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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

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.

Continue reading

Playtime

child vampire

Child vampire – Found on Pinterest.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has announced plans to seek the death penalty for a San Jose man accused of sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s infant daughter before beating her to death in October 2015.

Wayne Moreno, 25, had been dating the infant’s mother for roughly six weeks when she left 14-month-old Diana alone with him for the first time on October 2, 2015.

After she left, Moreno allegedly spent hours repeatedly sexually assaulting the baby. When Diana wouldn’t stop crying, Moreno beat her – resulting in multiple skull fractures, according to prosecutors.

By the time police arrived at the residence in San Jose around 2:30 p.m. Diana was already dead.

Moreno claimed the infant had been injured falling off a changing table, but an autopsy determined that was not the case. He was arrested two days later.

Moreno has been charged with murder occurring during the commission of forcible lewd acts on a child, assaulting the child resulting in her death and three separate counts of forcible lewd acts on a child.

“Wake up, Wayne.”

Wayne Moreno was in a cell in a secure wing of the Santa Clara County Jail on suicide watch. It would have been impossible to place the high-profile prisoner in the jail’s general population, and although he had not made any explicit threats of suicide, the nature of his case required the Sheriff’s Department take every precaution.

However, they couldn’t have been prepared for the impossible.

“I said wake up, Wayne.”

“Huh? Wha…?”

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A Quiet Evening’s Conversation

appaloosa

Found at RunnersWorld.com

“So you often find yourself on this galloping horse.”

“Every time I’m asleep, Doctor. It’s terrifying.”

The Psychiatrist’s office was what you would expect. His desk was near the window. It and the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to the right were crafted from pink ivory. The desktop was immaculate. The calendar, clock, pen set all precisely and strategically placed. There was no excess spaces for additional books on the shelves, which contained tomes with arcane and erudite titles, and nearly all of them appeared worn and well-used.

The floor was a darker wood dominated by a large persian rug in the center. In the center of the rug were two Victorian era chairs facing each other. The woman sat in the one with its back to the desk and the window and the Psychiatrist was in the opposite chair, his back to the door. A lamp on the desk and one standing by the door provided the only illumination.

“You do not like horse rides, Miss Taylor.”

“It’s always running too fast. I can’t stop it. I’m out of control.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading