Tag: Paranoarmal

  • Collision Course – Part I

    “So that’s it?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth nodded, Clara began taking in the building’s details. The first thing she noticed was the presence of a doorman who kept a vigil over the entrance. Still, she had to assume there were cameras or other forms of security. With a bit of thought, she could get past the doorman, but that might risk exposure.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    The last thing she needed was to draw in a swarm of constabulary. Clara was armed with what were sure to be illegal heaters, and the shotgun had a sawed off barrel. While it lost all effectiveness at range, it would do a number in close quarters.

    She shifted her wings, not accustomed to keeping them constrained for so long. While annoying, it was either that or cause a small panic once people realised that her wings were not props.

    Then she noticed the building was surrounded by alleys which meant there were fire escapes. The hunter smirked as a naughty little thought came across her mind.

    “You mentioned a broken window?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth turned to face Clara before saying, “Oh yeah. Just down that alley.”

    The alley was big enough to accommodate two way traffic and was filled with large trash bins. At this time of day, the sunshine was on the other side of the building which meant this side was well shaded and would have ample cover when breaking into the apartment.

    “You’re sure?” Clara pressed.

    “Yep,” Elizabeth replied, her voice remaining calm and steady.

    “Good,” Clara said. “Have you ever used a peashooter?”

    Elizabeth’s eyes betrayed the confusion she had over this terminology. Fortunately, some long lost memory of a gangster movie rushed to the forefront of her mind and filled in the blanks.

    Clara was not sure if Elizabeth knew how to handle a weapon. She supposed the use of armaments did not come naturally to social workers. Although, technically Clara had been a nun, and that never stopped her from being trained to use a wide gamut of weapons.

    Clara smiled and spread out her arms inviting the other for a hug. When Elizabeth moved in to reciprocate, Clara slipped a pistol between them. It was obvious to the recipient that this was not the first time such an exchange took place.

    Right before Clara pulled away, she got on the tips of her toes and whispered into Elizabeth’s ear, “Clip is in, round is chambered, and there is no safety. Just squeeze on the trigger, and it will fire. But remember that the first shot will need a tighter squeeze.”

    Before Elizabeth could ask, Clara kissed her directly on the lips. Despite this being nothing more than for show, there was a lot of passion behind the act.

    “Not now,” Clara said as she pulled away. “Save it for the bedroom,” she added, while a uniformed police officer passed nearby.

    Once the officer moved out of sight, Clara grabbed the other by the hand, jaywalked across the street, and stopped just at the threshold of the alley. She then pushed Elizabeth against the wall with just enough force to make passers-by take notice.

    “I want you,” Clara said. “I can’t wait for us to get home,” she added with a wink, pointing suggestively toward the alley.

    Wry smiles on the faces of several passersbys hinted that they got the idea. Elizabeth did not initially make the connection, and memories of this morning in the bathroom only served to cloud the issue. Still, once everything came into focus, the suggestion made her face turn a bright red.

    Clara did not wait for an answer. She chuckled, smiled, and headed off into the alley. Elizabeth, led by her arm, followed her guardian angel.

    They ventured deeper into the alley until they came across a cluster of dumpsters. Clara hauled Elizabeth off to the side and leaned in for a kiss which permitted her to disappear from sight.

    “Keep your eyes mostly closed and pretend that I’m undoing your pants,” Clara said. “Then act like I’m about to play with your berry patch.”

    Elizabeth played the game well since she was no stranger to faking sexual gratification. She looked down both sides of the alleyway and saw nothing more than foot traffic. How fortunate that one person lingered in the hopes of catching some of the show.

    When Clara dropped to her knees, Elizabeth feigned surprise and closed her eyes until all she saw were silhouettes. As though a lover was actually between her legs, Elizabeth pushed her head back letting out a deep, contented sigh.

    Clara had been busy stowing away her jacket in order to release her wings, but when that sound registered, she became inexplicably aroused.

    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!

  • Luck of the Irish – Part III

    Evelyn hated riding in the boot of a car. Every bump or hard turn tossed her around the compartment like a rag doll. Still, this option was far better than making a run through the sewer system or waiting in that bar for someone to come sniffing around.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    When the car stopped, probably for a red light, her phone chimed. The imp checked her notifications and smiled. Evelyn hated having to wait to repay her debts because that meant someone had leverage over her. That had been a common thread throughout her life, and the last thing she needed was for that habit to start up again after death.

    “I’m ready to hit it on all sixes, and make this my declaration of independence,” Evelyn replied with a giggle.

    * * * *

    “Evelyn says that she is ready to give it her all to repay her debt,” Clara said.

    Elizabeth quirked a brow. How in the world could Evelyn’s sentence equate to that? Nevertheless they clearly managed to establish a line of communication. Just in time, too, because the phone’s battery was draining fast.

    “Now, I want you to ask her this,” Clara said.

