David Wellington

Thirteen Bullets




Monday, January 9th, 2006

Though far and near the bullets hiss/I’ve scaped a bloodier hour than this.

-George Gordon, Lord Byron, The Giaour

Incident Report filed by Special Deputy Jameson Arkeley, 10/4/83 (Recorded on reel to reel audio tape):

Through the rain there wasn’t much to see. The all-night diner stood at the corner of two major streets. Its plate glass windows spilled a little light on the pavement. I handed the binoculars to Webster, my local police liaison. “Do you see him?” I asked.

The subject in question, one Piter Byron Lares (probably an alias), sat at the diner’s counter, hunched over in deep conversation with a middle-aged waitress. He would be a big man if he stood up but leaning over like that he didn’t look so imposing. His face was very pale and his black hair stood up in a wild shock of frizzy curls. An enormous red sweater hung off him—another attempt at camouflaging his size, I figured. He wore thick eyeglasses with tortoise-shell rims.

“I don’t know what they teach you at Fed school, Arkeley, but I’ve never heard of one them needing glasses,” Webster said while handing me back the binoculars.

“Shut up.” The week before I had found six dead girls in a cellar in Liverpool, West Virginia. They’d been having a slumber party. They were in so many pieces it took three lab technicians working night and day in a borrowed school gymnasium just to decide how many bodies we had. Every night since then I’d had to look at more bodies. I had beaten one of Lares’ minions to dust with my bare hands just to find out his alias. Tonight was going to be the last night.

Lares stood up, his head still bowed, and took a leather wallet out of his pocket. He began to count out small bills. Then he seemed to think of something. He looked up, around the diner. He rose to his full height and looked out at the street.

“Did he just make us?” Webster demanded. “In this weather?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. About a gallon of bright red blood erupted across the diner’s front window. I couldn’t see anything inside.

“Shit!” I screamed, and pushed my way out of the car, across the sidewalk, the rain soaking me instantly. I burst inside the diner, my star bright on my jacket, but he was already gone and there was nobody left alive inside to be impressed. The waitress lay on the floor, her head nearly torn off her body. You read about them and you expect vampire wounds to be dainty little things, maybe a pair of bad hickeys. Lares had chewed most of the woman’s neck off. Her jugular vein stuck out like the neck of a deflated balloon.

No. More like a straw.

Blood spilled off the counter, blood had splattered the ceiling. I unholstered my service revolver and stepped around the body. There was a door in the back. I had to stop myself from racing back there. If he was in the back and I ran into him in the shadows by the men’s room I wouldn’t survive my curiosity. I headed back out into the rain where Webster already had the car running. He’d been busy rousing the locals. A helicopter swooped low over our heads with a racket that was sure to get complaints tomorrow morning. The chopper’s spotlight blasted holes in the shadows all around the diner. Webster got us moving, pulled us around the alley behind the restaurant. I peered through the rain at the dumpsters and the scattered garbage. Nothing happened. We had plenty of backup watching the front of the restaurant. We had heavy weapons guys coming in. The helicopter could stay up there all night if it needed to. I tried to relax.

“SWAT’s moving,” Webster told me. He replaced his radio handset.

The dumpster in the alley shifted an inch. Like some homeless guy inside had rolled over in his sleep. Both of us froze for a second. Long enough to be sure we’d both seen it. I brought my weapon up and tested the action. I was loading JHPs for maximal tissue damage and I had sighted in the pistol myself. If I could have gotten my gun blessed by a priest I would have.

“Special Deputy Arkeley, maybe we should back off and let SWAT negotiate with him,” Webster told me. His using my official title meant he wanted to go on the record as doing everything possible to avoid a violent takedown. Covering his ass. We both knew there was no chance of Lares coming peacefully.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said, my nerves all twisted up. “Yeah.” I eased off on my grip on my pistol and kicked angrily at the floorboards.

The dumpster came apart in pieces and a white blur launched itself outward, out of the alley. It collided with our car hard enough to knock us up onto two wheels. My door caved in and pinned my arm to my side, trapping my weapon. Webster grabbed for his own handgun even as the car fell back to the road surface, throwing us both up against our seat belts, knocking the wind out of me.

