Buffy the Discount Vampire Slayer — Vampire Verisimilitude

Let me explain why I was late.

I was still on the Braxton County side of Route 5 heading toward Glenville when I saw this old Toyota pickup on the roadside with hazards on and the hood up. I normally wouldn’t have stopped except for this tiny little blonde shivering in a ripped blue winter coat. We all know I’m not supposed to, but I couldn’t leave her out there cold and alone on the last week of December, right? The truck had paper plates, so I figured it was just a breakdown.

Yes, it was the middle of the night and, yes, I was a little thirsty, but that isn’t the point.

I parked behind the truck, left my lights on, and walked up to her. She was five-nothing, twenty-ish, and slight; I’m average but I still felt twice her size. Her eyes looked huge as she looked up to me, heavy night makeup and all. No tears, though.

“Are you okay?” I asked. “Do you need me to call someone?”

“You shouldn’t have,” she said, sounding both shocked and angry. “Look at you. Why the hell would you stop? You don’t know us.”

“Us” turned out to include a beastly broad-shouldered guy with a face-full of black fur who thought he was sneaking up, and by sneaking I meant stamping around like a buck. He’d come down the hill behind my Kia Soul, opened the driver’s door and switched off my headlights.

So, yeah: trap.

“We’ll need those keys in your pocket, too,” the man said. I turned my back on the woman and stared him down, catching him poking around in my purse. He was about the size of Travis but looked more like evil Travis, standing and staring like he dared me to do something.

“And if I tell you to put my purse back and walk away?” I kept my tone even with maybe a hint of sarcasm. He didn’t look sure he was ready for a reaction like that.

“Would you prefer a hole in your spine?” the woman said behind me, cocking the hammer back on what sounded like a good-sized revolver and poking my back with it. I didn’t feel like having a hole in my coat any more than hiding bodies, but I wasn’t letting them get away with it, either. When I didn’t immediately react, she added, “It ain’t worth your life, lady. Why the hell did you stop?”

As I felt her hand plunge into my coat pocket to fish for my key fob, Evil Travis stepped toward me. Decision time: if I stepped aside as the trigger was pulled, he’d get a gut shot instead of me and it’d serve him right, but I also didn’t feel like filing a police report. Instead, I waited for an opportunity. When she found the fob, Evil Travis grinned.

“Who loves ya, baby?” she asked, tossing my keys toward him.

“You do, Buffy,” he replied, doing his worst Elvis impersonation as he reached out to catch them…

But this Vampire wasn’t going to be robbed by a blonde named Buffy.

As the guy started to get back into my vehicle, Buffy put her free hand on my shoulder, presumably to guide me somewhere while keeping me at gunpoint. As she touched me, I quick-grabbed her wrist and yanked her around faster than she had any hope of avoiding. Her hand cannon didn’t go off as I slammed her back against the ground; the weapon was a .38 Special — Kelly Jean owned one. I took it without resistance.

Evil Travis froze when he saw I had the gun, but seeing me empty the bullets into my hand emboldened him to rush me. I admit I couldn’t resist inflicting him with a good pistol whip when he lunged; it must have made him feel small. When he recovered and turned toward me again, I stopped him with a single word.

My pint-sized nemesis, on the other hand, gasped for air; I’d knocked the wind out of her. I waited as she recovered, something that clearly made her antsy along with Huck’s sudden compliance. She probably wondered why wasn’t I beating her ass down or running away. Short answer: I had questions.

“What did you do to Huck?” Buffy finally gasped.

“He’ll live. Why are you two out here rolling travelers after midnight? Is this even your truck?”

She nodded. “What… what did you–”

“He’ll be fine. Why are you doing this?”

Buffy eyeballed me. I guess she couldn’t get past the idea I was even asking about them. “We’re going to Florida to start over. To be together.”

“From where?”

“Bobtown. Pennsylvania.”

I remembered it being a small town right over the West Virginia border, plus they were too old to be runaways. “Why are you robbing people? Have you ever done this before?”

“Huck’s dad cut off his credit card. We can’t buy food or gas.” Buffy looked at Huck. “Are you calling the cops? We weren’t going to hurt you, I swear.”

Said the woman who pulled a loaded gun on me and tried to steal my Soul. “Where in Florida?”

“Jacksonville.” She looked hard at me. “You’re so calm about this. Were you really going to help us? Women don’t do that — never when they’re alone.”

“Give me your driver’s licenses.” As I took pics of them with my phone, I noticed there was no cell signal; they’d picked a dead spot on a curve in case someone tried to call for help. Maybe not so dumb.

