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«Crimes by Moonlight», Charlaine Harris и др.

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В© 2010

INTRODUCTION

After years of belonging to the mystery community, I’m used to being regarded as nonthreatening, good-natured… sometimes even (shudder) “sweet.” All that changed when I was asked to edit the MWA anthology that had been designated supernatural.

I sent out an e-mail to some of my favorite writers, all MWA members, to let them know the good news: I was offering them a slot in Crimes by Moonlight.

You would think I had offered to ship them a rattlesnake.

Instead of greeting this golden opportunity with cries of glee, I got a batch of awkward e-mails that began, “Gee, I don’t know… I’ve never written woo-woo.” (That’s a highly technical industry term.) “I don’t know about trying to do a supernatural,” they moaned. I had to practically poke some of my fellow writers with a sharp stick to get them in line.

I must admit there were a few who did react as I’d expected. Some mystery writers were simply waiting for the chance to cross over to the dark side. I’m keeping my eye on them.

In the end, my call for stories got some amazing responses.

This volume consists of entries by writers you’ve read and loved for years, and writers who aren’t well-known yet. What all these writers have in common is their membership in MWA and their willingness to tackle an offbeat story element.

Half the stories were ones I requested. The rest of the stories were submitted without any identifiers to a stellar panel of volunteer judges: noted writers Daniel J. Hale, Dana Cameron, Doug Allyn, Jane Cleland, and Heather Graham. The number of blind submissions came to more than three hundred, so my hat is off to these stalwarts, who may never volunteer for anything again in their lives. Barry Zeman oversaw the whole process from start to finish and was a great help, and John Helfers at Tekno Books was willing to let me wail in his ear when the process got to be overwhelming.

After all the work of writing, editing, selecting, reediting, and literally hundreds of e-mails, here’s the final result. Our work is done. Now all that remains is for readers to enjoy the result.

We’re counting on it.

 

– Charlaine Harris

Dahlia Underground by Charlaine Harris

Dahlia Lynley-Chivers woke up as soon as the sun went down. But this awakening was like none she’d experienced in her long second life: on her back, pinned down, and injured.

Badly injured.

Dahlia cursed in a language that had not been spoken for centuries. She’d lost a lot of blood. Though the air was filled with smoke and dust, she could smell a body close to her. The blood of the dead person was repellent, but it would help.

She carefully extended her right arm to discover it was free and unbroken, unlike her left. Her left leg was immovable, though her right leg wasn’t, because the beam trapping her lay at a slant.

While she was evaluating her situation, Dahlia wondered what the hell had happened when she was in her day sleep. She heard distant screams and sirens, while around and above her lay destruction. A huge pane of glass, intact, had landed upright on a vampire, shearing him in half. Though he was beginning to flake away, he looked familiar.

Her memory began filling in the blanks.

The Pyramid. She’d suddenly decided to spend the day at the Pyramid, the vampire hotel in Rhodes. The disintegrating vampire had been a handsome male in the service of the Queen of Indiana, and she’d accepted an invitation to dally with him rather than return to her room in the mansion of the Sheriff of Rhodes.

Though the night had been notable, the day must have been more so.

High above her, Dahlia could see a bit of night sky lit by flashes of artificial light. Every now and then there was an ominous creak or groan from the heap of twisted metal, shattered glass, and concrete. Dahlia wondered how long it would be before it shifted. She might yet end up in the same condition as her bedmate. Dahlia had not been afraid in a long time, but she was almost afraid now. She wasn’t so afraid she was going to yell for human help, though.

A smaller beam was lying crossways on the one that pinned her, very close to her right hand. Dahlia figured if she could grip the smaller beam, she’d get enough purchase to drag herself out. Then she could work her way over to the dead human, feed, and begin the perilous climb upward.

She had a plan.

Dahlia’s right hand gripped the crossbeam, and she pulled. But she realized instantly that her left leg would rip off unless the heavier beam was lifted at least another inch.

“Well,” said Dahlia. “Crap.”


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