Tag: Victoria

  • Adventures in Wonderland – Part V

    Clara pushed herself against the outer edges of the tree trunk and stretched out her neck before opening her eyes. All around, there were signs of the carnage unleashed from Edith’s ascendance.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    The ground that surrounded Edith’s last location was scorched black. All the vegetation within that radius had been turned to ash. When a breeze picked up, the ash became airborne, which created the illusion of a heavy grey fog. Through this fog, she noted that the statue of Alice had been deformed from the heat, looking more like a collection of ant hills than a homage to one of her favourite childhood stories.

    “Curiouser and curiouser,” Clara said.

    Her eyes lingered on the molten slag before moving further towards the centre. How she managed to miss this before, Clara had no idea, but she felt guilt to have overlooked it. In haste, she sprinted over to the quivering mass and kneeled beside Victoria.

    What had once been a decaying corpse was now resurrected into the vessel of a mortally wounded woman. Gone were the signs of that parasitic creature. Still, the wounds were extensive. The temporal, frontal and zygomatic bones had all been shattered. Her jaw had been dislocated and her nose, eyes, and ears were little more than bloody craters.

    Clara had served as a nurse in a combat theatre. She treated men riddled with shrapnel, others torn apart by artillery, and some were so badly burned that they begged for death. This woman had no ability to consolidate all of that pain, nor come to terms with her inevitable death.

    Her fingers were bleeding profusely through what was left of her skin and muscle. Truthfully, if Victoria had been able to recover, what would that achieve? Condemned to a life of pain, but unable to find an outlet through which to express herself?

    Fortunately, where God had failed to show compassion, man tipped the scales towards mercy. The wound in her back would ensure a swift death. Not even a skilled trauma surgeon had any hope of repairing her shredded spine. With such a wound, Clara could do nothing more than comfort.

    She straddled Victoria’s head to steady her and caressed her hair. Clara then hummed a soft prayer, and while the words would never be heard, she hoped it would ease her transition. Victoria had been stripped of her right to choose eternal life for her soul; death was her only reward now.

    A single gunshot rang out over the park, but Clara did not break her concentration. Victoria’s heart was beating strong for now. This was a young and healthy woman. Still a body could only take so much.

    A helicopter swooped over the vicinity and pushed onwards to an open area big enough to accommodate its landing. Troops were sure to be headed her way, seasoned, and ready for war.

    Clara did not care; she continued to comfort the dying woman. Even as boots with rattling drums of ammunition approached, she stood fast. Victoria’s heart began to beat harder, faster, all in an attempt to compensate for the blood loss. Her respiration grew more pained with every breath. Clara hoped that this poor woman was unconscious by now.

    Before she knew it, the men had converged on the scene. They said nothing, yelled no orders, nor attempted to make contact. She guessed they had orders to neutralise any threats; after all, this was not her first dance with this breed of soldier. Besides, people feared the unknown, and Clara came with a very big question mark. Nonetheless, she was not about to abandon this woman.

    Finally, Victoria’s heart stopped, exhausted and spent. Had this all been a dream, she might have lived a century or more. Now, she lay dead in a park with no ability to make peace. Victoria let out a gentle sigh, but the damage to her body coerced the sound to create something unearthly. Still, Clara knew that Victoria’s fight was over and hoped that her soul would move on.

    Clara bowed her head in respect and said, “Amen—”

    Before Clara could finish her prayer, there was a blow to the back of her skull. An impact powerful enough to render her unconscious; she was out cold before she hit 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!

  • Adventures in Wonderland – Part IV

    Clara set down near Edith, close enough to lend support but far enough to react if there was any lingering resentment. She loved these types of situations, yearning to fight against all odds while laughing in the face of the unknown.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    “Finally decided to make your entrance, I see,” Edith said flatly.

    Clara smirked before responding, “Figured I’d be the finale hopper and arrive just in time to claim all the glory.”

    While Edith chuckled, Clara sensed there was still tension between them. One did not stab her best friend through the chest without a reason. Since they needed to cooperate, Clara tossed her a loaded pistol. While Edith appreciated the gesture of trust, she nonetheless checked the chamber and magazine.

    “I’ll never forget what they taught us back at the Tower,” Edith said.

    “Not even in death,” Clara said while pulling out the police issued shotgun.

    “Quick recovery?” Edith said, although it was more of an observation than a question.

