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mygif

Very nice.

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mygif

What’s really scary is how plausible it is. Society likes to dehumanize prisoners so much… easy to forget and ignore them.

Although I think that if a few prisoners were willing to die in the attempt, they could get the word out. People talking about serial-killing prison guards all dying mysteriously would prompt an investigation that would probably at least lock that jail out of the vampires’ reach for a bit. And if a prisoner has done the math and realized they’re dead anyway, they might be more willing to die to stop the vampires.

This is my personal sequel to this story, anyway. M.M. and the Italians stop the vampires in a heroic last stand. Possibly leading to prison reform. *eternal optimism*

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mygif

Very well written, I really like the characterization of M.M. I did see the reveal coming rather early, though. Was kind of hoping they would be something other than vampires, just for the hell of it. Still, great little short.

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on October 31st, 2012 at 10:33 am

Very nice. And I appreciate the Maniac Cop reference.

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Michael Weiss said on October 31st, 2012 at 10:39 am

Write what you know, am I right?

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mygif

Excellent work.

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David Wright said on October 31st, 2012 at 11:42 am

Is this a taste of what you submitted to Harper Voyager? It seems like a good fit for what they’re after. Good luck!

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mygif

Is this a taste of what you submitted to Harper Voyager?

No – it’s wildly dissimilar, actually.

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mygif

Excellent story. Great hook.

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mygif

Damn, this was some choice writing. One of the things I think modern horror misses out on so often is the sense of helplessness, and here you’ve gone and written it into the bones.

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mygif

Yeah, that final bit after the guards leave reads like one of Gaiman’s “Portraits of Despair” from Endless Nights.

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mygif

Very well done.

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mygif

This is a pretty good short story.

It’s a little bit played-out. It would have read better fifteen, twenty years ago before vampires were incredibly played out and everyone had been marinating in the tropes (I figured out precisely what was going on about a third of the way through) and that’s unfair to a nice piece of fiction like this, but it is a bit true.

Couple things, though, if you’re taking feedback.

The verisimilitude on this is off a bit. I know it has to be in order for drama, and most people won’t know enough to notice, but straight-up prison murders? Very rare.

The death rate in prisons in the US is LOWER than that in the general adult populace. I don’t recall the exact stat, but its something like 250 out of 100,000 people annually.

And half of those are due to disease; heart disease, lung cancer, etc. Deaths by violence are rare.

Even assuming that M.M is in one of the larger US prisons, there isn’t a single prison in the U.S that has more than 5,000 or so inmates at any time, and THAT one is Louisiana State, which is a farm-style prison, not a ‘walled fort’ style prison.

It is true there are prisons with a very high rate of violence. But M.M is only doing twenty, not even twenty-to-life, so it’s unlikely he was dumped in someplace like San Quentin. Rikers is a possibility, I suppose, especially given the presence of mob guys.

A death by violence and then two deaths by young, healthy inmates of ‘natural causes’ is going to make this prison spike on the graphs. Especially if its three guys in two adjacent cells. That’s RARE. People are going to sit up and take notice. If Salvatore was a mob guy, he has a lawyer. A good one. If ALL the mob guys die in the space of a few years, it’s going to be an enormous scandal.

Basically, I’d ease back off the death. It would raise alarms, way too many red flags for guys who are trying to avoid notice. SMART vampires would be using these guys like milk cows, not as cattle, taking enough to keep them weak and docile but not enough that there’s a mountain of corpses.

Javier could be used as an explicit example of this. Instead of going from ‘hyperactive little motormouth’ to ‘corpse’ he can go to ‘guy who can barely stay awake and seems like he’s suddenly dropped 20 IQ points and has trouble stringing three words together.’

Speculation on my part: Tuchman is fucking with M.M, trying to intimidate him. They know they can’t touch Nucci and ALL his boys, not in the normal course of business anyway. Tomorrow Nucci and M.M will have an exchange like…

“Yeah, they been telling me I’m a dead man walking for about ten years now. Still here, still fuckin’ my wife every weekend. They wanted you to roll over for’em, last thing they want is for the ante to get upped.”

