Archive for creative writing

In Discord and Rhyme

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , , , on July 25, 2021 by vampirony

Volta found himself panting open-mouthed before he caught himself, remembering that, in human form, that was generally unacceptable. He cast a quick look around him as he sat at an outside table of some coffee shop. No one seemed to notice, hurrying either through to the parking structure or onwards to the epicenter of this society’s cultural hub. Something called Bell Square. He hadn’t noticed any bells but took a deep sip from the beverage he’d purchased to try and fit in and brave the outside heat, something called a “frappuccino” which, frankly, little resembled any Italian drink he’d ever seen.

Like you’re some man of the world, he chided himself. First airplane rides during which he nearly threw up twice and now he was considering himself a man of the times for trying a frozen drink that was so sweet at first taste, he nearly gagged. He switched back to the bottled water, even that not quite tasting real. “Fresh from the Spring.” He doubted it.

He shook his head. This world really wasn’t for him. Noisy, stifling, noxious. A blend of antiseptic sprayed over the stench of piles and piles of waste and decay. But it was a newer decay here, rather than in the cities of Europe that had been building over and over and over the top of themselves for centuries. Here it seemed that the second generation of city rebuilding was underway, with some casualties.

Further down the block, a larger skyscraper under construction was roped off, blocking off part of the street along its base with yellow tape, orange striped barrels and sawhorses. He’d overheard some passersby discussing some collapse of scaffolding, a cement mixer, and some sort of fire in the newly constructed shop. Something called a wine bar, which seemed a paradox to him.

If he hadn’t known that Vega had only just arrived in her slick black automobile, he might’ve suspected her paw in that mayhem. Tracking her from LA had been surprisingly easy as she had taken many stops along the route, more than once instructing the driver to continue while she went for a run. He’d had to exercise extreme caution at that point not to be so close she could pick up his scent. He recognized her complacency in this modern world and she’d never been the best tracker in the pack, relying on underlings to set the trap so she could use her tactics and brute strength to capture the kill.

She also seemed quite oblivious to anything beyond her purpose. It was in the set of her ears. Something had her on edge, almost nervous, but determined. Strength and prey assessment may have been her assets, but stealth and maneuverability were his. He calculated the pattern of her jaunts and managed to get ahead of her by hitching a ride. Being likable and friendly always served best while traveling.

Not that he’d done much traveling once he’d taken up residence at the monastery-turned-mosque-turned-museum-turned back to-monastery. Ages spent roaming the grounds, befriending the residents, living among them, protecting them and that sacred patch of forest. Then, at the time that felt most advantageous, disappearing back into the forest to let a generation pass only to be rediscovered, and once again become the protector of the forest.

The story had turned to legend until it was just now an expectation: There is always a wolf roaming the forests of Rila, protecting the faithful, punishing the wicked.  Well, there hadn’t been much need for punishment in a while and now he had more to fear from tourist traffic and littering than from bandits.

His life had become sedate. And while this whole hunt filled him with dread, he couldn’t deny the thrill he’d felt in his bones as his ancient friend Imperius had once more called upon his help.  If this was finally the end, perhaps he could make it a glorious end. What purpose had the gifts he’d been bequeathed served if not to make an end in glorious righteous flame.

 But Vega wasn’t about righteousness. Nor glory. She suffered. She stank of bitterness and avarice, a hopelessness of a life long-lived and yet still wasted. And underneath all of that, the stench of death and horns. Antlers to be exact. He believed his transmutation had been a natural evolution of his kinship with a sacred being. The individual pulling Vega’s fur had relations at the other end of the spectrum.

In LA, he had smelled more than the paparazzi surrounding that starlet’s mansion. The place reeked with a signature bloodletting that only his kind could mete out. His kind. He’d too left them behind and now looked at Elba and Vega as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of their line.

He still remembered the Night of Cinders, when all their worlds had collided and the chaos of man’s war had stripped them of their benefactor for good. The blood, the screams, the devastation as the two forces had crashed into each other like opposing pyroclastic waves caused the hair all along his back to raise in memory. The Golden One, he’d gone to salvage the innocent; he’d been felled by a demon’s spawn. Or so Elba and Vega had thought.

He had heard the girl’s call, tracked her carriage from the monastery to the battle, his panic rising to protect her as he passed through ruined, burnt forests, ground spoiled with blood and bone, and the wolves, they had followed. After the clash at the carriage, both combatants lay bleeding on the ground. Elba and Vega had tried to pull the Golden One away but with his last bit of strength, he lunged for the carriage, falling at the girl’s feet.

Inexplicably, Elba and Vega, after a brief pause, fled the battle, likely planning to return later to feast on the remaining corpses. Only Volta had stayed behind. He could help. The fire closing in on the scene meant nothing to him. The screams he could close his ears against. Only then had he seen the truth of it.

