Announcement: First Chapter Posted!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1

First chapter of the novel can be read here or by following the link in the banner above. If you have trouble reading it, leave your contact info in the comments and a pdf will be emailed to you.

And here's the newest Three Word Wednesday story: Incubus Indifference. The prompts were Callous, Interfere, and Persistent, and the result was something a little edgier than what usually appears here, but still quite work-safe.

And in case you missed them, here are a few recent stories:

Trusting Demons: Ricky is too sick to go to the show, but can he trust the band to play their gig and behave themselves?

Drive-In: A quiet night at the drive-in turns frustrating when three of the band members go missing. Ricky just wants to hang out with Kalila, but instead he's on a demon hunt.

Wanted for Murder: There's a reward out for clues to the murderer of a missing pizza delivery driver. Is it worth the band's trouble to turn Lazaro in, or should they just insist he hide the bodies better?

And the first story ever posted here, before we had any traffic:

Variax Variations: Kalila is intrigued by a new guitar. Ricky wants her to quit goofing off so they can check out a new venue. He knows how to get a genie out of a lamp, but can he get her out of the guitar store?

Enjoy! And if you like the artwork above, check out Rebecca's gallery!

Maelstrom Extra: Incubus Indifference

reviews (Comments): 4
Ricky stood at the edge of the room, assaulted by the thumping bass of a pop tune. A blonde on stage was slithering around a pole while other girls worked the tables, thrusting their breasts into men’s faces and collecting bills for lap dances. A perky brunette in a sequined bustier hurried over to solicit a drink order, but just then Ricky saw who he was looking for.

He pushed his way through the crowd to a dark corner table on the other side of the room. Although it was against the rules of the establishment and the laws of the state, Bo had a brunette seated firmly in his lap while he kissed a redhead leaning up against him. Ricky was reluctant to interfere, but this couldn’t be allowed. “Hey, Bo.”

Bo glanced up. “Hi, Ricky, nice of you to join us.” He traced the contour of one of the redhead’s breasts. “Go see what my friend wants, babe. Make him happy. You and I can finish what we’ve got going on later.”

“Uh, I don’t think so,” Ricky said, waving the girl away. “You have a show tonight, Bo. What the hell are you doing here?”

Bo slid his hands around the brunette’s backside and ground her hips into his. “I’m hiding out,” he said.

“But—” Ricky looked around the room full of nearly-naked women. “This is the first place someone would look for an incubus, don’t you think?”

“The only thing I’m thinking is how to get my pants off.” Bo nuzzled the girl's neck, then added, “I’m hiding from Johnny Del Rio. He’s persistent as the devil, but he won’t come here.”

“Don’t you think that’s unfair to the rest of the band?” Ricky moved a little closer, shouting to be heard over the pounding rhythms of a new dancer’s song. “You seduced the music reporter and now you have to live with the consequences. Just tell Johnny the truth. Or tell him a lie, what the hell do I care? But this callous disregard for your fellow band members has got to stop.”

“What do you think, darling?” Bo asked his girl, holding her against him as she squirmed. “Do I need to stop?”

“No,” she giggled.

Bo began jerking her against him in a rhythm that made Ricky suspicious that he had found a way to undo his pants, but he couldn’t be sure because the tablecloth obscured his line of sight. Small blessings. “Fine,” Ricky said. “But Kalila said to tell you that if you’re not at the venue by eight, you’re out of the band.”

The brunette quit moaning long enough to ask, “Who’s Kalila?”

“Just a bitchy genie,” Bo told her.

“Am I a bitch?”

Ricky decided not to wait for the outcome of this conversation, or to find out when someone would notice what was going on at this dark corner table. He walked back through the club, spurning offers of drinks and lap dances. Once he was outside, he leaned against a post for a minute, glad to be out of the sex-drenched atmosphere of the strip joint. Strumpets for hire had never appealed to him, and besides, not one of them could hold a candle to Kalila.

Come to think of it, Kalila would be wondering where he was. He would just have to tell her that Bo was being a typical incubus. Demons did what they did, after all, and who was he to question it? He might spend his days and nights with fey and demons, but he was still only a man.

Maelstrom Extra: Trusting Demons

Saturday, February 21, 2009 reviews (Comments): 4
Ricky squinted at the thermometer. 102.8. Where the hell was Kalila? He fumbled for his BlackBerry, but she hadn’t returned his message.

