Evelyn Chartres Author
Evelyn Chartres – Page 2

Clara and a Beer

A gal has to look out for herself after all.

This weekend, pour yourself a drink and grab a copy of my Dark Fantasy novel the Van Helsing Paradox! Explore the life and times of a femme fatal hunter. Watch her grow, serve in the Great War, and hunt things that go bump in the night

What are you waiting for? Get it now!

Synopsis for the Van Helsing Paradox:

Clara Grey’s parents once said that the world was a dark and dangerous place. There was more truth than fiction to those words. There were things that lurked in the shadows which defied the laws of nature: perversions that fed on the dead, terrorised the living, or escaped the chill touch of the grave.

Clara is a member of the Tower, a religious order of hunters who work outside the confines of the Church. As keepers of the arcane, her order takes an active role to counter these threats. The life of a hunter can be short, and many disappear before their training is completed. So, what does it take to succeed against all odds?

Explore Clara’s origin, a child born before the dawn of the twentieth century. Witness her rigorous training, how she faces adversity, and fights in the Great War to become the derringer wielding flapper she is.

Throughout her tale, keep in mind that no matter the threat, a gal has to look out for herself after all.

The Van Helsing Paradox – Parts V and VI

“Horsefeathers,” Clara said under her breath.

All the signs were there, so how had she missed them? There were no doubts the concierge was one of them, making it a foregone conclusion that there were others on staff as well. The latter was obvious considering how the lobby boys seemed afraid she would set them aflame.

So this must be a haven for their kind. Hunters like her probably ended end up on the menu once their suspicions were aroused. No wonder Drusilla decided to make a stop here.

“Fine place to end up,” Clara said while trying to work out a solution. “Served up like a thanksgiving turkey at a five-star hotel,” she added, none too amused.

Clara stopped once she heard the familiar clicking sound, one that might prove to be her salvation. When she looked in that direction, Clara saw familiar brass and glass contraptions busily spewing out stock market updates.

“Could it be?” Clara wondered in hopes that she might be right.

On her way to the hotel, she noticed they had sentinels posted atop the perimeter walls. Clara had initially dismissed their presence as some misplaced adherence to historical anachronisms. But given the revelation that this was not a normal hotel, Clara figured they might be automatons used to protect the grounds. If that were true, then Georgians must be involved.

On a hope and a prayer, Clara casually made her way through the crowd towards the ticker tapes. That was the easy part, since men naturally ceded their place once women came into the picture. To think people said chivalry was dead!

She found that these devices were anchored to the marble top, not that anyone would dream of stealing one, at least not here. These marvels of technology were connected to a teletype line and received stock updates from their particular markets. Fortunately for her, one of the machines was beginning to show signs of ink fade.

She gave a quick glance to the immediate area and noticed sliding panels below the marble tops. Clara knelt down, found some ink, and proceeded to place it by the faltering machine. First, she removed the glass, then the inkwell’s cover. Next, she applied liberal amounts of fresh ink while simultaneously pressing down on a button just to the side.

To anyone who observed (not likely since the men were probably fixated on her ass), Clara appeared to be doing nothing more than routine maintenance. But a hidden function had been triggered within the device which forced it to read from an alternate channel. To Clara’s satisfaction, the machine generated a series of glyphs.

Once the symbols began to repeat, she ripped the ticker tape then replaced the ink and cover. Without a second glance, she walked away from the crowd intent on finding a potential escape.

* * * *

When Clara neared a ladies room, she feigned a quick pace to appear as though nature was calling. She then darted inside, hurried into a stall, and sat down prior to looking at the three-foot length of ticker tape. Three feet of stock updates could make or break fortunes, but tonight it might save her life.

Right before the glyphs, she saw a four, one and four printed. Clara assumed it to be the point of origin for the portal. A reference to anything, but in this case, was probably a room number. A shame there were only three floors that she knew of. So that meant there was a fourth floor hidden from the public.

“Not much of an escape plan,” Clara muttered.

She looked over the glyphs to see if any were familiar and found two that were. The first was not an option, recognising it as the symbol for the goddess Selene. Clara doubted she would enjoy that particular destination and wondered why it was an option at all. Could this have been a rare example of Georgian humour?

The second symbol was more of a concern. Familiar only because she found it and variations of it under the ziggurat. Trying to find refuge at their equivalent of the Holy See? Clara had no hope of finding allies there.

“Just ducky,” Clara said while considering what to do next.

