Evelyn Chartres Author
Evelyn Chartres – Page 2 – Author (Nom de Plume)

In Flanders Field The Poppies Blow – Part III

The snow had stopped just as suddenly as it began. The higher atmospheric ceiling created the illusion that the shelling had moved off, but the timings remained the same.

Just as the last snowflake fell to the ground there was a bright flash of light that came out from the heavens. A column of light formed ahead of the couple and a new entity made an appearance.

Clara was temporarily blinded, but a breathtakingly beautiful man soon came into focus, a real sheik who wore a stylish tailor-made suit. Clara immediately suspected that they were dealing with a Georgian, no one’s appearance was that flawless.

“You’re late,” the female vampire said.

“Perhaps you were early,” the sheik said.

Clara observed how the female bared her fangs for a moment before backing down. Whoever this man was, he had enough sway to force her to play nice for now. It was odd to see someone like her so easily declawed.

The sheik smiled and said, “Is the delivery here?”

The female scanned the area and focused on the girl’s position. Both had been concealing their breathing, but it was already too late. Clara slowly and cautiously pulled out her pistol, there was no way she would go down without a fight.

“Seems our mole has drawn them here,” the female said.

“The deal was for one,” the sheik said.

Meanwhile the female’s partner seemed strangely nervous. This was starting to look like a setup and most in the group were just beginning to realise it.

“They sent in whoever they felt was necessary to complete the mission,” the female said nonchalantly. “I held my end of the bargain now you give me what I want,” she hissed.

“You’ve only held up part of the bargain,” the sheik said.

The sheik pulled something that looked like a spyglass from out of his coat pocket and instantly stretched out into a full-sized staff. Clara had heard of such things before and was now certain they were dealing with a Georgian.

When this sheik raised his staff into the air Clara took aim and fired seven rounds at him. Time appeared to slow down, the bullets came out with a puff of smoke then streaked through the night sky towards their target.

Once the first projectile reached her target, the sheik disappeared in a blast of shimmering light. In its place there was an ashen grey creature with long thin fingers and an oversized head. Its eyes were the most chilling element, large, black, and mirror like. There was no hint of emotion visible in those eyes, simply the dark reflection of one’s own image.

Clara instinctively pressed down on the ejector to release the clip. She then reached into her pocket to load a fresh magazine. Once the spent clip hit the ground, so did the Georgian’s body. The female’s partner looked over the scene in shock, but Clara assumed that would soon change.

“So where is she,” Edith asked.

“You,” the female shrieked.

Out from her peripheral vision, Clara picked up the sight of Edith being hurled through the air. She guessed what would come next, without looking she raised her pistol to the side of her right ear, pointed it at a forty-five degree angle and fired three rounds.

The blast left her temporarily deafened but did little to attenuate the shriek of pain that thing made. It seemed that two of the three rounds had reached their target, much to Clara’s good fortune.

Clara turned around while keeping her pistol trained on the woman and saw that distinctive blood pouring onto the snow. The thick red liquid did not melt the snow or steam in the cold, instead it coagulated and grew thicker. The blood was coalescing into a coherent mass in an attempt to return to its host.

Without a second thought Clara unloaded a full clip into that things head until the carrier remained fully to the rear. She stood there for a moment to observe but saw no movement, for now that was the best she could do.

Clara ran towards Edith and found her unconscious but no worse for the wear. She looked about and thought it best to move Edith somewhere safe. It would only get colder and she needed to make sure that some random patrol would not come across her while unconscious.

She lifted Edith onto her shoulders, then moved deeper into the church until she came across a small room. The door was still serviceable, and could be bolted from the inside, while permitting Clara to sneak out through the broken floorboards above.

Clara placed Edith down lightly and felt a chill run down her spine. Edith would probably get a lot colder if nothing were done to help her stay warm. Since lighting a fire was out of the question, Clara helped herself to one of Edith’s clips and left behind her greatcoat.

Even now the chill made her shiver, so that meant she had to keep moving to stay warm. Still it would be a challenge, especially if she had to use stealth.

She ventured out towards the scene of the altercation. The body of the Georgian was gone, in fact there was no indication that it had been here at all. Hopefully those bastards had learned a lesson about playing both sides.