There could be only one reason. The band was up to no good and Kalila didn’t want to heal him because he’d try to put a stop to their antics. He struggled to focus so he could read the time. Damn. If he could somehow get dressed, maybe he could be there for the second set.

He slipped out from under the covers, his head pounding and the room swaying. He fumbled in the dresser for a pair of socks, but was shivering too much to pull them on.

Who the hell was he kidding? He collapsed back on the bed and curled up in a ball. Where was Kalila? Oh, yes. Mayhem. Bitchy genie. For all he knew, they weren’t even at their gig. Ricky found his BlackBerry under the covers and called the venue.

“Sure, they’re here,” the manager said. “Or at least they’re somewhere. They just went on break. Great first set. The girls love your bass player.”

Ricky licked his lips and tried to keep his voice steady. “So, no problems?”

“Not with the band. We had a girl pass out before the show, but it was probably some kind of anemia thing.”

Silently cursing the vampire lead singer, Ricky tried again to get dressed, but the room tipped and dumped him to the floor. Resigned, he climbed back into bed. For the next few hours he drifted in and out of consciousness, his mind a jumble of vampire and zombie mayhem, indiscriminate incubus couplings, and Kalila presiding over it all, reminding him, “You knew what you were getting into when you let us renew your contract.”

When he next found himself fully awake, he took his temperature, found it still over 101, and turned on the television, hoping for a distraction. He tried to watch an old movie, but when a news crawler appeared at the bottom of his screen telling of the disappearance of a local college student, he panicked. Lazaro couldn’t have done that, could he? Ricky tried to reassure himself that anything the zombie drummer got up to tonight wouldn’t make the news until tomorrow, but logic didn’t help.

He was trying again to figure out how to get his socks on when the door flew open and Kalila swept in, followed by the other band members. “Hi, Ricky,” she said. “We missed you tonight.”

Ricky grabbed a blanket off the bed and pulled it around himself. “Where the hell have you been?”

“At our gig. What did you expect?”

“I told you I was sick and to come heal me.”

“It’s about priorities, primate,” Vic informed him. “Florence Nighting-djinn here couldn’t fix your stupid cold and still be on time for the show.” He slumped into the nearest chair. “You always say honoring our contracts comes first.”

Ricky shivered. “Please, I’m not up for any of this. You wanted to run amok and you knew you couldn’t do it if I was there.”

Vic and Bo made as if to protest, but Kalila silenced them with a wave of her hand. “Ricky, you’re being very unfair.” She pushed his damp hair off his forehead and looked into his eyes. “I’ll make this fever go away and you’ll feel much better.”

“Just don’t mess with my brain, okay?”

“Oh, Ricky. You should trust us.”

He didn’t want to do as she said, but her voice was soothing, and her touch sent a glow through his body, easing his shivers and the dull ache of his joints. The room felt comfortable now, and he looked up at Kalila, realizing that he couldn’t remember what was the last thing she had said to him, or if she had said anything at all.

“What did you make me forget?”

Kalila took a step back, offended. “Nothing. I ended your fever, is all.”

“Are you sure?”

“Don’t you trust us?” Kalila made a small motion to Bo, who turned off the TV, where a reporter had been discussing the missing college student.

She touched his face again, and Ricky felt the same peaceful warmth course through him. Of course the band hadn’t gotten up to anything tonight. They came straight over after the show. They cared about him and would never cause him trouble. “Thanks, guys,” he said, drowsy now that he was no longer feverish and in pain. “I knew I could count on you.”

Maelstrom Extra: Drive-In

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 reviews (Comments): 9
The images on the multi-story screen flickered and static crackled on the radio. Ricky paid no attention, warm and sleepy with Kalila wedged against him, dozing on his shoulder. With a little effort, he could almost convince himself that Kalila was a mortal girl and this was an ordinary date at a nostalgic drive-in theater.

A buzz of static sawed through the movie dialogue again.

“You mind fixing that?” said a voice from the back seat.

Suppressing a sigh, Ricky reached to adjust the knob. “That better?” He glanced at Nevin in the rearview mirror. “I don’t know why you don’t fix it yourself, since you’re the one with magic powers, and—” Ricky frowned and twisted around in his seat, ignoring Kalila’s look of sleepy indignation. “Where are the others?”

