Archive for creative writing

When Honesty is the Best Policy

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , on October 18, 2009 by vampirony

I didn’t know how long I’d been out of it but it can’t have been long.  Skovajsa still had me by the neck, feet hanging helpless a foot from the floor.  Having been in this position many times before, I know my weight and the pressure on the arteries in my neck will cause me to lose consciousness (or suffocate me) in mere moments.  I lift my sagging head as much as I can to look Skovajsa in the eyes.

He seems to have been waiting for that very thing.  “You have not been paying attention.”  He says it matter-of-factly, no hint of displeasure in his voice.

I croak a response.  Impossible to talk with his hand around my throat and my struggling for breath.  Now is the moment when I find out how far gone this vampire is beyond the reach of society’s morays.  There’s really no reason to kill me.  No reason when he has gone to such lengths to seek me out and try to impress me.  Even if I could speak clearly, I would be tempted to keep quiet.  Petulant behavior should be met with stony silence.

The edges of my vision start to blur in that all too familiar way just as Skovajsa sets my feet back down on the floor.  He relaxes his grip a little but doesn’t release me.  My eyes dart for a moment around the room, making sure no one has taken note of the interaction.  The last thing I need is someone swooping in thinking they will save me and getting themselves killed in the process.  Disgruntled vampires are better left alone.

I cough thickly, trying to get the muscles in my throat to obey.

“I am over five hundred years old.  You have never met a vampire as old as I.  You should pay me better respect.”

I clear my throat.  “Actually, Skovajsa, I’ve met lots of old vampires.  If you want to be an elder, you need to work on your manners.”  I can’t help that a little anger enters my voice.  My skull is pounding like jack hammers are trying to get out of it.  But before he thinks to squeeze again, I add, “I’ve heard every word you’ve said.  The trials of the Carpathians are well documented.”

“You seemed distracted.”

“I was trying to place your origins, your maker.  I do have to think while I listen, Skovajsa.  It’s part of my job.”  Now the anger is barely contained.  You don’t give vampires orders but if he doesn’t remove his hand from my throat, we are effectively done.

‘You are familiar with my plight.”  His statement has a hint of a question.  Then he removes his hand.

I rub my neck and then bend over a bit to take a few deep breaths.  “Yes.  I know several of your brethren who suffered through those dark times.  And I can’t help you if you insist on doubting me.”  Time to push the boundary back into place.  “If you don’t trust me, then I cannot help you and we’re done.”

He frowns.  Not a practiced expression like so many of his I’ve seen.  This one looks sincere.  He doesn’t know what to do or say.  Then his hand reaches up and traces the outline of the bruises on my face.  I flinch but manage to hold my ground.  As his finger moves over my skin, he’s surprisingly gentle.

“What happened to your face?”

“I had a run-in earlier this evening and got kicked in the face.”  My policy with dangerous vampires, especially ones on the verge of killing me is always the same:  tell the truth.  That way, if they kill you, you take your best karma with you into the next life.

He drops his hand and continues to stare down at me.  The effort to keep upright, helped by my right arm clinging to the wall, is still substantial.  I’m not sure how I’m going to make it through this.

“I apologize.  I overreacted.”  It’s almost a question.

“I think we’re done for tonight.”

He looks really saddened by this.  He really does love to hear himself talk, I conclude.  “I will let you decide when next we can meet.”

He then steps away from me and strides away.  I watch him walk out of view before I start to slump to the floor.  There’s a play of shadow beside me and suddenly an arm reaches out.

“Auntie!”

For the third time this night, the dark gobbles me up.

Amber Waves of Grain

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , on October 16, 2009 by vampirony

I blink awake and lift my head.  I’m sitting in the Scout, the engine turned off, on the shoulder of the road.  The farms and plains of late harvest spread out around me.  There’s a twinge of manure in the air.  I can’t remember why I’m here.  Something about picking up a pot roast for dinner.

I look down and the white leather seat which David had spent eight months hunting down and being able to afford is covered in red as well as the crotch of my khaki crop pants.  Blood has dripped over the lip of the seat and has pooled around my Merrell slides.  I glance to my right.  For some reason, my white socks are sitting in a pile on the seat next to me.  Strange.  I gaze down again, hands smoothing over my newly rounded belly.

