Imagine a world where aliens have invaded and the humans are faced with an alliance with the ancient vampires in order to defeat the alien menace. But Peter must face a powerful threat – one that has plagued him in his dreams.

A device beeps on the professor’s wrist. ‘Peter, Lucia follow me!’ as he rushes off to his laboratory. He barges into his lab and checks his computer terminal: it is making a beeping sound. A button is flashing red.
‘Sacre bleu!’ mutters the professor. He is joined by Lucia and Peter. The professor is muttering to himself as he looks at the screen. Lucia and Peter sit down and look at the professor.
‘Is there something you need to tell us, Professor?’ Lucia asks. She knows he is hiding something.
‘Your visions have been getting worse, haven’t they Peter?’ she asks, looking at her lover.
‘I cannot hide anything from you, Lucia,’ replies Peter wiping his brow, knowing that she hears his tortured mutterings during his sleep. She often comes to his room, to sleep with him, and comfort him. It seems normal now.
The professor clears his throat, avoiding their gaze.
‘I have been analyzing the movements of the mothership. I have been looking for something specific. Very specific. The mothership has ejected one of its sections, and it has fallen to the Earth. Italy to be precise. Sicily. Mount Etna.’
‘There is something in that section Professor, I can feel it,’ says Lucia.
‘The thing from my dreams,’ adds Peter. Lucia touches his hand, feeling his pain. ‘What have you not been telling us, Professor?’ Peter is searching for the answer to his dreams.
‘I am sorry young Peter. I did not tell you before, you have so much on your shoulders already.’
Peter stands up, his deep voice booming. ‘What is it Professor? Tell me!’
The professor clears his throat again. ‘You must complete one final test, Peter, before you become Caius. I have read the Book of Borossus from start to finish. It is very clear on this.’
‘What test?’ asks Peter now sitting down.
‘There is an ancient creature. An ancient demon who lives in the depths of the mountains of the Sumeri home planet, Ergal 5.’
‘Why didn’t you mention this before Professor?
‘I am sorry mon ami I…I didn’t want to alarm you. They have brought it onto their ship. I have been tracking it.’
‘It is a demon,’ says Peter. ‘No wonder I haven’t been sleeping lately.’
‘Oui, my boy, and not a nice demon,’ replies the professor.
‘There are good and bad demons?’ asks Peter.
‘Yes Peter, I am a good demon,’ Lucia winks at Peter. Peter leans across to the professor ignoring his vampire lover.
‘I can feel like it…it speaks to me in my dreams. It frightens me, I don’t mind telling you. Tell me more Professor,’ replies Peter.
‘His name is Bael. He is the first of the 72 spirits of Solomon that he used to build his temple with. Bael has 66 legions of hell at his disposal. He is equal in rank to the Archangel Raphael, so very powerful.’
‘But less powerful than the Archangel Michael, my patron?’ adds Peter.
‘Correct, but even Michael would be wary of Bael. He is a king of Hell and can take many shapes or forms, including a toad or a human. He is very cunning and clever, beware if he speaks to you.’
‘He is known to me,’ says Lucia.
‘The Sumeri are fools if they think they can control it. It will use them for its own evil ends, mark my words,’ sighs the professor.
‘That demon will not share power with da filthy Sumeri. It is a deceiver,’ hissed Lucia, showing her fangs.
‘Remember Peter, demons were once God’s angels, and so they can make themselves look beautiful and claim to have more knowledge than they really do, but ultimately they only want to cause chaos and misery.’
‘It seems to be the opposite of me,’ sighs Peter.
‘It is the anti-hero. You’re the opposite Peter. To become Caius, you must defeat it. And you must do it alone.’
‘Ok. I will get hold of Kojak. We leave for Sicily tonight,’ says Peter with a grim but resolute look on his face.
‘I’m coming with you,’ insists Lucia.
‘I will tell the general. He will not be pleased,’ adds Professor Picard scratching his beard.
‘I have more things to worry about than grumpy generals Professor.’
‘Oui. You must stop it, Peter—else it wreaks havoc to all our ruin!’



Bulletproof Pete, Lucia the vampire and the rest of the team wait in the darkness below a massive alien ship in the inky blackness above.

