The Sympathizer

“Ander Diaz is a Basque name.”

“Yes, but fear not. I am a proud Basque but also a sympathizer. I have promised, on my life, to see you across safely.”

Robert Norton’s keen blue eyes looked into the night. “Life. An interesting concept.”

“We must wait for your escort.

“Why risk yourself me?”

“My grandmother was like you. She was very beautiful. I even met her once., before they hunted her down and…”

“I understand.”

“Sir, realize I do not sympathize with the Nazis, just you.”

“But only they will welcome me, protect me. I see my contact on the other side.” An ice cold hand patted Ander’s shoulder. “Thank you, my friend. I’d never have survived in England.”

“The underground will always be here. Good luck.”

“Thank you.” The vampire rose from their hiding place and crossed over into Nazi occupied France. There would be good hunting here.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Basque Region, Spain. I had a tough time finding a hook for this, but then, it had been a long time since I’d written a vampire story.

One way for people to get out of Nazi occupied France during World War Two was into neutral Spain, but what if the only way for a vampire to survive was to join the Nazis?

Read other stories based on the prompt at InLinkz.com (The grandchildren came over early, so I have to make this fast).

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The Tunnel Dwellers

tunnel tour

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Thousands of people had taken the tour of Seattle’s underground, what was left of the original city after the devastating 1889 fire. The city was rebuilt on its ruins one to two stories above, leaving these tunnels as a monument to history. However, only a few realized that just a portion of the original underground was restored in 1965. People had been taking this tour for over fifty years now, and had never guessed the truth.

An old 1907 newspaper story gave him the clues necessary to find his way into the real world under the streets of Seattle. Over a hundred years ago, the tunnels harbored flophouses for the homeless, gambling halls, speakeasies, and opium dens. They’d been cleared out by police anticipating the 1909 World Fair in Seattle, and left to rot. The tunnels were forgotten by most, but once rediscovered, found a new use. Now they sheltered the city’s covert den of vampires who had been preying on its citizens for decades.

Jeff had seen all he needed to see. He would notify the local branch of the Van Helsings, the international and secret Catholic order of vampire hunters. There would be another fire just after dawn tomorrow.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of May 20, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

The image seemed more benign than sinister, just a bunch of tourists walking around, so I looked up famous tunnel tours. That lead me to Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of old Seattle, which I’d heard of. I found the original history of the Seattle Underground, including the fire, and then the other facts I cited in my small story.

It was perfect for horror, which I knew because I’d watched the 1973 television movie “The Night Strangler” starring Darren McGavin, back in the day.

I decided to leverage the world I created in my Sean Becker vampire stories. Now a centuries old banned Catholic order of vampire hunters has found where Seattle’s population of the undead has been hiding. Collateral damage is assured, but in their eyes, it’s a small price to pay for ridding the Northwest of these feared, supernatural predators.

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

Reaper

soul sucker

Photo credit: Google – Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

“Come on, lover. Don’t be shy. We’ve got the room for an hour. Let’s have fun.”

The money had already changed hands and Angel was lying on the bed with her blouse open and her jeans tossed on the floor.

“Can’t say I’m shy, Baby.” He pulled off his shirt and got on top of her. He’d seen her on a street corner just off of Fremont Street and they settled on a price. She thought he was a dope because he didn’t haggle, but then it wasn’t just money that she wanted, and she certainly wasn’t doing it for the sex.

“Just a little bit closer. Come on. I don’t bite.” She almost laughed because she was lying through her teeth.

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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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River of Blood

river of blood

Blood in the Nile river in “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” CreditTwentieth Century Fox

Hashem said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn, he refuses to send the people. Go to Pharaoh in the morning — behold! he goes out to the water — and you shall stand opposite him at the River’s bank, and the staff that turned into a snake you shall take in your hand. You shall say to him, ‘Hashem, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you, saying: Send out My people that they may serve Me in the wilderness — but behold, you have not heeded up to now.’ So says Hashem, ‘Through this shall you know that I am Hashem; behold, with the staff that is in my hand I shall strike the waters that are in the River, and they shall change to blood. The fish-life that is in the water shall die and the River shall become foul. Egypt will grow weary of trying to drink water from the River.'”

Hashem said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt: over their rivers, over their canals, over their reservoirs, and over all their gatherings of water, and they shall become blood; there shall be blood throughout the land of Egypt, even in the wooden and stone vessels.'”

Moses and Aaron did so, as Hashem had commanded. He held the staff aloft and struck the water that was in the River in the presence of Pharaoh and in the presence of his servants, and all the water that was in the River changed to blood. The fish-life that was in the River died and the River became foul; Egypt could not drink from the River, and the blood was throughout the land of Egypt. The necromancers of Egypt did the same by means of their incantations; so Pharoah’s heart was strong and he did not heed them, as Hashem had spoken. Pharaoh turned away and came to his palace. He did not take this to heart either. All of the Egyptians dug roundabout the River for water to drink, for they could not drink from the waters of the River. Seven days were completed after Hashem struck the River.

