Archive for blood

You are What You Eat

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , on November 25, 2012 by vampirony

It had happened slowly, over time, over many, many nights. But finally, one night, seasons later, a grizzled black-grey wolf he’d later name Elba, one that had tormented him the most, eaten the most, gorged night after night in his blood, had raised its head over his prone body, pale yellow eyes glowing and had snapped viciously at the others. Not in a fight for food as other nights it had done, but something different.

There was a tussle then with the second most aggressive, a silver and cream coated female he’d later name Vega.  Elba stood over his chest and after much growling and snapping of jaws, Elba had stepped away from what was now a corpse. It sat on its haunches and watched the rest of the pack devour the body until they couldn’t eat any more. Each night, they could eat less and less. It was as if their bellies were still full from prior feasts but still they chased him, fought over him. After the frenzy, the other wolves moved away, sated, their stomachs looking lean but feeling so full to bursting. But one wolf, the female, Vega, stayed behind and rolled in the carnage, flopping down and kicking her legs up in the air. She did it over and over again, until the fur over her back glinted dark red. Then she had run off after the others.

Elba panted for a few minutes, watching the earth soak up the rest of the blood. Then he lay down, licking his muzzle and then his foreleg in long, practiced strokes until not a drop of blood still stained his black coat. Then the other legs. Afterward, he laid his head down between his forelegs and watched the ground, waiting.

It was just dawn when he saw the miraculous. A beam of light somehow made it through the dark canopy and shone over the sandy ground. Then the ground pushed up softly, quietly, in the form of a man as if he was pushed up through the earth. Elba lifted his head in surprise, ears twitching at this sight. The form remained inert, like a sand statue made by loving, artistic hands, every detailed of the slain man reproduced from the ground, still colored brown and rust in paces with dried blood.

Then as the sun finally broke over the horizon, earth turned flesh and with a gasp, the man breathed again. Elba jumped up, whined, paced nervously but watched alertly as the man began to move again, stretching out his limbs. The man turned his head covered now in golden brown hair toward the sound of Elba’s discomfort.

Elba froze, his pale yellow, almost white eyes locked with the man’s hazel ones. He wanted to leave, to find his pack, but something in this man’s gaze calmed him, spoke to him from deep inside.

Then the man spoke.

“Stay.”

The spell broken, Elba sprinted away, leaving the man to ponder more about his new acquaintance then about how he came to be in the forest in the first place.

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DJB: J’Adoube

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , on May 21, 2011 by vampirony

“I need your help.”

Morena’s response was immediate. “What can I do?”

I hadn’t asked Valerian for help. For whatever reason, I had pushed the Panic button and not followed through. There was not going to be some cleaner team of fifteen military trained Conclave sanctioned assassins coming to Seattle rid it of a dangerous Carpathian vampire. I was left to my own devices. And my own choice of allies.

I projected through the phone line. This was the trickiest bit in a Vampire’s existence, revealing one’s abilities unaltered by charm or influence to a human. No softening the strangeness. I’d been interacting with her in this way, albeit with more subtlety, since we met, most of our online interactions mixed with a bit of presence to make sure she was discreet. But not in any way she would be aware.

I came all the way through, my mental projection taking shape in her apartment moments before my bare feet felt the seam in the boards of her old wooden floor. I groaned at the effort; it hurt like Hell. My body strained as thought became form, bone, muscle, flesh. My skin sweated, my scars itched, and I felt nauseated, shaking and panting like a junkie in front of her.

She dropped her arm, still holding the phone, shock and awe written all over her face. I had just materialized out of thin air in her apartment. As much as she probably would have questions about what else I could do, this was exactly what I needed her to know that I could do.

“How?”

“Through…your phone.”

She turned her head, raising the device as if it had sprouted hair and was sending secret signals to satellites. I dropped to a knee, struggling with the aftereffects of transformation and her attention returned. She ran over to catch me before I completely collapsed. I needed to get much better at this very quickly. Like now.

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

I smiled. “I could sure use a drink.”

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Morena set her phone down, all emotion tied down, perfectly calm, resolute.

“Camille is on her way.”

She tied her hair back. I hadn’t asked it of her. It didn’t feel right to do so.

I sat on the floor, shivering under a blanket. She’d brought me the lemons like I asked but in this state, I felt unsure of the results and wary of being knocked unconscious. It was four in the morning. Which meant it might take Camille a little while to get here.

Morena kneeled beside me, her hand on my bare shoulder.

“This would be for her,” I explained.

She nodded. “I know.”

“Then why?”

“Because she’s someone worth protecting. Like Nick is. And Camille.” She got closer. “I get the sense you’re going to need a lot more than you planned. And I don’t want to put Camille at risk in any way.”

I nodded but kept her gaze. She moved closer.

“What about the girl vampire?” I could smell the basil in her blood. My fangs grew against my apprehension. I shook.

“Lucy? She’s gone dark. I think she’s helped as much as she could. I left the kukri with Sophie.” Morena sighed as she sat down, pulling the front of the blanket down. “I’m not sure how it’s supposed to help but Lucy said it would.”

