Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Ingela Bohm for stopping by today.
Title: Last Communion
Author: Ingela Bohm
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Ingela Bohm
Genre: Apocalyptic/dystopian, Contemporary, Gay, M/M Romance, Paranormal
A worldwide disease has all but wiped out humankind. Only a few people survive, the doctor’s son among them. But there’s something wrong with him: he no longer wants to eat. Is he finally dying too?
The answer is as unexpected as it is horrible: one night, he discovers a new hunger – a mindless craving for blood. Horrified at himself, he flees into the night, but when he tries to find sanctuary, he ends up almost getting killed. As he starts to realize that even a predator can become prey, he runs into Garangjas – another man who drinks blood. Irresistibly drawn, he follows Garangjas to his flock of ‘Confirmands,’ a weird group of people who might just be his ticket to survival.
There’s just one problem: how can the Confirmands stay alive if the rest of humanity dies out?
Setting the scene for apocalypse
Even in here, I could smell the smoke: an echo of the ghoulish smog that lay over our neighborhood like a blanket. Funeral pyres. Right there in the streets. You’d think we’d all grow used to it, but no. Even after months of this, I was still aware of that horrible smell. Sometimes I even dreamed about it.
In Last Communion, the world as we know it has fallen. A mysterious new disease has wiped out most of humankind, and civilization is no more. Survivors cling to the symbols of their old life and drink their dearly bought raspberry squash from crystal carafes, but they’re all dying. Sooner or later, the Condition will sweep them into oblivion.
When I first started writing this story, I was working as a dietician. I was and still am interested in nutrition and metabolism, and the many ways in which food can both harm and heal us. Most of all, I was disgusted at the way so called overweight is stigmatized in western society. I actually heard cancer patients report getting compliments when they wasted away, because of a culture that values extreme thinness over health.
This got me thinking about an epidemic that would make people starve to death, and about how a society like ours might react to it. Wouldn’t we be delighted at first? Wouldn’t we welcome it, at any cost? And how long would it take us to realize that losing weight wasn’t actually a good thing?
My answer was: too long. And so I decided to write a book where our fondness for slimness helped to destroy us. The premise for Last Communion was born.
That was twelve years ago, and today the book is finally finished. It hasn’t been an easy road. None of my other books have required such extensive research. Being passably versed in biochemistry and physiology, I wanted every detail to be believable and realistic. I read scientific papers on medical terminology and biological processes, just to make sure all this could plausibly happen. No wonder Last Communion took a while to write.
Not only that: describing a world on the brink of destruction was its own kind of challenge. Which societal structures would crumble first, and which ones would linger? I decided that heavy industries would be the most vulnerable, since hungry people would be too weak to work. In the book, food and other material goods dwindle quickly, while television broadcasts continue for a while. The newsreaders battle on, hiding their pallor with makeup as they sit in their studios, reciting the statistics of Armageddon until they’re too sick to talk.
Another big change is the silence. Where once there were cars, now there’s just the wind in the trees. Where people once laughed and chattered in the streets, now there’s not a soul to be seen. And if you do see someone, you’d better run – because the Condition isn’t the only threat out there. Some people survive the disease, but only to face another fate: a metabolism transformed to make them thrive on blood. Human blood.
My mother tried to read the book while it was still a draft, and she couldn’t stomach it. She doesn’t like the eerie stuff, or the icky. Readers who agree with her might want to give Last Communion a pass. But if you like a bit of gore and mayhem, if you want to know what happens when humanity makes one mistake too many, when science goes haywire and morality gets left by the wayside, then it might be for you. For a vampire story, you won’t get many coffins for your buck. Instead, there will be sexual tension in deserted libraries and looted corner shops, life and death decisions while hanging from a platform high above a wild river, monsters whose skeletons grow out of their skins, and abandoned churches where priests vow to ‘kill the demons’.
There’s no shortage of tragedy, loss or evil in this book. After all, everything the characters know and love will disappear. But even in the direst circumstances, one thing always survives: the capacity to love. Even when everything else is gone, as long as people’s hearts are beating, they will beat for someone.
To celebrate that, Last Communion is a love story played out in the ruins of civilization. At the end of our tether, when life doesn’t seem to be worth living, this one thing can make us decide to survive: the connection to another human being.
Even when ‘human being’ is, shall we say, a loose term…
And suddenly, there he was. Quick like a bird of prey, he flew at my throat. Claws gripped my neck, and teeth flashed. The smell of blood filled my nostrils – the blood of a dozen victims, like a morbid souvenir on his breath. I cried out, paralyzed by the realization that he was a mirror image of me.
