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Anna Karnivora: A Vampire Novel [MultiFormat]
eBook by W. Bill Czolgosz

eBook Category: Horror/Romance
eBook Description: Bill is treading the delicate path between sobriety and drunkenness, between responsibility and recklessness, and, for once in his life, the future is looking bright. If he can keep his job and get his bills paid, he just might be able to afford a new truck. This is life in a small town. Drug-use is rampant, businesses are closing their doors, and every day feels a little emptier than the one that preceded it. When the lusty, enigmatic Nadezhta Zahorchak enters Bill's little life, everything goes right down the toilet. Bill begins having nightmares about Planet Mars. His friends begin to die. His favorite watering hole becomes a blood-soaked crime scene. And leggy, lipsticked vampires creep into the daylight to tear his world apart. Will Bill pump gas for the rest of his life, or will he become a respected novelist? Will he keep Nadezhta, or will he lose her to the darkness? Will he make it to August with his throat (and his mind) intact? Anna Karnivora is a tragedy-laced, bloody dramedy that will have you laughing all the way to the gallows.

eBook Publisher: Coscom Entertainment, Published: 2009, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2009

Chapter One: Pastoral

I can't get it together. Lots of ideas, disjointed thoughts. Overton, a friend (not in this story), told me I write like a diminishing river. Very punctuated, even abbreviated. Everyone's a critic. Babies come into the world ready to pick everything apart, as soon as they learn to control their tiny fingers. Readers will wonder why it goes the way it does. Easy does it. No two snowflakes are alike, right? Do the scholars care? And do scholars even read books anymore? At this particular point in history, I think popular literature is dominated by laymen, even morons, like me. No one notices. No one cares.


Hello, Friend.

I have chosen to call you "Friend." Relax. It's just a word.

You're the second gunman on the grassy knoll, I know. We are practically nobody to one another. But you're the only person on the planet that I can tell my story to.

We're a dying breed, you and I. Some might say we're already extinct.

Men of Action.

That's what we are.

Or, it's what we were, in those long-ago times, when we were stupid and brave. And young.

I don't know about you, but I sure miss my knees these days.

I can't do half a day's work without having to ice the bastards. And don't even wonder about my spine. Three discs have gone western. Nobody knows what became of them. It's all bone-on-bone down there. I'm coming all apart. Isn't that how it goes?

I'm trying to summon my father's favorite adage on aging, but it isn't coming to me. The brain fogs up sometimes. Like looking through frosted glass. And when this happens, I make a piss-poor storyteller. Got to take a break and wait for the thaw.

It's going to take a long time to get this tale told, at this rate.

* * * *

New paragraph.

You have no idea how long it took to get to here.

For you, it's mere seconds.

For me, it was two cups of black coffee and a stroll around the neighborhood.

I didn't see any familiar faces. I'm new here. I'm the old man in the yellow house. I became that last September. I don't know why I chose this particular town. It's as good as any other, I figure.

It's quiet. And it's faraway. And it's nowhere in particular.

Have you ever thought about living in a Norman Rockwell painting?

That's where I am.

It will do nicely.

* * * *

I might paint my yellow house green. Or blue.

It can wait.

Next summer, perhaps.

* * * *

To this day, I sometimes stop what I'm doing and ask myself unanswerable questions, like, "If I lost my own soul, could I use someone else's, instead?"

Silly, I know.

* * * *

Twenty-two years ago--or a thousand years ago, take your pick--my house was blue. It was not this house. It was not this town. And it was not this particular epoch.

I fell in love. Not for the first time.

I suppose, if it had been the first time, I mightn't have known what it was.

How does a first-timer recognize love? How does he differentiate from lust or infatuation? Or booze or dope or bad hormones?

I guess he doesn't.

I guess he's like a high-school boy, up to his eyes in skirts and sweaty cleavage, being led down the corridor by his hungry dick.

Man, those were the days, weren't they?

But I knew the difference, twenty-two years ago. I knew what love was and I knew what it wasn't. I knew it was confounding and painful, and damn near impossible to decline when it presented itself. Sort of knocks you right out of your shoes.

I'd had my heart broken four times already by then.

I knew it was love, and I knew I was in it.

This story is a love story.

Are you surprised by that, Friend?

Seriously, what were you expecting?

Ninjas? Exploding heads? Rotting zombies?

Perhaps you want to hear about the vampires.

Yes, there were vampires.

* * * *

It was twenty-two years ago, and it was Tromso.

