Friday, June 2, 2017

Chapter 5 of Book 1 of 3 as a sample read

Chapter 5


Rebe, Susana, and Bekka checked out of the Rosewood and parked the car in an estacionamiento near the hotel because they had noticed the day before that there were few places to park in Centro. 
The colonial town was packed with tourists. In the taxi to Demetrio’s house, Rebe said that it would be interesting to hear him explain why they would be weak for three days before the full moon and might actually die. “I have never heard of such a thing; he must have a great imagination, or maybe he’s just a weirdo. By the way, do either of you feel weak today?”
They both replied, “No” at the same time. “Me either.”
A nun in full habit answered the door and introduced herself as Sister Helga. She took them to the chapel on the third floor where Demetrio was waiting. He told them that Sister Helga would be bringing them their meals, which would be quite Spartan, unfortunately.
“Bekka, as a chef you will be disappointed, but do not leave this room for three days except during the few hours when the sun is at its highest point. I know you will want to go out and experience the fine dining of San Miguel de Allende or call for delivery – do not. I do not want people to know you are here. Also, keep the wooden windows shut exactly as they are now to keep out the moon’s rays. I have only today and tomorrow to talk to you before I leave for Merida. I should not need your promise that you will follow these directions. In the old days, you would not be able to disobey me, but I guess things have changed a lot in the last thousand years. So I do need you to promise me that you will follow my directions. In the meantime, Sister Helga will bring breakfast, and you can unpack. I will return to talk to you when you are settled.”
As he left, Rebe said, “Wow, Bekka you sure know how to pick them, don’t you? I hope he is not going to make us sex slaves or cleaning ladies or something.”
Susana laughed and said to Rebe, “Well, sex slavery might not be so bad at our age.”
Rebe replied, “At our age? We’re in our 40’s; we’re still desirable women. At least he found us desirable the other night, remember?”
Bekka rolled her eyes, “Settle down girlfriends; look for your own men. This one is mine. I can feel it.” At that she left the room to find Demetrio.
She walked down the stone stairs and through the center courtyard to find him sitting in an easy chair in the living room in front of French doors opening onto a small balcony. He looked up from the book he was reading and said, “Is it possible for you to follow directions?”
She replied, “I follow directions when it suits me. So yes, it’s possible. Why are your doors open Demetrio, and ours can’t be? Are you locking us in?”
He stood and walked over to her, took her hand in his and sighed, “You will understand in a few minutes when I come up to talk to you; in the meantime, please join Rebe and Susana and unpack. I know you, especially, are confused and I am sorry for that. I will explain everything to you when I talk to you all together.”
Bekka didn’t argue with him. She turned and retraced her path to the chapel where Rebe and Susana were waiting. She took a seat away from the other two and pouted, silently daring either one of them to say anything silly. She was disappointed. She was hoping, that in the quiet moment between them, he would take her into his arms and make love to her. She would not even have cared if her passionate moans would have been loud enough to hear.
A few minutes later, Demetrio walked into the chapel and sat down in an intricately designed chair, an artifact from Spain when Spain was a world power. He looked at the three women as they waited expectantly and wondered where he should begin. He was about to introduce them to a world far different than the one in which they had been living. He thought to himself, “With so much to tell them, where should I start?”
To his surprise, Rebe said out loud, “How about you begin with the part where you started messing with our lives,” then silently to herself, “or perhaps start with that magic moment when some court pronounced that you were sane.”
“My sanity is not in question here,” he said.
Rebe glanced quickly at him, embarrassed by her sarcastic thoughts, and then she said, “Could you please just tell us what’s going on? You said we should feel weak this close to the full moon, but we all feel fine, so whatever you think is happening probably isn’t happening. If this is some elaborate scheme to get the girl, Bekka already likes you, so can we go now?  I have to get back to my life.”
