The Queen of New Orleans

new orleans french quarter

Image credit: GonzoVeritas – found at reddit

It was after two in the morning and a light rain fell on New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Sean Becker walked into a small jazz club. He was almost the only white person here, but his bond with those around him went deeper than race.

“You da one wantin’ to see Mama Marie.” She could have been about fifteen, coal-dark skin and hair, but her eyes burned emerald.

“Yes.”

“Come.”

They walked through curtains and then down a dark hallway, terminating at a door. “She’s expectin’ you.” The child who could have been centuries old left as Sean opened the door and entered.

“What you got to offer?”

The voodoo queen whose mausoleum was just a mile away lived up to the legend.

“Release my mother and I’ll tell you where you can find Lilith.”

“The vampire queen. If you give her to me, your mother lives. Marie Laveau swears it.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to New Orleans, Louisiana. There is so much that could be written by this iconic city, but is also figures into my unfinished first draft of a horror novel featuring the vampire Sean Becker. You can read about him in such stories as Approaching Advent and The Beginning of the Fall.

My wee tale was actually to be part of the climax of my novel, with Sean facing the ancient voodoo queen Marie Laveau who is now the matriarch of a clan of vampires. I did a bit more research and came up with How to Experience New Orleans’ Voodoo Culture. I even looked up the weather, and yes, it’s raining in the Big Easy today.

Oh, and although Lilith is often characterized as the mother of all the succubus, in my tale, she’s the worldwide queen of all vampires.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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Aftermath

train

The Sunset Limited eastbound in 2004 – Found at Wikipedia

The Eleventh Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

Jonathan Harker had boarded the Amtrak train hours ago at the station on Folsom Street. He’d never been on a train in his life besides BART and the Napa Valley Wine Train but these were part of the instructions he’d been given. He’d have rather gotten on a plane. Jonny wanted to leave of the Bay Area behind. Watching the scenery roll by all too slowly reminded him of her and she was the one person in all the world he desperately wanted to forget, though of course he never would.

He had met Dolengen months ago at an after hours place called “Delirium.” His best friend Bobby had conned him into it. Bobby knew he’d just asked Lucy to marry him but his “wingman” thought he deserved one last night on the town. Bobby wanted to introduce him to two young women he’d just met, Verona and Dol.

It wasn’t long before Verona and Bobby disappeared and almost against his will, he found himself following the raven-haired Dol into a back room containing few other items of furniture besides a bed.

Dol wasn’t a prostitute but she did want something from Jonny, his sex and his blood. Dolengen looked like she couldn’t be older than twenty-five but she had died a century ago in Central Europe and been reborn a vampire.

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Cursed

voodoo queen

Wearing a tignon, Angela Bassett channels voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Michele K. Short/FX – From “American Horror Story.”

The Tenth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

New Orleans, Louisiana – 1972

“You cannot leave us, Catherine. Family ties are too strong. You must come back to us.”

“No, Mama Sallie, I can’t.

“You love this boy?”

“He’s a man, Mama Sallie. I do love him. He’s asked me to marry him.”

“He’s from the outside, Cathy. I approved you going to their schools so we could have educated men and women in our Family. You have not been fully initiated because we need daywalkers to guard us, but we could initiate him, make him one of us.”

“I know he wouldn’t want that, Mama.”

Sallie rose up on her throne, her ire illuminated by candlelight. “You told him?”

“No, Mama Sallie. I swear. It’s just that no one wants the initiation.”

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City of Sin

San Francisco -Inner Richmond District

The Ninth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

“Who’s there?” Lucy Weston wasn’t expecting anyone and if Jonny had forgotten his keys, he’d just call her on her cell, not use the apartment intercom.

“I don’t know if you remember me. My name is Dolengen. I met you and your sister Mina a couple of months ago.”

