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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Tangency and Darkness

dracula

Promotional image for “Theatre68 presents Dracula”

Jessica had no way of knowing that her relationship with Everett was a moment of tangency and thus was doomed to end as abruptly as it began.

She always met him on the veranda behind her Father’s house. Summer nights in Georgia were sultry and each moment that passed as she waited for the sun to set was as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. Jessica could feel drops of sweat describe tiny rivulets across the tops of her mocha breasts and then down her cleavage. She held her thighs close together and swayed slightly with a warm breeze as the final rays of daylight succumbed to the rule of the kings of darkness.

Then he appeared on the far side of the manicured lawn and yet she could hear his voice as if he were whispering in her ear. “Come.”

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Love’s Blood

mausoleum

© Sue Vincent

“…I met this girl…she ruined my philosophy…my heart skips a beat when she comes around”

From “I’d Rather Have A Love” performed by Joe
Writer(s): Derek Louis Allen, Gerald Isaac, Alvin Jerome Garrett

Even knowing this is what her father wanted, what she wanted, Zachary wasn’t sure he could do it. He loved Deborah very much and he believed she still adored him. It was only because of their love for each other that he was now walking across the manicured lawn in the back of his estate in the bright morning sunshine contemplating murder.

No, it wouldn’t be murder for the simple reason that she was already dead; dead, interned, and yet not dead.

The small duffel bag felt heavy in his right hand, not due to the weight of its lethal contents but that of his heart. He’d almost accepted Peretz’s offer to help him, but it would have been a terrible burden to place upon a father who had lost his only daughter once and now was about to lose her again. Yes, he was losing her, but he had convinced him that as her husband, he had to be the one to save her.

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Sheltering Night

talnakh

© Google – October 2016

“Anton Vladimirescu Naga. I haven’t seen you since I was a little boy. Why are you here in Talnakh?”

“I am called Antonie now. It was kind of you to invite me into your home, Gennadi. Your generosity is like your father’s.”

“So is my stupidity for staying in this frozen hell, but the pay is good for mining engineers. Come back for old time’s sake, Antonie?”

“The climate.”

“Climate or the fact that the sun won’t rise here until the end of January? Yes, my father told me what you were when I became a man. You feasted on the denizens of the Norilsk Gulag every winter from before I was born until Khrushchev died.”

“Your Father was my friend. I hope you are too. I need a place to hide.”

“The hunter is now the hunted. Fear not. The Kosygin family has long been allies with the undead.”

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

Today the Pegman takes us to Talnakh, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. The Wikipedia entry for Talnakh is fairly sparse but it is only 16 miles (25 kilometers) north of Norilsk which has a broader history, both in terms of mining and as a former Gulag labor camp.

I’m obviously leveraging one of the characters from my Sean Becker Undead series, which I’ve done previously for a different flash fiction challenge. However, it is set in the present day, January 2018 to be exact, but referencing Antonie’s previous visits to the area during the winters between 1946 and 1964.

The sun doesn’t rise at all there from mid-December to the end of January so a perfect place for a vampire to hide, especially one being hunted by vampire slayers.

I wasn’t planning on writing another vampire-related tale, but the characteristics and history of the location lended themselves to such a story very nicely. To find out how Antonie got into this mess, read Incendiary.

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

The Winter Feast of the Children

christmas prompt

© Sammi Cox

Christmas was the perfect time of year, especially in such high latitudes. There were less than four hours of daylight in Nome which meant Tarkik could move around with almost perfect impunity. To the sick inuit children, he came as a Shaman bringing the blessings of Quviasukvik, and to the white boys and girls in town, he appeared as Santa Claus. The doctors thought they merely suffered from tonsilitis but his keen senses told him it was worse. If any of them died by his ministrations, a growing epidemic would be the perfect cover.

