Excerpt for Sluggo Snares a Vampire by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Sluggo Snares a Vampire

By Rick R. Reed


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2017 Rick R. Reed

ISBN 9781634863551

* * * *

Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

NOTE: This story appears in the author’s collection, Unhinged.

* * * *

For all the nice folks we meet online.

* * * *

Sluggo Snares a Vampire

By Rick R. Reed

They call it catfishing—presenting yourself online as someone other than who you you really are. Why do people do it? I suppose to the same reason a dog licks its balls—because they can.

My mind tends to wander to dangerous places, and from the trending hot topic of catfishing, it went to vampires. Who knows why?

But one thing that’s always fascinated me about vampire lore is the fact that, according to most stories, you have to invite them in.

So catfishing, vampires, and taking the dangerous step of inviting your own trouble into your own house, “Sluggo Snares a Vampire” was born.

* * * *

Sluggo had promised himself he would limit his time on the computer to less than an hour a day. Like many promises, this one was made with the best of intentions and an underlying need to makes himself a better person.

So why was it that now, at a quarter past midnight, he was lying abed wide awake? This was in spite of re-reading the latest Sookie Stackhouse story, drinking several glasses of red wine that Sluggo whimsically thought of as “true blood,” and neatly cataloging, in alphabetical order, all of the books on his living room shelves. He had his bedroom TV turned to a comforting and—he thought—sleep-inducing low hum, tuned to Lifetime and an old episode of Will and Grace. His aluminum mini blinds were firmly shut against the night, and the room was warm and dark, save for the dim glow of his sock monkey night-light that he’d simply never been able to part with.

Sluggo’s den, off the dining room, beckoned. Like a siren’s call, it seemed the Macintosh within urged him to forget his resolve and conveniently not remind him that he had earlier decided the hours and hours of time spent online were becoming an addiction, just like crystal meth, alcohol, and huffing computer keyboard cleaners was for the poor folks he watched every week on Intervention. The lure of the computer and the connections it promised forced Sluggo to put on a back burner the worry that his time online in chat rooms and male-to-male hookups sites was perhaps circumventing his ability to get out there and make real, flesh-and-blood human connections. Never mind his dawning horrific realization that he was beginning to think, instead of just type on a keyboard, terms like vgl, brb, lmao, bb, nsa, and a whole litany of others. And why bother mentioning the mounting amounts of money his Visa statement detailed each month, for his high-speed Internet connection and the monthly membership charges to various gay male hookup sites?

Sure, he could afford all that—no problem—especially if he subsisted on beans and rice. He knew he shouldn’t do it, though, knew he should head instead into the bathroom where he would brush and floss and then go to bed, where he could lie awake, fantasizing about firm, muscular bodies (unlike his), surly hairy alpha men with mountainous pecs, ripped abs, grapefruit-sized biceps, dangerous facial hair (unlike his), and huge, pendulous cocks that became erect at the slightest whisper of sexual titillation (completely unlike his).

Perhaps, he thought, rationalizing now and not really caring, such a man awaited his electronic embrace on “System Up” one of the services to which he subscribed. If he didn’t log on now, who knows what opportunity he might pass up? When Sluggo “chatted” in one of the rooms, he became Sir Raven, the dark-haired, wild-eyed Cuban stud whose depravity knew no bounds and whose witty repartee would enchant and seduce, inspiring the most fervent love and devotion.

Oh stop it now! You’re just playing mind games with yourself, trying to convince yourself to do what you know damn well you shouldn’t.

