Stake by Kevin J. Anderson

Stake

Stake by Kevin J. Anderson
English | 2020 | Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal | Vampires | ePUB | 3.7 MB

Vampire hunter or serial killer? That depends on whether vampires exist . . . Simon Helsing believes the only way to stop a bad guy with fangs is a good guy with a stake. He has devoted his life to ridding the world of vampires. He hunts them, finds their daytime lairs, and pounds a stake through their hearts. Lexi Tarada wants to believe. She’s desperate to prove that the strange and impossible can be real. She runs a website for the unexplained and tries to sift through the crazy conspiracy theories to find out what is – or might be – real. Detective Todd Carrow is a skeptic. Haunted by visions of brutal killings from a previous case, he sees the latest gruesome murders as nothing more than the actions of a madman targeting innocents. Helsing is convinced he’s doing good, but what if vampires aren’t real and Carrow is right?

HideTruth took on a life of its own, and Lexi found some of the speculations, connections, and obscure facts to be thought-provoking (although some were admittedly silly). The more popular her site became, the more her fans donated to keep her going. And the more donations Lexi received, the more bills she could pay, and the more bills she could pay thanks to HideTruth, the fewer hours she needed to waste on regular jobs. One of these days …

Through the half-open door of her bedroom/office, she could smell the exotic spices of whatever Blair was making for dinner – Indian food maybe – and she was sure it would be delicious. He always took care of her.

The commentary about the Bigfoot assault would pick up after dinner as more users got online. While waiting, she browsed other pages on the site, individual forums that covered a wide range of mysteries and speculations. Most of it wasn’t true, she knew that, but anything was possible. She read it eagerly, looking for the precious kernels of truth, or even a deeper mystery. That was what kept her spark burning. Even if only one bizarre theory proved to be valid, that would change the world. And she would know.

Monster sightings, classified as ‘cryptids’ by the true believers, generated less interest than conspiracy theories – dire warnings about vapor trails and microwave manipulations. The vampire thread remained particularly active, as always. Vampire legends were remarkably persistent and endlessly interesting. She had presented many such claims, feeling an affinity for the passionate die-hards, rather than the curious goth blood drinkers and over-exuberant Twilight fans. She knew how to tell the difference.

She saw that one of the most earnest vampire believers had posted again. Despite his sometimes disturbing intensity, Stoker1897 also offered careful, rational compilations of subtle evidence. He was quite convincing.

‘We can’t let down our guard,’ Stoker1897 had posted that morning. ‘Vampires are smart and devious. They know how to manipulate our beliefs, our doubts, and our fears. Don’t let them fool you into thinking they’re just a superstition. That’s what they want you to believe. That is how they’ve remained unnoticed in human society as they feed on us. I have seen them. I have investigated their vulnerabilities.’

Lexi knew the rant would go on for a dozen more postings. No, not a rant – a sermon. This man wasn’t irrational. Unlike many others, Stoker1897 provided documentation, connecting dots in ways that no one else had seen. By tracking detailed inventories of blood bank supplies, studying expiration dates and disposal records, he presented a convincing pattern of lost receipts as well as untraceable paperwork that reduced hospital blood stockpiles for no apparent reason and no indication of where the supplies had gone. He also flagged suspicious suicides in which bodies were drained of blood that conveniently went down the sink. Or had it? The answers were impossible to ascertain, leaving only questions.

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