Grave Knight: Part 2 (Short Story)

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Note: This sample story is based on the original screenplay. http://amzn.to/2roPkh5

*****

It’s been only a week since the tragic events that transpired with Mary Clarese, and there’s already been another attack. Jasper Jefferson, a young boy roughly Mary’s age. Bitten, turned, and killed by Ian McKnight to save the city and his secret from coming out. Similarly, to Mary, Jasper also had an older brother desperate to uncover the truth behind the senseless death.

Stefan Beckett spends the entire morning locked in the morgue, but in truth, it only took him roughly two hours to finish Jasper’s autopsy. He’s used the extra hours to bide Ian time to uncover the truth behind the killings. A second death that week being that of Ms. Clemens, an elderly woman with her neck savagely torn apart when Jasper fed.

Now, Stefan sits in a metal chair, staring at the young child they would have to “re-kill” before he could rise from the grave. Stefan’s skin was nearly as pale as the corpse, sickened by what was occurring in the otherwise quiet town.

Meanwhile, Ian barricades himself in his office as he contemplates the murderous events. Although he had no proof, Daniel Jefferson followed Ian into the woods and saw what happened to his younger brother. Daniel’s dead younger brother. He saw Ian attempt to reassure the scared boy. He saw Jasper covered in blood, asked bizarre questions before snapping the boy’s neck. Now, Daniel’s hell-bent on proving what he saw.

Stressed and confused, Ian was going through his blood supply twice as fast as he searches through old records and notes for any mention of what was happening now. Pacing back and forth, Ian suddenly stops and peers out a small window. Although hidden in the bushes outside, his vampiric eyesight immediately spots Daniel hiding within them. His eyes scan every window of the house. Crap, the kid won’t stop until he gets me to confess… He got himself caught up in this mess.

As Ian watches the kid outside, he hears footsteps approaching his front door. He bolts out of his library and opens the door to find Detective Montgomery approaching.

“Are you going somewhere, Mr. McKnight?” she asks, surprised at the convenient timing.

“Call me Ian. And no,” Ian states with a faint smile, peering up at the cloudy sky with an internal sigh of relief. “I was thinking about going for a walk. Is there something I can help you with?”

“A person has stepped forward with what they believe is a lead in our investigation into the young kid’s deaths,” Det. Montgomery states. “How about I join you on your walk?”

Ian nods politely as he locks up and the pair walks away from his house. He glances back as his gaze meets Daniel’s in the bushes. The kid freezes as though staring death directly in the face. Ian turns away as Daniel bolts away.

“Where were you Wednesday night, between 11PM and 2AM?”

“In my library. I enjoy late night reading sessions,” Ian states, not missing a beat.

“Were you by any chance near the forest before or after those times?” she asks, although without suspicion. She’s giving him the benefit of the doubt.

“No… is your lead the older Jefferson kid, Daniel?”

“I’m not allowed to divulge that information to you,” Det. Montgomery states.

“I’m only asking because he accused me of harming his brother. He’s also been skulking about my house since then,” Ian states nonchalantly. “It’s completely natural to blame the people working at a morgue or funeral home. It happens more often than you’d expect. They’re just trying to work through their grief.”

“Must be rough. How are you and Mr. Beckett holding up?”

After confessing they’ve never dealt with such a case in their lives, Ian quickly switches the direction of their conversation, which Det. Montgomery doesn’t resist.

He listens intently as she explains the personal reason she became a detective, her grandfather’s mysterious death, and her aspirations of becoming a Captain one day. As they continue to chat, Ian feels strangely connected to her. In turn, he’s happy when she looks up at him because her heartbeat beats just a little quicker. What began as a police questioning quickly morphs into something resembling a chat between friends as they circle back to Ian’s house.

“Thanks for the nice walk, Ian. I’ll see what I can do about Daniel Jefferson leaving you alone,” April says, before leaving Ian to carry on with his day.

Meanwhile, her partner, Detective Francis, heads over to the funeral home to pick up Stefan’s autopsy reports. However, he’s new to the job and isn’t familiar with the layout, feeling nervous about meandering through. He and death don’t blend well. He shuffles his way to the basement floor where Stefan’s tidying up the autopsy room.

“Hang in there, kid. If you can get through this case, the rest of them will be a synch,” Stefan mutters, before handing over his reports.

The detective can’t help but notice the mortician’s pale and exhausted demeanor, the case having taken a toll on everyone involved. He suspects that McKnight, and possibly Beckett know more than what they’re letting on, but his partner refuses to indulge the idea. Frankly, he suspects she’s getting too close to McKnight.