“Of course I remember you. You found my credit card and returned it. Hang on a second.” Lucy buzzed Dol in without thinking about how the attractive dark-haired woman knew where she lived. She should have been suspicious of a stranger she’d only met once suddenly showing up unannounced, but Lucy remembered really liking Dol and being fascinated both by her unusual name and the sense of the mysterious and exciting she carried about her.

Less than two minutes later, her doorbell rang. “Dol?”

“Yes, it’s me. May I come in a minute? It’s important.”

“Sure.” Lucy unlocked the deadbolt and the door knob lock and opened the door. There was a madwoman with claws and fangs on the other side. Lucy didn’t even have time to cry out before she was attacked, her spilled blood lapped up from her neck and the floor as if Dolengen were a ravenous wolf.

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Lucy Died on a Tuesday

train

The Sunset Limited eastbound in 2004 – Found at Wikipedia

Train roll on, on down the line,
Won’t you please take me far away?
Now I feel the wind blow outside my door,
Means I’m, I’m leaving my woman at home.

from “Tuesday’s Gone”
Released by Lynyrd Skynyrd – 1973
Songwriters: Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins

Jonathan Harker had boarded the Amtrak train hours ago at the station on Folsom Street. He’d never been on a train in his life besides BART and the Napa Valley Wine Train but these were part of the instructions he’d been given. He’d have rather gotten on a plane. Jonny wanted to get out of the Bay Area as fast as he could. Watching the scenery roll by all too slowly would remind him of her and she was the one person in all the world he desperately wanted to forget, though of course he never would.

He had met Dolengen months ago at an after hours place called “Delirium.” His best friend Bobby had conned him into it. Bobby knew he’d just asked Lucy to marry him but his “wingman” thought he deserved one last night on the town. Bobby wanted to introduce him to two young women he’d just met, Verona and Dol.

It wasn’t long before Verona and Bobby disappeared and almost against his will, he found himself following the raven-haired Dol into a back room containing few other items of furniture besides a bed.

Dol wasn’t a prostitute but she did want something from Jonny, his sex and his blood. Dolengen looked like she couldn’t be older than twenty-five but she had died a century ago in Central Europe and been reborn a vampire.

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Night Prayer

pico duarte

Summit of Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic

Moshe Shmuel Cohen stood on the summit of Pico Duarte in the moonlight in front of the Dominican flag, the bust of Duarte and the “Christian symbol.” He had spent the day in a burrow well off the trail, concealed from light and curious eyes.

“You were not here my prior visit and are not so formidable as the Goyishe hunters believe.” He laughed bitterly.

“I was last here after Kristalnacht lamenting for my people, but how dare I pray to Hashem as I am? Hitler was a greater evil than I but there is an older evil seeking me. They are Van Helsing now but were Venandi when I was young. I’ll feed in La Ciénaga later, but soon I’ll need allies.

He turned to the cross. “No, not the God of the Christians for the Venatores claim him, but why would Hashem hear the prayers of a vampire?”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps street image and location and use it as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the summit of Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic.

I really, really didn’t plan on writing yet another vampire story, but every other approach I could think of fell apart, particularly due to the fact that the name of the summit and the objects located there weren’t present before about 1961.

However, I did discover that a small population of Jews did settle on the island before and during World War Two, so I decided to involve my Jewish vampire as well.

I introduced Moshe Cohen in the story The Shadow Meeting which was part of my original Sean Becker series. That series stalled and so I relaunched it with The Beginning of the Fall. The most recent story is They Will Run You Down In The Dark.

A modern organization of vampire hunters currently calls themselves The Van Helsings, but in Na Gauna Ni Tevoro, I revealed their original name as “The Holy Order of Venandi,” “Venandi” meaning “hunter” in Latin.

I’ve been struggling to find a way to reintroduce Moshe into the current Sean Becker universe and, seeing a bit of Jewish history on the island, decided to have him originally visit their and climb the summit in or around 1938.

Oh, I found out that the most likely place to begin the hike and ascent of Pico Duarte is from La Ciénaga.

