My latest wip is a novel, Night Predator (working title), about an FBI agent who is a vampire and his human partner. I posted the Prologue and the first four chapters earlier, so if you missed them, scroll down. I need feedback. Here is the draft of Chapter 5
Chapter 5 – 59 Years Earlier
Nicolae Thanatos lay on his stomach in the dark on a small knoll overlooking a meadow in the Carpathian Mountains. On his left was his eldest son, Alin and on his right, his youngest son, Jure. They were watching a small herd of Red Deer below. It was a cloudless night and an hour past the end of twilight – perfect for night hunting. Far from any city lights, the heavens seemed to be filled with stars falling over the horizon. Nicolae inhaled deeply. The deer were still too far away for him to smell them, but he smelt the Norway spruce forest surrounding the meadow. Yesterday evening, he smelled a brown bear on the prowl. Bears are a protected species in Romania. There was no need to compete with a bear for a deer; there are plenty of deer. He called off the hunt. Tonight, he needs to get a deer.
Nicolae loved hunting. He preferred the traditional methods of hunting using a bow. But tonight, was not about tradition; tonight was about business. He needed venison meat for his butcher shop. The three men had high powered hunting rifles equipped with scopes and night observation devices (NODs). In the dark, he could see the herd of deer without any night device to assist him. Nicolae knew they could bring down three deer, but he had room in his freezer for only one. “Call out your targets,” Nicolae whispered in a Romanian dialect.
“I have the big buck in the middle,” Jure whispered back.
"The doe on the right near the big pine tree,” Alin whispered.
Nicolae touched Jure’s shoulder. “Not the buck,” he whispered. “Not this year. He must sire a few more fawns. Alin, if you have a shot, take it.”
A second later, Alin fired, and the doe dropped dead. The rest of the herd jerked their heads up. The buck darted for the woods with all the does following.
“Spot it,” Nicolae said.
“It is five meters to the right of that pine tree.” Answered Alin.
“Good. Move out,” Nicolae commanded.
Nicolae and Alin started walking toward the doe. Jure jogged back over another knoll where they had parked the ATV so they wouldn’t spook the deer. He started the ATV and turned on the IR lights and put on his IR goggles. He could see without the IR lights, but with them, he could see better and drive faster. He started driving toward the meadow, stopping to pick up his father and brother. In a few minutes they arrived at the pine tree.
Alin and his father walked over to get the doe while Jure started to unload ice chests from the trailer behind the ATV. Two large pheasants were already on the trailer. As he set up two battery powered lanterns, Nicolae and Jure dragged the dead deer over to the pine tree. Nicolae turned the doe’s head, exposing her neck. He said to Alin, “You made the kill, the first blood is yours.”
Alin knelt and felt the doe’s neck for the artery. Once he found it, he exposed his fangs and sunk them deep into the neck. He drank the still warm blood for a minute. When he stood up, his father called Jure who also sunk his fangs into the doe’s neck to drink the warm blood. Finally, the father drank blood from the doe.
Jure spread a plastic tarp under the deer and Alin placed several stainless-steel bowls on it. Nicolae elevated the hind quarters of the deer and inserted a long knife at the point of the jaw and below the neck bones. He then sliced forward severing the jugular vein, carotid arteries and trachea. Alin placed the bowls to catch the blood. As one bowl filled with blood, it was replaced with another, the blood poured into a plastic jug and placed in an ice chest. After several minutes, the blood flow slowed to a trickle. Jure tossed a rope and block and tackle to his father. His father attached the rope to the front legs of the deer while Alin hooked up the block and tackle to a low hanging branch of the pine tree. Soon the doe was hanging from the tree.
The men stopped to take a break before field dressing the deer. Alin poured each of them a cup of coffee as they sat down on camp chairs. Once the coffee was gone, Alin removed a plastic bag from the ATV and placed it under the doe. Nicolae’s experienced hands performed the field dressing. After a few cuts, the entrails dropped into the plastic bag. He fished around the plastic bag and removed the heart, liver, kidneys and small intestines. He placed them in a separate ice chest. Meanwhile, Jure had set up a propane field stove and had a fire going.
“Can I take a bite of the heart?” Alin asked.
“No,” his father answered. “I cannot sell it with fang marks on it.” He continued to work while the deer was still warm and soon had it skinned. He sliced off a large piece of venison and tossed it to Jure who caught it in a frying pan. Alin removed a carton of eggs from a backpack. Soon the three men sat done to a breakfast of venison and scrambled eggs.
“It does not get better than this, fellows,” Nicolae said. “Hunting at night and then having steak and eggs for supper. Our ancestors have been night hunters for centuries. This bloodletting has been performed thousands of times.” Alin and Jure chuckled. “What?” their father asked.
