Evelyn Chartres Author
Paranormal

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part VII

Drusilla turned out to be a snap to find. All Clara had to do was stumble across the wildest party. Her target craved to be at the centre of attention and this baby vamp loved nothing more than to be treated like a goddess.

While this flaw made finding her opponent easy, it came at the expense of dealing with a wall of human flesh. People naturally congregated around Drusilla which made most ranged attacks messy.

Nonetheless, the hunter moved deeper into this clip-joint while heading towards the bar. This manoeuvre would give her time to familiarise herself with the surroundings and devise a plan.

From the corner of her eye, Clara saw Drusilla busily petting a young man. Chances were that this boy would end up as her late-night snack. She wondered if this situation could be leveraged to her advantage.

Clara found the bar, then plopped down onto a barstool while crying quietly. In a place this lively, she was bound to get some attention, which was precisely what she needed.

Right on cue, a tough looking bimbo sat down on the adjacent stool then ordered a drink. It took no time at all for him to home in on her. While not the youngest woman around, men knew how to spot an opportunity.

“You okay, miss?” the man inquired.

“Said it would last forever,” Clara said while her voice was on the edge of cracking.

She extended the last word to coincide with the beginning of a wail. Very childlike, but effective in manipulating those with an ounce of empathy. Clara was certain that this one would do fine.

“Excuse me?” the man replied.

She saw his entire demeanour change, then thought bingo! A positive sign that he was buying her load of baloney.

Clara broke into a shower of tears, sobbing uncontrollably while she fell into his arms. For a moment, the two were locked in an uncomfortable embrace until he realised there was no escape. Defeated, the bimbo wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to comfort her. Now it was his turn to make the next move.

“There now,” the bimbo said.

Clara toned down her crying and sobbed as though she were holding back biblical floodwaters. His hold softened once he accepted his fate.

“Now what were you saying?” the man finally asked.

“Came here with a friend,” Clara said with puffy red cheeks and a shaky voice. “Said he would always be there for me.”

Clara made sure the statements appeared to be somewhat incoherent and disjointed. Men rarely expected the lesser sex to handle such situations with a level head.

“Then what happened?” the man asked before throwing in, “My name is Victor.”

He was looking to establish a rapport even if it threw her off. Clara pulled away and wiped the tears from her face. To cry with that much intensity took a lot out of a girl, especially when forced!

“Clara,” she managed to say.

Clara then set her eyes on Drusilla’s little pet. Her eyes narrowed in a way that would impress upon Victor just how close he was to seeing Mount Vesuvius blow its top.

Victor looked in that direction and connected the dots. Since she had practically drawn him a map, this was hardly the demonstration of a razor sharp wit! Nonetheless, they were on the same page.

The bimbo turned around and ordered a stiff drink. Before Victor’s lips could touch the glass, Clara snatched it away then downed it in one shot. God, she needed that! Sure it was not very ladylike, and it tasted like coffin varnish, but it lent credibility to her being an emotional wreck.

To sweeten the deal Clara said, “That bastard!”

If the man felt offended in any way, he hid it well. Instead, he ordered another two shots. The bimbo downed one for the road and took a long hard look at Drusilla’s pet. He was clearly working up the courage to play his role in her plan.

“Is that him?” Victor asked.

“Yes,” Clara confirmed before a stream of tears started up again.

Now Victor was left with a choice: either face the emotional wreck named Clara or go after the patsy blamed for hurting her feelings. The latter offered a far greater payoff; so without much fanfare, the bimbo ventured out into the crowd. Clara feigned an attempt to stop him, but his resolve was steeled.

Now that her plan was set in motion, it was high-time she got in position. Clara rolled down the rosary, placing it around her hand and left the crucifix hanging freely.

For a moment, she gazed at Victor’s remaining shot then smiled. The hunter crushed one of her pearl earrings over the glass. She then reached into her purse and pulled out a small silvery object. With a drink in hand, Clara made her way through the crowd, following in Victor’s wake.