Back at Ian’s house, he’s immediately struck with an oddly familiar scent. He’s unable to place it as he barges into his library, where it grows stronger. He finds an empty blood sack in the blood fridge that he knows he closed before, which is an assault on his senses.

He uses his vampiric speed to bolt into his bedroom just as a figure vanishes from near his open window on the second floor. Ian runs outside, but the culprit is gone. Gone too fast for any human being. Furious he can’t pinpoint the scent he goes to the funeral home where the scent resurfaces. He’s being followed.

“I know you can hear me. Meet me tonight in my backyard. We need to talk,” Ian says under his breath, confident that it’s somehow a vampire that’s lurking around town.

Ian enters the autopsy room to find Stefan cleaning his equipment in the sterilized sink. He listens to Stefan’s breathing. It’s too quick for such a simple chore. His face twists with concern as he leans against the wall.

“Do you want to talk?”

Stefan shakes his head no as he continues washing. He suddenly drops everything and turns around to face his friend.

“Two young kids. They had their whole lives ahead of them. They did nothing wrong. And now what?” Stefan asks hopelessly. “We know exactly what happened to them, but we can’t say anything.”
“I’ll end it tonight,” Ian states as Stefan’s face shifts with concern. “Whoever’s doing this broke into my house when I was out. Their scents all over this place, too. They’re following me. They know who I am. What I am.”

“What are you planning to do, kill them?” Stefan scoffs, but Ian remains quiet, allowing his silence to speak volumes.

Ian’s prepared to do whatever it takes to end this violence, but he refuses to put innocent people in harm’s way. Which is exactly what’s occurring as Daniel Jefferson continues to stalk him, sneaking in the shadows as a murderous vampire skulks in deeper shadows. Ian storms out and screams at the boy until he finally runs away.

“Crap,” Ian mutters as the scent wafts from inside the house. More specifically, from within his room.

Ian speeds inside but stops dead in the doorway to his room, his eyes falling on a gorgeous redheaded woman standing by his open window.

“Hello, Ian. It’s good to see you again. Frankly, I never thought I would again,” she said with a sly smile.

Veronica Everston. His love from the distant past that he presumed died in the vampire war.

“How are you here?” he whispers in shock. “The war…”

“I didn’t participate. I hid somewhere that no one could find and smell me out. I realized we were wrong. The war should never have happened,” Veronica says, her lowered voice full of regret.

She sits down on the edge of Ian’s bed, motioning for him to join her but he remains stiff by the doorway.

“You’re responsible for the recent deaths,” he states emotionless.

“Oh, honey. I only turned them. You’re the one who killed them.”

“What do you want?”

“I wanted to propose a plan to you, one that you and I would change the world for the better with,” she states seductively, which Ian evades challengingly. “We shouldn’t have to keep our existence a secret. What if we all coexisted? Vampires and humans living together with no “filthy” secrets diving us.”

“Just get out,” Ian scoffs. “I don’t want anything to do with you.”

“We could create a new world order. A better world where no one is hunted. Don’t pretend like you don’t care about these people. I’ve seen the way you try to be one of them. The way you love that mortician like a brother… and the police officer.”

In a flash, Ian’s in front of Veronica with a hand around her throat. “If you lay a finger on them…”

He lets the threat settle in as Veronica saunters out, confident that he’ll come around to her idea. As the hours bleed into days, Veronica makes it a point of interfering with Ian’s daily life. She follows him to work, where she unexpectedly spots Daniel watching Ian, without the faintest idea of who the boy is. Not realizing that she’s the sole reason that Daniel’s on this death mission.

She even interferes with Ian’s coffee break with Montgomery, attempting to stir up trouble between the pair by cozying up with Ian. But Montgomery’s a woman of slightly higher class, and instead, decides to question the lady from Ian’s past.

“So, when did you move here?”

“Oh, about a week or so ago. I needed a… fresh start,” Veronica says with a sly smile, echoing Ian’s earlier sentiment.

Although the vampire gives nothing away, Montgomery makes it a point to keep an eye out for her. The funerals for Jasper and Ms. Clemens go off as expected; full of tears and grief. A unique form of grief is held solely for Stefan as he’s unable to sit through the young boy’s funeral.

With a final failed threat from Veronica to join her cause, Ian retires for the night. He’s surprised to see that Daniel isn’t lurking in the shadows, waiting for him to falter. But his surprise morphs to fear when the boy is pronounced missing the next morning.

With a sinking feeling that Veronica had something to do with his disappearance, Ian joins the town in their desperate attempt to find him. Mrs. And Mr. Jefferson already lost one son, they didn’t need to lose another.