Exodus 7:14-24 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Sekhet preyed on the Hebrew children and was protected by her lover Imhenat, who was among Pharaoh’s necromancers, they who practiced the occult rituals of the dead. She had long been thought to be only one of the many myths of the desert. Her name was used to frighten the Egyptian children into obedience. No little ones dared run away or disobey their parents, terrified she would come for them from the darkness.

One night some years previously, Imhenat found her weak and lying in the sand as he entered the wilderness on a personal pilgrimage. She was starving having not come across a man or animal in many weeks. He mistook her for an escaped slave and intended to rape and then flog her until she attacked.

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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.

Na Gauna Ni Tevoro

wayfinders

Scene from the film “Wayfinders a Pacific Odyssey Hawaii”

Father Francisco DelVega Ortiz cursed Lucifer as he was brought before the pagan Chief. He had been part of a special mission to these islands, but Captain Scarr’s foolishness caused his ship to collide with an uncharted reef. Rough seas and high winds tore the Esteban apart. The Priest was the only survivor.

“I have met Europeans before.” The savage spoke in surprisingly good Spanish. “You make fine sacrifices and will strengthen the temple’s foundation.”

Father Ortiz was held by four mountain warriors but struggled defiantly. He spat out, “There will be others after me, Talamaur. Oh, yes. I know what you are. The Holy Order of Venandi will eradicate your kind in the name of the Virgin Mary.”

“Perhaps, Priest. My people will grow strong eating your sacrificed flesh, but I reserve the blood for myself.” The heathen Chief sitting on his obsidian throne bared long fangs and hissed.

Time for another short story for What Pegman Saw. The idea is to take a Google maps location and image and use it to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today the Pegman takes us to Fiji. I was all set to write about a warm, tropical paradise when I looked up Fiji’s history and found some pretty disturbing news.

According to Wikipedia:

Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes were quite rampant and very much part of everyday life. During the 19th century, Ratu Udre Udre is said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement. According to Deryck Scarr, “Ceremonial occasions saw freshly killed corpses piled up for eating. ‘Eat me!’ was a proper ritual greeting from a commoner to a chief.” Scarr also reported that the posts that supported the chief’s house or the priest’s temple would have sacrificed bodies buried underneath them, with the rationale that the spirit of the ritually sacrificed person would invoke the gods to help support the structure, and “men were sacrificed whenever posts had to be renewed”. Also, when a new boat, or drua, was launched, if it was not hauled over men as rollers, crushing them to death, “it would not be expected to float long”. Fijians today regard those times as “na gauna ni tevoro” (time of the devil). The ferocity of the cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters, giving Fiji the name Cannibal Isles; as a result, Fiji remained unknown to the rest of the world.

warrior

A Fijian mountain warrior, photograph by Francis Herbert Dufty, 1870s.

Yikes. Doesn’t sound like paradise to me. Also, as you can see, the title for my work of historical fiction and horror translates as “Time of the Devil,” which I found appropriate.

According to the same source, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 and apparently lived to tell the tale. The first Europeans to settle in Fiji were beachcombers, missionaries, and whalers.

I’ve written eight chapters in my Sean Becker vampire series plus a number of “side tales” based on the same “universe.” I have introduced formal societies both of vampires and of vampire hunters. In the 20th and 21st century western nations, the Holy Order of vampire slayers is called “Van Helsing” after a fictional character in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.” Earlier, including in the 17th century when this story is set, I gave them the name “Holy Order of Venandi” with “Venandi” meaning “hunter” in Latin (the best I could come up with…if someone more familiar with Catholicism can create a better name for a fictional order of fanatical vampire hunters, let me know).

I’m fascinated about how widely the legend of vampire-like creatures has spread and how far back in history they can be traced. Almost every human civilization and culture knows of vampires by one name or another. Vampire-like creatures of the island chain Vanuatu were called Talamaur. They weren’t bloodsuckers in the traditional “Dracula” vein, but they were close enough so I thought I could get away with “tweaking” the folklore.

Vanuatu is about 750 miles from Fiji and there is some evidence that ancient Polynesian people were able to make long sea voyages and settle on islands very distant from their origins. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to have a Talamaur arrive on Fiji in or before the 17th century (it is believed Fiji was settled between 3500 and 1000 BCE) and become a local chief.

Oh, in case you’re interested, the weather in Suva, Fiji today predicts thunderstorms with a high in the mid-80s F and a low in the mid 70s. Pretty humid and I doubt you’d be able to work on your tan.

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