As the Golden One’s blood flowed out of his ruined torso all over the floor of the carriage, sopped up by dusty tomes and freshly prepared vellum, there was still life in both him and the instrument of his rending. The Black Knight clutched desperately at his throat, trying to hold together what Vega had torn open after Elba had brought down his draft horse in similar fashion.

Volta had paused as he reached the carriage. His yellow eyes took in the girl who had pulled a strap from around a great book and tried to fit it around the Golden One’s body, desperately trying to hold the chasm of his flesh together. Her odd boyish clothes were drenched, her face splattered with red, but her face never wavered. Her determination, her belief was complete even as Volta’s faltered as the face of his benefactor turned ashen.

Volta raised a paw to move to her, to help her but he paused, turned back to the knight, who clanked and seized in his heavy black armor, gurgling sounds and gasps meant the end was near. His armor would become his tomb, that and his bastard sword no match for Vega’s ferocity and precision. He almost pitied him:  whatever his goal in attacking what appeared to be a royal carriage full of books and a simple librarian, he never stood a chance in his quest.

A feeling of a great unnaturalness caught on the wind, coming from the trees. He spun and crouched, ready to protect the girl and the Golden One but the creature that emerged paid him no heed. A vagabond, in tatters even worse than the poorest peasant in this godforsaken land, made its way to the knight and bent beside him.

All his hackles raised at this creature but his priority was getting the girl and the Golden One to safety. He had to be quick. He sprung into the carriage to the shock of the girl. They had a moment of recognition, both bound to this body bleeding out. She leaned out of his way as he took the thick leather strap fastened low around the Golden One’s hips and used it to haul him fully into the carriage. The girl, working with him, managed to pull what was left of his ruined lower extremities in through the door while he jumped back out.

The sounds of the knight had ceased. Only the soft words that must have come from the creature could be heard, its robes completely concealing them. Volta sniffed as another scent approached. The captain from earlier who had critically failed in his duty, leaving the knight’s flank unprotected so Vega easily slipped through. He, still mounted, postured and shouted at the vagabond, but not drawing his sword nor hailing his comrades to the fallen knight.

Volta knew this was their moment and he came around the front of the carriage where the lead horse had been swallowed in the mud as he flailed his last. Volta snapped through his harness and took it in his teeth. It would take all his strength to wretch the carriage out of the mud but just as he began to find purchase, he smelled cavalry coming this way. He quickly crouched under the carriage, readying for a fight.

Volta glanced quickly back towards the knight. He and the vagabond had vanished, leaving the captain behind on his mount just inside the tree line. His face showed his shock and then rage as he looked to the sky and then galloped away from the oncoming force, as if it mattered little which side they were on.  

The clothes of men arriving looked much like the girl’s and on their banner, Volta made out a crescent shape. These were her people. But as they approached, they shouted and raised their long spears towards the Golden One who had ceased to move. But before Volta could pounce, the girl covered the Golden One’s body, shouting at the men. With one hand she pointed into the distance where neither the captain nor the vagabond had come from, the other she waved Volta away. Whatever the fate of the Golden One, this girl would now carry the burden.

Volta didn’t pause; he slipped quietly away into the forest, avoiding both armies but not the indiscriminate devastation that had been done. Cautiously, he trekked for days, back into the high mountains, to the monastery that he discovered had been burned out. The soldiers had left none of them alive, save one.

“You gonna finish that?”

Volta squinted up as his awareness returned back to this time, this city that purported a “pretty view,” to the figure that now shadowed him. As his vision adjusted, he noticed the umbrella hanging from the crook of the bearded old man’s arm.

The bearded man pointed to the Frappuccino Volta had abandoned.

“No, help yourself.”

Imperius smiled and settled himself down in the other seat at the table, picking up the drink and taking a long sip noisily through the green straw. Then he tossed his head casually towards the hotel.

“So, when do you think our huntress will make her move?”

Volta sat back, shaded by the green umbrella over the table. “As soon as she spots her quarry and an opportunity, she’ll strike.”

“She won’t wait for the other?”

Volta shook his head.

Imperius nodded. “Then, we have a little time.”  He rested the crook of the umbrella on the top of the table, unbuttoned the top of his shirt, and fanned himself with a clutch of napkins. “Maybe a little shopping, perhaps? You could use some khaki chinos, I think. But first I want another one of these glorious concoctions. I think I saw that they had a strawberry one?”

Vampire Practicum

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by vampirony

I’d like to be able to describe firsthand what a well-trained, well-motivated Carpathian half vampire looked like attacking a 500 plus year-old vampire of questionable origins and mysterious new issues but I didn’t actually see anything.  Best I can figure, Lucy attacked, Jesper stepped to while pushing me back out of the way, and the next thing I saw was Lucy flat on her back on the floor, missing her weapon.

I think I yelled, “Don’t hurt her!  She’s one of mine.”

I finally saw what manner of weapon it was when Jesper turned back towards me.  It was a gleaming silver short spear two feet of which were sticking out of Jesper’s chest.

