My name's Quinn. If you buy into my reputation, I'm the most notorious demon hunter in New England. But rumors of my badassery have been slightly exaggerated. Instead of having kung-fu skills and a closet full of medieval weapons, I'm an ex-junkie with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Or...whatever. Wanted for crimes against inhumanity I (mostly) didn't commit, I was nearly a midnight snack for a werewolf until I was "saved" by a vampire calling itself the Bride of Quiet. Already cursed by a werewolf bite, the vamp took a pint out of me too. So now...now, well, you wouldn't think it could get worse, but you'd be dead wrong.
Caitln R. Kiernan has published over forty short stories (recently collected in two volumes), as well as her novels.
Praise for Blood Oranges "The New England setting is colorful and convincing, and Tierney populates it with a weird and splendid set of supernatural beings...[R]eaders are in for a memorably exhilarating and engaging experience."--Kirkus
"The first urban fantasy title (and first publication under the Tierney name) for Caitlin R. Kiernan (The Drowning Girl) brings an engagingly fresh perspective to well-trod territory...Colorful side characters and a fully realized setting make this a fast-paced series opener well worth checking out."--Publisher's Weekly
Praise for Caitl n R. Kiernan:
"One of our essential writers of dark fiction."--New York Times
"Deeply, wonderfully, magnificently nasty."--Neil Gaiman
"Caitl n R. Kiernan draws her strength from that most honorable of sources, a passion for the act of writing."--Peter Straub
"Caitl n Kiernan is a master of dark fantasy."--Holly Black
Commended for Spectrum Awards (Novel) 2014
Praise for Caitl
Chapter One The Mattress First off, taking out monsters absolutely doesn''t come with a how-to manual. Fuck that shit you see on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The only "watchers" I''ve ever had are the cops and such, people who might wonder what the hell I''m up to in the middle of the night, wandering about in various unsavory places. People who might ask inconvenient questions, or see shit they''re not supposed to see. So, yeah. No helpful mentor. What I''ve learned, I taught myself. It''s all trial and error in the trenches. And another thing, I''ve never met anyone else who does this. Not even one. If there''s some worldwide network of girls and guys who off demons, they''ve never bothered to contact me. Near as I know, I''m it. The one and only. Likely, that''s not true. Surely other people are crazy enough to do this. Surely other people have idiotic, suicidal vendettas of their own. But I figure none of us lives very long, once we set to work. I sure as hell didn''t. Then again, I''m probably not a model of excellence. That is, if I were going to imagine the ideal monster hunter, she wouldn''t have dropped out of school and run away from home at age twelve, and she sure as hell wouldn''t be a junky. Yes, I''m a junky. Well, I was. Heroin. I like to tell myself I only started shooting up because of the monsters and the insanity and all, but I''m pretty good at lying to myself, and that''s probably just another lie. The truth is, junk feels good. Way better than sex. You hear that, but it''s not just hyperbole from the drug dealers. That''s the god''s honest fuck-you sideways truth. Never yet had an orgasm that could compare to a fix. Want to know about junkies without going to the trouble to become one yourself? Just read William Burroughs, because that shit''s gospel. Okay, so you know I kill monsters, and I''m an addict, and I figure that sets things up for the story of how my life went from being screwed up to being royally fucking fucked up in the space of a few hours. Well, to be truthful, in the space of about five minutes, though it did get worse as the night wore on (as you''ll see). If there were a how-to book, Demon Slaying for Dummies, or The Complete Idiot''s Guide to Vampire Hunting, or a Wikipedia entry, or whatever, I think Rule No. 1 would be something like: Do not, under any circumstances, stop in the woods on the night of a full fucking moon and shoot up, when you know the rogue werewolf you''ve been tracking for a week is probably pretty close by. That''s another thing, okay? In monster movies, people do dumb things, and oftentimes, those dumb things get them killed. Or worse. And I''ve heard people bitch about it. "Hey, nobody''s that stupid. He wouldn''t do that. She wouldn''t do that. I don''t buy it." But all those naysayers are wrong, and they''re wrong with a big ol'' capital W. Wrong. Let''s forget my little indiscretion I mentioned above. I''ve lost count of the people I''ve seen die at the hands of the nasties because they did something that was just plain stupid. The sort of shit we all like to tell ourselves we''re too smart to do. But we ain''t. Not you, not me, not anyone. The nasties bank on that, and it pays off. Some dude hears a thud on the roof of his parked car? He doesn''t drive like hell without once looking back. No. He gets out to see what made the thud. Some chick hears the proverbial thump in the night from a dark room? Nine times out of ten, she doesn''t go straight to the phone and call 911. Nine times out of ten, she reaches into the room, switches on the light, and gets the last surprise of her life. Or (and this one always gets me) she stands at the threshold and calls out, "Anyone there?" Or . . . let''s say you got a couple of inebriated young assholes from Tau Kappa Epsilon out on a dark road, hoping to get some something-something from a couple of drunken little sisters. Let''s say they''re pulled into a boneyard, because college boys, they have this notion cemeteries