Psalm of Vampires — Chapter 1: White Violin

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Psalm of Vampires — Chapter 1: White Violin
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I’ve been pretty busy writing and doing a small software project. This means I haven’t had time to promote my new novel, Psalm of Vampires, which I dropped into Amazon last December. It’s very different from MagicLand, which turned out to be more of a YA fantasy/sci-fi novel and is a profanity-free zone. And it’s very different than Restive Souls, which is a more serious novel. Psalm of Vampires is more of a page-turning potboiler. A bit campy, a bit raunchy, but hopefully a lot of fun.

I’ll be dropping more chapters soon. It’s available now. Free if you have Kindle Unlimited, and only $2.99 if you don’t. I expect Psalm of Vampires will be my only self-published novel, so it’s a bit of an experiment for me. I wrote it under my real name, rather than my pseudonym.

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Chapter 1: White Violin

My nose was drawn to her like a human child chasing the scent from a candy store. With the stadium’s video screens focused on me, I set the violin down. Daphne, wearing the kind of white shorts you might see on a K-pop fashionista, held the drum mallets in the air as she stood poised to strike her massive dagu drum again. Silky threads of black hair, darker than the skies of an age long lost to me, clung to her sweaty face. Silence from the crowd. I stood up, then glanced at her menacingly.

The crowd was so quiet you would have heard my shoes clamber across the stage floor if I had been wearing any. But I wasn’t wearing shoes, just my favorite Pokémon socks. I walked behind Daphne, feeding off her scent. I moved locks of her long straight hair to one side while my teammates bowed and smiled in unison. She dropped her mallets to the floor as if they were on fire.

Daphne gave me this cute, “Don’t you dare look,” at which point I opened my mouth wide and lunged toward her newly exposed neck with a set of fangs that could have punctured rhino skin. The crowd, sensing what would happen next, issued a collective gasp. A few random cheers and hollers littered the stale air.

My gaping mouth was the closing act of all my streams. A trademark of sorts. Now it was the closing act of my League of Legends team’s championship victory in a stadium full of obsessive gaming enthusiasts. The crowd shrieked in unison as my mouth, desperately craving her blood, made its final approach.

The stadium’s delighted screams drew me toward her almost as much as the blood coursing through her veins. Daphne, who was much closer to my height than most women, twirled around and pushed my chest away. The crowd loved it as I staggered back a bit, then approached her again. She dragged my shoulders down before planting her lips against mine. We kissed to thunderous ovation, our tongues stroking and embracing and clawing and pushing like wild little animals just out of their cages.

I felt her hot breath in my ear saying through a giggle, “Your breath smells like you licked a toilet.”

I wanted to tell her that my breath is usually bad after I feed, which might have made her laugh but was a little too close to the truth. My last blood feeding had been the previous night, though. Sometimes the halitosis lingers, I thought, thinking about how delicious Daphne’s blood would taste in my mouth, which always hungered for her in a million ways.

I’d learned long ago how to contain my blood lust for her. She was more beloved to me than she could know.

When we joined hands to face the crowd, the place exploded in a flurry of confetti made from torn stadium tickets, flyers, event programs, and anything else people could get their hands on. We roamed the stage so that we could face everyone in the crowd. We bowed as strobe lights plastered the air. I could still taste her. I was desperate for more.

A few were booing. I recorded their scents for future reference. The smattering of boos was drowned out by a set of new tracks of dance music. The corner of my eye spotted emojis streaming vertically along the large video display hanging over the center of the stadium. I reminded myself to look at replays on Twitch.

Not many among my millions of followers knew I was a master violinist. There were other instruments I had mastered long ago. Few knew I could play piano. Or cello. Or the twelve-string guitar. Or the flute or oboe. I love music, don’t you? I have an advantage over humans, though. I’ve had more than two thousand years to learn how to play my favorite instruments.

Oh. I’m sorry. I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Jade Mourning. League of Legends tournament winner, musician, streamer, nephew of Alexander the Great, vampire. I gave myself this name several centuries after the events that caused me to consider it: the death of my wife and child, and the harrowing grief that followed.

