Endless Ages excerpt 3: Family Photo

Vampire: The Masquerade

This Halloween we’re celebrating Vampire: The Masquerade’s 25th anniversary with the Endless Ages fiction anthology, with stories covering every era from Vampire’s 1st Edition through to the 20th Anniversary Edition.

We continue our journey with a preview of “Family Photo” from author Matthew Dawkins:

Vampire The Masquerade 1st edition

My story “Family Photo” portrays the vampire as a desperate monster. The protagonist is torn between a self-loathing driven desire for destruction, and the unstoppable need to insinuate into innocent mortals’ lives. She wants everything she lost with undeath, and some of the things she never had in life. “Family Photo” explores the idea of undeath as a second chance, and the cycle of inevitable tragedy vampires perpetuate. The story is firmly entrenched in the idea of Vampire as a setting of personal horror, though windows into the wider World of Darkness appear throughout the text.

v20-endless-ages-anthology

Blot. Blot. Blot.

She thought the onomatopoeic word over in her mind as burgundy tears ran rivulets down her cheeks and stained the curled photo in her left hand. It was as if her tears targeted the faces of the smiling family members looking up. Four-year-old son with his favorite Action Bill in hand; precocious 13-year old daughter looking indignant about being there; proud — smug, even — father and husband, middle-aged, arms around both children, looking every bit the loving dad.

Fucker. Bastard. Charlatan. Counterfeit. Knave.

The paralyzing breeze nearly stole the photo from her hand, forcing her to clutch it tighter. With the sleeve on her right arm she cleared her eyes to see a little better. So very high up here, atop a skyscraper, standing on the edge, looking down the vertiginous drop — only a creased and bloody family photo between her and a fall to her death. Her likely death. She wasn’t sure the drop would kill her immediately.

The wind picked up. This time it was victorious against her cool finger­tips, gaining more purchase on the soiled photograph than her own grip could manage. Her head twisted abruptly to face westward as the snapshot, caught on a squall, flew free in the direction of the sunset.

Appropriate. Fly safe, children, man, family. You’ll not be alone long. It’s a promise. All of you..

Tentatively, she stepped one foot forward, dangling it over the 200ft drop. Her eyelids eased shut, and despite no necessity for breath, she forced her chest to inhale and express to compel some calm into her form.

Just one more step. One more. Or a stiff breeze. Come on. You can do this. End it. Please. Just drop. Nobody cares. Nobody will notice. You’ll be ash on the road before anyone even realizes it’s you.

But no. This is D.C. The buildings aren’t tall enough. They’ve never been tall enough for a good drop. Damn this building. Any other city and you could have finished this. It’s the city at fault. Step back. That’s it. You’re safe now. Stop beating yourself up. You lost them. Stop being so pathetic.

You can get them back.

She opened her gummy eyes, to observe she was several yards back from the precipice. She hadn’t actively worked her legs, but somehow they’d pushed her back to safety while her willpower wrestled itself into submission. Tentatively stepping back to the fire escape, she picked up the shoes she’d kicked off by the staircase and slipped them back on, straightening her blouse and coat with a moan. She could feel the bones of her ribs and collar emerg­ing through her musculature — her skeleton come to greet her. Such was her curse as a vampire; the appearance of the corpse.

A hunger stirred in her stomach.

Or perhaps it’s in your heart.

It was time to move on, get a grip, master this turmoil.

Caitiff ankh

The Endless Ages Anthology is now available from DriveThruFiction!

  2 comments for “Endless Ages excerpt 3: Family Photo

  1. Unsilent Majority
    October 26, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I’m buying this because of the Action Bill reference.

    Take note, OP.

    : )

    • Matthew Dawkins
      October 26, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Avalon Inc. (a subsidiary of Pentex) appreciates your support!

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