Recovering from the loss of Nothing Zero has been much harder than I imagined. At first I was intent on powering through the difficulties, but doubt set in. I saw problems with the story I hadn’t previously noticed and I kept wrestling with the specter of my previous writing. What I needed was some time away from the book.
So I took it.
Yesterday I sat down and began the process of finishing Nothing Zero. Unlike the last time I saw the book, I enjoyed fixing the broken pieces and sorting out the story problems. With that said, I thought I’d share an excerpt from the novel I particularly enjoyed. This segment hasn’t been properly edited, and is presented exactly as it appears in my current draft. As I finish the book over the coming month, I plan to share others. I hope you enjoy it.
From Chapter 1 “A Night Like This”
The sheets were sticky with blood.
Rising from bed, Nothing glanced back at the boys. Vex laid spread out, his head dangled loosely over the edge of the bed. When Nothing tore through his throat, he practically decapitated him. Slumped on the floor, the gaping wound in Raven’s stomach bared his glistening viscera. His throat a crimson gash, his windpipe obscenely exposed.
Nothing left the master bedroom and found his clothes on the floor. He was staying in one of Red Rock’s high roller suites, dubbed the One 80 Suite. With a large terrace, Jacuzzi tub, billiards table and floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the Vegas Strip and Red Rock Canyon, Nothing had little doubt no expense was spared in making his last night on tour a special one.
Rummaging through the pockets, he retrieved his cell phone and called Krista. “I’m done,” was all he said before he ended the call and dropped his phone.
Admiring the decor—stainless steel, black and brown wood, fine velvet and silk—Nothing was struck by how lonely the darkened suite seemed. He turned the television on and made his way towards the bathroom. Nothing didn’t care what channel the hundred inch plasma screen had been set to. He simply needed some background noise to break the dead silence.
The night wasn’t supposed to be so quiet.
When Echo told him she wanted to attend the concert, Nothing hoped she’d spend the night with him. He told Krista to secure them the best suite the Red Rock had to offer. Price was no object. He wanted his last night in Vegas to be one he would never forget.
Nothing drifted back into the master bedroom.
Still motionless, the boy’s drained corpses were the pale shade of white only death could provide. By sunrise their wounds would heal, and the savagery they endured would grant them rebirth. They wouldn’t have the advantages Nothing enjoyed. They wouldn’t be able to walk in the day, fly through the skies or even grow a set of razor sharp incisors. Instead, they would only receive an everlasting life and a hunger just as endless. Making his way into the bathroom, Nothing hoped the boys would make good vampires.
The cold bathroom marble greeting his feet, Nothing’s hopes gave way to an unerring dark apathetic indifference. Over the past five years he had created hundreds like Raven and Vex. All lost children who’s pain, heartache and suffering was so opaque, they couldn’t see a way through other than the razor sharp bite of a rock star. Krista would come along soon enough. By sunrise Raven and Vex would be in their own room in the Red Rock. When they were finally reborn, she would gently remind them what happened and give them the only rule they had to abide—stay out of the light. The boys would then be on their own.
Climbing into the shower, the hot beat of water washed the dark red streaks of Vex and Raven’s blood away from his porcelain white skin.
When Nothing first started feeding, a bite was enough. The act of draining someone’s life and feeling their memories flash through his head fulfilled the demands of his hunger. But over time, his feeding evolved into something more violent and ugly. Once he realized any damage he inflicted, no matter how extreme, would be healed during the rebirth process, there were no more barriers. The darkest and most base of his cruel desires were completely unchained. In that sense, Nothing was glad Echo had left following the concert. When she was around, there was some measure of pretense he was only feeding to survive. Without her, Nothing was free to be the monster he truly was.
Stepping out of the bathroom, the darkness of the master bathroom welcoming his nude form, Nothing looked Raven and Vex over. While their wounds were starting to heal, the boys were still a gruesome sight. There was a time when he would have tried to act horrified by the sight. He would have tapped into the memory of what it was like to be frightened and disgusted. But just like any emotion, it would fade into the black indifference that filled his day to day.
Nothing made his way to the private patio. Overlooking the Red Rock Canyon, the view was breathtaking. When he was alive, Nothing never dared dream of seeing anything like it. But Nothing would have never dreamed of the carnage lying in the master bedroom, either. The ravaged corpses of Raven and Vex, the blood spattering the walls and the chunks of flesh on the floor. Staring out at the endless western sky, Nothing knew his kingdom had come.
Razor gnashed his teeth against the cage.
The crashing waves of guitars and the squealing wash of keyboards weren’t what drove his frenzy as he thrashed against the mesh. He could smell them. The audience. The putrid stench of stale sweat and warm beer singed his nostrils. He climbed the fence, slathered his tongue over the steel, and caught sight of an irate biker as the man chucked his beer. The bottle exploded against the fence. Smiling, Razor bounded back down to the stage and raised his middle finger to the crowd.
“Fuck you all,” he screeched into the microphone, his voice distorted horribly by the shitty PA. Their music would push the limits of a decent system, much less the cheap systems in the trashy dives they favored.
While Razor raged, King remained anchored stage left, thrashing out riffs, head swinging in circles, his hair a blackened whip slicing through the air. The nine-inch nails that studded his leather forearm bands swayed as his hand raced up and down his fretboard.
Wraith moved his pale, towering form around as if trying to seduce the audience. The burly assortment up front weren’t his type. None of them were fans. They just happened to be there, regulars none too happy to see their favorite watering hole invaded by a band of misfits and freaks. He much preferred the young, lithe goth kids who would come in droves when they played the larger cities. There were a few there tonight, but sadly not enough.
Knife in hand, Razor head-banged his way over to Leech, the keyboardist. They ripped through their final song, “God is an Excuse,” and it was time for the show’s closing theatrics. As the band’s name changed, so did their show. In recent years, the act had grown darker and more disturbing. It was only right to change with the times. The blade flashed across Leech’s throat. Arterial spray spurted into the air. He stopped playing, grasped the wound, and wobbled around like a broken spinning top. His blood slicked the stage and sprayed the audience.
Razor sank to his knees and played with the blood, smearing it across his sweaty, bone-white chest. The vitriol of the audience gave way to gasps of horror and confusion. The act they had just witnessed too shockingly realistic to be fake, yet too violent to be real. It was that twilight between what was real and what should have been impossible that allowed the band to exist.
A smile stretched across Razor’s make-up smeared face, a rictus wide enough to proudly display the incisors he had filed to razor-sharp points He reveled in the moment before turning away from the audience and launching himself into Thorn’s drum kit.
King snapped out of his fugue state, smashing his guitar across the cage, then shattering it against the stage. Wraith kicked at an audience member, knocking them off the fence, before trashing his own instrument. Razor emerged from the wreckage of the drums and found his microphone. He croaked, “Good night,” and broke into laughter.
With that whirlwind of carnage, chaos, and destruction, the Live Undead finished their set.