Like everyone else, Daphne thought the vampire act was just cosplay theater. We live in a society where anybody can kind of look however they want, right? Nobody thinks about it. I’m a vampire, but it doesn’t matter. I can live among you without anybody thinking anything of my presence.

Ignore the myths surrounding vampires — the cold, white skin, for example. In many ways, we’re just like you. I can sit in the sun on the beach reading “Twilight.” I can even see my reflection in the mirror.

Back in the days when I was a rogue English gentleman, I explained away my dark blue skin by saying I was the victim of a madman’s experiment gone awry. It was supposed to be a joke, but people believed it. The sympathy I received from that tale was surprising. The fact that I lived in a manor and owned a king’s fortune didn’t hurt the narrative. When you’re rich, you can tell people you had hot sex with the pope, and they’ll believe you. Of course, it’s easier to tell the tale when it’s true.

I could have shed my skin and changed its color, but there’s a certain pride many vampires have in how we look. Vampires are by nature very tall and blue. Or bluish. But not my friend Moreland, who has deep red skin, but that’s because she sheds her naturally blue skin for the red. It’s like cosplay for vampires, I guess.

Daphne and I left the stage toward the gamer meeting rooms. “I really don’t want to hang around these people,” I said. The noise of the crowd became muffled while we walked.

“Me neither,” she replied.

“Want to get some sushi?”

“Oh, Jade, I’m sorry. I’m not feeling great. Rain check?”

“How about we go to my place, and I nurse you back to health?”

She smiled at that, one side of her lips twisting up at a higher angle than the other side in the way that always drove me crazy. In moments like this, I wondered if I was more than just liking her. I feel things, too, you know? My heart thumps just like yours. And sometimes, like right then, Daphne made my heart thump. “I know what your idea of nursing me back to health is, Romeo. Not tonight.” She stood up on her toes and kissed my cheek.

We had a routine. When she stood on her toes like that, I bent down, trying to guess where she’d land her kiss.

“Okay, well, feel better. At least tell me what’s wrong.” I knew she wasn’t just blowing me off.

“My stomach feels like I ate a vat of salmonella.”

My fingers scraped strands of her hair. This gave me an excuse to look into her dark brown eyes, which I sometimes told her were the very eyes of Korea. I wanted to gently bite her perfect pug nose. “Well, why didn’t you bail on the tournament, then?”

“Seriously? And miss doing your show? Besides, I had fun. I always have fun with you. Even when I feel like shit. I wasn’t gonna miss this, no way. ‘Sides, that Metallica song on your violin is amazing.”

I nodded. “Thanks. I couldn’t have done that violin thing without you. No doubt. That drum was dope.”

“And we did practice a lot. I hate wasting time,” she smiled.

“So do I,” I lied. I didn’t really mind wasting time. I had a lot of it. “Okay, well, get out of here. You taking a ride share?”

“I grabbed a scooter. I should be able to find another.”

“I’ll walk with you.”

“Thanks.” She grabbed my hand and squeezed it. Electricity. Yes, this was more than like. And it sure was more than blood lust. Why did I need to be with her to be reminded?

We left the stadium. To my chagrin, there were about fifty scooters in front of the stadium entrance. She looked up at me, saying, “This is me,” and giggled. “Can I snap you?”

I sighed. “One of these days I’m going to dye my hair another color.”

“Don’t. The purple works.” She took her phone out of a tiny white purse, snapped a pic, and showed me her “Purple Jade” Snapchat story. “People love this shit,” she said. “Especially with that purple lipstick and insanely long purple hair of yours. They think it’s such solid cosplay.” Then she looked like she fell into deep thought. “How the hell does that lipstick never seem to come off?”

I shrugged.

“One of these days I’m gonna kiss those lips until it does.” She tapped her phone to fire up a scooter, gave me another kiss on the cheek, and buzzed away.

I pulled my phone out of my trousers and ordered a ride share. It was late, nearly midnight. Midtown Atlanta was buzzing. I rarely get tired, but I was spent. It felt like I needed to feed soon, but I can usually go a week without a blood feeding. Maybe Daphne had fueled the hunger. I couldn’t feed in these bright clothes, though. I’d need to go home and change into something darker.

