Sample Sunday: Kissed by Darkness Chapter 3b

Coming end of June 2011

Another chunk from my upcoming urban fantasy novel, Kissed by Darkness. If you’ve missed my previous Sample Sunday postings, you can find them here:

Kissed by Darkness
Chapter 3 (b)

I was up to my armpits in dirt. Digging was hot, dirty work, plastering strands of long, dark hair to stubbled cheeks. I swiped a forearm across a sweaty brow. Two of my fellow knights worked beside me, their dark eyes gleaming with excitement in the torchlight.

We were all convinced there was something under the Temple, something of great value. Some said it was the Arc of the Covenant. Others, whispered rumors it was the lost writings of Mary Magdalene. Whatever it was, if we could find it, it would change everything and bestow on our Order power greater than that of kings and even the Church.

My shovel went through the floor, chunks of dirt falling through to another level below. There was a cavern under there. I gave a shout to my brother knights and we all began digging furiously. “Bring a light!” Torches were brought and the three of us clambered down into the cavern below.

It was a small, naturally formed cave. The walls were painted with brightly colored murals depicting, at a brief glance, a terrible battle. The cavern was otherwise completely empty except for two corpses in the middle of the room.

I cautiously approached the bodies, followed by my fellows. The two bodies lay sprawled across the floor, one cradling the other like a child. One was nothing but bones, ancient beyond belief, and dressed in some sort of armor. The other…

The other looked as though he’d died just hours ago. His body was perfect, though his clothes were rotted nearly to dust, and he cradled the bones of the dead warrior like a child. In his hands he clutched an amulet. It appeared to be made of gold, but dulled by age and dust. One of the others leaned down to pick it up. Some part of my brain screamed at me.

“No, stop!”

It was too late. The corpse became horribly and suddenly alive, fangs I hadn’t noticed before sinking deep into my brother knight’s neck. The living corpse dropped the nearly dead knight and grabbed the next, rearing back to strike again.The screams were hideous and chilled me to the marrow.

I ran for the ladder leading up to the entrance to the cavern and my sword, left behind during the digging, but it was too late. I felt the fangs enter my neck like needles of red fire, the blood draining from my body as surely as my life drained away. Strangely, at the same time my life left my veins, I felt something enter and begin growing inside me, a living thing.

As panic surged through me, I tried again for the cavern entrance, but my body had no strength. I slumped to the floor and the world went black.

***

I sat bolt upright in bed, fighting with the duvet which had managed to wrap itself around my legs. Shit, shit, shit. I glared blearily at the clock. 4 am. Way too early.

I flopped back down on my pillow and touched my neck with the tips of my fingers. Smooth skin. No blood. Gods, it had felt so real.

It was like reliving my own attack. Except that’s not how it happened. I hadn’t been digging in an underground tunnel by torchlight. There hadn’t been two corpses, only the one vampire. And I’d never held a sword in my life. I certainly wasn’t male. Or a knight.

I rubbed my nose. This was way too weird. Just a dream, that’s all. A really weird dream. I shut my eyes and willed myself back to sleep. It was a long time coming.

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