Sluggo did manage to will himself into the small bathroom, with its claw-foot tub and its makeshift shower, cracked tile floors, and paint-chipped walls. He took one look at his reflection and despaired. He had heard all about self-esteem and knew he shouldn’t denigrate himself so, but the man who peered back at him was not one who could snare a beefy, virile, and hot man. Not unless Sluggo had a huge… bank account. He never could have snared such a creature, even when he was twenty years younger, when, at best, he bore an uneasy resemblance to Sluggo of comic strip fame. Now the man who looked back at him was of “football player build” proportions (okay, fat), intelligent looking (mud brown eyes enlarged by pop-bottle thick lenses, framed in tortoiseshell), and his hair, in spite of trying to tempt it back with Rogaine, comb-overs, and Propecia, was beating a hasty retreat from his scalp, only to appear in luxurious amounts in places less desirable, like his back.

But on “System Up,” Sluggo could be whatever he wanted, hiding behind a barrage of wit and verbosity, master of the clever quip and the alluring line, perfect for quiet, private chats sheathed in the safety and security of instant messages, his own private room (Meet me in the “Master of the Night” room) or e-mail.

Sluggo did pick up his toothbrush and even decorated its bristles with a ribbon of bright blue gel.

Then set it back down on the little plastic counter beneath the medicine cabinet mirror.

Okay, then, if I get online tonight, I promise not to get online at all tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will go out after work and go to a happy hour somewhere. I will make myself smile and introduce myself to at least one guy. So getting online tonight won’t be so bad, right?

He knew his self-rationalization was flimsy and, like any addict, stuffed it deep down into his subconscious where it could emerge later as an ulcer or high blood pressure. The good angel on his shoulder tried to tell him that tonight he could not afford it and that a good night’s sleep might allow him a halfway productive day tomorrow at First National, where he worked as a loan officer. He brushed the angel off his shoulder with an annoyed roll of the eyes. Tomorrow, after all, was Friday, and he would have the entire weekend to rest. So what if he stayed up late getting to know someone new on System Up? This could very well be the night he turned his entire lonely life around.

So it was no surprise that within minutes Sluggo found himself in the tiny ten-by-ten cubbyhole he called his den. He sat in front of the Mac screen, watching as the little icons lined up as the system booted, aiming him toward his destination in cyberspace, where life was beautiful and unfettered by concerns about loneliness, unworthiness, and the clock ticking relentlessly downward toward a passing no one would mark.

Once he brought up Firefox, Sluggo clicked on the System Up name in his toolbar. Faster than he could think “cock and balls,” he was staring at the System Up icon (a tiny computer with a big, Superman-like “S” on its monitor screen). Mouth dry and heart racing, he drummed his fingertips on the glass surface of his desk as he waited for the prompt that would allow him to enter his screen name (Sir Raven) and then his password (Lestat1968). Sluggo listened hopefully for the electronic voice to tell him he had mail, and once again was disappointed to see the closed mailbox icon, with its taunting “no mail” message.

Quickly, Sluggo moved through the screens until he was scrolling through the Member Rooms, looking for the one called “Chicago M4M,” hoping he wouldn’t be denied access because the room was full. He was pleased to see there were fifteen members in the room (a good number, but not so many as to block him out), and within moments, he was in.

The screen was blank. Even though Sluggo knew that this only meant he was just joining the chat, he preferred instead to imagine the whole room waiting with bated breath for him to speak. Of course, the room was full to bursting with muscular, naked Adonises whose only variation was the color of their hair and eyes. They were all oiled up and stroking cocks with a minimum of eight inches.

Oh stop!

Sluggo readjusted his pajama bottoms and typed, “Good evening, gentlemen,” and waited. Within moments, another message popped up, from a familiar screen name: Flshsinner.

“How you doin’, Raven?”

“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

“LOL.”

Hmm. This one was easy to amuse. “What brings you out on this cold winter night?”

Sluggo waited for a full minute and, when he got no response, typed: “I am Sir Raven, master of the night.”

There was virtual silence, and Sluggo had assumed his bold statement had scared Flshsinner away. Good riddance if he can’t handle a simple statement of fact.

A screen name Sluggo had never seen, TepesAllure, popped up. “I thought I was master of the night.”

Bitch! How dare someone try to horn in on his carefully developed persona! With trembling fingers, he typed, “I don’t know if there’s room for two masters.”

Tepes simply sent back one of those cartoon smiley faces in reply.

Sluggo typed: “Tepes, there’s not enough room. What do you care to do about it?”

Flshsinner joined in. “Uh-oh, a cat fight?”

A tiny electronic gong alerted him that he had a private instant mail message from Tepes. “Listen, sir, I have more reason to be master of the night than you could ever dream.”

Sluggo snorted and responded, “What do you know of my dreams, Tepes?”

“I know they’re the only lively thing shedding light in a bland void.”

The message chilled him, as on target as it was, with its casual cruelty. Sluggo wasn’t sure he should go on. Something about this one sent an icy glissando of fear up and down his spine. He had the odd sensation he was dealing here with someone who knew him. But that couldn’t be. His whole persona was pretty much the exact opposite of who he really was. Of course, this TepesAllure was just grasping at straws and trying to get a rise out of him, but his words cut a bit too close to the bone.

“Who knows what are dreams and what is reality?” Sluggo’s fingers rapidly caressed the keyboard. “Perhaps my reality is the color and passion-filled world you could only envy.”

“I have no envy for the walking wounded, past his prime and desperate.”

Sluggo sucked in a breath, almost wincing. The words hurt almost as much as if someone had delivered a punch to his gut. His mouth suddenly felt dry. He leaned back and rubbed his eyes. Perhaps this was the cyber god’s way of telling him he should have circumvented his den tonight and headed for the warmth and comfort of his flannel sheets, no matter how many hours he lay awake, tracing hairline cracks in his bedroom ceiling.

“Hello? Sir Raven? I haven’t scared you away, have I?”

Sluggo caressed the keyboard, debating whether he wanted to continue this conversation. Shouldn’t he just exit Firefox and get his pathetic little ass to bed? There would be time enough for all of this come the weekend. Still, he couldn’t help himself.

“You’re a bit on the harsh side, aren’t you, dear?”

“Harsh side, dark side. I say what’s on my mind. And what’s on my mind right now, DEAR, is you.”

“Why would someone like me be on your mind, when you’ve obviously decided I have nothing worth your interest?”

“I never said that. Describe yourself.”

Sluggo typed in the description that had become so familiar it might as well have been some sort of computer macro. “Buzz-cut black hair, dark brown eyes, full lips. Ripped, muscular build. 6’2” 180. Work out six days a week. Eight-inch cock, cut. Moderately hairy.”

“And I am the Queen of Sheba.”

The guy was a first-class prick! Calling himself a “queen” probably wasn’t too far from the truth. Sluggo wondered why he was bothering; the guy was probably reveling in his ability to get a rise out of Sluggo. And he was. Sluggo could leave this place by merely pressing the Command and Q key and be out of here, away from this nonsense, safe in his bed, while visions of Gerard Butler danced in his head. Yet, there was a strange allure to Tepes’s directness, to his refusal to accept any of the crap Sluggo churned out, that other men ate up like a kitten lapped up milk.

“Well, your majesty, what do YOU look like? And BE HONEST.”

“Honesty is my strong suit, my little lamb. I think you’d agree I look pretty good for my age, which happens to number in the centuries. Think Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire. Think elegance and grace. And don’t worry about gym-toned bodies and steroid-enhanced pecs, thank you very much.”

Sluggo’s hungry mind conjured up the image: this fabulous creature at his keyboard, alone in some city apartment (a high-rise, where the lights of Chicago’s skyscrapers were interrupted only by the dark void that was Lake Michigan). He realized suddenly how easy it had been to sucker in these online men who found themselves one hand between their legs while the other caressed the keyboard, as Sluggo played up to their fantasies, becoming God’s gift to homos and the devil’s Tantalus to straight women. He wanted to believe it was some strange and evilly alluring Brad Pitt at the other end of their electronic connection. But what was this strange business about being centuries old?

