Archive for reincarnation

Epilogue

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by vampirony

Prague – The Next Night

Valerian awoke out of rigor dormitus, hands still frozen into claws around the bed posts. He had struggled against the dark for the first time in decades and the resulting form had left him half on and half off the bed. It took his body a whole ten minutes to completely convert back to flesh, during which he had the urge to gnaw his own hands off to get free of his granite limbs.

Which was patently ridiculous, he told himself. It would be so much easier to just tear bone and sinew, ripping his arms away from his frozen hands. He came close to screaming in rage to be freed but he forced himself to relax, realizing that having to explain why he was regenerating his hands would create doubt in Conclave that he could ill afford. On top of the fact that it was painful. And would do little to help what had already come to pass.

He closed his eyes and leaned his dark head against the post, waiting, trying not to think the worst. After becoming completely flesh and releasing his hands, he shoved the breath out of his lungs. It kept him from screaming. Instead he drew himself up to full height and drew his robe closed before shuffling towards his writing desk.

The pain all over his body was excruciating, unlike it had been in decades. He could imagine he heard the silver sizzling into his skin. He had to stop halfway to his desk at the arm chair arranged before the fireplace of his bedchamber. It took him a few moments before he realized he was panting with effort, his shoulders drawn down, his hands clenching the damask upholstery. His brow furrowed, not understanding why this night was so different than any other night.

And in the silence and darkness of his bedchamber, he began to imagine his worst fears. That he had not done enough. That Jesper had failed. That this lifetime’s Darcie was dead and it was this absence that made his penance ignite into a hundred and twenty three hot silver flames. He shook his head slowly and lowered it to the chair back. He couldn’t endure another lifetime waiting. He tried to adjust his robe but every movement seemed to chafe the pain to intolerable levels.

It was the only explanation for why his awareness had not picked up the intruder and left him so vulnerable.

“I’d expect you’d be toasting in celebration rather than striking such a mournful pose, Valerian.”

Valerian exhaled, raising his head carefully. It was his just due after certain failure that the executor of his penance would return on this night to bring it all to an end. But he would not meet his end without dignity. He stood up tall, straightened his robes with just a tightening of his lips in complaint, and turned to face his enemy just as the heavy door to his chamber was pushed shut.

“And why would you, Emmerick, after all these years not allow me a moment to mourn the loss of our most dearest and special lady? Or do you still deny how much I care for her?”

The man known as Emmerick, the feared vampire hunter, didn’t look like much to be feared in his current form. A round face etched with lines, sandy blond hair receding back from his brow, wiry to the point of skinny at an advanced age of nearing fifty, he wore desert fatigues, a weathered brown leather armor-plated vest covered with various short knives, and combat boots. He leaned against the wall, one thumb hooked in an empty slot on his bandoleer, the other hand casually leaning a sawed-off shotgun against his shoulder. But his eyes, deep-set and suspicious, were what caught Valerian’s attention. The vampire hunter’s brows rose up in surprise.

“You don’t know, do you?” Emmerick spoke, just a hint of his British accent coming through.

Valerian fought for his regal bearing and refused to be caught unawares in conversation. But he couldn’t keep his shoulders from slumping for the barest moment. The image rose suddenly in his mind, as it always did whenever he and Emmerick met. Darcie’s lifeless, headless form across his lap, her head rolling across the wooden floorboards.

He blinked away the tears, summoning the death, the preternatural state that would isolate him from all feeling. It only worked on him for moments but perhaps long enough to see him through this.

Emmerick smirked, shifting uncomfortably before pushing himself away from the wall to approach Valerian. The vampire let him amble about him, wondering whether he should suffer this indignity. But why not, he wondered. I’ve lost her, again. What else matters?

“Dear God, it’s touching really. You still love her.”

The accusation shattered the calm completely and he snarled fully fanged. “I will not be mocked by you! Nor let you mock her memory, at this dark hour.”

“Relax, Vampire Lord,” the sardonic words fell out of Emmerick’s mouth. “Your golden boy did his job. She’s still alive.”

All Valerian could manage was to blink. Emmerick stepped to one of the damask chairs in front of the fireplace and draped himself in it, leg over the arm, shotgun grazing the floor. Valerian bent his eyes to the floor, stunned. But centuries of being hunted, tortured by the hunter did battle with his deepest desire and sparked his angry mistrust.

He was on Emmerick in a breath, clawed hand wrapped around his neck, choking him in the chair.

“Do NOT mock me…with your…lies!”

