Thom Blood is the second installment in the Blood Underground series by author Terence Jackson. Blood Underground chronicles the lives of a particular clan of vampires and their minions who inhabit the unused and deserted train tunnels that crisscross underneath the city of London. Book one introduces Liam Thackeray, the oldest and sometimes wisest of the undead tunnel dwellers who call themselves Thavs. Their nickname stands for tunnel-housed-and-vampire – a play on the English slang term Chav. The vampires dress, act, and even talk like the lower-class lads one finds all over London. These vampires spend their days in the tunnels and abandoned railcars within them, going out at night to feed and walk among the unsuspecting living. But not all vampires are evil; some try to hang on to their humanness and pay the price for it, as well. Book two continues Liam’s story, bringing in new characters and there’s a surprise reappearance of an old favorite. There are twists and turns to the story and, as in book one, the end of the story leaves you wanting more.
In the following excerpt Declan MacAvoy is getting his first lessons at being a newly sired vampire:
“What is that smell?” Dec asked screwing up his face in disgust.
“Why that, my lad, is life. Pretty much anything with a scent – good and bad alike – are all wafting up your nose right now. You can moderate that as well, just like you do your hearing. Go on, try it,” Liam replied.
Dec closed his eyes and concentrated. Thom stood by amazed and taking it all in. Dec opened his eyes and smiled at them both.
“Whew. That’s much better. I don’t know how much longer I could’ve stood that pong.”
“Good. Now we’ve covered hearing and smelling; you’ll also find you have a heightened sense of taste, as well. And there’s the eyesight. If you noticed, you didn’t need any light to walk beside me in the tunnel, did you?”
“No, I saw just fine. Almost too good, in fact.”
“It’s all part of the package, Declan. You’ll soon enough get used to it and it will be second nature, just like all of your senses were when you were a….”
“Alive? You can say it, Liam. It’s okay. I know I’m no longer one of them,” Declan said as he indicated toward Thom with his head.
“You’re certainly taking this very well, I must say. Far better than I did when I was turned.”
“So where are we goin’, Liam, you know, to get Dec ‘ere sumfing to eat?”
“I was thinking about going down to the Docklands as it is sort of a tradition for first feedings, but that’s a bit far with you along; it will take too long on the trains and such. It will probably be best for us to go to one of the pubs nearby and wait for a victim…candidate for Declan to get his first proper meal. He barely got a taste of your blood.”
Declan instinctively licked his lips. Thom chuckled nervously under his breath at Dec’s action, not wanting to suffer Liam’s wrath for not taking things seriously. Liam caught on but let it go. They walked a bit farther down the street until they came upon a pub that seemed to be full of unsuspecting prey for Dec’s first feeding.
“Mind your hearing, Declan – and your sense of smell. It’s bound to be a bit of a sensory overload in here.”
Declan nodded as they entered the pub. They chose a table in the corner and sent Thom to the bar with their drink order.
“What’s the matter, lad?”
“I don’t know. This all seems so unsavoury at the moment.
“You’ll soon see; it will be second nature.”
“I see. If you say so, Liam. You’re the boss,” Declan smiled.
“If only,” Liam said, returning his smile. “You know I don’t mean to be so hard on you but I take my duties as sire very seriously.”
“So I gather.”
“We’ll get you proper sorted; you’ll see, Declan.”
Thom returned with their drinks and slid onto the bench next to Declan.
“So wot are you two plottin’? Or should I ask?”
“No, that’s fine,” Liam stated. “I was just telling young Declan here that he has to be very careful on whom he feeds and the consequences of his actions.”
Thom rubbed his neck. Liam turned his attention back to Declan.
“Have you picked out your first meal, lad?”
“I thought you would do that for me. Hmm. There are some tasty looking fellas in here…aren’t they, Thom?”
“I ‘adn’t noticed.”
“No, really, I ‘adn’t. Got me mind on ovver fings.”
“And what might that be?”
“The fact that I’m sittin’ in a pub wiff two vampires waitin’ for one of dem to pick out someone to bite and wonderin’ where I fit in in all this.”
“I see,” replied Declan. “Can we talk about this later? I’m bloody well starving.”
