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       Peter And The Vampires (Volume One), p.1

          Darren Pillsbury / Fantasy / Horror
Peter And The Vampires (Volume One)
PETER AND THE VAMPIRES

(Volume 1)



Darren Pillsbury



Copyright 2011 Darren Pillsbury, www.DarrenPillsbury.com

Cover copyright 2011 Ronnell D. Porter

Layout design by 52 Novels, www.52novels.com



This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.



This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon.com (or another online retailer of ebooks) and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, used, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from Darren Pillsbury.







Contents



Peter and the Dead Men

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

Peter and the Vampires

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

Peter and the Changeling

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2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

Peter and the Swamp Monster

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2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

And now, an excerpt from the next novel in the series:

Excerpt: PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES

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2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12





PETER AND THE DEAD MEN



1

Five days after leaving California, Peter Normal was about to see his new home for the first time.

He hated it already.

Peter sat in the front seat of his mom’s beat–up Honda, his forehead pressed to the window, and watched the small town of Duskerville go by. It was so different from what he was used to. A two–lane road that stretched through miles and miles of forest, broken occasionally by a farm or clump of houses. The actual town itself had seven blocks of shops, five stoplights, two grocery stores, and one movie theater. Peter knew this because he had counted them all.

Most of the storefronts looked old, like something out of black and white television shows. Leave It To Beaver or Andy Griffith. Not many people were out. A few men in short–sleeve shirts, a woman in a flowered dress. And a tall, strange man in a black suit and hat, with an ancient face and grizzled beard. Who was also carrying a pitchfork.

Curiously, nobody on the street seemed freaked out by that.

This was nothing like California. There, it was buildings and condos and malls stacked up against each other as far as the eye could see. Lots of people, lots of traffic, lots of excitement.

No guys with pitchforks.

“But what about my friends?” Peter had complained when his mother first told him they were moving.

“You’ll make new friends, honey,” Mom said.

“What is there to do there?”

“Well, it’s really close to the ocean.”

So far, the only water Peter had seen was the rainstorm they’d driven through two days ago.

As upset as he was to leave his friends behind, Peter never griped again about moving. He didn’t want to make this any harder for Mom than it already was. She tried to hide it from him and his little sister Beth, but she was having a really tough time.

But Peter knew; he’d known for a while. She had lost her job as a legal assistant when her boss retired five months ago, and she hadn’t had any luck getting a new one that paid enough. They lived in a two–room apartment in not–that–great a neighborhood. Beth slept in the bedroom with his mom, and Peter slept on a fold–out couch in the den. Daycare for his sister was expensive during the school year. During the summer, Peter had to watch his two–and–a–half year–old sister (which was a lot like fighting World War III over and over again every day) while Mom went out on interviews. But school was starting soon, and she still didn’t have a job. Sometimes, late at night, he could hear his mother crying softly in the bathroom where she didn’t think anybody could hear her.

Before he could get too sad, Mom’s voice yanked him out of daydream world and back to the here and now. “Beth, you have to take off your bathing suit now, we’re going to meet your grandfather.”

“No!” his sister yelled from her toddler seat in the back of the car. All around her was piled the junk they’d brought from California — suitcases, Mom’s computer, boxes of toys.

“Beth, you cannot wear a bathing suit everywhere!”

“NO!”

His sister was …difficult. That was the nice way of putting it. Her latest thing was wearing a yellow Strawberry Shortcake bathing suit — everywhere. Twenty–four hours a day, seven days a week. To bed, in the bath, to the store, to the movies, to the park. Everywhere.

It wasn’t so bad in the summertime. You expected little kids to wear bathing suits in the summertime. But this had been going on for six months. The bathing suit was worn and frayed in places, and it was more gray now than yellow. Mom washed it every couple of days, and Beth would sit by the washing machine and read stories to it as it swirled around. Usually she would wear it straight out of the washer, wet and dripping, rather than bear to part with it for the 15 minutes it would take to tumble around in the dryer.

At the moment she was wearing it over a pair of shorts and a white t–shirt. When it got a little chilly — which it was in the car, with the air conditioner going — she would wear it over her other clothes. Not under. Nope, the entire world had to see her love for Strawberry Shortcake.

Mom struggled to keep her voice calm. “Beth, we have to make a good impression on Grandfather since we’re going to be living with him now. And I would rather he not see you wearing that bathing suit over your regular clothes.”