“One of your what?” he asked, voice clearly elevated but strangely, much less strained than expected.  What with a silver spear sticking out of his chest and the vampire girl that attacked him doing a flip up from prone like I’d seen in many Jet Li films.

Depending on the vamp, wooden stakes may or may not do anything at all but huge holes in one’s chest, that normally slows a guy down, at least for a bit.  Jesper turned as if it were nothing; grabbed it with one hand, ripped it out, and swung it in front of him.  Not at the advancing Lucy, I might add, just in front of him to ward her off.  Then he threw it on the floor.

She kept moving, her face all fanged out, reached behind her back and tumbling for the spear, while Jesper moved to stay in between us.  The movements were just blurs to me most of the time, but time started to slow down, making their actions more distinct.

It wasn’t some special ability I’d been granted; it was the adrenaline pumping through my body, making everything run in slow motion.  Unfortunately, I was in slow motion too.  By the time I got to speak again, Lucy had resumed her attack with spear in right hand, a new strangely bent long bladed and very shiny shorter weapon in her left.  A kukri. 

The sense of profound dread settled over me like a oppressive cloud.  I couldn’t allow that weapon to touch Jesper.  Somehow, I just knew it.  Just at this point, maybe six seconds into things, Morena made her first move, reaching behind her back for her gun.  But I knew by the time she drew it, this might very well be over.  Class turns into Practicum just like that.  SNAP!  Nick, thankfully, had flipped over the back of the settee to hide this one out.  Good kid.  Smart too.  He knows better than to take up a profession without skills.  But he was throwing a look towards Morena, one I’d take no time deciphering later, and was clearly going to head her way.  Crap!

I needed to end this.  Now.

Jesper was, as he should be, one step ahead of me.  In Vox Compulsum, he commanded, “Stand down.”

Nick and Morena froze in that unnatural way when their bodies and minds have been disjointed from action.  They wouldn’t fall over, merely powerless to do anything.  For a moment, I had thought his plan had backfired as Lucy pushed through the Vox as if it were nothing.  Later I would get it: He meant it to be broadband, to catch everyone in the room, even me, especially in the event anyone else, namely human, thought they should get in the middle of two vamps fighting it out.  ‘Cause that would be stupid.  Sign me up.

But for some reason, Lucy was unaffected and I, well, Jesper hadn’t known the Vox didn’t work on me either.

I scrambled across the floor, trying to find my legs and then my feet, all of which was taking too long.  Strangely, Lucy and Jesper dodged and parried like matched sets, he could obviously overpower her at any moment but she was just capable enough to keep him from disarming or grappling her.

And it was frustrating him.  I had to help.

“Lucy!  Stop!  He’s a friend!”

I wasn’t exactly sure of the sentiment but at this moment, Friend might have way more weight than Patient.  Especially given my current client list.  Will all the crazed vampires in the Seattle metropolitan area please stand up and be counted?

Lucy ignored me as if she’d heard not a word.  She feinted and whirled a spin kick at Jesper’s chest, catching him off-guard because of his injury.  She must have seen him favoring just enough.  But I didn’t have time to be impressed.  The one good thing about how good a fight she put up was it forced Jesper back towards me, by which point I could stand.

I felt rather than saw Jesper sense this, this feeling of alarm coursing through him (was it flowing through me too?), dividing his attention just as the spear came in again.  He turned toward me, I think to again get me out of the way, felt the spear puncture his chest again, thought better of pushing me, and focused all his energy on Lucy, slamming her with both palms, keeping the spear from penetrating further.  He hadn’t had the time to pull his punch and Lucy went flying.

She crashed into the bookcase next to Nick’s leaning body, then disappeared in a poof of black smoke.  Jesper’s command would not let Nick get out of the way.  Two entire shelves of books went flying and hit him, dropping him in a heap to the floor. 

I finally was going to get my chance to break this up.  Jesper moved his head for an instant to me and I saw his eyes were glowing with that strange amber light again.  I hesitated.  Something tugged at a memory.  Distant sands, mosaic tiles, strong coffee, call to prayers.  I stepped toward him.

He hesitated too, too long to prepare a more subtle defense against the sudden reappearance of crows solidifying into a two handed swipe with the kukri.  I know what it looked like to see death through decapitation flying on glossy raven wings because I was standing right in front of it.


Behind me, I felt rather than saw light, a wave of it, carried almost like Vox Compulsum, crash into me flowing all around me and hitting Lucy wherever I didn’t give her cover.  The force of the strange light smacked me hard into her and instead of my normal fading black circle of consciousness, this time light seemed to burn me up from the outside in.  All the while my neck at the base of my throat was burning.

I closed my eyes with the impact and felt dark, cold sand between my fingers, underneath my nails as I dug.  Then everything went familiarly black.

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.”


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.