Demetrio cleared his throat and leaned forward, “Your life had changed. I do not know why this has happened to the three of you, but there is a reason, and you need to accept that reason even though I cannot explain it to you easily.  And when that reason becomes apparent, have faith in the forces that are now beyond your comprehension; have faith that you were created for the light. Do not turn from it. There are many powers in this world, some of which will try to destroy you, some of which will help you, but most of which are not committed to any side, be it light or dark. I hope you grow wise enough to know the difference between these three inclinations. Rebe, this instinct lies undeveloped within you, as does telepathy and other skills you have yet to discover. I suspect that you will soon be able to move objects without touching them. We, all of us, are born with natural gifts that lie latent in our unconscious minds until they are discovered. In the world today, the one that exists in tandem with yours, you will all no doubt need every natural gift granted to you and need to learn more through practice and study. Bekka, one of your natural gifts – one you have developed yourself but that will now become quite strong – is the gift of enchantment. You will be able to mesmerize even your strongest opponent, but be careful not to create unnecessary opponents through your careless vivacity. Even now, I think you could start wars.”
Demetrio stared at her lovingly and then gently moved a lock of her red hair away from her face, tucking it firmly behind her ear, “Look at me, mi corazon, mi vida,” he whispered coarsely, “Look at me, and let me remember you always this way.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, you barely even know her.”
Susana’s voice cut through the tenderness of the moment. Her shrill impatience shattered the mood, and Demetrio turned his attention to her, but did not move. “Susana, you have the power to destroy the forces that would harm you. I have never met anyone seething with such evident and undirected blunt force. When I bit you, I tasted chemicals – toxins that are not natural in the human body. I hate to ask you this, but have you been exposed to a large quantity of toxic chemicals?”
Susana sat up straight as if she were on trial and narrowed her eyes, “Yes, Demetrio, yes I have. I had a court case pending for years in Fresno against the government, but that’s all public record. You could easily have looked that up on the internet while you were fishing for women.”
“No, I did not look that up on the internet, but I can tell that something has changed the structure of your cells. Chemical exposure would affect you more than others, I think, because you were born with the proclivity for shape-shifting. There are few natural shape-shifters left, but from what I understand from my readings, their cells exist in a state of flux, of potentiality. Shape-shifting can be learned, but it takes years upon years of mental and physical training, so not many pursue the skill. You also have an intense rage just below the surface of your conscious mind. I can feel it, just waiting to be released. I cannot say whether this is natural to you or whether it has become part of you through years of fighting the injustice that now marks your cells. But it is there, and you will have to be very careful to control it. Remember that a tiger out of its cage attacks whatever is close, including the one who released it. Your training in martial arts helps you control yourself right now, but you will need to train more frequently in the future so that you will be able to avoid senseless violence.”
While Demetrio was speaking, he was holding Bekka’s hair loosely in his hand, playing with it. He let it go and stood to pace slowly around the room, “Rebe, follow my thoughts; know what I am saying is true.”
Rebe nodded and focused on Demetrio as he continued, “I am what is called a White Vampire, and I have regrettably, turned all three of you into the same. Modern folklore focuses only on Night Vampires, so I doubt that you know anything that pertains to our existence. First of all, let me say that the full moon will kill you within minutes. This is what you need to know right now. For three days before the full moon, you can become weak and disoriented, and you may experience the symptoms of say, the flu. If you avoid the moon during those waxing days and then absolutely when it is full, you should be fine. Never, never, never, go out into the rays of the full moon. The images you have probably seen of Night Vampires under the rays of the sun are roughly similar to what happens to White Vampires under the rays of the full moon.”
Bekka gasped and began twirling a lock of her own hair around her index finger and said to Demetrio, “Presuming this absurd story of yours is true, and you are not delusional, how are we different from Night Vampires who die from the sun?” 
Demetrio answered, “Other than dying miserable deaths full of suffering, the similarities between the Night Vampires and White Vampires are few. We are both granted immortality, and we both need blood to survive, but White Vampires need very little blood to survive, and our saliva acts as a natural anesthetic so the bitten do not have to suffer. We do not fly. We do not turn into bats as folklore implies – neither do Night Vampires. We do not sleep in coffins. We can mate, and usually do so for life, and our women bring forth children. We live with our families or are solitary instead of living in communal nests. We grow stronger as we age. We are few in number because we are usually born rather than created.”
