Category: Saturday Scenes

  • Home Is Where the Heart Is – Part I

    “There are consequences to hiring disinterested staff,” Edith said while walking out of the store.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    The clerk never looked up from her phone, let alone to intervene. Edith harboured no guilt for leaving the store with an ample supply of munitions, toiletries, and a purse. Everything fit nicely within the latter, which simplified the matter of leaving through the doors unmolested.

    The cab was waiting, so she opened the door and boarded the yellow car. When the driver looked up at her through his mirror, Edith relayed the destination and they soon pulled out into traffic.

    This driver also had a demonic lust for his phone, or at least for whoever was on the other end of the blower. Edith did not mind this time; she had an opportunity to observe her surroundings in peace.

    The deeper they ventured into the city, the more built-up it became. Even at this time of night, there were herds of people waiting at the lights. While the city had been teeming with people at night in her time, the scale was unmatched.

    The gravity of changes to this city was clear once the cab crested over the bridge. At night, the city was awash in electric light, enough to make the cloud cover glow.

    The city had grown a great deal since her time. Sure, there were skyscrapers on the horizon when she lived, but they did not dominate the skyline as they did now. Edith imagined that she was looking at a multi-coloured mountain range. It made sense. The city needed to grow, and islands were boundaries that were hard to ignore.

    The closer they got to her park, the more certain she became that this was indeed the right call. Edith had always believed in the chain of command and put faith before reason. Those beliefs, for the most part, had only been strengthened in death, a by-product of having lived to see the truth.

    Eventually, the cab cut through a dense urban neighbourhood and drove into the park. Until then, the call of the piper had been so powerful, but it was nothing more than a faint whisper now. All she knew for sure was that the deeper this cab ventured into the park, the more the sensation of being pulled waned.

    Without saying a word, Edith closed her eyes and focused until the world came to a crawl. Every word the driver uttered over the phone grew deeper and more exaggerated, like a record being played at unusually low speeds. At that moment, Edith left the cab, cruising through the landscape in an accelerated state.

    As a precaution, she remained in that state until there was ample cover. From the driver’s point of view, Edith had simply vanished. She observed the driver’s eyes bulge and how he stared aimlessly into his mirror in an attempt to find his fare. Fortunately, he was paying just enough attention to the traffic, to avoid running into the cab ahead.

    Edith chuckled as she waited for the driver to disappear from sight. Now it was time to wander about. So she scanned the buildings built along the periphery, those that were located just beyond the wall. At first, she had no idea what she sought but soon realised that faith was directing her once more. Without any more to go on, Edith followed a random path until she crossed one of the gates.

    “There,” Edith said while looking at a building.

    It wasn’t the tallest in the block, but there was a certain charm associated with buildings dating back from the early part of the last century. The familiarity of the architecture and style evoked a strong sense of nostalgia, so much so that she nearly shed a tear when memories of that era came flooding back. Edith hated getting emotional on missions and would have been severely reprimanded for her inability to suppress these manifestations of humanity.

    Most of the girls from her group had looked up to Edith before the Great War. Most sought to emulate her, especially the ability to right herself in the worst of storms. Despite all of that strength in life, Edith found there was little left to draw from now. All she wanted, desired and sought was to find her way back to her Angela. This mission would never be done and over with fast enough.

    A doorman exited the building to greet a cab, and moments later, a tenant stumbled out and was assisted inside. Since the doorman was sure to be otherwise occupied, Edith was left with an opportunity. With clenched jaw, and resolve steeled, Edith crossed the street.

    Ingress was child’s play since Edith had no trouble forcing the lock to access the main foyer. From there, she was faced with a bird cage, one that featured a wraparound stairwell.

    A century ago, they would have indoor aviators on staff, someone in uniform who handled the elevator’s controls with a smile. Now, people did it themselves, unless they were too inebriated to do so.

    While the car climbed towards the upper levels, Edith was nudged to a stairwell that led up to a mezzanine. She shrugged and headed up those stairs just as the birdcage stopped at the top floor.

    The halls were wide freshly painted looking more like a high end hotel than a residential block. It even featured a thick red carpet to cut down on the sounds of pedestrian traffic. Edith found it hard not to feel humbled when surrounded by all this opulence.

    As she turned a corner, Edith stopped cold. Her eyes fixed on the scene, committing every detail to memory, just like she was trained to do. Ahead, there was a bullet riddled area, which brought back memories of the bombed out buildings she had encountered during the war.

    Extensive and sustained gunfire had left the wall riddled with craters. Blood splatter was everywhere she looked, a clear indication that these bullets hit their mark prior to impacting the wall.

    Run,” Evelyn said.

    Edith heard the sound of a trigger being pulled followed by the roar of a shotgun. Before any other sounds were heard, she was already low to the ground, poised to strike.

    She opened her eyes, looked up, and noticed that the walls were pristine. Gone were all traces of bullet holes, cracked plaster, or blood. The carpet even looked like it had been recently vacuumed.

    “So why am I still hearing gunfire?” Edith wondered.

    An all-around search revealed no signs of activity. The sounds and visual stimuli were completely disconnected from one another, like watching an out of sync talkie. So with no other signs of danger, Edith got back on her feet.

    Edith approached the wall and ran a hand over the surface. It was smooth, even with inconsistencies expected of a wood slat and plaster combination. She knew that this type of construction was difficult to repair on short notice and fixing it with modern materials required replacing the entire wall.

    What she witnessed might have been real. Her years of experience as a hunter taught her that there were phenomena throughout God’s creation that could not be explained. For all she knew, some old god had created this elaborate illusion simply to get off on her reaction.

    Satisfied that she was not in the middle of a warzone, Edith turned the corner and found a door at the end. Given the peep hole and brass number adorning this heavy oak door, she figured this had to be one of the units.

    All of her instincts urged her to move forward. Just beyond that door was her reason for being. Cautiously, she approached, listened intently, and then put her ear against the door.

    “Nothing,” Edith whispered.

    She focused until the hum of overhead lights dropped in pitch, then drove her shoulder into the door. The impact sent a shower of splinters in every direction but fortunately, did not draw any unneeded attention.

    While Edith was not armed, when properly motivated, any woman could be a weapon powerful enough to change the tides of war. This time, she had the element of surprise.

    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!

  • Afterglow – Part II

    Clara left the bathroom while Elizabeth was in the shower. Her friend was humming to some nineteen-nineties tune that Clara never heard of and given the length of her hiatus, that was hardly surprising.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Clara paused when a draught of cold air ran up her towel. Her freshly shaved berry patch was more sensitive than normal which caused her to shiver, an unexpected although pleasant reaction.

    She walked deeper into the living room and let the towel drop into the floor. She immediately reached for her bustier and slipped it back on. The cool leather felt great against her soft skin and it invigorated her senses. Odd how these experiences made her miss these small pleasures of life.

    Paradise lacked all those elements in life that made people uncomfortable. Heaven was never too hot, too cold, too humid, or too windy. In return, the joys of kissing warm lips in the cold rain or running across the crinkly grass after a morning frost were absent. Until now, Clara had not realised just how much of that she missed.

    After Clara finished slipping on her leather pants, there came an applause from behind the kitchen island. As the clapping hands echoed throughout the apartment, the sound of running water abruptly stopped, along with all other sources of white noise.

    Clara had experienced this situation before, and was not looking forward to this particular reunion. She considered reaching out for the sawed-off shotgun, but figured she ought to be polite for now.

    “It’s been a while,” Clara said.

    She turned around slowly to avoid an early confrontation. The last time, these sisters had fed off one another’s delusions, which resulted in Clara taking a bolt of energy to the chest. Still, despite losing her life in that attack, Clara had managed to rid the world of a long-time foe. Not a bad way to buy earn her passage into Heaven.

    Sure enough, the sisters were sitting at the kitchen island. Just like last time, they wore contemporary attire, more feminine than what Clara was wearing. They all wore a long skirt that flowed down to their ankles, a lightweight, sheer, gauzy blouse, and jewellery to compliment the entire affair. In effect, the sisters were dressed to blend in.

    The silvery sister who wore a locket adorned with a key, marking her as the goddess of the moon, sat in the middle. Her face and aura reminded Clara of the moonglade and she doubted that effect was coincidental.

    The one on Silver’s right glowed blue as current flowed through her entire body. Sparky, so named because she glowed like a spark gap transmitter, wore a locket that bore the imprint of a lantern. This was the goddess of magic and judging from those glowing eyes, she was poised to strike.

    “Odd, they don’t seem to think I’ll play nice,” Clara said under her breath.

    The last one was the Ethereal sister, the one who looked as though she had one foot in the grave, the one graced with a translucent complexion. This one also had a lantern themed locket, but was a mirror image of Sparky’s. This was the goddess of necromancy and of the dead, forever the paranoid killjoy.

    “Well. Well!” Clara said. “Someone has been to the hen coop.”

    How fortunate for her that the Ethereal sister would not have much to say tonight, seeing how her sisters sewed her mouth shut. That in itself was both a blessing and a curse. After all, her over-reaction last time had been the linchpin of Clara’s plan.

    The look of hate on Ethereal’s face was priceless. If looks could kill, Clara would have dropped dead on the spot. Although Clara had to admit, that one time was more than enough.

    “Not surprised to see us?” Silver asked.

    Clara shrugged before replying, “No. You used the same parlour tricks the last time we met.”

    The hunter walked slowly, and deliberately towards the kitchen. The sisters had obviously witnessed her getting dressed, so they knew she was unarmed. Still, it was unwise to force a response this early in the game.

    “You thought you’d seen the last of us?” Silver asked.

    “To be honest, I never planned on returning,” Clara said with a smile.

    Sparky’s glowing eyes followed her every movement but she did not engage. Without Ethereal’s poisoned tongue, Silver had effective control over the group. Clara did not care for this new dynamic, since it worked in their favour. That meant she would need to sow some discord.

    From the island, Clara got a better view of the kitchen and the chaos unleashed prior to her exiting the bathroom. Right next to the stove, there were bodies, doppelgängers, one for each sister. Clara’s eyes quickly scanned the kitchen and saw how the fridge door was dented leaving a mess of blood, milk, and condiments pooled around the base. The stove itself looked as though it were singed, indicating that Sparky had a bit of fun earlier.

    The kitchen was covered in blood splatter, and Clara found it surprising how none of that was visible from the living room. Then again, it was also curious that she missed the odour of burnt metal and cooked flesh.

    “Friends of yours?” Clara asked.

    Silver scoffed, then snapped her fingers, which caused an amphora with four glasses to appear. The goblets had a golden hue and Clara recognised this as being ambrosia, a drink she had a passing familiarity with. She even remembered how just one drop of that giggle water was enough to diminish the most intense orgasm she ever had.

    “Not really,” Hecate said. “Abominations that were never meant to exist.”

    “Really?” Clara asked with curiosity.

    “We may have ruled this world as gods thousands of years ago, but that doesn’t preclude us from understanding the mechanics of space and time,” Hecate said before a brief pause. “One of your own once said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    “I must have missed that particular quote,” Clara said, as she grabbed a drink. “Being dead does tend to leave one disconnected from popular culture.”

    The three sisters emulated Clara but kept their eyes focused on her even while they brought the drink to their lips and took a sip. All except for the frustrated Ethereal, who once realizing there was no way to partake, she smashed her goblet against the floor in protest.

    This time, the flavour and associated sensations were subdued, almost mundane. Was this related to her ascension as an angel? Was her new physiology better able to handle ambrosia? That idea left her distinctly disappointed. However, it did give her an idea of where she stood in relation to the sisters. Clara was no longer the helpless human and hoped to play that to her advantage.

