Playing With Words

Most of the vampire flash fiction in the collection Blood Sampler started life as stories written for a little zine called Blood Samples edited by Kate Hill and Portland Elizebeth. When I first saw the guidelines, I thought they were looking for vampire stories of 1500 or fewer words. I started thinking about stories, then I read the guidelines again. I saw they wanted stories of 150 words or less! My first thought was no way! My second thought was, how hard is it to write 150 words? I decided to give it a try. I came up with three very short stories, sent them off, and they were accepted that afternoon. I think they hold a personal record for the shortest time between story conception to creation to sale of any of my works.

As it turns out, I went on to place stories in every issue of the zine during its two-year run. Through that time, I also became well acquainted with work by fellow contributor Lee Clark Zumpe. I enjoyed playing with ideas and trying them out in short form. One story I’m particularly fond of appeared in the “Special Romance Issue” in March 2003. I present it here with the illustration by Marge Simon that accompanies it in the new edition of Blood Sampler.


The Lady of the House

Lady of the House

Trevor sought refuge from pouring rain in the Victorian manor house. The lady of the house offered him wine to warm his blood and a soft bed for the night. Once Trevor was cozy in the warm bed, the woman entered his room, pulled back the blankets and bit into the traveler’s neck, reveling in the sweet taste of his blood.

Late the next afternoon, Trevor found the vampire’s crypt. He crept up to the coffin and threw back the lid, revealing the vampire. He gazed at her smooth skin, untouched by time. Her eyes closed, the woman looked peaceful, not like the creature that attacked him the night before. Trevor knew he must act before he lost his courage…

Later, the vampire awoke in the velvet-lined darkness of her coffin. Slowly, she lifted the lid and smiled when she saw a vase, filled with a dozen blood-red roses.


As it turns out, I decided to play with this idea in the form of a structured poem to see where it would lead me. The result was a Villanelle I wrote for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2010 On-Line Halloween Poetry Reading. If you click the link, you can hear me read it. Here it is written out:


The Vampire’s Domain

The heart, life will sustain
Blood flows like a river
There, a vampire’s domain

A lady does remain
In that house out yonder
The heart, life will sustain

He sought escape from rain
In the ancient manor
There, a vampire’s domain

With wine, she would detain
The wet, weary traveler
The heart, life will sustain

Sweet blood flowed from his vein
As he lay near slumber
There, a vampire’s domain

From stake, he would refrain
Roses, he would leave her
The heart, life will sustain
There, a vampire’s domain


I hope you’ll join Lee Clark Zumpe as we play with words in Blood Sampler. It’s available in print at the Alban Lake Store or as an ebook at Smashwords.

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