Authors: Gabriel Beyers
Tags: #Contemporary, #occult, #Suspense, #urban, #vampire, #action adventure, #Paranormal, #supernatural, #Horror, #action-packed, #Americian, #Dark Fantasy, #zombie, #ghost
Jerusa Phoenix has always been close to death — and not just because of the congenital heart defect she’s bore since birth. Jerusa can see the lingering spirits of the dead. She is bright and beautiful, but her sickness, along with her otherworldly gift, has made her an outcast.
When she ventures out one night, despite the warnings of her best friend, Alicia (who happens to be a ghost), and stumbles upon a group of vampires, a battle rages between immortals over Jerusa. She is transformed into a vampire, and is surprised to find that she enjoys it. For the first time in her life she doesn’t feel sick. But every light casts a shadow, and from the ashes of the battle arises a creature of incredible destructive potential — a savage flesh-eater whose very existence violates the most ancient of vampire laws.
Now Jerusa must join with the other vampires and use her ghostly power to hunt down the savage beast before he can wreak havoc on the town and make others like himself.
Jerusa has never been so powerful, but will she be able to find the savage before he attracts the attention of the rulers of the vampire race and bring their wrath down upon them all?
Heart of the Dead
Perpetual Creatures 1
by Gabriel Beyers
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erusa Phoenix watched out the tiny window above the kitchen sink at a man shuffling through her backyard. He was dressed in blue jeans and a t-shirt that didn’t quite cover his round beer belly. He didn’t seem to be going in any particular direction, stopping from time to time to look at the leaves on the trees. He was one of those bland people that wouldn’t elicit a second glance. The only reason Jerusa even noticed him was that the man carried his own severed head under his arm.
The man stopped mid-way across the yard, turned to see Jerusa watching him, and suddenly changed. One moment, his head rested in the crook of his armpit like a basketball; the next, it was back atop his neck as it had been in life.
The man shuffled off, looking embarrassed.
Jerusa massaged the long, vertical scar upon her chest, hidden away beneath her high-collared shirt, and wondered if death was as boring and confining as life was. A flurry of footsteps erupted on the floor above, breaking her train of thought.
Jerusa glanced over to Alicia, who was sitting on the counter near the sink.
“Sounds like my mom’s in another mood.”
Alicia was a sweet-faced youth with bright, round eyes that always seemed set for mischief. She sat in a sparkling blue prom dress, kicking her bare feet back and forth. Her dark brown hair was pulled up in a stylish bun that Jerusa could never have managed with her own mop of auburn hair. Alicia rolled her eyes, showing her lack of concern for Debra Phoenix’s shifting mood swings.
“You know how she is. Her life is a house of cards. But when she’s miserable, I’m miserable.”
Alicia rolled her eyes again.
“Thanks for your sympathy.”
After a decade of cooking meals for her mother, Jerusa should have been a master chef, but, alas, she still maintained the culinary skills of a baboon with an eye patch. Even so, she managed to squeeze out a halfway edible breakfast before her mother’s high heels click-clacked across the kitchen floor.
Debra Phoenix stepped into the kitchen, pausing only a moment for her daily split-second inspection, then moved to the table where her breakfast and a hot cup of coffee awaited her.
“Hello, darling,” her mother said, spreading her napkin across her lap. “How did you sleep?”
“Fine, I guess.” Jerusa turned back to the stove.
“What are you doing?” her mother asked in that accusatory way she reserved for when she knew the answer but wanted to extract some guilt from Jerusa.
“Cooking myself some bacon and eggs.”
Her mother made that
sound that drove Jerusa crazy. “Have some oatmeal. It’s healthier.”
Jerusa held her tongue back behind clenched teeth. The scar on her chest throbbed. She wanted to argue and point out that a little bacon and eggs never killed anyone, but with Debra Phoenix, you had to know which battles to fight. This wasn’t one of them.
Jerusa placed the skillet in the sink. Alicia stuck her tongue out. She wasn’t sure if Alicia’s mockery was aimed at her or her mother, but either way, it brought a smile to her face.
She sat with her oatmeal steaming before her, letting it cool a bit. Jerusa shot several glances toward her mother, but she couldn’t bear to look at her for long. She wasn’t a woman prone to smiling, and Jerusa believed her mother’s face would crack like brittle parchment if she were to ever break into a full laugh. Jerusa didn’t blame her mother for being so solemn, though. The woman had had a less-than-easy life, and most of the wrinkles on her narrow face could be traced back to Jerusa in one way or another.
Jerusa’s mother finished her breakfast, consulted her watch, then rose from her seat, leaving her dirty plate for Jerusa to clean up. Alicia made circles with her fingers and placed them up to her eyes, which were crossed, like a pair of glasses. She poked her tongue out, stretched it toward her nose, then broke into silent laughter.
Alicia was only fifteen when her life had ended, but she had the playful energy of a five year old. She always had a smile, which said a lot when you consider the cards fate had dealt her.
“Don’t forget to do the dishes before school,” her mother said.
Jerusa ignored the passive aggressive tone. “I won’t.”
Her mother searched through her purse, gingerly at first, but as the seconds passed, Jerusa could see the panic setting in.
“You haven’t been messing with my car keys, have you?”
“Of course not.” Jerusa wanted to point out that even though she was eighteen, her mother would hardly let her
in the car, let alone
it. She didn’t even have a learner’s permit.
