Tag: Hecate

  • Shell Shocked – Part IV

    By the time Elizabeth turned off the shower taps, the crime scene had been sanitised. The bodies had all been moved to empty units. Each was posed in an identical manner, all in an effort to create the illusion that these were ritualistic killings.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    The floor turned out to be a snap to clean since ambrosia possessed several qualities, in addition to it being a powerful detergent. Given a limitless supply, Clara had no trouble scrubbing away all of that blood, including the footsteps she inadvertently left behind.

    Normally, Clara would have found that kind of work tedious, but given the situation, it was both rewarding and distracting. She was reminded of a simpler time, her childhood, when the true nature of this world was masked by innocence. For a moment, Clara was envious of that grey-eyed and button-nosed little girl.

    Unfortunately, ambrosia would not be able to repair the fridge door, the couch, or shattered lamp. It also did nothing to fix the hole burned through the middle of her bustier. What a shame, really. Despite the initial stench of wet dog, this attire suited her. Still, there was the coat, which concealed both the hole and her wings.

    The fridge door would be a challenge to explain away. Fortunately, the door could close well-enough to form a seal, or at least after a bit of coaxing on her part. Clara wondered if this was an apartment, and in turn, worried about the repercussions.

    By the time Elizabeth started up her hair dryer, Clara was back to normal. She took the time to slip back into her clothes and looked herself over in the mirror, loving the vibe it gave off.

    Done with the basics, Elizabeth opened the door cautiously, unsure of what she would find. Based on Clara’s earlier breakdown, she half-expected a grisly murder scene or a gateway that led to the seventh level of hell.

    “Coast is clear,” Clara said before smiling.

    Nevertheless Elizabeth’s eyes ran over the entire scene and found nothing of concern, with the exception of a missing lamp, and a hole burned through the couch. While she could not see the refrigerator, the rest of the place was cleaner than before and she wondered if this was part of Clara’s coping strategy.

    On the edge of the couch she saw the weapons that Clara had been carrying: two pistols, a knife, and a shotgun, the latter being illegal from the looks of it. Elizabeth’s heart sank the moment she saw them, but quickly realised that in a world this dangerous, some exceptions could be made for those with a vested interest in saving the lives of innocents.

    “Looks great,” Elizabeth said before retreating to her bedroom.

    Clara sat on the intact portion of the couch, leaned back, and closed her eyes. Even with the ambrosia, she found it difficult to keep going. She was dog tired, worn out, and would need something substantial in her stomach soon.

    “No wonder Hecate was hooked on the stuff,” Clara said lightly.

    “What was that?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Nothing!” Clara blurted. “Was just thinking that I’m a bit peckish.”

    Elizabeth walked out from her room. She wore a pair of jeans that hugged her hips, and a white blouse which flowed overtop her jeans. Still, despite being clothed, Clara had a great view of her bust.

    Clara looked at the young woman of Asian descent and imagined tearing those clothes off. What was it about this woman that left her so infatuated? Or was there something else at play? Would Clara still feel this way if she had not been isolated from humanity for the better part of ninety years?

    “You look great,” Clara said before biting the bottom of her lip.

    “Thank you,” Elizabeth said and found an excuse to turn away to hide the fact that she was blushing.

    Elizabeth used that time to brush out a few stubborn knots from her hair. It also granted her a few moments to ponder what had been said in the bathroom moments ago.

    After her cheeks cooled, Elizabeth turned to face Clara and said, “You’ve been through a lot.”

    “Yeah. I’ve been fighting for the forces of good all my life,” Clara said honestly. “I had my fill tonight, you know?”

    Elizabeth honestly did not know and suspected that most of her coworkers could not relate. She suspected that such trauma was more common to veterans of war, and first responders. That meant she would not be able to fall back on her training to help her deal with this.

    “Can you talk about it?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Honestly,” Clara said. “The less you know of the subject—the better.”

    “You know, I just saw you run someone over and bitch slap my ex… who turned out to be a fucking vampire!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “I have every right to know what’s going on.”

    Clara’s facial features never changed she just carried on smiling. It had taken an unbelievable amount of strain for her to lose any self-control. She had been taught to stay cool under fire, to never give into her baser instincts. Either way, now was the time to remain calm, cool, and collected.

    “Fair enough,” Clara said. “In short, a goddess known as Hecate, the one who brought about my death, followed a duplicate to your place, then proceeded to kill that copy in your kitchen.”

    Elizabeth had indeed opened a can of worms. After the initial cocking of her brow, she found it necessary to sit down.

    “She then waited for me to leave the bathroom before confronting me. Explained that a race of creatures known as Georgians shattered reality. In doing so, they caused alternate paths of history to exist concurrently with our own,” Clara said. “That’s when Sparky attacked.”

