Monday, November 29, 2010


Zero watched as the woman paced across the field, her long black dress swirling dramatically about her in the wind. She stared back at him, her face expressionless. “Helia…” He called over his shoulder, his eyes never leaving the approaching woman’s stony face, “Is this a friend of yours?”. Zero heard a cry of “Shit!” rise up from the vestry and Helia came barreling down the aisle, almost knocking Zero out of the way in her haste to block the entrance.

“Luna!” She bellowed in a manner not at all befitting her pale, delicate appearance. “What are you doing here?”

“What am I doing here?” Luna retorted, charging across the final stretch of parched, dusty red earth until she was face to face with Helia. “You know perfectly well what I’m doing here! I thought that we were going to come here together.”

“I don’t remember agreeing to anything of the sort…” Helia said in a quiet voice, looking away. She glanced at Zero out of the corner of her eye and turned to him with a sweeter-than-sweet smile. “Zero, this is Luna, my…colleague.”

Luna held out her hand and nodded briefly at him, giving a curt smile. “Zero. Pleased to meet you at last.” Like Helia, she had hastily resumed her composure and was now watching him through calm, deep green eyes. Her flaming red hair had settled onto her shoulders in gentle waves.

“At last?” Zero said, raising his eyebrows. “How long have you known I was coming?”

“Oh, quite a while. You’ve been a topic of conversation for many moons now.” Luna peered over his shoulder into the church. “May I come in? I have some things for you.” She held up a red velvet bag.

“I’ve already brought him some breakfast.” Helia said in a slightly peevish tone.

“Breakfast? Well, I've brought him some protective herbs…he’s going to need those far more.” And with that ominous sentence, she made her way inside.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Cautiously Zero pulled open the heavy wooden doors. Layla stood between his legs, ready to pounce. The vision that greeted them left even the dog looking slightly stunned. Standing in front of him was a young, elfin-faced woman. A plumeing mass of corn-blonde curls cascaded down to softly frame her lightly freckled face, out of which shone two large, iridescently blue eyes. She was dressed—or rather, swathed—in white cloth of various shades and hues from head to toe. Silver bracelets encircled her arms and a string of silver bells bound each ankle. She was barefoot, save for a silver ring on every toe.

“Greetings Zero!” She said brightly, smiling a perfectly white smile.

“Uh, greetings.” Zero replied, reeling slightly at the fact that she knew his name. He could feel Layla looking expectantly up at him. “Sorry, but how do know who I am? How do you even know I’m here? And who are you?” The questions tumbled out in a rather aggravated rush.

“I am Helia the witch. Your arrival was foretold.” She continued to smile peaceably at him.

“Foretold? Foretold by whom?” Zero was becoming more and more agitated as the moments passed.

“By The Power.” She replied simply. She broke Zero’s gaze then and looked down at Layla who was still watching her carefully and cautiously. Extending her hand slowly, she began to rub the dog on the snout. Within about a minute, Layla had entirely relaxed, rolling over onto her back and offering her jet black tummy up to the stranger for a rub. Zero sighed.

“The Power?” Zero asked, nudging the dog gently with the toe of his boot.

“The beginning and the end.” Alida told him in a cheerfully matter-of-fact tone, tickling Layla under the ears until the dog’s tongue flopped joyously out of the side of her mouth.

Zero stood stock still, momentarily unsure of what to do. He thought he had escaped all of this. Then he noticed a large wicker basket sitting on the dry, red-dirt ground next to where Helia crouched. She diverted her attention from Layla for a moment and smiled at him. “Ah yes!” She said, leaping to her feet. “Breakfast!”

Against his better judgement, Zero found himself stepping to one side and letting her through the door. “Bread rolls, salami, olives, cheese, coffee…some dog food…even a couple of burger patties…” Helia recited the basket’s contents happily as she made her way up the aisle and towards the vestry.

As Zero began to close the door, he noticed another figure making their way across the field towards the church, this time clad only in black with long, bright red hair streaming out on the wind behind them. Just where had he ended up?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Visitor

I was woken the next morning by shards of sunlight edging their way through the windows and worming their way under my eyelids. Another vampire myth—dare one say—up in flames: I don’t spontaneously combust in the sun. I don’t actually like it but I don’t become a smoking ruin quivering under a blanket either. This is why I generally sleep during the day and stay awake at night. I find moonshine a far more soothing and nurturing light to live by.

So much more atmospheric too! Everything looks romantic and beautiful by the light of the moon. Things are muted, softened and the harsh edges are knocked off. Sunlight brings everything into sharp, glaring relief. Too much reality for me. I have never been a fan of the ‘real’ world—not even when I was alive—and I am becoming less and less so as time goes on and reality proves itself less and less attractive. Give me the glow of a candle over the demanding buzz of the morning sun any day. And let’s face it, being the good Gothy vampire that I am, black velvet jackets, black drainpipe trousers, the occassional black frilly shirt or the odd black top hat look a tad over the top during the day.

I stretched out my long, skinny body the length of the pew I had slept on and tried to shield my eyes from the sun with both bony hands. Thinking perhaps that I was daring to doze off again and breakfast would be even more delayed, Layla padded to my side and licked my face luxuriously from jawline to temple. “Ugh!” I exclaimed, wiping at my face with a silk handkerchief and sitting up. Looking down at Layla, I noticed a distinct grin playing at the edges of her mouth. “Bit peckish are we?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. But I couldn’t be cross with her even in the slightest way for long. She had been my faithful companion and guard dog for more years than I cared to recall.