Huddle Up

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , on January 16, 2010 by vampirony

My early life in Ohio exemplified middle America. Girl Scouts, church potlucks, barn dances. I was even a cheerleader. I put on a brave face but I messed up various cheers paying too much attention to Dan getting hammered on a play. I hated to watch but didn’t feel I had a choice. I was his girl, I wore his varsity jacket, I had to make a show of supporting him.

Once, during a cold wintery game, our quarterback got knocked back into last Thursday. Dan, who normally played tight end, filled in as backup quarterback since our school was barely big enough to field a team. He called the team to huddle up. They were down by 14 late in the fourth quarter. It was -29 degrees wind chill with flurries. Winning seemed out of reach. From the sidelines, the crowd watched the weary players crowd around Dan as he took a knee in the midst of them. By the time they yelled “Break!” in unison, infused with courage and determination from somewhere unknown, inspired by Dan’s words, they anxiously lined up for the 4th and 4 play with 4:37 left on the clock.

Dan, looking like a steely general leading his team, hiked the ball, faked a handoff and did a quarterback keeper, running around the end, breaking a tackle, getting an awesome block from his receiver, and went in for a touchdown. Fired up by the score, the team rallied to tie the game and win in OT. As a junior, it solidified Dan as a high school legend and we both rode that legacy through the rest of our school days. We celebrated that night with the most inspired sex we’d ever had (or would ever have).

When I asked Dan years later what it was he said to the team to get everyone to move in such perfect concert to free the line for his run, he shrugged and said, “I just told them the truth. That as individual players, we were outmatched and didn’t have a chance. But for that play, we all knew exactly what we needed to do and for one play, if we acted in concert, with full knowledge and complete commitment, we could have each others’ backs and go down fighting…together…like brothers, like family.”

He hadn’t seem very impressed with it. This was after years of disappointments and family strife had robbed him of much of the steeliness that had made me fall for him in a life that never felt my own. I wanted to be around him because he seemed to have a plan and felt like he’d have my back. When he’d finished telling me about his little speech, he looked up to find me crying. I was holding our baby Jasmine and tears were streaming down my face. He asked me what could possible be a matter.

I didn’t have the nerve to tell him that he’d lost his family, lost his team to have his back, not just because of life’s twists and turns, but mainly because along the way, he’d lost all vision that there could be another way out, that there could be a way to score, that even in going down with a fight, there was something of a victory.

I buzz the nurse and ask her to bring me writing materials. I’m scheduled for release in the morning and I haven’t any time to lose. I need to write down the plan. I have players in the wings unaware of the game they are playing. And I desperately need someone to have my back. The twins, Morena, Nick, maybe even Jesper….all needing me to have the vision and draw up the game plan. Things could spiral out of control if I didn’t do what I do best, assess the situation, pull it all together, draw up the play, and execute. So many lifetimes, ripping pages out of the playbook because I didn’t want to put others in harm’s way, didn’t want the team. But now, whether I like it or not, I can’t do it alone and others are in danger.

This time, it is time to play in concert, everyone will need to do their best, fulfill their role.

And this time, I will be ready.

Vampires 101: Trust

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , on January 10, 2010 by vampirony

My concussion rated fairly high in terms of damage done so I thankfully let myself be monitored for forty-eight hours. I fully understand it is more to give the detectives time to try and find some angle I might have on a body disappearing from the morgue than my injuries, no matter how serious. Why they suspect a connection with me, I don’t know. I guess I have that sort of face.

Forty-eight hours in a hospital is a lot of downtime. I think about the detectives, Skovajsa, the blonde Nick has told me about…and Jesper. And Morena. I feel responsible for the attack, even if she may have ran into danger eventually. And one cannot take the knowledge of vampires back. Well, I can’t, at any rate. Offhand, I know three vampires with enough power over the mind to do just that. Boy, it would be useful for her to know that too. And Nick too. Dangerous times for newbies.

It’s time for a class. I start writing up the syllabus. After all, a class is what started me on this path in this lifetime. Dr. Kaga couldn’t have known the connections his course on transcendental meditation would awaken the memories, enabling me to find the book. Which awakened more memories. Most not happy ones.

I text Nick with the cell phone he returned to me, ask him to get some things ready. I also ask him to go see Morena, request she at least talk with me. As I get his affirmative reply, I get another text.

I lied abt u today.

It’s Jesper. I feel him again, this time standing near the window, not so close this time.

Why u do that? <SEND>

Don’t think I know enough abt u yet.

Why did u tell Morena to follow me to protect me? <SEND>

Wanted u safe.

Why? <SEND>

Felt it was important.

Who are u reporting to abt me? <SEND>

Not sure I should tell u that yet.

I can’t help u if u don’t trust me. <SEND>

There are some things a vampire cannot tell.

Means there are some u can. <SEND>
Would u be willing to attend session? Assistant, unfort, has discovered who my clients are, puts him at risk not knowing basics. <SEND>
U don’t have to say anything but I’d like u there to naysay any facts that have changed over my lifetimes.