    “Sparky?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Sparky is one of this goddess’ personas. Hecate can choose to appear as a single individual, as one form rotating between the three, or as distinct individuals representing her three personalities,” Clara replied.

    “So you’re telling me that there were—” Elizabeth tried to confirm.

    “Yep! Six identical bodies! Well except for that one I turned to charcoal, but she was one helluva sour pill anyways,” Clara rambled on. “So after ingesting a lot of ambrosia, the bodies were moved, and I cleaned this place. Still, you might need to get a new fridge, lamp, and couch. Any questions?”

    Elizabeth did not know what to make of this. Less than twenty-four hours ago, the world had been plain, normal, and boring. Since then, she learned that vampires were real, followed by angels, and now, old gods?

    “What else… No wait! I’m not sure that I want an answer just yet,” Elizabeth said.

    “Bit much for the grey matter to take in?” Clara asked. “It takes time. Many of our acolytes didn’t make it past that aspect of our training.”

    “How did you?” Elizabeth queried.

    Clara sighed, and took a quick look at her wings. It appeared as though they were going to be visible from here on out.

    “I’ve known since I was little,” Clara said. “Father was a chew toy for a ghoul when I was little. Two years later, that thing came back for Mum, so I hid under the bed and stabbed it repeatedly until it ran away.”

    Elizabeth listened intently to those words, and wondered how Clara ever managed to hold things together this long. These events involved monsters, creatures that terrorised humanity for millennia. Perhaps the inhumanity of her prey, combined with faith, shielded Clara’s mind from all that trauma.

    “Of course, I knew nothing about those events. That’s part of a ghoul’s power, you see. They can make you forget. Still, there is always a part of you that remains aware,” Clara continued.

    “So how did you find out?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Simple answer—these insights came to me after death,” Clara said. Since she wanted to avoid delving further on that subject, she added, “I’m starving.”

    “Let me grab my coat,” Elizabeth said as she got up to head towards the coat closet.

    Clara happily evaded another round of queries. It was great to let it all out, but the recipient needed time to process it. When Elizabeth passed the kitchen island, she noticed the amphora sitting there.

    “Are you expecting company anytime soon?” Clara asked while packing away her weapons.

    Elizabeth found that an odd question but figured Clara was avoiding making a reference to her wife. In a way, she was thankful for the consideration, although Elizabeth would need to come to terms with her own failures as a spouse.

    “No.” Elizabeth answered. “Why?”

    “I don’t want you or anyone else going near that amphora. It contains ambrosia,” Clara said.

    “Ambrosia?” Elizabeth said while slipping on her long coat.

    Clara walked over, smiled, and ran the zipper up Elizabeth’s jacket, but she stopped when in proximity of those breasts. Their closeness felt right, but Clara was clearly in control of her faculties now.

    “Yes. Do not touch or drink the contents of that amphora,” Clara said. “Understood?”

    Elizabeth looked over at the object, and noted how its unearthly glow lit up the kitchen. Without lingering on the amphora, Elizabeth was distracted by Clara’s hands running along her cleavage while the zipper was run home.

    Happy that her little diversion worked, Clara neatly folded Elizabeth’s coat collar, then offered her arm. Elizabeth blushed lightly and accepted the offer.

    Once the door was locked, Clara said, “One drop of that stuff evoked a response more powerful than the most intense orgasm I’ve ever had.” She then leaned in a bit closer as they walked towards the elevator and added, “Just think. Flappers were renowned for their petting parties…”

    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!


  • The Van Helsing Paradox – Part VIII

    The sound of applause got Clara’s attention. When she turned to look, a portion of the mob was gone, which gave her a clear view of the bar. Clara saw three women sitting on individual barstools. From this distance, they appeared to be triplets, albeit there were clear differences between them.

    The middle sister wore a locket shaped like a key and was imbued with a silvery aura. The sister to the left had a brooch shaped like a lantern (on her left lapel) that glowed like a spark gap transmitter. Last but not least, was a sister who also had a lantern adorning her lapel (this time on her right) but appeared to have just stepped out of her grave. The single most disturbing aspect was her ethereal translucency.

    “Bravo,” the silvery sister said in a jovial and uplifting tone. After all, she had gone through today, any words of encouragement were welcome!

    “I’ve seen better,” the ethereal sister said.

    This comment left Clara feeling as though she had been bludgeoned. Peculiar how those words had no emotion, no warmth and how they sucked the life out of her.

    “Leave her alone!” Sparky exclaimed.

    As a good measure, Sparky sent a jolt of electricity through to her ethereal sister. The recipient just glared at the others before she gave it her all in a Bronx cheer.

    Should she laugh or get ready for another attack? There was something vaguely familiar about this whole affair, but for the life of her, Clara could not remember why.