    “Ambrosia does wonders for the body,” Clara replied.

    “Ambrosia?” Edith asked. “That stuff only works on the old gods.”

    “I know,” Clara said. “Kinda makes you think—”

    “What is that?” Edith asked to get back on track.

    Clara did not need to look at it because this was not the first time they had crossed paths. She last set eyes on one of these things inside an abandoned temple they had built under a ziggurat. Memories of the desert and that infernal heat returned to her. She had sworn to never return, and yet, a piece of that cursed place found its way here.

    “We’ve met,” Clara said flatly. “Although that’s a new twist.”

    Clara was referring to the corpse the creature had used as a vessel. The victim’s skin was ashen grey and blue based solely on what was not covered in blood. Her clothes were torn, and what remained left little to the imagination. That poor woman’s fingers were literally worn to the bone.

    The face had lost all signs of humanity since the eyes, nose and ears were missing. Tentacles protruded from these orifices, and bone had been shattered to accommodate their size. This mutilation further distorted the face, an act of indignity that really bothered Clara.

    Some of the tentacles were probing the area, gliding over every surface in search of threats, just like the last time. However, there was another group of appendages that controlled the corpse, manipulating the victim like a marionette.

    It used the woman’s arms to caress a whimpering little girl. Clara sympathised with this child; she too had been exposed to such horrors early in life. She prayed that this one be spared the life of a hunter.

    “Where did you come across that thing?” Edith asked.

    Clara focused on the words, steeled her resolve, and said, “The assignment that got Father Allen killed.”

    Edith did not turn to face Clara, but it was clear from the shiver that ran down Edith’s spine that she was familiar with the details of that mission. One important question remained: what could they do to counter this threat?

    “A Mills Bomb only managed to annoy it,” Clara said. “Small arms fire had no effect.”

    A tactical squad came thundering out from the woods, and Clara hoped that Elizabeth simply missed their approach. The creature’s reaction was fast and brutal. The first wave of tentacles flew out like javelins and pierced their armoured vests. The lead men never fired a shot, instead, the tentacles lifted them up in the air while their torsos bulged.

    Clara heard fabric and Kevlar strain. She knew what was about to happen, so she pushed her wings forward just in time to block erupting blood and viscera. Fortunately, Edith had done the same and, since hers were invisible, the effect was far more gruesome.

    As bits of men rained all around them, one from the group must have gotten a shot off. The bang thundered through the area and left a gaping hole in the corpse’s back.

    “Bad idea,” Clara said.

    Her instincts had been bang on. The damage to the body provided this creature with a new orifice, and a whole slew of tentacles poured out. The attack from these quickly decimated what was left of the team.

    As that creature unleashed a wave of chaos, the child progressed from soft whimpers to wailing and tears. The victim’s arms continued to rock the child, but the carnage wrought was enough to upset even a veteran hunter. What chance did this child have?

    There, there, child,” Victoria said.

    “Did you hear that?” Edith asked.

    Clara closed her eyes and concentrated. There was nothing else other than the panicked child.

    “What are you talking about?” Clara asked.

    Please calm down. You’re safe here,” Victoria added.

    “She is trying to comfort the child,” Edith said.

    Clara furrowed her brow, a rare lapse in composure. In this case, Edith needed to see that her confusion was genuine.

    “She? That thing hasn’t made a sound yet,” Clara said bluntly.

    Your parents will be back shortly,” Victoria said. “Then you can be in your mother’s arms.

    “Someone left the child behind,” Edith said.

    Clara’s eyes went blank and, for a split second, there was nobody home. For as long as they knew each other, it had been Clara who trusted her instincts. Edith was in contrast the diligent follower of rules. For her partner to take this leap of faith, it meant this was really happening.

    “You can sense its thoughts? Can’t you?” Clara asked.

    Edith closed her eyes before she let down her wings and sent all of that viscera flying off into the distance. She sensed that pull, that feeling that every action taken before now had been to prepare her for this moment. Seeing that Clara was right, she simply nodded.

    Clara also brushed off her wings before heading towards Edith. She walked slowly, the sway of her hips moving like a pendulum, her face glowing with a suggestive smile.

    Please stop crying, child,” Victoria said, the words resonating within Edith’s mind.

    “You’re lucky that I love you,” Clara said, while ensuring that her movements remained slow and deliberate, just in case.