David will be so upset about his seats.  Or is it something else?

I start to feel the itchy skin again.  My cell phone is sitting in the holder between the seats.  I pick it up and dial home. 

“Hel-LOOO, hon.  What did you forget?”

He sounds happy to hear from me.  He always does.

“Hon?”

“I messed up your seats.” 

“Soph, you sound funny.  Where are you?”

“I’m sorry but I don’t think the red will come out.”  Nonsense, really.  A wave of nausea hits me as I faintly hear David yelling into the phone.  It’s a funny thing, fainting.  The edges of your world start to get all fuzzy and then this perfect circle starts to eat at your existence until there’s nothing but black.

I come to again and I’ve dropped the phone on the floor.  It’s ringing.  I pick it up and answer.

“Ma’am, this is Ohio State Patrol.  Have you been in an accident?”

“Uh-huh,” I say, removing my belt.   I set the phone down to help me.  I take the keys out of the ignition and set them in the seat next to my socks and then open the door and slide out of the Scout.  It’s a beautiful fall day, although it’s a little cold.  My legs are freezing.

I’ve lost the baby.  And even worse than that, I feel this strange mingling of fear, disappointment, and underneath it all, in my darkest heart of hearts, I feel relief.   Having felt so empty for so long, it felt sacrilegious of me to bring another soul into this world.  I never breathed a word of my doubts to David.  But lately, all I’ve felt is this strong desire, this wish to be anywhere but here.

I walk down the road, letting the vastness of fields shroud me.  Why couldn’t I just be happy, contented with this life?  Why did nothing I say or do seem to fit?  No one deserves this.  Especially not David.  Nor my little princess.  They never asked to be connected to me, this heartless, thoughtless, meaningless hole in the world.

My legs have frozen up and I slump to the ground, landing in the ditch.  Bad timing to have taken a deserted back road to head to the store.  Maybe someone will come by eventually.  My skin feels itchy, the nausea is still here, and in my heart, there’s just nothing but stillness.

Maybe it’s a fitting end for a woman who doesn’t care for anyone, not even herself.  Who doesn’t seem fit to inhabit the very skin that she’s in.  Fitting to die alone in a ditch somewhere, covered in blood.  Well, at least that would be going somewhere new, dying. 

After all, anywhere but here.

Case #13 – Skovajsa: The story behind the story

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by vampirony

I blink and find myself still sitting in the arm chair in the Ice Lounge.  Skovajsa is pausing for a breath.  Had I made a sound, startled as I was to have it feel so real, Jesper whispering to me?  Am I startled that I feel him standing there still behind me, his hands gently squeezing my arms, breath against my ear?  I blink again deliberately.  I’m holding my phone, his last text there.  I push a few buttons to switch it to silent mode.

Skovajsa is waiting for me.  “Shall I continue?”

“Yes, sorry.”  I set my phone in my lap, turned up so I can see the next text as it comes in.  “Please go on.”  Can’t remember what he was saying last so I guess.  “So spawn of Vlad Dracul would make you…uh, five hundred and fifty, give or take?”

He settles back down, convinced for the moment that his story has me in rapt attention.  This guy’s survived on ego, his details are all out of a book somewhere, nothing authentic which means he can’t remember turning, someone brewed up that story for him, or he’s fooled himself into believing it and how old it would make him.  Either way, he’s showing positive signs of all sorts of pathology and I should be paying close attention to him.  Instead, I keep glancing down at my Smartphone screen.

“Yes, I traveled southern Europe for years after, weak, alone, hunted first by the Turks then the Greeks…”

I should have made a break from Morena.  But she was not afraid when she learned what I was.  And it was fascinating to me.

Right.  I bet.

It’s not what you think.  I never meant to deceive her.  I’ve been trying to back away.

Not.  Trying.  Very.  Hard.  How can I blame you?  She’s beautiful, strong, intelligent, tall, and yet fragile…You back away after you’ve peaked her interest, she’s just going to want to reach out to you more. 

“…as I moved towards the coast, over the decades, I fed off more and more powerful victims, my powers growing rapidly…”

My head pricks up and I stare at Skovajsa.  Strike Two.  He has no idea what he said is so very very wrong.  The only way a vampire grows in power besides age is to feed off of other preternatural creatures.  He probably hunted other young vamps during the Great Blood Hunt of the 17th Century, taking advantage of his own.    This changes things.  I’m not sure I should tend to a vampire who has killed his own for power.  I’m not sure I can.

