Archive for psychology

Universe 1 Vampire Psychologist 0

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , on June 20, 2011 by vampirony

The first response from the Universe I received after our little chat came as a knock on my door just an hour after sundown. I had slept all through the day and awoke groggy and drooling into my pillow. I raised my head from the pillow and watched as a paper was pushed under my door. It would’ve seemed strange at this hour had I been fully in my mind.

But as I was still woolgathering from dreams spanning the centuries, I just figured it might be worthwhile to check out the paper. So I crawled out of the covers, switched the bedside lamp on, and shuffled over to the door in my premium hotel slippers, curious to see the Universe’s response to my defiance.

There was a room service cart complete with a coffee service, an ample silver lidded tray, and an orange bubbly drink in a champagne flute. Confused, I checked down both directions of the hall, seeing no one. Looking back at the cart, I saw a card and picked it up.

“Miss Quinn,

For being one of our frequent stay guests, here’s breakfast on us!

The Management”

With that, I shrugged and wheeled the cart into my room.

I got comfortably seated on the bed and uncovered the tray. Pancakes with maple syrup, scrambled eggs dusted with cheese, heart slices of bacon, a fat sausage link, wheat bread lightly toasted, and country potatoes steamed and smelled delicious as I set the tray lid aside.

The Universe had decided to respond to defiance with…breakfast. I smiled just as my stomach growled. A hot version of the most important meal of the day seemed just the thing, even if it was almost 11 PM. I was about to spear the sausage link when I took note of the bubbly orange concoction.

I took up the champagne flute and sipped it.

The Universe toasted my defiant spirit with a Mimosa. I knocked it back, felt it burn all the way down to my empty stomach and resolved to relieve the discomfort with a mouthful of banana pancake. Which I followed with that speared sausage link, and proceeded to challenge the sin of gluttony with wild abandon.

It didn’t take but a few moments before I felt very sleepy. At first, I’d thought it was all those carbs hitting my stomach like anchors showered in fairy dusted powdered sugar but after my eyelids kept drooping, it became as clear as it could in my befuddled mind that the fairy dust was not of the naturally occurring dietary kind.

With the knowledge that dumb arrogance would be trumped by belligerent righteousness, I groaned as I toppled over in bed, my whole body going numb. My eyes spotted the empty champagne glass, as if in a spotlight of a cosmic boxing ring. In this corner, the Universe, aka The Management, intended to strike back with sugary carbohydrates and spiked Mimosas.

“Shit,” was all I could manage before I fell back asleep.

Remembering How It Started

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by vampirony

October 1883 Darcie Sherbourne meets Lord Percival Valerian. February 1886 She dies.

Late Fall 838 A young Darjeeling woman of the aristocratic caste meets a Rakshasa prince, becoming engaged weeks later. Early Spring 839, day of her wedding, she dies.

There were memories floating around, still unbound to a life, still as of yet unidentified in time. Some, more terrifying than others. Thick, rusty chains and screams echoing in a damp, stone dungeon, somewhere, sometime in Paris. The sounds of sheep bleating in the morning mist, before the heat of the day. Yards and yards of raw silk bundles stretched out before my bamboo cane in Japan. The sporadic memories that welled out of me all started from a single spring.

Late summer, 2006, a small community college in Ohio, a woman recovering from a tragedy sneaks into a special lecture for an advanced comparative religions class. Dr. Kaga, a world renowned expert on religious meditation, PhD in Cognitive Psychology, was speaking on internal alchemy, the Taoist practice of developing the mind and spirit for immortality. He led the half full lecture hall in a series of breathing techniques which left most of the students becoming very sleepy and yawning.

I, on the other hand, had collapsed in the back of the room, not to be found until after all the students had left and Dr. Kaga was collecting his things. He had heard my cell phone chirping. He had kindly helped me into a nearby chair and assured my panicked husband Dan that I would be safely sent home.

“Do you remember what happened?” he asked me.

“I’m sorry?”

“What were you doing when you collapsed?” he asked politely. He reminded me of someone I knew. But that would be impossible. Maybe someone I knew from a movie or television show. This was before I knew of my pasts.

I touched the back of my head, feeling for a bump. “I was doing your breathing.”

“Would you mind showing me? Those techniques are not known for causing young ladies to faint. Perhaps you were not exhaling properly.”

It was an odd request but as I was a student on scholarship taking a few summer courses and sneaking into much more expensive talks, the least I could do was humor him. So I began to breathe and black closed in on me once more.

When I came to, I was on my back again, this time with my legs raised up in the chair I had been previously sitting in. When I tried to sit up, Dr. Kaga gently pushed my shoulder back to the floor.

“I’ve called an ambulance. They should arrive shortly. Have you had a head injury recently?”

I broke out into a cold sweat. “Please, please no more doctors.” I agitatedly kicked the chair away and tried to get to my feet.

Relax,” he said.

I want to see no more doctors,” I hissed back.

He started and sat up bolt straight in his seat. I stopped struggling, realizing that I felt awful, my head was splitting open and nausea welled up. Purse strap wrapped around my wrist, I clamored to my feet, forgetting my backpack, and made a quick exit to the nearest bathroom, just outside the lecture hall. I threw up in the nearest toilet and then spent a few minutes chilling my fevered brow on the outside of the bowl while it flushed.