    Clara noticed that the waitress was hovering nearby, so she leaned over the table and whispered the rest into Elizabeth’s ear, all the while giving her friend an eyeful.

    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!

  • Luck of the Irish – Part II

    Clara and Elizabeth sat facing one another in a booth while waiting for their order to arrive. This was an old style diner, one mostly found during the Second World War. This place featured a central counter, kitchen behind the back wall, and booths on the outside, adjacent to wrap-around windows.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Clara was suspicious of the black liquid in her cup. Despite having a bowl full of sugar packets and cream, she doubted that this concoction would rival last night’s drink. Meanwhile, Elizabeth was dividing her time between her phone and whatever odd quirk that this blast from the past dredged up. She was tempted to ask about her love/hate relationship with the coffee but preferred to witness it first-hand.

    This morning, Elizabeth was not getting any enjoyment from catching up on the endless notifications she had amassed since her last check-in. Normally she would have loved to catch up on what her family and friends were posting on Bealzabook and Twitcher, but last night’s events made that all seem inconsequential.

    Nonetheless, she quickly responded to her closest friends and ignored the rest. Elizabeth found it odd that there were no notifications from her wife, although being on tour meant she was always in transit or performing. Before putting down the phone, she scrolled through her apps. There was a nagging sense that there was something she needed to do, but could not remember what.

    Meanwhile, Clara picked up the mug of coffee, swirling the contents as though they would crawl out of the cup like some lovecraftian creature. Once assured that the beverage was safe, she took a cautious sip. The reaction was both immediate and comical, doubly so coming from a woman old enough to be Elizabeth’s great-grandmother. This scene reminded her of a child tasting something bitter for the first time.

    “Tastes like this coffee has been burning over a flame all night,” Clara said. She then eyed the sugar packets and said, “So, teaspoons of sugar are now individually packaged and sealed?”

    Once the words registered, Elizabeth snapped out of her recursive loop. She then looked at the bowl of packets and chuckled.

    “Yeah,” Elizabeth replied. “Why do you ask?”

    “Well… Isn’t it wasteful?” Clara mused while tearing apart four packets.

    Elizabeth was about to explain how they were not all sugar, but that was a lesson better saved for later. Although, she did wonder if Clara would notice the taste of artificial sweeteners.

    “People can take packets with them when the order is to go, it is cleaner, and saves them having to refill the dispensers,” Elizabeth said. “Besides, the paper can be recycled.”

    Clara shrugged, taking a sip, and this time, her reaction was more subdued. Another four packets were sacrificed in an attempt to make this swill safe for human consumption. When she finished pouring in the sugar, she stirred the concoction and eyed the mound of paper.

    “All of that waste for sugar,” Clara sighed, and eyed the creamer. “Are those recyclable too?”

    Elizabeth was about to say something, but spotted something on the television. Despite the volume being muted, she managed to infer enough from the news headline and associated pictures to know what was going on.

    “Before we came here, you mentioned something about reality being shattered?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Ab-so-lutely,” Clara said unfazed by the change in subject.

    Elizabeth ran a search on her phone to confirm her suspicions. On her first attempt, she found a relevant Wiki page in addition to several news sites that were covering the story. Every page echoed what she saw and confirmed that Victoria’s parents were back from the dead.

    “What did Hecate say?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara grabbed a creamer and shook it, unsure if it was worth a try. All the while, she mulled over her conversation with Hecate in an attempt to refine her summary.

    “When I died, Saint Peter talked about the chances of my becoming a goddess had I taken her up on the offer. He also mentioned that I could have ended up a chew toy for making the same deal,” Clara said.

    “Why the lack of certainty?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara smiled while she pulled off the lid and sniffed the contents of the creamer, “He told me that our ability to choose throws a kink in determining the future.”

    “So our actions are not?” Elizabeth began to ask, but could not think of the word.

    “Predestined?” Clara said to confirm the other’s question. “No. Ultimately, every choice we make has an effect on how the world turns out,” she added while pouring in the cream.

    “How was it shattered?” Elizabeth asked.

    The milky white vortex in a sea of black was eventually stirred to a consistent tone of brown. Clara took a sip and paused, wondering if she could come to terms with her coffee.

    “An experiment designed to alter outcomes,” Clara said while deciding on the fate of this so-called coffee. “Instead of altering a key choice in history, they ended up resurrecting alternate timelines and merging them with our own.”

    “So…” Elizabeth said. “People who were declared dead years ago could be walking the earth unaware of their deaths?”

    Clara took another sip. While no amount of sugar and cream would make this a great cup, she decided that it would do.

    “A bit specific there,” Clara said with a grin.

    “I saw them after you saved me,” Elizabeth replied. “I thought they were ghosts, but every major news network is covering that story, in addition to related news bites.”

    Clara was about to ask, but she was reminded of another lingering priority. She casually retrieved the absconded phone from the inside pocket of her coat and tossed it at Elizabeth.