You’ve saved me again, done what I did not have the strength to.  Freed her from me.back_room8

I have a moment of doubt and my gaze is draw back down to Jesper’s words.

“…I’ve always looked for ways to make myself safer…”

Cannibal.  I need to get out of here now. 

I owe you a great debt that you must tell me how to repay.

“…you’ve probably never met a vampire as old as I.”

And for the first time in a long long time, I feel the kind of gut wrenching fear that fills your belly like churning ice water.  Jesper.  Help me.  My fingers twitch toward the keys just as the phone enters locked mode.

I drop the phone when Skovajsa grabs me around the throat and slams me hard against the nearby wall.  For some reason, I remember the intricate raised velvety patterns of the brocade wallpaper the moment I hit.  It reminds me of paisley.  Paisley stars in my eyes.

Case #13 – Skovajsa: One Vampire at a Time

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by vampirony

Ice Lounge.  I’d made it a whole three minutes before the time I’d texted Skovajsa to meet me.  He’d finally given me a curt text back:  OK.  It left me to wonder now that I had arrived after heroic driving efforts of Sergei: how the heck was Skovajsa going to make it here?

It was a hotel and the bar, on the second floor after a steep walk up stairs, was spacious but strangely cozy.  Maybe the dim lights.  The bar was at one end of the room and a white jacketed bartender was fussing over the marble top, setting garnish dishes to right.  There were low couches and floor lamps throughout the space and, even better, art deco screens here and there.  It worked to give the room an intimate feel.  But it would also prove to protect against lip readers and keep quiet conversations private.

I picked a couch and an easy chair against a far wall, behind a screen.  I turned off the light and used a napkin to partially unscrew the light.  It wouldn’t prevent the bruising that was showing on my face from being noticed but with all the shadow, it wouldn’t be glaring.  It didn’t make much sense to attempt to cover it up; Skovajsa would be able to smell the blood pooling under my skin.  If asked, I wouldn’t lie about what happened.  I’d have to act nonchalant.  And hope he didn’t pry.  Some vampires are better than others at sussing out lies or half-truths.  I have to hope Skovajsa has flunked that class.

Before a thought about Jesper fully forms, I put it in a mental box labeled “Do not open until Xmas” and place it high on the top shelf behind the really naughty porn and that box of German pistachio and milk chocolate.  I didn’t need to go there now.  I couldn’t.  Too much was at stake.  I thought about Dr. Kaga’s breathing techniques and got in touch with an old life.  Sometimes, when fear or doubt started to eat me up, I would go back into a past life, bring that version of myself forward for a little bit so I could remain aloof.  It was just another method of compartmentalizing, Dr Kaga told me.  But it had saved my life too many times.  And I sorely needed it now.  One thing at a time, one vampire at a time…

“I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”

I startle awake.  Skovajsa stands looking down at me, wearing a heavy black trench coat that made no sense for the summer.  I avoid the urge to stand, grip the arm of the chair with the hand away from him and wave him towards the couch with the other.  “No, have a seat.”

As he settles himself on the couch, I took out my notebook, readying for notes.  When I looked up, Skovajsa was considering the couch.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Perhaps I should recline?”

“Um, up to you.  Whatever makes you comfortable.”  Please…no….dear lord….don’t…let…him….

He smiles and tosses his long legs over the top of the couch and lays back, folding his arms over his chest.   I take a measured breath, reasonably sure he doesn’t have the social skills to notice.  This is going to be interesting.

Several moments later, the adrenaline has worn off and I’m left stifling a yawn as Skovajsa continues to walk me through his own personal epic.

“After serving Vlad Dracul and Stefan Bathory to place Vlad back on the throne that was rightfully his, I was hand-chosen by Vlad to become one of his blood brothers….”

Blah blah blah.  Like I haven’t heard this sort of origin story before, like, 10 times.  Member of Vlad’s honor guard, his personal favorite, hand-chosen to be turned…if every vampire that claimed to be hand-chosen progeny of Vlad Dracul stood up at once, they’d fill a cemetery the size of Wrigley Field.  Ooh, then there’s the defender of Vlad part, fought off assassins, nearly killed protecting him….

