The Wicked Dead

By: Rick Gualtieri

(The Tome of Bill, Part 7)

There are reasons we fear the night. Now he must become one of them.

Bill Ryder has a powerful destiny. He just never expected it to involve an amnesiac bloodsucker, a bunch of D&D dorks, and a hormonal witch. It's time for the gamer, geek, and legendary vampire to embrace his fate. Ordered to storm the vampire stronghold in Boston, Bill must approach the doorstep of the invincible undead warlord he's destined to face. It's his only chance of stopping Armageddon.

As his enemies stand in his way and his allies falter, the vicious beast inside of him wants out. If he stands tall and faces his fate, the world might just have a chance of surviving. If he fails, an unquenchable evil will destroy everything Bill knows and loves.

Why can't the end of the world ever be easy?

For that circle of close friends I keep. You may be small in number, but you mean the world to me. You inspire me, listen to me vent when I have to, and smack me upside the head when I need it.

Special thanks to my awesome alpha and beta crews – Alissa, Ruby, Solace, Chris, Evgenia, Matt, Adam, Scott, Angela, Don, and Jim. I couldn’t have done this without your help. You pimp-slapped this story into line, kept me grounded, and also helped remind me that Wolverine’s claws go SNIKT, not SNICKT.

Prologue: Destiny’s Bitch

How the hell did I end up here?

Not in this actual place, mind you. That one is pretty damn easy. I mean, I live here – not actually in the bathroom, of course. I’m talking here in a metaphysical sense anyway.

See, not too long ago, I died and was resurrected as one of the fiendish ... err ... fiends of the night – the nosferatu, which I’m pretty sure is a movie name and not a scientific classification. In laymen’s terms, I got bitten and woke up as a vampire.

That was fucking weird enough, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Things snowballed from there, all the way to a problem that sorta concerns the end of the world. Pretty heady stuff for a guy whose typical weekend used to involve little more than getting shitfaced.

Sadly, there’s a supernatural war raging, one fated to lead to an end state not entirely dissimilar to the Biblical Armageddon.

It gets even better. Through actions not entirely my fault, I am afforded the privilege of receiving credit for starting this war. Go me!

But that’s not all. According to a bunch of dusty old scrolls – ones that I’m not even allowed to read – I’m supposed to be a major player in its outcome.

All in all, it’s a nightmare I can’t seem to wake up from.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I’m no hero. I’m just a...

Wait a second. Was I actually about to go off into a whining bitch-fest about never asking for any of this? Ugh. That’s it; I’ve become a fucking movie cliché. I might as well change my last name to Potter and resign myself to the fact that, no matter what I do, the dumbasses in charge will be too fucking stupid to stop anything without my stepping in and winning the Tri-wizard Tournament or some shit like that.

Any of a dozen movie plotlines run through my head, and they’re all more or less the same: reluctant hero must believe in himself because destiny cannot be denied ... blah blah blah. Goddamn, are there no original stories left to tell? Oh well, at least most of them aren’t musicals. According to my sixth-grade band teacher, if I was forced to play for my supper, I’d die a slow death by starvation.

Any way you look at it, I’ve been shoehorned into a role I don’t want – especially right now. If anything, I have plenty of other shit to keep my mind occupied, some pretty good stuff at that.

Hell, two blonde goddesses live just one floor below me – either one of which I would be more than happy to call my girlfriend, lover, or chick who occasionally fucks my brains out but otherwise treats me like shit. One of them is a plucky, mind-scrambled vampire who, if attitude were ice cubes, could sink the fucking Titanic. The other is my former co-worker turned ancient enemy that I am destined to one day battle to the death. Shit, entire romance series have been written about crap like that.

Yet, with all that potential, I’m distracted from what should come naturally. I mean, I’m locked in a bathroom. Under normal circumstances, I’d be more than happy to indulge my imagination so as to take care of business – if you catch my drift.

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