    Edith did not move back or try to stop Clara. She simply focused on that smile, and found it infectious. Her friend had always been mischievous but, for the first time in a long time, she was seeing Clara without her mask, nor any of that bravado.

    “You probably won’t survive,” Clara said. She stopped once they were close enough to feel one another’s body heat and stretched her neck out enough to whisper into Edith’s ear, “We may never see each other again.”

    Edith had no words to offer. Instead, she closed her eyes as the soft tremble of those lips sent a shiver right down to her soul. She bit her lower lip in anticipation of something that would never be.

    “But,” Clara said as she pulled away just enough to lick Edith’s lips on her way. “This time, God has blessed us with the opportunity to say goodbye.”

    Clara smiled, winked and pressed forward until their lips made contact. The effect on them was immediate. Clara’s inhibitions melted away, while Edith struggled to keep her knees from buckling. Their tongues met, and their breathing quickened in excitement.

    Please dear,” Victoria said.

    That voice dragged Edith back into reality. Clara understood what had happened and would not beg or plead for Edith to stay. They were hunters. This was part of the job and, sometimes, friends did not come home from a mission.

    “Go,” Clara urged. “If God is willing, we will meet again.”

    Edith was once more faced with this constant in her life: ever the faithful follower of rules, despite God taking her Angela away from her but, would she have opened her heart to Clara otherwise?

    Edith handed the pistol back, smiled, closed her eyes, and focused. She thought about all of the good things in her life, and how faith had carried her this far. Faith was her weapon, one she wielded in battle against Evil.

    Clara watched from a distance as Edith marched forward. There was no sensuality in the motions, instead, there was that same dogged determination from earlier. Just like those men who climbed over the trench walls during the Great War, Edith was a soldier of God and willingly served as his instrument.

    When Edith approached, the tentacles did not react. The absolute calm she exuded prevented her from being seen as a threat. Still, Clara kept the shotgun at the ready just in case.

    Once a set of tentacles came into contact with Edith, every limb backed away. Clearly, this thing had not been aware of her presence and reacted like any startled animal would.

    Eventually, curiosity drove it to resume probing the area and found that Edith was still there. The contact did not cause this creature to burn like Clara had hoped. While these things were integral to the creation of the vampires, it did not share their weaknesses.

    The tentacles became emboldened and began to wind around Edith’s body. They slid over every inch of exposed skin, looking for something. Ultimately, their goal remained unclear.

    Edith gasped as one tentacle slithered beneath her knee duster. It sensed that warm crevice between her legs. Without any notice, it rammed itself home and did so with shocking speed. Edith did not fight back. Her faith remained unbroken. In her mind, and she was fulfilling God’s will.

    Soon, other tentacles joined the first under the skirt, but this time, and they found an alternate path. Clara watched from where she was, aghast, but would not interfere.

    Even when a tentacle exited Edith’s mouth, Clara did not move. She remained stoic, unmoved, a pillar of strength for her friend. Despite the outward appearance, she prayed for God to intervene.

    Like falling into a pit of pythons, the tentacles writhed, coiled, and tightened around her friend’s chest. Again, nothing happened, and Edith was entirely under its control. The only thing that gave Clara strength was the defiance shining through Edith’s eyes.

    When two of the tentacles slithered up to Edith’s head, Clara knew it was now or never. If God chose to sit this one out, Clara would take action, even if it meant scorching the Earth.

    Ultimately, Clara’s involvement was not needed. Before the tentacles’ tips transformed into flechettes, a bright light surrounded Edith. Despite her friend being no longer able to speak, she imagined the word amen had been uttered.

    It was one thing to be inside that circle of light and wake up as a soul on the other side of the veil. It was another matter entirely to witness the ascendance first hand.

    Clara shifted her wings to block most of the direct light. She backed away slowly while ensuring she had solid footing. In the background, she heard the wind pick up, one so potent that it became her world.

    What caught her off guard was the shockwave that followed. Powerful enough to whisk her off feet, it sent her flying into a tree.

    “Horsefeathers!” Clara exclaimed.

    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!

  • Collision Course – Part VI

    “Stop. Wonderland Station,” the automated train chimed.