“Morena, I don’t want this.”

“I know. That’s why it’s ok.” She needed more Vitamin D in her diet. Her blood was low in it. Perils of life in the Pacific Northwest.

“It’ll hurt. I don’t have the strength now to prevent that.”

She smiled and it was the most sincere I’d ever seen her. “Good,” she said softly, her brow creasing. “I think I need it to hurt.”

With that, she eased into my lap, her arms sliding around my naked back, her head turned away, carotid artery pulsing beneath my face. I brushed my lips against her throat all on instinct before catching myself. Before the fog took over, there were things she needed to know.

“Try to stay calm. If your heart races, it’ll be harder for me to stop because of the adrenaline in your blood. Long, deep breaths.” My hand weakly cradled her head as she better positioned herself.

“Like Yoga.”

I licked at her skin. Her heartbeat remained steady. Good.

Her hands clasped together behind my back as she was anticipating her own weakness from anemia. I couldn’t help but smile. She felt it.

“What?” she asked.

She wasn’t expecting it which was what I wanted. My fangs slipped into her skin like needles, causing the smallest cry. It was almost an out-of-body experience for me; I felt such hatred for myself wash over me.

“Please,” she croaked. My anger at having to do this crashed against her and she felt it all. “Think of Sophie. This is for her.”

At the sound of her name, as the blood rushed into me, I pictured the woman I knew as Helene, gone from my world and my thoughts for so long. Too long. She sought only to help others, through all her lifetimes, the purity of her soul and her beliefs constantly challenged by the world she lived in. In this lifetime, she was Sophie Quinn, Vampire Psychologist. And she was not mine.

But she needed protection, as did her wards, one of which now trusted me beyond all else that, with this offering, I would be able to protect them all. I forced myself to relax into what I was, what Sophie needed me to be right now.

The steady rhythm, Morena’s heart pumping blood directly into me through tiny slits in her carotid. Her hands clenched, her cries becoming more vocal, and I pushed her mouth against my shoulder as I felt renewed vigor flowing into each of my cells. She bit into my shoulder hard, breaking the skin. I didn’t really know how much pain she was in and, for a little while, I lost all caring. Several breaths later, her mouth released and her cheek slid against my shoulder.

With sustenance came clarity. I needed to be careful, not to take too much. That was why we called Camille. Morena was worth more than her weight in blood in a fight to come. After a few moments that felt like forever, I felt her grip slacken around me. I retracted my fangs, licked her skin clean. The two slits were imperceptible. She lay in my arms, very quiet, her pulse a little weak but her heart strong, her bone marrow already at working to replenish. On my shoulder, the tiny break in the skin where her teeth had drawn blood had already healed. I tucked the blanket carefully around us. Unintentional and the effect very likely temporary but it would help her recover more quickly.

“Jesper,” she whispered.

“Yes?” I brushed the sweat from her brow.

She turned her head to me, eyes clear but fatigued. “Make sure Camille doesn’t feel anything.”

All new strange abilities aside, there was one thing that remained constant and I knew full well how to use that, especially after the influx of rich, strong, vibrant blood.

I am Vampire.

“Don’t you worry,” I promised her. “When I’m done, she’ll never remember she ever met a real live Vampire.”

The Theory of Relativity

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , on September 26, 2010 by vampirony

For moments after Sophie and Jesper had left, the reception room was quiet, except for the sucking sounds and crinkling of the foil bag.  Morena just stared down at Lucy, marveling at how oblivious she seemed to be, how completely enraptured in drinking she had become.

“Are you gonna be ok?” Morena asked and received not even a blink of acknowledgement.

“She doesn’t say much, does she? All kick, no conversation. You two cousins?” When Morena didn’t rise to the jibe, Nick offered, from the relative safety of the settee, “Maybe he charbroiled her ears?” Morena tossed him a glance and shrugged.

But as a matter of fact, there was something a little odd about the shape of Lucy’s ears, like a piece of flesh was sticking out. Morena kneeled next to her which prompted a suspicious look from Lucy but nothing more.

Morena slowly raised her hand and touched Lucy’s hair just above her ear. When she didn’t get attacked and Lucy just turned a shoulder to protect her drink, Morena tucked the still crispy ends behind what remained of Lucy’s ear. It wasn’t flesh but a flesh-covered piece of metal, electronics to be exact.

She touched it and tensed when audio feedback was her reward. Lucy ripped a cord from behind her neck off and both pairs of inserts came out of her ears, hitting the floor.

“What?” Lucy shouted, crushing her foil bag into a tiny ball in her hand. The wounded vampire girl then fished another out of her bag and began sucking it down.

Morena stared down at the device. When she didn’t respond to Lucy’s remark, Lucy glanced down at the floor. She stopped feeding, sighed deeply, setting the pouch down.

“Oh. Those. Sorry, were you trying to say something?”

“What are those?” Morena asked, now fascinated by all things Lucy.

