Tag: Paranormal

  • Evelyn Reads Skelly’s Square

    Rating: 5 out of 5.

    Skelly’s Square is a paranormal fantasy written by independent author Stephen Black.

    While the story is primarily focused on a young man named Kirkwood, other points of view are introduced throughout. This swap between characters is fluid and provides much needed depth to the story.

    Skelly's Square by Stephen Black
    Skelly’s Square by Stephen Black

    Set in Northern Ireland, Black weaves its rich history and locations into the tale beautifully. Those, like me, who are unfamiliar with The Troubles will get a sense of the effect it had on families. This works for Skelly’s Square as it roots Kirkwood reality and further explains his neuroses.

    Kirkwood believes he suffers from near-crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a condition which can be traced back to childhood trauma. However, doubts creep into his mind once he runs into a young woman who is sketching a portrait of his tormentor. Was this just a coincidence? Or is there something more otherworldly at play?

    Ultimately, Skelly’s Square is a slow burn with an explosive ending. Watch as a young man wakes up to find his life turned upside down, struggles to break free from his compulsions and discovers his true potential. Well worth a read!

  • Evelyn Reads What Lies Within

    Rating: 4 out of 5.

    The blurb for What Lies Within, from indie author D.W. Harvey, mentions a dark hidden secret, an evil spirit’s curse, and a sole survivor… all of which perfectly set the stage for this story.

    What Lies Within by D.W. Harvey
    What Lies Within by D.W. Harvey

    This story is written from the point of view of the sole survivor as she nears the end of her journey. We are quickly brought up to speed on the character’s motivations, her need to be there, and what she intends to do.

    However, there is plenty of room for discovery, and readers may well be left guessing to the very end. It offers a satisfying ending and leaves you yearning for more, the latter of which is this reader’s only complaint. Sadly, this was little more than a glimpse into a world filled with wonder.

  • Evelyn Reads A Cursed Legacy

    Rating: 4 out of 5.

    A Cursed Legacy is an urban fantasy novel authored by Kima Blaze. This is the third book from the A Rift in the Veil series and will only make sense to new readers after reading the first two.

    A Cursed Legacy by Kima Blaze

    These books have taken on traits of a television series. Every new book drives the overall story forward and foreshadows new elements that later come into play. However, the story is still focused on the here and now.

    Previously, readers were left hanging due to the Wendigo storyline, and this release successfully passes the baton. The feel from the last book is also maintained inasmuch as the story reflects the chaotic nature of the situation. Lizzie can’t seem to catch a breath, let alone plan, and that rings true given the situation.

    Overall, this is a great read if you’ve invested in the series already. The story has a satisfying conclusion to the most pressing plot lines left open from its predecessor and further sheds light on Blaze‘s grand vision.

    New to the series? I recommend you check out The Curse of a Name.

  • Dinner With an Angel – Part II

    Elizabeth walked up the three flights of stairs leading to her unit. She was dog tired, so much so, that her bones ached with every step. The pace of work mixed with that chaos filled weekend did a lot to wear her down.

    “If there was ever a way of reminding me that I am no longer twenty-one,” Elizabeth mumbled.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Once at her door, she reached into her pockets and froze. On the other side, she heard clanging, footsteps, and other unusual sounds. It was not until Clara’s humming filtered through the door that she began to calm down.

    Elizabeth exhaled, pulled out her keys, and let herself in. Immediately, she was greeted by a whole slew of smells. Some were more distinct, like seared scallops, sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic. Others were more subtle in comparison, such as the white wine, steamed fresh peas, and melted butter.

    Clara was at the kitchen counter, busy cooking up a storm. She wore an apron, although Elizabeth could not fathom where that item originated from. Clara faced a myriad of pots and pans, some that bubbled while others crackled with the sounds of frying food. Each was the source of these aromas, which magically invigorated her senses.

    Of course, it was the fridge that got her attention, the old one from this morning was gone. In its place was a significant upgrade. Clearly, Clara had not been idle during her absence.

    “Hello,” Clara said while looking up. “Help yourself to some wine.”

    “How did you—,” Elizabeth said.

    “It’s a bit complicated,” Clara said. “Let’s just say that I looked into someone’s soul and found an ally.”

    Clara continued to cook while Elizabeth approached the counter. The bottle was old. It even sported a wax seal that had been cast aside when opened. When she looked at the label and saw the date, her eyes bulged, and she dropped the bottle.

    Before Elizabeth could gasp, Clara caught the bottle. She smirked, placed it gently on the counter and returned to her cooking.

    “Nineteen-twenty-one?” Elizabeth spat out.

    “That was a great year… a lot of memories,” Clara said. “That wine is almost as old as me.”

    Elizabeth sat down and chuckled nervously. One moment, all hell breaks loose, and now, she comes home to find a thousand dollar bottle of wine? This was a bit much for her to take in. Still, why worry over things that were outside of her control?

