Archive for vampires

NaNoWriMo Day 1

Posted in Stuff I think is cool, Words with tags , , , , on November 2, 2011 by bradellison

Prologue

Missouri, March 1863

There was a cool tang to the air, despite the heat coming up and out from the barn as it really started to catch fire, and the panicked screams of the two mules and the scrawny milk cows carried sharply through it until Woodrell, the softest-hearted of the party, put carefully directed pistol balls into their heads. He was a cool-headed youth, and a deadly shot.

The house was being started as well now, and the noose was already hanging from the high sturdy branch they’d found overhanging the yard. The chicken hutch was pretty well torn up for kindling, and the chickens already stuffed into various rucksacks with their necks wrung, packed on horses and ready to serve as meals in future. Whatever of value the men had been able to find in the simple house was likewise packed, saving only the books, which even the least superstitious of them was not inclined to touch.

It was the Youngers who hauled old man Haverly out of his smoking house, together as they almost always were, and when they seen to the rope around his arms and chest and gotten him well settled with the noose, they went over to where Woodrell and Mackeson stood passing a bottle of rye back and forth. Cole Younger set to rolling a cigarette while Harry Branson took hold of their prisoner and the grim ex-farmer Wales took position his horse, the other end of the hanging rope affixed to his saddle horn.

“Ye’ll regret this, ye damned bandits! Ye’ll regret every day ye live, and for yer first century in Hell past that!” said Nathan Haverly, voice hitching some from the smoke of his burning home. He was perhaps sixty years, weathered by a passage of time that had hardened instead of withering, lank gray hair hanging like yarn past his narrow shoulders. Old Nathan’s face was like a much-used skinning knife, hard and sharp and cold, worn down to its essential form. His green eyes blazed under black brows, and his thin lips pulled back in a snarl to show his white teeth, still straight and strong in his bloodless gums.

“Shut up,” said Branson, not wanting to look as though he didn’t have control over his prisoner. His heart wasn’t as much in it as might have been, as hanging was never much to his taste, and though he wasn’t much known for fear when bullets or knives were at work, old Haverly’s reputation was an unchancy and menacing one at best.

“Doom, I see! Doom I call! Doom upon each one a ye!” Nathan Haverly, who men called a wizard, had raised his voice into something halfway between a human scream and a dog’s howl. He turned his head to encompass all of the party of Missouri guerillas in the sweep of his fierce emerald gaze, and hardened killers and brush fighters though they were, not a one of them held that gaze long. “Doom upon yer children! Doom on all yer blood and kin!”

“Told you to shut up,” said Branson, anxiousness and maybe some fear bubbling up to make him testy, and he puncuated his speech with the back of his left fist against the old man’s head.

Nathan Haverly moved quicker than a young man would. His head, neck, shoulders and all seemed to move with the same kind of boneless quicksilver lightningstrike flow that would be expected of a gunfighter’s shooting hand on the draw. That is to say, he moved like a striking snake, and with the same intent. Harry Branson felt sharp teeth sink hard into his left wrist before he understood what was occurring. his skin was cut, and his blood flowed, and the old wizard seemed to chuckle as he ground his teeth in a chewing motion and sucked it down his throat.

Branson took a Colt Walker revolver from his holster and jammed it into the old man’s midsection, pulling the trigger twice when the heavy barrel was well in place. Two heavy .44 balls ripped into Haverly, and blood flowed back out of him, baptising the gun barrel and the hand that held it. Branson shook loose, either hand dripping blood from varied sources.

“You’re a goddamned witch, Haverly,” he said. “You traffic with the Devil by light of the Moon by reputation, and by God your black books and box full of bones and witchery proves it well enough. But you hang now because you took money from Kansas sons of bitches to work your hexing devilry on your own Missouri neighbors. For that you fucking swing today!”

Wales took this as his queue to put his heels to his horse and pull the hanging rope taut.

Haverly was drawn to his tiptoes, but he grinned viciously with his crimson-smeared mouth. “Doom! I will see ye all in Hell with me, and I will stalk your children’s children until yer lines expire from the Earth! Doom! I will–” the balance of his intent was not expressed, for he was raised up now with his heels fully three feet from the dirt, and the noose was too tight to allow for more speech.

