With that in mind, I turned my attention from les vampires of the Old World and concentrated on those in the New. It appears almost all cultures have stories of bloodsucking creatures of the night, beings who for one reason or another have offended their deity and are accursed. I decided to find to check out what the natives of Central America, specifically the Maya, had to say on the subject.
In the Mayan pantheon, the vampire wasn't a cursed creature but simply another of their gods, in various guises. First and foremost was the God of Death, called by the names Yum Cimil, Cizin, and Au Puch. He is depicted in the colours of death, face the pale grey of a corpse, large black and yellow spots representing decomposition on chin, cheeks, and forehead. Around his neck hangs a collar made of human bone. Yum Cimil's companion in the Underworld was Cama-Zotz, the demon bat, also known as Ikal Ahau, a gigantic bat who ate raw human flesh. There was also a god called Zotzilaha, depicted as a tall man with the wings, head, and fangs of a vampire bat. Zotzilaha was supposed to have power over the living and was offered the sacrifice of human life. None of these chaps were exactly the kind you’d like to meet on a dark and deserted street—or on a busy daylight one, for that matter!
I decided to combine Cama-Zotz into one character but give him qualities which would make him more acceptable, such as compassion, and a curiosity about the world of humans. Then, I turned to my plot, taking that old staple of late night horror movies that’s been around since the silent movie days...the lost city in the jungle. Stumbled upon by a safari of scientists, they carry away some object precious to the inhabitants. In doing so, they bring a curse upon themselves in particular and Mankind in general as the embodiment of the sacred object brings the wrath of the gods upon the wrongdoers...the hero struggles to save his friends, get the girl, have some gratuitous sex, and return the sacred object to its home...after various minor characters are killed off. The villain gets what he deserves, and the irony of it all is terrible and fitting.
~ * ~
Dark God Descending is the story of two men, separated by thousands of years, thrown together by unbelievable circumstance; it is the story of their friendship and their love for the same woman, and their accepting the events Fate has dealt them.
~ * ~
“Upchurch, I want you and Cruz to stay here, as my guests for a few days.”
To Tuck, that sounded about as pleasant as Count Dracula’s invitation to Jonathan Harker to visit his castle.
Westcott tossed a set of keys on a silver ring at Tuck. The young man caught it, turning it over in his hands.
“There’s a key to both the outer and inner doors. You’re in charge until I get back. Get Cruz to help you if necessary. I doubt that I’ll have any visitors but if someone shows up, keep him away from the basement. Do whatever you have to!”
Tuck didn’t like the sound of that. It sounded too much like permission to use deadly force. “Where are you going?“
“To my office.”
“Won’t someone see you? What about all that secrecy you were wanting?”
Westcott started to walk past Tuck toward the steps, starting up them. “I’ve got to get started on that presentation. “
“You’re not going to look at him before you go?” Transferring the rifle to his other hand, Tuck took the steps two at a time to keep up with Westcott’s long-legged stride.
“Later." In the rec room, Westcott stopped, irritation creeping into his voice.
“Please, you’ve got to look at him!”
“I will, Tuck, in good time.” He reached for the knob of the door leading outside, set to the left of the steps.
“No, sir!” Tuck struck the door, pushing it away from Westcott’s hand, actually managed to get between it and his teacher. “You’re not leaving here until you look at him! Now!”
“Upchurch, you’re acting strangely." Westcott was startled. Probably no student or any one else had ever spoken to him like that. "In fact, you’ve been acting oddly for some time now. I think perhaps you’re becoming a little too emotionally involved with this creature. Granted it’s probably going to be frightened when it awakens, but--“
Tuck couldn’t stand it any longer. “It’s not an animal!”
Westcott stared at him. “What?”
“It’s a man! He’s-- For God’s sake, Doc, just look at him!” He caught Westcott’s arm, tried to pull him back toward the stairs. “Please!”
With the expression of someone who realizes he’d better do as he’s asked because he’s in the presence of a person about to become seriously violent, Westcott allowed himself to be led back down the stairs.
At the bottom, Tuck released him, and he turned to face the cage.
The creature who had called himself Semris hadn’t moved, was still a wing-enclosed heap on the cell floor.
“All right, I’m looking at it, and I don’t see anything human about it, not at all.”
“That’s because you’re not close enough, and he’s not an it!”
“Just calm down, Tuck.” Westcott’s voice became soothing, the tone used to calm someone extremely agitated, which made Tuck that much angrier. “You want me to go closer, get a better look? All right.”
He turned and started toward the cage.
Semris turned his head. He sat up.
The professor’s step faltered.
Semris stood up, all nearly-seven feet of him, wings curled protectively above his shoulders.
Westcott and his captive stared at each other.
“My God!” The words were whispered in a tone of total awe. “I-If I’d know this was what was under that net, I’d have been examining him sooner! I’m sorry, Tuck. I should have listened to you!”
He took a step closer. Semris didn’t move, just reached out and placed one hand on the barred door in front of him. His chin went up, an expression of surprising disdain on the pale face. He was regarding Westcott as if the man was something to be swatted and dropped into the nearest trashcan.
~ * ~
Dark God Descending is scheduled for a very appropriate December release by Class Act Books.
** Giveaway has ended. Tony-Paul will email the winner shortly. **
To a commenter, a copy of Blood will Freeze, my vampire novelette.
Author website: http://www.tony-paul.com