“…when the infidels were done with me, I was broken and spent, near death…”

…Sheer luck that he didn’t succumb when the blood line was severed, wandered for years struggling to survive…

“…I don’t know how I survived, hunting on my hands and knees.  It was…”

…Horrific…

“…humiliating….”

My phone tings.  “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  I promised Nick I would keep it live, having logged myself into Messenger before the session started.  I thought I’d set my status to Busy.  But it isn’t Nick and it isn’t Messenger.  It is a text.  From Jesper.  And as I begin to read it, the strangest sensation washes over me, like he is right behind me…I understand from your assistant Nick you are unharmed.  I hope so.

Go ahead, Skovajsa, I’ll just jot some more notes.”  He is so into telling his epic, he simply settles back on the couch and continues.

Just behind me, hands on my shoulders, whispering into my ear:  I must explain to you about Morena…

Picking up the shards

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , on September 29, 2009 by vampirony

“Morena?” I ask her as she stands with me on the corner, waiting for my cab.  She’s huddled herself together as if it’s forty below out here instead of a pleasing summer night.  The glow is gone and every remnant of cuts or bruising she had.  No favoring of her limbs either.

“All vampires can do that?”

I sigh.  “No, not exactly.  The healing, that’s the first time I’ve seen it done that way.  Usually blood has to be exchanged not just saliva.”

She cringes as I say it.  “How about their speed, strength, their….other powers?  Jesper can do all that too?”

I realize now I should have probed more about how she and Jesper met.  I didn’t realize things would get forced into her face like this.  Four vampires in a metropolitan area like this, none of them related, I’ve never seen this.  Not since the Old World.

“Jesper likely has strength and speed, likely much more than Maurice who is young in vampire terms.”  I can’t think what could explain their aging.  “Other abilities will depend on their maker, their strain, their type.  There are lots of types of vampires.”

She nods just as the cab rolls up.  I hesitate just a moment, maybe I can reschedule Skovajsa.  She answers that idea by opening the back door for me. 

“I didn’t know you were so unaware.  I’m…I’m sorry.”

She shrugs.  “It’s not your problem.”

“Well,” I say as I slide into the car.  “You can bet Jesper’s going to get a piece of my mind about setting you the task of watching over me.”

She slams the door shut but I can still hear her say, “Not if I get to him first.”

I lower the window.  “Don’t see him tonight.  Promise me.  You’re not ready for that.  Wait…”

She grabs the window frame, “For what?”

I pat her hand.  “For when you’re stronger.”

She slips her hands off the door and I pat the driver’s seat to go ahead.  Vampires.  They complicate the living as well as the dead.

Getting the Kiss-off

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

Lucy interrupts, “Your phone has been ringing off and on for an hour.”

I let it ring, try to catch Morena’s eyes.  When I finally do, I know everything.  All of it makes sense.  Now I know the real source of Morena’s temper earlier.  Jesper had told her to look after me.  I feel heat rise up within me and I’m unable to decide if it’s anger or flattery.  Which makes me angry.  Meanwhile, the phone keeps insisting.

I snatch it up.  It’s Nick.  “What?”

“Are you alright?  Been trying to call.  Thought you’d stop by the office before your, um, appointment or at least let me know where and when…maybe even throw in a what.”

“Appointment?”ballard

“Yeah, it’s in you calendar.  Sko-Vaj-Say 11PM.  Wow, what a fun name.  Where are you?”

Crap!  “Uh, Fremont.  I’ll be late.”

“Fremont?  Well judging by the traffic map, that’s where you’ll stay for awhile.  Maybe you should cancel…”

“Where’s a public place downtown that’s relaxing quiet but still, public?  Where you can have a conversation and no one hears it but you’re seen?”

“The Ice Lounge, 3rd and Columbia.  It’s in a hotel, kinda gangster-like inside, lots of cushy places to sit…even settees.  But never busy.”  He has good instincts.  “You can be there in, oh, about 15 given a good driver.”

I look at Morena who’s adrenaline is wearing off.  She’s not fit to drive.  “Can you call me a cab right away?” I ask Nick.

” Give me the address.”

