Her vampyrrhic heart, p.1
Table of Contents
Recent Titles by Simon Clark from Severn House
Nicola and Tom: The Story so Far
Recent Titles by Simon Clark from Severn House
LONDON UNDER MIDNIGHT
THE MIDNIGHT MAN
HIS VAMPYRRHIC BRIDE
HER VAMPYRRHIC HEART
HER VAMPYRRHIC HEART
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First published in Great Britain 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
First published in USA 2014 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
110 East 59th Street New York, N. Y. 10022
eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright © 2013 by Simon Clark.
The right of Simon Clark to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Clark, Simon, 1958- author.
Her Vampyrrhic Heart.
1. Vampires–Fiction. 2. Horror tales.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8319-3 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-464-5 (ePub)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
NICOLA AND TOM: THE STORY SO FAR
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
Her Vampyrrhic Heart is a direct sequel to His Vampyrrhic Bride. It’s not essential to have read His Vampyrrhic Bride in order to understand and enjoy the novel that you now hold in your hand. Having said that, it might help if I give you an idea of the story so far.
In His Vampyrrhic Bride, twenty-three-year-old Tom Westonby falls in love with Nicola Bekk. Nicola lives a solitary life with her mother in a remote cottage in the woods. Nicola’s mother tells them both that the relationship is doomed from the start, and if they continue to see one another an ancient curse will be triggered. This will lead to Nicola being transformed into an inhuman, vampire-like creature. Of course, when two young people are in love that’s a powerful magic in its own right. They’ll move heaven and earth to be together. If they’re told they must not continue the relationship they will steadfastly ignore such warnings. Love conquers all, or so they believe.
However, the curse is a powerful one. To Tom Westonby’s horror Nicola is transformed into a vampire and vanishes from his life. Tom refuses to believe that the woman he loves has gone for ever. He moves into Nicola’s family home in the forest. She will come back to me, he tells himself. We’ll be reunited. Living alone in the cottage, Tom patiently waits for the return of his vampire bride. And, five years later, this is where we pick up Tom’s story in Her Vampyrrhic Heart.
So, my friends, it’s time to invite you warmly into the pages of this novel where there’ll be plenty of surprises and excitement – not to mention cold, shivery touches of fear and ‘Vampyrrhic’ horror. Get ready. We’re just about to enter the loneliest and darkest part of the forest.
‘The human heart is like Indian rubber.’
From Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
DARKNESS … The word darkness didn’t adequately describe that absolute absence of light in the forest. This is the darkness of the grave.
The man turned the key in the ignition. Nothing happened.
‘Don’t worry,’ said the woman sitting beside him in the passenger seat. ‘The car’s electrics are just a bit temperamental, that’s all. Come on, sweetheart, I know you won’t let us down.’
Even though the darkness meant he couldn’t see his girlfriend, he knew she’d gently patted the dashboard when she’d coaxed the car. After all, Rose had done this plenty of times before, because the fact of the matter was the car had clocked up a hundred thousand miles over the last ten years, and however much they di
He found her hand and gave it a loving squeeze. ‘I’m going to have to call out someone to help us.’
‘The old girl’s had a rest. Try again.’
Without so much as a shred of optimism he turned the key.
‘There is a God!’ He laughed with relief as the engine started.
Straight away, the headlights came on, too, lighting up the track through the trees. The man could now clearly see his girlfriend’s sparkling eyes and smiling face in the dashboard lights. He also glimpsed the cast on her right leg. A nasty slip when she was rock climbing had left her with a cracked bone. The cast had scraped his back when they made love tonight. Although he wished they were doing exactly that back in their apartment. It had required real willpower to climb out of their warm bed for the twenty-mile drive across the moors to this remote valley – all in order to replace a battery in a camera that was fixed to a tree. But this was part of the job. One of their many duties as park rangers required them to try and capture footage of woodland animals. Motion sensors attached to the cameras would trigger them when a creature had been detected.
However, driving into this wilderness in a car that creaked and clattered towards the end of its mechanical life hadn’t been at all straightforward. But at least they were now making progress again.
He glanced at Rose. ‘When we get there, I’ll leave the engine running, dash down to the river, swap the battery, then get back as fast as I can. With luck, the engine won’t die on us if I don’t switch it off.’
Rose smiled. ‘I thought we could continue what we had to interrupt earlier.’
‘You mean engage in wild, outrageous sex out here?’
Her eyes held a mischievous twinkle. ‘Why not? Sex in wilderness places is invigorating.’
‘Says the voice of experience?’
‘Oh, I’m experienced, John. I can show you not only paradise, but what lies beyond paradise.’
She stroked his leg as he drove between lines of massive tree trunks.
‘If we do erotic stuff in this car,’ he told her, ‘it will kill off the old girl once and for all.’
Rose laughed. ‘You switch that battery in record time, and when you get back to the car I’ll show you something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.’ She ran her fingers up his thigh.
‘OK. I’m going to break records. I’ll be back in five minutes.’
John stopped the car, kissed her on the mouth and opened the door.
‘Make it four minutes.’ Teasingly, she pulled the fleece zip down as far as her full breasts. ‘Do you hear? Four minutes max.’
After kissing her again he stepped out of the car and closed the door. Quickly, he checked that the replacement battery was in his pocket. Good, all present and correct. That done, he switched on the flashlight. The distinctive musty, damp smell of a forest in winter struck him – the aroma of fallen leaves, wet bark and earth. He smiled at Rose as she switched on the interior light. Pursing her full, red lips, she blew him a kiss. Damn it, she’s hot. Sex on legs.
John Cantley hurried along the woodland path, the light from the torch glaring against trees. His breath came in billowing, white gusts. Already he could hear the River Lepping as it flowed down the valley towards the nearest village five miles away. Apart from a cottage and a few farms nothing much in the way of human life existed between here and Danby-Mask.