Webster reached across me and discharged his weapon three times. I could feel my face and hands burning with spent powder, I could smell cordite and nothing else. I was deaf for a good half minute afterwards. My window exploded outwards but a few tiny cubes of glass danced and spun in my lap.

I turned my head sideways feeling like I was being crushed in a giant hand—I could see everything normally but I could barely move. Framed perfectly in the shattered safety glass was Lares’ grinning, torn-up face. Rain was washing the blood off his mouth but it didn’t improve his looks. His glasses were ruined, twisted arms of tortoiseshell and cobwebbed lenses. At least one of Webster’s shots had gone in through Lares’ right eye. The white jelly inside had burst outward and I could see red bone in the socket. The other two bullets had gone into the side of his nose and his right cheek. The wounds were horrible, bloody, and definitely fatal.

As I watched they undid themselves. It was like when you run over one of those shatterproof trash cans and they slowly but surely undent themselves, returning to their former shape in seconds. A puff of white smoke in Lares’ vacant eye socket solidified, plumped out into a brand new eyeball. The wound in his nose shrank away to nothing and the one in his cheek might as well have been a trick of the light. Like a shadow it just disappeared.

When he was whole and clean again he slowly took the broken glasses off his face and threw them over his shoulder. Then he opened his mouth and grinned. Every one of his teeth was sharpened to a point. It wasn’t like in the movies at all. It looked more like the mouth of a shark, with row after row of tiny knives embedded in his gums. He gave us a good, long look at his mouth and then he jumped over our car. I could hear his feet beating on the roof and he was all at once on the other side. He hit the ground running, running toward Liberty Avenue.

The SWAT team arrived at the corner before he did, sliding out of an armored van, four agents carrying MP5s. They wore full helmets and riot armor but it wasn’t standard issue. Their commanding officer had insisted I give them a chance to modify their kit. We all knew what we were getting into, he told me; we’d all seen plenty of movies before.

So the SWAT guys had crucifixes hot-glued all over them, everything they could get, from big carved wood Roman Catholic models with gruesome Jesuses hanging down to dime-store nickel-plated crosses like you would find on a charm bracelet. I bet they felt pretty safe under all that junk.

Lares laughed out loud and tore off his red sweater. Underneath it his torso was one rippling mass of muscle. White skin, hairless, poreless, writhed over the submerged lumps of his vertebrae. He looked a lot less human with his shirt off. He looked more like some kind of albino bear. A wild animal. A mankiller.

30 Responses to “One”

  1. Sean

    January 9th, 2006 at 5:35 am

    Wahoo! First in the book! (Sorry, Dave, hadda brag, never managed to get first in the other books)
    Vampires! And nothing effete about ’em! Thanks, Dave, for not letting me down! 🙂

  2. Adrian hates Sean =) but LOVES 13 BULLETS!!!

    January 9th, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    “Vampires? I hate vampires!”
    Crazy guy, Blade 2
    David, i must admit Ive liked vampire fiction but ive only read a litle and i only watched a few vampire flicks, but this was fantastic! the beast vampire is a cool image, remove the romantic notion of the nobleman of the night and make him a “shark” fantastic! Its started of excellent! but isnt it supposed to be set in 2003? or did i mis-read?
    Dave will it be mon, wed and friday updates again? why not everyday ‘cos i want more already and i just read it! =)
    Fantastic David and thanks for keeping up with the writing!!

  3. Donny D

    January 9th, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Fantastic Mr. Wellington. You action-centric writing style mixed with updated interpretations of classic monster archetypes equals great reading. You spiffed up the undead before, and from the looks of the first chapter, I believe you have done it again. Iam anxiously awaiting Wednesday!

  4. bagelgod

    January 9th, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    This is what I get for sleeping in….I miss the first post. Anyway, school doesn’t start for another week, and I think I’m ready to face it now that you’re up and writing again. Great first chapter, I can’t wait to see whats next.

  5. digbeta

    January 9th, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    ahhhhhhh. It’s like getting a fix. Not that I would know what that feels like.