The proof of her knowledge on the portal could be flushed away, but misdirection seemed to be the best course of action. Clara pulled out her lipstick and circled one of the other destinations. Even if she had no clue where it ended up, they might assume otherwise. That meant the staff would dedicate resources to defend the portal which would weaken their security elsewhere.

When she returned her lipstick to the purse, Clara dropped the ticker tape. For now, it appeared as though she was being careless, understandable given the situation.

Before leaving, Clara looked into the mirror, breathed in deeply, and forced herself to tear up. Time to let loose her tears and fool anyone who caught sight of her. Now they would think she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“Let them underestimate me,” Clara said.

She then recited a prayer while walking through the East wing, it was the hunter’s equivalent of the Last Rights. May as well make this trip worthwhile because Clara doubted she would leave through the front doors intact.

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!

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part IV

Max, the night concierge, kept busy by reading the local paper. News never changed, especially the local rag, since the truth was bad for business.

From the corner of his eye, he spotted a keen woman heading towards the fountain. When she stopped to take in the view of the cherubs feeding their eternal pond, his eyes focused on her.

She had all the signs of someone afflicted with the malady called life, an unfortunate condition that invariably led to death. Despite her terminal prognosis, she appeared to be fit, at least as judged by the toned muscles in her getaway sticks and bare-arms.

When this dame turned around, he saw a hint of worry in her eyes. She looked around as though searching for someone. Max even noted how her heart rate rose to match her anxiety.

When she was about ready to give into hysterics, the woman’s eyes floated over to Max. Upon seeing the presence of staff who could assist, she approached his desk and he noted the sensual sway of her hips.

“Oh, where is she,” Clara murmured while looking over her shoulder.

“Where is whom madam?” Max asked.

The poor dear’s heart was very much at a gallop by now. With curiosity renewed, he hoped this event might temporarily relieve his boredom.

“I was supposed to meet Betty here an hour ago,” Clara said all worried. “But I fell asleep and woke up too late,” she added while her voice was on the cusp of cracking.

The concierge had no desire to deal with the waterworks. After having lived for over a thousand years, this type of melodrama wore thin. Max’s only interest was to get her out of his hair.

“Betty?” Max asked to see if she could come up with a family name.

“Jones. Betty Jones,” Clara replied.

With hope renewed, her voice perked up, but Max quirked an eyebrow. That was not a name that should have rolled off her tongue.

Her eyes were hard to read but he could tell this was not some dumb dora. Years of life and experience shone through clearly enough. Was this one playing him? This was not Betty’s conventional fare. How did these two know each other?

It was during his slew of questions that he noticed something peculiar. To think he nearly missed the clues! Max was now standing a foot away from the counter as though her very presence could harm him.

He could overcome that fear if need be, and even vacation at Sancta Sedes while sucking the life out of the Pope. But this remained a potent clue that there was a hunter in their midst.

“I believe I saw the young miss heading towards the East wing,” Max said wholeheartedly.

At this point, it simplified matters to tell her the truth. It would get her out of the way, so he could get on the blower to coordinate a response.

“Really?” Clara asked excitedly.

The girl relaxed and even her heart slowed. A clear sign that she was well trained and could wreak havoc. A hunter of this calibre on the loose was bad news.

“Thank you!” Clara exclaimed. With a warm smile, she added, “I could kiss you!”

“That’s quite alright my dear,” Max said with a nod. “Now, be sure to head in that direction and you are bound to come across her,” he added while pointing out the way.

“Thank you,” Clara said excitedly.

She walked away with a light seductive sway. It was as though she were inviting him to follow, or was that a dare?

Max could not help it. He was in awe of just how manipulative this one was. With this distraction out of the way, he picked up the receiver and waited for Mavis to answer.

“Operator,” Mavis said.

Tonight Mavis would be the vital link to contain this evening’s complication.

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!

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs are a de-facto comfort food. This recipe opts to bake the meatballs in the oven so they remain intact during cooking. These seasoned meatballs, coated in sour cream, can really brighten the mood at the table and is sure to become a family favourite!

This recipe feeds 6 to 8 people.