Nevin shrugged. “I think Bo got discouraged that no one in the movie was taking their clothes off, and Vic and Lazaro probably went for snacks.”

Cursing, Ricky fumbled for his jacket. “Dammit, they promised they would sit quietly and watch the movie.”

Kalila shoved her hair out of her eyes. “And you believed them?”

“Don’t start. You could’ve warned me.” Ricky got out of the Lexus and zipped his jacket against the cold. Since they could be anywhere, one direction was as good as any other. He picked a starting point and began walking the rows of cars, looking for foggy windows and signs of mayhem. Getting only puzzled looks for his trouble, he decided to try the concession stand.

The teenage clerk was leaning against the counter watching the movie with a suspiciously dreamy expression on her face. Nevertheless, when Ricky quizzed her about his missing band members, she seemed candid in her assertion that no one had been to the counter in the last half hour, and her neck was free of bite marks.

Baffled, and increasingly concerned, Ricky started toward the entrance kiosk, glancing around as he walked, as if he might find his missing vampire, zombie, and incubus hiding in the brush at the side of the road. When he got to the booth, the cashier smiled politely and assured him she had seen no one, but the concern in her eyes and the tiny crease between her brows told Ricky she questioned his sanity.

If only she knew! Ricky pulled his jacket tight around his body as he made his way back to the Lexus. On the giant screen, a car chase was in progress, but he found it annoying rather than exciting. Here he was at a run-down drive-in theater in some dismal little town on tour, with three missing demons to account for. No Hollywood chase could match that for drama.

He pulled open the car door and leaned inside. “I can’t find them, Kalila. Do you have any—?”

Wedged into the back seat, Lazaro, Vic and Bo grinned.

“It’s about time you came back,” Kalila said. “I was beginning to think I’d have to go looking for you.”

“You’re missing a great movie,” Vic added.

“Where the hell have you been?” Ricky said.

Bo shrugged. “We needed to use the restroom.”

“Don’t lie. You guys don’t use the restroom. What were you up to?”

Kalila reached across the seat and tugged at his sleeve. “They’re back now, so just come watch the movie.”

Ricky didn’t want to let the matter drop, but he was cold, so he climbed in and shut the door. He turned around in his seat. “Whatever you were doing, it was a big risk and I don’t appreciate it. If any cops come nosing around the hotel later tonight, I’m not taking up for you.”

“You worry too much,” Kalila said. “And we can hire our own lawyers.” Gently, she nudged him back into the proper position to see the movie. “Can’t you just relax and enjoy what we came here for?”

Before Ricky could answer, she snuggled up against him and laid her head on his shoulder. He hesitated, wanting to be angry, but she was right. Whatever was done, was done, and demons could look out for themselves.

He adjusted the sound on the radio, then on impulse, stole an arm around her and pulled her close.

On screen, police cars gave chase, their strobes flashing red and white into the night.

Maelstrom Extra: Wanted for Murder

Sunday, February 15, 2009 reviews (Comments): 3
Ricky waited impatiently while the band filed into the room, muttering and grumbling at the early hour.

“This had better be something serious, human,” Vic snarled.

“Stupid daytime meetings,” Lazaro agreed as he slumped into a chair. He had a pair of snare sticks and was about to start tapping on the nearest table when Ricky stopped him.

“None of that, Lazaro. You’re the reason we’re here.”

“Why him?” Bo said.

Vic scowled and leaned against a wall. “If he’s annoying you, just put him back in the ground for awhile. Me, too, while you’re at it.”

“He’s not annoying me,” Ricky said. “At least no more than any of you do.” He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and unfolded it. “It’s this. Someone found the body of that missing pizza delivery guy and now there’s a reward for information about who’s responsible.”

Bo flopped onto the sofa. “Well, it wasn’t me. I’ve never done anything responsible in my life. What’s the reward, by the way? Girls?”


“Blood?” Vic asked. “I’d turn Lazaro in for a few pints of O.”

Kalila had been sitting by herself, looking bored, but now she sat a little straighter. “Would we be on the news? You’re always saying to look for ways to get our names out there.”

“Turning in your drummer for murder isn’t a good way to do that,” Ricky told her. “Look, guys, this is serious. You need to quit preying on humans.”

