Bloodsucking Fiends - By Christopher Moore

Chapter 1
This is a work of fiction.

Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products

of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any

resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living

or dead, is entirely coincidental.


The author gratefully acknowledges those people who helped in the research and writing of Bloodsucking Fiends:

Mark Joseph and Mark Anderson for help with research in the Bay Area. Rachelle Stambal, Jean Brody, Liz Ziemska, and Dee Dee Leichtfuss for their careful reads and thoughtful suggestions. My editors, Michael Korda and Chuck Adams, for their clean hands and composure. And my agent, Nick Ellison, for his patience, guidance, friendship, and hard work.

In memory of my father:

Jack Davis Moore

Part I


Chapter 1


Sundown painted purple across the great Pyramid while the Emperor enjoyed a steaming whiz against a dumpster in the alley below. A low fog worked its way up from the bay, snaked around columns and over concrete lions to wash against the towers where the West's money was moved. The financial district: an hour ago it ran with rivers of men in gray wool and women in heels; now the streets, built on sunken ships and gold-rush garbage, were deserted - quiet except for a foghorn that lowed across the bay like a lonesome cow.

The Emperor shook his scepter to clear the last few drops, shivered, then zipped up and turned to the royal hounds who waited at his heels. "The foghorn sounds especially sad this evening, don't you think?"

The smaller of the dogs, a Boston terrier, dipped his head and licked his chops.

"Bummer, you are so simple. My city is decaying before your eyes. The air is thick with poison, the children are shooting each other in the street, and now this plague, this horrible plague is killing my people by the thousands, and all you think about is food."

The Emperor nodded to the larger dog, a golden retriever.

"Lazarus knows the weight of our responsibility. Does one have to die to find dignity? I wonder."

Lazarus lowered his ears and growled. "Have I offended you, my friend?"

Bummer began growling and backing away from the dumpster. The Emperor turned to see the lid of the dumpster being slowly lifted by a pale hand. Bummer barked a warning. A figure stood up in the dumpster, his hair dark and wild and speckled with trash, skin white as bone. He vaulted out of the dumpster and hissed at the little dog, showing long white fangs. Bummer yelped and cowered behind the Emperor's leg.

"That will be quite enough of that," the Emperor commanded, puffing himself up and tucking his thumbs under the lapels of his worn overcoat.

The vampire brushed a bit of rotted lettuce from his black shirt and grinned. "I'll let you live," he said, his voice like a file on ancient rusted metal. "That's your punishment."

The Emperor's eyes went wide with terror, but he held his ground. The vampire laughed, then turned and walked away.

The Emperor felt a chill run up his neck as the vampire disappeared into the fog. He hung his head and thought, Not this. My city is dying of poison and plague and now this - this creature - stalks the streets. The responsibility is suffocating. Emperor or not, I am only a man. I am weak as water: an entire empire to save and right now I would sell my soul for a bucket of the Colonel's crispy-fried chicken. Ah, but I must be strong for the troops. It could be worse, I suppose. I could be the Emperor of Oakland.

"Chins up, boys," the Emperor said to his hounds. "If we are to battle this monster, we will need our strength. There is a bakery in North Beach that will presently be dumping the day-old. Let's be off." He shuffled away thinking, Nero fiddled while his empire went to ashes; I shall eat leathery pastries.

As the Emperor trudged up California Street, trying to balance the impotence of power with the promise of a powdered-sugar doughnut, Jody was leaving the Pyramid. She was twenty-six and pretty in a way that made men want to tuck her into flannel sheets and kiss her on the forehead before leaving the room; cute but not beautiful.

As she passed under the Pyramid's massive concrete buttresses she caught herself limping from a panty-hose injury. It didn't hurt, exactly, the run that striped the back of her leg from heel to knee, the result of a surly metal file drawer (Claims, X-Y-Z) that had leaped out and snagged Copyright 2016 - 2024