    Clara finished off the rest of the ambrosia in one shot and replaced the goblet before saying, “Similar to the Georgian’s ability to manipulate time, I suppose.”

    Sparky let out a giggle which led her to accidentally send out a jolt of energy, one that burned a hole in the couch. Clara looked at the damage and smirked just as the goddess of magic covered her mouth in embarrassment.

    “Funny that you mention them,” Silver said.

    “We suspect they caused this whole mess,” Sparky added.

    “What mess?” Clara asked.

    “You haven’t noticed anything odd since yesterday?” Silver asked.

    “Like a shockwave?” Sparky threw in.

    Ethereal sister tried to say something, but her words were muffled. She glared at her sisters then stomped her feet like a child having a fit. Clara bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing and despite the pain, she almost lost control.

    “Now that you mention it,” Clara said. “I did see a shockwave propagating over the Eastern seaboard before I fell. I also saw Edith…”

    The goddesses smiled before merging into one body. Unlike their last encounter, she did not cycle from one persona to another. Instead, she adopted her nondescript form, the one that permitted her to move freely amongst humans.

    Meanwhile, Clara shifted away from the counter and noted a knife block that held a few knives. Hopefully, Elizabeth was picky about the quality of her blades, and was keen to keep them sharp.

    “We are attuned to variations in space and time,” Hecate said. “We can discern elements that are not from this reality, failed paths that should have atrophied long ago.”

    “You’re talking about probabilities?” Clara confirmed.

    That question had a profound effect on the goddess; she broke apart so Sparky could ask, “How does she know?”

    The silvery sister grabbed her sisters’ arms in an attempt to draw them back. It was clear that none of this had been scripted and that it could escalate into another situation.

    Frustrated, Silver said, “Fools, she obviously met the Gatekeeper.”

    Clara had never heard of the Gatekeeper, although it did not take much to figure out that Hecate was speaking of Saint Peter, the one who kept a vigil over the gates of Heaven taking on the appearance of whatever form the soul was most comfortable with. Clara had hoped to meet Freya for what she assumed would be an awe inspiring opportunity to meet one of the Norse gods in full armour.

    When Hecate succeeded in dragging her selves back into a singular shape, she answered, “Alternate choices create a separate branch of existence. Normally, the paths not chosen will wither away over time while this reality forges on.”

    “Saint Peter told me that the ability to choose tended to wreak havoc on determining outcomes,” Clara said.

    Hecate nodded before she said, “We are more attuned to such disturbances because of our inherent ability to manipulate space and time.”

    “Obviously, and something drew you here,” Clara said.

    “Of course, the signs are everywhere. People going about their business, unaware that they died years back. Duplicates, like that rubbish, and structures that were torn down are now standing tall again, or fused in with a new construction,” Hecate said.

    The goddess took the amphora, refilled the intact goblets, and downed the precious ambrosia in a straight set. Clara was impressed, there was no time to come up for air.

    “So why would you suspect the Georgians?” Clara asked, even though several reasons ran through her own mind.

    “Who else?” Hecate asked. “The combined power output of humanity is insufficient to achieve this level of distortion.”

    Clara mulled things over: the abandoned boutique where she heard signs of Edith rifling through clothing and finding that abandoned truck. Could these occurrences have been the result of reality being shattered? This meant the effect had not been confined exclusively to the mortal realm.

    “So what brought you ladies here?” Clara repeated.

    A sickly grin spread from the edge of Hecate’s lips, one eerie enough to send a chill down Clara’s spine. This one was planning something and that meant it would assuredly be unpleasant. As a precaution, she slowed down time, just enough to heighten her reaction times and, with a bit of luck, the change would remain undetected.

    Clara watched as Hecate’s lips moved slowly, her voice now lower in pitch and stretched. So far, the goddess was not aware of the change.

    “We were curious,” Hecate said. “These three caught you on the news fighting that undead whore and became furious that their high priestess exposed herself to the world.”

    Clara nodded when appropriate her mind wandering as it often did when starving for information. Every movement needed to be planned, and executed with precision. At this speed, even an errant blink could appear unnatural, something vampires often failed to compensate for.

    “So, we followed them here and disposed of them while you were in the shower,” Hecate said. “Now we have all the time in the world to exact our revenge.”

    Clara’s eyes focused on the goddess’s hand. When her fingers moved to form a snap, Clara further accelerated her reaction time so that the motion was nearly arrested.

    She grabbed the knife with the largest handle. As the stainless steel chef’s knife exited the block, she noticed the fingers moving faster. This meant Hecate figured it out and was trying to compensate. Clara gripped the handle with her dominant hand and used her wings to provide her with a bit of a boost. With every passing second, Hecate’s movements accelerated.

    It was close but Clara managed to drive the blade though Hecate’s fingers until it reached bone. Normally the knife would have stopped there, but given her momentum, the steel deformed as it cut through until it broke apart, leaving a finger and thumb hanging by a thin layer of skin. Clara continued on past the goddess just as the blade exploded into a shower of shrapnel.

    Hecate’s muscles spasmed from the pain but her eyes continued to track Clara’s flight path. The shock and anger left a fiery inferno glowing in those eyes. The pain had been so overwhelming that all three goddesses mirrored the wince as they tore themselves from the whole.

    “What a shame that Sparky’s eyes are already aglow,” Clara thought.

    Unable to keep this up for long, Clara returned to normal speed and her timing could not have been worse. It left her with no time to react to the blue beam of magical energy that arced through the air and struck her right in the chest.

    Initially, her muscles contracted and relaxed at a ridiculous rate while the magical energy coursed through her veins. She should have been in a lot of pain, so much so, that her mind would shut itself off before going mad. Instead, the surge left her invigorated, all powerful, and feeling distinctly aroused.

    This surge of energy forced her wings to expand. As they swept through the room, they struck the side lamp and caused it to shatter against the floor. All the while, her feathers darkened, leaving her to wonder if they would burst into flame. Instead, they turned jet black.

    As her body and mind adjusted to this surge of power, she determined that it was not being channelled as much as stored. Clara opened her steel-grey eyes which were themselves aglow. While Clara did not fully comprehend what was going on, she thirsted for more.

    The closer she was to Sparky, the more she felt alive, even a bit randy. With her free hand, she grabbed Sparky’s arm to feed directly from the source.

    The effect was immediate. Sparky’s eyes began to dim but Clara did not care. Instead, she leaned in until their lips brushed lightly against one another. The electric charge that flowed over the surface of their skin made Clara yearn for more.

    When Clara pressed their lips together, a shockwave knocked down knick knacks, plates, and whatever was not secured within a radius of several feet. Clara moaned and with that, discovered that her partner had also surrendered to the passion.

    Their tongues intertwined and danced together in this exchange of passion. The act of gaining strength while the other weakened, made her feel invulnerable. This moment left her overwhelmed and Clara experienced an orgasm for the first time in ninety years.

    As Clara sensed that last stray volt leave Sparky’s body, she plunged what remained of the knife into her partner’s chest and pierced the heart. The metal may have been weakened, but with enough brute force, even a rock could penetrate armour.

    Sparky gasped. Her eyes grew wide in shock before they went out. Clara watched as Sparky coughed up golden blood which slowly transformed into a dark red, the same colour as a human’s.

    Clara turned around and let the corpse fall to the floor without care. The glow from her eyes illuminated the room, bathing the sisters in a ghastly light. The look of horror etched on their faces was plain as day and that only emboldened her.

    “I’m the avenging angel,” Clara said.

    Ethereal tried to reach for a knife but Clara reached out with her wings and pulled this remnant towards her. In a flash, the wings surrounded the translucent creature and before Ethereal reacted, Clara channelled all of that stored energy through her wings straight into her victim.

    Clara immediately caught the odour of burning meat, but her training made it a snap to block it out of her mind. With her lips sewn shut, Ethereal was unable to scream, nonetheless, the muffled cries of agony were horrifying. These pleas for mercy were ignored by the executioner, which served only to terrorise what remained of Hecate.

    The angel discarded the charred corpse just as easily as the last. By the time the body impacted the floor, all that remained were scorched bones.

    “A fitting end for that mustard plaster,” Clara said with a wry smile. “Now where were we?”

    Once those words soaked in, what was left of Hecate tried to bolt. Clara was ready for that eventuality. She simply swatted the woman with a wing and sent her on a collision course with the kitchen island. Hecate collided face first into the tile top, bounced off, landed on her ass, and slumped onto the floor.

    Clara walked over casually to the counter and picked up the amphora. Based on her last encounter, the amphora never emptied. She looked at the glowing liquid with glee and hovered it over Hecate. Without hesitation, she poured the fluid over the goddess’ mouth and nose.

    It took a few moments, but Hecate’s eyes shot open before she tried to sit up. Clara held Hecate down using her knees and kept the arms pinned down with her wings. She continued to pour while the goddess struggled and stopped only once the other was significantly weakened. Hecate gasped for air but that was followed by a coughing fit. Still, she never took her eyes off of that amphora.

    “Ready to talk?” Clara pressed.

    “You’ll pay—,” Hecate tried to say.

    Clara was not about to show leniency— not for her— and poured even more onto Hecate’s face. This one showed no mercy in the past, nor shared Clara’s concern for the carnage that Drusilla was capable of. She was an aberration, a crime against nature, and deserved to be culled. Clara was only fulfilling her role as a hunter but first, she needed answers.

    “Ready?” Clara asked.

    Hecate saw the amphora hovering above. Instead of actively fighting Clara, she opted for a passive aggressive response by nodding.

    Clara was not about to stand for that, she poured more ambrosia over the goddess for good measure. This time the goddess was more cooperative, effectively broken, and would do anything to stop further torment.

    “Yes!” Hecate pleaded.

    “Oh good!” Clara exclaimed in an overly cheerful voice.

    “What do you want?” Hecate asked faintly.

    “Simple,” Clara said. “You mentioned Georgians earlier.”

    “What about them?” Hecate hissed.

    The mere threat of sending down more ambrosia made Hecate cringe. Clara’s steel-grey eyes narrowed, serving as a warning that there would be no leniency.

    “Where are they?” Clara questioned.

    “Here…” Hecate answered.

    “As in, this city?” Clara pressed.

    “Y-Yes,” Hecate stuttered.

    Clara smiled. That was the first bit of good news yet. Seeing how someone owed her a favour, this might just be the way to collect.

    “Where are they precisely?” Clara asked letting a drop fall onto the goddess’ forehead as a reminder.

    Tears streamed down Hecate’s face, her eyes puffy and red from the emotional turmoil. Clearly these gods were not accustomed to being treated so harshly. Humans had been both tormented and tormentors of others for generations. Clearly they had outgrown their former masters in this regard.

    “I—I—” Hecate faulted.

    “You don’t know?” Clara prodded.

    Hecate nodded vigorously, erroneously filled with a sense of relief, one that followed when a captive believed their pain was about to come to an end. However, Clara was not quite done.

    “What use are you to me then?” Clara asked and followed through with a sick grin. “Unless you have insight into what happened to the Tower?”

    “Th-The T-Tower?” Hecate asked.

    “The order also known as the Tower,” Clara said. “The one I belonged to before you decided to interfere with my hunt.”

    The goddess broke down entirely, wailing as though she had suddenly grown a conscience. It was obvious that this creature knew nothing more but Clara was an instrument for God and would not show compassion. Without a second thought, Clara used her free hand to block Hecate’s nose and shoved the mouth of the amphora down her throat. At first, the goddess convulsed, tears streamed down those swollen cheeks, and guttural pleas filtered through those overflowing lips.

    It must have taken a good five minutes before the liquid poured freely out of Hecate’s mouth. Clara did not look at the body, nor at the sight of the bulging stomach. Instead, she closed her eyes and concentrated. The goddess’ heartbeat had been steady until now, but it was faltering, and worsened until Clara was met with a deafening silence.

