Archive for vampires

When Honesty is the Best Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You seemed distracted.”

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

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

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

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

“What happened to your face?”

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

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

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

“I think we’re done for tonight.”

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

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

“Auntie!”

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

Amber Waves of Grain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hon?”

“I messed up your seats.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After all, anywhere but here.

Case #13 – Skovajsa: The story behind the story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right.  I bet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannibal.  I need to get out of here now. 

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

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

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

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

Case #13 – Skovajsa: One Vampire at a Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?” I asked.

“Perhaps I should recline?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…Horrific…

“…humiliating….”

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

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

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

Picking up the shards

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

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

“All vampires can do that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

She shrugs.  “It’s not your problem.”

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

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

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

She grabs the window frame, “For what?”

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

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

Getting the Kiss-off

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

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

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

I snatch it up.  It’s Nick.  “What?”

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

“Appointment?”ballard

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

Crap!  “Uh, Fremont.  I’ll be late.”

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

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

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

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

” Give me the address.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He looks uncomfortably at Lucy.  She nods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now let her go, brother.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

My, My, You’ve Grown

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

Lucy and Maurice Burim, whom I had known in a former life as pre-teen vampires, stand before me looking closer to twenty than twelve.   Despite the obvious difference in their height, their faces have matured.  The innocence has been replaced by purpose, the fear replaced by conviction.  No, these are not the twins I had known.  But somehow, they are the same as ever.

Maurice pats Lucy’s arm around him.  It’s an old gesture.  He used to do it to get her to let go of him when she was clinging too tightly.  Now, it’s an intimate movement of connection between them.  They watch carefully as Morena gingerly stands up.

“Actually, it’s Darnell now.  Tammy and Thomas.”  His voice is richer, polished.  His matured in a way I never would’ve thought possible.  And she’s bloomed, still slight but lithe and comely.  And underneath it all, I feel it.  Morena shifts her weight backwards in response.  My darling charges are negative vampires.

“You want to help your old auntie up?” I raise my hand. 

Lucy smiles widely and pushes Maurice forward.  He’s at odds, as an young man would be, reacquianting with his past.  He steps forward uncertainly and the effect forces Morena back another step, out of his way.  He notices it immediately and I sense him get a handle over himself.  The twins had never shown such complete control before.  He takes my hand gently and I’m on my feet without the slightest sense of having been pulled up.  Yes, grown in every way.  Including power.

I stare up at Maurice who stands about 5’10”, not excessively tall, but inches away from where he had been when I had used to tuck them both under my chin for hugs.  Lucy had always been willowy but somewhere, her brother has finally surpassed her in height.  And there’s more as he holds my hand.  I feel the tension in him.  He meets my gaze but in a way that tells me his focus is elsewhere, his thoughts in hiding should they show through his eyes.   But he’s reading me, trying to at least.

Lucy breaks the silence.  “Old?  You are much younger than last time we knew you, Auntie Giselle.”

Maurice drops my hand.

“It’s Sophie now.  And you two, you’re older.  How is that possible?”

Maurice throws a suspicious gaze at Morena, who’s starting to show the signs of her embrace with a wall.   “You reek of bad blood.  We were certain we’d finally been found.”

I raise my hand up.  “My bad.  Some clients seem to cling about me.”

A tight smile creeps over his face as he looks back at me.  “Still on a fool’s crusade, Auntie?”  He shakes his head and sighs.  “And what of her?  A protege?”

“Hardly,” Morena mumbles, gently dabbing at her bloodied lip.

Lucy steps forward, excitedly staring at Morena.  “It was you I smelled first, before Auntie.  You smell of blood and light and magic.  Very confusing.”

“I wondered why you were so slow,” Maurice chides.

“Slow?  You call that slow?”  Morena asks, in shock.

Lucy looks somewhat between cowed and annoyed.  Maurice fixes his glare back on Morena.  “If she’d done as she was supposed to, you never would have seen her at all.  And we both would have been gone before you’d even noticed.”

She fights the feeling.  “That’s new.  Vamps that cut and run.”

Maurice bristles but I put a hand on his shoulder.  Like old times.  And it turns something deep inside of places I hide away that his response feels the same as when he was a child.

“Forgive her.  She’s greener than Kermit the Frog.”

Lucy’s face finally turns unkind.  (In French)  “Terrible child.  She seems more trouble than she’s worth.”

Morena answers back, “Not near as much trouble as I need to be, apparently.”

“Does everyone speak French now?” Maurice asks rhetorically.

“Lucy, Maurice, this is Morena, Morena Fourtenay.  She’s a cohort to a local vampire, a client.”

A look passes between Lucy and Maurice and they stop breathing.  It used to mean they were having a “twin moment,” as I used to call them, a time when they could seem to know each other’s thoughts, like telepathy.  They stare back at Morena, now with more interest.

