DJB: Memoirs, Volume 3: It’s in the way you use it

It had a been a few days after Morena’s phone call, after I knew that another vampire had attacked her and Sophie, that I called a special meeting of Conclave. It was the first time I had done such a thing, taken such an active role in anything to do with Conclave besides seeking members out to clarify comments or opinions voiced.

I explained recent events, showing them the police interest in recent disappearances of a corpse from the morgue and a businessman. I even used Sophie…I mean, the Vampire Psychologist’s UVA scale to impress upon Conclave how serious things were getting.

While the other vampire elders seemed agitated by events, wondering how things had so quickly changed, Valerian was strangely silent during their escalating debate. Should they send in the sanitation team? Or simply a spider team to collect information? Teng-Wen voiced the opinion that the region, which had always been under populated with our kind, was due a surge and a curate should be assigned immediately.

The dark, round room fell into quiet at the suggestion. Valerian, dressed in velvet black ceremonial robes, took a long, measured sip of his tea before setting the cup and saucer aside. He waved his servant Aubry forward, whispered a few words, and Aubry went to fetch more tea. He then cleared his throat for effect before speaking.

“Whenever, wherever she goes, vampires seem to congregate. It is nothing to be alarmed about.”

Teng-Wen, our only Jiang-Shi in Conclave, a calculating and dangerous member, pursed his lips to contain a retort. Aubry returned with more tea and while Valerian busied himself with the newly refreshed cup, Teng-Wen spoke a careful crafted reply: “If this is so, perhaps it is time again to rid us of her unnatural influence. Only this time, we should seek ways to make it permanent.”

Valerian shot a dark and glittery gaze at the other elder. “You presume to know of such a way? You have passed through death and know its secrets?”

Teng-Wen fell silent, knowing he had been outmaneuvered. But Valerian was not done with him.

“You do not know the deaths she has endured and yet, she rises again, like the Phoenix, the same and yet different, her memories somehow intact.” He let out a single meek laugh. “More a cockroach, an irritant. Forgive me for overstating her importance. We have not seen her threat, even lifetime after lifetime. She is merely to be observed and who better than Jesper to do so.”

Galscythe, one of the oldest, her age reaching almost into ancient, stepped forward. She seldom spoke, some thought because her mind was becoming to frail but no one would dare, in her presence, allow that thought breath. “It would be prudent to be sure this time. We’ve seen how a lone orphan can create a tide of blood.”

Valerian sighed deeply. He didn’t like to disagree with the others, didn’t like agitation among the ranks. But he hadn’t garnered as much respect within Conclave without a clear series of successes in navigating our kind through the modern age.

“I will not send any more of our kind into a were stronghold without knowing our proper action.” He then raised his eyes to me. “I trust with guidance, Jesper can identify the problem and we can then discuss what proper action is required.”

Galscythe stepped back lightly. Teng-Wen bowed in humbling agreement. The debate was over.

But there was no specific guidance I received from Valerian. When Conclave ended, he remained until the others left and then he too departed, with no further word to me on what he expected me to do.

So I put a call into Aubry, his servant. There was a question I needed answering before I proceeded. Generally, it is considered a break of manners to use one’s vampire abilities against other Conclave vampires except in sanctioned combat. And by extension, servants and companions were due the same courtesy.

“Hello?”

When Aubry answered the phone, I appeared standing there in the room just behind him. He heard me like a whisper in his mind, just below the creaks and moans of this ancient house on Na Příkopě. “Hello, Aubry. What is the tea that your master takes?”

Dazed, he let his arm drop the phone from his ear.  He pirouetted towards my presence. “Pine needle tea.”

“Curious. Why does he take it?”

“It’s a curative. To keep the balance.”

As quickly as I had affected him, I released him, retracting my presence back through the phone line and spoke simply. “Valerian had no particular orders for me, eh, Aubry?”

“Oh, Mr. Jesper. No, he left no instructions for you except to say he appreciates the call, you are to report once you’ve made proper contact.” He paused, as if trying to remember his instructions. My doing. He was still shaking off the cobwebs of my affecting him. “You haven’t contacted her yet, have you?”

I thought of every manner of response, remembering his master’s words at Conclave. And then I lied. “No, Aubry. Not yet.”

“Well, then. I will tell my master so. Do you have any other message?”

“Thank you, Aubry, no. That’s all.”