Lucy smiled. “Anti-Vox Compulsum Modulators.”

Morena just blinked.

“Noise-cancelling earplugs?” Nick asked.

Lucy half turned towards him.  “Simply, yes. But specifically calibrated to a vampire’s control voice: Vox Compulsum.”

Morena picked them up in her hand. They looked just like ear buds with an extra thick cord but the wiring had partially melted. “Shame.”

“Oh, not really. I have loads of them."

Morena threw her a look of amazement. “Really?”

Lucy seemed more chipper and her skin less discolored with every moment. “Yeah, I get them from a manufacturer in Taipei. I buy in bulk.” She sighed. “Still haven’t figured out why some human voices don’t make it through, though.”

“So you couldn’t hear Sophie tell you Jesper was a friend?”

Lucy’s eyes went wide. “She said that? Oh boy, no wonder I’m in trouble.”  She dropped her head but Morena saw the furtive glance she cast toward the hallway where Jesper and Sophie had gone. “I hope she’s right about that. I’ve never seen any vampire like him before.”

Morena cast her own glance at Nick, who asked the question for her. “What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure I should say.”

Nick huffed, “Look, Sophie set up this class so we humanoids could learn about vampires and be better prepared. I hardly think she had this in mind but it’s probably been the best for us. Sure beats trying to decipher that book of hers.”

Lucy’s newly regrown ears perked up. “She gave you the Book?” To Nick’s dumb nod, she nodded herself. “Well, that certainly settles things. She has given you the book of her past lives and experiences. If she has trusted you with that, than I am to trust you too.”

Lucy looked at Morena.

“Um, I tried to save her life once? Badly, I know. But maybe, if I knew more, I might be successful.” It was more a question.

Lucy nodded again, her eyes straying to the hallway. “What do you want to know?”

Morena shifted her weight slightly to half-turn. “Right now, I want to know why you seem so intent on the hallway. Is Sophie in some kind of danger?”

“I don’t know.”

“You obviously think something,” Nick prodded.

“Vampires heal serious wounds only through consuming their food. In my case, blood.”

“Yeah, you both got your licks in,” Nick quipped, trying to lighten the mood. “So?”

She answered with a question. “How much blood do you think I just had?”

“Could you ask a grosser question?” Nick blanched.

Morena shushed him before turning her full attention to Lucy. “Maybe a pint? Why?”

“Each foil pouch holds 10 ounces and it took almost two full pouches before I began to regenerate. It will likely take me several weeks of heavy feeding to fully recover from both blood lost and cell damage done.” She then tossed a stern glance at the hallway. “How long do you think it’ll be until he needs to heal?”

Morena looked back at Nick.

“When you say you’ve never seen a vampire like that, you mean the high beams, right?” Nick asked.

“Well, that’s another thing entirely. Even without that, if I’d known a vampire could sustain that much damage and be seemingly immune to silver, I wouldn’t have attacked him by myself.”

Morena swallowed, her stomach churning. Her eyes locked with Nick’s.

“Maybe we should check on the happy couple,” Nick said.

Lucy picked up the kukri from the floor. “I would heavily suggest it.”

“Great,” Morena agreed. “You go first.”

Happy Accidents

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , on August 14, 2010 by vampirony

“Do you need blood? Like right now?” I asked Jesper once he settled on the examination table. To get him here, it had taken multiple assurances to those left in the waiting room that I knew how to handle this and would take care. Of myself, I’m sure.

Lucy barely registered anything since she was replenishing herself; she was blood-zoned. Nick seemed to just accept that, for the most part, I had this. Before class, I had given him the Book to start reading through since much of my Vamp notes were scribbled in there along with the recollections.

It was Morena that looked at Lucy and then Jesper and then me. But before she could make the leap, I had flippantly said, “Let’s take care of that scratch, shall we?” and escorted him to one of the newly finished rooms.

“No,” was his simple answer and he took off the ruined shirt I had liked so much. I looked at those holes in his chest and marveled. He gave me a faint smile. He knew I didn’t believe him. But this was part of that game called Trust. And to receive, one must give. Or maybe he was shy about being exposed.

I looked down at the table. I should be thinking about what methods I knew to close up a wound like that. Blood. Whether some stitching would help close it. Blood. Maybe just a bandage.

A hand covered mine, warmer than it had a right to be. Jesper bent his head, trying to catch my gaze as I was zoning out.

“You seem distracted.’”

It had been only a short time ago when another vampire had spoken those same words to me during a session. But that was where the similarities stopped. I raised my gaze to look up at Jesper. He sat on the examination table, shirt off, two large gaping holes in the middle of his chest, bending his torso so as to better meet my gaze, his left hand covering mine, brows lowered in consideration, maybe even concern.

I must’ve looked shell-shocked. In the other room, another vampire, my long lost ward, was nearly burned to a crisp by a power I had never seen and two humans were trying to make sense of the dark and dangerous world that they had someone found themselves in. I’d had a game plan and it ended up with two injured vampires, one dazed human, and one that wanted any excuse to fire her pistol.

