front door was still open when they passed it.
Marcus opened the first door on the second-floor hallway. “Bedroom.”
“Master?” Shadow looked.
“No,” Marcus said.
“Nice bed though,” Shadow said. “It'd be even nicer if it had blankets.”
“Doesn't look like anyone has ever used that room.” Marcus checked the next room. “Never used.”
Shadow opened the third door. “This one is made.”
“That looks like a master bedroom, but it's not at the end of the hall,” Marcus said.
Shadow hopped into the room. She took off her shoes and climbed onto the bed. “It's soft!”
Marcus laughed when she splatted into the pillows and blankets. When she crawled under them, Marcus set his wrist device's alarm to go off in three hours. The bed in this room was twice as big as the one in the RV, and he was just as exhausted as Shadow.
By the time he had his shoes off, Shadow was asleep. Marcus joined her.
His wrist device sounded sometime later. Marcus turned it off then opened his eyes. The room was just as it was before they decided to take a nap with one exception. There was someone standing in the doorway.
Marcus slid out of the bed, careful not to disturb Shadow. He turned his gaze toward the creature and realized it was another vampire.
“Do you live here?” Marcus asked.
“Sometimes,” the vampire said. “I'm Seneca.”
“I'm Marcus. This is Shadow.” He motioned to the pile in the bed. “How long have you been down here?”
“What year is it?” Seneca asked.
Marcus told him. “That's the year on Umbra.”
“Ten-thousand years,” Seneca said.
“That's a long time,” Marcus said. “A lot has changed on every planet in that time.”
“I know. I leave here sometimes,” Seneca said. “When I arrived on Earth, the living creatures dwelled in caves.”
“They have homes now. Some advanced technology,” Marcus said.
“I know. I was there tonight,” Seneca said.
“I guess you missed the storm,” Marcus said.
“I didn't see a storm. It was cool though,” Seneca said.
“The weather is cold right now,” Marcus said. He sat down on the bed and put on his shoes.
Shadow inhaled and sat up. She turned her head. “Oh...”
“This is Seneca. This is his house,” Marcus said.
“Nice bed.” Shadow slid to the edge.
Marcus picked up Shadow's shoes and put them on her feet.
Seneca grinned. “She has red hair. Where did you find that one?”
“In a food line,” Marcus said.
“Are they still disagreeable?” he asked.
“Very much so,” Marcus said as he stood. “How did you get here?”
“On Earth?” Seneca asked.
“Yes,” Marcus said.
“I went into the Umbra for a walk,” Seneca said.
“Must have been a long walk,” Marcus said.
“You could say that,” Seneca said.
Marcus eyed the vampire. He didn't entirely believe him. Marcus had just finished telling Shadow that accomplishing that type of feat would be nearly impossible, and Marcus still believed that. He wasn't sure being over ten-thousand years old was old enough to undertake the challenge Seneca was suggesting that he accomplished.
“You don't believe me,” Seneca said.
“You would have been walking for half your unlife,” Marcus said.
“Well, not quite that long,” Seneca said. “I made stops along the way. Saw Chivitas.”
“What's between here and Chivitas?” Marcus asked.
“Sanguis,” Seneca said.
“Not the Planet of the Rings,” Marcus said.
“Planeta Anulorum,” Seneca said. “No. I've never been there. I've heard of it, though.”
Marcus nodded. “What was on Sanguis?”
“Same as on Umbra and Chivitas. Vampires,” Seneca said.
“Anything special about them?” Marcus asked.
'Not particularly,” Seneca said. “Being from Umbra, you'd likely have the same opinion of them as I did. They were a subspecies. No remarkable telepathy. No shadow manipulation. They did have the ability to control living things if the living thing happened to look them in the eye. They could also change shape. Mist. Bats. Wolves.”
“You're right. That's not terribly remarkable,” Marcus said.
Shadow slid off the bed and stretched.
“Well, I suppose we shouldn't linger in the bedroom,” Seneca said then motioned for Marcus and Shadow to follow.
Marcus picked Shadow up and carried her downstairs to a large parlor.
“It is a remarkable house,” Marcus said. “Have you thought about rejoining the population of any of the planets?”
“I think about it sometimes, but I doubt I'd have much in common with the new vampires,” Seneca said. “Please, have a seat.”
Marcus sat down in a large stuffed chair. He kept Shadow in his lap. “It is remarkably quiet in this area.”
“It is. I guess that you’ve noticed on other trips that you can hear screaming and see moving creatures,” Seneca said.
“Correct,” Marcus said.
“You can catch those,” Seneca said. “If you're in your demon form. They're food.”
“I haven't heard that before,” Marcus said.
“It's a lost knowledge,” Seneca said.
“Very lost. I've never heard of any vampire doing that,” Marcus said.
“Well, they're not in this area because I'm in this area, and I caught everything,” Seneca said. “Or most of everything. Obviously, some escaped to warn the others not to come here.” He paused. “Speaking of that… Would you like something to eat?”
“No, thank you,” Marcus said. “We actually can't stay very long. We were just escaping the storm on our planet.”
“Of course. Well, I suppose I should let you get on your way,” Seneca said. “Come back. Anytime.”
Marcus stood. He set Shadow on her feet. “Of course. Thank you for your hospitality.”
He led Shadow out of the castle.
[He was weird,] Shadow said to Marcus.
[Very. Did you notice the color of his skin?] Marcus asked.
[He was gray and kinda black,] Shadow said.
[Probably from draining those creatures,] Marcus said.
[Or his age,] Shadow said.
[He’s old enough to be a meat-eating vampire,] Marcus said as they approached the RV.
Shadow waited for Marcus to open the door. Then, she stepped inside.
Marcus stepped inside and closed and locked the door.
“Do you think the storm is over?” Shadow asked.
“It should be about over. We've been down here about four or five hours,” Marcus said.
Shadow sprawled across the couch. “Why didn't you come down here for the war, instead of sleeping through it?”
“It didn't occur to me,” Marcus said. “If it had, I probably would have.”
He walked up to the front of the RV and sat down in the driver's seat. He started the engine and opened a portal about five feet in front of the RV. “Ready?”
“I'm ready,” Shadow said.
Marcus put the RV in drive and drove forward through the portal.
They landed on the road in a heavy rainstorm.
“I think the storm is still here,” Shadow said.
“It is, but at least it's dark,” Marcus said.
“Where's the jungle?” Shadow asked.
“Up ahead. We're actually several miles further inland,” Marcus said. “Come up here and sit. Bring some Umbra Ones.”
Shadow made some Umbra ones and walked up to the front of the RV. She sat down in the passenger's seat and handed Marcus his food.