4 of 5 stars.
This is an addict’s tale. One of taking the days as they come, one at a time, and trying to do them all blindly drunk to the point of inactivity . . .
Matilda was drunk, but then she was always drunk anymore. Dizzy drunk. Stumbling drunk. Stupid drunk. Whatever kind of drunk she could get.
The man she stood with snaked his hand around her back, warm fingers digging into her side as he pulled her closer. He and his friend with the open-necked shirt grinned down at her like underage equaled dumb, and dumb equaled gullible enough to sleep with them.
She thought they might just be right.
Here, the addiction is to blood and being inebriated blocks the urges just enough to get by. Contemporary vampire urban fantasies romanticize the horror more than in the past. But this one strikes into new territory finding new mythos and variants to an old canon.
Matilda has been bitten, infected, but she’s not dead yet and thereby not a vampire. Infections only go septic when the victim feeds, then there is body-death, re-birth and eternal life. None of which Matilda wants. The infection was a lapse of judgment analogous to casual sex without a condom. She can outlast the infection, however, if she can get through 88 days of withdrawal and blood-craving. Then life goes back to normal. Until then, it’s drunkenness to dull the vampiric urges. And purposeful isolation from her boyfriend Julian and her family, lest she relapse and bite or kill them en route to eternal life.
But then on drunken day 57, Julian goes missing into the vampiric underworld along with a friend’s sister that longs to become a vampire. Matilda’s battle with her addition and helping others is tested . . .
This short story, not to be confused with this author’s novel-length urban fantasy of the same name published in 2013, was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran.
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