His eyes were undimmed for a while, though. As he strangled, legs kicking uselessly, he spun round and round, and glared at them all. As Wales tied off the rope around a convenient tree, and Cole Younger lit his cigarette and passed another to his brother, as Woodrell bandaged Harry Branson’s left arm and cleaned his wound with whiskey, and the old wizard voided himself and turned ghastly purple, he continued glaring.

After a few more minutes, it was over. With no more ceremony, the guerillas mounted and road away from the hanged man who still spun in the air above his farmyard. The pillar of smoke from the burning buildings rose up behind them as if to offer guidance to some party of Isaelites on their way to Hell.

These pilgrims road away from it that day, but one by one they found their road in time.

No Home In This World Anymore

Missouri, September 2011

The Driver was near the southwestern corner of Missouri, savoring the night. He wore tight black jeans with gleaming rivets, black boots with steel taps on the toes, a white western shirt with a bolo tie, and a black leather jacket with a number of zippered pockets. All that covered a long and spare frame that stretched out more than seemed right, and in motion gave some the impression of a spider. His hands, in particular, long-fingered and white as they were, tendons standing out like puppeteer’s wire under the skin, seemed unwholesomely arachnid in their nature. His face was long, and somber as a hanging judge’s, framed on the sides by long black sideburns that came to an end level with his wide narrow knife-wound of a mouth, which often held an unlit cigarette that moved around like a conductor’s baton. Above the mouth was a long narrow blade of a nose, two black eyes warded by black-framed sunglasses in daylight hours, a high narrow forehead, and a glistening slicked-back pompadour that received frequent attention from the comb up his sleeve in idle moments.

The care he leaned against matched him. 1955 Cadillac convertible, gleaming black and chrome under the gas station fluorescents, upholstered in white leather and featuring a shifter capped with a custome silver skull. The original radio had been replaced with a small but elaborate digital music player that was currently pouring the honeyed voice of young Elvis Presley out of fine modern speakers. It was somewhere between midnight and three AM, and the cool air was sweet to taste.

We should eat,” said the passenger.

 

The Driver didn’t make any noise nor motion to signal it, but he assented.

 

No one else around. Just the boy behind the counter, alone tonight.” The passenger’s voice was a faint whisper of steel against a whetstone, coming to the Driver’s ears like a stray wind-borne tatter, but it came from the passenger’s seat. “It will be easy, though there is not much to him.”

 

The gas station had four pumps under a pavilion that drenched the lot in sharp fluorescence, and outside the spread of that light the moonless townless world beyond was an ocean of black. The highway was the only real thing in it, and it only existed as far as it could pick up scraps of that cold burning deathlight that the humming tubes tossed down. The only walls in the world were those that made up the sides of cheap box that served as a convenience store. The topic of conversation was lazily flipping through a months-old issue of Maxim and thinking it was about time for a cigarette, not paying much mind to his sole customer on the other side of the window and the parking lot.

 

Not much at all,” said the Driver. “Nothing there for me. Waste of my time.”

 

Food is food,” said the passenger, “and there is plenty of blood in him.”

 

That suits you, all right. I just don’t see the profit in it for me, especially since I’ll be doing the bulk of the work, killing him and burning the place down after and all.”

 

Young fools don’t yet know the value of taking all you can when ye can. Ye’ll learn yet, if only you’ll pay heed to yer master. Ye’ll do well to remember who it is that’s the ‘prentice, boy.”

 

They went back and forth a turn or two more, and the clerk turned a page, glancing up to look at the strange fellow arguing with himself or his empty car in the night. He applied himself to the magazine again.

 

Two minutes or so later the door chimed, and he looked up just in time to receive a narrow steel blade across his throat, across it and deep into it. By the time he had gotten over the surprise of it he was already gurgling out the last of his life, and the pain didn’t make any great inroads into his awareness before it got washed out with the tide of lassitude as everything ebbed one last time.