“He wike Stawbewy Shorcake!” Beth protested. “I wike it!”

“I don’t,” Peter said.

“You don’ count!” she shouted as she pointed and bared her lower teeth at him.

Peter sighed and turned back to the window. When dealing with Beth, unless it was really important, it was easier just to ignore her. Mom hadn’t learned that yet.





2

They had left Duskerville behind and were on a winding road deep into the forest when Peter saw it: Grandfather’s house.

It was monstrously huge and way high in the air. It had to be, because the roof was the only thing Peter could see over the trees…and they were tall trees. He could see some sort of balcony with a railing on the very top, and there were two small towers that looked more like they belonged on a castle.

“We’re here!” Mom called out. “Get out of that bathing suit!”

“NO!” Beth howled.

“Why not?” Mom argued.

“Stawbewy Shorcake is COOL!”

The car slowed down and turned into a little side street. On the right side of the road was an ordinary house. Actually, that was being a bit generous. It was pretty rundown, with flaking paint, a bunch of weeds on the lawn, at least one cracked window, and a rusty car in the driveway. But all in all, it was a relatively normal one–story home.

On the other side of the street, far away up a gravel drive, was Grandfather’s house.

Now Peter knew why the roof was visible over the trees: the house was four stories tall, if you counted the attic. There were dozens of windows, most of them mismatched in size, and none of them lined up straight with one another. Crazy built–on rooms popped out from the side of the house in the worst possible places.

It was like some giant monster had a baby, and the monster kid just stacked his giant toy blocks at random to build what was supposed to be a house, because no sane human would have ever built it.

The wood had lost its paint years ago, and the weathered gray planks crumbled silently in the sun. The shutters were black and peeling. A couple of tall, gnarled trees grew against the side walls, and overgrown bushes spilled out into the knee–high lawn.

It looked like a haunted house. Or an abandoned building. Or both.

“Oh no,” Peter whispered as a look of horror crept over his face.

“Peter, I know it looks…interesting, but it’s a great old place. I grew up here, you know.”

“You made me leave Carlos and Steven and Ben for this? I left my friends so we could live here?”

“Peter, don’t do this. Not now. Not in front of Grandfather. Smile, okay? We’ll talk about it later.”

Peter looked out the windshield, up ahead of the car. There, standing in the overgrown grass by the front steps, was a crazy old man to go with the crazy old house.

He was tall and gangly like a scarecrow, though a well–dressed one: black pants, white long sleeve shirt, gray patterned vest, a tie knotted under his collar. He looked like he was going to church.

But if his clothes looked dressy, his face just looked scary. Wild, piercing eyes blazed from beneath bushy brows. A scraggly white beard sprouted from his cheeks and jaw. He was bald on the front and top, but thin wisps of hair clung to the sides of his head.

Grandfather Flannagan.

Peter had never met him. Grandma Flannagan had flown out to California a couple of times, but she had died when Peter was four. He could barely remember her. There were some faded photographs of her smiling in front of their apartment, and equally faded memories of a sweet lady who gave him candy when Mom wasn’t looking.

They had never visited his grandparents’ house — at least, not since Peter was a baby — and Grandfather had never visited them. Suddenly Peter wished one of the two had happened, because if it had, he would have fought a lot harder to stay in California.

“Who’s dat scare–wy man?” Beth whimpered.

“He’s not scary…that’s my daddy. He’s nice, you’ll see,” Mom said, though something in her tone wasn’t exactly convincing.

Peter looked in the mirror and smoothed his sandy brown hair, then looked down to make sure his shirt and shorts didn’t have any ketchup or mustard stains. Normally he couldn’t have cared less, but something told him he was about to get a military inspection.

Gravel crunched under the tires as the Honda pulled up to the front of the house. Peter watched uneasily as the old man peered inside the car, straight at Peter’s face.

Mom was the first out. “Hello, Dad.” She smiled, and gave him a little hug.

“Mrm” was his only reply.

She opened the car’s back door and unbuckled the kiddie seat. “This is Beth. Um, don’t mind the bathing suit.”

For the first time in her life, Peter’s sister had nothing to say. She just sat there in Mom’s arms, fingers in her mouth, staring at Grandfather as he stared back at her.

“And this is Peter.”

That was his cue. Peter opened the door and stepped out.

Grandfather’s eyes burned a hole in his skull. “Peter, eh?”

Peter nodded.

“How old are you, boy?”

