Archive for vampires

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.

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.”

Case #13 – Jesper: Life Hands You Lemons…

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by vampirony

Finding a sense of humor when you’re in the thick of things either denotes ultimate faith that things will turn out or a complete loss of reality.  I am hoping for the former.  Jesper, the Vampire, is distracted by the lemon, but he still holds me at his whim and Morena, well, she turns out to be very touchy in a crisis.  Of course, maybe this wasn’t a crisis yet.

Jesper speaks, “I know what a lemon is.”

“Well, you asked.”

He growls at me but it’s half-hearted.  He begins to straighten, lets go of my waist but not my arm, his eyes fixated on the lemon in my other hand.

Fascinated by it, he asks, “What is it for?”

“Treatment.”  I straighten so now he is just holding my forearm.

“You can hardly be serious,” he replies.

The fluorescent blue of his eyes starts to fade, his narrow fangs begin to retract.  I’ve never seen a vampire like him.  The fangs in themselves are a first for me, narrow like reeds but long.  They seem to disappear back into his gums above his canines, not as part of them.  Then just those blue-grey eyes, contemplating the fruit in my hand.  The fact that he can’t tear his eyes away from it says it all.  He’s even ignoring the small scrap of blood he left on my forearm.

“You’re sun-starved.  Your..um…friend came to me for help.  It’s a common affliction in older vampires.  The dreams are a symptom, like a bad cough.”

His hand releases the grip on my forearm and slides down to my wrist, now barely holding it.  It makes me shiver.  He glances at me, quizzically.  He sends a very disapproving look at Morena who trembles for a second under it and then he looks back at me.  And I know what he’s about to say from the way he rolls his shoulders back, tilts his head up a an inch. 

“I am Vampire.”

There’s this moment, this strange moment, when my gut tells me: Bullshit!  But I’ve seen the fangs, the eyes, the super speed.  I don’t trust my gut with this vamp.  I can already tell I need a better wall up for any next meeting.  Time to bore him with the details that most vampires hate to hear.

the_four_elements“Life seeks balance in all things, even vampires.  The Classical elements, whether you go Buddhist, Greek, or Chinese, all have the basic four:  Air, Earth, Water, Fire.  Air, you breath, not like mortals but you do breath.  Earth, blood is loaded with earth elements like Carbon and it is, after all, what you’re made of.  Water, you either drink outright or get from the blood you consume.  But Fire, on the other hand.  Well, vampires are extremely sensitive to fire, like the sun.”

“Sensitive?” Jesper the Vampire raises an eyebrow at me and then looks back at the lemon.  “And that helps how?”

I hold it up for him, watch the miniscule flinch it causes him.  “Think of this as the sun in liquid form.”

“And what do you propose I do with it?”

“Suck on it.”

Jesper the Vampire shakes himself, as if repulsed by the very idea.  But he is staring again.

“You want me to suck…a lemon?”

I push a dirty thought aside.  Damn positive vampire…and he’s not actively controlling it either.  “Yes,” I say a little forced before I reign it in.  “I used to use oranges but they’re more subtle and my early patients were able to deny the effects.  Lemons are unmistakable and pack a sufficient punch.”

He drops my wrist and I grab it back, holding it against my chest for a strange sense of comfort.  His eyes fixate on the lemon, widening even.  I can see him thinking.

“This will cure me?” he asks softly.

“Cure is probably not the right word.  Likely not in one shot.”

He tosses me a look.

“If I’d been given a chance to examine you, I might know for sure.  But it will definitely help.”

Morena, who has seemingly faded from the room with all Jesper’s positive juju floating around me, speaks up, “It won’t harm him?”

I turn toward her, glad for the reprieve.  “Not at all.”  I give myself a breath, try to be subtle about it.  But as I turn around, I needn’t have bothered.  He doesn’t even see me any more.  All his focus is on the lemon, as if his gaze could peel it open and unveil its secrets.  I slowly set it down on the coffee table.

“Why don’t I leave this with you?  You can take your time assessing…it, decide what you want to do, whether you’ll let me help you.” I take a step back.  I reach into my pocket and draw out my backup plan.  “Here’s my card and —.”