Moment of doubt? You bet.

His fingers curled around my hand, drawing my attention back down. He was looking down too.

“This didn’t quite go as you planned, I gather.”

I couldn’t even manage a laugh at the complete absurdity of that comment. But I realized he didn’t know how any of this was supposed to work. This was only our second official session. And our first session wasn’t in any way something I would deem as standard.

“No. I would never introduce two vampires like that. Or put two humans in harm’s way of that interaction.”

His grip tightened for a moment. “Three.”

I looked up at him, questioning.

“You didn’t include yourself. You could’ve been hurt far worse than you were." He paused. “I’m not quite sure what that was that I did.”

And there it was in his face, his own self doubt. His eyes slide to the floor for a moment as he took a deep breath. I wrestled with what my appropriate response should be. This so wasn’t like any other consult I’d done before. He lowered his guard in ways that lowered mine but still managed to tell me almost nothing. I should be finding ways of building up a professional dialog between us so he would trust me with his fears, open up, allow me to help him.

Instead, I squeezed his hand in return to encourage him.

“I don’t know what’s happening to me,” he whispered. “First the dreaming, then the waking during the day, now this.”

It was the slightest thing, like a switch turned on in some dark room in a very old unkempt and untidy building in a decaying ghost town hidden away in the woods. Suddenly there was purpose, decision, forethought…light.

My back straightened slightly and my demeanor made a shift. It wasn’t Shields Up per say. Just the focus shifting away from what I wanted, needed to what needed to be done.

“You’ve never shown that…that power before?”

"No,” he said softly still lost in his own mind. But he was Vampire; it didn’t take him much to notice the difference in me. He raised his head slightly which allowed me to straighten up completely. Our hands lost touch as if nothing had happened. “Never.”

“Do you remember what you said?”

“Um, funny, I can’t.”

“It was Russian.” I stepped away from the table and went over to the cabinet, pulled out my standard examination bag. I brought it over and set it on the table next to him. Then I stared at his chest. “Does it hurt?”

A confused look furrowed his brow before he glanced down at his chest. He seemed to have forgotten all about the two holes in his chest that showed no signs of healing. No bleeding either. “Barely notice it now. It hurt a lot at first.”

“Good, that’s pretty standard. Your brain can more effectively turn off pain receptors where needed.” I opened the bag and started pulling out a few objects: measuring tape, a strip of Velcro, a small jar of cornichons.

He watched me patiently. “You’re not going to make me eat those, are you? I think the lemon was quite enough.” He smirked. It was good to see him so bemused with me, especially after we’d just been so, ur, intimate, a few moments ago.

“No.” I grabbed the notepad out of the bag and jotted down a note. “I’m more impressed with your complete lack of allergy to silver.”

“Oh. That.”

“Ever had a problem with it?”

He scrunched up his face in a way that was, frankly, adorable. “Um, not that I can remember currently.”

I smiled. Vampires had particularly keen memories, when unfolded. It was time to impress upon him that this really wasn’t my first rodeo. “Do you use a journal or a talisman to fold your memories?”

“I’m sorry.” It was like I had slapped him awake. I had caught him off-guard.

“Vampires jealously guard their memories but also need a way of folding them away for safe keeping to leave room for more current ones. Most vampires use either a writing method or a prayer method, like rubbing a talisman, to gain the focus to fold the memories in their minds with a mental key that they can use to unlock later.”

His face went blank. “That’s a very closely guarded secret of our kind. Where did you get that information?”

“The same place I found out about how different vampires are allergic to different metals.” That stirred a nightmarish thought in black velvet that I cast aside. “You obviously are not bothered by silver, which is very unusual. If you had been allergic, Lucy would have –.”

“I suppose yes, she might have killed me.” A look passed across his face that assured me otherwise. If Lucy had been any greater threat, she would be dead right now. As it stood, she was probably still alive by his intention because of her obvious bond with me. And perhaps, by happy accident, because I had gotten in the way.

I put down the book and took up the measuring tape, not wanting to think anymore about anyone’s death. Mine, his, or Lucy’s.

He continued, “Are you examining me?”

I sighed, “Well, yes. How else am I to diagnose what is happening to you?”

He seemed disappointed. “Oh. I just thought you wanted me with my shirt off.”

I still blushed. “Come on,” holding up the measuring tape.

“And what do you hope to measure with that? Before you answer, it is a bit chilly in here.” He paused for a moment. “But if you keep leaning in like that, I don’t think that’ll matter.”

In any other circumstance, with any other vampire, I would’ve jumped back once he’d called attention to the fact that I was leaning against him and reaching up with the measuring tape towards his mouth. But I was already well aware that Jesper was not like any other vampire.

But the tape did make him uncomfortable. He tightened his lips even as his instincts flexed his fangs out slightly. I tried to get the tape aligned but he moved his head away.

“Come on now,” I said, lowering the tape. “Fang out for me. I need to measure.”

