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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Scribbled Notes from Case #13: Maurice

  • How viral are vampire “fluids?”  What properties of blood, sweat, saliva….healing, bonding?  Effects on influence?
  • What was L’s relationship with Lucas?  Why is she not talking about him much?  Interest in courtesans?
  • What big cities did the twins travel through at what times?  Maybe can show migration path of European strains into No.America.
  • How exactly did M try to turn Annabel?  Methods vary among types/strains, blood sharing being most common.  Perhaps she wasn’t completely drained before she took his blood?
  • How common is it for vampire masters to share with kindred how to turn?
  • L’s ability of intention seems to be more nature of her of her sharp perceptions, not telepathy.  However, vampires tend to not have body language.  Perhaps they do but it is so slight…can that observation be taught to a human?
  • Where did L learn about the birds and the bees?  Or M for that matter?
  • Why was Caroline insistent on moving West?  (Check Memento for any Caroline references.)
  • Caroline’s transformation: what does it suggest about M & L’s strain? 
  • Are hybrid vamps possible?  Blood-Soul, Soul-Sex, Blood-Sex?  Can strains carry multiple types in them?  nature versus nurture?
  • How does one kill a succubus anyways!?
Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 10:17 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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The Meat Market

Nick Sakaki had finished the last of the clean-up, set up the laptop as instructed by his new employer, and had the innards of the office sealed as tight as a drum against encroaching light.  It had been a long day and something kept tugging at him.  He knew where his new employer would be; he’d suggested a place that he trusted, knew the bartender there Viktor to be a good reliable person.  He considered the place safe.  But what it needed to protect against, he still didn’t know.  Sophie had promised to clue him in now that his statement of work was signed off.

 He should just wait until morning.  He still had to pick up his last bartending check at Jerry’s but then the Ice Lounge was a quick swing out of the way of his parent’s place in the International District.  It was really no trouble to stop by and check, make sure she made her appointment all right.  I mean, he was her new assistant, right?  He’s just being thorough.

 He bounded down the stairs with such purpose that he failed to see Oksana, the eldest daughter of the Russian deli owner until he was literally bumping into her as she stepped out of the shadows.

 “Hello,” she purred.

 “Shit!”  He took in her appearance in a hot instant:  trashy, skimpy outfit, fuck me boots, black stockings showing underneath her too short skirt.  But it was her face that turned up his caution:  she looked strung out, pupils too big, eyes too dark, mouth messily stained with dark red lipstick, hanging open almost unnaturally.  “Sorry, you startled me.”

 “Well, you’re a pretty one.”  She took in a long inhale as she casually put a long arm around him.  With her boots and her natural height, she was a smidge taller than Nick.  There wasn’t any part of her that didn’t send his tramp-ho Klaxons off.  “Where are you going tonight?  And can I come along?”

 “Uh, sorry.  I gotta head to work.  No rest for the barely employed.”  He gently tried to extricate her arm.  She replaced it with her leg, wrapping it around his waist, leaning him back against the wall. 

 She pouted.  “Don’t you want to party with me?”

 “How can I say this nicely…not really.”  He tried to step away from her, without pushing her away.

 She let him step away but just enough to put both arms around him.  “You sure smell nice.  I can hear you blood throbbing.”  She laughed deep in her throat.

 “Yeah?” He said, willing himself to be cool.  Then he forced all the concern out and began to put on the mask of indifference.  “Probably just ’cause I’m late.”  He shrugged, stopped trying to evade her, let himself go limp with her arms around him.

 The effect was immediate.  “Mmm, you’re no fun.”  She stepped away.

 He shrugged again and slowly began to walk around her, toward his sport bike.  He finally hazarded a glance back as he spoke, “Maybe next time.”

 She was gone.  She hadn’t made a sound.

Later, at Jerry’s, a bustling hotel bar full of the pretty sort of people, Nick leaned over the bar.  ”Hey Tobie, Sal was gonna leave my check.”

 Tobie, equally hip and just old enough to serve, waved him around.  “He left it behind the register, man.  Serve yourself, it’s hopping tonight.”

 Nick came around the bar and glanced over the crowd in the darkened lounge.  It was complete with the model types, the cougars, the traveling businessmen, the waitresses that all looked like they were walking a catwalk.  Every man’s possible type was wandering about, plying and cooing for appletinis and ceviche.  Including tall, leggy, trashy, Russian fake blondes.

 He saw her across the room as if the crowd parted just for them to meet eyes.  Hers were darker than before, pools of obsidian peering at him as if expecting him to be jealous as she brushed barely covered breasts against the arm of some 40-something suit with a bulging wallet as he ordered yet another round of overpriced appetizers.

 Something told Nick that pork dumplings weren’t on her mind for curbing her appetite.  She kept her eyes locked on Nick’s and he couldn’t look away as she nuzzled the suit’s ear, then ran the tip of her tongue along the rim of his earlobe, showing teeth that seemed too sharp and large to fit in her mouth.  Nick blinked and turned his back on her, grabbing his check and stuffing it into his pocket, struggling a bit with the fit of his jeans.  He rushed out from around the bar and dared to look back in her direction.  She blew him a kiss and smiled, lips pulling back.

 He hadn’t imagined it.  He felt the cold dread creep through him.  The pieces illogically fit together and he hurried out of the bar.  Ice Lounge was ten minutes from his parent’s place.  If he pushed it, he could be there in fifteen.  Somehow, he just knew Sophie needed a hand.  Though he couldn’t figure out what he thought he’d seen or why he thought he’d be able to do a damn thing if he was even right.

 He sped off anyways, kicking it into a new gear and risking a serious ticket, if only to shake of the willies the blonde had given him.

 

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 9:04 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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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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Vision of Lemon

A looming bright yellow sun fills my view, the flames crackling noisily, with a burning roar.  The yellow brightens and deepns to gold and rays shoot out of me, consuming me, using me as fuel.  The sensation billows through every vein, every muscle, all my sinews and bones until all I am is pure nuclear combustion.  Then, I explode.  And I am nothing but ash and cinders…and a single spark.

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 9:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Preparations

Sophie’s List:lemons

1 Lemon
1 Orange
Large Orange juice
Lucid Dreaming by Stephen La Berge
First Aid kit (fang plugs, gauze, styptic powder)

Remember: No perfume, use all fragrance free products tonight

Morena’s List:hkpolish

ASP tactical baton, jacket pocket or holster?
HK USP 40 Pistol, holstered
Benchmade knife, pocket?
Manicure, Loreal, Fleeting
Samsara, Notes: Jasmine, Sandalwood, Rose, Narcissus, Vanilla.

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 8:36 am  Comments (1)  
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