    Clara sighed before she used the island counter to help herself up. She ignored the existing corpses while avoiding the worst of the gore in the kitchen to make her way to the sink. When sounds of the waking world returned, she began to vomit into the stainless steel receptacle. Her stomach may have been empty but brought up bile nonetheless.

    Clara had been a hunter all of her life and never experienced this type of reaction before. She set vampires aflame, decapitated her foes, shot them in the head, and even condemned a soldier to his fate on the battlefield. In those cases, she never felt a morsel of remorse. And yet?

    In the last moments of that creature’s life, she seemed so hurt, so… so human. Clara had made an oath to never directly kill or maim humans. Those who were guilty of collaboration were to be condemned by society itself, not members of her order. Somehow that brief glimpse of humanity evoked an overwhelming sense of empathy.

    She wiped the bile from her lips and washed away whatever lingered using the sink’s spout. Clara needed to overcome this turmoil since she had done the world a great service by killing Hecate. Eventually, these memories would fade, just like the trauma induced by witnessing Father Michael’s neck being torn open by a vampire. His death was the reason she became a hunter, and yet, she no longer remembered that they shared the same eye colour.

    Clara sighed, turned to face the bathroom, and marched right in. She needed to prepare Elizabeth for what would be witnessed once she walked through that door.

    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!

  • Afterglow – Part I

    Elizabeth woke up with a start. She snapped straight into a sitting position which caused the sheets to slide off those generous breasts and pool around her hips. The cool chill of the air immediately hardened her nipples and marked the moment she noticed her nudity.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    The memories of last night had dulled like they would for nightmares. Elizabeth ran a hand through her hair, fighting through the knots caused by cold sweats, tossing and turning. With every knot unravelled, she winced which further banished memories of that nightmare from her conscious mind.

    “A dream,” Elizabeth whispered.

    The sound of her voice was reassuring but her words rang with false hope. Surely, meeting a former lover who turned out to be a creature of the night was nothing more than a scene featured in a straight to video horror flick. The plot alone would rank amongst the worst in Victoria’s collection.

    The morning chill made her shiver, so she brought the duvet up to her chest. The warmth had yet to dissipate and for a moment she was at ease, scanning the room for anything out of place. Everything was exactly where it should be except for her clothes, an oddity, since they were neatly folded at the foot of the bed.

    “What?” Elizabeth asked herself.

    Elizabeth had always been a bit of a slob. It was her wife who kept order amongst Elizabeth’s chaos. At first, they had disagreements about their living arrangements but that soon passed when both seceded certain habits in the name of marital bliss. Hope began to swell from within that her wife was back, that is, until she looked into her overflowing closet and saw that Mary’s suitcases were still gone.

    “Mary is still on tour,” Elizabeth said under her breath.

    Sensing that her mind was playing tricks on her, Elizabeth closed her eyes. Paranoia took hold and every sound further fuelled her uncertainty. Fortunately, the fact that her tongue felt like the hair of a stray dog sleeping in a dumpster behind some seedy strip club, did much to bring her back to reality.

    “Oh right,” Elizabeth said just as her head began to throb.

    She must have had a lot more to drink than she believed, given how memories of that chat were a mangled mess. Elizabeth had more clarity when viewing an impressionist painting than she did from her own memories at the moment.

    The attempt to remember what happened only worsened the dull throbbing in her head. The young woman sighed and with one quick movement, cleared the sheets from her body. The cold air invariably made her shiver which motivated her to leap from the bed.

    “Cold!” Elizabeth yelped.

    She hurriedly made her way to the bathroom, passing by the darkened living room. The sun had not yet peeked over the cityscape, so only the dull orange street lights filtered through the windows.

    Without a thought, she sat down to pee and absentmindedly went for a drawer within arms reach to rummage for some acetaminophen. Elizabeth shook the bottle. No sound. Since it was empty, she did a thorough search until another bottle was found and this one was almost full.

    “Dammit!” Elizabeth muttered while she fussed with the child proof lid.

    Eventually, the cap popped off and flew through the air. Elizabeth made a note to fetch the cap later. With her head feeling as though it were in a vice, she popped three pills into her mouth and swallowed them dry. For once, she was thankful for not having a gag reflex.

    With relief delivered on both fronts, she left the bathroom, on the mend. Her eyes had adjusted to the reduced lighting, and she was able to traverse the obstacle course she called a living room.

    She was thirsty and wondered what there was in the fridge to quench it. Her sense of logic urged her to grab some orange juice to hydrate and provide her with a quick boost of energy. Then again, another equally powerful voice was tempting her to start this day with a shot of Jack.

    Alas, she never made it to the kitchen. Her peripheral vision caught something white against the dark pleather couch. Elizabeth stopped cold and turned to have a better look. From this vantage point, she perceived the outline of ten toes shared between two feet.

    Her breathing grew short and shallow while a growing sense of panic overtook her senses. Still, she remained fixated on those feet, committing every detail to memory, namely how they were smaller, narrower, and decidedly more feminine than expected.

    “Did I hook-up last night?” Elizabeth asked in a whisper.

    She looked down at her ring as guilt overshadowed her desire to panic. Determined to dispel any such thoughts, she approached the couch from behind and leaned over the top until more bare skin came into focus.

    Her anxiety increased with every inch uncovered, at least until she saw that the sleeper’s chest and midsection were covered with a leather bustier. Her eyes drifted down to her rather dark haired muff and further down to her silky smooth legs. Every visible part of the woman was feminine, sensual and nearly perfect.

    While the sight of that great figure evoked no memories, that all changed when she gazed down the woman’s slender neck and sharp facial features. In her current pose, she looked more like a nude rendition of sleeping beauty than her guardian angel from last night.

    Those suggestive lips brought to the forefront all the memories of what happened last night. The face before her dispelled any notion that this had been a nightmare. A shame, since nightmares were easier to deal with than memories of actual trauma.

    Elizabeth moved to the front of the couch and watched as Clara breathed lightly. Her breasts, trapped within the confines of her bustier, rose and contracted with every breath. For the life of her, she could not figure out how this woman was still asleep.

    The idea that a warrior such as this could ever be at peace made Elizabeth question several pre-existing notions. Clara ran down that man last night, then smacked around her vampire ex-girlfriend as though it were child’s play.

    The cool air made her skin prickle. Clara did not seem to be bothered at all, in fact, the warm pink flesh implied that she was quite cosy and warm on the couch.

    Envious, she reached down to shake her guest but confusion set in once her fingers ran over the soft texture of feathers. They were warm and airy just like her childhood pet parakeet’s feathers.

    “Feathers,” Elizabeth whispered.

    “Mmhmm,” Clara said before letting out a soft sigh.

    Elizabeth snapped her arm back, “You’re awake?”

    “Since you woke up,” Clara said calmly. “I figured that my greeting you would be more upsetting.”

    “Feathers?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara nodded and said, “Would you mind stepping back a foot or two?”

    Elizabeth was confused, but the smile on Clara’s face convinced her that the request was serious. When she complied, Clara sat up slowly while the sound of feathers rubbing against pleather filled the room. This time Elizabeth did not react when something brushed against her knees.

    “There,” Clara said. “I miss sleeping all cocooned in warm sheets, but my wings do keep me nice and toasty warm.”

    “Wings?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara nodded while shifting into a sitting position. Even with her legs crossed, the dark curls between remained visible. Elizabeth eventually noticed how the other kept a distance away from the back cushions, just like she did the night before.

    “Ab-so-lutely,” Clara said. “They are normally quiet spectacular, but when I fell to Earth, they turned invisible, fortunately.”

    Clara turned to her left, and fiddled with the base of the lamp until it lit up the room. This time, when she stretched, her wings cast a shadow onto the floor.

    “Neat! That will probably be real popular at parties,” Clara said with a chuckle.

    “No kidding,” Elizabeth said flatly as her eyes shifted back to the shadow between Clara’s legs.

    Clara quickly ascertained the amazon’s focal point and said, “Is that common now?”

    “Is what common?” Elizabeth replied, a bit confused.

    “Sorry. A crotch smooth as the day you were born?” Clara asked, smirking as she focused on Elizabeth’s hairless berry patch.

    Elizabeth’s face went bright red and she no longer felt the effects of the chilled morning air. Although, she did shift her legs to conceal obscure her light chocolate coloured flower.

    “That probably explains why those guys at the bar looked at me funny,” Clara mused.

    “Bar?” Elizabeth asked. She thought it best to not wait for an answer, so she replied, “It’s far more popular now, but some women do buck the trend.”

    Clara smiled and stood up. For the first time, Elizabeth noticed that her angel was not all that tall. Last night, she appeared to be about the same height or smidge taller. Now that Clara had lost a bit of her lustre, she noticed there was a nine inch difference between them.

    Clara clearly liked the view she had at eye level and said, “Are those common now too?”

    Elizabeth looked down at her breasts which easily filled a double-D cup and specifically focused on the areola that matched her berry patch. She then noticed the grin on Clara’s face which implied that the question was made in jest rather than as a serious inquiry. Still, she also sensed that Clara was genuinely impressed by their size, shape and firmness.

    “Well, I’m about the average these days,” Elizabeth replied, in awe of how forthcoming she was.

    Clara looked down at her girls and while partially concealed by the bustier, they were closer to a C cup. Elizabeth watched as her saviour smiled but was not a party to this inside joke.

    “I can still handle a sword though,” Clara said before looking to her left and out the window. “Sun is about to rise. We should get washed up and grab a bite to eat,” she continued after tossing a casual glance at Elizabeth’s ring finger.

    The tone of those words had a devastating effect on the tension, and rightfully so. Either way, Clara was right, it was time to get up and start their search.

    “Do you want to go first?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth was about to ask something, but changed her mind and said, “You go first.”

    “Great,” Clara said. She took a few steps, stopped, then pivoted towards Elizabeth before asking, “Do you have a razor that I can use?”

    “What! Why?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara grinned, pointing towards her bush which put the problem on display, “A gal has to blend in, you know?”

    “Sure,” Elizabeth said, but immediately mulled over some random detail that she picked up from a late night documentary on the television. “Do you know what a safety razor is?”

    “Does it involve a leather strap and straight blade?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth bit the bottom of her lip and said, “While I have a strap in my closet, I don’t use it for that… purpose.” Elizabeth sighed before adding, “Come on, you’ll need a towel, and scissors anyhow.”

    Clara nodded and unhooked the back of her bustier. If anything, this woman was not shy about showing off her figure. She then placed the bustier neatly atop her other items, which solved the mystery surrounding her own neatly stacked attire.

    “I guess it’s a bit of a jungle down there,” Clara said nonchalantly.

    Elizabeth was flushed, and uncomfortable but was pretty sure that Clara would not let this progress beyond the point of no return.

    “I’m spoken for,” Elizabeth whispered and for the first time in her life, was disappointed by those words.

    “Do you have a lot of shampoo?” Clara asked before falling behind to follow Elizabeth.

    “What—,” Elizabeth was about to ask, but once she felt the warm feathers run down her back, she got the clue.

    “There should be enough,” Elizabeth said keeping eyes focused on the bathroom door.

    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!

  • Triple, Venti, Soy, No Foam Latte – Part IV

    Once they stepped inside, Clara’s smile grew into a full on shit-eating grin. This was exactly the kind of diversion she had been looking for and she enjoyed not being compelled to go anywhere. She made sure to enjoy every moment of it.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    “Wow!” Clara said excitedly after taking in a deep breath. “That smell.”

    Clara spotted someone leaving the counter carrying a tall concoction of crushed ice, caramel, chocolate, and whipped cream in hand. Her grin faded, replaced by a look of utter confusion.

