From the Back Cover

“No longer a place of putrid pleasure, but a place of devastation.”

Vampires roam the streets unhindered. In their midst, the vampiric Seven Deadly Sins devour the life-force of their sin name-sake. But lurking in the shadows is a threat deadlier than Natural, Sin and human alike.

With the disappearance of one of their own, it falls upon Lust to seek answers, find her companion and expose the veiled menace. All the while dealing with her own personal demons, making allies and enemies along the way.

Will she have the strength to find her friend and stop the threat?

Genre: Horror

Excerpt

Below you can read the first 10 pages of The Devastations of Lust, by L.H.Pritchard

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Prologue

If I was to look into a mirror that showed the reflection of my former life and the person I used to be, the disfiguring transformations that had taken me under would make the strongest mirror shatter into tiny fragments. That reflection has been lost.

Decades have passed since my image was broken. No longer searching for the thing I craved the most. Instead I became soulless, denied from taking an innocent feeling and feeding off it. Everything I knew before manifested into something new and deranged: a darker, more confident version of myself became unleashed.

I no longer had to put myself aside to please others who stank of wealth and pride and getting nothing in return. Craving for something as normal as love and never experiencing it all seems meaningless now.

Or so I thought…

Stench

Chapter 1

3.30am in the lonely streets of London. There was no one around at all – not even the crack dealers. The roads and walkways completely deserted. Perfect. It was a bitterly cold February early morning with a light coating of frost spread around the dirty streets, where I had been walking for hours.

The sky was clear. Not a star in sight; there was just the dark, with a slightly dense atmosphere. The cold wasn’t a problem for me, it was more of a comfort. I liked to believe it was cooling my thoughts, but perhaps that was wishful thinking.

To start with, I told myself the reason for my early morning stroll was because I was peckish. But in actual fact, it was because I couldn’t shut off my thoughts. Not that there was any real emotional attachment to them, but they were a kind of recurring niggle; an irritant more than anything.

I’d never seen the streets so dead, nobody at all. Just silence broken apart by the occasional flapping bat or snuffling fox noise. You could pretty much hear a pin drop.

What the hell was that?! Conveniently, my thoughts were interrupted by loud noises coming from the next street. The noise was all too familiar. It was the sound of a life struggling to escape Grim’s scythe.

Oh, he’s at it again! I walked quickly. Oh, that’s a stench and a half! A smell that could only be described as a pair of regurgitated old socks! And I knew what a stench smelled like, believe me. I could also hear metal bins hitting the floor, accompanied by screaming. Definitely not discreet! That’s it, I was going to have to move quicker. I switched from a brisk walk to a stride.

Yeah, that is definitely him, never quiet when he is eating, he’s such a PIG!

Getting to the corner of the road leading to where the noise was coming from, I turned into the alley they were in. I made sure I was very quiet.

There he is, the tainted soldier in all his glory… Standing in the shadows, I watched the devouring happen. The man in question, with such revolting eating habits, was known to some as Thomas Grimus. However, a select few of us knew him just as Grimus. This could be explained by what I was witnessing right now. But the name that he was more famous for and commonly known as was Gluttony.

Still camouflaged in the darkness, I continued to watch the consumption. The sight of Grimus feeding was revolting. There wasn’t any etiquette or manners, it was just rough, as if he hadn’t fed in weeks. Best described as watching a pack of hyenas, but instead of many there was only one. In Grimus’s case, I’d estimate this to be more like his fifteenth meal.

Or is that too kind? I called him a pig, but to look at him you wouldn’t know he ate enough food, or in this case blood, to feed a whole family. Grimus himself appeared a mere lad, at the age of twenty-six he looked much younger. His eyes were an intense dark blue, he had dirty blonde hair with natural golden streaks, he was tall – at least six foot four – and very lanky, with an innocent boyish look, but also gaunt to look at, with a surprisingly strong jaw.

A well- dressed, well-groomed fellow, he was wearing a fitted navy-blue shirt, dark jeans and a burnt-red leather jacket. A boy who looked like he would do anything for someone: he looked trustworthy and would protect you if you needed it.

Far from the truth. He was a devourer of gluttonous souls who had the blood that suited his desire.

Clearly this was a treat for him. Screaming didn’t seem to help matters at all. Grimus’s victim was an obese man in his late forties. His breath was heavy and slightly wheezy as he got chucked around, you could see his immense amounts of flab rippling. Grimus was enjoying hearing the man wailing in fear and grinned at the panicked expression on his face.

He kept flapping his arms about desperately, as if that was going to help him, but it just made him look like a flailing looney. I wondered how much commotion they were making, so I went for a quick stroll to see if it had caught any human attention, concerned they may attract unwanted eyes.

Luckily, it had not. Returning back to my spot, I waited for Grimus’s fun to be over.