Eager for his erotic surprise, just minutes from now, he moved quickly. Within seconds he’d reached the river. The specialized camera, inside its protective box, had been fixed to a tree trunk at head height. Earlier in the week he’d angled the camera to film whatever scuttled down the river bank to take a drink. In a few days he’d collect the camera and review the footage.
Gripping one end of the flashlight in his teeth, he slipped the device out of its waterproof casing in order to switch the dead battery with a fresh one. He focused on the fiddly job – especially fiddly when his fingers were as cold as this.
So when he heard the enormous splash from behind him he nearly leapt out of his skin. The sound shocked him so much that he spun round fast enough to send the flashlight spinning from his mouth. Now he could see nothing. Once more the absolute blackness of the night-time forest filled his eyes. As he dropped on all fours to scrabble for the light he heard more splashes. It sounded as if some large animal churned the river. A deer? Maybe. Possibly even a wild boar. Those could be violent brutes if riled.
A second later, he had the flashlight again. Fortunately it hadn’t broken, and when he thumbed the switch the light instantly returned. Quickly, he snapped the new battery into place before pushing the camera back into its housing. He realized his heart was pounding. Stupid idiot, he thought, you’re not scared of a hairy pig, are you? Although he had to admit that huge splashing sound had startled him. What’s more, his hands shook so much he found it difficult to slide the camera back into its protective case. At last, however, he’d done the job. Good! Now get back to the car.
Sounds of a heavy animal lumbering through the bushes reached him. Whatever the beast might be it was close. Maybe several wild boar? Meeting a pack of those vicious porkers didn’t appeal. Time to go.
He checked his watch. One minute remained of the four teasingly allocated by Rose. Maybe she’d slipped off her fleece jacket? Or was she in the back seat? Totally naked? With the light splashing against the trees, he ran along the path. Behind him, he heard the crunch of branches. Maybe a stag? Or a wild pony? A big brute whatever it was.
Now he could see the car. Its windows had misted up, yet he heard music. Rose must have turned on the radio. He saw her silhouette through the fogged glass. That sexy outline made him eager to find out what erotic treat awaited him.
Only John Cantley never made it to the car. For a moment he thought that a gigantic oak tree had fallen on him. The concussion was fantastic. The flashlight went flying from his hand. Even though it remained lit, darkness swept over him. Although this was very much a different kind of darkness: this would be a darkness that could never ever be banished by anything so mundane as an electric light. This darkness claimed his soul.
Rose sat in the car. The engine idled just as her boyfriend had left it. Neither wanted to be stranded in the forest if the faulty electrics died on them again, so best keep the old girl ticking over. Her leg began to itch in its cast. She wished they were back in bed again. Making love is the perfect distraction from the realities of life – including being forced to endure six weeks with her leg encased in this itchy shell.
As Rose waited for John to return, she listened to the radio. Meanwhile, the car’s windows had misted over. When she was a little girl she liked to wipe away just a tiny bit of condensation so she could peep out as if looking through a keyhole. Peeking through an area of clean glass the size of a penny felt like having a secret view into another world.
Rose did this now. With her finger squeaking on the glass, she cleaned a coin-sized area of white condensation from the passenger window. Beyond the glass, the blackness of the forest. Night times in the wilderness are incredibly dark compared to those in town. Here, not a single glimmer of light showed amongst the trees – those silent giants had stood there for centuries. World wars, revolutions and the deaths of kings and presidents left them untouched. Those oaks seemed eternal – unaffected by either the triumphs or tragedies of the human race.
She glanced at the dashboard clock. Smiling, she realized John would be back any moment now. The side window had fogged over again. Quickly, she wiped a small area clean to create another of her peepholes. That done, she put her eye to the glass.
John was there … her boyfriend’s face was just inches away at the other side of the glass.
And he’s dead. The moment Rose saw his face
Fear exploded inside of her. With an utter sense of dread, she thought: I’m next … they’ll kill me. That’s what she expected … but what happened next took her by surprise.
Because her boyfriend’s eyes snapped open. His eyes locked on to hers, and he began to shout: ‘Rose! Help me! Please, help me!’
Those words were shocking enough, yet other voices began to shout, too – they shouted in the same desperate, agonized way at exactly the same time:
‘ROSE! HELP US! PLEASE HELP US!’
With a frantic swipe of her hand, she cleaned away the condensation. Now she saw the monstrosity, which was out there just beyond the glass. And that’s when Rose began to scream.
June Valko packed in a hurry. The doctor had told June that her mother had deteriorated overnight. Into the holdall went clothes, a toilet bag, together with a document holder bulging with newspaper clippings, copies of witness statements and disks containing TV news reports that she’d harvested from the Internet. Snow had been forecast, which was unusual for November, even here in the North of England. So, along with a keen sense of urgency, she could now add the worry that trains to Whitby might be cancelled.
However, June Valko absolutely needed to make this journey. She had to talk to a man she’d never met before, but whom her mother had once mentioned several years ago. The name of the stranger she needed to find was written in large letters across the document file: TOM WESTONBY.
That November night the forest had been silent. Flakes of snow drifted down through the branches. A fox padded beneath the trees. The animal paused as its sensitive ears picked up a sound that suddenly grew louder and louder until it turned into a vicious bellow as a monster with a pair of blazing eyes appeared.
The fox fled before the rampaging beast. This roaring, snorting thing lurched along the track at whirlwind speed. Riding on its back were two figures. One crouched down, scared half to death, and holding on for dear life. The other whooped. This exhilarating ride excited him so much that he beat the cab roof with his fist and yelled at the top of his voice.