Kasey Hill – Author & Poet
“Thank you for your purchase,” the cashier said handing a bag to a young blonde female.
“No, thank you! My mother is going to love this purse! It’s so chic!” the girl replied dropping the bag into her shopping tote. “I promised I would bring her something back that was stylish and had the New Orleans feel to it.”
“Aww, that’s sweet. I hope you come back for something for yourself,” the cashier replied as the girl walked to the door. “And be safe out there! It’s late and these aren’t the safest streets to be on at this hour.”
The girl nodded a silent thank you to the kind lady behind the register. Looking back at the boutique, she decided to take a selfie in front of the shop’s ornate sign. The Chenal D’Espirites was a perfect backdrop for her happy smiling face as she snapped the photo and slipped the phone back into her pocket.
Now, where am I, was the immediate question. She looked up and down the street realizing that in the excitement of finally being in the world famous French Quarter, she had wandered near the residential area. She was almost certain if she went towards the neon haze she would find her way to The Hotel Saint Marie. Everywhere she looked, there was beautiful historic landmarks still in use, unlike her hometown where most historic buildings were destroyed to make way for the future… or a parking lot. But not here, not in the Big Easy. This was a magical place and the vibrations of the past, present, and future all came together constantly. It was breathtaking.
With bag in hand, she walked down Decatur Street and turned inward into the Quarter towards her hotel. It was her first day in town and she had walked more in one day than she had in the past year. Accessing the maps on her cellphone, she decided to avoid the boisterous crowds already forming on the infamous Bourbon Street. Instead, she thought a peaceful stroll down Royal Street.
Most of the antique shops and art galleries had closed for the business day. However, at night, the stores were lit especially to spotlight their feature pieces. Whether it be extremely costly furniture from Louis XVI’s collection, or the Blue Dog Gallery,
She noticed the sound of footsteps behind her. Whenever she would stop walking, the sound stopped as well. Panic shot through her. This time when she started walking again, another set of footsteps joined in – becoming louder, closing the distance between them.
Picking up her pace, she felt her heart pound in her chest and throb in her temples. The serge of adrenaline pushed her into a full sprint. She was terrified, but a moment of courage took over and she whirled around to face her attacker with pepper spray in hand.
The street behind her was empty except for other tourists a few blocks away. She laughed at herself for being so ridiculous. She pocketed her pepper spray and turned back in the direction she had been running.
Standing before her was a young man around six foot tall. He had dark shoulder length hair and the palest blue eyes she had ever seen. His face called to her and drew her in. She inched closer to him as he stood staring at her. She was inches away from him when he smiled at her and she saw a glint streak through his eyes. She turned and screamed, but her scream was muffled by his hand around her mouth. He dragged her into the dark entry way of a closed silver shop.
“Quiet now, be a good girl,” he whispered into her ear with a slight Texas accent. He leaned in and sniffed her neck. “Mmm, you do smell delicious,” he said as he leaned in and bit gently into her neck. It only took a small amount of blood loss to make the young girl pass out. The young man put her arm over his shoulder and braced her as if to walk.
“That’s right’s right sweetie, we’re almost back to the hotel,” he called out a little louder than normal, “what have I told you about mixing alcohol and beer, huh?” Looking over his shoulder and back forward he continued the charade, “That’s it, one foot in front of the other…”
Rounding the corner behind him, a well-manicured, navy, 1957 Austin-Healy convertible pulled up next to him and the girl. Inside were two acquaintances, the blond male who drove and a female with long black hair.
“Felix! You going to stand there all night or what,” came a good-humored remark from the blond who was driving.
“Yeah, yeah – Bek get the trunk, huh? Can’t you see I’m doing some heavy lifting here,” Felix replied nonchalantly, as he picked up the female to go in the trunk.
Anxious and concerned, Bek guided, “Watch her head. Don’t hurt her.”
Felix starred at Rebekka blankly for a moment before rousting Matyas out of the driver’s seat.
Matyas smirked, “Fergus calls for your presence back at the Manor.”
“Tell Fergus I’m busy! Whatever it is, he can wait,” Felix replied. “Besides, he wouldn’t want to include me in tonight’s meeting. We have had… another disagreement on his rule, and I intend to have him removed from the throne.”
