Archive for the Yuletide Category

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (4/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

IV

I stagger through the thick snow, following the vampire’s trail into the woods that run alongside Pipe Creek. My vision is blurred and I’m losing too much blood. I cast a quick spell, but it’s a mere band-aid. My whole world is pain. I set it aside and press on. The cruor geminus will not go far. It can’t. The smell of my blood will be too much for it to ignore. It will come for me and most likely finish me off, but not without a fight.

            My head is swimming now. I’m in someone’s backyard. I can hear the creek behind me, smell the pine of the woods. I don’t know how I got here. Everything’s coming and going in flashes. The bite on my arm isn’t deep, but it’s poisonous. The vampire’s foul venom is working its way through my system. I have to find it. Have to end this. A shadow ahead. I see a manger scene, the baby Jesus surrounded by its mother and father, animals and wisemen. The shadow is framed by a Christmas Angel hovering above the manger, its lights blinking in an eclectic rhythm. My heart thunders in time with those angel wings.

            “Landon.”

            The voice is coming from the angel.

            I stagger toward it, lumbering, limping against the pain in my ravaged knee, cane dragging along through the snow loosely, carving a snaking trail through the fresh powder. The shadow comes forward revealing a different angel.

            “Sarah,” I choke. I taste blood on my lips. “You shouldn’t… be here. Run, young one. Be safe.” I lose my footing and descend to the ground onto my hands and knees. “Run, damn it.”

            “No, Landon,” she says. She lowers herself to me, cups my face in her hands. “I’ll not abandon you, my dear sweet Doctor.” I’m lost in her eyes. In her youth… her beauty. She leans in toward me, lips parting, coming dangerously close to mine.

            This is how it ends for the occult detective? With a kiss from a fiery-haired angel, bled out in the snow with the failed dream of winter on my lips? I rise up on my knees as she lays my head to the side. Her lips brush mine on her way to my neck. I feel her hot breath on my cold flesh. Then she’s gone… an explosion erupts across the lawn and I see two Sarahs — one struggling up from the ground, a spray of blood across the virgin snow —  the other holding a smoking Ruger .357.

            “Get away from him, you monster!”

            The beast transforms before my eyes. Sarah no more as it assumes the shape of Edward and marches toward her. Sarah fires again, and once more, but the fiend shrugs them off. I reach deep down inside me and rise, raising my cane and swinging it with all my might. It connects with the back of the cruor geminus’ head. The beast spins about and I charge.

            With the cane before me like a knight’s lance, I drive the shaft home, straight through the vampire’s chest, piercing the foul thing’s heart and driving it back into the manger. The angel overhead comes crashing down and the cruor geminus becomes entangled in the wire frame and blinking lights. As the sun rises, the fiend dies before our eyes, its body bound by the illuminating lights of a Christmas Angel.

            “Huh,” Sarah says, “I guess sometimes vampires do sparkle.”

The End

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (3/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

III

Magick has its advantages. Case in point, I am standing in the corner of a fifteen year old girl’s bedroom, completely invisible to any who might look my way. No scent to detect, no heat signature to register, not even the sound of my breathing can be heard. On the bed, Sarah Jones, lies suggestively draped across the top of her pink and mauve comforter, dressed in a black tank top and skirt that makes her pale flesh seem like alabaster. As she clicks away on her laptop computer, I make the mental calculations necessary to ensure that she does not become victim number four.

            I know what you’re thinking. No, I’m not some kind of pervert, though I might be scolded for placing such a young and vibrant child in mortal danger. Thing is, Sarah Jones is not your average fifteen year old. Imagine Nancy Drew, if you will, but with a bit more piss and vinegar. As Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes had his Baker Street Irregulars, I too have allies that fall somewhat south of the legal drinking age. Sarah is a paranormal investigator, being an integral cog in the so-called Ghostwriters Society that are comprised of author Steven Parker’s sons Dale and Allen, and Sarah’s cousin Cassidy Martin. They have been tested by fire on more than one occasion. Still, I feel somewhat guilty for using the fiery-haired teen as my proverbial hare in a snare. She was, of course, willing enough. Quite eager even. But as a rock gently raps against her bedroom window, I pray that my confidence in hers and my ability is not found wanting.

            Sarah rolls off the bed and approaches the window. She steals a glance toward me and I grind my teeth in anticipation. It must be unnerving for her, trusting that, though she cannot see me, I am in fact there ready to spring into action. She grips the window and opens it cautiously, the bitter cold of winter racing into the room.