    “Thank you,” Clara said but remained unsure of herself.

    “She’s stalling,” the ethereal sister said without a hint of emotion.

    The silvery sister had nothing to say. Instead, she slipped off her barstool. With her first step, the other two merged into a single body, but every so often they would morph from one persona to another.

    “You’ll have to excuse her,” the silvery woman said while extending her hand.

    “Spirits and necromancy have a tendency to drag a girl down,” Sparky added.

    The moment they shook hands, Clara felt the current flowing through her.

    “Like anyone believes in magic anymore,” said the Ethereal sister who pulled her hand away.

    “Clearly, not the life of the party,” Clara whispered.

    “I will get you for this,” Drusilla said.

    Up to that point, Clara had forgotten about that irritation. The triplet’s reaction was humorous. One by one, they glared at Drusilla and snapped their fingers. After the third sister completed this motion, Clara saw Drusilla’s eyes glaze over like an aged photograph. A quick glance around the room confirmed that the rest had been frozen in the same way.

    The word bizarre fit this scene to a tee. There were clues leading Clara to believe that this situation had been manufactured by the sisters. Was it necessary? Clara had no doubts that her fate would have been unpleasant had they chosen not to intervene. So why the show?

    Clearly, this remnant found her amusing, even one powerful enough to distort reality. The Georgians were unable to manipulate space and time to this degree. Since she was not getting any headway with this one, Clara decided to play a gambit.

    “I am sorry,” Clara said followed by a pause to seem natural. “Have we met before?”

    All three versions rolled their eyes in succession, but the transitions slowed until they settled on one version. This variant was nothing special to look at and could easily blend into a crowd. For now, it seemed like she was done with her parlour tricks.

    “No,” the goddess said while moving back to the bar.

    Once the goddess sat down, two full glasses materialised at her fingertips. She raised her glass in salute, then emptied it in one hit. She then pointed to an empty stool. Subtlety was not one of her hallmarks.

    With no perception of choice, Clara sat down. She picked up the glass, staring deeply into swirling liquid. Nothing appeared to be familiar about the elixir. Heck, it even glowed, although it did smell divine. All it took was a drop of the elixir on her tongue to make all of her senses come alive. It was hard to describe, but it easily put the most intense orgasm she ever had to shame.

    “Ambrosia,” Clara said absentmindedly while waiting for her body to stop tingling.

    “Very good!” the other exclaimed.

    The goddess grabbed the glass from Clara’s hand and finished it just like the other. Good thing it had only been a drop!

    “That makes you a goddess?” Clara managed to ask.

    “Right again,” the other said trailing off.

    The change in her voice would have been hard to catch to the inexperienced ear. Clara focused on that change while forcing her mind to recover from the effects of the ambrosia. This was important, and she needed her wits to stay alive. Clara blinked a few moments and wondered why the world seemed so dismal and grey now.

    “Something wrong?” Clara asked.

    “Oh,” the other replied distractedly. “It’s nothing, really,” the goddess sighed.

    Clara hesitated. Playing a motherly figure to something that was well over three-thousand years old was suicide. The elderly did not take their advice from newborn babes, a comparison Clara expected to hear from self-professed gods.

    She mulled over the situation. First, there was the fight which brought her out of the woodwork, then her powers faded over time. Greek gods were renowned for their need of worship. Like Drusilla, they craved to be the centre of attention, be it on Olympus or the mortal realm.

    Could it be that the wholesale abandonment of their followers had weakened them? Just how bored and lonely were they? How much would they give to feel alive? Even for a moment? How long would such emotions last when they were awash in several millennia of experiences?

    “Clara,” she said to break the silence.

    “Hecate,” the other said with a half-smile.

    So that explained the three distinct personas! A goddess represented by holding two lanterns and a key, or sculpted as Siamese triplets. The goddess of magic, crossroads, moon, ghosts and necromancy. A fitting entity for the hallowed grounds of the Grand.

    With a snap of Hecate’s fingers, an amphora appeared which permitted her to pour liberal doses of ambrosia. What effect did ambrosia have on the Gods of old?

    “Thank you for intervening,” Clara said.

    Clara reached over the bar and grabbed that bottle of coffin varnish. She opted to leave her derringer on the counter, doubtful that a firearm would be of any use given her situation. A shame, she rather liked that weapon.

    Unlike the Goddess, Clara decided to forego a bit of class and drank straight from the bottle. Compared to ambrosia, this stuff tasted like molten brimstone. Why did that feel so right?

    The goddess smiled, it must have been a while since she had last revealed herself. Clara still wondered what made her so special to deserve such an honour.

    “Fun to watch,” Hecate said. “They wholeheartedly believe they control every facet of your society. Nice to see them knocked down a peg.”