“Mind your words, Brother. You know ears are everywhere,” Matyas said as he waved his hand to the rooftop.
A silhouette disappeared into the darkness just as Felix looked. “Probably Herryck! Devoted tattletale. Let them run back to Manor. I’ve already told the old bastard to his face. It’s not news to him!”
“And where did Rebekka go,” Felix looked around the area with a familiar annoyance to his tone, “How does she do that? She was just here, man!”
As if cued by her name, Rebekka appeared from the shadows and skipped over to Felix and Matyas. “Are we done in the city?”
“I am not, and I do not know if Matyas accomplished what he set out for neither,” Felix commented angling his head over to Matyas.
“The boss wasn’t in so I will have to come back out tomorrow night or some other time,” Matyas replied. Matyas made his way to the passenger side and dropped into the seat in a split second. “Show off,” Felix muttered as he climbed in his seat. Rebekka climbed into the backseat giggling as a school girl would on a date. “Why are you laughing, Rebekka?”
“You two bicker like old women,” she replied smiling.
Felix rolled his eyes, pushed the gear shift into gear, and screeched out of the side street nearly hitting two pedestrians walking by. Matyas laughed at his callous move and Felix muttered under his breath. He hated having to drag Matyas and Rebekka around. He was a thorn in his side along with Rebekka, the God-fearing, lust junkie that Fergus had saddled him with. She came into the house seeking solace and refuge at the request of Fergus. Even after spending half a century as a vampire, she still turned to God as if he would pity her undead soul. He made all attempts to try to put an end to her Christian beliefs, but she refused to let go of the petty human love for an apparition that did not exist. “How many more girls are on your slate for tonight?” Matyas asked as he watched the buildings whir by.
“When can we go home now?” Rebekka asked with a childlike whine.
“Not yet. I have one more to get to make five. We need a total of around one thousand, and were close to the mark. The ball this year should be an event no one can forget,” Felix grinned.
He had hand chosen each of the girls taken from the streets of New Orleans.
This was his city, his hunting grounds. He had picked each and every single girl out that he could smell untainted.
“So… what do they plan to do with them?” Matyas asked.
“I haven’t a clue what they intend to do with the girls they receive, and frankly, I don’t care. That’s their business, although I did make sure to pick the pure ones out for their desirable needs,” Felix replied.
It was mid-autumn in the Crescent City, but summer was not always over, much to the surprise of tourists. There is always a festival in New Orleans, there is always a football game bringing fans for LSU and for the Saints. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome makes every game a French Quarter event. Whether it was the unusual blend of French and Spanish architecture, colorful shotgun shacks that lined most neighborhoods, or the antiquated layout of the city – there is no place like New Orleans.
Crowds came to experience the city that care forgot; maybe it was the streets lined with occult natured boutiques, or the strange fact that native citizens do not bury their dead – there was a special vibe in the French Quarter that could not be conveyed to people who had never been there. It was a busy necropolis that drew people from all walks of life to experience this unorthodox reverence to celebrating life past the point of living. What really can be said of any place that blends this veil of tears with the city’s motto, Let the Good Times Roll!
People would stream in from all areas of the United States to experience the feeling they read in novels and saw on TV. That was what Felix loved most about the city. No matter the tragedies and devastation that would hit the city, people still came back looking for more, and indeed, more they found.
New Orleans’ Halloween parties were the largest accumulation of people in the world. All these events also gave reason for the largest number of disappearances for the city. Numbers of missing persons’ reports would funnel through the police stations with patrols dispatched to search for the persons in question. Some were found safe and sound, however, some were not.
Felix smiled knowing he was one of the largest factors of these unsolved mysteries. He took pride in the work he did. He hunted with skill and ease that none of the other vampires of the clan had. He had met a young witch on the streets while hunting one night. He spared her life if she would supply him with one gift; invincibility. After she brewed the potion and charmed the ring he wore with power, he became one of the most powerful vampires on the East Coast matching the power of his Sire as well.
