Evelyn Chartres Author
Paranormal

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!

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!

Null and Void

“What happens when you die, Momma?” Clara once asked.

Her mother looked down at those big steel-grey eyes and paused. For a moment, the pain in her mother’s eyes was visible, perceptible even to someone so young.

“Well—,” her mother said before wiping her eyes. “People who pass away go to heaven.”

Clara continued to look into her mother’s eyes even as the predictable question came to her lips, “Heaven?”

What is heaven? Not the easiest concept to explain, especially when one’s husband had just been lowered into the cold hard ground. Questions were natural and to be expected, but this was a daunting task for a mother who could barely keep it together.

“Well—,” her mother said. “Paradise, a place where all your loved ones are waiting for you. Where you will wish for nothing as everything you desire will be there.”

* * * *

“Almost had it right,” Clara said in response to that faded memory.

Clara was perched at the edge of a balcony. This particular vantage point gave her a pristine view of the mortal realm below. Even from this distance, she could make out individual landmarks and people going about their lives.

This was her favourite hangout, enabling her to see how chaos still reigned on the mortal plain. People continued to be born, grow up, fight wars, and die. The only difference was advancements made in technology and medicine. Funny how those advances only made life more complex.

That curiosity and drive to understand the world is what interested Clara. She often wondered how life would have turned out if she were born in the twenty-first century. All of that knowledge available at her fingertips, but would she use it?

Everyone here had access to the knowledge of creation, but many remained blissfully ignorant. Would she do any better without her educational foundation? Or would she achieve her goal of committing the perfect crime?

“I thought you’d be here,” Gabriel said.

Clara did not turn around. Instead she continued observing the world. Wait! Were her eyes deceiving her? Clara could have sworn that she had just seen a shockwave emanating from North America’s Eastern seaboard.

“The easiest way to be found is to stay in one place,” Clara said with a smirk. “What brings you here Gabriel?”

The man was tall and built like a Greek god. There was not a single flaw to be found. His hair was always perfectly trimmed, his muscles developed and cut. Even his wings were flawless, white and without a single feather out of place.

Was he the angel Gabriel from scripture and lore? Clara did not know and had never asked. Curious how that particular question had not come to her until now.

“There’s been a violation,” Gabriel said flatly.

Clara raised an eyebrow. Any violations on the mortal plain meant that someone was not playing by the rules. Free will was an aspect respected by both sides. Violations meant that someone had not been given the opportunity to choose.

“Sounds serious,” Clara said in hopes of getting more information.

Gabriel chuckled before responding, “You look down all the time and yet you cannot see.”

“And miss out on this rare opportunity to learn from your wisdom?” Clara asked.

For a moment, there was silence and Clara’s discomfort grew. Had she managed to get under his skin? That would certainly be one for the record books.

Alas, Gabriel smirked before he broke the silence, which meant he had been playing her. Truly there was much to learn, even after death.

“A soul was torn away from the light of God,” Gabriel said.

Many choose to forfeit their souls for everlasting life on Earth. Their baptism of sorts, meant they turned their backs on the light of God. This bargain had been going on since time began.

“So what am I missing?” Clara asked.

Gabriel returned to that disconcerting silence from earlier. Given they were both immortal, there was no reason to hurry things along. Before impatience could set in, a flash of insight provided her with the answer.

“It was not voluntary?” Clara asked.

If their kind could banish anyone they wished at will, then that would change the balance. Balance guided all of their actions and a disruption meant a correction was due.

“What are the ramifications to our code of conduct?” Clara asked.

“Null and void,” Gabriel said. “We can wage war if we so choose.”

“I sense a but in your statement,” Clara said.

“It would forfeit the wager,” Gabriel said.

Clara knew very little about this wager. Many on the mortal realm had mused about a game of chance being played for supremacy over the mortals. Some aspects of these stories were likely true while others were a work of fiction. All Clara knew for certain was that no one talked about it.

“So the Council has decided to send an agent,” Gabriel said.

“Me,” Clara guessed. “Why me?” she asked.

“Can’t send one of the seven,” Gabriel said. “That would be tantamount to going nuclear,” he said.

“So why choose your most junior member?” Clara asked.

Silently, her mind was racing. The ability to taste life once again filled her with excitement. It would likely not be permanent, but nothing was in the mortal realms.

“You were mortal, you knew how to fight them,” Gabriel said. “Besides, we knew you’d be willing.”

“Can’t hide anything from you can I? And to think I once believed that nuns were unsurpassed at mind reading!” Clara exclaimed. “I’m in. So what do I do?”

“Fall,” Gabriel said.

“That’s it?” Clara asked.

“That’s it,” Gabriel replied.

“Anything I should know?” Clara asked.

“Keep your true nature concealed as much as possible,” Gabriel said. “Your powers will be limited. The degree varies from person to person.”

“So act and behave as though I were mortal and everything will work fine?” Clara asked.

“That would be a safe bet,” Gabriel said. “Ready?” he asked.

“Always,” Clara said.