    For the moment, Clara kept quiet but saw where she was headed. She turned to glance at Drusilla, crumpled onto the ground. A shame that she had been unable to land that fatal blow, a problem she needed to address.

    “You have a choice,” the goddess said.

    Since Hecate did not elaborate, it forced Clara to ask what her choices were. Before that happened, Clara sent another dose of fire down her belly to calm her nerves.

    “What choice would that be?” Clara asked.

    “For a minute, you managed to shake a few cobwebs loose,” Hecate replied.

    So Clara’s assumptions had been correct. The goddess was hoping to regain her former glory, regain even a sliver of her former powers. There were probably some followers to be found, scattered about by the winds of time.

    How many still prayed to Athena or Ares? How many damned people to Hades anymore? These were vestiges of a time long past. Who could fault them for wanting to regain even one iota of their power?

    “You mentioned a choice?” Clara asked, but could guess where this was heading.

    Hecate smirked and pointed over to the mob of people who by all rights should have torn her to shreds by now. That would have been a quick death, perhaps, but also gruesome. Would such a death have made her worthy of canonization?

    The hunter swallowed two large mouthfuls of that swill. Clara began to feel close to the edge, and if she were careless, might end up spifflicated. Then what?

    “What about that one?” Clara asked while pointing towards Drusilla.

    “What about her,” the other replied with a yawn.

    “She’s still a threat, even in her current state,” Clara said hinting to the importance of this task.

    “Not really your problem,” Hecate said.

    There was truth to that statement. Had the goddess not interfered, Clara would not have lived to care. Drusilla would live to see another night, although scarred from their encounter but nonetheless free to continue her pattern of violence. Clara wondered if stories of her sucker punching Drusilla would become legend.

    Hecate’s yawn had been the definitive clue Clara needed. She would live to fight another day, but at the expense of becoming a diversion. Once bored, would Hecate toss her away like trash?

    “You would leave her to exact her revenge on the innocent?” Clara asked.

    Time for her to start poking the bear, she thought. For a moment, all three versions of her appeared to break away from the unified form but were quickly drawn back together.

    “Innocent,” the goddess laughed. “No one in this room is innocent.”

    “God forgives all sins,” Clara said.

    What were her chances of being killed for simply throwing down that name? Hecate glared at Clara, a sore point to their kind, given how Christianity had usurped their dominance long ago.

    She walked away and made sure to have the bottle of coffin varnish with her. Clara stopped by Victor then giggled at the look on his face. He may have believed he was going to get lucky tonight, but that was a deal forged entirely in his mind.

    “What can you offer me that God cannot?” Clara asked.

    Clara’s demeanour was that of a woman who was drunk. The emotional upheaval, stress, and booze created the perfect conditions for Clara to lose control. To pull off a convincing lie, she needed some effects to seem authentic.

    As expected, the goddess’ reaction was more violent this time. The goddess split back to her three distinct entities and this time, the ethereal entity took the lead.

    “This one is trying to rile us up,” the ethereal sister said.

    For once, the ethereal one was right. Sparky began to channel her powers which mimicked a tesla coil as surges of energy flowed along her length. Clara giggled. A goddess that was unable to conceal her temper was silly.

    “Now why would I do that,” Clara said while playing the role of a dumb dora.

    Clara pulled at her last pearl earring, then crushed it over the mouth of the bottle. The sleight of hand had been quick and expertly done, appearing as though she had been fumbling with the bottle prior to taking another swig.

    “See! See! She just did something,” the ethereal sister said.

    “What did you see?” the silvery sister asked.

    Clara saw how Sparky’s eyes were set aglow in a bright blue hue. This was the first time Clara had observed this behaviour, so perhaps her capacitors were fully charged?

    This was the perfect time for her to pretend to be scared. Her heart rate rose, and she backed away from the sisters until she tripped over Drusilla. Clara’s fall caused the bottle to fly through the air like some slapstick comedy. To think that all that time spent watching Charlie Chaplin movies would come in handy someday?

    When she landed hard on Drusilla, the bottle crashed on top of that monster’s head, drenching both of them in alcohol. God she hoped the bitch could still feel that. The odour of alcohol invaded every one of her senses. It even made her eyes water.

    “Bravo!” the silvery sister goddess exclaimed.

    “All part of the act,” the ethereal sister added to keep the other two focused.

    Based on the hysterical laughter, the ethereal sister’s words were having no effect. Clara needed them to unleash their wrath for her plan to work. That meant it was time to up the ante.

    Clara grabbed onto the hilt of her blade buried into Drusilla’s spine. As expected, the blade would not budge, nonetheless, she hoped this act would force the goddess to play her hand.

    “She’s going to attack,” said the decidedly paranoid ethereal sister.