    She poured herself a glass until it nearly overflowed and took a sip.

    “Wow! Some things do get better with age,” Elizabeth said.

    “You know, when I was growing up, seafood like this marked us as being poor. Those with money and status did not come to school with seafood or, god forbid, lobster,” Clara said. “Now this was the most expensive item that I could find at the store. Well, apart from the wine.”

    For a moment, Clara appeared to be daydreaming, back in a world where monsters did not exist. Elizabeth wondered how precious such memories were for those who had been through so much.

    “You can sit down,” Clara said. “Supper will be ready soon enough.”

    “Why are you doing this?” Elizabeth asked, unable to play along.

    Clara kept on smiling while she turned over the lightly seared scallops. Clearly, she was applying the finishing touches for this meal, and it looked like it would be mouth-watering.

    “You were right earlier,” Clara said. “Honestly, I was relieved that you brought it up. Still, tonight I learned that the soul could be redeemed, and that gave me hope. It also reminded me that I have much to learn.”

    So far, Elizabeth had no trouble following along, but was unsure if the soul comment was literal or figurative. She assumed this had something to do with her Firecracker, and that was probably the reason they were home safe tonight.

    “For now, I’ll need a place to crash, spread my wings, and find my way,” Clara added while she poured the mushrooms and scallops into a serving bowl.

    “I did say you were—,” Elizabeth said.

    Clara cut her off on purpose, a reversal that turned out to be enjoyable. She carried the scallops to the table, then returned to drain the potatoes.

    “What we have might end up being nothing more than a fling spurred on by events outside our control,” Clara said. “It may be nothing more than our baser interests at play. So I don’t want to push that just yet. We both need to come to terms with what happened and figure out how to move forward.”

    Clara had a point, although Elizabeth wondered how easy it would be to avoid those awkward moments.

    “Or was that half the fun?” Elizabeth wondered.

    Clara mixed in butter, spices, and milk to mash the potatoes. While preparing the dish, she looked up.

    “At the very least, we need each other. I need you to help me traverse this alien land. Without you, I’ll end up getting lost,” Clara said.

    “What do you think I need?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara finished mashing the potatoes before answering, “You need me to watch over you for the next little while. A task I’ll gladly take on so you can sleep soundly knowing that no one will fuck with you.”

    Elizabeth cocked a brow. A small part of her had yet to realise that fear was real. Would anyone be able to sleep once they knew that vampires did, in fact, exist?

    Clara dropped the potatoes at the table, followed by steamed peas. She then walked over to Elizabeth and looked up into her eyes.

    “Just to be clear,” Clara said. “If you ever kiss me like that again. You’d better be prepared to go all the way. Understood?”

    “Got it,” Elizabeth said with a gulp.

    “Great,” Clara said with a wide smile before pulling out Elizabeth’s chair. “Time to eat! You can give me an answer when we are done.”

    “You already know,” Elizabeth said while sitting down.

    Clara chuckled and said, “I only hoped. Oh! Before I forget. Do you know what cryptocurrency is?”

    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!

  • Introducing The Van Helsing Incursion

    It is my pleasure to introduce The Van Helsing Incursion, the third installment of the Clara Grey Adventures, a Dark Fantasy series about a hunter who hunts things that go bump in the night! This is my fourth release in as many years, and while part of a series, I consider this book to stand on its own.

    After a lifetime of hunting creatures that haunt our dreams, a flapper, turned fallen angel, gives a budding relationship the chance to grow. Should be a snap? Think again!

    Interested? Check out details on my book below:

    Available free on:
    Barnes and Noble
    Evelyn’s Publisher
    Google Play
    Universal Book Link

    During the Roaring Twenties, Clara Grey hunted things that went bump in the night. On her final mission, she paid the ultimate price to rid the world of a powerful foe. As a reward, she ascended to Heaven and joined its ranks as an angel.

    Hunting things that go bump in the night is child’s play when compared to juggling relationships.

    Ninety years after her death, Clara fell to Earth intent on saving a soul. While her mission was a success, an act of self-defence barred her from returning to Heaven. Lost in the modern world, Clara was forced to seek out unlikely allies to navigate through those uncertain times.

    Four months later, Clara has settled in with Elizabeth, a young woman she saved shortly after descending to Earth. For a gal who had sworn off anything that hinted at normalcy, she learns that being average is not as easy as it seems.

    Alas, repercussions from choices made on that fateful mission have not been idle. Her enemies trigger a chain of events that will force our fated femme fatale to act. Is Clara prepared to deal with the fallout? Will her allies come to her aid? Or must she stand on her own?

    Before reading on, be sure to consider: Hunting things that go bump in the night is child’s play when compared to juggling relationships.

    Add the Van Helsing Resurgence to your Goodreads reading list...

    The Van Helsing Incursion is also available in print on Amazon.com.