Without hesitation, Clara looked down and leapt over the railing. At first she floated in mid-air while she freed her mind. On command, she dropped like a stone, reaching higher and higher speeds until she glowed in the atmosphere.

“What a rush,” Clara thought while tearing through the atmosphere like a speeding bullet.

The world before her grew in detail. While she did not have an idea about where she was headed, that did not bother her. Clara sensed that her drop was guided.

Smudges of grey against the terrain became cities, followed by streets, buildings, and finally, people. No one seemed to be aware of her descent even though she must have looked like a shooting star.

“Will a little girl’s wish come true if she wishes upon me?” Clara wondered with a giggle.

Clara made out her destination, a nondescript back alley nestled behind tall buildings. There would be no witnesses in that area once she made contact.

“Three…. Two… One…” Clara said.

Right on cue, her feet hit the ground and absorbed some shock. Unfortunately, that had not been enough, so the concrete beneath her deformed, cracked and became scorched from the heat.

She took a moment to adjust, stand up and straighten out her back. While no longer visible, a set of majestic wings could be seen folding in the shadows. Wings would certainly have drawn a few errant stares had they remained visible.

“Just as much as not wearing a stitch of clothing,” Clara said while eyeing her bare body. “At least I’m none the worse for wear.”

Gabriel should have mentioned that little detail before she fell to Earth. Then again, life on Earth was not without its challenges and this was bound to get a few laughs back home.

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!

Freyja’s Shieldmaiden – Part II

Time passed by and nothing changed, so Clara wavered between the presumption of madness and sanity. Each argument, when carried to its conclusion, could be used to prove either side.

Eventually, she gave up on this never-ending battle of wills, closed her eyes, and began to meditate. Given the lack of distraction, it was only fitting to relax her body and mind. Once her heart rate slowed, Clara began to recite a prayer.

“What’s the harm in meditating?” Clara asked. “None at all,” she answered.

“Quite correct,” a voice boomed.

Clara fought against her desire to confront the voice. If it waited this long to make its presence known, then she should not risk rolling back any gain.

“I’m Clara Grey,” she said.

A weak opening move, but she had no precedents on how to approach such a situation. How did people normally introduce themselves? They provided their identity and waited for a reply.

“Ah yes,” the man said. “Just as my register states.”

“Saint Peter?” Clara asked.

“Of course, child,” Saint Peter replied. “You can open your eyes now.”

When Clara complied, she found herself in a world of dreams. Clouds, angels frolicking in a bright blue sky, golden gates, and a wise old man behind a podium looking through a ledger. It was perfect, too perfect.

“Had I guessed Osiris, Aeacus, or Freyja, would you have replied accordingly?” Clara asked.

The old man quirked a brow while his deep blue eyes twinkled. Even now, she saw that he was concealing a slight smirk.

“Of course, child. That is, if you had been Egyptian, Greek or Norse,” Saint Peter said. “Freyja would have been proud of her latest shieldmaiden.”

“To ease my transition?” Clara asked.

“In a way,” Saint Peter replied. “Unlike your faith, death has always been a part of life.”

“Will I be judged?” Clara asked.

Saint Peter chuckled then said, “You were judged before you reached these gates.”

Clara’s eyes widened in surprise. While technically an answer, it did not address the how. Did that matter?

“You were expecting different surroundings?” Saint Peter asked.

Clara shrugged because she honestly had never thought about it. If one followed the tenets of a Franciscan monk, then Clara was far from immaculate. Her list of sins was rather extensive.

Saint Peter flipped a few pages. He appeared to be pensive as though he were absorbing a large amount of new information quickly.

“Projections indicate that you might have lived for thousands of years had you accepted Hecate’s proposal,” Saint Peter said.

Clara remained quiet. The idea that she could have lived a long life if she acquiesced to that goddess was astounding. She had been so certain in her convictions that she would end up as a chew toy to be tossed out once threadbare.

“You were given a sixty percent chance of ending up a goddess in your own right,” Saint Peter added.

“What happens in the other forty?” Clara asked.

Saint Peter cringed before he said, “Less than desirable.”

“Just ducky,” Clara said.

“Although, you did cut short Drusilla’s forecasted lifespan by two thousand years,” Saint Peter said. “I can also assure you that she won’t be passing by these gates.”

It was Clara’s turn to quirk a brow, even if the news did not come as a surprise. Although, it was still a point of pride that Drusilla’s reign of terror warranted a different locale.

“You only talk of probabilities,” Clara said. “Why is that?”

Saint Peter leaned in nice and close from his podium before he said, “Free will tends to wreak havoc on predicting the future.”

Until now, Clara had equated omnipotence with all knowing. Admittedly, it would be difficult to account for over a billion people on the planet. Accounting for every action and thought accurately over time meant there were no random elements to life. In hindsight, Clara thought that reality would turn out to be quite boring.

“Were those two choices the reason I am here?” Clara asked.

“You were judged on the whole of your life,” Saint Peter said. “Those were merely recent highlights.”

The gates opened, but Clara did not move. She was not quite finished with this conversation.

