Oren Stolt understands the natural order better than most people. Vampires prey on humans and Undying keep the vampires' numbers in check.
Now, across the United States, vampire numbers are exploding, thanks to a new church. The Tabernacle of the Firstfruits preaches a Risen Lord and invites believers to follow Him in death and resurrection... quite literally.
In Memphis, the church is about to host its first conference, with an eye to converting the whole world to the vampiric gospel.
And all that stands between humanity and eternal night is Oren, his kids, and a thin line of insane immortals.
Many of the influences on Power in the Blood are locational
The motel is still there, but the restaurant and canoe rental have been turned into a scrap yard. This is where the book opens.
The Lego table lay on its side in the restaurant flowerbed, a few of the plastic bricks clinging to its four-color top, the broken glass around it just catching the first glints of light as the new sun came over the ridge. The rider parked his motorcycle beside it and swung off, leaving his helmet on the bike seat. He paced the scene, careful not to leave tracks, especially since the attackers had left none when they ate the patrons of the little restaurant.
The young man counted six dead inside—a fair crowd for an early Thursday breakfast. The whole air felt like vampires: cold and ugly, without the proper sense of growing that an Ozark spring should have in early May. He gave a mirthless smile. He was starting to sound like Jacob.
A small school bus, its grille and most of its glass missing, mocked him from the junkyard by the defunct canoe rental place. The other three victims, all children, slumped bonelessly on the cracked seats, their heads lolling on shredded throats. Great—this crew had a sense of humor. He turned away, ignoring the building's tattered bunting and last summer's faded flags as they fluttered raggedly in a dawn breeze.
He ignored the dingy motel—its fresh paint not quite covering its age as it advertised air conditioning and color TV—since no odor of blood came from it, and mounted up. It was still three hours' hard riding to Memphis, so he kicked it into gear and started out slowly, in deference to the winding mountain roads.
This abandoned house stands at the end of East Street in Memphis. It's huge and gorgeous (up close) so I chose it for Beth's Lair.
The faded pink stucco walls and their blank, boarded windows gave way to the nightclub inside. The music didn't make it out of the building, thanks to very modern soundproofing. Goth human regulars, young vampires, and others—tourists, thrill seekers and a knot of giggling girls who looked much too young and huddled near the bar—twisted and cavorted in the darkness of the ancient ballroom, illuminated by flashing strobes and weak red bulbs.
Peryton made his way through the crowd, half-dancing, half-dodging, to a door on the far side. He escaped the pounding noise of the club and made his way along the hallway to a large, black-painted door. Some people had no taste. He knocked twice.
3) Megachurches are huge in Memphis. We have several, and Tabernacle of the First Fruits rents them all for their big conference.
This statue, officially called "Liberty in Christ," more commonly referred to as "Our Lady of Manifest Destiny," stands outside the World Overcomers Church, one of the places the Firstfruiters rented.
4) Our Vampires are Different. TV tropes is a giant black hole which can devour DAYS if you're not careful. But this time, it's right.
The vampires require blood. They are vulnerable to fire and sunlight. But they don't have religious hang-ups. They're born-again, Post-Millennialist Christians, working to convert the whole world to the gospel of the Risen Lord and bring about the Second Coming.
"Good evening. Welcome to the Firstfruits Tabernacle, where we serve a Risen Lord!"
Several "amens" rose from the front pews.
"Through the Blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Through the Blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven. The Blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, is cleansing me now and continually from all sin. Through the Blood of Jesus, I am justified, made righteous, just as if I had never sinned. Through the Blood of Jesus, I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. Through the Blood of Jesus, I am made a firstfruit of the Resurrection!"
The energy of the crowd seemed to shift as Oren listened. The uncomfortable social situation had become a family reunion, and a kind of ecstasy crept over the faces of those near him. He saw a couple of people down in front lift their hands, as if expecting the Blood of Jesus to rain down on them from the ceiling.
5) League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Avengers, Waiting for the Galactic Bus and other hero combination pieces.
The Undying come from all walks of life, all time periods. Mahshid is the daughter of a Persian glue-maker around 4000 BCE. Samil is an Issacharite warrior who marched in the armies of King David and fell to a Hittite spear. Jacob was a Spanish monk ca 1400 CE. The Kid was born in 1865. Anne Winthrop was hanged in Plymouth for a witch. Marcus would be having his 35th birthday this year, if he hadn't died two years ago.
More famous faces populate the ranks of the Undying.
Gilgamesh wreaks havoc among the First-fruiters.
He watched one mountain of a man, heavily chained, brought out. The handler beckoned Oren's boys over. He eavesdropped a little, enough to hear the twins put in charge of Gilgamesh himself. Oren wasn't sure if he walked in the real world or among legends tonight. His Tolkien came back to him, and he remembered he could do both at once
Jean Baptiste De Lasalle heads the Council of Eternity
Arthur Conan Doyle
"Arthur, good to see you." Samil reached up from where he sat in a wheelchair, his half-regenerated legs incapable of carrying him into battle. He shook the hand of a hawk-faced man whose features would mark him as English anywhere. His comfort with modern attire led Oren to believe the man was probably not King Arthur, come back to save his country in direst emergency, although he wouldn't be surprised one way or the other.
"Samil, old man. Got shredded, eh? Nasty bit of a nuisance, that." The accent was pure gaslight-and-hansom era, familiar from old afternoon movies, not as sharp as modern English. Arthur tamped and lit his pipe, and then waited as the vans unloaded. "It was quite a trip across the pond with a cargo hold full of loonies."
A man who appeared no older than his mid-thirties, wearing a blue chambray shirt and jeans, came up to stand beside him. "Mr. Stolt. Pleasure to be going in with you. They briefed the saner ones on the plane, and us already awake ones in a general meeting." His accent resembled Samil's, and his features bore the same regional stamp. He looked up at the church and down at the machete in his hand, sighing.
"They won't listen. No one ever did. Not the apostles afterward. Not Paul or Augustine or Luther. Not any of them. They have made me what they need me to be, as everyone does. I am become the justification of their actions. Besides, if I stroll in looking like this, who would believe me?" He gestured at the blue-collar worker clothing.
He had a point. No one was going to buy a short-haired Jesus who looked like he should be carrying a lunch-bucket and a stainless steel thermos.
The last was a calculated risk. But he fits with the mythology of the world I have created, and I've been told by Christian readers that I handled him in a way that was both respectful and in character. (I should hope. One should always write flatteringly of an ex with whom one is on good terms)
Enjoy the Vampire Apocalypse