That night he returns to his home in failure. Although Veronica joined the search, he was positive that she had done something. But he immediately smells something strangely familiar yet off as he enters his home. He follows the scent into his library where Daniel stands with an empty blood sack in his hand. Blood drips down his chin as he snarls at Ian.

*****
Copyright © 2017 Julaine Piette

Cemetery Knight: Part 1 (Short Story) 

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Note: This sample story is based on the screenplay: http://amzn.to/2sACVuD

*****
The night is still and quiet as Ian McKnight stands waist high in a long hole. He shovels dirt into a mountain to his left in a steady, fast pace rhythm, staring at the earth beneath his feet.
Ian’s wavy shoulder length hair is tied back at his neck, his arms exposed to the chilly night. Rain pours down but Ian continues to work unaffected, almost content. He carries on digging until his head is a few inches below the surface. With one swift leap without using his hands for leverage, Ian lands flat on the grassy ground above. He dusts off the dirt from his long coat and wanders off with his shovel.
With no street lamps nearby, Ian’s nearly cloaked in complete darkness. However, small stone markers are visibly lined up in rows on the ground as Ian stops in front of a freshly placed marker. It reads:

Mary Clarese. May 15th, 1999- May 14th, 2015. She only dreamed of helping others. She will always be our baby.
Ian sighs as he reads the gravestone. “Missed it by a single day.” Ian shakes his head as he stabs the ground in front of Mary’s gravestone. He begins digging her fresh grave with a grim look. The night ticks away as he continues working, peering up at the stone every other moment to show respect.

The next day, Ian sits behind his desk in the funeral home. Behind his tinted window, the sun beams down across the cemetery.
He works diligently on finalizing Mary’s funeral, his desk riddled with paperwork. A short man with circular glasses knocks on the door and wanders in.

“How are you doing below, Stefan?” Ian asks, leaning back in his chair. Stefan Beckett shrugs and drops into one of the chairs designated for grieving family members. He sighs as he exhaustedly wipes his face with both palms.
“She’s ready for this afternoon,” Stefan mutters. “Jesus, Ian. You saw her, right?”

Ian nods, clenching a paper so hard that it rips. “Her parents mentioned she went missing when she was nine. Whoever kidnapped her… tortured her repeatedly for years and carved a symbol into her chest. They dumped her corpse on the side of the street like she was a piece of trash.”
Another sigh from Stefan as he shakes his head with disgust. They had never witnessed such a horrid victim enter their funeral home. The fact that she had spent nearly a decade subjected to the torment makes it even worse.

Growing agitated, Ian yanks open his desk drawer, and pulled out a black coffee tumbler, chugging back the contents. Ian hates when humans act so viciously, so beastly to one another.
“Woah, buddy, leave some of that for later,” Stefan chuckled, but grew worried when his friend continued to chug. “Ian, take a breather.”

Finally, Ian pulls the tumbler away from his lips and calms down. Stefan continues to watch him with worry.
“Do you need something stronger? How’s your stock, are you almost out?” Stefan asks.

Ian shakes his head. “I’m fine. And I haven’t touched my reserve in… a year.” Stefan appears impressed until Ian takes another massive swig from the tumbler. His worry returns but is forced aside as the office door is thrown open, revealing a distressed woman being held up by her equally upset husband. Stefan shoves the tumbler away from his mouth as a drop falls onto the desk unnoticed. It appears to be a red, thick substance, something that shouldn’t be ingested.
“Mrs. Clarese, is everything okay?” Ian asked as Stefan gives the couple his seat. He shuffles out of the room unseen as Mrs. Clarese continues to cry. Mr. Clarese notices the speck on the table and points.

“Are you hurt, Mr. McLaren?”
Ian quickly cleans up the speck, which stains the napkin blood red. The couple proceeds to ask if everything is prepared, if Mary has been well taken care of, and a long list of questions that Ian answers calmly.

The funeral goes off as expected, with crying relatives and sad speeches accompanied by even sadder music. She’s buried with her family and friends surrounding her, dropping roses on her white casket as it’s lowered into the ground. Ian and Stefan stand respectfully in the back, waiting until everyone departs before shoveling the dirt back into the hole. Stefan watches quietly as Ian drops the dirt inside, his eyes sadly drawn to the innocently white casket.
Exhausted from the heartbreaking day, Ian chugs from his tumbler as he shuffles into his library at home. All walls are covered in stocked bookshelves, ranging from century-old to brand new books. The walls are also bare paintings and photos of Ian with influential people over the decades, nearing several decades without his physical appearance changing.