Feeling marginally better, I made my way to the sink, rinsed my mouth out, and then splashed my face with some water. I popped a couple of breath mints into my mouth, and then fished my makeup bag out of my purse. As I searched for my powder, Dr. Kaga opened the door a crack and called to me.

“Is it ok to come in?”

“Yes.”

He stepped inside, walking with great quiet and care toward the sinks to stand just behind me. I’d made it to applying lip gloss before he uttered another word.

“Do you remember anything you said while you were under?”

“Excuse me?”

He took a measured step towards me. “I don’t want to alarm you. Nor would I like you to faint again. Especially since I cancelled the ambulance request. But you were not speaking English before. It was Japanese. Do you remember that?”

He stood close, just behind me. I think he was readying himself to catch me if I fell again.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I substitute teach Spanish at the school sometimes but I don’t know any other languages besides that.”

He caught my eye in the mirror in a way I’ll never forget, his whole demeanor becoming calm and soothing, like a confessor or a priest. The palm of his hand touched the middle of my back, not with pressure, but just touching there, offering support, understanding, solace.

I felt a panic rise up.

He said something in what I assumed was Japanese. But it sounded foreign.

I shook my head.

“May I?” he pointed to my makeup bag.

I nodded, not even knowing what I was giving him permission to do. I just stood there, his right hand against my back, his left digging in my makeup bag, my left hand holding the lip gloss cap, my right holding the gloss halfway to my parted mouth.

“Sometimes, it’s better to let other parts of the brain work on a problem for awhile.” He brought out the eyeliner pen, the kind with an end like a little paintbrush. He took off the cap and handed it to me as I set down the lip gloss cap in the sink.

He stretched my left hand with the eyeliner pen out and touched it to the mirror while my eyes were riveted to his face. He was humming. Or maybe singing. I could almost make out the words.

“Did you really cancel the ambulance? No doctors are coming?” The eyeliner pen moved against the mirror as he stepped back, just his right hand still on my back. My head turned to follow him, my body remained straight forward.

He had the kindest eyes and a very nice baritone. His lips started to move into words and he seemed to finish a verse before assuring me. “Yes, no doctors.”

My right arm dropped the gloss into the sink and rested there.

“But you’re a doctor.”

“Not that type.”

“I suppose you’re going to tell me I’m crazy too.”

His eyes flicked to the mirror and then the most genuine smile formed across his tan, wizened face. “No, I believe you are most sane, Ms. Quinn.”

“You just met me and I fainted in your lecture. Because of breathing. Why would you think that?”

“Because an old soul reaching forward into a new life is a very rare and beautiful thing, Ms. Quinn. It should be cherished and nurtured so that it may come into its full bloom. But sometimes, it needs quiet to lose itself enough to be heard.”

He gestured to the mirror and I turned my head back to see black eyeliner arranged in a most beautiful design. And my left hand holding the pen.

“Wha—What does it say?” I asked in hush tones.

As it turned out, Dr. Kaga hadn’t known exactly either. It had taken his expert several weeks to decipher. But in the end, it hadn’t mattered too much. The dam had been cracked and Dr. Kaga had been able to help me control the damage by lowering the proverbial reservoir of water. Weeks of narrative therapy let some of the most pressing memories out while allowing me to sketch others into existence, making them available for translation.

By the time the winter had arrived and I couldn’t drive the hundred miles to school every day, Dr. Kaga and I had developed on online correspondence, sending me the translation of what I wrote along with the description on how old it was.

An expert in Japanese writing identified the early kanji characters phrased with some local Japanese spoken influence and dated it circa 410 CE. Kofun era, when it was rumored that writing first began in Japan. It was the earliest identified memory I had from all those we freed that autumn.

There were two books most important in my life. The first was the Memento, its format dictated to me when I gained possession of it sometime after all that. There were the fact pages, scribbled notes over the years. Stories and myths here and there. Then there were the more emotive pages, like Lucy and Maurice’s. But timelines, dates, descriptions of who I was when I met them, no, that wasn’t in there.

That information lay in my case notes; simple leather bound volumes of ruled paper. The first volume started as the record of my narrative therapy which I had extended to include my own treatment of vampires. In two years of searching for clients and doing what I could, two years of my own stories had gone ignored. Somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten what had kept me sane. It was the ability to let the memories out to blossom.

So I wrote an entry in my notes, one just for me, only about me. It began like this:

July 26th, 2009

Not able to divine treatment for Case #13-4, afraid this is a lost cause. The paradox of how to save a vampire may be to let another perish. Discovered today I know Turkish. Perhaps the recent memories of spices and sand came from that place. Must remember to investigate.

Realize these feelings for Case #13-5, Jesper, run deep. We have met before. God help us both stick around long enough to remember it.

And it was at that moment, I took particular notice of the Kukri that Morena had left with me. It was as if the thing held itself up and said Hi! Remember me? I picked it up and felt a queasiness move all through me. It was obviously an anti-vampire weapon. It was ridiculous to think I would have a use for it.

No, the absurd thing was that in this case I was beginning to believe the most heartfelt and profound action would be no action at all. To let the Universe have its way with me, bend me to its needs and whims.

