A World of Secrets – Vampire Verisimilitude

Middle West Virginia isn’t exactly spook central or populace-palooza… which makes it perfect for the discreet Vampire. As such, there isn’t much in the way of trouble-making strangers (for the most part). Sure, we get a new crop of students over at GSC every Fall as well as those returning, but the college campus is essentially self-contained. Think about it: in spite of the influx of students from all over the East Coast, Gilmer County is still one of the five poorest counties in one of the poorest states in the country.

halloweenscarecrowThis brings me to today’s meandering thought: what other supernatural or paranormal creatures or things are also out there?

I found out about Vampires when I awoke as one, but my first real lesson was that secrets are currency. Money and people are easy to manipulate; everything else falls into place with a little patience and creativity. That said, whenever you try to pry a secret from another immortal, you either have to prove it will benefit them to share it or have a one of equal value to trade.

So, here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Vampires – We’re real. Not an alien race or even a perpetuating one (unless you count turning others). Vampires were made, not born, and our makers apparently did so in an attempt to consolidate their power. This brings is to…
  • Witches – Okay, but not really. The term I’ve heard is Bloodworkers: those with an innate ability to rend so-called magic from living blood. Like Vampires, they know there are essential properties contained within blood that yet escapes the detection of science. But if a Bloodworker made the first of us, what else could they make?
  • Werewolves (or were-anything/shapechangers) – Never met one or even heard of there being one. If they exist, they keep a lower profile than we do. The best story I’ve heard is that Vampires created the legend of Werewolves to explain away a Vampire’s nocturnal activities to foolish locals. “We killed the wolf! It was Old Bob, and now we don’t have to move away!” Cruel and sneaky.
  • Ghosts – This one’s still a mystery to me. I know people spotting an immortal can be mistaken for ghosts, and the daydreams of Vampires are haunted by our victims, but are ghosts real? As before, I’ve never met one… so why do stories about them persist?
  • Zombies – Really? Does anyone still actually think zombies are plausible sci-fi? Totally fantasy… and totally made up. Trust me.
  • Angels and Demons – We can throw God and the Devil under this one, too — do these folks really exist? I was raised in the Church of Christ; I believe what I was taught, but I also strongly question it. Never mind that science can’t yet detect the supernatural component of blood or the existence of a soul — I have proof that these energies are real and can be manipulated, so I can’t rule this one out (and neither should you).
  • Fae, Trolls, Goblins, and Such – I have no idea. Any misdeed a fairy creature has ever been accused of could easily be attributed to a Vampire, from stealing babies to seducing men. I have my doubts there are or ever were such things… except trolls on the Internet.

So, with this little pre-Halloween shared, what have you seen or heard? I’m ready to believe you.

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

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“The Truce” – Conversations With Dead People

Author’s Note: Spoiler Warning. The following entry references specific events taking place in the novel The Matriarch: Guardians.

For the longest time after I killed him, Hector remained bitter toward me. I couldn’t exactly blame him.

Since then, I’ve dreaded his appearance after visiting Becca and Denton, his two surviving foster children. The usual conversation that followed was a critique on my non-existent parenting skills, but the main reason for my visits was to ensure the kids were safe and provided for — and to ensure Denton’s permanent ghouling wasn’t affecting him too adversely.

The truth was I had no idea what I was doing; all I had were pavement-quality good intentions.

On a particular Friday night, I had just said my goodbyes and was leaving their foster residence when Hector appeared to me in the car.

I heard him before I saw him. “This isn’t working.” When I glanced over at him in the passenger’s seat, he seemed older than his usual middle-aged self, again wearing his favorite pipefitters union windbreaker.

“If this is another critique,” I replied in the nicest tone I could fake, “can we skip ahead to the part where you tell me I’m not qualified?”

His expression suggested he was also struggling with niceties. “This is something you can do. He needs a mentor.”

I kept my cool. Mostly. “So, after all the times you’ve said I wasn’t…”

“As a Vampire,” he clarified.

Huh. Okay, he surprised me. “Except Denton’s not a Vampire.” We were hoping he wouldn’t turn into one, either. Our researchers at Cedarcrest Sanctum theorized he might still become one if he died, completing the interrupted transformation.

“But he is different.” I’d only ever heard that tone of concern once before from Hector — the night he told me to take his life to save Becca’s. “He’ll listen to you. He knows you struggle with what you are. He can sense it.”

“He’s in middle school,” I argued. “How am I going to relate to anything he’s dealing with?”

“Do you think he can relate to anyone at all his own age right now? He’s close to Becca, but she doesn’t have your perspective — not to mention you’re the adult.”

“Why not Eric or Cole?”

Hector chuckled. “I noticed you left Travis off that list.” He became serious again. “No, Denton is more trusting of…female authority.”

“What does that even mean?” It sounded ominous.

“It has to do with how he wound up in foster care. It took him a long while to warm up to me.”

“Oh.” I decided if more details weren’t being offered up, I didn’t need to know them.

We both sat in the car quietly for a few moments outside of the home. A mentor? Like a big sister? Besides worrying about craving a snack, I couldn’t imagine myself working closely with kids anymore; my old life plans of becoming a grade school teacher had been murdered with me. Even the idea of being trusted alone in a classroom full of temptation made me shudder.

Hector spoke again. “I want to help you help him. It has to be you. I can’t help if it isn’t.”

I couldn’t help but smirk. “So you need me.”

“Denton needs you — because I can’t be there for him except through you.”

That sobered me up. I looked back toward the house and noticed two pairs of eyes staring out from the dining room window. Becca and Denton were probably wondering why I hadn’t left yet, but it made sense to present the idea to Denton while I was still there. I paused just as I was about to open the car door.

“What are you waiting for?” Hector asked.

“I was wondering what kind of activity I could suggest we do together, like a bonding exercise.”

“He used to talk about those Matrix movies, the kung fu fighting. I introduced him to some old Bruce Lee films, too. If we could have afforded it, I would have liked to enroll him into a Judo class or something, but I was also afraid of him getting hurt.”

I smiled. “I don’t think that will be a problem anymore…the money or him getting hurt.”

“A little discipline can go a long way.”

“For both of us,” I added, raising a suspicious eyebrow at the ghost. “So if I do this, are you finally going to lighten up on me?”

“Hell no.” Hector’s tone was gruff as always, but there was an unusual hint of joy. “Not even a little.”

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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