The Fetching of Far Flung Familiars


I’d been scribbling down notes for what seemed like hours last night, in between drafting text messages to Jesper to check in on him after he went radio silent. I should have been focusing on eye beams that torch vampires. Or vampires that curl up in your lap like kittens. Ok, scratch that, I won’t think about that. But every time I tried to focus on what happened, I had one thought:

He took the lemons.

And I’d wind up smiling like a moron.

Great, what was this helping!

I wrote down phonetically what he had said before going all Cyclops on Lucy. Maybe my downstairs neighbors could translate for me. I didn’t trust my Russian. It was too rusty. So rusty, I couldn’t quite remember how I’d learned it.

And then there was the vamp in a lap. I’d been killed twice giving that reflex test and to have that reaction…with Jesper…well, just having Jesper in my lap. My cheeks started to flush. Embarrassment or something else. Um, yeah, something else.

Snap! Broke my pencil lead. That’s when I noticed I’d been clutching the pages of the Memento so tight, my knuckles had gone white while I was scribing. The page I’d been writing on all these random thoughts turned stormy. That is to say all the graphite from the words I’d written had gather on the page like storm clouds.

I straightened and relinquished my grip on the book and pages flew until it stopped with a loud SLAP! It was that page again. His page. Even the book was aware I was writing about him, thinking about him. I pushed the book aside and grabbed a notepad from my desk, drawing Nick’s attention.

He was milling around, cleaning up the bookshelf. I’d asked him twice to go home. He refused, said he was too unsettled to drive. Which was a truth wrapped in a lie. Morena had had no problem waving a hand in sayonara saying she needed to get some sleep. I’d let Lucy leave, taking the Kukri with her, even though she had seemed hesitant.

But Nick was worried about me. And as the minutes ticked by and I scribbled notes in ink on a legal pad and heard only silence from my cell phone, the earlier elation devolved into worry and then into fear tinged with resentment.

He’s a big vampire; he can take care of himself.

He had curled up in my lap, utterly defenseless.

Whatever this is, I’m sure he’s seen it before and knows how to deal.

He admitted he didn’t know what was happening to him.

Ancient, powerful, seductive vampires like him, their motives are their own, any gentleness or openness is not usually without some aim. Even the slightest gesture, like holding one’s hand, could be for another purpose.

He had begged me to stop, as if he had no control over himself anymore.

Ummm, I got nothing.

Why or how a vampire would respond that way was beyond me. But I needed to track it down. Long, long fangs, longest on record, impervious to silver, super speed, knows Russian. Maybe a Russian strain? Then, there was the searing ray that had coming from his eyes, burning Lucy to a crisp. Coupled with dreams of the Sun…it was hard to know where to start.

I threw a furtive glance at the Memento. It was again keeping its secrets from me. But maybe it had secrets that only its Guardian could tell? I jumped online and found Bruno offline. I typed him a quick note, in the utmost urgency, and then proceeded to start trying to cross reference symptoms on that largest of Vampire encyclopedias: the World Wide Web.

“You know, Fetch is a much better way of doing multi-word searches on a topic.”

I jumped. Nick was looking over my shoulder. “Sorry, “ he apologized and moved away.

I watched as he headed back towards the door. He pulled back the curtain and peered outside. Tonight, he’d been under a cascade of books, stunned by vampire fight club, and witnessed his new employer in a compromising way with an undead client. And had what I was suspecting was a favorite rite of male youth passage stolen by said undead.

And then there was that tousled hair bit, that unguarded moment between Morena, a woman of little affection and much angst, and him. As well as what could only be deemed a stream of playful banter. Hmm.

“You and Morena seem to be getting rather chummy. Want to talk about it?”

He didn’t miss a beat, nor turn from the window as he retorted. “You had J. Crew Vampire in your lap. Wanna talk about that?”

“I suck at this, don’t I?”

He gave a laugh and looked back at me. “Suck? Really?”

I was about to launch into some sort of apology and decided it was too late in the evening to approach anything remotely appropriate. Instead, I said, “Why don’t you go home, Nick? I’m sure you can see to the rest of this in the morning. That is, if you decide to come back.”

He grabbed his bag and just as he was about to pass my desk, he stopped and picked up the Memento. When I said nothing, he slipped it into his backpack and headed for the door. He opened it, threw furtive glances around outside before turning back towards me.

“Are you kidding? After what I know now, I’m thinking this might be the safest place in Seattle. But next time, maybe we can start class with the Cliff Notes version?”

I smiled. “Good night.” And then he left.

The chirp from my laptop woke me several hours later. I started as a single sunbeam fell on me from the curtain Nick had left aside last night. There were no vampires in danger here now. But after a night delving into Russian folklore and Djinni, my dreams had landed on a strange meld of Rasputin and Raskolnikov. And a singing rat.

The chirp was insistent. For the barest of instances, I thought, well, hoped it might be Jesper but then I realized my stupidity. It was full sun up; he would be deep in rigor dormitus (had to keep myself wondering what form he took when in that state.) We also had yet to exchange online personas and I vacillated between thinking having each other’s cell numbers was more or less intimate.

It was Bruno.

U there?
Am now. Questions about the Book.
Got some other news too.
You first.
Ok. Been scouring chat rooms for any word of your Skovajsa.

I shivered at the thought that the Carpathian was mine in any way. At this rate, I probably wouldn’t be hearing from him anytime soon.

Nothing yet although a lot of talk recently about Vampire Cannibals. Some of the more plebian societies are warning members about accepting new members, especially since an incident in Seville.

