Table of Contents
“I’m your best bet if you want to survive this little adventure.”
“Open the portal that’ll take us home.” Vicki Nelson gave Ren points for looking in the right direction but, given her rising panic, didn’t wait for a response. “You can’t, can you? Not from this side.”
“We weren’t going to go back.” Ren waved a trembling hand at the corpse and the scavengers and the sky of red stars. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this!”
“Yeah, well, surprise.” A scavenger with more appetite than survival instinct tried to take a piece out of the top of her head; Vicki crushed it almost absently, wiping her hand on her jeans as she watched the circling birds. Some of them were flying fairly high. They’d be visible as silhouettes against the night to anyone—or anything—with halfway decent vision. It reminded her of lying on the sofa with Mike, soaking up his warmth, and watching television.
“They’re going to draw other scavengers. The way vultures do. Maye other predators. We have to find cover.”
“How do you know that?”
“But you’re a . . .” Even though she was clearly fine with poking holes into other realities, Ren couldn’t seem to say it.
This was neither the time nor the place for denial.
“Vampire. Nightwalker. Member of the bloodsucking undead.” Vicki frowned, trying to remember the rest and coming up blank. Three would have to do. “I have cable. And I’m your best bet if you want to survive this little adventure.”
—from “No Matter Where You Are” by Tanya Huff
Also Available from DAW Books:
Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies
, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes
The fifteen tales included here range from chilling to humorous, from fairy-tale settings to high-tech situations. What they share is originality and critters. From an ongoing conflict between chickens and killer bunnies, to a raccoon ready to defend its own at any cost . . . from a look at a true book wyrm to the adventures of ninja rats . . . from a Siamese cat in league with a super squirrel to a story about the white bull of Tara—you’ll find tales about both the creatures you see around you every day, and those you should hope never to meet. With stories from Jody Lynne Nye, Anton Strout, Fiona Patton, Nina Kiriki Hoffmann, Richard Lee Byers, P.R. Frost and others.
The Trouble With Heroes
edited by Denise Little
This anthology is all about the other side of heroism. From what it’s like to be Hercules’ wife, to the trials of H. P. Lovecraft’s housekeeper, to the perils of being a giant ape’s girlfriend, to the downside of dating a shapeshifter, to getting too up close and personal with the Greek gods, here are the behind-the-scenes stories that give heroism some entirely new twists. So before you start daydreaming about days of old and knights so bold, take a look at what it could really mean to live out the fantasies in stories by author such as Jean Rabe, Nina Kiriki Hoffmann, Phaedra Weldon, Laura Resnick, Peter Orullian, Janna Silverstein, and Kristine Katherine Rusch and others.
Spells of the City,
edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg
Cities can be magical places to visit, with so many things to see and do. But what if there are true magic-workers and magical beings in the cities of our world—under bridges, lurking in alleyways, hiding in subway tunnels, or perhaps living in the apartment next door? So venture now into, where a troll may be your toll collector on the George Washington Bridge . . . Harry the Book will be happy to place your bets in a spellbinding alternate New York . . . while a gargoyle finds himself left to a lonely rooftop existence when he’s forced to live by his creator’s rules . . . and leprechauns must become bank robbers to keep up with the demand for their gold. And these are just a few of the denizens you’ll meet in a multitude of urban centers that have been touched by the fantastic, in stories by Timothy Zahn, Mike Resnick, C.J. Henderson, Linda P. Baker, Michael A. Stackpole, Brian M. Thomsen and more.
Copyright © 2010 by Tekno Books and Kerrie Hughes.
eISBN : 978-1-101-18464-6
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1502.
DAW Books is distributed by Penguin Group (USA).
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
All resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Inter-net or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
First Printing, February 2010
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
HECHO EN U.S.A.