He typed: “Methinks you’re a little too enraptured with horror cinema.”

“Horror cinema has got nothing on me, my little bespectacled piglet. Horror cinema has managed to get so few of my traditions right as to be truly laughable. But there has been one tradition, rule if you will, they’ve always succeeded in getting correct.”

Sluggo rubbed his arms. There seemed to be a sudden, odd chill in the room. He glanced at the window and saw the black night pressing against it, almost as if it was something solid and alive. He shook his head, realizing he was being silly, and made a note to check the thermostat. He returned to the keyboard, wondering about the “horror movie tradition” Tepes had mentioned.

“And what would that be?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

Sluggo rolled his eyes. Of course, you can’t. That’s because there is no such tradition. “You’re quite the mystery man, aren’t you?”

“You couldn’t even begin to guess.”

Suddenly, Sluggo’s spine stiffened as another shiver washed over him. But this was no chill as the result of the temperature in the apartment lowering because of a thermostat. No, this one—Sluggo could swear—had the feel of icy fingers caressing, just barely grazing the raised bumps of his spine, like long fingernails moving down his back. He took a quick glance around the tiny office, wondering where the cold came from and then glanced up at his screen, where the instant message from seconds ago still remained. The cursor blinked at him, almost as if waiting for his next move. And then his heart almost stopped…

The words “bespectacled piglet” jumped out, as if highlighted. The description, unflattering as it was, was true nevertheless. Suddenly, the lack of spit in his mouth impeded Sluggo’s attempt to swallow. A trickle of cold sweat ran down his spine.

“Do I know you?” he typed, fingers beginning to tremble, causing him to have to key in the simple query three times before getting it right.

“We’ve spoken in your dreams.” The words, innocent enough on their own, hung suspended on the computer monitor. Somehow, when strung together, the words took on an eerie menace.

“Seriously,” Sluggo pleaded in his electronic voice, the one he thought of until this moment as throaty and seductive. The game had suddenly lost its allure, its humor, if it had had any to begin with. Now he realized his voice was wheedling, whining, a little too low pitched and dense to be heard distinctly. “You seem to have picked up certain of my physical characteristics, and I wondered if you were just a good guesser or if you’re someone I know.” Sluggo racked his brain, trying to recall who at the bank he might have told about his after-hours “social life.”

And came up blank.

“I told you. We’ve spoken in your dreams. For the last several months, I’ve visited you there, in that gossamer world, where I found the two of us to be highly compatible.” The fine hairs on Sluggo’s neck stood up.

“And why is that?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“What can you tell me?”

“I can tell you that I can see your worth.”

“Wonderful,” Sluggo keyed in, rolling his eyes. There’s no reason to be afraid. This is simply someone playing with you, someone intuitive, and they’re having a good time at your expense.

“Would you like to know more?”

“Knock yourself out.” Bed—with its lack of Internet connection—suddenly seemed like a more viable alternative to what he was doing.

“I don’t think you take me seriously.”

“Should I?”

“Dead serious.”

The word dead floated before Sluggo’s eyes. Again, he had the prickly sensation of cold, as if something large and icy stood just behind him, casting a black shadow. He glanced over his shoulder and saw nothing more than a painted white bookcase, filled with paperbacks that leaned toward horror potboilers and pop psychology and a framed poster above it: two tabby kittens on a red sweep, one atop the other. Sluggo contemplated shutting off the computer and banishing this prick to cyberspace where he could play mind games with some other unsuspecting soul.

“Feeling a chill, Sluggo?”

The room shifted just a little, as Sluggo might imagine the movement of a room during the first tremors of an earthquake. Seconds passed while he tried to quell the shaking in his fingers enough to be able to type again. He called me by my name.

“Again: do you know me?”

“Better than anyone, I’d guess.”