  6. HellishHeadsplitter

    January 9th, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    I loved what you did for zombies in the Monster Island trilogy, now you’re doing a hell of a job for vampires. Even with just the first chapter here I can tell that this will rank up with the likes of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. I truly love how you just sift out all of the (ironically) fictitious nonsense to get to a pure, animalistic evil. Keep it going, Mr. Wellington, cause we’re all craving more from the master!

  7. Sean

    January 9th, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    Sorry to double post, but it just occured to me: does anyone else find it interesting that Special Deputy Arkeley writes his incident reports in Dave’s action-packed prose style? I wonder if the other guys on the force ever tell him he should write supernatural fiction. 🙂

  8. Chris Cyr

    January 9th, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    That was amazing man, I am so glad to see this new novel, I’ve been aching for a good read for so long… Im so buying your monster Island book, can’t wait till Nation and Planet come out to. Its one thing to have read them, but I want them all. Keep up the good work, you’ll be a well known novelist for sure!

  9. briangc

    January 9th, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    Good stuff!
    And here, I watched Blade Trinity just last night…
    Gotta agree with the comment above though, Dave…the first thing I noticed is that the deputy’s “incident report” was extreeeemely well-written. Is he your alter-ego? 😀

  10. Dave (the Author)

    January 9th, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    Hey, thanks everybody.
    I read about fifty real police reports before I started writing this. I tried writing in that style… and believe me, you would not have sat through the result. Police writing, even when it’s done well, is designed to maximize the amount of detail relevant or otherwise. It’s unreadable as entertainment.
    As for Arkeley’s florid style… chalk it up to poetic license.

  11. alnjo

    January 9th, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    you still the man
    good stuff dave
    a great graphic novel
    peace out

  12. mrgrooism

    January 10th, 2006 at 1:08 am

    I’ve been onboard since about halway through Monster Island but never really dove into the comments, I figured I’d come in the middle so why bother. MY LOSS, I know.
    David, David, David, a kickass action-packed start that OF COURSE leaves us with plenty of questions. One thing I’ve come to expect is not MERELY the unexpected, but quantum leaps in Unexpectedness, hee hee!

  13. Dark lord of the sifffff, a dark knight with a lisp aka Adrian

    January 10th, 2006 at 8:58 am

    Dave I wasnt going to say anymore but i agree i was thrown by the report thing, i thought you were going to have an excerpt like in nation and lead into the policemans report but then it looked like the story was the report…dude im confused, lets pretend that the guy was trying to impress his captain since his captains wife is a swedish swinger with big boobs!! and he wants in on tha…ok sorry again…but…sexist?…ok never mind about the captain wife thing, sorry girls!

  14. mendoza

    January 10th, 2006 at 9:04 am

    Awesome stuff man!!! I love vampires!! This seems very promising.

  15. Dave (the Author)

    January 10th, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Hey, guys, I’ve made one small change, indicating that the report was recorded on reel to reel tape. That should explain why it doesn’t read like policese, right?
    You guys are getting too good at this–it’s getting so I can’t get away with anything anymore!
    Seriously, though, that’s how I improve as a writer, so thanks, and keep it up.
    Oh, and welcome to the new commenters! I’m glad to hear from you, and glad to hear you’ve been around for a while. These comments are half the fun of writing one of these books.

  16. Rakie

    January 10th, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    It’s soooooo good to have the stories back, they bring the happy. Excellent first chapter, can’t wait to read more!! (although i still prefer zombies to vampires… thought i’d get that opinion out right now) 😀

  17. Timmy

    January 11th, 2006 at 12:00 am

    …i feel as i have just emerged from a very long desert.. or dessert

  18. z0mb13

    January 11th, 2006 at 12:05 am

    I missed you Dave. Ever since the Moster series ended I felt like something was missing from my life. Sure, the blog was nice, but I needed more monsters and ass kicking. You delivered in spades.
    Thank you.
    It’s nice to have you back.
    2006 just started out right.

  19. Tiberius Zero

    January 11th, 2006 at 12:16 am

    Great stuff. Haven’t read Monster Island yet but it’s on my list. Keep up the great work.