    “Can you reach Evelyn on that thing?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth tapped on the screen and noted that it was in power save mode since it had an eight percent charge. Despite having a charger on hand, the cable she had was incompatible with this particular model.

    She ran through the contact lists line by line, discounting entries that were obviously from the previous owner. Elizabeth then skipped over any numbers that were out of state. That helped to eliminate most of the entries except for Firecracker.

    “Figures,” Elizabeth said. “She probably figured you wouldn’t be the one using this phone.”

    Clara laughed before saying, “Girl from the reign of the Sun King assumes that a gal from the Roaring Twenties is going to have trouble adjusting to modern technology. Smart cookie.”

    Elizabeth had never stopped to consider just how old her ex was. Once she put two and two together, she no longer questioned why Evelyn had been the best lay of her life.

    “Yes, she is,” Elizabeth said. She clicked on the contact to open the messenger app, then looked up to ask, “So what is it that you want me to say?”

    Clara leaned forward and said, “Tell her that I don’t want to be a dingle dangler, but I know who caused this off-time jive, and I’m curious if she’s interested in giving them the electric cure.”

    Elizabeth’s eyes went wide and vacant. Clara snickered, since she expected that particular level of confusion.

    “Relax. Write it out as I say it, so Evelyn will know that these messages are from me,” Clara said with a wink.

    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!

  • Luck of the Irish – Part I

    If Evelyn excelled at anything, it was exploiting the deprived minds of men. There was nothing so simple or basic as the male libido, the proverbial triangle in a symphony music orchestra. Thus, any woman skilled in the pleasures of the flesh could enchant, manipulate and hunt men with impunity.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Most of her kind maintained some sort of connection to the living world. While Evelyn had wholeheartedly embraced the life of an artist, there was profit and power to be gained from the world’s oldest profession. In her day, Evelyn’s madam made it known to her girls that the thirst of men was not easily quenched.

    Evelyn kept a network of girls around the city, a select few who were both well compensated and protected. Any man who dared to harm a hair on those girls ended up a headline on the evening news. Evelyn was as beautiful as she was cruel and took great pleasure in making an example of such vermin.

    While the women turned a nice profit, that paled in comparison to the intelligence they collected. A select set of pictures, an occasional videotape, or even the existence of an illegitimate child, gave Evelyn ample leverage to guarantee her the freedom to indulge.

    Tonight, her network gave her with a hot tip. A gang from the Irish mob were celebrating their recent expansion. These monsters had graduated from drugs and racketeering to human trafficking and prostitution, the latter being somewhat of a trigger for Evelyn.

    Since she needed a fresh group of blood donors tonight, her choice became obvious. Directions were passed down to the girls to keep away from their pub, the one currently closed for a private engagement. That final detail is what really sold her on this course of action.

    Evelyn looked over the dilapidated two story structure. The slotted windows were high enough to take in natural light but kept any casual onlookers from looking in. The bar was a blight on this upscale neighbourhood, and Evelyn questioned how she missed this eyesore before.

    This had been a long evening for Evelyn. The altercation with that hunter and her wounded companion left her drained. Her dress was torn, she had a burned wrist and was missing a patch of skin, and there was a gouge on her leg.

    Nonetheless, she still possessed attributes that men fell for, a tight hourglass shape, green eyes, long silky hair, an enchanting voice, and a smile that suggested so much. She would wield these like weapons, long enough to get a taste of blood, and then the party would start.

    Even from outside, Evelyn heard the jukebox booming. The men were already loud and inebriated, meaning they were busy depleting the bar’s reserves. Inebriated guests always complicated matters, adding an element of chance to the hunt. Evelyn smiled at the prospect. After all, what was life without the occasional challenge?

    As per instructions, Evelyn walked up to the front door and knocked. Given the music and energy in the room, it was not surprising that there was no answer. So Evelyn slammed the door using the hand that was missing a layer of epidermis. Pain immediately flushed through her mind, and she clenched her jaw in frustration, the bulging muscles visible through the skin.

    This time, the door opened and a burly tattooed goon looked out into the alley. His eyes drifted from head to toe, sizing her up like a piece of meat.

    “Yeah?” the goon asked.

    Evelyn did not say a word. Instead, she opened up her coat, revealing her figure and cleavage. The smile she wore told him all he needed: this was a woman who could push him to the very limits of ecstasy. It also shifted the focus away from her hands which she crossed behind her back to bring her chest forward.

    Once the fantasy poisoned his brain, she sensed every element of his arousal. His heart raced, breathing grew shallow, and eyes dilated. Even the goon’s penis grew erect, pushing against the confines of his underwear, a sign that his primitive male brain was now fully in control.

    “Hey boys!” The goon said as he stepped aside. “The entertainment’s here!”

    The crowd went wild at the mere mention of willing flesh entering the bar. The odours of booze, vomit, and sweat were more pronounced than anticipated. Now that the game was afoot, Evelyn’s suggestive smile transitioned to a smirk.