His eyes change to bright blue for an instant and then, whoosh, he grabs the lemon, and his fangs descend into it, some juice spurting out, as he swallows the rest.  His eyes flash open, glowing gold now, before he shudders and clenches them shut.  He begins to fall, like the fall of a feather, unconscious.  I react immediately, run over, catch him before he hits the floor.  Or rather, he falls on me, as I slide between him and the floor, his head landing in my lap.

I hear the click of Morena’s gun as she readies it, pointing it at me.

“What did you do to him?” she barks.  I might ask myself the same question.

Case #13 – 5: Jesper, the Dreaming Vampire

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by vampirony

The introduction is not going well.   No matter my pep talk, Morena is anxious and packing heat.  She’s shifting her weight, hands in her pockets, fidgeting.  In essence, she’s a terrible liar.  And it’s making her vamp uncomfortable.  And then there’s her vamp…who’s nothing like what I expected.

I expected, I don’t know what.  Taller?  Broader?  Brut-er?  I’m not sure.  But the vamp holding my wrist, fanging out, and threatening to bite the inside of my arm at the brachial artery or tear my arm out of my socket, whichever came first, didn’t seem threatening at all.  Barely 5’10”, dark chin length auburn hair, blue-grey eyes, he looks more a poet than a vampire.  At first, I waited for someone else to come in as we three stood there:

“This is Jesper.”

He just stared.  I waved.  “Hi.”  And then I waited.  I think I offended him. 

Finally, he spoke.  “And your name is?”  He was actively assessing me.  That clued me in.  Something told me, though, he intended as much.

I had put out my hand.  “I’m Sophie.  Sophie Quinn.”

He ignored my hand, stayed on his side of the room.  The meeting place is another room in my hotel, a suite.  A little close for comfort but considering, I had to go with it.  At least there are two rooms, so if I get through this alive, I can have some privacy with this vamp.  At this point, I’m thinking of all the things that have gone wrong in the course of 4 minutes.  All at once.  Time’s sorta frozen.

I had put my hand back down.

“And you’ve come to offer yourself?”

He had his approach down.  He’s rubbing his chin, a day or two of stubble eternally frozen there, never to be cleaned up.  I lost focus.  I admit it.  He has one of those builds that is just, hmmm, nice?  Sturdy without being intimidating?  You know what I mean?  Nice chin, really.

Damn it.  “I hate to disappoint but I’m not here as food.  But I am here to offer my services.”  Yeah, great.  My first meeting with Skovajsa comes to mind.

Morena takes an ill-conceived step forward.  “She’s here to help…with the dreams.”  Strike 2: telling his closely guarded secrets.   “She checks out.”  Strike 3: presuming to know better than him.

Yeah, I probably would have attacked me too.  His movement had been so quick while I was eye rolling, that he was just there, grabbing me, before I got a full 360 degrees in my sockets.  Yup, you can set your watch by vamps.  Clockwork.

“Jesper!”infinity

Now, I’ve had 13 lifetimes flash before my eyes and focused on the last four minutes and realize something important.  He can kill me at whim now.  He’s pausing for something.  He slowly looks up the length of my arm at me and meets my gaze.  And I this feeling washes through me and I know, he won’t hurt me.  In fact, the moment it comes to me, I know without a doubt that he will never hurt me.  Ever.  That’s when I start to realize something’s so incredibly off, that I have no words for it.  And I can see it in his face: he feels it too.  Whether the softening of my muscles as I relax does it or the receding of any fear that had been in my eyes, I’m not sure.   But he knows I am no longer afraid of him. 

“Kill me now or kill me later.  Does it make a difference?”  I start having a completely different conversation with him, one out loud, one with my gaze and my body language.

His eyes narrow.  “You’re not afraid to die?”

“Now where have I heard that before?”  Uh, yeah, didn’t realize that was out loud.  That is, until he tugs me all the way into his arms, putting the other around my waist.  Now you’re goading him?  No offense, dumbass, but your instincts have been wrong before!  Ok, now’s not the time to lose focus.