U know it’s important. <SEND>

Knowing hasn’t kept u out of rm 824 in Overlake Hospital.

No. But it kept me out of morgue. <SEND>

(I can feel him sighing as if it’s through her mind.)

Can we talk after your class?

That’s what I intend yes.

Is there something u need to talk about now? <SEND>

It can wait.

U know, u can contact me anytime. Like to think u felt comfortable doing that. <SEND>

I do. Would never presume to interfere with ur recovery otherwise.

Why have u? <SEND>

It seemed the thing to do, considering.

U’re not to blame for my attacks. <SEND>

A surprised current runs through the room, as if I shocked him by reading his intentions. Then it dissipates, accepted.

I am transparent.

I’ve gotten pretty good reading vampires. <SEND>

Not so good to know I contacted u because I really look forward to seeing u again.

It is my turn to feel flustered and off-center. He laughs lightly.

You’re blushing.

Yes. <SEND>

It seems I too have not lost all of my abilities to read humans.

So u’ll come to the session? <SEND>

Yes. I will audit your class.

I feel his presence leave the room like the time lapse fading of white fragrant flowers and spices, now with a hint of citrus. First order of the syllabus: abilities of a vampire. Because one cannot teach trust.

Ties that Bind

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , on December 27, 2009 by vampirony

After a few hours trying to sleep, I finally call the nurse in about my headache.  She steps out into the hallway for a moment and then opens the door a crack.  She pauses, pursing her lips before speaking.

“You feel up to a phone call?”


“I’ll see about something for your headache then.  Be back in a few so you should keep it short.”

The phone at my bedside rings and I pick it up. 

“I was hoping they wouldn’t trouble you.”

“Well, frankly I’m surprised you haven’t taken me off of your emergency contact list.” 

It’s good to hear his voice and I instantly feel the same old wave of guilt for feeling this way.  He deserves better.  But the fact is I can’t take him off the list.  There’s still Jasmine to think about and she, well, she is what forever ties us together.

“You ok?  What happened?”

“I’m fine.  Just a concussion.”  I pause.  “You know I won’t tell you what happened.  It’s better this way.”

“Yeah, you keep saying that.”  I can feel his tension through the phone.  “What should I tell Jazz?  I can’t keep cover for you every time something happens.”

“Put her on the phone.”

“No.  Way.”

“You’re right.  You shouldn’t have to cover for me.  I’ve never asked you to.  But you will not explain things to her as I would.”

“That’s because what you’ll say is all crap and nonsense!”  He catches himself immediately.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean that.”

“Yes you do.”

“But it doesn’t help.  You’re hurt.  And I…”

“It’s alright, Dan.  You do mean it and I would rather you not lie.  But you can’t ask me to lie either.  This is who I am.”

I hear him sigh.  Then, in a faraway voice so I know he is covering the phone, “Jazz?  It’s your…”

“Hi, Sophie!”  Her voice is unmistakable.  She must have picked up the other line.

“Hello, sweetie.  Were you eavesdropping?”

“I got it, Daddy!  You can hang up now.”

I hear a soft click.  No goodbye.  No get better.  I don’t deserve it from him.  I struggle with the guilt but I do not wish that what we were had never happened.  A little girl back in Ohio stands as witness that life is bigger than any of us can know.

She whispers.  “He’s off now.  I checked.”

“How are you doing?”

“I liked the dress.  But you don’t need to send me those gifts.  I love you anyways.”

Nothing keeps the tears from falling.  “I know, sweetheart.  But I still like to think of you growing up like a normal little girl.”

“Like you were?”

I was.  At least, I had thought so.  I had once wanted to be a princess and get carried off by a knight on a gleaming white steed.  I had even thought I’d convinced myself that Dan was that knight and that I could make him happy.  But you can’t make someone happy when they think everything you believe in, everything you are is “crap and nonsense.”

“Ok, ok.  Miss sassy mouth.  You don’t dare say things like that to your father, do you?”

“No.  But he can tell I’m different.  He just ignores it.  For now.”  She is old beyond her years.  But no memories…well, not yet.  Hopefully not for a long long time.  “You ok, Sophie?  Daddy was really worried about you.”

“I’m resting.  I don’t mean to make him worry.”

“You can’t stop him.  He likes to worry about you.  But you sound fine.  Ooh, send me something from Seattle!  Isn’t that where that tower is?”

I laugh.  She loves collecting from my travels.  I’m not sure what is local flavor here but I’ll have to get her something.  “It’s called the Space Needle and I will, honey.”  My throat clenches as waves of loneliness and yearning pour through me, through the phone.  “I miss you, baby.”

“I miss you too.  Nite Nite, Mommy.”

Things Lost Forever

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , on November 15, 2009 by vampirony

Somewhere between the mention of the secret Christian order and the comment about blood flowing in a frigid stream, I start to cry. I think Lucy is caught up in memories, sifting through what details to tell me and what to omit that she fails to notice. But after she falls silent and the room is plunged into eerie silence, she lifts her sad eyes to me as I sniffle noisily and wipe my face.


