By Mike Polis
Fantasy/Thriller, 415 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
In defiance of a centuries-old curse, the Heritage share a gift. The best of both worlds, they live among men, but away from prying eyes can shift to lupine form. Incredibly powerful, nearly impervious to injury, and with heightened senses, this community carefully, and often brutally, guards its secret, even if it means sacrificing friends and family.
Jack and Burt enforce the laws of Heritage Vermont, keeping the town safe from itself, and the world safe from the Heritage. The Heritage gift is a dual existence which, if abused, could potentially destroy everything in its path. When a few radicals decide the dark side of the gift should be embraced, Jack and Burt act to contain the uprising. While they do their best to put down the increasing numbers of transgressors, it is the few and least likely of people who may find a way to thwart the growing pandemic.
Joey Carter was feeling like a very lucky guy. Another Friday night at Dante’s, shooting pool with Buster and Del, just enough money for a few pitchers, and maybe a shot or two of bourbon.
A dive bar in a dive town, and the place was filling up with regulars who could easily be extras in Shaun of the Dead. When he had two wins and four mugs under his belt, in walked a beauty, with short blond hair, a tight little butt and gravity-defying knockers.
After ordering a beer, and bringing all the zombies to life (even the women were watching her in a predatory fashion), she made her way over to the boys’ corner and placed quarters on the rail above the coin slot. All three of them started in with gibberish, rattled by this unbelievable stroke of luck, but she wouldn’t tell them her name. She said she’d only give it to the one she left with. She said that would be whoever could beat her at eight-ball.
Buster went up first and broke. The six-ball dropped into the side, but he was so unnerved that he missed a duck, and she won easily her first time at bat. The girl had some skills.
Del went up next, but the girl ran the table.
Joey racked and chalked up as she broke. She miscued, but did break them, and Joey missed his first shot. She stepped up and took careful aim at her target. It was a tough rail shot, but the cue ball found the eight ball and sank it cleanly. “Oh, damn,” she whispered and winked at Joey.
Joey didn’t have a car, but she had her own VW bug, and let him drive. She wanted privacy.
“Anywhere up in the hills,” she told him, “where people can’t hear us fucking.”
Joey couldn’t believe it. She was all over him, and as they climbed the mountain roads, she was undressing. By the time they found a spot, she was naked and placing his hands on her. She got out of the car and stood in the headlights. He’d never seen anything so beautiful. He got out and moved toward her.
“My name is Grace.” She opened her arms, inviting him in, when the darkness came.
A Sweet Young Girl
Joey came back to the world slowly. His head pounded. The slightest movement sent waves of pain through his right arm. He thought it might be broken. His eyes wouldn’t open. He rubbed them with the fingers of his left hand. Whatever was holding his eyelids shut was sticky and gritty at the same time. They opened, but his vision was doubled and out of focus. When he moved his head, the pounding increased, and he felt that substance clinging to his neck as well. Another moment and his confusion cleared somewhat. It was dried blood. Only vague shapes and shadows could be made out there in the darkness of cloud-covered moonlight, and against his back, he felt what must be the rough bark of a tree. He tried to understand what had happened, and pieces of it came slowly back to him as he sat shivering and terrified in the Vermont October night.