Archive for Fiction

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 – Lucy: Lesson Number One

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by vampirony

“I suppose I should catch you up. It has been ages.”

Lucy stands, walks the room while she collects her thoughts. Or rather, reviews what she intends to say. It’s about 2AM; She’s had lots of time to think waiting for me to come to.

“That would be nice. I’ll save my myriad of questions about how you’ve grown for later.”

She tosses a careful look back. “Oh, that. It’s simple really. We don’t drink human blood. Therefore we age more quickly than others that do.”

I think my jaw drops.

“I can tell you’re surprised.”

“I never knew there was such a tight tie between taking human blood and the aging process.” I try to think through the fog, to let all the obvious other conclusions fall into place but they won’t. What is it you do for a concussion? I’m trying to remember.

“Oh yeah. But it’s strange, you know. After a few decades, Maurice and I didn’t miss it, didn’t really crave it. ” She snickers. “He calls us Vegan Vamps.”

I laugh. “That is funny.” I take a deep breath. For some reason, there’s more to this that is hurting me than what logically makes sense. “What else?”

She finally decides to alight on the desk. The moment is like a murder of crows coalescing in one gentle but awful swoop. She waits watching me for a moment before I pick up on it.

“Yes, I guessed earlier that you are both negative vampires. Perhaps even…”

She holds her hand up. “I know, I know. And maybe that’s why I followed you. My senses are more acute than Maurice’s and given time to reflect, I was able to distinguish two creature scents on you, one that I’ve picked up before recently.”

“Our lovely Carpathian. So he’s recent to the area.  How recent?”

“Well, I’ve only noticed him in the last few months. You know, Mo and I often do recons just to know who’s about.” She shakes her head. “And I have to admit, we’re both curious about our heritage. We tell each other not to investigate vampires that move into our area…but we’ve both been guilty of it. This guy, he’s dangerous.”

I rub my neck, “Don’t I know it. You really were just feet from me?”

“I know, I wanted to step in but then I remembered how angry you would get when we interfered with your fate. I honestly didn’t know what to do.”

“No, you did what I always taught you. To hide.”

Allies Eternal

Posted in Vampirony with tags , , , on October 27, 2009 by vampirony

My ears are ringing and I feel clammy. I’ve fainted, a feeling I’m too familiar with. But I’m on a comfortable riveted leather chaise, a black trench coat draped over me. As I stir, try to lift my head, the Stars and Stripes start to play like a brass band in my forebrain.

“Ouch!”

“Auntie, try not to move.” A hand forces me gently back down on the chaise.

It’s Lucy. And relief floods me. It’s not the relief of seeing an old friend whom you’ve been parted from. It’s difficult to explain to those who don’t believe in the cycles of reincarnation, the evolution of our souls. Dr. Kaga once tried to put it into words for me: It’s the warmest feeling of knowing you’ve ever had coming from a deep but open space where there is no doubt, no fear, just true and complete belief. The moment is fleeting, ships passing in the night, a cherry blossom in full bloom.

But as relieved as I am to see her again so soon, it troubles me.

“Tell me you did not follow me and share a room with another vampire.” It’s more a statement of fact than chiding. The moment I say it, I know it’s true.

In days gone by, she might’ve bowed her head, looked embarrassed. Instead, she hikes up the coat around me as she simply says, “You were not fit enough for your meeting. And I was never in any danger.”

“Oh?”

She meets my eyes. “I can become completely invisible to others.” She smiles wanly. “After so many years of hiding, I have perfected it. I was never more than a hand’s reach from you.”

I slowly digest this. Against humans, I can totally believe this. But against a powerful vampire like Skovajsa?

She sees my doubt. “You were receiving texts on your phone. That’s why you were distracted. And you were about to answer when he attacked.”

I try to sit up again and this time she assists me.

“It was foolish. I can’t remember you being so lax.” It’s her turn to admonish.

“Well, you can’t say I haven’t paid for it.”

“Auntie.”

I brush her hair and pat her cheek. Lives divided and reunited. There is some magic at work here.

“Was it only for my health that you followed me?”

Her face becomes guarded in a way children’s faces cannot. It’s yet another reminder of where I have failed. I’m avoiding the flashback caused by what is clearly now a concussion. It’s too soon to go there and yet, it’s bubbling underneath, especially with these maternal thoughts for Lucy and her brother Maurice. Charges I loved dearly and lost with my own death to disease.

“I cannot believe that you are here. It seems Fate still drives our lives together, even if death tore you from us.” She exhales heavily. “You must help Maurice. He struggles with what he is becoming.”

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?”