    “That’s coffee now?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth laughed. At first, she found the familiarity of this scene and her companion’s response unnatural. Once her eyes settled on her saviour’s face, she figured that the other was playing up that new kid act. Still, she played along, curious to see how far this might go.

    Clara continued to wade deeper into the shop, approaching the menu boards. From the look of things, the menu options were cryptic, something many regulars took for granted. To ease things along, Elizabeth walked up to the counter just in time to watch a clerk look up from the register.

    “Can I take your order?” the clerk asked.

    Elizabeth wanted to make it interesting, so she decided to spice things up by saying, “Triple Venti Soy No Foam Latte.”

    The look on Clara’s face was priceless, which only served to lighten Elizabeth’s mood. Concurrently, the look of boredom on the clerk’s face was immediately replaced by glowing embers in those dark eyes. Clearly, she was not amused.

    “To think, you were not able to understand me five minutes ago,” Clara said with a sigh.

    Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s order did little to demonstrate how the English language actually evolved. While much of the base was the same, coffee, or at least how to order it, changed a lot over the years.

    Clara smiled and asked, “Any specials tonight?”

    Elizabeth noticed that Clara’s smile had a disarming effect on the clerk. To be fair, tight leather that propped up her bust accompanied by a flirtatious smile would easily disarm most.

    The clerk smiled right back before replying, “Pumpkin spiced lattès are popular this time of year.”

    Clara turned to look at Elizabeth. The latter immediately understood how that sentence could confuse the uninitiated.

    “They add the spices used to make a pumpkin pie to your drink. It livens things up,” Elizabeth said.

    “Oh!” Clara exclaimed. “That’s the bee’s knees!”

    “What size?” the clerk asked after giving Clara an odd look.

    “Ummm,” Clara said.

    Elizabeth decided to further pester this clerk, “Venti, three shot, blonde, five pump, no fat, pumpkin spice, topped with whipped cream.”

    This time, the clerk was ready, but as judged by her woeful sigh, she was looking forward to the end of her shift. Clara, on the other hand, was nearly drooling, her mind struggling to follow along. It might have been better had she just taken in the experience.

    “Really? I’ve come across incantations to summon demons that were less cryptic,” Clara added matter-of-factly.

    Elizabeth shrugged before replying, “We could have used the app, but this was more fun.”

    “App? Never mind,” Clara said.

    “Will that be all?” the clerk asked.

    “Yes,” Elizabeth said.

    Elizabeth then pointed her phone towards a glowing red light. The light shimmered in various shades of red followed by an electronic chime. The tally on the register then dropped to zero.

    “I’m so out of the loop,” Clara mumbled.

    They walked down to another spot at the counter and waited patiently while their drinks were prepared. Clara seemed surprised at how fast these drinks were being made. The last time she ordered coffee, the server had been busy flirting with any betty who crossed his path. Although, she had to expect some changes since dancing the Charleston with Elizabeth’s potential great-grandfather.

    With drinks in hand, Elizabeth winked, grabbed both drinks, and then proceeded to an isolated counter. There she affixed lids, grabbed a few napkins, and found a table.

    “Here,” Elizabeth said after sliding over Clara’s drink.

    Clara looked at her confection dubiously. She took in the aroma of the drink, then removed the stopper from her lid. The aromas invaded her senses. Clara sighed contentedly and took a sip, putting a large smile to her face.

    “Nummy,” Clara said before taking a few more sips for good measure.

    Elizabeth did the sam. The familiar bitterness of her drink further served to calm her nerves. The fact that this woman was not concerned about what lurked outside did much to set her mind at ease.

    “Have you been able to piece together what happened?” Clara asked.

    “Not really,” Elizabeth said. “Could you?”

    Clara shrugged before removing the lid from her drink. With a lone finger, she scooped up a bit of the whipped cream, eyed it mischievously, and licked it up with her tongue. Elizabeth could not help but shiver at the visual.

    “The brunette was one of them,” Clara said. “We call them vampires.”

    “Like Bram Stoker’s Dracula?” Elizabeth spat out.

    Clara nodded, “Where do you think he got the idea?”

    At this point, Elizabeth was far too rundown to be surprised by any of this. The drink’s caffeine content was sure to provide a boost of energy but that took time. The hours spent watching horror movies late at night with Victoria before exam week taught her that life could be a harsh mistress. These events simply raised the bar, by a lot.

    “How did you know?” Elizabeth asked.

    “We crossed paths before,” Clara replied. “Although I now see their rotting souls superimposed over their physical selves.”

    “How?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Comes with the job,” Clara replied, avoiding any telltale detail that could lead to a panic.

    “Why were they after me?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara shrugged, sipped her drink, and enjoyed the radiating heat emanating from her belly.

    “You tell me?” Clara queried.

    Elizabeth tried to think about what happened and what may have triggered this encounter. Nothing came to mind, or at least nothing that seemed relevant. One question did pop into her mind and only Clara could answer.

    “How did you know where to find me?” Elizabeth asked, now somewhat alarmed.

    “Faith,” Clara said.

    “Faith?” Elizabeth repeated.

    “Yes,” Clara said. “It guided me to a truck, which in turn led me straight to you.”

    Elizabeth’s beliefs were mixed like her heritage. Her father was superstitious but had no defined religious affiliation. Her mother was a Christian who dragged her to church a few times but that quickly fell by the wayside. Until now, she had not considered that major religions might actually have some truth behind all of that doctrine. Never would she think it possible for them to have a legitimate reason for being beyond the indoctrination of their flock.

    Clara sensed there were a lot of questions that would need answers, so she pushed on with her own, “Why were they after you?”

    “I dunno,” Elizabeth said. “They just came out of nowhere.”

    “So, you’ve done nothing to deserve their attention?” Clara asked, while suspecting this was not a random incident.

    “I was just heading home after having lunch with a friend,” Elizabeth countered.

    Clara trusted her instincts and kept probing. Evelyn would not dare risk this level of exposure without a good reason.

    “What do you do for a living?” Clara asked.

    “Social worker,” Elizabeth said with pride. “I work with runaways and exploited children.”

    “Would any of your clients warrant that level of response?” Clara asked bluntly to force the other to consider every aspect of the situation.

    “Well… No,” Elizabeth replied.

    “So, it’s not your job… not your eating habits… think Lizzie! Is there a hatchet hidden under your bed that I should know about?” Clara pressed.

    “A hatchet?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara did not reply. Instead, she hummed a tune that reminded Elizabeth of a folk song. The reference was pretty dated, although recently revived when they released a television series based on the incident.

    Elizabeth’s eyes glowed once she realised that Clara had been toying with a variant of her name to play on that theme. This woman may talk as though starred in an early silver screen movie, but she clearly had an abundance of wit and intelligence.

    Why would Evelyn be after her? They only dated during college and she showed little interest in her friends. In fact, she always had an excuse to leave when an acquaintance showed up.

    She doubted it was related to her job; the children she interacted with were not well-known, wealthy, or prodigies. Runaways tended to get in trouble with the law and sometimes involved criminal elements, but from the supernatural?

    “Did anyone pass away recently?” Clara asked.

    “How do you mean?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara leaned over the table which gave Elizabeth an eyeful of cleavage. Her steel-grey eyes were locked on hers and, for a moment, Elizabeth wondered if she was being judged.

    “You are not thinking outside the box,” Clara said in a near-whisper. “You obviously knew Evelyn and your mind is clouded by your past… interactions. That’s not who or what she really is.”

    Clara took a sip of her drink and pulled back, intent on letting Elizabeth stew for a bit. Was Elizabeth unconsciously masking the truth? Or was she simply oblivious to it?

    “Again,” Clara said. “Did anyone you know die recently?”

    “Just… just some private investigator that I hired,” Elizabeth said.

    “Just?” Clara prodded.

    “Well… I hired him to look into the disappearance of a friend,” Elizabeth answered.

    “Go on,” Clara said, sending they were on the right track. “How did he die?”

    “Why the sudden—,” Elizabeth started before realising where this was headed. “Police say anti-tank mines went off when he started his car.”

    “That’s not a mundane occurrence around here, I gather?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth was sipping her drink when the picture came into focus. She spat out the contents of her drink and guffawed.

    “No!” Elizabeth answered.

    When she saw the smirk on Clara’s lips, Elizabeth realised that she had been played.

    “Oh, you’re good,” Elizabeth said.

    “Great-grannies always know best,” Clara said nonchalantly. “Do you know if he was working other cases? Or just yours?”

    “Nothing that deserves this level of response,” Elizabeth said.

    “You think? Or are you certain?” Clara asked.

    “What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked in return.

    “Elizabeth, you need to think big,” Clara said. “We all have instincts, so you just need to trust yours and stop looking at my cleavage.”

    The second statement made her cheeks feel warm. Pretty soon her entire face would flush with blood and all of those telltale signs of embarrassment would be on display, her face flashing like a glitzy billboard of guilt.

    “Victoria?” Elizabeth absentmindedly asked.

    “Your friend?” Clara asked.

    “Wha—Oh! Yes,” Elizabeth answered.

    Elizabeth described the whole story related to Victoria, namely how she vanished after the funeral and left few traces of her whereabouts.

    Clara listened to every word, only breaking her focus every so often to have a sip. Elizabeth talked so much that their drinks went cold before the full story was given.

    “We should take a look at her place,” Clara said then looked around to discover the staff were busy cleaning up for the night. “Think we should call it a night?”

    “What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked.

    “You are running on fumes,” Clara said. “So you need time to recover. I can sleep on the couch or even the floor. Assuming you don’t mind…”

    Elizabeth was both anxious about the imposition and relieved that Clara would stay nearby. However, the conflicting emotions caused her head to swirl. Given the fatigue, her mind was too numbed to adequately deal with it.

    Clara got up and grabbed Elizabeth before she passed out, finding it helpful that she was stronger than the average gal. Her new friend was tall, an amazon, easily towering over Clara, and that would have made it difficult to keep her steady under normal circumstances.

    After a few minutes of rifling through the chaos in Elizabeth’s purse, Clara found exactly what she needed, a home address, and with some luck, enough mad money for a cab.

    “Berries,” Clara said. “Now it’s time to get me a dimbox.”

    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!

  • Triple, Venti, Soy, No Foam Latte – Part III

    Elizabeth was unconscious by the time Clara landed. Fortunately, the commotion down the block managed to lure away potential witnesses. So this left her the perfect opportunity to eventually ask a few questions.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Clara had no idea who this was, but sensed she was connected to the mission. Although, this felt more like finding a piece of the puzzle than getting the whole picture. Either way, if Evelyn wanted her dead, that was reason enough to make sure it did not happen.

    Clara propped up the unconscious woman against the brick wall. Even in the back alley, the aroma of freshly ground coffee invaded her senses and brought a smile to her sweet lips.

    “God,” Clara said. “I missed that smell.”

    Elizabeth mumbled something in response, but was clearly still out of it. Clara was astounded that anyone in her early thirties could deal with what happened without experiencing a complete breakdown. It was her experience that adults rarely took the news that there were vampires well.

    “Hey,” Clara said softly.

    The other did not react. Even though she was standing, her conscious mind was in limbo.

    “Hey lady,” Clara said sharply.

    Still there was no reaction, so Clara used two fingers to push out a powerful whistle.

    “Wha—,” Elizabeth mumbled.

    After considering all her options, Clara smiled. There was one choice left, one that Gabriel would never approve of. Without a second thought, she slapped Elizabeth’s cheek, just enough to get the desired snap and yet would not leave a bruise.

    “Wake up!” Clara barked.