    Available in print on Amazon.com

  • Dinner With an Angel – Part I

    Clara looked out over the restaurant from the comfort of her booth. Once she was satisfied there was no immediate threat, she looked down at a newspaper to pass the time. She was in awe of the number of ads, colour, and scores of anorexic articles that had a sensationalist bent. It appeared that not everything improved with age, and newspapers were a prime example.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Clara heard the waiter approach, his footsteps muffled by the carpet, and without a glance, knew who this was. As expected, the man left a drink at her table, all without being prompted.

    “Compliments of the lady at the bar,” the waiter said before walking away.

    Clara looked at the drink, then up at the woman and was astounded by what she saw. There she sat in a form fitting black dress that hugged her body and left little to the imagination. Her left leg was bare, exposed by a slit, and even in this dull light, her silky gams glimmered.

    Clara smirked, since this was playing out exactly as it had the first time they met. The venue may have been different, but all of the key details were present.

    Sensing her part in this affair, Clara raised her glass in the air so they might toast one another in silence. While each sipped her drink, they kept their eyes locked on one another. Evelyn loved to be the centre of attention, and for now, it suited Clara to play along.

    Just like before, she felt a breeze, and with that, Evelyn appeared on the bench across from her. That woman knew how to wield smiles like a scalpel. She could chill the mood at an orgy to show her displeasure or hint at the lifetime of passion only she could offer. All that was needed was to give oneself willingly to her, and Clara was pretty sure people frequently made that choice.

    “You’re in a good mood,” Clara said while catching a glimpse of the woman’s soul.

    The last time Clara had seen Evelyn, her soul had been in an advanced state of decay, torn asunder through centuries of abuse, the soul one associated with a mass murder, a paedophile, or a tyrannical dictator. Now, it was clear that something had changed. While there was still decay, the soul was whole. This was Clara’s first glimpse at how pivotal a singular act of redemption could be.

    Evelyn sidestepped the comment and said, “I wanted to thank you.”

    “You did?” Clara questioned.

    Evelyn nodded, as plates of food arrived at the table. Clara noticed that Evelyn’s companion was pretty relaxed considering he had been run over by her truck a couple of nights ago.

    Evelyn looked at the plethora of food options and selected something that looked like baked camembert. She dipped some toasted bread into the cheese and brought it to her mouth. As a matter of course, she seductively licked the cheese from her piece before taking a bite.

    “Relax,” Evelyn said. “Marc holds no ill will towards you. That would require emotions which may cloud his judgement, and I’ve never known him to have any.”

    She looked up and smiled at Marc who did not return the gesture. Instead he bowed away and headed towards the kitchen.

    “Nevertheless,” Evelyn added. “He is here to make sure you play nice.”

    Clara mulled over those words. Their kind could not easily engage her now. Her speed and strength equalled their own. Besides, coming into direct contact with her was the equivalent of sunbathing at high noon. The only way Clara could be reined in is if they took extraordinary precautions.

    “Explosives?” Clara asked.

    Evelyn giggled and nodded, “Great minds, non? Marc tells me it’s a shaped charge focused on you. I may get caught up in the blast, but I’ll heal.”

    “Fair enough,” Clara said. “I’d have done the same.”

    Evelyn picked up another piece of bread and dipped it into the cheese. Clara looked around and settled on a bowl of French onion soup. She moved it towards herself, grabbed the oversized spoon, and broke through the baked cheese crust to reach the broth. The smell alone was enough to make her stomach growl.

    “There were three,” Evelyn said after another bite.

    Clara looked up, swallowed a spoonful of broth, and asked, “Georgians? In the city?”

    Evelyn nodded. The slight droop in her smile hinted there had been complications. Clara did not want to delve into the matter unless it was brought up. However, the use of past tense meant those three were dead, which was good news.

    “You were right. They were responsible for this mess,” Evelyn said while spreading pâté on a piece of fresh bread.

    “Did you find out why?” Clara asked before she scooped up a chunk of cheese and bread.

    “Playing the odds,” Evelyn said. “They wanted to trigger a war which would bring about the end of our kind, all in some attempt to alter the balance of power in their favour and simplify colonisation.”

    “The Tower never really knew what they were,” Clara said.

    “You know,” Evelyn said. “I haven’t heard that name since Drusilla had a party to celebrate the attack on their gate network…”

    Clara’s heart sank, but kept her emotions hidden by eating a few more bites. That was exactly what she feared: that the Tower was cut off and remained as such to this day.

    “Sounds like you miss them?” Clara asked to deflect.

    “Oh?” Evelyn said. “I suppose. They were most helpful to rid us of any undesirables and could be counted on to follow a strict set of rules.”

    “Unlike this new group?” Clara asked.

    Evelyn nodded and said, “You get around, don’t you?”

    Both took a few more bites in an effort to collect their thoughts. Clara was beginning to suspect that Evelyn was not aligned with those currently in power.

