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End of Days by Max Turner

 

Overview: Zachariah Thomson has spent the past year getting used to the idea that his best friend, Charlie, and the lovely Luna are now vampires, like him. As they learn to cope with the changes this brings, a mysterious creature appears. Likened to the Beast of the Apocalypse, it begins to dismantle the network of support around Zack, who discovers he is more than just an orphaned vampire – he is the subject of an ancient prophecy that relates to the End of Days. As friends and enemies, old and new, throw his world into chaos, he is forced to re-examine what it means to be good at a time when it seems that only the strong and ruthless can survive.

 

End of Days by Max Turner Book Chapter One

 

BEING A TEEN VAMPIRE
I’m told vampires are popular in books these days. I’m not surprised. The perks of infection are pretty sick. Awesome physical power. Highly tuned senses. The ability to recover from almost any injury. Good dental hygiene. A simple diet. And that immortality thing—very impressive on a résumé.

My name is Daniel Zachariah Thomson and I’m living the dream. I have been for over nine years. Having said that—the first eight of them weren’t what you might imagine. I was orphaned, living in a mental ward, and sick all the time from medications that would never cure me. Then I found out what I was, met a girl, fell in love, and died.

For a while afterward, I’d say life was almost perfect. Then I discovered that every silver lining has a cloud. Does this sound like a complaint? I guess it does. But being a vampire isn’t a free ticket to Boardwalk. Those perks I mentioned earlier come with a heavy price tag. If you don’t believe me, just think of all the wonderful things you did growing up. How many of them were outside on a beautiful day? For a vampire, the UV index never drops below deep-fry, and they don’t make sunscreen for that, so once you get infected—no more warm, tingly skin on the beach, no more ocean sunsets, no more afternoon road hockey games, and no more sneaking into your mother’s room to look at her Victoria’s Secret catalogs. Actually, I guess you could still do that, but it would have to be at night. Still, you get the point. Life without the sunshine is tough. Just look what it did to Gollum.

And the sun is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure you’ve seen the movies. There are lots of ways for us to die, and some are pretty nasty. Forget about holy water and silver bullets. Water of the regular kind scares me, and bullets don’t need to be silver, they just need to be airborne.

Then there’s the angry mob. Scores of people armed with sticks and pitchforks and torches. They got the Werewolf. And Frankenstein’s monster. And the Phantom of the Opera. They almost got Homer Simpson, too. For a vampire, fear of discovery, fear of the mob, is constant. It’s why we work so hard to stay hidden. Vampire hunters are another reason. And they aren’t all as cute as Buffy. In fact, most of them aren’t human. They’re vampires, which means most of us are killed by our own kind. Does this seem wrong? It certainly does to me. But if I understand it correctly, it’s a matter of necessity.

Imagine a berserk gorilla. Now take off some of the hair and give it rabies. That’s the future of every vampire in a nutshell. My father called it Endpoint Psychosis. The stuff of horror movies. No one really understands it. Some vampires get it right away, and others put it off for centuries. But eventually the stress of change, of hunger, of fear, and the loss of light and normal relationships—it unhinges us. Death is never far behind. A small number choose suicide, but as I said before, most are murdered by other vampires. Older ones who’ve lived for centuries and want our existence to remain a secret. They can be ruthlessly efficient at removing those who might give them away—or who might spread the infection carelessly. To top it off, they really have it in for child vampires: at least, they did before The End of Days. I guess the theory was, a young vampire was pretty much guaranteed to do something stupid and give himself away. And young vampires had a history of spreading the infection too quickly. Given that I turned my friend Charlie last year, and he did the same to a girl named Luna on the same night—well, it would have been hard to argue our case.

Everyone imagines being a vampire would be cooler than joining the Justice League, and it is. You’re practically a superhero. But you have to be able to cope with what you lose. It’s a kind of culture shock. You need lots of support from family and friends. Sadly, when Charlie turned, he didn’t have that. At the time, his father lived in Halifax and his mother was in rehab, his friends were still in school, and his girlfriend, Suki, lived with Luna in New Jersey. Without me, he would have been a hermit. He got angry often and it made him careless about keeping his condition a secret. I had hoped he would keep it together for a few more centuries, or at least until someone invented the jet pack, but at the rate he was going, a ride on the crazy train was just around the corner. Of course, you could argue he was a crackpot even before he turned, but guys can be loo-loo in a lot of different ways. He was giving up fun-loving-reckless for angry-young-man, and it had me worried. If he didn’t get himself under control, someone was going to notice and take the un out of his undead. What he really needed was a Chicken Soup for the Vampire Soul. Something to calm him down and help him come to terms with what he’d given up. The sunshine. Safety. Sports. And school.

I know what you’re thinking. He had to give up school? What a heartbreaker! What could be worse, winning the lottery maybe? Well, he didn’t exactly love the place, it’s true. But he was popular there. He was a great athlete, so he got to be in the spotlight often. He’d given that up for the shadows. And so Charlie Rutherford, Detention King of Adam Scott Collegiate, now talked about school as if it were the Land of Chocolate. If that’s not a sign a guy’s gone mental, what is?

I wasn’t sure what to do to help him. Fortunately, I still had Ophelia in my corner. She was a vampire, too, and for nine years after my father died, she was the closest thing I had to a family. The night this story started, she was leaving to meet someone. I didn’t ask whom. With Ophelia, if she wanted you to know, she told you up front.

Before she headed out the door, she reached up, pinched my cheek, and smiled. “You can’t fix his problems overnight. Just try to help him reconnect with people. Take his mind off of things. But don’t put yourselves at risk. If you sense he’s getting a bit hot under the collar, get him home. I’ll be out for a while, but I need to talk to you both before sunrise. It’s very important.”

I understood, so after I said good-bye, I wandered down to Charlie’s room in the basement so we could work out a plan. Right after that, things started to go haywire, although as I look back, our problems really began long before that—with two murders in Toronto. Like a pair of dominoes, they set off a sequence of events that led to Peterborough and pretty much flattened everything in sight. But we didn’t know that was coming so, for us, the End of Days started with a rave.

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