She notices.  “What?  I don’t look like the cohort type?  My…uh, master…he won’t be happy I couldn’t keep Sophie safe.”

I blink just as my phone buzzes.  “What?  What are you talking about?”

The Gypsy Twins

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

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

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

“No!  We can’t do that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Back up,” Morena commands.

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

“Give me one good reason, Sophie.”

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

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

“Maurice!” I object.

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

“I take it you three know each other.”

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

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

The Problem with Recovery

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

Out in the cooler night air, it’s easier to think.  Of course I had said take a walk but Morena didn’t like the idea of hanging around that area of Bellevue to chat so I let her take me into her area called Ballard.  Suddenly, I had been hit with the maritime history of the area and felt closer to the sea.  She had to correct my thinking, that there was this large body of water called Puget Sound, that we weren’t actually all that close to the ocean.

Many lifetimes past and the idea of open ocean still felt strange to me, proof positive of how much our current daily lives make use forget what once we had known.  Shes showing me around Ballard.  It’s very cute and towny in a way Bellevue just isn’t.  There’s a realness, like someone could wear this place, live her that I just don’t get from the artifice of Bellevue.  Or at least the place Bellevue is becoming, so much glass and mirrors.

Morena wants to understand about my idea of what she calls Immortality.   Jespers been giving her the Vampire litany, I suspect.

“It’s not that, really,” I try to explain.  “And theologically, I’m not quite Buddhist or Hindu but there are basic concepts I not only agree with, I know.  It’s the idea that I’ve lived past angellives, each one leading up to a time when I will have earned enough karma to bypass this earthly world and reach the time of true spirit.  Well, not exactly that, but that’s the terms I know to explain to a layperson.”

She nods.  “And enlightenment.  Or something like that.”

“Not enlightenment.  That dictates some sense of self.  it’s about becoming one with all things, losing one’s individuality and melding into the universe.”  Lovely talk for a walk by the locks.

She smirks.  “Like the Borg.”

I laugh at the reference.  “Um, no.  Not at all.”

“I don’t get it.  All I want is to be able to carve out a place for myself in this world and you seem to want to, I don’t know, do the opposite.”

I could finally see her struggle.  “You’re Catholic, right?”

She tosses me a look.  “How’d you guess?”  We keep walking and she seems to answer her own question, stuffing her hands in her pockets.  “Recovering.”

“No one really recovers from being Catholic.  It’s too strong a belief system for most to just give up.  It promises Heaven…and Hell.  But only through the Spirit and the Holy Ghost.  It’s a very digestible idea that when you die, you go live on a plane of existence somewhere, beyond pain and suffering, that you’ll see you loved ones again, and will be with your God and will know the answers to all things.  It’s not so different.”

She sighs.  “I don’t know about all that.  I used to.  But if God allows demons on Earth…the Church never told us about that.  I’ve seen things, done things, that I have to believe are sins but I’ve asked, believe me, I’ve confessed, only to be told to do penance, to amend my life, and do ten Hail Marys.”

And here we are at the crux of her conflict.  “Did you tell your confessor that you’re giving blood to a vampire?”

“Not in those exact words.”

“Then why are you convinced it’s a sin?”

“It’s an unnatural creature.  It has to be.”

“No more unnatural that you or I.  Somehow out of a bundle of microscopic cells, we grow into sentient beings with souls.  Vampires are life, yes, just another form, a transformation out of human.”

“But they are immortal.”

“Not exactly.  In the truest sense of the word, definitely not.  They can be killed.”

“If Jesper heard you, he’d say…”

I sigh, then mockingly, “Yes, I know.  I am Vampire.”

“You’ve heard that before?”

“More time than I can count.  It’s a motto or something.  Like Be Prepared or Semper Fi.”

Don’t Tread on Me.”

We both laugh.  “Exactly.  As I’ve said, there are various types of vampires.  But there are defining characteristics, just like you and I are both humans but in appearance, attitude, ethnicity we are different.”

“But we’re still the same subspecies.  Even I know that.  Homo Sapiens Sapiens.”

She’s getting it and losing her tension all at the same time.  We fear all we do not understand.  Some seek to uncover the truth while others flee it.  “What do you know about Australia?”

“Why?”

I tell her how Australia developed specialized creatures found nowhere else do to their landlocked, isolated populations, driven by external stimuli to evolve.  “Vampires developed in the same way.”

“So that’s why you talk about the Carpathian.  He’s a subspecies.”

I can’t help the shudder, hope I catch it before she notices.  She doesn’t seem to.   “Next to the Jiang Shi, they are the most dangerous.”  We’ve walked past the locks toward some shops intermixed with bars in a warehouse district on the water.   “They seem driven by fear and anger more than any other type.  While I understand all those forces, I have yet to successfully rehabilitate one.  Not for lack of trying.”