“That’s no fun,” Bo said.

“Not happening,” Vic agreed. “We’re predators, and that’s what we do.”

“I’m not a predator,” Nevin piped up.

Lazaro turned on him. “Stupid nelly fairy.”

“I’m not—”

“Enough!” Ricky looked at each of them in turn. “This kind of thing can’t happen again. Getting charged with murder will ruin your career.” Getting only silent stares in reply, he added, “No more killing.”

Lazaro shook his head slowly. “Zombies gotta eat. How about I hide the bodies better?”

Ricky wanted to tell him this was unacceptable, but seeing that the others were nodding in agreement, he asked, “Is that really the best you can do?”

“I guess I could ask for volunteers.”

“How about we find him some of those people who donate their brains to science?” Kalila suggested.

“Or we could pair up with the suicide hotline,” Vic said.

With a sigh, Ricky crumpled the news story and threw it away. He was dealing with demons, after all, so what did he expect? “Just try not to get caught, guys. Please?”

Contest Winner: Date with Bo

Saturday, February 14, 2009 reviews (Comments): 4
Message from Management: This report of a date with Maelstrom's bass player, Bo Valentino, was submitted by Thomma Lyn, who appears to have suffered no ill effects or divorce threats due to winning this "date." Landon Talent Management does not in any way encourage the practice of humans dating incubi and did not endorse this contest. ~ Ricky Landon

Thomma and her hubby were on their way to the mountains for a Valentine's Day hike. It was an unseasonably warm day, so they were going on a Waterfall Quest: locals had told Thomma and her hubby that there was, beyond the end of a small trail, a forty-foot-high waterfall and that if they pushed through the brush far enough, they'd find it.

As Thomma and her hubby walked up the road to the trailhead, she racked her mind. There was something important about this day, something she'd forgotten.

When they got to the trailhead, a tall blond man was leaning against a tree, waiting for them. "I thought you two would never get here," he said.

"Who are you?" Thomma's hubby said.

"Bo Valentino."

And Thomma remembered. The man leaning against the tree wasn't a man at all. He was an incubus. Thomma had won her friend Ann's contest, and the prize was a date with Bo, Maelstrom's bass player.

Thomma's hubby stared at Bo, then at Thomma. "You told me about winning that contest. But I didn't think the guy would be real."

"Apparently he is," Thomma said. This was far-out stuff. She remembered from Ann's novel that Ricky, Maelstrom's band manager, had only to think about one of the band members, then he or she would appear. But Thomma had forgotten about winning the date with Bo. How had he appeared, if she wasn't thinking about him?

Bo answered her unspoken question while arranging himself more sensuously against the tree. "You thought about me when you won the contest. And I never stand up a date. Incubi need to eat, and I've been looking forward to Valentine's Day dinner."

Thomma's hubby gave Bo a hard look. "My wife isn't going to be your dinner."

"There are two of you, aren't there?" Into Bo's eyes crept a come-hither glow.

"We're not into that," Thomma said. "How about if you just come with us on our hike?"

"This isn't fair." Bo stood up and looked around. "Are there any other hikers in these woods?"

"Not very often," Thomma said. "You're more likely to run across riders."


"People riding horses."

"Oh." Bo nodded. "A horse would be nice. Humans make better meals, but an incubus has to take what he can get."

"For Pete's sake," Thomma's hubby said. "You can come along on our hike, but only if you keep your hands off both of us. And you can bet no rider will let you molest their horse."

Bo shot Thomma a plaintive look. "But it's Valentine's Day. There's got to be somebody around I can--"

"There isn't," she said. "But look at it this way. The hike will be something new for you. We're looking for a big waterfall that's supposed to be around here. We might find it today."

"Sounds more like Nevin's speed," Bo said. "You two should have won a date with the fairy, not with me."

Thomma shrugged, then she and her hubby proceeded up the trail. She cast a glance back and saw Bo slouching along behind them, scowling.

Bo's scowl deepened when the trail ended and they had to make their way through the brush. Thomma and her hubby were used to rocks, roots, and tangly laurel thickets, but Bo wasn't. With every step he took, he stumbled and cursed. "This sucks. You two really enjoy this kind of thing?"

"Yeah," Thomma said. "We love it."