    “What’s your name, lass?” one of the men asked.

    Evelyn giggled, every tone musical and haunting. Immediately, she noticed that a few men simmered down as their ears perked up. Sure they were all looking at the fresh meat, but these were the ones who were more susceptible to her charms. Still, there was more work to be done to shift the odds.

    “Branna,” Evelyn said in a husky voice.

    “Funny. You don’t look Irish,” a man from the corner said.

    Evelyn took one look at him and guessed this would be the wild card. He showed no signs of being spifflicated and his heart rate and breathing were normal. Besides, the way he looked at the bartender implied that her charms would get her nowhere.

    “Really, boyo,” Evelyn said while mimicking the accent perfectly. “The name means dark haired beauty.”

    Despite these being members of the Irish mob, many had grown up locally and would not have known that. Fortunately, Evelyn dated many an Irish lass in her time. One of the older members broke out in laughter which percolated through to the rest of the crowd, all except for that well-dressed man in the corner. Evelyn wondered how the others would react if details of his carnal appetites were known.

    Evelyn scanned the room and made out certain key features. There was a lighting panel behind the bar; bathrooms and a back door were located unimaginably to the rear. She also noticed a pool table with an unfinished game. All told, there were about a dozen men in total, all of them armed, not to mention the heavy weapon she assumed was hidden behind the bar.

    Evelyn let her coat slip off her shoulders and onto her arms. The tight black dress she wore was torn, but that was an easy detail to overlook. Besides, it exposed her bare shoulders, and put her tits on display, the soft fabric hugging her like a lover’s embrace.

    She sauntered over to the jukebox, then swiped the chord with her foot. The speakers instantly cut out, but it took a moment for the lights and associated display to dim.

    Evelyn giggled to focus the men on her, smirked and began singing Mo Ghile Mear, a song that brought forth fond memories. The year that song came out had been rather eventful, and she remembered every word to this day.

    The musical tones of her voice were enchanting, and she noted that half of the room was focused on her. Many of the others were beginning to calm down, lowering their guard with every note. Of course, the well-dressed man was uninterested and appeared to be a bit bored.

    The imp swayed her hips alluringly as she sauntered over to the pool table. The two at the table stepped out of the way. Evelyn then twirled around to face the bar. In a slow and deliberate show of flexibility, she curved her back until it lay flat against the table, and picked up a pool ball in each hand. In another attempt at subterfuge, she rose her good leg into the air which hiked up her dress more than enough to give the boys an unobstructed view of her bare slit.

    Despite the show, there were only a couple of hoots. The rest were now entirely under her spell which put the odds in her favour.

    Without a care, she left behind her coat, exposing her arms for the world to see. While making her way to the one who would never yield, she sang her favourite verse.

    Gile mear sa seal faoi chumha,” Evelyn sang.

    In the background, she heard one of the hooters say, “Hey! What’s wrong with her arm?”

    Gus Éire go léir faoi chlocaí dhubha,” Evelyn sang while her outstretched arms moved her forward.

    By now, the well-dressed man had caught the look of confusion on the face of the guy who spotted the wounded arms. That’s when he noticed the visible bone, sinew and muscle. At first, there was confusion, but that was temporary. The cloud of uncertainty would soon dissipate.

    Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin,” Evelyn sang as her suggestive smile faded into a smirk.

    “—the fuck!” the well-dress man exclaimed.

    Evelyn did not change her rate of advance or alter her demeanour. Between words, an impish smirk appeared, one that made it clear that the fun was about to begin.

    Ó luadh i gcéin mo ghile mear,” Evelyn added.

    The well-dressed man reached for his piece holstered under his sports jacket. Evelyn was ready. She covered the remaining five feet in the blink of an eye. Before his hands reached the weapon, the imp drove one of the pool balls into his mouth. The strength and viciousness of the act was enough to shatter his teeth and lower jaw.

    She then took the remaining ball and threw it with all the strength she had. The ball flew from her hand, spending out a shower of sparks as it struck the lighting panel. The power flickered on and off, and caused the overhead lighting to blow out. Moments before, Evelyn had been bathed in light, exposed and vulnerable. Now, she melted into the darkness.

    The well-dressed man never had a chance to scream. Instead, he slipped straight into unconsciousness. With one man down, Evelyn scanned the room to find that the men were beginning to rouse from their stupor. That much was expected; either way, she needed to feed.

    She pivoted around and ran. Since her strength was beginning to wane, another burst of speed was ill advised. She focused on her immediate threat, the goon that could overpower her if she were careless. As she approached, her fingers turned into claws, Evelyn then leapt and grabbed his larynx. She squeezed hard on his windpipe and crushed the external structure to deprive him of air.

    His immediate reaction was to protect his neck, so Evelyn swung low near his hip and tore a gash through his jeans, piercing skin, fat and muscle to sever an artery. She latched onto the wound, taking in his life giving essence as fast as his heart supplied it.