    That impact, combined with the loud noise forced Elizabeth’s mind out of the fog. Banished from a dream world, one far away from the horrors of the night, she remembered everything in frightening detail.

    Clara knew that look well, the wild eyes darting from point to point. Her breathing was shallow and movements twitchy, just like she was about to pounce or make a break for it. The state of shock was natural, given the situation, but she needed to settle things down.

    “It’s okay,” Clara whispered.

    A soothing voice was called for, given Elizabeth’s heightened senses. Anything louder could push her into a flight or fight response and that meant nothing but trouble.

    “Are you okay?” Clara asked, her voice nearly a whisper carried on by the breeze.

    The other’s eyes shifted slowly towards Clara and focused on her inviting smile. Hopefully, that would do much to disarm the situation. Yet recognition might just as easily plunge Elizabeth back to the memory of that traumatising event.

    Clara was trained to deal with situations like this. The ability to control her heart rate and appear to be perfectly at ease, even during an all-out war, were integral to a hunter’s state of being. It never paid to have an opponent guess one’s true state of mind and situation could sour if the woman panicked.

    “Don’t worry,” Clara said. “That baby vamp and her billboard won’t be bothering you.”

    While Clara spoke English, the context of that slang lost its significance long ago. Elizabeth’s mind struggled to decipher the words and, by chance, it managed to calm her down.

    “Wha—,” Elizabeth said, although that’s all Clara understood with any clarity. Once her mind regained control, she said, “What are you talking about?”

    “Evelyn and her beau,” Clara replied. “They are no longer a threat.”

    “Are you my guardian angel?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara chuckled before she answered, “Can’t say that I am.”

    “Oh,” Elizabeth said, disappointed. “I’m Elizabeth. My preferred pronouns are she and her. Yours?”

    Now the ball was in Clara’s court. A lot had changed in the last decade, let alone the last century. While her disarming smile remained, she looked down at her bustier which showcased an ample amount of soft flesh and shrugged.

    “Clara,” she replied. “The girls don’t seem to have a preference on pronouns, although in my time I preferred flapper over biscuit.”

    “You’re not from around here are you?” Elizabeth queried.

    “I was born north of here,” Clara said. “Although, you might say that I have been on an extended sabbatical.”

    Elizabeth wanted to ask what she meant by that. When was the last time anyone used the term flapper outside of some era specific movie? Or on Halloween? What the hell was a biscuit?

    As Elizabeth’s mind struggled to consolidate all of these loose ends into a coherent thread, her mind lapsed, wandered, and, in that moment, became aware of something more primal. This woman, dressed in leather, was not only badass, but was also smoking hot.

    “Pretty hot for a grandma,” Elizabeth said absentmindedly.

    Clara broke out in a deep laugh. In the background, her wings expanded instinctually, creating a very peculiar, and yet stunning, effect in the shadows. Elizabeth did not understand what was going on, so she focused on the leather clad babe instead.

    “I was never a mother,” Clara said with a contented sigh. “Although, I might have run across an ancestor of yours at a petting party,” she added while nudging Elizabeth’s ribs.

    “Petting party?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara cocked an eyebrow, then laced her fingers with Elizabeth’s before saying, “You don’t want to know.”

    “Wha—,” Elizabeth tried to ask.

    “Trust me,” Clara said while pulling the other along. “Now let’s get some coffee. Your treat!”

    When they turned the corner, Elizabeth spotted something that made the hair on her neck stand up straight. She could not help but stare at the well-dressed couple who crossed their paths. In the back of her mind, she half-expected their skin to decompose and fall to the sidewalk in clumps. If it weren’t for their trademark wedding rings, one depicting night while the other represented the day, she would have assumed the resemblances were purely coincidental.

    “Good evening, Elizabeth,” the man said, while the woman smiled politely as they crossed paths.

    She stopped dead, dumbfounded, her mind once again at odds with what she knew to be true. Despite the certainty of the moment, all that disappeared into the ether when Clara tugged on her sleeve. This distraction forced her to look away long enough for the couple to disappear.

    “Come on!” Clara urged as the aroma of fresh coffee wafted her way.

    Elizabeth blinked several times to confirm that her eyes were not deceiving her. The couple was nowhere to be found and that seriously led her to question her sanity.

    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!

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  • Triple, Venti, Soy, No Foam Latte – Part II

    Even in the dark, Evelyn had no trouble seeing the trail of blood that led from her doorway and ended at the bed. She never considered taking him to his room, despite it being closer.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    “Is there even a bed in there?” Evelyn wondered, seeing how she had never been inside.

    Instead, she brought him here, to her room, her inner sanctum. A room filled with clothes, makeup, jewellery, and choice pieces of artwork that she cherished. Even though her studio was somewhere else, the room always bore the faint odour of paint and that never failed to set her mind at ease.

    The impact with that truck had been violent. Evelyn had seen similar wounds on those struck by cannon fire. Fortunately for him, most of the injuries were internal, so there was no need to regrow appendages.

    She observed how his chest was caved in and that meant some of his organs either gave way or were ruptured during impact. Most of his ribs had been broken, as were several vertebrae, and a quick run through wild dark hair told her there was a multitude of contusions.

    If he were mortal, this would have been a death sentence. Evelyn witnessed plenty die from less and noted that it was fortunate he had not been cut in half. While such impacts were not always fatal for their kind, it did require a great deal of blood and willpower to rejoin the separate halves.

    Even now, Marc was quiet. With his eyes closed, he was, in essence, dead to the world. She had seen others in this state, expending all of their strength to heal, a process that took time. She wondered if he had the strength to pull through.

    Evelyn quietly walked over to her dressing table. She rifled through an assortment of cosmetics, some long forgotten that dated back to the early twentieth century, until something sliced her finger open. Instead of pulling away, she pushed in further to retrieve a dagger.

    She could have chosen the main gauche under her pillow, but that might have disturbed Marc. Evelyn looked down at the thick red blood pooling around the cut. With a bit of focus, the wound sealed itself leaving behind a single drop of blood.

    Evelyn looked at the burn on her wrist and ignored the pain. Aggravated damage caused by fire needed a lot of energy to remedy and for now, that could wait.

    The imp made her way to the bed and smeared some of blood onto his dry lips. Even in this state, his instinctual need to feed remained. She watched his lips part followed by his tongue that probed for more. In that moment, he looked very much like a man stranded in the desert, dying of thirst.

    Their kind constantly battled with their hunger, the conscious mind struggling to control their baser needs. There were many who lost their minds to the beast and, driven to madness. Those who became feral had to be put down without mercy. The weak had to be culled to preserve the whole.

    Hence, her dilemma. In this state, her stoic soldier was not in control of his faculties. With his hunger left unchecked, the situation could turn on her. They had been together for centuries; no mortal would ever experience the bond they shared, and yet…

    By now, Evelyn was gripping the blade to her dagger so tightly that her hand quivered. Without a second thought, Evelyn exposed her good arm, then buried the blade into her wrist. The pain was exquisite at first and she let out a soft moan. As the blade travelled up the vein the pain intensified until it burned into her mind. She bit down hard, the muscles in her jaw bulging, while her teeth strained as though they were about to crack. But, she persisted.

    Once satisfied with the incision, she paused, considered her actions, and completed an all-around incision. She then hovered the open wound over Marc’s mouth, and permitted blood to flow.

    As the blood poured from the wound, she observed his head rise to find the source. Evelyn brought up her arm to keep out of reach, but his need to feed was so strong that his eyes opened—wide and wild. In that moment, she knew that meant trouble.

    Marc reached out and gripped her arm with such strength that the bones in her forearm fractured. Evelyn dared not pull away, at least not yet. He needed her and she would not back out now.

    When his lips reached the wound, Evelyn became enraptured. She rarely experienced the pleasure, the ecstasy, of having another vampire feed from her. Her eyes dilated, her nipples hardened, and her vulva radiated with heat. It came as no surprise that all her self-control faded away.

    The more he took, the weaker she became. Her will to fight waned. A part of her tried to hold on, but that too lessened over time.

    Just as her mind was ready to capitulate, the phone chimed. The artificial tones broke through the deafening silence and dragged her consciousness back to the forefront.

    Her eyes fluttered open and she witnessed what was going on. Evelyn jumped onto the edge of the bed, her feet supported by the heavy oak frame. Then, with all her might, she tried to pull away from Marc.

    The incisions had already weakened the skin on her arm. As she pulled away, the epidermis tore further until it separated from the fat and muscle below. Despite his grip, all he could do was hold onto the empty sleeve. With no other source of blood, he licked her discarded flesh but that would not satiate him for long.

    Evelyn had no interest in lingering around, so she chose the better part of valour. She vacated the room and triggered a failsafe that sealed the door shut. Marc’s paranoid insistence on having such features installed turned out to be prophetic.

    “Not that I’ll be thanking him for that,” Evelyn said.

    With no response nor hint of movement from within, Evelyn relaxed. In that moment, the pain, held at bay by the emotional turmoil, flooded her mind.

    Maudite putain!” Evelyn yelled.

    She looked down at her arm and witnessed the severity of the damage. What remained of her skin was loose, stretched, and oversensitive.

    Evelyn was in awe of how all of the muscle, sinew, tendons, and bones were attached to one another. She normally showed little interest in such matters, seeing that this was unrelated to art, or fashion. However, this was her arm and it showcased an aspect of her that she had forgotten long ago… deep down, she was human.

    Clara’s comments today about selling her soul had left an imprint. She loathed to admit it. She desperately sought out that spark of life, one powerful enough to survive death. Perhaps Evelyn should have made her move on that stunning flapper a century ago.

    Still, that train had already left the station, just like everyone else in that restaurant had turned to dust. Yet that hunter remembered their encounter and the debt incurred. Sure, Evelyn ended up with a burnt arm, torn skin, and a beaten sire. However, it could have been far worse for the both of them.

    At the time, those words had been said in jest. Evelyn was an impulsive creature, one who rarely stopped to consider the depth of actions. That night, she chose to spare Clara because the girl was easy on the eyes. The favour Clara did them by ridding the world of that feral vampire simply made it easier to sell to the others. Besides, why waste such a scrumptious creature?

    Tonight, she learned how the tables had turned and was now indebted to Clara. While Evelyn said those words in jest, the hunter was dead serious. She would have been better off indebted to the mafia, since the worst they could do was break her legs or shoot her.

    The pain in her arm transformed from a dull throbbing to a radiating pain. Evelyn winced and concentrated until the wound scabbed over. She was weak and could not afford to heal any further. The risks of losing control to her own hunger were far too great.

    Instead, she walked to the front-door closet and peeked inside. Her hand slid through the rows of coat hangers until she found just what she needed. It was a simple black leather trench coat, lined with silk. In this weather, it would provide minimal warmth, but that mattered little to the dead.

    She slid into her coat and winced while her arms tunnelled through the sleeves. It was fortunate that the pain lessened once the material settled, although any movement would be sure to remind her of these injuries. Ready, she tied a bow using the attached belt, which made her hourglass shape pop.

    Evelyn needed to hunt, so it paid to turn a few heads. On the plus side, if things got a bit messy, then the gore would wash off the leather.

    Before reaching for the door, she hesitated and walked back inside. She found her phone, ignored the slew of notifications, and when satisfied that it was charged, walked out into the night.

    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!

  • Triple, Venti, Soy, No Foam Latte – Part I

    “How did we get main power up and running again?” Mason asked confused.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Their original estimate had been in the order of weeks, but the fusion generators were roaring back to life now. When operating normally, they would be silent and undetectable to humans, functioning at frequency ranges that were beyond a human’s ability to detect. In contrast, the ramp up procedure made them impossible to conceal. While the machinery whirled back to life, the sound increased lock-step with the power levels, reminding him of gas turbines spooling up on an airliner.