"You're crazy. I could be back home, on the prowl, having the best Valentine's Day ever. Instead, I'm..." His feet tangled in the thick brush and he fell, yowling as a twig poked him in the cheek.

Thomma and her hubby backtracked to help Bo up, but by the time they reached him, he'd already got to his feet. "This blows. And we haven't even run into any horses."

"We won't, since we're off the trail," Thomma said. "Sorry."

She and her hubby hiked carefully alongside the stream. Then they climbed an embankment. Pulling themselves up by roots and large, embedded rocks, they made it to a level spot, and Thomma gazed out from her new vantage point.

And there was the waterfall. It was gorgeous: at least forty feet high, perhaps fifty. Excitedly, Thomma pulled out her camera and began taking pictures. She exchanged a smile with her hubby, then she looked for Bo. He had stayed down by the stream. His attention was fixed on a young black bear who had emerged from her den to check out the warm day. She picked her way along the rocks, her back to him.

In Bo's eyes shone an unmistakable gleam.

"Valentine's Day dinner," he said triumphantly. "And she's a female, too!"

Hearing Bo's voice, the bear became alarmed and ran for the nearest big tree. She scrambled up it to get away from Bo, but Bo, in his determination, easily shimmied up the tree after the bear. But while Bo was still climbing up, the bear scooted down on the opposite side. Bo grabbed for her, but she was too quick for him. The bear jumped to the ground and ran away, back to her den.

Bo clung to branches near the top of the tree. "I can't get down."

"Why can't you come down the same way you got up?" Thomma asked.

"I don't know how I got up. All I could think about was... eating." He gazed longingly at Thomma and her husband. "Maybe you two could help me get down."

"Forget about it," Thomma's hubby said. "We're not going to be your Valentine's Day dinner."

"Then it's back to the city for me," Bo said. "An incubus just can't find a decent meal in the country." Then he disappeared from the high limbs of the tree, and it was as though he'd never been there at all.

Maelstrom Extra: A Good Sport

reviews (Comments): 2
Ricky checked the time on his BlackBerry, then darted a glance toward the back of the bus, where Bo lay on the lounge sofa, engrossed in a porn video. Should he bother him? Ricky stood up. It never hurt to ask.

Bo grinned lazily at his approach. “Care to join me, human?”

Ricky tried to ignore the wet and thrusting bodies on the plasma screen. “I was wondering if I could watch the game.”

Bo stared for a moment, not understanding. “You mean sports?”

“Football, to be specific. But yes, sports.”

“This is a sport, too, and I’m getting some interesting new ideas.”

“You seem to have plenty of ideas already.”

“It’s never enough.” Bo gestured toward the screen. “Like what they’re doing right now, for example. I wouldn't have thought three people in a waterbed could do that with a paper bag and a torque wrench.”

Ricky refused to look, since he had a feeling he didn’t want to know. “So is there any chance you could watch this on the DVD player in your bunk?”

Bo scowled. “We’re demons and this is our tour bus. Humans don’t make the rules.”

“I’m also an invited guest and deserve a little hospitality.”

“We let you have the kitchenette.” Bo turned back to his movie, mumbling, “Humans! Do them one little favor and they think you’ll make a habit of it.”

Ricky returned to his seat at the kitchenette table, wishing Maelstrom was a little more like the bands he was accustomed to managing. If they were human, not only would the game have been on the TV without him having to ask, but he wouldn’t have felt compelled to tour with them in the first place. It was only because they couldn’t be trusted that Ricky felt he had to monitor their every move.

With a sigh, he picked up his BlackBerry and started searching for a website from which to follow the game. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but he’d at least be able to keep up with the score. He was trying to get comfortable on the cushioned banquette when a shadow fell across the table.

“Hey, primate,” Bo said, striking a tough guy pose but refusing to meet his eyes. “I was up late and I’m going to get a little shut-eye. Remote’s on the sofa, if you want it.”

Ricky watched him walk toward his bunk, but knew better than to say a word. Whether this was incubus generosity or just a happy coincidence didn’t matter. He went to the lounge and found the remote resting next to a DVD of The Cheerleader Whores of Lecherous U. Was this Bo’s idea of a joke or was it his tacit way of saying he understood where Ricky was coming from?