Instead of the battle Valerian expected in retaliation, Emmerick held up his hands, letting the shotgun fall to the floor. It caused him to loosen his grip but not move his hand.

“She’s alive and well, mate. And rid you of one of your own wastrel spawn. Not without quite a mess to clean up.” When Valerian’s hand loosened enough, Emmerick brushed it aside.

The relief in his voice went unchecked, “She lives.”

Emmerick nodded. “She had a lot of help. A motley lot of it, in fact.” Valerian showed no sign of listening as he walked over to the facing chair and sat, hands gripping the armrests. His face, still fanged, grimaced as the hiss and smell of burning flesh accosted him.

“Still, the simple fact of it is, she has the most to thank from your lackey, your scribe.” Emmerick considered his words carefully, watching keenly as his accounting seemed to make the Vampire Lord more troubled than happy. “So I suppose in a very indirect but not so insignificant way, you saved her.”

Valerian recovered his calm. The image of Darcie’s head on the floor receded to be replaced with the oddest vision, a mimosa glass. He could almost taste the orange.

“You understand what that means?” Emmerick asked, almost accusing.

Valerian’s head remained titled to the floor as he settled ice blue eyes on his foe, “That you cannot blame me for her death again?”

Emmerick laughed, frustrated. “You’re serious.” Then he roused himself out of the chair, sweeping his leg back over the leg and leaning forward. “Your penance. It’s over.”

Valerian cocked his head to the side, fangs growing.

“God, you are daft. What, you think the talismans just started to hurt tonight for no specific reason?” Emmerick stood up, whipping one of the short knives from his vest with his right hand. Valerian stood as well, claws out ready to fight. “I’m not here to fight you, dammit! Drop the robe and see for yourself.”

Valerian took a moment, his brows drawing low over his radiant eyes. But he unfastened the robe and let it fall away. His chest and back were covered in sizzling sores, silver pieces that looked like wheels that seemed to be pushing out from under his skin, some of them had already made it to the surface and fell from him as the robe fell away.

In a moment, all the silver wheels were falling to the rug, clattering over the stone floor. Emmerick stared in awe as in just a few moments, the hundred and twenty three silver wheels that he had personally buried under Valerian’s skin as penance for the murder of his friend, one for every year he’d had to visit, had fallen away and the remaining sores smoked quietly.

Hands still outstretched, Valerian marveled at the results. The pain was gone. He felt years younger. It might take him time to regenerate but he would heal from the damage eventually. He could hardly believe that Emmerick would honor their ages old arrangement. His cynical eye challenged the vampire hunter.

“What? You think I’m going to try and kill you now after your greatest hour?” Emmerick shook his head. “Pathetic, really.” He stuffed his knife back into his vest. “Guess I won’t be needing to dig them out. Shame, really. I was kinda looking forward to that.”

Valerian dropped his arms to his side, assessing the man that he had once called friend. “I guess I have that to be thankful for that as well. Would be a pity if your knife had slipped.”

Emmerick shrugged and flipped his foot, sending the shotgun up and into his hand without having to lose eye contact with Valerian. “Yeah, pity. The life you saved today just might have been your own.”

With that, Emmerick headed to the door without once seeming to blink or take his eyes off Valerian. He listened for a moment at the door before opening it.

“Emmerick.”

His brows rose in response.

“Thank you. Thank you for watching over her.”

“It’s the least any of us can do. Not that she’s ever made it easy.”

Valerian nodded once in acknowledgement and let Emmerick, friend turned foe, who had killed more vampire kind than anything else had throughout all his lives, leave without issue. He was still reflecting on what this ending might mean to his horror, the bargain struck long ago protecting all his kind in retribution so long as he agreed to take his penance. He was still wondering if the silent war was over when a throng of his people, led by Aubry and Xi, stormed the room, looking for the intruder.

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He knew he wouldn’t have long to wait for her after he left Valerian’s stronghold and she didn’t disappoint him. After all these years, while he’d endured various incarnations, deaths and rebirths, she had remained timeless, ethereal, beautiful …and deadly. He’d long ago lost the last of his illusions that she was anything but the most savage of their kind.

And yet, he still remembered back when he’d found her crouched behind the desk in the office, tremulous half-smile with large doe eyes. She’d been hiding from her father, wanting so much to be with him, to be part of all his business, to understand him, and yet deathly afraid of him.