You hear that Universe? I’m not going to fight you. You have me in an untenable position. Instead of moving a piece, I prefer to let my clock run out, force you out of hiding your purpose.

It was about that moment a cacophony of crows could be heard outside. It raised the hairs on the back of my neck so that I went over and opened the door, looking out. Under a streetlight, I could see a crowd of them fighting around the dumpster toward the back of the lot. There seemed to be about twenty of them. Almost four and twenty.

Hmm, but no pies. I put my hand to my throat and remembered that my necklace was still missing. I’d given it to Nick to give to Lucy when she awoke from her Rigor Dormitus. It seemed an age ago. It was just one week. I should call her, make sure her ears were healing.

I closed the door, went back to my desk, and a memory came back to me. When Lucy was little, she would leave me gifts on days when I had to be awake during the daylight hours. She’d hide it somewhere I could find it and wrap a black ribbon around the gift so I would know it was from her. A silver spoon. A posy of lilac. She was my dark little cherub and I could always count on her leaving me something. She’d once found a knife bayonet in the forest and wrapped it in a black lace ribbon.

In a way, I wondered if the Kukri was from her, via Morena. Except no ribbon. I wondered if she’d forgotten all about that or folded the memory away. It seemed such a small thing to remember. Like a lover’s kiss hidden behind a veil.

I wrote both memories in the case notes. Then after a quick text to Lucy, I managed to down a few bites of the food that Nick had left behind. An inscribed anti-vampire weapon. Turkish fluency. A vampire orphan.

Maybe he wasn’t responsible for the killing around here. Maybe something else was going on. Maybe there was another vampire involved.

The crows made a bunch of noise as if to argue that thought. I wasn’t in a position to know. I sighed. I hated waiting as much as I hated failing. But there was nothing for it. When one has no clear action to take, the only action is stillness.

I packed the kukri with me, tossing it into the same non-specific bag as I’d found it along with my case notes and my laptop. Back at my hotel room, I started a hot bubble bath, took as much Melatonin as was safe, followed by one of the little bottles of merlot in the mini-fridge, soaked until I felt drowsy, and slid into Egyptian cotton sheets that reminded me of nothing.

Alright, Universe, your move.

What the eyes can’t see

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

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

A collective gasp and a whimpering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you alright?” he asked.

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

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

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

I slapped her arm away.  “Bad girl!”

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

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

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

She lowered her gun and shrugged.

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case #13 – Jesper: Happy Vampires

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

Strange the difference a few hours makes.  Just a few short hours ago, Jesper the Vampire had assaulted me and was threatening to sink his elegant fangs into my brachial artery.  Now, we are laughing together on the couch as he admits to me what a quick search on the Internet had served up from my business card.

“So wait, you knew exactly who I was when I walked in?”

“Indeed.  I found your web site.”

“And you just happened to find out about my being in town how?”

There it is again.  That smug look that he can somehow carry on his face without seeming so…smug.  Maybe that’s just how he smiles.  I should know better than to trust a smiling vampire.  But then again, isn’t that what I’m ultimately after?

“There is little Morena does that does not make it back to my ears.”  I’m astonished he’s being so open with me, especially in regards to her.  It seems almost like unfaithfulness.  He’s not talking ill of her.  She’s just inexperienced and I remember my earlier concern about her.  Yeah, it’d be best to find ways to warn her, without undercutting whatever this “progressive” relationship he mentioned before is.

“Ah, a vampire stalker?  Nice way to play against type.”  I find myself unable to filter sitting with him, chatting.  This is not my normal interview.  I don’t normally chat with vampires. 

“Only protecting my interests.  And hers.  Her friend Camille was concerned she wouldn’t be able to resist seeking you out.”

“And that you’d object to it.  Which you did, of course.”

“I suspect if you’ve had as much dealings with vampires as you’ve suggested, I don’t have to explain the sanctity of our arrangements with mortals.  But I thought it a good opportunity to test her mettle.  I need to know who I can trust.  And I wanted to test you too.  If you were true to your advertising, you not would be easily intimidated by me.”

Intimidated, no.  Attracted, yes.  Damn, the fact I’m thinking this right now is bad bad bad.  “So I passed your test.  Did she?”

He didn’t even blink when he changed the subject.  Just lazily rubbed his fingers along the top of the couch very near my shoulder.  “Why isn’t it that you haven’t asked me my age?  Mortals seem so fascinated by that.”

“Nice deflection.  Please.  I wouldn’t be very good at this if I wasn’t a decent guess of these things.”  I can deflect too.  I couldn’t help tossing a look at his hand.  “Besides, we’ve got to leave some of the mystery for our next session.”  I can apparently still flirt as well.

His smile deepens.  “I’ll try not to disappoint.”

“I suspect that won’t be hard for you.”

There is a soft knock on the door.  The door opens after a brief moment and Morena eases in.  She pauses at the door, taking us in, then approaches.  I smile at her to try and let her know it’s all ok.  Then I notice Jesper is doing the same.  She stuffs her hands in her pockets.

“It’s almost dawn,” she states.  Then she and Jesper exchange a prolonged look.

“I no longer fear the dreams,” he says plainly.

“Will you still have them?”

He looks to me in question.  I take my cue and stand.  “Unknown.  I’d like to run some tests in our next visit.  Better to assess your current state.”