  20. thomas

    January 11th, 2006 at 12:57 am

    Great stuff. Found this through BoingBoing. And I agree with the earlier poster – nice to see a vampire that doesn’t mince around.

  21. Cerati

    January 11th, 2006 at 1:10 am

    So I take it crucifixes and what not, won’t work on these vampires. Great to have you back and I can’t wait for Monster series to hit the shelves.

  22. Chad

    January 11th, 2006 at 3:17 am

    Hooray! Welcome back and very well done. I also just pre-ordered Monster Island – can’t wait to hold it in my hands.

  23. Scott

    January 11th, 2006 at 4:33 am

    Very, very well done.
    Like many others, I’ve been reading since the Monster Island days. I’m thrilled to see you do vampires, and to do such a great job in the very first post. While the romantic vampire is cool, much is left to be said for the savage vampire.
    Now if you could throw in some Vampire vs. Zombie action, or maybe a cameo with a werewolf, I’d be incredibly happy.
    Looking forward to reading this novel as it progresses!

  24. William Porto

    January 11th, 2006 at 4:58 am

    And The Master is back!
    I’ve always had a fascination with vampires, not from a Goth perspective but from an ethical and mortal one. Ann Rice’s classic “Interview” was fantastic because she didn’t dwell so much on the vampire mythos as much as she did on their ethics and consequences. She touched on what it meant to live forever, if it’s a curse or a blessing, and what it meant for someone not predisposed to violence to have to live off the blood of others. If I recall, Lewis, her protagonist in “Interview,” lived off animals at first before he finally gave into his desires.
    The first person narrative is a new twist. After having my Wellington in third-person, it was a bit of an adjustment to change perspectives.
    I’m looking forward to a long and wonderful ride!

  25. Phuzz

    January 11th, 2006 at 9:19 am

    Oooooh, no, nononono, you are NOT doing it to me again. This time, I’m waiting ’till you complete the bloody thing, and then I’ll read it in a single sitting. Having to wait for two whole days between chapters in Monster Planet was horrible, I am not particularly keen to repeat the experience. 😉

  26. DJ Vollkasko

    January 11th, 2006 at 10:24 am

    Hooked. Again.

  27. Don

    January 11th, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    That was fantastic. Very cool entry into the Vampire fiction logs.
    Keep it up. I love Vampires. Very cool indeed.

  28. Jalikek

    January 11th, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    I didn’t come in till the end of Monster planet, so I got to read the trilogy the whole way through. I’m not to big on vampires, but you definitely have me hooked. I was confused about the police report for the first few paragraphs, then I just forgot about it and enjoyed. I can’t imagine the work involved in writing something that is 100% accurate and enjoyable at the same time.

  29. james

    January 12th, 2006 at 3:24 am

    a new book!!
    pre-ordered moster island too! can’t wait!!!

  30. elle's hearwritenow

    January 16th, 2006 at 5:40 am

    Way to go Dave! This looks so cool!
    Like some of the others I scrolled back to see where the incident report ended and the narative began, and then just shrugged it off. Not that it’s important (and I suppose this will be answered in the next chapter or so anyway), but does it have to be written as an incident report? How about just first person narative?

New books

Pass Fail cover

Three new David Wellington eBooks are available now. These are full-length novels, and you can get all three for the price of a paperback:

Rivals: Sibling teen superheroes. Fight!

Pass/Fail: High school can be murder.

Plague Zone: Zombies!

Learn more about David's books and join in the discussion at the Hail Horrors Ning forum.

Table of Contents

Thirteen Bullets Part 1: Lares
Thirteen Bullets Part 2: Congreve
Thirteen Bullets Part 3: Reyes
Thirteen Bullets Part 4: Scrapegrace
Thirteen Bullets Part 5: Malvern

Latest News

April 29: Zombie Night at WORD Bookstore

April 27th 2015

The Fear Project

January 14th 2015

Dave Will be at Phoenix ComicCon 2014!

April 28th 2014

See Dave at BEA, or Chat Live from the floor!

May 23rd 2013