The writing duo of Melinda Metz & Laura J. Burns are joining us for Spooky Legends today and are tackling one of the most famous urban legends ever: Chupacabra. They also happen to be celebrating the release of the second book in the Crave paranormal YA series, SACRIFICE (available now from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing). If you haven’t read this series about a terminally ill girl and the vampire guy (Gabriel in the story below) who holds the cure, I highly recommend it. To help you get started, Melinda & Laura are giving away two copies of SACRIFICE. See details below.
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Melinda Metz & Laura J. Burns
My name is Millie. I’m seven years old, and I have rules. Some are rules probably everybody has, such as “Don’t eat with your elbows on the table.” My big brother Sam even has a rhyme about that one: “Millie, Millie, strong and able. Keep your elbows off the table. This is not a horse’s stable, but a first-rate dining table.” Nobody cares too much if I break that one. It’s not one of the important rules.
The most important rule is that I’m never, ever supposed to tell anyone that my father and older brothers–Sam, Gabriel, and Richard–are vampires. It’s an easy rule to keep, because the only other person I see is Luis. Luis is my older brother too, but he’s only ten years older, so that doesn’t really count as older. He thinks it does. He thinks it gives him leave to boss me, but it doesn’t. Even Richard doesn’t try to boss me much, though he’s fifty-two years older even than Luis.
Sam and Gabriel are hundreds of years older than me. That counts.
The second most important rule is “Never leave home alone.” Today, I’m going to break that rule. I have a very good reason. Sam and Gabriel and Papa Ernst are worried that a new vampire has invaded our area. I heard them talking about it. In truth, I listened at the door, which is also against the rules. They said three goats from the McKinley farm have been killed. The McKinleys are our nearest neighbors. Their goats hadn’t just been killed; they had been drained of blood. If there is another vampire around here, Papa Ernst said, then it’s vital that we stop it from killing again. It could draw attention to the family if we don’t.
Gabriel said they would have to be careful, because humans aren’t our only enemies, and other vampires aren’t necessarily friendly. Papa Ernst and Gabriel worry a lot. Sam says they have good reasons, and that I’ll understand when I’m older. I can’t wait until I’m older. That’s when I’ll get to be a vampire too.
Today, I’m going to go out and search for the vampire. It’s safer for me to do it. Vampires sleep during the day. If I find him, he won’t be able to hurt me. Vampires can’t wake up while the sun is out. I have a plan. I’m going to leave him a note asking him not to kill any more animals.
Sam put coffee on as soon as he got up. He didn’t drink coffee. He didn’t drink anything but blood. But he enjoyed the smell. Ernst did not. He didn’t want a single reminder that the human world existed, although the family would always have some dealings with humans. They were the majority. It would always be so.
Gabriel walked into the kitchen, his dark hair tousled. He frowned at the percolator. He felt the same way about coffee, and the human world, that Ernst did. They had a good reason. Sam did too. Sam, Gabriel, and Ernst had lost every other member of their family back in Greece–humans had killed them all while they slept. Sam understood Gabriel’s fear, and he understood Ernst’s hatred. But all of the vampires had been human once. Millie and Luis were human still, and the two children were beloved. Didn’t that mean there was some good in the human world?
“It is unusually and blessedly quiet tonight,” Gabriel commented. “Don’t tell me Millie and Luis are actually asleep.”
“I haven’t seen them,” Sam answered. He let his thoughts about the human world slide away. It would be good to share them with his brother, the way they shared everything else, but he knew Gabriel wouldn’t want to hear them. “I’ll go check on the kids,” he added.
Sam found Luis quickly. The boy was reading Captains Courageous in the living room. “Where’s your sister?” Sam asked.
Luis didn’t look up, instead giving a quick shrug. “She’s probably in her bedroom. I tried amusing her, the way you’re always asking me to, but she got mad because I won her best aggie playing marbles. She claims I cheated, but I didn’t.”
Sam hurried downstairs. The sturdy door of Millie’s room was unlocked. Her favorite doll, Mandy, was the only occupant of her bed. Anxiety began to pump through Sam as he checked the other rooms. Ernst was in his study, Richard in the bath, but Millie was nowhere to be found.
“Something wrong?” Ernst asked.
“Not a thing,” Sam replied, relieved that his agitation wasn’t strong enough to alarm Ernst. His father could feel Sam’s emotions through the communion all the vampires in the family shared, but Sam had learned to hide his feelings if he tried. There was no point in terrifying Ernst until Sam had more information.
Sam stepped outside the big house. He breathed in deeply, searching for Millie’s scent. The odor of her blood hit him almost immediately. Her blood!
Seconds later, Gabriel burst out the door. “What’s happened?” Clearly Sam’s rush of horror had hit the communion and brought Gabriel running.