“What is there to know?  I am—-.”

“Yeah, yeah.  You may not realize it but I’ve classified over twenty different strains of vampire from around the world.  It would help to know which one you are to help define a more complete treatment.”

He stands up and while not exceedingly tall like modern Nordic men, he still towers over me.  “And what is the goal?”

“To make you a happy, healthy vampire.” I smile sweetly.

He smiles back.  “Of course.”  He walks me past Morena to the door, opening it for me and just before I can head through, leans against the door jam, his arm preventing me from going.  “Am I not meant to walk the night in infernal, eternal damnation?” his voice low, tempting.

“Not on my watch.”

“Happy vampires.  Seems sacrilegious.”

“Hey, you can have lemons or you can make lemonade.”

He laughs, letting his arm fall slowly from the doorway.  I slide out.  “Tomorrow evening then?”  I turn to look back at him.  He leisurely leans against the door jam, head to the side, arms crossed.   Behind him, I see Morena standing stiffly, not wanting to watch, except doing so out of her periphery.

“Sorry.  Another patient.  Thursday?”

He nods.  I can tell I’m already looking forward to it but I’m not sure why.

“Sweet dreams,” I whisper.  Then I turn brusquely away, hurrying down the hall.  I hear the door close when I’m almost to the elevator.  I get in and let out a huge breath I didn’t know I’d been holding in.

Yeah, lying to myself already.  Not good.  Damn.  Charming and attractive.  Exactly not what I needed.

Case #13 – Jesper: You Make Limoncello…

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by vampirony

Ok, stay calm.  Vampires don’t faint from lemons.  I wave her away, look down at Jesper the Vampire…who’s face is frozen in awe, eyes now closed lightly, mouth gaping, fangs still partly retracted.  He takes a shaky breath.

“He’s coming around.  Ease up there, killer, he’s going to be fine.  Just give him some room.”  Lucky accident that I’m blocking her view and she can’t get around us.  It gives me time to think.  But as I’m drawing a blank, his eyes open to slits, golden light leaking out.  Ohhhhhhhh, not expected.

“Was that expected?” Morena demands, gun still pointed.

I lie.  “A little more intense but yeah.”

Intense my….I have to figure out what to do to keep her from seeing his eyes.  It’s flipping me out so no telling how many times she’ll shoot me for it.  This is soooooo not normal.DSC02644

Jesper the Vampire, laid low by a lemon, suddenly smiles.  “That’s quite a punch.”

My exhale is half-laugh and all relief.  “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Those things should only be taken under care of a, um, vampire psychologist.”

He laughs, grinning deeply, his fangs over his lips, pinching him just there.  Even partially retracted, they’re the longest fangs I’ve ever seen.  Damn, that sounds dirty.

“How do you feel?” I ask, probably with little of the scientific decorum I’d like to think I still have.

His head shakes slowly from side to side.  “No words.”

Ok, so maybe it’s all over and fine now.

I can’t help myself as I peel open one of his eyelids.  His entire eyeball is radiating, like the light was coming from inside his skull.  I let his eyelid slide back and brush an errant lock of hair off his face.  His pallor seems almost human.  Was his hair always so…golden?  Maybe I’d thought it auburn in darker light?

“Have you already fed tonight?”

Jesper’s fangs retract and he licks his lips, seemingly savoring the odd sensation of light.  He made no move to move at all, was just stillness.  “Hmm, yes.”

“Good.  Your feeding will be a bit more intense for a few days, your fangs will be extra sensitive.  Like you’ve gone to the dentist.”

He laughs, open mouthed.

“Jesper?”  Morena.  She sounds scared and yet calmer.  Probably from hearing him laugh…well, most of the time, hearing a vampire laugh is more frightening than their growls.  It means they are totally at ease.  And as a human, you never really want that.  But I remind myself she’s a rookie and doesn’t know enough to know to be afraid of it yet.

I take his wrist, feel a pulse, which isn’t entirely uncommon for recently fed vamps.  I notice a signet ring on one finger and a silver ring on another.  The silver ring has a raised circle with a dot in the middle.  It makes me feel…uneasy.

“Yes, Morena.  I am….unharmed.”  He opens his eyes and for a moment, I get caught full faced with glowing amber orbs.  Then he blinks and blue-grey eyes are appraising me.  “Am I not?”

Uhhhh…..

“Morena, if you’re not going to shoot anyone, can you put that thing away and help me get him to the couch?”

She safeties her weapon and puts it back in its place.  Then she helps me move Jesper over to sit on the couch.  He’s lighter than he should be for his height and weight.  He slumps there, head resting on the back of the couch.  As Morena begins to lean over to him, I butt in her way and sit next to him on the couch, arm resting beside his head.  The next part is tricky.  A large part of me, probably the more rational part, wants to call this a night.  But I’ve not yet shied away from a client in need and regardless of my reaction to him, he has no one else to work him through this….whatever this is.  And my curiosity..well, yeah, cats and all.

He moves his head to look at me, smiling still, like he’s going to ask me for a cigarette.

I forestall that.  “I need to ask you some questions.”

“As I do you.”

“Uh-uh, not how this works.  You’re the patient, remember?”

“You already have my utmost attention.”

