Undeath & Taxes (Drew Hayes)
$5.99 – $17.99
Fred Book II
The sequel to the Amazon bestseller THE UTTERLY UNINTERESTING AND UNADVENTUROUS TALES OF FRED, THE VAMPIRE ACCOUNTANT.
After discovering just how filled with magic, intrigue, and adventure the parahuman world of being an Undead American can be, Fredrick Frankford Fletcher did exactly what was expected–he became a certified parahuman accountant. Myths and legends, as it turns out, are not so great at taking appropriate deductions and keeping their receipts, and Fred is more than happy to return to a life others view as woefully dull, expanding his accounting business to cater to various monsters and their respective financial needs.
Said monsters are, unfortunately, still spectacular at pulling Fred into trouble, though. And despite merely wanting to stick with simple paperwork, Fred once again finds he is going to have to deal with enchanted weaponry, government agents, possessed houses, and one enigmatic dragon’s interest. In the parahuman world, any business can turn deadly, even one as mundane as accounting.
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Read The First Chapter
After months of relentless training, hours of effort, and tests so great I didn’t know if I would survive them, my work had finally paid off. Some months ago, when I’d first learned there were gaps in my knowledge, I’d had no real idea what I was signing up for. Now, with it finally done, I beamed with pride as I looked down at the starched piece of paper, a symbol of my accomplishment.
“Fredrick Frankford Fletcher,” I read aloud, relishing the finely embossed print resting on the cream-colored background. “Certified Public Parahuman Accountant.” (Parahuman being, of course, the term applied to all creatures of supernatural origin currently residing in the world.)
Learning about the parahuman world, through virtue of my own death, hadn’t been nearly as disturbing to me as learning there were whole sections of laws, tax codes, and deduction options for my kind. This meant that I’d been doing my job without all the tools available to me, and, like working a calculator without a nine button, I found that utterly unacceptable. So, after four months of studying, certification tests, and a dreary weekend at a conference in a Seattle Holiday Inn, I’d closed that gap in my knowledge and gained the new accreditation to prove it.
Ah, but perhaps I should digress for a moment. My name, as stated on the certificate, is Fredrick Frankford Fletcher, though nearly all of my friends and acquaintances call me Fred. I am also an Undead American—a vampire, specifically—and an accountant. In fact, I ran my own company, which now had a whole new section of clients I could appeal to. The parahuman world is rich with magic, intrigue, and adventure, but it seems not a lot of folks like to do the job of crunching numbers come tax-time. I greatly prefer the latter to all three of the former, so I was happy to have found a niche where I could be both useful and make a tidy profit.
“I’m so proud of you,” Krystal said, walking over and planting a kiss on my cheek. She nearly spilled some of the champagne in her cup (yes, I said cup) onto the certificate below. Of course, I’d already had it framed and protected by glass, but I still winced as the pale bubbly liquid surged up to the edge of the plastic container before plunging back down.
“Thank you,” I replied, giving her a brief hug. Despite the fact that we’d now been together for over half a year, I was still shy about public displays of affection. Krystal, knowing this quite well, never missed the opportunity to embarrass me with such over-the-top actions.
“What does this mean?” Albert asked from the kitchen. He was my assistant (as well as a zombie), and a more loyal or well-intentioned person I could scarcely imagine. That said, Albert was not especially quick on the mental draw, possibly because of the . . . awkward circumstances surrounding his brain’s condition at death. Which meant that, despite explaining it to him multiple times, he still didn’t entirely understand the implications of my new title.
I walked out of my office—a small room in my apartment—and rejoined the rest of the party, which consisted of Albert, my aforementioned assistant, Neil, his best friend and an amateur necromancer, Bubba, a local therian (were-creature), Amy, Neil’s magical mentor, and of course the aforementioned cup-using Krystal. I’d invited them all over to celebrate my accomplishment, only to realize I’d forgotten the glasses for the champagne toast in my office. That had led to me getting mesmerized by the certificate yet again—a fact I am not proud of, but that I feel compelled to admit.
Crossing past the window—retrofitted with special glass that not only neutralized the sun’s harmful effects on me, but that was also nearly indestructible—I glanced down and enjoyed the sight of sunlight dancing off the glasses in my hand. Having my home broken into the previous Christmas hadn’t been a pleasant ordeal, but the opportunity to upgrade some of my abode’s features had certainly paid off nicely.
“It means, Albert, that I am now far more attractive to parahuman clients,” I explained as I joined the others gathered in the kitchen. “While I was allowed to do their taxes before, they’ll now know that I’m aware of all applicable tax laws and viable deductions, meaning I can do a better job for them.”