And then everything stopped. Black eyes stared at me, shock and confusion warring in their depths. I stared back, all instincts to save myself evaporated. I was caught in his gaze, hypnotized.
The courtesy fell dead to the floor between us. I should have laughed at his formality, but I couldn’t. I was bewitched by his voice. It was dark like cherry velvet, and it seemed to vibrate through my body like the single, low note from a cracked cello. I opened my mouth to say something back, and his eyes flitted down to my teeth: to my long, pointy canines. The mark of the monster. The blemish that had my mother so disgusted.
A blemish he shared.
I didn’t breathe. I just took in the sight of him: the strands of unkempt, dark hair framing his bony face. The intensity of his gaze. The two gentle bulges in his top lip… Oh God, that familiar ache.
But I’d just met him – I couldn’t. I shouldn’t even be toying with the idea. And yet my eyes raked over him, hungry in a way that I hadn’t had the energy to be hungry for months. As he gazed back, I knew he could feel it. The magnetism was palpable, a third entity in the room. An animal thing. A trembling, crazy mirage that had nothing to do with me.
He wasn’t even my type. I went for the kind-faced blond, and this creature was the exact opposite. He was thin, wiry, dark. Rough around the edges, like someone who slept on the street. His collar hung loose around his neck, and still I sensed the strength in that lithe body, like a starved panther crouching to attack.
“Please forgive me.” He took a step back, and the pull lessened. I could breathe again. “I should know better.” He seemed shaken. “I don’t understand what happened.”
I gaped, trying to find words, but there was nothing. My mind was a blank. Time passed slowly, as if I was watching a slow motion replay of everything I had missed in my life. The world was brand new and eons-old at once. And that smell… stronger than blood, than hyacinths, than rotting fruit. The smell of a fusion aching to happen.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded. My attempt to sound dominant quivered between us. I half expected him to laugh. But if something stirred in those bottomless tarns, it wasn’t mirth.
“You’re new.” Once again the sound of his voice made the hairs on my neck stand up. It was a rugged, raven-like sound that seemed to pierce my very soul. And his eyes… They slid over my body in a way I would once have interpreted as seductive, but in this strange new world, who knew?
Then he nodded. “Yes, obviously. Very fresh, I would think. Not more than a few days old?”
He stepped closer again, and I choked out a hurried, “What do you mean?”
He looked down at me, sharp and alert. His scent filled me to the brim, like I wanted to fill him. My hands curled into trembling fists at my sides. Don’t touch. Just don’t. You know how straight guys get.
“New,” he repeated, and once again I smelled warm iron on his breath. “Saved.” His gaze dropped to the pulse just below my ear, and a warm shudder travelled through me. Was he going to bite me after all? I should be halfway out of the window by now. This man was crazy, and he was too tall, too strong for me. Besides, I could sense his experience. He would overpower me in a second.
Or would he let me overpower him?
Afraid to open my mouth, I breathed through my nose. Get a grip, get a grip, a weak voice inside me kept repeating, but it was fading into the background. How could my old principles serve me now? There were no rules anymore. I was standing in an abandoned university library in a plague-ridden city, aching with desire for an insane stranger, and there was no one left to tell me it was wrong.
I raised a hand, touched his chest. The gesture wasn’t entirely voluntary, but once my palm connected with the steady warmth beneath the cotton, I couldn’t draw back. His shirt shook and trembled with the heart that was beating behind it. The vibrations spread up my arm, and the air rippled as we breathed. My hand trailed lower, over his stomach, only stopping where his jeans marked forbidden territory.
This wasn’t me. It just wasn’t. In my way, I was an old-fashioned, dinner-first kind of guy. I’d never jumped someone I’d just met.
But then I’d never murdered a family member in cold blood before, either.
As if the memory flicked a switch, the blinds were yanked down over my eyes. Our bodies crashed together. I tore at his shirt, searching for skin. Pulled at his belt. God, I wanted to fuck him. I’d never wanted anything more. His buttons strained at the denim and then slipped free. He wasn’t wearing anything underneath. Pushing his jeans down his hips, I felt the black thatch of hair caress my fingers. One final yank, and the hot silk of his cock brushed my hand.
It was beautiful.
About the Author
Ingela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.
Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters. Recent works include the twisted online love thriller #Not Safe For Work, Shakespeare/Marlowe litslash Rival Poet and the third instalment about seventies rock band Pax Cymrica.
Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. Her favorite tool is the crowbar. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 1200 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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