Ricky set the DVD aside and started scrolling through the channels, looking for ESPN. Regardless of Bo’s motivations, there was no denying that sometimes he was a damn good sport.

Maelstrom Extra: Venue

Thursday, February 12, 2009 reviews (Comments): 4
Ricky stepped out of the Lexus and looked around the damp and reeking alleyway. Seeing that Kalila was still peering out the window, he went to the passenger side and opened the door.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” she said.

Ricky helped her out and led her toward a dented blue door. “You can't judge a place by the service entrance.”

Inside, the filthy concrete floor and flickering lights didn’t inspire confidence. They followed a series of hand-lettered paper signs through a confusing warren of rooms and corridors, arriving finally at a small office. Finding it locked, Ricky tried to peer through the grimy window.

“Let’s go,” Kalila said. “I can only imagine what kind of low-life rabble would come here.”

“But you haven’t even seen the club.” Ricky led her down another hall that took them to a dim backstage area disorderly with boxes, cables, electrical cords and empty beer bottles. He found an opening in the stage curtains and held the heavy black drapery aside so she could step through.

In contrast to the cramped disarray of the backstage area, the stage was clean and expansive, its wooden floor in good repair and the lights straightly hung. “It’s more than I would’ve expected, given what’s back there,” Kalila admitted. She walked to the front of the stage and looked out over the dance floor.

Ricky was watching her ponder the dark cavern of a club when he heard footsteps.

The man approaching him was tall and moved with the lanky gracelessness of a wounded giraffe, but the eyes beneath the shock of thick brown hair had a mischievous glint. He shook Ricky’s hand and made apologies for not having greeted them when they first arrived. “Don’t worry about a thing, though,” he said. “Everyone is excited to book you guys and you’ll get star treatment, or as close to it as we can manage.”

They spoke for several minutes, rehashing the terms of the agreement, but Ricky saw nothing new to be gained by the conversation. He had read the contract and was satisfied. It was up to Kalila to validate his efforts, but when he glanced her way, he couldn’t read anything in her face or the lines of her body that suggested what she was thinking.

The manager saw where he was looking and nodded slowly, as if piecing together several things that hadn't made sense before. “Let me talk to her.”

Ricky watched him cross the stage with his odd, loping gait. As he got nearer, the skeptical expression on Kalila’s face changed, and when he arrived at where she was standing, she greeted him enthusiastically.

Ricky waited, mystified, while they talked in low, conspiratorial tones. Finally he went to join them, but as he came within earshot, the manager looked at him and said, “I’d invite you into my office, but it’s kind of a mess. Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

“What was that about?” Ricky asked, watching him leave. “And what were you two talking about? Do you know him?”

Kalila shook her head sadly. “Oh, Ricky. All this time working for us and you still haven’t figured it out?”

“You’re impossible to figure out. Please just tell me what’s going on. Where did he go?”

“To re-print our contract.”

“But the terms were fine. Why do you insist on changing everything I try to do for you?”

“I don’t try to change everything, and besides, he insisted. The contract you saw was the one he gives to humans. I don’t know how I managed to miss it before, but what else would you expect at a place called Mondschein?”

Ricky didn’t understand and waited for her to continue.

“The manager is a werewolf.” Kalila looked around the dingy club, as excited as if it were Carnegie Hall. “Thanks for booking us here, Ricky. This is going to be one hell of a gig.”

Maelstrom Announcements

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 reviews (Comments)
It appears we have a winner for this ridiculous Win a Date with Bo contest. I have a feeling nothing good will come of this and I’ve retained a lawyer, just in case.

Things are a little crazy around here right now. Someone vandalized one of Nevin’s paintings and he suspects Vic, who denies it. I’m with Nevin, but it’s easier to buy him some new art supplies than to argue with a guy who has fangs and who stores blood bags in the studio fridge.

Since Nevin is in a funk, I haven’t asked him again about the scrapbook, so no progress there. And now I’m hearing that there’s a “first chapter” about us that’s going to get posted on this website in a couple of weeks. I have no idea what kind of lie it’s going to be this time, so I’ve told our webmaster that he’s not to allow anyone but me to post site content for awhile. That should put a stop to things.

And finally, Lazaro just handed me another one of his haiku travesties, saying I needed to put it on the website, or else.

