Dance With the Devil introduces a new street drug in the Hellfire world called Black Fang, a substance with the same addictiveness and fatality rate as opiates. Here in the real world, we’re faced with a opiate epidemic that’s killing people by the thousands every year. I, like many others, have lost loved ones to it. In those cases, they started with illicit prescription drugs, progressed to needles, and eventually ended with a lethal dose of fentanyl.
With my friend Marc, I had no idea a drug problem existed until the night I got the phone call from a mutual friend informing me of his passing. Marc and my sister dated for years and once upon a time, we were family close. He was smart, inquisitive, and funny. We would talk for hours on end about everything and nothing. After a night of gabbing about fantasy worlds and story ideas, he was the one who pushed me to finally write my book. He loved kids so much and my daughter adored him. She even called him Uncle Monkey. Unfortunately, he made a stupid mistake and cheated on my sister. When they split, it was painful for her and he and I eventually drifted apart. Just a few weeks before his passing, after years of radio silence, he reached out to me through social media. We talked for hours. He told me about his kids, two of his own and one that he was raising, and how he’d just obtained custody of them. He was excited for the new chapter in his life and we made plans to have a weekend of camping out with our kids in my back yard. We never got the chance. His body was found alone in a hotel room. His off-and-on girlfriend (and mother of his children) had been using with him and left him there to die, discarded like so much garbage. Then she had the balls to show up at his funeral service. I spoke that night, and as I cried through my reading, I looked her dead in the eye in the hopes that she would feel as shitty as I did in that moment. I don’t feel bad about it.
My friend Ryan was a different situation. It pains me to admit it but his death was an outcome we all saw coming for years before it was made manifest. His family and (real) friends tried so hard for so long to get him to stay clean. I can’t speak for all of them, but for me, the effort felt futile almost all the time. When he was using, he would vanish and I would go months without hearing a peep out of him. When he wasn’t using, Ryan talked about chemicals like a long, lost lover he longed to be reunited with. It always sounded romantic and deeply troubling. I even went so far as trying to guilt him with Marc’s passing, begging him not to make me bury another friend. I would get rare shining moments when it would seem like I got through to Ryan. In fact, the last time I saw him in person, that was the case. He was clean and spent a weekend at my house. We stayed up late, ate good food, watched The Hateful Eight and Django Unchained, and made plans for him to travel with me when I made my next trip out west. He was a wonderful artist with aspirations of being a writer. He’d just started jotting the notes of what was meant to be his first novel. Ryan’s death became something of a spectacle after it happened. His marked the first case here in New Hampshire in which the dealer was arrested and held responsible for the death of one of their customers. Spencer Grayson got 8.5-20 years in prison with two 5-10 terms suspended pending behavior and treatment after his release. I don’t feel bad about that either.
I miss both of them so much. Marc’s death was shocking, Ryan’s made me angry. Writing Dance With the Devil helped me purge a little bit of that. Watching someone go down due to addiction is like witnessing a slow suicide and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
December 17, 2020 CDC Press Release, Overdose Deaths Accelerating During Covid-19
If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline for free, 24/7 assistance finding treatment in your area.
NOT ALL DEMONS COME FROM HELL.
Demon hunting sucks. Dez and Vegas decide to take some time off to be normal for a while and quickly fall into their old routine, spending their evenings together at Onyx. Aside from a few unexpected developments with her magick, things are beginning to look like business as usual for the demon-witch hybrid and her vampire boyfriend.
A rash of apparent heroin overdoses rock their neighborhood and the NYPD suspects someone at Onyx is the source. Believing a new supernatural drug is in fact the culprit, Vegas and Kade decide to get involved in the investigation before the human police bite off more than they can chew. Bodies start turning up with no discernible cause of death and Dez has a gut feeling that something else is at play. With enemies coming at them on multiple fronts, the fight has become bigger than a handful of supernaturals can handle on their own. Something has to change.
A friend of theirs vanishes amidst all the chaos, leaving behind nothing but a cryptic wall of clues. With the help of old friends and new allies, Dez is in a race to find the killer before their friend becomes the next mysterious death to turn up on her doorstep.