    “Now wait—,” the silvery sister managed to say just as a long and powerful bolt of blue energy made the air crackle.

    The beam struck Clara dead centre in her chest, spreading over her body then passed through the blade and into Drusilla’s spine which made them both convulse. Whatever prevented Clara from affecting others in the room was easily sidestepped by the goddesses’ power.

    The other two sisters turned to look at Sparky. The look matched precisely what was etched on the bimbo’s face. Of all the times to wish for a camera!

    The look on their faces soon dissipated when a bright yellow light filled the room. That bolt of energy had been enough to ignite the alcohol which engulfed both women in an inferno.

    “In nómine Patris et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti,” Clara said while making the sign of a cross.

    In a final act of faith, Clara closed her eyes, understanding that time was not on her side. This would be a painful and unpleasant death. So where were the effects? Her skin should have been burning, her flesh drawing tight while pain flooded her mind.

    Surprised, she opened her eyes and expected to see Hecate taunting her. Instead, she was greeted with a wall of flame growing in intensity.

    When Clara glanced at Drusilla, she saw how the flames licked her corpse with zeal. Soon enough, Drusilla would be nothing more than a collection of charred bones. That idea put a smile on her face, succeeding in her mission despite interference from a higher power. Drusilla would never again be a threat to anyone.

    So where was the sense of accomplishment? If her life revolved around revenge, then her goal had been met. To die doing God’s work was a good way to go, and certainly better than Drusilla’s pot-roast welcome to hell.

    Then it dawned on her. Revenge had consumed her life because she was furious with these creatures for robbing her of a mundane life. Until that moment, she never stopped to think about her desires to find a good man, fall in love, and become a mother. The idea of existing like a normal person and carrying on in a world oblivious to what lurked in the shadows had been her idea of paradise.

    Clara felt some form of energy from within which was hard to describe. She humbly accepted her fate, even while this power kept the flames at bay. Despite this divine intervention, Clara knew she had moments before being overwhelmed.

    Clara finished off by saying, “Amen.”

    Her final word was followed by an intense shock wave of blinding light that knocked down the column of fire.

    “That bastard,” the ethereal sister said before spitting on the floor.

    For the first time tonight, her voice carried a depth of emotion.

    “Ab-so-lute-ly,” the silvery sister said before she turned to look at Sparky. “Someone just had to go and stir up enough shit so that egomaniac would save the day,” she added with a hint of disdain.

    “What did I do,” Sparky said while feigning ignorance.

    Tired of this party, Sparky casually strolled towards the exit. However, that did nothing to diffuse the situation.

    “You know full well what you did,” the silvery sister said following suit.

    “You always fuck things up,” the ethereal sister threw in to get one last dig in.

    “Me?” Sparky asked while her eyes were aglow.

    “Just ducky,” the silvery sister said.

    The latter knew this would take a while to resolve. The last fight that broke out between those two had taken the better part of a century to resolve!

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!


  • The Van Helsing Paradox – Part VII

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “You okay, miss?” the man inquired.

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

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

    “Excuse me?” the man replied.

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

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

    “There now,” the bimbo said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Clara,” she managed to say.

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

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

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

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

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

    “Is that him?” Victor asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!


  • The Van Helsing Paradox – Parts V and VI

    “Horsefeathers,” Clara said under her breath.

    All the signs were there, so how had she missed them? There were no doubts the concierge was one of them, making it a foregone conclusion that there were others on staff as well. The latter was obvious considering how the lobby boys seemed afraid she would set them aflame.

    So this must be a haven for their kind. Hunters like her probably ended end up on the menu once their suspicions were aroused. No wonder Drusilla decided to make a stop here.

    “Fine place to end up,” Clara said while trying to work out a solution. “Served up like a thanksgiving turkey at a five-star hotel,” she added, none too amused.

    Clara stopped once she heard the familiar clicking sound, one that might prove to be her salvation. When she looked in that direction, Clara saw familiar brass and glass contraptions busily spewing out stock market updates.

    “Could it be?” Clara wondered in hopes that she might be right.

    On her way to the hotel, she noticed they had sentinels posted atop the perimeter walls. Clara had initially dismissed their presence as some misplaced adherence to historical anachronisms. But given the revelation that this was not a normal hotel, Clara figured they might be automatons used to protect the grounds. If that were true, then Georgians must be involved.

    On a hope and a prayer, Clara casually made her way through the crowd towards the ticker tapes. That was the easy part, since men naturally ceded their place once women came into the picture. To think people said chivalry was dead!

    She found that these devices were anchored to the marble top, not that anyone would dream of stealing one, at least not here. These marvels of technology were connected to a teletype line and received stock updates from their particular markets. Fortunately for her, one of the machines was beginning to show signs of ink fade.