    Victoria opened her eyes for the second time. This time, she was comfortably seated on the padded leather seats of the train. The bright overhead lighting brought on a headache, an unfortunate side effect of waking up from a deep sleep.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    As pain radiated out from her temples and spiked through her corneas, Victoria closed her eyes to soften the blow. Alas, there would be no getting a pass; she would just need to get on with it.

    “It was all a dream then?” Victoria wondered.

    That scene with Evelyn had been so visceral, so real, that she would have bet her life on it being genuine. Evidence spoke to the contrary; this train and the memories of crawling out of that pit were just as tangible.

    “I need to tone down my imagination,” Victoria said.

    The notice came as the train began to slow down. Victoria saw the world come into focus as they slowed, and just ahead, there was a station.

    “Just like the one I left behind?” Victoria pondered while avoiding the difficult question lingering in the air.

    Victoria did not know how long she had been unconscious. Without that detail, there was no way of knowing how far they had travelled, nor how many stations, if any, they bypassed before now.

    “Wonderland,” Victoria questioned the name of the stop.

    After pulling up along a shiny terminal, the train came to a full stop. This time, Victoria had less trouble getting back on her feet.

    “Perhaps exhaustion would do me the favour of taking a back seat for now,” Victoria mumbled.

    She gave the train one last look before transitioning to the platform. If the name had not been announced, Victoria would have guessed they were back where she had left off. Every aspect of this station matched that of the chapel station: dimensions, colour, and building materials. Even the elevator door was the same, right down to the size and location.

    “This doesn’t help me figure out if any of this was real,” Victoria said, with a deep sigh.

    Victoria dragged her feet over to the elevator and pressed the golden button. While the button glowed softly, there were no whirrs or hums associated with an elevator coming to life.

    “What is this?” Victoria asked.

    The doors slid open noiselessly. Instead of an elevator car, Victoria had a direct view of the outside world. Admittedly, she found that hard to digest. How was it that the station’s structural elements were not visible?

    Just beyond the golden doors was an artist’s representation of Wonderland. Several notable characters were congregated around a mushroom. Alice sat atop the oversized fungus, which served as a table for the other characters. This landmark was the clue, an important point of reference to explain where she was.

    “But how?” Victoria asked.

    There were no buildings or structures near that landmark, nor anything above ground. Even though the sun hung low in the eastern sky, children were crawling all over the statue while parents watched. Meanwhile, tourists spent their time taking snapshots of the scene, all to create the illusion of a memorable trip.

    A couple was facing the doorway as they posed for a selfie. Victoria rolled her eyes at the spectacle, complete with fake smiles and choreographed pose. Now she found it hard not to add nausea to her list of ailments.

    “To appear happy and content for a fraction of a second,” Victoria said.

    The smiles momentarily disappeared from the couple’s faces. Their brows dropped and they looked at each other as though questioning their reality.

    “They heard me?” Victoria whispered. “They must have.”

    Excitement seeped into her weary bones. For the first time in recent memory, she was seeing an end to this ordeal.

    During her deliberations, the couple picked up from where they left off. They looked so artificially happy, their smiles large and inviting. They remained in that pose until Victoria walked through the gateway, appearing out of thin air.

    Their smiles evaporated, replaced by gaping mouths and glassy eyes. Victoria had seen this many times before in her horror movies. This was the look of dread, one which would be invariably followed by a blood curdling scream.

    Before Victoria had a chance to calm the couple, the phone was already plunging towards the ground. Just then, a child caught sight of Victoria and immediately began to shower the lawn with tears. The child’s mother turned to investigate and, upon setting eyes on her child and what stood in the background, shrieked in horror. The sound was so powerful that it rang out into the park.

    “That’s going to draw unnecessary attention,” Victoria muttered.

    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!

  • Collision Course – Part V

    There was a dull rumble that permeated the atmosphere. The sound was so pervasive that it blocked out everything else. When Victoria awoke, the noise faded into the background, leaving her to wonder what was going on.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    It took a great deal of effort, but Victoria managed to pry her eyes open. She found herself sitting on a wooden bench in a train station, surrounded by a world devoid of colour. This was oddly familiar, reminding her of a scene featured in a movie produced well before her time.

    Victoria forced herself from the bench using her weary arms for leverage and explored. The tracks were well maintained from what she could see, since the dim glow from the gaslight was quickly swallowed up by the night. Above, she saw the stars shimmer, dancing in that wave of distortion.

