Prolog – Start Here!

It is amazing what a person can become used to given enough time and exposure. For example, I woke up to find a vampire in my living room this morning.

Most people would have been somewhat bothered by this, to say the least, but probably not for the same reason I was. A few years ago I would have run screaming, or possibly fainted.

I mean, living dead! Gasp!

At this point, I was just pissed that he showed up at seven in the morning on a Tuesday unannounced. I was still in my bathrobe, heading for the shower, and I had an appointment in a little over an hour. Yes, he was a scary blood sucking monster, and most of the time I would be worried he was planning on eating my face, but now I know a few things about vampires, and knowledge is power. For instance, I know that vampires can’t come into a home uninvited. It has something to do with the power of a threshold, a treaty between some ancient gods on behalf of humanity, and the unconscious psychic power of average humans. Or something. You really shouldn’t ask me, I’m a physicist, not a para-historian.

Anyway, the only reason this one was sitting in my living room was that I lived in a bachelor pad, which is not really much of a home, and so the threshold is somewhat weaker. Nonetheless, in order for him to get in here, he had to leave the majority of his power outside. Which meant he was here to talk. Otherwise he would have just jumped me when I walked outside.

See, and here you were starting to think you were safe.

This particular vampire stood slowly, his black leather pants and jacket creaking a little. He smiled at me. I grimaced at him. A vampire in black leather. Talk about cheesy. He even had a pierced lip. I was feeling grumpier by the moment.

He started talking in a somewhat whiny voice, “Benjamin Cooper. I have a message for you from-”

And then his head exploded.

Blood and bits of bone and brain went flying everywhere. Cleaning that off the walls would take hours, and my couch was probably ruined forever. I dropped my shampoo and dove for the kitchen. I was not sure what was going on, but I was pretty sure I did not want to be facing it holding soap.

I grabbed the machete from over the stove – don’t judge me, it’s a convenient place – and spun to face whatever it was that could make a vampire’s head pop like a water balloon.

I saw what it was and knew immediately that I was in trouble. The vampire hadn’t worried me because it was essentially a supernatural creature, and without the majority of its supernatural power (the threshold, remember) it would probably have been weaker than the average human. And let’s face it. I can take the average human.

The thing that was now pulling its abdomen out through the neck of the former vampire was looked like a three-foot long cross between a cockroach and a wasp, a nightmare of pitch black chitin. The creature’s rear six legs were clawing at the flesh of the vampire’s torso, but it was slashing its ridiculously overlarge front pair of legs at me in anticipation. They ended in black scythes of chitin nearly two feet long, and were flinging little droplets of bright red vampire blood through the air.

For just a moment the appropriate page from the Book flashed in my mind.

Zombie Wasp
Physical Description: 2-3 feet in length, wasp-like body, all black. Some specimens have red patterned markings, significance unknown. Eight legs, forward pair end in large curved cutting appendage. Extremely sharp. Carapace is very hard, possibly metallic.

Attributes: Physical supernatural being, not spirit. Otherworldly origin probable, but exact origin unknown.

Habits: Hides within human or humanoid host body. Method unknown. May be able to control host creature’s actions, but extent of control is unknown. Host is almost always unaware of inhabitation. Can exit host body very rapidly, but this always kills the host.

Notes: Very fast! Not noticeably damaged by fire, carapace very hard and resistant to cutting, resistant to bludgeoning due to exoskeleton. Had to smash the bugger with my car.

I looked down at the machete in my hand.

Well, shit.

I looked back up just in time. The thing was already leaping straight at me, scythe-claws reaching out-

I hit it as hard as I could, swinging the machete like a baseball bat. The machete rang like a bell, and sparks literally flew, but the wasp-monster flew sideways and smashed into the wall.

It landed on the ground on its feet, or whatever you call those things on the end of an insect’s legs. Like a cat. I looked at my machete again. It was bent almost 45 degrees, and there was a big notch where it must have hit the thing’s talon. The creature, on the other hand, looked good as new.

Double shit.

It leaped at me again, and this time I dropped the machete and threw myself to the side. Not quite fast enough, as the sudden sharp flash of pain from my shoulder told me, but I managed to make it into a roll, and came up on my feet at the other end of the kitchen. The thing had smacked into the wall again, but it certainly did not seem to mind. It turned toward me again – god, that thing was fast – and I reached for something, anything to fend it off with.

My hand hit something metal, and I grabbed and swung.

I got lucky. The industrial fire extinguisher clanged louder than the machete had, but it also tossed the monster farther, clear across the kitchen. That is the thing about insects. Strong, but light.

“Ha! Newton’s my bitch!” On reflection, that did not make much sense, but hey. Heat of the battle and stuff.

The creature scrambled to its feet again, leaving nasty scratches in the linoleum of the kitchen floor, but this time I smiled. I had an idea. Probably not a great idea, but worth a shot.

The wasp leaped again, but this time I was ready. I aimed the nozzle of the fire extinguisher at the leaping monster, and pulled the trigger. With a roaring hiss a cloud of white smoke blasted out. The creature’s trajectory carried it right through the cloud, and even though I was expecting it this time and managed to get out of the way, one scythe-arm slashed out and nicked my side.

Damn, that thing was fast.

But not quite as fast as it had been. When it turned around for another leap this time, it was covered in a thin coating of frost and moving much slower.

“Gotcha, bitch,” I said, a sudden grin spreading across my face. I pointed the nozzle again, and FWOOSH.

I waited for the monster to leap again, but nothing came out of the roaring cloud of white. Slowly, the blast of CO2 from the fire extinguisher eased up as it ran out of pressure, and finally I let go of the trigger.

The wasp-monster was covered in thick frost, along with the wall, the cabinet, and a large patch of floor, and it was not moving.

Sweet.

One of the scythe-legs twitched, then a back leg, and I suddenly realized that it still was not dead. Crap.

I ran to the coat closet in the living room, and came back with an 16 pound sledge hammer. The thing was just starting to crawl.

“Resistant to bludgeoning due to exoskeleton.” I muttered under my breath. “We’ll see about that.”

I screamed, and swung.

***

It did not stop hitting it until the handle of the hammer started to splinter, fifteen minutes later. By that point it had long stopped moving, and little more than a patch of disgusting white and red goo splattered on my floor.

I dropped the hammer and sank to the floor, my back against a cabinet. Sweat was dripping into my eyes, and I was shivering from the after-effects of adrenaline. The cut on my shoulder had soaked through the sleeve of my shirt, and it was now slowly running down my arm and dripping from my elbow. I could feel more blood soaking my shirt from the cut in my side.

I panted, and stared at the slimy mess on my floor. This had been way, way too close. If I had been just a touch slower. If I had not had the incident with the flame imp last month that made me get an industrial strength fire extinguisher. If.

I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, a strong and present sense of my own mortality. Intellectually I knew that I would die someday, and that I live a fairly dangerous lifestyle, but I had never felt it like this.

It was that moment when I decided to write this. My autobiography, my story, my legacy for whoever comes after me. God help them.

 

Chapter 1

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