“How did you know my name?” Nothing in Sluggo’s member profile reflected the real him, so he knew the only answer must be—had to be—that this guy knew him. Sluggo didn’t know how, didn’t know where, but there had to be some way this man knew who he was. Or perhaps he wasn’t speaking to a man at all, but one of the young girls who worked at the bank, one of the ones who whispered and snickered when he passed by. It would be just like them to play a cruel trick on him. Although he had never done a single thing to harm any of them, they seemed to regard him as an object for ridicule.

“Your name is written on my heart.”

“Oh stop it!” Sluggo typed back, weary now of this assault. He questioned his motives once more as to why he didn’t just stop, but something kept his fingers glued to the keyboard. And he suddenly realized the reason could very well be the simple fact that for the first time, in years, he was feeling a little excitement. For the first time since he could remember, someone was taking an interest in him, no matter how twisted or mocking that interest might be.

“You know you don’t mean that. You don’t want me to stop. If you did, you would have walked away long ago and gone to the safety of your pathetically empty little bed.”

“Oh, what do you know?”

“Everything.”

Sluggo rubbed his arms together, trying to dispel the completely unreasonable cold that overwhelmed him. He stood and dashed into the living room, where the programmable thermostat was mounted on the wall. It read 70 degrees. He sat back down at the computer.

“No one knows everything.”

“I know everything about you: all about the loneliness, all about the hours spent in front of the computer or, barring that, the TV, or your nose buried in some god-awful Gordon Merrick novel.”

Sluggo shut his eyes, feeling as if a bright light had just been shined on him, exposing everything he thought hidden from the world. “You know nothing. I don’t know who you are, but you’re certainly not right about anything. I couldn’t even begin to abide this creature you describe.” And then, despair threatening to overwhelm him, typed: “I am Sir Raven, master of the night.”

“If you’re master of the night, honey, I’m Barack Obama.”

Sluggo barked out a short burst of laughter. He realized he was being backed into a corner and knew no way to escape from… what had he said his name was? TepesAllure. Sluggo peered at the screen, thinking that Tepes held some familiarity, but in spite of mentally searching his memory banks, could come up with no match for the name. He wanted to ask again who this person really was but knew he would get no less a cryptic response than he already had.

He changed his tack. “So what brings you to your keyboard tonight?”

“You do.”

“Why me? I don’t think we’ve spoken before.”

“Not like this.”

Sluggo flashed on the few pathetic sexual encounters he had had over the years, encounters he could easily count on two hands—okay, one hand. All of them with men older than himself, who followed him home, buoyed up by alcohol, satisfied themselves, and never called again. Could this be one of them? It had been two years since the last unsatisfying liaison; Sluggo had bought his computer within the last year. This screen name, even his e-mail postdated his last sexual encounter, with a mailman from Berwyn.

“How then… how have we spoken?”

“Your desire speaks to me. It reaches out. Sometimes I thinks its hunger exceeds my own.”

“I’m not horny.” Sluggo typed, bland, to the point.

“I wasn’t talking about that kind of desire, although that sort of exploration does hold its charm, does it not?”

What would Sir Raven say to that question? Sluggo wondered. And then berated himself for being such a fool. Things had gone beyond Sir Raven. “I wouldn’t know.”

“I’m sure that together, we could find out. But let me tell you: your body is not what I’m after, at least not in the sense you’re thinking.”

“What then are you after?”

“Your blood.”

“What are you, a hemophiliac?”

“You’re very funny, Sluggo. A hemophiliac, actually, is a fantasy partner of mine. Mmmm… imagine, blood that doesn’t clot. Are you getting the picture?”

“You’re in the wrong room. There’s a vampire chat room. Just go back to Member Rooms, locate it, and double click. Have a great time. But I have to warn you: some nights that room is really dead.” Sluggo chuckled at his wit. Tepes didn’t seem to appreciate it.

“I’ve located what I want.”

“I don’t think you have. I have to be getting to bed. It’s late, and I need to get up early.”

“Don’t leave. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface.”

