Evelyn Chartres Author
Evelyn Chartres – Author (Nom de Plume)

Cause and Effect – Part II

There was a long pause as the group collectively assimilated what had been projected before their eyes. While the men were clearly distraught by the way that vampire ended Victoria’s life. They were even disgusted by the outward display of inhumanity, however Breanna was far more subdued.

The Van Helsing Resurgence - Saturday Scenes

“That was brutal,” Brett said astonished.

Breanna snorted before countering, “She’s done a lot worse! That was pretty merciful actually.”

“Really?” Brett asked.

“Yeah,” Breanna replied. “Almost a hundred years ago, three seasoned investigators were committed after investigating one of her more creative murders.”

“Bullshit,” the men said in unison.

“It’s true!” Breanna exclaimed. “We were dating at the time—”

“No way!” They exclaimed in unison, which looked like a badly rehearsed comedy skit.

“You mean she’s not—,” Mason inquired.

“Straight?” Breanna asked. “She hates men, and wants nothing to do with them.”

“So what—,” Brett demanded.

“Their relationship… is complicated. It was never physical,” Breanna replied. “Although I’d avoid bringing that up in her company.”

“How did you two cross paths?” Brett asked, snooping around for some gossip.

“She was at the Grand during its construction,” Breanna said as though reliving a dream. “You two sent me there to establish our lab in that region, remember?”

Evelyn had been searching for a model, and conveniently Breanna was bored out of her skull. Establishing an outpost on the site had been a cinch, and would not return on investments until years later.

Breanna concealed a slight smile, as she thought back to her first experience in human sexuality. Evelyn may have been a vampire, but was more than adept at teaching her the ins and outs. To this day, no one could even hope to approximate that woman’s skill.

“Attentive, determined, and utterly sensual. Is there a better combination for a lover?” Breanna asked herself.

“A small reward for allowing me capture your beauty in stone,” Evelyn whispered that day in bed, after a particularly vigorous session.

“What’s with you and women at the Grand?” Mason asked. When Breanna did not register what was alluded to, he added, “The girl with hundreds of past lives?”

Breanna’s eyes narrowed a moment before they exploded in a bright glow. It was obvious to the others that memories of that brief interlude had also been memorable.

“Hey!” Breanna exclaimed. “She came onto me and didn’t care that my appearance was artificial, or that my hips were well-suited for childbearing. Besides, the experiences gained from having lived a hundred lifetimes… helped us to consolidate centuries of human history.”

“Did you two bond over the beating heart research?” Brett asked.

Breanna glared at Brett, and for a moment looked as though she were about to gouge his eyes out. The opportunity to study and dissect an immortal, should have been her ticket out of here. Unfortunately, someone managed to steal that beating heart in a jar, which invalidated all associated research. To this day, these two knuckleheads never failed to rub salt in the wound.

“Did Anna Hunter tell you that?” Breanna asked Brett to dredge up another experiment that went sideways for the group.

While Breanna maintained her composure, Brett reacted violently. He slammed the surface of his workstation, which caused a display element to shift; a virtual dial changed from a dark green, to a deep red.

“Just because you two look like the descendants of apes,” Mason said. “It doesn’t mean that you have to fling shit at each other!”

Breanna and Brett looked down to avoid the gaze of the expedition’s senior scientist. While Mason was stuck here like the rest, they both knew he had the authority to make things worse, all in the name of research.

“So what now?” Mason asked to get these two back on track.

“We—We are roughly two minutes away from exploiting the alternate path,” Breanna said.

“The tachyon generators are primed, capacitors charged and waveform generators are set for optimal insertion,” Brett said.

Mason knew the rest. They would target the area in space, and time where the differing paths began. They had no choice, since Evelyn’s current choice did not align with their goals.

“One minute to divergent path,” Breanna said.

By targeting just the right point, they were able to shift the probability of Evelyn making a choice they favoured. Using this method, they could alter coin tosses, or shift the tides of war.

“Thirty seconds…” Breanna announced.

Breanna pulled out her mobile device, something the others never embraced. While the men avoided human contact, and the pleasures that came with such interactions, she saw it as a way to better integrate and disappear into the crowd.

“Twenty seconds,” Breanna said.

She checked for notifications, but they were none. A tinge of disappointment overcame her, but realised that it was late, and that people needed to sleep. Well so did she, but they had ways to push themselves beyond the limits of human endurance.

“Ten seconds,” Breanna said with a hint of excitement.