    Evelyn was enraptured by her feast, the blood that gushed down her throat invigorated her. The skin on her arm began to regrow, while the gash on her leg healed in less than a minute. Alas, Evelyn needed more than a snack. Besides, it was time to have some fun.

    Before Evelyn could drain him, she noticed a dull white glow. One of the men had been smart enough to use his phone’s flash to cut through the darkness. Once the light settled on her, the group gasped at the sight of this girl bathed in blood, baring long white fangs.

    “What’s wrong boys?” Evelyn said in a sensual voice. “Not the kind of party you were looking for?”

    The men drew their weapons and fired. Muzzle flashes lit up the room, and highlighted the men for a fraction of a second. Still, before the first round crossed the distance, Evelyn was long gone.

    The searchlight resumed scanning the room and was soon joined by others. The room was eerily quiet, so much so, that the men were left with a general sense of unease. Once the light shone on the well-dressed man, unconscious and suffering from a shattered jaw, some of the men approached to help. Meanwhile, one brave soul risked looking after the goon.

    Evelyn giggled, and every man turned towards the source of that sound. As soon as their eyes caught sight of something, they emptied their magazines, only stopping once they realised they shot one of their own. Riddled with bullets, the man nearest to the pool table face-planted the floor. The group was too dumbfounded to notice the gouge on his neck.

    “Where’s Sean?” one of the hooters from earlier asked, although his voice by now, was an octave higher.

    Before the search could resume, something big came at them. Some closed their eyes, hoping that a higher power would intervene. Veterans in the group opened fire. The marksmen among them were successful at hitting the oncoming object. Either way, they ended up with more casualties.

    Sean’s corpse fell into the mass of men nearest to the bar, knocking them down like bowling pins. The impact caused a few to discharge their weapons, and that’s precisely when they heard a blood curdling scream. The sound was high pitched, unearthly and ear piercing. Anyone still conscious cringed at the thought of what they unleashed.

    “A banshee!” the bartender yelled.

    Bâtard!” Evelyn shrieked as she kicked the pool table and sent it crashing into the back door. No one was going to run out of that door before this party was over.

    That crash had been enough to break the will of a few. In a panic, they made a beeline for the front door, intent on leaving their brethren behind. Others chose to stand their ground, determined to shoot at something… anything.

    The first man who reached the door was intercepted by the jukebox that barrelled down on him like a freight train. The impact pinned him to the wall, breaking bones and bursting organs. The look of shock on his face quickly gave way to a volcano of blood erupting through his mouth.

    “Jaysus—” A man yelled, but before he could add any additional expletives, he disappeared from sight.

    Those who still had their wits formed a tight circle with cell phones pointed upwards to provide ambient light. One took the time to change clips while the others kept an eye out for the banshee.

    Of course, the room still had a lot of dark corners where that creature could hide. The men were on edge, trying to block out the sound of anyone writhing in pain. Given the number and the circumstances, this was difficult.

    Despite the ambient noise, the group heard a metal object bouncing on the floor. They looked down to find a blood covered copper slug, one fired from a nine-millimetre. The slug rolled up to their feet, the sight of which was enough to make someone faint.

    “Tsk. Tsk. Tsk,” Evelyn said when she came out from the shadows.

    Behind her, they heard something slide onto the floor, probably another of their missing colleagues. By then, no one was sure of who was left.

    “You’ve been naughty,” Evelyn said with a smile that showcased her fangs.

    She was covered in blood; even her hair was saturated in it. Still, she looked at ease, sensual, like this was her natural state of being. Gone were signs of trauma—no wounds anywhere. If she had been shot, it was fully healed as well.

    The lead man trained his weapon on her. Just as he was about to squeeze the trigger, his elbow was forced to the rear so fast that the motion was blurred. When the round shot off, the head of the man to his right disappeared in a mist of brain matter.

    Evelyn did not fool around. She ripped out his voice box before he could scream. The flow of blood did not last. This banshee sealed the wound with her lips, taking in liberal amounts of blood whistle relishing in the energy it provided.

    A blast rang out through the room, and three rounds of buckshot found their mark. The two men who were still in this fight witnessed these rounds penetrate her chest and exit out the back. The bartender who fired that particular shot could not help but have a self-satisfied look on his face.

    Evelyn screeched the sound was even louder than the last. Out of frustration, she pushed the lead man with enough strength that the bones in his ribcage cracked, creating a sound that echoed throughout the room.

    The guy turned into a projectile, hitting the last man standing who never knew what hit him. Both were dead before they impacted the floor.

    “I deserved that,” Evelyn said casually as her wounds sealed themselves shut.

    The bartender broke the breach and ejected a single cartridge. He then fumbled around under the counter, searching for fresh shells. That smug look from earlier was long gone.

    “I might have let you live,” Evelyn said from behind him.