It is close to midnight. Peter is leading an eight-man team including Vinnie, Handsome Mike, Sebastian, Lucia, Felix and two other vampires, Abel and Arnoldo. A massive black alien ship glistens above them in the darkness, slowly turning and emitting unnerving grinding noises. Vinnie looks up.
‘I wonder if Gill is up there.’
‘Unlikely. I suppose if anything, she would be on board the London ship, but then again, who knows?’ Peter is double-checking their equipment, including the cumbersome nuclear device.
‘Have you got the alien comms device?’
‘Strapped into my rucksack,’ replies Vinnie.
Lucia is tense and focused.
‘Prepare yourselves. Peter, I will carry you, and Felix will take Vinnie seeing as you have so much equipment.’
Pete turns to Vinnie. ‘Just got a coded message from Artie. He’s on top of the NatWest tower ready to strike the London ship. I wished him good luck from both of us.’ Then Peter thinks about Des and the boys.
Peter marshals his team together and looks at his watch again, knowing that precise timing and coordination are critical to success. He reminds his team that they must retain the element of surprise, as around the world, other Special Forces are launching their operations simultaneously. They check their watches. 11:59pm.

Midnight is zero hour.
Everyone is tense, ready for the off.
‘One minute to go. Stand by…’ Peter gets into the zone, his adrenaline pumping through his body.
Suddenly, two men come out of the darkness, Gregg, and Fred. Fred gingerly approaches Peter as Vinnie levels his PR1 pistol at them.
‘Who the fuck, are you?’ asked Peter.
‘Excuse me, we think our women are on that ship.’
‘Are you kidding? We’re starting an operation! Thirty seconds stand by…’ shouts Peter, annoyed.
Vinnie holsters his PR1.
‘Pete, these guys are looking for their women, just like us. Let’s cut them some slack, eh?’
‘What makes you think we can help you?’ asks Peter looking at his watch.
‘You’re going to the ship, aren’t you? asks Fred.
‘Is nothing a secret? Jesus. Lucia, can you find a vampire to carry these two? We go in ten seconds!’ shouts Peter, furious that his operation has been interrupted.
Gregg and Fred pick up some parachutes and are strapped to Abel and Arnoldo. As Peter looks at Gregg and Fred he mutters under his breath, ‘This mission is fucked up already,’ unhappy that their mission may be compromised. But deep down, he knows that he would have done the same. Fred looks up at the ship.
‘How are we going to get to the ship?’
Peter looks at his watch. Midnight.
‘No talking. Go. It’s a GO!’ Peter orders.

The vampires transform, and large leathery wings appear. They carry them all up to the ship in the inky blackness. Fred and Gregg are terrified as they see a red-eyed demon smiling at them. Gregg screams out loud.
Peter is furious, ‘Shut the fuck up, or I will shoot you myself!’
After five minutes, they land on the ledge of the massive black ship. Fred and Gregg shiver against the wind and cold. Vinnie retrieves the comms device and hands it to Lucia. Peter is examining the black panels on the outside of the ship.
‘I’m hoping there is an interface lock here.’
Using his head torch, Peter searches for an interface. He finds one and gestures to Lucia. Vinnie shivers.
‘Hurry up, I’m freezing my bollocks off here.’
Lucia slides back the panel and fits the device. It lights up, and some alien characters appear. She studies the strange language.
‘Let me see now, the professor gave me these codes. The alien language is not so different from Sumeri…that’s it.’
Lucia presses some buttons and a bay door opens into the spaceship. Peter holds up his hand.
‘Quick! Move it.’ They all move in except the two new recruits. Peter shoves Gregg and Fred through the opening as they stumble onto the floor of the ship. Vinnie and Handsome Mike keep a lookout while Peter orders Sebastian to take personal responsibility for Fred and Gregg. Sebastian grabs them both by the scruff of the neck and barks at them in his earthy Geordie accent.
‘You two. I may be a priest, but I’m ex-SAS, and I love these boys as my brothers so if you give us any more trouble I will shoot you. Understood?’ They nod nervously.

The air is musty and stale; the corridors are dimly light and dirty, with cables and wires sticking out everywhere. Vinnie coughs on the air as he keeps lookout. ‘Whoever built this ship had a bad day at the office,’ mutters Vinnie, coughing again.
