Evelyn Chartres Author
The Van Helsing Paradox – Page 2

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!

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!

The Van Helsing Paradox – Parts I and II

People often said that revenge was a dish best served cold. Although the originator of that turn of phrase probably never came across those who possessed the chill touch of the grave.

Either way, Clara was not sold on the idea, considering that the memory of a corpse bursting into flames was so near and dear to her heart. It was the heat from those flames that permitted her to keep going until the sun claimed its dominion over the land.

“Revenge for whom or for what?” Clara wondered.

Clara wondered why she considered her vocation a form of revenge. Her father died working the coal mines while her mother followed suit years later; there was no desire to avenge their deaths.

“Was Father Michael’s death the catalyst that drove my thirst for revenge?” Clara wondered.

That reason did not jive. He dedicated his life to purging the world of their kind. He knew the risks and died doing God’s work.

“Not a bad way to go,” Clara said absentmindedly.

As the somniferous clickety-clack of the railcars took a hold of her mind, Clara realised the sandman would soon claim his prize. It was midday and the train would not get there until a few hours before sunset.

She reached for a picture at her side, a recent shot taken a week or so ago. It featured a woman who walked hand in hand with an unidentified man who was later found dead. Despite a different hairstyle and clothes, Clara knew this was Drusilla, the woman who had been responsible for countless deaths and atrocities. Unfortunately, before Clara could deliver her verdict, she was fast asleep.

* * * *

“Check out the rock of ages,” a lobby boy said loud enough that Lewis’ ears perked up.

The concierge looked up to see how a woman in her thirties would deserve that kind of reaction. Sure enough, Lewis’ question was answered the moment he set eyes on the gal making her way towards the lobby desk. Her baggage followed suit along with the love-struck valet who hauled them.

Odd how he seemed unaffected by the crushing weight of her bags. Might have something to do with the fact his eyes were glued to her ass!

She had the chassis of a Greek goddess, toned and shapely. Despite her obviously active lifestyle, she retained that distinctive feminine sway, which entranced every male in the room.

Of course, the lobby boy would need to be reprimanded, even if his call to arms had been spot on. The day shift’s concierge eyed every movement she made, finding the entire affair sensual despite the lack of visible skin. The lady had chosen to wear a knee-duster that was both longer and of a heavier fabric than fashion dictated. A shame, because he would have enjoyed seeing more of her.

“Good day,” Clara said after giving Lewis the once-over.

Experience shone through her steel-grey eyes and Lewis could tell she had been around the block. All the better for him. He rather liked the idea of learning new tricks.

“I cabled ahead for a room,” Clara added with a soul-crushing tone that reinforced her desire to keep things strictly business. “Under the name of Grey,” she said nonchalantly.

Left with a deflated ego, Lewis wondered how she so easily avoided his masculine charm. The concierge looked over the register and found the entry. First name Clara, he noted and thought it was a pretty name which fit her to a tee.

“Ah yes,” Lewis said playing the game. “Clara Grey, right here. May I call you Clara?” he asked with the backing of his warmest smile.

Clara smirked, then shook her head before replying, “No. Miss Grey will do.”

In the background, Lewis imagined his ego being shanked in some dark alley and left there to bleed out. Unfortunately, she was not done with him yet, choosing to show no mercy by delivering the coup de grâce.

Clara said, “The key, if you please.”

She grabbed the key from his hand and before he said a word, left with the valet in tow. That man would probably go to the depths of hell as long as she led the way. Bets were sure to be made amongst the staff on how big a tip he would get for his trouble. Lewis assumed a big fat goose egg and was later proven correct.

It seemed that Lewis had been right all along, in that Miss Grey had been around the block a few times. She certainly had no trouble seeing him for the player he was.

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 Prelude to Action – Part VII

Clara had been blindfolded and transported to a new location. Had she been familiar with her surroundings, she may have guessed her whereabouts.

When her blindfold was lifted, her eyes struggled to adjust to the light. Hay, thick supporting beams and wood planks made up her immediate surroundings, so these were either stables or a barn.

She had been tied to a chair and her bindings had been expertly secured. The well-planned ambush, transfer and securing of the prisoner were indicative of someone who knew their craft.

Since only women were present at the ambush, that implied she was dealing with the Feminine Brigade of Saint Joan of Arc. The Reverend Mother had already revealed that members of the Tower had infiltrated this group. Although the name was far too…

“Surprised you were captured so easily?” Edith mused.

Clara sniggered before she replied, “And miss the chance to see who was running the show?”

“Good point,” Edith said. “How are you enjoying our hospitality?”

“A bit to be desired in terms of locale,” Clara said in riposte.

“Take it up with management,” Edith said.

“I am,” Clara replied. “Won’t lend me her ear.”

Edith did not say a word and for now they were at an impasse. Clara was curious about why they were having this exchange.

“You went native?” Clara asked. “Nice tan, by the way.”

“You’re still hunting,” Edith said. “Still bathing in milk?” came her retort.

“So you haven’t heard?” Clara asked to break the cycle.

That odd question caused Edith’s face to register some emotion. There was confusion, but also a faint sign that their friendship still meant something to her.

“Heard of what?” Edith asked.

“The Terminus was attacked,” Clara replied. “The gates are closed, and the Tower is isolated.”

“When?” Edith sputtered out. “How?”

“When did the government attack that church?” Clara asked.

Edith fell into deep thought. Clara had seen this before in people who struggled to survive. For them, the passage of time was nearly irrelevant. When living to see another day was a challenge, what was a week or a month in their minds?

“About a fortnight ago,” Edith said.

“I was heading to a gate in California when I was redirected to French Canada,” Clara said. “Ruined a perfectly good dress, too,” she whined before adopting a smirk.

