SHORT SHOTS | ‘Vampire of the Midnight Sun’

(Editor’s note: SHORT SHOTS is a column where I review short stories from horror anthologies, collections, and zines.)

I like my horror fiction with a darker tone, but I’m always impressed when an author effectively adds the right amount of dark humor to the mix. I’m also surprised by how much I enjoy it.

“Vampire of the Midnight Sun” by Texas author Priscilla Bettis is an example of delivering the darkness with a bit of fun. Fun for me, but not for the two main characters, Frasier and Billy, who encounter a grizzly and end up lost in the Alaskan wilderness.

Told in first person by Frasier, the story opens right after the grizzly incident and ensuing loss of their raft. Bettis is on fire with her descriptions of the icy Alaskan landscape before introducing a trio of interesting nuggets about Frasier’s friend Billy. One, he likes to be called Vlad; two, he suffers from canine macrodontia; and three, he thinks he’s a legit vampire.

The humor derives from us not knowing if Billy is actually a vampire or delusional.

For example, one morning Billy wakes up with a smear of blood on his chin. When questioned by Frasier, Billy says he caught a squirrel. Frasier laughs and says squirrels are too fast and cannot be caught bare-handed. “Vampires are quick,” Billy explains.

Another instance is when the men stumble across an abandoned camp and find a crossbow and a handgun. Billy is not afraid of the regular bullets of a handgun but tells Frasier to watch where he points the crossbow because the bolt tips are shaped like a cross.

Another impressive aspect of “Vampire of the Midnight Sun” is how the author’s descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness and the deteriorating condition of Frasier’s health engage most of our senses.

“My feet were bare, and my skin had turned as black and as fat as an overinflated tire. The sleeping bag under my feet was wet with white and yellow ooze that had seeped through ruptures in my skin.”

Yes, Frasier is dying, and Billy (sorry, I mean, Vlad) is hungry for human blood. The author Bettis never lets the reader forget the cold, its effect on Frasier, and Billy’s ever-increasing hunger. You think you know where the plot is headed early on, but a nifty ending ties up the tale perfectly. I mean, I loved the ending.

The story reminds me of one of those buddy films that examines the dynamics of friendship through the lens of adversity.

Released January 28 by DEMAIN Publishing, “Vampire of the Midnight Sun” is available in a two-story collection that also includes the Western horror tale “The Fire Witch and the Cowboy.” Click HERE to order it from Amazon.


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SHORT SHOTS | ‘The Painting My Husband Keeps’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘A Traveler Between Eternities’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Quiet Embers’


SHORT SHOTS | ‘Political Suicide’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘The Hay Bale’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Still Life’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Complex’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Cabin Twelve’ & ‘The Face’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘The Sun Sets Nonetheless’

3 thoughts on “SHORT SHOTS | ‘Vampire of the Midnight Sun’

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