Zombie Haiku: Lunch Delivery
Pizza for Ricky.
Delivery boy's brain for me.
Why so mad?

Yeah, Lazaro. Good thing I’ve got the lawyer on retainer. In fact, maybe I should call her right now.

Maelstrom Extra: Artistic Vision

Sunday, February 8, 2009 reviews (Comments): 5
Vic strode into the rehearsal room, then stopped and looked around. Empty. He considered for a moment, then went to check the smaller practice rooms. There was no one in the first, but in the second, he startled Nevin sitting at an easel, sweeping blue sky across textured paper with a sable brush. “What the hell are you doing, fairy?”

Nevin smiled. “I’ve been feeling tense lately and thought it would be nice to take up watercolors again. It’s been a long time, but…” he edged out of the way so Vic could see. “What do you think?”

Vic stalked up to the painting as if it might be dangerous. After examining it carefully, he pointed to a gray stone building in the scene. “You should put bats here. And make the sky darker.”

“But I don’t want bats in my painting. And it’s supposed to be daytime.”

“I guess that’s why it’s no good, then.” While Nevin sulked, Vic tapped on Kalila’s lamp and waited while she poured herself out in a cloud of blue smoke. “I thought we were supposed rehearse tonight,” Vic reminded her. “And look at what your useless fairy is doing.”

Kalila glanced at Nevin and shrugged. “If it makes him happy, who cares?”

Before she could say anything else, Bo walked in with Lazaro on his heels. Bo immediately noticed the painting and went to look over Nevin’s shoulder. After staring in silence for nearly a minute, he asked, “Why did you paint the humans with clothes?”

“Humans always wear clothes in public,” Nevin reminded him.

“And that’s one of the problems with them,” Bo said. “So what are you trying to do, be real to life or show how it can be better?”

“I don’t know that nudity would make my painting better. It’s a sunny day and they would get sunburn.”

“I told you to make it night,” Vic pointed out.

“See?” Bo clapped a friendly hand on Nevin’s shoulder. “We’re looking out for you, showing you how to be the best you can be.”

“But guys, I don’t know if darkness, bats, and naked humans are a true expression of my artistic vision.”

Lazaro shoved his way in front of Vic and Bo and stared at the painting. “Sucks,” he finally said. “It needs drums.”

Nevin threw down his brush in frustration. “Why are you being this way? I’m painting what has meaning to me.”

“Since when did sunshine have meaning?” Vic shuddered. “I never could understand you diurnal types.”

Kalila approached Nevin and held out her hand. “It’s not the end of the world that they don’t appreciate your kind of art,” she reminded him. “And they do like your music. Music is art, too, so let’s go rehearse.”

She coaxed him to his feet and led him out of the room, with Bo and Lazaro trailing after. Vic remained behind, considering the painting once more. He picked up a brush, examined the tip, then selected a smaller one and dabbed it in some of the paint left on Nevin’s palette. Then, after a furtive glance over his shoulder, he leaned in close and added a bat.

He stepped back and was admiring his work when Bo poked his head in the room. “You coming, or what?”

“Huh? Oh, sure. I was just thinking maybe this wasn’t such a bad painting after all.”

Maelstrom Extra: Dinner and a Movie

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 reviews (Comments): 9
Ricky glanced at the time but said nothing as Nevin meandered into the room, late for the meeting, and perched on the edge of a plush chair. Bo flopped on the sofa and began flipping through his latest issue of Illicit Incubus magazine while Lazaro sat on the floor and tapped out a rhythm on the coffee table. Kalila came in last and paused to examine the papers in Ricky’s hands. Seeing that the top page was full of numbers, she sighed in disappointment and pulled up a chair. “I don’t know why you insist on showing us our budget,” she said. “In spite of the economy, our investments are doing fine.”

“That’s no excuse for poor fiscal management,” he informed her. Ricky looked around. “Where’s Vic?”

“He’s on a date,” Nevin said.

“Since when did vampires go on dates?”

Bo looked up from his magazine. “That’s what I said. Food is food, so why waste time?”

“This one’s special, though,” Nevin reminded him. “She’s a phlebotomist.”

Ricky paused to think. “You mean one of those people that draws blood?”

Kalila nodded. “He figured they had something in common, so it might be worthwhile to get to know her.”

“And then bite her,” Ricky added. “Nice. I suppose they have a common occupation, but I have a bad feeling about this.”