    She gave a quick glance to the immediate area and noticed sliding panels below the marble tops. Clara knelt down, found some ink, and proceeded to place it by the faltering machine. First, she removed the glass, then the inkwell’s cover. Next, she applied liberal amounts of fresh ink while simultaneously pressing down on a button just to the side.

    To anyone who observed (not likely since the men were probably fixated on her ass), Clara appeared to be doing nothing more than routine maintenance. But a hidden function had been triggered within the device which forced it to read from an alternate channel. To Clara’s satisfaction, the machine generated a series of glyphs.

    Once the symbols began to repeat, she ripped the ticker tape then replaced the ink and cover. Without a second glance, she walked away from the crowd intent on finding a potential escape.

    * * * *

    When Clara neared a ladies room, she feigned a quick pace to appear as though nature was calling. She then darted inside, hurried into a stall, and sat down prior to looking at the three-foot length of ticker tape. Three feet of stock updates could make or break fortunes, but tonight it might save her life.

    Right before the glyphs, she saw a four, one and four printed. Clara assumed it to be the point of origin for the portal. A reference to anything, but in this case, was probably a room number. A shame there were only three floors that she knew of. So that meant there was a fourth floor hidden from the public.

    “Not much of an escape plan,” Clara muttered.

    She looked over the glyphs to see if any were familiar and found two that were. The first was not an option, recognising it as the symbol for the goddess Selene. Clara doubted she would enjoy that particular destination and wondered why it was an option at all. Could this have been a rare example of Georgian humour?

    The second symbol was more of a concern. Familiar only because she found it and variations of it under the ziggurat. Trying to find refuge at their equivalent of the Holy See? Clara had no hope of finding allies there.

    “Just ducky,” Clara said while considering what to do next.

    The proof of her knowledge on the portal could be flushed away, but misdirection seemed to be the best course of action. Clara pulled out her lipstick and circled one of the other destinations. Even if she had no clue where it ended up, they might assume otherwise. That meant the staff would dedicate resources to defend the portal which would weaken their security elsewhere.

    When she returned her lipstick to the purse, Clara dropped the ticker tape. For now, it appeared as though she was being careless, understandable given the situation.

    Before leaving, Clara looked into the mirror, breathed in deeply, and forced herself to tear up. Time to let loose her tears and fool anyone who caught sight of her. Now they would think she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

    “Let them underestimate me,” Clara said.

    She then recited a prayer while walking through the East wing, it was the hunter’s equivalent of the Last Rights. May as well make this trip worthwhile because Clara doubted she would leave through the front doors intact.

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!


  • The Van Helsing Paradox – Part IV

    Max, the night concierge, kept busy by reading the local paper. News never changed, especially the local rag, since the truth was bad for business.

    From the corner of his eye, he spotted a keen woman heading towards the fountain. When she stopped to take in the view of the cherubs feeding their eternal pond, his eyes focused on her.

    She had all the signs of someone afflicted with the malady called life, an unfortunate condition that invariably led to death. Despite her terminal prognosis, she appeared to be fit, at least as judged by the toned muscles in her getaway sticks and bare-arms.

    When this dame turned around, he saw a hint of worry in her eyes. She looked around as though searching for someone. Max even noted how her heart rate rose to match her anxiety.

    When she was about ready to give into hysterics, the woman’s eyes floated over to Max. Upon seeing the presence of staff who could assist, she approached his desk and he noted the sensual sway of her hips.

    “Oh, where is she,” Clara murmured while looking over her shoulder.

    “Where is whom madam?” Max asked.

    The poor dear’s heart was very much at a gallop by now. With curiosity renewed, he hoped this event might temporarily relieve his boredom.

    “I was supposed to meet Betty here an hour ago,” Clara said all worried. “But I fell asleep and woke up too late,” she added while her voice was on the cusp of cracking.

    The concierge had no desire to deal with the waterworks. After having lived for over a thousand years, this type of melodrama wore thin. Max’s only interest was to get her out of his hair.

    “Betty?” Max asked to see if she could come up with a family name.

    “Jones. Betty Jones,” Clara replied.

    With hope renewed, her voice perked up, but Max quirked an eyebrow. That was not a name that should have rolled off her tongue.

    Her eyes were hard to read but he could tell this was not some dumb dora. Years of life and experience shone through clearly enough. Was this one playing him? This was not Betty’s conventional fare. How did these two know each other?

    It was during his slew of questions that he noticed something peculiar. To think he nearly missed the clues! Max was now standing a foot away from the counter as though her very presence could harm him.

    He could overcome that fear if need be, and even vacation at Sancta Sedes while sucking the life out of the Pope. But this remained a potent clue that there was a hunter in their midst.

