In Egypt’s Shadows by Vonnie Winslow Crist
When I saw the submission call for SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire edited by Nicole Smith, my thoughts went instantly to Egypt! Since my teens, I’ve been a fan of Ancient Egypt. I’m sure I was initially attracted to the pyramids, glyphs, art, and desert locale—but later, the longevity of the Egyptian culture was inspiring as well. Myths and legends which last across thousands of years must speak to something at the core of our humanity.
So when writing about vampires, who can live millennia, what better place to set a story than Ancient Egypt? Thus, In Egypt’s Shadows was born.
Of course I wanted my vampire to be handsome, strong, and desirable, but vampirism is often too romanticized. When you think of the bonuses of living forever, you tend to forget the negative. You’ll see your friends and family die. You’ll have to keep moving and changing identities to prevent discovery. Unless you’re in love with another vampire, you’ll endure countless heartbreaks.
The countless heartbreaks part of vampirism also inspired me to write ‘In Egypt’s Shadows.’ I thought, “What if your true love is human, she refuses to change, and you just can’t forget her?” Now, that’s a story I wanted to tell.
My protagonist, Akhon longs for Kebi, his former human life’s love interest. He watches her, dreams of her, and imagines her children could be his. His vampire maker, Nawa, discovers him spying on Kebi again and again. Finally, Nawa convinces him he must leave and begin a new life farther up the Nile. Akhon only agrees with her terms, if she’ll send him a message when Kebi is near death so he can return to Giza.
Lest the reader forget exactly who and what Akhon is, I included him spotting, killing, and feeding on a meal. When done, he coldly disposes of the bloodless body while honoring a crocodile-headed deity:
“Here’s a gift for you, sons and daughters of Sobek,” he said. Whistling softly, he slipped the corpse into the lapping water. Akhon didn’t move as the crocodiles approached, studied him with their yellow eyes, then ripped the unlucky traveler’s carcass into bite-sized chunks and swallowed him.
Quiet as a tomb, Akhon stood on the banks of the Nile, admiring the crocodiles’ efficiency. He smiled as within a few minutes, the children of Sobek finished their meal and there was nothing left on the surface of the water at Akhon’s feet but moonlight.”
The mention of Sobek and his sacred creatures was a way of including Ancient Egyptian culture. I tried to include other small details as well, while not overwhelming the story with too much historical information. But I sure did have fun reading the research material—almost all of which is not in the story!
If you want to discover how Akhon resolves his dilemma, and if he is finally able to be with his true love, Kebi, you can check out In Egypt’s Shadows in the SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire anthology. The collection is filled with wonderfully horrific stories of vampires from the African diaspora.
Vonnie Winslow Crist, HWA, SFWA, is author of The Enchanted Dagger, Owl Light, The Greener Forest, Murder on Marawa Prime, and other award-winning books. Her stories appear in Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Cast of Wonders, Amazing Stories, Killing It Softly 2, Blood & Beetles, Horror for Hire: First Shift, Creep, Mother Ghost’s Grimm 1 & 2, Devolution Z, Monsters, Scary Snippets: Halloween, Re-Terrify, Samhain Secrets, Forest of Fear, Re-Haunt, Coffins & Dragons, and elsewhere. Still believing the world is filled with mystery, miracles, and magic, Vonnie strives to celebrate the power of myth in her writing. For more information: www.vonniewinslowcrist.com
Buy link for SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire: https://www.amazon.com/SLAY-Stories-Nicole-Givens-Kurtz-ebook/dp/B08FM3MC3L/