“Go scratch yourself!” Sluggo typed quickly and even more quickly pressed the Command and Q button to quit System Up. He hit the Return key hard when the prompt came up asking him if he was sure he wanted to quit. “Yes, damn it, I’m sure!” Sluggo even went so far as to power down his computer. He tried to get hold of himself. He was panting, his heart was racing, and a thin line of sweat had formed at his hairline.

* * * *

Later, Sluggo awakened from a restless sleep, filled with shadowy images and strange beasts, unidentifiable, lurking around just this or that corner, waiting to pounce.

He sat up in bed, looking down at the silver slats created by his mini blinds and the full moon outside conspired together. He wiped a hand across his damp face, wondering what it was that had awakened him so abruptly.

Then he heard it.

Gong.

The sound was familiar but seemed to have no place in this restless landscape.

Gong. That chiming again.

And then Sluggo recognized the sound for what it was. He lay cautiously back down, thinking the noise had to be a fragment of dream lingering just past wakefulness. If there was such a thing as “lucid dreaming,” then perhaps dream images, aural or not, could be a little slower in dispersing than his waking mind could dispel them.

Gong.

And finally Sluggo realized he should have become aware of the sound long before, but the sound was so out of place in his little night-quiet apartment that his mind didn’t accept it. When the gong chimed again, Sluggo arose, putting sheet and blanket warmed feet to a chilled floor, and shivered.

The sound was so familiar because he heard it most every night. It was the sound alerting him that he had an instant message, as part of System Up’s online service.

“God, did I forget to turn off the computer?” Sluggo wondered, groggy, thinking with dread of how he would function at the bank the next day on so little sleep.

As he headed toward his den, he knew with a certainty beyond doubt that he had shut things down before retiring. Some sort of glitch maybe? But what sort of glitch would turn the computer back on and sign him on to the service once more?

The door to the den was open. Inside, Sluggo could see the pale glow from his monitor screen, and the memories of TepesAllure rushed back. He paused at the door, afraid to go inside, for fear of what might be waiting. Perhaps, he thought, anxiously gnawing at a nail that was already bitten down to the quick, someone had broken in and was using his computer.

Perhaps it was TepesAllure himself. After all, he knew Sluggo’s name, knew what he looked like. Was it really such a stretch to imagine that he knew where Sluggo lived and had come to call?

Briefly, Sluggo considered tiptoeing back to the living room, where he could dial 911 and report an intruder.

And then what? What if the authorities came out to find a lonely man who had forgotten to shut off his computer before going to bed?

Sluggo stepped inside the room.

The den was empty.

He sat, feeling weak and dizzy, in front of the computer, where a message flickered on the screen.

“Don’t sleep, Sluggo, the night is winding down, faster and faster, like water going down the drain. Dawn approaches.”

“Who are you?”

“I am TepesAllure, master of the night.”

“I thought I was… Oh never mind. What’s going on here? What do you want from me?” Sluggo’s eyelids burned. He needed sleep.

“I told you what I wanted, my dear. I’m simply waiting for you to give it to me.”

“My blood?”

“Yes, that hot, pumping life juice.”

“Well, let me slit my wrists to make you happy.”

“What a perfectly mundane idea. I have in mind a more sensual connection.”

“Look, it’s late and I don’t have time for this.” Sluggo pulled the plug from his computer, causing the monitor to go blank. He sighed with relief, or perhaps disappointment. But pulling the plug was the sensible thing to do and Sluggo always did the sensible thing. It had gotten him where he was today.

He headed back toward the bedroom.

And froze.

Gong.

Rushing back to his den, where the interior was once more warmed by the glow of the monitor, Sluggo froze in absolute terror, eyes moving from the glowing screen to the empty electrical socket in the wall, back and forth, back and forth.

“This has to be a dream,” he whispered, a pounding starting at his temples and his respiration coming more quickly. He sat heavily in the desk chair, because his legs would no longer support him.

“You’re not rid of me that easily.”