With great care, I set the glasses down and picked up the open bottle of champagne, filling the delicate containers one by one. Krystal merely stuck out her cup and motioned for a refill. I obliged, because nearly eight months of dating someone is long enough to understand what they will and will not bend on. At least she’d consented to toasting with champagne instead of beer, so this was her meeting me halfway. Once the glasses were filled, I hefted mine in a toast..
“Here’s to progress,” I said. “And to effort being rewarded.”
“Fuckin’ A,” Krystal swore. “Here’s to you, Fred. You busted your ass, and we’re all proud of you.” Her words, along with the smile she gave me, made me far less bothered by her choice to drink champagne from a plastic cup.
The others echoed their agreement, and we sipped the champagne. No, sorry, I sipped the champagne. Krystal knocked back her whole glass in a single chug, Bubba tried a swallow and then covertly set his glass down, Amy dropped two tablets in hers that made it glow blue before she gulped it down, and Albert and Neil had cider because they were under age. Technically drinking ages don’t apply to the undead, but Albert had never shown any interest in alcohol. I think he was happy enough with his brain chemistry as it was.
“It truly is amazing,” Amy said, her voice suddenly sounding a bit like a song-bird gargling wind chimes. “There’s a lot of ground to cover; most people need at least a year to become a CPPA.”
“Well, I’ve always had a head for numbers,” I replied humbly. As a vampire, I wasn’t anything special, but my accounting talents had never been a matter for debate.
“That reminds me,” Bubba said, his thick drawl an oddly pleasant contrast to Amy’s magically altered tones. Behind his back, Krystal stealthily took his mostly full glass and dumped its contents into her cup. He almost certainly heard her, but the situation worked out to his benefit so he stayed silent on the matter. “I’ve got your first client for you, if you want one.”
“Sure,” I readily agreed. “I’ve had to cut back on my own work in order to study, so I’m definitely looking to build a new pipeline of business.”
“Suspected as much.” Bubba reached into the pocket of his blue jeans and produced a worn business card. It had certainly been crisp when it entered his pocket, but Bubba was a large man, and everything he wore seemed to get battered faster than normal. “You already know the address, so just give him a call and set up a meetin’.”
One glance at the card gave me reason to be both happy and full of dread. It was for Richard Alderson, head therian in my city and someone I’d had an outing with last winter. He was a good fellow, despite his terrifying presence, and it would be nice to see him again. However, Richard also had a houseguest—a dragon named Gideon who quite literally scared me catatonic, and I was in no great rush to see him again. Ever.
“Thought you might want to know, Gideon is out of town ‘til the end of the week,” Bubba added.
“Is he now?” My spirits perked up immediately. “I think I’ll give Richard a call first thing tomorrow.”
“Such a brave vampire,” Neil chuckled into his glass of cider. The two of us had never really gotten along as well as the others, perhaps because he tried to kill me (along with several other people) the first time we met. Some first impressions are hard to shake, after all.
“Just one of those things,” Krystal told him. “A dragon can suppress his aura around mortals, but vampires seem to get the full brunt of it even when it’s dialed back. No one really knows why.”
“I’ve conjectured that it’s a trait evolved by their magic as a sort of natural defense. Since a vampire would be tempted by the dragon’s blood, they developed a way to repel vampires, so as not to be caught unaware.” Amy said all of this in a voice that now sounded like a cartoon chipmunk, and I noticed flowers in her hair, where previously there had been none. Amy’s side-job was as a master alchemist, and she had a habit of trying out products on herself with alarming frequency. That said, she was easily smarter than the rest of us, possibly even if we were combined.
“Sounds odd. Even without the mind-crushing terror, I doubt I’d be much of a match for Gideon,” I said. Gideon’s official title was King of the West, and parahumans didn’t bestow such monikers without good reason.
“Of course not, but you’re on two opposite ends of the spectrum. There are dragons far weaker than Gideon, and vampires far more dangerous and ambitious than you,” Amy reminded me.
That part was very true. I’d met the vampire who “made” me over Christmas of last year, and he’d been a piece of work. If not for Krystal, I’d have been dead. And this time, it would have stuck.
“I don’t know about the ambition part,” Krystal disagreed. “Didn’t you see my man’s new certificate? I think he’s definitely got some aspirations.”
“Yes, I do,” I agreed, tucking the card into my own pocket. Tomorrow would be the first step toward those very aspirations. I intended to land a new client, and hopefully get some referrals.
It would be nice, familiar, and above all, safe.
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