Undead @ The Empty Glass – Daughters of Darkness

For the uninitiated: “Daughters of Darkness” is a conversation between my neophyte self and a centuries-old immortal discussing (what else?) living forever on blood in the dark. Nancy hates that I keep doing this, yet she keeps agreeing to it… go figure.

Nancy: What forsaken place have you dragged me to this time?

Janiss: It’s called “The Empty Glass…”

N: As it says on the front. I can read, Janiss. Why here?

J: Just to change it up a little, plus they’re open past midnight.

N: Lucky us. There’s no karaoke, is there? I’ve murdered for less.

J: Oooh, such a tough Vampire! No, just “open mic night.”

N: It’s awfully small and too few exits.

J: It’s intimate. Are you already plotting your escape?

N: That depends on what the next singer-songwriter is about to inflict upon us.

The bartender brings the drinks we’ll barely touch.

N: (showing interest) What’s yours?

J: Woodchuck hard cider.

N: (dabs her finger in my pint glass and touches it to her tongue) Fruity. Barely alcoholic.

J: As if that made any difference.

N: Let’s get this over with. What’s the topic?

J: Vampire bloggers…

N: You’re not still commenting on that “mother succubus” blog, are you?

J: (smiling) Juliette’s blog, yes. “Musing’s of a modern Vampire mom.”

N: She’s not a real Vampire.

J: (shrugs) You don’t know that.

N: You have to have children to be a mom.

J: You had kids and you’re a Vampire, so what?

N: I gave birth before I was turned. Dead things don’t grow inside of dead things.

J: And yet two corpses are sitting at a table in the state capital of West “By God” Virginia pretending to drink while listening to… whatever that song is.

N: It sounds vaguely like the Ramones.

J: (gasps) You’ve heard the Ramones?

N: (trying not to smirk) I saw them live in Cleveland. They were touring with Iggy Pop. Late seventies. “Blitzkrieg Bop” sounds better when they perform it in person.

J: I’ve… got nothing.

N: So back to your living dead mom…

J: I like her. She’s sweet. She’s the kind of Vampire I try to be.

N: You mean a pretend Vampire?

J: “Character is what you are in the dark.” It’s a blog and she’s a writer. She tells cool stories, like her “Vlad’s Diary” series. And she takes care of her elders, even when they’re a bit confused about things now and then.

N: They’re Vampires too?

J: Of course.

N: Look, I know it’s fun to blur the lines like Stoker and Rice playing with the whole out-and-proud bit, but we survive upon mortal human blood. No matter how entertained people are by the idea of it, blood drinkers aren’t going to suddenly become acceptable, even if the Japanese invent TruBlood. I also don’t need to remind you how outnumbered we are.

J: It’s a spycraft thing. If people are watching for someone trying to not to be seen, don’t. Juliette’s sincere, and I like her idea of a Vampire family. Confidence works. If you look like you belong, no one thinks twice about it.

N: (smiling) I can’t remember ever being so naïve, and that’s coming from someone who remembers everything.

J: I still don’t see the harm. I work the night shift —

N: Which you don’t have to.

J: — and I’m very good at drawing blood.

N: Wink-wink, nudge-nudge. So why are you dredging this up again?

Continue reading “Undead @ The Empty Glass – Daughters of Darkness”

Lady Bat in Her Belfry

The day length for December 21st, 2020 was 9 hours, 26 minutes.

That also made it the longest night of the year… perfect for Vampires.

Happy Winter Solstice. I spent it on the rooftop of Cedarcrest Sanctum in my “lunarium” where I keep my telescopes. Cole refers to it as my belfry; he even hug up a little bell up to make it official. I was trying to watch the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn crossing paths, but overcast skies are thwarted my plans to see it live. I resisted cheating the weather patterns.

In facility news, we got the first round of our COVID vaccine fully distributed to residents and staff over the weekend. It doesn’t mean we’re safe; it means the end is in sight but we have to stay vigilant, remembering to mask up and keep social distancing.

And while “that guy” has less than thirty days before eviction from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C., a new round of stimulus checks will hopefully be going out to Americans soon.

I know we’ve been lucky, and I know many have not. I also know we’re all tired of “the new normal,” but things really are looking much more hopeful than they have for a long time.

Sorry for the late post. My New Year’s Resolution is to get back to a regular blogging schedule. Things have happened and been happening — you’ll find out more about them soon.

Trust me; I’m a Vampire.

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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An Old-Time Allegheny Christmas – Daughters of Darkness

From three years ago… enjoy!