 

The Driver had donned one of those disposable emergency ponchos, taken from his copious trunk, before starting his butchery. On his way out, he intended to replace it with a couple from the convenience store’s stock, along with whatever food and drinks and such caught his eye. Before that, though, he had to finish things, opening the arteries in the dead man’s arms and legs and letting everything flow out. A rust-colored mist flowed in through the door and spread itself over all this crimson, and soaked it up with messy slurping sounds, getting thicker and brighter as it absorbed the murdered blood into its own essence.

 

While the passenger was about its meal, the Driver sullenly set to taking his own sustenance. Not much power in this dead man, not much mana or chi or psyche or whatever you’d like to call it. What best served the Driver’s wants were magicians or seers or faith healers, and next best was folk of particular strength of will or liveliness, be they bon vivants or staunch puritans. Such were the best souls for eating, but even a nothing of a man like this one had something to offer, he supposed.

 

Like a goddamn diet Coke,” he said. “I hope you’re enjoying the hell out of his juices.” And with poor grace, he jammed his thumbs into the dead man’s eyes and began the chant. When the vapor began to rise from the corpse’s open mouth, he lapped it up with greedy movements of his tongue and lips, swallowing everything the dead man had been.

 

Twenty minutes later the gas station was a pillar of fire, and the black Cadillac was cutting a swathe through the nothingness of the moonless night. Its headlights conjured the road into being as the two killers rolled into Oklahoma.

Your daily dose of oddities

Posted in Agressive cryptozoology, Stuff I think is cool with tags , , , , , on April 2, 2009 by bradellison

Boston school is definitely not infested with vampires.  Seriously.  No vampires here at all, no sir.  Remember, any of you out there in internet-land reading from the Boston area: fire.  Fire, and lots of it, with blessed sacramental wafers and hawthorn stakes and silver crucifixes as backup.  And if you want to be thorough, load a double-barreled shotgun with one Dragonsbreath shell and one shell loaded with a mix of wooden and silver rosary beads, blessed and preferably soaked for some time in holy water, with maybe a little garlic powder thrown in for good measure.

Advertising is an odd business.  Self-advertising on a shoestring budget, that’s odder still.

Little Red Riding Hood, stats version.  Having seen a fairy tale redressed as a presentation, I now kind of want to see a Powerpoint set converted into a fable.  Somebody should get to work on that.

The Benny Hillifier.  For all your replacing-a-video’s-original-audio-with-“Yakety-Sax” needs.

Some  more customized My Little Ponies.  I note with absolutely no surprise that a disproportionate number of them are Johnny Depp characters.  That there should be overlap between Pony enthusiasts and Depp fans seems natural and right.  My personal favorite of the bunch, however, is the Bride.  Though I have absolutely no idea how she might grasp her little Hanzo sword.

The Elves of Iceland, a documentary project about exactly what it says on the tin.  It seems that one country in the modern world, at least, still takes the Hidden Folk seriously.  Of course, the more we know about the Lords and Ladies, the bigger our advantage will be when we go to work eradicating the last of those child-stealing milk-curdling soulless mind-enslaving monsters.  With any luck, this film will finally answer the question of whether modern tempered steel counts as “cold iron” for Gentry-killing purposes.  Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels say yes, but White Wolf’s Changeling: the Lost RPG (Hunterhearts represent!) says no.

The World is a strange place.  Let’s keep it that way.

The grimness of dawn

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 3, 2009 by bradellison

For lo, the lady who operates the telephone switchboard at work is on vacation until Wednesday, and so did I volunteer to cover the switchboard during the morning, before my customary afternoon shift begins.

To arrive at work at 8:30, which ye will ken is when I must open the switchboard, I must perforce leave home before 7:30.

In the morning.

I am given to understand that many people do this as a matter of course, and bully for them.  But I’d wager they’re not accustomed to going to bed at around 5 AM.  To get a good six hours of sleep, I’d need to be out cold half an hour from now, and that just is not going to happen.  Hot cocoa, hot baths, alcohol and sometimes Nyquil can be used to induce a somnolescent* state, but they’re not fast-acting, and if I get interested in something, their work is undone.