By the time she neared the scene, Victor had already arrived and confronted the patsy. The expressed confusion only served to infuriate Victor which quickly escalated matters.

Clara heard the familiar sound of a punch making contact, followed by the crowd’s inevitable reaction. In that moment, Clara learned that Victor was not one to fool around.

Perhaps he had been a palooka? Nothing like a former boxer to make things interesting!

For now, Drusilla remained at the centre of a gawking crowd who enjoyed this fresh bit of entertainment. This was her chance!

“Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum,” Clara recited in silence.

Clara entered the makeshift ring, ignoring the men while walking casually towards the creature. If people had not been aware of her presence a moment ago, they were about to be.

“Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus,” Clara recited the second verse.

The words rolled off her tongue, the effect of having spent hours reciting the prayer over her rosary. Bonus, there would be no kneeling tonight!

“Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,” Clara said the third verse.

Clara then pounded back her drink and felt her tongue burn. When she was no more than a step away, Clara slipped the silvery object between her fingers then snapped it open. With a quick flick of her wrist, a bright flame came about.

“Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae,” Clara recited and could hear the verse reverberate in her mind.

The prayer was as yet incomplete since one word remained. Clara spat out the fluid, forming a slew of droplets, sailing effortlessly towards Drusilla. However, the real show began once the liquid came in contact with the naked flame. The candle-sized flame erupted into a fireball which enveloped the creature’s head.

Drusilla may have been unaware of the impending attack, but the zippo certainly got her attention. The timing had not been planned, but was nonetheless beneficial. In that moment when the flame flashed over, Drusilla had been facing Clara.

The creature screamed while flames enveloped her. The sound was hard to describe, but it reminded Clara of a child running her nails across slate. It had certainly been loud enough to stop the band cold.

Clara kept her distance while fire consumed Drusilla’s hair. The heat was so intense that she wondered if it had been fashioned with embalming fluid. When the time was right, Clara attacked with a quick and precise jab across Drusilla’s jaw.

“Amen!” Clara exclaimed, releasing that word for all the world to hear.

In that moment, Clara realised just how alone she was. Well not literally since the crowd was there, however everyone at the party seemed to be converging on her. As a distraction Clara grabbed her pearl necklace and tore it from her neck. While pearls went flying through the air, she exposed the blade of her crucifix.

Despite the distraction, it seemed likely that she would not have the time to land a killing blow.

“Fuck!” Clara exclaimed feeling robbed of her already hollow victory.

That is, until the world paused, literally; even the pearls were suspended in mid-air. Clara felt as though she were seeing the world through a stereoscope. Most disturbing was the absence of sound, Clara never realised how loud this party had been until it all stopped.

“That’s an interesting development,” Clara said and found the words reassuring.

Clara did not dare hesitate. She plunged the blade into Drusilla’s spine. The blade penetrated just below the base of Drusilla’s skull, effectively paralysing her lower body. With any luck, the damage might even be permanent. For now, her biggest threat had been neutralised.

Out from her purse came her derringer which she held close to her body to prevent her being disarmed early in the game. She looked about, able to take in this tapestry of horror and noticed that one-third of the room was made up of their kind. Did that mean the rest of the guests were food? The idea of a place with so many of those things made her skin crawl. How could there be so many?

“You Bitch,” Drusilla said from the depths of Clara’s mind.

Since there was not much left of Drusilla’s face, Clara would have been more surprised to hear her speak. The mixture of burning alcohol laced with holy water had somehow aggravated the damage. If Clara ever made it out alive, she would be sure to add that trick to her playbook.

Clara turned to face the thing, finding her crumpled on the floor. To her right, Victor and Drusilla’s pet were now bloodied from exchanging jabs. That paled in comparison to the look on their faces, a mix of shock and awe. Of all times, she wished for a camera!

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 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!

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!