    For a moment, the building vibrated in harmony with the generators. The startled group looked to one another because this scenario was never meant to happen. If this were to turn into a positive feedback loop, the building would come crashing down.

    Fortunately, the speed increased just enough to cancel out the harmonics. Soon, the main power would be restored and they could get some answers, or so they hoped.

    Brett, who was preoccupied with the generator start-up routine, answered once he was satisfied, “Breanna activated a repair drone.”

    “So I leave for a couple of hours and you find a repair drone that none of us knew about?” Mason asked.

    Brett shrugged before answering, “She found it while snooping around in the inventory database.”

    “Breanna!” Mason yelled, but by now, the generators were nearly silent, so it came across like he was furious.

    “What!” Breanna snapped back. A few seconds later, her head peeked out from the floor above and she asked, “You called, Oh Captain, My Captain?”

    “Stop that!” Mason exclaimed before adding, “Why were you searching through the inventory?”

    Breanna was enjoying getting under his skin. While this had been a rough night for the lot of them, she was still bored of these petty squabbles. She needed an escape, but for now, the where and the who was still up for grabs.

    Breanna let out a long woeful sigh before replying, “I thought it was time well spent compared to staring at a blank screen.”

    “So, you didn’t know we had one?” Mason asked.

    “No,” Breanna said in a bored tone. “Did you?”

    The act of throwing the question back in Mason’s face was her way of avoiding conflict. While Brett could get away with his antics, she had no such leeway.

    Georgians in their true form functioned like insect colonies here on Earth. Enclaves of Georgians were primarily composed of female workers, a small group of drones, and the Queen. Mason, Brett, and Breanna had all been workers, so gender had not been a factor until they were selected for this expedition.

    Mason and Brett ended up with naughty bits on the outside and quickly developed traits that came with that toolset. Mason became the authoritarian ass who led by edict, while Brett played the part of the court jester.

    Breanna had been assigned a female body, which opened up a whole array of alternate attack vectors. While the men could draw conflict by threatening some unwritten patriarchal rule, she possessed the ability to bypass most safeguards all by using her assets against the opposite sex.

    Although effective, Breanna soon learned that she preferred the company of other women. There was a softness, a connection that existed during those liaisons that eluded her with men. Her age of discovery coincided with the Roaring Twenties, an era when empowered and hedonistic women were also open to exploration.

    While Mason questioned Brett on what was known of the repair drone, Breanna pulled out her mobile from the depths of her pocket. She flicked through the interface until a certain name made her heart skip a beat. Without a second thought, the fiery redhead sent out a ping into the night.

    “Am I going to get a reply?” Breanna hoped.

    Mason tapped Breanna’s shoulder and asked, “Is everything okay?”

    Breanna fumbled with the phone until she managed to press the lock button. The screen went black, and left behind the reflection of a hysterical woman.

    “Fuck!” Breanna exclaimed. “Don’t do that.”

    “Sorry,” Mason said in that sorry, not sorry tone.

    “Yeah. Yeah,” Breanna replied while ignoring the giggle-snort that Brett made. “I’m sorry. Did I miss something?”

    Mason gave her a curious look, as though he was trying to peer into the depths of her soul. Since they were no longer linked through cybernetic implants, the man gave up.

    “Can we confirm—,” Mason said.

    “The gain in mass?” Breanna answered while interacting with her station’s interface. She paused for a moment before adding, “The original estimates were correct.”

    “That’s impossible!” Mason blurted out.

    “Well, normally, yes,” Breanna said.

    She switched to her phone and scanned trending headlines. There were a few articles of note, so she pushed the content onto her workstation’s display to show the group.

    The first article started off with the image of a man in prison attire. The headlines read, ’Man who rode lighting, back from the grave?’ Immediately, to the side of the mugshot, they displayed the picture of a man they apprehended earlier tonight. Either they were twins or—

    “Says here that police arrested a man trying to break into his former home. Authorities are baffled. Dental records and fingerprints were matched to those of the convicted serial killer, Adam Graves. The same man who was executed last year for his string of sex crimes that culminated in a series of horrific murders,” Breanna summarized. “The thing is, this man has no scars from the police shootout.”

    The second article was more graphic. It contained a picture of a skyscraper superimposed over a dilapidated neighbourhood block. Some developments did integrate existing building faces into the design, but this was something else entirely. The front face of the larger structure was blocked by two boarded up buildings. In between, there were dumpsters, full of trash, which were fused in the front doors. Of course, the most disturbing element, were the people embedded into the structure. Men and women in suits were now literally part of walls erected a century ago.

    “What the—,” Mason and Brett said.

    “The article states that this neighbourhood was torn down shortly after the last municipal elections,” Breanna said. “Now it seems that both events happened simultaneously.”

    “So—,” Mason tried to ask.

    “Correct,” Breanna said. “These humans can’t create matter, or at least not on this scale. The disturbance we saw appears to have resurrected alternate timelines and integrated them with our own.”

    Mason turned to face Brett who, by now, was white as a sheet. It was one thing to make a mistake that knocked out their systems. Mishaps like that could be remedied without alerting the world to their presence. However, this was a fuck up of epic proportions. People were sure to remember an alternate version of events and start asking questions. News of this event was already spreading like wildfire which would only add fuel to the fire.

    “Oh shit.” Brett said in an attempt to deflect.

    Breanna smiled, knowing that this court jester was about to be put in his place. She only wished that she had a big bag of popcorn on hand to enjoy the show.

    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!

  • Friends and Foreplay – Part IV

    Upon leaving the restaurant, Elizabeth noticed that the sun had set. She cursed these short days, since fall would give way to another dreaded winter, and she shivered when a cold stiff breeze ran across her back. Nonetheless, she soldiered on towards the nearest subway station.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    She was frustrated, and who could blame her? Why did no one care? Or even show concern? Was it because she was a social worker? Or had she been a better friend than the rest? It was not like Victoria bothered to send her a message, call, or even mail a postcard to explain her absence. Why even bother when the authorities were unconcerned—

    “Lizzy!” Elizabeth heard from behind.

    When she turned, Elizabeth was faced with the most coincidental of apparitions. This girl had not changed a bit; she was the very same firecracker she dated back in college.

    “Firecracker!” Elizabeth exclaimed before falling into a deep hug.

    That girl felt the same—heck she even smelled just like she remembered her. Their reunion brought a whole slew of good memories to the forefront of her mind.

    “So where’s your father?” Elizabeth asked, remembering the rather serious man she came across while fooling around at this girl’s place.

    Evelyn beamed her trademark smile and said, “Oh, he’s right behind you…”

    Evelyn may have been smiling, but Elizabeth could read between the lines. A sense of dread creeped up from the tips of her toes to the back of her neck, every hair on her body stand out.

    She felt cold and numb, unable to think nor act, even while a tiny voice in her head begged for her to do something… anything! In that moment, Elizabeth was very much like a lamb looking up with big slotted eyes to its executioners.

    “What the f—” Elizabeth said.

    The movement had been so fast that Elizabeth’s eyes nearly missed the change. Evelyn turned to look down at the intersection that ran perpendicular to this road and, just as quickly, shifted her gaze back to Elizabeth. This time, the smile was completely gone. Instead, her mouth hung down limply and her eyes were wide. The shock written on Evelyn’s face was enough for her to risk taking a look, but there was no time.

    Just as she began to move, the sound of a speeding vehicle passed from her left ear and transitioned to her right. While the sound of the engine was intense, it was a gust of wind that followed which sent her into a tailspin.

    Elizabeth’s knees gave out on instinct, just like her arms reached out to protect her face. But before she was able to react, she heard things that would never fade from memory.

    It was hard to describe at first since the entire affair had taken no more than a fraction of a second. Yet her mind clearly registered the sound of metal grinding against brick. That soon changed once the individual materials reached their breaking point.

    Elizabeth picked up the sound of bolts shearing, as well as metal twisting and buckling from the strain. She heard plastic crack, bricks explode, and glass shatter into a thousand pieces, the latter producing a dizzying stereophonic effect. None of this helped to calm her down.

    Elizabeth was not sure if this was real or imagined, especially when she heard something akin to bones being ground into dust. That was the sound that would haunt her in life, an irony, since that was the moment her life had been spared. The crash was finished before Elizabeth reached the ground. Her body shook from the shock and it would take days for her mind to come to terms with what happened.

    “You!” Evelyn shrieked.

    Elizabeth cracked open her eyes and her vision was left blurred from squeezing them shut so tight. Still, she made out that Evelyn was no longer facing her. Confusion ruled over all of her senses because her mind had yet to catch up with what was going on.

    There was a woman to Elizabeth’s left dressed in black leather and holding onto a car door. It was obvious the effects of the door’s weight had no bearing on how she handled herself, something Elizabeth, despite her confusion, found odd.

    She had dark hair, neatly trimmed into a bob, which imbued a boyish look. Between the sharp features of her face, that impish smile, and the shapely body that glistened in black leather, Elizabeth involuntarily let out a soft gasp.

    “Did I miss anything?” Clara quipped.

    Before Elizabeth could say a word, an object streaked before her eyes, heading towards this new arrival. She had seen this type of effect before, but until now, only in photography, specifically long exposure shots captured in low light. Clara’s response was just as fast and the door resounded like a gong before Elizabeth made out the return volley. That sound was soon followed by the sound of someone getting a serious case of road rash.

    Done with her makeshift shield, Clara left the cratered car door in the middle of the intersection. She then removed her coat to unfurl her wings, their movement only perceptible in the shadows.

    To get under her opponent’s skin, Clara asked out loud, “Is this your idea of foreplay, Evelyn?”

    Evelyn lifted herself up from the pavement, her head facing the new arrival. Meanwhile, Elizabeth remained where she was—in awe.

    Evelyn giggled, the musical tones in her voice somehow managing to entice the onlooker, even after a case of attempted murder.

    “What’s wrong with me?” Elizabeth whispered.

    Despite the intoxicating effect she had on Elizabeth, the new arrival remained unmoved.

    Once Evelyn regained her footing, she brushed off any filth from her clothes and said, “You look great for someone of your advanced years. So what’s your secret?”

    Evelyn’s face may have been adorned with a smile, but it was strained to the point of making her lips turn white. Elizabeth cringed. This was the first time she had ever seen that girl lose her composure. Until now, she had always been the perfect fusion of happy-go-lucky and spunky.

    “Death becomes me,” Clara replied.

    “Oh? Not likely with that pulse,” Evelyn said.

    “Like you have a leg to stand on,” Clara countered. “I never knew your kind could fake a pulse… at least, until I met you.”

    Evelyn cocked a brow before she fell into an elaborate and theatrical bow. Even with visible tears in her dress, she exuded an elegance that was hard to achieve.

    “We all have our quirks,” Evelyn said. “My quirks allow me to hide amongst the sheep.”

    The firecracker began a slow and deliberate walk towards Clara. The purposefully elongated gait of her walk forced her hips to sway alluringly, just like a pendulum.

    Clara did not seem to be bothered, nor was she threatened. While Elizabeth could see two pistols bulging from her waist, the woman made no attempt to draw either weapon.

    “There is one big difference between us now,” Clara said to change the subject.

    “Oh?” Evelyn asked.

    Clara nodded before saying, “I shuffled off my mortal coil to get where I am, while yours was forfeit to cling onto this life.”

    “Like that thing ever did me any good,” Evelyn said with disdain dripping from every word.

    While Evelyn continued her advance, Elizabeth spotted a gouge on the back of her left calf. While her alluring sway did much to distract, it also contributed greatly to aggravating the wound. Was Evelyn even alive? There should have been blood gushing from that. Still, it must have taken a great deal of willpower to ignore the pain of tearing flesh from muscle. Evelyn carried on as though it was nothing, but Clara knew better since the face could only hide so much.