At least the female’s body was still there. Clara then spotted a set of footsteps that led deeper into No-Man’s-Land. Given an active threat lurking about, Clara knew her primary objective; so without hesitation she began her pursuit.

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!

In Flanders Field The Poppies Blow – Part II

As expected the terrain was treacherous. For the first mile or so the ground was nothing but mud. Stepping through mud created suction which forced them to thread carefully or lose a boot. With every step they brought more and more of the battlefield with them; so much so that they had to use something to scrape off a few layers and bring some spring back to their steps.

Later on they reached a series of trenches which concealed their advance. The trenches were quickly beginning to deteriorate without constant care. Still it gave them ample cover, and they only had to keep an eye out for booby traps.

As they left the network of trenches, it began to snow. The type of snowfall that would have lit up a school child’s eyes; both Edith and Clara shivered as they ventured on towards their objective.

The snow would make it more difficult to conceal their tracks. Despite the risk they pushed on, and used a crater for cover while they surveilled the area. From the safety of a crater, the girls spotted the shattered spires of the church in the distance. From here the symbols of faith and sanctuary looked more like a jagged set of fangs.

The last five hundred yards or so were spent either on their knees or crawling across the terrain. It was eerily quiet, there was no gunfire, mortar or artillery fire to be heard. The wind was calm, so the snow fell lazily over the ground and transformed this burnt out landscape into a winter wonderland. It bothered Clara how all of that death and destruction could be so easily concealed.

Once they reached the outskirts of what had been the church courtyard, they found a piece of the property wall that was still standing. It would give them plenty of cover while they waited to find out why they had been summoned here.

A half an hour later Clara felt Edith press against her arm. To the east Clara saw two distinct shadows brake through the falling snow and in time turn into the defined silhouettes of a well-dressed couple.

The girls were confused, these were not the manicured gardens of Versailles. In the background an artillery barrage started anew and Clara guessed that Christmas was over and along with it one’s love for their fellow man. In the back of her mind she kept count on how long it took between the flashes of light and the bang to see how far the fighting was.

As the couple reached the church spire, they paused to scan the area. By this time the girls were covered in snow and thus well concealed behind the stone wall. They seemed unaware of the girls’ presence and the female grew increasingly impatient.

Edith passed the binoculars so Clara carefully pressed the cool brass against her eyelids. From this distance they seemed to be a normal genteel couple out for a stroll, which was clearly out of place for the setting.

For one there was no fog on their breath. Anyone out in this weather should have shown signs of breathing. One quick look at the woman’s uncovered face revealed a great deal more than a lack of breathing.

Clara would never forget that face, the woman of great beauty who rivalled that of angels. The sight of that creature brought back all those memories from that night. Had it been more than a decade already?

She reached for her pistol, and released the clasp. Edith caught the movement from the corner of her eye and motioned Clara to stop.

“What,” Edith asked noiselessly by moving her lips.

Clara handed back the binoculars and replied, “It’s her.”

At first the words did not elicit a response, but after a moment Edith’s eyes widened. She too had come to the same conclusion and knew why Clara had reached for her sidearm.

Two of them and one powerful enough to kill indiscriminately on consecrated ground. Even armed as they were, the girls were poorly equipped to deal with a threat of that magnitude.

“I doubt a sustained artillery barrage would work,” Clara thought.

The two observed from a distance and Clara kept tabs on what lay behind them. The last thing they needed was to end up surrounded.

After another twenty minutes of waiting the couple appeared to be at their wits end. The female scowled and lashed out at her male companion. The latter knew well-enough to cower, so clearly he was subordinate to the female.

Clara contemplated a course of action, one that would permit them to see another day. She also envisioned a scenario where that female ended up with a sunburn. Alas, Clara could not find a way to consolidate these disparate plans.

“Just ducky,” Clara thought.

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!

In Flanders Field The Poppies Blow – Part I

The powder keg that was Europe finally blew and plunged the region into chaos. War spread throughout the lands like a plague, bringing death to millions thanks to a new type of warfare. Trench warfare and the machine gun were responsible for the untold deaths, many of whom never got a proper burial, those poor souls were doomed to anonymity beneath the blood soaked mud.

It was no surprise that the abodimations were also drawn to the conflict. The scores of dead attracted ghouls by the hundreds while other menaces lurked in the shadows and preyed on unsuspecting soldiers. What better way to conceal wanton carnage than amongst the casualties of war?