“So how does this work, Liam?”
“Well it can go several ways. We could just wait outside until someone comes out that you want to feed on and pull them into the alley, or I can glamour someone if you prefer.”
“Can I do that? Glamour someone, I mean.”
“You have the ability to do it but I’ll have to show you. Thom, do you mind if I charm you for a moment to show Declan here how it’s done.”
“Nah, go a-‘ead, mate. I trusts ya.”
Liam reached out and put his finger underneath Thom’s chin. Thom stared directly into his eyes.
“The trick is you have to see the pathways in your brain, look inward if you will, and travel the paths they lead you on until they connect up with the paths in the brain of the person you’re trying to control.”
Liam concentrated and Thom was quickly under his power.
“Say my name, Thom.”
“Liam,” Thom said mechanically.
“Wow!” Declan interjected.
Just as easily as he had put Thom under his spell, Liam released him.
“Now you try…that is if you don’t mind, Thom.”
“Nah. I’m game. Just don’t make me do nuffin’ silly.”
Thom winked at Declan.
Declan stared deeply into Thom’s eyes. As if it was something he had been able to do all his life he saw inside his head, watching as the flashes of light quickly led him to the pathways of Thom’s thoughts, thereby taking control of him.
“Stand up,” Declan decreed.
Thom did as he was instructed.
“Very good for your first time,” Liam stated.
“Thanks. Now how do I release him?”
“Easy…just break the connection in your mind.”
Declan closed his eyes as he severed the connection he had made with Thom. Thom stood there beside the table looking a bit confused. He carefully sat back down beside Declan as his face reddened.
“Don’t worry. All I did was make you stand up. Isn’t that right, Liam?”
“Yes. That’s all he did.”
The embarrassment in his cheeks subsided.
“If you’re going to glamour someone it would be best that you pick someone who’s here alone so as not to arouse suspicion. Like that chap there, the one just going to the loo. I’ve been watching him and he appears to be on his own tonight.”
Declan got up and followed the man that Liam had pointed out down the narrow, winding staircase to the bathroom. He stood outside the door waiting for him to come back out. It was all very new and exciting for Declan. When he did appear he nodded in acknowledgment. He was not much older than Declan, with mousy brown hair, dull brown eyes, and sort of nondescript looks – the kind of chap who doesn’t get a lot of second glances, one you’d forget as soon as he left the room. He was the perfect pick for a meal. Declan caught his eye and quickly gained control of his mind.
“You will follow me out of the pub,” he declared.
“I will follow you out of the pub,” the young man repeated quietly.
Vampire and prey climbed the stairway back into the barroom upstairs. They stopped at the table where Declan’s companions were still seated. Without saying a word, Liam and Thom stood up and followed the unlikely pair out of the pub and into a nearby alley. Thom tripped over some bit of refuse at his feet. He wasn’t able to see in the darkness very well like his mates could.
“Sorry,” he whispered.
Luckily he couldn’t see the look of disdain on Liam’s face, either. Liam was not used to having spectators along when trying to instruct a new vampire. He turned his attention back to Declan. Liam saw that Declan’s fangs had already popped into place and he was ready for his first proper feeding.
“Go on with you, then, lad. Tuck in,” Liam said.
“But how?” Declan asked.
“Just like you did when you attacked Thom earlier. It doesn’t take much to puncture these humans. Be certain to pay attention to the heartbeat that you feel from this one; if it starts to slow you should stop feeding.”
“Okay, I’ll try.”
Declan paused for moment then slowly pushed the young man’s head to one side, exposing his neck to the night air. The lad stood there silently, emotionless as he unknowingly awaited his fate. Declan opened his mouth and bit into the waiting neck. He immediately felt the warm flow of the stranger’s blood as if filled his mouth; Declan’s taste buds reacted to the fluid coming into contact with them as it conveyed its messages to his brain. Images flashed in Declan’s mind, a virtual cavalcade of the items consumed by his victim in his last several hours. He savoured the taste of the blood as his senses were engulfed by a myriad of new perceptions he had only briefly experienced when he bit into Thom’s neck earlier in the evening. Declan’s thoughts were only of the blood and how it felt, tasted, and overwhelmed his entire being. All sights and sounds in the alleyway seemed to disappear into nothingness as centuries of sires and progeny cheered his efforts. The sound of a beating heart echoed rhythmically in the background of their ovations, its beating growing slower and slower, fainter and fainter.