    “That ghoul interrogator was an interesting development,” Clara said. “I encountered that before the Great—”

    “The First World War,” Evelyn interrupted. “One of Drusilla’s great plans that you put on ice for a couple of decades.”

    So her hunch had been dead on. Drusilla must have spent centuries aligning the darker elements into a loose coalition. All in an effort to oppress humanity, but to what end?

    “Is that why I encountered werewolves in the city?” Clara asked.

    Evelyn’s eyes temporarily widened and she soon realised her faux pas. She smiled shyly and giggled.

    “You’ve really been around the block,” Evelyn said.

    Clara grinned and helped herself to some of that molten cheese dish that Evelyn had been sampling. To put it mildly, it was simply divine.

    “I feel like a one gal wrecking crew,” Clara said.

    “I’ve seen natural disasters that left behind less destruction,” Evelyn said with a giggle-snort. That clearly caught her off guard. She grinned and covered her mouth before saying, “Excusez-moi.”

    Clara smiled. It was great to see someone lower their guard. Especially when centuries of practice were used to keep up the pretence of being cultured.

    Evelyn’s face grew sombre. It seemed that the idle chit chat was over. Clara had been expecting this, but had no idea where this conversation would lead.

    “Whatever you have in mind,” Evelyn whispered. “We want in.”

    It was fortunate that Clara had enhanced hearing, since Evelyn’s whisper was exceptionally soft, practically background noise. Why all the theatrics? Clara was unsure, but knew for certain that this was not a game.

    “We?” Clara whispered.

    Evelyn nodded, “That’s why Marc and I destroyed the Georgian laboratory.”

    This was all beginning to make sense. Evelyn was no longer aligned with those in power and completely isolated. The more power her opponents gained, the tighter the noose around her neck became.

    “I want to revive the Tower,” Clara said.

    Evelyn giggled in surprise before replying, “Go on.”

    “Too much?” Clara asked before she cringed.

    Ma chère,” Evelyn said while she prepared another slice of bread with pâté.

    She then brought it over to Clara’s lips and held it there so the other could taste it. Clara bit into the cracker, tasting the pepper and meat mix, which brought a smile to her face.

    “You are about to set sail onto unfamiliar seas. Sure. Water is water. There are common elements between all oceans. It may even seem inviting from ashore, but you can only see so far. You have no understanding of the dangers that lurk beyond the horizon,” Evelyn said.

    Clara swallowed and bit off more pâté while avoiding contact. She was really enjoying this food. To think that the last time they met like this she had been so nervous, so much so that the only dish she sampled was the devilled eggs.

    “So get situated first?” Clara confirmed.

    Exactement, ma chère,” Evelyn said. “We have resources that we can offer you. Money, weapons, intelligence…”

    “Why?” Clara asked.

    “We believe that the flock is better off knowing that wolves are nothing more than a figment of their imagination. We have no desire to rule over them,” Evelyn said.

    “Where would be the fun in that?” Clara said.

    Exactement! Quel drame!” Evelyn said with a smirk.

    Indeed, such a tragedy, a bunch of immortals, bored and morally corrupt with power to run the world. They would treat humanity no better than livestock, so no art or new advances in technology. Soon enough, a war would break out between the more powerful players in an effort to gain a sliver of power. If hell was real, it might be preferable to that outcome.

    “On one condition,” Clara said.

    “Name it,” Evelyn said.

    “Elizabeth and her family stay out of this,” Clara said while narrowing her eyes.

    “Marc and I will make sure that she is looked after,” Evelyn said. “Does that satisfy your needs?”

    With a smile, Clara said, “Now. You were saying something about weapons…”

    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 Resurgence – Part VI

    By the time Clara was dry and changed, the smell of brewed coffee filled the air. Elizabeth was at the counter, wearing something less distracting, which managed to relieve and disappoint Clara.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    She approached the counter casually, wearing a jean skirt that went down to her knees and a thick white denim shirt. Clara was beginning to learn the joys of a sports bra. While a bit snug, it did much to support the girls without a lot of complexity.

    These clothes were decidedly not Elizabeth’s style. Even now, her friend looked ready for the office. There was an air of professionalism that surrounded her, and this outfit was anything but.

    Elizabeth tossed her two long, grey wool stockings. Clara would not have been caught dead in these during her time, but they suited the overall theme.

    “Here,” Elizabeth said. “You’ll need these.”

    Clara knew they would be itchy for a while, but at least they would keep her warm, even when soaking wet. She sat down and slipped them on sensibly, to avoid making this a sensual experience. In the background, her eyes discerned that Elizabeth was deep in thought.

    “Thank you,” Clara said with a smile. “That smells great.”

    “Anything is better than that diner’s coffee,” Elizabeth said flatly. “Although, not by much.”

    There was a pause as a moment of uncomfortable silence filled the space between them. Something was on their minds, but neither knew how to broach the subject.