Ian sets down his tumbler on the small table next to his chair and walks over to the wall panel in the right corner. He grabs a small doorknob and opens the panel, revealing a small fridge room with rows upon rows of blood sacks. He stares at the left side, which is slightly frosted over and well taken care of. He grabs a small bag from the right side and slams the door shut. He refills his tumbler with the blood, tosses the container into the garbage and collapses into the chair. He sits quietly as he chugs back the bloody contents, shaking his head as he leans it back.
***

The early morning is just like any other as Ian walks down the street to work. However, he suddenly freezes and sniffs the air, which smells strongly of rusty iron. His eyes widen with shock as he bolts around the corner. He cuts through several alleyways until stopping by a playground. His eyes catch something out of place. He strides over to a section of the playground that’s been taped off, with dozens of police officers standing around.

He glimpses a massive pool of blood on the ground before a police officer steps directly in his path. Her brunette hair’s tied in a bun, and her face is lined with an array of emotions. None of them positive. It’s a small town, so everyone knows each other. But Ian has never seen this woman.
“Sorry sir, no civilians allowed past the tape,” the office states. “This is an active crime scene.”

“I’m Ian McKnight. I own the funeral home…Can you tell me what happened?”
“Sorry, still a civilian.”

She ushers Ian away from the tape and returns to work. With too many officers patrolling the area, it’s impossible for him to get a proper visual of the crime scene, so he continues on the work.
He reaches the funeral home and catches an odd, but somehow familiar scent. He can’t quite put it together, but it smells faintly like burnt soil. Like death, but not what you’d expect from the home. Ian enters to find Stefan pacing nervously back and forth. He peers up as the doors open, sighing when he sees only Ian enter.

“Did you hear what happened?” Ian asks as Stefan shakes his head.
“They called an hour ago for me to prep the autopsy room. Something about a possible animal attack?”

“There was definitely enough blood for that,” Ian states, leaving out the part where there was too much blood.
Ian wants to ask his friend about the scent just as the doors open and in steps the female police officer he had previously met. An officer pushes a gurney with a closed body bag on top inside. She looks from Stefan to Jason with a simple nod.

“I’m Detective April Montgomery. This is the vic we spoke on the phone about,” April states as the officer wheels the gurney down the hall. “Send me the report as soon as you’re finished.”
She exits as Stefan scurries downstairs to the autopsy room downstairs. Ian stands in the corner as Stefan snaps photos of the victim’s body. Her neck is mauled to pieces, with dry blood covering her face and remaining neck.

Stefan carries on with the autopsy as Ian stands stiff, the foul odor somehow stronger in the room.
“Can you smell it?” Ian mutters as he peers around the room for the source of the scent. “It smells like…”

“Death? That would be our victim,” Stefan chuckles. “For someone who’s been around for a hell of a long time, you’re not too observant.”
But Ian remains silent, not in the mood for jokes. The scent was different from a corpse. It smelled of death, but more like spoiled…. dirt. When the smell becomes too potent for him, Ian shuffles towards the door.

“You alright, man?”
“Just tell me when you know the cause of death,” Ian spits out.
“But you know I can’t do that -”
“Just do it! Please.”

Stefan watches as Ian stumbles out the door. He has never seen his friend so agitated in the thirty years they’ve known each other. Stefan was a young boy who idolized Ian, who had just opened up the funeral home in town at the time.
After several hours of stressful waiting, Stefan opens the office door and stands still in the doorway. His face is a strange, sickly pale hue with a look of utter fear. He clutches a file in his shaking hand by his side. His eyes focus on Ian with an uneasy expression. Neither speaks for a moment, unsure of how to tackle a lingering question that hangs in the air.

“Are you sure?” Stefan finally whispers with a heavy quiver to his voice. “Are you sure you’re the only one of your kind?”
“Of course, I am. I told you, there was a war between the factions of vampires a century ago, which effectively killed us all off. I-I was the only survivor because I coward in hiding until it ended.”

“And you’re sure no one else survived?”
“It’s been a while, but I’m sure I’d catch their scent,” Ian states, a little uneasy. “There can’t be another.”

“Then tell me the truth… have you fed on anyone besides my blood I gave you?” Stefan asks, staring daggers into Ian’s eyes. “Don’t lie, Ian. Have you fed on anyone?”
Ian stands and shuffles over to stand in front of Stefan, growing increasingly concerned.

“I swore to you when we first met. It’s been nearly a century since I’ve fed that way. Stefan, what did you find?”
Stefan shakes his head like he doesn’t believe what he’s about to state. “I-I found two puncture wounds on her neck… she was completely drained of blood.”

