Venus Envy

Map of the Nightworld
Map of the Nightworld, courtesy of Mary Winifred Hood


After she kills the abusive ex-boyfriend of her lover, a drifter named Corona Shepherd is committed to an insane asylum. The chief psychiatrist, Dr. Pilot, prescribes an aggressive course of therapy to cure Shepherd of her lesbianism and other anti-social tendencies, and Shepherd, no fan of electroshock, decides to skip out. But her late-night escape attempt is foiled when Dr. Pilot catches her in the act, panics, and pushes her out a fifth-floor window.

The fall is fatal, but it’s not the end; Shepherd’s death opens a door into an alternate universe, a Nightworld ruled over by a vampire queen named Betsy Bathory. Two thousand years ago, Bathory was nearly destroyed by a messianic figure known as the Good Shepherd. But the Shepherd was betrayed by one of his followers and murdered at a crossroads by Bathory’s minions. To celebrate her victory, Bathory stole the sun from the sky; she’s kept it chained up in the back courtyard of her castle ever since, its fires doused. Naturally, there’s a prophecy that the Good Shepherd will one day return, causing the sun to rise again. But until then, it’s dark out.

While she awaits the rebirth of her nemesis, the vampire queen spends her time kidnapping beautiful young women, bathing in their blood to preserve and augment her own beauty. The latest object of her envy is a farmer’s daughter named Venus Brown. A contingent of werewolves has been dispatched to the Brown farm to fetch Venus. The property is protected by a fence made of silver barbed wire, but that won’t keep the monsters at bay for long—zombie reinforcements are on the way, and they aren’t bothered by silver.

Enter Corona Shepherd, who falls screaming out of the night sky and punches a hole in the roof of the Browns’ hayloft. Shepherd barely has time to get her bearings and notice that the farmer’s daughter is pretty hot before the zombies start breaking through the wire. Scrambling to the top of the grain silo, Shepherd and the Browns make a hair’s-breadth escape by hurling a grappling hook at the moon as it passes overhead.

The moon carries them east to the farm of the Browns’ closest relatives, the Jukes. By this point Venus has realized that Shepherd is pretty hot, too, so the two of them—exhibiting the sort of bad judgment that is endemic in horror stories—decide to sneak out of the house after the rest of the family is asleep and take a trip to the City, a sprawling metropolis located within sight of Betsy Bathory’s castle.

It doesn’t take long for Bathory to get wind of them. Shepherd and Venus are captured and taken to the castle. The Browns and the Jukes, following close behind, hatch a desperate rescue plan. In the end, though, it’s up to Corona Shepherd to face down the vampire queen, save Venus, and bring in the dawn.

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