A vampire couple do their best to keep their son from making the biggest mistake of his unlife.
—– —– —– “Pa?” Mother called. Dressed for the ball, she hiked her long baby blue dress carefully as to not cause wrinkles. “Pa?” * # # # Gateway Blood Copyright © 2015 by Ezekiel James Boston First published in One Horn to Rule Them All, edited by Lisa Mangum, WordFire Press, 2015
Published by Elsewhere Publishing
Cover and layout copyright © 2016 by Elsewhere Publishing
Cover design by Ezekiel James Boston/Elsewhere Publishing
Cover art copyright © olly18 | Depositphotos
by Ezekiel James Boston
Still in my smoking robes, I leaned on the fireplace. It crackled with soothing blue freeze-fire, chilling the room nicely. My gaze returned to the trophies of hunters long since past. For some reason, Kam’s silver stake kept my attention. “Yah, Mother?”
“Oh, good. You’re not in your suit.”
That was strange. Normally she’d be griping up a blue streak. The change brought me from my thoughts as she shuffled closer. I set down my pipe with the fine Turkish blend old Carl had sent me and turned away from the jars of moonshine. After two hundred years with her, I knew the source of the matter and shook my head.
“What’s Junior done now?”
“Oh, Pa.” She pressed me with a hug. “It’s horrible. Just horrible.”
I embraced her wonderful, satin-clad, grave-cold body. Our first century had been dictionary-definition perfect. Then we decided to have a child. The following decades had grown steadily worse. “Just tell me what he done.”
“Little Kev, he’s—” Whatever the thought, it made her fangs retract. She slap-covered her mouth. I looked elsewhere in the room while she composed herself. She did soon enough. Her incisors relaxed back into full extension, she continued. “He’s—”
And whoop, up they went again. “Where is he?”
She kept her mouth covered. “Down to the mill.”
I rubbed her back until her fangs eased back out. She helped me out of my smoking robes, and I went to find my boy.
Taller than me now, he stood on the mossy side of the watermill between the waterwheel and where the crick kinked. I couldn’t help but pause to admire his dead pale complexion in the moonshadows. A smile crept to my face. He’s a chip off the old block. One day, he’s gonna give some lucky girl a real fright.
He didn’t turn or glance over his shoulder. Impressive. I approached along the crick to see what had him so transfixed. “Don’t what, son?”
Though I hadn’t seen it before, now, in the moonshadows, all wrought with inner-conflict, I finally understood why the judges gave him top honors in both Pensive and Brooding. While both traits had their merits, it would’ve been nicer if he would’ve placed in Lurking or Creep.
He shook his head. “Just, don’t.”
“Fine, son. Fine,” I said and eased along the bank. “I—” My incisors shot up into my gums.
By his feet, bound in some sort of trap made of ropes and leather straps, a unicorn lay on its side, legs kicking weakly. Where the moonlight touched it, its coat shone a glittery lilac. “Now, son—”
He turned a palm toward me. “I said don’t.”
I froze. His fangs were out, but they trembled. He was scared, and he had all rights to be. While that kid down the way bragged about juicing mythicals, one look at ’em and anyone over one-fifty knew the brat was just spouting words. “Did I ever tell you—”
Little Kev cut me off to finish my sentence. “’Bout the time I drank werewolf blood?” His dead eyes—so very dead—rolled. “Yeah, Dad. Dozens of times.”
“Well.” My voice came out muffled. Reflexively, I’d covered my fang-less mouth. “I wasn’t bragging about it none. No, I told ya so much as a warnin’.”
Kev didn’t say anything. Just kept staring at it.
My fangs refused to come down. The whole thing got me that deep. “Sometimes, some creatures just seem to want to be bitten, and you can’t help but wonder, what kind of power lies in their blood? Am I right, son?”
He nodded absently.
“To this day, I regret drinking from that wolfman.” I spied my wife easing along the mill roof. We both began to creep closer to him. “And you know what? So does Mother.”
“Ma?” He turned. His gazed passed over me. “Ma drank werewolf?”
“Yah,” I answered.
He found me and stared with great intensity as not to lose me as I slunk along the gurgling waterline.
“We both did when we were dating.” Ready to spring, Mother crouched on the mill’s pitch. “Was good fun for a bit. We were stronger. Our fangs, thicker. Good fun in all.”
His brooding eased. He remained pensive. “What happened then?”
“A full moon.”
“You mean.” His own gasp surprised him. I’d told him about the drawbacks hundreds of times. Realizing the potential curse in our blessing, he softly spoke, “Drink the blood, gain the flesh.” He gulped. “You mean, Mother goes all hairy, too?”
“Yah, every full moon, which comes faster than yah’d think.” I could see nerve building in his eyes. His fangs extended further. I yelled, “Mother!”
Mother blocked him from the unicorn.
He tried to move around her, and the moment’s hesitation was all we needed.
I sped up the bank, drove him through the watermill’s stone wall, and we rolled on the dusty wooden planks.
“Let me go!” he wailed. “I’ll risk it.”
Mother dropped on us in a flash. She knocked me away and had him pinned before I could fully recover. Having drank more wolfman, she’d always been stronger and faster.
“Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!”
I hustled over to the unicorn and undid the major binding.
It heaved to its hooves and sped away.
It pained my unbeating heart to hear my son wail like that. Still, I picked up one of the lengths of leather and tested its strength. “First, unicorns. Then what? Griffins?” It’d hold out through a whippin’. I had to set him straight or he’d become a no good shine-head like my brother. “Let that Eddie Cullen kid drink all the unicorn he wants.” My fangs eased back down. I sounded the belt across my hand. “But ain’t no son of mine’s gonna sparkle.”
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