“No.”

“Why not?” I put a hand on my hip. This sudden shyness about I Am Vampire was startlingly endearing.

“Why does the length of my fangs have to do with anything?”

I scratched my brow. “Historically, vampire strains have been hidden in everything from local legends about demons to kung fu movies about hopping corpses. I never know what reference material is going to equate to some yet-to-be-determined strain of vampire. You are unique. Your strain isn’t likely to be in the Vampire Encyclopedia.”

He crossed his arms. “Even if there were such a book, why would my strain help any of this?”

I couldn’t tell if he was being obstinately charming or charmingly obstinate. If he was truly worried about my cataloging him, he hid it well under very normal self consciousness.

I spoke in my most professional and serious voice. “I won’t tell anyone what I learn or use that information in any way without your consent.” I put my hand to my talisman since he still seemed dubious. “Jesper, I promise.”

His eyes fixated for a moment on the infinity symbol over my neck. It was a classic subtext, one that he must be well aware of. An offer of blood (my throat) if I broke my vow. His eyes flipped up to mine again.

“Well, ok. But can’t we start with some other test? I don’t fang out, as you say, on command.”

“What? Like foreplay?” I joked before I could filter the thoughts and therefore words out. Blushing again.

“You don’t like foreplay?” He looked amused and surprised all at once.

Oh so not professional. Damn him and his facial expressions. Most vampires looked like they had too much Botox when they spoke, with immovable faces. I tried to hide my reddening face. Stupid, he could not only see but smell, almost taste the blood rushing into the capillaries in my cheeks, face, now neck even.

I handed him the pickle jar. “Here. Open this.” He did so without issue and idly set it back down on the table, lid loosened but not off. I paused to write that down. “Pull this apart,” handing him the Velcro. He examined it for a moment, ripped it apart gently, paused to stare at me, then set each strip separately also to the side.

I grabbed the box of flat toothpicks out of the bag and “accidentally” dropped it on the floor. When he moved to get off the table to pick them up, I gently pushed his chest to stop him and watched him settle back on the table with a shrug.

“Ok, now fangs.”

“That was your idea of foreplay?” He rolled his eyes. As the long, thin, elegant fangs slid down from his mouth, he said, with very little impact to his speech, “I will remember to teach you a few things about that if given half a chance.”

“It’d better be more than half,” I idly commented as I again leaned forward with my measuring tape.

What the eyes can’t see

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , on August 4, 2010 by vampirony

I didn’t pass out this time.  Things had just gone dark.  Bully for me.  I felt my eyes blinking, but I couldn’t see anything.  I only heard a muffled scream, smelled something burning, and the scuffling of shoes.  Beneath, I felt a body, presumably Lucy’s, struggling against me.  Just as I was rolling off of her, hands grabbed me firmly and I was clutched to a very warm, firm chest.

A collective gasp and a whimpering.

“Is everyone ok?” I called out, loudly, over compensating for my impairment.

No one spoke and there was silence for a breath as a thumb and forefinger cupped my chin and gently pulled my head back.  My eyes followed the movement although they still saw nothing.  I was blinking a lot, my eyes watering.  Instead of fighting the position my head had been moved to, I relaxed into it.  I felt strangely comforted where I was, on the floor, in this warm embrace.  It must have been Nick and I put my hand out to pat his chest in thanks.

Part of my hand slide into a strange depression that was slick with something.  My hand didn’t recoil from it, moved up along a throat, thumb reaching up until, Ouch!  Something pricked it.

I brought my hand back, was about to put my pricked thumb into my mouth when a vice-like grip grabbed my arm.  At the same time, a low, menacing ringing began in my ears.

“Don’t,” I heard Lucy say.  Her voice sounded strained and she was panting.

“What’s going on?” I asked, confused.  “Someone tell me.”

Then the fog over my eyes started to lift and I was staring up into Jesper’s worried face.  His fangs were still exposed; it was what I had pricked my thumb on.  At first, it made sense to me that Lucy warn me from putting my pricked thumb in my mouth.  Many vampires excrete anti-coagulant and paralyzing agents in their saliva, sometimes in massive doses.  But as I took in more of my immediate surroundings, I realized she hadn’t been talking to me.

With his fangs extended (I’m not sure how fully), pushing just over his bottom lip, holding onto me after just pricking my thumb, Lucy had moved over to us, grabbed my hand, and had the kukri in hand, ready to deliver a killing blow to Jesper’s neck.

He ignored her completely, continuing to look at me until my vision cleared and I held his gaze.  His eyes were normal again.  Hazel, definitely.  With green flecks.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

I nodded.  Why was he so warm?  Those narrow fangs, I’d seen them on two separate occasions with two different lengths.  How long were they?  They were almost pearlescent in color.  Were they hollow?  I went to move my hand and realized someone still held me by the wrist.

I turned to look at Lucy.  The outer edges of her body and some of her hair were badly scorched.   She was shaking from the effort of maintaining her defenses.  