I hung up. Pine needle tea contained high concentrations of Vitamin C. More than six regular lemons. Something told me there was again much more to my Vampire Psychologist than previously thought. I did not know the natural of her acquaintance with Valerian, the most powerful and influential member of our government, but she had made an impact. One worth risking the penalties of bad manners to uncover.

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Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Concussion (from the MayoClinic.com)

Concussions — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes and treatment of this common brain injury.
Definition

Concussions range in significance from minor to major, but they all share one common factor — they temporarily interfere with the way your brain works. They can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination.

Usually caused by a blow to the head, concussions don’t always involve a loss of consciousness. In fact, most people who have concussions never black out. Some people have had concussions and not even realized it.

Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport such as football. But every concussion, no matter how mild, injures your brain. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Luckily, most concussions are mild and people usually recover fully.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The two most common concussion symptoms are confusion and amnesia. The amnesia, which may or may not be preceded by a loss of consciousness, almost always involves the loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions are not apparent until hours or days later. They include:

  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Depression
Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Hero Too Late

Nick rushed into the Ice Lounge ready for action against…well, maybe he wasn’t quite ready for he knew not what.  A quick glance around revealed…nothing.  A few couples, a loan business traveler.  A busy night for the hotel bar.  He spotted a familiar bartender in a white jacket and headed for the bar, where there was only one lone patron.

As he walked, he noticed that the few couples seemed frozen in place, their eyes glazed over, their bodies held at strange angles or in mid movement.  Nick slowed his pace, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up.  The businessman in the easy chair also looked more a mannequin than a man, glass held in his hand halfway to his lips.  Nick took a few quick steps and rushed the bar where Viktor was still straightening the garnish dishes.  The lone patron, a shorter man in a maroon shirt and dark slacks, was swirling a glass of dark red wine quietly while leaning against the bar.

“Viktor,” Nick called.  Viktor ignored him.  “Yo, Viktor.”

“Viktor, take a break,” the man in the maroon shirt said.  Viktor, drone-like, turned and walked off without a single look at Nick.  The sensation of the willies was back again as Nick took in the man as he took a long draught from his wine glass.  While the man looked quite a bit smaller than him, Nick felt a chill coming from more than the chilled ice river built into the bar top.

The man considered the liquid in his glass for a moment before setting the glass on the bar.  He lifted his other hand in which he held a cell phone, one of those palm-sized ones with the QWERTY keyboard.  “So what’s your rush?”  There was something in his voice, something menacing and yet cajoling.

“My boss, I thought she might be in trouble.  There’s weird shit a-foot in the hood.”  The words tumbled out of his mouth before they had finished forming in his mind.

The man smiled a deep, fierce smile and turned his face to Nick’s.  Dark stubble was seeming to grow into place faster than any five o’clock shadow Nick had ever seen.  And his eyes burned black, sending an icy chill down his spine.  What the Hell had he gotten into?

“It seems that there are no damsels in distress for us to rescue here this night, Nick Sakaki.”

“Huh?”  Nick couldn’t remember saying his name but his memory of what had just happened felt like it was slipping away as quickly as it happened. 

The man stepped towards him but he was frozen in place.  Unable to move, Nick watched in horror as the dark mysterious man shoved something into his chest.  His arms found movement again a split second before the object dropped and Nick grabbed at it.  It was the cell phone.

He looked down into the man’s face as his dark eyes caught him.  They weren’t black at all but deep blood red.

“Your boss will be missing this.  At least one of us can be useful this evening.”

The strange man then began to slowly walk from the room and Nick felt compelled to watch him go until just at the top of the stairs out, he exploded into a murder of crows.  Words Nick would never use.  Not even in his most poetic moment.

He shook his head and suddenly the room was alive with movement and Viktor walked hurriedly back to the bar.

“Nick!  A-ha, good to see you.  What’s new?”

Nick clasped the phone.  “I have no fucking clue.”

Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Phone Call: 206-555-3663 to 425-555-8267

Morena:  I’m not coming over tonight.

Jesper:  What’s wrong?  You sound upset.

Morena:  Nothing.  I’m just not coming over.

Jesper:  You were with Sophie.

Morena:  Leave it.

Jesper:  What happened?  Is she safe?

Morena:  I said leave it.

Jesper:  I can hear it in your voice, Morena.  Just tell me what happened.

(pause)

Jesper:  Morena, it’s all right.  Just tell me what happened.