Edith suppressed a laugh. The air between them was beginning to clear. Gone were the theories that Clara had been sent here to bring her back into the fold, theories that may have held true had the Reverend Mother told her about this defection. Was the Tower aware of this development? Had Edith been counted as one of the hunters who went missing? Clara wondered if there was an end to these secrets and omissions.

“Did you break a nail?” Edith asked.

“You know how expensive manicures are up there,” Clara said sarcastically. “Practically had to sell out every hunter in the country to afford it.”

Edith almost cracked a legitimate smile but there was still a distance between them. Clara felt a twinge of regret. Edith’s actions would forever set them apart, even if they ended up working together.

“Your angel was in town,” Edith said while she produced a newspaper clipping.

Clara brought out her hands from behind the chair. She had been holding the rope together after cutting her way to freedom. Fortunately, devout Catholics rarely took away religious artefacts, even those with sharp blades.

When she grabbed the newspaper clipping, Edith raised an eyebrow. She must have forgotten how slippery Clara could be.

“Taken at a social Gala a couple of days before the attack?” Clara asked.

“Yes,” Edith said. “I recognised her as soon as I saw that picture.”

“Any news on the attack itself?” Clara asked.

“None. Not a peep,” Edith replied.

“That is decidedly odd. The army shows up and blows a church to Kingdom Come, but there is no mention of it in the local papers?” Clara asked.

“That’s why we were keeping an eye on the site,” Edith said. “To see if anyone came sniffing around. We thought that we might get a few answers from those who came to investigate.”

That strategy made sense, except it failed to account for their opponent anticipating the move. Clara would have left traps behind to throw them off. So far, it seemed that Drusilla did not have the same instincts.

“Anyone else come sniffing around?” Clara asked.

Edith’s lips went white and in that moment, Clara realised that someone had indeed laid a trap. There was blood on her friend’s hands.

“Did Drusilla come back to inspect her handiwork?” Clara asked.

For a moment, Edith avoided Clara’s gaze but relented before she replied, “Y—Yes.”

“I am sorry,” Clara said. “You two were close?” Clara guessed.

Clara had inadvertently poured salt in an open wound, but her show of sympathy would avoid making her the target of all that pent up guilt. Edith, the woman who was always cool, calm and collected, finally broke.

As tears streamed down her cheeks, Clara freed her feet just in time to catch Edith. Nothing she said or did would stem the tide, so Clara simply held her friend.

“It’s not fair,” Edith sobbed.

“It never is,” Clara said. “It never is,” she repeated after a long pause.

Life was not fair and there was nothing they could do to change that fact. Many held on to the promise of an afterlife, putting up the good fight until the bitter end. This was done in the hopes that Saint Peter would welcome them with open arms when the time came.

Clara knew that this moment could not be hastened. It was not the time to be selfish nor righteous in dealing with Edith; it was the perfect opportunity to show compassion and empathy. Alas, those were traits hunters rarely needed to use.

Edith finally pulled away after what seemed to be an hour of sobbing. Her eyes were red and puffy while her cheeks were covered in streaks. Even in a place like this, Edith still liked to powder her nose. It was often said that vanity was the devil’s favourite sin.

“I’m okay,” Edith said softly.

“Quiet alright,” Clara said. “We’ve all been there at one point in our lives,” she lied.

“I doubt it,” Edith said with a meek smile.

“Is there anything I can do?” Clara asked.

“Yes,” Edith said. “Kill that bitch.”

Clara did not expect that. Had the tables been turned, Clara would have led the charge herself. Nothing less would satiate her thirst for revenge.

She was doubly surprised when Edith handed over a slip of paper that contained a series of icons indicating gate locations. Disguised as a business card, it could easily be handed around without arousing suspicion.

“How did you get this?” Clara asked.

“Found it—,” Edith said before she broke into tears.

While Clara held Edith, she figured out the rest. The card had been crumpled into a ball as though someone had gripped it with all their might. Somehow her friend had managed to wrestle it away from her killer.

So Drusilla had been there to witness the attack? A gutsy move that worked in Clara’s favour, because she now had a place to start her search.

With the card in hand, she glanced at the design. Some symbols were familiar while others were a complete mystery. One particular symbol brought back memories of Father Allen being dragged away. Her recollection had been so vivid that she nearly dropped the card in response.

This variant featured a crescent moon hanging over a cross. It represented a merging of two faiths, the original, cast aside by the upstart. This must be the location of their holy site, which also meant heavy security.

“Aww, nertz,” Clara said.

Fortunately, this did not appear to be Drusilla’s destination. There was one symbol which had been circled with lipstick. Something the woman who died was unable to afford. Besides, who wore makeup while fighting a civil war? Well, other than Edith?

That symbol did seem to be familiar. It was an icon of the caduceus with an eagle in the background. The caduceus was normally carried by Hermes, however the eagle at its back was the key.

According to Edith, Drusilla desired to be the centre of attention. That jived with previously observed behaviour. Someone who hides from the spotlight would not be found in art throughout the ages. Despite this being one of this country’s major destinations, it was not large enough to keep her interested for long.

Clara smiled once she remembered seeing this icon adorning a major train station. A train station located at a metropolis made infinite sense. Easy to run, hide or party, based on the amount of attention she got.

All Clara needed to do was make sure Edith was alright before leaving. It seemed like the least she could do for a friend. Besides, that woman had roamed the earth for a long time. What was the harm in delaying her death by a couple of weeks?

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!

Clara and a Hot Drink

This weekend, when you get yourself a hot drink, remember that my dark fantasy novel, the Van Helsing Paradox is available in most online stores! So sit down, relax, and take time to read about the life and times of Clara Grey, female femme fatale who hunts things that go bump in the night.

Here is the synopsis:

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.

What are you waiting for? Get it now!