    The man had no time to react since her attack was quick and precise. The cut to his jugular released a strong spurt of blood that covered what was left of the lighting panel.

    He dropped the shotgun as his hands spasmed, sending shells everywhere. He kept thinking about how close he got to getting out of here alive—if only he had been a smidge faster. That thought faded as he bled out. Evelyn knew to leave enough blood evidence behind, otherwise, investigators would start asking the wrong questions.

    All she had left to do was make sure there were no survivors. A few were wounded in such a way to ensure they would bleed out and make collecting blood evidence a nightmare. Others were shot using the array of weapons left lying about to foil ballistics. In the end, only the well-dressed man remained.

    She approached him, lifted him onto a stool, and said, “I know that women are not what you desire.”

    Evelyn then ran a finger around his ear and down his neck. Even in his state of unconsciousness, the body responded to her skilled touch.

    “But tonight you will experience pleasures you never thought possible, rapture that will leave your body and mind empty,” Evelyn said in a husky voice.

    When she bit into his neck, every part of him responded. He grew erect and moaned from the pleasure as the pain she inflicted earlier simply vanished. She drained him completely, then picked up his empty husk.

    She carried him outside, opened up a manhole cover, and dropped the body. The well-dressed man was whisked away by the pungent current. By the time they found him, he would be too badly mutilated by rats and decay to provide a viable cause of death.

    “Now, someone is missing from the group,” Evelyn said.

    Investigators would know of this gang, their activities and its key figures. With one man missing, detectives were likely to conclude there had been a power struggle. That would lead them to expend valuable resources on a false lead.

    Unfortunately, she noticed that the sky was beginning to change colour. Evelyn went back inside the club and wondered how to proceed. She cursed her need to feed and how that left her in a bit of a bind. Fortunately, that was the moment her phone pulsed. A quick check indicated that she had a missed message. For tonight, it seemed that her luck was holding out.

    “Perfect,” Evelyn said.

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

  • 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!

  • Shell Shocked – Part III

    Clara did not knock and entered the bathroom as though she owned it. It seemed appropriate considering that moments ago, relatively speaking, she received a first-hand demonstration on the use of modern razors.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    “Clara?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Who else?” Clara quipped.

    She walked over to the sink, and after a bit of experimentation, figured out how to make the faucet work. Behind her back, a cloud of steam rose out from the shower, followed by a yelp. That’s when the naked mass of a woman jumped out of the tub, all in an attempt to escape the searing heat.

    “Hot!” Elizabeth yelled.

    Clara wanted to laugh since this scene had all of the elements of a classic gag, but that would do little to prepare Elizabeth. A shame that she forgot to clean up before broaching the subject.

    Elizabeth’s skin was red on her back and side. Her hair was covered in conditioner, and she also managed to nick her leg. The wound was bleeding, although that would soon stop.

    “Sorry,” Clara said. “I figured they would have fixed that sort of nonsense by now.”

    The other was not paying attention, preoccupied with the cut and the application of toilet paper to slow the bleeding. Clara used this opportunity to wash her hands, clearing away the blood but not the memories.

    “What happened?” Elizabeth asked upon noticing the black feathered wings.

    Clara sighed and hoped that this reaction was muted by the running water. Clara grabbed the soap after a quick rinse, noticed there were streaks of blood everywhere.

    “What do you mean?” Clara asked in an attempt to stall.

    “Your wings,” Elizabeth said. “They are badass.”

    Clara contorted her body in such a way to get a partial view of her rear-end before saying, “I thought I had a great ass?”

    Elizabeth smirked. It appeared that this turn of phrase had not been in use during her time. How many ways could that be interpreted if one had no clue what the expression meant?

    “I meant to say your wings are cool… swell… the cat’s meow,” Elizabeth said while looking for signs of recognition on Clara’s face.

    “Now you decide to speak proper English?” Clara asked with a smirk. She then expanded her wings to their full size before adding, “They are the bees knees, aren’t they?”

    Meanwhile, Clara was busy wiping down every surface that had blood in an attempt to clean away the evidence. She only managed to dilute the mess. Still, it appeared more pink than crimson.

    “Yes…” Elizabeth began to say until she noticed the bloody footprints leading into the room. “What—”

    Before Elizabeth finished that statement, Clara folded her wings and moved to embrace the amazon. Given their difference in height, Clara had to do a quick hop to wrap her arms around Elizabeth’s neck and plant a kiss.

    Elizabeth was bewildered, but her sense of reason soon went down the drain. In response, she moulded her wet body into Clara’s and leaned into the kiss. The kiss was invigorating. Clara’s willing body and breasts radiated heat even through the leather. Clara willingly parted her lips, taking in Elizabeth’s tongue, and surrendered to the passion.

    Their embrace lasted for minutes. They danced using their tongues, since Elizabeth was hesitant to explore Clara’s exposed back. Every so often, they came up for air, and this separation only served to deepen their desire. So why was Clara crying?