Rebe said, “I know that you think what you are saying is true, but that doesn’t make it real. This is all,” she moved her hands as if to encompass her surroundings, “utter madness from an unstable mind. I’m a college professor, for the love of God; give me some details here, something to think with. When were you born? Why are you in San Miguel de Allende? Where are your parents? Why are you messing with us?”
The confused Susana interrupted, “I think you are making this a racial issue. I mean, white implies something good, and night implies black as in something evil. You say that White Vampires do not require much blood, only a few sips, that your saliva is like an anesthetic so the victim can’t feel your bite. So you’re saying you whites are the good guys, and the blacks are the bat-shit-flying-insatiable-monster types. Can I see your teeth?” asked Susana.
Demetrio sighed and said, “I can assure you that they are quite normal. For the love of God, I cannot believe I am doing this; yes, look at my teeth.”  He opened his mouth and showed them a set of perfectly even white teeth. 
Bekka started laughing, “Do you see a dentist every six months for bleaching to keep them so nice?”
“Yes,” said Demetrio, “I do.  My dentist is a Night Vampire, actually. You three are like children and trying my patience. Can we continue with Rebe’s questions?”
Susana blurted a sarcastic cackle, “Well, we are your children, right? Only we don’t behave, and we aren’t little, and apparently you can have sex with one of us.  Not cool, by the way.”
Demetrio’s demeanor grew suddenly menacing; his stance and gaze hardened into a stop-the-bullshit position but did so quietly. 
Susana marveled at the change and hoped that she could someday become so intimidating so quickly. The three women sat silent, staring at him in disbelief.
Demetrio sighed and started again, “Okay, I will break it down for you quickly. After that, I will no longer ask that you believe me; you are free to believe what you choose. My family is from Spain. Before that, I do not know where we made our home although I have relatives throughout the eastern Mediterranean. As Jews, we had to move frequently because of the sporadic persecutions by the Christians. My father’s father was in Spain as the Western Roman Empire was crumbling. We moved to England from Spain in 1492 to escape the persecution of the Jews at the hands of the victorious Catholic monarchs. My father, at that time, refused to give up his faith in the one true God. Later, when we moved to England, he converted to Catholicism. His conversion was sincere; he saw the one true God in a different light – same God, different light. Then in 1535, King Henry abolished the Catholic Church, so we fled to Mexico, and what a long difficult trip that was – not really worth it, in retrospect. My father believed that the authorities would begin persecuting Catholics and that he and my mother, just as his parents before him, would die for his faith. I suppose you could say that he had lived through so much religious turmoil that he could not imagine a life without it. Life was defined by religious turmoil and had been for more than a thousand years. But father was dedicated to the church and thoughtful about how the church could best conduct itself. A dreamer, he was – always planning utopias based on divine love. He spent many hours discussing religious policy with Thomas Moore, who had the ear of the king in those days, before he lost his ears altogether.”
Demetrio stared off into the distance as he remembered his father, and he paused for so long that the women were afraid he would stop talking. But he continued, “He was a good father. So in 1536, we made a long and difficult journey to Mexico. We had to go through Spain, but that is a story for another time. A bit more than a century later, in a land they loved and helped establish, my mother and father were both burned at the stake for being witches. They left me under the protection of their dearest friend, Bishop Juan de Zumarraga. Yes, I was an adult and did not need to be cared for like a child, but the elitists of Mexico City had turned against me because of my father’s political opinions, so I did need protection from a web of political and religious machinations for which I had no proclivity. Zumarraga died, and I came eventually to San Miguel Grande in 1780 and bought this house. The Parroquia was not here then, nor the Belles Artes, nor the Instituto, but the town was sizable for its time and well supplied because of the silver mines.”
“Wait,” said Rebe, “you said the full moon would kill us. If that’s true, then how could you have possibly sailed across the Atlantic in the 16th century without being exposed to it? I think I see a flaw in your story Mr. Vampire Man.” She smiled a satisfied little smile and raised her eyebrows at him.
Demetrio laughed then – laughed the gentle laugh of a kind man, and Bekka instinctively reached for his hand and held it as he continued. “Ah, perceptive question, and the answer is none of your business, but my father had a pendant that protected him from the moon so that he was able to protect us when we had to hide below deck. There were some close calls; many people ended up as food for the fish.  As I said, it was a difficult trip and made more difficult because of our restrictions and my mother’s beauty. I will tell you more about it one day when we have more time.