Overcome with shock, Ian stumbles back and leans on the edge of his desk. He’s the last surviving vampire; he knows it. There’s no other vampire in the world. He would have sensed them around. He would have… caught their scent. His face suddenly flushes with mixed emotions as he peers up at Stefan.
“I think there’s another,” he mutters, nearly disbelieving his own words. “I don’t know how, but there has to be another.”
Before Stefan can speak, Ian catches the same spoiled dirt scent… the scent of death. He brushes past his longtime friend and follows the smell, still unsure of its meaning. Stefan follows blindly as Ian tracks the scent through the cemetery.
He follows the foul scent through the rows of gravestones, coming to a dead stop in front of a freshly covered grave. Begrudgingly, Ian peers up to find himself standing in front of Mary Clarese’s grave. The soil has been disturbed like someone clawed their way out.

“How did I not realize sooner?” Ian muttered, frustrated with himself for his lack of knowledge. “It’s been so long since I caught that scent.”
“What are you talking about, Ian? What scent?” Stefan asks, which is greet by a heavy sigh from Ian.

“It’s what we smell like to each other. A scent that only vampires can track but I don’t understand how… this shouldn’t happen,” Ian explains as he stares at the disturbed ground. He peers over at Stefan with a horrified expression. “If she’s been turned, that means we have a new vampire on the loose without any guidance. This is only the beginning if we don’t stop her soon.”
After tearing their gazes away from the grave, Stefan heads back to submit the autopsy report as Ian sets out to find the rogue vampire. It’s young, lost and with heightened abilities that make her the perfect murder machine.

He follows the scent the best he can, but it’s been nearly a century since he’s used the vampiric ability. He stays in shaded areas during the day, venturing into the light for brief moments only. Ian doesn’t seem to be affected by the sunlight, expect that he grows sluggish when out for too long.
Ian continues to follow the scent well into the night, without much luck. He searches the town, but the scent is wild, jumping all over the area without a proper path.

He follows the scent into a small wooded area but isn’t confident with his tracking skills. That is until he hears a set of frantic breathings. One sounds terrified, mixed with crying. The other sounds hungry.
Ian speeds through the forest and stumbles to a stop near a creek. Mary Clarese, pale and animalistic, clutches a younger girl with her mouth close to the girl’s neck. The white dress she was buried in is stained bloody. Startled, Mary snarls at Jason. Her face is covered in dry blood, most likely from her previous kill. Ian holds his hands up as a sign of no harm.

“I’m Ian McKnight. You’re Mary Clarese, right?” he asks with a pleasant smile, but the girl snarls in return. “Mary, I know what you are. Why don’t we let the girl go and talk?”
Mary tightens her hold on the girl, inching towards the girl’s exposed throat. The innocent girl whimpers, making Mary hiss and bear her teeth at Jason.

“It’s okay. I’m not here to hurt you. I’m like you.” To prove his point, Ian bears his own vampire teeth with his hands still in the air. “I just want to talk.”
Ian takes a step towards the pair as Mary snarls and lunges at the girl’s neck. With no other choice, Ian uses his heightened speed and bolts towards Mary, snapping her neck. Ian stands stiff and in shock as Mary drops to the ground. He forces the crying girl to stare into his eyes, tilting her head up by the chin.

“You got lost in the woods, and you met no one. You started to cry when you thought you’d never get out,” Ian states as the girl stares at him in a trance. “Go home.”
“Go home… saw no one,” the girl mutters as she turns and walks away in a daze. With a heavy sigh, Ian scans the forest for other intruders before peering down at Mary. She lies on her back with her head tilted at an unnatural angle.

END OF SAMPLE.

Copyright © 2017 Julaine Piette

The Vampire Diaries: Salvation (Short Story)

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IMG_8221

Text copyright ©2017 by the author

All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements of The Vampire

Diaries remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of

Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. and Alloy Entertainment, LLC., or their

affiliates or licensors.

*****

DEDICATION

To Jess & Dari. ❤

*****

The night is cold, but Damon Salvatore doesn’t notice as he stalks through the woods just outside of Mystic Falls. His blue eyes scan his surroundings, casually sniffing the air until his senses pick up the scent he’s been craving. Blood. He smirks callously as he speeds through the trees, his image nothing but a blur to follow. He growls at the delicious scent, which lies just out of his current reach.

Without warning, Damon slows to a dead stop behind a thick tree. His brown hair a perfect mess from the speed, but his features those of a deadly beast. His face contorts, allowing the darkness within to reveal itself. His eyes narrow with a hollow expression as he snarls, baring his razor-sharp, vampire teeth. A gasp escapes from just ahead.