Peter and Lucia are engrossed in the computer terminal in front of them. ‘Lucia, do you know the layout of these spaceships?’ asks Peter.
‘No. I do not. I shall login and view the schematics. The rest is instinct. I can smell these aliens…’
Lucia uses the device again at the terminal tapping some keys to view the ship’s layout. A diagram pops up which Lucia studies, figuring out their current location and the location of the centre of the ship, translating the Sumeri language in her head.
‘Do you know where the women are being held?’ whispers Fred. Lucia nodded, looking annoyed at the interlopers.
They are taken by surprise, as a robot turns into a corridor towards them. They dive for cover into a storage room. The robot stops at the open bay door, presses some buttons, and the door slides shut. Then it returns to its duties. The team ventures back out to the corridor. Lucia looks at the schematics again.
‘Lucia, any ideas?’
‘Peter, follow me. Stay silent.’
A terrified Fred looks at Lucia.
‘Who, what are you?’
‘My name is Lucia, I am a vampire, our ancient enemy is da aliens da humans seek to destroy. Humans and vampires have now united.’
‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ quips Peter.
‘Well put, Mr. da Bulletproof.’
‘I’m looking for my wife,’ Fred whispers.
‘I will help you. As they say, look for friends in unlikely places,’ says Lucia.
‘Can we crack on!’ says Peter, impatient and still furious.
‘Shall we begin our business, gentlemen?’ says Lucia.
A frightened Gregg looks nervously at Lucia.
‘Whatever you are, I am grateful for your help. I’m scared.’
‘So am I,’ says Fred. Peter is annoyed but sympathetic.
‘I get scared sometimes. It’s natural—shows you’re alive,’ replies Peter scanning the area for alien activity.
Lucia is trying to focus.
‘Silence, please!’
They walk down dark, poorly-lit corridors, some of which seem to be falling apart, either due to lack of maintenance or poor construction. The smell is awful.
‘I think they built these ships in a hurry,’ whispers Peter.
‘Pen and inks as well,’ coughs Vinnie through the stale air.



Bulletproof Pete, aka Caius, is an ancient warrior reincarnated many times to fight battles throughout the ages. Here he is reliving his time as a centurion in the Roman army.He is in Egypt fighting for Caesar.

Peter was dreaming. He was going back in time to a former life. He was a young man; he had been promoted to centurion in Julius Caesar’s army, and he was responsible for one hundred men. They were good men—battle hardened and disciplined, and most of all loyal: they would follow him to the death.
He was in an officer’s tent preparing for battle, his hard muscles rippling beneath his tanned skin as he put on his armour and sheathed his short sword. He glanced across at his superior officer, tribune Atticus, who was responsible for a cohort, part of a legion consisting of six centuries. Atticus saluted him.
‘Caxus, strength and honour.’
‘Strength and honour, Atticus. May the Gods be with us today,’ he replied in his deep voice, his blue eyes shining.
‘Yes Caxus, may they be with us,’ he said as he sipped some wine and offered some to Caxus—who declined. Atticus scratched his balls as he grumbled,
‘The sooner we get out of this flea-infested hell hole the better, Caxus. This heat vexes me.’ Then Caxus had a brainwave.
‘I will let my men cool themselves in the Nile, so they will be ready for battle.’
‘Good idea,’ replied Atticus as he laid out battle plans on a papyrus, wiping his brow from the heat and dust which blew inside the tent.
‘Caxus, we are short of officers, you will lead my cohort the morrow.’
‘Six hundred men’, thought Caxus. Atticus looked Caxus in the eye, looking for any sign of weakness, or trepidation, but there was none—his promotion was well deserved.
‘Caxus, our emperor Julius Caesar is horrified that his brother in law, Pompey was murdered by the miserable agents of Ptolemy. Even though they were at war, he loved and respected Pompey and wants revenge. We are combining with the Egyptian forces of Cleopatra to defeat Ptolemy.’
‘Cleopatra is the sister and co-regent of Ptolemy?’