All they needed was a well-timed nudge, fortunately the precise set of calculations made that part easy.

“Five… four… three… two… one… now!” Breanna exclaimed.

Brett tapped a button on his virtual interface. For a second the lights flickered, and dimmed before going out entirely. The trio were frozen like deer caught in the headlights, silent witnesses to every piece of equipment in their lab powering down.

“What’s going on,” Mason asked while visibly annoyed, or at least he would be, if the lights were on. “We have enough power generating capacity to power half the continent.”

Before anyone could reply, a large wave of energy originating from the centre of the building passed right through them. Mason could not help but wonder if this phenomenon was linked to their equipment failure.

“Oops,” Brett said to break the silence.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

M.J. Hudon’s Review of The Van Helsing Paradox

Wow! What a lovely review from M.J. Hudon for The Van Helsing Paradox. This is my latest dark fantasy release that follows the life and times of Clara Grey, a child who grows up to hunt things that go bump in the night!

Her review is simple, straight forward and beautifully done. The following is an except from the review:

Clara Grey notices things. Things nobody else will allow themselves to see. It is this ability, this willingness to believe, that makes Miss Grey the perfect candidate for training to be a monster hunter.

This one is my favourite:

Well written and smart, The Van Helsing Paradox is a fresh take on monster hunting and monster hunters.

Thank you very much for your great review! Are you curious about my work? Just click on my Prose link, to find a list of all my published works!

Cause and Effect – Part I

“Sorry I’m late!” Mason exclaimed.

He walked into the lab, and came face to face with a world that was sterile by design. Everything in this room, including the walls were a bright white with no style or flare of any kind. To most, this room would have evoked images of an early twentieth-century sanitorium. For him, this room had all of the comforts of home.

The Van Helsing Resurgence - Saturday Scenes

Located within the depths of an office high-rise, this lab was invisible to those who worked and visited this building. The illusion that protected the access to the inner sanctum, was simple and effective. It took a very powerful mind to see past the deception, although that was only the first level of defence.

“About time you showed up,” Brett said.

Brett was physically perfect, they all were, because that had been the goal of their genetically designed appearances. Each of them could have walked off the pages of a glamour magazine; Brett a blonde Adonis, Breanna an Irish lass, and Mason the embodiment of Casanova.

“We got an indication on a divergent event that will swing the balance of power our way,” Breanna said.

“What are we looking at?” Mason asked.

“The odds are better than a-million-to-one chance that this divergence will result in a step back,” Breanna said.

“Seems too good to be true,” Mason said. “So how did we come across this gem?”

Brett typed away on his desktop angled at a forty-five degree angle. It resembled a drafting table, and was devoid of any content except for the virtual user interface overlaid onto the surface. From this console, he could interface with any system linked to their network.

“Picked it up an hour ago,” Brett replied. “This one was big enough to trigger every sensor we have. The strongest signals were from our listening stations near here, but sensors in Australia also registered it.”

“Impressive,” Mason said.

“No kidding,” Breanna quipped.

There was excitement that permeated the air, it felt like a current was flowing between them. No one said it, and to do so would be tempting fate, but this might be their chance to get off of this primordial ooze covered rock.

“How long have I been here?” Mason wondered.

He had memories of the steam age and Pax Britannia, but little else prior to that. Still, that meant he had been on this backwater planet more than a century. They had been busy manipulating world events, or influencing key players to their benefit. All the while, they posed as a neutral party, one who sold technology to both sides of the conflict.

Every attempt made to shift things in the favour triggered an opposing force that returned the system to an equilibrium. They were responsible for plunging Europe into a continental war, all in an effort to weaken the vampire’s power base. Instead, they watched as their corruption spread westward into North America, which created an even stronger power base.

The activation of a gate into the Hunters’ stronghold, followed by an attack, only magnified the zealotry of those left behind. They never got the all-out war they hoped for, since the bulk of the hunters remained within the confines of the Tower. Meanwhile one of their best managed to destroy an influential vampire, which struck a serious blow to several projects their group favoured.

That time they had a-thousand-to-one odds in favour of changing balance to favour the Georgians. That had been seen as more than favourable odds, but this? Was this even possible?

“Georgians,” Mason said absentmindedly. “What an awful choice of name for our kind.”

“What was that?” Breanna asked.

Mason’s glassy stare ended with a quick shake of his head. He desperately wanted to return to his normal form, have his cybernetic implants returned, and be linked once more to the hives group consciousness. Alas the presence of such implants were not only incompatible with their physiology, they would also raise some uncomfortable questions if discovered here.