Cedarcrest Sanctum

Note: this conversation originally took place on the evening of Wednesday, December 21st — the 2016 Winter Solstice.


2016daughtersofdarknessJaniss: We’re back for another evening of hot cocoa and immortal talk. Say hello, Nancy.

Nancy: (long sigh) Hello.

J: It’s the longest night of the year, and you’ve chosen to spend at least a little of it with me — thank you.

N: Free drinks, yes?

J: I pay for those.

N: Free for me, then. (sips) What topic have you chosen?

J: Christmas, of course.

N: Very appropriate. (gestures at all the decorations and shoppers, then at her themed cup) Continue.

J: (leans forward) Do you celebrate it?

N: (raises an eyebrow)

J: Come on, you can’t tell me you’ve never been swayed by the Christmas spirit. Not once in three centuries?

N: I most often choose to spend it alone not killing anyone.

J: Isn’t that how you spend…

View original post 1,089 more words

The Longest Night of the Year — Vampire Verisimilitude

Happy Winter Solstice to all! That was yesterday technically — last night for me — but I prefer to think my heart is still in the right place.

This post is going to sound cryptic, so fair warning.

Things have changed. No, I can’t go into details about it, and yes, it has something to do with our last evacuation drill.

On a sad note, we lost one of our own. On a positive note, others are now safe, even if we don’t know where they are.

I warned you it was cryptic.

Yes, I’m fine, for those who’ve been asking.

As we draw closer to Christmas and the New Year, here’s another reminder from your executive administrator and the entire staff of Cedarcrest Sanctum that to make the most of the time you have with the people you love, especially since none of us know how long that may be.

Trust me — I’m a Vampire.

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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A Psycho-Sexual Fetish-Driven Delusional Person

So someone asked this question:

Who would need a psycho-sexual fetish-driven delusional person who believes they are a vampire?

I think this was in response to something I shared about “If you need me, I’ll be in my sarcophagus,” an obvious riff on the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Beep-Me meme.

And yet, an individual immediately launched into the notion that anyone saying such a thing came per-loaded with enough baggage to keep a psychiatrist busy for decades.

My first thought was, “Dude, who pissed in your cornflakes?!”

Look… I didn’t ask for this. I’m probably as vanilla as thinkable in the bedroom (good God, I dated the same guy in high school and college) and I never eat where I sleep. Fetish? I like red — poppy red, to be exact. I own one little black dress which I’ve worn exactly twice. Okay fine: I sleep naked, but that’s because it feels safe and comfortable inside my stone box and it’s also NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Be thankful you don’t feel like death-warmed-over during the daytime, and no, it isn’t one of those “destroyed by sunlight” things. Half-truths and a lack of understanding have kept Vampires safe from non-believers for centuries, but listening to judgmental little shits over social media is more than a little annoying.

Fortunately, I don’t have to do a thing about it. You’ll keep getting older — I won’t.

Tiiiiiiiiiime, is on my side… yes it is!

But thanks for the writing prompt. You do you.

Trust me — I’m a Vampire.

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Objects In Mirrors – Vampire Verisimilitude

Ever heard the tale of Androcles and the Lion? There are plenty of variations, but the core of the story is that a mortal man cares for a deadly lion in need of help, foregoing his own safety to do so since the lion can kill the man on a whim. This selfless act earns the predator’s respect and affection; not only will the man remain safe in the lion’s company but can count on the protection of the clawed and fanged creature if threatened.

Surprise FYI: Vampires aren’t all that different, folks.

When I was turned and subsequently abandoned, I internalized; I couldn’t bear the death of even one more innocent on my conscience. Fortunately, I was taken in, provided for, and (mostly) allowed time to figure things out.

Everyone needs help from time to time, whether it’s having a thorn removed from a paw or satisfying the thirst of an immortal. There’s always a risk, of course; every situation and individual are different, just like Vampires or lions.

Sometimes hope isn’t as unattainable as you think; your fate isn’t sealed. I took a life when the monster took over, and while the lives I’ve saved will never replace the one taken, I don’t save them in penance; I do it because it’s the right thing to do… and because I have the power to do so.

If you need help, seek it. If you are offered help, accept it.

And even if you’re afraid, sometimes it’s still good to be another’s hope — even at risk to yourself.

If there’s a better definition of heroism, I’ve never heard it.

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Immortal Holiday, Part 9: Homeward

“What did we get?” I asked Cole after takeoff.