‘Yes Caxus.’ Atticus pointed at a map. ‘His forces are based here, just South of Alexandria, ten leagues distant. Our main forces will be led by Julius Caesar; you will travel north by night up the Nile and hide your men in the bulrushes. Then when Ptolemy attacks you will come out of hiding and attack his army from the rear. He will not be expecting this.’
‘By your command Atticus,’ Caxus saluted his tribune. At that moment Julius Caesar walked in and talked to Atticus—regal, statesman-like and clever. Caxus’s heart pounded as their great general talked and banged his fist on the table. ‘The legions of Mithridates of Pergamum and Antipater from Judea are delayed by two days: we must hold out till then!’
‘By your command Caesar,’ said Atticus bowing. Then Caesar looked at Caxus, smiled, and walked out abruptly. Atticus was anxious as he looked at Caxus. They both knew their plan had to succeed or they would all die.
It was midnight, and Caxus and his cohort of men, fully rested, fed and bathed, walked in silence to the waiting boats. A cavalry soldier dropped a spear, clanging on the wooden deck of the longship. His comrades looked at him sharply; it was rumoured there were enemy spies in the camp. Secrecy was paramount; if the enemy found out their mission it would all be over. They would be defeated. Caxus walked up to the clumsy soldier and kicked him up the arse, making him fall headfirst into the Nile, coughing and spluttering.
Their ship was a wooden galley ship with a single row of 25 oars on each side powered by galley slaves; he wanted his men rested, not rowing oars. They got underway and slid silently through the water. He had ordered that no fires be lit, and silence be maintained. There were six galleys, each with a hundred men, who either slept or whispered as they navigated up the Nile. He could not sleep; he never slept well before a battle as he walked down the side of the wooden ship, feeling the cool breeze on his face, looking up at the stars as they twinkled in the night sky. All was peace and beauty.
The morrow would be different. Caxus recalled battles in a hot and dusty landscape, spears and shields: running, cries of anguish, cries of conquest, clashes of shields, the smell of blood, then lying in the dust after the battle looking at a blue sky, the vultures circling above. But he survived the last battle. He would not predict the outcome of the forthcoming battle but would let nature take its course: he left it to the gods to decide.
He saw his friend Virgil, rough and bearded, sharpening his short sword. ‘The sooner we beat this bastard Ptolemy, whatever his name is, we can get back to Rome—and get out of this heat!’
‘Virgil, imagine us toasting our victory in the Athena in Rome, and it will be so.’ Caxus smiled at his oldest friend and recalled their happy times in the immundas popina, drinking and partying with bare-breasted women. Virgil had a faraway look in his eye, as he smiled, burped and farted. Caxus laughed, and slapped Virgil on the back, then walked to the prow where the air was cleaner.
Caxus woke with a start. The sun was rising over the Nile, and his men were stirring. The morning air was still, silent and peaceful. The peace before the storm. He walked over to Virgil, who was already dressed for battle.
‘Wake the men, I want them in battle order!’ Caxus ordered, then added, ‘Hide the boats among the bulrushes on the west bank, then wait for my orders.’ He knew surprise was their secret weapon; he walked along the wooden deck, among his men putting a finger to his mouth, warning severe punishment for those who disobeyed. He crouched down and whispered with Virgil, eating some bread and water in the morning sunshine. Six centurions, each responsible for one hundred men, now gathered, as agreed on their commander’s boat. Caxus stood and looked at each one in turn, gauging them. They did not flinch. They were all good, battle-hardened soldiers, veterans of several campaigns, and bore the scars to prove it.
‘We have traveled past Ptolemy’s army,’ said Caxus.
‘How far?’ said one centurion.
‘We are now at their rear. They are one league distant.’ Caxus pointed, then added, ‘to the South.’
‘We must wait until Caesar engages them in a full-frontal assault. Meantime we creep up from the rear in a pincer movement; then we attack. We must put fear into their hearts, then we will win.’
Virgil and the centurions nodded and saluted their commander. ‘We MUST maintain the element of surprise, else we are meat for the vultures. Virgil…’ At that moment a soldier from Gaul who had been caught drinking wine the previous evening, dropped his sword on a metal plate, which clanged loudly in the still morning air. Incensed, Caxus walked up to the quaking soldier and kicked him in the balls, then grabbed him by his battle tunic, and looked into his tearful eyes.