make girls all snuggly and easy. So, here they are, copping a feel, sporting hard-ons, and thinking they''re about to get lucky when the air starts stinking of rotten meat. And I don''t mean just a whiff. I mean stinking of the flesh of the dead. So, what do they do? They roll up the windows and get back to business. You don''t believe me? I don''t care. Point is, the way you think folks behave, and the way they really do , those two things frequently have very little in common with one another. The prey has a tendency to imagine itself smart enough to outwit the predators. No. Strike that. The prey rarely even bothers to believe there are predators. Also, I''m not talking about rapists, murderers, and thieves. I''m talking about predators . I''m talking about the creatures lurking around out there with appetites most human beings can''t begin to imagine, the ghoulies intent on making a meal of you and yours, or, hell, just intent on torturing someone until they grow bored enough to contrive some especially messy way to finish the job. Ever seen a cat play with a mouse? That''s what I mean, only not with cats and not with mice. What I mean makes cats look pretty damn merciful. Anyway, let''s set aside for now how and why it was I started in killing monsters (and continue to do so). There will be plenty of time for that later. Let''s get back to that warm night two Augusts ago, stalking that werewolf in the woods off the Hartford Pike, just a few miles outside Providence. Just back from the Scituate Reservoir. There''s a turnoff for a dirt road, and that''s where I cut the engine and left the car. A few days earlier, there''d been a murder about two hundred yards back from the highway. Was in all the local papers and on Channel 6, everywhere. The corpse was discovered nine feet up a white pine, gutted, decapitated, and tucked neatly into the limbs. The cops were on beyond clueless (I have someone on the inside, but that''s another story, which gets back to me being a junky), though there was talk of animal tracks at the scene of the murder, and talk of bears, because, you know, Rhode Island is crawling with nine-foot-tall man-eating bears. Everyone knows that, right? But I digress. It had been a good summer. I had a couple of pretty spectacular takedowns under my belt from June and July alone. Which means I was getting cocky, and sloppy, and, besides, I was either high or strung out about half the time. These are the unfortunate combinations that make for wicked outrageous calamity. The stuff that can turn the hunter into the hunted in the blink of an eye. Blink. You''re a hundred and twenty pounds of fucking hamburger. So, there I was, the moon so bright you could have read a newspaper by it. The farther I walked, the harder it was to hear the cars out on Hartford Pike. Now, I''d planned to shoot up when I was done for the night. That''s usually how it went back then. I liked to think of it as my just reward for fighting the good fight, etc. and etc. But my rig and a dime bag of China White was right there in my army-surplus shoulder bag, buried under the various grisly tools of my trade. And I stood there a moment, not far from where they''d found the dead woman. There were strips of yellow crime-scene tape lying on the road, and I figured the wind had ripped them loose from somewhere else. There was a sort of hot breeze, and the yellow tape fluttered. I listened to the woods for, I don''t know, five or ten minutes, and made one of those stupid scary-movie decisions no one likes to think real people make. I didn''t smell a dog (though the kill had all that trademark werewolf style), and, believe me, the bastards stink. I told myself the perpetrator was probably miles away, and that night I wouldn''t be settling any scores, full moon or no full moon. Possibly I was upwind. Whatever. I left the dirt road, went maybe twenty feet into the underbrush, crouched down behind a big oak, and fixed. Simple as that. I was just feeling the rush and untying the rubber hose from around my left bicep when I heard it coming for me through the trees. Coming at me fast and hard, and I knew exactly what I was hearing. Nothing else in the woods of New England makes that sort of noise. That much noise. Oh, and, belatedly, I smelled it. And I knew I was absolutely and utterly fucked. Now, up on the big screen, this is the moment when Our Plucky Young Heroine would do something amazing. She''d grab her crossbow (loaded with silver-tipped bolts, blessed by Father O''Malley), pull off some kung fu moves so slick they''d make Jackie Chan wet himself, and drop the Big Bad Wolf in that very last second before the beast can rip out her throat. Then she''d say something witty. Yeah, right. Me, I blinked a couple of times, squinting through the haze of junk muddying my head. The werewolf was rushing towards me on all fours, quadrupedal-like--you know, one thing I always wondered about, ever since I set eyes on my first werewolf, is why the hell they''re called were wolves. Because, trust me, they look about as much like a wolf as Benjamin Franklin looked like Paris Hilton. Anyway . . . where was I? Yeah, right. Big silverback werewolf rushing at me and the dope rushing through me. That moment was, indeed, a dizzying mixture of opiate joy and sheer fucking terror. All I really remember is, in this order, dropping the syringe, stumbling back against the oak, tangling my feet in the shoulder strap of my bag, and managing to scream just once before it was on top of me. That''s an awful lot, really, all things considered. Thinking back on it, I don''t know what astounds me more, that I remember those details, or that I did anything at all but scream. Just my douche bag luck, this