“Good.”  I think.  Of course, vampire senses being what they are, he can probably sense…ok, let’s not go there.  I turn to Morena.  This is going to sting.  “He’s fine.  You can leave now.”

“What?”

“Patient privilege.  Can’t have you standing here while I consult.”

She looks ready to get her gun back out.  “You listen here you little—.”

“Morena,” Jesper says softly and I can feel what’s coming.  And so can she.

“Don’t,” she asks of him.

bubblesIn Vox Compulsum, he simple says, “Leave us.”  I’m immune to the voice but even I can hear the ripples of suggestion guided by champagne bubbles and jasmine in his voice.  I watch Morena.  She’s strong, very strong.  She begins to step backwards, toward the door without a word but her face shows every ounce of anger she possesses at this moment.

“Bastard.”  There’s no passion there in her voice; it’s all in her face.  But she backs all the way to the door, then gives up fighting it and hastily leaves, slamming the door. 

I notice the complete quiet and still in the room, his influence gone as easily as waves brushing away writing in the sand.  He’s very powerful and very old to use his abilities with such grace and ease.

“She’s angry,” he says.

“She’s upset.  There’s a difference.”  I turn back to him, see him sitting upright now, all visible effects of the lemon gone.

“You’re a psychologist to human servants too?”

“You’ve heard of me?”

“I suspected she might contact you.”

“First off, she’s a companion, cohort at the worst, not a servant and I expect I’ll never have to explain the difference to you.  Second, it doesn’t take a psychologist to see how worried she was that I’d harmed you.”

Oh, and the sheer jealousy on her face as she left?  We gonna leave that out of the discussion I hope.

“My relationship with Morena is definitely…progressive.”

“We’ll get to that all in good time.  But first, I have more questions for you.  About these dreams.”

He settled into the couch, making himself more comfortable, his arm going up on the back as I moved mine down.  His mouth curved in a half-smile, possibly from the movement.  “Then ask away.”

Into the Memento: Nick Part 2

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

So around the back of the building we went to find a steep rickety flight of stairs. 

The girl points.  “Up there.  No one’s there for months so don’t blame us for the mess.”

“Thanks, kid,” Nick says.

She walks off, mumbling something that sounds a lot like “Jerk-off” in Russian.  Why I remember that from my community college class, I’m not sure.

Clearing his throat, Nick draws my attention as he begins to read in a very pseudo-professional voice, “Ms. Quinn, this property is a pristine rental office, once home to Bellevue’s first Hispanic dentist.”

I can’t help but smile.  He’s sure making a go of it.  “Well, then, let’s take a look.”

Nick reads as he heads up, me following:  “This property, a former dentist’s office, offers 850 square feet of space.  It opens with a spacious reception are, has 3 additional offices or patient rooms, a small break room, 3/4 bath, and storage/utility room.  Lots of windows lend it a bright airy feeling.  Recently updated HVAC.”

We don’t get far.  At the landing, Nick struggles with a keyring full of keys, none of which seem to work.  “Huh.  I coulda sworn.”

I fold my arms patiently.

Nick sighs.  “Oh Hell.”

He jimmies the door open with practiced skill then blithely ignored my raised eyebrow.

“Ah, well, obviously we’ll need to get that lock fixed.”

And in following with the rest of this appointment, the spacious office is revealed to be an utter dump, cluttered and dusty from disuse.  The drop ceiling is missing tiles, the floor is strewn with abandoned boxes of assorted medical nonsense.  A stack of unopened boxes of latex gloves sits in the middle of reception.  Whatever windows there were are either boarded or dry-walled over.  Convenient for me.

“Ah, charming.”

Nick checks the paper again.  “I don’t understand.  It says the last occupant was six months ago.  This place could be hiding Osama.”

“Or Jimmy Hoffa.”

“Who’s that?”

I shake my head.

“I’m really sorry.  If I’d know, I would have maybe had my brother come by and clean up.  He owns a cleaning service.  They do a really great job.  The specialize in medical facilities and labs.”

latexDespite the disarray, the place isn’t that bad.  The windows are mostly covered, the offices are of good size, and with this and the deli being the only occupants for the small building, no one to hear anything strange.  I’m taking stock of any other updates when I hear Nick sigh.

“I’ve really screwed this up, haven’t I?”

“How long have you been in training?”

“About 3 weeks.  This is only my second showing.”

“And the first?”

“Was much nicer than this.  It was a slam dunk.”

I smile.

“You don’t believe me.  How could you?  I’m wearing this stupid suit because the cleaners screwed up my order, my boss’s jackhole manager hands me a stack of day-old printouts and tells me to go run up some business while my boss is out sick.  I must look and sound pretty pathetic.”

I decide to let him roll on in his pity party.

“Here’s the deal.  There’s, like, a million years of cobwebs in here and I wouldn’t doubt Aragog is lurking somewhere in the back.  With the deli downstairs, I guarantee it’ll smell like borscht at all hours and from the look of it, they cater down to the locals.  I swear I thought to check for missing cat signs when I parked.  But I can get my brother to come in and get this place so clean you could make microchips off the floor.  All for a low price.  And the windows, well, I’ll figure something out.”

“Sounds like a lot of effort for you personally.”

“I really need a break.”

“Tell you what.  How much do you make at this job?”