“Oh my god, what happened?”  I slipped out of Jesper’s hold and gently cradled Lucy’s face.  She struggled against me at first.  “Oh for heaven’s sake, Jesper won’t hurt me.  And he was trying not to hurt you!”  I looked back at the kukri nearly against Jesper’s completely immobile body.  He didn’t want to provoke her any more now that I was out of his hands.

I slapped her arm away.  “Bad girl!”

“Tante!” she complained, lowering the curved blade before letting it clatter to the floor. Her skin had crisped all along the outer edge of her arms, her hair was smoking.  Whatever had hit her had only hit an outline of her.  She was trying to heal, her skin smoking now, but the effort was turning her skin ashen.

I looked around for Morena to help to find her aiming her Glock just above Lucy’s head, two steps away.  I let a breath out in exasperation.

“When are you going to learn, Morena, guns don’t kill vampires.”

She lowered her gun and shrugged.

Turning back to Lucy, “Do you still carry?”

She was trying very hard not to scratch but was rubbing at her burned ears.  Her lovely long hair would have to be cut.  “Yes, in my backpack.  I think it fell over there.”  She waved toward the bookcase.  She cast a wary eye to Jesper who hadn’t stirred.

“I’ll get it,” Morena said.  She turned toward the bookcase. “Shit.”

“What?”

She hurried over to the bookcase and pulled Nick ‘s torso out of the chaos of books and papers by his shoulders. We had all forgotten about him. My breath stuck in my throat until I saw him come around.

“Nick?” I queried.  Morena put a hand to his head, with a certain amount of care. There was a story there that I apparently hadn’t heard.  Or maybe the same haplessness that endeared him to me was working on her.

He blinked a few times and then spoke. “Huh.” Then he pulled his arm out of the debris and with it, Lucy’s backpack.

Morena couldn’t help a genuinely tickled smile from covering her face, as she gave his hair a tousle. Hapless, maybe to some eyes. But one thing was certain, things only went so wrong for Nick Sakaki.

“Hey, watch the ‘do! Takes me hours to attain that perfect mix of Pattinson-McAvoy bed hair.”

Morena helped Nick out of the heap while I also stood, carefully standing in between Jesper and Lucy. Jesper mimicked my action and stood as well while Lucy just watched us.

After settling Nick on the settee, Morena brought me the backpack, casting a spurious eye at Lucy who’d become perfectly still. She was starting to go into a healing shock, her body shutting down in order to regenerate. I quickly searched the bag and found one of the foil liquid pouches. Dropping the bag, I snapped the straw off and stabbed it into the foil bag.

Lucy greedily grabbed for the pouch and I felt Jesper take a step forward behind me. He could smell it too. Lucy began sucking at the straw like a thirsty kid at recess, the dark red liquid pulsing through the straw into her mouth. Her fangs slipped out from under her tightened lips, a reflex to the liquid coursing into her.

“What is it?” Jesper asked from behind me, a hint of revulsion in his voice.

“Dude, Capri Sun for Vamps!” Nick filled in.

I smiled. “Exactly.” I think these guys were getting the hang of this.

Class is in Session

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by vampirony

Whatever expectations I had in seeing Jesper the vampire again, he certainly shattered them.  First, he was exactly on time.  To the dot.  Secondly, he was taller than remembered.  Much taller.  And it unnerved me just as much as his charcoal grey knit turtleneck that his physique seemed to be trying to tear itself out of.

Dumbfounded is I think the exact word to describe me standing in the doorway, staring up and up at him.

“Ah, Miss Quinn, uh Sophie.  I hope I’m not late.”

Shook my head mutely.

“Well, I do like to be punctual.”  Nearly rakish smile suddenly muffled into sheepishness as he laughed.

Nod my head slowly.

“Just a little vampire humor.  Break the ice.”

“Uh-huh.”

Still standing in the doorway, he let his eyes peer in through the halfway opened door I still barred him from entering.   “Look, Sophie, I would like to apologize to Morena personally, although how she would ever agree to see me again, I have no….”

Morena opened the door wide behind me.  I just stared.  He was taller, wasn’t he?  And his hair, was it always so golden?  What color were his eyes, blue, green, I couldn’t quite remember?  His voice….aaaarghhhh!!!  Frustrating, this damn attraction.

“Hello, Jesper, good of you to come,” Morena said, without any such distraction.

“Morena,” he said surprised.  “I know I have a lot of explaining to do…”

She kicked the door wider, “Then come explain it to us.”  She then turned on her heel and heading back to the far wall, cross her arms and leaning a shoulder against it, daring him to enter.

He turned back to me.  “Will you invite me in?”

Our gaze met and suddenly he knew that I knew that invitations aside, any vampire could walk into any home unbidden.  And that awareness prompted the corner of his mouth to turn up.  He was testing and teasing me.

“Oh, come on in.”  I managed, now turning surly from wanting to do something so entirely different with him at this moment.

As he glided by me, he dropped his mouth near my ear and whispered, “Is it right to keep that one to ourselves?”