“H-Hello?” a faint man’s voice cries out. “I-Is someone there?”

Damon remains silent as he stalks his victim. It’s a young hunter, mostly likely having just graduated from high school the previous year. He scans the forest around him with his inferior eyesight, not seeing the vampire that stood mere feet away from him. Damon snarls away, skulking behind a different tree. The kill itself is always enjoyable, but Damon preferred playing with his victims before draining them fully of their warm, still pumping blood. He always seemed to get an extra kick, a sudden rush when they died in a state of terror.

“Show yourself!” the man screams out, but the volume doesn’t reflect his bravery. Damon smirks when he catches sight of his trembling hands on his hunting gun. “I’m armed… a-and I will shoot you.”

“Is that so?” Damon whispers, causing the man to delve deeper into a fit of panic. He aims the gun directly where Damon’s voice had come from moments earlier, but he’s not there anymore. That was part of the fun. Toying with a person’s senses, and paranoia levels. “I’m over here.”

“Just show yourself!” the man screamed, raising his gun, and tucking it closer to himself.

A smirk. A soul-destroying chuckle. The man turns around and comes face to face with Damon, who bares his fangs with thirst. He struggles with shaking hands to pull the trigger but his hand slips.

“Go ahead, try again,” Damon taunts.

But with no other choice, the hunter obliges. He slips his finger back into the hole and pulls the trigger. The bullet pierces Damon through the stomach as he recoils to the ground. Damon gasps once for air before going limp.

The hunter, unaware of who he had just shot, inches closer to Damon’s body on the ground. He keeps his gun trained on the vampire’s face as he nudges Damon in the foot. There’s no movement. He kicks hard, but there’s still no movement. With a heavy sigh of relief, suspecting he’s just avoided death, the hunter turns and briskly walks away from the site.

But as he walks, he can’t help but wonder if he’s only hearing one set of footsteps crunching leaves beneath shoes… or two. When his nerves finally get the better of him, the hunter turns and comes face-to-face with Damon. The vampire smirks as he yanks the man’s head to the side and shoves his teeth deep into his warm flesh. He drinks the blood without reservation as it drips down his chin. He growls with pleasure until the hunter’s skin is pasty white. Dead white. Damon pushes the man’s corpse aside like it’s disposable garbage now as it tumbles down a short hill.

“Delicious,” he says to himself, smirking as he carries on with his stroll.

It’s quiet again as he wipes the blood from his lips, licking up the remnants from his fingertips. But it isn’t long before he pauses again, catching another scent from somewhere within the woods. This time, however, his eyes narrow like a lion protecting his territory. A shrill scream pierces through the night air.

“Not in my woods.”

He bolts through the dense forest until he reaches a small clearing. A savage vampire, most likely newborn and unable to quench his thirst in moderation, lunges towards a little native girl. The girl catches sight of Damon by the clearing edge and reaches out to him.

“Help me!” the little girl screams.

Damon groans and rolls his eyes as he saunters towards her. He cockily says, “Only if you promise not to tell anyone how I was your hero.”

“I promise!” she cries out as the newborn vampire grabs her by the shoulders.

Immediately, he darts over, grabs the vampire by the shoulder and throws him across the clearing. The vampire hisses at him.

“What the hell!” the young vampire yells through gritted teeth, clearly annoyed with Damon’s involvement. “Can’t you smell her? Her blood’s so… fresh!”

The vampire attempts another attack as Damon easily tosses him back.

“Do you want her? Is that it?” he asks, suddenly staring from Damon to the girl. “Well, you can’t. I found her first!”

“Really? Is she the best you can do?” Damon asked sarcastically, shaking his head with a tsk tsk tsk. “And you call yourself a vampire.”

“I want her!”

“Well, today’s your unlucky day. You met the one vampire that has a single rule he swears by.”

Offended, the young vampire snarls and diverts his next attack at Damon, who remains still with a sly smirk. He bares his teeth and reaches out as suddenly, Damon vanishes from sight. The young vampire stops just as the Salvatore brother reappears behind him and with a swift motion, reaches up and snaps the vampire’s neck. He shakes his head as he watches the vampire fall.

“Never kill a child.”

As he turns, the little girl he just saved suddenly ambushes him. She wraps her arms around his waist in a suffocating bear hug.

“Thank you, Sir. Thanks for saving my life!”

“Sir?” Damon repeats in a disgusted voice. “Run along kid, before I change my rule just this once.”

“You wouldn’t,” a soft voice states, from somewhere behind him. He turns, with the little one still clinging to him, as he spots a young native shaman woman standing on the other side of the clearing.

