#38 Crapometer

Title: Washed in the Blood
Genre: Dark Fantasy
979 words

John Edwards, a minister in the Georgia mountains, is transformed into a vampire and seeks faith and forgiveness while battling an ancient evil.

of course naming your character after a prominent political figure is a distraction.

Thomas, a vampire masquerading as a psychologist from Atlanta. imprisons John and his wife, Maggie. He rapes Maggie and drains John almost to death, then forces John to drink his blood.

While John transforms, Thomas seduces their (whose?--the two people in this sentence are John and Thomas, surely it’s not “their” daughter) daughter, Deborah Martin, and raises doubt about John's stability, citing "religious psychosis". (raises doubts? with who?--and this is never mentioned again)

Thomas stabs Maggie and leaves her dying. When John wakes, he must have blood quickly or suffer eternal immobility and thirst. Maggie makes John promise to take vengeance, and he drains her.

John bursts into Deborah's house raving and covered in blood. She thinks he is insane and calls the Sheriff's Department. The police find Maggie’s mutilated body in the Edwards’ house.

John hides in a cave on the side of Laurel Mountain. That evening, a search party finds him. He evades them and takes shelter in an abandoned gold mine, now a secret party spot for teenagers. Thomas follows him and taunts him.

As John is leaving the mine the next night, he sees a couple making love. Overcome by bloodlust, he kills the boy and drinks the girl's blood. Deciding he is beyond redemption, he abandons faith to concentrate on vengeance.

Michael Archer, a private investigator dedicated to pursuing Thomas, uses deception and high-level influence to persuade the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assign him to the case as a Special Investigator. He goes to the crime scene at night, hoping that Thomas will appear.

Deborah is worried, because she has not heard from Thomas in two days. She finds Michael at the house. Michael tells her about Thomas, but she will not listen.

John follows Deborah to the house, looking for Thomas. He eavesdrops and decides that Michael could be an ally. After Deborah leaves, John enters the house. He shows Michael he is a vampire. They agree to team up.

Michael tells John that Thomas is a 4500-year-old Sumerian and is unaffected by Christian symbols. He was a priest in the temple of Enki in Dilmun. In spite of having a wife and children, he lusted for a priestess of Ereshkigal, who spurned him. Enraged, he went to her temple and raped and killed her on the altar. Ereshkigal transformed Thomas into the first vampire in retribution. Thomas's sons vowed to destroy him. Michael is the last of Thomas's direct descendants.

Deborah stops to pick up her five-year-old daughter, Alyssa, at her friend's house. The friend's mother tells Deborah that Thomas got Alyssa an hour before. Deborah finds her house deserted. She has a message on her answering machine from Thomas, who says that John ambushed him and kidnapped Alyssa. He says he tracked John to the mine. She calls the Sheriff.

As Michael is telling John about vampires, the phone rings. Michael answers. Thomas tells Michael to meet him in the mine in one hour and hangs up. When they arrive, John attacks Thomas. Thomas fends John off until the deputies arrive, then escapes. John flees into the mine. The deputies discover the teenagers’ bodies. They arrest Michael as an accessory to kidnapping and murder. John runs as far as he can, but falls unconscious at daybreak.

Chief Detective Harrison interrogates Michael at the county jail. Michael tells him everything. The detective mentions a local disappearance. Realizing that Thomas has been feeding in the area, Michael asks if there have been others since Thomas arrived. Harrison starts thinking about everything Michael has said.

John wakes at twilight. He hears searchers close by. He turns into a bat and flies from the mine. When he gets to the jail, he turns into a rat and sneaks inside.

!!alien alert!! We’ve been rolling along nicely on a vampire story and suddenly here comes (with no hint of course) the ability to shape shift. This is the worst form of deus ex machina...suddenly investing characters with a supernatural ability to advance the plot. It’s like a character suddenly being able to speak Portuguese to decipher a treasure map.

He finds Michael’s cell and forces the door open with the last of his strength.

Why does a rat need to force a jail cell door open? Even NYC sized rats can fit through bars.

Michael uses a jagged piece of metal on the broken door to open a cut on his arm and allows John to have some of his blood.

Oh, of course, you need the broken door to get a piece of metal. Again, you’re doing things here to advance the plot that don’t make sense.

Detective Harrison comes in. The damage to the cell door convinces him. He says that Deborah called to say that Thomas asked her to come to a small church in the mountains, where she and Alyssa can be safe. Harrison is organizing a raid on the church. Michael and John realize they cannot wait. John transforms into a huge wolf, Michael climbs on, and they go cross-country.

ok, right here, I’ll stop reading. Riding a wolf? You set this story on earth, with earth flora and fauna. Unless that wolf is the size of a Percheron, you can’t ride it, and giant wolves disappeared after the last ice age. You have to be consistent with the world you set your story in, or your readers are going to fall out of the narrative, shake their heads and chorus “WTF??” ...much like I’m doing now.

Deborah and Alyssa arrive at the church. Thomas grabs them and handcuffs Deborah to a railing. He ties Alyssa up and puts her on the Communion table below the pulpit. He begins a sacrificial ritual.

John and Michael reach the church. John is utterly exhausted. Michael bursts in and confronts Thomas. They fight, and Thomas beats Michael badly.

John comes in during the fight. He feels a force from the cross at the front of the church impeding him. He struggles toward Thomas, but cannot make it. Michael crawls to John and offers his blood so John can destroy Thomas. John drains Michael to the edge of death and gains enough strength to attack.

During the battle, Deborah breaks one of the railing posts. She stabs at Thomas, but misses. He grabs her by the neck. John offers his life for hers. Thomas agrees.

Thomas pulls the cross down, nails John to it with silver-coated spikes, and leans it against the wall. He returns to his ritual. Realizing that faith is all he has left, John prays. Even though dawn has not arrived, a ray ofsunlight shines in through the stained glass and fries Thomas. (I kinda like this)

The police arrive and free John and Alyssa. John decides that vampirism is better than death, and forces Michael to drink his blood. John decides that God’s purpose for him is to seek out and destroy all other vampires. After Michael rises, he decides to join John on his quest.

Not to quibble too much here but it’s usually better to have God reveal purpose to you, rather than you decide what God wants. There's a fine line between meglomania and transcendentalism.


Anonymous said...

What's that old saying? You know you've created God in your own image when He hates all the same people you do...

emeraldcite said...

There's a fine line between meglomania and transcendentalism.

Really? You do live in the same America I do, right?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Sleep did you good last night!

Go, Miss Snark! You're on a roll!

Rick said...

Perhaps the author named their character John Edwards before the real one became a household name? I have a character - the royal minister of a kingdom resembling Renaissance France - named Chirac. What's more, I swiped the name from a Victorian novel. I was aware of Jacques Chirac, but at the time he was the ex-mayor of Paris and looked like a political has-been.

My agent hasn't made me change it. If an editor does, thank God for search-and-replace!

Trix said...

Don't come down too hard on this author for seeming to spring the shapeshifting on the reader - Bram Stoker's Dracula can shift to a bat, green mist, and more. Most dark fantasy readers would accept this without a blink.

But you're dead-on about the wolf-riding. That would knock me right out of the story.

Sonarbabe said...

What I don't undertand is how Deborah could try to stab someone is she's handcuffed to a rail. Did she escape the 'cuffs? If so, I would mention that in the synopsis, otherwise, it'll make people scratch their heads and wonder, How in the hell did she manage that?