Lazaro quit drumming on the table. “You say that about everything we do.”

“It’s true,” Kalila said. “You’re very tedious that way. Now are we having a meeting, or not?”

Ricky handed out copies of the previous month’s expense summary. Nevin frowned in bewilderment, Lazaro shredded his, Bo crumpled his copy and threw it across the room, and Kalila, after examining the paper as if it were toxic, burned it to ashes in her hands.

Undeterred, Ricky handed out information about the status of their charitable endeavor to save the wolves. Kalila read the report carefully while Nevin asked if the wolves had names. Bo wanted to know if they were breeding, and Lazaro’s only concern was if the wolves had gotten any smarter. Ricky answered their questions as best he could, then handed out information about upcoming gigs. This garnered nearly an hour of discussion and argument, and at the end of it, Ricky was more than happy to skip some of the other issues he had wanted to bring up and let the band rehearse.

He was still in the lounge, checking his email on his BlackBerry and debating which of his smaller acts to go see tonight, when Vic strolled in. “You missed the meeting,” Ricky informed him. “How’d the date go?”

Vic gave a noncommittal twitch of his shoulders. “Type B-negative. Not my favorite, but I’ve had mostly As lately, so it was a nice change.”

“I see. And did you have a lot to talk about?”

Vic sat down. “Not really. It turned out she wasn’t into discussing her work, and when she did, it was all about needles and lab tests and no mention of the blood at all.”

“So…I guess that means you’re incompatible?”

“Well, she did end up having something I wanted.” Vic fumbled in his pocket. “Check it out.”

Ricky looked at the card and key in silent incomprehension.

“She works at the blood bank,” Vic said, a slow smile creeping across his face. “And now I’ve got access.”

“You’ve got some nerve, you know that? It’s going to be big trouble if you get yourself arrested.”

Vic stood up and dropped the items back in his pocket. “You worry too much, human. It’ll be great not having to break in. Just like a cafeteria.”

“So does this mean you won’t need to go on any more dates?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Vic gave him a sly look as he headed toward the door. “Sometimes it's worth your while to take your dinner to a movie.”

Maelstrom Extra: Sleepless Creature of the Night

Sunday, February 1, 2009 reviews (Comments): 4
At first Vic thought the problem might be his coffin. It was old and the upholstery was getting threadbare. So he bought a new one. It didn’t help. Then he thought maybe it was the room he was sleeping in, so he broke into a mausoleum and tried to take a nap there. The cold stone and presence of other dead was comforting, but the problem persisted. This wasn’t the solution he was looking for.

Frustrated and in need of new ideas, he went to Ricky’s apartment and knocked on the door. “What do humans do when they can’t sleep?”

Ricky blinked. “Hello to you too, I guess. I didn’t know vampires could get insomnia.”

“There’s a lot you don’t know, primate. Just answer the question.”

Ricky motioned for him to come inside. “There’s a lot of things humans do, but I don’t know how much they'll help you.”

“Try me.”

“Warm milk.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“Exercise until you’re tired.”

“Vampires don’t jog.”


“You mean sit around and say ‘Om’ over and over?” Vic paced the room in agitation. “You’re right. You have no good ideas at all.”

Ricky went to a bookcase and selected a heavy paperback. “Reading this worked for me in college.”

Vic took the book and frowned. “The Republic?”

“I nearly failed Philosophy, that’s how boring it was.”

Vic tossed the book onto the sofa. “Forget it. I’m sorry I came here.”

“What did you expect? Humans usually just deal with it. If it gets too bad, they go the doctor and get some pills.”

This was more like it. “What kind of pills?”

“I doubt they’d work for you.”

“Tell me what they're called, anyway.”

Vic listened while Ricky rattled off the names of a few common sleep aids, then thanked him for his time and left.

Later that night he broke into a pharmacy, bypassed the computer password, and got a list of addresses. Just before dawn he peeked in the window of a peaceful suburban ranch house. The young woman lay asleep, the bottle of Ambien on the nightstand beside her.

Vic smiled with anticipation and shoved open the window. What did humans know? A big, sleep-inducing meal was all he really needed. He jumped into the room and stood looking down at his salvation, savoring the moment. “Warm milk and Plato’s Republic, my ass.”