Sensing this, Saint Peter said, “Those highlights did not tip the balance of where you’d end up. However they did a great deal in determining your role in the afterlife.”

Clara looked puzzled when she said, “Role? What role?”

“All in due time,” Saint Peter said while directing her through the gates.

So Clara smiled, curtseyed smartly, and walked on through the gates. She wondered what she would find on the other side.

“All in due time,” Clara said.

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!

Freyja’s Shieldmaiden – Part I

Clara’s eyes opened in a flutter and revealed an immaculate world. Not only were the walls a pristine white, but so was the ceiling, floor and, alarmingly, so was her gown. Everything was imbued with a white so intense that she had trouble focusing.


“Just ducky,” Clara said although her voice did not echo back. “I’m in the nuthouse.”

Clara had been in sanatoriums before, places where colour and style were relentlessly shed away to avoid upsetting a patient’s fragile psyche. Of course this was the first time that Clara was there as the patient.

Occurrences were rare, but from time to time one of them would wind up in an institution. Normally they were newly turned, still clinging to their unravelling humanity. Hunters would pose as doctors or nurses to infiltrate the site and deal with the threat.

“Mister Jones,” Clara said. “The doctor feels that some fresh air would do you wonders,” she chuckled.

Sometimes these sanatoriums would suffer a devastating fire in the early morning, a side-effect of not reaching these patients on time. There were no official causes in the reports, but those from the order had their suspicions.

“Am I mad?” Clara asked.

That was an interesting question. Would someone suffering from a sickness of the mind be able to answer? Would they even be able to formulate the question?

After all, believing she was a well-travelled flapper who cleansed the world of the undead was bound to have people contact the nearest nuthouse. Clara could just as easily be suffering from a psychotic break. After all, she did remember being burnt to a crisp in a fiery inferno.

As the memory of Drusilla’s final moments filled her mind, she had to ask what was going on. Clara reached for her face and felt her smooth clean skin. She sighed in relief, thankful that while perhaps insane, she had not been mutilated in the fire.

“That still doesn’t mean that I’m sane,” Clara said.

In fact, her steady heartbeat, pristine skin, and surroundings did more to lend credence that this had been nothing more than a drug-addled dream.

Clara checked her arms for needle marks but found none. At least the staff did not have to inject her with drugs to keep her docile. However, that did not preclude a steady diet of mind altering pills.

For a moment, Clara seemed to find the idea of being institutionalised somewhat alluring. A world without a care, all thanks to a state sponsored high that she could never afford at an opium den.

While she had never tried to kick the gong around, the idea of being in a blissful drug induced haze did have some perks. But were the monsters encountered throughout her life brought on by her addictions? Did they not refer to it as chasing the dragon? Could it be that for the first time in her life she was actually seeing the world clearly?

The reasonable thing for her to do was to wait for an answer. A doctor or nurse would eventually come through that door to check up on her. Wait? What door?

Clara examined every surface of this room and found it free of seams or imperfections. For lack of a better term she was inside a geometric shape. Fortunately, it was too big to be a coffin.

“So where is this light coming from?” Clara asked.

There seemed to be no specific source. It was as though she were being immersed in pure light. It certainly explained how everything was a pristine colour of white.

Where was she now? Where to begin?

“First off,” Clara said. “Light.”

A pure white light, flawless in every way. True perfection was often used to describe art and architecture, but perfection was a myth. People were imperfect beings who subsequently passed down their flaws to their creations.

Some occasionally told her how she was beautiful and perfect in every way. Of course that was a lie, most men said such things to get a girl in bed. She had her flaws, everyone did, so to witness true perfection was almost…

“Like being touched by God,” Clara said.

Clara looked from side-to-side half-hoping that her current reality would change to reveal the truth of her situation. She supposed that simply invoking his name was not enough.

“Two,” Clara said. “Trapped in a perfect geometric shape.”

Again, the element of perfection implied the presence of God. Clara seriously doubted that Hecate could manage such a feat. Those three personalities would never be able to work together long enough to make such a construct possible.

“Construct?” Clara asked.

In this particular case, a blank slate. Clara was quite literally in a world without a basis in reality. She was not thirsty, hungry nor uncomfortable. How long had she been standing? Where was the fatigue? Her need to pee?

“Curiouser and curiouser,” Clara said.

Alice had the benefit of transitioning from one world to the next. As she fell through the rabbit hole, Alice knew that change was afoot and she was now in unfamiliar territory.

If this was a precursor to reality, then who controlled the settings? Now that was a question that deserved an answer.

If Clara were truly insane, then the control of this construct rested with her. That meant things would be getting rather interesting. To her, it might have appeared normal, but for some hapless witness it would be a rendition of Through the Looking Glass on Opium.

If she were sane and in control, then Clara hoped she could imagine something more entertaining than this sterile scene. A mind this empty spoke volumes on the personality that spawned it.

That meant someone else was pulling the strings. Who and why were questions that she could not easily discern. She needed to peer beyond this construct to gain insight.

“What a shame,” Clara said. “Yet another challenge,” she sighed.

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!