I do so then hang up to text Skovajsa.  With no immediate response, I turn back to the room.  Lucy and Maurice are still staring intently at Morena who looks like she’s long past wanting to leave.

“I have to go now.  But we will catch up.”  I start for the door.  Maurice catches me up.

“Auntie.”  The concern is clear on his face.

“Do not worry.  I have always guarded your secret.”

“This vampire you’re meeting, that smells of magic.  He will smell us off of you.”  He’s assumed and gotten it wrong about my vamp clients but I don’t correct him.

Lucy joins him.  “And look at you…both of you.  We were only protecting ourselves but Maurice is strong, no?”

Morena speaks up, testing her elbow.  “She’s right.  I don’t know how I’m going to explain to Jes—.  J.  how I got my ass kicked by teenage vampires.”

I sigh.  “Nor how my client will react to my face.”  I don’t need to see it, I feel it.  Puffy, hot, achy, skin tight.  Yeah, major bruising.  And Maurice had barely moved.

He looks uncomfortably at Lucy.  She nods.

“What?” I ask at their conspiratory air.  She steps up to me.

“We have a way but you’re going to have to trust us,” she says, taking my hands.  Something in this I don’t like, but she’s sincere and I nod to her.  She looks at Maurice and tilts her head toward Morena. 

I watch the child charge he once was dissolve from his frame as I feel him exuding powerful forces of attraction against Morena as he approaches her.  Lucy squeezes my hands. 

“You must tell her to trust him.  He will not hurt her.”

I find myself a little befuddled myself before I realize why.  He’s not yet directing his abilities right at her, instead letting her see the effect on me, feel the effect herself.  She throws a near-frantic look at me.  “Sophie?”

“It will be alright, Morena.  Better this than Jesper’s interrogation.”  Maurice I know, Jesper I don’t.  And he and I are in need of a serious discussion.  I let her how upset I am with him.  Although, I have no idea what this is, really.

Maurice stands in front of Morena and at first, I think he’s going to share blood with her to heal her.  That terrifies me, knowing how viral vampire blood can be, unsure of how it might effect her permanently.  But as if he can hear my thoughts, Maurice says in a soft voice to Morena, as if she were the only woman in the world, taking her hands in his, “It will heal you.  There will be no lingering effect.”

raggedy annShe’s staring right into his eyes, being the same height as him and while there’s fear there, it’s not the only thing I see in her eyes.  As he leans in and she closes her eyes, it’s clear what he means to do and I feel all flustered and turn my head away, embarrassed.  But I can hear it.  And it goes on…for awhile…and gets louder…

“Do you want me to make you not hear it?” Lucy asks me, grabbing my gaze.  It bothers her too, I can see.  Maybe more than she knows.  There’s worry there in her face, like back when she let him lie or do something but she offered up a unified front.  She’s trying not to look too.

“No, no, it’s fine.  It’s just…” A throaty moan.  I swallow.  “Well, maybe we should leave them…”

Then it stops and I can’t help but look over.  Maurice is gently lifting Morena back to her feet, raising his head away from her.  She looks, in a word, dazed, mouth gaping open, eyes still fixed on him.  When he finally tries to step back from her, she moves forward with him until she blinks suddenly, realizes her hands are gripping his shoulders.  She then steps back, blushes deep red.   Then, she looks at me.  And she’s glowing.  Literally.

Lucy sees my shocked expression and looks over.  She shakes her head, “Brother, you’ve gone too far.”

He steps back away, almost sullenly.  “She was more injured than we expected.  She has a high tolerance for pain.”  He stops near his sister who puts a hand on his arm to draw his attention back.  “It was my fault she was so hurt.”

“Now let her go, brother.”

He fights it for a second.  Then, the humming in the room that I scarcely registered goes quiet and he looks at the floor, suddenly winded.  Lucy’s face shows concern but she covers it quickly to look back at Morena, who blinks like just awakening from a dream.  A really good dream.

“We need to go now,” I say.  I take my hands away from Lucy’s and step to Morena, hand on her arm.  This was not at all what she was ready for and soon, really soon, she’s going to crash down from it.  And I find myself more angry than ever at her so-called vampire Master.  He never used these abilities on her and thus, she was unprepared.  She looks at me with childlike eyes when I tug her arm.  The crash has already started and she shakes off my hand and folds her arms about her.