The feeding felt to me like it was taking too long. Standing there watching blood being spilled all over the place was making me hungry again and I started to fidget somewhat.

Time for a cigarette. As soon I clicked my Zippo, Grimus lifted his head and smirked, licked his lips and tossed the guy aside. He was dead.

Smiling back, I exhaled blue smoke. From the crouched position he was in he stood, posing like a vain model. He came over to my side, pushed my shoulder to the nearest wall and put his head to mine, then took a puff of the cigarette that was approaching my lips.

“Don’t think I didn’t know you were there!” he said, smiling like a Cheshire cat. “You alright Lusty?”

He was the younger brother I never wanted, one of only two people I felt I could trust. I never asked for that. Up until I met Grimus, I detached myself from anyone, even though my name forcibly kept me attached.

Looking directly into his blue eyes, I pushed him from me and replied.

“Been better, how’s your dinner?” I wanted to quickly change the subject.

“Divine.” He smirked. “Come on, Grim baby, you know you don’t have to act posh around me. For one, you’re common as muck and I’ve known you for far too long.”

His face didn’t change, he was still smiling broad as if someone had slit his mouth with a knife. “What’s crawling up your…?”Before he finished his sentence, I cut in. “Nothing you need to concern yourself about. I don’t frigging know anyway, thinking about it is making my head hurt.” I needed to redirect the topic of conversation. “By the way, we haven’t seen our friend in a while.” “True! I think it’s due! Let’s go to The Pitt.” Grimus replied.

We walked, in what for me was a comfortable silence past the markets, the locks and pubs into alleys that lead into the pitch black. The darkness wasn’t a problem for us, our eyes adapted as soon as the light disappeared. However, that didn’t matter so much as The Pitt wasn’t really located in a place that was easy to find. It was only known by reputation, and that’s how the owner liked it.

It took longer than usual to get to The Pitt, as we both decided to go the scenic route, making sure we dumped the drained body on a lesser being on the way, which in turn bought me another drink.

Detachments and Attachments

Chapter 2

For all intents and purposes, I am Lust. If you have heard of the Deadly Sins, you’ll understand the concept. If not, then I should go into a little bit more detail.

The Sins, in human regard, were first thought of as not seven, but eight temptations that would lead men into hell. Years after this notion was conjured, the eight temptations were shortened by one and named the seven Deadly Sins. This was considered an important Christian concept, created by a Christian, but was never stated in the bible.

The Sins were and are still known as: Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Envy and Greed. This concept was never fully realised until the birth of the first ever vampiric Sin, Pride.

Pride was the ringleader of this unholy alliance; no matter what Sin you had been cursed with, Pride was literally thought of as the Devil’s Sin.

Everything stems from Pride, the original evil. We are a select few ‘super vampires’. Understanding the concept of vampiric Deadly Sins is not complicated, but complex.

Here are the basic vampire rules:

– Yes, we are vampires, so most of the principles still apply. – We drink blood, which is only so we can survive. – Sunlight doesn’t make us pretty, it burns to the point of molten flesh. – Garlic doesn’t send us into anaphylactic shock, it just makes the throat itchy. – And we do not sleep in coffins. Well, not all of us.

So, that is what it means to be a vampire. Obviously, each thing can apply differently, but the principle rules are all the same. And yet, there are many differences between ourselves and normal vampires. The biggest difference is that we can’t feed on any old soul: it has to be someone who has committed a sin. What I mean by that is, Gluttony, for example can only ingest humans that are gluttonous; mainly people that abuse themselves in one way or another, like eating too much and becoming obese.

I can only target people that are either rampant with lust (desperate for sex), or who abuse lust as a feeling, believing that they are not getting what they believe they deserve sexually (rape or forcing oneself on a victim). Pride feeds on the proud, ‘the haughty’; Envy, the jealous and grasping. Greed feeds on those who are deemed greedy and selfish and Sloth feeds off those who are lazy or cannot be bothered. And so on and so forth. In some cases, you could think of it as a fear that was created by punishment.

Regular vampires do not have any rules when it comes to feeding. One would think that would make them superior, as they are not held back by any restrictions, but quite the contrary. Just because we can’t eat whomever we want doesn’t mean we are a weak species. Our senses are sharper, we become more powerful the older we get.

Our abilities mature and grow, which means we learn to adapt to situations and scenarios quicker. In other words, even though our bodies have died, it would appear our brains haven’t. In time we can learn and adapt more so than an average vampire. The bizarre thing about the condition of being a Sin is that becoming a Sin is dependent on the life you lead before the transformation.

In Grimus’s case, he was never obese or abused food in a gluttonous manner – it was quite the opposite. This principle is the same for us all: suffering in life and not reaping any benefits made our bodies and minds the perfect vessel for a darker, more advanced creature. Maybe that was the cruel game that fate liked to play?

