Short episode from Shane's life

Dead Man Stalking - Rachel Caine


"Living in West Texas is sort of like living in Hell, but without the favorable climate and charming people. Living in Morganville, Texas, is all that and a takeout bag of worse...
So, for you fortunate ones who've never set foot in this place, here's the walking tour of Morganville: It's home to a couple of thousand folks who breathe, and some crazy-ass number of people who don't. Vampires. Can't live with 'em, and in Morganville, you definitely can't live without 'em, because they run the town."



Shane is enjoying his quiet evening with the best hamburger in town and still under protection of the hospital bracelet. Until he spots a dead person walking outside. Not like vampire dead but the real dead dead. At first he thought he imagined it but when that dead person smashes his face in Eve's car, puts him in it and drives away, he realizes that this is really happening.


Morganville is a city of vampires, true. And a whole lot of supernatural crap going around. But zombies? That's a stretch even for a town like Morganville. The dead guy takes him outside city limits on an abandoned farm. And guess who he meets there? Frank Collins (Shane's dad).


Frank has come back, ready to fight again and he wants Shane to join him. Again. Shane is in a real pickle here and it only gets worse once he realizes that his father's vampire captive is his best friend.




This short story didn't impress me as much as Eve's episode from the past. But it was none the less interesting to read.


Perhaps I didn't enjoy it as much as I should because I had a lot of question left unanswered when the story finished. How the hell did that tattoo worked? Who was that priest? Why was Shane eating out, a hamburger, all alone while Claire was waiting for him at home? How the hell did Frank manage to grab and imprison Michael especially with the help of only one zombie?


Frank was his usual self, a dick at its finest. He still thinks he can control Shane and decide whether he lives or dies and he still throws punches at him like at a punching bag.


What did get my spirit up was the usual omnipresent humor. Sometimes spiced with irony, sarcasm and just enough wickedness.


1. Shane at the burger place:


"There goes your tip," I said. Marjo, already heading off to the next victim, flipped me off.
"Like you'd ever leave one, you cheap-ass punk."
I returned the gesture. "Don't you need to get to your second job?"
That made her pause, just for a second. "What second job?"
"I don't know, grief counselor? You being so sensitive and all."


"Screw you, Collins, I'm running a business here, I don't have time to stare out windows. You want something else or not?"
"Yeah. Ketchup."
"Go squeeze a tomato."




2. Shane and his father Frank:


"Shane," he said. "You knew I'd come back for you." "Yeah, that's really sweet.
The last time I saw you, you were trying to blow my ass up along with a whole building full of vampires, remember? What's my middle name, Collateral Damage?" He'd have done it too. I knew my dad too well to think anything else.
"You also left me to burn alive in a cage, Dad. So excuse me if I'm not getting all misty-eyed while the music swells.


I was saying what he wanted to hear. First rule of growing up with an abusive father: you cope, you bargain, you learn how to avoid getting hit.


"I'm fighting for humanity," he said. His last, best argument. It had always won me over before.
I turned and looked him full in the face. "I think you already lost yours."




3. Shane and his best friend Michael (on giving Frank five minutes head start on running away):


"Yeah," he said. "I need an ambulance."
And then he slumped forward, over the steering wheel. The cop let out a squawk of alarm and got on his radio. I reached out to ease Michael back. His eyes were shut, but as I stared at him, he murmured, "You wanted five minutes."
"I wasn't looking for a Best Supporting Actor award!" I muttered back.
Michael did his best impression of Vampire in a Coma for about five minutes, and then came to and assured the cop and arriving ambulance attendants he was okay.




4. Eve at her finest:


"Hey," she said, and looked up at Michael with big, dark-rimmed eyes. "Seriously. You can bring back dead guys with vampire juice! That is so wrong."
Michael almost spit out the blood he was swallowing. "Vampire juice? Damn, Eve. Thanks for your concern."