    She was momentarily mesmerised by the dancing flame, reminding her of the fire she kept going back home. In a way, it was her kindest critic, the one who cheerfully burned away the worst of her work, never judging or critical.

    Victoria snapped back into reality when the sky illuminated with lightning. Two separate discharges of energy made the ground tremble, generating a rumble so loud that Victoria hoped her ear drums would not burst.

    Victoria collapsed onto the bench and held her hands against her ears. That seemed to help, minimally, but a small part of her questioned why each instance of thunder produced a distinctive musical note.

    The sky lit up again, creating another spectacular light show, one that displayed a wide range of colours. This time, every flash of light corresponded to a sound, and Victoria needed time to realise that these sounds formed vowels, which, in turn, became recognisable words.

    “Next,” the sky rumbled.

    While the words echoed between the buildings, Victoria’s mind struggled to process all of this stimuli. The situation was more like a memory than a dream. In addition to the sights and sounds, she could smell and feel the rough surface of the bench. Never had a dream been this vivid, and she thanked God that this was the exception rather than the rule.

    “Next?” Victoria asked. “What possible meaning could that word have?”

    There was an infinite number of combinations that could include that word. Her mind struggled to find common phrases or sentences but came up empty. Exhaustion was her constant companion now, one she would rather do without. She wanted nothing more than to put her head down for a while. Would that do her any good in this environment?

    Victoria sensed that the wind was beginning to pick up. Clouds began to form into a funnel cloud, one large enough to encompass the entire sky. Victoria searched for cover but realised there was nothing suitable to weather a storm of this magnitude.

    This time, when the sky lit up, the lights were so powerful that Victoria was blinded. She shut her eyes as hard as she could but still saw red filtering through her eyelids.

    “Is this the end?” Victoria wondered.

    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 II

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

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Home Is Where the Heart Is – Part I

    “There are consequences to hiring disinterested staff,” Edith said while walking out of the store.

    The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

    The clerk never looked up from her phone, let alone to intervene. Edith harboured no guilt for leaving the store with an ample supply of munitions, toiletries, and a purse. Everything fit nicely within the latter, which simplified the matter of leaving through the doors unmolested.

    The cab was waiting, so she opened the door and boarded the yellow car. When the driver looked up at her through his mirror, Edith relayed the destination and they soon pulled out into traffic.

    This driver also had a demonic lust for his phone, or at least for whoever was on the other end of the blower. Edith did not mind this time; she had an opportunity to observe her surroundings in peace.

    The deeper they ventured into the city, the more built-up it became. Even at this time of night, there were herds of people waiting at the lights. While the city had been teeming with people at night in her time, the scale was unmatched.

    The gravity of changes to this city was clear once the cab crested over the bridge. At night, the city was awash in electric light, enough to make the cloud cover glow.

    The city had grown a great deal since her time. Sure, there were skyscrapers on the horizon when she lived, but they did not dominate the skyline as they did now. Edith imagined that she was looking at a multi-coloured mountain range. It made sense. The city needed to grow, and islands were boundaries that were hard to ignore.

    The closer they got to her park, the more certain she became that this was indeed the right call. Edith had always believed in the chain of command and put faith before reason. Those beliefs, for the most part, had only been strengthened in death, a by-product of having lived to see the truth.

    Eventually, the cab cut through a dense urban neighbourhood and drove into the park. Until then, the call of the piper had been so powerful, but it was nothing more than a faint whisper now. All she knew for sure was that the deeper this cab ventured into the park, the more the sensation of being pulled waned.

    Without saying a word, Edith closed her eyes and focused until the world came to a crawl. Every word the driver uttered over the phone grew deeper and more exaggerated, like a record being played at unusually low speeds. At that moment, Edith left the cab, cruising through the landscape in an accelerated state.

    As a precaution, she remained in that state until there was ample cover. From the driver’s point of view, Edith had simply vanished. She observed the driver’s eyes bulge and how he stared aimlessly into his mirror in an attempt to find his fare. Fortunately, he was paying just enough attention to the traffic, to avoid running into the cab ahead.

    Edith chuckled as she waited for the driver to disappear from sight. Now it was time to wander about. So she scanned the buildings built along the periphery, those that were located just beyond the wall. At first, she had no idea what she sought but soon realised that faith was directing her once more. Without any more to go on, Edith followed a random path until she crossed one of the gates.

