So this week I reached into my vast collection of rejection letters and pulled out this one, from Schooner Bay Literary Agency:
I did rewrite both the police department and the hockey rink massacre scenes several times, with major rewrites just before I put out the Lulu version of Long Before Dawn. The vampires still attack and kill children, though, on account of they’re evil. Or, as I’ve put it at other times, VAMPIRES ARE MONSTERS!
That’s why you need to hunt them down with, for instance, tent stakes.
Upstairs after dinner, sitting on his bed, Jeff wondered why he had lied to his mother. Everything he had forgotten was very clear now, crystal clear in his mind, like a memory finely sculpted and polished to perfection. He could recall every word, every sound, every call of every bird that braved the upstate New York winter. He remembered the sensation of the fog on his face, the tiny pulling he had felt passing through it, as if a million microscopic hands were grabbing at him; he remembered the smell of blood and corpses.
He remembered Lauren Fletcher and her probing hand.
The hypnotist at the hospital hadn’t believed him, he knew that; Dr. Kinney hadn’t believed him either. But the other man—the big cop—he seemed pleased by what Jeff had told them. Not pleased, exactly, but—what? Satisfied? Jeff wasn’t sure, but he was convinced that that man, Officer Barstow, had believed every word he’d said, even though he’d pretended to be disappointed, had apologized to the hypnotist and the doctor for wasting their time. It was all an act, an act that Jeff saw right through. The question was, what would Barstow do about it? Tell the other policemen? No, they’d think he was nuts, they’d kick him off the force and take away his gun.
Why did Barstow believe him, anyway? He’d have asked the man about it, but two things stopped him. First, he was somewhat uncomfortable asking questions of a cop, even one who worked for his Mom’s insurance company; and second, he was supposed to be under a posthypnotic suggestion to forget everything he’d told them, and he didn’t want to reveal that the suggestion hadn’t taken. There had been a moment when the memories had fuzzed, when it had seemed as if they would be locked away again, but then they burst through bright and clear, a rush of thoughts that would not be locked away by anything so puny as a man with a shiny watch.
He knew there’d been a lot of disappearances lately, but until now he hadn’t known why. Now he did. Vampires. In New York. In his home town. In the twenty-first century.
They’d killed Ronald. He’d realized that immediately, as soon as the memories were unlocked from whatever part of his brain the boss vampire had pushed them to. But he was partly responsible for Ronald’s death too. Hadn’t he called his friend up and made merciless fun of him for running away from the ravine—which, he now knew, had been the most sensible thing Ronald had ever done? And then hadn’t Ronald sneaked out and gone back to the tunnel to prove he wasn’t a chicken? And then hadn’t the vampire gotten him?
Yes, yes, and yes. Jeff was sure of it. But the fact that Ronald had been killed was part of the reason the hypnotist hadn’t believed him. He remembered the man telling Officer Barstow, during the hypnosis session, “The kid’s backdating some fantasy to explain why his friend was murdered. Children need to believe everything happens for a reason. Randomness is psychologically very unhealthy for kids.” He figured he was supposed to forget that, too, along with everything else. But he hadn’t forgotten it. It was there in his mind, crisp and clear as a television picture.
He knew full well this was no fantasy. He knew full well that the vampire had drunk Ronald’s blood and then cut off his head to keep him from rising as one of the undead.
Jeff shivered and crawled, fully clothed, under the covers.
He knew full well that his father’s big wooden tent stakes were in a box in the basement.