Rebe was not satisfied by his answer, and wanted to know more about the nature of their predicament so asked again, “Okay, a story for another time, but please tell us now exactly how are we different from Night Vampires. We have the horrible death thing in common, immortality, and the need for blood. Seems like we’re pretty similar.”
He shut his eyes and sighed, “Three shallow things in common hardly make us similar. It is too hard to explain in detail, but we experience the world in a different way; we can shift into what we call the middle world, nothing to do with ‘middle earth,’ mind you. There is no such thing as an elf or a hobbit, not that I know of, but we can experience the world not as a passive/active binary. It is a shift in perception that brings wisdom, and there have been only a few cultures in the world that have experienced a non-binary existence. Ancient Greece was one of these cultures, and that is why many of us think that we were first created there, well over 3,000 years ago. I do not know the facts as to how we came about, but I will tell you that there are traditions we hand down, and some of them may have a basis in reality, and others may not. But I do know that one thing is true – we can understand the world in a different way than the Night Vampires or humans, and we can see truths that they cannot. How this helps us is not specific – it cannot be quantified – it can only be experienced.”
Demetrio stared into each of their eyes and asked them, “Have you not noticed there is an enhancement of your innate skills and tendencies, as I discussed earlier, and that you are experiencing the world in a different way now?”
The three answered, “Yes” at the same time, and Bekka added, “That is why we had to find you.”
Rebe said, “I thought vampires shared our existence on this planet since the beginning of, well, whatever was begun.”
If Demetrio was tired of explanations and questions, he did a good job of hiding it. He leaned back in his chair while still holding Bekka’s hand and said, “Yes, everyone thinks that. I do too. But we are not like what you call ‘regular’ vampires. If I were explaining this to a child, I would say that we are the children of Apollo, the third god of the sun, bringing into existence his own children to share the world with the children of his sister Artemis. Artemis takes three forms: one of them is the goddess of the moon, the other the hunt, and the third the crossroads. She is a virgin goddess, so vampires of the night are never birthed. They create each other, sometimes rather carelessly, just as I created you rather carelessly. But every vampire bears some responsibility for its creations; there is a bond between them, and even the most wicked of Night Vampires care deeply for their ‘children.’”
Susana had been listening closely, entranced by the story and asked, “Are they our enemies then, the Night Vampires? You seem to think they are evil.”
“No, they are not our natural enemies. We have no natural enemies per se, but we do get into what could be described as clan wars. Are they evil? Well, no, they are not evil by nature, but they are prone to a hard cynicism that comes with living too long and needing too much. Remember, one of the differences between us is that we do not need to feed on humans to the same extent, so we do not feel the same kind of blood lust. We rarely kill our prey; they rarely do not. I have been given to understand that it takes tremendous self-control for a Night Vampire to stop drinking once it has started, but I know a few of them who enjoy the company of people and keep them around for a long time as friends and food sources.”
He looked at Bekka for a second as if to tell her to mark well his next statement, “I have a friend here, Julia, who lives right outside of town in Las Frailes next to the lake. She came on the same ship with my family to Mexico, and my father protected her and taught her our ways. She owns a piano lounge on a street called Mesones, which does not open until 10 pm for obvious reasons. It is a hot bed for Night Vampires and brujas. You might even call it their social club. She feeds from her friends instead of feeding on strangers, and this seems to work for her, but she is quite old and experienced. We spend a lot of time together since we have been friends for so many years, and she has helped me out more than once against the brujas and Night Vampires in this town. So I can say for certain that she is not an evil woman. The cynicism that often develops into what we consider ‘evil’ may very well stem from one fact; they cannot go out during the day.”
Rebe thought she might change the subject a bit to keep him talking, to keep him giving information to them about their current predicament, so she asked him about San Miguel de Allende and why he did not hunt people here.