“N–nine and a half,” Peter stuttered. “I’ll be ten in March.”

“Hrm.” Grandfather turned back to Mom without giving Peter another glance. “So I guess we’ll be moving you in now.”

“Well, we could go on a little tour of the house first. The bags aren’t going anywhere.”

“Hrm.” Grandfather turned and walked up the front steps into the house without another word.

“You coming, Peter?” Mom called.

“Uhhhh…I’m gonna walk around outside first, stretch my legs,” Peter replied.

“Okay, suit yourself.”

“Mommy, he’s a scare–wy man,” Beth whispered a little too loudly.

“No, it’s just Grandfather,” Mom said in a hushed voice. “We’re going to go see your new room now.”

Peter waited until they were inside. Once they were gone, he kicked the gravel in frustration.

Freakin’ — dang it — flippin’ —

Thousands of miles to come live in a rundown shack.

Peter shielded his eyes with his hands and peered up at the house.

A huge rundown shack.

It was sort of cool, actually, in a horror movie kind of way.

He just didn’t want to live in a horror movie, that’s all.

Peter circled the house and counted the odd, mismatched windows. After losing count, he backed up almost a hundred feet to try and see that crazy balcony on the roof again.

“Psst,” somebody said behind him.

Peter whirled around.





3

About 20 feet away sat a rundown fence made of graying logs and wood posts that were nearly swallowed by weeds. Behind the fence slouched a pale little kid with sunburned cheeks and a blond crewcut. He had on a dirty shirt with yellow, orange and red stripes, and he wore barely–tied hightop tennis shoes. Bony knees stuck out of his oversized shorts, which were cinched tight with an old brown belt.

The kid nodded once. “What up.”

Peter raised a hand and waved tentatively.

“You movin’ in?” the kid asked.

Peter nodded. “Yeah.”

“That your granddad?”

“Yeah.”

The kid shook his head like he pitied Peter. “He’s craaaaazy, man.”

Peter smiled a little. “Yeah, he sure seems like it.”

“Pff, he doesn’t just seem crazy, he is crazy. I watch the windows up there sometimes at night, like, two or three in the morning after the midnight monster marathon is over? Lights all over the place, floating from room to room. Creeeee–py. You wanna piece of gum?”

The kid produced a grubby pack out of his pocket.

What the heck.

Peter walked over and was about to take a piece —

“Sorry if the wrapper’s sweaty, it’s been in my pants,” the kid said.

Ew.

Peter hesitated, then took it anyway.

“Uh, thanks. I’m Peter.”

The kid stuck out his hand through the rails in the fence. “Dill.”

Peter’s eyebrows shot up. “Dill?”

The kid glared. “No jokes about pickles. I heard ‘em all, I’m sick of ‘em, I don’t wanna hear ‘em. Got it?”

Peter shook his head. “I wasn’t going to say any pickle jokes.”

Dill relaxed. “Good. How old are you?”

“Nine and a half.”

“Ha! I’m almost ten, my birthday’s in November. I could beat you up.”

Peter looked down at Dill. Peter was half a foot taller and probably twenty pounds heavier.

Yeah, right.

“But don’t worry, I won’t,” Dill reassured him. “I’m just sayin’. But you and me, we could beat up a twenty-year–old.”

Peter frowned. “How do you figure that?”

“Nine and a half plus almost ten is…” Dill paused to count. “Okay, I don’t know what that is, but we could definitely beat up a sixteen year–old, cuz together we’re older.”

“Uh–huh.” Peter nodded, totally bewildered by Dill’s logic.

“So, you ready for school?”

“No.”

“Neither am I. I HATE school. Starts on Monday, though.” Dill looked around the yard like an old man taking stock of his life. “The time, where does it go?”

“It starts on Monday?” Peter asked in shock.

“Yeah.”

“That’s in two days!”

“No duh. I see they taught you the days of the week.”

“School doesn’t start for another two weeks in California!” Peter fumed. Great, he’d moved to a giant shack out in the middle of nowhere, and now they’d stolen two weeks of his summer from him, too.

“That where you’re from?” Dill asked.

“Yeah.”

“And school starts in two weeks there?”

“Yeah.”

“You think we can move there?”

“Uhhh…”

“We should totally move there,” Dill enthused wildly, “and then I bet school doesn’t start for another two weeks in Japan, so then we could move there, and just keep traveling around the world to the next place where school doesn’t start for two weeks, until we wind up back here in the summer.”
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