‘Any more trouble from you, soldier, and you will spend the rest of your miserable life in the salt mines. You go in the front line!’ Caxus ordered, then threw him onto the wooden deck of the galley.
They climbed in silence out of the boats and started wading through the cool Nile water into the rushes by the bank. Caxus had ordered ten men to stay behind on each boat, but the rest of his men now hid amongst the reeds and rushes below the banks of the Nile.
Waiting for the moment.
Caxus and Virgil crept up the muddy bank to the desert above. A mere fifty yards away Caxus could see the tail end of the enemy, the stragglers. Some enemy soldiers in their chariots trundled past, carrying spears and arrows, their chariots generating a dust cloud. Each chariot was pulled by two horses. Caxus counted two hundred chariots, each with two men carrying spears. Each chariot stored arrows and spears – a mobile fighting platform. And they had a blade attached to each wheel to dismember the enemy; a terrifying weapon.
Behind him he heard a loud cough among the reeds and rushes. He looked at Virgil in horror; then they crawled back several yards, praying not to be seen.
The nearest chariot stopped.
Caxus’s heart thumped as he lay still as stone. A charioteer wearing a helmet and dark makeup around his eyes looked at them. Another chariot stopped. Four of the enemy were now looking in their direction.
Searching, listening.
Caxus lay rigid, daring not to breathe, as the wary Egyptians looked at them. Caxus touched an idol on a string around his neck, and prayed to the war god, Mars. The warriors in their chariots seemed to stare for an eternity, then they trundled on behind the main force: the Egyptian army of Ptolemy.
Caxus breathed a sigh of relief and looked at his friend, Virgil. They waited until the rear of the enemy was half a league distant, then he and his men moved out of the reeds and rushes and crept along the bank of the Nile, Caxus leading, using whatever cover they could find. They could not walk in open desert, since they would be spotted. They followed Ptolemy’s army, silently and discretely, swords drawn.
Waiting for the moment.
The sand was blown by the wind in the silent desert. Only the sound of nervous horses being kept in rein by the charioteers reached them.
The tension was palpable; Caxus could hear shouting, about a mile distant, then more shouting; Egyptian voices, then the drumbeats of a Roman army—Julius Caesar’s army. They would engage soon. Caxus held up his hand, holding back his men, timing his moment, for such moments can mean victory or defeat, a few small moments in time. Caxus picked up some sand and rubbed it into his hands, earthing himself, and saying a short prayer to the war God Mars. The roaring became louder, but they had still not engaged; they were throwing insults at one another.
‘Caxus!’ Virgil said in a loud whisper. Still he held his hand up, waiting for the right moment, for he knew it would not be long now, he could feel the tension in the air, like a brewing thunderstorm. Then there was a great roar and the two mighty armies engaged, the Egyptians unaware of the impending attack from the rear.
‘Attack! Attack!’ shouted Caxus in his deep voice! Caxus’s men ran like madmen towards the charioteers at the rear of the enemy, swords at the ready. The Egyptians were taken by surprise, Romans jumping onto the chariots and making short work of them. They could not turn their chariots around in time, for they were swamped by shouting Roman soldiers, hardened veterans of many wars, and they stood no chance. Soon half the charioteers were dead or dying, and vultures started to circle overhead.
The rest ran into the desert.
The rear of Ptolemy’s army, the foot soldiers, now realised the danger as they glanced behind them, as a full cohort of Roman soldiers fell amongst them. The back of the Egyptian army was composed of young men, inexperienced in battle, and they did not put up much of a fight, as the Roman army slashed its way through, hacking and stabbing and lunging with their spears. Many deserted, disappearing into the heat of the desert, never to be seen again.
Ptolemy’s army of six thousand men was now down to five thousand, with a thousand either dead or deserted. He looked ahead of him, to see Caesar leading a mere fifteen hundred men, but his confidence was waning; there was a disturbance from the rear. Ptolemy could hear shouts of anguish and anger and fighting. Who was attacking him from the rear?