In response to this epidemic hunters were sent out to assist in the war effort. Edith and Clara had joined up as nurses and served at a field hospital near the front. Day after a day, they were faced with a deluge of wounded and dying.

While tending to the living they kept a watchful eye for things that lurked in the shadows. The nurses had to pay particular attention to the wounds; it was not always obvious if shrapnel or fangs had caused the injury.

Clara felt like a bystander in the war that raged on just over the horizon. The flashes of bright light were always accompanied by a thunderous bang. Sometimes the shelling would get so close that the ground shook.

When the war entered one of its rare lulls, Clara often sought out the comfort of men. Even if the offers were plentiful, the services rendered was always poor. The hurried undressing, the awkward positions, heavy breathing and her partner’s quick crescendo meant she rarely got anywhere near the finish line.

Still it temporarily met her needs and distracted her from the horrors she witnessed. For Clara that seemed to be a better way of hiding from the world than restorting to drink or morphine. She needed to keep her reflexes sharp because her opponents would not give her the opportunity for her buzz to wear off.

This evening marked her second Christmas spent near No-man. When the war began, everyone had said that victory would be won by Christmas. This year had dredged up much of the same talk and Clara suspected they would bring up the same tired topic next year.

Despite the horrors witnessed, people still expected a quick end. Their hope spent waiting for that singular break in the enemy lines. The one which would permit them to push deep into their territory.

There were countless others from the Tower, some were even posted to the front lines. Snipers proved effective at culling any strays looking for a fresh meal. That tended to be dangerous work since the enemy liked to shoot back.

From time to time Edith and Clara were called in for a specific mission. They would set aside their blue uniforms adorned with brass and white aprons in favour of male uniforms. A bit of padding to conceal the hips, wrapping for the tits and cigarettes to harshen the voice did wonders to pass off as young officers. As an additional precaution, these missions were always conducted in the cover of night to further avoid detection.

The girls hid their change of clothes in an abandoned farmhouse near their camp. Clara often enjoyed the male uniform, which enabled her carry a pistol while hiding a few surprises under all that padding. As a precaution she opted to bring her derringer, a bayonet and some throwing knives.

They had been given little warning tonight, nor was there much intelligence as to the nature of their mission. Edith put on her uniform adorned with two pips, which was one more than Clara had. The selected ranks were senior enough to allow independent movement without arousing suspicion for their youthful appearance.

Edith examined the map with her compass in hand. She looked so different in an army officer’s uniform, so much so that Clara sometimes forgot who this dashing young officer was.

No matter how dirty or weary Edith was her eyes always shined brightly, a trait that Clara envied.

“Does Edith envy me in any way,” Clara wondered.

“Three miles bearing eleven mills,” Edith said while tracing out a line.

“Anything in the area,” Clara asked.

“Nothing but a bombed out church,” Edith said.

Clara scrutinised the map, stitching together the lay of the land. A week or so ago there had been heavy fighting in that area until the front lines shifted to the east. Clara remember it clearly because there had been a lot of casualties that week.

That meant they would have to traverse treacherous territory. They would be sure to come across networks of trenches, barbed wire, unexploded bombs, and gaping holes in the ground. They would have to move quickly and covertly while watching out for anything that posed a threat. Fortunately, little to no enemy activity was expected this far behind the lines.

Clara’s instincts told her there was something peculiar about that location. She glared at the map for a moment, but the reasons continued to elude her. Then just like photoflash powder going off, an idea popped into her head.

“Isn’t there a gate there,” Clara asked.

Edith furrowed her brow, “Not sure. Should have been deactivated when the fighting broke out.”

As with anything Georgian, there were very few guarantees. The Terminus’ gates provided travel to a single location, which made them safer for human use. Georgians and other less discerning clients used multi-destination gates, alas those were known to cause accidents.

“No matter,” Edith said to break the silence. “That’s our objective and we have no further detail. Full stealth, evade and if we get separated meet back here before sunrise,” she added.

Clara nodded then picked up her greatcoat from a charred chair. It was cold tonight and knew full well that it would get colder before sunrise.

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!