The ride share took me to my estate in Buckhead. The word “estate” has bad connotations these days, but I don’t know what else to call it. It’s mine. I own it. It’s large. It has a lot of acreage. It’s an estate.

The neighbors weren’t happy with me when I tore down every other house on the block, which I also owned. So, yeah. My neighbors call my place an “estate,” too. But they say it disparagingly. Like I had built a halfway house for drug addicts in the middle of their toney upper-class neighborhood.

In a way, I guess my house was a lot like a halfway house. It was full of social media influencers. I should add here that I didn’t invent the term “influencers.” It’s a word invented by the media that means nothing. We called ourselves Team Fang because of my long incisors. I loved all the residents, even those with a transient relationship with the house. I didn’t mind the transients, though. They provided a quick feeding option when I was desperate.

There were a bunch of them partying when I arrived at the estate. I was greeted with the usual fist bumps and come-hither looks as I glided up the long, tall, rounded stone staircase to my bedroom. I slipped out of my clothes and climbed into bed in my boxers, deciding to delay the hunt.

Hunting, after all, should be fun, and I was tired. The night before, for instance. That was fun. I had gone out with my friend Charly, a trombone player plying his craft at an old jazz club near Midtown. Charly’s immense girth sometimes made me wonder if he entered doors sideways to get through. His big, bluish-black, bald head was always so sweaty that he constantly looked like he had just come out of the shower. He had a blue hue to his skin like me, but not as obvious. Like Moreland, he too, shed his skin, but in his case, it was because he liked to blend in with his preferred crowd when he interacted with humans. Moreland didn’t have a preferred crowd of humans. She disliked them all.

His eyes, though. Dammit if they weren’t the coolest I’d ever seen. He had said that his clan came from central Africa and that he had tiger DNA in his blood. He had said this seriously as if I’d believe him. I guess he needed some explanation for his eyes’ bright yellow sclera and narrow, diamond-shaped black irises. He could have just said he was an offshoot of our species without getting into talk about tigers.

Charly and I originally met in Chicago during Prohibition. He was playing a club on the South Side while I was living in the forest preserves south of the city. I’ve lived my life in various levels of poverty and wealth. This was a poverty moment. I frequented the industrial suburb of Chicago Heights, looking for scumbags who did things like beat up their wives and kick their dogs. I had a careless attitude about my feeding habits in those days, probably because I was depressed about not finding a clean way to make a lot of money, and partly because I didn’t care what happened to scoundrels. So, I’d hunt down scumbags and come close to sucking them dry.

When we feed on humans, we can get carried away and take too much blood. Occasionally, we’ll leave a body dry, and it dies. But because the vampire body can only absorb so much fresh blood, instinct sort of dictates that we stop feeding before we cause too much damage. The more sinister among us will suck blood and spit it out if it’s too much to digest. Or they’ll bite through the carotid artery to let the blood flow just for the sport of killing. But most of us are more eager to preserve the symbiotic relationship with humans than we are to kill.

I stumbled into Charly during a hunt on one of those nights that looked like a black-and-white movie from those Prohibition days. It turned out we were looking for the same thing: people who deserved a little terror in their lives. My prey was the owner of a small factory that churned out thin rolls of steel. I had followed him home two nights before and winced as he slapped around his kids. I stalked him for a day and a half to make sure he wasn’t drinking somewhere. I hate feeding on boozers. Convinced that he wasn’t, I prepared to confront him in an industrial alley behind his small factory.

The factory workers were long gone. The economy wasn’t great, so the only night shift consisted of the factory owner doing some paperwork or bookkeeping. It was a cold, foggy, late autumn evening, the kind where everything is wet without rain. I crouched behind a large orange cylindrical drum marked with the word “corrosive” in huge black letters. A metal flap was banging in the wind somewhere, but other than that, the only sounds of the city were the occasional honks from a car and the bark of a distant dog.