“What?” Mason asked. “Nothing. So what’s going on that could bring about such a dramatic shift?”

Brett’s fingers glided over the interface with ease. Every button and available option had been committed to memory long ago. The user had an intimacy with the interface that only existed between a creation and its maker.

“Look here,” Brett said.

They collectively looked up at the wall connected to the desk. The surface broke up into millions of tiny colour-shifting squares that moved independently from the whole to display a three dimensional image. In this case, the moment rendered had yet to occur.

Mason looked over every detail of the scene, but did not understand how any of this would alter world events in their favour. This scene was more deserving of a soap opera than a chapter in the history books.

There were three people visible, only one of which was human. The display included a series of overlays, which included a biometrics associated for each individual, and only one registered a body temperature above ambient.

The human sported short blonde hair cut into a fashionable bob. Her pale blue eyes, sharp features and feminine nose would have made her attractive, if not for that mousey demeanour, and physical exhaustion. This was all part of the ritual he supposed, since Breanna had not briefed him otherwise, or bothered to explain why the woman’s clothes hung loosely from her frame.

The young girl was a real knockout, what with those piercing green eyes, shoulder length dark hair, and a body better suited to world class runway models. She had lips that beckoned and a smile that promised so much.

The man was harder to make out, dark hair and dark eyes enabled him to melt into the shadows. While short in stature, he was built like the strong men of old. Mason identified this one as an ancient specimen of their kind, and yet had no trouble letting his partner take the lead.

Mason and his kind had seen this place before. The altar and the pit filled with an endless supply of blood.

“Wait. Is that the Icon of Sin?” Brett asked with a snicker.

Breanna slapped the back of Brett’s head before responding, “Why do you keep bringing up that video game references when we get footage of this site?”

“Hey!” Brett exclaimed. “I loved that game, besides the name fits.”

In a way it did, this hall of worship featured a pedestal, and icons that celebrated the cruellest of despots, psychopaths, and murderers. This was a holy site where their kind practised some of their darkest rituals.

“Situation?” Mason asked, since it was time to get things on track.

Breanna looked away from the display and took a seat at her own workstation. At first, she appeared to be absorbing a great deal of information, but soon commented on the situation.

“Initiation ceremony,” Breanna said. “The brunette, Evelyn has been manipulating that blonde since early childhood.”

“To what end?” Mason asked genuinely curious, because it was rare for their kind to toy with their food for so long.

“Evelyn made sure to keep this child away from anything that could spoil her innocence,” Breanna replied.

“Woman looks to be in her late twenties. How could she—,” Mason was about to ask.

“Still a virgin,” Breanna said flatly. “Recent events led her to quit her job and start writing a story that centred on Evelyn’s life… a bit of a mind fuck ensued to prepare her… her parents were killed to start the process… Wait! Fascinating!”

“What?” the men asked.

“A herald,” Breanna said.

“I don’t follow,” Mason said.

“The predictive algorithms are still forming the narrative,” Breanna said. “But if this divergent path is strengthened. Then Victoria, the blonde, will chronicle the systematic eradication of vampires.”

“How would her being turned lead to their extinction?” Mason queried.

“The company her parents founded are heavily invested in the government’s military industrial complex,” Breanna replied. “Her disappearance has been noticed and will trigger an investigation to determine her whereabouts. This leads to a SWAT team being decimated in an attempt to save her, which in turn, exposes their kind’s existence to the general public.”

Once they realised how this divergent path panned out, the current that flowed amongst them increased exponentially. Their hopes rose, and despite years of experience telling them to temper their expectations, they all cracked a smile.

“What’s the primary path?” Mason asked.

Brett turned around and beamed a smile before saying, “Just enough of that scenario has solidified to show you.”

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Cinnamon Swirl Cake with a Cream Cheese Icing

A cake infused with a cinnamon and brown sugar swirl. When served with cream cheese, this evokes nothing less than the image of a cinnamon bun cake! Yummy!