I commanded Huck to face the hillside, watching Buffy looking horrified at his zombie-like compliance while I snagged some money from my purse. “Look at me, Buffy.” She did. “I’m buying your gun for three hundred dollars. You and Huck are driving straight to Florida except for gassing up and eating. I know folks in law enforcement, and if I even think you didn’t go to Jacksonville, I’ll tell them everything you tried with me including giving them your gun. Are we good?” I returned their IDs to her along with the promised cash.

She looked both shocked and confused. “Why? After all this you’re still going to help us? Who are you?”

“Everyone should get a second chance,” I said before vamping out: black eyes and full fangs while lifting her chin with the tip of my taloned finger. “Also, the Mountain State is under my protection and I want you out of it. If I ever see either of you here again, I’ll bury you alive and paint ‘Here Lies Buffy’ on your headstone in Huck’s blood. Got me?”

“Yes, ma’am.” At least she was polite.

I told Huck to sleep for an hour before forgetting everything that happened back at the road after I got there, so only Buffy would know. I watched her turn their truck around and followed them back to I-79 to ensure they turned south before I came home.

In our training room under the Longevity Studies Building, Eric, Cole, and Travis looked appalled.

“That’s where you were?” Eric asked. “You’re not supposed to stop out there except in an emergency. That’s your rule.”

“It was an emergency,” I replied, still exhilarated over the entire incident. “Or I thought it was. It was seven degrees out there.”

“Plus you should have called us,” Cole added.

“Without a cell signal? I think I mentioned that.” I couldn’t believe they didn’t get it. “And?”

Eric wasn’t buying it. “And not one other car passed by on that road while a gun was being waved at you?”

Travis looked devastated. “Evil Travis? You think I’m evil?”

“I said he ‘looked like’ an evil you. You guys are all missing the point…”

Cole smirked. “That only a fool would give a couple of thieves three hundred bucks?” All three nodded at that. “Where’s the gun?”

“I gave it to Kelly Jean. You think I’m making this up?”

“Show us the license pictures,” Travis added. “I want to see what this fake-me really looks like.”

“Seriously, guys! Think about it: I met Buffy the Vampire Slayer and lived to tell the tale! Where are my props?”

Happy New Year, guys.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

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Halloween, Ohio – Vampire Verisimilitude

btvsspike“In my day, no self-respecting creature of the night went out on All Hallow’s Eve. We left that to the posers, the blighters who had to dress up and try to be scary.” ~ Spike, “Angel”

Tomorrow night is the official Trick ‘r Treating — on All Hallow’s Eve, as it should be — 6:00pm to 7:30pm in the town I grew up.

Sunset is about 22 minutes after that… and I’ll be awake.

There’s little or no chance of rain today or tomorrow in the city of St. Clairsville, Ohio; highs in the mid 50s, perfect for going door-to-door in costume for candy. Neighborhoods like the one I grew up in are perfect for Trick ‘r Treating because it’s too far to walk out to my Gramma’s house in West Virginia.

halloweenpumpkinsSo why won’t I be in Glenville or at Cedarcrest Sanctum this weekend? I felt like a bit of a reset. I see my folks on Easter and Thanksgiving, usually reserving Christmas and New Years for the residents at Cedarcrest.

But not this year. I turn 28 next Saturday, November 5th, and I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic. I though that maybe I could make a tradition of hanging out with my folks while they’re still around… especially in light of the fact I haven’t aged in six years and subsist entirely on a diet of human blood.

Did I mention my dad dug a grave for me in the backyard and had a guest house built around it? I have a crafty old man when he wants to be.

I’m looking forward to the smell of freshly carved pumpkins with real candles burning inside (my mom always insists) and hot apple cider in the air. I want to see the kids in costume with their parents, especially when the adults dress up, too — happy family units going door-to-door. The Connelly Residence is always a favorite stop since my dad fills a huge plastic cauldron with full-size candy bars… take your pick.

btvssunnydaleclass1999My folks dress up but not in costumes; they let their decorations show off their spooky spirit.

What will I be wearing? Jeans, jacket, and a gray t-shirt that says “Sunnydale High School, Class of ’99.” Subtle, right? Even my ‘rents won’t get it.

Happy Halloween!

~ Janiss

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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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City Vamp, Country Vamp – Vampire Verisimilitude

Gilmer Country — home to both Glenville State College and our esteemed Cedarcrest Sanctum — was shown in a recent report to be the second-poorest county in West Virginia out of fifty-five counties. That sounds bad…until you realize the cost of living isn’t high here and college students (for the most part) aren’t working.

You also wouldn’t know it seeing all the upgrades GSC has been making over the past few years.

Fortunately, Glenville retains its country charm. I grew up in St. Clairsville “Go Devils!” Ohio — in spitting distance of Wheeling, West Virginia — but I consider myself a country girl and mountaineer at heart, always looking to spend as much time as possible at my grandparent’s farm.