Along with any subculture of substance came the pretenders. With such myths of immortality and power ascribed to vampires, there have long been societies of humans that would try to claim that birthright, oftentimes in complete ignorance that the creatures actually exist. So they have their dark parties, pass around fake fangs, wear yards of black velvet and, on occasion, drink blood from some utterly benign source. Most Vampires avoided the vampire subculture like the plague; too many fickle fanatics with dreams of power and hunger and glory. They usually turned out to be easily offended or grossed out. I knew of one case where a real Vampire was rejected from entering a vampire club because he wasn’t goth enough.

What happened in Seville?
There were a series of attacks on members of various so-called vampire covens. Many of the groups started to advise members to keep from congregating.

Yet another inaccuracy between the little ‘v’ and big ‘V.’ Vampires do not name their familial groups after witches. They use the term ‘horror’ in part to keep themselves as separated from that human fantasy culture as possible. This isn’t to say that Vampire devotees aren’t frequently found from that group. Like I’ve said before, familiars and companions are a tricky lot. Sometimes, it’s better to just start fresh, with someone who isn’t quite looking. But it doesn’t prevent Vampires from slumming.

Was a profile ever distributed?
Typical Carpathian. What’s interesting is that on a few monster chat rooms, I saw similar posts, seeming to corroborate. Members were disappearing. Then, there’s a series of reposts of the same story: a so-called familiar was going to meet his vampire lord and stumbled upon his lord fighting with another vampire. But by the account, it seems like this familiar’s lord was the real deal.
The Vampire lord was slumming?
Apparently, and fought with this other vampire of Carpathian description. Now here’s the interesting bit: the eyewitness says the Carpathian bested his lord and then ‘feasted’ on him.

I blanched.

You mean to say he really ATE him?
Unclear. But the post was repeated, reposted verbatim so many times in these message boards, blogs, and chatrooms, I’m having a devil of a time hunting down the originating post.
How on Earth did the familiar escape?
He seems to have been saved by a hunter. And now has turned unfriendly now that he’s seen the true nature of the beast.

I sighed. This was so not good news, it undid any success I might have felt from a lemon or two changing hands. Creature hunters, some ordained by various churches, were one of the reasons my job was made more difficult. Instead of trying to help creatures exist alongside humans in managed co-existence, hunters set out to exterminate.

In my experience, they didn’t care who or what got in their way and they had led to as much of the vampire expansion as any other cause. The only reason why Vampires had sought out to create hordes of their own to protect each other is that Hunters usually didn’t last long and where they might be resistant to a particular beast, another would typical come along and resolve them.

A couple of options occurred to me. If I could track down the hunter that had witnessed the fracas, I might be able to figure out whether this Vampire Cannibal was Skovajsa. Conversely, if Skovajsa deigned to meet me again, I might probe his recent history to see if there was any correlation. Neither scenario was particularly safe. I probably had more enemies in the Hunter ranks than in the Vampire ones. It was also possible to try and track down the familiar, perhaps if I could find out which Vampire had been consumed.

Most vampires stayed close to the ground that made them. The process of transformation was slightly different for each vampire but it almost always involved “going to ground,” burying themselves up while their cells converted or whatever other term you wanted to use. The earth became the chrysalis and whether just emotionally or in practicality, Vampires liked to stay close to where they were vampire born.

It had been too many years since my last map of worldwide vampire activity had been updated so it would take some time to try and track the Vampire of Seville.

Anything else there?
Yeah, do I need to cover up my tracks on this? Cannibal vampires creep me out.
No, just don’t do anymore looking. You’ve done enough. Now I have some Book questions for you.
I won’t have to crawl up into the belfry, do I?
Probably not. Ever known the Book to have a connection to anyone other than me?
What, you mean, like the maker or something?

It was something I had never considered. Someone had to have made the Book. Nick had claimed the book had flown across the room after Jesper had touched it. Maybe Jesper had a connection to the book’s maker. While that thought certainly might explain the Book’s strange behavior, I tried to wrap my mind around it’s significance. This bond I had with the Book, it was so intimately the home of my deepest thoughts, secrets, years of memories, the thought that someone else might connect with it…should be deeply unsettling. A hundred times more than someone reading your diary, without your knowledge. And yet…

Do you know who made the Book?
I’m sure I could find that out. Seems rather simple.
Ok, do. I suspect I may not be the only one with a connection to the Book. Maybe I’m not the original owner.

Bruno sent a quizzical smiley my way. Yeah, it seemed farfetched but at this point, after a night of sunbeam eyed vampires and flying books, I didn’t have a lot of disbelief left in me. Not where our Vampire Jesper was concerned.

I signed off with Bruno, who was up late himself and grabbed for my phone. There was a single text message and I sting of nervous excitement whizzed through me as I looked it up. But it wasn’t Jesper apologizing for missing my text and confirming that he was retiring in the comforts of his home. It had been sent in the earliest hours of the morning, before sun up.

Meet me this night. We should continue getting to know each other. -S

It was Skovajsa and like it or not, he was willing to meet me again. And it scared me to death.

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5 Responses to “The Fetching of Far Flung Familiars”

  1. Interesting, will the story continue? This S character seems dangerous, I would be careful.

  2. It’s turning into a fine collection of interwoven tales!

  3. I just want to say I am just new to weblog and honestly savored you’re web site. Almost certainly I’m planning to bookmark your site . You amazingly have outstanding writings. Thanks for revealing your webpage.

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