“Let’s go,” she says and storms out, angry, confused, but holding it together for the moment.

I follow her and as I pass Maurice he ventures a look up at me.  And it’s the look of his 12 yr old self seeking some sort of redemption. 

I pause for a moment, as Lucy says, “Probably not wise to tend your wounds as well, Auntie.”

I swallow past a lump of disgust in my throat, the mere thought of Maurice doing that to me.  “No,” I say.  I give them my card.  And I rush out after Morena.

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?”

The Gypsy Twins

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , on September 22, 2009 by vampirony

 “What could have led them here?” (In French, girl’s voice)

 “What does it matter?  We have to get rid of them.” (In French, man’s voice)

“No!  We can’t do that.”

What else can we do?  We don’t know them.  They smell of trouble.”

At least, I think that is what they were saying as I came to.  My French is rather rusty and from a few lifetimes ago.  Kinda like the recognition of who they are.  A smile creeps across my face and I blink my eyes open.  My hands are bound and I’m sitting on the floor of a brightly lit storage room.  Although, along one wall, is an elaborate display of bladed weaponry.  Morena is slumped against my side, tied up as well.

I can hardly believe what I feel and what I see.   The young woman and young man, vampires, obviously twins, are standing in the middle of the room.  The woman/girl, dressed in her black T-Shirt and long flowing skirt, is leaning towards her brother, pleading.  Her brother stands stiffly, stylish in a  perfectly fitted maroon silk shirt and black slacks.

“It’s good to hear you’ve kept your mother tongue alive, mes enfants.”

The twins freeze, perfect mimics of each other now.  They turn to me slowly, the only difference being her eyes are wide, his eyes are fierce.

“‘Course, to be quite honest, if you hadn’t spoken it, I might not have made the connection.  You’re a long long way from Catalina.”

Lucy leans in first, Maurice grabbing at her arm.DSC02573

In perfect English, not a hint of accent, “Who are you?  Why have you come here?”

Maurice then leans in as well, half to protect his sister, half out of his own curiosity.  “You smell of dark creatures.”

My smile deepens.  My heart confirms it as my mind recognizes the tics their countenance, hidden under new features but still plain as day to me.  “Ma petite Lucienne.  Ma brave Maurice.  My gypsy twins.  You’ve grown so big!”

Both twins look perplexed but anger and fear has turned to wonder on her face, suspicious and disbelief on his.

“It can’t be,” Maurice says, leaning back.

“Tante Giselle?” she says, leaning further in, taking my face in her hands, Maurice still gripping her arm but her straining away.  She sniffs both my cheeks, then tilts her head back, eyes closed.  She then exclaims, and hops in place, staring happily at me.  It’s one of the first times ever that my past has been happy to see me.

Maurice releases her arm.  “It can’t be.  Can it?”

Lucy begins to cry, black tears streaming down her alabaster cheeks.  “Silly brother!  Smell her!”

Maurice begins to lean in, to Lucy’s right side but then freezes.  I look down, confused, to see a small rugged knife, welded by Morena, sticking into Maurice’s shirt.  Morena raises her head quickly as Maurice’s eyes turn slowly toward her.

“Back up,” Morena commands.

“Put that away, Morena,” I chide, completely aware of its futility.

“Give me one good reason, Sophie.”

DSC02547“Allow me,” Maurice seethes.  “First, because my Tante Giselle told you to.  Second, because it would do you little good.”

He grabs her wrist and leans his face close into hers before jabbing the knife into his side without a word or a flinch.  A small wetness appears on his shirt, nothing more.  He removes the knife and twists her wrist until she cries out.

“Maurice!” I object.

He releases her wrist, stands woodenly.  Lucy looks confused but goes to him, pokes him gently in the side, watches him grimace with an arched brow.  I look to Morena who had managed to cut her bonds without anyone knowing.  She rubs her wrist for a moment but then frees me.

“I take it you three know each other.”

Maurice sulks and Lucy puts her comforting arms around him.  They begin to move together in unison, looking down at Morena and myself, a unified front.

“Yes, may I introduce the Burim twins, Lucy and Maurice?”

Reunions aren’t for the weak

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by vampirony

“Sophie?”