Garlic and Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes

Here is my recipe for scalloped potatoes. My take on this recipe adds garlic, parmesan, and cheddar cheese to the recipe to infuse it with a distinctive flavour. This recipe is enough for four servings and can be easily scaled up to feed more.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (450 g) of potatoes
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of finely chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of butter
  • 2 cloves (5-10 g) of crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can (355 ml) of evaporated milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
  2. Peel and then cut potatoes into thin slices.
  3. In a greased stoneware pot, layer sliced potatoes. Leave some gaps and sprinkle a part of the chopped onions over reach layer.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt butter. Add garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add flour and whisk until you have a consistent finish. Pour in evaporated milk while stirring constantly. Add parmesan cheese, sauce will remain on heat until cheese is melted.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Remove from heat and pour into the stoneware pot. Top with shredded cheese.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes covered. Remove lid and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until top is a golden brown.
  9. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Salt the Earth – Part IV

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!

Edith still looked pale but her eyes were aglow. At first she attempted a smile, but faded once Clara came into focus.


“You’re not my Angel,” Edith said.

“That’s not what you said when I found you,” Clara teased.

Edith looked torn as though her mind were struggling to make sense of the situation. Clearly she remembered things differently.

To distract herself, Edith looked towards her leg. What had been a hive of infection and infestation was now mostly healed. The new skin was pink, a miracle if she had been sent to any other medical facility.

Above the bed Clara saw that mechanical monstrosity of Georgian origin. She had never seen it in action, but the results were always spectacular. It was said that given enough time the machine could reattach or even regrow limbs.

“It wasn’t Angela,” Edith said and promptly burst into tears.

The Reverend Mother pulled Clara out of the room. Between the two girls, she had managed to connect the dots.

“Angela was a ginger,” Augustine said. “How could you have possibly known,” she asked.

Clara gulped hard before she said, “She came to the bistro and informed me that there had been an incident Reverend Mother.”

“She’s been dead for over a decade,” The Reverend Mother said.
“I did not know that at the time,” Clara replied.

Clara described the situation in detail including any odd statements made. The Reverend Mother listened intently, but showed no signs of surprise.

“So the attacks may have continued unopposed had you not been warned child,” the Reverend Mother asked.

Clara simply nodded, there was nothing more to add. Still she hoped there would be no repercussions for her omission. After all she had failed to report the apparition.

“Those two were thick as thieves growing up,” Augustine said. “Inseparable and their friendship had all the markings of one that would last a lifetime,” she added.

“Was that how Edith managed to send out her plea for help,” Clara asked.

Clara wondered how powerful such a bond needed to be to wake the dead.

“Edith withdrew from the world after the accident and devoted herself to her studies,” the Reverend Mother said.

They both paused when Edith went silent. Until that moment she had been sobbing uncontrollably, audible even through the door. The nun must have given her a sedative.

“I never thought I’d see her embrace life again, or at least until you showed up,” the Reverend Mother said. “I think she saw your penchant for mischief and felt that spark in her soul reignite.”

Clara smiled, in a world where death followed her, it was great to know that she could occasionally improve the life of others. The fact that it was someone she revered made it all the sweeter.

“I’ve made a decision,” the Reverend Mother said.

“Yes Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.

“Your time at the Tower as an acolyte is over Child,” Augustine said.

“I thought—,” Clara said but was cut off when Augustine raised her hand to interrupt.

“You’ve been ready for a couple of years now child,” the Reverend Mother said. “We don’t typically send hunters out at your age. We were waiting until you were old enough to travel freely,” she added.

Clara’s early exposure to death had accelerated her development. The price paid for her prodigious rise had indeed been heavy.

“Edith was reaching out to you for help,” Augustine said. “She had faith that you would come through for her. Those are the signs of a great partnership,” she added.

“Really Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.

Those words were not faint praise coming from her. Clara felt her heart overflow with pride, she took a deep breath to keep her emotions in check. Betraying her emotions now would do little to show that she was ready.

“Really child,” Augustine said. “Now let Edith rest before you tell her the news,” she added before walking away.

The life of the Reverend Mother was indeed busy. Clara silently thanked the woman for giving her any time at all.

She would wait by the door until Edith was ready to leave. Freed from her academic responsibilities, she was free to let her mind wander.

“How much could she accomplish with support from Edith,” Clara asked.

Clara had to admit it, she liked where her mind was headed.