By the way, I did find an article about the history of Jewish belief in vampires.

How would a Jewish vampire feel about the Christian symbol and about Hitler relative to his own experiences? If the Van Helsings are actually an ancient and radical Catholic order split off from the main church and the Pope, how would that affect a vampire who had been Jewish or Christian before the “change?”

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

They Will Run You Down in the Dark

kaleo

Icelandic band Kaleo

Oh, father tell me, do we get what we deserve?
Oh, we get what we deserve

From the song “Way Down We Go”
Songwriters: Daníel Kristjánsson Davíð Antonsson Jökull Júlíusson Rubin Pollock
Performed by Icelandic rock band “Kaleo”

The Eighth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

It was said that Colton Boudreaux could trace his line all the way back to Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, more commonly known as Cardinal Richelieu. Of course this couldn’t be literal as the famous (or infamous) 17th century French Cardinal had no offspring, at least as history records. However, Richelieu did have those young men and women he favored (though he himself was favored by few) and he did strongly support the colonization of New France (in what is modern-day Canada).

Boudreaux more factually could claim a line to the descendants of Acadian exiles—French-speakers from L’Acadie in what are now the Maritimes of Eastern Canada. These were from the French colonists who settled in Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries, some of whom are also descended from the Indigenous peoples of the region.

He was proudly Cajun, ostensibly Catholic, and secretly the head of one of the sects of the Van Helsing religious order, vampire hunters.

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A Brilliant Dawn

sunrise

Sunrise at Stanford University

“I developed the Erebus field primarily for Porphyria suffers so they could have greater mobility during the day but I think it will work for you as well.”

Marishka looked around the lab. Dr. Dawn Soto had been an undergrad at Stanford in 1977 when she was Marishka’s dorm roommate. Now she was the head of the university’s Advanced BioTech Research Department. It was a strange feeling coming “home” after so many years.

Soto had been looking out the window toward the east. The horizon was already becoming lighter and sunrise would be in just a few minutes. Then she turned around. Even with the harness and goggles on, Marishka looked almost the same as the last time Dawn had seen her. She was still twenty years old and Soto was turning sixty-one in March. The scientist dyed her hair, an admitted vanity in an era of post-feminism, but she wasn’t really trying to conceal her age.

Her friend’s skin and hair coloring were lighter, which she explained happens sometimes to African-American people of her…kind. Yet her skin texture was smooth, her voice clear, and in so many other ways, she was a perpetually young woman, though as she described it, only somewhat “alive.”

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Sigil

shadow

Image: Business Insider

The Seventh Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

The sigil left in his place made no sense.

Raquel was the first to see it amid the rubble. Even the firefighters and arson investigators hadn’t been able to get down to this level yet.

Clearly the carved sign had been substituted for the vampire Antonie, but it was in the shape of an inverted pentagram accompanied by a number of other symbols. She only recognized the “all-seeing eye” which is found on the dollar bill and she had no idea how to read the Latin.

The sigil was etched into the concrete floor below what Antonie had once called his throne. Raquel hadn’t known a time when he hadn’t been the cult leader of a group of vampires inhabiting the lowest level of what had once been an abandoned warehouse on the San Francisco waterfront.

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Incendiary

empty room

Found at ClickOnDetroit.com

“…I’m living in an empty room, with all the windows smashed…”

The Sixth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

It was still an hour before dawn. There would have been a time when he’d already be on his way into work from the East Bay. The population of San Francisco increases by nearly 300,000 people Monday through Friday due to workers commuting into the City. Sean tried for forget that he used to be one of them.

He knew that the two floors of the warehouse above Antonie’s lair were occupied by a highly dubious and most likely illegal population of artists and “undocumented immigrants,” but he had never thought to visit them before. He stood in the doorway. Normally he would take the set of stairs leading downward but he was distracted by a familiar voice.

“Why not see how the other half lives, Sean?”

He looked ahead and he recognized her but couldn’t remember where from.

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