It’s the concussion. But it’s more than that. I think I’d honestly thought that Maurice and Lucy wouldn’t survive, hoped against all hope they would but in the end of things, thought that they would’ve perished, freed from their monstrous being to start fresh again with cleared souls. But the true is far worse. They’ve survived, scratched and crawled their way through this imperiled existence to be betrayed, to fail, to suffer heartbreak, loss, loneliness, isolation. All the things a guardian never wants for her charges and the knowledge of how they suffered alone feels me with unspeakable sorrow that unhinges me.

But it’s more than that. I feel the walls of purpose tumbling down in the face of the most remote odds that I will ever make a difference. And at what unbelievable cost my small gains? My memory haunts me and I can’t hold back the sorrow any longer.

I’m bawling as Lucy hurries over to me.

“Auntie, what is it?” She pulls me into her arms and I cry. Doubt, fear, regret…all these things have been kicked up like the dust after the first specs of rain.

I can’t speak; I can barely breathe. And how can I even tell her how her story about Maurice has coalesced with the story of my lost child? So many pieces of so many lives ripped from me and I barely feel connected to this one. Kaga warned me of this. Maybe this lifetime should be for prayer and penance, not for the same goals as before. Maybe I’m not ready to step forward in this lifetime. How can I help others if I can’t find a reason within myself to do it?

The emptiness is threatening to swallow me whole.

“There, there, Auntie. We’ve become strong because of you. Because you taught us what was right and how to fight for it.” She strokes my head as I rock back and forth. “I’m sorry I told you that horrible story. Things haven’t all been bad. This thing with Maurice, it’s new. And here you are, back when we need you most. But maybe this time, we can be there for you.”

Her words are kind, meaningful, and supportive. But there’s something lost in all of this that is terrible to behold. It’s the loss of innocence and there’s nothing anyone can do to get that back.

Case #13 – Maurice: The End (As told by sister Lucy)

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , on November 14, 2009 by vampirony

Maurice’s first attempt to end his mistake left him with a broken jaw that by the time he’d found me still hadn’t finished healing. By his admission, his own flesh had held the jawbone in place. He’d had to wrap his jaw to his head and it had healed too tight. So I had to break it again and wrap it correctly.

Caroline had a bevy of young, capable rail men to aid her and, well, even a vampire can be outnumbered. And Maurice has been foolish in allowing Caroline to marry a rail baron as a means to support them both. Coupled with her intense influence over the older baron, it had given her enough independent financial means that she had attempted to shut Maurice out. But several weeks later, she had crawled back to him all cajoling and seducing; she needed him to keep her young. When he’d refused until she’d left the baron, she slinked back to her mansion.

It hadn’t taken long for the rumors of the beautiful, enchanting railway wife to be superseded by local whispers of young men missing. Her husband ailing, Maurice withholding, she had sought out others to fill her needs. When she’d returned to visit Maurice a month later, looking flush, hearty, and full of vengeance, she had delighted in telling him how surprised she’d been when she realized that when she was with these young men, they gifted their virility to her. She was now one to be worshipped and these men, all of them, treasured her and would give anything for her, including their very lives.

Maurice had underestimated her capacity to comprehend her own abilities and the speed with which she would harness her influence into a veritable army. He tried to threaten her, reason with her, and finally tried to reach her with his heart only to have her rip it asunder. He was horrified, heartbroken, and out of options.

And unfortunately, I didn’t have any answers for him. I’d never heard of such a creature let alone understand how we had made her. I blame myself because we should never have mixed with humans so much. We had fooled ourselves into thinking anything good could come of it. And now, we were both left with the tattered remnants of those illusions.

Inspiration came from the most unlikely of sources. Brother Nathaniel, whom I had been assisting with the natives there, had managed to overhear our discourses. Imagine our surprise as he introduced himself as a member of the Order of the Mysteries, a military order aligned with the Catholic Church but predating it. He told us his mission was to tend to the sick, spread the word of Christ, but also to redeem evil where he could and if not, vanquish it.

He was not alone. To fulfill his mission in the wilds of the West, he had needed to find those willing to assist and after so many years amongst many native peoples, he had found that while they may never come to accept Christ, they fought against evil; tricksters, spirits, and bad people. His two guides, Little Rain and Kokosik, both warriors in the local Blackfoot tribe, were willing to travel with us.

I’ll spare you the horrid details of how we hunted her down. It was not dignified, efficient, or elegant. But between the five of us, we were able to end her unnatural long life in a cold stream at midnight. Which was lucky neither Maurice nor I could smell the blood or do anything about it all draining away in the frigid waters. While we’d hated what we knew we had to do, all the excitement of the hunt taught us we were not immune to our vampire heritage.

But that was the end of Caroline and a new beginning for Maurice and I. It took years to perfect and while we still prefer to flee or hide, we can fight if we have to. We’ve become quite good at it.