“Not nearly enough.”

“Saving up for something special?”

I get the wary look from him.  “Yeah, art school.”

“Hmm, you get me this property for four months no strings and all the other things you already said, ready by end of day Monday, and I’ll pay you 800 a week to manage the office for me while I’m in town.  I’ll pay you a flat two grand on signing as an advance.”

“Are you serious?”

“Sorry it’s not a longer arrangement but I tend to move a lot.  I think that should go quite a ways toward…uh, art school, was it?”

Culinary school, really.”

“Ah.”

“What are you, the mafia?  Drug dealer?”

“Yeah, me and Jimmy Hoffa.”

“Huh?”

“No.  I offer specialized counseling to folks kinda on the fringe.  And for now, until we have a deal, that’s all I’ll say.”

Then his look turns suspicious.  “Why me?”

“Because you’re a solver.  You know how to best maneuver in uncomfortable situations to get a favorable outcome using more finesse than force.”

“We speaking strictly about the door?  Cause I’m not a thief or anything.”

I laugh.  “No.  And I like you.  I just get this really strong sense we’re meant to be friends.”

“Uh, yeah, ok.  Um.  I really don’t think I’m exactly what you’re looking for, Ms. Quinn.”

“Nick, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m not hitting on you.”

“Uh, ok.  Sorry.  Not sure why I thought that.  I mean, of course you’re not , I mean.  You don’t exactly scream ‘cougar.’  Trust me, I’ve seen my share over at Jerry’s some nights.”

“Waiter by night?”

“Bartendar.”

“Well, you’re full of useful talents.”

“Um, ok.”

“Besides, those of us of the faith have to keep an eye out for opportunities to put others on the path.”

I point to his talisman.  Someone has chosen Dharma for him.

“Huh?  Oh this.  I’m not sure how much I still believe.  Nirvana seems such a long ways away from Seattle.”

I smirk.

“Ok, that sounded really stupid.  I meant about believing.”

“Well, Nick Sakaki, you see there, I might be able to help you out.”

Into the Memento: Nick Sakaki

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

I’m new at this writing thing.  At least in the Memento.  But a Skype to Bruno did two things: settled his worries, at least, for the moment and gave me a methodology that the guardian text describes to unlock the powers of the book.  I laughed.  Apparently I AM supposed to talk to it.  Writing is encouraged, so I scribble a few details.  But I’m supposed to tell the book a story. 

I sit at the writing desk, make myself comfortable, take a breath to relax, remove all distractions, and focus.  So here it goes:

I arrive at the Russian Deli about half past 12.  I’m hard pressed to believe this building exists just a short 10 minute walk from my ritzy hotel.  The lot beside it is an abandoned KFC surrounded by fencing.  The cranes that dominate the Bellevue skyline must be looking to gobble this place up.  Inside, only a few elderly customers shuffle about.  An ancient Russian woman stands like the Iron Curtain behind the counter, arms folded, daring me to approach.  I decide to take a seat just as the door opens and Nick Sakaki bustles in.  5’11” maybe, thin, maybe 24 if a day, rumpled ill-fitting suit, spiky hair (seemingly not by choice).  He’s riffling through papers in a beat-up messenger bag, not paying attention as he knocks into a table, barely phased, then looks up distracted, seeing me.

“Uh, you here to see the rental?”the office

I see the Buddhist talisman around his neck, wonder which parent gave him that.  Look him in the face again.  Or girlfriend.

I stand, put out my hand.  “Sophie Quinn.”

He rallies, firm hand shake.  “Nick Sakaki.  Sorry I’m late.”

“Better late than never.”

“Uh, yeah, right.  The entrance is through the back here.”  He walks past the deli counter ignoring The Curtain as he digs in his bag.  I watch him disappear and return in a moment.  “Um, that’s not right.”  He keeps searching in the bag then finally grabs the lot, slaps it down on the nearest table and flips through until he picks one.  “The space is upstairs.  Five rooms.  I coulda sworn the stairs up were in the back of the deli.”  His face screws up as he reads the paper.  Upside down.

“A new property for you?”

“This isn’t it.  Crap!  Excuse me.”  He approaches the counter and I take a breath as the Iron Curtain prepares to fall.  But just as he starts to ask, she turns and disappears through a doorway.  “What the?” 

We can hear the staccato of rapid fire Russian as Iron Curtain returns with a teenager smacking her gum and looking utterly bored in a black hoodie.  In August.  “What do you want?”  Her accent is barely there.

“Hi.  I’m supposed to be showing the upstairs space.  Can you help me out?”

“We’re very busy today.”

He tosses a look around.  “Yeah I can see that.  Look, I just need to find the door.  I’ve got a key.”

It’s like watching chess.  “I can’t leave my grandmother alone.  She’s fragile.”

I bite my lip so as not to laugh as Nick takes a long measured look at the Iron Curtain who suddenly gives him a gap-toothed smile.

“Fragile.  Right.  No worries, if you can point me in the right direction, I won’t take any more of your time.  I can see you’re in your lunch hour rush .”

Indignantly:  “We run a succesful business here.”

“And I’m just trying to do some business for your landlord.”

