*Visit Tynga’s Reviews today for her The Devil at the Crossroads Fantastic Fable from Jenn Bennett & a chance to win KINDLING THE MOON & a special giveaway of THE VAMPIRE NEXT DOOR from Ashlyn Chase**
Welcome to the very first original tale for our Fantastic Fables event! Our first Warped Fairy Tale Scene is a take on Snow White’s Huntsman fable and based on BLOODLANDS (available now from Ace Books), the first book in a new urban fantasy series by Christine Cody. BLOODLANDS is followed by BLOOD RULES (available August 30th) and IN BLOOD WE TRUST (available September 27th). Thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin/Ace Books, two of you who comment on this post will win a copy of the book! Christine is also giving away a signed set of all 6 Vampire Babylon books. See details below
Mariah Lyander is one of several settlers who have made underground homes in the New Badlands, a place that allows folks to hide from a world gone terrible outside. Her father is deceased, but she lives in a domain with her Intel dog Chaplin while they remain separated from the other settlers in her community. To find out more about check out Bloodlands, or you can follow Christine Cody on Twitter or Facebook.
I dreamed of trees all round me, grasping through the dim light of dusk, just like they intended to snatch me up with the gnarled fingers of their branches. They scratched at my face like claws, tore at my loose shirt and laced-up pants until I had to fight to get free.
Even in this dream, where there were so many more trees and where the ground wasn’t desert sand baked under the New Badlands heat and gray skies, I was desperate to get back inside. There were bad guys and bad things here, too.
I heard one of those bad things behind me now. Heavy, running footsteps. Heavy breathing as he chased me down.
I couldn’t do anything I might usually do to protect myself in reality. I couldn’t even scream because the sound stuck in my throat.
Out in the Badlands, my stalker might’ve been a carrion-eating shade tracking me, circling in the sky, waiting for me to die so it could attack after I’d perished. It could’ve been one of the awful creatures that roamed at night, pouncing on anything that moved for food or because of protective instinct. But I knew who was hunting me in this dream, and he was getting close.
Below me, my stalker appeared, a blur that suddenly stopped and coalesced into solid form.
What the hell?
I thought I’d known who he was when I’d sensed that there was a death sentence on my head at the fuzzy beginning of my dream. A huntsman.
But what was he?
As he paused beneath the tree, scanning the area, there was a stillness to him. An eerie silence, telling me that he’d hunted hundreds of times before—and it wasn’t just young girls he’d gone after. The red of his eyes reminded me of blood as his hair stirred in a breeze and his long gunslinger coat flapped at his sides. His arms were bent, as if he was ready to draw a weapon, although I didn’t see the hint of one anywhere.
I held my breath, hoping he wouldn’t know I was right above him.
He cocked his head, as if he could hear my very heartbeat.
With pulse-throttling slowness, his gaze turned up, to where I embraced that branch.
Red eyes and…
God-all, fangs. The huntsman had fangs.
My body temperature rose to a dangerous hotness, and I felt my blood simmering. Panic. Utter fear.
Then the dream allowed me to remember that I had something in my boot. An ancient Bowie knife, from well before the earth had gone to crap. Before the mosquito epidemic wiped out so much of the population. Before the West Coast had been decimated because of terrorist bombings and before the weather had gone topsy-turvy. My father had collected all sorts of old weapons from the remains of the New Badlands, and thanks to my dream, I’d wished one into existence now.
The huntsman crouched as I slid my hand down my leg. I couldn’t look away from those red eyes, even if I felt as if his gaze was somehow invading my head.
It was as if a black wall slammed down in my brain, blocking him out, and he hesitated, just like he hadn’t anticipated my being able to do that. At the same time, I whipped the knife out of my boot, targeting his heart as I threw the blade, hoping there was enough silver in it to poison him.
With a sharp laugh, he dodged, and my knife stuck in the ground, shivering there.
My blood started to boil as he jumped at me, his fangs gleaming like blades that he could use to dig out my heart for a wicked queen. On the edge of hysteria, I screamed—a warped, terrible sound—and caught him by the throat with my fear-curled hand.
We both went down…down…
I felt the crash jar my body—it woke me up from sleep. I clutched at my chest, where my heart was pounding. My blood was still screaming through me, my skin on fire, as I breathed, breathed, cooling down, praying for some peace.
I don’t know how long it was afterward, but I eventually stumbled out of my quarters, past my dog Chaplin’s sleeping blankets in the rock-walled main underground area of my domain, and toward the visz monitor bank. Screens flashed with views from outside, which waited in desolate starkness.
I went to Chaplin, bending down until I was curled next to him, then burying my face in his brown fur. He snuggled his nose against my neck, assuring me I was safe. That I wouldn’t have to go outside in reality and run to or from anything.
It was only much later, after Gabriel brought hell to the New Badlands, that I recalled this dream…and that I should’ve known all along a vampire was coming.
Chris Marie Green/Christine Cody has also written the Vampire Babylon series for Ace, which is best described as “noir fantasy-mysteries” featuring a vamp hunter. She used to be an eighth-grade teacher, but she became a full-time author who will have published over forty books under these names as well as the pseudonym Crystal Green.
Want to read more from Chris Marie Green?
This giveaway is provided by Penguin/Ace Books
Two winners will each receive a copy of Bloodlands by Christine Cody
Christine is also giving away a signed set of all 6 Vampire Babylon books.
Available on July 26, 2011 from Penguin/Ace Books
About the Book:
The New Badlands—a desolate area in the West forged by the terrible events that altered the entire country, where a few frightened citizens retreated underground to shelter from the brutal weather . . . and from a society gone deadly dangerous.
Then the vampire arrived—and they started calling it the Bloodlands.
Not because Gabriel, the so-called monster running from his true self, was searching for his lover’s murderer. Nor because Mariah, the woman who reluctantly took him in, was willing to do anything to survive in the changed world.
No, the Badlands officially became the Bloodlands the moment a gun-for-hire who’d decided to slay every monster left in the country came after Gabriel . . .
Click HERE to read an excerpt
1. Leave a comment for Christine, let us know what you think of this fable, book or series.
2. +1 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).
3. Giveaway is open to U.S. only.
4. Please include your email address in your comment.
5. All Fantastic Fables winners will be announced on September 7th.
6. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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