A free holiday excerpt from Beguiled by Night by Nicole Eigener


Christmas Eve is a wonderful time to go hunting.

After Vauquelin arrived in America, he witnessed the holiday evolve into a pinnacle of commercial frenzy. He rather enjoys all the colorful lights, painted windows, and beautiful decorations. The constant search for beauty is his avocation — only his reaction to it is often lethal.

Houses illuminated with holiday spirit enthrall him, and he drives around for hours looking at them every Christmas — alone. Perhaps it is just that, with the absence of sunlight in his life, Christmas affords him a wealth of light as no other time of year can.

He enjoys taking short trips to small towns on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the type of small towns that still have main squares with lighted boughs stretching across the streets, almost as far as the eye can see. But his sentimentality always prevails: he refuses to hunt there. His feast is in L.A., among the lost souls that no one will miss.

Tonight, with his current state of mind and the erratic chaos of the time-shift, he intends to get obliterated.

Direct consumption of alcohol does not affect his blood. He can drink twenty bottles of wine and not feel a thing. He adores a good burgundy or cabernet sauvignon. But drinking the blood of an intoxicated human will anaesthetise him, and that is what he wants now.

Outside a dive bar, he parks the car and waits, chain-smoking. By and by couples emerge, tottering off in all directions full of holiday cheer.

A couple would be nice … he could drink two tonight in a snap. But couples are hard to get. They are suspicious. The circumstances must be perfect and they rarely are, especially on Christmas Eve in 1959. A rueful smile curls his lips as he thinks of how easily he could have gotten a couple back to his house in the twenty-first century. All it would have taken was a scant purchase of a few drinks and the proposition of a threesome. Perhaps he should have eased up on his no-humans rule in his futurepast.

Five cigarettes later, the ideal victim emerges: a man wearing a tattered Santa hat, zigzagging across the parking lot.

Vauquelin leaps from the car.

“Are you alright, sir?” he asks, steadying the man’s elbow.

“Oh yeah, sure, sure,” the man slurs, reaching in his pocket for his keys, which plummet to the ground.

“I believe you are unfit for driving,” Vauquelin says.

He considers that he is applying his futurepast mentality to the current calendar: in this era, no one gives a damn about driving drunk.

What if he has blown his cover?

But it is irrelevant, anyhow: the man is exceptionally intoxicated. He falls, landing on a knee, and says, “You know, mister, I think you might be right.”

“Allow me to drive you home,” Vauquelin says. “You can retrieve your car tomorrow.”

He leads the man to his car and helps him sit, bringing the gull-wing door down. As it seals shut, a pungent fist of malodorous air smacks him in the face. He sits behind the wheel and hesitates a moment, wondering if the promise of inebriation is worth this particular kill, then starts the engine.

Oppressive body odor fills the car.

Filthy Santa passes out right away, piercing Vauquelin’s eardrums with his vulgar snores. His head thunks against the passenger window.

This is the essence of Vauquelin’s frustration: it is difficult to find fresh blood. So, so difficult. His futurepast experiences are tattooed on his psyche. He retains his disdain for the police, for bodies being discovered, for leaving evidence of his vampirism.

Looking at this poor bastard, he realizes he does not want to exert the effort to drag him into his house and dispose of his bones.

This is humiliating.

Vauquelin drives a few blocks and then abruptly pulls up to a deserted side street, opens the passenger door, and shoves the man out, squealing his tires as he departs.

Stopped at a traffic light, he slams his head on the steering wheel over and over again. Life had been so much less complicated in the future.

Fuck me, I’ve gone soft.

The car reeks of rank perspiration and cheap booze.

A resolve rises in his gut.

He makes a U-turn and rushes back to the spot where he dropped the man.

He is still there.

“There, there … into the car now, that’s it … ” Vauquelin shoves the drunkard back in and takes off. He holds his breath in increments, as long as he can bear it.

He drags him through his kitchen door and straight down into the cellar, guiding him down the stairs. The man is as limp and uncooperative as a sleepy toddler.

He opens the pit and drains him right next to the opening. His nostrils flare at the man’s physical funk: a deadly brew of body odor, cigarettes, and bottom-shelf liquor.

Despite this nastiness, as the last of the blood slides down his throat, Vauquelin’s clockwork erection comes to call. He ignores it and slips the body into the acid, Santa hat and all, closing the lid.

He stumbles as he stands.

The man’s blood-alcohol level must have been staggering.

Vauquelin has gotten just what he needed: sweet, sweet intoxication. Numbness … the gift of forgetting his current troubles, if only for a few fleeting hours.

He closes the heavy vault door behind him and careens up the two flights of stairs to his bathroom.

Vauquelin is meticulous about his bed. Drunk as he is, he refuses to carry the stench of his unenviable victim into his sheets. He runs a hot bath and fires up the jets. Peeling off his clothes, he submerges himself, stroking his forlorn cock, so engorged with new, boozy blood.

He is sanguinated and exquisitely wasted.

The soak mellows him even further.

He has always loved baths … their warmth is a tonic for his cold bones. He scrubs the foulness off of himself and lies in the tub awhile, smoking.

Tomorrow night he will clean the car, absolving it of the horrible fumes inflicted by his wretched victim.

In his clean, soft bed he pulls the curtains and descends into a velvety-black, dreamless void.

©2020 by Nicole Eigener. All rights reserved.