He was right of course and his reminding me of the reason I had gathered all us together at my office worked like throwing ice water with fire sand on me.  Time to get my head back in the game and go to work.

But before I closed the door behind him, my attention was draw for a moment by a cacophony of birds in the sky:  several starlings overhead were badgering a bald eagle.  Yeah, the national symbol bald eagle.  It was the first one I could remember seeing…in any lifetime.  And it seemed to be quite harangued by the inky black birds.  Whether a dispute over territory or food, the eagle seemed to be moving off to fight another day.

I shut the door behind me and looked over this motley crew.  Morena, leaning against the wall and trying very hard not to look at Jesper.  Nick, sitting on the settee with a laptop, ready to take notes.  Jesper the vampire, who took in every corner of the room before leaning back against my desk.

I walked to the whiteboard we’d put up in the front of the room and took up a marker, just to have something to grip.  “First off, vampires do not require your permission to enter a place.”

Nick sagged, “Oh, really?”  He started typing frantically.  “I was kinda hoping that one was true.”  He threw a spurious look at Jesper but said nothing else.

Jesper folded his arms and revealed more well-defined guns than I’d previously noticed.  Biceps were a failing of mine.  I took the cap off and wrote on the board, stabbing it as I did.  Something was different about him like I hadn’t quite met him before.  It was bugging me that I couldn’t figure it out.

I turned toward him with the question in my throat but paused.  Wouldn’t Morena notice too?  I mean, she’d been with him for longer than I.  I mean, been with him.  A-hum.  I felt my face flush.

“Yes?” he asked since I was staring right at him.

“Would you like to say something before we begin?”

“Um, no.  Let’s just see where this leads.”  His face became suddenly impassive and I could tell the guard was going back up.  His arms tightened, his neck muscles twitched in alert.  So strange how he’d gone from totally relaxed to alert mode.  When I looked back at the others, his eyes did another scan of the room, as if he sensed something.  But nothing was there and he settled his eyes on Morena for a brief moment for returning them back to me.

Senses.  Perfect place to start.

“First off, it is true that vampire senses are sharper than almost any other creature.”

Nick typed and then stopped.  “Wait, there are other kinds of creatures?”  There was an edge of panic there.

Jesper shook his head once.  “You have no idea.”

“Nick.  Focus.”

“Sorry.”  He thought for a moment.  “So what, like, hearing, seeing…smelling?”

“You might want to have a little less mirin in your udon,” Jesper suggested.

Nick didn’t blink.  “Yeah, it was too salty too.  I need to talk to Khang about that…Wait, you can tell I had udon?  That was two days ago!  You shitting me?”

“He can smell it in your skin, your blood,” I explained.

Morena and Nick looked ready to bolt.  I needed to bring this back a piece.  Jesper was a particularly old vampire and very special…in many ways.  Using him as a prime example would just not do, in any regard.

“Not all vampires have senses that…sharp…”

“Or discerning…” he added, causing me to throw him a glare.  He was preening over there, like some high school jock showing off his letterman jacket.

“But these are the basics you need to always remember so you don’t ever try to, well, trick a vampire.  He will be able to sense it.”

“Not to mention the fact it’s just rude,” Jesper added for color.

Morena, who had started biting her lip, looked like she wanted to say something.

“Morena?  A question?”

It drew Jesper’s attention.  She tossed her eyes to him then back at me, uncertain.  “What…what about healing?”

Jesper’s head turned back around but showed his displeasure.  He and I had not yet discussed the vampire attacks I’d suffered and as far as he knew, Morena had not been harmed.  I think the simple fact that he hadn’t approached her sniffing like a guard dog showed that the twins were able to mask their smells and auras quite effectively.

I ignored him.  “Vampires are difficult to injure.  But I don’t want to start there.  That’s not the point of this session.  I know of all this may seem unimaginable, overwhelming, and frightening.  And you need to know what you’ are dealing with.  But not to fight back, not to injure, but to keep yourselves out of those situations.  Most vampires are hard to provoke because using their abilities makes them vulnerable to disclosure and they prefer to stay hidden.”

Morena shook her head violently.

“I know it may be hard to believe but if you don’t walk into their lairs, if you avoid them, if you deal straight-forward with them, like you would a bear or a tiger in their element, you can stay safe.  And that’s what I want.  I want you all to know enough to be able to avoid confrontations.”

Jesper looked even more uncomfortable, his eyes shifting around, but his body was completely still.  I should have known this class would’ve had this reaction on him.  Unsettling to hear yourself described like a wild animal.

Morena and Nick looked unconvinced.  “Ok, some basics.  Let’s cover what vampires can’t do.  There’s actually quite a lot that has been ascribed to them that’s false.  Invisibility, turning into a bat, flight…”

Jesper perked up.

“What?” I asked.

“Oh nothing.  Just…interesting…that last bit.”

Then his lips curled in a smile.  I crossed my arms, annoyed.