“San Miguel de Allende is a feeding ground for evil. There are many elements that come together here to create a mystical place: the springs, the pyramid, the blood corruption, the expats, the violence of revolutions, secret societies and the Catholic Church, and the occupation by the Spanish. But more than that, there are so many competing forces in this town that the entire area is miasmatic; sucking on the blood of a person here will drive you crazy. I leave San Miguel de Allende looking for pure, untainted blood.”
Bekka asked, “What do you mean about untainted blood? That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Demetrio thought for a moment and then responded, “Seriously, Bekka, let me tell you something. This town, now more than ever, is like Sodom and Gomorrah. It is licentious and incestuous; the social diseases here are not even recognized by modern medicine. The sexual depravity is only one of the reasons the blood is tainted. I think the expat population, which is always increasing, has even exacerbated the problem that the Spanish introduced with their diseases and their brutalities. The Otomi tribe that first populated this area had a unique blood type, not seen elsewhere, and perhaps this fact could go a long way in explaining the blood mutations that effect the present population. People seem to leave their morals at the border and engage in behaviors that they would never have thought of before. They say, ‘What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico.’ I know a man who does not live far from here who sends his wife out to find children to bring home for orgies. I find this behavior absolutely abhorrent.”
Susana asked him why he hadn’t taken care of this situation, and he replied, “What can I do? There are so many situations – some that are even worse – too many. I am only one man, and I am not a murderer. We White Vampires have always kept our blood pure, unlike the Night Vampires.”
Bekka asked, “Why don’t you call the authorities on that pervert?”
“Justice here is for sale; it would do no good to call the authorities.”
Rebe said, “If any of what you’re saying is true, I can tell you that I, myself, will bring justice to this town, and I am not for sale.” She looked forcefully at the other two women and said, “Don’t you agree?”
They both nodded and responded, “Yes” at the same time.
Demetrio continued, “Before the Internet and dating sites, it was so difficult to hunt. I had me, my horse, and a long road ahead of me – all very lonely, actually. Then, well, the trains, planes, and automobiles made hunting so much easier. But it was not always like this. The old church outside of modern San Miguel de Allende is one of the things that makes this town magical. Perhaps it is the blending of traditions; it is a home for indigenous and gringo gods – past and present, evil and good. If you look down from the heavens, you can see seven places on the planet faintly glowing. San Miguel de Allende is one of these places. Also, there are faint lines you can see running between the churches here. Scientists assume these traces are somehow due to the underwater systems in San Miguel de Allende, but they are not. I will explain later.”
Rebe then asked, “Who is Sister Helga?” Demetrio said, “This will be maybe even harder for you to believe, but she is the reincarnated Father Hildago who started the war of independence with Ignacio Allende. The Spaniards hanged him, and were about to decapitate him, but the Eagle King flew down and took his soul before his heart beat for the last time. The king took his soul to the pyramid outside of San Miguel Grande and then to the old church where a nun was dying. Somehow, he and she will live forever inside her body.”
Rebe, ever the questioning one, threw up her hands and stormed out into the courtyard. Suddenly, she felt she had a really bad flu virus. She returned to the chapel and immediately felt better. Afraid that what Demetrio had said might be true, she asked, “How could I go from having the flu symptoms to feeling fine as soon as I returned to the chapel?”
Bekka said that the same thing happened to her when she went to the living room. Demetrio said, “Now maybe you are beginning to believe some of what I have told you. These symptoms are warning signs that begin three days before the moon is full.”
Then he turned to Bekka and walked closer to her and said, “I did not leave you because I did not want to be with you. I did and still do. Because of my desire for you, I fed on Rebe and Susana. But I have been faithful to one woman for a long time; her name is Rose. She was murdered during the war of independence, and I loved her so much I turned her into a White Vampire. She has hated me ever since. I have hoped that she would return to me eventually. She has now called me to Merida day after tomorrow, during the full moon, to visit her. I hope you can understand eternal love.”
Bekka bent her head down and wanted to cry, but she held it in. 
Demetrio continued, “You three will be eternally bound together, and in time, you will understand this. I have far too much to tell you and cannot do so before I leave.  While I am away, Sister Helga will continue your education. Remember, together you have everything; apart you are nothing but easy prey. Tomorrow, I will spend time with Bekka showing her how to use the library. She can show you while I am gone, and I expect you to be a lot smarter and obedient upon my return.”