    “Is this because her beau helped to cushion my truck’s stop?” Clara wondered.

    Clara watched as the dark haired vixen approached. When they first met, nearly a century ago, she could barely resist Evelyn’s charms. Now she saw the truth behind that thin layer of flesh, the one that so easily disarmed her victims.

    Sooner or later you’d see me as the monster I really am,” Evelyn once told her, and that line had been dead on.

    Clara never noticed before how the remnant of her soul clung to the stunning beauty’s flesh. She could see how damage had accumulated through centuries of wrongdoing, some acts so heinous they were considered war crimes.

    “Here be monsters,” Clara muttered.

    From Evelyn’s point of view, there was only opportunity. She had no reason to believe that her ulterior motives were revealed or oblivious. Some powerful creatures had tried, and failed, to read her.

    “I’ve been thinking,” Evelyn said.

    By that point, Evelyn was a few steps away from Clara and hung back her hand for a moment. This sleight of hand allowed her to conceal her nails transforming into a series of elongated obsidian claws. Elizabeth could see the transformation in all its detail, but could not vocalise a warning.

    “That’s a first,” Clara countered.

    Clara was ready though. Evelyn pounced the moment the words were spoken. Although her movements were accelerated, to Clara, it appeared as a normal attack.

    She could have dodged the attack and prolonged this conflict needlessly. Unfortunately, the woman she saved was no longer the only bystander. A crowd had formed around the wreck and mobile phones were pointed in their direction.

    “Gabriel is so not going to like this,” Clara said, but at this speed the words sounded like a cricket’s chirp.

    Clara had the choice to absorb the blow or attack with intent of disabling her foe. There were risks and rewards to either choice, but both failed to account for a debut incurred long ago.

    Instead, she grabbed Evelyn’s hand by the wrist and absorbed her opponent’s momentum. For a moment, the women were locked in place. Anyone new to the scene would assume this had all been a part of a choreographed dance performance.

    Evelyn tried to counter, but Clara’s grip was strong making her the lesser in this situation. For nearly four centuries, she had hunted with impunity, overpowering her prey at will, and the change in balance left her noticeably unsettled.

    For Elizabeth, this initial interaction between the two had been completely missed. In one moment, Evelyn had been preparing for an attack and in a blink of an eye, Clara was holding Evelyn by the wrist. She saw how Evelyn struggled to gain the upper hand, but that soon became the least of her worries.

    Around the contact point, Evelyn’s arms began to smoke. A strong noxious smell of charred flesh wafted through the area, and despite centuries of self-control, Evelyn was unable to contain the pain.

    Arrêtez! Je vous en supplie!” Evelyn exclaimed while trying to pull away.

    Clara released her grip the moment the other conceded. There was no need to worsen the damage, not unless she was forced to. Evelyn had failed to grasp what her opponent was. As a hunter, her faith could have led to an aversion, or even mild injury, for newly turned vampires. As an angel? Her faith was a thousand times stronger and came with effects to match.

    Et pourquoi, ma belle?” Evelyn asked, having reverted to her native tongue as her mind struggled to come to terms with the pain.

    The hunter had been a witness to such behaviour before. People had a tendency to revert to their mother tongue during moments of great passion or pain. Clara knew that Evelyn was, for the first time in centuries, vulnerable, and that could sour the situation. So that meant the next few moments were crucial to de-escalate matters.

    To confuse anyone listening in on their conversation, Clara replied in Latin, “You would have preferred death?”

    Clara assumed that the imp knew the language. While it was no more than a guess, it quickly turned out to be correct.

    “No one from your order has ever shown us mercy,” Evelyn replied in a rusty Latin.

    “None of your kind has ever shown us any leniency,” Clara said. “Until I crossed your path.”

    Perhaps it was Clara’s smile that convinced the other there were no ulterior motives. It could have been a long buried memory that resurfaced, one related to a chat they shared long ago. No matter, in that moment, Evelyn realised that Clara was holding herself accountable to a promise made long ago.

    Clara reached into her pants pocket and pulled out the absconded phone. Without a second thought, she tossed it over to Evelyn.

    “Here,” Clara said. “Program in what I need to contact you later.”

    Evelyn compiled and tossed the phone back. Elizabeth sensed a change, that Evelyn’s attitude had shifted, and found it eerie. For the life of her, she had no clue what was going on.

    “It appears as though I owe you one?” Evelyn confirmed.

    Without a word, Evelyn was gone, leaving behind a momentary blur in the background that the eye barely registered. Elizabeth shrieked when the truck moved a foot but, when she turned to investigate, there was no sign of her firecracker, nor signs of the man who posed as Evelyn’s father.

    “Are you okay?” Clara said to Elizabeth as she picked up her discarded coat.

    “Define okay,” Elizabeth said.

    With sirens calling out in the distance, Clara approached the other and chuckled. When someone was exposed to the truth at this age, the shock was sometimes too great for their minds to handle.

    Clara reached out with her hand and said, “Come on, let’s go find someplace quiet.”

    Elizabeth hesitated. Normally, she considered herself to be strong and assertive. One had to be when dealing with her type of cases, not to mention the requirement for professionalism, even if her heart was breaking. Still, this was a different matter entirely. No training in the world could have prepared her for this type of event. Nonetheless, this woman did save her life. So, despite the uncertainty, she took hold of the outreached hand.

    Clara grabbed the hand firmly and sent Elizabeth crashing into her chest. With a firm grip, she wrapped her leather coat around the traumatised woman and held on tight.

    “Sometimes it’s best not to let someone in on the plan,” Clara said in a whisper.

    Just as Elizabeth’s mind began to register those words, she heard something that could only be described as a bird of prey taking flight. That had been enough to distract her from thinking about the fact they were airborne, flying over the buildings and away from prying eyes. All of that, would have been a bit much to take in at first.

    On the road’s surface, Clara’s wing were outlined perfectly. That detail would only be noticed on video since bystanders were too busy looking up at the sky.

    “Gabriel is going to be pissed,” 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!

  • Friends and Foreplay – Part III

    Elizabeth sat comfortably at a corner booth, and looked over the expansive park just outside. In the distance, high-rises poked out from above the treeline. There was all sorts of activity going on in between: people jogging, buskers performing, muggers doing their dastardly deeds, and those who spent their days feeding the pigeons. In the background, she heard quiet lounge music and the chitter chatter of people busy with their meals.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    What a shame that she could not order just yet, since she was famished. Elizabeth looked down at her phone and saw that it had been a half-an-hour since her arrival. Unfortunately, Anne would be a while yet before making an entrance. To kill time, she enjoyed the view, thought about her never-ending caseload, and eyed the phone for notifications. This was nothing out of the ordinary when dealing with Anne, but she nonetheless resented that woman for making her wait.

    It had been years since Elizabeth last visited this particular restaurant, and truth be told, it was too rich for her blood. Her career as a social worker, one spent dealing with runaways and abused children, did not grant her a membership to the one-percent club. Places like this trendy restaurant, with its breathtaking view, were nothing more than an indulgence. It was unfortunate that to get Anne’s attention, she needed an appropriate venue to lure her in. That, and pick up the tab.

    After an additional thirty minutes and three visits from the waiter, Elizabeth lost patience and ordered a dry martini to go with her chicken Caesar salad. She reasoned that Anne could order once she arrived, whenever that happened to be.

    As fate would have it, just as she handed back her menu, a tall rotund brunette came through the front door dressed in designer clothing. Clearly, that dress had to be couture, because it did a wonderful job of drawing the eyes away from certain attributes while focusing them elsewhere, in this case, that rather generous cleavage.

    Elizabeth, in contrast, was a graceful and a modern woman, at least when judged by her haircut and mixed-race facial features. She had once been described as striking, a flawless beauty despite that slight scar just above her left eyebrow. While nearly invisible to most, it was a constant reminder about children and the dangerous games they played.

    Anne looked around the restaurant until she caught a glimpse of Elizabeth waving. She then flashed a fake smile before sauntering towards the corner booth.

    “Lizzy!” Anne exclaimed.

    Anne reached out for Elizabeth who got up in time to hug. Despite Anne wearing heels, Elizabeth towered over her friend, even in flats.

    “Anne! Always a pleasure. Was it a busy day at the courts?” Elizabeth asked.

    This would give Anne the chance to come up with an excuse for being over an hour late. Elizabeth often wondered why she did not set appointments with Anne an hour earlier. That way, Anne would be on time, or at least from Elizabeth’s perspective.

    “You know how it is,” Anne said in reply while perusing the menu nonchalantly. “What are today’s specials?”

    Anne used that question as a way to change the subject. She also noted that her friend had ordered without her, a trend she found disturbing.

    “I can’t, for the life of me, remember what the waiter said,” Elizabeth replied thinking that the lunch specials were no longer being offered, seeing how they ended at two. “I just ordered a salad and a drink.”

    Hopefully, Anne would get the hint that this was not a sky’s the limit type of outing, Though she feared there might be some sort of penance to be paid for ordering early.

    Fortunately, the waiter showed up just in time to break up the conversation. Elizabeth took in a quick sip of her drink and enjoyed how the alcohol burned the tip of her tongue. It had been a while since she last indulged in a stiff drink, and she would need a few more before this day was done.

    Nonetheless, she watched with interest as Anne ordered a soup and sandwich special, along with a cosmopolitan. That choice had been appreciated, since it softened the blow to her pocketbook.

    “Is that a ring on your finger?” Anne asked, noting the simple white-gold band.

    Elizabeth smiled warmly and blushed before replying, “Yes. I got married a few months ago.” Her smile grew exponentially before she continued, “I married a lovely singer-songwriter named Mary Scott. We met a few years back at one of her concerts.”

    In fact, this was something that Anne should have known. Had she bothered to look at Elizabeth’s Bealzabook profile.

    Elizabeth digressed and added, “She’s on a country-wide tour, so we’ve not seen much of each other lately.”

    “Hmmmmm,” Anne replied, the look on her face, making it clear that she was bored. “Sorry to hear… So why did you want to see me today?”

    Quick and to the point. A refreshing change for her friend, but where did that come from? Throughout college, Elizabeth had never known that woman to be straightforward on anything.

    Elizabeth began to question if Anne’s discomfort had something to do with her choice of spouse? Or was it the level of commitment and dedication shown for another? She had one sure-fire way to find out, so her eyes dropped down a few degrees and focused on Anne’s ample bust.

    “When was the last time you remember seeing Victoria?” Elizabeth asked, all the while keeping an eye out for any telltale signs of discomfort.

    True to form, Anne shifted slightly to avoid the gaze and uttered a befuddled response, “Not sure. I think it may have been a few weeks before the funeral.”

    That question caught Anne off guard almost as much as Elizabeth leering. Why was she being asked such a question? Unable to ask without appearing insensitive, she tossed the ball back to the other’s court.

    “You?” Anne asked.

    “I was at the funeral. Do you remember how dreary it was that day? I don’t think anyone managed to exchange more than a couple of words with her. A handful of us were there for support, but she wasn’t really there,” Elizabeth said. “You know?”

    Elizabeth paused to take another sip of her drink. She then looked towards the kitchen and wondered why their food was taking so long. After all, salad and cold chicken did not require a great deal of preparation.

    “No one has seen hide nor hair of her since…” Elizabeth trailed off.

    “No one has seen her since the funeral?” Anne asked with a hint of shock in her voice. “Wasn’t that last year?”

    “Actually, it was two years ago. Shortly after the funeral, she moved out of the estate, quit her job, and then—poof!” Elizabeth said.

