“Dark God Descending reads like a classic Indiana Jones adventure with a dark and bloody spin,…”—Review from House of Toad.
When I decided to concentrate on the vampire genre, I wished to write something different. With that in mind, I turned my attention from les vampires of the Old World and concentrated on those in the New. It appears almost all cultures have stories of bloodsucking creatures of the night, beings who for one reason or another have offended their various deities and are therefore accursed. So what were the Native Americans' spin on this legend? I decided to concentrate on the natives of Central America, specifically the Maya—and what I found was something of a surprise.
To the Maya, the vampire, wasn't a cursed creature but simply another of their gods, several gods in fact. First and foremost was the God of Death, called by various names of Yum Cimil, Cizin, and Au Puch. He is depicted in the colours of death, his face the pale gray of a corpse, large black and yellow spots representing decomposition on chin, cheeks, and forehead. His jewelry is the haute couture of the supernatural world; around his neck, he wears a collar made of human bones. Yum Cimil's companion in the Underworld is Cama-Zotz, the demon bat, also known as Ikal Ahau, a gigantic bat who eats raw human flesh. There is also a god called Zotzilaha, depicted as a tall man with the wings, head, and fangs of a vampire bat. Zotzilaha supposedly has power over the living and was offered the sacrifice of human life.
Okay, fairly interesting, but also pretty gruesome (tres horrible, if the truth be known!) and I had already decided my story wasn't going to be a horror story per se but also an adventure, with as little bloodshed as possible. Well, a minimum, anyway, after all this is a tale about a vampire, so there’s got to be a little bloodletting. No human sacrifices allowed! Anyway, Yum Cimil was more or less out as the hero of my story, but he could still play a major part. I decided he would be the father of my protagonist, Semris, and his twin brother Ne’all. These two have a rather unique creation, coming into being after Yum Cimil practices a little self-relief in a lake of molten lava, and his demonic seed combines with the essence left behind by a female demon recently swimming there. Several hours later, the twin demons emerge from the lake, and the God of Death has two little dividends.
My story was taking shape rather nicely, I thought. I had a curious demon, son of the Mayan God of Death, trapped in this world, and wanting to know more about it. He’s also slightly rebellious, as any youngster—after all, he’s only a few millennia old—would be, and he’s just waiting for an excuse to bust loose.
I hope my readers will agree.
Excerpt: Tuck walked over to the cage. Oh, God, did that last shot kill him? As far as he could tell, Semris hadn’t moved. When he saw the slow rise and fall of the bare chest, he felt abrupt relief. He also saw the golden amulet, recognizing it as the twin of the one that had started all this unpleasantness in the first place.
The fruit hadn’t been touched, was rapidly darkening, the sweet, overripe smell permeating the cellar, attracting flies. How the Hell did they get in here, anyway? Several big bluebottles were buzzing around inside the cell, hovering over the peaches, a couple crawling along the edges of the plate. One was floating in the water glass, wings fluttering and making little splashes.
Tuck knelt and opened the little flap, reaching inside to remove the glass. As he reached back in for the plate, it happened so fast he didn’t even realize Semris had moved until he felt the iron grip upon his wrist, saw the fangs drop and the dark head covering his hand.
He screamed as twin razor slashes struck through his wrist...knowing no one could hear, struggled desperately to get away. Frantic, disbelieving thoughts whirling through his mind. Oh, God, this is why he didn’t eat the fruit. He’s a vampire! Sweet Jesus, he’s going to kill me! Help someone, help me! Why should they? I didn’t help him. The pain went away, his arm numb from wrist to fingertips. He knelt there on the floor, watching the pale body crouched so near he could have reached out and touched his shoulder...his bare, wingless shoulder. Where did his wings go? What happened to them? All he could do was watch those shoulders heave with the strength of each deep swallow, feeling his life ebb away, and a vague surprise that it didn’t hurt at all.
Eyes rolling up, Tuck gave a little sigh and collapsed against the bars. He was barely conscious as he saw Semris raise his head and release his arm. In spite of being only slightly aware, he felt a stab of surprise as the quiet voice whispered, “Gracias. Gracias por su sangre.” He’s thanking me? Thanking me for letting him kill me? With an effort, he made himself withdraw his wounded arm, cradling it against his chest with his other hand. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at his wrist, fighting the wave of blackness floating before his eyes. There was no bloody ripped-away flesh as he’d imagined, only four deep punctures. Two of the five little veins had been pierced, but the wounds were clean and already clotting. Tuck forced himself to take a deep breath, then let it out, and repeated the procedure. Keep breathing! Don’t pass out. He might decide to have a second helping. “I took too much. I am sorry. I was too hungry.” There was such concern in Semris’ voice that Tuck found himself replying, “That’s all right. I-if I’d known, I… Oh, God, what am I saying?” He fell silent, feeling a bout of hysteria galloping toward him.
Something was thrust into his hand. One of the peaches. Semris’ hand, between the bars, holding it out to him. “Aqui. Come. Pronto.” So he took the peach and bit into it, choking slightly as the rich, sweet juice slid down his throat, but forced himself to keep chewing and swallowing. As the fruit sugar hit his stomach, he began to feel better. “That was good.” With a sigh, he tossed the peach pit aside. Through the bars, hands helped him to his feet. He leaned against the door, hanging onto it to keep his balance as dizziness flooded back. “Again, I am sorry. He looked up, meeting Semris’ eyes, startled at the concern in them. “It has been so long since I have had the living wine.” Living wine…what a beautiful way to describe it. Tuck still felt a little groggy, wondered if he was now under the vampire thrall. He decided to find out. “Am I your minion now?” “Why would you think that?” Semris sounded genuinely puzzled. “Well, you’ve taken my blood. Generally, when a vampire--” “Vampiro! Donde?” Semris looked around quickly, arms crossing over his throat in a protective gesture. “You.” Tuck answered, feeling he’d made a mistake. “Aren’t you a vampire?” “Of course not!” The answer was disdainful that Tuck might mistake him for such a vile creature. “I am a Dark Lord. Un demonio.” The pale chin lifted proudly. “Los vampiros are creatures accursed.” Tuck thought that over. “And you’re not.” “No.” Semris shook his head, the dark hair swinging. “I am not.” Tuck realized he must be feeling better, to be able to marvel at the absurdity of this conversation.
Dark God Descending will be available from Class Act Books on November 15, 2012.
About Tony-Paul de Vissage - One of Tony-Paul de Vissage's first movie memory is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter, on television, and being scared sleepless--and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires. This was further inspired when the author ran across a band of transplanted Transylvanian vampires who were sightseeing in the South. Thinking nosferatu were getting a bad press and in need of some favorable publicity, he decided to do what he could to change that attitude through his writing. Though it may be argued his efforts have probably done the opposite, no vamp has complained…yet
Author website: http://www.tony-paul.com