|to be published in January 2001|
Second in the Vampire
series. The Colony's headlong relocation to LA, and the terrible loss of
his dark bride, Cynara, have left Victor Renquist deracinated and somewhat
aloof from the everyday concerns of his clan. He appears rarely, makes his
infrequent kills with desultory efficiency, and broods. Of late, something
has been disturbing him. At first he thinks it may be the dreams he
experienced in New York, the visions of his creators, The Old Ones –
beings from outside of time and space.
Lately, though, he has noticed definite signs that, through the agency of a very sinister group of humans, the creator-dream may be on its way to becoming a reality. A group ex-hippies, now smug and rich on the proceeds of their fake religion known as The Apogee, are looking for otherworld thrills in their middle-age, dabbling in areas of the occult which threaten to release the awesome might of Cthulhu against an unsuspecting Earth. Quite apart from the fact that Victor and his kind are rebels against Cthulhu and can expect no mercy from such a being, there's also the question of the food supply: a Cthulhu risorgimento will leave the Earth's surface a blasted desert, devoid of humans – and of all else, for that matter.
The fallout from New York remains to be dealt with. In his midnight hejira to LA, Victor left a disciple back in NYC. Elaine, Cynara's erstwhile lover, is Darklost, existing in a blighted and perverted twilight zone midway between human and vampire, and has come west on the colony's trail hoping that her mournful hollowness will be banished by full acceptance into the colony. Meanwhile Julia, still a rebel against Victor's authority, is defying Victor's express instructions by seeking out a convert of her own, none other than the reclusive movie superstar Brandon Wales (a thin disguise for Marlon Brando) whom she wishes to restore to his youthful glory.
Darklost is a further exploration of the rich seams of lore, both of the vampire and Cthulhu varieties, first examined in The Time Of Feasting. Here, though, New York's murky post-industrial blight is updated to the frontier weirdness of Los Angeles, while Victor Renquist exchanges his dark aristocrat persona for that of an avenging angel, humanity's most unlikely protector.
Review by Harriet Klausner
Fear of being unmasked and grieving the loss of his significant other leads
vampire (call me nosferatu) master Victor Renquist to relocate his brood in Los Angeles.
In spite of its heavenly name, Victor finds his new city easier to hide in than New York
because so many of humanity's lost boys and girls live here.
current novel, hence available new from Amazon or second-hand from other
online sellers. Hardback only at present, paperback version to be
published in January 2001.
Find hardback version at Amazon
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|Excerpt (by permission)||
"I believe I am a step
ahead of you in this matter, Don Victor. You have only seen the aura. I have
seen the place itself."
Lupo's powerful craggy face was impassive, and of course Renquist would never have dreamed of scanning the thoughts of the long-lived nosferatu to read his true feelings, but Renquist could be close to certain that Lupo was amused to have gained the advantage of his Master. All Renquist could do with good grace was to smile ruefully.
"Have I been letting things slip that disgracefully?"
"I'm aware you have been preoccupied since we arrived in this place."
Renquist turned, walked slowly to the edge of the observation deck, and rested his hands on the white curlicued cast-iron rail that enclosed it. He looked out across the treetops at hills on the other side of what he thought of as their valley. "But you think it's time that I got over it, don't you?"
Lupo shrugged. "It's not for me to say, Don Victor."
Renquist turned from contemplation of the nighttime valley and nodded. "It is time that I got over it. I need to focus on the problems of the moment."
Lupo said nothing, so Renquist continued. "Tell me all you know about this place, the ... Apogee?"
"On the surface, Don Victor, it is just one of those human simulations that pose as a religion, a supposedly metaphysical structure, but with no true function except to separate fools from their coin.'
"Enough of those exist in these parts, my friend."
"I believe, however, that something a little more dangerous lurks beneath this one."
"I sensed a definite threat, Don Victor."
"To the humans, or to us?"
Lupo made a noncommittal gesture.
"That remains to be seen. All I know is that powerful forces lurk within and under that building."
Renquist was surprised. "You went inside?"
Lupo shook his head. "Not personally, but I looked through the eyes of a night cleaning crew."
Wordlessly, Lupo projected a mental image to Renquist of Salvadorans, Hondurans, or Guatemalans, both men and women, dressed in blue coveralls with a cleaning service logo on the back, sweeping, mopping, emptying waste baskets, or pushing polishers and vacuum cleaners over carpets and gleaming tile floors. Although they lived in an appliance civilization, they were also ridden by fears of a snarling and ruthless Christian God at the head of a dark and equally menacing pantheon of jungle spirits.
"Most assumed I was one of their jaguar deities passing through and became near mindless with terror."
Renquist moved away from the rail of the observation deck with one eyebrow arched. "Most?"
"There was one who knew me instantly for what I was."
Renquist blinked. He'd hardly have imagined that Lupo would have taken the chance of revealing himself so gratuitously. "Knew you?"
"And didn't care. He assumed I intended harm to his employers and that suited him perfectly. Aside from a catalog of inflicted minimum-wage indignities, he had also been badly beaten by the police when the janitors attempted to unionize. A supervisor named Plana and two other names seemed the greatest targets of his resentment: a policeman called Fromme and someone named Ghast. He relished the idea that I might hurt or kill one or all of them."
"And you let him live?"
"He has no interest in us, I'm sure."
Renquist had to accept that Lupo knew what he was doing, but almost out of habit, he still had to urge caution. "There are many from these countries to the south who are sufficiently connected to the past to recognize us for what we are and raise an alarm."
Lupo's face was sudden stone. "This one will not raise any alarm."
Renquist immediately regretted what he'd said. He had obviously generated some resentment by lecturing Lupo like a neophyte. "I'm sorry. There are times-"
Lupo cut him off. "You are the Master, Don Victor, and responsible for the many. I know the force of habit."
"Nevertheless, my friend, I still beg your pardon."
"It does not need to be said twice," Lupo continued, covering the potential for an awkward silence. "Perhaps you would like to see this place for yourself?"
Renquist nodded, relieved that the situation was back to normal. "I think that would be an excellent idea." Lupo was old, but he could still be extremely sensitive when any reflection was cast on his ability to do what was exactly appropriate. Now mollified, he immediately became brisk and businesslike, taking the two nosferatu, high on their darknight lookout, back to much safer areas of their relationship.
"Do you crave to hunt tonight, Don Victor?"
Renquist shook his head. "I could hunt, but I by no means crave."
"There is no time like the present."
"We should go to this Apogee place tonight?"
Now Lupo stared across the valley. "That would be my suggestion."