            “Hello, Bella,” I hear the cruor geminus say. Softly. Seductively. “May I come inside?”

            Does her skin crawl? No. I see her sway, sense her body’s relaxing shift from heightened awareness to that of wanton desire. Can the creature’s powers be so overwhelming? She backs away from the window and calls to him.

            “Come to me, my love.”

            She is entranced. There is no mistake. My plan is unraveling before me. I prepare a counter spell, but already it’s too late. The creature is inside the room in an instant. She and I see it as it wishes to be seen, as a handsome young man with powder white flesh and full, pouting lips. It’s hair in a mock pompadour, flashing pearly white teeth behind golden eyes. The illusion is intoxicating, even for me. It leans in toward Sarah, its lips parted, moist and hungry.

            Leaping forward from my concealing spell, the head of my cane flares to life, bright and as radiant as the sun. It is enough to give the beast pause. What I didn’t expect was for Sarah to turn on me, grabbing a pair of scissors from her nightstand, and charging at me like a thing possessed. Yes, possessed — enthralled — and filled with lustful desire for her faux-Edward.

            I raise my cane too late as the scissors find the back of my hand. As I push her aside, I am met by the creature’s full force as it barrels into me, knocking me into the girl’s closet, splintering the bi-fold doors. I collapse to the floor, clothes falling from the rack overhead, blinding me as a rain of furious blows connect with my ribs, arm, and face. It’s fangs find bare flesh. It burns like fire. The smell and taste of my blood has the beast in a ravenous frenzy. It is by sheer willpower that I am able to conjure a magical counter to its devastating assault.

            A blast of eldritch energy explodes from my left hand hurling the cruor geminus into the far wall. I struggle to my feet, telekinetically call my cane back into my bleeding right hand, and approach the foul creature wearing a heartthrob’s face. Bearing its fangs, I grimace as I meet its aggression by swinging the cane like a bat, striking the beast full in the face. The cruor geminus falls back and through the window amidst a crash of broken glass. I approach cautiously but caught unprepared as Sarah buries the scissors into my right shoulder. I scream in agony, but am able to turn and grab the girl by her face.

            “Quiesco,” I say, softly, and Sarah Jones crumbles to the ground.

            The pain is exquisite. It sets my mind afire and it’s all I can do to jerk the instrument free. I stumble forward, to the window, and climb out, bleeding profusely from hand and shoulder. I can feel my ribs grinding in my chest and I’m all but certain that I’ve a fractured forearm.

            This is not how I’d planned tonight’s operation.

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (2/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Yuletide on December 3, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

II

Let’s get a few things straight. First, vampires don’t sparkle, despite what Megan Gamble’s late night reading might suggest. That’s right, of the eighteen varieties of bloodsucking fiends my family has cataloged over the years, not a one of them shimmer by sunlight. Granted, a couple of them do burst into flame when exposed to the sun’s attention, but that’s a far cry from all that sexy glimmering.

            I guess that leads into my second point, as in why I know these things to be true. My name is Landon Connors — Dr. Landon Connors, actually — and I hunt monsters (among other things). I came by this ‘profession‘ honestly enough. I guess you might say it’s the family business, though family is a looser term now seeing as I’m the only one left and I’m not exactly the marrying kind. My official title is ‘occult detective’ and yes, I wear a trenchcoat and fedora. Some cliches are just too good to mess with.

            Back at Caer Caliburn, the aged Victorian that my family has called home since the late 1800s, I diligently peruse the tattered Liber Monstrorum, a grimoire and bestiary of sorts that my forefathers have passed down through the years. Reading an entry by my great-grandfather, Gabriel Connors, regarding the cruor geminus, I find confirmation of my suspicions regarding Megan Gamble’s killer. Of course, she is not the only victim. There have been two others in as many months. All with the same telltale throat wounds. All with the same proclivity for reading material. Each a wannabe Bella. Each an eager vessel drained dry by a foul creature wearing an Edward mask.

            The cruor geminus is a nasty little beast with the ability to assume the appearance of someone their intended victim knows and trusts. And I’m pretty sure I’ve tracked this particular one before. The Cullen thing certainly fits his modus operandi. In the nineties, it trawled for victims wearing the face of Brad Pitt’s Louis. It’s a game for this damnable creature, wearing the cinematic face of the vampire, enticing its victims by playing to their erotic fantasies.