    Fortunately, the coffee maker began to make loud noises as the last of the water cycled through the system. Elizabeth turned her attention to that while Clara finished slipping on the stockings. Unlike the rest of her outfit, these were a bit big as though they had been intended for someone much taller.

    On a hunch, Clara looked over towards Elizabeth and noticed that her gold band was gone. A white void was left in its place, a hint that this was not a simple case of guilt or infatuation.

    A cup of coffee, milk, and a five pound bag of sugar was placed on the counter. Elizabeth smirked, choosing to take hers black while Clara sweetened it mildly before taking a sip. They both sighed contentedly, wrapping their hands around the hot ceramic, and let the heat radiate into their hands.

    “That was one hell of a weekend,” Elizabeth said.

    Clara had not been aware of the date, time, or even the season. While the latter was easy enough to guess, weather could nonetheless deceive an outsider.

    “So today is Monday?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth nodded, looked into the swirling pool of black elixir, and sighed.

    “This was probably the single-most fucked up weekend I’ve ever had,” Elizabeth said. “I can’t tell a soul can I?”

    “No.” Clara said. “How would you treat a patient who described what you went through?”

    “Point taken,” Elizabeth said. She took a sip as a distraction and said, “Saturday morning, I was happily married, looking to help a lost friend. Like most, I assumed that vampires—and angels—were works of fiction.”

    “And—,” Clara tried to say.

    Elizabeth raised her hand, fingers together and palm facing Clara. This was her way of telling the other to stop interrupting, so she could get this off her chest.

    “Today I know that my friend is dead, that these things do in fact exist, and that includes you…” Elizabeth trailed off. Another sip of her coffee imbued her with strength, even if only imagined, before she added, “I also learned that I was never married.”

    “What?” Clara asked, realising why Elizabeth had been pacing before her arrival.

    “She’s on tour,” Elizabeth said. “Those are her things in our—my bedroom. So imagine my surprise when I saw the announcement that she had recently tied the knot with her long-time friend and confidant.”

    “I’m sorry—” Clara tried to say.

    “Are you?” Elizabeth hissed. “I’ve seen how you’ve been eyeing me.”

    “I’m—” Clara said.

    “Sorry?” Elizabeth confirmed. “So that’s what you planned to tell me when you got in here?”

    Clara simply nodded. It was clear that Elizabeth had managed to tie up all of her emotions and thoughts into a coherent bundle. That clarity enabled her to channel it constructively, and spared Clara from having to do the same.

    Elizabeth finished off her coffee and poured herself another. She took a quick glance at Clara’s cup and topped it up for good measure. Clara smiled appreciatively and would not say another world until needed.

    “I thought about going with you, wherever you are headed,” Elizabeth said. “In the end, I realised that you didn’t need me slowing you down. Nor did you need me to muddy the waters with all of this tension.”

    Clara nodded once more and felt her heart grow lighter with every word. Elizabeth was pushing forward the exact same statements that Clara envisioned herself saying. Since these words were meant to soften the blow for Clara, it effectively made this a victory.

    “Either way,” Elizabeth said. “I still have a job to do, kids that need me. At least I can make a difference in their lives.”

    Elizabeth finished off her second cup of coffee, paused, and smiled before she went around the counter. She showed no signs of hesitation and placed her hands firmly on Clara’s shoulders before closing the distance between their lips.

    Clara just went with it, enjoying the fact that someone else knew how to take charge. When their lips touched, all of that tension and anxiety washed away, replaced by a passion that enveloped them.

    Clara parted her lips and found that Elizabeth was a step ahead. Their tongues touched, hesitating momentarily before diving into the dance. When Elizabeth pulled back, both of them were short of breath.

    “I needed that,” Elizabeth said. “In a couple of days, once this fucking shitstorm sinks in, I may realise that all of this was a result of you saving my life. Just like you may come to learn that what you needed was intimacy, and I just happened to be there.”

    She then tossed a phone on the counter, along with a charger and cable. It was the phone she lifted from that dive bar, and it seemed to be working fine.

    “You got some messages when I plugged it in,” Elizabeth said as she slid a pad towards her. “I wrote them down here for you and added my number to the phone.”

    Elizabeth walked over to the door and picked up her coat, purse, and keys. She was bundling up for the cold but, despite the journey ahead, she wore a smile.

    “You can grab a coat that fits from… her… closet,” Elizabeth said. “Now if you need a place to crash…”

    “That’s too—,” Clara said.

    Elizabeth cut her off and said, “My couch will always be available to you. Just make sure to use the window, so this door stays locked.”

    With nothing more to say, she left Clara alone in the apartment. Clara let the silence sink in, marking the first time in days that there was not something going wrong or her being driven towards an objective. She gulped a few mouthfuls of coffee. The bitterness reminded her that this was precisely where she needed to be. Heaven was too isolated, sterile, and constricting for her. Clara required the flavour and spice of life in order to be content.

    After her second cup, she sighed softly, grabbed the pad, and admired the woman’s beautiful handwriting. The message was good news but, given who she was dealing with, that situation could turn on her real fast.