One imagines an uneasy detente between the vampires and the mob guys. The mob guys don’t try and bring in entire crates of crosses, the vampires leave their boys alone. Something like the attack on Salvatore would be very rare, sort of a reminder or a message.

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mygif

Pretty good, though I was slightly disappointed when I figured out it was a vampire story about of a third of the way in. That’s not entirely your fault though; vampires, zombies, and any other such horror stalwarts are incredibly difficult to make scary because, when you get right down to it, they have rules, and anything with rules immediately ceases to be as frightening.

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SilverHammerMan said on October 31st, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Great story.
The only thing that made it not work for me was the fact that I was a little distracted by the fact that it served as a pitch perfect prequel to my idea for “Blade IV: Blade Goes To Prison”. It ends with Wesley Snipes killing an entire prison full of vampires.

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mygif

As with everyone else, I figured it out pretty early on. The only other thing I would take issue with is how easily M.M. came to, and then believed, the conclusion that they were vampires. I would think that a person who lives their entire life content in the knowledge that the supernatural doesn’t exist, and suddenly finds out that’s not the case, would be somewhere on the scale of shock between “denial” and “shattered psyche.”

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Mitchell Hundred said on October 31st, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Vampires, zombies, and any other such horror stalwarts are incredibly difficult to make scary because, when you get right down to it, they have rules, and anything with rules immediately ceases to be as frightening.

Do you not consider anything to be truly scary? Because I cannot think of anything that does not operate under some kind of system of rules.

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highlyverbal said on October 31st, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Two comments: for me, prison is a tough location for a horror story. Horror is all about the DELTA between the expectations and the shocking developments. There is a reason horror stories open in idyllic little communities, or the summer season of the Overlook Lodge… the fall is greater, more horrifying. Also, so there can be a win at the end when the protagonist defeats the gremlins, and rides off into the sunset.

Imagine a number 1 to 10 that rates how sucky M.M.’s life is. Did it jump much with vampire warders? Not really! And if M.M. killed all the vampires, he’s not like “Yay! Normal prison, finally!”

Also, I echo Murc’s advice: back off the death. Even neglecting the mob’s lawyers, M.M. could talk a crusading ACLU type into looking into the death statistics. Saying he feels in danger would not be enough; but unexplained or just surplus deaths would be a huge problem. EVERY prison documents all deaths, and their causes, and has metrics trying to reduce them, etc. Prisons are often corporations, and the stockholder meeting won’t tolerate that, either.

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mygif

Mitchell: It’s not whether they have rules, it’s whether or not you KNOW they have rules. The Joker in TDK frightened everybody because they didn’t understand his rules. Zombies ceased being scary largely because we all knew what to expect from them. Then people started doing new things with them (fast zombies, mutant zombies, smart zombies, etc.) and they can be scary again if done right.

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mygif

Loved it. Unlike everyone else in the comments, I didn’t see it coming until it was explicitly spelled out – my only complaint is the ending. That’s not an ending.

Write the rest of the story! Give us something we can latch onto. I want to know what happens next – not in a “oh that proves it’s a good story” kind of way, but in a “I am unsatisfied and annoyed that that’s where it stops” sort of way.

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mygif

@CB – MM’s reaction to finding out the guards are vampires depends a bit on what we could learn about MM’s past.

Not that he’s met the supernatural before, but he could be someone who has seen the impossible happen or lived next to entirely human evil.

Pet peeve of mine: using ‘affect’ where you probably should use ‘effect’.

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mygif

One point about prison murders is that they are almost always solved. Someone is found to have committed them. The two guys who killed Salvatore would be caught and convicted. Except if someone else would be convicted. Thus, for M.M. to immediately walk to the body is extremely unwise. He is a nobody, a perfect culprit.

However, I was not thinking this was a vampire story. Actually, I was a bit disappointed about it. I thought that there was a dimensional rift in the neighbouring cell, with eldritch abominations spilling through to feed on the inmates, perhaps with the help of a Cthulhu cult of the guards. It would have been a better element for a prison horror story: something that really doesn’t follow any rules. In addition, a “realistic” ending with M.M. going insane would have been part of the genre.

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mygif

Very effective. Well done. Good voice, good tone, good style, good execution.

