Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way
by Weston Ochse
W/Forward by Brian Keene

Bad Moon Books/95 pages

For me the most enjoyable aspect of being an avid, damn near rabid reader has always been the short story. But ever since I started turning pages of collections and anthologies I’ve only run across a handful or two that kill. Talkin’ Ellison’s “Jefty is Five”, Darren O. Godfrey’s “Inland/Shoreline”, Winter’s “Splatter Me An Angel”, Campbell’s brilliant “The Words That Count”, Lumley’s excruciating and devastating “The Viaduct”…

Just a few off the top of my head. But, you know, tales that, when you hit the end it hits back, a sucker punch square into the heart.

So the other day I’m cleaning up my study and lo and behold I discover a little chapbook called Los Angeles Horror Writers Association: Chapter and Verse. Where I got this I haven’t a clue. Possibly Kelly Laymon, or Jen Orosel…doesn’t matter ya jackass Tyree. Anyway, one title caught my eye: “Great Queue of Wasted Prayers” by Weston Ochse. To be honest I’m one who was under whelmed in regards to the much-lauded Scary Rednecks—I just didn’t get what all the hullabloo was about. But I HAD enjoyed the hell outa Ochse’s contribution “The Knocking Girl” in Kealan Burke’s charity anthology Tales From The Gorezone. So I read “Great Queue of Wasted Prayers” with mucho anticipation and was utterly floored. Yes, I thought, This man can write.

I was very excited when I cracked this latest from Ochse with the wild title Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way (!) After reading the introduction by Keene, which would fill to the brim any PA Swear Jar in any PA bar with quarters, I got into Ochse’s space oater and lemme be the first to say this is NOT your ordinary sci-fi tale…not by any means…

We’re first introduced to a heartbreaking family: Greg, Meg and their severely autistic eight-year-old son Jimmy who has just trashed the study, ripped books to shreds, broken vases and lamps and,seemingly, the hearts of his parents who are at their wits end. Seems Jimmy is getting progressively worse…the boy says everything and everyone is “Fred Flintstone” and lives in his own sad little prison.

I’m thinking, OK now! Maybe I can get out of this Vampire, Milky Way Sci-fi panther pucky and read a down-to-earth tale…

…Not! And thank the stars! Second chapter (This book is wonderfully chaptered like the good ol days) starts on a rock cliff in a galaxy far far away where we meet the vampire Monray de Kine who’s being hunted by blade-throwing Kalithay: Six-armed warriors with one large, single eye. Before Monray meets his doom he’s yanked off the cliff by his pal B’ Dam Zoom, a friendly Kalithay and brother battler of the outlaw vamp. Accompanying B’ Dam is Monray’s feline babe Majaji, half cat half…naw, ALL woman, who he’s been part time lover with.

And, seems they’ve been suckered into this territory, betrayed by a confident. The rest of this story unfolds, back and forth between achingly sad chapters of Greg and Meg’s struggle with Jimmy and the battle waging in space. Sound odd? It is, but, dammit, it works beautifully. Ochse gently guides us through the Jimmy chapters with subtle hints on what’s going on, then, whipsnake fast, brings us back to our three star trippers battling various creatures until the mystery is finally solved.

Granted, I did see where Ochse was headed but when it ended I was still completely satisfied. Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way is tremendously well written and if one were to deeply ponder the plot one could possibly see a correlation to The Trinity and evil, guardian angels, souls, the afterlife…

Then again, it’s probably just a good ol fashion, well written fantasy from a talented writer.