He still had more than enough men to finish off Caesar – but he had not accounted for Caxus, who hacked and slashed his way through the enemy, his rippling muscles and expert swordsmanship making short work of surrounding soldiers, who turned away in fear when they saw him, like an enraged Greek god. But he was bleeding. His face and body were covered in blood and his left foot was injured, he had a slash in his side from an Egyptian spear, wielded by a giant of a man, who had thrust repeatedly, but then Caxus had deflected the spear point and driven his sword deep into the stomach of his enemy, who had dropped to his knees, clutching his stomach in agony.
The battle was being fought in the heat of the desert. Ptolemy’s army was now down to four thousand men, Caesar one thousand, as the battle raged. Almost two thousand of Ptolemy’s army were now attacking Caxus’s Cohort of men in a furious battle, but the Romans were standing their ground through grit and courage. Caxus looked around at his men, he had lost one hundred already, good men, brave men. They were preventing the slaughter of Julius Caesar and his men, but Caxus might not hold out, his men were tiring under the ferocious onslaught by crack Egyptian swordsmen; they were running out of time.
They needed a miracle.
Then he heard a horn, a battle horn. His heart leaped. He could hear the stomp of a Roman army in battle march behind them and could see a cloud of dust in the distance. Then out of the dust, his heart leapt as he could see thousands of Roman soldiers—disciplined, fierce and ready for battle. One of his centurions ran up to him.
‘The legions of Mithridates of Pergamum and Antipater from Judea have arrived!’ he exclaimed in jubilation.
Ptolemy’s army looked around in panic as they saw ten thousand men march towards them from the North, marching towards Caxus. Caxus saw a look of panic in the Egyptians’ eyes, looking this way and that, looking for an escape route, to the east was the Nile, to the south was Caesar’s army, to the north was Caxus’s cohort and the approaching Roman army. Suddenly, the mood changed in the Egyptian army. Sensing defeat, thousands of the Egyptians dropped their weapons and ran east into the open desert.
Caxus dropped to the ground in relief, retrieving a bandage from a bag and wrapping his foot wound inflicted by an Egyptian spear. Soon the fresh Roman army marched past him and then proceeded to massacre the remains of Ptolemy’s army, the rest running off into the desert.
Caxus shouted in joy as he saw his friend Virgil stagger out of the desert. They clasped hands and then walked to the Nile and bathed the battle blood from their bodies, catching their breath and resting on the bank. Further down the river they could see some Egyptians struggling to swim across the river. Some were nobility.
‘These Egyptian bastards are not good swimmers,’ laughed Caxus.
‘We are stronger than them, Caxus.’
‘Yes, we are stronger, we are Roman,’ replied Caxus. ‘Come, my old friend, let us find Caesar.’ They strolled back up the bank and out of the hot, dry and dusty desert. They could see Romans on horses, and a Roman general. Bloodied and dirty, Julius Caesar, climbed off his horse, walked up to Caxus, and put his hands on his shoulders, looking him in the eye. Caesar had found him instead.
‘Caxus, you are a friend of Rome. Come to my tent, we will talk.’
They were in the tent of Caesar, eating grapes and drinking wine. Amongst the throng of officers, Caesar walked forward with two other generals. ‘Ah Caxus, let me introduce you to Mithridates of Pergamum and Antipater from Judea. This is the young man I’ve been telling you about.’ The two men greeted Caxus warmly.
‘Julius Caesar tells me you are a one-man army. You saved the day and saved our friend Julius.’ Caxus smiled and bowed.
‘You came in the nick of time, not sure how much longer we could have held out,’ replied Caxus, as Caesar clapped him on the back. ‘What became of the little shit Ptolemy?’ asked Caesar.
‘We saw him drowning in the Nile, my Lord.’
‘They are not good swimmers,’ said Virgil.
‘And who is this fellow?’ asked Caesar.
‘This is my oldest and trusted friend Virgil, my Lord.’
‘Any friend of Caxus is a friend of mine,’ said Caesar as he clapped Virgil on the back—which made him burp loudly. Caesar looked shocked, looked at Mithridates and Antipater, then they all burst out laughing. ‘Come, I have this special wine, Caxus, let us drink and celebrate our victory together.’.
‘Have you seen Atticus?’ asked Caxus. Caesar shook his head.