He tapped up a few screens on his laptop. “A few local exchanges and recent call numbers. It’ll take a while to go through the data. Tucker lives for this; I’ll send the entire sample to him.”

“Good idea. And good job tonight.” I glanced toward Travis. “Both of you.”

“We should have caught that sooner…”

“Me, too.” I noticed mom and dad together in the back of the plane where mom had napped out on the way up. They seemed okay, but it was all a bit of a shock: a bitter end to an otherwise enjoyable weekend. Now we were all questioning what parts were real and which weren’t… as well as who to trust. I went back to sit with them.

“He didn’t even seem apologetic,” my dad said to me, “like he was just doing his job.”

“And nothing else seemed weird before that? Mom and I had never met Ron or Cammie before.”

Dad shrugged. “Same old Ron… right up to the end.” He smiled. “Bet he didn’t figure on you sweeping him up like that!”

“Ron also didn’t resist, and I think Cammie gave herself away on purpose.” It reminded me of Nancy’s invasion of Cedarcrest. “Vampires don’t trust anyone they can’t thrall. Maybe if I was a little less trusting — ”

“You didn’t know, Sweetie,” mom reassured me. “But all-in-all, it was a lovely weekend. Good food, good company… surely Willie wasn’t in on it.”

I wasn’t convinced. “From what Ron started to say, this Adam took the time to find out who I was, who you were, who Ron was, and set all this up. I can’t imagine his intention was to do us harm; he passed up plenty of opportunities before that.” I shuddered at the thought of letting my parents sleep there, in his house, when they could have been kidnapped, murdered, or worse.

“We’re all safe now,” my mom said, ” and that’s what’s important. Well, that and me winning our bet.”

I eyeballed my mom. “What bet?”

She grinned. “On whether or not he could talk you into biting him.”

Dad rolled his eyes and smirked.

“You had a bet going?”

“You should have seen him!” mom said, imitating the way dad would act full of himself. “‘I know my daughter. If she thinks she’s fulfilling someone’s fondest wish, she’ll bend over backwards!’ Imagine his surprise when you refused. I said you’d think it was creepy…”

I flashed my fangs at my mom and pretended to scowl at her. “Maybe I should bite you.”

“Anything you need, Sweetie,” she replied in the most mom-like way possible.

I hope everyone had a good holiday. 😘

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Immortal Holiday, Part 8: Reveal

“Please don’t hurt anyone,” a calm voice instructed. “No one has come to any harm, and I leave it up to you for that to continue.”

The sound was coming from one of those hockey puck-sized digital assistant devices. It had been sitting unassuming on a table the entire weekend and I hadn’t once considered it might have been listening to us — lessons learned.

“Janiss?” the voice continued.

I loosened my grip on Uncle Ron and drew my talons in. “Adam, I presume?”

“A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Connelly. Forgive my methods, but I’m something of a recluse and prefer this over an in-person meeting.”

“So you’re a coward.” Ladies and gentlemen: my mom.

“What you call methods,” I interrupted, “I call a serious breach of etiquette. You might have just messaged me.”

“I wanted to hear you as you were, gauge your demeanor in social interaction. I found rumors of your willingness to pass as mortal intriguing, but your ferocity in the protection of your charges? That has become something of legend in our circles.”

“Meet me alone and I’ll scratch my name across your forehead; that’ll give you something to talk about.” I saw Travis grin; someone was having a good time.

Adam’s brief pause didn’t go unnoticed; he was thinking about it. “Your aircraft is waiting at Bishop. We can continue this another time. It was good — ”

“Hear this, Adam,” I cut him off. “You’re on notice as of now, and I will find out all about you. Come at me or those under my protection again and you’ll serve as a dire warning. If you still want to talk, send an email.” I released Ron to better rip the audio puck out of the wall by its cords and launch it through a window into the front yard. “Travis?”

Switching places to guard my mother from Cammie — I loved the way she slinked backward as I approached — Travis got up close and personal with Ron, filching a mobile phone for his efforts. Tossing it to Cole, a quick copy of the contents was made through the data port; it was a start.

“Adam came to us months ago…” Ron started to explain, looking toward my dad for possible forgiveness.

“Don’t,” my dad replied. “You’re a liar and that’s quite enough.”

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Immortal Holiday, Part 7: Conflict

“Hey, daddy!” I said, strolling in from the kitchen and finding a place to plop down on the couch… separating him from Uncle Ron in his recliner. Mom was on a love seat watching something on television.

“Dishes done, sweetie?” my dad asked.