Morena grabs for my shoulder as I sway.  I blink and the sensation of my whole being off-shifting two inches in my head is gone.  The murmuring remains.  There’s someone here, someone familiar.  But instinctively I know that, in this lifetime, I’m too inexperienced to be able to sort it out.  Friend or foe?  I honestly don’t know.  For the first time since I’ve met her, I’m glad to have Morena within reach.

She’s staring intently down at me when I finally clear the cobwebs and meet her eyes.  I give her a meager smile.

“What just happened?  You just seemed to, I dunno, disappear for a sec there.”

“I’m alright,” I say and start to follow the pull towards the door of the shop The Crimson Kukri.  Its sign says:  The world’s only 24 hour gaming store.  In the same building is DayGlow, advertising 24 hour tanning.  The irony, if there is a vampire involved, is not lost on me.

It’s not smart but I can’t resist it.  I need to know what this is…who this is.  I need to know now.

“Hey!” Morena keeps a hold of my arm, stops me short, pulls my head around due to the force of it.  I lock eyes with her.  “What, you got a sudden urge to tan?”

“Just have to follow a lead.”

She follows along as well, although I’m not sure I should give her credit or blame for that.  The door to the shop seems unremarkable enough except for the weathered, solid oak frame.  I feel it vibrating towards me.  It’s enchanted somehow.  I push the door open easily and Morena and I walk into the store.  There’s a small chime as we cross the plane, so simple and familiar it’s almost sinister.

The shop is brightly lit, short beat-up wooden shelves stuffed with gaming books and various supplies.  There’s an entire wall of dice of every color and pattern in bins with signs for Chessex and Gamescience.  Large surveillance mirrors hang in both front corners.  I can feel Morena tense up behind me, her head moving from corner to corner.

Straight in front of us sitting ramrod straight behind the front counter is a very comely young women with jet black hair hanging straight around DSC02717her face, obscuring it.  Her black t-shirt has an caricature of some sort of marmot looking creature, sayingFUHyrax‘.  Her head  is half turned and bent, looking at a computer screen, black fingernail of her index finger clicking on a crimson red mouse.  She doesn’t look directly at us but takes a very deep breath in through her nose.  Her hand comes off the mouse and goes under the counter.  I see her shoulders tense.  Morena sees it too, probably even sees the twitch of the muscle in the woman’s alabaster arm as she likely grabs something behind the counter.  Morena unsnaps her gun from her back holster.

It all happens in a flash before I can say a word.  

The woman’s eyes turn black and she snarls at us, fangs bared.  Metal bars fall over the store front locking us in. 

A full six seconds behind, Morena reacts, shouting, “Down!”  She pushes me down behind a case, her gun coming out.  I turn toward her as I fall and before I hit the floor, I see a inky black streak of smoke explode next to her and suddenly, a young dark haired, well-dressed man appears beside her, snarling.

He tosses her aside before she can even turn and she slams into the dice display, richoceting off the wall and landing in a thump, motionless on the floor.  The young man gives her a snarl and then turns to me, stepping slowly over to me, glaring down.  He inhales through his nose and his  mouth opens in a fully fang-filled grimace.  It’s the last thing I see before he kicks me in the face, knocking me out.

Cohorts Anonymous

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by vampirony

Meeting a client’s jealous cohort/girlfriend ranks up there in my favorite things right after meeting a vampire lord in his lair on Halloween and offering to negotiate a treaty between werewolfs and vampires in a Belizan jungle.  In other words, I wouldn’t call it my best move.  But I’m one and one in these type of high risk choices and at the very least, dealing with humans has always seemed to be more about letting them know they’re still ranked higher than an outsider like me than about an actual grievance.

Companions are always wildcards.  Remember Renfield?  Not strictly the book version but more of the classic movie version.  Crazy and selfless.  I’ve met those kinds of  companions.  I’ve also meet the kind that were talented in letting their vampire think that it was all about the vamp but was really all about that sense of power the companion inherited being in the company of One Who Is Vampire.  Those were the companions I steered clear of…many of them wind up dead by their original vampire or by the next vamp that comes along to overthrow a territory.