But then across the tent, Caxus saw a vision: a woman with jet black hair and blue eyes, and striking beauty, like a goddess. Her blue eyes smouldered with passion, like a wild Spanish gypsy. She stood motionless and looked at him, as his heart pounded.
‘You look like you have been struck by lightning young Caxus. Do you like her?’ asked Caesar.
‘Yes, my Lord.’
He was dreaming again, he was wearing leather sandals and a toga, and there were stone buildings around him, people shouting as they sold bread and wine in the market stalls scattered along the street between dwellings. He was middle-aged and walked with a slight limp—an old battle wound earned fighting as a centurion in Caesar’s army. He could smell fragrant fresh fruits and a multitude of herbs. There were displays of shellfish, fish and the smell of blood-red slabs of meat around, which buzzed with hoards of flies; this was summer, so there was no ice or snow from the mountains.
This was the Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills on which ancient Rome was built. He greeted a wealthy wine trader who bought wine from his lands in the north. They exchanged pleasantries and then he was walking up a hill. The air was cleaner here, he could feel the warm sun on his face. As he continued up the hill he came to his villa, surrounded by a stone wall. A guard in Roman military uniform stood sentry outside saluted him—one of his loyal soldiers—and as he got closer the thick wooden door was unbolted from inside and opened by the new servant girl. She smiled shyly at him, her brown eyes sparkled and he looked at her long hair flowing over her shoulders, like a Greek goddess. He looked at her for a moment, then beckoned to his wife, who was relaxing on a sofa in the garden, amongst the flowers and herbs.
He could smell rosemary as he walked up to her and kissed her soft red lips, tasting the red wine she was drinking, and looked into her eyes, her jet-black hair flowing thick over her shoulders. Her gown slipped showing one of her breasts as she kissed him. He cupped it in his hand; her eyes blazed with passion as their tongues met. Then he sat down, and the servant girl offered him some grapes. He smiled as he ate them. Then his wife took some, the juice running from her mouth, as she took the girl by the arm, pulling her, and then kissed her on the lips. The girl giggled and Caxus could feel his passion rising as he watched them kissing and play-making, looking shyly at him; egging him on. ‘Come join us,’ said his wife to him as she took the girl’s hand and walked through the garden, through the flowers and herbs, towards the bedchamber, hand-in-hand, laughing and giggling. They both turned around and smiled at him, his wife throwing kisses at him, like two goddesses on a picnic.



Imagine a world where aliens have invaded and the humans are faced with an alliance with the ancient vampires in order to defeat the alien menace. Our heroes encounter the huge and foreboding alien ship in Los Angeles. Pete recalls a ghost story from his childhood.

In the morning, they awoke refreshed and ready for action. They looked at the map again, then packed their gear, and looked outside. It was a bright and sunny day in Los Angeles with a cloudless blue sky, ‘Why doesn’t everyone live in Los Angeles?’ Peter thought. They could see a dirty, bearded, tramp walking past with a shopping trolley full of carrier bags. He looked at them with absent eyes, drank from a bottle, then went on his way.

They made their way out of the industrial estate and took the road into central Los Angeles, peering all around them, maintaining a 360 view. It was five miles to the centre, their target location. They stood rooted to the spot as they saw the alien spaceship. It cast a shadow over the heart of Los Angeles, a mile wide, and ugly, black and foreboding. Like it didn’t belong—which it didn’t, of course.
Peter remembered his childhood in Merthyr Tydfil. There was an old house just outside of town—derelict, dark and foreboding like the Welsh weather in the wintertime. Bleak House, it was called, nobody had lived in it for years, the last occupant being an old woman, always dressed in black. Rumour had it she was a witch.
Nobody would go near it, especially the kids as they thought it was haunted. Peter used to walk past it on his way to school, he looked at it out of the corner of his eye, into the dark windows, imagining what horrors lay beyond. Peter and his schoolmates used to dare each other to stay in the haunted house on the hill for one whole night. As luck would have it, his new friend Vinnie, from London, came to stay for a few days. He told him about the haunted house, and he was up for it. So one Halloween Peter, Vinnie, and two of Peter’s friends decided to stay in Bleak House for one whole night, telling their parents they would be staying with friends. First to leave was chicken and had to buy sweets for all of them for a month.