“Oh yeah? Don’t test me,” Damon says with a smirk.

The pair has a silent standoff, as Damon makes no move to harm the little girl. Finally, she lets go and rejoins the shaman as she begins making a fire.

“Are you two…”

“My name’s Shiloh,” the shaman states, satisfied when the flames lick up into the air. She sits down, so the fire flicks manically between her and Damon. Shiloh nods to the little girl as she sits down, too. “This is my little sister, Becca.”

“So, what’s all… this?” Damon asks, motioning to the girls, the fire, and the clearing. “Don’t tell me you live here.”

“Nope! My big sis is a shaman. We come here so she can work in peace,” Becca explains excitedly. Damon raises an eyebrow with curiosity as he inches towards the fire. “We were just telling stories to each other of all the supernatural creatures that could exist.”

“Is that so?” Damon scoffs. “I bet vampires weren’t on your list.”

“Actually, they were.”

“I was telling my sister that even the darkest, most foul of beasts have the potential for redemption,” Shiloh states.

“Even Satan himself?” Damon says with a smirk, mocking her abilities.

“You know we’re not speaking about Satan,” she retorts without missing a beat.

Although Damon hesitates at first, his curiosity is overwhelming, and he has nothing better to do, so he decides to sit down on the other side of the fire. It flickers high into the air, casting eerie shadows across the clearing and distorting their faces through the flames.

“Enlighten me. Who needs redemption?”

“You.”

Damon cackles. “You’re full of it. Why would I need to be redeemed? I haven’t needed that since I turned.”

“But wouldn’t you like to feel again? Wouldn’t you like to have a second chance at life?” Shiloh persists, refusing to allow Damon to skirt around the subject.

“Not really. I got all I need.” He flashes her a smug grin, as though insinuating his charming features are everything.

“Humor me, then. For saving my little sister, allow me to show you that redemption is still attainable, regardless of your vampirism. Regardless of how much you want to pretend you don’t want it.”

Damon smirks as he averts his gaze to the flame itself. He lost his old life, the love of his life… even his own brother… a long time ago. He hasn’t wanted any of it back for decades now. Not since his brother went Ripper on him.

“Please?” Becca asks with pleading eyes. “My sister is really good. She’s never had someone disappointed after she’s shown them their truth.”

Damon rolls his eyes in exaggerated circles as he nods. He wouldn’t think twice about killing any grown adult, but he’s always had a little soft spot for children.  He always assumed it was because of their eyes. They were like puppy eyes. And who could say no to a pleading puppy?

“Fine. One vision.”

Damon smirks as he watches Shiloh through the fire. She slips her satchel off her shoulder and rests it on the ground in front of her. The shaman pulls out a coffee tumbler and unscrews the lid as Damon shakes his head.

“I don’t do coffee. It’s a bit… light.”

Shiloh ignores his remark as she hands him the tumbler. He takes one stiff drink, and can immediately tell it’s not coffee. It smells like an odd assortment of herbs, but he can’t distinguish one from the others. Without receiving any instructions on how much to take, he takes a massive swig. The liquid burns going down his throat as he gags on the foul taste.

“You should put a warning label on that,” Damon says through coughs.

“Just focus on the liquid slipping down your throat and into your stomach. Focus on nothing else but that feeling,” Shiloh whispers.

Although Damon obliges, it grows difficult to concentrate on the feeling as she begins to chant beneath her breath. He attempts to drown her out as he focuses on the burning sensation slipping further down his throat. As soon as the liquid inside of his stomach begins to burn, Damon falls straight back on the ground in a daze. He stares at the sky as the flickering flames cast shadows.

The starry sky and flames dance around each other until they appear to blend, morph into something of a smoky illusion. Damon watches the smoke shift its shape into a beautiful girl, two stars fading into what appeared to be two brown eyes.

The short girl with brown hair appears like an innocent and sweet angel in the death and destruction that is his life. She walks with her friends out of a school with large letters on the roof, “MYSTIC FALLS HIGH SCHOOL.”

“Mystic Falls,” Damon mutters to himself, still in a daze as Shiloh continues to chant under her breath.

She focuses solely on the flames that separate her from Damon, while Becca tosses another log into the fire.

The smoky vision girl smiles as she waves to one of her approaching friends.

“Hey, Elena. How was class?”

“Elena…” Damon whispers.

Without warning, his eyes widen with recognition as Elena’s face gains more solid features. She continues to smile at her friend as she responds.

“That voice…” Damon mutters to himself with odd recognition.

