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Monday, 11 February 2013

Harnessing by D.J. Manly

Angus has never known freedom. He was born into a world overtaken by aliens who drank the blood of humans. Only Doctor Often offered hope for survival, and every day a fascinated Angus would sneak into the caves to watch the brilliant man tinker in a laboratory with its menagerie of gadgets, glued-together test tubes, and frayed wires.

Then one day, Angus goes home only to discover both his mother and little brother missing. Alone, he returns to Doctor Often, who trains and mentors him. As time passes, Angus and the doctor build their underground community, rescuing humans while food sources dwindle for both aliens and humans alike. Meanwhile, they also work on a steam engine that will one day, hopefully, allow them to build a flying machine to fight their overseers in the sky. But even though steam is the necessity to their possible survival, it’s also in dreadfully short supply.

When a blood-drinker named Shylar surprisingly surrenders to Doctor Often and his followers, he says he can supply them with steam, claims he holds the key to defeating his own race, and will help them restore the world to the remaining humans. But can Angus and the doctor trust one of their world’s bloodthirsty captors, even if Angus has seen the compelling and alluring vampire in his dreams? Is Shylar leading them all into a deadly trap, or is the beautiful, mysterious alien their dark angel?

Genres: Gay/Steampunk/Dark Fantasy/Vampire 
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (18k words)

Read a short excerpt...

...I was startled for a minute, startled by its sheer beauty. Dark, luminous eyes, black hair, chiseled jaw. It was tall, well muscled, and around my age if I had to put one on it. But we knew they didn’t age the same way we did.

That face. I’d seen it before in a…

It smiled faintly and said, “Hello, Angus.”

“What do you want? How do you know my name? Why did you come here?”

“Which question should I answer first, Doctor Leader?”

“You’re a hybrid, aren’t you? That’s how you survived entrance.”

“I’m not a hybrid.”

“Well, you’re not human.”

“No, but I was born here on your planet.”

“I didn’t think you things could reproduce.”

“Not anymore,” it said. “I was the last, conceived on our home planet.”

“Your kind has no home. You’re nomads, scavengers.”

“No, we had a home once,” it said.

I thought I heard sadness in its voice. Impossible! These creatures didn’t have emotions. “You will perish here. You were a fool to surrender. I can’t imagine why. Is there insanity among blood drinkers?”

“Much.” It nodded with a dazed smile.

“You’re a liar. You can’t be one of them. You wouldn’t be here. We have taken great measures to secure the entrance against your kind.”

“But I’m not a believer. You have to believe for it to hurt you.”

“An atheist blood drinker?”

“You have nonbelievers among humans as well, don’t you?” Its body sagged against the wall again, struggling against the searing pain I knew the silver was causing it.

I was horrified at the thought. I moved closer. “My God. Are there more like you, non believers?” If there were, we were doomed.

It shook his head. “No. They all carry the old beliefs. I was born here…that’s what…” Its words were fading. “Blood, please,” it groaned. “The silver, it is draining…”

“Do you think I would let you feed off my people?”

“Not…people.” It was struggling. “Animals.”

“Vampires don’t drink from—”

“But…I don’t…believe.” Its head drooped. It had lost consciousness.

I left to get Dr. Often. He returned with me and examined it, then took a sample of blood from its arm. I reported what it had said to me.

Often listened carefully to my words.

“Is it possible?”

“If it came through consecrated ground, and is not a hybrid…” He nodded. “It asked for animal blood, you say?”


“Then let’s give it some. This is too intriguing. It’s possible it’s being sincere.”

“You really expect me to trust this thing!”

“It could help us, Angus. It could set us free.”

Panic had already set in. The news had spread. Our captive was a blood drainer. It took Dr. Often some time to calm everyone down. Meanwhile, Denise, who was responsible for keeping the rat population under control, drained several rodents and put the blood into a beaker. It was the only animal blood I was willing to provide.

I refused to feed it. Dr. Often actually held the tube to its mouth and urged it to drink. Sure enough, several minutes later, our captive lifted its head. It actually smiled. “How do you do, Dr. Often?”

I found that smile chilling...

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