“What do you want?” Sluggo typed again, weary and nauseous.

“You.”

“Then take me,” Sluggo typed, fingers hitting the keyboard uncertainly. “Just come over here, waltz through the door, and take me. I’m tired.” He looked outside his den and made sure his front door was locked with both deadbolt and chain.

No instant message came, and Sluggo sat staring at the screen, wondering what had happened to TepesAllure. Perhaps Sluggo had been too direct. Perhaps Tepes had tired of the game.

Perhaps I’m going insane, he thought, uncomfortable with the feeling that his last thought was most on target.

Sluggo typed. “Where have you gone, my precious? TepesAllure, you’ve allured me and left me high and dry. Is that all there is?”

The screen remained blank, taunting him.

Isn’t this always the way? Sluggo thought, shivering and snatching together the collar of his pajamas in a futile attempt to keep warm. A weird sensation overcame him, as if something cold and dark were moving behind him, just out of sight.

But this time, the chill, the presence, seemed more real. Sluggo could have sworn he heard a whisper of movement behind him. Goosebumps formed; his heart began to pound. Part of him wanted to turn and look, and the other part wanted to remain frozen, staring at his unanswered message on the computer screen.

More whispering movement, then a chill ran up his spine, like a cold draft blowing in.

Sluggo gnawed his lower lip. “Please don’t make me look,” he whispered.

And then, he shuddered because he felt what he could swear was a touch on the back of his neck. Yet this touch—feathery and dry—did not seem human; its icy chill seemed so far removed from human that it could make him scream.

But Sluggo was not the type of person to scream. He was far too sensible for that.

He whirled in the chair, thinking that at last he would dispel this late night nonsense and return to bed. Everything would look different, laughably different, in the morning.

A gorgeous man stood behind him. Tall, pale, with a mane of coal black hair, the man looked as if he had been chiseled from alabaster, a frieze of male beauty so perfect that it appeared monstrous.

Sluggo froze, voice caught in his throat by an unseen hand, which squeezed, squeezed until all the air in the world vanished. Before the man came nearer, Sluggo knew he had seen him before. Had seen him every time he typed out a description of Sir Raven to some lonely soul out there in cyberspace, who wanted to believe so much that he did.

And then, with movement not even perceptible to Sluggo’s human gaze, the man was upon him, all fangs and wild, feral eyes, biting and ripping Sluggo’s flesh, drawing his blood from him so quickly Sluggo didn’t even have time to scream or raise a weak hand in defense.

He heard, though, the vampire’s passionate whisper, “You invited me in, my sweet. It was all I needed. I’ve waited so long.”

The last thing Sluggo saw was the impossibly beautiful ashen face rise up to his own, the vampire’s fangs glinting in the dull light from the computer, Sluggo’s own blood a crimson splash on the creature’s chin. The last thing he heard was the sound his own head made as it hit the hardwood floor—a dull squishing sound.

* * * *

He had never tried any of the chat rooms before. He likened them to personal ads and phone sex lines, ploys for the desperate, ploys for the unattractive who needed to hide behind a veil of electricity to attract a suitor.

But tonight, Heath was bored. And, as he ran his fingers through his spiky red hair, he knew—at the very least—this would be good for a laugh.

In the Chicago M4M chat room, he typed. “Good evening, gentlemen.”

A gong sounded. Heath looked up to see an instant message, from someone called Sir Raven.

“I’ve been waiting for you. In fact, I’ve been waiting all my life.”


THE END

* * * *

ABOUT RICK R. REED

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery, and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner for Caregiver, Orientation, and The Blue Moon Cafe. His novel, Raining Men, won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary General Fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

For more information, visit rickrreed.com.

ABOUT JMS BOOKS LLC

JMS Books LLC is a small queer press with competitive royalty rates publishing LGBT romance, erotic romance, and young adult fiction. Visit jms-books.com for our latest releases and submission guidelines!



Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-18 show above.)