Although he had never met Elena before, there was something strangely familiar about her. Like, he had met her somewhere before in real life. But in his current hazy state, he’s unable to place her.

The smoke morphs into another scene. This time, the beautiful girl stands alone on an empty road in the middle of the night. Her pretty, straight dark hair falls below her shoulders as she peers both ways down the street. Her bright pink shirt captivates her elegant features with ease. She appears alone but waiting for someone. She shivers from a sudden cool breeze.

“Come on… where are they?” she moans, which causes Damon’s dead heart to wrench in its place.

Her voice is like a melody to Damon, and unbeknownst to him, causes a slim change within. With each word she utters, each movement she makes, it breaks through the dead shell of his heart to allow a glimmer of light inside. It’s not a large crack nor is the light bright, but it’s enough to enter the deepest and darkest caverns of his soul.

“Who is she?” Damon asks in a daze.

“Your salvation.”

“Who is she?”

“Her name is Elena Gilbert,” Shiloh explains further. “She’s waiting for you in Mystic Falls.”

“How do you know this?” he asks, mystified at the revelation.

“Because she’s the best shaman this side of Mystic Falls,” Becca states matter-of-factly.

Damon falls silent as he watches the shadowy figure of Elena Gilbert stand on the empty road. Although he’s just in a trance caused by a mysterious liquid the shaman fed him, he can’t take his eyes off the pretty girl. But as the magic slowly wears off, he bolts upright in a fit of recognition.

“That girl… she looks exactly like…” Damon stops abruptly, unable to utter the next words.

He stares at the young shaman through the fire, who meets his gaze. She appears to know exactly what his next words would have been if he hadn’t stopped.

“But how?” he finally manages.

“That I am unable to tell you,” she simply states.

“Why? Because your magic potion can’t figure that out?” he scoffs.

“Because some things cannot simply be spoken. They must be experienced,” she corrects him. “That vision was not meant to reveal all to you.”

“Then what was the point?” Damon asked, annoyed with the shaman now. “I don’t like playing games without knowing all the rules.”

“Fate is not a game,” she retorts, as the flames seem to lick higher. “The vision was merely needed to open yourself to possibilities.”

Damon scoffs again as he scrambles to his feet and walks away from the fire and shaman. Although he leaves abruptly, Shiloh can sense that his heart feels a little lighter. For what the young shaman neglected to reveal was that the vision had allowed a sliver of light to create a hole just large enough to allow love to seep in and awaken his heart. It was simply a seed for now, but it would begin to grow the moment he set eyes on the mysterious girl. The young shaman hopes that one day, the vision would allow the vampire to be capable of knowing real love for someone as special as the mysterious Elena.

As Damon strides through the forest, his mind continuously strays back to the pretty, shadowy girl. Her face appears vividly in his mind, but with a completely different personality attached. Elena had appeared sweet, kind, and loving in the vision he was exposed to. However, his memory of that face is callous, evil, and deadly. Who could there be two different people with the same appearance? He doesn’t know the answer to the convoluted question, but he does know what he has the do next.

Dawn is still a few hours away, so that should be enough time for him to venture down the single lane street to Mystic Falls. After seeing Elena’s kind face in the vision, his only goal is to meet her. Meet her, and uncover who she really is. Because for all he knows, she’s innocent and oblivious to what he is.

For the woman with the same face from his distant past is anything but innocent. The face belongs to the love of his previous life. A love that has no business coming to fruition once again. However, maybe Elena Gilbert can be his second chance at love.

Cemetery Knight: Book 1 is available on Amazon now! 

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Synopsis:

IAN MCKNIGHT, vampire owner of the only funeral home in town, shows his respect for the dead by personally digging graves and tending to the cemetery. He’s devastated when he and mortician STEFAN BECKETT, his only friend, schedule a funeral for a young girl kidnapped and tortured nearly a decade ago. On his way to work the next morning, Ian stumbles across a bloody crime scene by a playground, but newcomer DETECTIVE APRIL MONTGOMERY ushers him away before he gets a visual on the body. However, the town is so small that Stefan doubles as the coroner and the victim’s body is brought to the funeral home for an autopsy to be conducted. Meanwhile, Ian catches the scent of something foul and deceased, which isn’t a dead body and that no one else can smell. Stefan confronts Ian regarding the results, which appears to be a vicious vampire attack, but Ian hasn’t fed on humans for nearly a century. Ian realizes that the foul stench is a vampire’s scent and that somehow, a new one has been created. Now he must track down the new vampire before another victim can be claimed. Heavy questions linger in the wake of these deaths: who created the new vampire, how did they do it, and what is their endgame?

Here is the link.