Mexican author (and Apex Book of World SF 2 contributor) Silvia Moreno-Garcia is fundraising for her first novel, the YA Young Blood, about vampires in Mexico City:
Domingo collects garbage for a living, carefully finding treasures where others see nothing. One night, the teenager meets a vampire in Mexico City’s subway. She is Atl, descendant of Aztec blood-drinkers with a very exclusive diet: she will only drink the blood of the very young. She’s also the member of an important Northern narco family. And she’s hiding in Mexico City.
But there are rival vampires hot on her trail, determined to squash Atl and win these drug wars.
Atl doesn’t want to end up with her head chopped off and carried in a cooler.
Domingo just wants a friend, even if she’s got some baggage. Hey, we’ve all got to die some day.
Rewards include e- and paper copies of the novel, chapbooks and other goodies.
TEASER: Chapter 1
Collecting garbage sharpens the senses. It allows one to notice what others do not see. Where most people spy a pile of junk, the rag-and-bone man sees treasure: empty bottles that might be taken to the recycling centre, computer innards which can be re-used, furniture in decent shape. The garbage collector is always looking. It is a profession.
Domingo was always looking for garbage and he was always looking at people. It was his hobby. The people, not the garbage. He walked around Mexico City in his blue plastic jacket, head bobbed down, and while he tossed a bottle into a plastic bag he paused to observe the people eating at a restaurant. He looked at the maids as they got up early and purchased bread at the bakery. He saw the people in shiny cars zoom by and the people without any cash jump onto the back of the bus, hanging with their nails and their grit to the metallic shell of the moving vehicle.
Domingo had spent most of the day outside, pushing a shopping cart with his findings, and listening to his portable music player. It got dark and he bought himself dinner at a taco stand. Then it started to rain so he headed into the subway station.
He spent a lot of time in the subway system. He used to sleep in the subway cars when he was a street kid making a living by washing windshields at cross streets.
Those days were behind. He had a place to sleep and lately he collected junk for an important rag-and-bone man, focusing on gathering used thermoplastic clothing for him. He complemented his income with other odd jobs, with the recycled bottles and the interesting items he fished from the garbage. Domingo was well-fed and he had enough money to buy tokens for the public baths once a week.
He felt like he was really going places but entertainment was still out of his reach. He had his comic books and graphic novels to keep him company but most of the time, when he was bored, he watched people as they walked around the subway lines.
It was easy because few of them paid attention to the teenager leaning against the wall, backpack dangling from his left shoulder. He, on the other hand, paid attention to everything. He constructed lives for the people who shuffled in front of him. This one looked like a man who worked selling life insurance. That one was a secretary, but not with a good firm because her shoes looked cheap. Here came a con artist and there went a lovelorn housewife.
Domingo imagined names and biographies for them as he leaned against the cool wall tiles and bobbed his head to the sound of the music. It was Michael Jackson for the day.
After an hour of people watching, Domingo went to look at the large TV screens in the concourse. There were six of them, all showing different shows. Domingo spent fifteen minutes staring at Japanese music videos, then he switched to the news.
Six dismembered bodies found in Ciudad Juarez. Vampire drug-wars rage on.
Domingo read the headline slowly. Images flashed on the video screen of the subway station. Cops. Long shots of the bodies. The images dissolved, showing a young woman holding a can of soda in her hands. She winked at him.
Domingo waited to see if the next news items would expand on the drug-war story. He was fond of yellow journalism. He also liked stories and comic books about vampires; they seemed exotic. There were no vampires in Mexico City: their kind had been a no-no for the past thirty years, around the time the Federal District became a city-state.
The next story was of a pop-star, the singing sensation of the month, and then there was another ad, this one for a shoulder-bag computer. Domingo sulked, changed the tune on his music player.
He looked at another screen with pictures of blue butterflies fluttering around. Domingo took a chocolate from his pocket and tore the wrapper.
He wondered if he shouldn’t head to Santino’s party. Santino lived in a vecindad downtown and though his home was a one-bedroom, they were throwing an all-night party on the roof where there was plenty of space. But Santino was friends with El Chacal and Domingo didn’t want to see that guy. Besides, he’d probably have to contribute to the beer budget. It was the end of the month. Domingo was short on cash.
Domingo pondered his options.
A woman wearing a black vinyl jacket walked by him, holding a leash. Her Doberman must have been genetically modified. The animal was huge and looked mean.
Domingo recognized her. He’d seen her twice before, riding the subway late at nights, always with the dog. Heavy boots upon the white tiles, bob cut black hair, with a regal stance and a sharp, aquiline face. The way she moved, it made him think of water. Like she was sliding on water.
She moved her face a small fraction, glancing at him. It was nothing but a glance, but the way she did it made Domingo feel like he’d been doused with a bucket of ice water. Something bored into him, snaked around his throat, and he felt the need to follow her.
Domingo stuffed the remaining chocolate back in his pocket, took off his headphones and walked behind her quickly, squeezing through the doors of the subway car she was boarding.
He sat across from her and was able to get a better look at the woman. She was older than him, early twenties, with large eyes that gave her an air of innocence which was quickly dispelled by the stern mouth. The woman was cute, in an odd way.
He noticed her gloves. Black vinyl which matched the jacket. She wasn’t wearing a fancy outfit but there was definitely something special about it. He suspected it was more expensive that it seemed.
The subway car stopped and Domingo fidgeted, wondering where she was headed. The woman patted the dog’s head.
He was looking at her discreetly and he knew how to do discreet, so he was a bit surprised when she turned and stared right back at him.
Domingo froze and swallowed. He found his tongue with some effort.
“Hey,” he said, smiling. “How are you doing tonight?”
She did not smile back. Her lips were pressed together in a precise and unyielding line. He hoped she wasn’t thinking of letting the dog loose on him for staring at her.
The subway car was almost deserted and when she spoke her voice seemed to echo around them even though she spoke very softly.
“Should you be out by yourself at this time of the night?”
“What do you mean?”
“How old are you?”
“Seventeen,” he replied, lying only by two months. “It’s early. It’s just before midnight.”
“No,” he scoffed. “I live on my own.”
“Ah, a man about town.”
There was laughter in her voice even though she didn’t laugh. It made him stand up and he was ready to push his little shopping cart away, to leave her alone. She turned her head away from him and he assumed this was goodbye. Goodnight.
“I’m looking for a friend,” she said unexpectedly.
Domingo blinked. He nodded, uncertain. – donate!