I waited an hour. “Seriously?” I thought, wondering what he could be doing in his dinky factory as the night wore on. Finally, I had enough. I climbed some metal stairs to a back entrance that said, “Employees only.” I couldn’t imagine he had a way to enforce that provision, and because I was irritated, I tore the metal door off its hinges and threw it to the side. I guess I haven’t mentioned that I’m pretty strong compared to humans. Not like superman strong. But, yeah, strong enough to tear a metal door off its hinges.

The door made a loud, groaning sound of steel getting ripped apart, and an even louder sound as it crashed to the pavement below. So much for the element of surprise, I thought.

Once inside, all I saw at first was a dimly lit factory floor consisting of an unlit blast furnace and, against one wall, a freight container full of rolled steel wrapped in bunches by strips of metal. The container rested on rail tracks that were sunk into the concrete floor. The place was lit by a series of exposed light bulbs hanging from high above, most of which were out. This guy ran a spartan shop. I noticed a short platform with a metal railing on the other side of the floor. I ran to it, sniffing the air as I hurried to a short stairway that led to the top of the platform. I could smell blood in the air as if someone had poured it into a glass and was waving it under my nose.

I followed my nose up the stairs to the platform, which ended with a door on the right. I let myself in the same way I let myself into the factory entrance, throwing the door to the factory floor as I raced into the room.

That’s when I saw Charly. When I noticed him, I thought you could fit three or four people inside him. He was a hulking vamp, bent over a body that was bouncing its legs through a series of tremors. Charly held the man’s head and stared at me with blood dripping down his chin and a fierce look in his yellow and black eyes that seemed to be telling me to turn around and go home.

Instead, he spat through blood saying, “Hey man I don’t want no trouble.”

I bared my teeth at him, which we often do when we encounter one of our own. That usually results in either a fight or a, “Hey, what’s up?” type of response. You need to be prepared for both. Charly went with option number two.

“Really,” he said. “I don’t want no damn trouble.” Charley’s prey was convulsing. Charly had taken too much blood. The factory owner’s eyes were rolling to the back of his head, his mouth agape like it was designed to catch stuff falling from the ratty metal ceiling. Charly shoved the man’s head in my direction hard enough that I thought he’d tear it from its neck. “You want some?”

I shook my head. Not now I don’t, I thought. The bald factory owner, already a small man, looked like a tiny doll with Charly holding him, and a bit pudgy in his gray suit. One heavily worn dress shoe had fallen off, laying a few feet in front of him. Blood soaked the top of his suit coat and white dress shirt underneath. Charly, I determined at that moment, was a slob. I wouldn’t have predicted at that moment that I’d ever go hunting with him.

Charly stood up, dropping the man’s head to the ground like he was letting go of a basketball. The factory owner’s head made an unpleasant sound as it thudded to the dark concrete floor. “Name’s Richard Cory,” he said.

I stuck my hand out. “Jade.”

Charly laughed. “No, man, I mean, that man there’s name is Richard Cory. A dirtbag if there ever was one.” He bent down, tore off a clean part of Cory’s shirt, and wiped his blood-soaked mouth. After throwing the rag at Cory’s lifeless body, he extended his hand. I had dropped mine, so I reached out again to accept his hand. “My name is Charly. Pleased to meet you.”

I nodded. “A dirtbag, huh?”

Charly nodded. “Sixteen-hour shift just this last day to get those rolls of steel you see in there pumped out and onto the container.” He pointed in the direction of the factory floor. “One short lunch break. Half hour. Feeds them cans of beans. He doesn’t even let them bring in their own food. Boys as young as eleven working the shift. Then you know what he does? He goes home, beats on his kids. Well, not anymore. And look what I found here.”

Charly led me to a safe in the corner of Cory’s small office, which was furnished with only a metal desk and the safe in the corner. The safe’s door had been torn off. “Lookee there,” Charly said, pointing to the safe. Stacks of money were stuffed inside so firmly that it would have been a chore to pull any of it out.

“Now I need to know what kind of vamp you are,” said Charly, looking at the safe instead of me.

I shook my head. “You can have it,” I said. “And I’m not saying that because you’re five times larger than me.”