She’d been vampire made young, a product of an isolated and naïve youth. An orphan, desperate for a family, a victim of a wayward kindness. Technically, it wasn’t Valerian who had made her but Valerian’s spawn, a sloppy and unkind poet who thought more in concepts than in real people. He’d chafed under Valerian’s leadership and eventually parted from the horror. His death had been a kindness to her as Valerian had sought her out, found her, rescued her from desolate abandonment, and brought her up as one of his own.

It was one of things that had stayed Emmerick’s hand back when things had gone bad; Valerian’s now predictable kindness, loyalty, and stewardship of his own. He may not have begun that way but he had gathered as many of them as he could find and brought them under his roof and his protection.

The figure, cloaked and hooded, stepped quietly along the cobblestones of the Charles Bridge. The summer sky was clear, the white electric lights along the bridge casting a bright blue hue to the roofs of the towers above. At least she’d done him the decency of not using her powers to appear out of nowhere, giving him ample time to quit his musings and adjust his thoughts.

He’d chosen the place carefully. He wanted to know where he stood now that one bitter story had folded to a peaceable end. This lifetime’s body was a head shorter than the first time they’d met, the top of her hooded head about even with his chin. Even with the cloak, she cut a diminutive figure, the oval opening of her hood showing her perfectly heart-shaped lips above a sharp chin.

Her lips partly slowly, fangs peaking out, distracting him as she spoke.

“You left in quite the hurry.” Her French accent was still intact.

He dreaded this. Had been dreading it for at least the last two years, when her true feelings had become increasingly clear. It was about the same time as he realized she’d been using him, that she thought of him only as a tool for exacting her own revenge. He didn’t like to disappoint her. Things had just worked out that way.

“It’s over. He paid his debt. He saved her.” He shrugged. There really wasn’t anything else to say. He didn’t even feel a shred of anger anymore. He hadn’t for a long time. And he hadn’t felt anything since he realized what he meant to her. He’d have to find another salve for the emptiness of his own immortality.

Her head lifted enough so that the evening light grazed the bottom of her eyes, making the green of her eyes unnaturally bright in comparison. “But he has to be punished.”

He turned to her, struggling not to reach out, instead stuffing his hands in his pockets. “But he has, Croix. You didn’t see him tonight. I think he actually is jealous of his boy, the one that saved her. He can never go back and change the past. He knows that. But he regrets it.”

She snarled, turning her head away. “They should be made to suffer for what they did.”

“Croix, luv, you told me yourself, she didn’t want it and he overreacted. He was her guinea pig what with all those tonics; it’s perfectly reasonable to think that played into it. But whatever. He’s endured hundreds of years of torture by my own hands and borne it without a word, without a whimper.”

Her head slowly swung back. He had a sense she wasn’t listening.

“He did it for you.”

She snorted, sarcastically. “He’s never done anything but for himself.”

“No, he struck our deal so that I wouldn’t kill him and all the rest of his horror.” He stared down at her, watching, waiting for a sign that she understood. “That includes you.”

She tilted her head up to look at him. Her green eyes caught him off-guard, soft, glistening. “Even me? You wouldn’t hurt me, Baka.” She gripped his arm, beseeching. “I know you would never hurt me. You are good and true. You’ve always done right by me.”

The man he had been, the one who had trusted those green eyes before, would’ve done…had done everything he could for her. But none of it had satisfied her. And now he wondered, with Valerian’s reaction clear in his mind, if he hadn’t indeed let her lead him in the wrong.

“Baka. Listen to me. He is a monster. He will continue to commit crimes. You cannot let that pass. You must do something!”

He shook his head. When he said nothing, she dropped her head and he could almost hear the tears falling. Soft tears trailing down ivory cheeks. He took in a quick breath, resisting her influence, and turned his head up to the statue above him. She could be subtle but he still didn’t want to think she’d been twisting him on purpose. Not when she was so obviously upset.

“Do you know this effigy?” he asked her.

She raised her head, looking straight into his face. She was disappointed and it turned her heart-shaped mouth into a fierce line. He was completely immune now to her gaze, mostly immune to her voice. She thought that was all there had ever been between them, her vampiric powers as influence. As he waited patiently, he wondered how he in his male weakness had feed the creature she had become.

Her eyes narrowed. “Should I be?”

“St. Adalbart. You want to know what makes him so significant?”

Her hand slide away and she stepped back from him. “No, but I’m sure you are about to enlighten me.”

“He was the Bishop of Prague before circumstances forced him to flee. He then went on to become a missionary in Prussia where, as the story goes, he ran afoul of the pagan locals and was executed. He was canonized several years later.” She shrugged, uninterested, so he continued. “Adalbart had reportedly offended the Prussians because it was tradition for missionaries to cut down trees, the very trees that the people held sacred. Oak trees.”