“Imagine a number 1 to 10 that rates how sucky M.M.’s life is. Did it jump much with vampire warders? Not really! And if M.M. killed all the vampires, he’s not like “Yay! Normal prison, finally!””

I’d argue it jumped from “ten,” where ten is surviving his sentence and maybe getting out early on good behavior and returning to society around his mid-thirties, when there’s still a potential for a decent existence, to “fifteen to twenty.”

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mygif

I’ll admit it, I didn’t figure out they were vampires until around the end, maybe not even until M.M. pulled out the cross. Call me stupid if you want, all you too-clever-for-this-blog people. I’d thought it was some kind of illicit medical experiments, either relatively realistic illegal human testing or actual mad science.

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mygif

Will Entrekin,

well said. I’ve never been in prison, but I have served in the army. Compared to the civilian life, it sucks to be a recruit private. However, you settle down to the dull routine pretty fast, and even start to find some solace and joy in the routine tasks.

The human mind is almost infinitely flexible. You get used to anything. As the proverb says: “When you are hanged, it’s the first day that’s the worst.”

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clodia_risa said on November 1st, 2012 at 9:49 am

To me, the story was tense and frightening. It was about utter powerlessness, and that feeling you got across very well.

I am able to suspend any disbelief in the world-building as to why the situation is as stands. Perhaps these two vampires are getting out of hand, and their story continues by being smacked down by their elders. Maybe there’s a growing war. People do risky things out of hunger and greed.

I do not know what is could be more frightening than being caught in a situation with no good solution, knowing that no one will care if you die. Knowing that your death will not mean anything when it happens.

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mygif

@UnSubject

I can agree with that. Even so, an experience as traumatic as suddenly being thrust into the darker side of the supernatural is a world away from (almost) any human evil. At the very least his immediate reaction should have been more than just the casual anxiety, sweaty-palms-stare-down he was going through. His delayed reaction of doing the math and then breaking down made more sense in that respect.

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Patrick Rawley said on November 1st, 2012 at 11:48 am

Good story, well written. I too thought it would be a dimensional rift in the next cell and then I remembered the crucifix.

The thing about prison (and no, I’ve never been) is that it is a controlled, regimented society in and of itself – that is corrupt. There are enough dirty guards (or one’s being blackmailed, far more common) to get whatever you want, if you can pay. I agree with the other commenters, about the coincedental deaths in such proximity being highly suspicious – but so what? Bad things happen in prisons to bad people and as you mentioned, it isn’t like anybody on the outside actually CARES. Maybe they group the deaths together like this so they can blame it on bad food or disease or political machinations between rival factions (you can get away with a lot if you say “DRUGSDRUGSDRUGS” loudly and plausibly enough) so it doesn’t look too hinky to anyone looking at the records. Maybe ALL the guards are vampires and these two are spoiling it for them by being so blatant about it.

I read a quote from someone once (Warren Ellis? Steve Moore? Dunno.) that said (again, paraphrasing) – “Fear is good, healthy, natural. Fear will save your life. Fear will tell you to run. HORROR is when you realize there’s nowhere to run TO.”

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mygif

I have to disagree with those who are praising this story (and agree with what Murc said). To be blunt, reading this, I did not get the impression that you had done any actual research on what life is like in prison; I got the impression that you watched a few episodes of Oz.

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mygif

Good story! While I can’t say some of the other commenters are entirely wrong about the number of deaths being unrealistic or M.M’s relative lack of reaction being kind of odd, I thought both elements still worked. Mainly because I pegged this story as a kind of Magical Realism, which does that sort of shit all the time, as a genre.

Also, I really liked M.M himself–he was very relatable, for someone I have nothing whatever in common with.

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mygif

Typo: 15 years * 365 days/year + 3 leap days = 5478 days.

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mygif

Acechan, you have one very important thing in common with the protagonist- you are human. :)

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mygif

Until I found out it was a vampire story, I had some hope that it was all leading up to some kind of pun.

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jonni kafka said on December 12th, 2012 at 6:00 am

Absolutely loved it. Hooked all the way through. Ginchy little twist at the end. Great internal monologue – in fact, just fantastic writing!

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