    Since Elizabeth worked primarily with children who had a habit of running away, those actions showed up as red flags. Of course, one had to wonder what Victoria was running from.

    “No updates on Bealzabook, her name isn’t listed in the phone book, her mobile was disconnected, and no one I know has seen her in years,” Elizabeth said.

    “Really?” Anne asked.

    The waiter brought Anne’s drink, who then gulped half of it down as a diversion.

    “So why tell me all of this?” Anne asked.

    Elizabeth sighed seeing as this would end up being another dead-end. Either way, she asked, “You’ve known her much longer than anyone else. I met her in college where we shared a few electives. That led to us teaming up for projects, and she ended up dragging me to those horror movie marathons. Still, you must know something? You’ve known her since high school.”

    Anne sensed where this was heading and hated being lured here for this. Had it really been that long since she had last seen Victoria? While they were not the best of friends, the two had followed each other through the academy, college, and law school. She even took advantage of the vacuum Victoria left by quitting her law firm, even though several clients subsequently changed firms once they got their corrected bills.

    To avoid the subject further, she deflected once more by asking something in return, “Perhaps she found herself a man?”

    Elizabeth scoffed at the idea. Anne was lucky that her friend had not been sipping her drink in that moment.

    “You remember what happened with Marcus back in college? I doubt she ever really recovered from that,” Elizabeth said. She then cocked her head and asked in return, “Weren’t you and Marcus an item?”

    Anne turned white as a sheet and failed to reply. Elizabeth knew that Anne had been instrumental in getting Marcus away from Victoria, although that was not necessarily a herculean feat. Marcus was known for his fetishes throughout college, and since Victoria was not putting out, the rest was history. Anne was a woman who squirted on command, the least risqué of skills in her sexual repertoire, and that got his attention. In the end, it was a choice between gaining access to a family fortune in the distant future, or a quick lay. Funny how that choice seemed so simple in retrospect.

    However, Elizabeth was not aware that Anne and Marcus were still a thing, available on speed-dial day or night, with no strings attached. Fortunately, Victoria never learned of the true reason of their breakup, but the way that man left her certainly merited him a special place in hell. Elizabeth had been the one left holding the pieces and spent more than her fair share of time watching horror movies with the devastated woman. Thankfully, the tapes had worn out, which granted her a merciful reprieve.

    They ate in silence once the food arrived. Elizabeth was not yet done with this conversation, but felt that Anne needed to regain her composure. She kept busy by thinking back to her college days, specifically, when her interests in men came to an end and she realised how thankful she was for not ending up with her own version of Marcus. Sure, men were fine but none ever left her feeling satiated.

    It was nothing more than a stroke of luck that she met her true calling for partners. Youthful, and full of spirit, a firecracker really, she had piercing green eyes and a smile that entranced. These were all traits typically found in a freshman art student. She was the reason Elizabeth liked women, along with a renewed appreciation for the arts.

    Elizabeth had fond memories of that relationship, including one that involved a lot of paint, long rolls of paper, and their naked bodies. That summer had passed by like a dream and she often wondered what ever happened to her.

    Oddly enough, the musical tones in Mary’s voice had the same intoxicating effects on her. While a coincidence, it created an immediate bond with Mary, a secret that Elizabeth would take to her grave.

    “So, I hired a private investigator,” Elizabeth said.

    She was about finished eating the last leaf of the salad. In some cultures, it was seen as a sign of respect to leave something on the plate, and she began to wonder if Anne had ever heard of that particular custom.

    Anne put down her fork and sighed, All the while trying to come up with an excuse that would get her out of this. Unfortunately, nothing she thought of, would let her off the hook, or at least not without painting her as some sort of monster.

    “Why are you so worried about her anyway? People like her don’t just disappear, you know? The media would be in a frenzy if she did,” Anne said.

    “I thought of that. Still it doesn’t make sense that she would just drop.” Elizabeth said after she polished off her drink.

    As though reading her mind, the waiter brought in a fresh martini.

    “I asked the foundation looking after her parent’s affairs about her, but they refused to tell me anything. Mind you, this company is renowned for protecting the privacy of their clients,” Elizabeth said.

    Before Anne could reply, Elizabeth added more to the narrative, “I came across a car salesman at a local bar. He kept on bitching about some frost queen that almost got him fired. So I flirted a bit, and he confessed that Victoria bought a car! That one nearly blew my mind.”

    “No doubt,” Anne said nonchalantly, but she did agree in retrospect.

    “Even that was over a year ago. So when I asked the PI, he looked into the matter and found out that her car was registered to the foundation. The address also matched the one for their corporate headquarters,” Elizabeth said.

    Elizabeth began to question why she even bothered to tell Anne any of this. Could this woman to be more self-absorbed? Nonetheless, she carried on because it felt more like a confession at this point.

    “That, in itself, is not out of the ordinary for those who are well off,” Elizabeth said. After a brief pause, she added, “Eventually, he managed to break into the foundation’s computer system and found the address for a unit along the park. When I visited, the place looked deserted, but there was a pungent odour coming from a broken window.”

    Elizabeth was parched, so she finished half the glass and noted that Anne had made no progress on hers.

    “I tried to tell the doorman, but he insisted everything was fine and not to worry. That’s the most tight-lipped bastard I ever met… then I read the newspaper.”

    “News?” Anne asked, this time appearing to be genuinely interested, but Elizabeth found it difficult to be certain.

    Elizabeth nodded and said. “Remember a few weeks back, some news about a car bombing in a parking garage near here?”

    “That was him?” Anne asked loud enough for most of the restaurant to overhear. Then she covered her mouth, calmed down, and spoke in a hushed voice, “I thought they said it was a gas leak?”

    “One of the investigators on the case is a big fan of my wife’s music. So he let me in on some of the details,” Elizabeth said.

    To fuck with Anne! Elizabeth began to stare at her cleavage and this time with far less discretion. In itself, that was not a difficult task, since the woman was facing forward.

    “To his knowledge, Russian anti-tank mines and ruptured gas mains are not normal occurrences in this city,” Elizabeth added.

    This time, Anne said nothing, nor did she move to avert Elizabeth’s gaze. The social worker grinned, finished off her drink, and set the glass down loudly on the table. To watch Anne jump. For a moment, they laughed, but it was obvious that their nerves were frayed.

    In trying to calm her nerves, Anne said, “You can’t be serious!”

    “Ah, but I am,” Elizabeth replied. “Two days ago, that doorman went missing,” she added realising how ridiculous this all sounded.

    Anne’s eyes grew wide before she stuttered, “Really?”

    She then looked at her own phone and triggered an app that made the phone vibrate.

    “Oh look at the time!” Anne exclaimed while she got up and smiled meekly. “I have a very important appointment with a client. It’s been a pleasure. So, next time lunch is on me?”

    Of course, Elizabeth knew this was nothing more than an excuse. Should she expect any different from Anne? Truth be told, this had been the fourth friend she sought in as many weeks. Every time she was met with the same detached attitude, and nonchalance, always coming up empty handed.

    “With friends like you, why would Victoria need any enemies?” Elizabeth shouted as Anne left the restaurant.

    Frustrated, the social worker ordered another drink, and dropped her card on the table to pay her tab. With no desire to see the tally, she told the server to add up the gratuity himself. That way, she could avoid seeing the damage until her credit card statement arrived. Bored, she went back to people-watching and nursed her drink.

    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!

  • Friends and Foreplay – Part II

    After leaving that dive bar, Clara walked for the better part of an hour down desolate streets. Something seemed off about the city. While Clara could not think of the reason why, she knew that any city of this size should be teeming with people. So why was this entire area boarded up? There were no cars other than derelicts stripped bare. Litter covered the streets and some drifted around harmlessly, carried forth by the wind.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    “How could there be any part of this city so sparsely inhabited?” Clara asked.

    She did not expect an answer, nor was one provided. There were other mysteries to solve before the night was done and her musings on population density did nothing to achieve her goal.

    In the distance, she spotted something and initially thought it was nothing more than a trick of the eye. Was that a truck? Clara’s heart rate rose in excitement, prompting her to focus her thoughts to bring it back down to normal. It had been a long time since she last needed to manipulate her heart rate, but Clara needed to remain calm. For now.

    Before she approached the vehicle, Clara kept an eye on her surroundings. All around, there were potential avenues for an ambush or ways to mount an indirect attack. There were plenty of monsters that were smart enough to lay such traps and patient enough to wait for an unassuming victim.

    “Wait till they get on my bad side,” Clara said under her breath.

    Her training left her with the necessary toolset to deal with such eventualities: how to ignore the cold or the heat and put mission before self, even at the cost of her own life.

    “Anything that tries to fuck with me will end up having a bad day,” Clara said casually as she approached the vehicle.

    From this distance, she noted that the headlights were lit and there was a ghostly glow to them. The vehicle was old, or appeared to be at least, when compared to what she saw in modern films.

    Cars had been a rich man’s luxury when Clara was a child. As time progressed, they became more popular and ubiquitous. In the last decade of her life, she even learned to drive, a useful bit of knowledge for disposing of wealthy vampires and their rides.

    She never expected to come across a truck that survived the Dirty Thirties. It was a real piece of work too: bright red paint, chrome buffed to a shine. This vehicle looked better than it would have off the lot.

    “Now why would anyone leave something like this lying around?” Clara asked.

    Clara drew her pistol and swept the truck for any potential threats. She checked the cab, the bed, and the undercarriage, all without finding anything to worry about. Clara paused, furrowed her brow, and looked utterly confused. Simply put, this was too easy.

    She eventually accepted the situation based on nothing more than faith and opened the door. Since the lights were dim, Clara popped the hood latch release and went ahead to have a closer look.

    “Oh my!” Clara said in awe.

    Whatever was crammed into the engine compartment looked nothing like the stock engines from her time. Every square inch of space had been used up to house the engine and supporting systems.

    “Someone was compensating for something,” Clara said before letting out a snicker.

    Despite everything looking shiny and new, the compartment still smelled of lubricants and petrol. It brought back some great memories of having her way with men in the back of these classics. She even learned to appreciate rumble seats.

    With a sigh, she slammed the hood into place. As a final precaution, she scanned the area but again, found nothing. For many, this implied they were alone, but that was rarely true.

    “Too easy,” Clara said.

    Clara slid into the cab as best she could. The leather of her pants clung to the seats. Clara had no choice but to chuckle, since fate managed to save her a little surprise after all.

    She looked over the console and found most of the gauges and dials to be familiar. Since the keys were in the ignition, she turned the key and as expected, nothing happened.

    “Horsefeathers!” Clara swore.

    Thinking back over her days of yore, Clara remembered to check the choke. Her eyes scanned every feature on the console to no avail. There were no plungers or dials for a choke.

    “What now?” Clara asked herself.

    The last thing Clara wanted to do was push this flivver down the road until she reached a hill. While she had no specific time and place to rendezvous, Clara sensed she was needed somewhere, and fast.

    “There must be—,” Clara said but stopped when an idea ran through her mind.

    She pressed down on the clutch and break until both were firmly in place. In this position, her legs were strained so she fumbled around with the seat until she could reach comfortably.

    She then turned the keys and felt the engine roll over. The first pass sounded laboured, as though the engine had been kept out on a frigid winter’s eve, but on the second turn, it roared to life.

    “Yes!” Clara exclaimed.

    When the engine began to grunt, she pressed down on the throttle, and made this engine roar once more. In that moment, Clara knew that she was going to have a lot of fun with this truck.

    She released the brake, eased off on the clutch, and gave it some gas. The truck’s rear wheels squealed releasing a noxious black cloud into the air. Before Clara had a chance to smell her handiwork, the truck was already screaming down the road.

    “Di mi!” Clara exclaimed. “I think I’m in love!”

    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!