It hits a nerve but unlike anything I think he intended.  She visible cowers.  “We’ve done nothing wrong.  We’ve paid up.”  Even  Grandma Iron notices the change and a quick exchange in Russian happens.  My Russian is rusty so I miss it all.

“I’m sure you have, kid.  Look, if you just point me toward the door, it saves me having to call the landlord and explaining how I lost a potential renter because you folks were too overwhelmed with patrons to help.”

The teenager and the grandmother exchange glances and the girl nods.  “I will show you.”  She comes around the counter and begins to walk toward the front door.  Nick follows but stops next to me.

“Now, Ms. Quinn, if you’d follow me and my young associate here.  Let’s take a look, shall we?”

Case #13 – 5: Coffee talk Pt 3

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by vampirony

She’s not convinced.  Well now this must be a first.  A human woman thinking she knows better than a hundreds of years old vampire.  I thought I’d cornered the market on that.  Which is why I feel sorry for her.  She’s treating him like just some guy.  She needs to know a lot more things before she could think like that safely.  Most vampires, by virtue of their sheer existence, can take care of themselves.  But there’s always something.

“How do you know that?  Maybe he’s young and foolish.”

I laugh.  Can’t help myself.  She really wants to control this.

starbux“What?”

“Vamps may be paranoid even in the best of times but they are insanely good judges of character.  And there’s no way a vamp younger than 300 would attract a….friend such as yourself.”

“Why?  What’s wrong with me?”

Oh brother.  “Look.  You are well-trained, ex-military, ex-diplomatic service, card carrying member of the Kick-Ass-Cult.  Of the Three, you’re either perfect predator or partner.”

“What does that mean?”

If I’d known I was going to be giving lessons, I would have brought my Factbook.  Oh well.  Better now, give her a chance to get away, then wait until she’s too far in it.

“I theorize that for every vampire, there are three perfect matches that they are karmically bound to.  Prey, the one they hunt.  Predator, the one that hunts them.  And Partner.  That one’s kinda obvious.  If you were Prey, you wouldn’t be walking around.”

This doesn’t help her and after thinking about the fact I just suggested she’s karmically bound to this HE, I realize my mistake.  Time to take it back a notch.

“Look, you might not be any of those things to..him.  I guess what I’m saying is that vampires don’t leave threats around.  You’re a powerful woman and there’s obviously some…uh, attraction there.”  Yeah, that clears it all up.  Is this when I make it worse and tell her that a lot of vamps just attract lookers so they can feast on pretty meat?  She’s walking around so blind I’m beginning to think this he is the wrong sort, that he’s messing with her and, when she figures that out and tries to kill him, he’ll enjoy it and then end her.

“You saying he’s going to turn me?”

“Contrary to movie and novel folklore, vampires tend to turn humans out of accident more than intent.  They turn a human that they are compatible with and they ruin a safe and reliable food source.  They also threaten their hunting grounds with yet another mouth to feed.”  Not to mention increase the UVA in the area.  Police blotter around here already high on that scale.

“Ok you’ve made your point.  You sound like an expert.  But how do I know for sure?”blocksun

“Well, vamps hate references so unfortunately, you’re going to have to let your night friend decide.  That is, if you’re still interested.”

“No references?  What kind of psychologist does that make you?”

“The reliable kind.  The trustworthy kind. Look I’m in town because another powerful vampire wanted to see me. Beyond telling you that, you’re just going to have to decide who you trust the most: me, yourself, or your Nightwalker. But do me a favor, if you want us to meet, please come up with a reasonable cover so that he won’t kill me on sight.”

“He’s not like that.”

“Says you and every other dog owner.  My dog won’t bite.  I may know I’m destined to be back in this world again but I kinda like my here and now.”

We discuss meet-ups.  I have to get back to her because I’m still waiting for Skovajsa to rear his head again.  I mumble something about never handling two cases together.

“Then why did you agree to meet me?” she asks testily.

Because I get sick of talking to the undead.  Because I need to keep busy, the memories have been bad lately.  Growing restless in my head for a week or so. 

“Honestly, I don’t know.  It sounded urgent.  But my other case is difficult, a Carpathian.”

She raises a perfectly arched eyebrow.  “I have no idea what that means.”

“Cripes, you really are a rookie!  We need to learn you up if you’re going hang with the fang.  By the way, don’t mention anything to your vampy friend about the Carpathian.  Some vamps get pissy about…other vamps.  And work on your plan, we need to keep it honest and real.”

I leave her with that, suddenly need to get out of there.  I stumble into oppressive morning heat and grab for my amulet.  She’s so green, I shouldn’t let her plan anything.  But for now, I head back to my room.  I’m going to need an office stat, especially if I intend to try and manage two vampires at once. 

No point in reminding myself that in 13 lifetimes, I’d never even thought to do that outside of a familial group of vamps (aka horror).  And as I check my mail and see a note from Skovajsa asking to meet Thursday night, there really is no point at all reminding myself how that horror session ended.

They come mostly at night…mostly

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

Checked mail, no answer from Bruno, tried calling bartender with no answer so left vague voice mail.  Seem to recall a video tapping at the club, resolve to look that up.  Spend an hour updating FB with some excerpts from the Factbook on influencing since it’s in my mind.  It’s not that I’m avoiding sleep…it’s just not coming.

