Tag: Disconnect

  • Home Is Where the Heart Is – Part IV

    Edith lingered around the painting, breathing in the truth captured in the canvas. There was still the master bedroom left to clear, but she found it hard to break away. This painting was the answer to the mystery surrounding Clara’s disappearance.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    For decades, she searched for signs of her friend’s fate, a task made difficult due to the loss of the Tower. Had Edith not assumed the events were linked, she would have been sure to keep a keen eye on the living world. Instead, she ended up with yet another lesson about those who make unfounded assumptions.

    The sight of her in that portrait not only triggered a deep sense of betrayal, but left her envious. Edith loved Clara and would have given up the world just to be with her. Instead, Clara ran off to join the likes of them? What kind of draw did this harlot have?

    Edith sighed, closed her eyes, and turned away. Lingering over that image would only serve to weaken her. She needed to stay focused and complete this mission. Otherwise, Angela would remain out of reach, and unlike this traitorous bitch, Angela loved her back in kind.

    She walked out into the hallway and turned to face the master bedroom. The room was dark, except for a dull red glow emanating from the alarm clock. It was still dark outside, so Edith concentrated on the outlines of the furniture and effects. It seemed odd that nothing appeared to be suspicious or out of place.

    Given the general lack of activity, Edith decided to take a leap of faith. The moment she put one foot inside the bedroom, all hell broke loose.

    Run,” Evelyn said.

    Edith looked down the hall towards the site of the previous altercation. There would have been multiple assailants, considering the amount of ammunition used to create that type of damage.

    Edith had seen that tactic before, during the war. Every so often, one of their kind would get caught up in a skirmish, take a hit, and remain unaffected. Once the initial shock settled, soldiers from both sides soon realised that keeping their fingers depressed on the trigger was key to their salvation.

    She had seen mounds of empty casings piled around bodies, all in an attempt to disable one of them. Sometimes they got lucky, but more often than not, the scene ended up with heaps of bodies. The most powerful of their kind, especially in a frenzy, needed many more shots to the centre of mass to be taken down.

    As the sounds of chaos continued on, Edith noticed something phase into existence. It was a younger woman, blonde, cowering in fear in response to the commotion outside her front door.

    The woman phased in and out of reality, flickering like a movie projector with a faulty bulb. Edith had sympathy for this apparition, condemned to relive the same traumatic event. Ghosts did, in fact, exist and many were caught in loops, just like this one.

    But in a snap, the ethereal apparition got onto its feet and sprinted towards the bedroom. Given the right conditions, anyone could be rallied to act, their instinct for survival roused from its dormant state, asserting itself with a vengeance.

    Fear imbued every part of the fleeing woman’s face. Edith had seen it in inexperienced hunters or the victims of things they encountered during hunts. This ghostly apparition approached with haste; but Edith was not worried, observing from where she stood, looking for a telltale clue.

    Edith reached out, curious about what she would feel once she made contact with this presence. In truth, she already knew what would happen, one of the details committed to memory in life. Still, reading about something and experiencing it first-hand were rarely one and the same.

    While the Tower denied the existence of ghosts or earthly spirits, she had found a codex that indicated otherwise, hidden away in one of the abandoned wings. In the beginning, she had steadfastly refused to believe the contents of that reference, or at least, until she was mortally wounded in an altercation with some ghouls. In that moment of desperation, she reached out to the dead.

    Had this been an actual spirit, the interaction would have sent a chill running down her spine, feeling as though someone had stepped on her grave. That was Edith’s mistake, another assumption which would cost her dearly. The moment they came in contact, an electric current flowed from the tip of her finger and rode through her nervous system into her left foot.

    The jolt repelled her at a frightening rate, hurtling through the air into the wall. On impact, plaster and slats of wood gave way until she reached the brick foundation. The remaining momentum was absorbed by her body, fracturing ribs and her left wing’s humerus. The concussive shock also served to knock the wind out of her.

    Her lungs burned, and she gasped for air, but the searing pain prevented her from taking in more than a few shallow breaths at a time. She tried to calm down, to heal, but the extent of her injuries was too great. As her body began to shut down, it dragged her conscious mind with it. Just before she slipped into unconsciousness, Edith heard a nearby window shatter into hundreds of pieces.

    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!

  • Home Is Where the Heart Is – Part III

    Angela needed to get home and collect her thoughts, or at least that was still her plan. She was not ready just yet, hesitant to enter a world that she shared with Edith for the better part of a century. This was their sanctuary, the one place they could be themselves without risking an inquisition. Even in paradise, there were expectations. Most of the dearly departed were free to do as they pleased, so long as it was contained within their pocket of reality. For lack of a better term, people saw and experienced what they desired.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    The fable about the Tower of Babel proved to be prophetic in many ways. People were often unable to see eye to eye, discord brought upon by elements that set them apart, and that ultimately sowed the seeds of conflict. Most chose to forgo the attempt at peaceful coexistence in favour of living within a dreamworld of their own making.

    Angela was just as guilty as the others, inhabiting a world where she was free to run through the halls of the Tower. She had been so young when she died that her idea of Heaven was playing hide and seek with other girls. For the longest time, that had been her whole reason for being: trapped in a world of fun and games, all the while, blissfully ignorant about the true nature of reality.

    It was Edith who opened her eyes to the truth. Being summoned to the mortal realm had been the lesson. For the first time since death, she realised there was a world beyond her own, beyond the veil of death. In a way, Angela had always known there was something special about Edith, since only true love could have summoned her from beyond the grave.