“So?” her delicate shoulders shrugged but the tension there did not relent.

“He was participating in Iconoclasm. Like the Muslims scratching the eyes out of drawings in the rock churches of Gorem or the Reformation riots in the Seventeen Provinces burning other effigies in 1566. Ideological destruction of faith. But here’s the really interesting part of the story, the part not revealed in dogma. Those forests were sacred, alright. For werewolves.”

He stepped to her. “So you see, the Prussians were doing Adalbart a favor after they discovered that in his iconoclastic furor, he’d wound up being bitten by beasts he sought to deny and threatened to be turned into one himself, one so wholly contrary to everything he had been or done in his life.”

She pursed her lips. “You’re not going to kill him, are you?”

Emmerick sighed. “No.” And he began to walk away. But as an afterthought, he threw her one more thought. “Better the Devil you know.”

She cursed him under her breath. When she’d finally made up her mind to kill him, he’d vanished from all her senses. It was uncanny how he as a man, merely a human man, could do that. But it didn’t matter. Things had already been set into motion. It really would’ve been better if Emmerick would’ve deigned to be the instrument of Valerian’s death.

But she already had a workable back-up plan. She stared up at St. Adalbart. She had no idea if the story Emmerick had told her was true. Or even if it meant that he had finally deduced what had happened underneath the warehouse all those one hundred and twenty four years ago.

Darcie had left and Valerian had gone dead inside without her. And now they must both pay for the love that they both had let die. And for the daughter they had both denied.

“I will punish you, Sophie Quinn. And no South American vamp boy toy will save you this time.”

Class is in Session

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

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

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

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

Shook my head mutely.

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

Nod my head slowly.

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

“Uh-huh.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senses.  Perfect place to start.

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

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

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

“Nick.  Focus.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Not all vampires have senses that…sharp…”

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

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

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

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

“Morena?  A question?”

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

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

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

Morena shook her head violently.

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

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

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

Jesper perked up.

“What?” I asked.

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

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

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

“I didn’t say a word.”

“Vampires can’t fly.”

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

“Oh, shit.”

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

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

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

Ties that Bind

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

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

“You feel up to a phone call?”

“Yes.” 

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

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

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

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

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

“You ok?  What happened?”

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

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

“Put her on the phone.”

“No.  Way.”

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

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

“Yes you do.”

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

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

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

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

“Hello, sweetie.  Were you eavesdropping?”

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

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

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

“How are you doing?”

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

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

“Like you were?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I miss you too.  Nite Nite, Mommy.”

Things Lost Forever

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

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

“Auntie?”

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

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

I’m bawling as Lucy hurries over to me.

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

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

The emptiness is threatening to swallow me whole.

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

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

Case #13 – 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.”

The First Mark

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by vampirony

I open my eyes and somehow, I have rendered a perfect replica on the page of Nick’s talisman.  Surprising as I don’t remember being able to draw even stick figures well.  I finger my own amulet, the infinity symbol held tightly in place over my throat by old worked leather straps.  Given to me as a ward against vamps, it has no special abilities.  Other than granting me the occasional solace.

The exercise of entering Nick into the book has sapped me and I feel completely drained.  The feeling is welcome.  Along with excess energy is gone the worry, the doubt, the fear, the regret, and the guilt.  Not even the shred of karmic resistance remains.  I push the book away.  It is a vampire of sorts.  It’s stealing my memories.  Or making copies, rather, so that I bedmight connect back lifetime over lifetime to what I had been before.

I check the time.  10:11 PM.  After meeting with Morena, then finding the office space and meeting with Nick, running errands, checking out that dumpster for any more UVA, and doing a haul through the library for any further vamp sign, I have no further work.  I contemplate a quick email to my professor and guru Dr. Kaga.  Something is working its way out.  But the fatigue wins out and I make my way to the bed.  nothing to do this night but sleep.

I pass the window, see the new construction across the street, its cranes lit up in the darkness.  Throughout my traveling, I’ve never seen a place in such a hurried state of decay and rebirth, struggling to craft steel and shine while older times crumble slowly beneath it.  It feels all apropos, like the book coming awake after so many years.

Dinner tomorrow night with Skovajsa.  Well, meeting anyways.  What does a vampire do in a steakhouse?

And the next night, the mysterious vampire dreamer.  I do indeed wonder, my Shakespeare ringing in my muted head: What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause?