Thursday, 30 September 2010

Excerpt Day - Not Seeing Is Believing © T.A. Chase

Excerpt

 

Seeing is believing. What an ingenuous statement. Really. So many people don’t believe in something until they’re given proof, like a photograph or an encounter all of their own to talk about. Yet what about beings like me who couldn’t see? How do I believe in something when I can’t see? You’re smiling, but I tell you, it’s difficult to take someone at their word when they tell such fantastic tales.

 

Of course, it helps that I’m a vampire. Yes, I’m one of those unreal creatures created in the minds of ignorant peasants or authors with wild imaginations. Yet, I exist and so do many other imaginary creatures that go bump in the night. Most of us find it easier to blend in and mingle with humans who aren’t sure if they want to know we exist or would rather just ignore our existence all together.

 

The sun is setting and I have a date. Anthony, the mysterious man who lives next door to me finally worked up the nerve to ask me out and I eagerly said yes. I’ve been dateless since I arrived in Strange Hollow. Dating a blind person, or vampire, takes more patience than most people are willing to put out.

 

Angelica nudges my hand with her nose and warns me about whining. Laughing, I pat her head and stand, grabbing a hold of the leash she suffers to wear for me. “Am I dressed properly?”

 

She woofs softly. Yes.

Good, I hate when she lets me leave my house looking like a slob. Believe me, there have been days when she has. My Seeing Eye dog has a vicious sense of humor at times.

 

A hard nip to my thigh and I am reminded that Angelica isn’t an ordinary Seeing Eye dog. Large and muscular, she defies all attempts at guessing what breed she might be. No one believes me when I tell them the truth. Angelica is a breed unto herself. Another bump from her and I realize she’s listening to me. “You really shouldn’t read my mind, dear.”

 

After tucking my keys and wallet in my pocket, I slip on a pair of sunglasses. You might wonder why I would need sunglasses at night. Well, my attackers removed my eyeballs with spoons, leaving me with empty sockets. I’ve been told it’s not a particularly attractive look. So to spare others, I cover them up.

 

I reach out, searching for the doorknob, and grin when my hand wraps around it at the first try. The cool metal turns in my fingers, allowing me exit from my home and entrance into the rather chilly autumn evening.

 

Why shouldn’t I read your mind?

I can feel her ruffling through my mind, trying to find some disparaging thought about her. Those I tuck as deep inside my brain as I can because if she feels insulted she isn’t above abandoning me on my front porch and letting me find my own way around. On those nights, I turn around and head back inside, calling Rufus, my werewolf friend, and inviting him over for pizza.

 

What kind of dog is Angelica? She is a hell hound, released from Below to escort me around town. Though I think she’s being punished for something she did since no self-respecting hound would want to lead a blind vampire around in the human world.

 

I’m not being punished for anything. I chose to come up here and help you out.

“Stop being indignant, Angelica. I’m glad to hear that being with me is your choice. You are a rather determined lady. I’m sure there are many down there who wouldn’t argue with you.”

 

I leave the door unlocked. Strange Hollow isn’t the type of town where crime happens. I’m in no danger of being staked in my bed or robbed on the street. Rules and laws are strict here, but not to the point of chaining any of us down.

 

Strolling down to the sidewalk, I breathe in the brisk earthy scent of the evening. Rufus has tried to explain what autumn looks like to me. Unfortunately, his isn’t an imaginative brain, and at times I am more confused than normal about what the world around me looks like.

 

I’ve lived on this earth for four centuries, having celebrated my birth in the year 1610 and embraced my undead life in the year 1639. My eyesight was taken from me only two short years after I became a vampire. None of my makers warned me about the dangers of silver or superstitious villagers.

 

It was a combination of both that conspired to steal my eyesight. I’m sure they hoped it would kill me, but being ignorant of vampire physiology, they had no way of knowing I would heal for the most part as soon as I fed. The damage to my eyes remained permanent. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t feed soon enough after the attack or simply because they attacked me with silver. Either one condemned me to a life without sight, and slowly, over the years, I have forgotten what colors looked like.

 

Angelica jerks my entire body and I flail, trying to regain my balance. Strong arms catch me, holding me tight to a hard chest until I get my feet back under me. I breathe in and smile. The odd combination of wood smoke and cinnamon tell me the identity of my rescuer.

 

“Good evening, Anthony.” I glance in the direction of his eyes, never sure if I actually make contact or if I end up looking slightly crazed.

 

“Hello, Barry.”

 

Anthony’s voice holds a slight accent and I shiver. I step away from him, hoping he thinks the shiver came from the cool air, not the attraction skating down my spine. “Anthony,” I repeat, sounding like an idiot, but trying to think while the brain function I had drained from my head to my groin.

 

Angelica bumps me and I trip into Anthony’s personal space again. Silly dog, I mutter silently to her. Her teeth grip my hand in teasing pressure, drawing a sigh from me. I’m sorry. She doesn’t like it when I call her a dog.

 

He slips his arm around my waist, my heart races at the contact. The warmth from his body soaks through my clothes. I’ve never gotten used to how cold I can get at times, but I guess when you don’t have blood running through your veins, you don’t need to be warm.

 

“I’m glad you asked me out,” I blurt out, apparently losing control of my tongue.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to judge Anthony’s mood, especially since I can’t see his expressions. I must rely on the tone of his voice, and like most people, Anthony is adept at disguising his emotions.

 

A hot, moist puff of air crosses my temple as Anthony sighs. “So am I, though it took me long enough to work up the nerve, didn’t it?”