I tell you all this, Auntie, so you will hear me and know that I speak from truth and experience. This vampire of yours tonight, he is not to be trusted and not to be saved. He will be the death of you.

Case #13 – Maurice: The Becoming Part Two (as told by sister Lucy)

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , on November 8, 2009 by vampirony

It was Annabel’s death that threw me off, hide the truth that was right before my eyes.  And the wall was there between us although us three traveling together, depending on each other seemed to drop most of the barriers between Maurice and myself.  Things had changed but I thought in many ways, we were stronger together.  The closeness between them I thought was that of a mother that had lost her children only to gain new ones.  For Maurice’s part, I still clung to the idea that he and Annabel had been first loves.  Well, I’m sure it might have been for her.  And for a time, I’m sure he was smitten with her.  But that’s not why he tried to save her.  She was a gift and a test.  And a trap all in one.

You mustn’t think poorly of Maurice.  He did none of that with malice in his heart, no true understanding of how his childish ambitions would play out.  i’m not even really sure that he consciousness knew how all of it fit together.  He was too close to it and reacted.  He wanted to keep her with him.  And as her child lay dying, in the way that our partly vampire minds think, he weighed so many variables.  As we’ve aged, I’ve watched many other vampires, seen how they think, felt it.  Perhaps it is another gift I have.  It’s not quite telepathy.  But I’ve been watching them for so long, I can feel their intent as it flows into their actions.  It’s kept us alive, in the most dire of times. 

But I suffered from nearsightedness, I was too close to it all to see it for far too long.  I was also inexperienced; we had been children made and the interactions between men and women, while I would see them, knew of them, my young vampire mind did not understand.  I had very much liked Lucas.  But I had not loved him.  I had not wanted him in that way.  Maurice and I had agreed to take turns surveying any new area during the night, Caroline would do so during the day while helping to get us situated.  But never for very long.  West.   She wanted us to move West.

The hints were small.  They would tense when I interrupted them.  Soon, I was taking most watches because I was better out sneaking around, becoming invisible.  It was true but something in his intention when he suggested it…well, like I said, it took me some time to question it.  Plus, I loved to go out into the night, watch how humans interacted, especially in the cities.  They lived on, danced, played, celebrated, never acting as if their fragility mattered when it was always there, just a hand’s breath away.  The actress, the courtesans always fascinated me.  How little power they had in that man’s world but how much control they could possess.  I watched it with fascination only to see it crumble so many times.  The tools of their trade:  makeup, perfume, clothes, manners, caresses, beguiling glances…I began to see it in her, began to see how she played him, how she whispered. 

For awhile, it didn’t bother me so much to know.  I love my brother.  I didn’t begrudge him any happiness she might’ve shared with him.  But as the years passed, I began to see her frozen in time.  At first, she seemed to become ageless.  And then, the fine lines began to disappear, the sagginess becoming taut and curved.  Her years of laboring were falling away from her and soon, the arguments started.  She was getting the sort of attention from all men that my brother must have lavished on her at night while I was away.  And she liked it.  They would have spats and he would take watch, unsettled, angry.  Sometimes, he would forget to bring us fresh blood.  Once, I was so starved I had to follow him to make sure he didn’t neglect us.

He had killed a deer.  But he had not drank.  After I took my turn, I held his hand and sat with him.  The wall had started to crumble.  He was afraid she would leave us.  He didn’t know what she wanted any more.  He was certain he’d never be able to give her enough.  But I knew what he did not.  Caroline had become addicted to the attention she received.  And while at the time I did not understand how she was able to do it, she was regaining her youth, maintaining it through Maurice.  I tread with care.  It had helped him to talk some; it quieted some of the brewing storm.  But the spats would happen, he would retreat, and I would comfort him.  Little by little, he admitted what they had done together.  The more contact with her he had, the more time seemed to turn backwards for her.

We had to stop the lie of her being our mother…she became our elder sister which made all of us uncomfortable.  But she quickly got over it.  So much easier was it to play the role of elder guardian than poor, widowed mother with two children.  She might be emancipated from us.  I was afraid it would break Maurice.  His powers were growing as were mine and his needs, they were growing too.  I knew I had to do something.  To keep my brother, I would need to break the bond between them.  I would have to find a way to make him choose.  His lover or his sister.

He choose Caroline and so I left him to her.  We were apart for a year and a day.  Our reunion was bittersweet.  He found me in Fort Shaw, Montana, where I was helping a blind priest named Nathaniel minister to the natives there.  It was 1887 and he wanted me to travel back East to St. Paul to clean up his mess, to undo what he had unleashed.  Caroline had changed into something neither of us could’ve predicted.  Maybe it was his fluids, his blood as he had begun to share that with her too.  Maybe it was that something was lacking as neither of us were quite mature yet.  It didn’t matter.  Enough had happened that he finally realized what she was and what, with my help, he needed to do.