“This is just one more lifetime out of many.  You kill me now, I’ll come back in 50 years and stick you with a bill for past services…with due interest.”

His eyes are brightening to a fluorescent blue that I’ve never seen before.  Or maybe so?  His growl distracts me.  It tries to occur to me that I’m wrong, that he will indeed hurt me to gain the edge of Vampire of this situation.  But his eyes fall to my neck and focus on my amulet.  His grip eases a bit as he seems entranced.  Ok, that’s weird.

“If you give me a moment to show you…” It’s time to test this feeling, this feeling of utter safety underneath all the apparent danger and newness.  I reach into my pocket with my free hand, ignoring his tightening grip and Morena reaching for her weapon.

“Show me what?” he mouths around uniquely narrow fangs that I can’t wait to examine.

sparklinglemonI present the fruit, hold it out from me, not too close to him.  Meyer, to be sure.  Ripe and fragrant.  He turns his head from me to look, puzzled.  The feeling of security begins to grow. 

“What the—?” says Morena.

“—Is that?” he finishes.

I allow myself only a smile on the inside.

“It’s a lemon.”

INBOX: This is the picture

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

From:  Lauren Lyles (lysistrata@webvampyr)
Date:   Tues, 18 Aug 2009
To:      vampironyis@live.com
________________________________________________

So after looking everywhere, I finally found the picture I was thinking of.  However, it’s not of when I was mortal.  I’d forgotten this was taken when I was dancing the variety revue in Greenwich.  “Dance of the Seven Sins,” I think.  Maybe even a little sword dance here or there.  Back then, I traveled between New York and Chicago, doing revues quite a bit.  It was right before WWII, dinner theatre and dance halls, ballrooms were everywhere.  You could have dinner for $2.50.  Imagine!  I remember seeing Gone with the Wind for the first time like it was yesterday.  It was Dec 19th, 1939.  The Astor Theatre.  I was in love with Clark Gable.  Still am, in some ways.laurenlylessmall

I was lucky I was vampire born at 22.  I still had youth on my side and in my blood, body.  In 1939, I had just turned 100 years old, 78 of which were vampire years.  I guess we’re not supposed to count pre-vamp years as we get older.  I was still an adolescent, still learning to control my feedings.  But I was lucky, my maker stayed with me.  He was patient and kind.  I honestly think he wanted a companion forever.  He liked that I had been a country mouse when he’d stumbled upon me ministering to war wounded, fending off brigands, deserters, and other men of low moral standing in the backwoods of North Carolina.  I was nothing to look at then.  I swear I still have a picture from back then.   I will find it with time.  After all, the smell for decaying news clippings from my burlesque show days drew me to this picture and with good reason.

Look at this photo and tell me that I have not changed in appearance…completely.  I’m up to five full minutes with my mirror.  This is no longer the face I have.  Check any Teen Beat magazine, you’ll see.

Along with those smells come a torrent of memories.  I locked myself in a room for days, overcome with lifetimes.  I was confused and disoriented.  It was only my stylist that was able to pull some sense from me.  She asked me about your mirror.  I’d been clutching it and rocking back and forth.  I’ve never done that before.  I hate to ask for your advice so soon again but…have you heard of this?  What should I do?  I’m afraid now to look for the original picture.  I’m afraid I don’t recognize me anymore, inside or out.

There’s something else I ought to tell you but can’t.  Just please, be careful.  I’m not hearing good things about Seattle right now.  Please don’t ask me why.  It’s just, the things you do, they’re bound to be noticed.  I cannot say more.

My name back then in 1939 was Renee Montes.  And I was a vampiress.

Case #13 – Skovajsa: Dinner

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2009 by vampirony

I havea new general rule: Never trust a vampire to set up dinner.  I think this as I arrive at the Cosmopolitan Grill and Steakhouse downtown.  Skovajsa said 10PM.  #The fancy calligraphy on the door says they close at 10PM.  I check around me wary.  It’s been dark for more than an hour.  The most dangerous time of the evening.  But after a moment, the front door opens and I’m ushered in like some sort of royalty.