    “There,” Edith said while looking at a building.

    It wasn’t the tallest in the block, but there was a certain charm associated with buildings dating back from the early part of the last century. The familiarity of the architecture and style evoked a strong sense of nostalgia, so much so that she nearly shed a tear when memories of that era came flooding back. Edith hated getting emotional on missions and would have been severely reprimanded for her inability to suppress these manifestations of humanity.

    Most of the girls from her group had looked up to Edith before the Great War. Most sought to emulate her, especially the ability to right herself in the worst of storms. Despite all of that strength in life, Edith found there was little left to draw from now. All she wanted, desired and sought was to find her way back to her Angela. This mission would never be done and over with fast enough.

    A doorman exited the building to greet a cab, and moments later, a tenant stumbled out and was assisted inside. Since the doorman was sure to be otherwise occupied, Edith was left with an opportunity. With clenched jaw, and resolve steeled, Edith crossed the street.

    Ingress was child’s play since Edith had no trouble forcing the lock to access the main foyer. From there, she was faced with a bird cage, one that featured a wraparound stairwell.

    A century ago, they would have indoor aviators on staff, someone in uniform who handled the elevator’s controls with a smile. Now, people did it themselves, unless they were too inebriated to do so.

    While the car climbed towards the upper levels, Edith was nudged to a stairwell that led up to a mezzanine. She shrugged and headed up those stairs just as the birdcage stopped at the top floor.

    The halls were wide freshly painted looking more like a high end hotel than a residential block. It even featured a thick red carpet to cut down on the sounds of pedestrian traffic. Edith found it hard not to feel humbled when surrounded by all this opulence.

    As she turned a corner, Edith stopped cold. Her eyes fixed on the scene, committing every detail to memory, just like she was trained to do. Ahead, there was a bullet riddled area, which brought back memories of the bombed out buildings she had encountered during the war.

    Extensive and sustained gunfire had left the wall riddled with craters. Blood splatter was everywhere she looked, a clear indication that these bullets hit their mark prior to impacting the wall.

    Run,” Evelyn said.

    Edith heard the sound of a trigger being pulled followed by the roar of a shotgun. Before any other sounds were heard, she was already low to the ground, poised to strike.

    She opened her eyes, looked up, and noticed that the walls were pristine. Gone were all traces of bullet holes, cracked plaster, or blood. The carpet even looked like it had been recently vacuumed.

    “So why am I still hearing gunfire?” Edith wondered.

    An all-around search revealed no signs of activity. The sounds and visual stimuli were completely disconnected from one another, like watching an out of sync talkie. So with no other signs of danger, Edith got back on her feet.

    Edith approached the wall and ran a hand over the surface. It was smooth, even with inconsistencies expected of a wood slat and plaster combination. She knew that this type of construction was difficult to repair on short notice and fixing it with modern materials required replacing the entire wall.

    What she witnessed might have been real. Her years of experience as a hunter taught her that there were phenomena throughout God’s creation that could not be explained. For all she knew, some old god had created this elaborate illusion simply to get off on her reaction.

    Satisfied that she was not in the middle of a warzone, Edith turned the corner and found a door at the end. Given the peep hole and brass number adorning this heavy oak door, she figured this had to be one of the units.

    All of her instincts urged her to move forward. Just beyond that door was her reason for being. Cautiously, she approached, listened intently, and then put her ear against the door.

    “Nothing,” Edith whispered.

    She focused until the hum of overhead lights dropped in pitch, then drove her shoulder into the door. The impact sent a shower of splinters in every direction but fortunately, did not draw any unneeded attention.

    While Edith was not armed, when properly motivated, any woman could be a weapon powerful enough to change the tides of war. This time, she had the element of surprise.

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

  • Shadows and Echoes – Part IV

    Victoria stepped over the doorman, before making her way to the front door. Just ahead, Evelyn’s footsteps echoed when her heels made contact with the hardwood floors.

    In that moment, Victoria was happy, content with the world and the part she was to play in it. She had a guide, confidant, and friend in Evelyn, a woman that saw great potential in her, something that no one else had ever seen before.

    “Could this moment get any better?” Victoria whispered.

    As though the gods themselves decided to intervene, the scene’s mood changed for the worse. The power cut out, which plunged them into twilight and awoke a fresh set of senses.