After a few years of seeing clients at all hours of the night, sleeping at night feels like a wasted opportunity.  But meeting early tomorrow, 9AM, to see to this other lead.  But now, it’s probably too late to take a sleeping pill.  And my head is reeling with memories.

smacardsPart of the trouble with remembering past lives is that they creep in when you’re most vulnerable.  For me, that’s the night mostly.  Which is why I don’t mind working in the evenings.  I actually prefer it.  By day, I’m so tired that I crash and when I awaken, there’s light and movement and all the sights and sounds of a life in full view that distracts me beautifully.  I’ve been on this quest, perhaps quixotic, so many lifetimes that my nights are filled with memories of vampires.  Ones I couldn’t help, ones that hunted me, ones that even killed me…I’ve had so few successes.  But my failures, they are grand indeed.

But then, there are moments.  Like the Burim twins.  I protected them for a spell.  Made vampires by mistake at 13.  Hired as a governess, I was Auntie to them.  When I had finally revealed that I knew their horrible secret, I had been able to help them find a way to not take up the vampire life, to avoid it and yet survive.  They never drank human blood.  That seemed key to keep them from growing too strong, for keeping their powers undercover.  And using the techniques I had through lifetimes to record my work, save it away, entrusted to a guardian who would continue the line until I surfaced again, we were able to set up familial guardians for the twins.  So they might never be alone, unprotected.

melatoninIn honesty, I’d lost track of them after that one lifetime.  I have tried off and on to find out what happened to them, so many things could have.  But this lifetime is too new and the memories sometimes fade into fog if I try too hard to remember.  It’s better to let them coalesce on their own.

I get up to go call in my last stand: melatonin.  It usually eases me to sleep.  And sometimes, the best remedy for the night is to pass through it unknowingly.

Case #13 – Skovajsa: First Impressions

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by vampirony

Reason one out of, oh, I don’t know, about one hundred, why I always conduct my first meeting with a client in a very public place: You just never know what you’re getting into.  Skovajsa. One name, like Cher or Sting. The Carpathian vampires are still the most dangerous. Full of power, hunted for centuries almost to extinction. Terrified of the world and ready at any moment to try and conquer it. Not the sort of vampire I would ever expect to call for my services. 

 He’s a tricky read: emotionally disheveled, almost childlike in his discomfiture, like an adolescent trying to fill adult shoes.  Like Bela Lugosi’s shoes.  It’s almost sweet.  But then, all that economy of emotion and movement often covers ill intentions.   It is like a first date; you get to see the persona and if it does its job, if it’s intriguing enough, you might want to see more, to try to tell what’s fact versus façade.  I admit I’m intrigued.  1100 miles is a long way to go for a five minute talk.  He’ll call.  He hasn’t figured me out yet.  And he wants something.  That much is clear.

 Of course, it coulda been worse.  He could actually have been charming or cute. 

 Get back to the hotel# and up to my room, my groceries have been delivered.  Empty out the bag just to check.  A lemon rolls out of its mesh bag.lemons

 *sigh*  No lemons for you, Mr. One Named Wonder.  Bartender hasn’t called me back.  Will try him tomorrow.  He might’ve gotten busy.  Would’ve thought that $100 would have kept me on his to-do list.

Now here comes the strange part.  I’m looking out the window, there’s a moon, and honestly, I’m missing simpler times.  Missing someone to get to know me.  Missing an adult conversation.  Missing…flirting…   So stupid.  If it isn’t in my cards, it just isn’t and nothing on Earth can change that.

 THUMP! Goes my trunk.  Archaic, I know, to travel with one but I need my references.  I open it up, take out the Book.  Give  it a rub.  Ok yeah I talk to it when I’m morosely lonely.

 “Getting a little restless, eh? Been a long time since you’ve stirred.  You seem to like Seattle?”

 It doesn’t actually talk back.  Ever. 

 I set it on the desk, move to the bed to unpack some things.  Have a sudden feeling that somebody just walked over my grave.full moon

 The book’s cover knocks over and the pages start to flip on their own.  Ok, when I moved the book from my carry-on upon landing in Seattle, it moved on me.  This?  This hasn’t happened in my recollection in over a century.

 The book falls over onto the floor with a thud.  I go pick it up, careful to note the page.

 It’s one of the blank pages towards the back of the book, the edges well worn.  I flip back a page and land on the Burim twins.

 “Lucienne and Maurice Burim – My brave charges, how can I write of you and your bravery, so young when turned, without cursing the heavens for damning your souls to this world of pain and suffering forever.”

Heartbreaking but no, not them.  This page.  I’ve touched this page many times before but it won’t give up its secrets so easily.  Sometimes I forget that the magic of this book is all its own.  I can’t quite remember who gave it to me, which lifetime, only that I have ever since used it to record the people I have met in my lives.  And every new life, with every new awakening, I find the book again and it shares with me those that I have met before.  Only this lifetime, every since stumbling upon it 3 years ago, it has been mostly silent.

 Until now.  And yet, it’s not ready to tell me what it wants me to know.  Crazy.

 Hope to hear back soon from Bruno.  Already, Seattle is becoming more than I bargained for.  Better get some shut-eye.  I have a real meetup with a real adult (vampire cohort but still adult human) early morning.  Something about vampire dreams.