A Night in Deadtown
If you want to take a look around Deadtown, the cordoned-off area for Boston’s paranormal residents, there’s not much point in going during the day. Even if you made it through the checkpoint, during daylight hours you’d find that Deadtown is more or less a ghost town—its streets empty save for the occasional werewolf or a bundled-up zombie working the day shift. The silent buildings could belong to any city’s downtown: concrete skyscrapers mingling with old brick buildings and the huge plate-glass windows of former stores.
Deadtown comes to life, or unlife, after the sun goes down. Not long after darkness has settled, the zombies begin to venture out, heading for work. Thanks to their superhuman strength, most zombies do manual labor. Three years ago, after a localized plague killed two thousand Bostonians in a matter of hours (and resurrected them three days later), the quarantine zone became Deadtown. At the time, office buildings, stores, and banks had to be converted to residences, and the resulting construction boom employed many zombies. With time, though, Deadtown has become a city-within-a-city, and zombies provide most of the services you’d find in any town. There are zombie bankers, zombie teachers, zombie mail carriers, zombie grocery store owners, zombie hot-dog vendors, zombie chefs (any business related to food is a good bet in Deadtown).
As you’ve probably noticed by now, Deadtown’s zombies aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill, horror-movie brain munchers. They’re a lot like people who haven’t gone through the experience of being dead for a few days and then waking up. In fact, the politically correct term for zombies is “previously deceased humans,” or PDHs. Deadtown’s zombies have thoughts and personalities. They also have spongy, greenish-gray skin and blood-red eyes. They move stiffly, but they’re incredibly strong. They’re nearly impossible to kill (maybe because they’ve already been dead once), but they don’t heal when injured. And even though they’re always hungry, usually they’d rather snack on junk food than on human flesh—unless they catch a whiff of blood. When zombie blood lust gets stirred up, they can’t help themselves. So if you’re prone to sudden nosebleeds, visiting Deadtown isn’t a great idea.
Around ten o’clock, the vampires emerge to go hunting. They don’t hang around Deadtown for long. Zombies taste bad and shapeshifter blood does strange things to a vampire’s system, so the vampires slink off to the human parts of Boston or one of the monster bars in the New Combat Zone, the no-man’s land between the checkpoints into Deadtown and human-controlled Boston. The Zone is where humans go when they’re craving a walk on the wild side. A norm can venture into a monster bar like Creature Comforts and gawk at vampires, zombies, and other creatures of the night in relative safety (as long as they don’t get caught in the middle of a werewolf fight). Axel, who owns Creature Comforts, is seven feet tall, bearded, with a hook nose and tiny eyes—nobody quite knows what he is, but he’s definitely not human. Axel usually opens up around ten, because that’s when the norms come. Humans tend to be a bit nervous in the Zone; nervous customers drink, and drinking customers make Axel happy. But the bars don’t really get busy until most of the norms are gone, tucked into their warm, safe beds at home, dreaming about how brave they’ve been.
Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demonslayer, also heads out around ten. A shapeshifter descended from the Welsh goddess Ceridwen, Vicky exterminates other people’s personal demons for a living. Since demons can only materialize after dark, she works the night shift. Most of Vicky’s clients need help with one of the three main kinds of personal demons:
• Drudes, dream-demons that feed on fear and cause nightmares
• Eidolons, guilt demons that gnaw at people guts when they can’t sleep
• Harpies, revenge demons conjured by an unscrupulous sorcerer for cash
Fighting demons can be dangerous, but it pays well—people who are desperate for some peace will pay pretty much whatever they can afford to get it. Vicky’s no mercenary, but she makes a decent living. After she’s shot a flock Harpies out of the sky or chased the Drudes out of a client’s dreamscape, she usually stops by Creature Comforts on her way home. There she might meet Juliet, her vampire roommate, who’s sipping a Bloody Mary and ignoring the vampire junkies begging her to take a hit from them. She probably won’t see Kane, the lawyer she sometimes dates, because like most werewolves he works norm hours—eight-to-five, Monday through Friday—except for the three days around the full moon, when he reports to one of the state’s three werewolf retreats.
As the sun comes up, most Deadtown residents, including Vicky, make their way home for the day. The checkpoints get crowded with paranormals waiting to show their IDs. Zombies pull on hats, scarves, gloves, sunglasses—sunlight causes permanent damage to their skin and eyes—before they venture outside. Vampires sleep the sleep of the dead behind black-out shades. For the next several hours, Deadtown will be quiet, until the shadows lengthen and the night calls to its creatures once again.
Thanks for stopping by Nancy!
When a mysterious plague hit Boston, turning two thousand of its residents into sentient zombies, the quarantine zone became Deadtown, home (by law) to Boston's paranormals. It's also home to Victory Vaughn, a shapeshifter who kills other people's personal demons for a living. In Deadtown, Vicky does battle with the Hellion who killed her father. In Hellforged, Vicky struggles to protect her friends and prevent a long-lost relative from unleashing an ancient power more terrifying—and deadly—than anything she's encountered before.
You can read the first chapter of Deadtown here and the first chapter of Hellforged here.
I also have a signed copy of Helforged to give away, courtesy of Nancy. All you have to do to be entered is answer the question: What's your favorite thing about your town's nightlife? The giveaway is for US only, and will last until midnight Wednesday 01/12. I'll announce the winner on Thursday 01/13.