Introduction copyright © 2010 by Kerrie Hughes
“The Drifter,” copyright © 2010 by Jane Lindskold
“Our Lady of the Vampires,” copyright © 2010 by Nancy Holder
“Best Friends,” copyright © 2010 by Lilith Saintcrow
“Elizabeth & Anna’s Big Adventure,” copyright © 2010 by Jeanne Stein
“Lupercalia,” copyright © 2010 by Anton Strout
“Murder She Workshopped,” copyright © 2010 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Heart of Ash,” copyright © 2010 by Jim C. Hines
“Jiang Shi,” copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth A. Vaughan
“No Matter Where You Go,” copyright © 2010 by Tanya Huff
“Signed in Blood,” copyright © 2010 by Phyllis Irene Radford
“Broch de Shlang,” copyright © 2010 by Mickey Zucker Reichert
“The Wooly Mountains,” copyright © 2010 by Alexander B. Potter
“Invasive Species,” copyright © 2010 by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
y favorite stories have a common theme: a girl, a gun, and a monster to defeat. It stems from a life filled with monsters disguised as humans. I’m certainly not the first person in life to be beaten, abused, and raped, and sadly I won’t be the last. I see it in the news every day—children kidnapped and murdered, animals tortured, the mentally ill abandoned to their own madness. And then there’s war; is there any monster bigger than war and the atrocities committed during it?
A person could go crazy obsessing over the injustice of it all. Is it any wonder addiction is the main way to anesthetize one’s self from the fact that at any time and in any town any one of us can be the victim of a stranger in the dark or your ex-lover in the light? I spent years being bitter and angry over the idea that most monsters never pay for their crimes, and the one that hurt me got to walk away free and easy. Or was that simply a lie I told myself? When I stopped dwelling in the past, I found out that most of my tormentors were in jail for other crimes or had created a personal hell for themselves with alcohol, drugs, and self-loathing.
I also found that I could become one of the most hated monster slayers of all time, an agent of change. So I learned how to be a survivor and then how to teach girls, and sometimes boys, to fight monsters. I do this by working at a rape crisis center in my hometown. Every time I answer a call to go to the hospital and let a victim know their rights, and that they not only have the power to survive, but to fight back against the monster who attacked them, I feel like Buffy slaying a vampire. A conceit I formerly only knew in the plots of really good books featuring a girl, a gun, and a monster.
In this anthology I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stories I received could be put together in a chronological order that starts in the Old West and ends in outer space. The order is particularly apt, since monsters have existed for thousands of years, and will also exist in the future as well. I was even more pleased at the range of ages of the heroines represented. The best surprise was the variety of monsters and how they each meet their demise!
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Feel free to friend me on Facebook and share your favorite story, or maybe how you have learned to slay monsters yourself.
Kerrie Hughes, Monster Slayer
rudence Bledsloe rode into town on a big buckskin stallion. She was on the trail of trouble, and it didn’t take much to see she’d found it.
She was accustomed to attracting stares when she arrived in a new area. It wasn’t just that she traveled alone. In these modern times, women did that all the time, but usually by stagecoach or train rather than on horseback.
It might have had something to do with the rifle in her saddle boot or the six-guns on her hips. It might have had to do with the fact that she wore trousers. It might have had to do with the message that every inch of her long, lean body and the direct stare of her yellow-brown eyes projected: “Don’t mess with me. I’m more trouble than you can handle.”
But today, as she rode through the central town plaza, Prudence sensed that none of the usual reactions were behind the stares. The stares she knew were usually long, disapproving stares or sidelong shocked stares. These were scared stares, fast and quick, checking her out, making note of her and then reacting.
What were they feeling?
Prudence took Buck to the rail in front of the general store and dropped-tied him. She’d had to make too many fast getaways ever to tie her horse. Anyone who tried to steal Buck, well . . . they’d learn that messing with the horse was as bad an idea as messing with the rider. Buck would mind the pack horse, a tough, wiry tricolor paint gelding Prudence had christened, with a rare spurt of imagination, “Trick.”