“Rehabilitate?”

“As you have already seen, vampires don’t need to kill to subsist.  There are plenty of humans willing to provide for them.  They are intelligent enough, powerful enough to control what they need to to stay safe and comfortable.  And most adult vampires have aged enough to control their urges in modern society.  It’s sheer necessity.  In a media age, too much killing would draw attention and expose them all.  The modern vampire has adjusted.”

“Like Jesper.”

I would pat myself on the back later for not skipping a beat.  “Jesper could be self-taught or the one who made him choose him quite well.  I don’t get any sense from him that he isn’t in full control of himself or his thirst.  The dreams seems his only trouble.  Carpathians live in a constant state of threat to which their reponse is aggression.”

“And you’ve tried to rehabilitate one before?”

“Twice, actually.  Both times, I died.”tanning

Morena stops me walking by grabbing my arm.  “I’m sorry what do you mean you died?”

I look her in the face and my gut tells me there’s still something troubling her, some secret.  Maybe it’s because she’s starting to trust me.  I can’t put my finger on it.

“My last death was caused by a Carpathian name Valerian Nyssus.  He decapitated me and then cut my body into little pieces.  He was hoping to have me alive during most of his torture but I so irritated him that he knocked my head clean off.”

There is a deathly silence and even under the street lamp, I can see her face go pale.  There’s a bank of old corrugated steel buildings, converted to commercial retail spaces along the docks.  A neon light winks above us:  24 hour TANNING.

“You are crazy.  What would possess you to try again after…after something like that?”

“To be honest, I didn’t know Skovajsa was Carpathian when I came up here.  I’m still not convinced he’s what he says he is.  But I’ll know more tonight.”

And that’s when I begin to hear it, the murmuring.  Just under the sound of muted traffic and geese.  I lose sight of the neon sign for a moment and an image from the book appears to me, its pages flipping furiously, then everything blurs…

Bellevue: The Office

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by vampirony

I wouldn’t have originally thought that miracle working was on Nick’s resume but I would need to remind him to add it.  Standing in the newly cleaned office, I’m astounded.  Not only has Nick’s connections made the place spic-span, he has taken the liberty of providing some furnishings.  The back wall of the reception area is covered by clean, empty book cases and a rather weary but antique looking desk sits in the middle of the room.  The only other article of furniture, a spacious riveted leather chaise lounge, occupies a large space just by the windows.  The windows have also been repaired but not covered as of yet.

“Good work,” is all I can manage.  Too many surprises from the people around me.  I sometimes forget that happens.

Nick isn’t preening, isn’t pumped up, isn’t acting like this is his first gig.  He seems serious about it all…but relieved, underneath it all.  “Well, unfotunately, my brother’s team couldn’t finish up the exam rooms until tomorrow morning.  And the window coverings will be installed tomorrow too.”

“Still, quite the transformation.  But yes, unfortunate.  I can’t see my first client here until the coverings are installed to my specs.  Are you sure tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I tried for earlier but my Seahawks tickets just weren’t good enough for that.”

I sigh.  Another hotel room meeting is not what I had in mind and the thought of anything approaching last night with Skovajsa…makes me shiver.  Nick tosses me a glance but says nothing.

“Well, I’ll have to see him in his hotel suite then for tonight.”

Just then, my phone buzzes.  I check it.  A terse text from Morena, wanting to meet.  This afternoon.

“Would you like me to come too?”

It takes me a moment to get what Nick means.  I turn to look at him.

He continues, “I mean, just to make sure you’re ok.  I mean, I still don’t really know what you mean by fringe and for all I know, you are a drug dealer.  I, uh, don’t want to intrude on your, uh, clients, though.  Just want to make sure you’re safe.”

“Nick, I’m not a prostitute.”

“I didn’t say that.”  He blushes.  “Did it sound like that?  Shit, it did sound like that, didn’t it?”

I smile.

“What?”

“It’s ok.  You’re taking a lot on faith.  And really, it’s sweet, your offer.  But it won’t be necessary.  I do know how to watch out for myself with my clients.  Besides, what’s meant to be will be.”  But it’d certainly be a shame to miss my following appointment.  With Jesper.

I push the thought aside as I point to Nick’s talisman as all the explanation I need.

He glances down at it, as if he’s forgotten he wears it at all.  Looking back up, putting his hands on his hips, “Yeah well, Confucius say ‘The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come.‘”

“Well put.  I’ll leave my phone logged in, just in case.  But right now, I’ve got a whole other danger to see to.”police-target-paper

“What’s that?”

I remember the look on Morena’s face as I left last night.  “Jealousy.”  I look at the message again.

‘We should meet.  6PM.  Bellevue Gun Club.  Tonight.’

Wonderful start to the evening, I’m sure.