“Dad,” Alin answered. “Every time we go hunting with you, you tell us that. We heard it hundreds of times. We get it.”
“Humph,” Nicolae replied. “I just want you to remember. It has not always been this easy.”
“What do you mean?” Jure asked.
Nicolae took a deep breath. “From time to time, the humans have persecuted vampires, especially during the World Wars. There was a lot of killing on both sides.”
“That is ancient history,” Alin said. “We have been at peace with the humans for a while now.”
Nicole threw his coffee on the ground. “It will not last. These things are cyclic.”
“Why do humans hate us?” Jure asked his father.
Nicolae thought for a moment. “All hatred starts out as fear.”
“Okay… why do they fear us?” Jure asked.
That’s a tough question,” Nicolae said. “Because we are different I suppose. We live in the night and humans fear the night. They think we want their blood. Some still believe if we bite them, they become vampires too.”
“Those are old superstitions,” Alin said. “How did they get started in the first place?”
“Superstitions are easy to believe and die hard,” Nicolae said. “When Christianity first arrived here, the natives, the old Dacian tribes thought the Christians killed babies and drank their blood.”
“Because of the Eucharist?” Alin asked.
“Correct,” his father answered. “But it is not just us. Humans also persecute the Jews, Slavs, gypsies, and homosexuals. I guess they fear if we ever get into power, we will persecute them.” All at once, Alvin and Jure both stood up and turned toward the east baring their fangs. “What is it?” Nicolae asked. Alvin picked up his rifle. Jure started toward the ATV to get his rifle but stopped when his father held up his hand.
Jure pointed east. “Wolves. A small pack. Maybe four or five. In that direction.”
“It is okay,” Nicolae said. “They smell the blood. They have been circling us for ten minutes. Now they are upwind. They will not come near until we leave.”
“Unless they are werewolves,” Jure joked. The men laughed.
After breakfast, Nicolae and Alin moved the carcass to the ATV trailer while Jure scraped the fat and flesh from the hide with a knife. He then spread a layer of salt on the inside of the hide, rolled it up and put it on the ATV trailer. After the men cleaned up, they started the trip to Nicolae’s butcher shop in the village. Nicolae was driving. He came to a sudden stop thirty meters short of the main highway. The boys heard it too; a small convoy was coming down the main road. Nicolae parked under a pine tree out of sight. Two minutes later, a convoy of six trucks drove by. Each truck flew a large black flag with a red-letter V on it.
After the convoy passed, Jure asked his father, “What does the V stand for?”
Nicolae looked at his two boys. “It’s an organization I do not want you boys to get involved with.”
Alin spoke up, “V stands for the vampire rebellion. They are demanding a homeland for vampires in the Carpathian Mountains.”
Nicolae turned towards his son. “How do you know that?” he demanded.
Alin shrugged his shoulders. “I have friends involved with them. It sounds like a good thing.”
“Good thing?” Nicolae said. “The homeland they want in the Carpathians includes parts of Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. Those countries will never agree to it. It means a possible war.” Without another word, Nicolae started the ATV and pulled onto the main highway heading toward the village. At the butcher shop, the boys helped their father carry the deer carcass, ice chests and the two pheasants into the shop.
“Can we stay and help cut up the meat,” asked Jure.
“No,” answered Nicolae. “You have to get to night school. Make sure you spread out that skin before you go to school. Tell mother I will bring home the liver. We can have liver and onions for supper.” Nicolae waved goodbye to his sons as they drove off in the ATV. Then he walked inside and started to cut up the deer.
Once on the road, Jure said to Alin, “I know you are part of the rebellion.”
For a minute, Alin didn’t say anything but kept his eyes on the road. Finally, he asked, “Who told you?”
“Karayan has a big mouth,” Alin said.
“He told me because he was trying to recruit me,” Jure said.
“It is not his job to recruit you,” Alin replied. “You will join when the time is right.”
“And when will that be?” Jure asked.
“When you are a believer. Why did you ask father what the V stood for if you knew?”
“I did not want him to know we knew already.”
Just before sunrise, Nicolae’s partner -- a human -- arrived to open the butcher shop for business. It was a good partnership; Nicolae hunted at night and provided the meat and his partner helped butcher the meat and sell it during the day. “Good hunt?” his partner asked as he put on a clean butcher apron.
“Yeah. I have a Red Deer nearly ready for you. Tomorrow I will have the pheasants. If you have time, you can start on the sausage. See you tomorrow morning.” Nicolae hung up his apron and left for home.