I nodded before turning to Ron. “This has been an amazing weekend, but I have to know: whose idea was it to invite me?”

“Ron’s,” my father answered as I stared my so-called uncle down.

Not surprised. “Is that right?”

Aunt Cammie returned from the bathroom sporting a bandaid over her cut finger. She was moving toward my mother with purpose. I met her eyes as I spoke.

Stop, Cammie,” I commanded her. She didn’t, of course, stopping instead behind my mom’s chair and within easy reach of her.

Ghouled… probably both of them.

“Mom? Dad?” I asked. “Are you both packed?”

Before either responded, Uncle Ron turned the television off with the remote. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding…”

There are times I amaze myself with the speed I can move when I’ve fed recently. Whether he intended to defend himself or not, I sprang from my seat and caught Ron by the throat, hauling him out of the recliner and pinning him against the wall. My ferocity seemed to have gotten his attention. “Cammie, if you so much as twitch in my mother’s direction, I will beat you senseless with Ron’s spine, so now would be a good time to start talking.”

I was impressed how well my parents were taking the whole thing in stride. Had they already suspected?

“Adam is Flint’s local lord,” Cammie explained… sounding surprisingly worried. By lord I assumed she meant Vampire. “You are here at his invitation. If you act out now, it won’t go well for you.”

I recalled that Michigan had a population of about ten million, so by Magdy’s estimates, there were about eight Vampires in the state. The sad part was that we had checked; there was zero evidence of any immortal activity in the Flint area, not for a decade.

I squeezed Ron’s throat a bit tighter, but I was certain he wasn’t fighting me. Cammie might not have been careless; I may have meant to discover the deception at this point. Were they both waiting to see what I would do next… or were they waiting for others to arrive?

Two doors broke open; Travis came in the front entry as Cole appeared from the kitchen. “Anyone else?” Cole asked as he surveyed the situation.

“Not in here,” I answered. “Dad?”

“Everyone else left hours ago.” Dad understood something was amiss; he and mom were keeping their cool wonderfully. Travis inserted himself between mom and Cammie. I concentrated and couldn’t sense any Vampires close by. Unless the house was wired to explode, my guys had the upper hand.

I turned my attention back to “uncle” Ron. “You’re up. Are we expecting more company, or are you going to start talking now?”

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Immortal Holiday, Part 6: Trapped

Aunt Cammie asked me into the kitchen while Uncle Ron continued to entertain with my parents on the enclosed back porch. I never knew her growing up, so there was a lot of trust set forth with my dad as the common denominator, but I also had no reason to doubt her. It had been an enjoyable weekend with people coming and going — even if I only saw them in the evenings.

“I understand you’re heading back tonight,” Cammie said. “Seems a bit late for a flight out of Bishop International.” She started washing dishes as she spoke.

“We have a charter plane through the place I work.” I joined in with a towel as she filled the dish rack.

“Your father mentioned you ran a big facility down in West Virginia. Glenville, wasn’t it? I wouldn’t have thought a rest home would generate that kind of revenue.”

I smiled. “We’re privately funded through a charity trust and also work on longevity research — cutting-edge biotech. I don’t how all of it works; I just administrate the residential facility.”

“That’s impressive for someone your age.” As she finished with the plates, she scooped up several pieces of silverware at once to scrub them together. “Was that what you’ve always wanted to do?”

“I enjoy helping people, but I had originally planned on becoming a teacher — ”

That’s when I noticed the way Aunt Cammie changed up how she washed the utensils, just in time to nick the side of her finger with a knife. I tensed at seeing the first droplet of blood form as Cammie shut off the water, but I stayed composed (having fed from both Cole and Travis before coming over) and casually ripped a paper towel from the nearby roll to hand to her. “I never do that,” she chuckled, wrapping her finger and holding it tight.

“Everybody does it. Where do you keep your bandaids and Neosporin?”

“In the bathroom. Go on back in — ”

“Go ahead,” I told her, starting in on finishing the dishes. “I’ve got this.”

“I… see that. Be right back.”

I rewound what saw in my mind: perfect recall. She had tensed in anticipation of her cut, but why would she cut herself? It felt distinctly like a Vampire test — one I assumed I passed — but it was the first inkling I’d felt all weekend that anything was amiss.

If the cut wasn’t an accident, my parents and I were already caught in the trap… and Uncle Ron was certainly a part of it.

I finished the dishes, put them away, and calmly considered all the ways I could eviscerate my dad’s half-brother.

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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