Monday, August 9, 2010

Midnight Diner Coming Soon

The horse is out of the barn. The Midnight Diner Volume 3 is now available for presales at the Relief Journal site.

The Midnight Diner is a hardboiled genre anthology with a Christian slant. No restrictions on God, no restrictions on reality. --description from The Midnight Diner web site

"The Princess and the Vampire," along with many other great stories, are ready for your reading pleasure in this year's volume. Here's an excerpt from my story to whet your appetite. For a bit of context, the Vampire has agreed to become the Princess's lover, however, she requires that his fangs be removed.

The Barber, a rotund man with a jolly disposition, awaited them in a barracks facing the courtyard before the keep. He motioned the Vampire toward a straight-backed chair built from stout timbers. Holding his shoulders and head high as if the earth and its doings concerned him not at all, the Vampire stepped forward and surveyed the room before sitting down.

The Chief Councilor raised his eyebrows at the Fool, who sat on a stool in a corner. The Fool nodded. All was in place.

The Vampire objected when the Barber looped a rope around his chest to lash him to the chair but after assurances from the Barber and the Chief Councilor that this merely provided leverage for the extractions, he relented. The Barber pulled a two-headed brass instrument from his apron pocket.

“What is that?” asked the Vampire.

“It’s called a pelican,” said the Barber. “See how it’s shaped like the bird’s beak? It’s the newest implement in dental extractions. Just bought it a couple weeks ago, but I couldn’t do without it now.”

“I see. I suppose you want me to open wide.”

“I can’t see those teeth if you don’t open your mouth.”

The Vampire complied, stretching his mouth until it gaped like a viper’s unhinged jaws, exposing his fangs, the daggers that had brought death to so many.

“This may hurt a bit but it’ll be over quick.” The Barber clamped the instrument around the base of a fang. Grasping the chair for leverage, he pulled with all his strength. His face flushed crimson. Sweat beaded on his cheeks and forehead. The veins in his neck throbbed. The chair creaked then shrieked as it snapped. After three broken chairs, the Barber sat on the floor, his neck and arms limp. “It’s no use,” he said between deep breaths. “The roots run too deep.”

The Vampire twisted his head from side to side, igniting a series of pops from his neck. The Chief Councilor rubbed his bearded chin, considering his strategy, which assumed a vampire weakened from blood loss during the extractions.

“I’ve an idea,” said the Fool. “What we need is horse power.”

The Barber and the Fool tied the Vampire and his chair to a beam and secured his head with a leather strap across his forehead. From ropes, they fashioned a harness that crisscrossed the Barber’s torso and then secured the ropes to the harnesses of two draft horses in the courtyard, where a hostler stood ready with a whip. The Barber clamped the pelican on the first fang. The hostler whipped the horses. The ropes stretched taut. The Vampire moaned in pain. Just as the Chief Councilor’s hopes rose, the Barber flew backwards across the room, rattled through the door frame, and then bounced across the courtyard on his prodigious backside in the dusty wake of the runaway horses.

The Chief Councilor sent the Fool to fetch the Master Carpenter. . . .

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