He relentlessly tortured the men of the city before he fed. They begged for mercy and tried to talk their way out of sudden death. However, the men had always been his fuel for rage, and he enjoyed taking the power from them that they all thought they had. Women, on the other hand, set him off in a different way. They were always speaking out of turn or when it was the least convenient for them to talk. The first thing he always did was bind their mouth with a gag of some sort, or place his hand over their mouth.
As he drove, he spotted the next woman he was to take for the night. “Do you want to watch a pro in action?” he asked Matyas as he veered the car off into a self-pay parking nook.
“Which one are you going for?” Matyas asked as he watched what few humans walked past the parking lot.
“You should know by now, Brother. The blond!” he laughed as he opened his door and climbed from the driver’s seat.
He slunk against the wall and walked as quietly and effortlessly as a cat. A couple of girls passed by, and one of them stopped to take a call. Perfect timing, he thought to himself. He watched her wave the other two ahead of her saying she would catch up in a minute. He snuck closer to the opening, still shadowed by the buildings. She turned her back on him; he ran up to her grabbing her from behind, wrapped his hand around her mouth, and pulled her back into parking zone. He bit down on her neck and within seconds she had went unconscious.
Matyas had the trunk popped for him to throw the girl in. “Aw, there was no fun in that one!” Matyas exclaimed grinning.
“Didn’t your mother tell you not to play with your food?” Felix replied with a smile.
Felix dropped the girl in with the other four bodies and shut the trunk for the last time for the night. He and Matyas climbed back into the car. “Where to next, Brother?” Matyas asked as he leaned his elbow in the window of the door.
“Back to the manor. I’m sure Fergus or Stephania have some crazy drama going already,” Felix replied complacently as he started the car.
He screeched the car out of illegal parking and started down the streets of the French Quarter. The buildings and house already had their decorations out for Halloween events. The buildings were covered in macabre and spider webbing. Zombies, ghouls, and other creatures of the night hung on doors and from balconies to symbolize the feel for the night.
Everywhere one looked were roleplaying enthusiasts, adorned in every movie style imaginable. From the Victorian velvet and ruffles aficionado to the street smart Daywalker in resilient PVC and leather, the streets were a tribute to Hollywood’s Who’s Who of the undead.
Excitedly Rebekka hung over the side from the backseat pointing, “Oh wow, those guys are just so pretty!” She smiled happily as her thick black Cherokee hair waved in the wind, “I want that one!”
“Keep your fangs in your pants, Bek… not tonight!” Felix reeled in her momentary frenzy.
“Would you check out this crowd, man?” Matyas was in awe at the humans on parade.
Dryly Felix commented, “I think you could use some fashion tips, Mat.”
“You know these humans drink each other’s blood just to call themselves vampires?”
“Yep, that is pretty much the deal,” Felix answered indifferently as he dropped the Austin-Healy into low gear to slow for pedestrians. “There are clusters of them all over America, each claim to have some ancient bloodline or something,” Felix answered indifferently.
With a straight face and a humble voice, Matyas offered, “That’s what I believe, too man…”
Felix was caught off guard at first, giving Matyas a double take, “Really Mat? Really? You so need professional help.” Felix spoke under his breath as they turned onto Canal Street, “Let’s get out of here. These things are giving me the creeps.”
“Does it really bother you that much?” Matyas asked watching as the busy crowds disappeared behind their speeding car.
“They only make fools of themselves. They worship dark gods of fiction as their Lord of the Vampires,” Felix mocked with a ghoulish sound.
“How are we to know there aren’t any dark gods over us?” Matyas murmured.
“There is only One True God over all of….” Rebekka began to relate her many times told tale.
Felix looked sternly at her in the review mirror at her, “Not now, okay sweetie?!”
“Come on, Matyas! Don’t you go wishy-washy on me! If they knew our true becoming, our real reason for being, they would stop their pretentious acts and go back to being human before I change them all!!” Felix grumbled as they turned onto Canal Street heading for the interstate. “The only good thing that comes from those events is that we can mingle easier without notice, taking our fill.”
The Sarkoczy Manor laid on the outskirts of the city hidden on an island in the National Wildlife Refuge. It was the perfect place to glamor the house so no one would accidently stumble upon it. The Sarkoczys have been able to keep the manor hidden for centuries as they housed all of the vampires that sought solace and refuge from hunters and hid them even from their own kind.