            But the game’s almost over. Though the three most recent victims had no physical connection to one another, I uncovered a cyber one. Each belonged to an online community, a messageboard upon which they poured out their longings for a romantic tryst with their undead paramour. All I needed was someone to use as bait for the cruor geminus, a lovely young girl to which the beast could not resist. Unfortunately for it, I have just the girl in mind for the job.

Yuletude Spirits: Dreams of Winter (1/4)

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

I

A line from Longfellow comes to me as I stare at the pale, lifeless child at my feet. ‘The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark.’ The Dark, capital ‘D’, if you don’t mind, has been of particularly nagging interest to me of late. As for mournful rustlings, well I’ve been knee-deep in those too. And it’s starting to piss me off.

            Surrounded by the girl’s belongings, it’s not hard to fathom how Megan Gamble’s mind worked. There’s a poster of a shirtless Alexander Skarsgard on the back of her door. Bookshelves overflow with Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, and Charlaine Harris urban fantasies, a well-read copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight rests on the nightstand. Evanescence, Pretty Reckless, and Nightwish CDs are scattered on the floor beside an old school jam-box. The clothes in her closet? All black and lots of lace and frills, plunging necklines and short skirts.

            I crack a window, light a cigarette, and watch the snow fall. Dreams of winter, I muse. No more dreams for her. I’ve got the itch for a drink, but I let the nicotine placate my self-destructive tendencies for now. I do my best to ignore the sounds of the cops behind me, grumbling about their business and their distaste for my presence. The feeling’s mutual. Grim thoughts give way to grim tidings and I’m on the verge of giving myself over to them, but there’s work to get to. Dark work.

            I flick the spent cowboy killer into the night air and ask the crime scene unit to give me a few minutes alone with the corpse. They look to the homicide detective at the door, my old pal Ellis DeTripp, and grouse at his nod of approval. They file past the hulk of a man — DeTripp stands an easy  six feet-four inches and tips the scales at more than twenty-two stone — and he closes the door behind them.

            “You too, Ellis,” I say, removing my coat and hat and laying them on the girl’s bed.

            “In your dreams, Connors. No freaking way I’m leaving you in here unsupervised.”

            “What’s the matter, Detective,” I scowl, “afraid I’ll lift something?”

            “Nah.” He kneels down awkwardly beside the girl’s body. “We already searched the room for drugs.”

            “She’s got the latest Dresden Files.”

            “Cute, but I know you don’t read that shit.” DeTripp casually traces the outline of the girl’s jawline with his fat forefinger, lingering near the gaping but bloodless wound at her throat. “You live it.”

            “What? You never climb inside a Michael Connelly novel?” I join him on the floor, just as awkwardly, my ruined knee groaning in protest. Without the support of my cane, an heirloom from late father’s collection, I’d be all but worthless in situations like these. Dead bodies require an up close and personal touch.

            “That’s different. Harry Bosch is the real deal.”

            I brush the big man’s hand away from the girl and examine the throat wound more closely. “And Harry Dresden isn’t?” I frown at the lack of blood, on the body or anywhere in the  room for that matter.

            “You know I don’t cater to all that magic mumbo-jumbo crap.”

            “And yet,” I say as I allow my hand to hover above the victim’s head, the telltale glow of magical energy sparking between my fingertips, “here I am.”

            “Again — different.”

            “Do tell?”

            “Meh,” he barks, groaning as he rises up from the floor, “just give me your goddamn theory so I can catch whoever did this before my ass is in a sling.”

            “Well, she was definitely killed here.”

            “Bull shit. No blood.”

            “Of course not.” I struggle to my feet, leaning heavily on father’s cane. “The killer took it with him.”

            “Landon Connors, I swear on my mother’s grave…”

            “Your mother’s alive. I had dinner with her last week.”

            “Just don’t freaking say what I know damn good and well you’re going to say.”

            “Fine.”

            We stare at each other uncomfortably long — he with a scowl, me with bemused acceptance. I know what’s coming next. I light a cigarette and wait for him to break.

            “Alright,” he barks, “…alright. Go ahead and say it.”

            “If you insist.” I exhale slowly. “Detective DeTripp, your killer is, without a doubt, a bloodsucking creature of the night.”

            “God damn it, I knew you were going to pull that shit on me.”

            The detective turns toward the door and throws it open in a huff, storming into the hall and past the awaiting crime scene investigators.

            “Would you have preferred that I used the word vampire?” I yell after him.

            He is not amused.

You’ve Been Warned

Posted in Yuletide on November 12, 2021 by Occult Detective
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