I’m back. Still working on my vampire. I like him, so maybe I’ll sit down and try to write a story. Maybe a M/M /vampire/cozy mystery hybrid.
Resort, time, rush, retreat, axis
Anaximander was getting impatient waiting for the sun to go down. The study library was cool and stacked with volumes of books from floor to ceiling. On any given day, he’d be more than happy to retreat into the corner, book in hand, and let the hours pass.
But now he had a potential thrall, and an adventure, and being stuck in here with others of his kind was less than thrilling. Most of these vampires were staid and respectable aka dull, and had no interest in venturing out until midnight. It’s not that they couldn’t. A vampire did not burn in the sunlight as per legend, but it was really, really uncomfortable and it dulled the senses. A vampire in the afternoon was blinded by the light and irritable. And the days lasted so long in the summer.
When had the axis of the vampire world shifted down south? Back in the days of old it was in gloomy European castles. In his day, the nightlife of New York or the seedier districts of Hollywood. Now, it was all New Orleans and various parts of Louisiana. He’d have never expected the the best vampire resorts would now be located in this region of the country. He’ d been born (back when he was human) in South Carolina and had fled as soon as possible; joining the rush of all the ‘colored’ folk as they were called then- to better lives in the Chicago, Harlem, or even California if you were lucky and good looking-which he was. He had a different name then, and was featured in a few of the motion pictures. It had been a very different time.
You would think being on a stakeout with a vampire would be easy, Oliver thought, as he pushed back the seat to give himself a little leg room. It was his friend’s Honda and a bit cramped. His partner in crime so to speak was the vampire Anaximander.
Anaximander was in the backseat lying perfectly still. He had on a green shirt and black slacks. Two hours ago he’d almost ruined the whole operation racing into the parking lot in a luxury classic car. Oliver had to remind him that it didn’t really blend in. The entire concept of the stakeout was to blend in.
“I don’t quite understand why we’re doing this Oliver,” Anaximander’s voice made him jump. The vampire didn’t move or breathe so it always startled him,
“I need answers. Mr. Hargreaves was murdered. I was shot and coincidentally Mrs. Hargreaves takes a fatal tumble down her steps? Nope. I don’t believe in that many coincidences.”
“Maybe the amulet really is cursed,” Anaximander said.
“I don’t believe in curses.” Not generally. There were always stories shared among art thieves such as himself about cursed objects but those were usually of the angry mummy variety. This amulet was a tacky object made of emeralds by a dead Texas billionaire with more money than taste.
“And until recently you didn’t believe in vampires but here we are,” he smile his roguish grin.
They’d agreed to meet and do surveillance of the Hargreaves estate together because for reasons Oliver still didn’t quite understand, Anaximander felt Oliver was fated to be his thrall. As such the vampire had taken it upon himself to ‘guard and protect in timeless devotion’ as per vampire code. Anaximander was devastatingly handsome and Oliver was definitely attracted-but it was too much to take in. He’d hold off for now.
But he couldn’t seem to get Anaximander to stop guarding him.
Oliver groaned as he tried to sit up. A sharp pain hit him. He tried to ignore it. He sat up and the pain raced back down through him. He lay back down. It hurt worse than he thought.
He’d never been shot before. He’d never been beaten to a pulp. He’d never been left for dead. And all three had happened in what was the worst afternoon of his life. He’d taken a foolish risk trying to tail the Hargreaves brother. He’d never do that again.
Now that he looked around he realized he was surrounded by fluffy pillows and thick covers. There was a window open to let in some cool air, but was now just cold. Very cold. He finally noticed he absence of any clothing other than a pair of underwear. What the heck? And they didn’t even look like his.
He struggled to remember. He was with Anaximander. He remembered a mysterious doctor pulling the bullet out of him. As Anaximander was whispering in his ear. “I’ll heal you.” There had been a short pinch to his neck. Teeth. A warm sensation flooded his body. He word “Thrall,” echoed around in his head.
Oliver took a deep breath, determined to sit up again. His throat was parched. His bladder was full. He decided the latter had priority. He winced and yelped in pain this time but pushed through it to get his feet to the floor. He stood up just as the door swung open.
“You must be careful,” it was the vampire Anaximander. “Your situation is delicate.”
Blood pooled around the victims body, sticky against the floor. Oliver gave this a curious look. Part revulsion; part fear? Anaximander wasn’t certain.
“It’s Peter Hargreaves,” Oliver said quietly.
“You know him?”
I don’t, Anaximander thought but he didn’t answer. It was obvious that a reply wasn’t needed. This was nervous talk. Chatting to cover up the shock and fear of stumbling across a dead body in the library. Back when he’d been alive, Anaximander done a radio drama with the same plot.
“It doesn’t make you hungry?”Oliver asked.
“You mean the blood?”
“Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t do anything to you?”