“Millie’s not in the house. Do you smell—“
“I smell her blood,” Gabriel interrupted. “Come. We have to find her.” He sounded angry, but Sam knew that was only because his brother was trying to force down his fear.
Side-by-side, Sam and Gabriel ran across the meadow and into the stretch of woods behind the house. Full darkness had fallen, but that didn’t impede them. They both could see as well by night as by day–and far better than any human.
As they tracked the scent of Millie’s blood, a new smell caught Sam’s attention. Pungent and dank, the odor wasn’t anything familiar, although he’d lived in many places over hundreds of years. Could it be whatever had been killing the McKinley goats? They’d thought the killer might be another vampire, but the scent was not from one of their kind.
Sam zigzagged between the trees, then skidded to a halt when he spotted Millie huddled beneath one of them. He stopped so quickly that Gabriel slammed into him. “Millie! What in the devil are you doing out here?” Gabriel demanded.
“Rescuing Norman,” Millie answered, her sweet, bell-clear voice calm. “That’s what I named him. Doesn’t he look like a Norman?” She twisted toward them, and Sam felt his heart shudder. She held a…creature…cradled against her chest. Sam didn’t know what else to call it. The sight of it was as unfamiliar as the scent. It was almost hairless, and its skin was the color of bread mold. A row of over-sized quills ran in a row from the back of its neck all the way to its long, scaly tail.
“It’s feeding on her!” Gabriel cried.
He was right. The thing was suckling from Millie’s arm. It was drinking Millie’s blood.
Gabriel bolted forward with a low growl. “Don’t hurt him!” Millie screamed. The creature screamed too, raising its head and allowing Sam to see its face for the first time. Its yellow eyes bulged. Instead of a mouth it had three holes. As Sam stared, fangs retracted into them.
“Gabriel, no!” Millie leaped to her feet and started to run. Gabriel was much too fast. He caught her by the elbow, and she released the creature. It hopped a few feet away.
The way it moved, that hopping, sent a flash of memory through Sam.
“Chupacabra,” he breathed, the word coming back to him as Millie struggled to free herself from Gabriel. “It’s a chupacabra, a goat sucker.” Lysander had told him a story about the beast hundreds of years ago. “It must be what killed the McKinleys’ animals.”
“Only because he had to,” Millie declared, finally managing to pull her arm out of Gabriel’s grasp. “And they shot him! He has a bullet in his shoulder. Couldn’t they tell he’s just a baby? A poor, little baby.”
“Millie, you allowed it to feed on you?” Sam asked, astonished.
She nodded vigorously. “He was starving. I tried to give him berries, but he didn’t want them. Then I thought of the goats, and I realized what he needed. He didn’t take much.” She gave her adorable Millie smile. “I want to keep him. Can we keep him?”
“It’s not even supposed to exist,” Sam said, looking over at the chupacabra. It was still poised a few feet from Millie, as if reluctant to leave her, whimpering softly. “It’s supposed to be a legend.”
“That’s why he belongs with us. Vampires are supposed to be legends too,” Millie said. “Pleeeease? It’s so boring when you’re all asleep. Half the time Luis won’t even play with me, and soon it will be time for him to give up the sun and I’ll be the only one awake during the day.”
Sam and Gabriel exchanged a look. It was hard for either of them to say no to Millie. The creature didn’t look vicious. It didn’t make any move to attack, just stood there, gazing up at Millie with adoration. The chupacabra was the ugliest thing Sam had ever seen, but it couldn’t help that it needed blood to live any more than Sam and the others could. “It would solve the problem of mysterious animal deaths,” Sam said. "We can keep it from feeding on the goats."
Millie began bouncing up and down in excitement, and the chupacabra–Norman–inched closer to her, nuzzling her hand.
Gabriel sighed. “You have to clean up after it yourself, Mils. That’s a rule.”
Millie gave a little squeal of joy. “I will. I promise,” she answered quickly.
“And you’ve shown us how well you obey rules, haven’t you?” Sam asked. But he couldn’t stop himself from smiling. And tonight, for once, he saw Gabriel smile too.
About the authors:
Laura J. Burns has written more than thirty books for teens and kids, and hopes to write at least thirty more. She lives in California with her husband and kids.
Want to read more from Melinda Metz & Laura J. Burns
2 copies of SACRIFICE Melinda Metz & Laura J. Burns
Available now from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Gabriel and Shay are convinced that they can make their relationship work. Knowing that Shay is half-vampire, Gabriel thinks that his coven will embrace her as one of their own, but instead they view her as an abomination, a thing that doesn’t belong in either world. And they want her dead. Now Gabriel must make the ultimate decision – watch his love be killed by his coven or defy the people closest to him, the people he has spent centuries with to save her.
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**Don’t forget to visit Dark Faerie Tales today for her Spooky Legends guest blog with Stefan Petrucha and a chance to win DEAD MANN WALKING**
About the author
- Review: Towering by Alex FlinnMay 18, 2013