David splits his time between film school and a job in fetish porn. Life is good until a chance encounter reunites him with Daniel, a former friend and lover.
It’s been four years since Daniel disappeared after a dare-fueled encounter with a cabin in the woods.
David’s about to learn that their reunion was something more than chance and that Daniel has changed. A lot. Armed with fangs and a fantastic story about the past few years, Daniel offers David a chance at a whole new life — if you can call it that.
Theirs is a love story that will bring the human race to its knees.
Christopher Zeischegg weaves a tale of friendship, brotherhood, porn, sex and loss. Combining the enduring horror of vampires with an honest and authentic exploration of life in Northern California, working in porn, and growing up, Zeischegg presents a novel that’s both horrific and human.
File under: Queer, Bildungsroman, Vampires
NOTE: Print copies with signed bookplates can be ordered for $20.00. Please include the name you would like the bookplate to be personalized to. Zeischegg will include his signature and a short personal message. Please allow for extra shipping time on orders with signed bookplates.
Daniel and I began to develop our taste in music in our early teens. Like a lot of kids with Y chromosomes, we were into metal. It was probably Metallica or some other band with a lot of airplay that accustomed our ears to distorted guitars and harsh vocal content. However, Daniel was the first to discover something faster, heavier, and darker.
He said he was channel surfing when he came across a daytime special on church burnings. Allegedly, the fires were started by a Norwegian band that played something called black metal. The reporter said the incidents had something to do with the musicians’ stance on Christian religious imposition in their culture.
Curious as to what stance that could be—and unfamiliar with the prefix black as pertaining to heavy metal—Daniel went to the best source he knew in order to sort it all out: the Internet.
What he found, he said, garnered my immediate attention. Daniel burst through my bedroom door one day, after school, yelling something like, “You have to hear this!”
I tried to keep up with him as he sprinted back across the street. But Daniel was already seated in his computer chair, headphones strapped to his ears, when I entered the room. He handed me a separate pair of headphones he had jacked in to his computer speakers. I put them on and waited for the noise.
“Ready?” he asked.
I shrugged while Daniel opened an MP3 file he’d drudged up from the web. My ears were pummeled by the sound of blast beat drums and speed-picked guitars. Seconds later, a high-pitched voice shrieked phrases of indecipherable meaning. It sounded like the battle cries of mythic beasts or warriors. By the end of the song, I was fueled for a battle of my own. It was the perfect soundtrack for young boys like us, our bodies ripe with testosterone but lacking any real outlet to exert our natural aggression.
The sound characterized a sub-genre of music called black metal. As we further discovered, it carried an ideology along with it. The televised story claimed that many of the bands strongly opposed the influence of Christianity in modern society. And while our minimal research found this to be true, it did not explain the full extent of the concepts explored within black metal. Much of the lyrical content and album artwork stemmed from pagan mythology. Or just pure fantasy. Whatever the emphasis, violent opposition to mainstream seemed to be a common thread.
At the time, Daniel and I believed we’d stumbled upon something profound. The absence of true conflict in our small town left us with little to rebel against. So we latched onto a genre of music founded in rebellion. We felt a visceral connection with the sound and so attempted to embrace the lifestyle. At least, as far we understood it.
Daniel came up with the idea to start a band. He’d been practicing screaming into pillows when our parents weren’t home, so he appointed himself our vocalist. I’d already picked up the guitar a year prior. So I felt ready to volunteer myself as an axe-wielding member of the band. All we needed was a drummer and a bass player.
First, we asked the only kid at school we knew to own a drum kit. He was Jesse Silverstein, the son of a jazz pianist and feminist author. He didn’t share the same enthusiasm for our taste in extreme metal, but his parents urged him to join the group in order to diversify his talents. The approval of what we believed to be authority figures obfuscated our goal to create aggressively rebellious music, but the practice space Jesse’s parents offered up allowed us to accept their enthusiasm.
The last addition to the band was Henry Feist, a recent transfer student to our middle school. I think we befriended him because he wore a lot of black. From our eighth grade perspective, it was the only way to determine who shared our dark sensibility. In any case, Henry was into heavy music, and his dad had a bass. He commandeered the instrument and decided to join us.
We practiced for roughly a year before any of us gained the skill or confidence to present our music before an audience. During that time, Daniel carefully crafted a performance alter ego to front the band. While Jesse, Henry, and myself worked to build instrumental compositions, Daniel studied other bands in order to discover what he had to say. It was a form of plagiarism, but I couldn’t blame him. The rest of us hadn’t come up with anything strikingly original.
What differed between Daniel and the rest of us was his obsession with one particular band and his fanatical desire to re-enact their mythology. He’d discovered a European black metal group called Vampinokturne, a highly theatrical four-piece who portrayed themselves as vampires. Members of the band were even rumored to have murdered several people for their blood. No evidence ever surfaced to substantiate the claims. But Daniel became fascinated by the idea that they may have existed as something other than human.
He adopted their lyrical themes of blood-lust and immortality. Then took on a number of subtle mannerisms. I remember he’d complain about sunlight and wore makeup to emphasize his pale skin and ideals of eternal youth. I may have been more concerned with his transformation if I didn’t find it somewhat intriguing myself. As for his effect on the band, Daniel’s new persona became a staple for our act.
During our first show, he emptied half a bottle of pig’s blood into his mouth and spit it back out at the audience. It wasn’t the most original example of shock rock theatrics but, for a fourteen-year-old kid, it came off as pretty hardcore. It didn’t matter if our band sucked. Kids heard about Daniel’s antics and wanted to see them up close.
While Daniel helped us become a small-town phenomenon, I experienced another part of him. We returned from a show one night to unload our gear at Jesse’s place and celebrate our growing popularity over several stolen cases of beer. During the course of the night, Henry passed out, and Jesse left the practice space to go to bed. Daniel and I were left alone together.
Amidst our friendly banter, Daniel alluded to biting my neck. At first, I played it off as a joke. But, the more fucked up I got, the less concerned I felt about it actually happening. I ended up telling him, “Okay. But just one taste.”
By the look in his eyes, I could tell Daniel was excited. Though, when he approached my skin, he stopped and sort of inhaled with his mouth, like he was smelling me. I waited patiently while his lips rested in the air centimeters from my neck. The suspense was overwhelming. I didn’t know if he was just playing, or whether he was building up the courage to rip off a piece of my flesh. I nearly jumped when he touched me.
His lips grazed my skin, but they didn’t bare teeth. He delivered a kiss, a soft caress of my neck. I didn’t realize what was happening. My recent experience of Daniel hadn’t left much room to explain his affection. Still, I welcomed it.
He stopped nursing my neck and brought his face up to mine. We sat suspended in a moment of apprehension. I don’t know if my desire had been waiting all along or if it appeared in a cosmic spark. But I knew—for the first time—that I wanted Daniel. And I knew he wanted me back.
Our lips merged together and formed our first kiss. It may have lacked the fluid nature of those seasoned in oral exchange, but I remember it as perfect. We were two boys gnawing softly at each others’ mouths, two friends inhaling each others breath, and two fags drinking the spit that flowed from our tongues. It felt like our first everything, and I cherished it.