“No.” Oh, it draws me, but not hunger. Anaximander felt his shoulders tense. If he was a newly turned vampire he’d be on the ground lapping up blood like a beast and feeling sick afterwards. You were predator and everything else was food. If you had a sire to train you, a vampire quickly learned that not all blood was the same. That there were strains and you could only get strength from the blood of a thrall. Like Oliver. And he’d never get a thrall like Oliver if he couldn’t control himself.
“It has to be payback,” Oliver said out loud but in a whisper. There were other people downstairs. A few were even other vampires and thralls with good hearing.
“What makes you think that?” Anaximander replied.
“One member of the Gossick family dies last week with gunshot to the head. A member of the Hargreaves family dies right here also by a gunshot to the head.”
“People get shot all the time.”
“If this were average down on your luck Joe’s sure. But the Gossick’s own half the town, including the bank. The Hargreaves own the other half, including the the real estate company. It can’t be coincidence.”
He had seen the signs all over Hargreaves Development. It was a picture of a smiling older man in a hard hat and a suit who, now that he thought about it, looked much like the dead older man lying in the pool of blood.
Anaximander existed for decades and seen all manner of family turf wars and gang fights. Once the revenge train got started barreling down the tracks it was impossible to stop.
“Fudge,” Oliver said. Well, not actually ‘fudge’, but is summed up how they both felt at the moment.
But he knew speaking up wouldn’t help. His handsome future thrall had a criminal record. Not only that, he was right in the middle of committing a crime. Granted, a non-violent crime. And Anaximander didn’t really consider art thieves to be real criminals. Museums were full of stolen art if we wanted to be truthful.
But the reality was that Oliver had an incredibly expensive rare book tucked in his backpack, along with the standard breaking and entering gear. And he felt rather certain that his human hottie had a record somewhere along the way. None of these facts would work in his favor should the call the police.
What would they think if they knew he was allied with a vampire?
copyright 2021 Echo Ishii
Friday Five June 4th
image bar express redeem privilege
Anaximander took the special members only entrance to the club. A rare privilege as he had fallen out of favor with the local
Vampire court. This was proof he had slowly begun to redeem himself. The Court had worked hard to develop an image of respectability and his flamboyant lifestyle had come under scrutiny. Too flashy. Too sensational. Vampires were trying to shed their decadent image and Anaximander’s infamous late night parties did not help.
Anaximander wasn’t one to cling to the shadows and darkness in colorless rooms contemplating his immortality. He needed to express himself. It was more fun to go our, meet people, make a few friends.
He’d been cut out and cut off for twenty years wasting away in a coffin. And at the moment when he became to feel his mind slip and he wished for nothing but sunlight and dust, the current Queen had granted him a reprieve.
It was his chance to get back into everyone else’s good graces. There were the usual vampires sitting around the chairs with cigars and drinks reading old times. He glanced over towards the bar. Several human thralls were sipping cocktails and laughing at shared jokes. A thrall! He wished he had one. It would keep him stable;give him some focus. He just needed to meet the perfect guy.
This is an interesting topic, so I decided I’d like to know what it is I’ve googled. Since most of my desktop searches are for work their wasn’t much outside of technical and work sites. So I decided to look at my iPad and phone to see what I’ve been googling.
Episodes of Star Trek, no surprise. Tokyo Olympics. Lots of searches about the Shinkansen and bullet trains. I’m editing an SF story set in Japan and I fell down a research rabbit hole.
Then Liz Cheney, Christopher Columbus, and Ariana Grande: All in the same day and I can’t see how they are possibly related nor can I remember why they were connected.
If I met Picard we’d have Earl Grey tea and I’d listen to all his insights about being a captain. If Sisko, I’d like to live on DS9 for a few months and just see him at work. Janeway is awesome. I’d gladly be her first officer.
But I’m going to turn my attention to books. From ASOIAF I’d love to meet Barristan Selmy because he’s a favorite character and/or Tyrion Lannister. I’d also like to meet Stannis Baratheon because in the books he’s more interesting than the show, even if I don’t really agree with him. I’d love to meet Catelyn Stark also. I know many people hate her, but I loved her chapters in the books and I really empathized with her reasoning and her feelings of duty.
When I was young, Island of the Blue Dolphins was one of my favorite books and I always wanted to meet the main character who was based on a true story. I’m a huge fan of Ann Cleaves mysteries so I’d love to meet Vera Stanhope and solve a case with her.
Anthony strolled around the park, trying his best to look natural. This was not easy. He was a big guy, imposing, and he had to work hard to make sure people didn’t see him as a threat. He had tried to dress up but not to0 much-clean white shirt, and light jacket. He had no idea what he proper dress code was for paranormal investigators. This was the first time he had a potential paying client and he didn’t want to offend them or worse, scare them off by dressing like a thug.
He finally saw them. His contact, a woman named Lily, was sitting at one of the picnic benches with who he assumed was his client. She waved him over, and he made for them, scaring away a flock of pigeons as he stomped across the grass. He came up to them.
“Good Morning,” he said politely with a smile. Lily gave him a quick nod. She was a tiny woman, all skin and bones, and a constant ball of energy. He stood there stiffly.