    Clara looked at her phone and noted the time. With the better part of the day to herself and with nothing better to do, she began to experiment with the mobile phone. The messages were in there somewhere, and she was determined to find them.

    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 Resurgence – Part V

    Clara landed on the fire escape, folding in one wing while positioning the other over her head to get a good rain-free view of what was going on inside the unit. Elizabeth could have been asleep, but Clara suspected otherwise. Sure enough, Elizabeth was up, pacing back and forth while looking at her phone. At what precisely, she did not know, but Clara assumed it was related to what unfolded earlier in the day.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    She observed for a few moments, looking out for nervous tics or any other signs that would hint at her being compromised. So far there were none. Her heart rate remained steady and, while elevated, it was natural for someone who was anxious or under duress.

    Clara sighed, took a deep breath, and knocked on the window. It was time to see if her welcome was worn out; one way or the other, there were things she needed to get off her chest.

    Elizabeth was clearly nervous. Learning about the existence of vampires, tended to make people skittish. The amazon turned around so fast that it nearly startled Clara, and the fact she was armed filled her with a sense of pride. Guns were not effective against all foes, but at least Elizabeth was taking her well-being seriously.

    Clara remained in place—visible, smiling and most importantly non-threatening. This seemed like the best approach, and she wanted to avoid Elizabeth feeling threatened. Shoot first and ask questions later tended to be the mantra for anyone in Elizabeth’s state of mind.

    Elizabeth recognised who was at the window, exhaled in relief, and ran over to unlatch the casement. Clara did the rest, lifting the pane from out of its seat despite the wood swelling from exposure.

    “Where were you?” Elizabeth raced through the question.

    Her eyes were wild, running over every detail of the scene. It had the potential to develop into a thousand mile stare, something that Clara had seen hundreds of times before. She prayed that her friend would be spared.

    Clara did not immediately answer. Instead, she folded her remaining wing, hunched down, and stepped into the apartment. On the counter was the amphora, and Clara buried her desire to indulge in the sweet nectar. She may be a goddess or demi-goddess, but there could be side effects to prolonged use.

    “How did you manage to find that?” Clara asked.

    Elizabeth grunted and narrowed her eyes while saying, “Quit avoiding my question! Now where were you?”

    Clara shrugged but did not smirk since the latter was too dismissive. Elizabeth was not happy, and Clara would need to smooth things over before getting any answers.

    “I was captured. I then woke up in a secret interrogation room located in one of the city’s morgues,” Clara replied, having no clue if there were multiple morgues in the city.

    “How did you get out?” Elizabeth asked, alarmed.

    That question indicated that Elizabeth had followed the instructions to the letter. Hence, she ran off before the troops swarmed their position and captured her. Not knowing what happened easily explained her state of heightened anxiety.

    Clara delved into the situation: the rapid progression of the interrogation, the ghoul, and how she broke free. She also described the brief interaction with Jane and detailed her escape.

    Elizabeth listened intently, her eyes focused more on Clara as she calmed down. While news of a shadow group upset her, being in proximity to her guardian angel did much to smooth things over. That worried Clara, since it would make what she had to say a challenge.

    “I managed to circle back to the dumpsters through the building,” Elizabeth said once satisfied with Clara’s response. “The cops were not interested in the alley. They were focused on what that red-head unleashed.”

    “One hell of a distraction she put on,” Clara said with a grin.

    Elizabeth chuckled nervously. It was clear that these particular memories left her feeling uneasy.

    “Can anyone from your order even define the word subtle?” Elizabeth asked.

    Clara broke out in laughter, saying, “Most can, but I was always the bull in a China shop.”

    “You know they busted that?” Elizabeth asked. “Bulls run around the shelves, showing more grace than some dancers.”

    “Really?” Clara said. “I really need to get started learning all of this trivia and slang.”

    Despite the banter, Clara was acutely aware that Elizabeth was distracted by her chest. The white blouse was sticking to her clammy flesh and showed the perfect outline of her breasts. Fortunately, the bra provided enough padding to conceal her hardened nipples. After all, it was cold out there in the rain.

    “I need a—” Clara said.

    “You need a change of clothes,” Elizabeth said concurrently.

    “That would be lovely,” Clara said with a smile.

    Her eyes avoided the other’s outfit, or lack thereof. Elizabeth wore a bathrobe, and the longer she stood there without adjusting, the more her cleavage showed. Clara knew why she had these feelings. Unfortunately, that did not make this any easier to deal with.

    “Head into the bathroom, take a warm shower, and dry off,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll find you something to wear.”

    With that, Elizabeth made things easier for the both of them. She left Clara alone in the living room. She lingered long enough to shake any cobwebs loose from her mind before moving on to the next step.

    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 Resurgence – Part IV

    Her encounter with Freyja happened at a critical juncture. Her eyes had once more been opened to the true nature of this world, and she disliked what she saw.

