A Hill Vampire Deleted Scene
Where this scene fits:
As you’ll recall, in Dark Wine at Death, the Sierra Escondida vampires were under a ban on individual travel. Because of the ongoing VDM attacks, vampires were required to travel in pairs or larger numbers. Henry, Rolf and their respective mates traveled to Santa Barbara for the Wine Expo. While in Santa Barbara, Ari showed Rolf a weapon designed by the Lux, and Henry and Rolf discussed playing video games together.
Fun and Games would have occurred right after they returned home from the Wine Expo, but before the silver poisoning attack. The scene hit the cutting room floor because it slowed the momentum too much at that point.
But it is lighthearted and fun, and I hope you enjoy it!
Fun and Games by Jenna Barwin
“Okay, now what do I do next?” Cerissa said into the headset. She lounged in one of the overstuffed chairs in Henry’s game room, looking at the huge monitor hung on the wall, the game controller in her hand.
Cerissa heard Karen’s voice in her ear. Karen played from home, interfaced through Rolf’s game system. Cerissa had spent Saturday with her bestie, hanging out by the pool. She returned home to shower and change, and since the guys wouldn’t be awake for another hour, Karen phoned and suggested they try one of the video games.
“Use the controller to move your character,” Karen continued, “just like I showed you earlier. It’s us against them. The goal is to kill as many vampires as you can.”
“And you’re sure the guys don’t mind?” Cerissa asked, still a bit unsure about this form of human play. After all, how might Henry feel if he knew she was pretending to kill vampires?
“Look, they play it. Let me tell you one of their deep, dark secrets. Rolf tells me he spends the early morning hours working after I go to bed. It’s bullshit. Sure, he may work some nights, but he and Henry have spent hours during the early morning playing this very game. Rolf also likes the military ones, no surprise there.” Rolf had been in the German army during World War II before being turned vampire. “But if you scroll down and check the players, you’ll find their screen names and the number of hours they’ve played.”
Cerissa followed Karen’s instructions. “You’ve got to be kidding! Did Henry really name himself Jiangshi? That’s priceless!”
Jiangshi is the closest Chinese word for vampire, which literally meant “stiff corpse.”
“I think he did it in honor of this sister, Méi” Karen said.
“Well, Jiangshi has logged over a thousand hours on the game. So I guess you’re right, Henry has played at killing vampires.”
“If you think Henry’s screen name is funny, Rolf’s is better. His character is Orlok. Can you believe it?”
“I don’t get it.”
“He got the name from a 1922 German silent movie that featured Count Orlok as a knock-off Count Dracula. Nosteratu. Rent it sometime, it’s still considered a classic. Now are we going to talk, or are we going to play?”
“I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” Cerissa replied.
“Just remember, the idea is to stay alive. If you have to, retreat.”
The game started in an urban environment, and Cerissa moved her character to tag after Karen’s, running through an alley. Vampires attacked from various sides. Using a stake-throwing crossbow, garlic and religious icons, she and Karen repelled attack after attack, and began racking up kill points.
She became so engrossed in the game, she didn’t realize the sun had set.
“So this is where you’ve been.” Henry’s voice startled Cerissa. He was standing at the door looking in at her, a mug in his hand.
She put the game on pause and muted the headset. “Karen’s been showing me the latest in multiplayer video games.”
“I can see that. I wondered why you were not in the kitchen to greet me.”
“I lost track of time.”
He glanced toward the screen. “You would pick a game that kills vampires as your first venture into the gaming arena?”
“It was Karen’s idea, but from the hours Jiangshi has played, you’re not a stranger to the game.”
“That is true. Rolf and I find it amusing.”
“Then why are you giving me a hard time?”
“It is one thing when we play, quite another when you and Karen do.”
“I’m not sure I see the difference. But since we’re already playing, why don’t you come in and join us.”
“It would not be fair. I have logged many more hours than you and am far superior at the game.”
“So you’re afraid we’ll win?”
Henry did not reply. Instead, he took out his cell phone. “Rolf? Have you found Karen yet? Yes, the women have discovered the video games. And they have laid down the gauntlet.” He paused. “Precisely. Shall we show them how the game is really played? Excellent.”
Henry got out a second controller and a headset. “What you may not know yet is that a player may choose to become a vampire in the game. Rolf and I will be playing against you and Karen, not with you as mortals.”
“Wait a minute. You didn’t tell me that before.”
“Perhaps you should have found out before issuing your challenge.” Henry reached over and released the pause button on Cerissa’s controller. Henry changed some other settings—he did it so fast, Cerissa wasn’t sure what he’d done, but apparently, the maneuver allowed Rolf and Henry to enter the game at the same location as Karen and her.
Guessing what was coming, Cerissa took her character out of the alley, dodging into a deserted warehouse, one littered with machinery, barrels and other objects they could hide behind. She slowly moved forward around the periphery of the warehouse, Karen with her.
“On your right!” her bestie yelled over the headset.
Cerissa saw it. A flash of an on-screen vampire moving at stealth speed. She didn’t know if it was Rolf or Henry and fired her cross-bow at the on-screen monster. The vampire raised a shield that deflected the stake-like arrow and then shot a net in her direction.
She hit two buttons, causing her character to dodge and roll behind a barrel.
“We have our own defenses and weapons, acquired over time as we built up kills,” Henry said without turning away from the battle.
“Spray garlic at it,” Karen’s voice came over the headset.
Cerissa hovered her finger over the button for liquid garlic. The vampire who pursued her was almost in range. She held her position and then fired. A stream of liquid garlic sprayed in the vampire’s direction. The vampire dodged to the right, and she followed, still firing. He dove for cover, and the spray hit the pile of wood he hid behind.
“Don’t use it all up,” Karen warned. “You only have a limited amount.”
Damn it. Being a new player, Cerissa only had a few weapons to choose from. The cross-bow was ineffective against the shield, so she strung it across her shoulder, took a hawthorn stake out of her utility belt, and reached for a religious icon with the other. She may not be able to kill her assailant, but perhaps the religious icon would keep whoever it was at a safe distance until the he got bored and left her alone.
No such luck.
The vampire crawled at high speed from behind a pile of wood and then charged her. She held her ground, holding up the religious icon. He stopped, reached for a small whip attached to his belt, and unfurled it in one motion to snap the religious icon out of her character’s hand.
She raised the stake, pointed at him. If he came at her, he would impale himself.
“Watch out, behind you!” yelled Karen.
Cerissa caught sight of the second vampire sneaking up behind her. He leapt on her in a matter of seconds and ripped a large gash in her character’s neck, blood squirting everywhere, before he fastened his lips on her to drain her.
The game made the attack as gory as possible.
Her character, no longer under her control, collapsed in the arms of the vampire, who, finished feeding, threw her to the floor. She could see how many points he racked up from the kill, the numbers spinning like a slot machine wheel.
“Okay, who killed me?” Cerissa demanded. She put the game cursor over the vampire who had bit her: Orlok.
“You should not try playing with the big boys, Cerissa,” Rolf said, his tone taunting.
She muted the microphone. Henry remained immersed in the game, moving on to his next quarry. “Aren’t you going to say anything?” she asked. “Your best friend just fed off me. Where’s the outrage?”
Henry shrugged and muted his microphone. “It is just a game,” he said, as he continued to play. “Besides, we still have to capture Karen. It’s not often we have novice players to build our scores on.” He turned the microphone back on. “Orlok, go left.”
Cerissa rose to her feet. “Fine. I’m going to make dinner. Come find me when you’re done.”
“That won’t be long,” he said with a smirk, not bothering to mute the mic this time.
She walked out in a mock huff. She wasn’t really angry, but it was clear she was going to have to invest some time in the game if she wanted to keep up with the guys. Was she willing to put in the hours they had? Playing side-by-side with Karen had been fun, but not fun enough to invest her limited free time to master the game.
She put together a light dinner for herself. She and Karen had eaten a large lunch in town, and she wasn’t that hungry. Henry came in as she finished eating. He went to the cupboard and got out a second bag of blood and heated water to warm it. She hadn’t recalled seeing him consume two bags so early in the evening. Perhaps some nights he was hungrier than others? Or did the hunt of the game stimulate his appetite? She didn’t bother asking. She didn’t want to make him uncomfortable around her.
“So, which of you drained Karen?”
“I did. Rolf and I try to share the kills, so that our characters stay on the same skill level. We work well as a team.” He poured the heated blood into his mug and came over the table to sit across from her.
“I can see that.”
“And we have not yet determined what our prize for winning will be.”
“You challenged us and lost.” He took a swig of the blood.
She furrowed her brow at him. “There was no wager riding on the game.”
“It was an implied bet,” he said smugly. “Rolf and I have not yet decided. We could claim as our prize the right to pick the activity for the next time we go out as a foursome. Or the right to veto something you and Karen want to do.”
“Do we get a say in this?”
“As always, I welcome your input.” He took a long drink, finished the blood, and moved to the sink, where he rinsed the blood from his mouth. The mug then went into the dishwasher.
“That’s not quite the same thing,” she protested. She joined him at the sink, slipping her arms around his waist.
“Quite frankly, I do not think we will be able to collect on the bet anytime soon. The town council met to discuss the recent series of attacks and they passed a resolution recommending against any unnecessary social travel for vampires, whether it is to Mordida or anywhere else outside the walls of the community.”
“That’s awful,” Cerissa said. “The Cutter has succeeded in doing just what you said you wouldn’t tolerate—he’s made us prisoners in our own homes. If we let him do that, he wins.”
“Not at all. We need only be patient. By staying inside the walls, it makes him come to us, where we have the advantage. And Rolf asked me to thank you for guarding Karen in Santa Barbara.”
You could have knocked her over with a feather. Rolf, being courteous to her? Then she suspected there was more to it. “Did he and Ari ever get together for target practice?”
“As I understand it, Ari dropped by at Rolf’s invitation. Ari demonstrated the Lux weapon and Rolf was quite impressed.”
“I imagine he would be. A high energy beam weapon, even one of that small size, is a powerful weapon. Ari had no business showing anyone how it works.”
“Under the circumstances, Agathe has cleared Rolf and Karen to learn more about your people and what you can do than would normally be permissible. Nothing improper happened.”
“Except for Ari demonstrating an illegal weapon, yeah, nothing improper there.”
“I stand corrected. But what is done, is done, and I am not Ari’s boss.”
“So you have no duty to report him.”
“Precisely. And the more Rolf accepts Ari, the more he is likely to accept you.”
“There is that. I still think it’s a shame that we’ll be stuck here. You and Rolf are not going to be able to collect your prize any time soon. What a shame,” she said, smiling up at him.
“Perhaps we should make it a different prize? Have anything in mind?” he asked, leering at her.
“Hey, you’re the one who claims to have won a prize. I think you should be the one to come up with it.”
“Then it is a good thing I had that extra blood,” Henry replied, sweeping her up into his arms and carrying her upstairs to the bedroom.
©2021 Jenna Barwin