Tromso is booming now, just as it boomed in the 1950s, and, briefly, in the late 70s. But in the days that I'm speaking of, it seemed to be on its proverbial last legs. The population was at its lowest ebb--just forty-eight hundred citizens, down from thirteen thousand, at its peak. Not even a city anymore, technically. But the councilors refused to revise the sign on the highway, and no one came along to revoke its city status, anyway.

The lumber industry was dead.

The mine was closed. The shaft was sealed by a concrete bulkhead twelve feet thick.

The new 41 Highway, the region's artery to the Big City, didn't pass within twenty miles of the Tromso boundary line.

More than once, I heard somebody say, "Last one to leave better turn out the lights."

And so there were all these empty buildings along Main Street.

I remember that most vividly.

I remember the ghosts in the shop windows. The bakery--best apple fritters I ever tasted--closed forever, its doors chained shut. And the human debris that began to collect in the empty spaces.

* * * *

Don't let me fool you. Life, in a sense, did go on.

The doctors did well. The lawyers, even better. And anyone who held a government position was laughing all the way to the bank.

With such a depressed economy, and with real estate values dropping down through the floorboards, Tromso became a bedroom community for the upper middle class. I laugh to think about how membership at the golf course never dwindled, no matter how bad it all got.

North of the tracks, those affluent pricks kept the grass neatly trimmed, picket fences maintained, elm trees disease-free, and their weekend barbecue parties went off without a hitch all summer long.

On the south side, it was a different story. Here was the trailer park. Here were the apartment buildings, erected half a century beforehand, their plaster facades cracked and spray-painted with genitals and F-words. Tenements without air-conditioning or decent plumbing.

More often than not, the renters bought crack directly from their landlord.

* * * *

Have you heard this story before?

There was no town more tragic or depressing anywhere.

Between 1990 and 1995, for instance, more than fifty men and women were murdered by their spouses in the comfort of their own homes. Booze and/or drugs were always factors.

If depression could manifest itself as wind, Tromso was hurricane territory.

* * * *

Somebody said the unemployment rate was eighteen percent.

Looked more like eighty to me some days.

Half the citizenry were living off of welfare and unemployment insurance, and the other half were making six-figure salaries administering to them.

It wasn't as cut and dry as that, I know, but you get the picture, don't you?

* * * *

For one thing, the monster called Poverty wasn't afraid to snake its way north of the tracks and rear its ugly head in the midst of the Decent People. There were a few rough neighborhoods on that side, to be sure, especially along Main, and in the east, behind the shopping mall. But I swear there was no reverse correlation. On the south side, there wasn't a single lawn belonging to a dentist or magistrate or civil service-person.

Not a snowball's chance of that.

This was Dirt City.

That's what folks called it.

It used to be Monkey Town, back before the methamphetamine explosion of the 90s, but after that it became Dirt City. And maybe some of the old-timers still called it Monkey Town, if they were inclined to drive through and count the busted windows and rusted engine blocks lying in the ditches, but those men were few and far between.

I pitied the poor old buggers whose meager pension checks kept them in Dirt City.

There was an old folks' home right at the end of my street. Maybe thirty-five units. An independent living facility; which is to say that these seniors could still get around and take care of themselves. But I never saw one of them venture out-of-doors past four in the afternoon.

That's how it was in Dirt City.

Just awful.

That old folks' home was called Serenity Gardens.

There wasn't as much as a rose bush on the property.

* * * *

This was Saint James Avenue.

All the streets in the south were named for Catholic Saints.

Way, way back in the past, Tromso had been something of a religious community.

Certain uppity north-siders boasted, "We've got more churches than bars."

Most of those churches were boarded up now. Quite a few bars, too.

My house number was 316.

My house was ninety years old and looked it.

The lot was a decent size, though, and was fenced in, which went a long way to convincing me that I was still somewhere amid civilization. I had two grand old elm trees, one in the front yard and one in the back, and a detached garage that was only half as old as the house.

My neighbors to the east were crack addicts.

My neighbors to the west had been evicted.

Across the street, the dwelling was empty and burnt.

I was one of just two people on Saint James Avenue who held a job. The other was a fellow named Dutch, over at 305. He worked as a gas attendant at the Esso station on the highway. I also worked as a gas attendant at the Shell station across from the Esso station on the highway.

Dutch owned his house outright.

He bought it years before when he was a miner.

I rented my house. The rent was very low. Even so, and even with help, it was tough.

Everyone else on the street was on the dole. Or on the run. Or both. Or selling drugs. Or selling their very selves.

You know how that goes.

* * * *

Dutch was one of those guys who still called the south side Monkey Town.

Not me.