    “I believe I saw the young miss heading towards the East wing,” Max said wholeheartedly.

    At this point, it simplified matters to tell her the truth. It would get her out of the way, so he could get on the blower to coordinate a response.

    “Really?” Clara asked excitedly.

    The girl relaxed and even her heart slowed. A clear sign that she was well trained and could wreak havoc. A hunter of this calibre on the loose was bad news.

    “Thank you!” Clara exclaimed. With a warm smile, she added, “I could kiss you!”

    “That’s quite alright my dear,” Max said with a nod. “Now, be sure to head in that direction and you are bound to come across her,” he added while pointing out the way.

    “Thank you,” Clara said excitedly.

    She walked away with a light seductive sway. It was as though she were inviting him to follow, or was that a dare?

    Max could not help it. He was in awe of just how manipulative this one was. With this distraction out of the way, he picked up the receiver and waited for Mavis to answer.

    “Operator,” Mavis said.

    Tonight Mavis would be the vital link to contain this evening’s complication.

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!


  • The Van Helsing Paradox – Part III

    Clara locked the door as soon as the valet left empty handed and crestfallen. She settled onto the bed, admiring the opulence. There was nothing here but the best and that came as no surprise.

    She pulled out the picture from her bible. How odd was it that she had not aged a day since they last met? They never aged, none of them did. That explained why people were so easily convinced to turn their backs on God. Such a small price to pay to avoid the ravages of time.

    Rumours swirled within her order that this transition occurred during a ritual that was eerily similar to a baptism. A wilful act which ceded their place in paradise for commuting their death sentence on the mortal plane.

    The older these creatures were, the more twisted and dangerous they became. Age warped their minds as boredom led them to shed their morality. Their kind would do anything in their power to keep boredom at bay, even for a moment.

    This particularly nasty one had walked the earth for a long time. There was no other way to explain how consecrated ground meant nothing to her. The younger ones often had an aversion to those with faith, although they were rarely conscious of it.

    It was an invaluable way for Clara to find threats in a crowd. If she observed someone who kept their distance despite making advances, Clara knew she had found a monster in their midst.

    “Betty Jones,” Clara said after reading the name on the back of the picture.

    A very modern name, Drusilla’s way of avoiding any unwanted attention. How many names had she used over the years? As many as the Devil?

    “Time to get ready,” Clara said while she grudgingly slid off of the bed.

    Tonight she would dress in accordance with fashion, and not for comfort. It would make her the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, free to manipulate men as she saw fit. Drusilla was not the only one who possessed that particular skill set.

    The latest fashions did have disadvantages. For one, it was difficult to conceal weapons. This was a trade-off that women regularly made, since walking into a gin mill while dressed in plate-armour tended to be a giveaway.

    Before leaving, Clara put on a long strand of pearls. The pearls formed a fashionably long necklace that flowed over her light blouse. In turn, her blouse flowed loosely over her skirt which did the same over her gams.

    Her ears were adorned with a set of studded pearl earrings. These were convincing fakes since patrons of the Grand could spot cheap knock-offs from a mile away. Each contained a single drop of holy water, one of the many tricks up her sleeve that had endless possibilities.

    Out of habit, she wrapped Father Michael’s rosary around her wrist, tight enough to conceal its religious significance and the blade fitted at the end. Clara carried it with her everywhere she went, ever since the incident. She wore it out of respect for the dead, for those who lost their lives protecting the innocent from the likes of them.

    She looked into a mirror, making sure her hair was neatly bobbed and devoid of any stray curls. She then turned the outer casing of her lipstick to extend the carmine dye and wax stick. Clara proceeded to spread the compound over her lower lip. She then followed through to the top but did not completely fill in her lips. Somehow, the illusion of smaller lips had become the latest craze. No matter how silly it seemed, breaking from the norm in this situation was asking for trouble.

    As an additional precaution, she dabbed a thin layer of holy water onto her lips. While mostly immune to the feminine wiles of the women, men took more effort. Fortunately, they tended to be melodramatic losers like Jake who sought to romance their prey. The holy water was a fail-safe and one that saved her life on several occasions.

    Lastly, she placed her compact, lipstick and other cosmetics into a small purse. It was a black, sequined affair with a thin shoulder strap that left just enough space to accommodate her derringer. A gal had to look out for herself after all.

    Clara slipped her feet into a pair of shoes then double-checked her appearance in the mirror. She hated getting all dolled up for a hunt, but one had to play the part. She wondered if Father Michael ever had to get ready like this and giggled at the thought of him wearing her dress.

    “That would be something to see,” Clara said before opening the door. “Now where’s Drusilla?”

    That creature was bound to be at the biggest party going. Where else could she be the centre of attention? Clara had every intention of crashing that party.

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!