You’d think a higher being would have saved our souls, not stripped them from us. In truth I didn’t know everyone’s background story. Grimus and I kept to ourselves, but still I was pretty sure we all had similar misfortunes.

There are only seven vampiric Sins, no more no less. And Sins can only be created by a Sin, or so I had been told. If I was to be truthful, I wasn’t sure of the science behind it. I couldn’t comprehend why there were only seven, as I was pretty damn sure we weren’t the only vampires that had suffered during our human lives.

On the other hand, to go with the legend of the Christian version, it made perfect sense. But who was I to even raise an eyebrow at this matter? All I needed to know was that I was a Sin, who had never experienced love or compassion, and that was the means to becoming Lust.

Becoming Lust was, in my opinion, the best thing that could ever have happened. Admittedly, sex repulsed me before becoming a Sin, it wasn’t a pleasure but an obligation. But now, there was nothing more satisfying than going for the kill just as it hits climax.

The sensation is out of this world. I did however wonder every few decades, why me? That was the niggling question that haunted me. Not to sound self- involved or ungrateful, particularly as I preferred the life I had now.

But I couldn’t help but wonder, what made me so special? There were millions of people that hadn’t had love. So, what made me unique enough to be a Sin? I feared that was a question that could never really be answered, that I just had to accept: it just was.

The Pitt

Chapter 3

Just as we were getting closer to the venue, Grimus turned to me and broke the peaceful silence.

What a shame. “Do you remember the time we drank vampire blood? For me, it was the bubbling feeling inside, thinking it tasted like spicy coals that put me off. Not to mention not feeling too great for a good couple of hours, which was proven as we couldn’t move. However grim that experience was, I still wanted to know why it felt as bad as it did and how it made you feel, as I never asked you.”

I have to admit, it was a good conversation starter, and in fact I never thought about it, it was such a long time ago. But how Grimus described it seemed to be familiar to me.

“That was the first time we did anything so stupid, but honestly, I just wanted to know Lusty, how many rules have you broken?”

I looked at him and had a strange feeling that I knew where this conversation was actually headed.

“Grim baby, you know curiosity killed the cat, right?” I said smirking, twisting my hair, trying not to show any concern in my face. And then the penny dropped: he was talking about, he was thinking about consuming some blood other than his type.

Where is this coming from? “Wait, you’ve been a vampire longer than me, and you haven’t been tempted to try blood that isn’t your type before?” “No, I’m not a little troublemaker like you are!” he said, sticking his tongue out in a mischievous manner.

Then he started to shuffle his feet on the floor, which gave me enough time to say: “If it is what I think it is, then the worst case I could imagine is either food poisoning, or in my case, I got a bad allergic reaction. But hey, if you’re serious about this don’t come crying to me if you end up throwing up the entirety of your stomach content.”

“What’s the saying? Something to do with if you don’t try, you won’t know? Shoulda, woulda, coulda?”

“All right, your funeral.” I said, grinning. As we approached the entrance of The Pitt, the smell of stale beer, blood and cigarettes filled my nostrils. Sniffing the air, it reminded me of how much I loved the place. It was truly intoxicating.

We’ve returned Home! The Pitt was the biggest vampire cliché known, other than plastering a room full of garlic as a vampire repellent. A medieval, orgasmic torture chamber of cannibalism, well, at least in character, if not entirely in looks. It was dark and hidden as the name suggests, just like the secret rooms that were for our eyes only. Admittedly, The Pitt was my second home, but not the best for privacy as it attracted a lot of, I shall call them ‘natural vampires’, which could mean a lot of fights.

And yet it never stopped me and my Grimus companion from going. Let’s just say it was never dull. This place would never be described as flamboyant or loud. It was discreet and dark, just like its colours. A true ‘mans’ pub. Just like the man who ran it. The decoration of The Pitt was mainly mahogany, greys, blacks, and brown. I would have described it as majestic, with an old-worldly charm to it. Being large enough to fit a good crowd, the bar was long and wide with more than enough room.

Next to the bar, on the other side of the room was a door which led to the corridor, where some rooms where visible and others were not. At the end of the corridor there was a staircase leading down to the basement. You could see this place was very well designed, a perfect place for feeding.

The Pitt truly was a good place to escape, particularly for me. The rooftop was a good place to go, as it served many purposes, such as being a good place to watch. I loved to people- watch, well, undead-watch. When I was at The Pitt there was never a dull moment: there was always some dickhead undead playing with his food, and it wasn’t going to be me who would shake the balance and interfere, which made it more interesting.

It wouldn’t be a night out without a bit of drama. I recall watching one night, as if it was only yesterday; I came up to the roof as the bar was getting too rowdy with overly drunken vampires and their prey.

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