So as I watch Morena empty her pistol into the target with a precise and smoldering calm, I wonder at what she is doing with Jesper, how they met, and what past man in her history had not listened to her advice.  And lived to regret it.  She’s wearing her all black uniform which I guess she does out of utility but serves to make her look sleek and dangerous.  She’s well kept without looking frivolous.  I suspect that she gets hit on by drunk guys at bars that can’t tell she’d just as soon kick them in the nuts as talk to them.  If she even goes to bars.  Somehow, I can’t see her wasting her energy.

She finishes her clip and I lift up my ear muffs.  “You wanted to see me?”on_range_lg

She ignores me, replaces her clip, and begins firing again, forcing me to slap the muffs back in place.  I can’t tell where she’s aiming on her target but I can imagine it’s dead in the heart.  Her look from the night before…that’s what I’ve been focusing on.  Not any of the other things about that night.  I haven’t scribed notes.  Haven’t dared to yet.  Too fresh.

She finishes another clip and finally sets her pistol down, bringing the target forward.  I can’t help but step forward to see the results.  As I suspected, she’s shot so many tight shots that it’s tore a huge hole right through the heart of the target.  I remove my safety gear. 

“Nice,” I say out loud, under my breath.  This is what I have to deal with.  I find myself wondering if she knows those skills are useless against the supernatural.  I clear my throat.  “You wanted to see me?”

She continues to ignore me, doing something with her weapon.

“Fine.”  I turn on my heel and start to go.  I have a limit to my patience too.

“I don’t want you to see him again.”  I stop walking and turn back to her.  She’s slowing removing her safety equipment.  She’s not looking at me.  I think she’s embarrassed that she feels this way.  “I’m beginning to think it was a bad idea contacting you.”  Her hand rests on her gun.

“Why?  Because you think my helping him is going to make you less useful?”

That stings her and I’m stunned to her the words fall out of my mouth.  Where is this emotion coming from?

Her eyes flick up to me, liking the challenge.  “I don’t like you attitude.”

I take a step forward.  “Good.  Because I’m getting sick of yours.  You were the one that wanted me to help him and now that it seems to be doing some good, you feel threatened.  Dare I wonder why you have no human boyfriend?”

Her hand flinches over the gun but she stops herself.

“I don’t make a habit out of counseling humans but you should consider getting some.  You’re wound tighter that he is. ”  I’m done feeling sorry for her.  So strange how quickly that shifted.  I begin to wonder in some part of my mind when the pissing part of this contest will start.

Whether it’s my standing up to her or her instinct with the gun, I can see her resolve slipping.  “Yeah that would be a great conversation.”

“Morena, you have to stop thinking of me as competition.  I’ve been hired to help a client.”

“He doesn’t look at you like that.”

I throw up my hands and turn to go, so not wanting to cover this subject.

“You were right.”

That stops me from walking out.  Turns me back around.

She continues.  “I’m new at this.  Jesper told me I would have to learn to accept him with other women, that it was just in a vam…his kind’s nature to have more than one, uh, companion.  I guess you’re just my first taste of that.”

“I’m not sleeping with him.”

“But you will.  Eventually.”

A pained smile crosses my face, probably hoping to cover the blushing.  I shake my head.  “What makes you think that?”

She assess me for a moment.  “Because I think you protest too much.  You feel it too.  I can see that much.  It’s different this time.  For you.  Oh you’re putting up your guards, maybe even will put up a good fight but he’ll get through it.”  She sighs.  “He just gets to you.”

She needs to know so much more.  Positive vampires just draw you in.  She’s never met anything else, doesn’t know anything else.  it’s unfair how special she thinks he is.  Well, except the glowing eyes part, of course.  Which she doesn’t even know.  And now isn’t the time to think about that.

Morena begins packing up her things, thinking she’s had the last word.

“Jesper isn’t the first vamp I’ve met nor will he be the last.  The more you know about them, the less fantastical they’ll seem.  Believe me, it’ll almost get ordinary, their abilities.”

“Right.”

We share a look for a moment.  It’s a tenuous peace at best, one that I recognize I need to work on.  I can’t proceed with his treatment at night while waging war with his companion during the day.  At some point, tests will be needed that will strain her trust.  Probably sooner than later.  She’s looking at my amulet, much like he had.

“You wanna tell me how you guys met?” I ask, hoping to find some common ground.

“You wanna tell me why you’re so certain of your own immortality?”

Common ground indeed.  This subject was so much easier.

“Let’s take a walk.”