Well, what to eat? I hadn’t thought of that, actually. My objective had just been to get here and I hadn’t thought much beyond that. I was hungry too, now that I stopped to think about it. I had had some sashimi in Tokyo and that was the last thing I’d eaten. It was beginning to look like a trip into town might be our only option to stock up on some goodies. I’d have to walk—a bicycle or a car was one of the many things on my long list of things to sort out—and maybe we would find something to nibble on along the way. We were in Australia, after all. A cornucopia, I’d been told. A land of milk and honey. And sorry to be Mythbuster Number One yet again but I didn’t especially have a taste for blood. A nice, medium-rare burger would do or, if I really got desperate, a bowl of Cornflakes.

Just as I was gathering my energies together to begin what could well be a long walk, there was a knock at the door. How very odd, I thought. No-one knows I’m even in the country. No-one knows me in this country. Layla had begun to growl.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I had literally fallen asleep where I’d stopped that night—curled up uncomfortably on a splintering oak pew facing the altar, with my jacket awkwardly spread over myself to keep warm. Between arrival and slumber, I had spent an hour walking around my new home—an old, crumbling sandstone church—surveying its decaying charms by flickering candlelight. I doubted that this church had been used in many a year. It looked like it had simply been abandoned—isolated as it was way out in a vast empty field. There was a long dirt road leading to it from the main highway, surrounded on either side by tall, swaying gum trees. Four well-worn steps led up to the traditionally gothic-styled double doors, which, without much resistance, opened creakily and with a shudder of falling dust at my touch.

I walked slowly up the lengthy aisle, my footsteps muted by the moth-eaten red carpet that still covered the floor. Looking to my left and right, I could pick out the Stations of the Cross depicted on each of the windows. Jesus is condemned to die. Jesus is given His cross. Jesus falls the first time. So, it had been a Catholic church. It had obviously been deconsecrated, though, because I felt basically fine. It’s a myth that vampires can’t enter a church. Crucifixes can make me feel uncomfortable—I get a burning sensation in my chest, kind of like heartburn—but churches themselves? No. They’re only buildings after all. It’s the symbol of Christ itself I guess. Looking at the windows, I felt a flash of heat, but the absence of any large wooden crucifixes allowed me to continue my way peaceably up the aisle.

Layla, my canine companion, had raced ahead of me and was now sniffing enthusiastically around the imposing white marble altar. Knowing her, she had probably picked up the long-past scent of wine. What a nose! If she’d been human, she could have been a wine critic. Having found nothing to sate her eager olfactory senses, she padded back towards me. I gave her an affectionate scratch behind the ears and we walked on together. At the pulpit, a bible had been abandoned. It looked as though rats had been nibbling at its pages. Layla gave a bark and lifted her head towards the ceiling. I followed her gaze. A enormous, beautifully ornate light fitting, crafted out of bronze shaped into exquisitely complex curlicues, swayed gently in the breeze. “Wonderful.” I breathed.

Just before we reached the chancel and then the altar, a doorway led off to the vestry. Going through it, I found a box of old coffee cups left by parishioners of long ago, another cardboard box stacked high with dog-eared Good News bibles and a hot water urn. Then I noticed a winding staircase. Layla darted up it first, taking the stairs two at a time. I made my way more carefully and was delighted to find, once I’d mounted the twenty-odd narrow steps, a maze of little rooms to which I could retreat which were even more decrepit than what I’d seen downstairs. There were a couple of chairs and tables scattered about, old blankets and books left lying open. Yes, I thought, as I turned to make my way back down to the church itself, it needed a lot of work but this would do nicely.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beginnings and Endings

This place is going to need a lot of work, that’s for sure. Holding up my flickering candle, I studied the yellowing paint peeling from the four walls that surrounded me. But at least I’m here now. I’m here and the place is mine (sort of) and I can just stop for a while. I don’t have to run anymore. I put my duffle bag down on the dusty wooden floorboards and had a stretch. I could hear Layla’s toenails clip-clopping on the floorboards above my head. She was glad to have somewhere to rest her head at last too.

We’ve been on the move since we left Europe, you see. We had to stop briefly in Tokyo, just to re-fuel, but other than that we haven’t looked back since we left Rubia. Rubia. Just the mention of her name brought a stab of pain to my weary heart. And a stab of regret. But what could I do? I had to leave her. It had gone on for far too long. The tussle that we had found ourselves in, scratching at each other verbally and physically until one day there would be nothing left of either of us. And when I found her in the arms of Frederick Zolona! My enemy, my nemesis, my dark shadow—that was too much. It had gone too far.

I had waited until she fell asleep—finally, after a sleepless three-day binge. Pulling the black, satin-trimmed blankets up to her chin and stroking her long, dark red hair one last time, I hastily grabbed the bag I’d already packed, put Layla on her leash and descended the narrow, ricketty stairs to our little Bucharest street, pulling the front door shut behind me before I had time to reconsider. And then I began to walk—to the train station, to the airport, to Australia. So far away from everything I had ever known. The New World. A new life.