Morena:  You asshole!  You shoulda warned me.

Jesper:  Morena, tell me—-.

Morena:  (yelling) No warning, no nothing!  You didn’t prepare me.  You think this is a joke?  For me?  For her?  Protect her?  How the fuck am I supposed to do that?  You pat me on the head, make me believe I helped you save Camille.  That was all just a big fucking joke to you, wasn’t it?  You didn’t need my help.  Is that how you get off?  Watching humans thinking they can go toe to toe with you…you…You fucking asshole!   

Jesper:  Morena, calm—-.

Morena:  Fuck you!  Don’t talk to me.  Don’t call me.  You…you should have warned me.  You should have warned me what your kind can do. 

Jesper:  You ran into another.

Morena:  No shit!

[CLICK]

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sophie’s Voice Mail

9:05PM   Nick:  Uh, Sophie?  Yeah, it’s Nick.  Nick Sakaki.  Uh, I was checking in to see if you’d made your appointment?  Anyways, call me back at this number.  It’s my cell.

9:25PM   Nick:  Sophie, it’s Nick again.  Checking in about your appointment.    Well, it’s not for a bit but I was hoping you’d at least let me know where you’ll be and what time you expect to be done.  [laugh] Kinda hard to keep your calendar when I don’t know where you are.  Ok, then.  Call me.

9:45PM   Nick:  Sophie, Nick.  Really would like to know your stats.  When, where?  Call me.

10:05PM Nick:  Sophie.  Did I mention I’m worried?  You took off in a huff.  Am I supposed to be worried about you or just supposed to be all Moneypenny for you?  Does this thing even work?  Call me.  ASAP.

Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Excerpt: Who’s Who

Valerian:  Past Client, Male, Last Known wheareabouts: Prague.  Age, etc: Who cares?  As long as he stays away from me!

Lucy and Maurice Burim:  Clients & Charges, Last Known Whereabouts:  Catalina 1510.  Age:  Unknown status, assumed dead Vborn:1467 Hborn: 1454 Albania.  Horror Strain: suspect Carpathian, but unclear.  Maker: Unknown vampire, killed during incident.

Able to ween them off human blood with no known complications.  Had been turned accidentally, still unclear how.  Suspect they had been drained and during fallout of battle, had feed on nearby vampire before being found by their mother.  Mother fled country with immediate family once it was known they were vampires.

I wish I could find them again.

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 5:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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DJB: A dream revisited

It’s the dream again.  Much like the vision induced by the lemon.  The sun is upon me.  Then it’s inside me, a roaring combustion.  And I’m holding it in, spreading my arms, my eyes glowing, stoking this internal fire, and just as I’m ready to explode, I hear a squeaking.  I look down and there’s a little girl in long dark pigtails on a tricycle.  She looks up at me with big brown doe eyes.

“Can I help you Mister?”

I want to tell her to go but before I can, she rides away.  I move my head to watch her go, want to follow her but notice, I’m now tied to a cross, unable to break free of golden chains holding my arms out, legs dangling.  My chest heaves, the strain of my own weight dragging me down.  I’m not me any more but an older, nay, historic, mortal, lesser version of myself.  I raise my head up, straining against my chains, ready to be consumed.  But I’m fighting it.  I wrestle with it. 

Then I feel a cool touch on my shoulder.

It’s an angel with gossamer wings, the symbol of infinity branded into her skin just at her jugular.  She alights down to me, hovering above me, drawing my chin up, kisses me, and a lemontreecool refreshing feeling courses through me.  Tart but sweet.  Tangy.  She leans away, my lips still wet, and I open my eyes as she speaks.

“I’m here to help free you.”

I smile.  The golden chains are gone and I’m no longer attached to a cross.  I’m standing in front of a great green tree, its branches laden with bright, glowing lemons.  I turn and pull one from the tree, hold it in my hand, feel the life in it flowing through me.

I look back at her and she’s Sophie, just standing there, just as she had that evening, eyes wide open and bright.

“You already have,” I tell her.  I then step away from her and burst apart into a shower of yellow and gold crystals.

I bolt awake in my bed.  Sweating, still sweating, but not afraid.  The room is entirely dark.  But immediately, fatigue hits me and as I feel myself collapsing back onto the bed, I realize that it’s daytime outside the dark cocoon of my condo.  That for the first time in my vampire memory, I have awoke during the day.  The knowledge greets me just as I slip back into uncounsciousness.

