Kitty’s Mix-Tape, the final installment of the bestselling Kitty Norville series, showcases the paranormal escapades of Carrie Vaughn’s fan-favorite werewolf talk-show host. We’re excited to share an excerpt from this engaging short fiction collection—available from Tachyon Publications.
Kitty Norville still can’t stay away from trouble—of the supernatural kind.
Everyone’s favorite werewolf DJ is here to mix it up just one last time. Here you will find, or will be lucky to newly discover, the irrepressible Kitty Norville with friends and enemies alike: Rick the vampire; Jessi Hardin, paranormal detective; Kitty’s werewolf husband Ben; Cormac, the bounty hunter; and the ever-villainous Dux Bellorum. These irresistible tales are full of unpredictable twists and turns: lupines experimenting with astronomy, a cheating boxer with preternatural strength, vampires arriving from the Philippines.
As a special treat, author Carrie Vaughn has provided her own selections for a mix-tape: story notes and songs dedicated to each tale. So whatever you do, don’t miss Kitty before she is gone.
“Kitty Busts the Feds”
“I’m just saying if anybody should know about this, it oughta be you, right?”
Putting my elbows on the desk, I rubbed my scalp and winced at the microphone. “Yes, you’re right, of course. If anyone ought to know the effects of recreational marijuana on lycanthropes it should be me, even though I’ve never actually tried the stuff, even though I live in Colorado. I’m so sorry to disappoint you.”
I wasn’t sorry, and I seemed to be completely unable to steer the show off this topic.
“All right, checking the monitor . . . and all the calls are about pot. Okay. Fine. Matt, are we violating any FCC regulations by talking about pot on the air this much?” Pot might have been legal in Colorado, but the show was syndicated all over the country and I didn’t want to get any affiliate stations in trouble. On the other side of the booth window, Matt, my engineer, gave me a big shrug. I figured if I was in trouble, Ozzie, the station manager, would have called by now to ax this whole line of discussion. “What the hell, NPR has done a million news stories on pot, right? It’s not like we’re telling people how to get the stuff. Next caller, you’re on the air.”
“I mean, if you don’t live in Colorado how do you get the stuff—”
“I cannot help you with this. Next call, please. Linda, what’s your question?”
“Hi, Kitty, thanks so much for taking my call. There really are so many medical applications for cannabis, especially in terms of reducing anxiety and alleviating chronic pain, it seems that if we wanted to look anywhere for a cure for lycanthropy it would be with CBD oil.”
I had voted in favor of legalized marijuana. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
“It’s not magic, okay? It’s not a cure-all. Alleviating symptoms and curing the underlying condition are two different things. Even medical marijuana advocates know that. And frankly, I can’t get past the notion of a werewolf with the munchies. Can you imagine?”
“I suppose I didn’t think of that…”
“The law of unintended consequences, people. Thanks for your call, Linda. Look, if any lycanthropes with any actual, real experience with pot want to chime in here, please call me.” None had yet, according to the monitor. I hit the line for the next call at random because my carefully reasoned choices sure hadn’t helped me tonight. “Hello, Ray from Seattle, what have you got for me?”
“Vampires actually can smoke pot,” he said by way of introduction.
“Oh? Are you a vampire? How does that work?” Vampires technically didn’t need to breathe to live. They drew air into their lungs in order to speak, laugh, whatever. But did pot actually work on them?
This guy had just been waiting for a chance to lecture. “I am a vampire, and I happen to have a long history of smoking, well, lots of things. As you know—at least I’m assuming you know—vampires can’t ingest narcotics. We can’t ingest anything but human blood. But smoking narcotics? That works.” His accent was American, maybe someplace from the east coast. That didn’t tell me anything about how old he was or where he came from.
“Do tell me more.” The vampires I knew in real life never seemed to tell me anything.
“There’s a catch. You have to be full up on blood. And I mean full. When you smoke pot, or tobacco, or opium, or”—he rattled off three more names of things I hadn’t even heard of—”the active ingredients enter the bloodstream through the lungs. We vampires can take in air when we need to, but we don’t need the oxygen because, well—”
“Because you’re basically dead. In stasis. Whatever.”
“That’s a simplification—”
“I want to hear about vampires smoking pot.”
“For drugs to work there has to be enough blood in our systems for anything in the lungs to transfer. Not enough blood, you’re just inhaling smoke. Really, it’s a lot faster to find someone who’s already high and take theirs. Since you need the blood anyway. Cuts out a step, if you know what I mean.”
“I have no idea what you mean,” I said, fascinated. “But okay.”
“Some vampires will tell you blood on its own is enough of a high, but sometimes you just want a little variety.”
“I guess so,” I said. “Thanks so much for calling in, Ray from Seattle.”
“Happy to, love your show! We should hang out sometime! Because you know what I haven’t done? Taken blood from a werewolf who’s high on pot—”
“Moving on now, we’re going to take a short break for messages, but I’ll be right here waiting for you. This is Kitty and you’re listening to The Midnight Hour.”
Meanwhile, something was happening in the booth. Three people had entered, two men and a woman. All three were white, wore dark suits, had subdued professional manners. They moved in behind Matt’s chair and loomed. Matt looked around, his eyes wide, a little freaked. I caught his gaze through the window, and he shook his head, confused.
“Hey, what’s going on?” I asked through the intercom. The public service announcements playing on the air filled the background. One of the men escorted Matt out of the booth. The remaining two looked out the window, at me.
“If you’ll stay right there, ma’am,” the woman said.
I didn’t. I went straight for the door, which opened—and the pair of them stood blocking my way. Matt and the other agent were heading down the hall. What were they doing? They couldn’t take away my sound guy in the middle of a show. I tried to push past, to go after him—they didn’t even flinch.
Calming myself, I took a steadying breath. They smelled human, plain, ordinary. Nothing unusual to speak of. I wasn’t sure why I expected them to smell ominous. Probably because everything else about them was ominous. They didn’t even have guns, and somehow I had expected them to have guns.
I curled my lip, showing teeth, a challenge they would have recognized if they’d been werewolves.
“Ms. Norville? We’d like to talk to you for a few moments,” the woman said.
“Then you should call and make an appointment.” Their glares told me that no, they didn’t do that sort of thing. “I’m in the middle of a show, I can’t just leave dead air.”
“Then do something about it.”
“I don’t suppose you’d be up for an interview? We could talk—”
“I don’t think you want that,” the man said darkly.
The monitor was filling up with incoming calls. I couldn’t do anything about it. Alrighty, then. “Fine,” I muttered, and went into the sound booth to plug in my phone. I couldn’t leave the broadcast empty, and I didn’t want to go hunting through the archives for past interviews I could re-run. So I pulled up a ten-hour loop of the sax riff in “Careless Whisper” and let it play.
Excerpted from Kitty’s Mix-Tape, copyright ® 2020 by Carrie Vaughn.