Please join me in welcoming Stefan Petrucha here today to Dark Faerie Tales for another unique Spooky Legends tale. Stefan’s most recent release is Blood Prophecy.
You can read an excerpt from Blood Prophecy here. Stefan is here to tell us all about Jeremiah Fall’s take on the Jersey Devil urban legend. You also have a chance to win a copy of BLOOD PROPHECY. As always, details are listed below.
**Visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Spooky Legends Guest blog with Jessica Anderson and a chance to win DEMONKEEPERS & BLOOD SPELLS**
Born in the Bronx, Stefan Petrucha spent his formative years moving between the big city and the suburbs, both of which made him prefer escapism.
A fan of comic books, science fiction and horror since learning to read, in high school and college he added a love for all sorts of literary work, eventually learning that the very best fiction always brings you back to reality, so, really, there’s no way out.
An obsessive compulsion to create his own stories began at age ten and has since taken many forms, including novels, comics and video productions. At times, the need to pay the bills made him a tech writer, an educational writer, a public relations writer and an editor for trade journals, but fiction, in all its forms, has always been his passion. Every year he’s made a living at that, he counts a lucky one. Fortunately, there’ve been many.
October 31, 1735
A Puritan, Jeremiah Fall knew they believed that anything beyond their understanding had to belong to the Devil. The Algonquin he’d fought alongside during the King Phillips war also warned about her, but he couldn’t ignore the rumors of her powers, the possibility she could end his curse, or at least explain why the sun burned him, why he shared his soul with an endless ache for blood.
In this case, they were right. He realized that the moment the thing inside Mother Leeds pressed so tightly against her belly the contours of its shape were revealed.
Kill her, the beast in Jeremiah begged. It’d never begged before.
“Don’t be afraid,” Mother said, eyes black in the dark of her straw bed. “It’s only my son, coming to greet us.”
Used to causing fear, Jeremiah barely recognized it in himself. It was a rare person who didn’t recoil from him. A fortnight ago, when he appeared among her animal bones, tinctures and foul-smelling powders, he expected at least to startle her. Instead, she seemed to be expecting him.
“I can end it for you,” she’d whispered. “In exchange for bringing certain flowers that can lessen my birthing pains. The Pine Barrens’ soil is sandy and acidic, tough on settler’s crops, but allowing different things to grow. It’s why I’m here.”
He’d done as she asked. Returning in the midst of a harsh storm, he watched her crush and boil the petals, then drink the foul, steaming liquid. Wordless, she lay down. In minutes, her muscles clenched and her abdomen roiled liked the sea.
Kill her. Kill it, the beast whined. As he watched he body spasm, wespite his vow not to feed on a human, Jeremiah, no longer sure she was human, had to think twice.
“God made man? Ha!” Mother cried. “I’ve made twelve. So what if I want to try something else for a change?”
After a single, unearthly scream, unlike any he’d heard on a battlefield, the thing burst from her. Its oblong form so gangly, it rolled from the straw to the dirt floor.
“I made the head smaller, so it wouldn’t hurt as much,” Mother said with a grin.
Nostrils flared on the snout, sucking in its first rattling breaths. The hands were clawed, the feet cloven. At first he thought the thin flaps on its arms were afterbirth, but it had shed the sack. These were wings. It looked as if it had tumbled out of a page in his grandfather’s Geneva Bible, from a passage describing Hell.
“Devil,” Jermiah hissed.
Mother’s eyes flared. Rivulets of rust-colored sweat flowed down her cheeks. “You don’t know what you are, but you dare name my son?”
Please kill them. Now, his beast whispered.
Mother spat. “I know what’s in you, Fall, all snug against your pretty soul and I know what it’s telling you. You’re the monster. You’re dead.” She nodded at the newborn. “He’s alive. He can end your suffering, if you let him feed. Isn’t that what you wanted? Child, see the meal I’ve brought!”
The eyelids flickered, the horse-head turned. Jeremiah was inhumanly fast, but hadn’t expected its first leap to carry it across the length of the cabin.
Wet wings slapped his cheeks. Claws raked his face. Tiny teeth champed at his flesh.
Now will you kill it? the beast asked.
“If I can,” Jeremiah said. “If I can.”
Unable to rip it off, he forced himself into the wall. It squealed but held, tearing deeper into his skin. He rushed about, smashed into more walls, crashing into the floor, but it wouldn’t let go. As he struggled, it occurred to him the thing could actually destroy him. And might that not be better than remaining as he was?
No! the beast said. And when Jeremiah saw its tongue lap his blood, felt its form grow flush from feeding, he worried that even if he did die, something worse would take his place.
Feeling the heat of a hearth fire, Jeremiah rolled into it. Fire caused him agony. He only hoped it would do the same to the creature.
Its squeals grew louder. It tried to pull away, but Jeremiah held on for long seconds, until the pain forced him to let go. It was only when he had trouble standing that he realized half his face and side had been shredded.
As for the creature, it jumped and flew helter skelter about the room, wings aflame. Mother Leeds screamed from her bed for it to calm down.
You’re too weak. Run.
Weak, numb, Jeremiah threw himself through the sole window, into the violent storm. He raced into the forest, turning back to see the creature clamber out behind him. The driving rain hissed against its wings, dousing the flames. With a horrid cry it made an impossibly high leap, catching a foul wind that carried it out of sight.
Jeremiah collapsed among the pines, let his undead form vanish. Was it looking for him, or had it already had its full of his blood? He didn’t know. He did know that it took three times as long for the wounds caused by the creature to heal.
He wasn’t anxious to face it again, the beast warned against it, but, as soon as he was able, he hunted for it all the same. Search the Pine Barrens as he might, sharp as his senses were, and despite the trail of strange attacks and livestock killings, Jeremiah Fall could never find the cabin, or the creature, again.
When he asked after Mother Leeds, the good people shook their heads and told him no such woman had ever existed. If she had, the devil had taken her.
And why would he want to know such a thing, anyway?
Jeremiah Fall is © 2010 Stefan Petrucha
Synopsis (Product Description):
His name is Jeremiah Fall. A soldier of fortune, he has been fighting his own war for 150 years–ever since the beast in him was born.
Desperate to restore his lost humanity, Fall crosses the sands of Egypt, discovers a lost city off the coast of France, and finally arrives at the birthplace of all mankind. Shunning daylight and feeding only when he must, he battles the monster who transformed him forever. He can share his deepest secret with no one . . . not even the beautiful woman he starts to love, the only human who grasps the mysteries of an ebony stone as old as creation itself.
Across the world, across time, Fall seeks the stone’s secret. But has he found a cure for himself or unleashed a final curse on all mankind?
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