We had to kill her, you see.  We had to kill Maurice’s first love.  She had become a succubus.

Case #13 – Maurice: The Becoming Part One(as told by sister Lucy)

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , on November 1, 2009 by vampirony

We’ve never really been vampires.  We weren’t human for very long either.  We’ve been living in this half-life together for so long, it seemed like nothing could separate us, like we were growing into one being.  And then one day, it all just changed.  It seemed like such a small thing at the time.

Moving to the New World had taken a lot out of us, traveling in 1838 by steamship across the Atlantic.  The voyage took a little over 18 days and the only way we survived it was we took turns going into a sort of stasis while the other kept watch and fasted.  We arrived in New York famished and weak but managed to take up residence near a butcher shop.  It was providential in many ways.  The butcher had suffered a horrible accident just weeks before and Maurice and I were able to offer up our help to the butcher’s wife to keep the shop afloat for just a small room in the basement as payment.  The family never suspected what else we helped ourselves to but they admitted that the shop never looked so clean.

It took many months working there for us to build up our strength but we enjoyed our time there.  The Old World had become rampant with Undead but it was still a frightening prospect for most vamps to brave the voyage to the New World.  That’s why we had chanced it.  We were tired of running and hiding.  And in the city, we could slip in and out of hiding as we pleased.  We learned English within days, our brains able to harvest all the sounds around us into words and thoughts with strange speed.

But we stayed too long, we should have kept moving.  We looked just like teenagers then, maybe 16, street urchins, about the same age as the butcher’s children, a boy and a girl.   Neither of us knew what it was like to have playmates beyond each other and, well, we indulged in the idea of having a family.  We kept to the shadows during the day, claiming skin disorders but worked hard.  I cleaned while Maurice learned the art of butchery, seemingly learning overnight.  And I noticed things about myself, my strength had grown, my hair seemed longer.  While the trip had taken much from us, the limitless supply of fresh blood seemed to be rebuilding us in new ways. 

In a year, we looked like we had both gone through puberty.  My body filled out some, my hair grew, and I sprouted a few inches.  But for Maurice, the change was so much more dramatic.  He had always been smaller than me but he grew tall, he filled out into what a normal 18-year-old man would look like, his face became all angled losing its roundness.  I wasn’t alone in noticing.  I would catch both the butcher’s widow and the daughter Annabel admiring him.  I knew it was trouble but I too had an admirer in the butcher’s son Lucas and I was unwilling to give him up.  Being able to sit and talk, to have eyes stare into yours kindly as you spoke about faraway places, eyes wide with wonder and emotion, it was what we had never had.

Even with us growing up, maturing, Maurice and I still felt very much like one.  Maybe that is why we felt so much for the Butcher’s children.  Maurice’s infatuation with Annabel fed mine for Lucas and vice versa.  We would even share experiences back then, intense ones.  It was a strange and wonderful thing when I awoke one evening to feel Maurice receiving a kiss from Annabel as he awoke.  The wonder was followed by fear as I heard her call him her “Dark Angel,” a term she repeated as if knowing exactly what it meant. 

With that kiss, everything changed.  A wall went up between us as I urged him for us to move on, that it wasn’t safe anymore for us nor the family.  Maurice refused to leave and I had misundertsood why.  The family had become dependant upon us and I knew he felt strangely honor-bound to provide for them.  And his feelings for Annabel were complicated.  I think he knew before I did that she was ill; he struggled to decide what to do.  But before we could decide, both Annabel and Lucas succumbed and they were both slipping away.  

I didn’t know that Maurice had tried to turn Annabel until she lay screaming hours later.  He probably hadn’t even been unaware what he had done.  Whether by bite or by kiss, he’d infected her but his fluids did not have the strength to turn her completely.  She remained in horrifying pain for hours.  Whether her mother knew it was from the illness or something else, I never knew.  I never blamed Maurice because I had harbored the same dark thought about Lucas.  Sitting there watching my first love waste away, I had come to a similar resolve.  But it was Maurice who paid the price for acting first.  It was because Annabel had been sick first I suppose.

We all huddled around her bed, all of us, one dark arm of the family, one light.  Maurice held her and she spoke soft words to him before she sank unconscious and finally slipped away.  Her brother did not last into the evening of the next day.  The three of us, Maurice, me, and their mother cried together.  It was then that she knew that we were not human children.  Still, she had just lost her own children and so beset by the anguish of losing her whole family in the course of months, she adopted us.  She had squirreled away most of the money from the thriving shop and she decided we would move on West, get away from the city that had cost her one family.

As we traveled, I took Annabel’s name, Maurice took Lucas’s.  It was the first of our false identities in the New World with our first daytime companion.  The more we opened up to her and told her of our lives, the more determined she became to find a new safe place for us.  West, she said.  She did everything for us as we traveled, heading slowly west as far as the trains would take us.

Her name was Caroline.  And I learned that she had been Maurice’s first love.