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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DJB: Memoirs Volume 3: After Conclave

After a rather mundane meeting of the Conclave in which we reviewed current known population counts and several requests for migrations, I asked for a few moments with Valerian.  I didn’t expect to get them knowing he’d just recently returned from a cleansing in the Congo and had historically sought isolation after such travels.  But instead, my web call was answered and I saw Valerian wrapped up in his darkest, thickest cloak resting on his chaise.

“Good even-tide,” he spoke softly, deliberately.  A servant came into view, refilling his cup with a steaming, nearly clear liquid out of a tea kettle.  I thought I spied pine needles.

“Evening, Valerian.  How do you fair after your long journey?”

He gave me a look that reminded me who he was.  “I fair well enough.  The journey was elementary.  I’ll say this for the mutts, they have advanced the comfort of our traveling arrangements immeasurably.”  He paused for a drink, which made him vibrate slightly, before he continued.  “Seems negotiations were well-spent after all.”

“I’ll take the compliment anyway I can get it.”

He sighed, leaning back, his face somewhat flushed, fevered.  “Your contributions to the Conclave sometimes go unnoticed.  Where would we be without the secret language you helped develop which protects our communications and our council from prying, juvenile eyes?”

“It’s nice to be remembered for one’s work.”

“Consider this your favor, I don’t like showing myself at times like these.  But I trust you.  As much as I know that emotion.”  He was right, he did look ill indeed.  As soon as he finished what I now suspected was Pine Needle tea, his glass seemed magically refilled by an unseen servant.

“I’ll come to the point then.  My companion has made contact with the Vampire Psychologist as we had spoken before.”pineneedletea

He sipped.  “Indeed?  And your research?”

“She calls herself Sophie Quinn.  From what I can find, she lived in a small community in Ohio all her life until a few years ago when she left and started ministering to vampires.”  He said nothing, just sipped.  So I continued, “She claims to have done this for lifetimes.  That it’s her calling to seek balance within the vampire being.”

He stopped sipping.  He lowered his cup slowly.  Then, his fangs descended and he laughed heartily.  “Does she really say that still?”

“Still?”  I was confused.

In less than a blink, the laugh was gone, he had retracted his fangs.  He took a long sip as I could see his mind calculating.  “Make contact as we discussed.  Learn what you can.  Report back to the Conclave at next tide.”

“That’s it?”

He looked up at me.  “You were expecting something more drastic, I gather.  I’m learning the art of negotiations, my old friend.  And at my age, I’m learning what is important and what is…noise.”

“I understand.”  I didn’t.  Not really.  Valerian and I were about the same age of ancient lines that may have one time been united.  But our polarities, our mentalities, our very natures couldn’t have been more different.  Valerian volunteered for blood cleansings not out of some greater good for the human race, protecting them from the very plagues that had once ravaged through past populations.  The effect on a healthy vampire of consuming that much tainted blood was to weaken them, force them into seclusion while their bodies metabolised the viruses or toxins and made them inert.  Shadria, who ran that particular program within the Conclave, picked only the strongest and most capable vampires to do the work.  It was messy and required restraint.

No, Valerian volunteered because he was a killer.  He enjoyed it.  He missed the eras when he could go on sprees and gorge himself on so much blood his eyes would turn red from it.   But that Valerian seemed a much different one than the one across the webcam from me, drinking his tea.

He shuddered and sighed.  “No, you don’t.  You don’t understand.  Not yet anyways.”

I smiled as response.  I was about to say my farewells when he abruptly ended the call.  After every interaction with Valerian, I felt guilty for thinking the worst of him and then gullible for forgetting what he was capable of.  And ultimately, confused as to why he considered me worthy of continuing in the Conclave representation at all.  I had no horror.  I had no idea of my maker or his strain.  And therefore, no designs on bearing kindred for fear of what problems might arise.

And maybe that was where my answer lay.  Valerian had a sizable horror, somewhere on the order of 50 now accounted for.  And all of them were welcome in his circle, his seat.  Maybe what I didn’t want to admit was that Valerian was capable of change to protect his own.  Somehow, the thought chilled me more than anything else.