Charly smiled from one bulbous cheek to the other. It was the first time I noticed the perpetual sweat on his forehead. “Will you help me bring it to his suffering family?”

“Hell yeah,” I replied.

“Probably ill-gotten,” said Charly as he knelt to start pulling money out of the safe. “This man’s shop here is not exactly making profits like old Henry Ford.” He continued to pull stacks of money out of the safe and dump them onto the floor. “We could be putting his family in danger by delivering this to them though.”

“Looks like there’s enough there that they can move to whatever town they want to. What do you suppose he was into?”

“Booze? A speakeasy somewhere? Both?”

“Any idea what the local mob’s into around here?”

Charly stopped to look at me, adjusting from the knelt position to throw one foot in front so he could lean on one knee. “Booze. Like everyone else.” He thought for a moment. “Let’s just take half then. Make it look like a robbery. That’ll keep the family safe.”

“What about the bites? The cops will be alarmed.” Bites on dead people don’t heal.

“Let them be. There are no vampires these days, right? Everybody knows that.” He grinned widely. We didn’t need to worry about things like fingerprints.

After a long search, we found a burlap sack in a storage room. We packed the money into it and broke into the Cory family house the next day to make our delivery. Mom and the kids were out of the house. We left a note for the wife on their king bed: “We’re sorry we had to kill your husband. Take the money in the sack and go far away so that the criminals your husband was working with don’t find you or the stash. Good luck.”

And that’s how I met Charly.

We fed together regularly. We got along great, despite our different feeding habits, and despite my insistence on a quick prayer before each feeding. When he asked me why I prayed before a feeding, I told him, “In case I kill the poor bastard.”

Charly helped me get back on my feet financially and emotionally. I had been battling deep depression before I met him. After two thousand years, life can get old. I felt done. I even sliced off my finger once to look for signs of aging, but when the damn thing grew back in a few minutes, I knew I had thousands of years left in me. I didn’t know that Charly was ten thousand years old until much later. If I had known at that moment in my personal history, I would have found a way to off myself. Two thousand was long enough. Eight thousand more would have seemed like torture.

When I complained about living in the forest, Charly told me that if I didn’t like it, I could change my situation. He was right. Vampires can pretty much do anything we set our minds to. I chose the solitary existence of forest life because I was lonely and tired. I didn’t want to be around people. I wanted to kill them, to be honest. That scared me.

“You don’t play any music?” he asked me one day not long after he sucked the life out of Richard Cory.

“Yeah, I play.”

“What do you play?”




“We could use a sax player,” he said. “Pay’s not great, but the music will keep your spirit alive. And you never know who’ll stop in and jam with us. Gene Krupa came in the other night. Jammed with us for three hours.”

That changed everything. When I started playing with his band, none of them gave me funny looks for my purple hair or lips or the blue hue of my skin or the way I towered over everyone else. I could riff on the sax, and that was enough to make them happy.

When we jammed at the club, Charly drifted into the dialect of the people around him to the point where I could sometimes not understand what he was saying. Such is the life of the vampire. You must adopt local speech patterns. We stand out enough as it is. The way we look makes it mandatory that we live an urban life. Country folk will kill us just for the blue or red hue or funny teeth.

One day recently, I asked Charly if he ever preyed on anyone that he thought was innocent. “There’s always been assholes,” he replied after he had revealed his age to me. “Even ten thousand years ago, there was always some jerk in the tribe who wanted to get something over on someone. So. No. I don’t think so. And now. Now it’s easy. So easy to find a deserving source of food. I ain’t like you. I like to rip and go, not worry about killin’. I’m like Dexter, man.”


“Yeah, Dexter.”

“Who’s Dexter?”

“You know, TV Dexter. Serial killer who kills shitty people?”

I laughed at that. I hadn’t heard of Dexter. But he sounded awesome.

During the ninety or so years I’ve known Charly, I’ve promised myself after every hunt together that I’d teach him some table manners. There are cleaner ways to feed, but Charly is sloppy. But how do you correct someone who’s lived for ten thousand years?

Thank you for reading! Buy it, review it, or, just check out Chapter Two here.

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