“If you’ve got something to add, please, go right ahead.”

“I didn’t say a word.”

“Vampires can’t fly.”

“Yes, you’ve made that abundantly clear.”  I couldn’t put my finger on Jesper’s behavior.  He seemed bemused by my vamp facts, but every so often, he’d obviously stretch out his senses and go still as a statue, as if picking up a threat.  But right now, there was no threat, not exactly.  His eyes were boring into me.  And they were starting to glow.

“Oh, shit.”

He unfolded his arms, dropped his smile and took a step towards me.  “What?”

He was standing facing away from the others, luckily.  When I began to shake my head, my mouth falling open at his eyes changing color, he suddenly was at my side, his arm reaching out for mine, concern all over his face.  I’m sure he meant to lightly grasp my arm to force me to look at him, nothing intended.  But that’s not what the murder of crows that suddenly descended on him thought he intended.

“Get away from her, you basilisk fuck!” Lucy spat as she materialized in mid-kick, wielding a sharpened spear, aiming it right for Jesper’s heart.

My, My, You’ve Grown

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by vampirony

Lucy and Maurice Burim, whom I had known in a former life as pre-teen vampires, stand before me looking closer to twenty than twelve.   Despite the obvious difference in their height, their faces have matured.  The innocence has been replaced by purpose, the fear replaced by conviction.  No, these are not the twins I had known.  But somehow, they are the same as ever.

Maurice pats Lucy’s arm around him.  It’s an old gesture.  He used to do it to get her to let go of him when she was clinging too tightly.  Now, it’s an intimate movement of connection between them.  They watch carefully as Morena gingerly stands up.

“Actually, it’s Darnell now.  Tammy and Thomas.”  His voice is richer, polished.  His matured in a way I never would’ve thought possible.  And she’s bloomed, still slight but lithe and comely.  And underneath it all, I feel it.  Morena shifts her weight backwards in response.  My darling charges are negative vampires.

“You want to help your old auntie up?” I raise my hand. 

Lucy smiles widely and pushes Maurice forward.  He’s at odds, as an young man would be, reacquianting with his past.  He steps forward uncertainly and the effect forces Morena back another step, out of his way.  He notices it immediately and I sense him get a handle over himself.  The twins had never shown such complete control before.  He takes my hand gently and I’m on my feet without the slightest sense of having been pulled up.  Yes, grown in every way.  Including power.

I stare up at Maurice who stands about 5’10”, not excessively tall, but inches away from where he had been when I had used to tuck them both under my chin for hugs.  Lucy had always been willowy but somewhere, her brother has finally surpassed her in height.  And there’s more as he holds my hand.  I feel the tension in him.  He meets my gaze but in a way that tells me his focus is elsewhere, his thoughts in hiding should they show through his eyes.   But he’s reading me, trying to at least.

Lucy breaks the silence.  “Old?  You are much younger than last time we knew you, Auntie Giselle.”

Maurice drops my hand.

“It’s Sophie now.  And you two, you’re older.  How is that possible?”

Maurice throws a suspicious gaze at Morena, who’s starting to show the signs of her embrace with a wall.   “You reek of bad blood.  We were certain we’d finally been found.”

I raise my hand up.  “My bad.  Some clients seem to cling about me.”

A tight smile creeps over his face as he looks back at me.  “Still on a fool’s crusade, Auntie?”  He shakes his head and sighs.  “And what of her?  A protege?”

“Hardly,” Morena mumbles, gently dabbing at her bloodied lip.

Lucy steps forward, excitedly staring at Morena.  “It was you I smelled first, before Auntie.  You smell of blood and light and magic.  Very confusing.”

“I wondered why you were so slow,” Maurice chides.

“Slow?  You call that slow?”  Morena asks, in shock.

Lucy looks somewhat between cowed and annoyed.  Maurice fixes his glare back on Morena.  “If she’d done as she was supposed to, you never would have seen her at all.  And we both would have been gone before you’d even noticed.”

She fights the feeling.  “That’s new.  Vamps that cut and run.”

Maurice bristles but I put a hand on his shoulder.  Like old times.  And it turns something deep inside of places I hide away that his response feels the same as when he was a child.

“Forgive her.  She’s greener than Kermit the Frog.”

Lucy’s face finally turns unkind.  (In French)  “Terrible child.  She seems more trouble than she’s worth.”

Morena answers back, “Not near as much trouble as I need to be, apparently.”

“Does everyone speak French now?” Maurice asks rhetorically.

“Lucy, Maurice, this is Morena, Morena Fourtenay.  She’s a cohort to a local vampire, a client.”

A look passes between Lucy and Maurice and they stop breathing.  It used to mean they were having a “twin moment,” as I used to call them, a time when they could seem to know each other’s thoughts, like telepathy.  They stare back at Morena, now with more interest.

She notices.  “What?  I don’t look like the cohort type?  My…uh, master…he won’t be happy I couldn’t keep Sophie safe.”

I blink just as my phone buzzes.  “What?  What are you talking about?”