I finished scripting the protocols from the Conclave and went back to the fbook site of this Vampire Psychologist.  The meeting was set for tomorrow night.  If it weren’t for the preternatural state of comatose that vampires fall into during the day, there would be no way I could sleep.  No way at all.

fbook.com/vamppsych

Search: vampire age

Results: […] } vampire age but a vampire’s abilities are more a product of his maker rather than age.  However, age does speak to the maturity of the vampire, the refinement in use of his abilities, and control over the impulses to feed.  Vampires begin to mature once they are made but at a much slower rate than humans.  Vampires newly made up to approximately one hundred years old are considered youths, adolescence being between 80 and 100 years old.  Adult vampires are classified between one hundred and one thousand years old.  Vampires that have survived to be around 800 yrs old are considered elders until they reach the next phase of maturity.  Vampires older than one thousand years old are referred to as ancient and are extremely rare. 

While a vampire’s body ages so slowly as to be preserved, his mind is subject to the ravages of time.  Few vampires survive long enough to be considered ancient and often become dangerous and unpredictable as their minds struggle to control the derth of memories that no longer have clear connection to their current reality.[…]

Search: ancient vampires

Results:  […] {The mind of the vampire is subject to all the extraordinary senses the vampire possesses.  Because of this increased awareness and capacities of their minds, vampires often quickly become savants, masters of any talent they lend their time to.  But as they age, the minute details of hundreds of years of memories begin to erode their sense of currency, in some cases causing the vampires to become withdrawn into a mental world hard to penetrate.  Comatose ancients often perish from starvation. 

In other cases, the vampires act out their frustration of not being able to tell the current time from the myriad of lives they have lived in the past.  As vampires best mechanism of folding through centuries is to steal identities, as ancients, the identities become confused and hard to separate, resulting in schizophrenia and sometimes psychosis.  These vampires usually begin to threaten the societies in which they have hidden, forcing humans or other supernatural creatures to attack and kill them.

In the few documented cases of this, werewolves have often surfaced as leading excursions to eradicate the errant vampire, further perpetuating the hostilities between these two..[…]

Search: vampire sun

Results: […] { not all vampires are immediately endangered by the sun.  Of the types of vampires, blood vampires all have a high sensitivity to solar light in common, regardless of their area of origin.  Most blood vampires will burst into flames with any exposure, ultimately turning to ash from prolonged exposure.  How much sun scorching can be repaired by the vampire depends on the horror strain to which they belong. […]

Search: horror

Results: […] { A horror is a familial group of vampires, usually made up of a maker and his direct progeny, sometimes including extended progeny.  The term is also used to describe a familial line of vampires.  As vampire powers are strictly determined from a maker’s abilities, identifying the familial line or horror strain can determine what abilities the vampire has.  While it has been noted that a vampire’s abilities can grow in strength from consuming large quantities, usually a heart cycle, of a fellow vampire’s blood, it has not been observed that powers transfer from vampire to vampire.[…]

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 8:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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Time behind the Iron Curtain

It is observed several moments after the Russian teenager leads the young Asian man and the dark curly haired woman out of the deli that the old lady’s other granddaughter comes in, wearing the same gold lame halter top and black sequined miniskirt from the night before.  She is carrying her four inch gold heels and her black hose has gone missing somewhere.  Her face is stained with day old mascara and fire engine red lipstick. 

But she seems blissfully happy and carefree.  It even takes her several minutes of her grandmother’s rapid tirade to goad her into a rebuttal, her accent thicker than her younger sister’s.

“You stupid stubborn old hag!  We are in America now.  And I’m 18.  I can do whatever I want.”

She strides past her angry grandmother to the back room, ignoring the bit about living under her roof, on and on.  Usually that is enough for her grandmother to get it out of her system.  But she pursues.  But before her grandmother can reload, she brushes her long dirty blond locks aside and gently caresses the two puncture wounds at side of her neck.

“Oksana!  You have been with him.”

The defiant girl looks up as her grandmother stares in fear and starts to make the sign of the cross.  She continues to make the sign, backing out of the room, shaking her head.

“Superstitious old bag.”  She looks at herself in the mirror, inspecting the wounds with red lacquered nails bitten to the quick.  They are angry red, probably from a second helping.  Maybe a third.  She can’t quite remember.  Maybe the vodka.  At least, she thinks she had had a drink.

But what does it matter?  She’s met her Prince Charming.  And he drives a big shiny expensive car.

She snickers.  “What a good night.”  She starts to hum a tune as she sways in front of the mirror, admiring her neck.  Soon it turns to laughter, even as she begins to scratch at her arms, suddenly itchy all over.