Tapeesa and Amaruq trusted the Shaman to be alone with their little girl Yuka. Tarkik took only a little of her blood, she’d never remember it. He had been feeding well this winter and the blood of children was warm and invigorating. He slowly, lovingly licked the last crimson drops from her soft, supple neck before pulling her nightgown and blankets back up. He could afford to be a gracious hunter after all.

Rachel Van Helsing was never kind or forgiving but it would be over another month before she could arrive in Nome, and only then with the first dog sled teams bringing vital serum to stem the diphtheria outbreak. The vampire Bartholomew Crowe confessed his last victim’s name and location under torture when she captured him in Anchorage. Once the daughter of Abraham Van Helsing located the latest threat, Tarkik would come under the tender mercies of her blade and stake.

I wrote this for the Weekend Writing Prompt #34 – Christmas challenge hosted by Sammi Cox. There are separate rules for the prose vs. poetry challenge, but in my case, I could use the image, the word “Christmas,” or both as the inspiration for crafting a Happy Christmas or Horror Christmas flash fiction tale of no more than 250 words. My word count is 249.

Since I’ve been writing a lot of vampire-based fiction lately, I settled on that theme, but needed some sort of Christmas hook. At first I thought of a vampire disguising himself as Santa Claus and visiting sick children in hospitals, but he’d never be alone with the kids in order to “put the bite” on them.

I did a bit of Googling and the idea of making the setting in “Nome, Alaska” popped into my head. I looked up Nome and discovered the 1924-25 diphtheria epidemic among the inuit children and the famous 1925 serum dog sled run which was the only way to transport diphtheria antitoxin to that remote area.

In December 1924, diphtheria had not yet been diagnosed and local doctors thought the first several children were suffering from tonsilitis. I made my vampire an inuit so he could pass casually among the population and found that among the inuits, there is a winter feast called Quviasukvik that incorporates a number of Christmas-like elements. So my vampire could pass among the inuit families as a Shaman and the white Christian families as Santa Claus visiting the sick kids and, once alone with them, feeding on their blood.

I looked up sunrise and sunset times in Nome for December 23rd. The sun comes up at 12:03 p.m. and sets at 3:59 p.m. Tarkik can be active for about twenty full hours in complete darkness, maximizing his ability to feed on many children (and probably a few adults) so he doesn’t have to take too much from any one of them.

Oh, I looked up Inuit names for my several indigenous story characters.

Vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing first appeared in Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel “Dracula.” I figured the elder Van Helsing was a little too old to keep on pursuing vampires and the original canon did say he had a daughter (although her first name changes depending on which source you consult).

Of course, after torturing a confession out of another vampire to discover who and where the next undead predator could be found, Rachel would still have to brave a lengthy and dangerous journey by dog sled on the mission to get the antitoxin to Nome (in real life I seriously doubt she would have been allowed to make the trip), only arriving by early February. That would give my vampire over a month to continue enjoying the winter feast of the children.

To find out more about the challenge and read other stories and poems based on the prompt, click this link.

The Thaw

the thaw

© Sue Vincent

It wasn’t the ravenous hunger that awoke her for that had been with her since the accident. There was a sound, a new sound. Water. She could hear tiny trickles of water around her.

Aleera didn’t know how long she had been in the dark with the unrelenting pressure keeping her immobile. The cold was irrelevant to her, even the lack of air was meaningless, but the weight above her was massive. She hadn’t been able to move so she slept, though fitfully. She experienced moments of startling lucidity and then she panicked. She was trapped, unable to move more than the slightest degree in her fingers and toes. What had happened? If only she could remember.

Then she would drift away again into blessed oblivion within her accursed prison.

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The Romanian

montenegro

© Björn Rudberg

He was among the locals and tourists trapped in that little shop when Italian troops declared curfew. An unseasonable cold front lightly dusted medieval Kotor with snow. He couldn’t remain until morning but preferred to leave undetected.

He walked past quaint hats and other curios intending to escape out the rear.