So now it’s away with the internet, that Great Distractor, and to the tub, where I shall meditate upon the nth book on real-world vampires (or as I like to call them, “that Whitman’s Sampler of posers, eccentrics and the mentally ill”) which I am forcing myself to read in preparation for that day when I at last sit down to write the Great American Vampire Gangster Novel.  Yes, it’ll be grand times then, when I weave the tale of a hard-bitten amoral Irish-American thug who will defy Big Al Capone himself in order to protect his turf, and also he is a vampire.

Kind of lost my train of thought there.

Listen.  The point is, I need to be chilling right now and preparing my mind to enter the fertile fields of the Dreamtime, so that I’ll be able to get up in the morning and earn my paycheck so I can continue to do whatever it is I do instead of scavenging in dumpsters.  If nothing else, it’ll be good to save up a cushion of a couple of thousand dollars before I start hitch-hiking to California in search of adventure so I can write a book about that, and eventually get on Oprah’s show so I can tell her lies which she will gullibly swallow and pass on to her cult following.

I know, I’m rambling.  That stream-of-consciousness free-association helps prepare me, mentally, to switch off the rational part of my brain and enter the world of dreams.

*I think this may be a neologism.  Please use and enjoy the word “somnolescent,” and for that matter “somnolescence,” gratis with my blessing.

Since my banner promises survival tips

Posted in Agressive cryptozoology with tags , , on February 17, 2009 by bradellison

There are many, many kinds of undead.  Vampires?  Brother, there are things classified as vampires in the folklore of virtually every culture on this Earth, and the methods of inhuming them vary widely.  Jade knives, running water, iron nails through the forehead…

Listen.  You think ramming a stake into a revenant’s chest will make it explode into powder like on TV?  When the Final Night descends upon us, Joss Whedon’s irresponsible fiction will surely be the cause of many deaths.  You may need a particular kind of wood for the stake.  You know how hard it is to penetrate the breastbone?  Accurately target the heart?  Forget what you saw in Pulp Fiction, for starters, because Uma Thurman’s character only survives because they miss the heart.  Are you prepared to deal with a rotten corpse with a stake through it?  Because that dust thing happens only because a) Dracula was centuries old, and that’s a lot of decay to catch up to a man all at once and he probably faked his own death anyway, and b) Joss Whedon wanted to neatly sidestep body-disposal issues in his teen superhero TV show.  Do you need to sever the head?  Can you sever the head?  The stake originated as a means of pinning the vampire to the earth, not destroying him.  Have you taken that into account?

And then there’s the Jiang Shi, and the Loogaroo, the Strix and the Old Hag  and Camazotz, the bhuta and the aswang and the penanggalan.  You think garlic can be relied upon to repulse a disembodied head trailing its entrails from its own neck stump?  Can you stake a thing that takes off its skin and becomes a ball of fire in the night?  What does a 17th-century Chinese aristocrat care for the crucifix or the Host?

That fancy Victorian vampire kit you just paid five thousand dollars for on eBay is gonna be worth doodly-squat when the Aztec Lord of Bats comes perching on your bed.  And it was probably a forgery anyway.

Luckily, there’s a simple way to dispatch almost anything.  A method nigh-universal across human civilization, the sure-fire effective last-ditch problem-solver that can put an end to all contagion.  And it’s cheap and easy to get.

Burn that mother to the ground.

Yes sir, there is virtually no undead creature, entity, or personage, or for that matter any dead creature, or alive creature, or never-born shambling vegetable horror or what have you, that cannot be thoroughly sorted out by a careful application of fire.  Reduce ’em to ash.  It will kill vampires.  It will kill werewolves.  It will kill witches.  It will probably kill wendigo. It will sever the bonds between spirits and this mortal plane. It will kill the hell out of mummies, since the mummification process basically reduces them to clean-burning fragrant tinder anyway.  Just ask the railway engineers who used to use them as fuel.  Okay, that one’s just a myth that started out as a Mark Twain joke, but by thunder, the point stands.

Yes, fire will kill just about anything, whether it was dead already or not.

Ditch the garlic rosaries and silver bullets.

Stock up on kerosene.