    In her time, she had to contend with vampires, ghouls, werewolves, and all manner of things that went bump in the night. These creatures had always been there, existing in the edges of human awareness, and preyed on both mankind and their fears. Clara had lived through a renaissance of sorts. Ghouls had been dispatched en masse during the Great War, and werewolves were nothing more than an anomaly.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    This world showcased a new order that grew from the loss of the Tower. Drusilla may have been stopped before fulfilling her mission to rise above the fray to rule the world with an iron fist, but her legacy of terror lived on. Clara cursed herself for not having killed that bitch earlier.

    Clara needed allies, people she could rely on, those who were capable of indoctrinating her in the ways of the present day. Weapons may have remained largely the same, but other technologies advanced by leaps and bounds. She was a relic in fashion, language and know-how and, without assistance, would stick out like a sore thumb.

    She knew someone who might help, but that meant abusing her kind nature. For now, it seemed necessary to set aside such concerns. In return, Clara would be sure to shield this woman from harm and, in time, develop a symbiotic relationship.

    Clara stayed close to the rooftops in an attempt to avoid drawing unnecessary attention. Fortunately, the streets were deserted for the most part, and she could risk exposure by crossing them. She kept a sharp eye for anything that followed, but luck was on her side.

    “Allies,” Clara said.

    The Tower had been the nerve centre for their order, but they were also allies to any who fought the forces of evil. Drusilla’s mayhem had stripped the world of an important ally by isolating, but not destroying, the Tower. Clara needed to reconnect with and, hopefully, restore the relevance to her order.

    Now there was a conundrum. Without the Terminus, the nexus of gates that linked the Tower to sites around the world, the Tower would be near impossible to reach. Even if she could find a way to the Tower, what would she find once she got there? A tower of ivory that stretched out into the heavens filled with hundreds of hunters itching for a fight? Or a tomb?

    The absence of answers confirmed that this plan would be executed over the long term. She needed allies now. Perhaps her thinking was a bit circular, but that was a response to the gravity of the need.

    Elizabeth would be her first stop. From there, she did not know. However, Clara theorized that the line between friend and foe would blur, if not disappear altogether. That meant she needed to keep an open mind and sleep with an open eye.

    Clara landed on a rooftop, then leaned over the ledge to look down. On the other side, Elizabeth’s building loomed out beyond the curtain of driving rain. Most of the windows were dark, save for one.

    Clara closed her eyes and focused on her hearing. Eventually, the sound of applause caused by the rain was filtered out. She continued to focus, visualising the area in her mind, and heard one steady heartbeat within that unit.

    There were others in the building which accounted for the neighbours. So far, there were no sounds to indicate the presence of a platoon of soldiers waiting for her. Considering the day she had, that was a good sign.

    “Time to have a little faith,” Clara said. “In myself.”

    With that thought, Clara leapt from the rooftop and glided over to the emergency escape. Every plan needed objectives, and it was time to see how the foundations of her plan would unfold.

    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 Resurgence – Part III

    “Great”, Clara said. “What is it with me and nondescript hallways?”

    One end of the corridor finished near the interrogation room with a door that had been secured using the same mechanism. In the opposing direction there was an ascending circular staircase, made of dull steel.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    Clara walked casually to the stairs and noticed the lack of identifying features. There were no signs posted, no markings on the walls, and little to no variation in the consistency of the cement.

    There was also nothing that stood out as being surveillance equipment. She knew better; the video feeds in the surveillance room made that pretty clear. So equipment had to be there, but it was either camouflaged or so small that she could not spot them.

    Whoever was monitoring the situation was either unaware of her escape or did not care. Either way, this crossed a line and would alter this group’s behaviour. The next time they crossed paths, Clara would need to get dirty.

    At the top of the stairs, she came across a solid steel door. It was heavy with no visible locking mechanism. To her left there was a panel with a video feed. From this display, she saw the inside of a room: steel drawers, metal tables, sinks, weights, and various medical instruments. Clara had been around this type of room before. When dealing with ghouls, morgues were the first places to check.

    “Makes sense,” Clara said.

    Based on the dim lighting, it must have been after hours. That meant she had been unconscious most of the day, if not more. Without pause, Clara swiped the card which brought up a keypad on the display. She typed in the sequence Jane provided and heard the hermetic seals break.

    She pushed open the door and walked right into the morgue. The door closed behind her without being prompted and, upon closer look, she was unable to see any signs of the entrance. Deep down she envied the level of effort this organisation had taken to hide a dungeon. The fact that it was co-located with a morgue meant they had a convenient place to dispose of the bodies.

    Clara looked around casually and pocketed a few scalpels. She loved nothing more than a good blade, and these might come in handy. After a bit more rummaging, she came across a series of Allen keys used to fine-tune the scales which she pocketed along with a few picks. While crude, Clara hoped they would work.