    As a mortal, she would have been blind as a bat, but now the world retained a level of detail. To the unaccustomed, her night vision was more like seeing the world represented in a series of blueprints. She saw the outlines of objects and structures, but none of the finer details were present.

    Her hearing had also been enhanced. She heard the compressor in her refrigerator slowing down and had no trouble picking up a deluge of boots stomping up the stairs. At first, the sounds were distant, but they grew in intensity until they were just outside the door.

    “Is that their heart—,” Victoria wondered before a loud thump flooded her senses.

    The sound forced Victoria to cover her ears in response. To the uninitiated, it was comparable to an explosive charge going off nearby.

    Evelyn had no such concerns. Her years of experience taught her to control these heightened senses. Victoria watched the vampire advance at a frightening pace. Her elder knew exactly what was going on, the extent of the incursion, and how much trouble they were in.

    “Run!” Evelyn exclaimed just as a second impact struck the door.

    The shock from the impact caused the door to splinter around the securing mechanism. As the door swung open, the elder ran past the opening with claws extended. Victoria was confused, unsure of what was going on. That second impact left her stunned, her mind muddled, and choices unclear in the midst of so much chaos.

    “Freeze!” the team leader ordered.

    The word hung in the air, like an opera singer holding a note for as long as possible. Victoria opened her eyes just in time to witness Evelyn take the offensive.

    Ahead of the man who barked out orders, there were four others holding a battering ram. The lot of them were dressed in black, wearing night vision goggles, and their heads were adorned with combat helmets. Her night vision did not allow her to see the word SWAT printed on their tactical vests, but she could guess that much.

    Evelyn reached out for the first man on her left. Her claws ripped through the light fabric around his neck and dug into the flesh around his larynx. She then used him as a pivot to propel her knee into the face of the man on her right. That impact drove the night vision goggles into the man’s forehead and tore out the larynx of her first victim.

    With the grace of a dancer, Evelyn straddled the battering ram as it fell towards the floor. Since the last two men were still holding onto the heavy implement, she grabbed the forward handles and waited.

    As soon as her feet touched the floor, she gave it her all. Her strength easily propelled the battering ram away from her and towards what remained of the unsuspecting team. The ram, now a missile, flew towards the team leader and broke the wrists of those who held on.

    By then, Victoria had managed to regain a modicum of coherence, just in time to witness blood gushing out in spurts, while the other man just dropped to his knees and toppled forward like a log.

    The battering ram impacted the team leader’s chest. Even from this distance, Victoria heard the aramid liner stretch and strain, followed by the sound of breaking bones. With her heightened hearing, each break sounded like a branch snapping under strain.

    “Run!” Evelyn screamed.

    The elder swung her clawed hand at the closest man’s leg and severed the femoral artery. Without time to watch her handiwork, she turned towards the fourth man. She sprinted towards him, buried her hands into his midsection and grabbed onto his ribs. The elder pushed through the wall, disappearing behind a cloud of plaster, dust, and splinters. Once she breached the wall, she sent her shield flying towards another team who had their guns at the ready. The sound of shattering bone and ruptured organs made Victoria sick to her stomach.

    Evelyn turned around to face the next wave of assailants, but they anticipated her move. Before her chest was aligned with the group, there came a loud percussive bang. There were limits to maintaining her heightened speeds for long. Had she fed recently, she might have been able to dodge the attack. Instead, the bean bag struck her in the centre of mass, crumpling her midsection as her body absorbed the shock.

    Undeterred, Evelyn bared her fangs. The remnants of this team were not about to lose the initiative, so a spent shell casing sprung through the air while another round was chambered.

    Evelyn pushed away from the wall just in time to take a slug to the shoulder followed by small arms fire that perforated her chest. Even though the individual shots were having little effect, it was clear the combined trauma was slowing her down.

    Victoria witnessed Evelyn hit the wall hard before slumping to the floor. While the team advanced, they maintained a steady stream of fire, never giving this predator the opportunity to renew her attack.

    In that moment, Victoria decided to run. She began to walk backwards, then pivoted into a run while heading towards the master bedroom. From here, she saw the narrow alley and a neighbour’s window across the divide.

    It happened so fast, that her mind barely registered what had happened. She only had a vague recollection of hearing glass breaking in quick succession followed by hitting a wall head first. Then, just like that, the world faded to black.

    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!