Ingredients

Cinnamon Swirl Cake

  • 1 cup (235 ml) of milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups (470 ml) of flour
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) of soft butter
  • 1 cup (235 ml) of sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Topping

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of cream cheese (softened)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of milk
  • ½  cup (235 ml) of icing sugar

Preparation

Cinnamon Swirl Cake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Butter or grease a 9 inch (22 cm) bundt pan. As an additional precaution, dust pan with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of flour, tapping the powder around all surfaces and discarding any remaining flour.
  3. Combine milk, and vinegar in a cup then set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, and cinnamon then set aside.
  5. In another small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking powder, and salt then set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until you have a creamy consistency. Add eggs, and vanilla extract and repeat process.
  7. Add about ⅓ of the milk mix to the large bowl, followed by ⅓ of the flour mixture. Use a mixer until you have a consistent finish. Repeat this process until both milk and flour mix are exhausted.
  8. Pour ½ of batter into bundt pan. Tap contents to give it a flat finish, then add ½ of contents of cinnamon mix. Use a knife to make swirl patterns into the batter.
  9. Add remaining half of cinnamon mix, then remaining batter to the bundt pan. Make sure there are no cinnamon pockets exposed as these will burn during the cooking process.
  10. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes until ready. Test with a toothpick to make sure the inside is cooked.
  11. Set aside and let cool for 5 to 7 minutes.
  12. Remove from pan, prepare cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Topping

  1. Mix in alternating portions of milk and icing sugar in a bowl containing cream cheese.
  2. Repeat until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. With the rough consistency of pudding.
  3. Pour and spread over cake, allowing it to drip over the sides of the cake.

Omega

Incense hung in the air, the burned particles irritated her nose, and the smell grew more pronounced as Victoria came to. There was something peculiar about this odour; something that made her think of death and decay. In fact, the link was so strong, that it evoked images of an ancient crypt hidden away under a city forgotten by time.

The Van Helsing Resurgence - Saturday Scenes

She struggled to open her eyes, as though they were glued together. Was this just a case of fatigue? How long had she been unconscious? Was she even alive? Perhaps this was a dream? No, this felt far too real. Besides people rarely experienced pain or discomfort in dreams.

Something brushed up against her lips, it was cool at first, like water trickling out from a frozen waterfall. Victoria struggled to open her eyes, but saw nothing more than an impenetrable darkness that filled her with dread. This sensation of cold spread, pushed past her numbed lips then probed the inside of her mouth. She considered biting down, but feared there would be repercussions.

Only when the tongue withdrew, did Victoria gasp for air, and found her sight restored. The images that flashed before her eyes were blurred at first, confined to a world that moved with a mind of its own. Her sight eventually settled, but what she saw only confirmed her fears; this was in fact, not a dream.

Before her stood Evelyn, her character, her inspiration, and role model. This time, she was dressed in a long flowing gown of white satin. Her face was adorned by a warm smile, and there were locks of long flowing hair that hung around her shoulders. This complemented Victoria’s image of an idyllic angelic figure, and was without a doubt, the same woman she met on that beach twenty years ago.

This was the woman who blessed her as a child, using some sort of prayer. Was that the reason why their minds were linked? Did that mark the moment when Evelyn established a connection between them? Did this imply that Victoria had been nothing more than a bit player in Evelyn’s play?

Evelyn licked her lips as though relishing the echoes of that kiss, and said, “Welcome to the world of the living ma chère. Have you gotten your affairs in order? Indulged in your last meal perhaps?”

Her characters musical highlights in her voice were so familiar. It was eerie how much she knew this person, in spite of this being the first time they ever spoke.

Victoria did not say a word. She was far too lethargic to formulate a proper answer.

“Is there a proper response?” Victoria whispered.

She knew that either decision would end in death, only the method of her death would differ. Would her death be quick and merciless, or would her character’s sadistic nature come to the surface?

Evelyn’s smile changed, one that stripped away her angelic traits, and replaced them with a cruel harshness. Her character was truly skilled at human emotions, an expert on how to leverage them against others. How else could she convey so much based on the shape of her smile? Would Victoria be able to manipulate others just as easily?

Before the question was answered, Victoria found herself being dragged from the altar. The world swirled nauseatingly as vertigo muddled her mind. Would she have the strength to stop herself from vomiting all over the floor?

Once the world settled, Victoria noticed the pool of dark liquid. The surface was so dark, that it reflected back her image. Tired and weak, Victoria lost her balance, dropped to her knees, and instantly became mesmerised over the reflection. She seemed to be looking at an ideal version of herself, one immune to the ravages of time. Did she ever have such a youthful glow about her?

Victoria reached for her chest, to check for a heartbeat, and sighed once the familiar rhythm registered. She was still alive, and yet her reflection implied that she had already crossed the threshold between life and death.

“How can my reflection seem that much more confident and full of life,” Victoria muttered to herself while the shadow of death approached.