    “What—,” Elizabeth tried to say.

    Lost in the moment, Clara wanted nothing more than those lips and was not about to tolerate any interruptions. For the first time, she was exposed, vulnerable, but unaware of it.

    “What—,” Elizabeth repeated.

    “Don’t,” Clara said and tried to place a lone finger over Elizabeth’s lips.

    “W—,” Elizabeth attempted to ask.

    “Please,” Clara pleaded.

    With the knowledge that this would go on as long as there was proximity, Elizabeth tore herself away. Despite her smaller stature, the perky brunette was the embodiment of strength. Not entirely unexpected, since Clara could wield a heavy truck door like a baseball bat.

    Clara fell to her knees and began to cry. All of the emotions that were bundled up and concealed over the years chose this moment to make an appearance. As judged by the severity of Clara’s reaction, they had done so with a vengeance.

    Elizabeth sensed that something life altering had taken place in the last five minutes. The change in her wings, the bloody footsteps, the need for an escape, and emotional breakdown were all indicators of trauma.

    For now, there was nothing to be done about her hair, so she grabbed a towel and approached Clara cautiously. She gingerly knelt beside Clara and placed a hand on her exposed shoulder.

    Clara’s reaction was immediate; she fell into Elizabeth’s arms. Tears streamed from her eyes, which would soon become puffy and red. Elizabeth held on tight and let this wave of emotion take its course. No matter how hardened an individual appeared to be, there were limits.

    “I— killed her—” Clara managed to say through all of that sobbing.

    “Who?” Elizabeth said in a calm and soothing voice.

    “Goddess—” Clara blurted out, showing frustration at her own loss of control.

    “Shhhhhh,” Elizabeth repeated. “It’s okay.”

    Clara went on crying for a good five or ten minutes. Elizabeth stayed with her the entire time, realising that a fresh towel would be needed after this.

    Eventually, Clara pulled away, took a deep breath, and smiled awkwardly. There was still much for her to deal with, but that moment of vulnerability had done a great deal of good for the soul. She had killed a lot of creatures in her years, many who pleaded for their lives. They were the worst, often looking so innocent before she performed the coup de grâce.

    Every kill, beginning with Jack, her first love, the one who tried to torture her for information, had been one more drop of water held back by a dam. Hecate had been one drop too many, and despite the shock, this incident had been a boon for Clara.

    “Thank you,” Clara said in a nasal voice, before she sniffled to breathe better.

    Elizabeth smiled but realised that her bathroom was now a sauna. Steam permeated the air while humidity clung to the walls, turning into droplets that ran down every surface. The floor was also soaked and succeeded in washing away any evidence of blood.

    “Oh shit!” Elizabeth said, when the cause dawned on her.

    She jumped to her feet, shut the sink’s tap, and returned to the tub to ensure the water could support human life. Once the temperature was just right, Elizabeth jumped right back in. Still, it was too late; her hair needed another wash.

    Clara’s weak smile turned into a smirk; the light humour helped her settle back into her normal state of mind. When Elizabeth stuck out her arm to drop her sopping wet towel, Clara burst out laughing.

    There was still that mess to deal with, but Clara was more centred now and better able to think. Once a plan formed in her mind, Clara adopted the cat-who-ate-the-canary smirk.

    “Are there any empty units in this block?” Clara asked.

    While Elizabeth’s voice was muffled by the water, the answer came clear enough, “Units in the opposing block are being renovated… Why do you ask?”

    Clara got to her feet and opened the curtain to get a better view of Elizabeth before replying, “The less you know, the better.”

    With that, Clara left the bathroom, looked out the window, and quickly refined her plan. She would have no trouble reaching the fire escape on the other side, even under a heavy load. No one would suspect the bodies had flown across an alley.

    Clara looked at the sky and guessed there was a solid hour before the alley was bathed in daylight. Still, she removed her leather pants and bustier. That way, if anyone called in a sighting, the police would dismiss the call. Who would trust a witness claiming they saw some naked chick with black wings leaping between buildings?

    That meant she would need to pick the fridge clean to get her energy levels up and with luck, would remain accelerated. Clara concentrated until she could hear individual drops fall in the shower.

    “Let’s eat,” Clara said, but an errant thought crossed her mind.

    Clara reached down on the floor and picked up the amphora. Despite Hecate being no more, the glowing liquid was still filled to the brim. Clara had also been fortunate that the amphora had righted itself rather than flood this floor in ambrosia.

    Clara did not dwell on that aspect. Instead, she poured three glasses and downed them all. It did not have the pep that Sparky’s bolt provided, but it was enough.

    “This should help,” Clara said while picking up the first body.

    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!

  • Shell Shocked – Part II

    “Wake up,” Mason said.