Escorted by a very happy, young, and overly exuberant waiter to the back room, I see Skovajsa stand from his seat as I arrive.

“You are here.”

“Yes.” I stand at my seat staring at him.  I have to say, even more so than the first time, he’s making an effort to impress.  His suit is elegantly tailored in black and maroon.  His dark looks are not unattractive but something in his demeanor reminds me again of my first impressions.  This time I remember the condition I was thinking of.  Aspergers.  I’d have to look it up later.

“Miss?” the waiter asks, impatiently.  Apparently, he’s been holding my chair back waiting for me.  I’m embarrassed and sitdown as he pushes my chair in.  Then, he tries to put my napkin in my lap I grab it from him and thank him.  He turns on his heel, mumbling about bread.  ‘Scuse me for not liking strange men’s hands in my lap.

Skovajsa remains standing, looking down at me almost as if I’m the main course.  “Please, there is wine.”

menuBoth wine and water glasses are full in front of me.  In fact, it’s a full spread, menu sitting, all glasses and forks and spoons.  I opt for the water, nearly choke as it’s mineral water.  He’s waiting for a response.  I nod, hiding a cough.  “Good.  Thank you.”

He smiles widely.  Then he sits, with a slight blur.  Hard to notice if you weren’t paying perfect attention.  He either is unaware of his overt vampire tells or doesn’t care.

“Thank you for meeting with me again.  Please, order whatever you would like.”

I must have a really twisted sense of humor to agree to meet a vampire, especially a Carpathian, in a steak house. Either that or a morbid sense of foreboding.  I decide not to shine his apple too much about the setup.  I notice Skovajsa staring at me.  He hasn’t moved his facial expression one bit.  I wonder if he is trying to influence me but I don’t feel any unease I usually get.

Thank you. Sounds like you’ve had some time to think about what it is I can help you with.”  I open the menu, but keep my peripheral vision on him.

He shifts in his chair.  “Yes. I have given it due thought.”

The overly exuberant waiter returns, seems to have found his dramatic thunder:  “Alrighty then. There is your wine, it’s an Opus One 2004 from Napa Valley.  An excellent choice.  We have some great and not so great specials on the menu tonight.  There’s a Dungeness Crab crusted halibut that I’m going to steer you clear of and a Duck prosciutto tomato salad that is just as effete as it sounds. Now pound for pound, the Rib Eye is still the best–.”

Before he winds himself up too much more, I simply ask: “Can I just get a steak salad?”

He looks aghast like I just licked my plate.  “The steak salad?”

“Yes, please.”

“Um, ok.  Very good.”

I’ve burst the waiter’s bubble again and he’s off to go patch and re-inflate.

 “I’m sorry.  You were saying.”

“Yes, I have given it due thought.”

Ok, I remember Carpathian’s being a bit slow but autistic?  I move my glasses, a salt cellar around out of scientific curiosity.  “Ok, what have you come up with?”

He ignores the movement, puts his elbows on the table, clasps his hands together.  “I want to know more about me.”  Oh brother.  He’s rehearsed this.  Maybe in a mirror.  “I want to know more about oscar_4others..ur..of my kind. To better know myself.” 

Yup, he’s been watching Oprah.  Didn’t she just do a piece on energy vampires?

I speak carefully, “Ok.  And what do you hope to accomplish from knowing yourself better?” 
 
I’ve stumped him for a moment.  Then:  “To become a better…to become better.”

Well, then, it probably makes sense to set up a session, have you tell me about yourself. See what we can uncover together.  How does that sound?  But a few ground rules.  I don’t talk  about other clients, not in specifics.  So don’t bother to ask. And no following or we’re done.  Understood?”

He suddenly looks ecstatic, like he’s picked the lotto numbers.  Or won an Oscar.  “Yes, I understand.  Yes.  This is good, right?”  He laughs. 

I sigh internally as the overly exuberant waiter returns with some sort of starter I didn’t order, ready to again win praise for exemplery service.  Hopefully all my meetings will be this easy.

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?

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 Fujiyami, you see there, I might be able to help you out.”