  • The Van Helsing Paradox – Parts I and II

    People often said that revenge was a dish best served cold. Although the originator of that turn of phrase probably never came across those who possessed the chill touch of the grave.

    Either way, Clara was not sold on the idea, considering that the memory of a corpse bursting into flames was so near and dear to her heart. It was the heat from those flames that permitted her to keep going until the sun claimed its dominion over the land.

    “Revenge for whom or for what?” Clara wondered.

    Clara wondered why she considered her vocation a form of revenge. Her father died working the coal mines while her mother followed suit years later; there was no desire to avenge their deaths.

    “Was Father Michael’s death the catalyst that drove my thirst for revenge?” Clara wondered.

    That reason did not jive. He dedicated his life to purging the world of their kind. He knew the risks and died doing God’s work.

    “Not a bad way to go,” Clara said absentmindedly.

    As the somniferous clickety-clack of the railcars took a hold of her mind, Clara realised the sandman would soon claim his prize. It was midday and the train would not get there until a few hours before sunset.

    She reached for a picture at her side, a recent shot taken a week or so ago. It featured a woman who walked hand in hand with an unidentified man who was later found dead. Despite a different hairstyle and clothes, Clara knew this was Drusilla, the woman who had been responsible for countless deaths and atrocities. Unfortunately, before Clara could deliver her verdict, she was fast asleep.

    * * * *

    “Check out the rock of ages,” a lobby boy said loud enough that Lewis’ ears perked up.

    The concierge looked up to see how a woman in her thirties would deserve that kind of reaction. Sure enough, Lewis’ question was answered the moment he set eyes on the gal making her way towards the lobby desk. Her baggage followed suit along with the love-struck valet who hauled them.

    Odd how he seemed unaffected by the crushing weight of her bags. Might have something to do with the fact his eyes were glued to her ass!

    She had the chassis of a Greek goddess, toned and shapely. Despite her obviously active lifestyle, she retained that distinctive feminine sway, which entranced every male in the room.

    Of course, the lobby boy would need to be reprimanded, even if his call to arms had been spot on. The day shift’s concierge eyed every movement she made, finding the entire affair sensual despite the lack of visible skin. The lady had chosen to wear a knee-duster that was both longer and of a heavier fabric than fashion dictated. A shame, because he would have enjoyed seeing more of her.

    “Good day,” Clara said after giving Lewis the once-over.

    Experience shone through her steel-grey eyes and Lewis could tell she had been around the block. All the better for him. He rather liked the idea of learning new tricks.

    “I cabled ahead for a room,” Clara added with a soul-crushing tone that reinforced her desire to keep things strictly business. “Under the name of Grey,” she said nonchalantly.

    Left with a deflated ego, Lewis wondered how she so easily avoided his masculine charm. The concierge looked over the register and found the entry. First name Clara, he noted and thought it was a pretty name which fit her to a tee.

    “Ah yes,” Lewis said playing the game. “Clara Grey, right here. May I call you Clara?” he asked with the backing of his warmest smile.

    Clara smirked, then shook her head before replying, “No. Miss Grey will do.”

    In the background, Lewis imagined his ego being shanked in some dark alley and left there to bleed out. Unfortunately, she was not done with him yet, choosing to show no mercy by delivering the coup de grâce.

    Clara said, “The key, if you please.”

    She grabbed the key from his hand and before he said a word, left with the valet in tow. That man would probably go to the depths of hell as long as she led the way. Bets were sure to be made amongst the staff on how big a tip he would get for his trouble. Lewis assumed a big fat goose egg and was later proven correct.

    It seemed that Lewis had been right all along, in that Miss Grey had been around the block a few times. She certainly had no trouble seeing him for the player he was.

    Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!


  • My Sixth Review of the Van Helsing Paradox

    grand_structure_cover_blue_skull_web
    The Van Helsing Paradox available on:
    Google Docs
    Wattpad

    I completed my sixth review of The Van Helsing Paradox. This chapter explores what happens when a hunter walks through the doors of the Grand in pursuit of prey.

    There were 44 modifications made to this 25 page chapter leading to a 54% reduction in changes when compared with revision five.

    Both Google Docs and Wattpad have the revised edition. Note that the Google Docs version permits comments and revisions, so please feel free to make use of this capability.


  • My Fifth Review of the Van Helsing Paradox

    The Van Helsing Paradox available on:
    Google Docs
    Wattpad

    I completed my fifth review of The Van Helsing Paradox. This chapter explores what happens when a hunter walks through the doors of the Grand in pursuit of prey.

    There were 96 modifications made to this 25 page chapter leading to a 45% reduction in changes when compared with revision four.

    Both Google Docs and Wattpad have the revised edition. Note that the Google Docs version permits comments and revisions, so please feel free to make use of this capability.


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