“Monsieur, stay. You’re safe with us.” The Frenchman thought he was being kind.

“I have business elsewhere,” he said in accented French.

Antonie slipped into the darkness, encountering the three soldiers patrolling the alley. Later, they’d recall experiencing sudden fatigue. No one knew what happened to the Vampiritic-looking Romanian.

I authored this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

At first, I had no idea what I was looking at. I did a Google image search but it primarily came up with salami and various cloth items. Finally, I was able to figure out they were stacks of knitted hats.

I saw the photo was credited to Björn Rudberg so I went to his blog and saw the domain country extension was .me which is Montenegro. I did more Googling (the research took longer than the actual writing) and found the medieval coastal city of Kotor among other things.

I couldn’t find a news story that interested me, but noted the history of the area during World War II and how it was primarily occupied by the Italians from 1941 to 1943. That still didn’t provide me with a complete “hook,” so I leveraged the vampire character Antoine from my Sean Becker Undead Series and placed him in Kotor when the Italians first occupied the area in April 1941. Given the snow in the background of the photo, I made up an unseasonable cold snap.

I’ve read stories (okay, Marvel’s “Dracula” comic books from the 1970s) which took a modern-day vampire and sometimes set him back in history through flashbacks/memories. I thought I’d try that with Antonie who exists in 2017 but who is thought to be very old.

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

Emergence

hand from grave

From the video game “Plants vs. Zombies.”

“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Fourth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

The beast clawed its way up through the moist, cool soil. It couldn’t breathe, and while that added to its desperation, it did not dampen strength, will, or determination.

It was filthy as its hands broke through to the air and then heaved itself up from the grave. Mud, parts of roots, bits of gravel in its matted hair, under long, pointed fingernails, around the mouth and eyes, covering its pale, chilled skin.

Light! It shielded its eyes for a moment, but the faint illumination was glaring only because it had spent the past three days and nights in total darkness.

A room, a large room. Earthen floor, concrete walls. Electric lamps on stands at the far end near the door.

It licked the dirt from around its mouth. The taste was not unpleasant, but it did nothing to quench the insatiable, maddening hunger it felt deep in its gut.

Emptiness. All it felt was emptiness, ravenous hunger, unquenchable desire for…

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My Only Night With You

vashti

Queen Vashti

“…I swear you get better looking with every year…your sexual peak, your full figure physique…”

Every year in the Spring, the Queen of the West gave a banquet. It was opulent beyond the dreams of avarice, but the Queen had great wealth which she administered for the benefit of her people. At the banquet every year, she held a lottery. All of the eligible males were required to enter (and they were all eager to do so), all of those unmarried and between the ages of fifteen and thirty. Every year only one man would be chosen to be the Queen’s consort, and only then for a single night. Afterward, the man joined the others from previous years, where they were kept for the rest of their lives in comfort and ease on the nearby island of Stateira.

They were never seen or heard from again and, if the stories were true, they would never willingly leave Stateira and return to their previous existence.

Lugo was in love. Of course, all the men, even those who were married, even boys too young or men far too old, longed for a night with the Queen. She was the very essence of beauty, charm, graciousness, and poise. The image of her body burned in their hearts and minds. The loins of old men long dead were still stirred by even the mention of her name. Men would kill to possess her. Men would surrender their limbs, lives, and souls for a night in her bed chambers.

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Saving Jenny

depress girl

© wiseGEEK

From the Life and Curse of Sean Becker

I haven’t had a meeting like this since I stood face-to-face with Moshe Cohen, the vampire who made me.

Oh, my name is Sean Becker and I’m a vampire. I also work for a private detective named Aidan Burke in L.A.

Tonight, I’m sitting across from the famous mystery novelist Brian Vail in one of my favorite restaurants, The Original Pantry Cafe on Figueroa. If memory serves, I think Vail even mentioned it in one of his books.

“Look, I just want to know that I’m not going crazy. First I see a ghost and now a vampire?”

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