The sound in Declan’s ears was muffled, as if coming from miles away but he recognized his name being called out by his sire. He opened his eyes when he felt Liam’s hand on his neck, pulling him away from his food source.
“That’s enough, lad. You’ve nearly killed him. I really don’t want to have to dispose of any bodies this evening if I can help it.”
Declan barely comprehended what Liam was saying to him as he was still enraptured with his first proper fill of blood.
“Is ‘e gonna be alright? ‘E looks a bit rum to me.”
Thom was concerned that Dec looked as if he was somewhere else altogether.
“Yes, he’ll be fine. The blood affects each one of us differently; he’ll learn to moderate how it makes him feel after a while. It just takes some getting used to. Here…hold this chap up while I heal his wounds.”
Thom did as he was asked, fascinated by what he had just witnessed in the near pitch-black alley, the dim light barely letting him see the goings-on. Liam bit into his finger and smeared the blood on the wounds in the young man’s neck whereupon they healed quite quickly. Liam’s age and strength was quite impressive to Thom as he watched intently. He could barely stand up on his own he was so weak from his blood loss. Liam went through the chap’s pockets and took his cash, shoving it into Declan’s jacket minus a few pounds earmarked for another purpose.
“Let’s set him up beside the bin there. Thom, you run to the shop and get a carton of juice. Here’s a couple of quid…that ought to cover it.”
Time was that Liam would have left the young man for dead but the centuries had softened him. And it was much easier to heal someone’s wounds than to dispose of their corpse in an energetic city the size of London. He only wanted to show his offspring the proper way to feed and how to do it without killing his food source. Thom ran off and was back in a flash with some orange juice for the weakened lad.
“Declan…are you alright?” Liam asked.
“Yes, Liam. I’m okay.”
Declan had come out of his trancelike state and rejoined his friends. He looked down at the man who had unwillingly and nearly gave his all.
“Here. Give him this juice and make him drink it. He’s still under your control.”
Declan knelt down beside him and told his victim to drink the juice, that he would feel better. He nodded and quickly drank down the contents of the carton and let out a loud belch. Thom, Liam, and Declan all three laughed aloud. They all agreed on a story to tell the young man once Declan had released him. He closed his eyes and severed his connection to him. The lad rubbed his eyes and tried to stand up but found himself too weak to do so, plunking back down on the hard cobblestones.
“There, now,” Declan started his web of lies. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. What happened?”
“We came out of the pub and found you here. Looks like someone roughed you up a bit. I think you’ve been mugged. There’s some blood on your neck but I don’t think you’re very hurt. Is there anyone we can call for you?”
“What? No. I don’t know anyone in London. I was just in town for the football match. Say, aren’t you the bloke I saw in the pub…outside the loo?”
“Yes, I am. Coincidence.”
The young man stood up with Declan’s help. He shoved his hands in his pockets and came up empty, except for a return train ticket to Birmingham in his inside jacket pocket.
“Fuck! They took all me money. Now what am I supposed to do? I’ve got meself a room for the night but now I don’t have any way of paying for it. I guess I’ll have to sleep in the bloody train station if I can.”
Declan looked at Liam then back at his victim. He removed the wadded up money from his jacket pocket.
“How much do you need?”
“I can’t take your money, mate.”
“I insist. Here.”
Declan handed most of the young man’s money back to him. He was none the wiser that it was his own money he was being given.
“Wow. I don’t know what to say. Thanks. Give me your address and I’ll send you a money order in the post.”
“Not necessary. Just remember that someone in London was nice to you instead of the fact that you were robbed. We’re not all bad. Maybe sometime you can help somebody else out.”
“I will. I won’t ever forget this. Can I at least buy you and your mates a drink?”
“That would be nice. Yes. Thank you.”
As they exited the alley, Liam shot a flabbergasted look at Declan, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Declan smiled back at him knowing he still had a lot to learn about being a proper vampire but feeling good that he knew he still had some humanity left inside.