I was a resident of Dirt City.

Some days, I felt like an inmate.

So, this story has to begin somewhere.

Dutch, my employed neighbor, isn't going to be in it much.

It was late June.

It had been hotter than the blazes for three weeks beforehand, but now it was wet. Grey and wet, as though summer had skirted past us and we were headed directly into fall. No sun at all, just monotone and misery.

It was a quarter past five in the afternoon.

I came home, stinking of gasoline, to find that my roommate had skipped town.

I won't even say this man's name because he won't be in this story--at all--and merely typing it will cause a bad taste to coat my teeth like plaque. But he left a note taped to the refrigerator that was meant to assure me that he was deeply apologetic for leaving me stranded financially.

He had not paid his share of June's rent or utility bills, and July was already beginning to loom.

The most fitting word to describe this unnamed man is this one: Cocksucker.

He signed off with, "Thanks for everything, Bill. You're a good friend." (That final sentence was actually spelled like this: "Your a good freind.")

* * * *

We live. Sometimes we learn.

* * * *

Essentially, I was doomed. I was already over-extended for having had to cover Cocksucker's portion. I'd spent money I technically didn't have on a new starter for my truck. I owed my buddy, Moochie, fifty bucks. And the next crunch cycle was already set to begin.

Things can always get worse, keep in mind.

* * * *

My name is Bill.

I'm old now.

Twenty-two years ago, or a thousand years ago, I thought I was old.

Looking back, I had no freaking idea what old meant.

If I could go back there, Friend, I'd do hand-springs. I'd run a marathon.

I didn't know squat. Maybe I still don't.

The other day, I was holding a tiny relic, wondering if such a small thing could contain a soul.

I find myself thinking of things like that lately.

* * * *

Do you have any idea how long it has taken me to write this far?

How long did it take to read? All of ten minutes? Maybe fifteen?

It has been three days since I started out.

Three days for a few stupid pages.

Maybe I'm out of my element.

That's what somebody told me once.

They said, "Bill, you are out of your element."

No--they said "league."

I'm out of my league.

* * * *

I've got to pull this off.

I need for you to know this story.

Don't give up on me, Friend.

Not yet.

This is a vampire story, but there are no bats in it. I'm glad about that. I don't like bats. I don't even care much for Batman, not like I used to. I don't know if I'm allowed to use the word "Batman." These days, they're selling off the English language one word at a time*. (Remember that Internet story about Gene Simmans trying to trademark "OJ"? Crazy!)

* * * *

Has your heart ever been broken?

I'd almost feel bad for you if it hasn't.

What's that old saying? You don't know what you got until you lose it.

Strong words, Friend. And so very true.

If you've never had your heart broken, you've never really been in love.

That would be a terrible thing indeed.

I'm not trying to sell you a Danielle Steele novel.

Don't get the wrong idea.

Don't give up on me.

* * * *

I used to write.

I'm going to enjoy telling this story.

It will be like old times.

* * * *

Many, many years ago, I heard my father talking on the phone. He was chatting with a good friend. I caught his side of the tail-end of a conversation about aging.

He said, "John, do you remember when I told you that I think I'm going to outlive my ankles? Well, now I think I'm going to outlive my dick, too."

I think about that, from time to time.

* * * *

I'd sure like to have my dick back.

* * * *

I have travelled all through time to get to where I am now. I want you to believe that. It's terribly important. I want you to know that my mind has been to places where minds are not normally permitted to travel. It's not a gift, and neither is it a curse.

It is, as I heard someone say, what it is.

Nothing more than that.

Stop reading now if you feel you won't have the cojones to take me at my word. I don't wish to waste your time any more than I wish to waste my own.

This hill is a steep one. And rocky.

* * * *

Twenty-two years ago, I found the girl of my dreams.

She was out of my league.

The world was wet and the town was dying and I was nearly flat broke.

And there was this girl.

She wore a black key on a silver chain around her neck.

She said the key once belonged to Caligula.

I chose to believe her.

She drove me crazy.

* * * *

In no time at all, I told her I loved her.

Here's something: Men will say anything.

Here's something else: I meant what I said to her.

Seemed easy enough to me.

Boundaries, space, freedom, trust and friendship.

What's the big deal, right?

Everyone should have those things.

* * * *

Don't get the idea that I was Mister Cool.

I was not Mister Cool.

I never was.

* * * *

The first sexual encounter between myself and Dez lasted almost nine minutes.

Hey, I was rusty!

It wasn't terrible.

I don't think she faked her orgasm.

I surely didn't fake mine.

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