    When satisfied, she walked through the double hinged doors and into a long and sterile corridor. She eyed the room names and saw an exit sign lit up in the distance. Clara continued to walk with confidence and determination, even if she had no clue where she was headed. Nothing caught a guard’s eye more than an unfamiliar face who looked lost.

    The door led to a stairwell and the flight of stairs going down led to another door. It had been fitted with an audible alarm and probably opened on the street level. Clara barely glanced at it while she ascended and flew past the floors without a care in the world.

    When the stairs ran out, she came across a door labelled Roof Access. She paused and examined the door which matched all others in the stairwell, except for the deadbolt. That gave her hope. A door that was secured against unauthorised access implied there was a chance at freedom on the other side.

    Clara knelt, pulled out the picks and Allen keys, and began to fiddle with the mechanism. In her time, Clara needed very little time to pick locks, but things had changed. So much so, that she decided it was best to go with plan B.

    She got back on her feet, slowed down time, and rammed the door. The door buckled under this initial effort, but the hinges and lock remained intact.

    “Aww nertz!” Clara exclaimed.

    This time, she moved away from the door to gain serious velocity and focused all of that momentum into her shoulder. In this attempt, the door gave way completely, torn from its hinges, and tumbled along the rooftop. It made an awful racket which was exactly what Clara wanted to avoid. Still, no alarms had been raised and all was quiet.

    “So is freedom at hand?” Clara wondered.

    She walked onto the roof and saw how the low cloud cover was lit up by the city lights. It was raining, and the cool dark rain instantly soaked her clothing. Invigorated, she dropped her light coat, and let her wings expand.

    Clara stood there. Staring at the glory before her. The neighbouring buildings were taller; a few even dated from her era, since they featured those iconic water towers. Other buildings were tall and imposing structures made of steel and glass.

    She turned around and, from here, noticed the darkened area that made up the park. Even through the thin slivers between streets, she caught flashes of blue and red lights. The police presence at the park was comforting because that meant she had not been out for more than a day.

    “I was right,” Freyja said. “You would have been one of my best shieldmaidens.”

    Clara kept her eyes on the park, choosing not to turn around just yet. The last time they met, Freya had been playing the role of Saint Peter. This evening, she had chosen an alternate persona for the confrontation. Clara flapped her wings for show. The black feathers were nearly invisible against the night sky.

    “One would think that my wings would make me a Valkyrie,” Clara said.

    “Never did care for them,” Freyja said with a hint of disdain.

    Clara turned around and saw exactly what she imagined Freyja to be: the armour, the shield and sword, blonde hair, and blue eyes, not to mention how she towered over her, enough to leave Clara feeling a twinge of anxiety. Of course, there was no real threat, otherwise she would have been dead by now.

    “So what brings you down to the mortal realm?” Clara asked.

    “I’ve come to deliver a message,” Freyja said.

    “And they sent down a god to tell me?” Clara guessed.

    “Caught on,” Freyja said, and soon realised that she inadvertently answered Clara’s guess. “Did you?”

    “The effect that ambrosia has on me and my golden blood? They were certainly eye openers,” Clara said. “You’re here because of Hecate, aren’t you?”

    “You were always a bright one,” Freyja said.

    “That’s why the Tower did not teach us about gods and goddesses,” Clara said. “They did not want Hunters getting involved in your affairs.”

    Freyja nodded but did not elaborate on the matter. Clara had managed to figure it out easily enough—the dirty little secret that even those in her order were never meant to know. The truth should have left her with a deep sense of betrayal, and still might once the dust settled. For now, she enjoyed the natural high that she got from being right.

    “She got in the way,” Clara said.

    “It was not up to you to judge her,” Freyja said.

    “So I can’t go back up then?” Clara asked. “Break some unwritten rule and I’m banned from the club?”

    Freyja did not seem to react, but Clara knew the words struck home. Pushing buttons, after all, was one trait she excelled at.

    “Of all the times to wish for a camera,” Clara thought.

    “It’s that or kill you,” Freyja said in a tone that implied a preference for the latter.

    “Oh no!” Clara said sarcastically. “Don’t leave me here. Free to live, breath, fuck, and make mistakes.”

    “They will never accept you,” Freyja said.

    “Men tend to accept anything with a nice pair of tits,” Clara said while looking down at her wet blouse. “I’ll be fine and, unlike Edith, I want to be here.”

    “You are on your own then,” Freyja said.

    Clara smiled, crossed her arms, and remained as such until Freyja faded out of existence. It seemed that some of their kind were free to come and go as they pleased. Clara loved having limits. Flaws, when overcome, became a source of strength. Clara would not have it any other way.

    Clara felt a chill once the wind picked up and shook the excess water out of her hair. She bent her knees, flapped her wings, and unleashed a thick mist of water from her wings. As she cut through the mist to become airborne, Clara thought about being barred from Heaven and, in that moment, had never felt so free.

    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!