Felix pulled the car into the bayou’s pier and put it in park. It was now midnight and all of the guards were either sleeping on the job or off to lunch. He hung his parking permit on the rearview mirror and got out of the car. Once Matyas and Rebekka were out, he locked the doors, and then popped the trunk. He hoisted the girls one by one onto his shoulder and carried him to the fishing boat he used to get to the island the manor was built on. Matyas stood watch as he loaded them all onto the boat.
“Don’t forget to ditch the phones,” Rebekka reminded Felix.
“Good thinking, Bek,” he replied giving her an approving smile.
Felix rummaged through their pockets and purses fishing out all phones or other ways they could be tracked. He tossed them in the bayou water and watched them sink in delight. He gave a whistle to signal Matyas to get on the boat and they set sail into the murky waters of the swamps.
“Are you sure they’re completely knocked out? We don’t want one jumping ship and being eaten by a gator like last time,” Matyas said as he eyed the pile of girls in the cabin.
“I tried to take a little more off the top with each of them. Tonight their sleep paralysis will last. Do you remember that one cute little witch – the blonde from the Quarter? I liked her. What a shame. I couldn’t believe it when she jumped ship,” Felix recalled as he handled the boat’s wheel, steering it through the treacherous waters. “She had spunk though, I will give her that!”
All it would take would be for the boat to get hung up on one of the Cypress roots that peaked above the water, and one of them would be swimming to get a replacement boat. Felix scanned the waters as they turned the bends and finally it opened up into the marsh side of the bayou. It was smooth sailing from here on and Felix could see the mists evaporate as the glamor over the manor came down.
As they arrived to the island, you could see the moon on the eastern horizon as it rose into the sky. Its crescent moon cast a soft glow across the marsh as they drew close to the pier to unload the girls. Cultivated out front was a moon garden with moonflowers and angel trumpets layered throughout the yard. White climbing roses coveted the lattice of the house. Yellowwood trees grew on either side of the yard silhouetting the manor in their white flowers. Honeysuckle grew in bushes around the trees. All of the flowers assembled lit the entire field in pale shades of blue, purple, and white.
The manor sat in the distance quaint but mysterious to gaze upon. Alabaster pillars supported the top gallery that overlooked the entire marsh. Wrapping from either side of the gallery around the manor was a veranda with large windows framing the sides. The bottom half of the house mirrored the top and the veranda wrapped entirely around the sides of the house where they met the extended hallways that led to the extra rooms of the manor. The railings were wrought iron wrappings that intermediately covered the porch in between the columns.
As Felix climbed from the pontoon, he glanced up at the manor and caught a glimpse of movement. “Stay here, Matyas. Make sure none of them awaken. I see something,” he said as he moved with inhuman speed and stealth.
Rebekka whispered, “What is it, Maty? Something wrong?” Matyas shook his head silently.
He climbed what few stairs led up to the front door and peeked around the corner of the manor. Three women cloaked were staring inside of the windows whispering quietly to one another. He could see by the slight moonlight the silhouettes of their creamy, pale skin. Hair billowed from beneath their cloaks and he saw one with shimmering red hair that was dark and bright as fire burning. The one that stood in the middle had flowing blonde hair that glowed luminescent under the pale light. The one closest to him he could see had brunette hair with streaks of contrasting hues of chestnut and raven black. They peered around themselves and he dipped back away from their gazes.
“What is it, Kaszarina?” the blond asked.
“Nothing. I thought I sensed someone watching us, but I don’t see anyone,” she replied.
“Do you think this place is safe, Annaneta? I wouldn’t want to trespass and be caught off-guard…” the red head asked.
“Nowhere is safe, but from what I can see downstairs, the place is abandoned. We will take shelter tonight and then move on tomorrow,” Annaneta replied.
“And if there is someone…” Erzabeta questioned her sister.
“Shhhh…! And if there is someone, they may hear us if it is not abandoned! We must…”
“You must what?” Felix asked as he rounded the corner. All three of the women jumped back hissing in fear. “Haven’t you witches learned not to play in the devil’s playground?”