    When Angela set eyes on her love in her adult form, she knew immediately who it was. Ever since being summoned, she maintained a vigil over the mortal realm. Edith may have been thirty years her elder by then, but all of the signs were there: eyes with a gleam that never faded, the softness of those lips, and a smile that spoke volumes on how much Edith missed her.

    Edith never did learn the truth. Angela never dared to let it slip that she had been waiting for decades. Why risk hurting her? Who needed to know that in a bid to hang onto life, they also managed to reveal the depth of deception that surrounded their life?

    From then on, Angela shared her little world with Edith. It had been an adjustment at first because their love was considered taboo. For Edith, she was willing to do anything, including breaching the gates of Hell just to be in her arms. For better or for worse, Edith became her life, and neither had regrets.

    “Here you go, little girl,” a man said extending his hand.

    He was holding the largest cone of ice cream that she ever set eyes upon. It was a massive waffle cone adorned with at least five heaping scoops of ice cream. Her favouritest in the whole wide world too, vanilla, but dipped in caramel and covered with sprinkles.

    Angela had not realised that she had reverted back to her childhood form. She looked up at the man, and found that the view of his face was marred by the sun.

    “Thank you,” Angela said excitedly, so much so, that her hands were shaking.

    “The pleasure is all mine, child,” the man said.

    Even though he leaned towards her, the sun remained at his back. Angela eagerly grabbed the cone and eyed the confection with wide eyes.

    “Remember,” the man added. “You need to keep your strength up because you’ll need your wits about you.”

    Angela looked up from her cone to answer, but only the blinding light of the sun remained. There were no traces of the man anywhere which was unusual in itself. Outside of their own bubbles, souls did not possess the ability to manipulate their environment.

    “Did I miss something?” Angela wondered.

    She shrugged and continued to devour her ice cream. The creamy delicacy disappeared in chunks since she preferred to bite into the treat instead of licking it away. Gluttony may have been one of the seven deadly sins, but how could anyone turn away such a feast?

    She consumed the ice cream while she walked. When finished with her treat, Angela found herself facing the door to their little kingdom. Before the distraction, Angela had not been sure she would find her way here, her mind unwilling to face reality.

    Angela sighed, closed her eyes, and reached for the handle. Just as her slender fingers were about to grasp the knob, it opened from the inside.

    The sound startled Angela forcing her to open her eyes. She barely managed to focus before freezing in place and looking stupefied. She remained like this for a minute before collapsing to the ground.

    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!

  • Home Is Where the Heart Is – Part II

    Edith had no idea what to expect once she crossed the threshold. That echo she experienced moments ago did a lot to fan the flames of her imagination. Surely, such an armed force would come as a response to an illegal operation?

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    So, imagine her surprise when she walked into a normal and mundane apartment, at least for someone who lived and breathed during Edith’s heyday. The living room contained a few pieces of tasteful art, and while expensive, they evoked no emotional reaction. On the other hand, an entire wall had been dedicated to a collection of books which impressed her, at least until a brief perusal revealed the truth: a lawyer lived here.

    Next to the fireplace, she noticed a simple wooden desk. On top, there was a typewriter, something she learned to use early on at the Tower. Women of the Tower were expected to blend in, and back then, secretary was a common profession for women.

    “That thing is older than I am,” Edith said while her fingers glided over the keys.

    Edith noted there was a distinct lack of technology here. She saw people walking around with tiny devices. There were storefronts that showcased bigger screens filled with vivid imagery. It all seemed to be universally available.

    “So why is none of that here?” Edith asked.

    That question slipped from her mind once she set eyes on a manuscript. She read the title, The Portrait, and made a note to investigate it later. At that moment, it seemed more prudent to finish searching this apartment.

    The kitchen was easy to clear, and as a bonus, Edith was able to secure a series of well-balanced knives, suitable for throwing. These were quickly secured around her thighs using sponges as sheaths and keep them in place.

    Since her dress flowed freely around her generous hips, their presence was nearly invisible. Sure if someone was paying a great deal of attention to her legs, they might notice them, but most would focus on her bust or behind.

    She also managed to acquire a few larger knives. Those were stashed away in her purse, enabling her to be more effective at hand to hand combat.

    While the master bedroom was straight ahead, Edith first stopped by a guest room. This room had been converted for use as a studio and reeked of paint. There were also other tools lying about, that she recognised for use in stone carving. All around, there were ample works to be found, and while some were quite good, others were better suited for the garbage chute.

    An easel stood in the corner, one covered by a white sheet. It appeared to be staged, even a bit contrived, so Edith became suspicious. None of her senses uncovered any hidden mechanisms connected to the easel, nor anything embedded in the walls. Given how low key the rest of this home was, she half-expected it to be a tableau mort. Edith learned long ago to never underestimate the ability of the quiet ones to unleash hell on earth.

    A portrait of a gruesome murder or the dismemberment of a corpse would have been easier to deal with. In the foreground, there was a woman of unimaginable beauty: long hair that was black as onyx, intense green eyes, sharp facial features, and a body that could have been sculpted by a master artist. The curves of her body were still there despite an attire designed to make her look boyish, just like any other self-respecting flapper of her day.

    There was also something suggestive about that girl’s smile, an invitation to take her hand and enter a world of pleasures people only dreamed of. Edith had always been drawn to women, desired them, and found it hard to resist the call.

    “Obviously,” Edith said. “She was more successful with you than I ever was…”

    In the lady’s wake, stood a woman she knew well. She was taller, sported a bobbed dark-brown coiffure, elfin ears and steel-grey eyes. Edith had spent many an hour committing every detail of that face and body to memory. She even recognised her trademark smile, the one used to advertise just how cocky she really was.

    Edith touched the canvas longingly, while a lone tear ran down her cheek before whispering, “Clara.”

    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!

  • 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!