Ingredients

  • 1⅛ cup (265 ml) of dry bread crumbs
  • 1 cup (235 ml) of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of butter (divided)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of finely chopped onions
  • 2 cloves (5-10 g) of crushed garlic
  • 1 pound (450 g) of ground beef
  • ½ pound (225 g) of ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of Herbes de Provence or Italian Seasoning (divided)
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) of ground allspice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (235 ml) of beef broth
  • 1 cup (235 ml) of sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of flour

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F (165°C).
  2. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of butter. Add onions and garlic then sauté until onions are transparent.
  3. In a large bowl, mix bread crumbs and cream. Then quickly add onions, garlic, beef, pork, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of herbes, salt and pepper.  Kneed the contents until you have a consistent texture.
  4. Using a heaping tablespoon of meat, roll into meatballs. Place meatballs on greased 17×11 inch (44×28 cm) pan or cookie sheet. Space them out to fit approximately 40 meatballs.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the centre is no longer pink. On occasion, roll the balls to prevent them from cooking on only one side or sticking to the pan. Once cooked, set aside.
  6. In a large saucepan on medium-high bring broth to a boil. Reduce to low once it comes to a boil.
  7. Combine sour cream and flour into a small bowl then mix well. Stir mixture into the broth, then cook for five minutes while stirring constantly. Do not bring to a boil.
  8. Add meatballs and cook for five minutes. On occasion, place a lid on the saucepan then shake the contents so every meatball gets evenly coated.
  9. When complete, garnish with remaining herbes and serve.

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part III

Clara locked the door as soon as the valet left empty handed and crestfallen. She settled onto the bed, admiring the opulence. There was nothing here but the best and that came as no surprise.

She pulled out the picture from her bible. How odd was it that she had not aged a day since they last met? They never aged, none of them did. That explained why people were so easily convinced to turn their backs on God. Such a small price to pay to avoid the ravages of time.

Rumours swirled within her order that this transition occurred during a ritual that was eerily similar to a baptism. A wilful act which ceded their place in paradise for commuting their death sentence on the mortal plane.

The older these creatures were, the more twisted and dangerous they became. Age warped their minds as boredom led them to shed their morality. Their kind would do anything in their power to keep boredom at bay, even for a moment.

This particularly nasty one had walked the earth for a long time. There was no other way to explain how consecrated ground meant nothing to her. The younger ones often had an aversion to those with faith, although they were rarely conscious of it.

It was an invaluable way for Clara to find threats in a crowd. If she observed someone who kept their distance despite making advances, Clara knew she had found a monster in their midst.

“Betty Jones,” Clara said after reading the name on the back of the picture.

A very modern name, Drusilla’s way of avoiding any unwanted attention. How many names had she used over the years? As many as the Devil?

“Time to get ready,” Clara said while she grudgingly slid off of the bed.

Tonight she would dress in accordance with fashion, and not for comfort. It would make her the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, free to manipulate men as she saw fit. Drusilla was not the only one who possessed that particular skill set.

The latest fashions did have disadvantages. For one, it was difficult to conceal weapons. This was a trade-off that women regularly made, since walking into a gin mill while dressed in plate-armour tended to be a giveaway.

Before leaving, Clara put on a long strand of pearls. The pearls formed a fashionably long necklace that flowed over her light blouse. In turn, her blouse flowed loosely over her skirt which did the same over her gams.

Her ears were adorned with a set of studded pearl earrings. These were convincing fakes since patrons of the Grand could spot cheap knock-offs from a mile away. Each contained a single drop of holy water, one of the many tricks up her sleeve that had endless possibilities.

Out of habit, she wrapped Father Michael’s rosary around her wrist, tight enough to conceal its religious significance and the blade fitted at the end. Clara carried it with her everywhere she went, ever since the incident. She wore it out of respect for the dead, for those who lost their lives protecting the innocent from the likes of them.

She looked into a mirror, making sure her hair was neatly bobbed and devoid of any stray curls. She then turned the outer casing of her lipstick to extend the carmine dye and wax stick. Clara proceeded to spread the compound over her lower lip. She then followed through to the top but did not completely fill in her lips. Somehow, the illusion of smaller lips had become the latest craze. No matter how silly it seemed, breaking from the norm in this situation was asking for trouble.

As an additional precaution, she dabbed a thin layer of holy water onto her lips. While mostly immune to the feminine wiles of the women, men took more effort. Fortunately, they tended to be melodramatic losers like Jake who sought to romance their prey. The holy water was a fail-safe and one that saved her life on several occasions.

Lastly, she placed her compact, lipstick and other cosmetics into a small purse. It was a black, sequined affair with a thin shoulder strap that left just enough space to accommodate her derringer. A gal had to look out for herself after all.

Clara slipped her feet into a pair of shoes then double-checked her appearance in the mirror. She hated getting all dolled up for a hunt, but one had to play the part. She wondered if Father Michael ever had to get ready like this and giggled at the thought of him wearing her dress.

“That would be something to see,” Clara said before opening the door. “Now where’s Drusilla?”

That creature was bound to be at the biggest party going. Where else could she be the centre of attention? Clara had every intention of crashing that party.

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!