Demetrio did not understand why Rose had called him to Merida, especially during a full moon that could kill her. The pendant only protected one White Vampire, and Rose had no protection.  He thought to himself that she must truly want reconciliation.
He walked through the tunnel to the church to speak to Sister Helga. He found her in one of the private chapels. “Sister Helga, you now have three women to protect and teach about this town and its dangers. Teach them their strengths and weaknesses. I am going to meet Rose, and I am worried. Why is she drawing me to Merida after all this time, and why there of all places? I do not know if these three women believe me or not, so they might try to leave the chapel. Keep them inside. As a precaution, I am also changing my will tomorrow for my new children. I shall give you a copy so that they will not be alone and without resources; they will own my house, investments, and my businesses. Without me to protect them, they will only have you.”
Sister Helga sighed and smiled sadly. She placed her hand on Demetrio’s cheek and left the room.
Back in the chapel, Bekka said to the other two, “Well, we sure do have an adventure here, don’t we? Does he really expect me to believe he has been in love for 200 years with another White Vampire?”
Susana laughed, “You can’t imagine anyone being in love with anyone but you, can you?”
Rebe looked up from her laptop and replied, “We do have Wi-Fi so I am going to begin doing some research.”
Susana giggled and said, “Me, I am going to try to change into a bear.”
Bekka laughed at Susana, “You ridiculous woman, what do you think you’re going to do?  Are you really going to try to shape-shift into a bear?” 
Susana gave Bekka a withering look and said, “That would be the most appropriate animal for my plans for future disembowelment of Anna, the slut who stole my husband, so, yes, I am going to shift into a bear.” 
This response provoked another giggle from Bekka, who started to explain the basics of shifting she only knew from reading or watching movies, “Susana, this land is not a land of bears; you can’t shift into a bear.”
Rebe quickly looked up from her laptop and said, “She may well do so, Bekka, if she works hard at it, and all this nonsense is true. You never know what people are capable of nowadays; knowledge is exploding all over the place.”
Bekka said, “Susana you aren’t some super- powerful bruja or an innate shape-shifter. He says we are White Vampires, and if that’s true, then you have to shift with the nature of the land; you can’t go against it. You can’t turn into a polar bear in the tropics. The land won’t allow it, won’t support it.  So, if you are going to waste your time trying to use powers, you should at least have the courtesy to operate within the basic limits of the elements. Be real.”
“How do you know we can’t develop this power, Bekka? We’ve seen some pretty amazing things lately. How are you suddenly the expert on what we can and can’t do?  Why are you telling me I can’t be a bear?” 
Susana was getting upset, never a good sign, so Bekka was patient in her response. “I am not saying that you will never learn to shift; I’m saying it’s not a power innate in vampires, so you have to develop it, and if you are going to develop it, you should start within the boundaries of the power itself. We’re in Mexico, and this is the land of jaguars, of eagles, of coyotes. I would try one of those first. It’s kind of obvious.” 
Susana looked thoughtful, “Perhaps a jaguar would be even better for tearing a woman to shreds.”
“I wouldn’t try it at all just yet,” said Rebe, “I wouldn’t know for certain that you could come back to your original form. I don’t know if you could think like a human as a jaguar. That would take some research. You can ask Sister Helga. I think she could tell you some basics. Then when you master it, maybe you could teach me. That would be awesome.” 
Susana replied, “Hell no, if I can do it, I’ll save this for myself and go to Fresno as a jaguar and tear Anna’s heart out. After all, Demetrio said we cannot hunt in San Miguel de Allende.”
Rebe added, “Maybe you can take care of some people for me too, back in San Diego.”
Bekka sighed and replied, “Well, since it is obvious I won’t have Demetrio, I guess I will use this power to seduce men, like always, but in a better way, and maybe we can bring them back to San Miguel de Allende to farm their blood and then let them loose – kind of like throwing them back into the big pond after a vacation in paradise.”
Rebe and Susana looked at her, and Rebe said, “I would think you have plenty of scores to settle, what with being a total bitch most of the time. Do you have any acts of vengeance we can take care of between the full moons?”
Bekka said, “Maybe.”


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