 

I place my hand on his lower arm, arranging my scarred face into a pleading look as I raise my head toward him. “But you asked, and ultimately that is all that matters. I’m a vampire. Time doesn’t mean much to me.”

 

With a swift tug and twist, Angelica jerks her leash from my hand and bounds away. I lower my head, hiding my smile as I listen to her footsteps dash down the sidewalk.

 

“She did that on purpose, didn’t she?” Anthony’s voice held a smile.

 

“Yes, I do believe she did.” I smile, shaking my head at the thought of my hell hound playing matchmaker.

 

“I guess I should see her desertion as a good thing, considering how protective she is of you.”

 

I chuckle at his exaggerated shudder. “She does tend to overdo it at times.”

 

“She knows what a treasure she has in you,” Anthony murmured, not realizing, I’m sure, how acute my hearing has become over the centuries.

 

I want to thank him, but don’t want to embarrass him, so I allow his comment to pass without remarking on it. He cradles my hand in the crook of his elbow and we wander down toward the center of town. Our shoulders bump. Our hips rub and my pulse goes up. Anthony covers my hand and squeezes. I lean my head on his shoulder.

 

“I admit I don’t have any particular plans for our date. I wanted to spend time with you. Would you like to walk to the park? We don’t need to go anywhere special. I just like getting out of my house,” Anthony confesses.

 

“Sounds perfect to me.”

 

As we walk toward the park, I hear footsteps coming at us. What makes those steps so interesting to me is how the instant the walker spots us, the steps move quickly in the other direction. I find it odd along with the rising tension in Anthony each time it happens.

 

I have never asked Anthony why he lives in Strange Hollow. Not because I’m not curious, but I believe in privacy. Every person here has the right to not reveal why they choose to live in this town.

 

Only one person knows and that is Jacinda, the town’s founder. She meets each newcomer personally to explain the rules. I’ve often thought it must be a heavy burden to bear, knowing why a person needs sanctuary.

 

“Here’s a bench.” Anthony speaks for the first time since we decided to go to the park. Stress clips his words.

 

We sit and I snuggle as close to Anthony as he’ll allow me without sitting on his lap. He wraps his arm around my shoulder. An unfamiliar sense of contentment fills me. I often feel that way when near Anthony, which is why I said yes when he asked me out. Our easy friendship has the promise to become more.

 

A young woman strolls closer. I can tell her sex and age by the speed of her stride and the click of her heels. She gasps when she draws near and scurries away.

 

Frowning, I ask, “Do you think she never saw two men sitting on a bench together?”

 

“I don’t think it was us as a couple that upset her.” Anthony’s arm tightens around me.

 

Even with my glasses on, my scars spider web away from my eyes. My attackers hadn’t been gentle or caring about how I would look if they didn’t succeed. The scars aren’t ugly, or so I’d been told, but whatever coating had been used on the silver spoons that gouged out my eyes left behind bits of phosphorous. They tend to glow under the right conditions. I had been so overjoyed to hear that when my doctor explained it to me. One more reason to be branded a freak.

 

“No.” Anthony clasps my hand and trails the fingers of his free hand over my face. “Your scars are beautiful.”

 

I snort. “You don’t have to sweet-talk me, Anthony. I already like you.”

 

“Barry, what are you doing here?” Squeaky, one of my friends, interrupts us.

 

“Anthony and I are on a date. Don’t you have a wheel to turn or something?”

 

Squeaky is a hamster shifter, and while I’ve never inquired as to why he lives in Strange Hollow, I have a feeling it’s because of Squeaky’s size. He’s rather large for a hamster. Of course, his real name was Herbert, but Rufus nicknamed him Squeaky when he arrived at the shifter’s house to find him running on a wheel. And everyone knows how squeaky hamster wheels are.

 

“No offense, Anthony, but do you think it’s a good idea to be out with him, Barry?”

 

“Oh, for God’s sake, Squeaky, I’ve been friends with him for over a year now. Why this concern all of a sudden?” Anthony starts to move away, but I entwine our fingers and won’t let go.

 

“Ummm ... well...” Squeaky hesitates.

 

“It’s the first time any of them have really seen me. I’ve rarely left my house, except to visit with you, and when I do go into town, I usually wear a trench coat and a hat.”

 

I laugh. “Are you a flasher? Is that why people run from us?” Squeaky tries to say something and I hush him. “I’ll be fine. I’ll even meet you at Maude’s tomorrow evening to prove it.” I flap a hand in Squeaky’s direction. “Now go away.”

 

A loud exhale informs me that Squeaky isn’t happy about being dismissed, but I don’t care. It’s time to find out more about Anthony, the mysterious man I lust after. I listen as Squeaky shuffles off.

 

© T.A. Chase

 

Not Seeing Is Believing

Author: T.A. Chase

Punlisher: Samhain Publishing

Genre: GLBT

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Living in Strange Hollow, a blind vampire like Barry can have a normal life ... or as normal as a blind vampire can have. He has friends and his Seeing Eye dog, Angelica. But when he accepts a date with Anthony, his mysterious next-door neighbor, he realizes just what he’s been missing. Love.

Yet when Anthony reveals the reason he’s made Strange Hollow his home, Barry has to question whether Anthony’s interested in him because of his personality, or because of his blindness.

Sometimes the statement “love is blind” can be the most freeing words of all.

 

2 Speak To Me:

Chris on 30 September 2010 at 14:12 said...

Aw, look, it's Shy Guy in the background!

Lily on 1 October 2010 at 01:39 said...

Interesting...