“Thanks for doing this.”
“No problem,” even though he didn’t know what he was doing yet.
Lily turned to the woman seated beside her.
“This is Mrs. Peterson. Mrs. Peterson, this is Anthony Dawes. He’s the man whose going to help you. Trust me, he can do the job.”
Mrs. Peterson removed her sunglasses and stared at him coldly. Anthony didn’t know much about fashion but he could tell those were brand name clothes and expensive jewelry. She had money. And it was obvious she wasn’t thrilled about a meeting in a public park.
She held out a hand. Anthony shook it. He had a feeling she was testing him.
“Should I explain?” Lily said enthusiastically.
Mrs. Peterson shook her head.
“Lily speaks highly of you. And Principal Wright mentioned that you were skilled in dealing with unusual events.”
That surprised him. Principal Wright never mentioned hanging out with the wealthy and well connected. And he was surprised the old man told anyone else about the strange events at his house. He filed that away to ask about later.
“I help where I can.”
“My husband and I have purchased some property near the coast. We’ve renovated a hotel that we expect to open to customers for the summer. However, there have been issues.”
“Ghosts,” Lily butted in. “It’s ghosts.”
A look of displeasure crossed Mrs. Peterson’s face. Anthony couldn’t tell if it was the mention of ghosts or being interrupted. It was probably a combination of both. The woman fiddled with a diamond bracelet around her wrist and resumed.
“Unusual happenings have halted renovation. The old hotel was in a dilapidated state.”
“It used to be a drug den. And prostitution. Lots of suicides and overdoses. It’s probably brimming with ghosts,” Lily had clearly done her research. For her, this sort of thing much be exciting.
Mrs. Peterson sat up straight, glared at Lily, and continued.
“My husband believes it’s business sabotage. I have a reason to believe we should pursue other possible explanations.”
“I’m thinking a poltergeist,” Lily said oblivious to Mrs. Peterson’s glares.
“I’d like you to investigate. I’ll pay you a substantial one time fee and I expect results within the week. I’m a believer, Mr. Dawes, but I’m no fool. Don’t think you can string me along.”
A poltergeist. Anthony had never dealt with a poltergeist, but he’d done his reading. In the ghost world, they were some of the strongest. It wasn’t an easy job to agree to take on and maybe he should turn it down.
“You’re up to this Anthony,” Lily said. She sounded confident even if he didn’t feel it.
Anthony watched the end of the clip. He saw the tiny thin, defeated man with long, lank dreadlocks, being led away in handcuffs. It was always painful to see and he hated that the local station wanted to make a spectacle of him.
The jury is expected to reach a verdict quickly in the Lester Solomon case.
Anthony shoved his phone back in his pocket. He’d had enough. And he knew the man was innocent. The increase in crime wasn’t just a social problem; Anthony know knew there were other, darker forces at work. He didn’t have access to a car at the moment so he’d taken the bus into town and walked down the streets. Paranormal investigations was not an easy job to do without a car, so he needed to fix that soon. How? He didn’t know since paranormal investigation and ghost hunting didn’t pay either.
Losing his car was a bit of a hiccup in his long term goals, but he wouldn’t give up.
The Main Street had been gentrified. People who moved from New York to the south to retire quickly got bored with the lack of high arts culture and fine dining in Coverton County so young entrepreneurs had moved in to fill the gap. The place he was looking for was an old converted dairy distribution factory. They’d kept the look but turned it into one of those boutique, hip eateries with lots of overpriced food, now called Cow-don Bleu.
He walked in and took a look around. A family of four sitting at a side table. A couple looking over a menu, sitting close. And over in the corner Anthony noticed him.
Other people in the corner wouldn’t pay much attention, but Anthony had learned what to look for. The man had a hat pulled low over his head, and the hair was shaved down but it didn’t change the fact that he was the spitting image of the man hauled away in handcuffs. Others at some point may remark on the similarity but this was more. He was Lester Solomon -or rather his fetch- created out of hair and twine and made all too real. He saw the telltale mark on his forearm which others might dismiss as a simple tattoo. But most importantly he ‘felt’ the lack of humanness. He was the second fetch Anthony had found. There was a nest of them were out there and a real Lester’s survival depended on him finding them all.
My main creative outlet is writing; but it has a different focus when I’m working on things to submit or publish. I’m a newbie so I’m still searching for my own voice. Recently, I like writing horror and spooky stories. I’ve had fun doing Friday Five and I’ve taken the starter posts and written some full stories. I finished a full 6K story from one post and turned over to a beta group; I want to submit it to a few markets.
I’ve started a novella based on my last entry.
I’ve always enjoyed a ghost story. I make them up for my husband and daughter when we go for a short hike. I made up another for one of my English language students. They had fun with it. Lately, I’ve explored making spooky video shorts.
I don’t have other outlets. I suck at knitting, sewing, or anything remotely related. I can’t sing or play any instruments. My daughter is a budding artists-she likes art and illustration. Me? I can barely draw a smiley face.