As it had been with the Apostle Thomas, doubt reigned supreme in her mind. How was it possible to reflect back an image that differed from reality? At a snail’s pace, Victoria probed her face, seeking those familiar features, and was soon astounded by the gravity of the changes. Her cheeks were sunken, features sharper, with noticeably unhealthy skin. When was the last time she had a bite to heat?

“It has been a week love,” Evelyn said, knowing that in Victoria’s current state, the full depth of those words would have no effect.

Victoria turned around to look upon her character, her eyes brimming with fear. She then turned back to look into the radiant pool, and noticed an unnatural red hue surrounding her reflection.

“Blood,” Victoria stuttered out as her reflection winked back in response.

Why was her doppelgänger mocking her? The same way that her parents would when she did something innocent or amusing. The kind of mocking that was invariably accompanied by that dreadful laugh which simultaneously managed to dismiss and ridicule the child. Innocence? Once more that concept was brought to the surface. Was this an element her character sought? To what end? To destroy in another, what had been denied in life?

“We are perversions of life, we exist counter to what the Church and the laws of science dictate. We are the embodiment of those who turned away from the light of God in exchange for perpetual existence,” Evelyn rhymed off as though in a prayer.

Evelyn circled around the pool, and despite her light step, the motion nonetheless caused the pool to ripple. For a moment, her taunting reflection was disrupted, which gave Victoria a few moments of peace.

Evelyn soon broke out into a fit of laughter and added, “I’m just fucking with you. That was way too melodramatic!”

She approached the altar then grabbed the chalice upon it. Evelyn then lifted it to the full extension of her arms while staring up at the stained glass works above. After the imp uttered some sort of incantation, she brought the chalice to her lips and drank greedily, permitting any excess to spill onto the gown.

With Evelyn’s satin robe stained in blood, she licked her lips then tossed the chalice aside. Now that her little spectacle was done and over with, she looked over to Victoria, the one who would soon be joining her in the afterlife. While Victoria was being judged, anxiety swelled from within, just like those awaiting the Emperor’s thumb.

In the back of her mind, Victoria wondered if her character had a change of heart. Uncertainty would reign supreme until the end, never knowing if she were destined to live, or suffer at the hands of her executioner.

Evelyn was attuned to Victoria’s mind, and had not been surprised about the growing conflict within. Not only had she been the source of that woman’s inspiration for the better part of her life, but Evelyn also had a view to the thoughts, and emotions that most kept bottled up inside.

“Are you having a change of faith ma chère?” Evelyn asked.

Victoria looked up, bewildered that this question had come up. Was she being tossed a life line? How foolish would it be to even consider it? Let alone acknowledge it?

“I am not sure,” Victoria said in such a way that every single word uttered became a self-contained sentence.

“The door is right behind me,” Evelyn said nonchalantly. “Only you can decide how to live your life.”

Victoria’s eyes widened upon hearing those words, and that did much to betray her state of mind. As a glow of hope began to rise, her character rendered her verdict.

The imp leaned in closer, so close that the cool breeze from her whisper sent shiver running down Victoria’s spine. In that moment, she believed there was a path to freedom, one that led away from this crazy woman.

“Crazy?” Evelyn asked.

Before Victoria could say another word, Evelyn grabbed the woman’s throat, and with one brutal motion tore it away from her neck. A streak of blood followed, which covered the immaculate floor in a splatter of crimson.

“A shame,” Evelyn added before she licked the fresh blood from Victoria’s windpipe. “In the end, you turned out to be such a disappointment.”

At first, Victoria was unsure of what happened. Her body and mind were so disjointed from the prolonged trauma that this fresh wound did not immediately register. At first she felt moisture against her skin, but before she was able to investigate the source, Victoria was greeted by sweet oblivion.

“All that time and effort you put into that girl,” Marc commented from the shadows.

Evelyn was tempted to betray her composure and lash out. However, that would be tantamount to her confirming that her sire was right.

Instead, she glided over to her man, her every step a display of sensuality, she then folded into him as though they were one. The movement was fluid, sensual, and capable of evoking an emotional response in nearly everyone, well except for this lone specimen. Either way, she did not care, with all the grace of a lady, she slipped out two wedding bands from her pocket.

These rings were unique, a pair that represented night and day, and commissioned to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary of Victoria’s parents. Without it a second look, she crushed them with her bare hands, and tossed them onto Victoria’s corpse. By now, the author’s skin was pale, her eyes glassy, while what was left of her blood flowed gingerly into the pool.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!