    Breanna snapped up from the console, and left a puddle of drool on the surface. Her eyelids felt as though they weighed a ton, and with some effort she managed to pry them open. What a shame, the world turned out to be nothing more than a haze.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    As her eyes focused on Mason, she realised that her mind had been exploring a memory. Now she hated him even more for taking her out of it.

    “What?” Breanna asked annoyed.

    “Any updates?” Mason queried.

    “What? Oh!” Breanna said while she wiped the drool off her display.

    Her fingers glided over the display with more difficulty than usual, and she grimaced every time the wrong functions were triggered. Breanna’s mind was lingering on that memory and would not compensate for her smaller, thicker, and less agile digits.

    Eventually, she had the information they sought and said, “Nothing yet.”

    Mason asked, “How much time do you need?”

    “The system is running at full capacity,” Breanna said. “Since the shockwave really messed things up, we will need a lot of resources to unravel what happened.”

    Mason looked around the room. In the back corner, Brett was replacing the floor tiles one at a time. Every move he made was slow and laborious; his mind was clearly not in it. All of their minds were wandering.

    “Okay. Go home,” Mason said.

    Breanna blinked several times and was severely tempted to pinch herself. Nonetheless, she thought it best to confirm, “What?”

    “You’re running on fumes,” Mason said. “We all are. So let’s leave these systems on auto. We can check on them tomorrow.”

    Breanna did not need to be told twice. She grabbed her coat and phone before heading towards the door. Then it occurred to her that it was probably sensible to smile and thank him.

    “Thanks,” Breanna said with a meek smile. “Have a good night,” she added, managing to sound sincere.

    Mason spotted Brett trying to make a break for the door, “You’ll need to close up this floor before you leave.”

    Brett looked as though he was about to toss out one of his witty remarks, but reason must have gotten the better of him. Without a word, he turned around and headed directly for the stack of tiles.

    Breanna smiled, and for a split second did not hate Mason that much. Although, this would wear off when that ass reverted to his regular charming self.

    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!

  • Shell Shocked – Part I

    Breanna looked out through the window as nearby stars streaked by. Those farther away moved at varying speeds, while others appeared to be fixed points in space. The harsh lighting of the overhead fixtures created a superimposed reflection on the surface of the window. She reached out to her mirror image with long and slender fingers. This was a rare occurrence, since their grey flesh absorbed most of the light. It was a defense mechanism for their kind, one that guaranteed unwavering uniformity.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Her gaze shifted to that mouthless face, dull grey skin, oversized cranium, and reflective eyes. This image was mirrored in her eyes, the light bouncing back and forth to create an infinite number of copies. The only aspect not duplicated was her information overlay, courtesy of her cybernetic implants.

    Breanna dropped her head to get that image out of her thoughts and turned to her right. From this vantage point, she gazed down the length of the ship, a massive vessel that stretched out farther than her eyes perceived. The overlay included a map of the ship in the top corner of her vision, along with an indication of what she could see. She could see about a third of the ship with her enhancements and would soon see only a fraction of that.

    The ship appeared to be silent, although she knew that was nothing more than an illusion. The fusion generators were always operational, autonomous, and powerful enough to propel this vessel through the vast distances between stars. The sounds they generated had long ago been relegated to background noise.

    She again turned to the right and faced a series of glass panels that shielded the stasis chambers. There were rows upon rows of workers in a hibernation state. They would remain as such until they were needed for missions or upon arrival at the next star system. Normally, she was tapped into their thoughts, a feature of cybernetic implants. Alas, in preparation for her mission, the link had been severed. For the first time in her life, Breanna was alone with her thoughts. The sheer magnitude of that solitude weighed heavily on her.

    Soon, the visual overlays would be gone followed by the implants themselves. All of these steps were required before they genetically modified her cellular structure, all because her new configuration would reject the implants.

    “Breanna,” the ship’s public address system blared out.

    She turned around to face the control console. When travelling within a solar system, this place was a hive of activity, swarming with workers. This far out, the ship required nothing more than a few to maintain a vigil. Truthfully, the computer handled all day-to-day operations while travelling through deep space, so her presence was largely superfluous.

    She had been scheduled to return to stasis in a couple of cycles, but a new mission objective altered those plans. The ship was about to move beyond the range of a passing system, so they would no longer be able to send in quick insertion teams. They needed a long term presence to deal with the locals. To prepare for her mission, she was relieved of her duties to undergo a series of invasive treatments to alter her genetic structure.

    By the end of it, she would be indistinguishable from the native inhabitants of the third planet of that yellow star they bypassed. For now, it was not worth their collective attention, but after a bit of manipulation…

    “Breanna,” the public address system repeated.

    Breanna glided over to the nearest console and ran some diagnostics. The logs confirmed that the loud speakers had not been engaged since they left their home system.

    “Wake up,” came a voice from behind.

    She turned around, but saw nothing. This part of the ship was empty, or at least there was no one within earshot. To say she was confused would have been an understatement, but that quickly morphed into panic when a warm hand grabbed her shoulder…

    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 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!