I refrain from the word Hillbilly; I’m more like a Hillbecky.

VampireMouseI know Vampires in both Wheeling and Washington, D.C., but I can’t imagine subsisting in the city. Daytime below ground is a requirement for us, so penthouse suites and park-view condos are out of the question in terms of practicality — unless you have a private Batman-esque express elevator straight down into the basement. And how bad would living in New Orleans be with all the flooding? Yes, according to Anne Rice, the Big Easy is infested with immortals, but that has to be pure fiction; no one I know would spend their day’s rest in a flooded grave (it’s terrible what keeps happening there).

Vampires who are the feeding-on-criminal-scum types have to avoid authorities, closed-circuit television monitoring, and who knows what else. I mean, when people are hungry, they go where the food is; there’s a support system in place, right? You don’t put your Johnny Appleseed bag over your shoulder to pick fruit trees or milk a cow for something to pour over breakfast cereal. It’s the same with domesticated Vampires; you know where your next meal is coming from and it shouldn’t be a surprise pain-in-the-neck to anyone.

Still, the country is laid-back and takes its time. Give me the sounds of crickets and rustling leaves over sirens and screams any night.

Your mileage may vary…and isn’t that little vampire country mouse adorable?

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

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Small Town Mentality – Vampire Verisimilitude

We here at Cedarcrest Sanctum enjoy the benefits of a small community. Between residents and staff, we’re a hundred strong, and we all work together. It’s home to many of us, but at its heart, Cedarcrest still has to run like a business, the same as any household. When things aren’t working, it stands out; you can’t really hide issues like that in a crowd when there isn’t one.

GlenvilleStreetsideOur town of Glenville, West Virginia, is small — a little over 1,500 people — but unlike much of The Mountain State, the population is increasing. Glenville State College has expanded, like the Waco Center that opened a few years back providing a field house for the college and the county — so named for the significant donations made by Waco Oil & Gas founders Ike and Sue Morris (names that are hard to avoid in these parts). My grandparents enjoyed the weekly publications of The Glenville Democrat, a local newspaper that’s still here with one foot firmly planted in our digital world. And for those who remember, you no longer have to drive thirty or more miles into Weston or out to Flatwoods to get a McDonald’s cheeseburger anymore.

There are bad things, too, of course. Whispers of corruption for personal gain, crimes going unpunished, and the reputation that too much of West Virginia has become a safe haven for drug traffickers and a new source of addicts. With substance abuse also comes related crimes, some against the elderly to squeeze whatever money can be found for that next fix. With a local police force you can count on one hand and budget shortfalls toward law enforcement and investigation, I can only imagine how pointless it must feel at times. “It’s just Glenville,” all the larger and more important cities say.

What many of you have asked is why Cedarcrest isn’t doing something about it.

Here’s the truth: we can’t.

We just can’t.

What we do here requires maintaining a low profile. While I hesitate to use the word “outsider,” too many wouldn’t understand what we do here at Cedarcrest; even I questioned it when I was told what was really happening here. Vampires? Really? Keeping aging retirees alive in return for feeding their host? Never mind using special abilities or even donations to influence the community. We get to vote…like everyone else. The townsfolk can meet and talk and influence. What Cedarcrest can and is able to do is assess and combat threats that the local police (with noted exceptions) aren’t able to handle, the consequences of being here and taking responsibility for our presence.

I want those outside forces focused on me, not those around us.

So it’s as simple as that; Cedarcrest must leave Glenville to its own devices. Not because we hate it or we’re cruel but because wounds have to heal from the inside out. If I go to a council member or a constable and make them change their policies or direct resources in a particular direction, we’ll have to keep doing it, and I have no desire to run a small town like an immortal dictator. What’s next? Building a castle on the hilltop overlooking the cemetery? Brigades of peasants armed with torches and pitchforks to root out evildoers and drag them out to funeral pyres?

Okay, that last idea has merit, but we all have to follow the rules!

I understand the idea; all this power and money should be able to do more…but it can’t. It takes people willing to take back what’s theirs, campaign for the common good, and willing to listen as well as talk. It takes integrity to refuse controlled substances, ensure our friends and family refuse them as well, and eliminate the market.

I see more here than just sixty retirees. I see years of experience and strong wills, ties to the community and hopes for the future. It’s easy to point fingers and shake our heads about the way things used to be, but the phones work and you can call someone. You can send a text or post online. You can reach out and encourage others to help one another. We need to get the conversation going and make it okay for those who need help to keep their pride when they ask for it.

Decide what you want and make sure everyone knows it.

Glenville is your town, too.

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

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