“Then where are they?” She tossed her purse down on the table, then stomped out of the kitchen. “I can’t be late. Not today.”
Her mother’s frantic murmurings wafted through the halls. Jerusa sighed. The house of cards was falling early today.
“Will you do something?” Jerusa asked Alicia.
Alicia crossed her arms over her chest and looked out the window as if she hadn’t heard.
“Please. The sooner we find the keys the sooner she leaves.”
Alicia shook her head, her chin protruding in defiance.
“C’mon, you know how she is. Those keys could be anywhere. The longer she looks, the more she’s going to freak out.”
Alicia glanced at her from the side of her eye and her lips pulled into a tight scar across her face. Then she rolled her eyes and nodded.
“Thank you so much.”
Alicia waved her off. She hopped down from the counter, stood for a moment, thinking, then left the kitchen. Jerusa followed her into the hall, into the living room. Alicia stopped every couple of feet and looked about, a confused dreaminess resting in her eyes, as if all that was commonplace in this world was an enigma to her.
Alicia stood straight and looked to her left, toward an antique sewing desk that sat near the front window. The desk was clean with nothing visible except the embattled sewing machine itself. Jerusa couldn’t see any keys, but Alicia was hardly ever wrong.
The pair of girls walked to the sewing desk in tandem, but when Jerusa stopped to have a look, Alicia passed through the desk and the wall, not so much as wrinkling the prom dress she had worn since the night she had died over two years ago.
“I hate it when she does that,” Jerusa murmured as she shuffled to the side to look out the window.
The morning sun had just topped the trees, painting the few lazy clouds drifting by a cotton candy-pink. Long dark shadows stretched westward across the Earth, but the thin, gaunt girl wearing the strapless azure gown cast none. Alicia walked across the dew-dappled grass leaving no tracks and didn’t even wince when she placed her bare feet on the gravel of the driveway.
Alicia leaned down and pressed her upper half through the closed door of the PT Cruiser parked in the driveway. She stood up, her head passing through the roof like wind through a screen, a triumphant smile perched upon her face.
Jerusa went to the bottom of the stairs and called for her mother three times before the clamor upstairs ceased. Her mother appeared on the landing like a harpy; eyes flaring, hands clenched into bony fists.
“Your keys are in the car.” Then, as an afterthought, Jerusa added, “I’ll bet.”
Her mother’s features soften and her eyes drifted up as she mentally retraced her steps. “You know, I think you’re right.” She came down the stairs in a graceful little trot.
She kissed Jerusa on the cheek as she passed, grabbed her purse, and headed toward the door. Before her hand reached the knob, Alicia reentered the house, passing through the steel door — and Debra Phoenix — without resistance. Debra shuddered a bit, then looked back at Jerusa and smiled.
“Someone must’ve walked over my grave.”
Jerusa suppressed a giggle. “Have a good day at work.”
Her mother’s face puckered with suspicion. “I will. Don’t be late to school. And don’t forget to take your medicine.”
After her mother was gone, Jerusa finished cleaning the kitchen then went to the bathroom to get her medicine. She pulled the collar of her shirt down a bit and stared at the reflection of the thick pink scar on her chest. It was strange that this scar, the result of the heart transplant surgery that had prolonged her life, seemed to perpetually make that same life more difficult for her. She opened the mirrored door of the cabinet and pulled out a prescription bottle with a long and unpronounceable name written across it. As Jerusa shut the door to the medicine cabinet, she caught the reflection of a silhouette passing before the dining room windows behind her.
She turned with a start, dropping her rejection medicine into the sink. The bottle clanked about, echoing in the close confines of the bathroom, and she winced at the noise. Jerusa stepped into the dining room, making her footfalls as silent as possible. The dark shadow that had passed before the windows had been too tall, too broad, to be Alicia. Someone else was in the house.
Jerusa took slow, measured breaths, trying to slow her raging heart. She crept from the dining room into the kitchen, which was where the shadow had gone. She glanced about, but the room was empty.
“Alicia,” she whispered. “Where are you?”
Every rustle of the wind against the house, every creak of the floor beneath her feet, set her nerves aflame. She pressed her ears to hear beyond the rattling white noise, but for what, she had no idea.
She turned back into the dining room, and right into a large man riddled with bullet wounds shambling toward her. Jerusa screamed, tried to scurry backward, stumbled over her own feet, and fell hard on her butt.
The man had three roses of blood on his chest and a small, dark hole in his forehead, near his left eye, that issued a tiny tendril of black smoke. His hands were outstretched as if pleading with Jerusa, and though his mouth worked with fervent passion, his words were silent to her.
Alicia materialized before the man, waving her arms and screaming something at him, though it remained unheard to Jerusa. She often wondered what the dead said to one another, but though she could see lingering spirits, she was deaf to them.
Alicia buzzed around the man like an angry hornet. She was a fierce little sprite when she wanted to be. The man’s bullet wounds vanished. He looked at Jerusa longingly, and she felt a stab of pity for him. As much as she wanted to help the dead, that was outside of her power. After a heated moment, the man turned and skulked away, passing through the wall.
“Thanks, Alicia,” Jerusa said as she stood up. She would have hugged her, but she could no more touch the spirits of the dead than she could hear them. “I don’t know how I ever survived before you came along.”