On Halloween night, dressed in their scary Halloween costumes, Peter, Vinnie, Jimmy, and Ray walked up to the gate. They pushed the heavy gates, which creaked and moaned, as they all gripped the iron bars, which felt as cold as ice, sticking to their hands. They walked up to the uneven and overgrown stone path, up to the dark and forbidding house, shadows dancing here and there. An old crow stared at them with beady eyes from the branch of an old withered tree. The air was cold and numbing, and when Peter exhaled, his breath was misty, and he felt the chill air in his lungs. As they drew nearer to the house, everything around Peter became quieter and more distant, and a cool shudder trickled down his spine. Ray said, ‘Let’s turn back—I’m scared,’ but nobody made fun of him.
Eyes wide with trepidation, they pushed the old wooden front door open, and they walked into the hallway, the wooden floorboards creaking as they did so. They stopped every time the boards creaked, looking at one another. In the hallway was a painting of a thin, creepy old woman in a black dress, ‘The former owner,’ thought Peter. Her dark beady eyes seem to stare at him from behind layers of dust, penetrating his soul. He opened the door into the living room, and they crept across the bare wooden floorboards, which creaked and groaned, the dust getting into their nostrils and making them sneeze. As they walked into the room, there was an instant chill, as it suddenly became colder. They stopped and glanced around, knots of fear in their stomachs. Light streamed in through a cracked window from the full moon, casting eerie shadows on the walls. They could hear the sound of a cuckoo.
There wasn’t much furniture, just one frail old wooden rocking chair, and of course, no electricity. They had some food, beer and sleeping bags, which they laid out on the floor—they were going to make a party of it.
‘There be no ghost here,’ said Ray.
‘We’ve only just got here Ray,’ said Peter.
‘No such thing as ghosts,’ blustered Jimmy.
Peter knew that was wrong because his mother told him she had once lived in a haunted house, and that ghosts were a normal occurrence. Every day there was a supernatural phenomenon, like plates moving on their own, or sudden chills, his mother thinking it was normal, which of course it wasn’t. He thought his mother was psychic, she sometimes told him things about the future that came to pass.
Were his powers hereditary?
Did he carry the demons of his mother and father?
Peter was beginning to regret having entered the house on the one night in the year, when—his mother told him—the veil between this world and the next was thinnest.
He looked at Vinnie, who was grinning away, then his smile vanished, and his face went pale—quite white, in fact.
‘Vinnie…what is it?’ Vinnie was looking out the living room door, to the hallway. He was looking at the picture of the old woman. He pointed, his finger shaking, but couldn’t speak. Peter looked at the picture, trying to figure out what was wrong. Head, face, neck, body.
The eyes. They seemed to have a particular intensity about them, as if staring, as if alive. Dark and piercing, those eyes. Peter kept looking, but nothing, then his heart skipped a beat as the eyes seemed to move, staring at him as if to say, “What are you doing in my house?”
Peter had never been so scared in his life. He couldn’t speak; he and Vinnie just stared. His heart started pounding, then Jimmy and Ray also looked, laughing and joking, but froze. Peter was no longer looking at the picture of the old woman, which seemed to be alive, but at the old wooden rocking chair.

Had it moved? It could not be.

The atmosphere in the room seemed to get colder, and Peter’s breath was like smoke as it came out of his mouth. He nudged Vinnie to look at the chair. They all looked in silence at the chair, which ever so slowly started to gently rock, back and forth, back and forth, all of its own accord. They all screamed at once, jumped up and ran out of the house, leaving their sleeping bags, and running past the picture of the old woman, who now seemed to be smiling an evil smile. As they ran out of the house, the front door slammed behind them of its own accord. They ran non-stop all the way back to Peter’s house, out of breath, bursting out their story to Peter’s mother, who scolded them, but gave them some food, then lectured them about never going back there.
As Peter and Vinnie made their way, down side streets, and alleyways, on their way to the centre, trying to stay hidden from patrol craft, they looked again at the massive ship, seeming even more ugly, black and foreboding. If it was possible for an inanimate object to look foreboding, and evil, it did.
‘Bleak House,’ said Peter.
‘Yeah, Bleak House,’ replied Vinnie.