Evelyn Chartres Author
Short Story

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part VIII

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

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

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

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

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

“Leave her alone!” Sparky exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Very good!” the other exclaimed.

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

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

“Right again,” the other said trailing off.

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

“Something wrong?” Clara asked.

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

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

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

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

“Clara,” she said to break the silence.

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

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

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

“Thank you for intervening,” Clara said.

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

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

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

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

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

“You have a choice,” the goddess said.

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

“What choice would that be?” Clara asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not really your problem,” Hecate said.

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

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

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

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

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

“God forgives all sins,” Clara said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bravo!” the silvery sister goddess exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clara finished off by saying, “Amen.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just ducky,” the silvery sister said.

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

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

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part VII

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You okay, miss?” the man inquired.

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

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

“Excuse me?” the man replied.

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

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

“There now,” the bimbo said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Clara,” she managed to say.

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

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

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

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

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

“Is that him?” Victor asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Van Helsing Paradox – Parts V and VI

“Horsefeathers,” Clara said under her breath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let them underestimate me,” Clara said.

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

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

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where is whom madam?” Max asked.

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

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

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

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

“Jones. Betty Jones,” Clara replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really?” Clara asked excitedly.

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

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

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

“Thank you,” Clara said excitedly.

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

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

“Operator,” Mavis said.

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

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

The Van Helsing Paradox – Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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